Facts about mass graves found outside Donetsk in the embattled eastern Ukraine were intentionally omitted in UN’s latest report on the situation in Ukraine, members of the Russian Civic Chamber said on Wednesday.

According to media reports, a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights failed to mention mass graves found outside Donetsk, contrary to pledges by Spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric that the issue would be included in the document.

Deputy Secretary of the Civic Chamber Sergey Ordzhonikidze said there was a good reason for that. “The matter is that the policy of the High Commissioner’s Office has always been notable for its pro-Western moods,” he said.

He said there were no Russian nationals in the office at the moment, while “the attitude to Russia and former Soviet republics has always been biased.” According to Ordzhonikidze, “this is not a sincere report, and it admits things that cannot be denied.”

A deputy head of the chamber’s coordinating council for aid to Ukrainian citizens, Georgy Fyodorov, said that

“the Ukrainian authorities intentionally did everything possible through their colleagues to have no mentioning of these facts in the UN report.” “If these facts had appeared in the report, the world community would learn about mass tortures and killings, and a probe as well as search for those behind it (the crime) would be a next step”.

TASS on Wednesday quoted Gianni Magazzeni, Chief of the America, Europe and Central Asia branch of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as telling reporters that safety situation in the eastern Donetsk region prevented access to mass graves.

Mass graves with bodies bearing signs of violent death were discovered on September 23 by self-defense militias some 35km north-east of Donetsk. Forensic experts came to the conclusion that the people had been shot in the head at close range. This area was earlier controlled by Ukrainian security forces and the Aidar battalion.

As the U.S. expands its air bombardment of Iraq and Syria, Tuesday marks another milestone for a nation at war: the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the longest officially recognized war in U.S. history.

“One of the dangers around the ongoing war in Afghanistan is that people have wanted it to end for years, so it’s as though we wished it away some time ago,” Peter Lems, Program Officer at the American Friends Service Committee, told Common Dreams. “Yet it hasn’t gone away. I think the real challenge is to acknowledge the true cost of this war.”

Win Without War is urging people across the United States to mark this anniversary by telling President Obama “it’s time to end our endless war in Afghanistan.” Furthermore, veterans and their allies plan to gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Tuesday evening to call for an end to the war in Afgahnistan and honor lives lost to combat and trauma. Organizers with the  Philadelphia Interfaith Network Against Drone Warfare will hold afilm screening and conversation Tuesday marking the date.

Community organizations from Rhode Island to North Carolina to Indianapolis plan to hold memorials and actions throughout the week calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and a shift away from endless war more broadly, said Lems.

The anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion comes just a week after the U.S. and Afghanistan signed theBilateral Security Agreement, which paves the way for at least another decade of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The provisions of the pact include: ongoing U.S. training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military; an extension of immunity to U.S. service members under Afghan law, and a green-light to keep thousands of U.S. troops beyond what President Obama calls the “end of the U.S. combat mission” at the conclusion of 2014. Furthermore, NATO’s status of forces agreement, also signed last month, grants similar privileges to thousands of foreign troops now slated to remain in Afghanistan past the end of this year.

The anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion comes just a week after the U.S. and Afghanistan signed the Bilateral Security Agreement, which locks in at least another decade of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. (Photo: Win Without War)

“Another decade-long extension is not the answer to 13 years of failed war,” said Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice in an interview with Common Dreams. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As long as there is a foreign occupying force in the country, Afghans will continue to reject it.”

There are approximately 40,000 NATO troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, the vast majority of them American. Obama has previously stated he plans to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year, with plans to cut numbers to 9,800 by the beginning of 2015, and instate further reductions at the end of next year, as well as in 2016. In addition, thousands of troops from other NATO countries will remain, with 12,000 total foreign troops slated to remain after the end of this year, U.S. Central Commandreports.

Afghan civilians continue to pay a staggering price. A report released in July by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan notes that Afghan civilian deaths and wounds as a result of the fighting have steadily risen since 2012 and are overall higher than they were in 2009. From January 1 to June 30, 2014 alone, approximately 4,853 civilians were killed, a 24 percent increase over the same months in 2013. This heavy toll has been punctuated with high-profile massacres, including the Panjwai massacre, in which 16 Afghan civilians were gunned down and killed and 6 more wounded by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

The costs of this war, which is considered the longest official war—not including unacknowledged U.S. wars, as well as wars that extended beyond their formal end-dates—extend far beyond these grim numbers. The human toll includes long-term effects of social destabilization and militarization, political and military dependency on the United States, and starvation, poverty, erosion of vital public infrastructure, and mass displacement.

In addition, approximately 3,475 international troops have died in he war, 2,334 of them U.S. service members. The latter figure, provided by the Department of Defense, does not take into account the long-term wounds, including trauma, that continue to take life after service members are discharged from the military.

“It’s a long war, and it’s going to keep setting the record, as the U.S. plans to extend the war to 2024,” Brock McIntosh, an Afghanistan veteran and conscientious objector who is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and works with the Afghan Peace Volunteers, told Common Dreams. “Like most modern wars, more civilians have died than American soldiers or Afghan fighters, and civilians are continuing to die.”

The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank starting in Washington on Friday take place following downward revisions in global economic growth by both organisations.

Such reductions have been a regular occurrence since the eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008. The difference this year is the recognition that lower growth, and outright stagnation in some cases, is becoming a permanent condition.

In its World Economic Outlook issued yesterday, the IMF cut its forecast for global growth in 2014 to 3.3 percent, a reduction of 0.4 percentage points from April and 0.1 percentage points down on an update issued in July.

According to the IMF, there is no prospect of an upturn in the period ahead. “Demand shortfalls in advanced economies, together with the erosion of potential output, could lead to sustained global economic weakness over a five-year period,” it stated.

While not predicting this prolonged slump will necessarily take place, the IMF warned that it is the biggest risk to the world economy over the medium term.

IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard pointed to a feedback loop pushing in the direction of protracted low growth. “Potential growth rates are being revised downward and these worsened prospects are in turn affecting confidence, demand and growth today,” he said.

With growth forecasts for the eurozone being revised down, the IMF estimated that the risk of recession in the region doubled from around 20 percent in April to nearly 40 percent just six months later. It said the probability of a slide into deflation was 30 percent.

A World Bank analysis, issued earlier this week on the prospects for East Asia and the Asia Pacific, sharply lowered its estimate for world economic growth as well as for the all-important Chinese economy.

The bank said global growth for this year would be 2.6 percent, a marginal increase from 2.4 percent last year, and well below the estimate of 3 percent growth predicted in April. (The differences between the two growth figures arise from the different methods used to reduce currency values to a common measure.)

