How do you calculate the human costs of the U.S.-led War on Terror?

On the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, groups of physicians attempted to arrive at a partial answer to this question by counting the dead.

In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001.

However, the report notes, this is a conservative estimate, and the total number killed in the three countries “could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

Furthermore, the researchers do not look at other countries targeted by U.S.-led war, including Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and beyond.

Even still, the report states the figure “is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs.

In Iraq, at least 1 million lives have been lost during and since 2003, a figure that accounts for five percent of the nation’s total population. This does not include deaths among the estimated 3 million Iraqi refugees, many of whom were subject to dangerous conditions during this past winter.

Furthermore, an estimated 220,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, note the researchers. The findings follow a United Nations report which finds that civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2014 were at their highest levels since the global body began making reports in 2009.

The researchers identified direct and indirect deaths based on UN, government, and NGO data, as well as individual studies. While the specific number is difficult to peg, researchers say they hope to convey the large-scale of death and loss.

Speaking with Democracy Now! on Thursday, Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-author of the forward to the report, said:

“[A]t a time when we’re contemplating at this point cutting off our removal of troops from Afghanistan and contemplating new military authorization for increasing our operations in Syria and Iraq, this insulation from the real impacts serves our government in being able to continue to conduct these wars in the name of the war on terror, with not only horrendous cost to the people in the region, but we in the United States suffer from what the budgetary costs of unending war are.”

According to Gould’s forward, co-authored with Dr. Tim Takaro, the public is purposefully kept in the dark about this toll.

“A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization cause by decades of outside military intervention,” they write. “As such, under-reporting of the human toll attributed to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate of through self-censorship, has been key to removing the ‘fingerprints’ of responsibility.”

On Friday, Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby declared that six police officers will face criminal charges including second degree heart murder, manslaughter, assault and false imprisonment for their role in the arrest and homicide of 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray. While this is welcome and encouraging news for those seeking justice for Gray and his family, past experience demonstrates the odds the accused criminals will be convicted are miniscule. Regardless, it is not enough to treat the Freddie Gray incident as merely a violation of domestic law. The actions by agents of the State are part of a pattern of human rights abuses that are rampant against the domestic population, especially ethnic and racial minorities. The crimes are not only attributable to the indicted Baltimore officers but to the government they represent, which has failed to deliver the human rights obligations owed to all American citizens.

After the arrests of the six officers, residents continued their protests in a clear indication that the outrage of the Baltimore uprising is about much more than the mistreatment and killing of Freddie Gray as an isolated incident. Interviewed on Friday by the Baltimore Sun, Kevin Moore, who filmed the unlawful arrest of Gray on his cell phone, said that “We’re going to keep on marching for human rights. We’re going to keep on going until this stops — the police brutality.”

Across the country, grassroots movements that have gained momentum after the killings of unarmed African Americans including Michael Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Brandon-Tate Brown, and Freddie Gray have focused on far-reaching political and economic demands. They must be understood as a critique of the entire socioeconomic system that oppresses minorities and manifests itself with excessive use of force by agents of the state against members of these same disenfranchised communities.

Critically, activists have stressed the connections between police brutality, structural economic inequalities, and the epidemic of mass incarceration that all target predominantly African Americans and Latinos. Economic policies relegate African Americans to an impoverished underclass. They are then attacked by the state through the criminal justice system precisely for their social status. The prison system is used to warehouse what is considered a surplus population that has no role in the modern economy. Law enforcement officers take on the role of enforcers of oppression.

As Michelle Alexander explains in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “The stark and sobering reality is that, for reasons largely unrelated to actual crime trends, the American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history.”

Police brutality carried out by law enforcement enforcing a racist drug war is merely a symptom of the system of white supremacist-informed politics that produces the nation’s unequal social and economic structures. Eliminating the violence of the enforcers would do nothing to eliminate the violence of structural inequality that permeates American society.

Groups like #BlackLivesMatter recognize this and explicitly state their grievances with the systemic factors behind individual crimes against black people: “When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. How Black poverty and genocide is state violence. How 2.8 million Black people are locked in cages in this country is state violence. How Black women bearing the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families is state violence.”

We The Protesters write in an Open Letter that they seek to “build a community that is empowered to establish a new political and social reality that respects and affirms blackness and the humanity therein.”

When Freddie Gray was killed, agents of the state violated many of his human rights. as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Namely, he was deprived of his right to life and liberty (Article 3); he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment (Article 5); he was subjected to arbitrary arrest (Article 9); and he was subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy (Article 12).

Possibly the only thing unique about Gray’s treatment at the hands of Baltimore police is the scale of the uprising it gave rise to among his community members. As a Baltimore Sun investigation revealed, city residents have had to pay out nearly $6 million in the last four years to settle more than 100 lawsuits alleging “that police officers brazenly beat up alleged suspects.” The victims ranged from young children to old women. Even City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young told the paper that “[residents] fear the police more than they fear the drug dealers on the corner.” And the situation in Baltimore is not unique to the rest of the United States.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee declared in its most recent report they were “concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces … and reports of excessive force by certain law enforcement officers, including the deadly use of tasers, which has a disparate impact on African Americans.” The Committee also also expressed its concern about “racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, as well as sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails.”

If the United States had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and was subject to review by the United Nations, the findings would be equally damning, or likely worse. How many Baltimore residents – or those of any major U.S. city – would feel that their government was delivering their right “to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions” (Article 11)? Or “a decent living for themselves and their families” (Article 7)? The right to “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (Article 12)?

Last month, MintPress News reported that the city of Baltimore has issued notices to residential water customers with overdue accounts that their service will be shut-off. They note that United Nations experts “were among many who expressed concern that water shut-offs violate basic human rights.” Freddie Gray, like many residents of Baltimore, was exposed to lead paint in his childhood home. Lead paint exposure by children has been proven to result in potentially disastrous development problems.

The Washington Post writes that it is “hard to know whether Gray’s problems were exclusively borne of lead poisoning or were the result of other socioeconomic factors as well. From birth, his was a life of intractable poverty that would have been challenging to overcome.” The socioeconomic factors must be attributed directly to the state that created them and failed to remedy them for Gray and millions of others.

If protesters were polled about whether the government was fulfilling its human rights obligations to provide basic social and economic rights, is there any doubt that they would nearly unanimously disagree? Could city, state or federal officials even claim to enjoy the consent of the governed among African American communities that have been victimized for decades, if not centuries, of structural inequalities and aggressive policing meant to repress people through a cruel system of social control?

Many voices on the street are loudly calling for an indictment of the system as a whole. The difference between this American movement and other color revolutions overseas that receive much corporate media attention is that it is entirely homegrown and a product of grassroots reaction to oppression, rather than a manufactured product of foreign funding and training.

U.S. government officials have never hesitated to decry alleged human rights abuses by the regimes of official enemies. One year ago, Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of carrying out a “terror campaign against his own people” who did not “respect human rights.” Kerry neglected to mention that half of the deaths resulting from the protests were of security agents and government supporters, some who were decapitated by barbed wire barricades erected by anti-socialist protesters.

The U.S. government has showered middle and upper-class Venezuelan students and pro-business interests with millions of dollars in funding and organizational training to provoke protests they could then condemn for political purposes. The same is true in Ukraine, Syria, Cuba, Hong Kong and across the world. What justification do they have to spend the nation’s resources to manufacture opposition abroad rather than address the demands of citizens at home opposed to the inequality and insecurity that the state subjects them to, and which they could drastically reduce or outright eliminate, through taxation of private wealth and redistribution, if they chose to?

Freddie Gray has become a martyr for the suffering he endured throughout his life at the hands of the social, economic, and political system he lived under, rather than just for his suffering at the hands of the six police officers who ended his life. The Baltimore uprising will not end with the verdicts against the six officers. It will only end when the people of Baltimore and cities across the U.S. are able to hold the people who design the policies that deprive them of their fundamental human rights accountable.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.

Dan Froomkin reports today at the Intercept:

Most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.

Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.


The Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.


By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.

And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.


Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept …  “Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”

And, she asked: “How would we ever know if they change the policy?”

Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.

That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”


Voice communications can be collected by the NSA whether they are being sent by regular phone lines, over cellular networks, or through voice-over-internet services.

(Anyone who has tried dictating into their smart phone – or who uses software like Dragon – knows how incredibly accurate this kind of technology can be.)

The NSA refused to tell the Intercept how widely the speech-to-text programs are used on Americans.

But high-level NSA whistleblowers Bill BinneyThomas Drake and Russell Tice have all told Washington’s Blog that NSA is recording the content – and not just the metadata – of Americans’ phone calls. And see this.

Indeed, any statements that content is only stored for some short period of time is moot, since transcripts of that content can easily be stored forever … without taking up much space.

Of course, the NSA voluntarily shares the raw data it collects on American citizens with Israel and likely also with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.   And see this.  So those countries might be doing voice-to-text transcription on Americans’ conversations as well.

Update: After reviewing this story, NSA whistleblower Bill Binney told Washington’s Blog:

It sounds like they have achieved as least a working level of success at automatically translating speech.  This means to me that they use this capability to do a rough scan of unlimited numbers of phone calls to sample what is being said.  Add to that the ability to do digital recordings at the same time and keep for a short period (20-30 days) gives their analysts (as well as FBI/DEA/DOJ/IRS/DHS/CIA/etc.) a window of opportunity to select the recordings and have people do a final transcription for the record and files/storage.  Now they need to do a similar thing for video. For Americans, this has major implications when applied to the NSA FAIRVIEW program with its 80 to 100 taps on the fiber lines inside the lower 48 states. FAIRVIEW would enable them to capture rough translations of most calls made in the US.

As Binney previously explained:

BILL BINNEY:  Fairview is the program they use that produces most of the content and metadata on US citizens. Note the distribution of tape points in the lower 48 states.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  The US 990-Fairview slide certainly shows NSA sucking up alot of data from within America.

But the press characterizes Fairview as gathering info solely on foreigners. Sounds like this is false?

In other words, Fairview sucks up information – content and metadata – on Americans and foreigners, and then NSA simply retains and stores the info?

BILL BINNEY:  If NSA was after only foreigners, then they would have collection points on the east and west coasts at points where the transoceanic cables surface. Anything other than that is collecting domestic communications – the PSTN phone network and the world wide web.

You could argue that Stormbrew [another “upstream” collection program … see below] is targeted at foreign by the distribution. But, some of that is also questionable. This does not count input from cooperative countries (second and third parties) on domestic activity collected by them as well. To the point, they have done nothing but lie to us.

In other words, the Stormbrew map is a pretty good proxy for what foreign surveillance locations should look like. But the Fairview map shows many more collection points all over the country … proving that the NSA is specifically collecting information on Americans living on U.S. soil.

Washington continues to drive Europe toward one or the other of the two most likely outcomes of the orchestrated conflict with Russia. Either Europe or some European Union member government will break from Washington over the issue of Russian sanctions, thereby forcing the EU off of the path of conflict with Russia, or Europe will be pushed into military conflict with Russia.

In June the Russian sanctions expire unless each member government of the EU votes to continue the sanctions. Several governments have spoken against a continuation. For example, the governments of the Czech Republic and Greece have expressed dissatisfaction with the sanctions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged growing opposition to the sanctions among some European governments. Employing the three tools of US foreign policy–threats, bribery, and coercion–he warned Europe to renew the sanctions or there would be retribution. We will see in June if Washington’s threat has quelled the rebellion.

Europe has to consider the strength of Washington’s threat of retribution against the cost of a continuing and worsening conflict with Russia. This conflict is not in Europe’s economic or political interest, and the conflict has the risk of breaking out into war that would destroy Europe.

Since the end of World War II Europeans have been accustomed to following Washington’s lead. For awhile France went her own way, and there were some political parties in Germany and Italy that considered Washington to be as much of a threat to European independence as the Soviet Union. Over time, using money and false flag operations, such as Operation Gladio, Washington marginalized politicians and political parties that did not follow Washington’s lead.

The specter of a military conflict with Russia that Washington is creating could erode Washington’s hold over Europe. By hyping a “Russian threat,” Washington is hoping to keep Europe under Washington’s protective wing. However, the “threat” is being over-hyped to the point that some Europeans have understood that Europe is being driven down a path toward war.

Belligerent talk from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from John McCain, from the neoconservatives, and from NATO commander Philip Breedlove is unnerving Europeans. In a recent love-fest between Breedlove and the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by John McCain, Breedlove supported arming the Ukrainian military, the backbone of which appears to be the Nazi militias, with heavy US weapons in order to change “the decision calculus on the ground” and bring an end to the break-away republics that oppose Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.

Breedlove told the Senate committee that his forces were insufficient to withstand Russian aggression and that he needed more forces on Russia’s borders in order to “reassure allies.”

Europeans have to decide whether the threat is Russia or Washington. The European press, which Udo Ulfkotte reports in his book, Bought Journalists, consists of CIA assets, has been working hard to convince Europeans that there is a “revanchist Russia” on the prowl that seeks to recover the Soviet Empire. Washington’s coup in Ukraine has disappeared. In its place Washington has substituted a “Russian invasion,” hyped as Putin’s first step in restoring the Soviet empire.

Just as there is no evidence of the Russian military in Ukraine, there is no evidence of Russian forces threatening Europe or any discussion or advocacy of restoring the Soviet empire among Russian political and military leaders.

In contrast Washington has the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which is explicitly directed at Russia, and now the Council on Foreign Relations has added China as a target of the Wolfowitz doctrine. 

The CFR report says that China is a rising power and thereby a threat to US world hegemony. China’s rise must be contained so that Washington can remain the boss in the Asian Pacific. What it comes down to is this: China is a threat because China will not prevent its own rise. This makes China a threat to “the International Order.” “The International Order,” of course, is the order determined by Washington. In other words, just as there must be no Russian sphere of influence, there must be no Chinese sphere of influence. The CFR report calls this keeping the world “free of hegemonic control” except by the US.

Just as General Breedlove demands more military spending in order to counter “the Russian threat,” the CFR wants more military spending in order to counter “the Chinese threat.” The report concludes: “Congress should remove sequestration caps and substantially increase the U.S. defense budget.”

Clearly, Washington has no intention of moderating its position as the sole imperial power. In defense of this power, Washington will take the world to nuclear war. Europe can prevent this war by asserting its independence and departing the empire.

Why Iran Must Remain a US Enemy

May 6th, 2015 by Gareth Porter

An anti-US mural painting outside the former US embassy in Tehran. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Since the start of the US nuclear negotiations with Iran, both Israeli and Saudi officials have indulged in highly publicized handwringing over their belief that such a nuclear deal would represent a fundamental strategic shift in US policy towards the region at the expense of its traditional alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But the Obama administration is no more likely to lurch into a new relationship with Iran than were previous US administrations. The reason is very simple: The US national security state, which has the power to block any such initiative, has fundamental long-term interests in the continuation of the policy of treating Iran as an enemy.

Some in the Israeli camp have spun elaborate theories about how the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran represent a strategic vision of partnership with the Iranian regime.

Typical of the genre is former Bush administration official Michael Doran’s speculation in February that US President Barack Obama based his policy of outreach to Tehran on the assumption that Tehran and Washington are “natural allies”.

Saudi response

The Saudi response to the negotiations has been, if anything, even more extreme. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence, who speaks more candidly in public than any other Saudi public figure, told an audience at London’s Chatham House last month, “The Americans and Iranians have been flirting with each other. Now it seems each side is anxious to get over the flirtation and get to the consummation.”

Behind the sexual metaphor lie Saudi fears of a “grand bargain” under which Iran would forgo nuclear weapons in return for ratification of Iranian hegemony over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf.

But these Israeli and Saudi imaginings are divorced from the reality of the Obama administration’s actual Iran policy. Far from the Nixon-like fundamental strategic revision, as the Netanyahu camp and the Saudis have suggested, the Obama administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear programme represents a culmination of a series of improvised policy adjustments within an overall framework of coercive diplomacy towards Iran.

Despite Obama’s embrace of diplomatic engagement with Iran as a campaign issue in 2008, when he entered the White House his real Iran policy was quite different. In fact, Obama’s aim during his first term was to induce Iran to accept an end to its uranium enrichment programme.

‘Unconditional talks’

Even as Obama was offering “unconditional talks” with Iran in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2009, he was already pursuing a strategy of multiple pressures on Iran to agree to that US demand.

Obama’s strategy of coercive diplomacy involved plans for more intrusive and punishing economic sanctions, a secret NSA programme of cyber-attacks against the Natanz enrichment facility and political/diplomatic exploitation of the threat of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the Netanyahu government in Israel.

Obama made no serious effort to negotiate with Iran until 2012, when he believed the new sanctions that were about to take effect would force Iran to agree to suspend enrichment indefinitely. He dropped that demand in 2013, only because Iran had increased the number of centrifuges in operation from 4,000 to 10,000 and had begun enriching to 20 percent.

Since the beginning of the negotiations, moreover, senior administration officials have repeatedly affirmed the policy of treating Iran as a state sponsor or terrorism and a “troublemaker” and destabilising factor in the Middle East.

In his April 7 interview with National Public Radio Obama said, “I’ve been very forceful in saying that our differences with Iran don’t change if we make sure that they don’t have a nuclear weapon – they’re still going to be financing Hezbollah, they’re still supporting Assad dropping barrel bombs on children, they are still sending arms to the Houthis in Yemen that have helped destabilise the country.”

At a deeper level, the most important factor in determining the policy of the US towards Iran is domestic electoral and bureaucratic politics – not Obama’s personal geopolitical vision of the Middle East. The power of the Israeli lobby obviously will severely limit policy flexibility towards Iran for many years. And the interests of the most powerful institutions in the US national security state remain tied to a continuation of the policy of treating Iran as the premier enemy of the US.

Bigger bonanza

Since 2002 the US Department of Defense has spent roughly $100bn on missile defence, most of which goes directly to its major military contractor allies. That bonanza depends largely on the idea that Iran is intent on threatening the US and its allies with ballistic missiles.

But an even bigger bonanza for the US arms industry is at stake. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf regimes in the anti-Iran alliance have been pouring big money into Pentagon arms contractor coffers for years. A deal with Saudi Arabia for fighter planes and missile defence technology first announced in 2010 was expected to yield $100-150bn in procurement and service contracts over two decades. And that tsunami of money from the Gulf depends on identifying Iran as a military threat to the entire region.

These sales are now integral to the health of the leading US military contractors. Lockheed, for example, now depends on foreign sales for as much as 25-33 percent of its revenue, according to the Times story.

So the Israeli and Saudi fear of a supposed Obama shift in alliances doesn’t reflect fundamental domestic US political realities that are not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy who has been independent since a brief period of university teaching in the 1980s. Dr. Porter is the author of five books, the latest book, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” was published in February 2014. He has written regularly for Inter Press Service on U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran since 2005.

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May 6th, 2015 by The Global Research Team

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After the Casablanca Conference of January 1943, the Americans, British, and Soviets had agreed that there would be no separate negotiations with Nazi Germany with respect to its capitulation, and that the Germander surrender would have to be unconditional. In the early spring of 1945, Germany was as good as defeated and the Allies were getting ready to receive its capitulation. The expected unconditional German capitulation vis-à-vis all three Allies would have to be concluded somewhere, but where – on the Eastern Front, or on the Western Front? 

If only for reasons of prestige, the Western Allies preferred that this would happen on the Western Front. Secret talks with the Germans, which the British and Americans were holding at that time (i.e. in March 1945) in neutral Switzerland, code-named Operation Sunrise, were useful in that context, not only with an eye on a German surrender in Italy, which had actually led to the talks, but also in view of the coming general and supposedly unconditional German capitulation, of which intriguing details – such as the venue of the ceremony – might possibly be determined in advance and without input from the the Soviets. There were many possibilities in this respect, because the Germans themselves kept approaching the Americans and the British in the hope of concluding a separate armistice with the Western powers or, if that would prove impossible, of steering as many Wehrmacht units as possible into American or British captivity by means of “individual” or “local” surrenders, i.e. surrenders of larger or smaller units of the German army in restricted areas of the front.           

The Great War of 1914-1918 had ended with a clear and unequivocal armistice, namely in the form of an unconditional German surrender, which everybody knows went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The Second World War, on the other hand, was to grind to a halt, in Europe at least, amidst intrigue and confusion, so that even today there are many misconceptions regarding the time and place of the German capitulation. The Second World War was to end in the European theatre not with one, but with an entire string of German capitulations, with a veritable orgy of surrenders.

It started in Italy on April 29, 1945, with the capitulation of the combined German armies in southwestern Europe to the Allied forces led by Alexander, the British field marshal. Signatories on the German side included SS General Karl Wolff, who had conducted the negotiations with American secret agents in Switzerland about sensitive issues such as the neutralization of the kind of Italian anti-fascists for whom there was no room in the American-British post-war plans for their country. Stalin had expressed misgivings about the arrangement that was being worked out between the Western Allies and the Germans in Italy, but in the end he gave his blessing to this capitulation after all.           

Many people in Great Britain firmly believe even today that the war against Germany ended with a German surrender in the headquarters of another British field marshal, namely Montgomery, on the Luneburg Heath in northern Germany. Yet this ceremony took place on May 4, 1945, that is, at least five days before the guns finally fell silent in Europe, and this capitulation applied only to German troops that had hitherto been battling Montgomery’s British-Canadian 21st Army Group in the Netherlands and in Northwest Germany. Just to be on the safe side, the Canadians actually accepted the capitulation of all German troops in Holland the next day, May 5, during a ceremony in the town of Wageningen, a town in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland.[1]           In America and also in Western Europe the event on the Luneburg Heath is rightly viewed as a strictly local capitulation, even though it is recognized that it served as a kind of prelude to the definitive German capitulation and resulting ceasefire. As far as the Americans, French, Belgians, and others are concerned, this definitive German surrender took place in the headquarters of General Eisenhower, the supreme commander of all Allied forces on the Western Front, in a shabby school building in the city of Reims on May 7, 1945, in the early morning. But this armistice was to go into effect only on the next day, May 8, and only at 11:01 p.m. It is for this reason that even now, commemoration ceremonies in the United States and in Western Europe take place on May 8.

However, even the important event in Reims was not the final surrender ceremony. With the permission of Hitler’s successor, Admiral Dönitz, German spokesmen had come knocking on Eisenhower’s door in order to try once again to conclude an armistice only with the Western Allies or, failing that, to try to rescue more Wehrmacht units from the clutches of the Soviets by means of local surrenders on the Western Front. Eisenhower was personally no longer willing to consent to further local surrenders, let alone a general German capitulation to the Western Allies only. But he appreciated the potential advantages that would accrue to the Western side if somehow the bulk of the Wehrmacht would end up in British-American rather than Soviet captivity. And he also realized that this was a unique opportunity to induce the desperate Germans to sign in his headquarters the general and unconditional capitulation in the form of a document that would conform to inter-Allied agreements; this detail would obviously do much to enhance the prestige of the United States.

In Reims it thus came to a byzantine scenario. First, from Paris an obscure Soviet liaison officer, Major General Ivan Susloparov, was brought over in order to save the appearance of the required Allied collegiality. Second, while it was made clear to the Germans that there could be no question of a separate capitulation on the Western Front, a concession was made to them in the form of an agreement that the armistice would only go into effect after a delay of forty-five hours. This was done to accommodate the new German leaders’ desire to give as many Wehrmacht units as possible a last chance to surrender to the Americans or the British. This interval gave the Germans the opportunity to transfer troops from the East, where heavy fighting continued unabatedly, to the West, where after the signing rituals in Luneburg and then Reims hardly any shots were being fired anymore. The Germans, whose delegation was headed by General Jodl, signed the capitulation document at Eisenhower’s headquarters on May 7 at 2:41 a.m.; but as mentioned earlier, the guns were to fall silent only on May 8 at 11:01 p.m. Local American commanders would cease to allow fleeing Germans to escape behind their lines only after the German capitulation actually went into effect. It can be argued, then, that the deal concluded in the Champagne city did not constitute a totally unconditional capitulation.[2]

The document signed in Reims ( see image left) gave the Americans precisely what they wanted, namely, the prestige of a general German surrender on the Western Front in Eisenhower’s headquarters. The Germans also achieved the best they could hope for, since their dream of a capitulation to the Western Allies alone appeared to be out of the question: a “postponement of execution,” so to speak, of almost two days. During this time, the fighting continued virtually only on the Eastern Front, and countless German soldiers took advantage of this opportunity to disappear behind the British-American lines.[3]

However, the text of the surrender in Reims did not conform entirely to the wording of a general German capitulation agreed upon previously by the Americans and the British as well as the Soviets. It was also questionable whether the representative of the USSR, Susloparov, was really qualified to co-sign the document. Furthermore, it is understandable that the Soviets were far from pleased that the Germans were afforded the possibility to continue to battle the Red Army for almost two more days while on the Western Front the fighting had virtually come to an end. The impression was thus created that what had been signed in Reims was in fact a German surrender on the Western Front only, an arrangement that violated the inter-Allied agreements. In order to clear the air, it was decided to organize an ultimate capitulation ceremony, so that the German surrender in Reims retroactively revealed itself as a sort of prelude to the final surrender and/or as a purely military surrender, even though the Americans and the Western Europeans would continue to commemorate it as the true end to the war in Europe.[4]

General Keitel signs Germany’s unconditional surrender in Berlin (right)

It was in Berlin, in the headquarters of Marshal Zhukov, that the final and general, political as well as military, German capitulation was signed on May 8, 1945 or, put differently, that the German capitulation of the day before in Reims was properly ratified by all the Allies. The signatories for Germany, acting on the instructions of Admiral Dönitz, were the generals Keitel, von Friedeburg (who had also been present in Reims) and Stumpf. Since Zhukov had a lower military rank than Eisenhower, the latter had a perfect excuse for not attending the ceremony in the rubble of the German capital. He sent his rather low-profile British deputy, Marshal Tedder, to sign, and this of course took some luster away from the ceremony in Berlin in favour of the one in Reims.[5]

As far as the Soviets and the majority of Eastern Europeans were concerned, the Second World War in Europe ended with the ceremony in Berlin on May 8, 1945, which resulted in the arms being laid down the next day, on May 9. For the Americans, and for most Western Europeans, “the real thing” was and remains the surrender in Reims, signed on May 7 and effective on May 8. While the former always commemorate the end of the war on May 9, the latter invariably do so on May 8. (But the Dutch celebrate on May 5.) That one of the greatest dramas of world history could have such a confusing and unworthy end in Europe was a consequence, as Gabriel Kolko writes, of the way in which the Americans and the British sought to achieve all sorts of big and small advantages for themselves – to the disadvantage of the Soviets – from the inevitable German capitulation.[6]

The First World War had ended de facto with the armistice of November 11, 1918, and de jure with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The Second World War came to an end with an entire string of surrenders, but it never did come to a peace treaty à la versaillaise, at least not with respect to Germany. (Peace treaties were in due course concluded with Japan, Italy, and so on.) The reason for this is that the victors – the Western Allies on the one side and the Soviets on the other side – were unable to come to an agreement about Germany’s fate. Consequently, a few years after the war two German states emerged, which virtually precluded the possibility of a peace treaty reflecting an agreement acceptable to all parties involved. And so a peace treaty with Germany, that is, a final settlement of all issues that remained unresolved after the war, such as the question of Germany’s eastern border, became feasible only when the reunification of the two Germanies became a realistic proposition, namely, after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

That made the “Two-plus-Four” negotiations of the summer and fall of 1990 possible, negotiations whereby on the one hand the two German states found ways to reunify Germany, and whereby on the other hand the four great victors of the Second World War – the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union – imposed their conditions on the German reunification and cleared up the status of the newly reunited country, taking into account not only their own interests but also the interests of other concerned European states such as Poland. The result of these negotiations was a convention that was signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990, and which, faute de mieux, can be viewed as the peace treaty that put an official end to the Second World War, at least with respect to Germany.[7]


[1] German surrenders in Italy and on Lüneburg Heath: Germany Surrenders 1945, Washington, DC, 1976, pp. 2-3.

[2] Germans want separate surrender or at least gain time: Herbert Kraus, “Karl Dönitz und das Ende des Dritten Reiches”»,in Hans-Erich Volkmann (ed.), Ende des Dritten Reiches- Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs: Eine perspektivische Rückschau, Munich and Zürich, 1995, pp. 4-5, 12; Germany Surrenders 1945, p. 6; Klaus-Dietmar Henke, Die Amerikanische Besetzung Deutschlands, Munich, 1995, pp. 687, 965-67; Helene Keyssar and Vladimir Pozner, Remembering War: A U.S.-Soviet Dialogue, New York and Oxford, 1990, p. 233.

[3] Germans profit from delay: Henke, op. cit., pp. 967-68.

[4] Questionable procedures in Reims: Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945, New York, 1968, p. 387; Germany Surrenders 1945, p. 8.

 [5] Ceremony in Berlin: Germany Surrenders 1945, pp. 8-9.

[6] Kolko-quotation: Kolko, op. Cit., p. 388.

[7] “2+4 negotiations”: Ulrich Albrecht, Die Abwicklung der DDR: Die «2+4 Verhandlungen »: Ein Insider-Bericht, Opladen, 1991.

The Executive Director of Greenpeace India, Samit Aich, today addressed his staff to prepare them for the imminent shutdown of the organization after 14 years in the country.

He said:

“I just made one of the hardest speeches of my life, but my staff deserve to know the truth. We have one month left to save Greenpeace India from complete shutdown, and to fight MHA’s [Ministry of Home Affairs] indefensible decision to block our domestic accounts.”

Greenpeace India has one month left to fight for its survival with the threat of an imminent shutdown looming large. The NGO has been left with funds for staff salaries and office costs that will last for just about a month. Calling it “strangulation by stealth,” Greenpeace India challenged the Home Minister to stop using arbitrary penalties and confirm that he is trying to shut Greenpeace India down because of its successful campaigns.

The Home Ministry’s decision to block Greenpeace India’s domestic bank accounts could lead to not only the loss of 340 employees of the organization but a sudden death for its campaigns which strived to represent the voice of the poor on issues of sustainable development, environmental justice and clean, affordable energy.

Following allegations over foreign funding, Greenpeace India has been the subject of a string of penalties imposed by the MHA, all of which have been overturned by the Delhi High Court. The latest is blocking access to domestic bank accounts funded by donations from over 77,000 Indian citizens.

While, Greenpeace India is currently preparing its formal response to this decision as well as a fresh legal challenge, Aich is concerned that the legal process could extend well beyond 1st June when cash reserves for salaries and office costs will run dry.

Aich continued:

“The question here is why are 340 people facing the loss of their jobs? Is it because we talked about pesticide-free tea, air pollution, and a cleaner, fairer future for all Indians?”

Priya Pillai is a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India. Her overseas travel ban was overturned by the Delhi High Court in March. She said:

“I fear for my own future, but what worries me much more is the chilling message that will go out to the rest of Indian civil society and the voiceless people they represent. The MHA has gone too far by blocking our domestic bank accounts, which are funded by individual Indian citizens. If Greenpeace India is first, who is next?”

Greenpeace India has asked the MHA to recognize the impact of its decision.

Aich says:

“The Home Minister is trying to strangle us by stealth, because he knows an outright ban is unconstitutional. We ask him to confirm that he is trying to close Greenpeace India and suppress our voice. His arbitrary attack could set a very dangerous precedent: every Indian civil society group is now on the chopping block.”

Since coming to power in 2014, the new Modi-led administration has promised to remove ‘blockages’ to ‘development’. In pushing through a strident neoliberal agenda, this was originally taken to mean regulatory obstacles. But it is increasingly clear that protest and dissent are to be regarded in a similar light.

A 2014 leaked Intelligence Bureau report stated that foreign NGOs and their Indian arms were serving as tools to advance Western foreign policy interests in various areas. Greenpeace was singled out for particular attention and was deemed to be working against the ‘national interest’.

Greenpeace responded at the time by saying:

“We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”

At a time when the administration is opening up the economy to Western interests, which could impact the livelihoods of hundreds of millions, the hypocrisy of blaming certain individuals and NGOs for working to further Western foreign policy objectives has not been lost on observers and campaigners alike.

The Fraud of War

May 5th, 2015 by Julia Harte

U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau sat at the center of a complex trucking network in Forward Operating Base Fenty near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that distributed daily tens of thousands of gallons of what troops called “liquid gold”: the refined petroleum that fueled the international coalition’s vehicles, planes, and generators.

A prominent sign in the base read: “The Army Won’t Go If The Fuel Don’t Flow.” But Charboneau, 31, a mother of two from Washington state, felt alienated after a supervisor’s harsh rebuke. Her work was a dreary routine of recording fuel deliveries in a computer and escorting trucks past a gate. But it was soon to take a dark turn into high-value crime.

She began an affair with a civilian, Jonathan Hightower, who worked for a Pentagon contractor that distributed fuel from Fenty, and one day in March 2010 he told her about “this thing going on” at other U.S. military bases around Afghanistan, she recalled in a recent telephone interview.

Troops were selling the U.S. military’s fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds. When Hightower suggested they start doing the same, Charboneau said, she agreed.

In so doing, Charboneau contributed to thefts by U.S. military personnel of at least $15 million worth of fuel since the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And eventually she became one of at least 115 enlisted personnel and military officers convicted since 2005 of committing theft, bribery, and contract-rigging crimes valued at $52 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a comprehensive tally of court records by the Center for Public Integrity.

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military’s management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.

Charboneau, whose Facebook posts reveal a bright-eyed woman with a shoulder tattoo and a huge grin, snuggling with pets and celebrating the 2015 New Year with her children in Seattle Seahawks jerseys, now sits in Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, serving a seven-year sentence for her crime.

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Additional crimes by military personnel are still under investigation, and some court records remain partly under seal. The magnitude of additional losses from fraud, waste, and abuse by contractors, civilians, and allied foreign troops in Afghanistan has never been tallied, but officials probing such crimes say the total is in the billions of dollars. And those who investigate and prosecute military wrongdoing say the convictions so far constitute a small portion of the crimes they think were committed by U.S. military personnel in the two countries.

Former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen, who served as the principal watchdog for wrongdoing in Iraq from 2004 to 2013, said he suspected “the fraud … among U.S. military personnel and contractors was much higher” than what he and his colleagues were able to prosecute. John F. Sopko, his contemporary counterpart in Afghanistan, said his agency has probably uncovered less than half of the fraud committed by members of the military in Afghanistan.

U.S. soldiers inspect damage to their armored vehicle after an near the village of Eber in Logar province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 26, 2009.U.S. soldiers inspect damage to their armored vehicle near the village of Eber in Logar province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 26, 2009. Photo by Nikola Solic/Reuters

As of February, he said he had 327 active investigations still under way, involving 31 members of the military. “You don’t appreciate how much money is being stolen in Afghanistan until you go over there,” said Sopko, who says price-fixing and other forms of financial corruption are rampant in Afghanistan.

These and other experts, as well as some of those who have pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing, point to some recurrent patterns in the corrupt activity, which in turn illustrate the special challenges created when a sizable military force is deployed abroad. Sometimes ill-trained military personnel were forced to handle or oversee large cash transactions, in a region where casual corruption in financial dealings—bribes, kickbacks, and petty theft—was commonplace. Commanding officers, they add, were typically so distracted by urgent war challenges that they could not carefully check for missing fuel or contractor kickbacks.

So far, officers account for approximately four-fifths of the value of the fraud committed by military personnel in Iraq, while in Afghanistan, the ratio was flipped, with enlistees accounting for roughly the same portion, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s tally. The reasons for the difference are unclear. But Sopko said he expects more officers to be investigated for misconduct in Afghanistan as the U.S. military mission there continues, so the ratio could change.

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Troops who had little or no prior criminal history, like Charboneau, say the circumstances of their deployments made stealing with impunity look easy, and so they made decisions that to their surprise eventually brought them prison sentences ranging from three months to more than 17 years. Many, like Charboneau, were savvy about the military’s way of doing things—her mother, her first husband, and her second husband were service members, according to a statement her lawyer, Dennis Hartley, filed on Jan. 30, 2014, before her sentencing.

They say that they knew of other military personnel who also broke the law, but without getting caught. Hightower convinced her to steal fuel from Fenty, Charboneau said, by pointing out that the troops at nearby bases “aren’t getting caught, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it.”

Retired Army Reserve Maj. Glenn MacDonald, editor-in-chief of the website, said the volume and value of fraud committed by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq seem higher to him than what he recalled as a young soldier in Vietnam in the 1960s. “What you can make out of these [recent] wars is staggering. It’s an opportunity for anybody, even a noncommissioned officer, to become very rich overnight,” MacDonald said.

Many have probably been tempted, he said, because they saw others getting away with the theft of thousands or even millions of dollars.

Pocketing thousands in cash from illicit fuel sales

Military fuel in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a perennial target of theft during the past 14 years of war. In Afghanistan, fuel moved around the country in “jingle trucks,” tankers adorned with kaleidoscopic patterns and metal ornaments. At Fenty, for example, jingle trucks bearing fuel arrived every few days from suppliers in Pakistan, all driven by locals under contracts with the base. Officers at Fenty then distributed it to 32 nearby bases, with the largest ones using up to 2 million gallons of fuel a week.

A U.S. soldier sits in an MRAP vehicle as he prepares for an early morning mission at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Afghanistan on Dec. 19, 2014.
A U.S. soldier sits in an MRAP vehicle as he prepares for an early morning mission at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Afghanistan on Dec. 19, 2014. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

To describe the system as loosely controlled might be an understatement: Standard contracts allowed each driver to take seven days to bring the fuel to a destination that might be only a few hours away, according to Army Maj. Jonathan McDougal, who oversaw motor vehicle logistics in northeast Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 from Bagram Airfield. “It was like they planned for something to go wrong with every convoy,” McDougal told the Center for Public Integrity.

Charboneau’s role in the Fenty fuel theft ring was simple. She ordered trucks to transport more fuel than needed, then filed fake records showing the extra fuel had been delivered to a base. After leaving Fenty in a convoy, the extra trucks diverted their loads to prearranged meeting spots, where buyers offloaded the fuel and paid in cash, with the proceeds divided later among Charboneau and her co-conspirators. The scheme worked—for a while—because the fuel storage amounts and truck delivery amounts matched (although of course the bases’ records of delivered fuel did not).

This represented, Charboneau said, “a big gap” in the fuel oversight system. And the rewards were enticing—about $5,000 in net profit from a single extra truckload.

One month after she joined the scheme, according to the government’s sentencing memo, filed on Jan. 15, 2014, in U.S. District Court in Colorado, her supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Weaver, jumped in. She described the widening of the conspiracy in instant messages intended for her sister in Colorado, sent using the screen name “dollface_kc”:

150504_POL_Dollface_KCAlthough prosecutor Mark Dubester said in the sentencing memo that Charboneau’s use of the term lmao (Internet slang for “laughing my ass off”) demonstrated that she “saw humor in the situation,” Charboneau said she did not. When she returned to Fenty, she said, Weaver pulled her aside and told her that he knew how everything worked, and while he had not made much money off of the scheme so far, it would be wise of her to keep her mouth shut.