Growth in China would fall over the next three years—7.4 percent this year as compared to a previous estimate of 7.6 percent. It would then decline to 7.2 percent and 7.1 percent for the years 2015 and 2016 respectively, as opposed to a previous forecast of 7.5 percent for both years.

For the Asia Pacific region as a whole, excluding China, the World Bank said growth would bottom out at 4.8 percent this year before recovering to 5.3 percent in 2015–2016. But this forecast is based on the assumption that exports from the region will increase as a result of a “gradual recovery” in high-income countries and an “orderly normalization” of monetary policy in the US as the Federal Reserve winds back its financial stimulus program.

Yet, the report warned that weaker-than-expected recovery in world trade, an abrupt rise in global interest rates or increased global political tensions could not be ruled out, all of which would “pose risks” to the regional outlook.

The bank said a “key downside risk” was a slower than expected recovery in high-income countries, noting the threat of deflation and continued anaemic growth in the euro region. Falling inflation had already raised real interest rates and further downward movements could “unleash a pernicious debt-deflation cycle.”

It remained “unclear,” the bank stated, to what extent recent measures announced by the European Central Bank (ECB), based on financial asset purchases, would boost activity, while in Japan investment and export growth “remain tentative.”

One of the biggest threats to growth in the Asia-Pacific region was the potential flow-on effect from a tightening of monetary policy in the US and “an abrupt rise in interest rates cannot be discounted.” Returning monetary policy to a more normal state “will be complex” since it has “remained extraordinarily expansionary over an unusually extended period of time.”

Nothing like what has happened in the past six years has been seen in the history of global capitalism and no one is sure what the outcome of the reduction of central bank intervention could be.

The World Bank pointed to a number of dangers, including abrupt market reactions, increased volatility and the overshooting of interest rates. Moreover, in conditions where the monetary policy in major reserve currency countries is diverging—the US Fed is tightening monetary policies, while the ECB and the Bank of Japan continue a loose regime—there is the risk of “disorderly exchange rate and interest rate movements.” Adjustment to a new equilibrium could be “disruptive.”

A rapid rise in interest rates would impact heavily on a number of countries in the East Asia Pacific region because debt levels have increased markedly since 2008 and debt-service ratios are already at “historically elevated levels.” Problems could also arise if there is a sharp reduction in capital flows.

In a speech delivered to Washington’s Georgetown University last week previewing the World Economic Outlook, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde pointed to “grey clouds” hanging over the world economy. Economic recovery had been “disappointing … brittle, uneven and beset by risks.”

The global economy was weaker than envisaged six months ago, with only a modest pickup foreseen for 2015 as “the outlook for potential growth has been pared down.”

The weakness is centred in the major capitalist economies. Lagarde pointed out that emerging and developing economies accounted for more than 80 percent of world growth since 2008.

Six years after the eruption of the financial crisis there was continued weakness in the world economy, countries were still dealing with its legacies and there were “serious clouds on the horizon.” One of them was “low growth for a long time,” as falling expectations of growth potential led to present-day cuts in both investment and consumption.

There were financial “clouds” as well.

“There is concern that financial sector excesses may be building up, especially in advanced economies. Asset valuations are at an all-time high; spreads [the difference between the rates of return on the riskiest and safest assets] and volatilities are at an all-time low.”

Another worry was the “migration of new market and liquidity risks to the ‘shadows’ of the financial world,” that is, to the less regulated and nonbank sector. In the US, Lagarde noted, “shadow banking is now considerably larger than the traditional banking system” and China, at 25–35 percent, has the fifth largest shadow banking sector in the world. She warned that the longer the present easy money policies continued, the greater the risk of fuelling financial excess.

Whether Lagarde recognised it or not, her speech was actually an impeachment of all the would-be guardians of the global economy and financial system, herself included. It was an acknowledgement that, after the most severe crisis since the Great Depression, not only is there no “recovery” but the policies pursued over the past six years are creating the conditions for another crisis.

Lagarde concluded her speech by invoking the colours of the university, grey and blue. There are some “grey clouds,” she said, but “aiming higher, trying harder and doing it together, we can gain new momentum and bring the ‘blue’ skies.”

There could hardly be a clearer indictment of the entire global capitalist order. With the livelihood of billions of people in the balance, those supposedly in charge of economic policies can offer nothing but incantations akin to those of a rather desperate college basketball coach.

U.S. bombing near the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on July 25, 1973. AP Photo

In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again.  A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told … That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”

A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”.  What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed.  Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people — in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda — like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” — seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.

It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” — from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.

Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, a medical doctor and parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office — blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.

Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water.  “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”

Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”

A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”  When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”

On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.”  The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.

Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia — as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.

The day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.

Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott — as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally,  Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces … a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned.  “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria … Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate … This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah.  The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of Nato, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.

A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (the Guardian) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.

Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.

More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”.  Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.

The Bank Bailout and the Forbes 400

October 8th, 2014 by Andre Damon

Six years ago this past Friday, the US Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which established the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the first of the bank bailouts. It was followed by a series of Federal Reserve and Treasury programs that allocated some $7 trillion in free loans to the financial system.

The day after the passage of TARP, October 4, 2008, the World Socialist Web Site offered the following analysis:

“The [Bush] administration has invoked the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in an attempt to terrorize the American people into accepting the greatest transfer of public resources to the financial elite in history…[The bailout] will facilitate an ever-greater concentration of wealth that can only produce a drastic deterioration of living conditions and the undermining of basic democratic rights.”

Six years later, not a word of this assessment needs to be revised, except for changing the future tense to the past.

The outcome of the past six years of government policy can be seen in the figures released last week by the business magazine Forbes, ranking the 400 wealthiest Americans. The report revealed that since 2009, the 400 richest people in the US have nearly doubled their net worth, to a shocking $2.9 trillion. This is nearly a fifth of the total value of all the goods and services produced in the United States in an entire year.

The accumulation of this vast wealth takes place under conditions not of general prosperity, but rather of an economic stagnation and falling living standards for the majority of the population. Since 2010, the median household income in the US has fallen by five percent.

This outcome is the intended result of the entire policy of the ruling class since the economic crash. From the beginning, the ruling class’s response, initiated under Bush and vastly expanded under Obama, was characterized by two interrelated aspects: the provision of unlimited funds to prop up the financial system—and with it the wealth of the financial oligarchy—to be paid for through sweeping attacks on social programs and the living standards of the working class.

Earlier this year, Timothy Geithner, the former Treasury Secretary who now heads a private equity firm, published his memoir, which makes clear that every single substantial policy question related to the financial crisis was decided solely from the standpoint of maximizing the most predatory profit interests of Wall Street.

According to Geithner, by September 2008 it became clear to the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve that every major US financial institution was insolvent, and would go bankrupt without government intervention. Under these circumstances, the Federal Reserve and Treasury allowed Lehman Brothers to collapse, a move that had the effect, to use a phrase recalled by Geithner, of “shock[ing] the political world into taking the crisis seriously.”

Following the collapse of Lehman, the Federal Reserve and Bush administration crafted TARP, which, amid broad popular opposition, was initially voted down in the House of Representatives before passing amid a lobbying campaign by the presidential candidates of both parties (Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain).

After coming to office, the Obama administration has carried out a set of clear policies: the banks would get rescued, but their executives would remain in place, there would be no criminal prosecutions despite clear evidence of illegal activities, no “haircuts” for bank creditors and no meaningful restraints on executive pay.

The Obama administration’s actions in the aftermath of the 2008 crash were dictated by the same considerations as the bank bailout. In his own memoir, Neil Barofsky, the former inspector-general for TARP, noted that the Obama administration’s mortgage modification program, touted by the White House as a means to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, was in fact nothing more than “an aid to the banks, keeping the full flush of foreclosures from hitting the financial system all at the same time.”

Which brings us back to the Forbes 400. Beyond the total mass of wealth that the rich now control, the most salient fact revealed in the report is the manner in which this wealth has been, to use the word loosely, “earned.” As the magazine began its report, “Thanks to a buoyant stock market, the richest people in the US just keep getting richer.” A “buoyant stock market”—that is, through speculation on an historically unprecedented scale, aided and abetted by the government and the Federal Reserve.

Finance is increasingly dominant among America’s wealthy. While the finance and real estate sectors made up about 4.4 percent of the first Forbes 400 in 1982, they now make up 21 percent. Beyond those who derive their wealth immediately from the financial sector, the fortunes of billionaires in other sectors of the economy is increasingly based on share values. For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, currently 11th on the list with a net worth of $34.1 billion, had his wealth increase seventeen-fold from 2009 as a result of Facebook’s speculative initial public offering.

What is revealed in these figures is that the very processes that erupted in 2008 are continuing. The crash was itself rooted in the protracted crisis of American capitalism, characterized by the growth of financial parasitism proportionately with the decline of manufacturing and productive activity. Yet six years later, the big banks are bigger than ever, and even more dependent on speculation on Wall Street.

To resolve a problem, it is necessary to understand its cause. Yet the cause of all the great problems facing the working class, in the United States and internationally—soaring social inequality, the destruction of democratic rights, unending war that threatens to engulf the entire planet—is rooted fundamentally in the stranglehold of finance capital over all aspects of society.

The task of freeing society from the grip of the financial parasites is an existential question for mankind. This task can only be accomplished one way: through the building of a mass political movement of the international working class to expropriate the banks and major corporations, hold the financial criminals to account for their crimes, and reorganize society in the interest of social need, not private profit.

October 6th, is the 38th anniversary of the first act of terrorism against civilian aviation in the western hemisphere – the unparalleled Cubana air disaster on the coastline of Barbados on October 6, 1976 – the Barbados crime. Cubana flight 455 was hit by two C-4 explosives bombs just after the aircraft took off from the then Seawell Airport (now the Grantley Adams International Airport) in Barbados at an altitude of 18,000 feet.

Rather than crashing into the white sands of the beach called Paradise and killing the vacationers, the Cubana pilot, Wilfredo Pérez Sr., courageously banked the plane away from the beach and towards the Atlantic Ocean, saving the lives of many tourists. It crashed in a ball of fire one mile north of Deep Water Bay. The crash occurred about eight kilometres short of the airport.

Cubana flight 455 was a routine, scheduled commercial, passenger flight of no military significance. There were no survivors. All 73 passengers and five crew members aboard the plane were assassinated: 57 Cubans, 11 Guyanese, and five North Koreans.

Among the dead were all 24 members of the 1975 Olympic youth fencing team; many were teenagers. The young athletes had just won all the gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championship Games, as well as several sport officials of the Cuban Government. They proudly wore their gold medals on board the aircraft.

The trail of blood leads to the US – and Canada.

It is the bitterest irony that the anniversary occurs on the very day that the Harper government demands parliamentary approval to send military forces to another hemisphere to commit aggression under the pretext of opposing terrorism, while it is silent on terrorism committed in the nearby Caribbean.

It is the bitterest irony that the Harper government designates “Islamic terrorists” as the greatest threat facing mankind, when the self-confessed engineer of this great crime, Posada Carilles, known as the Bin Laden of the Americas, languishes comfortably in Miami, Florida under U.S. protection.

In its fraudulent offensive, the government and media, which talks about “blowback” and the “victims of terrorism”, is silent on the fact that the aircraft that was destroyed by Cuban-American terrorists was actually owned by Air Canada, one of three Air Canada DC-8s leased to Cubana. Nor was this a unique incident. Earlier, on July 9, 1976 in Kingston, Jamaica a suitcase had exploded when it was carried to another DC-8 aircraft of Cubana de Aviación leased from Air Canada.

Nor that the meeting just four months earlier on June 11, 1976 that planned the terrorism, as well as the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former foreign minister of Chile then resident in Washington, the capital of the U.S., took place at an exclusive resort lodge owned by Falconbridge Mines, a multinational US-owned, Canadian registered corporation and the second largest nickel monopoly in the world (after INCO), in Bonao, Dominican Republic. During that meeting, over 20 assembled individuals representing terrorist factions founded CORU, an anagram for the Coordinación de Organizaciones Revolucionarias Unidas, headed by Orlando Bosch, in response to CIA director George H. Bush’s demand that the offensive against the Republic of Cuba be centrally co-ordinated under CIA direction and funding as part of Operation Condor. That same month, June, 1976, Bosch is on record that he sent a bomb to the Cuban embassy in Ottawa, aimed at hindering the relations between Canada and Cuba and enforcing the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba, one of many targets attacked by Cuban-American terrorists inside and outside the territory of Canada during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Protesters outside the Carriles immigration hearing in El Paso, Texas demand his extradition to Venezuela and the release of the Cuban Five.

A report issued by the U.S. Acting General Attorney General Joe D. Whitley in May 1989 declared Bosch a public enemy of the United States and denied asylum to this dangerous character for the 30-odd terrorist acts committed, among them the hideous Barbados bombing. The US Attorney emphasized one particular terrorist act: “In October 1976, Bosch was arrested in Venezuela in relation with the bombing committed against a Cuban civilian airliner on October 6, 1976, which killed 73 men, women and children aboard.” Nevertheless, Bosch was admitted to the U.S. at the behest of the Bush administration, where he lived and plotted until his death a couple of years ago.