“It was … one of those things that, ‘if you tell anybody, you’re probably going to be sorry,’” said Charboneau. “I was his subordinate. He was in charge.”

“Thereafter, the conspiracy continued with all three involved, and this is when the bulk of the thefts occurred,” according to the sentencing memo that Dubester submitted. Weaver met with Charboneau and Hightower each morning to decide which trucks would make legitimate deliveries and which trucks were “going to go get stolen,” Charboneau said in the interview.

If someone had simply asked more questions about the deliveries—such as “‘I need to know where you’re sending these 15 trucks. Oh, you don’t have a destination for these five?”—it would have been much harder to pull off the scheme, Charboneau said. She, Weaver, and Hightower were able to continue stealing as long as they did, she said, because they were the only three people entrusted with keeping track of where the fuel went when it left the base.

Digital monitoring could also have stopped theft at military bases, she said. Scanning the fingerprints of the drivers when they left Fenty and arrived at the destination bases, for instance, would have deterred them from selling it on the side, according to Charboneau.

Weaver pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy and bribery on Oct. 10, 2012, and is now serving a sentence of three years and one month in a federal prison in South Dakota. His former attorney declined to speak on the record about the case. In a letter to Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger that Weaver filed with an October 2013 sentencing statement, Weaver wrote that he had originally taken the money to hire a lawyer because his “child’s mother was threatening to take my son away from me.”

“Of course, I took more than was needed,” he added. “I got greedy once I started.”

Hightower also pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2013, to two years and three months in prison. He is serving his term in a federal prison in San Antonio.

The thefts alone caused more than $1.5 million in losses to the United States, according to the plea agreement that Charboneau eventually signed on Sept. 5, 2013. Her attorney, Hartley, told the court that her crime had also humiliated her husband, whose own Army unit had learned about it.

Charboneau said she is now haunted by how “I was so proud to be in the military, [and then] doing what I did.” After seven years as a soldier, trained to respect and trust her supervisors completely, she said, it was “really hard” to find out that a superior was engaging in theft.

U.S. soldier prepares for a mission on Forward Operating Base Gamberi in the Laghman province of Afghanistan on Dec. 28, 2014.U.S. soldiers prepare for a mission on Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan on Dec. 28, 2014. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Her advice to young troops deploying to Afghanistan today would be to “keep to themselves, learn the job that they need to learn,” and if confronted with a proposal similar to the one Hightower laid at her feet, just say no. “It wasn’t worth the forty-some-odd thousand dollars I made to be in prison for seven years, to be away from my … family,” she said.

Charboneau started serving her sentence in February, after a court-approved delay of five-and-a-half months, so she could briefly take care of her third child, Tate, who was born in July; all three of her children are now being looked after by her mother. In an email to the Center for Public Integrity, Charboneau wrote that she was adjusting all right to prison but missed her kids, especially her newborn. “[I]’m afraid most days he will forget me,” she wrote.

A tangle of emotions and crime

Court filings in more than 100 cases reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity show that many of the military personnel who wound up being convicted had earlier received honors and awards, and were well-regarded by their uniformed colleagues. Charboneau, for instance, won two medals for her service in the Fenty operations office. She received the first just months before she began stealing fuel with Hightower and Weaver.

So what makes such military personnel turn to crime?

The inspectors general for both war zones said criminal actions were provoked partly by the high volume of cash and resources flowing into the countries. “The more money you throw into a weak-rule-of-law situation, the more fraud you’ll see,” said Bowen.

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Todd Conormon, a lawyer who served in Iraq in 2004 and now defends service members accused of wrongdoing, said that for some, the sheer pressure of combat “has a debilitating effect, and maybe makes it easier … to rationalize, ‘Well, I deserve this.’ ” Others grew used to seeing corruption all around them—like the widespread financial impropriety Sopko described—and convinced themselves that a little more wouldn’t interfere with the essential goals of the U.S. mission, Conormon said. For some, the urge to steal was wrapped up in other temptations, such as an illicit romance with another service member, according to court documents.

An Army captain from Tacoma, Washington, named Cedar Lanmon, who served in Iraq on two deployments from 2004 to 2007, accepted gifts worth tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for helping the Albanian owner of a company called “Just in Time Contracting” obtain a $250,000 contract from the U.S. military, according to a complaint filed against him on Nov. 15, 2007, by U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division Special Agent Derek Lindbom. He wound up getting caught after his estranged wife—referred to by her first initial T in the complaint — called Lindbom’s agency to describe her husband’s misdeeds, financial and marital:


After Lanmon proposed that his wife join him and the new girlfriend in a “polygamous marriage,” according to the document, the couple “became estranged as husband and wife.” Lanmon served one year in federal prison and was released on Sept. 11, 2009. A Washington state phone number under his name had been disconnected when the Center for Public Integrity tried to reach him.

Other fraud schemes in Iraq and Afghanistan occurred with the full knowledge—and sometimes the complicity—of the service member’s spouse. U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Eric Schmidt and his wife, Janet, engaged in theft and contract fraud during his deployment as a contracting officer at Camp Fallujah in Iraq in 2008 and 2009. They netted a total of $1.69 million, according to the sentencing memo that Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy McLaughlin filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Feb. 3, 2011.

They were an efficient team. Eric Schmidt helped Iraqis pilfer equipment from the base, such as generators and air conditioners, and steered military reconstruction contracts to one local firm in particular, according to the sentencing memo.

Janet Schmidt arranged for U.S. companies to supply smaller quantities or substandard versions of the equipment that the chosen Iraqi firm was supposed to be producing, the sentencing memo said. When the products arrived in Iraq, Eric signed a Defense Department form stating that the shipments had been sent by the Iraqi firm. The firm then sent the U.S. government a bill Janet had prepared, and when it was paid, the firm shared the proceeds with the Schmidts.


The scheme escaped notice during the year Eric Schmidt was deployed to Iraq, according to Daniel F. Willkens, a former head of investigations for Stuart Bowen. Schmidt even roped in two subordinate Marines to help him with the scheme, according to the sentencing memo. One of them, Staff Sgt. Eric Hamilton, received $124,000 from Schmidt and the Iraqi contractors for painting circles on generators in the military storage yard at Fallujah to show which ones they could take and then unlocking the gate when the contractors came to get them, according to charges filed in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina on July 27, 2011. Hamilton pleaded guilty to the charges on Aug. 10, 2011, according to his plea agreement.

Eric and Jane Schmidt were caught by chance. In 2009, five months after Eric Schmidt had returned to the United States and the couple had purchased costly property in California, Schmidt was arrested for assaulting his wife. While state police were inside the home, they noticed he had $10,000 in cash and that the bills were stamped with the imprint of an Iraqi bank.

Investigators from Bowen’s agency, the Pentagon, and the IRS were eventually able to confirm the money had come from Iraq and pieced together the rest of the story by examining the Schmidts’ financial transactions and correspondence. In the last report that Bowen’s agency submitted to Congress, in September 2013, the Schmidts’ case was described as the “biggest catch” of a special data mining team in his agency. In 2011, Eric Schmidt was sentenced to six years in prison while his wife was sentenced to one year of home confinement and two additional years of probation. The couple was ordered to pay the U.S. government $2.1 million in restitution, including income tax.

“Most of our cases were triggered by unexpected tips [revealed by] someone who had their conscience pricked and came forward,” said Bowen. Because the whistleblowers could be endangered by receiving public credit, they are rarely mentioned in court documents.

Sopko confirmed that most of the cases his agency successfully investigates come from tips, when service members call government corruption hotlines or when disgruntled representatives of military services companies come forward to complain that a rival seems to be getting all the prime contract awards. Charboneau’s scheme, for instance, was uncovered after Weaver talked about it with a sergeant with whom he was romantically involved, she said.

In Afghanistan, Sopko and his investigators typically use sources, undercover techniques, and firsthand testimony. Because recordkeeping in the country has been poor, he said, “we don’t just rely on paper.”

The contract fraud model

One exception was an elaborate contract-rigging scheme that culminated in the longest prison sentence given to any U.S. service member for fraud in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates conducts a town hall meeting with U.S. troops at the Forward Operating Base Bastion in  Afghanistan, on May 7, 2009.
Then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates conducts a town hall meeting with U.S. troops at the Forward Operating Base Bastion in Afghanistan, on May 7, 2009. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

It began, according to court documents, as Army Maj. Eddie Pressley arrived at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait in October 2004 to work as a contracting specialist, ordering supplies for the base. Just before his arrival, he had received an Army Commendation Medal for exceptional service as a military recruiter.

His roommate at the base was another Army major, John Cockerham, who reviewed and awarded bids for Defense Department contracts to support the U.S. Army’s operations around the Middle East. By the time Pressley arrived, Cockerham had already been at the camp for three months—and had begun awarding contracts for goods such as bottled water in exchange for bribes, according to an indictment filed by a San Antonio grand jury against Cockerham on Aug. 22, 2007.

During a trial hearing on Dec. 12, 2009, Cockerham’s attorney, Jimmy Parks, said Cockerham agreed to participate in these schemes after a “lot of cajoling and convincing” by contractors, who told Cockerham that “our God requires that we bless you” for giving them “a chance to do business.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher responded that the payments had not been blessings, “just bribes.”

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By March 2005, Pressley was likewise collecting bribes for awarding contracts and ordering extra goods under those contracts, according to the indictment that an Alabama grand jury filed against him on May 1, 2009. The men arranged for their wives to visit, collect the cash profits, and take the money home or send it to foreign bank accounts.

When an Army major and West Point graduate named James Momon arrived in the summer of 2005, Pressley and Cockerham took him for a ride in their jeep and described how their bribery scheme worked, according to descriptions of sealed testimony by Momon that federal prosecutor Peter Sprung and Pressley’s attorney, Clyde Riley, gave at February 2011 court hearings in Decatur, Alabama. According to Sprung, Momon said Cockerham and Pressley explained how they got the bribe money from the contractors, and how their wives and relatives helped move the illicit funds out of the country.


Court records and published reports by Bowen’s agency do not detail how the investigation began, but in late December 2006, federal agents executed a search warrant on Cockerham’s San Antonio home and discovered what they said was a highly incriminating ledger.

Cockerham had a compulsion to write down “everything from his dreams to the amounts of money he took,” according to Willkens. He neatly listed the names of contracting companies that paid him bribes, along with the values of the bribes he had already received and those he expected to receive. Of the $15 million he eventually hoped to receive in bribes, Pletcher told the court in the 2009 hearing, Cockerham had designated 10 percent to be used for building a church.

In total, Cockerham, Pressley, and Momon collected at least $14 million in bribes, according to court documents detailing the conduct of which they were convicted. Cockerham ended up receiving 17½ years in prison, the longest sentence given to any service member convicted of fraud in the two countries. At least seven other troops in Iraq and Kuwait were convicted of participating in the conspiracy. A military-veteran-turned-contractor who investigators say played a pivotal role in the case, George Lee, pleaded guilty in February to paying a bribe to one of the lieutenants and is now in a Philadelphia jail.

The conspiracy—and the suicide of an Army officer who killed herself in 2006 after confessing to federal agents that she had accepted at least $225,000 in bribes from Lee—has garnered wide attention.

The challenges of bringing a successful case in the middle of war

Sopko and others warn that the steady flow of military reconstruction funds into the two countries will not soon subside, with the deployment of 10,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan recently extended to 2016 and new aid and military personnel starting to return to Iraq.

But auditors working for Sopko’s agency face increasing restrictions in Afghanistan. Military officials have told Sopko’s agency that they would only provide civilian investigators access to areas within a one-hour round trip of an advanced medical facility so that the U.S. government can provide them “adequate security and rapid emergency medical support,” according to a report Sopko’s agency issued in 2013. As a result, in 2014, Sopko’s investigators were only able to access one-fifth of the country.

Moreover, because the U.S. embassy in Kabul is shrinking, Sopko has been instructed to cut his staff there by 40 percent, to just 25 positions, by mid-2016. Everyone in Afghanistan, including his on-the-ground investigators, Sopko wrote in his agency’s report, will struggle over the next few years “to continue providing the direct U.S. civilian oversight that is needed in Afghanistan.”

Investigators say that even now, some service members whom they strongly suspect of fraud wind up getting away without prosecution because investigators simply cannot muster the evidence to bring them to trial, or because they prefer to go after large cases while letting smaller ones go.

In Iraq, recalled Willkens, he and his fellow investigators were sure they had uncovered the culprits behind certain lucrative crimes, but were equally sure they would not be able to prove it because the proceeds were stashed in inaccessible overseas accounts.

Bowen and Willkens also complained that stiff penalties were not assessed as often as they wished. “I suspected that many of these guys that we caught were perfectly happy to go to prison for a few years,” because they had much more money stashed overseas in places with little banking regulation, such as Cyprus or Jordan, Bowen said. “Prison was the cost of doing business for them.”

Other oversight officials confirmed that the amounts of money the U.S. government receives from service members convicted of fraud is rarely commensurate with their crimes. Restitution or forfeiture are set at whatever levels the judge decides is deserved, within the sentencing guidelines. In bribery schemes, for example, it is “often difficult to define specifically the loss to the government,” according to Peter Carr, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman.

Part of the challenge, according to Willkens, is that fraud is seen as a white-collar, nonviolent crime. If the service members who stole millions from the U.S. government had taken the same amount during an armed robbery of a bank, he said, they would receive much higher penalties.

“Robbing the government is seen as a victimless crime,” Willkens added. “It’s not.”

 This story was published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington.

 Julia Harte is a reporter at the Center for Public Integrity.

 Copyright Julia Harte, Center for Public Integrity and Slate, 2015

by Fateh Azzam

Palestine should confer citizenship on its stateless refugees and enter into bilateral agreements with other states to improve their situation – as citizens – wherever they reside. This proposal has pitfalls but it may be a powerful way to create facts on the road to freedom and rights.

Now that Palestine is recognized as a state, the next bold step for Palestine is to confer citizenship on its stateless refugees and enter into bilateral agreements with other states regarding the status of Palestinian citizens in each country. In making the case for such a move, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Fateh Azzam is well aware of the treacherous political waters that this proposal entails. However, he argues that it is worth considering from all its aspects, including the potential problems, as it could be a long over-due move to strengthen the legal status of Palestinian refugees – in particular the stateless refugees – and to improve their situation in their countries of current residence. It would also create facts on the ground, which may become the building blocks for national liberation.



Palestine’s Present Status and Authorities

Reports continue to circulate about a new effort to secure a UN Security Council resolution that would accord Palestine full UN membership and set out yet another road map for ending the Israeli occupation. While full membership of the UN is useful, it is not the only avenue open to Palestine to achieve the long-term aim of national liberation, freedom from occupation and a just and rights-based life of dignity for all Palestinians.

Palestine now enjoys a sufficient degree of recognition in the international community of states that it can take further steps towards strengthening its de facto and de jure existence and create new facts on the ground to enable solutions beyond the trap of the Oslo Accords. In fact, Mahmoud Abbas – acting on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – began to go in this direction soon after the 2012 General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, first by joining the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), then by signing on to international human rights and other treaties, and, in the wake of the failed UN Security Council vote in December, by signing on to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

It is important not to conflate the State of Palestine with the Palestinian Authority (PA), a mistake made possible by the Palestinian leadership’s own conflation of the two. In legal terms, the State of Palestine is a creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which the UN has recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian People. The PA is merely a construct of the Oslo Accords and has varying degrees of authority in parts of the West Bank and Gaza not including Arab Jerusalem.

In fact, Palestine is already a state, under both the declarative and constitutive approaches to state recognition in international practice. The PLO’s Declaration of Independence on November 15, 1988 in Algiers, as deposited with the UN, implied, ipso facto, acceptance of the pre-1967 armistice lines as borders, specifically encompassing Arab Jerusalem. As such, the entire territory of Palestine as declared in 1988 remains under Israeli occupation.

The Algiers Declaration further notes “The State of Palestine shall be for all Palestinians,” which is a straightforward designation, and it contains clear provisions for equality and non-discrimination on any basis. The Palestine National Council and the PLO’s Executive Committee are the Government of Palestine, which has been conducting relations with other states on an ongoing basis, including joining international organizations and acceding to treaties, as mentioned above.

The fact that Palestine gained overwhelming official recognition by a vote of the General Assembly in 2012 (138 votes in favor, 41 abstentions, 9 negative votes out of 193 member states) further supports is statehood status. Currently 135 countries formally recognize Palestine, mostly outside North America and the European Union (with the exception of Sweden and Iceland which do). Nevertheless, 17 European states actually voted for the General Assembly resolution. Many of them may soon recognize Palestine officially, as indicated by recent votes at the European Parliament, theFrench Parliament, and the UK Parliament, among others. This demonstrates that global support for an independent Palestine is reaching a critical mass that may be enough to get forward movement on other fronts as well.

What is proposed here is that the State of Palestine can begin conferring citizenship, in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, and in exercise of its sovereign right to do so as a state, albeit still under occupation and even though its citizens are unable yet to exercise their right to return to their homeland. Importantly, this would be the first act by the State of Palestine to give priority to its hitherto almost-forgotten constituency, the stateless refugees. There are of course benefits and risks.

The Palestinians’ Mosaic Legal Status

Palestinians live under diverse legal regimes depending on where they currently reside. In the territories of Palestine (West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem), they are considered “permanent residents” by the Israeli occupation, which claims for itself the right to withdraw such residency at will – and does so on a regular basis. Palestinians have Israeli-issued identity documents on the basis of which, by virtue of the Oslo Accords, the PA provides them with “passports”. These are simply travel documents that replace Israeli-issued Laissez Passers; moreover, PA passports may not be issued to Jerusalem’s Arab residents. Jerusalemites and West Bankers may travel under Jordanian passports that have no Jordanian “national number”; these are similarly treated as travel documents.

None of these documents are representative of any citizenship anywhere, and Palestinians under Israeli occupation continue to be stateless persons under international law. This of course does not apply to the more than 1.5 million Palestinians that are citizens of the State of Israel and thus are not legally considered stateless or refugees. Interestingly, the PA has also issued their “passports” to some Palestinians in the Diaspora who use them for international travel except to occupied Palestine, where they are not recognized.

Most Palestinians in Jordan hold Jordanian citizenship, but are also refugees registered with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), except for approximately 100,000 stateless Palestinians from Gaza who are not. As such they are subject to subtle and not-so-subtle tests of “loyalty” and the scrutiny they live under sometimes results in the withdrawal of that citizenship, rendering them stateless.

The most vulnerable refugees are in Syria and Lebanon, where they are registered with UNRWA, and are considered both refugees and stateless persons. They live under a mixed-bag set of rights and restrictions that are different in each of those countries. In Egypt, the Palestinian refugees also remain stateless, but they are registered with the government rather than UNRWA and are subject to many restrictions in terms of the right to work, residence, education and other rights. 1 Syria, Lebanon and Egypt may issue their stateless Palestinians travel documents subject to a variety of restrictions. The vulnerability of stateless Palestinian refugees in those countries and across the region, including Libya, Iraq, and the Gulf, has been abundantly discussed elsewhere and needs no repetition here. They should be accorded first priority for Palestinian citizenship.

Some Steps Toward Implementing Citizenship

Many legal, political and logistical complications arise in implementing the granting of citizenship in each of the countries where Palestinians live. These complications intersect and overlap and need to be thoroughly thought through before action is contemplated. Some starting points are suggested below that require more serious in-depth consideration.

A first step would be to establish a comprehensive registry of all individuals and their families who may lay claim to Palestinian citizenship, as Sam Bahour has suggested. This would be collated from UNRWA and governmental records throughout the region and internationally, and include such data as whether they are stateless, registered as refugees, or citizens of any country. It would be a mammoth project, but it is necessary given that no such comprehensive roster exists in one place at this time, and it would help to prioritize applications by stateless Palestinians in the implementation of a citizenship process.

However, before implementing a process of conferral of citizenship, Palestine must enter into specific bilateral agreements with each of the countries that have already recognized it as a state, on the assumption that they are willing to take their bilateral relations forward. To date, these relations have been little more than cosmetic, such as elevating PLO offices to embassies, flying flags and entering into some limited diplomatic relations.

Such bilateral agreements could establish reciprocal arrangements on very specific terms based on the recognition of Palestinians as nationals of a friendly state. They would be designed to mutually accord preferential treatment to citizens of both states. Countries such as Lebanon and Egypt, for example, do not allow Palestinian professionals to work because of a lack of reciprocal arrangements for their own syndicated and other professionals. A bilateral agreement could remove this restriction by including a commitment by Palestine to ensure such reciprocal treatment once it is liberated from occupation.

Such agreements could also open the way to the exercise of other rights, such as ownership of property or business, access to health care and a number of other rights and privileges that Palestinian refugee-citizens may enjoy as a result of their own state negotiating on their behalf. In other words, the full gamut of mutual benefits and obligations can be put into play in such bilateral agreements, including taxation and social insurance schemes for refugee-citizens that may be underwritten or made a joint venture by both states for the benefit of Palestinian citizens and the host states as well. The arrangements may also include consular protection and legal representation.

In its bilateral agreements with Jordan and other countries where Palestinians are citizens Palestine may include the provision of dual citizenship, which is a common practice across the globe. Hundreds of thousands of registered refugees have acquired citizenship in many countries, although exact numbers are not available. Palestine can enter into bilateral agreements with those countries to allow for dual citizenship and define mutual benefits and obligations as per standard international practice.

Dual citizenship within the Arab world is more problematic. Preliminary information shows that nearly all Arab states do not recognize dual citizenship, although many tacitly accept it. Interestingly, the three countries with the largest stateless Palestinian refugee populations do recognize dual citizenship: Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. For Jordan, the only country where most Palestinians are citizens, this facilitates the discussion on duality of citizenship with Palestine, provided there is political agreement to do so and the current status and rights of Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin are not jeopardized. Notwithstanding the bilateral agreements, however, the choice to apply for Palestinian citizenship should be an individual choice.

The Arab League’s Resolution 1547 (9 March 1959) exhorts Arab states to support Palestinians’ “nationality” by not granting them citizenship. Palestine’s granting of Palestinian citizenship would actually be consistent with this resolution because it would strengthen and formalize Palestinian nationality. Another resolution, the 1965 Casablanca Protocol of the League of Arab States calls on member states to provide Palestinians with the right of employment, travel, and entry and exit “whilst retaining their Palestinian nationality.” It accords Palestinians “the same treatment as all other LAS state citizens, regarding visa, and residency applications.” Palestine – a full member of the League – could seek the Arab League’s recognition of Palestinian legal nationality after gaining the support of a sufficient number of member states.

Citizenship, Refugee Law and the Right to Return

One becomes a refugee as a result of being “unable or unwilling” to return to where they may face a “well-founded fear” of persecution or serious harm, as defined by the 1951 Refugees’ Convention. The Palestinian refugees are more than willing but are “unable” to return because of Israel’s refusal to allow them to do so. In international refugee law, however, the status and rights of Palestinian refugees differ from other refugees in several ways.

Also according to the Convention, a refugee who acquires the nationality of a host state upon resettlement loses refugee status. This is not the case for UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugees, who are in any event excluded from the application of the 1951 convention. Notwithstanding, what is being proposed here is actually the reverse. Stateless Palestinians would be acquiring the nationality of their home country, Palestine, not of any host or foreign state. They remain refugees because of being unable to return to Palestine, and their home state – under occupation – can advocate on their behalf with the host countries for the gamut of rights and privileges agreed upon bilaterally.

In fact, refugee status does not negate the nationality of the refugee: One does not lose one’s nationality or citizenship due to being a refugee. One remains a national of one’s home state – unless their legal status of “citizen” is actively withdrawn, which is a practice seriously frowned upon by international law as it creates statelessness. They may lose what is called “effective” nationality or citizenship, i.e., the active link of the citizen to his/her own state and the ability to rely on its protection or access its services, such as renewing passports. This, however, is a matter of functionality and practice not affecting the refugee’s right to that nationality.

Indeed, the demand for exercising the right to return becomes even stronger when return is to a homeland of which one is a citizen. The acquisition of Palestinian citizenship can only strengthen this demand, as it legally establishes the already clear historical and geographic links of Palestinians to Palestine.

Without prejudice to the collective political claim based on the right to self-determination, it is important to note that the right to return is an individual right. It is tied intricately to each individual and family’s claim to return to a homeland and to specific homes and properties that were lost due to conflict and ethnic cleansing. It would not be up to the State of Palestine to compromise or negotiate the right to return away on their behalf without their express agreement. Each individual refugee has the right to decide whether to return or to accept compensation, or both.

Article 11 of the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 referred to “the refugees wishing to return to their homes…” confirming it as an individual decision. It should be noted, however, that the right to return was not established by Resolution 194, as is often claimed. Rather, it only confirmed customary law, reaffirmed by Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a right to leave one’s country and return to it, and by consequent treaties and state practice, most recently in the Balkans.

One effect of granting citizenship is that it would take away the “bargaining chip” aspect of the right to return – whether to the refugees’ original homes or to the State of Palestine defined by the PLO Declaration of Independence as the West Bank, Gaza and Arab Jerusalem. Palestinian citizens certainly should be able to go to any part of Palestine that is liberated from occupation as a matter of a right of citizenship, not as part of a “concession” by Israel in the context of any future peace treaty.

Furthermore, this should in no way diminish the struggle for a right to return to “original lands and homes” which would continue to be a point of contention between Palestine and Israel and between Israel and individual Palestinians. Any negotiated proposals should be referred back to Palestinian citizens through referenda or other formats should they affect any aspect of their individual claims to return to their original homes or to compensation or both.

Other Obstacles and Questions

As discussed above, there is sufficient legal basis to support the granting of Palestinian citizenship, but the political implications of a move by Palestine in this direction could be daunting in terms of Israeli, Palestinian and Arab reactions and willingness to consider the options. Israel and the U.S. would certainly react negatively and even take some measures in retaliation, but there would be nothing new in that. Threats of increasing settlements or cutting off of financial support are made – and often implemented – every time Palestine makes a move outside of the Oslo framework.

Each of the countries with which Palestine has relations would present significant complications in the political negotiations towards implementation of this proposal, especially in the Arab region. Jordan and Lebanon have particular sensitivities regarding the Palestinians in their midst, and Palestinian negotiators will have to work with those countries to arrive at mutually acceptable terms and recognitions. These would not be easy negotiations. For example, Egypt’s current, irrational sensitivities to Gaza Palestinians and to Hamas would have to be addressed and surmounted, and the current crisis in Syria will block any movement for some time to come. Ironically, it may be useful to start negotiating with supportive non-Arab countries to slowly build the international consensus necessary to create acceptance closer to home.

There are also political landmines on the internal Palestinian front, particularly given the weakening national consensus on the broader issues facing Palestinians: Whether nominal sovereignty without control of the land is meaningful; the efficacy of international recognition of any sort given continued Israeli colonization; the very legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership, and the periodic calls for a retreat from Oslo, resignation of the Palestinian Authority and the handing over of occupied Palestine back to the Israeli occupation. The idea of granting citizenship is not intended to serve as a resolution of Palestinian political malaise, but only as a step to build on what now exists to achieve some limited progress in refugees’ lives.

In fact, it may very well be a helpful step as it might facilitate reform of the PLO through a reorganization of its capacity to represent all Palestinians, within and outside the recognized territories of the State. One may dare to imagine popular (not organizational or factional) elections to membership of the Palestine National Council, and a review of the selection/election of its Executive Committee, as well as a re-consideration of the relations between the PLO and the PA, all based on the right of each individual Palestinian citizen to choose his or her representatives.

The debates around Palestinians’ right to return also encompass many complications, and, to be clear, the granting of Palestinian citizenship to refugees does not resolve the issue and might even complicate its understanding. For example, would the demand for return be limited to the territories of Palestine accepted by the PLO only? As mentioned above, citizenship should not affect the individual claims that each Palestinian family has for its rights in 1948 Palestine, and it may even strengthen those claims. However, Israel may very well take the position that it has no obligation to accept a right of return to nationals of a “foreign” state. Yet this has been Israel’s position since 1948, and particularly since 1952 when it enacted its own citizenship law. This Israeli position has not diminished the Palestinian claim to the right of return, nor should it in future. One may even envision – in the wildest of possible dreams – dual citizenship with the State of Israel, provided that Israelis are willing to live at peace with their neighbors.

Additionally, there are logistical complications to enable the granting of citizenship. How would the process be organized and where would it be housed, centrally or within Palestinian embassies? Can the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah handle the initial population registry suggested above or would it have to be established elsewhere (and would it be safe from the next Israeli bombardment?) What are the modalities? Individual Palestinians and families would probably be expected to apply for citizenship, depositing papers and documents as proof of “belonging” to Palestine, but what level of scrutiny would be required? Where and how would documents, including identity cards and passports, be received and issued and by whom? How would it be overseen given the geographic spread? What about the financial requirements? These and many other questions arise.

Time to Create Palestinian Facts

The current political stalemate can only be broken by facts on the ground. Israel continues to create its own facts in settlements, house demolitions, land confiscation and many other policies that violate human rights. Palestine should also create facts, as it has been doing in the international arena – facts that may soon become part of the political and legal landscape of the struggle for national liberation.

State practice and inter-state relations form the backbone of international law, at the customary, treaty-based and UN Charter levels. New realities can be created through bilateral and multilateral arrangements that are taken within the parameters of established international norms. Palestine can create a new reality by granting citizenship depending on its success in negotiating its bilateral agreements with the countries that recognize it. Such a move may also strengthen the Palestinian position vis-à-vis the current political impasse. It does not necessarily create an alternative, but may help in consolidating international support and the critical mass necessary to support solutions beyond the Oslo quagmire.

The major and most important challenge is how to navigate the treacherous political waters within the region, and this requires full assessments of the advantages and risks of granting Palestinian citizenship. Regional and country studies and discussions are needed to unpack the detailed implications of granting citizenship by Palestine to the stateless refugees, eventually going beyond to all Palestinians.

Given the failures of Oslo, Palestinians now face a fundamental political question: Do we continue to struggle until we achieve national liberation, then put in place institutional structures and systems including citizenship rosters and the like? Or do we create facts on the ground, which then become the building blocks for national liberation? In the clear absence of political consensus on the first option, we may still be able to achieve something on the second, which is what this proposal suggests. It is hoped that it would at least merit careful and studied consideration and discussion.

The opinion of individual members of Al-Shabaka’s policy network do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization as a whole. 


  1.  In 2004 and 2011, the Egyptian government amended nationality legislation to give citizenship to the children of Egyptian women married to Palestinians. 


Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Fateh Azzam is the Director of the newly established Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University in Beirut, and Senior Policy Fellow at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy. Previously, he directed al-Haq (1987-1995), was Human Rights Officer at the Ford Foundation (1996-2003), Director of Forced Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo (2003-2006) and Middle East regional Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights until July 2012. He is co-founder and former Board Chair of the Arab Human Rights Fund.
Copyright Fateh Azzam, Al-Shabaka, 2015


by Michael Buckley

A spate of hydroelectric dam building in Nepal means that future earthquakes could send inland tsunamis flooding down the steep mountain valleys, writes Michael Buckley. Disaster was averted in last month’s quake – a badly damaged dam was not yet filled. But despite the risks and the damage to river ecology, tourism and rural livelihoods, there’s no sign of any policy shift.

If an earthquake topples such a dam, that would unleash a massive torrent of water and rubble, taking out scores of villages downstream. It would be a Fukushima moment – earthquake followed by tsunami.

After the 25th April earthquake in Nepal, China sent in large teams to rescue quake victims. But it was also intent on rescuing its own people.

A delicate operation got under way to reach 280 Chinese construction workers trapped at a dam construction site around 40 miles from the earthquake epicentre.

Two workers were killed by the quake, and others were injured. The 110-MW Rasuwagadhi Dam was being built on the upper Trishuli River in a very remote corner of Nepal near the Tibetan border.

China imports its own construction workers to build these megadams, though locals are used for manual labour tasks. This is one of three megadams currently being built in Nepal by Chinese state-run Three Gorges Corporation, with a dozen more on the horizon for a dam cascade on the Trishuli River.

Three Gorges Corporation has mastered the technology for building behemoth dams, and the projects in Nepal are growing larger: West Seti Dam is slated to generate 750 MW of power.

And underlining the risks it will create, the dam’s reservoir is to stretch back 16 miles (25km), holding back 1,200,000 acre-feet (1.5 cubic kilometres) of water. Just imagine the devastation that would cause if an earthquake let it all go at once!

Three Gorges Corporation has projects around the world, particularly in third-world nations – many of them highly controversial because of environmental concerns. The company itself has been implicated in scandals in China involving corruption and shady practices.

At Rasuwagadhi Dam site, huge rockslides and falling debris hampered rescue attempts: Chinese engineers and construction workers were eventually helicoptered out across the border into Tibet, with assistance from the People’s Liberation Army. A handful of Chinese engineers remained to supervise the damaged site.

Nepalese workers were left to fend for themselves, and trek out.

How long before Nepal’s ‘Fukushima Moment’?

Here’s a statistic: the gigantic Three Gorges Dam in China was built to withstand the forces of a 7-magnitude earthquake, and is able to withstand an 8-magnitude earthquake for a short time, according to the company. That is where the engineering problems lie: the quake in Nepal was 7.9 magnitude.

Rasuwagadhi Dam was described as severely damaged by the quake. And that brings up a nightmare scenario. What if that dam were up and running, with a huge reservoir sitting behind it?

If an earthquake topples such a dam, that would unleash a massive torrent of water and rubble, taking out scores of villages downstream. It would be a Fukushima moment – earthquake followed by tsunami.

Only in this case, an inland tsunami would be unleashed on a river. The megadam becomes a lethal hydro-bomb, piling horror upon horror.

Increasingly, as more dams are built on Himalayan rivers, this nightmare scenario is given more chance of playing out. With the highest mountains in the world on its northern borders, Nepal is particularly rich in hydropower potential.

All over the Himalayas, a dam-building frenzy

Few of Nepal’s rivers have been tapped for large dams. But that is rapidly changing. Dozens of dams are in the works there, under construction particularly by China and India.

Across the Himalayas, in Tibet, Pakistan, India, Bhutan and Nepal, hundreds of large dams are on the drawing board, in an unprecedented wave of dam-building.

Very little impact assessment is done for these dams. And there is a high risk that they will be located in a seismic zone. In 2012, researchers at Canadian NGO Probe International examined locations for dams on a number of Himalayan rivers including the Yarlung Tsangpo, Salween, Mekong and Yangtse.

Their report, ‘Earthquake Hazards and Large Dams in Western China‘, found that 48.2% of them would be sites in zones of high seismic activity, while 50.4% would be in zones of moderate seismic activity. That would leave only 1.4% found in zones of low seismic activity.

The report concluded that China is embarking on a major experiment with potentially disastrous consequences by building over 100 megadams in regions of known high seismicity.

That’s one good reason why mega-dams should not be built on Himalayan rivers. Another reason is that dam-building has been connected to actually triggering an earthquake, in a phenomenon known as ‘reservoir-induced seismicity’.

For example the building of Zipingpu Dam in Sichuan Province in China has been implicated in the disastrous quake of 2008 that killed over 85,000 people and left millions homeless: the dam was just 4 miles from the epicentre of the 7.9-magnitude quake.

The quake cracked Zipingpu Dam and caused damage to 60 other smaller dams in the region. Dam personnel and miliary rushed to empty water from scores of dam reservoirs, causing considerable flooding downstream.

Ecological destruction, loss of land, fish and livelihoods

But the fundamental reason that megadams should not be built in Nepal is that they destroy ecosystems. Rivers are lifelines for the communities along their banks, supplying water for irrigation: megadams impact entire ecosystems by blocking nutrient-rich silt, essential for agriculture, and by blocking fish migration.

In Nepal, it’s clear that the government has woefully inadequate resources to deal with an emergency situation on the scale of the recent earthquake, let alone a disaster involving a megadam. Yet when it comes to signing lucrative contracts for megadams with nations like China and India, the Nepalese government is quick to act.

Two months ago, I was rafting on the upper Bhote Kosi river, north of Kathmandu. Paddling down the river we passed a small group of buildings, with signs displayed in Chinese. It was part of a Chinese operation for building a 100 MW dam further upstream near the Tibetan border.

The Chinese construction crew all came out to wave at us as we drifted by. Our captain did not wave back: he said they might as well be waving the river goodbye.

The owner of the rafting company told me that once the dam starts operation, that would be the end of rafting on the upper Bhote Kosi, and villagers along the river would suffer dire consequences.

All his efforts failed – until nature stepped in

He tried everything to stop construction of the dam – taking the dambuilders to court, involving Nepalese celebrities in a campaign, petitioning Nepalese leaders and politicians, and garnering community support to try and block the dam and save the ecosystem on which their livelihoods depend for growing crops.

All to no avail. The dam is going ahead.

Once the dam is completed, the villagers will probably have to relocate. It’s a sad but familiar refrain: power, greed and corruption in Nepal trump the need to preserve the environment. In Nepal, the cost of rampant megadam building could be catastrophic.

In this case, Mother Nature appears to have stepped in: the dam on the upper Bhote Kosi lies in an area that was devastated by the recent earthquake, most likely setting the dam-builders back a few years on their schedule.

Michael Buckley is an adventure travel writer, environmental investigator, author of ‘Meltdown in Tibet: China’s Reckless Destruction of Ecosystems from the Highlands of Tibet to the Deltas of Asia‘, and filmmaker for three short documentaries about environmental issues in Tibet.

Copyright Michael Buckley, The Ecologist, 2015

Canada’s Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered his budget in Ottawa on Tuesday April 21, and, as all budgets are political, this one not only sketched out the “major planks of the Tories’ fall campaign,” but its political nature is also characterized by what Prime Minister Harper has removed from it; a 57 billion dollar employment insurance surplus fund—as a result of a July 2014 Supreme Court of Canada ruling—thus allowing his government to circumvent the parliamentary system of budget scrutiny for such a large amount of money.

The July 2014 Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling between the Harper government and Quebec’s union Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) was the result of the Harper government transferring $ 57 billion from the old Employment Insurance Account to the Prime Minister Office’s general revenues in 2010. Likewise, the CSN took up the battle on behalf of Canadians to prove that the Harper transfer was unconstitutional; however, the Supreme Court sided with the Harper administration, allowing Harper no less to decide what to do with the money at his own discretion, since the PMO’s budget is under no parliamentary scrutiny as is the annual budget of the government.

This circumventing of the parliamentary system of budget scrutiny by Harper has its roots in the late 1990s when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien increased premiums paid into the account while at the same time decreasing the amount paid out to workers. Chrétien’s decision led to a bloating surplus beyond what the Act called for, and this massive swelling alerted the then Auditor General Denis Desautels to go public. In a letter to Pierre Pettigrew, then Minister of Human Resources, dated July 23, 1999, Desautels stated, “I wish to draw to your attention that the surplus of the Employment Insurance Account has increased during the current year by $7.3 billion, to $21 billion.” However, nothing could stop the appetite of this government, and fortunately, Desautels did not give in. He eventually appealed to the Employment Insurance Commission for help.