Canada is a signator of the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. Yet successive federal governments have failed to support the credible and legitimate demand of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, backed by Trinidad, Barbados and Cuba, to the United States to extradite Luis Posada Carriles for terrorist crimes committed in their sovereign countries, specifically bombing the Cuban aircraft in October, 1976 and the Havana hotels in 1997, which included the murder of Fabio di Celmo, a resident of Montreal, Canada, who was visiting Cuba with his father. The collusion of the Chretien Liberals consisted of whitewashing the latter’s murder by feigning that the innocent victim was technically an Italian national, and hence of no concern to the Government of Canada. The Trudeau Liberals declared the destruction of the Cubana Flight / Air Canada DC 8 455 in 1976 business as usual, satisfied with collecting the insurance on the loss of property of Air Canada, then a crown corporation. The Harper government is no less an abettor and promoter of international terrorism than U.S. imperialism.

The “war on terror” of the U.S. and Canadian governments is so disingenuous that they shelter and reward the terrorists they prefer, while accusing others of the crimes they commit. Earlier this year, acting as judge and jury, the Obama, Harper and allied regimes launched a hysterical offensive without any evidence to indict the Russian Federation and its president as part of their warmongering, that allegedly it was responsible directly or indirectly for the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on July 17, 2014 over the war zone in Eastern Ukraine. 

The central assumption is that the United States alone is the single state in the world that does not kill innocent civilians, is not at war with anyone, answers to a higher law above international law and the United Nations, and hence has the moral authority to accuse everyone else of criminal activity. Any people such as the Cubans or Ukrainians or Palestinians who resist this authority are “terrorists” and the agents of a foreign power or constitute an “illegitimate” government as with the Syrian Arab Republic to be overthrown. But this disinformation remains silent on the criminal record of the US in destroying civil airliners and even heaping the highest honours on those who pull the trigger, as it did with those who shot the missiles on July 3, 1988 that downed Iran-Air flight 655 inside Iranian territory, killing 290 defenceless passengers and crew. Two years later George Bush, by this time president, awarded both the Commander and the officer in charge of anti-air warfare of theUSS Vincennes with the Legion of Merit for the “calm and professional atmosphere” under their command during the period of the destruction of the Iranian airliner.

The Bush and Obama administration’s policies at home and abroad have woken a sleeping and silent giant throughout this continent. And, yes: America is one continent and not two as some U.S. textbooks would have us believe.

Tony Seed is an award-winning journalist who use to work for the Toronto-based Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail. He runs the blog Tony Seed’s Weblog.

Re-examining Global Warming: Global Chilling vs. Warming

October 8th, 2014 by Prof. Johan Galtung

“Trees won’t save the planet” is the title of an article in INYT (21-22 Sep 2014) by Nadine Unger, professor of atmospheric chemistry at Yale University. Her thesis: The conventional wisdom–that planting trees serves carbon capture–is wrong; it is all much more complex.

Photosynthesis is only one factor. Another factor for global warming is how much of the solar energy is absorbed by the earth’s surface and how much is reflected. Trees, being dark, absorb; the net balance may be chilling in the tropics and warming elsewhere.

But there is more to it. Trees emit VOCs, “volatile organic compounds”, for their own protection. Mixing with pollution from cars and industry “an even more harmful cocktail of airborne toxic chemicals is created”, producing methane and ozone. Research at Yale seems to indicate that this affects global climate on a scale similar to surface color and carbon storage capacity.”

Trees and soil also breathe oxygen and release CO2. The Amazon forest produces oxygen during the day and reabsorbs at night; a closed system. Moreover, eventually trees die or burn and “the carbons finds its way back into the atmosphere”.

The old story. Search for one factor causing an evil–like CO2 causing global warming–and act to remove that one cause; the present mainstream dogma. But research points at many other factors involved and they may all be ambiguous. Yin-yang in other words, forces and counter-forces, and holism, expanded visions. A daoist vision.

So let us move East, to a retired professor of natural resources at Nagoya University in Japan, Kunihiko Takeda. And to professor in geophysics Shigenori Murayama at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who has very similar views (Google both of them.) Summers will be hotter, winters colder. Net balance?

Some key points from Takeda[i]:

  1. Meteorologists tend to predict global warming, geophysicists global chilling; the meteorologists may have dominated the discourse.
  2. Thermometer readings are from 1880, for a long time in advanced countries and urban areas only; this may have biased the conclusions.
  3. Urban areas absorb more heat from the sun due to concrete and waste, also from cars-industry; level of urbanization a key factor.
  4. Climate change as warming was 0.3C in the past 100 years, on the average, attributable largely to urbanization; not to CO2 alone.
  5. Warming of the land and the ocean will heat the atmosphere; warming of the atmosphere has little effect on the ocean.
  6. Urban-rural gap is increasing–Nagoya, Naha (Okinawa), Singapore up to 38, 34, 32C; Japan, surrounded by sea, on the average, not.
  7. Waste recycling-garbage sorting mostly irrelevant, only at most 2% recycled; polyester eco-shopping bags consume more resources.
  8. The 1988 hypothesis of global warming due to CO2 was disproved in 2009: South pole ice increasing, North pole not decreasing[ii].
  9. CO2 is essential for life; lack of CO2 may be the end of life, also human; reducing the emission may accelerate the ending of life.
  10. Heating good for humans who fit well with warm climates, also good for rice production and food in general.
  11. Global chilling is the problem because it becomes more difficult to survive, lower food production, humans less adaptable.
  12. The water level may go up 6 meters in 3,000 years; better focus on the concrete problems like flooding of very low islands today.
  13. Be aware of vested interests behind Club of Rome and others in shifting the discourse from domestic-global society to environment.
  14. Be aware that the West wants energy resources for business and military and tries to control the CO2 emissions of China and India.
  15. Be aware that there is much money in the mainstream approach and in the IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; also that scientists may go where the money is located.
  16. Be aware that some data may even be false, faked or at least questionable–Climategate.
  17. Be aware of the vested interests of eco-business and the eco-movements in the CO2 hypothesis and the recycling hypotheses.

This author is not in a position to take a stand for or against the CO2 hypothesis, or what is better for life, warming or chilling relative to the present level. The position taken here is in favor of more complex and particularly more dialectic views: there may be more to it, action generates re-action. For views in favor of the mainstream see http://www.realclimate.org, for skeptics seehttp://www.sepp.org.

Maybe Takeda underestimates the dangers of warming. But a striking point in his analysis is the role attributed to urbanization. Or concretization, covering soil with concrete, settling on top of it in huge mega-congregations with waste as lifestyle.

De-urbanization would be a consequence of Takeda’s points. Some of this may be happening in some places; people moving into smaller, more village-like communities, decentralization of administration made possible by the Internet. Leaving more to nature’s wisdom than to the human lack thereof, and particularly to the market’s lack thereof.

In 1972 when “limits to growth” became mainstreamed, I warned against the missing class perspective within and between countries[iii].   Nothing new about depletion and pollution. The West had been depleting resources of the colonies for ages, and working-class districts had always been polluted. Novelty was middle and upper classes in middle and upper countries being hit. Like wars not hitting only women, children and periphery countries, but right at the center of the Center, the West.

Conclusion: re-search, re-think, re-act; not one factor, CO2, and one problem, warming. There is more in the world. Move forward with good, proven examples, not with a “multilateral consensus” reflecting power structures and vested interests more than a complex reality.

Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies and sociology. He is the rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University. 

NOTES:

[i]. I am indebted to Fumiko Nishimura for making this available from Japanese.

[ii]. This author has been skeptical because of the absence of confirming laboratory simulations like the simulation of the aurora borealis, the northern lights.

[iii]  “Limits to Growth” and class politics, JPR, X (1973), 1/2, pp. 101-114. Also in: Essays in Peace Research V, pp. 316-333.

 

The World Peace Forum Society’s  7th Annual Teach-In

Date: Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Location: Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre – 515 West Hastings.

Registration will start at 8:30 am,  the first plenary will begin at 9:00 am,  the last will end at 6:00 pm. Over the course of the day there will be three plenary sessions and three sets of workshop sessions.

To access the event poster, please click here: WPF Workshops at Simon Fraser University (2014)

The plenary sessions are:

  • Déjà vu - How WWI Is used to justify imperialism today- Ingo Schmidt
  • Two Big Boys - NATO: The Cops of the World (Mahdi Nazemroaya); and China: Number Two and Trying Harder (Minqi Li)
  • Fortune Telling - Thoughts on the Coming Years with Minqi Li, Marta Harnecker, Mahdi Nazemroaya

Workshops

Three series of four simultaneous workshops, arranged thematically:

 Imperialism

  • China: Left or Right?
  • NATO Pushes East- What does the Ukraine Represent?
  • Latin America – Alternative or Partner?
  • South Africa – Neoliberalism with a Human Face?

Resistance

  • The Chinese Labour Movement Today- and a report back from BC Fed visit to China
  • Euro-critics – Left AND Right
  • Health, Housing and Education- Defending the Right to Live
  • Arab Spring- What Season Are We In?

Alternatives

  • The Rise of the Working Class in China
  • Fundamentalists of All Countries Unite – The Reappearance of Everything Old
  • Bolivarian Revolution and ALBA at 10 Years
  • O Canada! Strategies for Change- A panel of activists from the electoral and extra-electoral movements for social change

Keynote Speakers

  • Ingo Schmidt - Academic Coordinator of Labour Studies in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies at Athabasca University.
  • Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization and Canadian sociologist.
  • Minqi Li – Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Utah and Chinese political economist.
  • Marta Harnecker – Director of Memoria Popular Latinoamerica (MEPLA) and Chilean sociologist.

To access the event poster, please click here: WPF Workshops at Simon Fraser University (2014)

ISIL: From Decapitation to Islamophobia

October 8th, 2014 by Dr. Ismail Salami

With the ISIL terrorists mounting more gory adventurism in Syria and Iraq and capturing villages and towns, there seems to be no tangible impediment to stop this influx of terror.

The ghastly images circulated freely by the cult on the internet from beheading to crucifying their victims in cold blood have incensed the international community on the one hand but on the other hand, they have regrettably conduced to Islamophobia, a plan long funded by the officials in Washington.

The root causes of the ISIL cult are not hard to imagine and there are times that those involved in the creation and financing of the cult unwittingly engage in a blame game.

A recent instance of this blame game happened on October 2, when US Vice President Joe Biden made one of his off-the-cuff remarks at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, saying that the Turks, Saudis and UAE “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons against anyone who would fight Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist element of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Unsurprisingly, his remarks drew swift condemnation from Washington’s regional allies who took a swipe at Biden’s ‘untoward’ statements. Among those licking their wounds was Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who fumed that, “Biden will be history to me if he has used such expressions.” After all, Biden later apologized to Turkey and UAE.

On October 4, Biden delivered his personal apology to President Erdogan on the telephone and the White House issued a statement to the effect that Biden did not mean to say that Turkey “intentionally” facilitated terrorists.

The world’s richest terrorist organization, ISIL has been funded by Qatar, Kuwait plus the countries mentioned by Mr. Biden.

According to a report published by the Brookings Institute titled “Playing with Fire”, Kuwaiti private donors “began their operations in Syria under a previous 2002 law that did not criminalize terrorist financing and left authorities with few tools to combat potentially troubling financial activity. Nonetheless concerned about the threat of radicalization in their own country, Kuwaiti officials insisted before the new law was implemented that they had been monitoring the situation closely.”

Former US Navy Admiral and NATO Supreme Commander James Stavridis says the cash flow from private donors is significant now and was even more significant in the early fund-raising done by ISIS and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusrah Front.

“These rich Arabs are like what ‘angel investors’ are to tech start-ups, except they are interested in starting up groups who want to stir up hatred,” said Stavridis, now the dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University. “Groups like al-Nusrah and ISIS are better investments for them. The individuals act as high rollers early, providing seed money. Once the groups are on their feet, they are perfectly capable of raising funds through other means, like kidnapping, oil smuggling, selling women into slavery, etc.”

Sources which point with all force to the very agents supporting and financing ISIL are legion but what seems to complicate the issue is why they should engage in such a precarious enterprise which will eventually recoil upon those who initially fermented the crisis.

It is somewhat naïve to think that the ISIL was brought into existence with the intention of overthrowing the regime of Assad and that the creators of this horror were oblivious of the inhumane dimensions it could assume.

Thanks to the abominable efforts of the Arab puppet regimes, Islam is being depicted as a violent religion, Islamophobia is escalating and the Muslims are gradually bearing the brunt of what ISIL has done and is doing.

France, which is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, is becoming less and less tolerant towards the Muslims.

France’s new Minister of Education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who happens to be a Muslim was targeted by a French far-right magazine, Minute. “I call for respect,” Belkacem told the Associated Press in an email, adding, “I repeat in particular that racism is not an opinion, but a crime.”