After completing his ten years at the post (1991–2001), Desautels revealed more details about his request to the Commission in his “Summary of Audit Observations” March 31 2000. “In view of the size and the continued rate of growth of the accumulated surplus [by then 30 billion] in the Employment Insurance Account, it is important that the Commission clarify and disclose the way it interprets the Employment Insurance Act in setting premiums. Such clarification and disclosure are necessary to ensure that the intent of the Act has been observed.” Moreover, Desautels claimed the PMO had been notified earlier of this problem in his (Chapter 33) November 1999 Auditor General Report, but even with the help of the Commission, the Chrétien government refused to readdress the issue.

When Desautels was replaced by Sheila Fraser (2001-2011) Fraser took issue with the real “intent of the legislation.” In Fraser’s analysis, we find a more detailed history of when and why the amount began to escalate. In Chapter 11 of Fraser’s December 2002 Report, Fraser stated that the accumulated surplus, under Chrétien’s government, had grown “from $666 million in March 1996 to $40 Billion in March 2002.” In addition, we are informed that the Canada Employment Insurance Commission did attempt to hold Chrétien accountable by demanding a reduced rate of premium according to the spirit of the Act, especially Section 66, as Fraser notes. However, in May 2001, the law was amended by Chrétien’s government “to suspend section 66.” This suspension of section 66 later became an issue in a 2008 Supreme Court ruling.

Therefore, Chrétien not only ignored the spirit of the Act by giving birth to the monstrous amount in the Account, but when the Commission (and Fraser later) attempted to hold Chrétien accountable, according to Section 66, Chrétien just amended that too. This disregard is summarized succinctly in Fraser’s words, “Since 1996, the Employment Insurance Account has collected more revenues than the expenditures it had to pay [...] In our (Fraser and her assistant, Barrados) view, it was Parliament’s intent that the Employment Insurance Program be run on a break-even basis over the course of a business cycle, while providing for relatively stable premium rates [...] Therefore, we are unable to conclude that the intent of the Employment Insurance Act has been observed [by the Chrétien’s government] in setting the premium rates for 2001 and 2002.”

It wasn’t until 2008 that the governments of Chrétien and Paul Martin were implicated in this massive grab of the worker’s money. The Supreme Court of Canada, according to the Canadian Press (May 02, 2013), ruled that the former Chrétien government “broke the law in revamping the employment insurance system [specifically with his amendment to section 66], transforming the EI premiums paid by workers and employers into a back-door, unconstitutional tax.”

However, there was no transfer of the $40 Billion to the PMO under the governments of either Chrétien or Martin. This transfer happened under the Harper administration in 2010, which sparked the legal battle between Harper and the CSN with the amount at $57 Billion dollars.

By excluding the $ 57 Billion in the current budget, for the first time in Canadian history a prime minister has been able to circumvent the parliamentary system of budget scrutiny for such a large amount of money.

What is Mr. Harper going to do with it? Will the PMO “Account” become his very own hedge fund? Or might Canadians pressure his government to finance an economic strategy to fight underemployment? The answers to these questions remain unclear at the moment, but one thing is very clear to me of what should be done; the money collected beyond what the law permitted should be returned to where it came from in the first place.

Gib McInnis is the founder of InExile Publications, which has re-published Paul Goodman’s Moral Ambiguity of America, with an Introduction by him, a debut work by the American poet Erik Wackernagel’s She Bang Slam and Sir Leonard Woolley’s Ur of Chaldees.  Contact him at [email protected] or see his writings on his Amazon’s Author Page

Author Nick Turse is continuing his research on the increasing role of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) over the last seven years. These military operations have impacted most countries on the continent through the utilization of military bases, waterways and airspace.

Although the founding of AFRICOM was ostensibly designed to enhance the national security capabilities of African nation-states coupled with addressing supposed threats to U.S. interests on the continent, just the opposite has taken place.

Instead of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) term “blowback”, in which the late Chalmers Johnson wrote on extensively, Turse uses the phrase “blowforward”, examining how repeated failed counter-terrorism operations throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia has led to broader interventions and the promotion of the military and intelligence theorists who concoct these operations.

Since the launching of AFRICOM, instability has increased in Africa. From the ongoing war in Somalia, to the break-up of the Republic of Sudan and the subsequent civil war in the newly-created Republic of South Sudan, to the war against so-called Islamic extremists in Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Cameroon and Chad, these developments has fueled Washington’s militarism on the continent.

The defense budget allocations for AFRICOM have increased substantially since the advent of the Obama administration. In many respects this U.S. war in Africa has remained hidden from both domestic and international news coverage often being depicted as targeted Special Forces commando and drone strikes against individual operatives of designated terrorist organizations.

The Hidden U.S. Imperialist War in Africa

Turse writes of this expanding imperialist militarism saying “For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are negligible, intentionally leaving the American people, not to mention most Africans, in the dark about the true size, scale, and scope of its operations there. AFRICOM public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a ‘light footprint’ on the continent.”

He goes to note how:

“They (Pentagon) shrink from talk of camps and outposts, claiming to have just one base anywhere in Africa: Camp Lemonnier in the tiny nation of Djibouti. They don’t like to talk about military operations. They offer detailed information about only a tiny fraction of their training exercises. They refuse to disclose the locations where personnel have been stationed or even counts of the countries involved.”

For example earlier this year in January an operation dubbed “Silent Quest 15-1” took place at the MacDill Air force base in Tampa, Florida. Pentagon forces led by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in conjunction with 12 other states including Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway and France, carried out exercises which planned for military operations against what was labelled as a war against the fictional “Islamic State of Africa.”

Turse recounts a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing where AFRICOM Commander David Rodriguez was the principal speaker, where the Pentagon presented an open-ended strategy for military interventions in Africa. The spending for such operations seem limitless since there is no real public debate surrounding these imperialist aims.

The author quotes Rodriguez when he says “Transregional terrorists and criminal networks continue to adapt and expand aggressively. Al-Shabab has broadened its operations to conduct, or attempt to conduct, asymmetric attacks against Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and especially Kenya. Libya-based threats are growing rapidly, including an expanding ISIL presence… Boko Haram threatens the ability of the Nigerian government to provide security and basic services in large portions of the northeast.”

Nonetheless, Turse stresses that “Despite the grim outcomes since the American military began ‘pivoting’ to Africa after 9/11, the U.S. recently signed an agreement designed to keep its troops based on the continent until almost midcentury.”

Some of the statistics related to these expanding U.S. military operations indicate that “In 2013, the combined total of all U.S. activities on the continent reached 546, an average of more than one mission per day. Last year, that number leapt to 674. In other words, U.S. troops were carrying out almost two operations, exercises, or activities — from drone strikes to counterinsurgency instruction, intelligence gathering to marksmanship training — somewhere in Africa every day. This represents an enormous increase from the 172 missions, activities, programs, and exercises that AFRICOM inherited from other geographic commands when it began operations in 2008.”

Horn of Africa Base Expands Operations

AFRICOM’s main camp in Djibouti at Lemonneir is being expanded to enhance its operations in neighboring Somalia and to prepare for other potential missions in Libya, Sudan, Kenya and Egypt. Also across the Red Sea in Yemen, the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) led war on the Ansurallah Movement is being supported and coordinated through intelligence by Washington.

The book illustrates the contrasts in U.S. policy with that of China’s which emphasizes infrastructural and scientific developments as opposed to militarism. Africa needs genuine partnership with the international community based on mutual interests as opposed to neo-colonial schemes to extend western domination.

Only a revolutionary movement emanating from the continent in alliance with anti-imperialist forces in the West can reverse the current trajectory of destabilization which has characterized the situation in Africa. This book provides a useful tool for those who recognize that this burgeoning war must be stopped for the benefit of Africa as well as oppressed and working people around the world.

Once again, the nation watches as prosecutors deal with the killing of an unarmed black man.

“[The officers] failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray . . . Accordingly, [he was] illegally arrested,” Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby declared, as she announced the filing of criminal charges against the six officers implicated in Freddie Gray’s death.

Gray made “eye contact” with Officer Brian Rice. Gray then ran from Rice, and Rice began chasing Gray. It was after Gray surrendered to Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero that Gray was taken on his fatal “rough ride.”

A “rough ride” is an unsanctioned technique that some officers use to injure arrestees without physically touching them with their hands or weapons. The driver typically takes intentionally rough or rapid turnsß around corners or makes sudden stops. Since the suspect is handcuffed, he is unable to brace himself so he falls forward, often bashing his head against the inside of the van.

Like so many African American men before him in this country, Gray was guilty of nothing other than “walking while black.” In his case, Baltimore’s sordid history of racial and class oppression, combined with the war on drugs, made for a deadly combination.

“Probable cause was distorted by the drug war,” David Simon, creator of The Wire, said in an interview with Bill Keller. Set in Baltimore, the award-winning HBO series portrayed the conflict between the police and African Americans in the streets, in a compelling work of historical fiction. “[T]he drug war was as much a function of class and social control as it was of racism,” Simon added. “The drug war gives everybody permission to do anything. It gives cops permission to stop anybody, to go in anyone’s pockets, to manufacture any lie when they get to district court.” In short, under the guise of the war on drugs, Baltimore police have been harassing people for years. Simon added, “My own crew members [on The Wire] used to get picked up trying to come from the set at night . . . Driving while black . . . Charges were non-existent, or were dismissed en masse.”

Scholar Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, documented more than 100 years of “federal, state, and local policies to quarantine Baltimore’s black population in isolated slums.” Rothstein does not think the answer lies in improving the quality of the police. He recognizes the frustration of those who engage in violent protest, as they have been denied the opportunity to become part of mainstream society. “When disadvantaged children are concentrated in separate schools, as they are in Baltimore, their disadvantages are exacerbated.” Rothstein found, “Baltimore, not at all uniquely, has experienced a century of public policy designed, consciously so, to segregate and impoverish its black population.”

The Supreme Court held in Illinois v. Wardlow that flight in a high-crime area may constitute reasonable suspicion for an officer to briefly detain an individual and determine whether there is evidence of criminal activity. After Miller and Nero handcuffed Gray, they put him in a prone position with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Gray said he couldn’t breathe and requested an inhaler, “to no avail,” according to Mosby. The officers found a legal pocketknife in Gray’s pocket. But instead of releasing Gray, they put him back on his stomach and restrained him with a “leg lace” while waiting for the police wagon to transport him.

Miller and Nero loaded Gray into the wagon, which Officer Caesar Goodson drove. At no time was Gray secured by a seatbelt, in violation of Baltimore Police Department (BPD) policy. At Baker Street, Rice, Nero and Miller placed handcuffs and leg shackles on Gray. They then placed Gray on his stomach in the wagon, head first.

“Following transport from Baker Street,” Mosby said, “Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.”

Goodson stopped to check on Gray but “at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray.” At another stop, Goodson and Officer William Porter went to the back of the wagon to check on Gray, who requested help, said he couldn’t breathe, and twice requested a medic. “At no point did either [Goodson or Porter] restrain Mr. Gray per BPD general order nor did they render or request medical assistance.”

“Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for medical assistance, Officer Goodson in a grossly negligent manner chose to respond to the 1600 block of West North Avenue with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt in the wagon without rendering to or summoning medical assistance for Mr. Gray.”

During still another stop, Officer Alicia White, Porter and Goodson “observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon.” White, who was:

“responsible for investigating two citizen complaints pertaining to Mr. Gray’s illegal arrest spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head. When he did not respond, she did nothing further despite the fact that she was advised that he needed a medic. She made no effort to look or assess or determine his condition.”

“Despite Mr. Gray’s seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered or summoned for Mr. Gray at that time by any officer,” Mosby added.

Goodson failed to restrain Gray with a seatbelt at least five different times.

“By the time [officers] attempted to remove Mr. Gray from the wagon, Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all.” A medic, who “was finally called to the scene,” determined that Gray “was now in cardiac arrest and was critically and severely injured,” Mosby stated.

Gray was finally “rushed” to the hospital where he underwent surgery and died seven days later.

The Maryland Medical Examiner concluded Gray’s death was a homicide, “believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred when Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.”

Mosby described multiple stops during which Gray was never secured by a seatbelt or provided with medical care. Almost one hour passed before he received any medical attention.

The state’s attorney charged six Baltimore police officers as follows:

Goodson: second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence, misconduct in office by failure to secure prisoner, failure to render aid.

Porter: involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office.

Rice: involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, false imprisonment.

Nero: second-degree intentional assault, second-degree negligent assault, misconduct in office, false imprisonment.

Miller: second-degree intentional assault, second-degree negligent assault, misconduct in office, false imprisonment.

White: involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office.

In order to secure a conviction of second-degree depraved heart murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, the prosecutor must prove that Goodson killed Gray by acting with a conscious and extreme disregard of a very high risk to Gray’s life. Taking Gray on a “rough ride” while he his arms and legs were immobilized caused his death.

Two other men from Baltimore, Jeffrey Alston and Dondi Johnson, became paralyzed after riding in police vans in two separate cases. Alston settled his lawsuit for $6 million in 2004. Goodson should thus have been on notice of the very high risk to Gray’s life from his “rough ride.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz doubts that prosecutors could secure a conviction of Goodson for second-degree depraved heart murder because “Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him.” If Dershowitz were to read the Maryland statute, he would learn that second-degree depraved heart murder does not require the intent to kill.

To be convicted of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 10 years, Goodson, Porter, Rice and White must have unintentionally caused the death of Gray while doing a negligent act or negligently failing to perform a legal duty. Failing to secure Gray with a seatbelt and get medical assistance for him constituted negligent acts, which caused Gray’s death. The officers had a legal duty to protect a prisoner in their custody.

Second-degree assault, which also carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, requires that the officers caused physical harm to Gray as the result of an intentional or reckless act. Failing to secure Gray with a seatbelt and get him medical assistance constituted acts intended to hurt him, causing physical harm (death) to Gray.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled for May 27, but prosecutors have 30 days from the date of the filing of charges to seek a grand jury indictment. There is ample evidence to support the charges against these officers. But whether they are indicted by a grand jury, and if so, ultimately convicted, remains to be seen.

Gray’s family certainly has a good section 1983 civil rights lawsuit for violation of Gray’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and his Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of his life or liberty without due process of law.

Sonja Sohn, who portrayed Detective Kima Greggs on The Wire, wrote in the New York Times, “there was a hopelessness on the streets of Baltimore that ran so deep that it seemed to have killed the spirit of the people.” She attributes the recent “violence” to a “public betrayal of trust” as well as “the culture of police brutality that was so pervasive that underserved Baltimoreans accepted it as a fact of life.” When Mosby announced the charges against the officers who were complicit in Gray’s death, Sohn “sensed something lift. It is a break from the defeat I felt when I had to take a breather from my nonprofit [“ReWired for Change,” that served formerly incarcerated youth in Baltimore]. It’s a reprieve from the despair that I felt all those years ago, struggling to act in the reality of the Baltimore poor.”

The elation felt by hundreds of demonstrators in Baltimore was understandable. If the officers are indicted, they will be tried in a community in which the police have long enjoyed a culture of impunity. But Gray’s death took place in the context of killings of several unarmed black men, including Michael Brown and Eric Garner, by police in high-profile cases around the country. This may give jurors pause when they consider whether the officers in Gray’s case could have committed these crimes.

Marjorie Cohn is a criminal defense attorney, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and past president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is co-author of “Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice.”

Congressman Rick Nolan, Leesa “George” Friday, and David Cobb at the Move to Amend Press Conference, April 29, 2015

Last Wednesday, the grassroots organization, Move to Amend, held a press conference at the National Press Club to announce that six members of the U.S. House of Representatives were introducing legislation to overturn Citizens United v FEC to make free speech and all other rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution available only to “natural persons,” not corporations or limited liability companies. The legislation would also give Federal, state and local governments the ability to limit political contributions to “ensure all citizens,  regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process.”

When corporations overturn the will of the people, it’s widely covered by corporate media. When the people fight back, the news is frequently blacked out. As of this morning, we could find no major corporate media outlet or corporate wire service reporting on last Wednesday’s press conference by Move to Amend. That might be because there was evidence presented at the press conference of a groundswell of public momentum to overturn Citizens United, the decision handed down on January 21, 2010 by the U.S. Supreme Court that opened the floodgates to corporate campaign spending in elections along with super wealthy donors.

The press conference revealed that 16 states have passed resolutions asking Congress to overturn Citizens United while almost 600 municipalities and local governments across the country have done likewise. Almost two dozen other states have resolutions pending or introduced.

Congressman Rick Nolan of Minnesota spoke at the press conference, telling attendees that “Good and successful movements in this country have always started with ordinary people who commit to accomplishing great things. And so it was with ending slavery, with child labor laws, environmental laws, women’s suffrage, civil rights, the progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare, rights for the disabled – you name it – this movement transcends labels, it transcends political parties, it transcends regions and it transcends generations.”

Nolan added that “America’s future and American democracy is dependent upon the success of this movement.” In addition to Nolan, co-sponsors of the bill include Mark Pocan (WI), Matthew Cartwright (PA), Jared Huffman (CA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), and Keith Ellison (MN).

Leesa “George” Friday, who has been part of this grassroots movement since its beginning in 2009, said “Democracy isn’t a gift that we’re given, it’s a right. And with that right comes the responsibility to do a little bit more than just go to the polls every now and then or volunteer for a campaign, write a check or make some phone calls. It means being vigilant about what democracy means; about holding sacred that democracy; and doing the work.”

David Cobb, a member of the National Leadership Team of Move to Amend and the Green Party presidential candidate in 2004, called what has happened a “corporate coup d’etat” and said the group was broadening its strategy to include “Pledge to Amend,” where candidates running for office will be asked to pledge to support a constitutional amendment in order to get the support of voters, the majority of whom despise Citizens United.

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Six FDA-Approved Foods Banned In Other Countries

May 5th, 2015 by Christina Sarich

Did you know that various food ingredients and foods found in the United States are actually banned in other countries? Indeed, some nations have found the following foods so bad for your health that they have made them illegal, yet the US Food and Drug Administration says to eat up!

Here are 6 foods you might want to avoid as other food watchdog agencies had enough sense to ban them:

1. Olean (Olestra) Found in ‘Fat Free’ Foods

Many Americans get suckered into eating olean, also known as olestra, because they purchase fat-free foods hoping to get their junk food fix without the extra calories. The only problem is that olean isn’t processed by the human body, and can lead to diarrhea, while interfering with the absorption of important fat-soluble vitamins such as A,D, E, and K. Go for some baked potato chips if you’re looking for a healthier chip option, and just skip the olean.

2. Farm-Raised Salmon

Photo: Rogan Macdonald/Getty Images; design: Lauren Wade

Australia and New Zealand have banned farm-raised salmon because most of them are bred with lots of antibiotics. If you haven’t heard, antibiotic resistance is on the rise, and it is partly due to toxic chemicals like glyphosate, but especially due to antibiotic overuse in our food.

Farm raised fish are also pumped full of chemicals to make them grow bigger faster, and even to be a more pleasant color to consumers – so when you eat farm raised salmon, you are eating a whole lot more than just fish.

3. Drinks Made with Flame-Retardants

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images; design: Lauren Wade

It sounds pretty disgusting, doesn’t it? Europe and Japan have banned drinks that contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), used in the US in products like Mountain Dew in order to keep the ‘citrus’ flavor evenly distributed throughout the soda.

Originally, chemical companies made BVO as a flame retardant. It can cause reproductive problems, depress the nervous system, interrupt the endocrine system, and create behavioral problems (especially in children). Maybe think about skipping anything containing BVO. Do you really want to drink flame retardant anyhow?

4. 160 Countries Banned Ractopamine Meat

While banned in many nations, the US FDA says this drug is just fine. Ractopamine is a drug used to reduce fat content to create leaner meats in pigs, cattle, and turkeys. The US doesn’t test for this chemical in our meat, even though it causes chromosomal changes, heart disease, hyperactivity and more. You know this stuff is  vile if almost everywhere BUT the US has banned it.

Want to avoid it? Grass-fed beef is naturally lean, and is a much better alternative.

Read: 6 Banned Ingredients Sold in the U.S.

5. Milk and Dairy Containing rGBH

This hormone given to dairy cows to make them produce more milk is so vile that the EU, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and Australia have all banned it – a total of 27 countries have in fact said that they will not put Monsanto’s genetically engineered hormone in their dairy products.

The synthetic hormone is created using molecules and DNA sequences that are a result of molecular cloning, which has been linked to breast and gastrointestinal cancer.

6. Genetically Modified Organisms

Photo credit: AFP Photo / Robyn Beck

The list of foods that contain GMOs in the US is long, while hundreds of countries have bans on GMOs. The US is one of the only industrialized nations that doesn’t at least label. A minimum of 165 million acres are currently planted with GMOs in the US. In Europe all products containing more than .9 percent GMO are labeled as such – but no such luck in the US!

Thankfully, this is changing. Vermont just won a labeling victory and other states are likely soon to follow.

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Thousands of buildings were destroyed by Israel in Gaza last summer. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Israeli soldiers were under orders to shoot civilians dead while attacking Gaza last summer, according to testimonies published today by the group Breaking the Silence.

The testimonies, which include several interviews with mid-ranking Israeli military figures, highlight the extreme cruelty demonstrated during the 51-day offensive.

Some testimonies claim that Israeli soldiers were told that everything in Gaza was a “threat” and that they may use as much ammunition as they wished.

More than 2,200 Palestinians – mostly civilians – were killed in the offensive, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.

While Israeli leaders regularly claim that the military takes precautions against striking civilians, the Breaking the Silence testimonies suggest otherwise.


“Anything inside [Gaza] is a threat,” one sergeant, who served in the central Gaza area of Deir al-Balah, told Breaking the Silence. “The area has to be ‘sterilized,’ empty of people – and if we don’t see someone waving a white flag, screaming: ‘I give up’ or something — then he’s a threat and there’s authorization to open fire.”

“The saying was: ‘There’s no such thing there as a person who is uninvolved,’” the sergeant added. “In that situation, anyone there is involved.”

Deir al-Balah was one of several areas that sustained heavy casualties during Israel’s attack on Gaza. On 24 July, several Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces shelled a United Nations school serving as a refuge for Palestinians displaced by the fighting.

As reported by The Electronic Intifada, Amal Abu Jayab, a disabled Palestinian teen, was hit by an Israeli drone strike in Deir al-Balah on 13 July. She died four days later.

Another sergeant recalled instructions delivered to soldiers by a commander during training ahead of the ground invasion of Gaza, which began on 17 July. “We don’t take risks. We do not spare ammo. We unload, we use as much as possible,” he remembered his commander saying.

“Writhing in pain”

One staff sergeant stationed in northern Gaza during the war said soldiers were told to “shoot right away.”

“The instructions are to shoot right away,” he told Breaking the Silence, an organization formed by Israeli soldiers opposed to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. “Whoever you spot – be they armed or unarmed, no matter what. The instructions are very clear. Any person you run into, that you see with your eyes – shoot to kill. It’s an explicit instruction.”

Another staff sergeant, who was in an infantry unit in northern Gaza, recalled watching a civilian while he was “writhing in pain.”

“So this old man came over, and the guy manning the post — I don’t know what was going through his head — he saw this civilian, and he fired at him, and he didn’t get a good hit,” the staff sergeant remarked. “The civilian was laying there, writhing in pain.”

He said: “It was clear to everyone that one of two things was going to happen: Either we let him die slowly, or we put him out of his misery. Eventually, we put him out of his misery and a D9 [armored bulldozer] came over and dropped a mound of rubble on him and that was the end of it.”

That same sergeant told Breaking the Silence that when they informed the battalion’s commander, he was uninterested.


The soldiers also spoke openly about looting, intentional destruction and taking over Palestinian homes in Gaza during the offensive.

One staff sergeant from the Israeli armored corps remembered tank operators running over cars several times. Tank operators “had this sort of crazy urge to run over a car,” he said.

“And there was one time that my [tank’s] driver, a slightly hyperactive guy, managed to convince the tank’s officer to run over a car, and it was really not that exciting,” he said. Aside from a “scolding,” he said the tank operator was not punished.

Another sergeant who was stationed in northern Gaza reflected on the destruction his army had inflicted on the northern part of the Strip. “The houses were already in ruins by the time we got there,” he noted, explaining that armored bulldozers proceeded to roll through chicken coops.

Commenting on the extent of the destruction, he added: “I never saw anything like it, not even in Lebanon. There was destruction there, too – but never in my life did I see anything like this.”

“Reduced to a pile of sand”

Yet another infantry staff sergeant told Breaking the Silence that soldiers threw grenades into the homes before entering them. He remembered how an orchard was intentionally destroyed by tanks and armored bulldozers.

“It was one of the most beautiful orchards I’d ever seen … and within a few hours it was totally erased – reduced to piles of powdered sand,” he said.

Razing the orchard was by no means an isolated incident. Several testimonies describe in detail how soldiers were ordered to destroy Palestinian homes and raze other infrastructure.

Homes were often targeted with entire families still inside them, according to other organizations. Earlier this year, a report published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem found that Israel’s “open-fire policy” during the Gaza attack resulted in “dozens of instances in which residential buildings were attacked from the air or ground, causing them to collapse on entire families.”

Explaining that the policy of bombing homes was implemented throughout Gaza, the B’Tselem report noted: “These attacks were not carried out on the whim of individual soldiers, pilots or commanders in the field. They are the result of a policy formulated by government officials and the senior military command.”


Despite calls for investigations into Israeli war crimes in Gaza, no Israeli soldiers or commanders have faced any meaningful consequences.

Speaking to The Guardian, the Israeli military claimed to “investigate all credible claims” of war crimes and misconduct.

Yet, both during the attack and in its wake, Israel repeatedly denied independent human rights investigators access to Gaza. Among those prevented from entering the strip were Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as UN investigators.

To make matters worse, much of Gaza remains in ruins some nine months after the attack concluded. As of late February, only five percent of the international aid promised by donor countries in order to rebuild Gaza had been delivered.

Though limited housing repairs have been made, none of the more than 12,000 Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel have been rebuilt, according to the Association of International Development Agencies.

With the perpetrators of massacres enjoying impunity and international donors failing to make good on its promises, Palestinians in Gaza are unlikely to expect justice in the near future.

L’offensiva della Nato globale

May 5th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

L’Organizzazione del Trat­tato del Nord Atlan­tico non ha più con­fini. In Europa – dopo essersi estesa a sette paesi dell’ex Patto di Var­sa­via, tre dell’ex Urss e due della ex Jugo­sla­via (demo­lita con la guerra nel 1999) – sta incor­po­rando l’Ucraina.

Le forze armate di Kiev, che da anni par­te­ci­pano alle ope­ra­zioni Nato in diverse aree (Bal­cani, Afgha­ni­stan, Iraq, Medi­ter­ra­neo, Oceano Indiano), ven­gono sem­pre più inte­grate in quelle dell’Alleanza sotto comando Usa. Il 24 aprile è stato fir­mato un accordo che le inqua­dra di fatto nella rete di comando, con­trollo e comu­ni­ca­zione Nato.

Nel momento stesso in cui il par­la­mento di Kiev approva all’unanimità una legge che esalta come «eroico» il pas­sato nazi­sta dell’Ucraina e, men­tre dichiara «cri­mi­nale» ogni rife­ri­mento al comu­ni­smo met­tendo fuori legge il Pc, defi­ni­sce «com­bat­tenti per l’indipendenza ucraina» i nazi­sti che mas­sa­cra­rono decine di migliaia di ebrei.

In Litua­nia e Polo­nia, la Nato ha schie­rato cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri che «pat­tu­gliano» i cieli delle tre repub­bli­che bal­ti­che, ai limiti dello spa­zio aereo russo: l’Italia, dopo aver gui­dato la «mis­sione» nel primo qua­dri­me­stre 2015, vi resta almeno fino ad ago­sto con 4 cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri Euro­fighter Typhoon. In Asia cen­trale, «regione stra­te­gi­ca­mente impor­tante», la Nato sta incor­po­rando la Geor­gia che, già inte­grata nelle sue ope­ra­zioni, «aspira a dive­nire mem­bro dell’Alleanza». Con­ti­nua inol­tre ad «appro­fon­dire la coo­pe­ra­zione» con Kaza­kh­stan, Kir­ghi­zi­stan, Tagi­ki­stan, Turk­me­ni­stan e Uzbe­ki­stan, per con­tra­stare l’Unione eco­no­mica eura­sia­tica (com­pren­dente Rus­sia, Bie­lo­rus­sia, Kaza­ki­stan, Arme­nia e, da mag­gio, il Kirghizistan).

Resta «pro­fon­da­mente impe­gnata in Afgha­ni­stan» (con­si­de­rato, nella geo­gra­fia impe­riale, parte del «Nord Atlan­tico»), paese di grande impor­tanza geo­stra­te­gica nei con­fronti di Rus­sia e Cina, dove la guerra Nato con­ti­nua con forze spe­ciali, droni e cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri (52 attac­chi aerei solo in marzo).

In Asia occi­den­tale, la Nato pro­se­gue l’operazione mili­tare coperta con­tro la Siria e ne pre­para altre (l’Iran è sem­pre nel mirino), come dimo­stra lo spo­sta­mento a Izmir (Tur­chia) del Lan­d­com, il comando di tutte le forze ter­re­stri dell’Alleanza.

Allo stesso tempo la Nato sta raf­for­zando la part­ner­ship (col­lau­data nella «cam­pa­gna di Libia») con quat­tro monar­chie del Golfo – Bah­rain, Emi­rati Arabi Uniti, Kuwait, Qatar – e la coo­pe­ra­zione mili­tare con l’Arabia Sau­dita che, denun­cia «Human Rights Watch», sta facendo strage nello Yemen con bombe a grap­polo for­nite dagli Usa.

In Asia orien­tale, la Nato ha con­cluso col Giap­pone un accordo stra­te­gico che «allarga e appro­fon­di­sce la lunga part­ner­ship», cui si uni­sce un accordo ana­logo con l’Australia, in fun­zione anti­ci­nese e anti­russa.
Con la stessa fina­lità i mag­giori paesi Nato (tra cui l’Italia) par­te­ci­pano ogni due anni, nel Paci­fico, a quella che il comando della Flotta Usa defi­ni­sce «la mag­giore eser­ci­ta­zione marit­tima del mondo».

In Africa, dopo aver demo­lito la Libia, la Nato sta poten­ziando l’assistenza mili­tare all’Unione afri­cana, cui for­ni­sce anche «pia­ni­fi­ca­zione e tra­sporto aero­na­vale», nel qua­dro stra­te­gico del Comando Africa degli Stati uniti. In Ame­rica Latina, la Nato ha sti­pu­lato un «Accordo sulla sicu­rezza» con la Colom­bia che, già impe­gnata in pro­grammi mili­tari dell’Alleanza (tra cui la for­ma­zione di forze spe­ciali), ne può dive­nire pre­sto partner.

Non ci sarà da stu­pirsi se, tra non molto, l’Italia invierà i suoi cac­cia­bom­bar­dieri a «pat­tu­gliare» i cieli della Colom­bia in una «mis­sione» Nato con­tro il Venezuela.

Manlio Dinucci

Wall Street’s Council on Foreign Relations has issued a major report, alleging that China must be defeated because it threatens to become a bigger power in the world than the U.S.

This report, which is titled “Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China,” is introduced by Richard Haass, the CFR’s President, who affirms the report’s view that, “no relationship will matter more when it comes to defining the twenty-first century than the one between the United States and China.” He says that the report he is publishing argues that “strategic rivalry is highly likely if not inevitable between the existing major power of the day and the principal rising power.” Haass says that the authors “also argue that China has not evolved into the ‘responsible stakeholder’ that many in the United States hoped it would.” In other words: “cooperation” with China will probably need to become replaced by, as the report’s authors put it, “intense U.S.-China strategic competition.

Haass gives this report his personal imprimatur by saying that it “deserves to become an important part of the debate about U.S. foreign policy and the pivotal U.S.-China relationship.” He acknowledges that some people won’t agree with the views it expresses.

The report itself then opens by saying: “Since its founding, the United States has consistently pursued a grand strategy focused on acquiring and maintaining preeminent power over various rivals, first on the North American continent, then in the Western hemisphere, and finally globally.” It praises “the American victory in the Cold War.” It then lavishes praise on America’s imperialistic dominance:

“The Department of Defense during the George H.W. Bush administration presciently contended that its ‘strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor’—thereby consciously pursuing the strategy of primacy that the United States successfully employed to outlast the Soviet Union.”

The rest of the report is likewise concerned with the international dominance of America’s aristocracy or the people who control this country’s international corporations, rather than with the welfare of the public or as the U.S. Constitution described the objective of the American Government: “the general welfare.”

The Preamble, or sovereignty clause, in the Constitution, presented that goal in this broader context:

 ”in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

The Council on Foreign Relations, as a representative of Wall Street, is concerned only with the dominance of America’s aristocracy. Their new report, about “Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China,” is like a declaration of war by America’s aristocracy, against China’s aristocracy. This report has no relationship to the U.S. Constitution, though it advises that the U.S. Government pursue this “Grand Strategy Toward China” irrespective of whether doing that would even be consistent with the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble.

The report repeats in many different contexts the basic theme, that China threatens “hegemonic” dominance in Asia. For example:

“China’s sustained economic success over the past thirty-odd years has enabled it to aggregate formidable power, making it the nation most capable of dominating the Asian continent and thus undermining the traditional U.S. geopolitical objective of ensuring that this arena remains free of hegemonic control.”

The report never allows the matter of America’s “hegemonic control” to be even raised. Thus, “hegemony” is presumed to be evil and to be something that the U.S. must block other nations from having, because there is a “traditional U.S. geopolitical objective of ensuring that this arena remains free of hegemonic control.” In other words: the U.S. isn’t being “hegemonic” by defeating aspiring hegemons. The report offers no term to refer to “hegemony” that’s being practiced by the U.S.

The report presents China as being supremacist, such as what (to quote again from the report) “historian Wang Gungwu has described as a ‘principle of superiority’ underwriting Beijing’s ‘long-hallowed tradition of treating foreign countries as all alike but unequal and inferior to China.’ Consistent with this principle, Henry Kissinger, describing the traditional sinocentric system, has correctly noted that China ‘considered itself, in a sense, the sole sovereign government of the world.’” America’s own ‘Manifest Destiny’ or right to regional (if not global) supremacy is not discussed, because supremacism is attributed only to the aristocracies in other countries, not to the aristocracy in this country.

Rather than the “general welfare,” this document emphasizes “U.S. Vital National Interests,” which are the interests of America’s aristocrats, the owners of America’s large international corporations.

This report urges:

“The United States should invest in defense capabilities and capacity specifically to defeat China’s emerging anti-access capabilities and permit successful U.S. power projection even against concerted opposition from Beijing. … Congress should remove sequestration caps and substantially increase the U.S. defense budget.”

In other words: the Government should spiral upward the U.S. debt even more vertically (which is good for Wall Street), and, in order to enable the increased ‘defense’ expenditures, only ‘defense’ expenditures should be freed from spending-caps. Forget the public, serve the owners of ‘defense’ firms and of the large international corporations who rely on the U.S. military to protect their property abroad.

The report says that China would have no reason to object to such policies: “There is no reason why a China that did not seek to overturn the balance of power in Asia should object to the policy prescriptions contained in this report.” Only a “hegemonic” China (such as the report incessantly alleges to exist, while the U.S. itself is not ‘hegemonic’) would object; and, therefore, the U.S. should ignore China’s objections, because they would be, by definition ‘hegemonic.’ Or, in other words: God is on our side, not on theirs.

“Washington simply cannot have it both ways—to accommodate Chinese concerns regarding U.S. power projection into Asia through ’strategic reassurance’ and at the same time to promote and defend U.S. vital national interests in this vast region.”

The authors make clear that U.S. President Obama is not sufficiently hostile toward China: “All signs suggest that President Obama and his senior colleagues have a profoundly different and much more benign diagnosis of China’s strategic objectives in Asia than do we.”

Furthermore, the report ends by portraying Obama as weak on the anti-China front: “Many of these omissions in U.S. policy would seem to stem from an administration worried that such actions would offend Beijing and therefore damage the possibility of enduring strategic cooperation between the two nations, thus the dominating emphasis on cooperation. That self-defeating preoccupation by the United States based on a long-term goal of U.S.-China strategic partnership that cannot be accomplished in the foreseeable future should end.”

The report’s “Recommendations for U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China” urges Congress to “Deliver on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, … as a geoeconomic answer to growing Chinese economic power and geopolitical coercion in Asia,” but it fails to mention that the Obama Administration has already embodied the authors’ viewpoint and objectives in the TPP, which Obama created, and which cuts China out; it could hardly be a better exemplar of their agenda. The authors, in fact, state the exact opposite: that Obama’s objective in his TPP has instead been merely “as a shot in the arm of a dying Doha Round at the World Trade Organization (WTO).” They even ignore that Obama had cut China out of his proposed TPP.

Furthermore, here is what President Obama himself told graduating West Point cadets on 28 May 2014:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums.”

He was saying that these future military leaders will be using guns and bombs to enforce America’s economic dominance. This is the same thing that the CFR report is saying.

His speech also asserted:

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. … The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.”

(That even resembles: “Henry Kissinger, describing the traditional sinocentric system, has correctly noted that China ‘considered itself, in a sense, the sole sovereign government of the world.’” Obama is, in a sense, saying that America is the “sole sovereign government in the world.”)

He made clear that China is “dispensable,” and that the U.S. must stay on top.

However, there is a difference between Obama and the CFR on one important thing: Obama sees Russia as the chief country over which the U.S. must dominate militarily, and China as the chief country to dominate economically. But in that regard, he is actually old-line Republican, just like his 2012 opponent Mitt Romney is. The only difference from Romney on that is: Obama wasn’t so foolish as to acknowledge publicly a belief that he shared with Romney but already knew was an unpopular position to take in the general election.

Furthermore, whereas the CFR report ignores the public’s welfare, Obama does give lip-service to that as being a matter of concern (just as he gave lip-service to opposing Romney’s assertion that Russia is “our number one geopolitical foe”). After all, he is a ‘Democrat,’ and the authors of the CFR report write instead as if they were presenting a Republican Party campaign document. No ‘Democrat’ can be far-enough to the political right to satisfy Republican operatives. The pretense that they care about the public is therefore far less, because the Republican Party is far more open about its support of, by, and for, the super-rich. Mitt Romney wasn’t the only Republican who had contempt for the lower 47%. But even he tried to deny that he had meant it. In that sense, the CFR’s report is a Republican document, one which, quite simply, doesn’t offer the public the lip-service that Obama does (and which he politically must, in order to retain support even within his own party).