There has been an alarming rise in Islamophobia in recent months. According to a BBC report, hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 65 percent in the last 12 months.

Hijacking the name of Islam, ISIL is tarnishing the image of Islam and through perpetrating every thinkable and unthinkable atrocity, they are treading in a path most appealing to the West and the West, for its part, is furtively and consciously weaving a sham narrative on Islam in the world.

The long way the West has been seeking to traverse in order to tarnish the image of the religion of peace is being cut short by the bloodbath unleashed by the ISIL cult. The West is silently supporting the cult in spite of all their pretentious facades in combating the ISIL.

Now is the time for the Muslim community to reveal to the world that the terrorist cult has nothing to do with Islam and that they are a band of terrorists begotten by the West and funded by the regional Wahhabi regimes as part of the Islamophobic legacy of the former and the imperialist ambitions of the latter.

Israel’s Occupation is More Complex than a Genocide

October 8th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook

Israeli officials were caught in a revealing lie late last month as the country celebrated the Jewish New Year. Shortly after declaring the most popular boy’s name in Israel to be “Yosef”, the interior ministry was forced to concede that the top slot was actually filled by “Mohammed.”

That small deceit coincided with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the United Nations. He outraged Israelis by referring to Israel’s slaughter of more than 2,100 Palestinians – most of them civilians – in Gaza over the summer as “genocide.”

Both incidents served as a reminder of the tremendous power of a single word.

Most Israelis are barely able to contemplate the possibility that their Jewish state could be producing more Mohammeds than Moshes. At the same time, and paradoxically, Israel can point to the sheer number of “Mohammeds” to demonstrate that at worst it is eradicating the visibility of a Muslim name, certainly not its bearers.

As distressing as it is, hundreds of dead in Gaza is far from the industrial-scale murder of the Nazi Holocaust.

But the idea that Israel is committing genocide may not be quite as hyperbolic as is assumed. Last month a “jury” featuring international law experts at a people’s court, known as the Russell Tribunal, into Israel’s recent attack on Gaza concluded that Israel was guilty of “incitement to genocide.” The panel argued that Israel’s long-term collective punishment of Palestinians was designed to “inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group”.

The tribunal’s language intentionally echoed that of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew and lawyer who after fleeing Nazi Europe succeeded in introducing the term “genocide” into international law.

Lemkin and the UN convention’s drafters understood that genocide did not require death camps; it could also be achieved gradually through intentional and systematic abuse and neglect. Their definition raises troubling questions about Israel’s treatment of Gaza, aside from military attacks. Does, for example, forcing the enclave’s two million inhabitants to depend on acquifers polluted with seawater constitute genocide?

The real problem with Mr Abbas’s use of the term – given that it conflicts with popular notions of genocide – is that it made him an easy target for critics. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the Palestinian leader of “incitement.” The Israeli left, meanwhile, decried his wild and unhelpful exaggeration.

But the critics themselves have contributed more heat than light.

Not only do experts like Richard Falk and John Dugard view Israel’s actions in genocide-like terms, but notable Israeli scholars have done so too. The late Baruch Kimmerling invented a word, “politicide,” to convey more safely the idea of an Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

Israel has nonetheless successfully ring-fenced itself from the critical lexicon applied to comparable situations around the globe.

In conflicts where a mass expulsion of an ethnic or national group occurs, it is rightly identified as ethnic cleansing. In Israel’s case, however, respectable historians still equivocate over the events of 1948, even though more than 80 per cent of Palestinians were forced out by Israel as it established a Jewish state on their homeland.

Similarly with “apartheid.” For decades anyone who used the word about Israel was dismissed as an extremist or anti-Semite. Only in the last few years – and chiefly because of former US president Jimmy Carter – has the word gained a tentative foothold.

Even then, its main use is as a warning rather than a description of Israel’s behaviour: diehard adherents of two states aver that Israel is in danger of becoming an apartheid state at some indefinable moment if it does not separate from the Palestinians.

Instead, we are told to suffice with the label “occupation”. But that implies a temporary state of affairs, a transition before normality is restored – precisely the opposite of what is happening in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, where the occupation is entrenching, morphing and metastasising.

Those guarding the critical lexicon strip us of a terminology to convey the appalling reality faced by Palestinians, not just as individuals but as a national group. In truth, Israel’s strategy incorporates variants of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and genocide.

Observers, including the European Union, concede that Israel continues with incremental ethnic cleansing – though they prefer the more obscure “forcible transfer” – of Palestinians from so-called Area C, nearly two-thirds of the West Bank.

Israel has mastered, too, a sophisticated apartheid – partly veiled by its avoidance of the more visual aspects of segregation associated with South Africa – that grabs resources, just like its famous cousin, for one ethnic-national group, Jews, at the expense of another, Palestinians.

But unlike South African apartheid, whose fixed legal and institutional systems of separation gradually became torpid and unwieldy, Israel’s remains dynamic and responsive. Few observers know, for example, that almost all residential land in Israel is off-limits to Palestinian citizens, enforced through vetting committees recently given sanction by the Israeli courts.

And what to make of a plan just disclosed by the Israeli media indicating that Mr Netanyahu and his allies have been secretly plotting to force many Palestinians into Sinai, with the US arm-twisting the Egyptians into agreement? If true, the bombing campaigns of the past six years may be better understood as softening-up operations before a mass expulsion from Gaza.

Such a policy would certainly satisfy Lemkin’s definition of genocide.

One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. Sadly, by then it may be too late to help the Palestinians.

With the “Occupy Central” protests in Hong Kong still ongoing, the movement’s leadership has been exposed as completely backed, funded, and directed by foreign interests, particularly those of the US State Department through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its subsidiary the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

At the core of “Occupy Central’s” demands, as articulated by co-organizer Martin Lee during his trip to Washington D.C. with Anson Chan earlier this year, is the belief that Beijing should honor the demands made by parting British occupiers who held Hong Kong territory for nearly a century and a half. This includes the “one nation, two systems” approach that the US and British hope will allow Hong Kong to be used to “infect” mainland China with a Western controlled political orders and institutions.

“Occupy Central” insists that they simply want “universal suffrage” and “total democracy” instead of allowing Beijing to approve who can and cannot run in elections to be held in 2017. This implies that the alternative to Beijing’s arrangements would be “free and fair” elections. In reality this simply is not the case. In reality, instead of Beijing putting up candidates for Hong Kong’s elections, the next most influential political backers would vet and put forward candidates – not the Hong Kong people -but rather those foreign interests in Washington, upon Wall Street, and in the City of London who are currently backing “Occupy Central” and many of the leaders who would contest upcoming elections.