Perhaps on account of the CFR report’s condemning Obama for not being sufficiently right-wing — even though he is actually a conservative Republican on all but social issues (where China policy isn’t particularly relevant) — the report has received no mention in the mainstream press, ever since it was originally issued, back in March of this year. For whatever reason, America’s ‘news’ media ignored the report, notwithstanding its importance as an expression of old-style imperialistic thinking that comes from what many consider to be the prime foreign-affairs mouthpiece of America’s aristocracy — the CFR. The report’s first coverage was on 2 May 2015 at the World Socialist Web Site, which briefly paraphrased it but didn’t even link to it. Then, two days later, Stephen Lendman wrote about the CFR report. He briefly paraphrased it and passionately condemned it. He did link to the report. But he didn’t note the WSWS article, which had first informed the public of the CFR report’s existence — an existence which, until the WSWS article, all of America’s ‘press’ had simply ignored.

The present article is the first one to quote the CFR report, instead of merely to paraphrase and attack it. The quotations that were selected are ones presenting the report’s main points, so that readers here can see these points stated as they were written, rather than merely as I have interpreted them. My interpretation is in addition to, rather than a substitute for, what the report itself says.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Vaccines and National Security

May 5th, 2015 by Ulson Gunnar

One can easily see in the emerging information and cyber war that a nation having its own IT infrastructure, its own hardware, and its own versions of social media platforms is quickly becoming a matter of national security. Without control over these assets, a nation must depend on foreign suppliers for their computers, peripheries and software. Already, this dependence has opened nations up to now evident threats including malware embedded into hardware and software that is otherwise impossible to detect until the damage is already done.

Likewise, a nation’s food supply can and has throughout history, been a source of vulnerability in times of conflict. The inability to grow one’s own food invites blockades and their modern equivalent, sanctions, undermining a nation’s strength and stability and eventually setting the stage for its ultimate demise. Iraq is an example of this.

In the long-term, a nation’s food supply controlled by foreign corporations, particularly in the realm of genetically engineered organisms, can have disastrous effects.  As a nation’s wealth is slowly drained from their shores and into the coffers of corporations like Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta, inferior, expensive and environmentally devastating crops wreak havoc on the very socioeconomic fabric of a nation. India is increasingly becoming an example of this.

And what of healthcare? Surely the same applies. But even as nations and communities are just now understanding the importance of protecting their food supplies from predatory multinational corporations and the hegemonic ambitions they represent, there seems to be some latency in understanding this likewise in regards to healthcare and in particular pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

The Danger of Big-Pharma’s Vaccines 

Imagine a gang member knocking at your door with a syringe in one hand, demanding you roll up your sleeve and allow him to inject its contents into your bloodstream. Likely there would be no hesitation to call the police and barricade the door until they arrived. Allowing a criminal to inject a substance known or unknown into your body would be an unimaginable risk no sane person would accept.

Now imagine that gang member is wearing a suit, has a multi-million dollar marketing budget, doctors and researchers working for him (paid via an expansive bribery network) and instead of knocking at your door, he invited you to one of his doctors’ offices to receive the injection. What we’ve just done here is describe big-pharma.

Immense pharmaceutical corporations like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have been caught numerous times engaged in immense criminality.

In 2012, the London Guardian would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $3bn after bribing doctors to increase drugs sales that:

The pharmaceutical group GlaxoSmithKline has been fined $3bn (£1.9bn) after admitting bribing doctors and encouraging the prescription of unsuitable antidepressants to children. Glaxo is also expected to admit failing to report safety problems with the diabetes drug Avandia in a district court in Boston on Thursday. 

The company encouraged sales reps in the US to mis-sell three drugs to doctors and lavished hospitality and kickbacks on those who agreed to write extra prescriptions, including trips to resorts in Bermuda, Jamaica and California.

In early 2014, the London Telegraph would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline ‘bribed’ doctors to promote drugs in Europe, former worker claims that:

GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s largest drug company, has been accused of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Europe. 

Doctors in Poland were allegedly paid to promote its asthma drug, Seretide, under the guise of funding for education programme, a former sales rep has claimed. 

Medics were also said to have been paid for lectures in the country which did not take place.

Then in late 2014, the BBC would report in its article GlaxoSmithKline fined $490m by China for bribery that:

China has fined UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline $490m (£297m) after a court found it guilty of bribery. 

The record penalty follows allegations the drug giant paid out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted. 

The court gave GSK’s former head of Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, a suspended three-year prison sentence and he is set to be deported.

These three news stories establish without doubt that an immense pharmaceutical giant, still allowed to conduct business to this very day, has been engaged in systematic, global criminality. The first story regarding its criminal conduct in the United States should be of particular concern, where the pharmaceutical giant encouraged doctors to peddle harmful substances to children. How exactly is that any different than your local pusher?

And it should be alarming to know that GSK is one of several pharmaceutical giants promoting the use of vaccines. Who would trust vaccines produced and peddled by the same corporation convicted multiple times of immense fraud, corruption and the endangerment of children?

But corrupt corporations peddling poison for profits still isn’t the greatest danger. State sanctioned bioweapons masquerading as vaccines is.

South Africa’s Vaccines Against “Being Black” 

The apartheid regime in South Africa infamously waged war on its black population. So intent was the regime on subduing and/or exterminating black communities, its biological warfare program began developing a bioweapon that would infect only blacks, and planned to administer it covertly under the cover of a vaccine program.

The United Nations in a report titled Project Coast: Apartheid’s Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme would admit:

One example of this interaction involved anti-fertility work. According to documents from RRL [Roodeplaat Research Laboratories], the facility had a number of registered projects aimed at developing an anti-fertility vaccine. This was a personal project of the first managing director of RRL, Dr Daniel Goosen. Goosen, who had done research into embryo transplants, told the TRC that he and Basson had discussed the possibility of developing an anti-fertility vaccine which could be selectively administered—without the knowledge of the recipient. The intention, he said, was to administer it to black South African women without their knowledge.

Unscrupulous corporations with global reach, married to unscrupulous ideologies seeking to covertly kill off entire segments of their population constitutes nightmare scenarios generally confined to the realm of science fiction. However, here are the ingredients, right before our very eyes.

Vaccines and National Security 

 It is very clear then, why communities and nations must take control of their healthcare systems entirely. Not a single aspect of it can depend on foreign suppliers any more than national IT infrastructure, the food supply, power production, or military hardware can.

No nation would “outsource” the protection of its head of state to foreigners. Why would they outsource the protection of their people’s health? Dependence on big-pharma has already put countless lives in danger with untold disease, disabilities and death following in the wake of their unhinged global criminality. It should be noted, that despite their rampant criminality, they are all still very much in business, a testament to the unwarranted power and influence their immense profits and the lobbying efforts they purchase has afforded them.

If vaccines are determined to be beneficial to a nation’s population, they should be developed by that nation and administered only by that nation. There should be no multinational pharmaceutical corporations, because no nation should leave their population’s health to the whims of foreign entities who have already demonstrated the well-being of their customers is the least of their concerns.

And while nations taking up this responsibility and pushing out foreign pharmaceutical corporations is a good start, one must still consider the case of South Africa, where a government sought to destroy entire communities within their borders under the guise of vaccination programs. Individual communities and individuals themselves would be wise to think twice before allowing anyone to inject something into their body.

If vaccinations are so important, then the information required to make them should be made open source and all invited to examine how and why they are made and how to make them in community laboratories located at local universities and hospitals. If that can’t be done, then they probably aren’t that important to begin with nor any more legitimate or necessary than the dangerous antidepressants GSK peddled to little children in America, and surely something society could do well without.

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

“I’m just facing up to reality.  A minority government can’t govern without support from other parties.  Either Ed Miliband will accept that or he won’t.” – Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Leader, The Guardian, May 3, 2015

Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party has proven to be unimpeachable and powerful. Despite losing the referendum on Scottish independence by 10 points, the SNP has been rumbling along in its efforts to unsettle the Labour status quo and, more broadly speaking, that of British politics.

And rumbling with force and measure it is.  Not since 1885 has a nationalist party – the then Irish Parliamentary Party – have such force.  Membership is soaring, having reached levels around 110,000.  In seven months, this has made the SNP the third largest political party in Britain.  The Tories, as expressed by the likes of Thatcher’s old hand Norman Tebbit, fear that it will constitute a “puppet government” comprising Labour and the SNP.  The she-demon Sturgeon is set to be the puppeteer, holding the strings of an ever malleable Ed Miliband.

The idea that elected government has to work hard for its decisions, seeking alliances, forging deals, is something that leaves a poor taste for British establishment politicians.  It is the fearful refrain of comfortable majoritarian tyranny.  “Such an arrangement could be unstable in the extreme, even without taking into account that securing votes in the House of Lords would make the proverbial task of herding cats look like child’s play” (The Telegraph, May 4).[1]

Home Secretary Theresa May prefers the catastrophic scenario: any arrangement with the vibrant Scottish nationalists would trigger a constitutional crisis, the worst, in fact, since the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936.

Showing how proportion expands as paranoia breathes down its neck, May suggested that the measure of such seriousness could be gauged by how the ruling classes were positively paralysed in wake of the monarch’s affair with American divorcee Wallis Simpson.[2]

“It would mean Scottish MPs who have no responsibility for issues like health, education and policing in their own constituencies [as they are devolved to the Scottish Parliament] making decisions on those issues for England and Wales.”

Rupert Murdoch’s swill churning centre The Sun, in its own merrily misogynist way, has taken to portraying Sturgeon in Tartan bikini straddling a wrecking ball. Channelling Miley Cyrus, the image of Sturgeon spells doom for the United Kingdom. [3]

Foolishly, Labour’s Miliband has been rattled enough to suggest that any prospect of entering a coalition with the Sturgeon factor would be unthinkable.  This, despite the prospects of an ignominious annihilation of Labour’s traditional grounds in the north which made a sitting Labour MP claim that he was “set to Defcon fucked”.[4]

Undeterred by the prospects of this electoral liquidation, Miliband wanted to remind listeners about a certain clarity of thinking.  “I want to be clear about this.  No coalitions, no tie-ins… I’ve said no deals.  I am not doing deals with the Scottish National Party.”[5]  Sturgeon has her Labour counterparts in the South worried about the succubi tendencies she has been accused of, feeding off Labour even as it seeks to win office.  Vote for Labour, urged Miliband, because the alternative will allow a stampede of instability.

The policy platforms of the SNP show that it is no midget force in the scheme of British politics.

The foreign policy tendrils of the party are worth noting. It maintains a strong policy against the utility of Trident, the long in tooth nuclear submarine fleet that David Cameron has promised to overall should he win office.  A sore, and a sucker, it bleeds resources from the sceptred isle, with an expected bill of £20bn issuing from the coffers to replace four Vanguard-class submarines.  The total cost, however, is likely to come to £100bn.

Sturgeon has gone so far as to make the ditching of the nuclear submarine fleet essential to any coalition deal with Labour. “The SNP have made it clear that Trident is a fundamental issue for the SNP so we would never be in any formal deal with a Labour government that is going to renew Trident and we would never vote for the renewal of Trident or for anything that facilitated the renewal of Trident.”[6]

Miliband’s own list of grievances against the SNP have been noted.  “I disagree with them on independence.  It would be a disaster for our country.  There are other big disagreements: on national defence, on the deficit and a bigger philosophy question.”  By means of contortion, Miliband suggests that the Tories and the SNP share a common thread of destructive ambition. “They want to set one part of the country against another.”

All of these are worth noting, because they make the Scottish upstarts seem light years ahead of their opponents.  There is clarity about Europe and the role with the EU. (Britons may have a referendum on the issue of Europe and the EU, but Scots may think differently, triggering another visit on the independence issue.)  There is a firm stance about the issue of recognising a Palestinian state.

Domestically, there is an insistence that austerity measures should be eased, if not scrapped altogether.  Instead, an increase in the minimum wage is advocated.  A 50 percent top tax rate is endorsed, with an extra tax on homes worth over £2 million while banking bonuses will endure new levies.

Five years ago, the SNP won a fifth of the Scottish vote, and only six of Scotland’s 59 parliamentary seats.  The arithmetic odds have narrowed dramatically.  Far from being a wrecking ball of history and the sacred union, Sturgeon may well prove to be a great reminder about forcing a complacent, tired establishment into the necessary discomforts of engaged democratic practice.

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

Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination last week–but Meet the Press‘s Chuck Todd, who’s “obsessed with elections,” didn’t seem to notice. (cc photo: Paul Morigi/Brookings)

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd can’t seem to get enough of the 2016 presidential race. Yet the one major candidate who announced he was running last week–Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who declared on April 30  he was running for the Democratic nomination–was strikingly ignored on Meet the Press‘s May 2 broadcast.

It’s not that the broadcast didn’t have time to talk about the 2016 race. One of the show’s guest was Martin O’Malley, brought  on to talk about the Baltimore protests as former mayor of Baltimore and former Maryland governor, but also as someone  “weighing a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination”: “Do you think you can still run on your record, as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland,” Todd asked him. “Do you think this is a positive thing that voters will look at…?”

Todd closed his interview by saying: “We’ll see you, you’ll probably announce in Baltimore.” But we didn’t see anything about  the candidate who actually announced that week in Washington, DC.

Afterwards, Todd had a brief discussion (labeled “nerdscreen time”) of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of voter priorities: “For Democratic primary voters, the number one issue is job creation and economic growth followed by health care and climate change.” As it happens, these are all issues that Sanders has put at the center of his campaign–but Todd made no reference to his candidacy.

Chuck Todd not talking to House Speaker John Boehner about Bernie Sanders on Meet the Press.

Then Todd ended his interview with Republican House Speaker John Boehner by saying, “Let me have a little bit of fun with you on presidential politics,” then asking a series of six questions, none of which produced a substantive response–from “You are a big fan of Jeb Bush, but you haven’t endorsed, why?” (“Well, I’m not going to endorse anybody”) to “When I say Hillary Clinton, what do you say? Give me a word or phrase. First thing that comes to mind” (“Listen, I don’t have a word for her. Former secretary of State”) to “Cruz, Paul, Rubio… Do they have enough experience?” (“It will sort itself out over the next year”).

Todd introduced  the final panel discussion segment of the show by declaring that “we are going to have another big week of presidential announcements coming up”:

Carly Fiorina is expected to announce tomorrow. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO will make the announcement online, and then she takes questions via Twitter‘s livestreaming app Periscope.

Baltimore native Ben Carson also announces tomorrow. He’ll do so, though, in Detroit, not Baltimore.

Mike Huckabee will announce his presidential candidacy Tuesday in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas. That’s right, the same hometown as Bill Clinton.

So that’s three mentions of candidates who are going to announce–but no reference to the candidate who really did announce in the previous week. (Sanders did not get his announcement previewed the week before on Meet the Press; in fact, Sanders hasn’t been mentioned on the show since September 14, 2014, when he made his only guest appearance on the show.)

Todd continued:

And by the way, there is a fourth candidate that’s been in the news this week. Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions are, well, shall we say floundering after two key allies were indicted and another plead guilty over the Bridgegate mess.

At this point, the show has mentioned 12 people who are running for president–none of them the one person whose candidacy had been declared in the previous week.

After this introduction, Todd declared, “Let’s talk a little quick 2016 with the panel”–leading a conversation that brought up Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee, Christie, Hillary Clinton, O’Malley–and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly insisted she is not running for president. Wall Street Journal editorialist Kimberley Strassel asserted that Clinton “is so worried about Elizabeth Warren getting into the race and [Clinton] is moving left, left, left, left.” Meanwhile, the name of the candidate who is running to Clinton’s left–not hypothetically, but in reality–was never mentioned.

It’s worth noting that Meet the Press did not ignore Sanders because he’s so much more obscure than the other candidates who were mentioned. Not that polls taken more than nine months before the first vote will be cast have much validity, but in four national opinion polls taken in the month before he announced his candidacy, Sanders averaged 6 percent of the vote–as opposed to O’Malley, who averaged 2 percent. In the Republican race, Todd was previewing the announcement of Fiorina, who’s averaging 1 percent in polls, albeit in a more crowded field.

Campaign pundits often use fundraising ability as a measure of the seriousness of a candidate. Sanders raised a surprising $1.5 million in the 24 hours after his announcement, in increments that averaged under $50. By comparison, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul raised $800,000, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz $1 million and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio $1.25 million in their first official day of campaigning.

Bernie Sanders: ignored on Meet the Press, but a featured guest on This Week.

Todd introduced the last topic of the day by saying, “I’m obsessed with elections, as people know”–and launching into a 400-word discussion of the race for British prime minister between Labour’s Ed Milliband and Conservative David Cameron.

What were the other networks doing with their Sunday shows? CBS‘s Face the Nation devoted its broadcast to the Baltimore protests, featuring media-anointed poverty expert Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wisc.).

And the main guest on ABC‘s This Week? Sen. Bernie Sanders, discussing the announcement of his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.


A massive protest in Tel Aviv by Ethiopian Jews against racism and police violence was attacked by police with horse charges, water cannon and baton rounds.

Sunday’s protest was sparked by video footage of police officers beating an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier, Damas Pakedeh, without provocation. Two officers have since been suspended on suspicion of using excessive force. Pakedeh is pushed, kneed and punched, and at one point an officer threatens to draw his gun.

Thousands took part in the protest rally, with many comparing Israeli police actions to police brutality in the United States. The rally began at the Azrieli Center at 3 p.m., after which a march to the Ayalon highway ended in a blockade that halted all traffic.

Later that night, some demonstrators tried to storm the city’s municipal building, and police fired water cannon, tear gas and stun grenades, employing mounted police charges against protesters who threw bottles and bricks. Stun grenades are usually reserved for use against Palestinians. Forty-three people were arrested and a reported 56 police and at least a dozen protesters were hurt.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Pakedeh in a hypocritical gesture towards recognising the grievances of Israeli citizens of North African origin. In a deeply cynical exercise in damage control, Netanyahu was filmed embracing Pakedeh, expressing shock at his treatment and praising him as “an excellent student,” for doing “volunteering on the weekend,” etc. He then met Ethiopian Israeli leaders, after which he declared, “We must stand together as one against the phenomenon of racism, to denounce it and eliminate it.”

Police have threatened a clampdown on any future protests, though smaller demonstrations began in Jerusalem last night. Yesterday, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of 15 of the protesters, three for 48 hours and 12 for 24 hours. Four demonstrators were released on probation provided that they stay out of Tel Aviv.

At an earlier protest last Thursday, Ethiopian Jews were attacked by police using water cannon outside Netanyahu’s residence, with at least 13 people injured.

Many Ethiopian Jews were airlifted into Israel in 1984 and 1990, at a time of civil war and famine, in a propaganda exercise, after a rabbinical ruling that they were direct descendants of the biblical Jewish Dan tribe. But the 135,500-strong community, many second-generation, has suffered racial discrimination and poverty ever since.

Israel has the second highest poverty rate in the developed world, with nearly 25 percent of its eight million citizens living below the poverty line. Jewish Israelis who came from the Middle East and North Africa—the Mizrahim—are hit particularly hard, earning 40 percent less than their European counterparts, doing less well in school, and less likely to go on to college or university.

Ethiopian households earn 35 percent less than the national average, more than half live below the poverty line, and only half of young people receive high school diplomas, compared with 63 percent nationally. Many are employed on one-year contracts without social security, before being sacked and rehired.

Immediately following the first major wave of immigration in the mid-1980s, the Chief Rabbinate, after recognizing them as Jews, insisted that Ethiopians undergo a symbolic immersion ceremony to confirm their Jewishness, sparking protests. Descendants of Ethiopian Jews forced to convert to Christianity are required to undergo actual conversion to be eligible for citizenship.

In 2012, a decision by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families provoked widespread protests in the southern city of Kiryat Malakhi.

Racist protests in Tel Aviv’s impoverished suburbs that year resulted in dozens of asylum seekers being injured, after a rally in which Miri Regev of Likud described asylum seekers as a “cancer in our body”. Demonstrators attacked shops, properties and cars belonging to the migrants and beat up men and women.

The revelation that Israeli hospitals secretly dumped blood donations from Ethiopian immigrants, citing fears of HIV infection, caused widespread outrage. Moreover, in 2013, Israeli authorities admitted to having administered birth control injections to Ethiopian Jewish women either without their consent or knowledge or through active coercion.

In January 2014, thousands of African asylum seekers marched to Rabin Square to protest measures restricting their freedom of movement, ability to work and long delays in processing refugee applications and demanding official refugee status.

President Reuven Rivlin spoke of the need to address “an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society,” but only while not allowing “a handful of violent troublemakers to drown out the legitimate voices of protest.”

Officers were deployed in large numbers on Monday around Jerusalem’s government complex, in anticipation of another outbreak of violence, though no demonstration materialised. Ha’aretz noted certain important features of Sunday’s protest that point to the growing alienation of young Ethiopian Israelis.

Just over 40 percent now attend state religious schools, down from 76 percent for their parents’ generation. The growth of secularism and oppositional sentiment was evidenced by how,

“Plainly defying the religious laws of modesty that are widely accepted in the community, many of the young women sported snug-fitting jeans and very short skirts. And there were also many bareheaded young men among the protesters, more than a few sporting dreadlocks.”

War planes with the US-backed, Saudi-led Arab war coalition dropped illegal cluster munitions amongst several groups of villages in northern Yemen, a report released this week by Human Rights Watch found.

Human Rights Watch found remnants of BLU 108 canisters, fired from a CBU 105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon, in the al-Safraa area of Yemen’s Sadaa province. Evidence of extensive cluster bomb use was found on a plateau less than 1 kilometer away from “four to six village clusters,” inhabited by thousands of people each, HRW found. The alleged use of illegal weapons was corroborated by video footage, photographs, and analysis of satellite imagery.

“These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians,”

according to Human Rights Watch arms director Steve Goose.

“Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger.”

The Sensor Fuzed cluster weapon systems works by spreading four submunitions across a target area, each of which then automatically identifies and locks onto a potential target such as a vehicle or structure. The bomblets themselves are geared to explode above ground for maximum effect, and are tailored to generate a downward explosive force that cover the target and surrounding area in hot shrapnel and flames. The US government has transferred the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons to Saudi Arabia and UAE in recent years, and the weapons were manufactured by an American firm, Textron Systems Corporation.

Cluster munitions have been banned by an international treaty signed in 2008 treaty called the Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed in Dublin by over 100 governments. Saudi Arabia, US, and the recently deposed US and Saudi-backed Yemen government were among the small number of ultra-militarist governments that refused to sign a 2008 agreement between 118 countries seeking to ban cluster bombs.

In comments to AFP Sunday, Pentagon official defended sale of cluster bombs on grounds that all states purchasing cluster weapons are required to sign agreements not to use the weapons in areas “where civilians are known to be present.”

Sensor Fuzed model used against villagers in northern Yemen was first deployed by the US military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Incendiary and chemical weapons such as white phosophorous, which was dropped on civilians areas indiscriminately during the 2004 US punitive assault against the population of the Baghdad suburb of Falljuah, and napalm, widely used in US imperialism’s war against Vietnam, are typically deployed using cluster systems.

Thousands of tons worth of cluster munitions were dropped on Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos by the US Air Force and Navy during the 1960s and 1970s. The US dropped some 260 million bomblets on Laos between 1964 and 1973, some 80 million are estimated to have not exploded, remaining dispersed across the land. Civilians and especially children are regularly killed by explosives leftover from the US war, including cluster bombs and mines, themselves frequently deployed via cluster systems.

US forces also dropped thousands of cluster bombs, including a total of more than 200,000 submunitions, during 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. During an after the 2003 “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the US led assault deployed more than 2 million submunitions against targets inside Iraq. The NATO powers also used the illegal weapons during the bombing of Yugoslavia by the Clinton administration at the end of the 1990s.

Many cluster munitions carry a cache of hundreds and even thousands of smaller submunitions, which in many cases do not explode immediately and become effective land minds.

Cluster weapons often combine both “anti-personnel” bomblets (designed to kill and maim individual human targets) with “anti-armor” ones (designed to destroy tanks and armored vehicles). The widespread pattern of small explosions that the submunitions produce has earned the weapons the military nickname of “popcorn” and “fire crackers.” Chemical and incendiary weapons including white phosphorus and napalm are often deployed via cluster systems.

Cluster munitions were first deployed on a large scale during the Second World War, by both the Nazi regime and the “democratic” imperialist powers. Nazi forces used the so-called “butterfly bomb,” named for the shape of the container after it had released its submunitions, against both civilian and military targets. Cluster-type systems were used by the US and allied imperialist governments to blanket urban areas in Germany and Japan with flammable explosions, a tactic geared to produce massive firestorms.

Israel and US are top producers of cluster bombs worldwide. As many as 30 countries may have received cluster munitions from the US totaling hundreds of thousands. According to some estimates, Israel used as many as 4 million submunitions against Lebanon during the 1978 invasion and the protracted occupation that followed.

There are signs that the Saudis and the Gulf monarchies are further escalating their savage military actions against Yemen.

Saudi had vowed a ceasefire and political deal to end the war on April 21, but strikes by the coalition began again the very next day, and has since greatly intensified its bombing runs against cities and towns across the country. New contingents of ground troops trained by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are reported to be in Yemen, where they are engaging in combat with the Houthis. The deployments may be the opening phase of a Saudi ground invasion.

Large areas of the country have already been laid waste by the fighting on the ground between militant groups and weeks of heavy bombing by the Saudi-led alliance. At least 1,200 killed and 5,000 wounded by bombing campaign, according to World Health Organization statistics. Aid groups state that the real death toll may be much higher, but conditions on the ground make it impossible to get an accurate count at present.

Saudi planes have carried out 70 percent of strikes against Yemen, according to a spokesman for the Saudi coalition. In this, the Saudis have received extensive and growing support from the US military, which has surveilled targets and providing logistical support in coordination with the Saudi-led coalition, in addition to providing billions of dollars worth of up to date US made military hardware.

The Obama administration is working closely with sections of the Saudi, Gulf and Iranian elites in an effort to forge a comprehensive political settlement that will re-stabilize US imperialism’s hegemonic position in the Middle East. Yemen’s population is being treated as a bargaining chip in the process, with all parties seeking to utilize the growing bloodbath to strengthen their positions against rivals in the regional and global arenas.

Noted vaccine choice advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., gave a speech recently at the New Jersey state capitol in Trenton in which he focused primarily on the corruption, collusion and malfeasance regarding vaccine safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As noted by Anne Dachel of Age of Autism, a news website covering the spread of the disability, RFK also discussed the media’s role in covering up the scandalous link between some vaccines and the occurrence of autism, which is routinely portrayed in the press as “old science” or a link that has been “soundly disproven.”

But, as she reported in a story regarding RFK’s discussion, the reaction of the assembled press was both predictable and depressing:

He focused on the corruption, collusion and malfeasance at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was a scathing report about the ethics of the agency in charge of vaccine safety.

The second half of his 45 minute talk was a chance for reporters to question Kennedy about his claims. Incredibly, during the question and answer session not a single reporter asked about the scandalous charges Kennedy made about top U.S. health officials. Most of them asked about exemptions and herd immunity. It was like they weren’t even in the room.

Only a handful of truthful, honest vaccine reporters

In a follow-up to his talk, Dachel asked RFK about the lack of media focus on the specific charges he made regarding the CDC. She asked him what he thought it would take for the mainstream media to finally begin covering the issue of vaccine safety fairly and honestly.

His response was, essentially, that it would never happen.

“The trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry is now the largest advertiser on television, radio and newspaper pages, spending from $3 billion to $5.4 billion annually over the past decade,” RFK told her. “Pharmaceutical companies target network news divisions for their advertising buys partially for message control and partially for the demographic; TV news audiences tend to be older affluent pharmaceutical customers. A network news division president told me two weeks ago he would fire a newscaster or program host whose reporting or programming choice lost his station an advertising pharmaceutical company.”

During his speech RFK also made a poignant, revealing observation about vaccine safety and media coverage:

There are only four reporters in this country that will actually cover this issue: Dan Olmsted from UPI, who lost his job, Alisyn Camerota from Fox who basically is being pushed out, Sharyl Attkisson from CBS, who lost her job, and there’s a woman called Karen Garloch, who started covering this issue for the Charlotte Observer.

Let’s look at each of these reporters individually:

Dan Olmsted: As a senior editor for UPI (United Press International), Olmsted wrote a series of articles regarding the link between vaccines and autism. Specifically, Olmsted wrote about how the mercury in vaccines is linked to dramatic increases in autism cases.

Olmsted was eventually forced out at UPI; he founded the Age of Autism (also the title of his series of columns and reports) after leaving the newswire. Check his site regularly for the latest information; he also accepts donations to support his efforts.

Alisyn Camerota: Currently co-anchoring CNN’s New Day program, Camerota spent 16 years at Fox News. In 2011, she reported on a probe linking government vaccine settlements and autism. The report was widely “debunked” by the “scientific community.” Before then, she was recognized by Age of Autism in 2010 as “Journalist of the Year” for fairly covering the issue of vaccine safety.

Sharyl Attkisson: As one of the last true investigative reporters who doesn’t care which political ox she gores, Attkisson was a thorn in the side of her network producers and senior editors over a number of issues — her dogged and truthful coverage of the Benghazi scandal, Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama Administration’s “green energy” scam — and the vaccine-autism link. After a couple of harrowing years following a 20-year career at the network, she left in February 2014.

But she continues to cover the vaccine-autism story, and other important topics, on her website.

Karen Garloch: A health reporter for The Charlotte Observer Garloch still currently has a job, even after reporting on cases of vaccine injury to children and the families such injuries impact. You can read her work here.


Racist Israeli Policies Target Ethiopian Jews

May 5th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Longstanding Israeli policy is notoriously racist – worse than South African apartheid according to observers familiar with both systems. Palestinians face ruthless persecution in a nation affording rights to privileged Jews alone. They have virtually none whatever. 

Ethiopian Jews fare no better – unwanted because they’re black. Citizenship doesn’t matter. Persecuting them is standard Israeli practice.

Last week a video emerged showing police beating an Ethiopian IDF member.

On Sunday, thousands of Ethiopian Israelis protested mostly peacefully – against what happened and widespread discrimination.

Hundreds of Israeli social activists and concerned Knesset members joined Sunday’s rally. It came three days after an earlier one protesting police beating an Ethiopian Israeli soldier.

Police reacted as expected – viciously with stun grenades, water cannon fire, pepper spray and beatings.

Scattered protester violence was in response to policy brutality – mostly scuffles, throwing stones and plastic water bottles.

Numerous injuries and arrests followed. Participants chanted “Violent police officers belong in jail.” “For blacks and whites, racism is the devil.” “Police state.” “No to racism.”

They held signs saying “A violent policeman must be put in prison.” “We demand equal rights.”

Not in Israel notorious for ruthlessly denying them. One protester spoke for others saying:

“Being black, I have to protest today. I never experienced police violence against me personally, but it is aimed at my community which I have to support.”

Protesters want social inequality addressed. They want violent police charged, tried, convicted and imprisoned for criminality too serious to ignore.

Netanyahu lied saying police abuse cases “will be looked into.” Whitewash is standard Israeli policy.

Over 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. They’re treated like second-class citizens or worse.

Their fundamental rights are denied. They face high unemployment, rotten jobs when available, poverty wages and discriminatory mistreatment.

A midday Monday rally is planned. Police warned if “public safety” is threatened, they’ll “be forced to disperse the demonstration using means” of crowd control – code language for unrestrained brutality.

Nineteen Sunday protesters face charges of rioting and assaulting police. Innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is longstanding Israeli policy. Police brutality doesn’t matter.

One protester said the following:

“We have long been the punching bag and scapegoat for everything in this country. People say that they’re with us, that they brought us here.”

“They didn’t bring us here. We came because of Zionism, not like others who came for economic benefits.”

“When you’re a Zionist, you believe with a full heart that this is your country.”

“Our forefathers lived here, and we also have the right to live here. But what is going on now is simply a catastrophe.”

“It is racism for the sake of racism. You look for a job today, and even if you’re the best around, there’s a price. Your color carries a price.

“But we will not stay silent any longer. We are not our parents’ generation, who kept quiet, kept their heads down and said ‘amen’ to everything.”

“That period is over. We are a new generation fighting for our rights.”

“We are the first to volunteer for the elite units in the military. I personally know many in the community who’ve already fought in three wars.”

“And the state – what it does it tell them to do? Pardon the expression, but it tells them to go stick it you know where.”

A 19-year-old protesting IDF soldier said:

“There are too many instances of racism against our community. We kept quiet and kept quiet, and because of that, people who were victims of police violence ended up killing themselves.”

“The boy who was beaten up last week, you can see on the video that he didn’t do anything. He was beaten up for nothing, and it’s really enraging.”

“What we’re doing now has nothing to do with what’s going on in Baltimore. They have their issues. We have ours. But we understand them. We both suffer from racism.”

“There, it’s more extreme. People were murdered by police. Here they just got beaten up. Who knows? Maybe somebody was killed by police here, and we don’t even know about it.”

“In any event, we will not be silent any longer. It can’t be that our blood is only good for fighting wars.”

Another protesting black soldier said “I almost lost my life for the country, and this is how they treat me.”

An Ethiopian protester told Israeli bystanders: “See, our blood is just like yours.”

Another said “I feel like we’re strangers, like we’re not Jews. We fight all these wars, but this is the real war” – for long denied justice.

Things quieted down Sunday around midnight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PMCentral time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

The tripartite negotiations between Russia, Ukraine and the EU to resolve the problems thrown up by Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU are going nowhere.

The Russians insist on changes to the text of the agreement. The Europeans categorically reject this, as do the Ukrainians.

In order to understand why there is this deadlock, it is necessary to say something about the nature of the Ukraine EU Association Agreement, since it is not very well understood.

Most people believe the agreement is intended to create a free trade area between the EU and Ukraine.

It is easy to understand why people think this since that is what the Association Agreement itself says in Article 25:

“The Parties shall progressively establish a free trade area over a transitional period of maximum 10 years starting from the entry into force of this Agreement, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement and in conformity with Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (hereinafter referred to as ‘GATT 1994’).”

Establishing “a free trade area” (in the commonly-understood meaning of that term) between the EU and Ukraine is not however what the Association Agreement actually does.

At almost a thousand pages, the text of the Association Agreement is extremely long and uses convoluted and technical language.

This is intentional. The text has been deliberately made much longer and far more technical than it needs to be, precisely so as to confuse people.

It is certainly far longer and much more complex and technical than it would need to be if its purpose really was merely to create a free trade area. Here by comparison is the text of the EU Association Agreement with Chile. This too purports to be a free trade agreement between the EU and Chile.

Reading the two documents side by side, the similarities are obvious; but so are the differences. The Association Agreement with Ukraine is much longer and far more technical and complex.

What the EU officials who drew up the document have done is take a standard form of the Association Agreement the EU routinely uses when it negotiates free trade agreements with non-EU countries and graft onto it something completely different.

So what does the Ukraine EU Association Agreement actually do?

What it does is require Ukraine to adopt the whole body of EU law as it affects regulation of its economy.

EU officials call this body of EU law the acquis. Those with the time and inclination to read through the document will see this word appears constantly throughout the text.

The key omnibus provision is Article 56, in the section that deals with removing “technical barriers to trade”:

“2. With a view to reaching these objectives, Ukraine shall, in line with the timetable in Annex III [to this Agreement]: (i) incorporate the relevant EU acquis into the legislation of Ukraine.”

Since Ukraine is committing itself to make the acquis its law, it is surrendering regulation of its economy to the EU in Brussels. Questions of regulation of Ukraine’s economy will no longer be decided by the Ukrainian government and parliament in Kiev, but by the European Council and the EU Commission in Brussels.

Moreover what the EU decides will have the force of law. This is made quite clear by the single most important paragraph in the entire document (buried on page 187):

 “Article 322

Dispute settlement relating to regulatory approximation

The procedures set out in this Article shall apply to disputes relating to the interpretation and application of obligations contained in relating to regulatory or legislative approximation contained in Chapter 3 (Technical Barriers to Trade), Chapter 4 ( Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures), Chapter 6 (Services, Establishment and Electronic Commerce) and Chapter 8 (Public Procurement) [of this Agreement].

Where a dispute raises a question of interpretation of an act of the institutions of the European Union, the arbitration tribunal shall not decide the question, but request the Court of Justice of the European Union to give a ruling on the question. In such cases, the deadlines applying to the rulings of the arbitration panel shall be suspended until the Court of Justice of the European Union has given its ruling. The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the arbitration tribunal.”

Since the entire point of the Association Agreement is “regulatory or legislative approximation” through wholesale adoption of the acquis in the key economic areas mentioned in Article 322, what this paragraph does is give the EU effective control of Ukraine’s economy, with the EU’s decisions having the force of law, with the right of enforcement given not to Ukraine’s own courts, but to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

To hide away this provision the Association Agreement creates an elaborate arbitration system to settle disputes. However, since in deciding legal questions the arbitration tribunal is bound by decisions of the European Court of Justice, the final decision always ultimately rests with the EU.

Other sections of the Association Agreement are equally far reaching, with Ukraine for example required to harmonize its foreign, defense, tax and transport policies with those of the EU, to base its intellectual property law on that of the EU, and even to allow unrestricted access to EU investigators undertaking “anti-corruption” investigations in Ukraine.

The Association Agreement does not therefore just create a free trade area.  What it does – and what it is intended to do – is make Ukraine in effect a part of the European Economic Area and of the European Single Market administered by the EU Commission in Brussels.

It does so despite Ukraine remaining outside the EU. Ukraine is surrendering control of its economy to the EU without the corresponding benefit of EU membership.

Many people within the EU today complain about the power the democratically-unaccountable institutions of the EU have over their lives. They are however at least represented in the EU through their governments and can vote in elections to the European parliament. Ukraine’s people will have no representation at all, and no say through their government in what the EU decides for them.

Once it is understood that what the Association Agreement actually does is not the creation of free trade area between the EU and Ukraine, but in fact makes Ukraine a part of the European Economic Area and the European Single Market, then the reason why talks with Russia are deadlocked becomes obvious.

The Russians complain that if the Association Agreement comes into force and Russia’s trade relations with Ukraine are unchanged, then EU goods can enter Russia without hindrance because Ukraine and Russia have a free trade agreement. Russia does not have a free trade agreement with the EU, but once the Association Agreement comes into effect, it will in effect find itself in a de facto free trade area with the EU through its Ukrainian back door.

Understandably enough, the Russians say they will not let themselves be brought into a free trade arrangement (whose terms they have not negotiated) with the EU in this backstairs way, and that if no change is made to the Association Agreement to prevent this, then their free trade arrangements with Ukraine will end.  They insist this problem can only be solved by making changes to the text.

The Europeans and Ukrainians refuse to change the text of the Association Agreement in any way.  What they offer instead is a labeling system that would enable Russian customs officials to identify the provenance of any goods entering Russia through Ukraine, so as to separate those goods which are Ukrainian from those which are not.

This proposal illustrates everything that is wrong about the way the West treats Russia.

What the Ukrainians and the West never explain is why they think the Russians would agree to such a proposal. What it amounts to is a demand that Russia set up a cumbersome and expensive customs procedure, which would be very easy to evade just so Ukraine can distance itself from Russia and the EU can achieve its geopolitical goals.

As such, this is simply another in a long line of proposals that amount to the Ukrainians and the West demanding that Russia pay the cost of their anti-Russian policies. Not surprisingly, the Russians always say no. Amazingly, the Ukrainians and the West always then seem genuinely surprised, become furious, and accuse the Russians of harboring all sorts of sinister designs when the reason the Russians have said no is actually perfectly obvious.

This proposal however faces a more fundamental problem – that it is incompatible with the Association Agreement. Without rewriting its text it cannot work because the European Court of Justice will set it aside.

The European Court of Justice would be bound to find that the proposal is discriminatory and a barrier to trade and as such that it is incompatible with the rules and regulations of the European Economic Area and of the European Single Market (the acquis), which Ukraine has agreed to adopt. Since according to Article 322, decisions of the European Court of Justice are binding, any agreement made with Russia based on the proposal would then be set aside. Ukraine could not continue with it while it remained bound to observe the acquis.

The simple fact which neither the Ukrainians nor the Europeans want to face is that the Ukraine EU Association Agreement is incompatible with Ukraine’s existing economic and trade links with Russia.

That of course is its whole point. There is no logic in the Ukrainians and the Europeans angrily complaining about this when that is precisely what the document they signed together is intended to do.

We live in a truly messed up and Orwellian world if you will. 

In many parts of Europe, interest rates are negative.  Savers “pay” for the privilege of banks to hold their money, lenders pay sovereign treasuries to lend, new homeowners who borrow to buy property are paid to borrow.  This situation where borrowers get paid and lenders pay also exists between banks which is really strange because you would think bankers understand money and interest …just a little?

As a question to set the foundation, I ask you this; if you could sell something today for $100 and be contractually guaranteed to be ABLE to buy it back 30 days later at $99, would you do it?  I hope your answer is not only yes, but you return with “how many times can I do this, it’s free money?!”.  In the real world, this is called arbitrage.  Rarely does the condition ever exist on a single exchange, normally when it does exist it happens over two or more exchanges and even time zones.  The discrepancy can be miniscule as billions of dollars scan the globe 24 hours a day looking for this situation and lock the profit in until there is no more to be had.  Arbitrage is a big business and for the most part, RISK FREE.  The condition described above is called “backwardation”, the remedy is ALWAYS arbitrage.

Please notice I bold printed three words, “able, risk-free, and always”.  Starting with the first word “able”, if we changed that word to either possibly or cannot, the whole equation changes as the trade is no longer risk free and will not ever be done without risk assessment.  As I understand it, physical gold is in backwardation in London and silver in Asia.  Why has not big money stepped in and arbitraged the “guaranteed” profits out of these markets?

The answer of course is that the profit is not guaranteed.  The reason backwardation is persistent is because the fear of not being able to get your metal back 30 days into the future.  It is being deemed by the market that gold today (a bird in the hand thing) is more valuable than a “promise” to get it back in 30 days …because promises are made to be broken!  The fear obviously exists of a failure to deliver in the future, there can be NO other explanation why physical gold in hand is more expensive than gold 30 days in the future.  If you would like to tell me that the situation exists because interest rates are negative then please explain to me how interest rates can be negative and the logic behind it!

Andrew Maguire spoke of this again last Friday, he also spoke of the new “Allocated Bullion Exchange” (ABX) which was set to begin in late April and has been pushed back a few weeks.  I must confess to giving out incorrect information last month, I believed this was an offshoot of the SGE, Shanghai Gold Exchange, it is not.  Their homepage  is up but not yet fully functional.  ABX intends to arbitrage the differences between the various global gold exchanges …on a PHYSICAL basis.  In other words, when one buys they ask for delivery and when one sells they will deliver the real product.  We will soon see how willing the shorts are to pummel metals prices with weeks or even months worth of global production “on paper”.  I believe it is entirely possible to see LBMA cleaned out and followed by COMEX of their inventories within a very short timespan.  An operation as such would not require huge amounts of capital, $10-$20 billion should be more than enough to do the trick! 

After writing the above, news has come out the IMF board meeting to discuss China’s inclusion to the SDR has been postponed.  A decision and announcement must be done prior to sometime in October.  I am still of the mind that China will put their cards on table and include audited numbers.  Will they request or even demand an audit from the other players?

I don’t think they have to overtly, by auditing their own gold they are “politely” asking the others to provide proof of theirs.

I point this out because of the connection involved between backwardation and whether or not the Western powers really do have the gold.  The connection is of course the “supply” and whether it will continue to be forthcoming.  The arbitrageurs seem not willing to take the risk it won’t be, not even for 30 days.  Otherwise the backwardation would not exist.  If the supply has in fact been surreptitiously coming from Western vaults and questions come regarding official numbers, the supply may discontinue and the “I want my gold” moment will be at hand.

As Andrew said, “this will accelerate the process of re set”.  I agree and would add, it’s been a long time coming, the tail should never have been allowed to wag the dog but then again, in what world do borrowers get paid to borrow?

Bill Holter writes for Miles Franklin at

Ci si può chiedere se il cosiddetto Stato islamico in Iraq ed in Siria (ISIS) / Stato Islamico in Iraq e il Levante (ISIL) / Stato islamico / DAESH ) siano attivi nell’Ucraina del post-euromaidan . La risposta non è esatta. In altre parole, la risposta è sì e no.

Poi di nuovo, in cosa consiste l’ ISIS / ISIL / DAESH? Si tratta di una banda a maglie larghe delle milizie terroriste, come il suo predecessore Al-Qaeda. Inclusi nella sua rete sono gruppi del Caucaso, che stanno combattendo attualmente in Siria ed in Iraq. Ora sono arrivati in Ucraina e la stanno utilizzando come un trampolino verso l’Europa.

Gli agenti del Caos e della guerra per l’Eurasia

I conflitti in Ucraina, Siria, Iraq, Libia e Yemen sono in realtà tutti i fronti di una guerra multidimensionale che viene condotta dagli Stati Uniti e dai loro alleati. Questa guerra multidimensionale fa parte di una strategia  che mira a circondare l’Eurasia. La Cina, l’Iran e la Russia sono i suoi  principali obiettivi.

Gli Stati Uniti hanno anche un ordine pianificato delle operazioni che portano avanti in questi paesi. L’Iran è primo, seguito dalla Russia, con la Cina come l’ultima parte del set eurasiatico formato da questa « Triplice Intesa euroasiatica.» Non è un caso che i conflitti in Ucraina, Siria, Iraq, Libia e Yemen si svolgono  in prossimità delle frontiere dell’ Iran e della Russia, in quanto Teheran e Mosca sono gli obiettivi più vicini nel medio termine per Washington.

Allo stesso modo di come i conflitti in Ucraina, in Siria, in Iraq, in Libia e nello Yemen presentano una natura interconnessa , esiste anche un collegamento tra le forze violente, razziste, xenofobe, e settarie che si sono scatenate in quei paesi come «agenti del caos.»

Non è un caso che Newsweek presentava il 10 settembre 2014 un titolo che enunciava: «I volontari nazionalisti ucraini hanno commesso crimini di guerra ‘ISIS-Style’», . [1] Che lo si sappia o no, queste forze devianti, siano essi le ultra- milizie nazionaliste Pravy Sektor in Ucraina o le bande dei tagliatori di teste di Al-Nusra e la ISIS / ISIL / DAESH in Siria e in Iraq, tutte servono uno stesso mandante. Questi agenti del caos stanno scatenando diverse ondate di caos costruttivo per prevenire l’integrazione eurasiatica ed  la possibilità che si  formi  un ordine mondiale che sia libero dal  dominio  degli Stati Uniti.

Il «caos costruttivo» che viene scatenato in Eurasia finirà per portare lo stesso caos e distruzione anche in India. Se New Delhi ritiene che sarà lasciata al fuori di questa strategia, questa è una idea stupida e sbagliata. Gli stessi agenti del caos andranno a contagiare anche il paese indiano. Anche l’India rappresenta un obiettivo come lo è la Cina, l’Iran e la Russia.

Strane alleanze: Alleanza tra la ISIL / DAESH e l’Ucraina degli ultra-nazionalisti?

Non dovrebbe essere una sorpresa che i vari agenti del caos siano vagamente allineati. Servono lo stesso mandante ed hanno gli stessi nemici, uno dei quali è la Federazione Russa.
E ‘ in questo contesto che Marcin Mamon ha riferito circa il collegamento dell’ l’ISIS / ISIL / DAESH in Ucraina. Ha anche spiegato che alcuni dei combattenti del Caucaso sentono di avere un debito con gli ucraini come Oleksandr Muzychko. [2]

Mamon è un documentarista polacco che ha prodotto una serie di documentari sulla Cecenia, come l”‘odore del Paradiso “con Mariusz Pilis nel 2005, per il programma Storyville della British Broadcasting Corporation. Egli è anche apertamente in sintonia con la causa dei separatisti ceceni contro la Russia nel Caucaso del Nord.
I viaggi di Mamon in Afghanistan e la sua interazione con i combattenti separatisti ceceni hanno portato il regista polacco ad avere contatti con l’ISIS / ISIL / DAESH all’interno della Siria e della Turchia. Questo straordinario viaggio lo ha portato ad affrontare un lungo e nuovo percorso per l’Ucraina.

«Io non sapevo nemmeno, a quel punto, chi sarei andato ad incontrare”, racconta Mamon. “Sapevo soltanto che Khalid, il mio contatto in Turchia con lo Stato Islamico [ISIS / ISIL / DAESH], mi aveva spiegato che quelli erano i suoi “fratelli” in Ucraina, e di potermi fidare di loro », scrive circa il suo incontro in una «strada piena di buche a Kiev, ad est del fiume Dnieper, in una zona conosciuta come la Rive Gauche.» [3]

In un precedente articolo Mamon spiega che sono questi cosiddetti «’fratelli’ membri di ISIS e altre organizzazioni islamiche sotterranee »i quali « sono presenti in ogni continente, in quasi tutti i paesi, e ora si trovano anche in Ucraina, . »[4] Egli spiega anche che« Khalid, il quale usa uno pseudonimo, comanda un ramo clandestino dello Stato Islamico in Istanbul. Egli è venuto dalla Siria per aiutare a controllare il flusso di volontari che arrivano in Turchia da tutto il mondo, che vogliono unirsi alla jihad globale. Ora, voleva mettermi in contatto con Ruslan, un combattente considerato ‘fratello’ dai i combattenti musulmani in Ucraina ». [5]

Gli ucraini ultranazionalisti come Muzychko sono divenuti anche i cosiddetti «fratelli» e sono stati accettati in questa rete di gruppi islamici radicali. Mamon spiega che i combattenti ceceni lo accettavano «anche se non si è mai convertito all’Islam» e che «Muzyczko, insieme ad altri volontari ucraini, si sono uniti ai combattenti ceceni ed hanno preso parte alla prima guerra cecena contro la Russia», dove « Muzychko aveva comandato un ramo di ucraino di volontari, chiamati ‘vichinghi ‘, quelli che hanno combattuto sotto il famoso leader militante ceceno Shamil Basayev. »[6]

Perché l’ ISIS ammette milizie private in Ucraina?

Che cosa intende dire quando i separatisti ceceni e la rete transnazionale dei cosiddetti «fratelli» legata al ISIS / ISIL /DAESH vengono reclutati o utilizzati per riempire i ranghi delle milizie private, essendo utilizzati dagli oligarchi ucraini? Questa è una domanda molto importante. Inoltre dimostra chiaramente come questi elementi sono agenti di caos.

Marcin Mamon ha viaggiato in Ucraina per incontrare il combattente ceceno Isa Munayev. Sullo sfondo di Munayev si è spiegato così: «Anche prima del suo arrivo in Ucraina, Munayev era ben conosciuto. Ha combattuto contro le forze russe in entrambe le guerre cecene; nella seconda, era il comandante del fronte di Grozny. Dopo la caduta della capitale cecena è stato catturato dalle forze russe tra il 1999 e il 2000, Munayev ei suoi uomini si rifugiarono sulle montagne. Ha combattuto da lì fino al 2005, quando era gravemente ferito e andò in Europa per il trattamento sanitario. Munayev vissuto in Danimarca fino al 2014. Poi è scoppiata la guerra in Ucraina, e lui ha deciso che era ora di combattere contro i russi di nuovo. »[7]

Quanto sopra è un passaggio importante, perché illustra come gli Stati Uniti e Unione europea hanno appoggiato i militanti che combattono contro la Russia. Negli Stati Uniti e nell’Unione europea, il comodo rifugio che la Danimarca ha offerto a Isa Munayev non è mai stato in discussione, mentre le accuse rivolte contro Mosca per sostenere i soldati della Repubblica Popolare di Donetsk e di Lugansk sono visti come un crimine. Perché viene applicata la doppia morale? Perché è considerato un bene per gli Stati Uniti, per la UE e la NATO sostenere i movimenti separatisti russi e le milizie islamiche in altre parti del mondo, ma viene criticato e proibito agli altri paesi di fare lo stesso?

«Un uomo più anziano in una giacca di pelle mi ha fatto conoscere Munayev. ‘Il nostro buon fratello Khalid ci ha consigliato questa persona’, ha detto l’uomo. (Khalid è oggi uno dei leader più importanti dello Stato Islamico. Khalid e Munayev si conoscevano per gli anni trascorsi a lottare insieme in Cecenia), » Marcin Mamon spiega circa le connessioni tra i separatisti ceceni e ISIS / ISIL / Daesh. [8]


[1] Damien Sharkov, «volontari nazionalisti ucraini hanno commesso crimini di guerra ‘ISIS-Style’,» Newsweek, 10 Settembre 2014.

[2] Marcin Mamon, «In piena guerra, l’Ucraina diventa Gateway per la Jihad,» Intercept, 26 Febbraio 2015.

[3] Marcin Mamon, «Guerra di Isa Munayev: Gli ultimi giorni di un comandante ceceno combattendo in Ucraina», Intercept, 27 febbraio 2015.

[4-6] Marcin Mamon, «In piena guerra,» op. cit.

[7-9] Marcin Mamon, «La guerra di Isa Munayev,» op. cit.

Questo articolo è stato originariamente pubblicato dalla Strategic Culture Foundation  

Traduzione: Luciano Lago

By Beirut Report

This kind of destruction is usually caused by a war or natural disaster. But this was Beirut this morning: no air strikes, no foreign army invasion, no earthquake. These homes were destroyed by the Lebanese government, the Lebanese police and billionaire families they work for.

The homes and small cafes that were leveled belong to some of the city’s poorest residents who have lived off the land for generations, fishing from the last natural shore in Beirut. But the Lebanese government, which is run by millionaires and billionaires has decided this land should be used for a luxury private development. Celebrity architect Rem Koolhaas has been asked to come up with a design.

“They didn’t give us any warning,” says boat-maker Bassam Chehab (above – featured image).


Chehab has been making boats since 1979 and claims to have built most of the fisherman’s boats along the coast of Beirut — “From Ain El Mrasye to Ouzai”. Now many of those are buried under the rubble:


Chehab says he spent several years as a prisoner of the regime in Syria–in a notorious jail in the  Tadmur desert– but never expected to be treated this way by his own government.

He says he is not a squatter but a law-abiding citizen who obtained permits for his shack from successive governments. Chehab is eager to show off a government installed electricity meter and pole as evidence.



“The worst thing I ever did was get a parking ticket and I paid for it,” he says. Lebanese politicians could hardly claim as much. They have manipulated laws to allow for major construction in once protected seafront areas such as Dalieh, creating legislation that decreases public access to the shore and increases the value of properties they already own. Lebanese politicians have even built massive illegal private resorts up and down the coast, as an Al Jazeera documentary recently revealed. Yet the bulldozers never come for their properties.

“They are worse than the Israelis” exclaimed fisherman Mohammed Itani, (below) as he dug through the rubble for personal belongings.


“At least the Israelis give you warning before they destroy your house.”

Born and raised on the Dalieh coast, Itani said he lost thousands of dollars in fishing and scuba equipment–a massive blow for a community that barely even has plumbing.



Itani says the police came in the darkness with no warning, just before dawn–they forced the men to kneel “like the Israelis do to Palestinians”.  Others said they were beaten, some put in a police van, while the destruction went on.

This afternoon, some tried to salvage a few items.


But others wondered what they would do next. Ali Itani and his family (below) claim to have lived off this land for over a century, fishing in its natural lagoons and farming on its grassy hills. Where will they go next and how will they earn a living?

You can see more pictures of the devastation here, including how the government bulldozed pieces of their homes straight into the sea:


Clarification: I interviewed at least five other fishermen and all confirmed that there was no warning for this demolition. They did however say that police had warned them a few days ago about one small shack built near the sea–which some say had been there for decades. But this doesn’t explain why the police would bulldoze all the other homes and cafes. Activists are trying to get in touch with Beirut governor to find out exactly what orders were issued. I will update this post if I get any details from them or the police on whether any warnings were issued. Feel free to comment if you have any additional information. 

For more on the campaign to save this place from private development, you can follow the efforts and read the legal background at The Civil Campaign to Save Dalieh –also follow their Facebook page for updates.

Copyright Beirut Report, 2015

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu allowed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to operate torture sites within his country because he was the leader of a puppet state whose marching orders came from Washington, former CIA analyst Raymond McGovern told Sputnik.

In December 2014, the US Senate Intelligence Committee issued a study on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, and found that the Agency tortured suspected terrorists in a brutal and mismanaged program that produced little valuable intelligence.

“What we have here with respect to Romania vis-à-vis the United States is what President Vladimir Putin calls a vassal state,” McGovern said on Wednesday.

Iliescu, McGovern argued, approved the CIA black sites because he was beholden to the United States and further motivated by cash infusions from the US Treasury.

“The riches go from my tax dollars to a guy like Iliescu and his secret service people. And what do we [United State] get out of it? We get to use some real estate to torture people,” McGovern said.

It would be interesting to investigate Iliescu’s Swiss bank account, McGovern suggested, and how the former Romanian President acquired his nice summer home on a lake.

McGovern found it hard to believe that Iliescu was oblivious to what was going on at the CIA black sites. If Iliescu did not know, McGovern claimed, it was only because he did not want to know.

“Sometimes world leaders prefer not to be told things that they’ll be able to deny knowing later,” McGovern explained. “It’s called ‘plausible deniability’.”

On Sunday May 3rd, Britain’s Guardian, which has major influence upon U.S. Democratic Party opinion-leaders, headlined “Clinton campaign keeps progressives guessing: how far left will she go?” Tom McCarthy ‘reported’ that: 

 ”In three weeks of multi-format politicking – roundtables, speeches, fundraisers, mile markers – Clinton has seized the Democratic banner and run with it, pitching voters on progressive priorities from reproductive rights to income inequality to climate change.”

The underlying assumption is that the record of Hillary Clinton indicates that her campaign rhetoric reflects accurately both her real beliefs and the policies that she has instituted in her political career. This is a false assumption.

Mr. McCarthy selectively interviewed ‘experts’ who espouse the same false assumption that he’s selling:

“Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report, said that while Clinton may currently be emphasizing issues that resonate with Democratic primary voters, there was no reason to think the words were not honestly come by, and the candidate did not seem to be straying outside her central political identity.”

Ms. Walter, in turn, supported her opinion by saying that Ms. Clinton’s “actual core set of values” such as supporting “gay marriage,” were “honestly come by” and constituted “her central political identity.”

According to Clinton’s supporters, her verbal endorsement of liberal social positions makes her a progressive regardless of whether she has an actual record of supporting Wall Street and the billionaire class, who,as I documented in a previous report, constitute and have constituted the top financial contributors to her political career. In fact, the assumption of these supposedly liberal pundits is that corruption (back-door political payoffs to financial backers) isn’t a far more important issue in American politics and policymaking than is mere verbal adherence (such as Hillary is now giving) to social issues such as feminism and gay rights.

However, those ‘journalists’ aren’t even accurately representing Hillary Clinton’s merely verbal record, much less her actual policy record.

On 12 June 2014, Ms. Clinton on NPR said, “For me, marriage had always been a problem left for the states.” In other words: it wasn’t a human right, available to people in a manner without prejudice; it was like slavery before President Lincoln: a state’s-rights matter instead of a human-rights matter.

Her interviewer, Terry Gross, however, pointed out, and asked:

“DOMA [the anti-gay-rights federal law] was actually signed by your husband when he was president. In spite of the fact that he signed it, were you glad at this point that the Supreme Court struck some of it down?”

Hillary answered:

“Of course. And, you know, again, let’s — we are living at a time when this extraordinary change is occurring and I’m proud of our country.” In other words: She follows, instead of leads, the country, on even that issue.

Gross then said:

“I understand, but a lot of people already believed in it back [in] the ’90s. A lot of people already supported gay marriage.”

Ms. Clinton replied:

“But not — to be fair, Terry, not that many.” In other words: She follows instead of leads the country — even in her mere rhetoric, not to even deal with what her actual policies are and have been.

However, her policies have been consistently to serve the rich and powerful (her financial backers) at the expense of the poor and powerless. This fact was amply documented in the links to my most recent article on her actual record. She ardently supported NAFTA but then criticized it when she was running in 2008 for the Presidency. And on Fracking, GMOs and other issues where large international corporations have profit-interests that go in the opposite direction to the public interest, she has reliably been with the mega-corporations.

When Ms. Gross then meekly said, ”I’m pretty sure you didn’t answer my question,” Ms. Clinton responded angrily, “You know, I really — I have to say, I think you are very persistent, but you are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.”

Gross replied to that: “I am just trying to clarify so I can understand.”

Clinton said in reply: “No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify.”

To this allegation, that Ms. Gross was the one who was dissembling or misrepresenting, Gross simply caved: “You know, I’m just saying — I’m sorry.” (Perhaps she then bowed down to the queen, but, since this was radio instead of television, no record exists on that.)

In American journalism, standing up against a serial liar who has support from much of the Establishment can get one fired, or one’s show cancelled.

Clinton now gave sign that the offense of having probed ever so slightly would be treated by the queen with forgivenness:

“When I was ready to say what I said, I said it.”

Gross responded: “OK, thank you for clarifying that. [Now addressing her listeners:] If you’re just joining us, my guest is Hillary Clinton. Her new memoir ‘Hard Choices’ is about her four years as secretary of state.” The ‘journalist’ thus got back to what she’s paid for: selling what the Establishment is offering — in this case: selling another Republican ‘Democrat’ like Obama has been. This way, for example, the Wall Street bailouts and resultant soaring federal debt that will have to be repaid by higher taxes and/or less government services to all future U.S. taxpayers and that were started by George W. Bush and were continued by Barack Obama, will be continued without doubt if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic Party’s Presidential nominee: she’ll adhere to Republican policies as much as Obama has adhered to Romney’s policies on most things.

And that’s really what ‘journalists’ such as at Guardian and NPR are really selling. Their real audience isn’t the public who think they are receiving journalism instead of mere propaganda; it’s instead the aristocracy who control the ‘news’ media.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Garland Shooting: Gladio – Texas-Style

May 4th, 2015 by Tony Cartalucci

ABC News confirms that one of the suspects of the Garland Texas shooting incident, featuring professional war propagandists of the so-called “American Freedom Defense Intitiative” (AFDI), has been under FBI surveillance and investigation since at least as early as 2007.

Their report, “Garland Shooting Suspect Elton Simpson’s Father: ‘My Son Made a Bad Choice’,” states:

Followers of ISIS had been sending messages about the event in Texas for more than a week, calling for attacks. One referenced January’s Charlie Hebdo massacre in France and said it was time for “brothers” in the United States to do their part.

Simpson was well known to the FBI. Five years ago he was convicted for lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Africa where investigators alleged he planned to join a terror group.

The investigation into Simpson reached back to July 2007, when he was recorded saying of fighting with Islamists, “I know we can do it, man. But you got to find the right people that… Gotta have connects.”

Despite the event allegedly increasing chatter amongst “Islamic State” (ISIS) groups online, and despite the suspect Elton Simpson being long under FBI surveillance and even sentenced to 3 years of probation resulting from a terror-related investigation, he was still able to conveniently conspire and carry out an attack on a highly provocative propaganda stunt in the state of Texas.

Garland Shooting Fits Pattern of Larger Staged Terror Campaign

As with all other staged provocations, including similar shootings in Paris, France, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Sydney, Australia, the suspects were well known to state security agencies for years, but allowed to conspire and carry out predictable, deadly, and politically highly convenient attacks. All of this echos the similar and long-since exposed staged provocations of the notorious “Operation Gladio,” carried out by NATO.

In Paris, France, the suspects in the so-called “Charlie Hebdo Shooting” were under the watch of security forces for years, were in and out of jail specifically for terrorism, were known to have left France to join terrorists fighting with Western-backing in Syria and return, only to be left “unwatched” for precisely the 6 months they would need to plan, assemble the weapons for, and prepare to execute the attack.

In Copenhagen, an assailant who attacked a synagogue killing 2, was also well known to security agencies. The Washington Post would report in their article, “Danish attacks echo France,” that:

The assailant in this weekend’s attacks was well known to Danish intelligence, Madsen said. In November 2013, Hussein stabbed a teenager in the thigh while aboard a commuter train, and according to Danish media, he had recently been released from prison following his conviction. 

But it was unclear whether this weekend’s assailant was under surveillance and, if so, how he managed to slip free long enough to plan an attack with an assault rifle.

Once again, suspects under surveillance and even arrested and imprisoned as violent offenders or as terrorists, managed to conveniently “slip free” of security agencies just in time to carry out attacks that just so happen to help the West continue its extraterritorial wars raging abroad, and continue building an abhorrent police state back at home.

Finally, in Australia, a suspect who held up a cafe in a deadly hostage crisis, was literally brought to Australia from Iran for the purpose of waging a propaganda war on Iran. When this failed to materialize,the “shape-shifting sheik” would morph to fit the villain necessary to match whatever narrative was currently being floated around the Western media. His final performance would help bolster the illusion that ISIS is an enemy of the West, rather than a creation and perpetuation of it, and to this day serving as the West’s extraterritorial mercenary forces in nations like Syria and Iraq.

A Modern Day Gladio 

NATO’s Operation Gladio, and its larger “stay behind” networks established after World War II across Europe and at the center of multiple grisly assassinations, mass shootings, and terrorist bombings designed to demonize the Soviet Union as well as criminalize and crush support for left-leaning political parties growing in popularity in Western Europe. It would be determined that NATO’s own covert militant groups were killing innocent Western Europeans in order to effect a “strategy of tension” used to instill fear, obedience, and control over Western populations.

A similar campaign of staged terror has been and is still being carried out not only across Europe but also now in the Americas - including in Canada. The purpose of this campaign is to divide society socially and politically, while helping to radicalize young people to join the ranks of US-British-Saudi armed and funded mercenary groups abroad in nations like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, and Libya, and then return to commit staged provocations to inspire fear, hatred, and obedience at home.

It is a conflict of which both sides are controlled by the same criminal special interests. While it is clear that Western security forces maintain a large pool of potential terrorists they intentionally allow to roam free until needed, it may not be clear to many of what the backgrounds are of those who organized the event in Garland, Texas that allegedly provoked this most recent attack.

Neo-Con Propagandists Are Hiding Behind Freedom of Speech, Not Defending It

The supposed trigger for this provocation was a “draw Mohammad” contest organized by the American Freedom Defense Intitiative (AFDI), a performing Neo-Conservative propaganda troupe consisting of the Bush-era US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, full-time propagandist Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer, and Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Their debut performance was in 2010, where they came out to protest the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” supposedly to be built near the ruins of the destroyed World Trade Center in New York City. The mosque was never actually built, not because of the public backlash, but because the entire controversy was manufactured. The “imam” allegedly behind the mosque, was in fact a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, funded and backed by the very same corporate-funded think tanks that set out to protest against the planned “mosque.” In other words, the entire scandal was manufactured on both sides by the same special interests for the purpose of manipulating the public.

Since then, with little success, AFDI and its various affiliates in North America and Europe have attempted to stoke hatred not toward “radical Islam,” terrorists, or the US-backed regimes arming and funding them, but against all Muslims. Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for his part, while claiming to be defending “free speech” in Texas, has been busy trying to infringe on the rights of Muslims back in his home country.

He has even gone as far as calling for the complete censorship of the Qu’ran. The Telegraph in their article, “Ban Koran like Mein Kampf, says Dutch MP, would report:

The Koran should be banned as a “fascist book” alongside Mein Kampf because it urges Muslims to kill non-believers, says Dutch populist MP Geert Wilders.

Wilders and the rest of AFDI are not exercising free speech, but are in fact attempting to inspire fear, suspicion, hatred, and tangible violence against not just “terrorists,” but all 1 billion plus practitioners of the Islamic faith, many of whom are fighting and dying this very moment battling real terrorists, ironically armed, funded, and fully backed by the very Neo-Cons that have assembled AFDI.

Not only does AFDI hold freedom of speech in contempt and actively set out to destroy it for others, they are now hiding behind it to further strip the rights, peace, and stability away from people both in the West and abroad. The so-called “War on Terror” that AFDI’s rhetoric actively supports has served as the impetus to do everything from expanding warrantless surveillance and an ever expanding police state at home, to help garner support for wars of geopolitical conquest abroad.

Not About “Free Speech” 

With these facts in mind, it is clear that “free speech” is a canard used by both the “left” and “right” to distract from the real purpose of the Garland shooting, and other acts of provocation like it. It distracts from the fact that all of the perpetrators have been well-known to security agencies for years, even sentenced and/or imprisoned by various courts, as well as investigated and kept under surveillance. It distracts from the fact that the event at the center of the attacks was organized and carried out by those who themselves have actively sought to curtail the freedoms of others, not to mention foster wars that have ended or otherwise destroyed the lives of millions. It distracts from the fact that the very Neo-Cons telling the world to fear “Islam” represent the same special interests arming and funding literal Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists across North Africa, the Middle East, and even Central and East Asia.

The AFDI represents one insidious arm of a larger criminal conspiracy that has verifiably helped end the lives of tens of thousands in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen since 2011. It also represents the same special interests that lied to the world to justify invading Iraq in 2003, ending the lives of some 1 million people and leaving the country, to this very day, in constant deadly chaos.

The Garland shooting is not about freedom of speech, but rather about criminal special interests playing both sides of a manufactured strategy of  tension to achieve further bloodshed, death, and conquest abroad, while inviting fear, division, and a growing police state stripping us all of our rights here at home.

Neither the AFDI nor the patsies involved in the shooting deserve the public’s sympathy or defense. Rather, they both demand the scrutiny and vigilance required to break the rhetorical back of this conspiracy, and strip away the support it receives from both sides of a mass-manipulated public.

The US-led coalition warplanes hit an arms production workshop of the popular forces near the Iraqi capital, destroying the workshop and its ammunition completely.

Two members of Iraq’s popular forces were killed in the attack.

The US has repeatedly struck the popular forces’ positions in different parts of Iraq.

On March 29, the US fighter jets struck the positions of Iraq’s popular forces during their fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists near Tikrit, injuring a number of fighters.

The US and coalition forces conducted eight airstrikes near Tikrit, but they hit the popular forces’ positions instead of ISIL.

In February, an Iraqi provincial official lashed out at the western countries and their regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, revealing that the US airplanes still continue to airdrop weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL terrorists.

“The US planes have dropped weapons for the ISIL terrorists in the areas under ISIL control and even in those areas that have been recently liberated from the ISIL control to encourage the terrorists to return to those places,” Coordinator of Iraqi popular forces Jafar al-Jaberi told FNA.

He noted that eyewitnesses in Al-Havijeh of Kirkuk province had witnessed the US airplanes dropping several suspicious parcels for ISIL terrorists in the province.

“Two coalition planes were also seen above the town of Al-Khas in Diyala and they carried the Takfiri terrorists to the region that has recently been liberated from the ISIL control,” Al-Jaberi said.

Meantime, Head of Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition’s planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.

In January, al-Zameli underlined that  the coalition is the main cause of ISIL’s survival in Iraq.

“There are proofs and evidence for the US-led coalition’s military aid to ISIL terrorists through air (dropped cargoes),” he told FNA at the time.

Fighter aircraft from the Saudi-GCC coalition continued its massive bombing operations in Yemen during late April by attacking the international airport in the capital of Sanaa.

These attacks on the airport are designed to block aid coming in from the Islamic Republic of Iran which is supporting the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) who have taken large swaths of territory throughout the country. Saudi Arabia backed by the United States views the current struggle in Yemen as a proxy war against Tehran.

Despite the recent agreement between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear energy program, the administration of President Barack Obama has not lessened its hostility towards the country. The Pentagon is providing re-fueling for the Saudi-GCC war planes as well as intelligence support which has resulted in the massive destruction carried out since the bombing began on March 26.

An article published in the Guardian newspaper noted that “ Iran’s state news agency IRNA said Saudi jets tried to force what it said was an aid plane back after it entered Yemeni airspace, but the pilots had ignored these ‘illegal warnings.’ The jets then bombed Sanaa airport as the plane was making an approach to land, forcing it to turn back, IRNA added.” (April 28)

Saudi Arabia wants to re-install the fugitive President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who they claim represents the only “legitimate” government in Yemen. The Ansurallah has formed a coalition with loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to resign amid mass protests during 2011.

Civilians Suffer the Most From Air War

Although the Saudi-GCC coalition claims that its air campaign is restricted to military targets only, reports from numerous humanitarian organizations have documented attacks on civilians and residential areas. Even the strikes on the Sanaa airport was a deliberate attempt to prevent much needed medical supplies and relief from reaching those in need.

News reports broadcast over the Yemeni-based al-Masirah television indicated that an Iranian plane which turned around at the Sanaa airport was slated to transport injured victims of the Saudi-led bombings for medical treatment in Iran. One aviation official said another airport in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah had also been bombed, but appeared to be still operational.

Officials said aid flights would be diverted to Hodeidah pending the large-scale repairs needed at Sanaa airport for it to become functional again. On May 3, Saudi-GCC war planes bombed Sanaa’s al-Dulaimi military airbase as well as another location in the Arhab district targeting camps where soldiers still loyal to former President Saleh are stationed.

Further attacks were carried out in residential areas in several provinces. On April 28, Saudi-led jets attacked a home that neighbors said was owned by Abdullah Yahya Hakim, a leading Houthi official. Hakim was one of several Ansurallah officials subjected to international sanctions by the United Nations Security Council in November.

Additional reports revealed that there was intense fighting on April 28 in the oil-producing Marib province east of Sanaa, in the city of Taiz in central Yemen, and in the southern port city of Aden.

Reports Surface of Saudi-GCC Ground Forces Being Deployed 

Aden was the scene of fierce clashes on May 2-3 in the central Mualla and Khor Maksar districts which are located near the commercial port. Reports have surfaced that Saudi-GCC Special Forces have landed in Aden and are fighting alongside the anti-Houthi militias known as the Southern Popular Resistance.

A spokesman for the Southern Popular Resistance, Ali al-Ahmadi, withdrew an earlier statement that 40-50 Saudi-GCC Special Forces troops had landed but instead said that “Special Forces from the southern fighters have been prepared and trained for an operation to attack Aden airport.” (Reuters, May 3)

Riyadh also refuted the reports that it has landed ground troops in Aden. The Asharq Al-Awsat news agency indicated that the Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri denied that the Saudi-GCC coalition forces had troops on the ground in Aden, instead saying this was the role assigned to the Southern Popular Resistance.

“The coalition provides all kinds of support to the Popular Resistance who have now begun to achieve positive results in the vicinity of Aden International Airport, where a large number of Houthi fighters were evicted, as well as the Mualla district (in Aden),” said Asiri.

Amid the intensification of the fighting in Aden, a split within the General People’s Congress (GPC) party may have taken place between former President Saleh and other leaders. The GPC had been viewed as being in alliance with the Ansurallah fighters in the struggle against the Saudi-GCC Coalition efforts in Yemen.

Nonetheless, an Arab News report from May 4 said that “Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party has announced it is backing the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, directing a powerful blow to his rival and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In a statement issued by the GPC’s second-in-command, the ruling party declared its support for President Hadi, calling on the Houthi movement to withdraw their militias from the areas they have controlled and put down their weapons in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.”

There are reports that three Saudi troops were killed on the border with Yemen. Such attacks reveal that despite the intensive bombing by Riyadh and its allies, the Ansurallah fighters are still capable of striking in the border areas. (Associated Press, May 1)

Al-Qaeda elements, financed by Saudi Arabia, are also involved in the war against the Ansurallah Movement which is allied with Iran. Although the U.S. says that its war on terrorism is targeting Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), within the context of Yemen this position seems to have taken a different course with the focus principally on the Ansurallah.

There is speculation that the war against Yemen is related to the recent shake-up in the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. The bombing of Yemen has still not produced the results sought by Riyadh and its allies.

Egyptian Government Extends Mandate in Yemen

Egypt’s military-dominated government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced on May 3 that it would continue its intervention in Yemen in alliance with Saudi Arabia. There has been some debate within the Egyptian state media questioning the whether this policy will end in disaster as the 1962-67 deployment under the late former President Gamal Abdel Nasser where thousands of troops lost their lives.

Reuters reported on May 3 that “The Egyptian government said it had extended by three months the deployment of ‘some elements of the armed forces’ abroad, enabling it to continue participating in a Saudi-led coalition that has been launching air strikes in Yemen. Egypt, which has one of the Middle East’s largest military forces, is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and has said it is participating in the alliance targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are allies of Iran.”

Since the overthrow of the government of Hosni Mubarak over four years ago the economic situation in Egypt has worsened. Under the previous Muslim Brotherhood administration of Mohamed Morsi, which was overthrown nearly two years ago, the country received support from Qatar.

At present the Egyptian regime is largely dependent upon assistance from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Consequently, the stakes are high in the Washington-backed war in Yemen where the defeat of the Saudi-allied forces would be a tremendous blow to imperialist objectives in the Middle East.

With potential candidates for next year’s US presidential elections starting to declare their hand, the chief donors on both sides of the political divide appear to have one issue uppermost in mind: Israel.

Among Republican hopefuls, there has been especially intense pressure to prove their unwavering support for the right-wing Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Reports last week suggested that one leading contender, Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W Bush, had become an early casualty among Republicans trying to prove their pro-Israel credentials.

The National Review reported that Bush was considered “a dead man politically” after losing the backing of the Republican party’s kingmaker, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson is said to have been infuriated by comments from Bush’s foreign policy adviser, James Baker, a former US secretary of state. Baker criticised Netanyahu in March at the annual conference of J-Street, a liberal Israel lobby group.

Key donors to the Republican and Democratic camps have grown increasingly concerned about deteriorating US-Israel ties following repeated clashes between Barack Obama’s White House and Netanyahu’s government.