The notion of “free and fair elections” is one of absolute naivety. Former Berkeley labor activist Michael Pirsch now residing in Thailand shared his thoughts on what he sees as somewhat hypocritical or perhaps misguided thinking among “Occupy Central’s” genuine followers – misconceptions “Occupy Central’s” US-backed leadership is all too happy to exploit.

Pirsch first points out the ultimate problem with the US backing political movements in foreign countries, stating:

Are there any foreign countries promoting democracy and human rights inside America? There are none, it is not allowed. However, America, through the National Endowment for Democracy disburses millions of dollars in countries in order to effect regime change to a regime much friendlier to America’s policy goals of controlling the planet.

Pirsch then compares Beijing’s policy of vetting candidates for Hong Kong’s elections to the US primaries, in which big-business ultimately decides who can and cannot run because of the immense financial means required to stand in an election:

It seems to me, to borrow from Noam Chomsky, China is run by “criminal communists” and America is run by “corporate criminals”. In America we have the hidden (financial) primary. where potential candidates demonstrate their ability to attract millions or hundreds of millions for campaigns ranging from local level to national level. If the candidate is unable to attract shiploads of dollars their candidacy is not viable. Nearly all this money comes from the “criminal capitalists”. We are allowed to choose from only those who swear to protect the financial criminals.

In Hong Kong, the system is much the same, except that it is the “criminal communists” who choose the candidates. Both systems provide the same outcome: there is no benefit to the citizens of either Hong Kong or America.

Ultimately, Beijing’s style of “democracy” is no different than the US-style “democracy” “Occupy Central” protesters are rallying for. Of course, Pirsch is only scratching the surface. Support for US candidates, and in fact the functioning of the whole electoral process also hinges on how that process is presented to the public through the media. The media, just like the American primaries, are tightly controlled by advertisers and sometimes directly by corporate-financier interests themselves – just as Martin Lee and Anson Chan complained was the case in China in regards to Beijing’s control over the political process there.


The Solution is Pragmatic, Not Political 

Indeed, at the end of the day, the only choice Hong Kong seems to have at the moment is a political process manipulated and controlled by foreign interests upon Wall Street and in London, or by Beijing in China. The fallacy of believing “democracy” can bring about progress or power to the people is laid bare by these two relatively lacking choices.

Image: Believe it or not, growing your own food or visiting your local farmers’ market is more revolutionary and constructive than burning down your own city and killing security forces. Real progress stems from pragmatism, not politics. 

The problem ultimately is large monopolies of corporate-financier and political power, be they of a Western nature or of Chinese origin. The solution is not participating in political rackets meant to give the illusion of self-determination, but to diminish and decentralize those monopolies pragmatically and locally so that people can better determine their own lives by directly controlling the infrastructure necessary for modern, peaceful, and prosperous lives.

Monopolies must begin being dismantled globally, regionally, nationally, provincially, and finally locally. For the people of Hong Kong, then, their next move is simple – expose and oppose the global monopolies that seek to co-opt their destiny via their agents leading the “Occupy Central” movement today. Then they can begin dealing with their national problem in Beijing tomorrow – and do so constructively and pragmatically – not divisively and politically.

China, or any other nation for that matter, to move forward pragmatically and progressively, must possess an educated, technically competent, pragmatic population that believes in evolution, rather than city-burning “revolution.” The process of devolving power away from massive monopolies of corporate-financier and/or political power can take the form of an orderly transition, leveraging modern technology and innovative solutions to begin building up local infrastructure as massive monopolies are slowly diminished. It need not manifest itself in protests, referendums, or any other process of selecting representatives to implement solutions the people themselves are more than capable of organizing and executing.

The “Occupy Central” protesters would serve Hong Kong best if they abandoned their clearly compromised, exploitative leadership, their disruptive tactics, and instead set up direct action committees that pursued pragmatic community projects to improve education, infrastructure, business, health, and environmental concerns.

The EU’s chief criminal intelligence agency warms that the threat of “online murder” is set to rise, with cyber criminals increasingly targeting victims with internet technology.

The European Police Office (Europol) said governments are ill-equipped to counter the menace of “injury and possible deaths” spurred by hacking attacks on critical safety equipment, the UK Independent reported Sunday.

Security experts called for a paradigm shift in forensic science which would react to the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE) – the dawning era of technological interconnectedness where increasingly more human activity is mediated through computer networks.

“The IoE represents a whole new attack vector that we believe criminals will already be looking for ways to exploit,” according to the Europol threat assessment.

“The IoE is inevitable. We must expect a rapidly growing number of devices to be rendered ‘smart’ and thence to become interconnected. Unfortunately, we feel that it is equally inevitable that many of these devices will leave vulnerabilities via which access to networks can be gained by criminals.”

Death online

In a world of smart cars, homes and even cities, the risk of hacking and cracking attacks will only increase as tens of billions of devices are expected to be accessible remotely in the coming decades. It’s feared the attacks will not only be launched for financial gain, but also to inflict personal harm.

Citing a December 2013 report by US security firm IID, the Europol threat assessment warned of the first murder via “hacked internet-connected device” by the end of 2014.

The idea was widely popularized by the US spy drama Homeland, in which terrorists hacked into the pacemaker of Vice-President Walden, sending him into cardiac arrest. In the real world, a team of computer security researchers managed to gain wireless access to a combination heart defibrillator and pacemaker as far back as 2008.

At the time, the experiment required more than $30,000 worth of lab equipment and a sustained effort by a team of specialists from the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts to interpret the data gathered from the implant’s signals, the New York Times reported.

The risk, however, did not escape real-life former US Vice-President Dick Cheney, who admitted in October 2013 he harbored the exact same fear.

“I was aware of the danger that existed,” Cheney said. “I knew from the experience we’d had the necessity for adjusting my own device [pacemaker] that it [Homeland] was an accurate portrayal.”

Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney (Reuters / Olivia Harris)Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney (Reuters / Olivia Harris)

In Cheney’s case, doctors opted to turn off the remote function in Cheney’s pacemaker back in 2007.

Conspiracy theories have also surrounded the death of Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a high-speed car crash on June 18, 2013.

Former US National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke said that based on the available information, the crash was consistent with a car cyber-attack.”

“There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers – including the United States – know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber-attack on [Hastings'] car – and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”

American journalist Michael Hastings reports from the Obama campaign trail the day before the general election November 5, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)American journalist Michael Hastings reports from the Obama campaign trail the day before the general election November 5, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)

Hastings, incidentally, was a vociferous critic of the US surveillance state. Just hours before his death, he sent an email to his colleagues warning of an FBI investigation and that he needed to “go off the rada[r]” for a bit.