Relations hit an unprecedented low in early March, when Netanyahu outraged the White House by engineering – with Republican help – an address to the US Congress to try to scupper talks between major world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme. The White House has said a deal with Tehran is a key plank of its Middle East policy.

Two weeks later, Netanyahu decisively won an Israeli general election that could see him in power for the next four years or longer.

Concerned by US-Israel ties

Although Congress is widely regarded as supportive of Israel, the growing diplomatic rupture between Netanyahu and Obama appears to have become a motivating factor among major donors in the upcoming presidential race.

According to analysts, the key bankrollers of both the Republican and Democratic campaigns want to make sure Netanyahu faces a much easier ride with Obama’s successor.

Clashes with the White House have centred on the Israeli prime minister’s intransigence on Palestinian statehood and his confrontational stance towards Tehran.

The influence of billionaire donors on the positions of presidential hopefuls has grown rapidly in recent years as the sums they are allowed to invest in campaigns have swollen dramatically.

Politico, an online site dedicated to US politics, called this the “new big-money political landscape”, arguing that “a handful of donors can dramatically alter a campaign with just a check or two”.

Mention of Israel’s influence in Washington was long ago silenced by accusations that such discussions were inherently anti-Semitic.

However, in recent years the role on Capitol Hill of aggressive Israeli lobby groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), has come under scrutiny.

Famously, columnist Thomas Friedman referred in The New York Times to Congress’ multiple standing ovations for a 2011 speech by Netanyahu “as bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”.

In recent days, committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate have unanimously voted for controversial Aipac-backed amendments that would penalise states and organisations if they support boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) campaigns against either Israel or its illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.

If the legislation passes, it would appear to be “the first-ever formal step toward US government recognition of the settlements’ legitimacy”, according to an op-ed in Jewish daily The Forward.

Adelson’s deep pockets

Attention is now turning to the impact of wealthy American Jewish donors on the 2016 presidential race. Indications are that they will seek to ensure that the candidates are as supportive of Israel – if not Netanyahu himself – as the Congress.

The man with the deepest pockets is widely expected to be 81-year-old Adelson, whose wealth is estimated at $40 billion. He reportedly sank $150 million into the unsuccessful Republican bids by Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in the 2012 race.

Adelson is known for his ultra-hawkish positions on Israel and his intimate ties to Netanyahu. Like the Israeli prime minister, he is deeply opposed to a two-state solution, preferring that the Palestinians remain stateless.

Last year he donated $25 million to Ariel university, located in a Jewish settlement deep in the occupied West Bank.

He has said “the Palestinians are an invented people”, and that their chief goal is “to destroy Israel”.

Last November at a conference in Washington he dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state, even if it meant that the resulting “Greater Israel” disenfranchised a Palestinian majority: “I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state – so what?”

To circumvent strict political financing laws in Israel, Adelson created a free-sheet national daily, Israel Hayom, eight years ago. It is widely referred to as “Bibiton” – a play on Netanyahu’s nickname and the Hebrew word for newspaper. It quickly became the highest-circulation newspaper in the country.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners have called the paper Israel’s version of Pravda. Israeli analyst Anshel Pfeffer has described its role as “slavishly pushing [Netanyahu’s] policies and defending him and his family from criticism”.

While losing Adelson an estimated $5 million a year, Hayom has left the largest paid-for newspaper, Yedioth Aharanoth, which is critical of Netanyahu, struggling both for readers and advertising revenue.

Last November, a bill to curtail Hayom’s influence comfortably passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament, days before Netanyahu called an unexpected election. There has been widespread speculation that Adelson insisted on an early election, half-way into Netanyahu’s term, to forestall any danger of the bill becoming law.

Ideological soul-mates

But, while Netanyahu has faced diminishing impediments to advancing his right-wing agenda at home, he has found himself repeatedly at odds with the White House during Obama’s term.

Adelson appears keen to remedy that by ensuring that Netanyahu has an ideological soul-mate in the White House after the 2016 US election.

Thomas Friedman wrote in The New York Times in March that Adelson’s goal was to “simultaneously push Israel and America toward eliminating any two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, toward defunding the Palestinian Authority and toward a confrontation with Iran”.

Last year, Republican front-runners for the presidential nomination were summoned to one of Adelson’s Las Vegas hotels for a conference organised by the Republican Jewish Coalition – and for personal questioning by Adelson on their views about Israel.

The conference, repeated this month, has been widely described as the “Adelson primaries”.

In an indication of the high stakes for potential candidates of losing Adelson’s support, New Jersey governor Chris Christie hurried to apologise to the billionaire after referring – correctly – during last year’s event to the “occupied territories”. Christie reportedly regained Adelson’s favour after saying he had misspoken and that he was a true friend of Israel.

Even Adelson’s preferred choice for the 2012 race, Newt Gingrich, has warned that donors like Adelson have too much sway, arguing that the election process “radically favours billionaires”.

Other contenders appear equally aware of the pressures. Last week Senator Lindsey Graham joked that his efforts to raise funding might produce “the first all-Jewish cabinet in America”. He concluded: “Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from pro-Israel funding.”

Other hawkish donors

Adelson is not the only Jewish donor with hawkish views about Israel who is putting money into the Republican campaign. Last month the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ran an assessment of each leading contender – and what it termed “His Jews”, referring to Jewish donors.

The most important after Adelson is likely to be Norman Braman, an 82-year-old car dealership tycoon. He is reported to be preparing to spend $25 million on his preferred choice – currently, Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

In interviews, Braman has been outspoken in support of an aggressive Israel: “How do you make peace with people [Palestinians] who want to destroy you and are dedicated to your destruction?”

He also argued that the idea of the Jews as “weak” changed with Israel’s creation. “All the advantages that Jews have today, that generations have since the establishment of Israel, have been augmented by Israel.”

After entering the Senate, Rubio made his first trip to Israel to meet Braman and family members there, and has since frequently spoken of his love for Israel. In March, as he criticised Obama for falling out with Netanyahu, Rubio said Israel had a “unique purpose” and described it as “everything we want that region of the world to be”.

Rubio was reported last month to be Adelson’s preferred candidate for the nomination too.

‘No right or left on Israel’

Meanwhile, the strongest Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, who announced her candidacy last month, is likely also to be under pressure to show her unequivocal support for Israel.

Her chief backer is Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media mogul who is a long-time friend of the Clinton family, a major Democratic Party donor and an ardent supporter of Israel.

He has said he will spend “whatever it takes” to get Clinton elected president, and that under her leadership “I believe – deeply – the relationship with the US and Israel will be significantly reinforced”. He added that “there’s no right or left when it comes to Israel”.

Saban is supportive of negotiations over a two-state solution, but chiefly to protect Israel from a demographic takeover of Palestinians inside what would become a Greater Israel. “It is not about granting the Palestinian state,” he has said. “It’s about securing the future of a democratic Israel.”

Meanwhile, Saban has echoed Netanyahu’s hardline positions on Iran.

Last November, at a meeting of Israeli-Americans also attended by Adelson, Saban attacked Obama for negotiating with Iran. He said, if he were Netanyahu, he “would bomb the living daylights out of these sons of bitches [Iran]” and that the US had “shown too many carrots and a very small stick”.

Saban spoke of his dissatisfaction with Obama’s attitude to Israel even before he became president. Journalist Avner Hopstein revealed in the Israeli daily Haaretz last month that in an interview in late 2008, shortly before Obama assumed office, Saban had confided that he was “very worried” about the new president.

According to Hopstein, Saban feared that Obama would impose new standards of conduct on Israel in its dealings with the US and make demands “diametrically opposed to that of his predecessors”.

Battle of the philanthropists

A battle between “two pro-Israel philanthropists”, concluded Hopstein, would create a campaign in which Clinton would have to prove that she is “better for the Jews, for Israel and perhaps even for Netanyahu”.

That process already appears to be underway. Shortly before Clinton’s announcement of her presidential run, she met Malcolm Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

In a press statement afterwards, apparently intended to distance Clinton from Obama’s clashes with Netanyahu, Hoenlein said Clinton “thinks we need to all work together to return the special US-Israel relationship to constructive footing”.

It is almost certain that the campaign runs of both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in 2016 will depend on financing from hawkish, pro-Israel donors such as Adelson and Saban.

A concern for a growing number of Americans, as their candidates seek to win over such patrons, must be: can a US president and Congress still afford to pursue foreign policy goals separate from those of Israel?

Is Russia Bribing Clinton?

May 4th, 2015 by Andrew Korybko

American presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is embroiled in yet another political scandal, albeit this time one with a sweeping international reach that touches on Russia and Kazakhstan. Peter Schweizer’s forthcoming book, “Clinton Cash”, claims to have connected the pieces of the latest Clinton conspiracy, one which allegedly involved then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton essentially ‘trading’ uranium mines in the US in exchange for financial kickbacks to her family’s foundation. It’s a bit more convoluted than that, and therein lays the heart of the issue.

To be as concise as possible, the Canadian mining company Uranium One owned assets in the US, and thus, its proposed purchase by Rosatom had to have been approved by the US government due to potential national security concerns. As the US was deliberating whether or not to approve the sale, a Russian investment bank paid Bill Clinton $500,000 to speak at an event, money which Schweizer sees as a quid pro quo in guaranteeing Hillary’s support. Prior to that, Bill accompanied Frank Giustra, one of Uranium One’s heads, to Kazakhstan, where he was able to secure a deal that helped position the company as an important player in the industry. Shortly thereafter, Giustra donated over $30 million to the Clinton Foundation, yet another quid pro quo according to Schweizer’s allegations. All told, through the purchase of Uranium One, Rosatom became one of the world’s most important uranium players, now controlling up to a fifth of uranium production capacity in the US.

In and of itself, the business deal would not have attracted much attention had it not been for the New Cold War, where anything even remotely associated with Russia is deemed politically poisonous. If any ‘funny business’ was involved in Rosatom’s acquisition, especially if Hillary’s fingerprints can be linked to it, then the domestic political reverberations would surely capsize her career and demolish her decades-long legacy. The story, once derided by critics as a “Republican attack” on Hillary, is now gaining traction as more and more journalists are verifying the evidence presented in Schweizer’s book and drawing similar conclusions, which even if they can’t be entirely proven, are at the very least attracting heaps of unwanted attention and scrutiny on the presidential aspirant.

Prior to reading the below interview, it’s recommended to check out the New York Times piece on the topic and the follow-up story by the New York Post in order to acquire more details and context about this unfolding scandal.

Korybko PictureThe following interview by Andrew Korybko originally appeared  in Macedonia’s leading website and newspaper, Dnevnik, English version exclusive for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

How do the Russian media comment on this?

I haven’t read anything thus far in Russian media on the topic, although it doesn’t mean that they haven’t reported it. However, I infer that the story hasn’t ‘broken’ here since if it did, Sputnik would have also reported on it, and that’s not the case yet. It seems like the story has a lot of potential and is very juicy to have in the midst of an American presidential primary campaign, so I don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. It could very well develop into something larger, and what’s important for observers like ourselves to do is monitor the reactions of other actors to this scandal, specifically American political forces. This could help reveal insight into which direction the story is going, other than to sideline Clinton’s campaign (perhaps there are shades of trying to sabotage the Iranian nuclear deal, too). I’d be interested in seeing what the foreign reactions are to this if the story makes it that far and survives that long.

How do you as a political analyst and journalist interpret this scandal? If it’s true, could we see criminal proceedings against Hillary?

My personal view from the little amount of time I’ve spent examining this story is that there could be something there, but I wouldn’t go as far as to allege any Russian government complicity. In my view, businessmen all across the world regardless of nationality try to cavort with those in power and ‘sweeten the deal’ when lots of money or strategic assets are on the line. I don’t think it’s any different in this case — there could have been a self-interested businessmen (as all of them are anyhow, by the very nature of their work) who, having gained wind of the Clinton’s exorbitant reputation for corruption and behind-the-scenes deals, figured he’d try his own hand in maneuvering to win over Uranium One. Also, it’s an open secret among many in the US journalistic community that the Clinton’s ‘Foundation’ has always essentially been a front organization for funneling bribes and paybacks to what could accurately be described as ‘America’s Royal Family’ (politically, socially its unfortunately the Kardashian Clan, but that’s a whole other matter!). It doesn’t surprise me in the least, actually.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and former U.S. President Bill Clinton embrace at the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), on September 22, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and former U.S. President Bill Clinton embrace at the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), on September 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

In fact, I think there’s a lot more to this story, and it stems from Hillary’s deleted personal email server, which she shouldn’t have been keeping in the first place. This story becomes sensationalized because of politically ‘exotic’ words like ‘Russia’, ‘uranium’, ‘Putin’, and ‘Kazakhstan’ in the context of the New Cold War. There are shades of inference that this was some kind of ‘Kremlin ploy’ to secretly take over American uranium mines, which isn’t what it was, as I explained earlier. But, because of this ‘Russian connectin’ and demonization of President Putin, the story takes on a greater emotional and psychological impact among the American population and journalistic community as opposed to if those suggestions were not involved at all. I personally feel that Hillary’s hiding a ton of secrets, hence why she deleted tens of thousands of ‘personal’ emails. This is just the tip of the iceburg, but it’s being sensationalized, as I said, because of the Russia inferences in the context of the New Cold War. Clearly, the reason is to destroy Clinton’s presidential run, but I also suspect that a deeper and more nefarious purpose may be to further damage relations between the US and Russia and potentially set the stage for some type of government action against Uranium One.

To address your last inquiry in that question, I feel that the Clintons are a family of criminals if you look at all the scandals that have followed them for decades, and that this case is no different. Any potential crime doesn’t fall on the hands of the Russian government or Russian businessmen that tried to use sly methods to win influence, but with Hillary Clinton herself for breaking American law in getting involved. However, IF HIllary did really commit a crime and she gets indicted (which would likely be for political not legal reasons anyhow, since the Clinton’s have avoided any legal consequences for their scandals thus far), the question is this — what happens to the Uraninum One deal if it was made on illegal grounds? Can it be nullified and the US government seize its American assets?

THAT’S the real scandal, if you ask me.

What do you know regarding this $500,000 speech that Bill Clinton gave in Moscow?

About Bill Clinton’s speech, I only recently read about it, but again, not on Russian media. It’s no secret that Bill has made tens of millions of dollars speaking all across the world. As I mentioned earlier, my feeling is that many of the people or institutions who pay these outrageous rates implicitly understand that it’s a mechanism for buying influence with America’s Royal Family. I can’t say that this was the case in Moscow with the bank that hosted Bill, but in general, this is how it is with others, in my view. It could of course have just been that they wanted the prestige of one of America’s most popular icons in the past 50 years speaking at their bank, feeling this would give them new customers and respect. But, I think it’s inarguable that anyone paying that much money of course expects some kind of direct or indirect benefit, whether it’s actively or passively given by the Clintons (bribes in the case of the allegation, or honor/prestige/bragging rights if one wants to be optimistic about it).

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) again urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the American Psychological Association’s (APA) complicity in the CIA torture program, following a new report in today’s New York Times. Internal emails obtained by Times reporter James Risen clearly show that the APA secretly modified its ethics policy to endorse psychologist participation in torture, with the aid of CIA and White House personnel.

“This calculated undermining of professional ethics is unprecedented in the history of U.S. medical practice and shows how the CIA torture program corrupted other institutions in our society,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director.

“Psychologists must never use their knowledge of human behavior to harm or undermine individuals. The Justice Department must look into any crimes or violations that may have been committed. It’s equally critical for psychologists to reclaim the principles of their profession and to reassert the values of human rights in psychology.”

PHR has repeatedly called on the APA to clarify its ties to the CIA torture program and its architects, including CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell (a former APA member) and Bruce Jessen. PHR said it looked forward to the findings of an independent investigationinto the APA’s collusion with the CIA expected in summer 2015. In the meantime, there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to warrant a Department of Justice investigation.

PHR first called for an investigation into APA ethics policies in 2009, after a leaked APA email listserv revealed that most members of the secret 2005 APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) had U.S. military and intelligence affiliations. Since then, additional email disclosures and related analysis – including articles by Risen – have exposed coordinated efforts by APA, CIA, and White House officials to bring key portions of APA ethics policy in line with the legal and operational needs of the George Bush-era torture program.

“By revising its ethics policies in order to align with the CIA’s torture practices, the American Psychological Association effectively endorsed psychologist participation in CIA torture,” said Widney Brown, PHR’s director of programs. “This supported the Bush administration’s spurious claim that brutal interrogation practices were ‘safe, effective, and legal.’ The APA’s complicity is a betrayal of the fundamental duty of all health professionals – to do no harm.”

Risen’s latest article discloses the purpose behind the changes made to the APA’s ethics policy, drawing on a new analysis by a team of independent psychological, medical, and human rights experts. The APA’s 2005 PENS Task Force policy revisions reversed a longstanding policy to specifically endorse psychologist research into and monitoring of interrogations – including defining “what constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” This language comported with the then still-classified Department of Justice “torture memos,” which concluded that certain techniques would not violate the ban on “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” if subjected to medical monitoring. Yet, at the time, the CIA Office of Medical Services objected to playing such a role. This legal indemnification strategy was therefore written into APA ethics policy, with the direct involvement of the CIA and a former behavioral science advisor for the Bush White House.

Since 2005, PHR has documented the systematic use of psychological and physical torture of national security detainees by U.S. personnel in a series of groundbreaking reports. Dr.Stephen Soldz, lead author of the APA email analysis referenced in the New York Timesarticle, is anti-torture advisor to PHR and has collaborated on several of the reports. PHR has repeatedly called for an end to the torture and ill-treatment of detainees by the United States, a federal investigation into the role of health professionals in the U.S. torture program, and full criminal and professional accountability for any health professionals found to have participated.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

The Decline and Fall of the United States

May 4th, 2015 by David Swanson

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.–Robert Frost

After a speech I gave this past weekend, a young woman asked me whether a failure by the United States to properly surround and intimidate China might result in instability. I explained why I thought the opposite was true. Imagine if China had military bases along the Canadian and Mexican borders with the United States and ships in Bermuda and the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Would you feel stabilized? Or might you feel something else?

The U.S. empire can continue to see itself as a force for good, doing things that would be unacceptable for anyone else but never to be questioned when performed by the global cop — that is, it can go on not seeing itself at all, expanding, over-reaching, and collapsing from within. Or it can recognize what it’s about, shift priorities, scale back militarism, reverse the concentration of wealth and power, invest in green energy and human needs, and undo the empire a bit sooner but far more beneficially. Collapse is not inevitable. Collapse or redirection is inevitable, and thus far the U.S. government is choosing the path toward the former.

Let’s look at a few of the indicators.

Failing Democracy

The United States bombs nations in the name of democracy, yet has one of the least democratic and least functioning of the states calling themselves democracies. The U.S. has the lowest voter turnout among wealthy, and lower even than many poor, countries. An election is looming for next year with leading contenders from two aristocratic dynasties. The United States does not use national public initiatives or referenda in the way that some countries do, so its low voter turnout (with over 60% of eligible voters choosing not to vote in 2014) matters all the more. The U.S. democracy is also less democratic than other wealthy democracies in terms of its internal functioning, with a single individual able to launch wars.

Low public participation is not the result of satisfaction so much as recognition of corruption, combined with antidemocratic barriers to participating. For years now 75% to 85% of the U.S. public has been saying its government is broken. And clearly a big part of that understanding is related to the system of legalized bribery that funds elections. Approval of Congress has been under 20% and sometimes under 10% for years now. Confidence in Congress is at 7% and falling quickly.

Recently a man, expecting to lose his job at the very least, landed a little bicycle-helicopter at the U.S. Capitol to try to deliver requests to clean the money out of elections. He cited as his motivation the “collapse of this country.” Another man showed up at the U.S. Capitol with a sign reading “Tax the 1%” and proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Polls suggest those are not the only two people who see the problem — and, it should be noted, the solution.

Of course, the U.S. “democracy” operates in greater and greater secrecy with ever greater powers of surveillance. The World Justice Project ranks the United States below many other nations in these categories: Publicized laws and government data; Right to information; Civic participation; and Complaint mechanisms.

The U.S. government is currently working on ratifying, in secret, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which empowers corporations to overturn laws enacted by the U.S. government.

Wealth Concentration

A political system dominated by wealth could be democratic if wealth were evenly distributed. Sadly, the United States has a greater disparity of wealth than almost any other nation on earth. Four hundred U.S. billionaires have more money than half the people of the United States combined, and those 400 are celebrated for it rather than shamed. With the United States trailing most nations in income equality, this problem is only getting worse. The10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn’t look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built. And you have to be careful when you drive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution — most often from military operations.

The core of the U.S. sales pitch to itself is that, for all its flaws it provides freedom and opportunity. In fact, it trails most European countries in economic mobility, self-assessment of wellbeing, and ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, according to Gallup, 2014.

Degrading Infrastructure

The United States contains 4.5 percent of the world’s population and spends 42 percent of the world’s health care expenses, and yet Americans are less healthy than the residents of nearly every other wealthy nation and a few poor ones as well. The U.S. ranks 36th in life expectancy and 47th in preventing infant mortality.

The U.S. spends more on criminal justice and has more crime, and more gun deaths than most countries, rich or poor. That includes shootings by U.S. police that kill about 1,000 per year, compared to single digits in various Western nations.

The U.S. comes in 57th in employment, stands against the trend of the world by providing no guarantee of paid parental leave or vacation, and trails in education by various measures. The United States, however, leads the way in putting students into debt for their education to the tune of $1.3 trillion, part of a wider problem of personal debt.

The United States is #1 in debt to other countries, including governmental debt, although #3 per capita. As others have pointed out, the U.S. is declining in terms of exports, and the power of the dollar and its use as currency for the globe are in doubt.

Drop In Popular Opinion Abroad

In early 2014 there were unusual news stories about Gallup’s end-of-2013 polling because after polling in 65 countries with the question “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?” the overwhelming winner had been the United States of America. In fact, the United States is less generous with aid but more profligate with bombs and missiles than other countries and trails generally in how it treats the rest of the world.

The United States leads the way in environmental destruction, trailing only China in carbon dioxide emissions but almost tripling China’s emissions when measured per capita.

The second U.S.-backed dictator in Yemen in the past few years has now fled to Saudi Arabia and requested the bombing of his own country with U.S. weapons, a country in chaos in significant part because a U.S. drone war has given popular support to violent opposition to the U.S. and its servants.

ISIS produced a 60-minute film depicting itself as the leading enemy of the U.S. and essentially asking the U.S. to attack it. The U.S. did and its recruitment soared.

The United States is favored by brutal governments in Egypt and around the region, but not by popular support.

Militarism for It’s Own Sake

The United States is far and away the leading selling seller and giver of weapons to the world; the leading spender on its own military, with expenses having skyrocketed to now about $1.3 trillion per year, roughly equivalent to the rest of the world put together; the leading occupier of the world with troops in almost every other country; and the leading participant in and instigator of wars.

The United States is also, far and away, the leader in incarceration, with more people and a higher percentage of people locked up than in any other time or place, and with even more people on parole and probation and under the control of the prison system. More African-Americans are locked up than were slaves prior to the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. is likely the first and only place on earth where the majority of sexual assault victims are male.

Civil liberties are eroding rapidly. Surveillance is expanding dramatically. And all in the name of war without end. But the wars are endless defeats, generating enemies rather than any advantage. The wars empower and create enemies, enrich nations engaged in nonviolent investment, and empower the war profiteers to push for more wars. The propaganda for the wars fails to boost military enlistment at home, so the U.S. government turns to mercenaries (creating additional pressure for more wars) and to drones. But the drones boost the creation of hatred and enemies exponentially, generating blowback that sooner or later will include blowback by means of drones — which the U.S. war profiteers are marketing around the globe.

Resistance Growing

Resistance to empire does not come only in the form of a replacement empire. It can take the form of violent and nonviolent resistance to militarism, economic resistance to exploitation, and collective agreement to improve the world. When Iran urges India, China, and Russia to oppose NATO’s expansion, it is not necessarily dreaming of global empire or even of cold war, but certainly of resistance to NATO. When bankers suggest the Yuan will replace the dollar, that need not mean that China will duplicate the Pentagon.

The current U.S. trajectory threatens to collapse not just the United States but the world in one or both of two ways: nuclear or environmental apocalypse. Green energy models and antimilitarism constitute resistance to this path. The model of Costa Rica with no military, 100% renewable energy, and ranked at the top in happiness is a form of resistance too. At the end of 2014, Gallup of course did not dare ask again what nation was the greatest threat to peace but did ask if people would ever fight in a war. In many nations large majorities said No, never.

The United States is growing isolated in its support for the institution of war. Last year 31 Latin American and Caribbean nations declared that they would never use war. U.S. support for Israeli wars has left it virtually alone and up against a growing campaign for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The United States is increasingly understood as rogue, as it remains the lone or nearly lone holdout on the treaty on the rights of the child, the land mines treaty, the covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights, the International Criminal Court, etc.

Latin American nations are standing up to the United States. Some have kicked out its bases and ceased sending students to the School of the Americas. People are protesting at US bases in Italy, South Korea, England, and at US Embassies in Philippines, Czech Republic, Ukraine. German courts are hearing charges that it is illegally participating in US drone wars. Pakistani courts have indicted top CIA officials.

Exceptionalism on the Ropes

The idea of American exceptionalism is not a serious claim so much as an attitude among the U.S. public. While the U.S. trails other nations in various measures of health, happiness, education, sustainable energy, economic security, life expectancy, civil liberties, democratic representation, and peace, and while it sets new records for militarism, incarceration, surveillance, and secrecy, many Americans think of it as so exceptional as to excuse all sorts of actions that are unacceptable in others. Increasingly this requires willful self-deception. Increasingly the self-deception is failing.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on the military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death he wasn’t warning us. He was warning our parents and grandparents. We’re the dead.

Can we be revived?

One photo shows an Iraqi teenager bound and standing in the headlights of a truck immediately after his mock execution, staged by U.S. soldiers. Another shows a group of soldiers forcing a detainee to look at pictures of lingerie-clad women. Another depicts the body of Muhamad Husain Kadir, an Iraqi farmer, shot dead at point-blank range by an American soldier while handcuffed.

These are just three of thousands of photos related to cases of detainee abuse that our government refuses to release. We know little about the majority of these photos, but documents released to the ACLU over the last decade offer some clues to what they reveal. Today, on the 11th anniversary of the release of the Abu Ghraib photos, we’re releasing everything we know about what’s in the photos the government doesn’t want us to see.

Six months before the Abu Ghraib scandal, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records, including photos, relating to the abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. detention centers overseas. During the years of litigation that followed, we received almost 6,000 documents (all searchable in our Torture Database) illustrating these abuses, but the government has persistently refused to release the photos or give individualized reasons for withholding them.

Last month, indicating his impatience with the government’s intransigence, U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered the government to “disclose each and all the photographs” relating to the ACLU’s FOIA request — which includes some 2,100 pictures — or appeal the decision in 60 days. On May 19, the government will either release the photos or take the fight to the federal court of appeals.

We searched for mention of photographs in our Torture Database in an attempt to learn everything we could about what the government is hiding. By our count, more than 100 of the documents we received from the government either referenced photos related to cases of abuse or actually contained the photos, which were redacted before they got to us.

This spreadsheet details what we learned. The photos whose existence we discovered were taken at more than two dozen locations, mostly in U.S.-run detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also some photos from the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Many of them document autopsies and injuries, often resulting from abuse either alleged or confirmed. Other photos document detention facilities; many others are mugshots.

Some of these photos referenced in the spreadsheet were likely released with the Abu Ghraib disclosures, and thus are already in the public domain. Many of these have never seen the light of day. And while we can infer the contents in a number of the missing photos it should be clear that the scope is far from comprehensive. But what we found was instructive nonetheless.

In many of the cases, we deduced what was in the photos based on the investigations detailed in the documents, many of which dealt with alleged detainee abuse. In one case, prompted by the discovery of a photo, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered an Army investigation after a photo was found of a female soldier “posing as if [she] was sticking the end of a broom stick into the rectum” of a detainee, bound and hooded in a stress position. The investigation found probable cause to believe the female soldier, as well as three other soldiers posing in the background of the photo, committed the offenses of conspiracy, failure to obey a general order, and cruelty and maltreatment.

But that kind of finding seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Many of the criminal investigations discussed in these documents were terminated after leads were lost, documents couldn’t be tracked down, or witnesses couldn’t be found.

Take, for example, the 2003 case of a 73-year-old Iraqi woman, who was arrested and flown by helicopter to an unknown facility where she was allegedly tortured for five days by U.S. soldiers. During those five days, according to the investigation, she was reportedly sexually abused and assaulted and “made to crawl around on all-fours as a ‘large man rode’ on her,” striking her with a stick and calling her an animal. The Army’s investigation began eight months after the fact and was closed in June 2004 after it “did not develop sufficient evidence to prove or disprove” the woman’s allegations.

In another 2003 case, an Iraqi detainee was delivered on the verge of death to a U.S. Army medical center in Al Asad, Iraq. The detainee suffered from blunt force injury to the head and died a few days later. Investigators determined the detainee had most likely been interrogated at Abu Ghraib immediately prior to his arrival at the hospital and that his injuries were likely a result of a violent interrogation. One officer wrote in an email that the case was “obviously a homicide.” Yet the investigation was closed with the identity of both the Iraqi victim and those responsible for his death undetermined.

Throughout the legal struggle over the photos, the government has argued that their release might incite extremists to violence, endangering Americans. That very same argument was made by some before the release of the executive summary of the Senate’s landmark torture report. But, as we have argued before, this reasoning is both faulty and fundamentally undemocratic. As my colleague Jameel Jaffer has written:

“It’s not just that the argument gives those who threaten violence a veto over political debate; it gives the government a veto, too. To accept the argument, at least in the absence of a specific, credible threat directed against specific people, is to give the government far-reaching power to suppress evidence of its own misconduct. And the worse the misconduct, the stronger would be the government’s argument for suppression.”

The Abu Ghraib scandal and its aftermath illustrated the power that photo evidence has to galvanize public attention and concern. To allow the government to suppress evidence of abuse is to invite a recurrence of that abuse in the future.

The Rise of the “African-American Police State”

May 4th, 2015 by Garikai Chengu

Black people in America live in a police-state-within-a-state. The African American police state exercises its authority over the Black minority through an oppressive array of modern day lynchings by the police, increasing for-profit mass incarceration and the government sanctioned surveillance and assassination of Black leaders. The African American police state is unquestionably a modern day crime against humanity.

The first modern police forces in America were Slave Patrols and Night Watches, which were both designed to control the behaviors of African Americans.

Historian Victor Kappeler notes that in 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first Slave Patrol. Historical literature is clear that prior to the Civil War a legally sanctioned police force existed for the sole purpose of oppressing the slave population and protecting the property and interests of white slave owners. The glaring similarities between the eighteenth century Slave Patrols and modern American police brutality in the Black community are too salient to dismiss or ignore.

America was founded as a slave holding republic and slaves did not take too kindly to being enslaved and they often rebelled, becoming enemy’s of the state. Slave Patrols were created in order to interrogate and persecute Blacks, who were out and about, without any due process or formal investigation. To this day, police do not serve and protect the Black community, they treat Blacks as inherently criminal and sub-human.

Ever since the first police forces were established in America, lynchings have been the linchpin of the African American police state.

The majority of Americans believe that lynchings are an outdated form of racial terrorism, which blighted American society up until the end of the era of Jim Crow laws; however, America’s proclivity towards the unbridled slaughter of African Americans has only worsened over time. The Guardian newspaper recently noted that historians believe that during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century on average two African-Americans were lynched every week.

Compare this with incomplete data compiled by the FBI that shows that a Black person is killed by a white police officer more than twice a week, and it’s clear that police brutality in Black communities is getting worse, not better.

Racial terrorism gave birth to America. It should come as no surprise that the state’s law enforcement agents routinely engage in the terrorism of modern day lynchings.

Traditional lynchings were not preceded by judge, jury or trial and were often for the most trivial of reasons such as talking to a white woman, failing to remove a hat or making a sarcastic grin. Modern day lynchings are also not preceded by due process. Numerous Black children like Tamir Rice have been slaughtered by police for trivialities like playing with a toy gun in public.

Lynching does not necessarily mean hanging. It often included humiliation, torture, burning, dismemberment and castration. A lynching was a quintessential American public ritual that often took place in front of large crowds that sometimes numbered in the thousands. Historian Mark Gado notes that, “onlookers sometimes fired rifles and handguns hundreds of times into the corpse while people cheered and children played during the festivities”.

Sensational American journalism, spared the public no detail no matter how horrible, and in 1899 the Springfield Weekly described a lynching by chronicling how,

“the Negro was deprived of his ears, fingers and genital parts of his body. He pleaded pitifully for his life while the mutilation was going on…before the body was cool, it was cut to pieces, the bones crushed into small bits…the Negro’s heart was cut into several pieces, as was also his liver…small pieces of bones went for 25 cents…”.

Such graphic accounts were the norm in the South, and photos, were regularly taken of the lynched bodies on display and made into postcards that were sent all over the country.

Nowadays, the broader American public participates in modern day lynchings by sharing videos that go viral of police officers slaying Black men, women and children. By opting not to censor the graphic content of police killing Blacks, today’s videos in the media serve the same purpose as the detailed written accounts of yesteryear by adding to the psychological suffering of the African American. Such viral graphic accounts also desensitize the white community to such an extent that empowers white policemen to do more.

A hallmark of twentieth century fascist police states, such as Italy under Mussolini or Franco’s Spain, is the lack of police accountability for their crimes. In spite of extremely egregious circumstances surrounding all lynchings and many police killings, police are rarely held liable.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently issued a report on human rights abuses in the United States which roundly condemned the epidemic of police brutality. It stated: “The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by police which has a disparate impact on African Americans”.

In modern America, the African American police state assassinates the Black victim twice. Once by way of lynching and again to assassinate the victim’s character so as to justify the public execution. All too often a Black victim’s school record, employment status and social media presence are dragged by the media into the court of public opinion, as if any of it has any baring on whether an agent of the state has the right to lynch a Black U.S. citizen.

Arbitrary arrest and mass incarceration have been quintessential elements of police states from East Germany to Augusto Pinochet’s Chile.

The United States right now incarcerates more African-Americans as a percentage than South Africa did at the height of Apartheid.

A Senate hearing on the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that the American prison population hovered around 25,000 throughout the 1900s, until the 1980′s when America suddenly experienced a massive increase in the inmate population to over a quarter million. The cause was Ronald Reagan’s War on Drugs which intentionally, and disproportionately targeted Blacks. The War on Drugs is now the African America police state’s main propaganda justification for police brutality and judicial discrimination against Blacks.

One out of three African American males will be arrested and go through the American injustice system at some point in their lives, primarily for nonviolent drug charges, despite studies revealing that white youth use drugs at higher rates than their Black counterparts.

For decades, the African-American crime rate has been falling but Black imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Aside from the War on Drugs, the rise in prison population may have another less publicized cause: gradual privatization of the prison industry, with its profits-over-justice motives. If the beds aren’t filled, states are required to pay the prison companies for the empty space, which means taxpayers are largely left to deal with the bill that might come from lower crime and imprisonment rates.

Private prisons were designed by the rich and for the rich. The for-profit prison system depends on imprisoning Blacks for its survival. Much in the same way the United States was designed.

After all, more Black men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850 before the Civil War began.

The history of Nazi Germany’s Gestapo has many parallels to what U.S. law enforcement in the Black community has become.

The infamous “stop-and-frisk” policies that allow the New York Police Department to stop you based on suspicion are Nazi-like. Latinos and Blacks make up 84 percent of all those stopped, although they make up respectively 29 and 23 percent of New York City’s population. Furthermore, statistics show that NYPD officers are far more likely to use physical force against Blacks and Latinos during stops.

The Gestapo operated without any judicial review by state imposed law, putting them above the law.

The FBI’s counterintelligence programs (COINTELPRO) of the 1950’s, 60s, and 70s formed one of the most infamous domestic initiatives in U.S. history, targeting Black organizations and individuals whom the FBI saw as threatening the racist, capitalist status quo.

COINTELPRO was a series of covert, and often illegal, government projects aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and brutalizing Black communities.

After COINTELPRO director William C. Sullivan concluded in a 1963 memo that Martin Luther King, Jr. was “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” he wrote: “it may be unrealistic to limit [our actions against King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before Congressional Committees.”

The FBI waged an intense war against Martin Luther King Jr. The African American police state’s law enforcement agents bugged his hotel rooms, tried to provoke IRS investigations against him, and harassed magazines that published articles about him. In 1999, a civil trial concluded that United States law enforcement agents were responsible for Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.

The perpetuation of the African American police state is a modern day crime against humanity. The ongoing protests and uprisings in Black communities are a direct and just response to centuries of worsening incarceration, modern day lynchings and systematic second class citizenship. Far from being a “post-racial” nation, American race relations are at a new low. Simmering discontent in Black communities will continue to rise towards a dangerous boiling point unless and until the African American police state is exposed and completely dismantled.

The advanced stage of discussions in US foreign policy circles over the pursuit of an ever-more aggressive policy toward China has been revealed by the recent release of a chilling report under the auspices of the influential Council on Foreign Relations.

Entitled “Revising US Grand Strategy Toward China,” the report is nothing less than an agenda for war. It is authored by Robert D. Blackwill and Ashley J. Tellis, both of whom have close connections to the US State Department and various American foreign policy think tanks.

The report cites a publication produced during World War II defining “grand strategy” as one that “so integrates the policies and armaments of a nation that the resort to war is either rendered unnecessary or is undertaken with the maximum chance of victory.” This is not merely a concept of war but “an inherent element of statecraft at all times.”

The report’s central theme is that US global dominance is threatened by the rise of China and this process must be reversed by economic, diplomatic and military means.

Significantly, at the beginning of the report, its authors cite the Pentagon’s Defence Planning Guidance document of 1992, produced in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which insisted that US strategy had to “refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”

While asserting that China has a “grand strategy” for regional and ultimately global domination, the authors make clear they regard the threat to the US position as arising from China’s economic growth within the present international order.

This analysis recalls that advanced at the beginning of 1907 by the senior British Foreign Office official Eyre Crowe about the impact on Britain of the rise of Germany. Crowe concluded that, whatever the intentions of its leaders, Germany’s economic expansion, in and of itself, constituted a threat to the British Empire. Seven years later, the two major powers were at war.

China is not an imperialist power as Germany was, but its very economic rise is undermining the US position.

According to the report: “Because the American effort to ‘integrate’ China into the liberal international order has now generated new threats to US primacy in Asia—and could eventually result in a consequential challenge to American power globally—Washington needs a grand strategy toward China that centres on balancing the rise of Chinese power rather than continuing to assist its ascendancy.”

A repeat of the Cold War policy based on “containment” is not possible because that was grounded on the autarkic policies of the Soviet Union, whereas China’s economic growth is bound up with economic globalisation and China’s integration into world markets.

In its own way, this assertion is a direct confirmation of the Marxist analysis that the origins of war lie in the very modus operandi of the capitalist system itself. China has operated within the framework of the global market, established not least by the United States, but this integration has itself undermined US primacy.

In the report’s words: “US support for China’s entry into the global trading system has thus created the awkward situation in which Washington has contributed towards hastening Beijing’s economic growth and, by extension, accelerated its rise as a geopolitical rival.”

Accordingly, in advancing the core elements of an American “grand strategy,” the authors place considerable importance on economic issues. As part of a plan to “vitalize” the economy, the US should:

“construct a new set of trading relationships in Asia that exclude China, fashion effective tools to deal with China’s pervasive use of geo-economic tools in Asia and beyond, and, in partnership with US allies and like-minded partners, create a new technology-control mechanism vis-a-vis China.”

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which currently excludes China and for which Obama is now seeking fast-track authority from the US Congress to negotiate, is regarded as essential. Failure to deliver it would “seriously weaken” the US grand strategy.

The report’s focus on the underlying economic issues by no means implies any downgrading of military means. On the contrary, the authors spell out detailed measures, both in terms of US policy and those it must secure from its allies in the region.

The relationship with Japan is regarded as occupying first place. The report’s proposals include an expansion of the US-Japan security relationship to encompass all of Asia, the upgrading of the Japanese military, aligning Japan with concepts such as Air-Sea battle—a massive attack on military facilities in mainland China—and intensifying Japanese cooperation with ballistic missile defence (BMD). Anti-missile systems are seen as vital for a first-strike strategy, which aims to render inoperable any retaliation.

With regard to South Korea, the report calls for increased BMD capacity, as well as a comprehensive strategy, developed with Japan, to bring about “regime change” in North Korea.

Australia is described as the “southern anchor” of US relationships in the Pacific. The report calls for the use of the Stirling naval base in Western Australia to support “US naval force structure in the region.” The US and Australia should deploy surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicles on Australia’s Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean and “the two countries should work together to more rapidly identify potential Australian contributions to ballistic missile defence.”

And the list goes on. Indian nuclear weapons must be seen as an “asset” in the current balance of power, and US-India military co-operation should increase. Indonesia’s role in joint military exercises must be expanded, naval exercises with Vietnam stepped up and the Philippines must develop a full range of defence capabilities.

On the political front, the report calls for the reinforcement of trusted strategic relationships and partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific region that include traditional US alliances but go beyond them. It advocates strengthening Asian states’ “ability to cope with China independently” and building new forms of intra-Asian co-operation—clearly directed to counter China—that do not always involve the US but are systematically supported by it.

After detailing these anti-China measures on the economic, military and political fronts, the report states that the US must energise “high-level diplomacy” with China to “mitigate the inherently profound tensions” and to “reassure US allies and friends in Asia and beyond that its objective is to avoid a confrontation with China.”

The source of this blatant contradiction lies in a no less significant component of the US war drive—the offensive on the ideological front. The purpose of the “high-level diplomacy” and even possible joint ventures with China on some issues, is to manufacture the propaganda lie that the cause of war is the fault of America’s enemy—in this case Chinese assertiveness and aggression. That lie has been central to the launching of US military activity ever since it became an imperialist power at the end of the 19th century.

In reality, the report itself specifically rules out any accommodation with China. In their conclusion, the authors state:

“[T]here is no real prospect of building fundamental trust, ‘peaceful coexistence,’ ‘mutual understanding,’ a strategic partnership, or a ‘new type of major country relations’ between the United States and China.”

The release of this report and its clear elaboration of the US war drive underscore the necessity for the development of a socialist strategy against war by the international working class. This will be at the centre of tomorrow’s May Day Online International Rally called by the International Committee of the Fourth International.

“In the West, most look at the war in Ukraine as simply a battle between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government. But the truth on the ground is now far more complex, particularly when it comes to the volunteer battalions fighting on the side of Ukraine,” according to Marcin Mamon. [1] What the Polish filmmaker is talking about is the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) / Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Islamic State (IS)/ Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah fe Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (DAISH/DAESH) fighters, which include Chechen separatists, that have gone to fight in Ukraine.

It is no coincidence that one of the bases of the alliance between China, Russia, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is to fight what they call the “three evil forces” of “terrorism, extremism and separatism.” The intersectionality of these forces is clear through the deployment to Ukraine of the ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH to fight as comrades alongside racist ultra-nationalists, and as allies of the US government.

Business and Conquest: Kolomoisky and the Jihadis-For-Hire

“Ostensibly state-sanctioned, but not necessarily state-controlled, some have been supported by Ukrainian oligarchs, and others by private citizens,” Mamon notes about these foreign fighters. [2] Say what they may, the ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH fighters, which include Chechen separatists, have not gone to Ukraine to help the Ukrainian people or to help any Ukrainian Muslims. Instead they have gone to Ukraine to be the foot soldiers of a band of corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs and a proxy government in Kiev that is a client of the United States and an agent for the neoliberal economic plundering and rape of Ukraine. These foreign fighters or, as they call themselves, “brothers” have even joined privately owned militias that serve the interest of oligarchs like the billionaire Ihor/Igor Kolomoisky.

Kolomoisky’s ties to ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH are also revealed by Mamon. Mamon explains that “Kolomoisky helped create the first volunteer battalions — the Dnipro and Dnipro-1 — each with about 500 people. For several months, he also financially supported several other battalions, including Azov, Aidar, Donbass, and Right Sector battalion.” [2] These were the first private armies in post-EuroMaidan Ukraine. This was only the start. Then the Ukrainian oligarch “invited the Chechens, hoping they would protect his businesses and factories, if needed.” [3]

Mamon reports that in Eastern Ukraine, flags signifying jihad can even be observed flying over the bases of some of these private battalions. [4] According to him there are three volunteer battalions with a significant number of Muslim fighters operating in Ukraine: (1) the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion which operates throughout the conflict zone in the Donbas; (2) the Sheikh Mansour Battalion, which is based around Mariupol and splintered off from the Dudayev Battalion; and (3) the Crimea Battalion, which is based in Krematorsk. [5] There is also a unit of Crimean Tatar fighters that operate as part of a company (sotnya/sotnia), according to Mamon. [6]

“For those looking for an easy narrative in today’s wars, whether in the Middle East or in eastern Ukraine, the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion is not the place to find it,” Mamon explains. [7] He then describes how the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion “is not strictly Muslim, though it includes a number of Muslims from former Soviet republics, including Chechens who have fought on the side of the Islamic State [IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAISH/DAESH] in Syria.” [8] Mamon recounts that out of the fighters in the Dudayev Battalion that he had observed about half were Ukrainians, mostly from the city of Cherkasy, while the rest “came from Chechnya, and the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in the North Caucasus. There were also Crimean Tatars, Azeris and one Georgian from Batumi.” [9] They were all united to fight “against what they perceive to be a common enemy,” he adds, meaning that they were all united in a fight against Russia. [10]

Ukraine is a Playground for Organized Crime and for Organizing Funds for ISIL

When the anti-Kiev forces in East Ukraine or Novorossiya stopped short of entering Kolomoisky’s business base and personal fiefdom in Dnipropetrovsk, the Ukrainian oligarch “suddenly lost interest and stopped paying the volunteer battalions. The Right Sector battalion responded by seizing his property, but Munayev couldn’t do that. He was a foreigner, and feared the Ukrainian authorities would regard his battalion as an illegal armed group, then disband it. Munayev was bitter, but would not openly speak ill of the authorities in Kiev.” [11]

It is at this point that the links between these “agents of chaos” and organized crime become apparent. While they loot homes and sell sex slaves in Iraq and Syria or Libya, in Ukraine they are also extorting money and getting involved with local criminals.

Like Syria or Kosovo, Ukraine is a playground for these agents of chaos. “You can also do business in Ukraine that’s not quite legal. You can earn easy money for the brothers fighting in the Caucasus, Syria and Afghanistan. You can ‘legally’ acquire unregistered weapons to fight the Russian-backed separatists, and then export them by bribing corrupt Ukrainian customs officers,” Mamon explains. [12]

When Mamon went to meet the Chechen separatist commander Isa Munayev in 2014, he writes that Munayev was not fighting in the frontlines in Donbas. The militia leader “was busy training forces and organizing money and weapons, from Kiev.” [13] Although it does not exclusively mean criminal enterprise, “organizing money” includes amoral acts forbidden by Islam and criminal activities.

Mamon explains that how Ruslan, one of Isa Munayev’s men, had gone to Western Ukraine and disappeared for several weeks in Rivne. “When he returned, he was disappointed; he’d failed to convince the local mafia to cooperate,” he explains about Ruslan’s mission. [14] “But now, he has other arguments to persuade them. His men are holding up the mines, by not allowing anyone into the forest. Either the local gangsters share their profits, or no one will get paid,” he adds. [15]

Moreover, Ruslan setup a “direct response group” in Kiev to “collect debts or scare off competition. There’s no doubt the new branch will work behind the lines, where there isn’t war, but there is money — as long as you know where to get it. If need be, the direct response group volunteers will watch over the mines in Rivne, or ‘will acquire’ money from illegal casinos, which operate by the hundreds in Kiev.” [16]

Aside from collecting money, the “direct response group” that Isa Munayev setup in Kiev will act as a means of retaliation against the authorities in Kiev or anyone that tries to antagonize the so-called “brothers.” “The group will be a sort of rear echelon unit that take care of problems, like if someone tries to discredit the Dudayev battalion,” according to Mamon. [17]

The use of Ukraine by these agents of chaos as a base of operations and for fundraising is a threat to the security of Europe, the post-Soviet space, and the entire world. Although he does not directly say this, Marcin Mamon paints a clear picture of what is happening:

“Ukraine is now becoming an important stop-off point for the brothers, like Ruslan. In Ukraine, you can buy a passport and a new identity. For $15,000, a fighter receives a new name and a legal document attesting to Ukrainian citizenship. Ukraine doesn’t belong to the European Union, but it’s an easy pathway for immigration to the West. Ukrainians have few difficulties obtaining visas to neighboring Poland, where they can work on construction sites and in restaurants, filling the gap left by the millions of Poles who have left in search of work in the United Kingdom and Germany.” [18]

Using Ukraine as a Bridgehead to Reignite Fighting in the North Caucasus

While Syria and Iraq are being used as stepping stones by the US against Iran, these two fronts are also being used as stepping stones to infiltrate the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasian Federal District in the Russian Federation too. Like Syria and Iraq, Ukraine is also being used as a stepping stone for modern conquest and to besiege Russia.

One of the goals of the foreign fighters helping the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine is to use Ukraine as a base to reignite a new front in the Caucasus.“‘Our goal here is to get weapons, which will be sent to the Caucasus,’ Ruslan, the brother who meets me first in Kiev, admits without hesitation” to Mamon [19] Munayev also admits this to Marcin Mamon by saying that “he hoped the weapons he got in Ukraine would end up in the hands of militants in the Caucasus.” [20] “If we succeed in Ukraine, then we can succeed in Chechnya,” he tells Mamon. [21]

For the Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion, the Sheikh Mansour Battalion, and the ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH the “the war in Ukraine’s Donbass region is just the next stage in the fight against” the Russians. [22] “It doesn’t matter to them whether their ultimate goal is a Caliphate in the Middle East, or simply to have the Caucuses free of Russian influence — the brothers are united not by nation, but by a sense of community and solidarity,” Mamon explains. [23]

Russiaand its allies alone will not be threatened. If the European Union thinks that it will be immune, it is wrong. Like Libya, a genie has been let out of the bottle with the spreading of weapons in Ukraine. In the long-term this will have an impact on the security of Europe and Eurasia. Just like how the weapons that were poured into Libya by NATO and the weapons taken from the Libyan military depots found their way into Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, the weapons in Ukraine will find their way to other places, particularly in Europe and the post-Soviet space.

Marcin Mamon gives an account about this through a conversation he had with a commander that recently arrived from Syria. “‘It doesn’t matter whether the Ukrainian authorities help us or not,’ a commander from the Tatar battalion told me,” Mamon recalls. [24] Now that the militias have weapons they will never give them up to the Ukrainian government the commander who arrived from Syria told Mamon while explaining that his goal was to launch an insurgency in Crimea against Russia. [25]

It should not come as a surprise that as recently as April 2015 that the Kremlin has revealed that it caught the US trying to tear Russia apart by directly supporting terrorism against Russia and the separatist insurgency in the North Caucasus. “Our security services recorded direct contact between North Caucasus fighters and representatives of US intelligence in Azerbaijan,” Russian President Vladimir Putin reveals in the documentary Crimea: The Road to the Motherland that was released by the Rossiya-1 channel.

Putin lets it be known that when he frankly told US President George W. Bush about the US support for the destabilization of his country that Bush promised to halt it, but that Russia got an exceptionalist and utterly hypocritical letter from the US later that proclaimed that Washington could do as it pleases by sponsoring separatists and terrorists against Russia.

These US actions are clearly part of a pattern and a continuum. In Kosovo Washington has done the same against the Serbs. In Sistan-Baluchistan it has acted in the same way against the Iranians. In Tibet and Xinjiang it has done the same against China. Now Ukraine is added to the fold.

Through Washington’s drive to control Eurasia it has created an unholy alliance where Ukrainian ultra-nationalist like Oleksandr Muzychko are considered “brothers” by the affiliates of the ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH in Ukraine and where Israel works with Jabhat Al-Nusra against Syria. Make no mistake about it: the neo-Nazis, Washington, Wall Street, NATO, Al-Qaeda, Israel, the Arab dictatorships, and the ISIS/ISIL/IS/DAISH/DAESH are aligned.


[1] Marcin Mamon, “In Midst of War, Ukraine Becomes Gateway for Jihad,” Intercept, February 26, 2015.

[2-3] Marcin Mamon, “Isa Munayev’s War: The Final Days of a Chechen Commander Fighting in Ukraine,” Intercept, February 27, 2015.

[4] Marcin Mamon, “In Midst of War,” op. cit.

[5-11] Marcin Mamon, “Isa Munayev’s War,” op. cit.

[12] Marcin Mamon, “In Midst of War,” op. cit.

[13] Marcin Mamon, “Isa Munayev’s War,” op. cit.

[14-19] Marcin Mamon, “In Midst of War,” op. cit.

[20-21] Marcin Mamon, “Isa Munayev’s War,” op. cit.

[22-23] Marcin Mamon, “In Midst of War,” op. cit.

[24-25] Marcin Mamon, “Isa Munayev’s War,” op. cit.

This article was originally published by the Strategic Culture Foundation on May 4, 2015. 

Asahi Shimbun, May 1, 2015 (emphasis added): Yauemon Sato, the ninth-generation chief of a sake brewery operating here since 1790 [and president of electric power company Aizu Denryoku] likens the crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to “caldrons of hell.” In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Sato said the nuclear disaster “continues to recur every day”… Excerpts from the interview follow: Question: What drives you to be so active, including in the use of renewable energy? — Sato: You know the caldron of hell? You will be sent to hell and will be boiled in that caldron if you do evil. And there are four such caldrons in Fukushima… And the disaster has yet to end. It continues to recur every day. More than 300 tons of water, contaminated with intense levels of radioactive substances, are being generated every day…

Hiroaki Koide, professor at Kyoto Univ. Research Reactor Institute (retired), Apr 24, 2015:

  • 11:30 – The Prime Minister [said Fukushima] had been brought to a close. My reaction on hearing his words was, ‘Stop kidding.’ Reality is, though 4 years have passed, the accident has not yet been brought to a close at all.
  • 15:15 – What is the situation within the core? How much has melted? Where is the fuel exactly? We do not know… This is an accident of a severity that cannot be imagined anywhere else… As you can see, we are facing a very, very difficult situation. The only choice that we have open to us is to somehow keep the situation from getting worse.
  • 30:30 – We are in a very terrible situation, I would even call it a crisis.
  • 55:30 – The Japanese government has issued a declaration that this is an emergency situation. As a result, normal laws do not have to be followed. What they are saying is that, in these very high radiation exposure level areas, they have basically abandoned people to live there. They’ve actually thrown them away to live there… The Cs-137 that’s fallen onto Japanese land in the Tohoku and Kanto regions, so much so that this area should all be put under the radiation control area designation [the Kanto region includes Tokyo and is home to over 40 million people].
  • 1:01:00 – I really do want to impress upon you that the accident effects are continuing.
  • 1:02:00 – Bahrain’s Ambassador to Japan: If you were the Prime Minister of Japan, what are you going to do with this very complicated situation?… Koide: When you have an emergency legally declared, regular laws are put on hold. What that means is people can be thrown away into areas where normally people should not be… The first thing I would do as Prime Minister is evacuate all the children that are in the contaminated areas.
  • Watch Koide’s presentation here

Last week, the United States sent an armada to Yemen, to help enforce a blockade of the poverty-ridden country as it groans under the mass slaughter of Saudi Arabia’s American-backed war of aggression. Now the Saudis, employing the bombs they procured from U.S. war profiteers, have shut down aid shipments by air with a bombing raid on the capital, Sana’a. The result will be more hunger, suffering and death in one of the world’s poorest countries. — But hey, wasn’t Obama so funny at that media dinner thing!

While aiding the Islamic extremists of Saudi Arabia to help al Qaeda in Yemen — who have made great gains while their mortal enemies, the Houthis, are being pounded by the Saudis — Obama and the American military machine has also been busy joining hands with al Qaeda in Syria, helping them make huge advances and capture key cities. It now looks increasingly likely that the Syrian government will not be able to withstand the onslaught of Islamic extremists (oh, and the “moderate” rebels, which also include al Qaeda elements). The fall of the secular Syrian state will open up an abyss of chaos which will be filled by the extremists armed and bankrolled by the United States and Saudi Arabia — just as the American destruction of the secular government in Iraq has led to murderous nightmare for millions of people.

What’s more, Israel has also joined the fight with al Qaeda, launching airstrikes on positions in Syria to clear the way for Islamic extremists to keep up their offensive. Robert Parry is on the case:

The Saudi-Israeli alliance, in league with other hard-line Sunni countries, is helping Al-Qaeda affiliates advance toward gaining either victory or at least safe havens in Syria and Yemen, highlighting unresolved contradictions in President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East. Fueled by a surge of support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – and with Israel striking at Syrian government allies – Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda’s hyper-brutal spinoff, the Islamic State, are making major advances in Syria with some analysts now predicting the likely collapse of the relatively secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.

… As this relationship firmed up, Israel even began voicing a preference for Al-Qaeda’s militants over the relatively secular Assad government, which was viewed as the protectors of Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other Syrian minorities terrified of the Saudi-backed Sunni extremists. In September 2013, in one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Oren expanded on his position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

The same game is being played in Yemen, of course, as Obama puts American military and logistic muscle behind a murderous air assault by the fountainhead of Sunni extremism, Saudi Arabia. Here, the Americans — that great defender of democracy everywhere — are helping the hidebound, head-chopping, tyrannical Saudi royal family in its ever-more frantic efforts to stay in power. As Wall Street Journal correspondent Joe Lauria notes, the savaging of Yemen has very little to do with a “proxy war” with Iran, and very much to do with the Saudi royal’s determination to keep anything resembling democracy far from its borders. Lauria was interviewed by Jessica Desvarieux of The Real News after his WSJ story detailing how the Saudi attack deliberately scotched a peace deal in Yemen. Here are some excerpts:

LAURIA: That’s the main thrust of the story, that [Jamal Benomar, the UN's Special Representative in Yemen], was saying. They were close to a deal, and then the Saudi intervention, the bombing ended the negotiation and that’s where we are today.

DESVARIEUX: So what essential interest would Saudi Arabia have in terms of increasing force? Why would they even do that?

LAURIA: Well, publicly they’re saying they want to restore Hadi as the president, and that they are trying to curb Iranian influence in Yemen. Now, the Houthis are Zaydi sect of Shiism, but it’s a different sect than the Iranian Shiites. The Houthi movement began in the early ’90s, and they didn’t receive any aid or any connection really with Iran until five years ago, 2010. And even the U.S. government does not believe that Iran has overwhelming influence in Yemen. And diplomats I spoke to are not–I can’t name, also say that Houthis were not agents of the Iranians and that their influence is limited there.

So what is the real motive of the Saudis? Well, these diplomats told me that they believe they didn’t, that they were afraid, the Saudis, of a successful negotiation that would bring about a progressive and democratic government in their backyard. This government–and the deal called for, for example, 30 percent of the cabinet posts, 30 percent of parliament going to women. Now, in Saudi Arabia women can’t even drive. But–and they were of course, the Houthis, who are 30 percent of the country, or the Zaydi Shiites, 30 percent of the country, would necessarily get about 30 percent of power of the government. Not 50 percent, they were not going to rule. They did not expect to be the rulers of Yemen, they know they cannot control the entire country. They are not strong enough. So they were willing to take 30 percent, according to Benomar.

And by the way, he told all of this to the UN Security Council today to confirm everything that was in my story. And Saudi Arabia did not want a democracy–this is what these diplomats tell me. They don’t want a democracy in their backyard. For centuries they’ve installed their own leaders in Yemen. They want to control the politics there and impose their terms on this country. The last thing they need is anywhere in the region a democracy, and you can see since the so-called Arab Spring of the last four or five years, what have the Saudis done? From Egypt to Bahrain they have undermined any kind of, form of democracy. …

DESVARIEUX: Let’s talk about some of the consequences of this bombing. And specifically, the winners and losers. Because an unexpected winner in all of this is Al-Qaeda, is that right?

LAURIA: That’s correct. Al-Qaeda is strong in Yemen. Al-Qaeda has supposedly some of these, the underwear bomber, some of these other things came out of Yemen, and the attack on the magazine in Paris was apparently launched by this branch of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. The United States as your viewers well know has been using drone strikes in Yemen to try to defeat Al-Qaeda. They haven’t done that, they’ve killed a bunch of civilians, unfortunately.

So Al-Qaeda is there. And it’s well-known that going back to the 1980s when this was formed in Afghanistan that Saudi Arabia, at least some private money from Saudi Arabia, was backing some of these guys who turned into Al-Qaeda. And others, some governments even say that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting extremist groups in Syria, like al-Nusra Front by Qatar. And maybe some people who are now fighting with Islamic State.

So what do you have here now is the Saudis bombing the Houthi targets only in Yemen, weakening them. The Houthis who are one of the, who are the main fighting force against Al-Qaeda, and they’re being bombed by Saudi Arabia. And Al-Qaeda is moving. They’re taking over towns. They’ve taken over airports. They are gaining on the ground. Now, the Saudis have, probably need ground troops to defeat the Houthis. They’ve asked Pakistan. And Pakistanis did some mysterious procedure that the Saudis don’t seem to understand, which is call a parliamentary vote. And the parliament of Pakistan said, no. we’re not sending our troops to fight in Yemen.

Can we at last give up the pretense that the “War on Terror” has anything at all to do with “fighting terrorism?” It is solely about power and profit, and has been from the beginning. But now our power-players are not even pretending anymore. Oren’s remarks make it plain; Obama’s policies — side with Sunni extremists in Syria, fight Sunni extremists in Iraq, side with Sunni extremists in Yemen, side with Sunni extremists in Libya and then oppose Sunni extremists in Libya — make it even plainer

From its very first moments, stretching back to the Reagan years and to the nth degree since 9/11, the “War on Terror” has been a sham. Yes, there are genuine Islamic extremists — and the Terror War produces more of them every day — but from the US-Saudi creation of an international jihadi army to overthrow the secular government of Soviet-backed Afghanistan to today’s alliance with al Qaeda in Syria and Yemen, America’s imperial militarists have made numerous alliances of convenience with their ostensible enemies as they pursue their agenda of domination. Obama is a willing pawn in their game. Hillary, Jeb, Mario — they will all be the same. The nightmare goes on.

The State of Palestine’s ascension to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court offers the global tribunal a choice between two clear paths into the future. By launching a serious prosecution of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, the court can begin to repair its tarnished reputation, restoring confidence in the impartiality of the justice it dispenses. Its failure to do so would confirm growing suspicions that it has little purpose beyond helping the world’s old empires police their former colonies.

The ICC already faced a crisis of legitimacy due to its narrow focus on African leaders. Its 21 cases have stemmed from the nine full investigations it has launched, each in Africa. This gross disparity in the court’s attention has sparked predictable discontent among member states of the African Union. At an emergency AU summit in October 2013, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose charges the court would dismiss 14 months later, called it “the toy of declining imperial powers.”

Meanwhile the court rejected numerous opportunities to defend Palestinians, even as Israeli encroachments on their land and attacks on their lives escalated. On January 22, 2009, four days after Israel’s first military onslaught against the besieged Gaza Strip ended, the Palestinian leadership filed a declaration accepting ICC jurisdiction. Then-prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo refused to accept it, claiming that Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations did not qualify it as a state.

Following another round of Israel-inflicted bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to afford Palestine non-member observer state status on November 29, 2012. The ICC’s new prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, once again declined to open an investigation, arguing that the court could not treat Palestine’s new status retroactively for purposes of legal jurisdiction.

Last November, Bensouda blocked further investigation of killings by Israeli naval commandos of nine Turkish activists and one Turkish-American on a flotilla challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. She said that although her office’s preliminary examination found “a reasonable basis” to suspect war crimes, the deaths lacked “sufficient gravity” to merit further action by the court.

Defenders of the ICC may argue that the court faced substantial hurdles to establishing its jurisdiction in Palestine, particularly reluctance by Pres. Mahmoud Abbas to claim statehood at the UN and ratify the Rome Statute.  But its critics will note that many African governments joined the court under pressure from European donor countries, often as a condition for participation in the Cotonou Agreement, a trade pact offering duty-free access to EU markets.

Through their membership, Palestinians have withstood the opposite sort of pressure. In the United States, a major backer of the Palestinian Authority, Pres. Barack Obama signed an appropriations bill mandating an end of aid to the PA if the Palestinian leaderships files or “actively supports” a case against Israel at the ICC. And the PA’s tax revenues, collected by Israel as the occupying power, remain punitively frozen for months after Palestinians ratified the Rome Statute, crippling local administration and impoverishing families.

A legal system with a purview determined by a small number of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful governments, many of which have chosen to exempt themselves from it, through various forms of economic blackmail, hardly resembles a system of justice. If the arbitrary nature of the ICC’s jurisdiction, driven by the wiles of donor states and occupiers, cannot be blamed on the court itself, it can hardly be counted in its favor.

But despite these structural challenges, the ICC now has an opportunity to begin redeeming itself. With signed documents filed in the Hague, no legal barriers – or excuses – remain to obstruct an investigation and prosecution. Israel’s massacre of over 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, maiming of thousands more, and wholesale destruction of civilian homes and neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip lie only months behind us, and its construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land continues at full speed in the West Bank. The way for the court to restore accountability is obvious. If it shirks its responsibility, the blow to its legitimacy will be devastating.

When I met Issam Younis, executive director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, in his Gaza office shortly after the explosions ended last summer, I noticed his gentle, relaxed demeanor. Despite the killing of his father and mother-in-law, an employee, and untold extended family and friends over Israel’s 51-day bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip, he had fixed his eyes firmly on the future.

“Abbas only needs to sign the forms,” he told me when I asked him about the ICC. “We are ready to do the rest.”

For his sake, and the sake of countless other Palestinians grieving their losses and struggling to defend what remains of their land, I hope his optimism was well-placed. Supporters of the ICC should share this hope. The stakes for the system they champion could not be higher.

Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine, where he works with Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks, particularly in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and prisoners’ movements. He co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange, blogs at and tweets at @jncatron.

Ligue de Defense Juive members near Boulevard Voltaire in Paris on 1 May. The anti-Palestinian Jewish extremists provoked alteractions with participants in Paris’ traditional May Day march. (Patrice Gravoin)

An eyewitness account debunks a report disseminated by anti-Palestinian groups and Israeli media that two Jews were attacked by “BDS” – boycott, divestment and sanctions – activists during May Day commemorations in Paris on Friday.

According to the eyewitness, an altercation was provoked by extremists from Ligue de Défense Juive (LDJ), the French counterpart of the Jewish Defense League.

Founded by the ultra-racist rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1968, the Jewish Defense League has been termed by the FBI a violent terrorist organization. Kahane was later elected to the Israeli parliament, founding the Kach party, which was banned as a terror group even in Israel.

In March, two extremists with the Jewish Defence League UK were sentenced for assaulting Palestine activists in London.

Alleged attack

The French pro-Israel website JSSNews claims that on Friday at around 3pm, a group of 40 people set upon two men who were “identifiable” as Jews.

JSSNews quotes an unnamed person from “a security service belonging to the Jewish community” stating that “the savages” who allegedly carried out the attack “were linked to the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist organizations Gaza Firm and BDS.”

The report claims that “police opened an inquiry and it was impossible to learn the condition of the two victims.”

It adds that “this summer it was ‘pro-Palestinian’ youths from Gaza Firm who attacked synagogues in Paris (in Rue de la Roquette in particular).”

In fact, as The Electronic Intifada has reported, Serge Benhaim, the president of the Rue de la Roquette synagogue categorically denied that any such attack had taken place.

The 13 July incident was another altercation sparked, according to eyewitnesses, when LDJ members armed with sticks and batons stormed away from the synagogue and tried to provoke street fights with members of Palestinian solidarity groups demonstrating peacefully in the Place de la Bastille against Israel’s attack on Gaza.

JSSNews also cited as a source the BNCVA – a pro-Israel group that purports to monitor incidents of anti-Semitism in France.

On its website, BNCVA claims that on 1 May, two Jewish men aged around 21 were attacked by around 40 “Brothers” and lightly injured.

The French-language report actually uses the word “brothers” in English, but it is unclear if it is supposed to indicate the Muslim Brotherhood, a slang term for men of color, or something else.

The Paris 11th district police station – which is responsible for the area where the alleged May Day incident took place – refused to provide any comment to The Electronic Intifada and referred the matter to the central media unit that does not answer phones on Sunday.

There have been no reports of arrests related to the alleged incident.

Israeli media, including Haaretz, picked up the dubiously sourced report. The website of the Israeli news channel i24News, citing BNCVA, claimed that “two young men of Jewish extraction were beaten up Friday in Paris by a 40-strong gang.”


Michael, a 28-year-old activist with Collective Antifasciste Paris Banlieu (CAPAB – Anti-Fascist Collective of Paris and Suburbs), told The Electronic Intifada what he witnessed.

The Electronic Intifada is not using last names in this post for safety reasons.

On the morning of 1 May, anti-fascist activists met at the Saint-Michel metro station planning to go to a commemoration for Brahim Bouarram, a Moroccan man murdered and thrown into the Seine river by right-wing extremists on May Day 1995.

But according to Michael, dozens of riot police encircled, or kettled, about 50 anti-fascists, preventing them from joining the rally.

Meanwhile, other members of CAPAB had planned to meet up with members of another group, Action Antifasciste, near the Charonne metro station on Boulevard Voltaire in order to take part in the big May Day rally together.

Because they had been kettled near Saint-Michel, Michael and some of his comrades were late getting to the second meeting point.

But police had pushed the Action Antifasciste activists away from the designated meeting point on Boulevard Voltaire after what Michael later heard was an altercation sparked by members of the Ligue de Defense Juive (LDJ) and the right-wing Jewish group Betar.

Spitting and insults

Michael said that he and his group were trying to figure out an alternative meeting point to join up with the other anti-fascists, and headed toward the Rue des Boulets metro station, about 450 meters further down Boulevard Voltaire.

“We were about a dozen people,” Michael said. “As we headed to Rue des Boulets we passed about 50 members of the LDJ and Betar,” who were clearly identifiable by their clothing. Many had their faces covered and some carried sticks.

“As we passed, these people started spitting at us and insulting us,” Michael said. “They hit one of the women who was wearing a keffiyeh” – a traditional Palestinian checkered scarf.

Michael said that this attack provoked “insults” and “punches” between members of CAPAB and LDJ. Up to this point police had just been looking on, but then several officers intervened to push back members of LDJ.

“Some of the police tried to restrain the LDJ, but another police officer aggressed one of our comrades and tried to push us back,” Michael explained. “Police pushed us out of the area but let the LDJ people wearing masks and carrying sticks remain in the area of Rue des Boulets metro. They were allowed to occupy the area and do as they pleased.”

Michael notes that the anti-fascists had originally planned to meet around 1pm, but that was impossible as LDJ and Betar members were already on site. He says the attack described above occurred around 3pm – the same time as the alleged incident reported by JSSNews.

Michael, who has detailed knowledge of Paris activist groups, said he recognized no one from Gaza Firm in the vicinity of the incident.

In a statement, the activist collective Géneration Palestine says that on 1 May, in the vicinity of Boulevard Voltaire, persons identifiable as belonging to LDJ and Betar “attacked participants in the traditional May Day march.”

“Attacks and provocations are the modus operandi of the extreme right Zionist militias,” the statement adds. “During the summer of 2014, during demonstrations in support of the people of Gaza, the LDJ became visible in the media because of its violence, provocations and multiple aggressions.”

LDJ released its own statement that “following the attack on two young Jews” its members remained in the area all afternoon “protecting Jewish businesses in Boulevard Voltaire from the anti-Jewish thugs participating in the Communist march on 1 May.”

It also posted this image showing its members hoisting their group’s flag, with faces obscured, surrounded by police.

Members of France’s Ligue de Defense Juive — the Jewish Defense League — in Paris on 1 May.

The “Art Optic” store allows the location the image was taken to be precisely identified as a small side street just off Boulevard Voltaire.

LDJ protected by police

Michael also notes that the route of the big May Day march was from Place de la République to Place de la Nation, two major Paris squares linked by the 3.5 kilometer-long Boulevard Voltaire.

He says that when the rally passed by the Rue des Boulets metro station around 4pm, the LDJ activists were still there, protected by riot police who had their backs to the LDJ group: the police were in effect “protecting the LDJ, with whom they collaborate.”

According to Michael, the LDJ extremists continued to shout insults, especially when marchers identifiable as Muslim or left-wing went past.


“I support Israel”

LDJ stickers found on the door of Paris cultural center on 28 April, the day before it was scheduled to host a Palestine solidarity event.

Imen, a Palestine solidarity activist in Paris, also told The Electronic Intifada that she and her comrades had been subject to intimidation by LDJ members in the area days before the 1 May incident.

“On 28 April, one day before a public event organized by BDS France at the Centre International Culture Populaire [very close to the Rue des Boulets metro], members of the LDJ came and put stickers on the doors.”

The LDJ stickers, seen in the photos above, carry the Star of David and fist symbol used by the violent anti-Palestinian racist group Kach, and say “I support Israel” and “Join the Jewish Defense League.”

The event the next day went off without incident – more than 120 people came to hear Maren Mantavoni from Stop the Wall, Patrice Bouveret of an arms-trade monitoring group and Sivan Halevy from BDS France.

Imen said that police had been informed about the stickers.

Conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

In the wake of the murders by French gunmen in January at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket in Paris, the French government has stepped up its crackdown on what it calls anti-Semitism.

While the January attacks had no connection whatsoever with any Palestine solidarity groups, French authorities are increasingly targeting criticism of Israel as an alleged source of anti-Semitism.

Israel has long sought to exaggerate and exploit reports of anti-Semitism in Europe, particularly in France, both to demonize Palestine solidarity activism and to spark an exodus of Jews.

In this context, accusing activists of anti-Jewish attacks may be seen by anti-Palestinian groups as a good strategy to bring further state repression and sanctions on those seeking to bring Israel to account by lawful and peaceful means.

The fight against racism requires vigilance against all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. It also includes not allowing false claims of bigotry to be used to silence criticism of Israel.

Why the Powers That Be Are Pushing a Cashless Society

May 4th, 2015 by Washington's Blog

We Can’t Rein In the Banks If We Can’t Pull Our Money Out of Them

Martin Armstrong summarizes the headway being made to ban cash,  and argues that the goal of those pushing a cashless society is to prevent bank runs … and increase their control:

The central banks are … planning drastic restrictions on cash itself. They see moving to electronic money will first eliminate the underground economy, but secondly, they believe it will even prevent a banking crisis. This idea of eliminating cash was first floated as the normal trial balloon to see how the people take it. It was first launched by Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup. Their claims have been widely hailed and their papers are now the foundation for the new age of Economic Totalitarianism that confronts us. Rogoff and Buiter have laid the ground work for the end of much of our freedom and will one day will be considered the new Marx with hindsight. They sit in their lofty offices but do not have real world practical experience beyond theory. Considerations of their arguments have shown how governments can seize all economic power are destroy cash in the process eliminating all rights. Physical paper money provides the check against negative interest rates for if they become too great, people will simply withdraw their funds and hoard cash. Furthermore, paper currency allows for bank runs. Eliminate paper currency and what you end up with is the elimination of the ability to demand to withdraw funds from a bank.


In many nations, specific measures have already been taken demonstrating that the Rogoff-Buiter world of Economic Totalitarianism is indeed upon us. This is the death of Capitalism. Of course the socialists hate Capitalism and see other people’s money should be theirs. What they cannot see is that Capitalism is freedom from government totalitarianism. The freedom to pursue the field you desire without filling the state needs that supersede your own.

There have been test runs of this Rogoff-Buiter Economic Totalitarianism to see if the idea works. I reported on June 21, 2014 that Britain was doing a test run. A shopping street in Manchester banned cash as part of an experiment to see if Brits would accept a cashless society. London buses ended accepting cash payments from July 2014. Meanwhile, Currency Exchange dealers began offering debt cards instead of cash that they market as being safer to travel with. The Chorlton, South Manchester experiment was touted to test customers and business reaction to the idea for physical currency will disappear inside 20 years.

France passed another Draconian new law that from the police parissummer of 2015 it will now impose cash requirements dramatically trying to eliminate cash by force. French citizens and tourists will then only be allowed a limited amount of physical money. They have financial police searching people on trains just passing through France to see if they are transporting cash, which they will now seize. Meanwhile, the new French Elite are moving in this very same direction. Piketty wants to just take everyone’s money who has more than he does. Nobody stands on the side of freedom or on restraining the corruption within government. The problem always turns against the people for we are the cause of the fiscal mismanagement of government that never has enough for themselves.

In Greece a drastic reduction in cash is also being discussed in light of the economic crisis. Now any bill over €70 should be payable only by check or credit card – it will be illegal to pay in cash. The German Baader Bank founded in Munich expects formally to abolish the cash to enforce negative interest rates on accounts that is really taxation on whatever money you still have left after taxes.


Complete abolition of cash threatens our very freedom and rights of citizens in so many areas.


Paper currency is indeed the check against negative interest rates. We need only look to Switzerland to prove that theory. Any attempt to impose say a 5% negative interest rates (tax) would lead to an unimaginably massive flight into cash. This was already demonstrated recently by the example of Swiss pension funds, which withdrew their money from the bank in a big way and now store it in vaults in cash in order to escape the financial repression. People will act in their own self-interest and negative interest rates are likely to reduce the sales of government bonds and set off a bank run as long as paper money exists.

Obviously, government and bankers are not stupid. The only way to prevent such a global bank run would be the total prohibition of paper money. This is unlikely, both in Switzerland and in the United States because the economies are dominated there by a certain “liberalism” to some extent but also because their currencies also circulate outside their domestic economies. The fact that but the question of the cash ban in the context of a global conference with the participation of the major central banks of the US and the ECB will be discussed, demonstrates by itself that the problem is not a regional problem.

Nevertheless, there is a growing assumption that the negative interest rate world (tax on cash) is likely to increase dramatically in Europe in particular since it is socialism that is collapsing. Government in Brussels is unlikely to yield power and their line of thinking cannot lead to any solution. The negative interest rate concept is making its way into the United States at J.P. Morgan where they will charge a fee on excess cash on deposit starting May 1st, 2015. Asset holdings of cash with a tax or a fee in the amount of the negative interest rate seems to be underway even in Switzerland.


The movement toward electronic money is moving at high speed and this says a lot about the state of the financial system. The track record of the major financial institutions is nearly perfect – they are always caught on the wrong side when a crisis breaks, which requires their bailouts. The fact that we have already seen test runs with theory-balloons flying, the major financial institutions are in no shape to withstand another economic decline.

For depositors, this means they really need to grasp what is going on here for unless they are vigilant, there is a serious risk of losing everything. We must understand that these measures will be implemented overnight in the middle of a banking crisis after 2015.75. The balloons have taken off and the discussions are underway. The trend in taxation and reduction of cash seems to be unstoppable. Government is not prepared to reform for that would require a new way of thinking and a loss of power. That is not a consideration. They only see one direction and that is to take us into the new promised-land of economic totalitarianism.

People can’t pull cash out of their bank accounts – for political reasons, because they’ve lost confidence in the bank, or because “bail-ins” are enacted – if cash is banned.

The Financial Times argued last year that central banks would be the real winners from a cashless society:

Central bankers, after all, have had an explicit interest in introducing e-money from the moment the global financial crisis began…


The introduction of a cashless society empowers central banks greatly. A cashless society, after all, not only makes things like negative interest rates possible, it transfers absolute control of the money supply to the central bank, mostly by turning it into a universal banker that competes directly with private banks for public deposits. All digital deposits become base money.

The Government Can Manipulate Digital Accounts More Easily than Cash

Moreover, an official White House panel on spying has implied that the government is manipulating the amount in people’s financial accounts.

If all money becomes digital, it would be much easier for the government to manipulate our accounts.

Indeed, numerous high-level NSA whistleblowers say that NSA spying is about crushing dissent and blackmailing opponents … not stopping terrorism.

This may sound over-the-top … but remember, the government sometimes labels its critics as “terrorists“.  If the government claims the power to indefinitely detain – or even assassinate – American citizens at the whim of the executive, don’t you think that government people would be willing to shut down, or withdraw a stiff “penalty” from a dissenter’s bank account?

If society becomes cashless, dissenters can’t hide cash.  All of their financial holdings would be vulnerable to an attack by the government.

This would be the ultimate form of control. Because – without access to money – people couldn’t resist, couldn’t hide and couldn’t escape.

And see this.

US NATO commander General Philip Breedlove is part of America’s lunatic fringe. He believes provoking Russia belligerently promotes world peace.

He wants more US combat troops close to Russia’s borders – more provocative military exercises antagonizing its leadership.

He wants Nazi-infested Ukrainian military forces more heavily armed to the teeth with US heavy weapons than already.

In Thursday testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee members, he said:

“I support the consideration of using offensive weapons to change the decision calculus on the ground (in Donbass) and to facilitate bringing our opponent to the table for a solution, a final solution” – serving US imperial interests exclusively.

He accused Russia of using “every tool to their great advantage, including the military tool.”

He prioritizes deterring nonexistent “Russian aggression.” America’s European Command needs more military assets, he stressed – more troops, heavy weapons and intelligence to meet (fabricated) security challenges.

“There are critical gaps in our collection and analysis,” Breedlove blustered. “Some Russian military exercises have caught us by surprise.”

He claims “(g)etting this right requires more (surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance), high-powered analytical support, and appropriate intelligence sharing with allies and partners.”

He wants full-scale mobilization for war. He claimed his command is undersized to meet the threat of “a revanchist Russia,” (US recruited/supported) IS terrorists, and instability across North Africa and the Middle East on NATO’s doorstep.

“Our forces are not sized for any of those three challenges,” Breedlove blustered.

Neocon Senator John McCain agreed saying “(a)s Russia builds up, America draws down.”

Breedlove wants direct confrontation with Russia. “Our forward presence is the bedrock of our ability to reassure allies, deter real and potential adversaries, and to be postured to act in a timely manner should deterrence fail” – code language for his lust for war.

He lied claiming Moscow continues arming Donbass self-defense forces in preparation for war, saying:

“Russian forces used the opportunities presented by the recent lull in fighting to reset and reposition while protecting their gains.”

“Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive.”

Fact: Not a shred of evidence suggests Russian direct or indirect involvement in Obama’s naked aggression on Donbass.

Fact: Throughout over a year of intense and low-level war, it’s gone all-out to resolve things diplomatically.

State Department officials lied claiming Donbass freedom fighters are a virtual part of Russia’s military.

They refer to “combined Russian-separatist forces.” They blame Moscow for Obama’s naked aggression – using Kiev proxies to do his dirty work.

McCain is a longtime Washington lunatic fringe loose cannon. “Nothing we have done has succeeded in deterring Putin’s aggression (or) halt(ed) his slow-motion annexation of eastern Ukraine,” he blustered.

Breedlove claims the Alliance must “strengthen (its) deterrence. We all know that Putin responds to strength and sees opportunities in weakness.”

Propaganda wars precede hot ones. Big Lies bury hard truths. Breedlove’s agenda risks potentially humanity ending nuclear war against Russia.

So does Obama’s – claiming nonexistent “Russian aggression,” the tired old Big Lie endlessly repeated

Again he outrageously compared nonexistent Russian aggression to “ISIL” and “Ebola” as “threat(s) to the world” in a joint Tuesday press conference with militant Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Saying “(w)e are two global partners that stand together for security and human dignity around the world –  opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, providing relief to innocent civilians threatened by ISIL, combating Ebola and promoting global health, and now offering help to the people of Nepal, who are in our prayers today.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Baltimore Workers and Youth Speak Out: “It is a War Zone”

May 4th, 2015 by World Socialist Web Site

On Saturday, World Socialist Web Site reporters went to the neighborhood of West Baltimore where Freddie Gray lived, and where on April 12 police brutally arrested the 25-year-old before sending him on a forty-minute police van “rough ride” around the city. Gray went into a coma and died one week later.

Residents spoke about Freddie Gray, and what they saw and heard the morning of the arrest. They also told us what it is like living in Baltimore, describing a situation of everyday police violence and economic desperation.

Tobias, 69, a retired construction worker, was a witness to the initial police brutalization of Freddie Gray, whom he remembered as a “good, quiet man.”

Tobias and Bernard

“I was in bed sleeping,” Tobias said, “when I heard a lot of screaming. I looked out my window. They were beating him with batons. Everybody seen it.”


“Those police ought to be in jail for the rest of their lives,” he said. “You don’t treat an animal like that. What has to happen to make this stop is to make an example of these police.”

We asked Tobias and Bernard about social conditions in the neighborhood. “God bless the retired people,” Bernard, 70, responded. “Because there are no jobs around.”

Michelle, 58, who has been unemployed for two years, was a friend of Freddie Gray. “I was visiting with Freddie the Saturday before he was arrested. Basically he was a good guy, a people person,” she said. “Everyone loved him.”

“I saw when they arrested him too. He was just standing on the corner looking at the officers, and then they had him down on the ground and he started screaming. He was still screaming as they loaded him up in the wagon. They just threw him in there.”

Chastity, Charles, Benita, Matt and Sean are all college students at Morgan State University in Baltimore. They had come to visit the neighborhood where Gray was killed.

The intersection where Freddie Gray was arrested

“I would say that most of West Baltimore is basically an economic and social drought,” Chastity said. “This is a community where people have no jobs, no resources, and there is such low funding for education.”

“The best way you can describe it is a war zone,” Charles said.

“The issues here in Baltimore today are really generational. There are African-American men all around the country with little hope, who act out in anger or get victimized by the police. Freddie Gray is another Michael Brown.”

Chastity added,

“There are no resources, no jobs, and it’s the same in cities across the country. All the ‘hoods are the same. The media, they only want to focus on looters. These are kids. They try to control their rage, but rioting is the voice of the victims.”

We asked the students what they thought of President Barack Obama and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake referring to the rioters as “thugs.”

Memorial to Freddie Gray

“It’s disgusting,” Benita said.

“They are children. Why are you calling children thugs? The people who were rioting were angry, but you have to understand the conditions behind their anger. A lot of them are young people with no opportunities. Young people are the future of this community and of the country, and for the mayor to call them ‘thugs’ shows a total lack of understanding for how things are in West Baltimore.”

When a WSWS reporter said that “thug” means violent criminal, Matt added, “‘Thugs’ has replaced the ‘n-word.’”

We pointed out that after the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson last year, many people tried to say that the problem was that there was not a black police chief or a black mayor, but in Baltimore the city is dominated by black politicians.

“That’s because it’s not really about race,” Matt said. “It’s really a question of elitism. It doesn’t matter if it a Democrat or a Republican in office, you still get the same policies of law and order.”

As we parted ways with the college students, a military Humvee rumbled down the street in front of us.

Lauren lives across the street from where Freddie Gray lived, and knew him. “He was a good person,” she said. “I saw what they did to him at the second stop. I saw them drag him out and put leg shackles on him. Why did they have to do that? They already broke his legs before.”



We asked Lauren to say something to the WSWS worldwide readership about what it is like living in West Baltimore.

“It’s like a constant police purge around here,” she said, and she then described an incident when she was attacked by police.

“They pulled in over there,” she said, pointing to a parking area behind her.

“Whenever the police come, we always all come out to see what they are going to do and to take pictures. I came out too, and one of the police handcuffed me and slammed me face down on the curb. You can see I’m little. It hurt my face and my back. They took me in and put me in jail, and I lost my job in health care. Jobs are scarce here.”

“I don’t think it’s a black thing or a white thing. A lot of these cops are black. It’s a blue thing,” Lauren said, referring to the color of the police uniforms.

“The police serve the Republican part of downtown, where you have all these high-class Caucasians and African-Americans. There is a lot of animosity here in our neighborhoods after years and years of policies that serve that part of the city.”

Kalilla and Leann

Kalilla, whom we met together with her friend Leann later, at Saturday’s downtown Baltimore rally for Freddie Gray, described a similar experience.

“I was at Hamilton swimming pool with my sister and our children in 2006,” she said.

“Police came into the pool area and fired their guns, so we ran and jumped into our car. They came up with their guns drawn and pulled us out, and pushed us down on the curb. And they put handcuffs on us. All of this in front of our little children.”

We asked Kalilla and Leann about the connection between war and police repression in Baltimore. “It’s really unsettling,” Leann said. “It’s a war zone. When I see these people in uniform and these armored vehicles, it’s like Iraq or Afghanistan. You’ve got military here. And you’ve even got snipers,” she said, pointing to the heights of a nearby parking ramp.

“The situation here goes beyond racial lines,” Leann said. “It’s between either the haves or the have-nots.”

Baltimore gang members denied evidence-free claims that they had declared a truce to “take out” police officers. (WBAL-TV)

As I discussed in my previous post on the Baltimore Police Department’s inflation of the “purge” threat last Monday, there’s increasing evidence the department routinely uses the media to hype punitive threats in anticipation of crackdowns. Other journalists are taking note as well.

First there was the blockbuster, entirely evidence-free claim by the BPD that there was a “credible threat” that “the Bloods and the Crips had teamed up to kill cops” (CBS News4/27/15). That was quickly denied by several gang members, one of whom told WBAL-TV (4/28/15Raw Story4/28/15):

We want to tell the people of the city right now, of Baltimore City, that the image that they’re trying to portray of the gangs in Baltimore—the BGF, the Bloods, the Crips—we did not make that truce to harm cops…. We did not come together against the cops.

As Zoë Carpenter of The Nation (4/30/15) reported, the Baltimore police’s use of Twitter had become less information-driven and more Minstry of Truth-driven:

Some of the information that the department has provided to its 127,000Twitter followers seems to have been at best incorrect and at worst deliberately misleading. “A group of criminals have just started a fire outside the library located at Pennsylvania Ave and North Ave,” the police tweeted on Tuesday night. But according to Guardian reporter Jon Swaine, it was the police themselves who caused the fire, when sparks from a tear-gas grenade landed on trash.

Individual tweets were often framed as safety advisories, but together they created a selective narrative of events that later bled into news coverage. On Monday afternoon at 3:01 pm, the department warned on Twitter andFacebook about “a group of juveniles in the area of Mondawmin Mall. Expect traffic delays in the area.” Half an hour later, the police said that kids had started throwing bricks; 15 minutes after that the department reported that an officer had been hurt. Later, media accounts would describe a violent riot started by teens who were hungry for a fight.

But as eyewitnesses pointed out, the cops had shown up in full riot gear just as a high school near the mall was letting out. The police shut down the subway station and the bus lines, effectively trapping the students. “Those kids were set up, they were treated like criminals before the first brick was thrown,” one teacher wrote.

Buzzfeed accompanied its story relaying Baltimore police claims of being threatened with a photo of a Baltimore police officer looking around nervously.

“Social media functioned as a sort of virtual riot gear,” Carpenter wrote—“manufacturing the narrative of violence in the digital realm as the police were escalating it on the ground.”

On Friday afternoon, hours after prosecutors announced that six police officers would be charged for the death of Freddie Gray, Buzzfeed(5/1/15) reported an “exclusive” internal “leak”from the Baltimore Police Department of a sergeant “warning” his superior officers that Baltimore residents were randomly challenging the heavily armed BPD to combat:

A Baltimore police sergeant informed his Eastern District superiors Friday afternoon that officers “are now being challenged on the street.”

The letter, provided to BuzzFeed News from an anonymous source, warned of heightening tensions between police and residents on a day when many locals have taken to the streets to celebrate.

Sgt. Lennardo Bailey told the “Eastern Command Staff” [sic’d]:

“I have been to five calls today and three of those five calls for service; I have been challenged to a fight. Some of them I blew off but one of them almost got ugly. I don’t want anybody to say that I did not tell them what is going on. This is no intel this is really what’s going on the street. This is my formal notification. It is about to get ugly.”

Why would Buzzfeed uncritically republish the assertions of a police department with a history of hyping threats to justify crackdowns?  The reason they can pass this off as “news” rather than outright stenography is the way the story is framed—as a story about a story, thus making it newsworthy even though the substance of the claims are without evidence.

Had Sgt. Lennardo Bailey approached Buzzfeed—or virtually any news organization—with accusations he had been randomly challenged to fights on the streets, the reporter would have asked for proof: details, witnesses, arrest records. But by writing a letter to a superior (it’s unclear if that’s standard operating procedure in the BPD) and “leaking” it to the media, that letter itself becomes the story, regardless of whether or not its contents make much sense or have any corroborating proof. By simply repeating “police concerns” that Baltimore residents are, en masse, challenging police officers to hand-to-hand combat, this narrative permits the police department (presumably the source of the “leak” to Buzzfeed) to smuggle in accusations of protester threats without having the messy responsibility of providing evidence.

It’s a tactic as old as civil rights protests themselves. Consider this Associated Press article from March 8, 1965:

Associated Press (3/8/65)–the first day of the march from Selma to Montgomery

Sheriff James G. Clark said Sunday he receives 40 to 50 telephone calls threatening his life after every nationally televised outbreak of racial violence in the Selma, Ala., Negro vote-registration drive.

“As far as I know practically all of them” have been from Negroes from all part of the United States, he said, some identifying themselves as member[s] of Negro extremist groups….

“I have had to move my family into the quarters at the county jail and keep them there for their protection and we keep a guard on them at all times,” Clark said.
Clark blamed most of Selma’s racial problems on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which is sparking the Negro registration effort.

It’s the same tactic: The police call up the press, tell them how worried they are about all the threats they’ve received, and are never asked to show a shred of evidence said threats actually exist. The press repeats these claims, and the fundamental propaganda meme—that protestors are threatening the police—is disseminated unquestioned.

Maybe next time the Baltimore Police Department tries this—which they no doubt will—the media can try asking for a bit of evidence before repeating?

Adam Johnson is a freelance journalist; formerly he was a founder of the hardware startup Brightbox. You can follow him on Twitter at@adamjohnsonnyc.

Messages to Buzzfeed can be sent via Editorial Feedback.  Remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

One of the primary physicians who signed a recent letter attacking Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of a popular daytime medical program on television, and seeking his removal from the faculty of Columbia University is also a convicted criminal who once lost his medical license for Medicaid fraud.

Dr. Gilbert Ross, executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, had his medical license revoked in 1995 for professional misconduct. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $40,000 and pay restitution in the amount of $612,855 (which was later reduced to $85,137) for his part in a scheme to defraud New York’s Medicaid program.

After being released from prison, Ross was subsequently hired by an ACSH co-founder, the late Elizabeth Whelan, a Harvard-trained public health scientist who claimed to have started the Council as a crusade against “junk science.” In 1999, he was promoted to the position of medical director/executive director, even though he did not regain his medical license until 2004.

Ross was one of ten “prominent” physicians who signed the letter to Columbia University. In part, the letter stated:

We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.

Junk science? How about junk food?

Ross and the other doctors go on to say that “members of the public are being misled and endangered” by Dr. Oz’s promotion of alternative health options.

However, if anyone is guilty of endangering the public’s health, Ross and the ACSH have certainly played a role. For one, many of the organization’s donors are biotech, junk food and vaccine firms like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, AmVac, and Syngenta.

Moreover, according to an entry describing the history of ACSH at TruthWiki, the organization has said in the past that it conducts independent research and that donors have no influence whatsoever on that process.


An insider report tells a different story. Nicholas Martin, ACSH’s administrative director for part of 1988 and 1989 says funders were involved with projects. during parts of 1988 and 1989. When ASCH published a booklet on sugar and health, it was printed in-house by The Hershey Company. The Stroh Brewery Company participated in editing a booklet on alcohol and health. When The Professional Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA) asked ACSH to publish a booklet defending chemicals used for lawn care, they were told by Whelan they would only take on the project if the PLCAA funded it through a donation.

Owned by special interests?

In addition, ACSH has received donations from Syngenta, with additional funding to support atrazine. Whelan once asked for an additional $100,000 to write a book about why chemicals aren’t bad. She coined the term chemophobia and defined it as the public’s unwarranted fear of chemicals. Syngenta’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Jessica Adelman, called Whelan a “great weapon.”

As for the remaining physicians who signed onto the letter, Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, helped expose the fraudulent nature of their purpose.

“The contrived attacks on Doctor Oz backfired in spectacular fashion today as he took to the air to expose the convicted felons, frauds and hucksters — all doctors operating as corporate front men — who tried to silence him,” he wrote.

Ross and ACSH are no friends of good health, nor are they uncompromised by special interests, apparently.


Big Banks Profit While Main Street Suffers

May 4th, 2015 by Antonius Aquinas

If anyone doubts that the Western world’s monetary order is rigged to enrich the banking system, the first quarter financial reports of America’s top banks should disabuse any unbelievers.

The Financial Times reported that four of the five big U.S. trading banks had a combined revenue of $19.4 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Goldman Sachs had a 14.7 percent* return on its equity in the first quarter while J.P. Morgan, the nation’s largest bank, earned $5.91 billion or $1.45 a share, up 3.6% from a year earlier.**  Revenues for J.P. Morgan grew 4% to $24.8 billion.

The enthusiastic coverage of the big banks healthy first quarter proceeds and the chest-thumping of its bank executives left out, not surprisingly, the real reason for their windfall gains – the Federal Reserve. The big banks have been the chief beneficiaries of the Fed’s easy monetary policy since the start of the financial crisis.

The Fed’s “zero interest rate policy” (ZIRP) and its “quantitative easing” (QE) program have been the catalyst for the large banks’ recent record performance. Ostensibly, these policies were instituted to assist the economy in its recovery from the Great Recession, however, in actuality they have been done to save the big banks from collapse while the economy has been flooded with billions of increasingly worthless dollars causing significant price inflation.

Low interest rates have enabled the banksters and financial houses to borrow at next to nothing and invest in all sorts of ventures, many of which are highly risky. Easy money is also the cause for the huge run up in assets prices and the highs in nominal stock prices.

Worse, ZIRP has allowed the federal government to sustain its ridiculous level of spending, borrowing what it cannot raise in taxes at a near zero rate of interest.  When interest rates do rise, the federal government will most likely default, bringing the banks down with them.

While the big banks and Wall Street have done quite well from the Fed’s massive money printing, everyone else has suffered and have seen their standard of living plummet even from official estimates.

The Federal Reserve reported a slowdown in hiring in March, a big drop off in industrial production, and lower housing starts in the first quarter, to mention just a few troubling statistics. Things are getting to the point that the Fed is reconsidering whether it should raise interest rates in the second half of the year as it had hoped to do. Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, admitted, “Data available for the first quarter of this year have been notably weak.”***

The first quarter sizable earnings of the big banks are an example of what a number of commentators have termed “crony capitalism.” Through government assistance, businesses earn wealth not by pleasing customers and satisfying their needs, but by currying favors from the state. In the banksters’ case, instead of making wise and prudent loans, they receive largesse in the form of billions of Federal Reserve notes.

Not only is such a system immoral, but it gives legitimate market activity – those firms that do not receive state assistance – a bad rap as profitable enterprises are lumped in with state favorites. This ultimately leads to greater regulation as calls for the government to tax “windfall profits” would affect all firms even those who earned rightful profits.

The solution to crony capitalism and the ill gotten gains of the banking system is not greater oversight, but instead, the abolition of the Federal Reserve and a return to sound money based on gold or silver. Under such a system, banks and financial houses would profit only if they satisfied consumers’ wants.

In the banks’ case, this would mean safeguarding depositors’ money and making prudent loans with the funds they were entrusted with to lend. For those financial institutions that succeed at such tasks, profits would be their reward; for those who do not and mismanage investment funds they would be out of business and allowed to fail. Banks would operate under the same economic laws as any other enterprise.

The prevailing system of crony capitalism which benefits the 1% must be exposed for the grand redistribution scheme that it has long been. Only when bankers earn their wealth as Main Street does will America return to a just and (sound) monetary order.


*Tom Braithwaite & Ben McLannahan, “Goldman in Robust Return on Equity Showing,” Financial Times, 17 April 2015, 14

**Ciaran MCEvoy, “JPMorgan Profit Beats Wall St. Views, As Does Wells Fargo by Shrinking Less,” Investor’s Business Daily, 15 April 2015, A1.

***Jon Hilsenrath, “Fed Shies Away from June Rate Hike,”  The Wall Street Journal,  17 April 2015.

Antonius Aquinas@AntoniusAquinas

US Warplanes Kill Dozens of Civilians in Syria

May 4th, 2015 by Patrick Martin

US airstrikes in Syria killed dozens of civilians in a predominately Arab-populated village in the eastern part of Aleppo province Friday. The death toll was still rising as more bodies were found and missing family members were accounted for.

Initial reports had put the number of deaths at 52, but at least one US media outlet, McClatchy News Service, said it had obtained a list of 64 dead from ten families. Whatever the final figure, it is the worst atrocity perpetrated by the US-led campaign of bombing supposedly directed at Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has long supported the US-backed campaign to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at least nine children were among the victims of the US airstrike on the village of Bir Mahali. It described them as victims of a “massacre committed by the US-led coalition under the pretext of targeting the Islamic State.”

The group had previously downplayed civilian casualties in Syria, claiming that only 60 civilians had died in the hundreds of airstrikes by warplanes of the United States, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf sheikdoms participating in the war against ISIS.

The US Central Command, which regularly reports US airstrikes in Syria and Iraq without any detail on the death toll or the exact targets struck, said the May 1 attack was among nearly a dozen in “the area of” Kobani, the largely Kurdish-populated town on the Syrian border with Turkey that became the focal point for US air strikes last fall. Bir Mahali is 33 miles south of Kobani.

McClatchy said that US warplanes had become involved in longstanding ethnic conflicts between Arabs and Kurds in the Euphrates River valley, an area with a mixed population that also includes Assyrians and other Christians. It cited reports from “activists pointing out that the fishing and farming village of about 4,000 Arabs has had tense relations with Kurds living nearby—especially with the Kurdish ‘People’s Protection Units’ or YPG.”

The implication was that Bir Mahali was targeted, not because of the presence of Islamic State forces—it is not clear whether there were any in the village—but because the Kurdish militia wanted to wreak havoc on an Arab-populated town.

The US military worked with the YPG in the months-long siege of Kobani. The YPG has political ties to the PKK, the Kurdish nationalist guerrilla force that has fought inside Turkey for decades, and is on the US State Department’s list of “terrorist” organizations.

The US-YPG connection demonstrates yet again that Washington uses the term “terrorist” in a completely cynical fashion, branding groups because they oppose US foreign policy, or fight US client states, not because of the methods they employ. When it comes to violence against civilians, as the atrocity in Bir Mahalli demonstrates, the US government is the world’s foremost practitioner of terrorism.

A statement from the Combined Joint Task Force, the official name for the US-led coalition bombing ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria, said that there were 24 airstrikes carried out on May 1-2, of which 17 were in Syria, hitting Raqqa, the lone provincial capital under ISIS control, as well as targets near Kobani, Al Hasakah and Dair Az Zawr.

The seven airstrikes in Iraq were near Mosul, Tal Afar, Baiji, Ramadi and Fallujah, the five cities controlled by ISIS either wholly or in part.

The US military did not admit the killing of a large number of civilians in Bir Mahalli, but said it was investigating claims. Major Curtis Kellogg, a military spokesman, told the Associated Press, “We currently have no information to corroborate allegations that coalition airstrikes resulted in civilian casualties,” adding, “Regardless, we take all allegations seriously and will look into them further.”

The reported mass killing of civilians in Syria comes amid indications that key US client states in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are stepping up their support for anti-government “rebels” fighting the Assad government.

The Washington Post reported April 30,

“The delivery of additional weapons and financial aid from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have facilitated recent advances against government forces in northwest Syria by the Army of Conquest, a newly formed umbrella of diverse rebel groups, including al-Qaeda’s affiliate and other Islamist groups, along with ‘moderate’ [i.e., pro-US] fighters.”

Last month these forces captured the northwestern provincial capital Idlib, and then the city of Jisr al-Shughur, as well as numerous bases and outposts of the Syrian army, in an offensive that threatens to cut off the capital city, Damascus, from the Mediterranean coastal region that is Assad’s political stronghold. Jabhat al-Nusra, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, has played a major role in this military push.

The Post also reported that at a meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition in early April, hosted by Jordan, “administration officials were bombarded with questions about US leadership of the 60-nation group, and how it would address the global expansion of the Islamic State.”

The New York Times, reporting on the same meeting, said that members of the US-led coalition were pressing Washington “to agree to a broadening of the campaign to include terrorist groups that have declared themselves to be ‘provinces’ of the Islamic State.”

This could include extending the military operation to include targets in Libya, where ISIS is alleged to support Ansar al-Sharia, a local Islamist formation, as well as unspecified measures against supposed ISIS supporters in “Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen, according to American counterterrorism officials.”

Some have said that India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, arrived at the nation’s pro-GMO position with the help of generous campaign funding from a GMO lobby, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of Indian farmers from demonstrating against Monsanto and their biotech cronies in a massive grassroots movement that shuns anti-farmer practices and genetically modified crop farming.

Shri Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesperson for the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) explains:

“The government is exhibiting its pro-industry stance by pushing for unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs in our farming. We want all open air field trials of GM crops stopped immediately in the country since such open air trials pose not only a risk of contamination but also risk of trade rejection. Further, any moves towards trade liberalization in agriculture whether through the WTO route or through free trade agreements are unacceptable to us.”

The farmers recently organized and occupied the streets in a Kisan Maha Panchayat (farmer meeting) in Delhi, India, in protest at the Modi government’s anti-farmer policies.

Among the demonstrators were hundreds of women recently, as well, who have resolved to stay put on Parliament Street in India’s capital until the government engages them in a dialogue to resolve various burning issues, among them:

  • GMOs
  • Lack of fair and remunerative prices for farm produce
  • Demand for a farm income commission
  • Removing agriculture from free trade agreements including WTO
  • Adequate disaster relief for farmers
  • And more important topics that affect farmers in a country known for high suicide rates and massive GM crop failures.

Indian farmers are among some of the hardest hit by biotech chicanery. They join the ranks of millions of others throughout the world, from Mexico to Russia that don’t want GM crops either.

A similar but more intense protest recently took place in Poland as the nation’s largest farmer uprising ever involved convoys of tractors. The protest was pointed at GMO infiltration and land grabs by biotech and Big Ag corporations.

More than 150 farmers blocked roadways and held numerous demonstrations in order to bring attention to the important issue of food sovereignty in Poland. Their focus is a ban on GMOs and a restoration of small farmer’s rights after decades of oppressive health and safety regulations which take rights away from small farms and give them to mono-cropping, poisoning Big Ag mega-companies.

Just like Poland and the rest of the world, India doesn’t want GMOs. The singular reason GMOs exist in India or anywhere else is because of government corruption and infiltration by corporations like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF.

Additional Sources:

Image sourced from GMWatch

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EEUU emplea agentes del caos contra Irán, Rusia y China

May 4th, 2015 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Estados Unidos crea y emplea agentes para provocar el caos, grupos terroristas como el EIIL (Daesh, en árabe), para tratar de debilitar y someter a Irán, Rusia y China, opinó el domingo el prominente analista geopolítico Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.

Según Nazemroaya, Washington y sus aliados no arrumbarán sus políticas hostiles hacia estos tres países hasta que los hayan sometido completamente y para dicho fin utilizan “agentes del caos”, por ejemplo Daesh.

“Estos agentes están dando rienda al caos para impedir la integración de Eurasia y un orden mundial libre de los dictámenes estadounidenses”, dijo.

Estados Unidos, aseguró, primero tratará de someter a Irán y a Rusia y, una vez logrado, enfocará sus ataques contra China y la India y tratará de derrotar a estas dos potencias mundiales.

También afirmó que el conflicto en el este de Ucrania, que hasta el momento ha causado la muerte de más de 6 100 ciudadanos ucranianos, está vinculado con la ofensiva de los grupos takfiríes como el EIIL y el Frente Al-Nusra, rama de Al-Qaeda en Siria, en Irak y el territorio sirio y es parte del plan de Washington contra Rusia e Irán.

Al final de sus declaraciones, el analista advierte a la India de que también está en la mira de las políticas y aspiraciones hegemónicas de la Casa Blanca y quees un “error estúpido” creer que Estados Unidos la dejará en paz.

Estados Unidos, bajo el pretexto de luchar contra los grupos extremistas que, según las evidencias, están financiados y armados por EE.UU. y sus aliados regionales, ha vuelto a aumentar su presencia en el Oriente Medio.

Por otra parte, amén de los 300 soldados que Estados Unidos envió a Ucrania para adiestrar al Ejército de Ucrania, hay evidencias de la presencia de miembros de la empresa de seguridad privada estadounidense Academi (anteriormente conocida como Blackwater, grupo conocido por su excesiva violencia contra los civiles durante sus operaciones en Irak) en el territorio ucraniano.

En Canadá, analistas dieron a conocer cómo se está reprimiendo y judicializando el movimiento estudiantil anti-austeridad de la provincia de Quebec.

A team of German and Canadian marine biologists have for the first time ever witnessed so-called ‘dead zones’ in the Atlantic Ocean – places where no life can thrive, owing to there being almost no dissolved oxygen in the water.

Zones depleted of oxygen do exist in nature and have previously been discovered along populated coastal areas off the eastern and southern coasts of the United States and the Baltic Sea. But this is the first time such a place has been observed in the open ocean.

In a paper published in the journal Biogeosciences, researchers outline the existence of pockets of low-oxygenated patches of water in the Atlantic Ocean.

They are vast – sometimes 100 square miles in size. They travel constantly and are also seasonal. One of the biggest ever discovered forms each year in the Gulf of Mexico.

What makes these things tick is a hodge-podge of nutrients and microbes delivered from elsewhere. It’s a cyclical process: the nutrients are food for algae blooms, which in turn get devoured by microorganism. This creates waste, which is then eaten by other microbes. This process uses up a lot of oxygen, creating oxygen-free pockets.

he nutrient run-off here is a means of transportation. But if you’re an animal or fish, there are only two options: moving and surviving, or staying and dying.

Dead zones are normally found in shallow water, where not a lot of mixing takes place. The Atlantic Ocean is obviously very different, which creates a puzzle.

Researchers found that these particular dead zones masquerade as ‘eddies’ – basically huge underwater ocean cyclones that spin into a vortex, practically no different to how weather sometimes acts above ground. They can twist uninterrupted for months on end. The spinning vortex creates a wall around the central core – a process, which quickly depletes oxygen from it, and so, a dead zone is born.

“The fast rotation of the eddies makes it very difficult to exchange oxygen across the boundary between the rotating current and the surrounding ocean. Moreover, the circulation creates a very shallow layer – of a few tens of meters – on top of the swirling water that supports intense plant growth,”study author Johannes Karstensen of the University of Bremen says in the press release of the journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

What surprised him and the team was that the levels of oxygen depletion found previously in dead zones were way off: before the study, common estimates put dissolved oxygen at around 1 milliliter per liter of seawater. Karstensen and team though found the lower end of the spectrum in the Atlantic to contain only 0.3 milliliters.

The intensity of the phenomena is dependent upon the speed of the eddy, chemical concentration, weather patterns and the Earth’s rotation.

The researchers worry that the existence of dead zones even at the center of the Atlantic could have an effect on people living on land, particularly in Cape Verde.

“Given that the few dead zones we observed propagated less than 100 kilometers north of the Cape Verde archipelago, it is not unlikely that an open-ocean dead zone will hit the islands at some point,”Kartsensen explains. “This could cause the coast to be flooded with low-oxygen water, which may put severe stress on the coastal ecosystems and may even provoke fish kills and the die-off of other marine life.”

Baltimore, MD — Just minutes after the police state curfew went into effect in Baltimore Saturday night, the brutality began. However, the actual coverage of that brutality varies depending on who is telling this story.

The first video of the arrest is put out by CNN. It begins with a semi-conscious man laying on the ground with a reporter speculating on the possibility of the man faking his unconsciousness.

The reporter then describes how bottles were being thrown at police and that this arrest could be related.

See the CNN video here.

The second video of this arrest comes from Russia Today. Despite lacking any commentary, it depicts the actual story magnitudes more accurately.

RT has a camera rolling as an apparently angry, but non-violent and unarmed protester begins yelling at police. He is then met with a pepper spray blast at near point blank range, directly in his face.

Amazingly enough, he takes this blast of spray seemingly without reaction. The lack of reaction by this man seems to anger the officers as one of them runs behind him grabbing his dreadlocks and slamming him to the ground. When the man goes down, it becomes apparent that the pepper spray is indeed, taking its toll.

After the crowd sees this unnecessary escalation of force by police, they become angry, and many of them were then sprayed as well. At this point, the bottles begin to fly at officers; after the police, not protesters initiated conflict.

See the RT/Ruptly video here.

There is no such thing as “unbiased reporting.” No matter the outlet, bias is an unavoidable facet to journalism. Here at the Free Thought Project, we are completely open about our bias in being anti-war, anti-corruption, and against the war on drugs.

Knowing that all journalism advocates an agenda, we can see that the MSM’s agenda happens to be one diametrically opposed to the principles of a free society as they perpetually cheerlead for the status-quo. War, brutality, and corporatism are all but ignored by the mainstream as covering these things could be damaging to the establishment.

As MSM is part of the establishment, their agenda advocates for the preservation of that establishment. They would not want to shoot themselves in the foot by helping people to break free from their dependency upon the two-party corporatocracy that pretends to keep order in society.

The effort of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to emasculate and revise the country’s war-renouncing constitution encountered a mass protest on Sunday, the country’s 68th Constitution Memorial Day, when he returned from the United States with the updated bilateral defense guidelines that will result in unconstitutional revision of security-related legislation.

Thousands of demonstrators from across the country took to the streets in Yokohama, a southern port city, protesting against the prime minister’s dangerous politics. They held banners that read ” Firmly oppose destruction of the constitution,” “No Abe administration,” “Crush the ultra-right regime” and “Protect the pacifist constitution.”

Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party is mulling to hold a referendum in 2017 to realize the first-ever amendment of the country’s supreme law, and is seeking to start discussions with other political parties as early as possible to carry out the amending procedure at an early date.

However, the prime minister has reinterpreted that war- renouncing constitution last July to give the green light to the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to exercise the right to collective defense, allowing the SDF to engage combat overseas, which goes against the constitution that bans the SDF to fight outside Japan.

During Abe’s week-long visit to the United States, foreign and defense ministers of the two countries revised their guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation for the first time in 18 years and the renewed guidelines gave Japan’s SDF a more proactive role in supporting the U.S. forces overseas with a more flexible concept involving the “use of force.”

In line with the updated defense guidelines, Abe said he will try to achieve the revision of a series of security-related laws so as to legalize the exercise of the right to self-defense, even before the amendment of the pacifist constitution.

Kenzaburo Oe, a Japanese Nobel literature laureate, said during a pro-constitution gathering of some 30,000 people on Sunday that Abe lied when addressing a joint session in the U.S. Congress.

He said the prime minister hawked the idea around to foreigners that it is for fighting together with the United States that Japan approved for the SDF to exercise the right to collective defense and adopted unconstitutional revision of security-related legislation. But back in Japan, he has made no explanation to the Japanese people and failed to get public support, Oe said.

The major figure in contemporary Japanese literature urged the Japanese people to protect the pacifist constitution and to oppose any legislation that may lead to war.

Yoichi Higuchi, a constitutional expert, also slashed the Abe administration, saying Abe is putting the Japanese people’s right to existence at risk by allowing the SDF to exercise the right to collective defense.

He called on the Japanese people to stop Abe’s coup against the constitution.

According to a latest nationwide poll conducted by Japan’s mainstream daily the Asahi Shimbun, 48 percent of the respondents oppose the amendment to the constitution as advocated by Abe, while 43 percent of them support the revision.

The survey result released on Friday also showed that 63 percent of the surveyed expressed opposition against the revision of Article 9 of the pacifist constitution that bans Japan to use force overseas, while only 23 percent said they agree to lift the ban on the SDF.

In Yokohama, the demonstrators also protested against a Japan-U. S. agreement to relocate the U.S. Futenma airbase within Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture as Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama had reaffirmed the plan during their summit in Washington, despite Okinawan’s public desire for moving the airbase outside the island prefecture.