That same month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pressured the healthcare industry to seal up vulnerabilities in Internet-connected medical devices like pacemakers, “which could be hacked to send out lethal jolts of electricity, or insulin pumps, which can be reprogrammed to administer overdoses,” the IID report said.

In another twist seemingly out of Hollywood, 35-year-old New Zealand hacker, programmer and computer security expert Barnaby Jack died in July 2013, just a week before he was to give a presentation on hacking heart implants at a computer security conference. Despite rumblings on the internet, Jack had already demonstrated this type of “anonymous assassination” by reverse-engineering a pacemaker transmitter that could deliver deadly electric shocks, the Daily Beast reported.

Barnaby Jack (Image from facebook.com)Barnaby Jack (Image from facebook.com)

Jack had done extensive research into the potential of exploiting medical devices including pacemakers and insulin pumps, prompting the FDA to change regulations regarding wireless medical devices in 2012.

Meanwhile, the latest cybersecurity threat assessment is the product of the 2015 Europol-INTERPOL cybercrime conference, which concluded at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague on Friday.

The three-day conference brought together some 230 specialists from law enforcement, the private sector and academia “to review current trends and new modus operandi used by organized crime networks.”

The conference named prevention, information exchange, investigation and capacity building as the four core elements needed to combat cybercrime.

Rwanda’s Untold Story: Who Was Behind the Genocide?

October 8th, 2014 by Prof Peter Erlinder

Early reviews and reactions on social media, indicate that the BBC documentary “Rwanda’s Untold Story” is changing the long-established “Rwanda genocide narrative” carefully crafted by the victors in the 4-year war for power in Rwanda, with assistance from U.S. and UK allies.

As the U.K. Daily Telegraph’s critic Gerard O’Donovan observed in his four-out-of-five stars review:  “Interviewing academics, survivors and former henchmen of Kagame, Corbin embarked on a forensic deconstruction of the official history of the genocide (which puts the blame entirely on the Hutus). Studies by two American researchers suggested that hundreds of thousands of Hutus could have been killed too, possibly by RPF forces. A UN report expressing similar concerns had allegedly been suppressed. Belgian historian Prof Filip Reyntjens suggested that Kagame could be one of the ‘most important war criminals still in office today’”.

Reporter Jane Corbin and Producer John Conroy reveal, through documentary evidence and first-hand accounts, that the Clinton and Blair administrations began covering-up Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s role in the April 6, 1994 presidential assassinations of Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntayarmira that triggered Rwanda’s Genocide, almost immediately.

This U.S. and UK-sponsored impunity for Kagame’s and the RPF’s crimes in Rwanda and Congo from 1993 to the present, for “genocides in plain sight,” reported in UN and State Department documents, have cost more than 5 million lives. In Rwanda, a brutal dictatorship reigns at gunpoint.

In the BBC documentary, “Rwanda’s Untold Story”, interviews with the former UN officials; former RPF officials; and contemporaneous documents make out a compelling case that the evidence of Kagame’s culpability for the assassination of Habyarimana and Ntayarmira has long been in the hands of the UN Prosecutor:

·        Former Chief Prosecutor del Ponte in this documentary confirms she had the evidence to prosecute Paul Kagame and his RPF military for the assassinations and war crimes as early as 2002, but was removed from her UN office by the U.S. and UK in 2003 when she tried;

·        Former FBI Special Agent James Lyons explained that he was a member of the elite UN investigative team in early 1997 that recommended then-Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour prosecute Kagame for the assassinations and other war crimes, Arbour fired the investigative team including Lyons;

·        Col. Marchal, second-in-command to Gen. Dallaire in the UN Mission to Rwanda, explained how the assassination of President Habyarimana was part of the military strategy of the aggressive and militarily superior RPF army to de-stabilize the defending Habyarimana forces; and,

·        RPF Lt. Ruyenzi, formerly of Kagame’s personal Headquarters detail now in exile, explained Kagame’s elated reactions with other military leaders on the night of the assassination, when the orders for the final assault for power were given.

·        The September 1994 Memo to President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Warren Christopher confirms the Clinton Whitehouse was informed of mass RPF crimes two months before the U.S. voted to establish the UN Tribunal for Rwanda.

·        Former Chief of Staff Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, another former Chief of Staff admitted to his role in the conspiracy to assassinate Habyarimana, as described in Indictments issued by French and Spanish Judges.

·         Another former Chief of Staff, Dr. Theogene Rudesingwa admitted to his role in the cover-up in a voice-over while the visual showed his meetings with President Clinton during Rudesingwa’s term as Rwandan Ambassador to the U.S.

The one-hour documentary: “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” that aired on Oct. 1, 2014 is the first mainstream media telling of the narrative that was revealed in documentary evidence at the UN International Tribunal for Rwanda as early as 2007, and in public statements to the UN Security Council by Carla del Ponte in 2002 before she was removed from office.

The narrative heard by the UN Tribunal, supported by UN and USG documentary evidence, describes the RPF as the military aggressor that intentionally triggered mass violence as a military strategy, using the same scenario that occurred after Burundi’s President was assassinated in October 1993 when some 200,000 Hutu peasants were massacred by the Burundian army which was Tutsi-controlled.

The evidence before the UN Tribunal for Rwanda resulted in the entire military-political leadership of the defeated government of Juvenal Habyarimana being acquitted of long-term planning or conspiracy to commit genocide, or other war crimes, against civilian Tutsis prior to mass violence breaking out in reaction to the assassinations of the two presidents on April 6, 1994.

The narrative of “Rwanda’s Untold Story” reflects the central facts of “the Rwanda genocide” narrative first described, in court, as the “alternative description of the mass violence that swept Rwanda” in the November 2007 Ntabakuze Defense ICTR Trial Brief. The alternative narrative resulted in the acquittals of the Military-1 defendants on all charges of “conspiracy and planning to commit genocide” in December 2008.

Thiery Cruvalier, writing in The International Justice Tribune in December 2011, when the UN Appeal Chamber agreed that the supposed “architect of Rwanda’s genocide” Col. Theoneste Bagosora and his three co-defendants, committed no crimes before Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, said the Rwanda genocide was “Brainless” because there was no evidence it was planned, or the result of a conspiracy.

By December 2013, the Appeal Chamber had upheld these acquittals as did the Trial Chambers in the Military-2 and Government-1 and 2 trials.

This is also the point of my 2013 book, “The Accidental Genocide,” which relies on original UN and United States Government (USG) documents, to describe the “logic” of the four-years of war given the imbalance of forces created by the RPF becoming the major military power in the region between January 1991 and January 1993 while in the Virunga Mountains in Uganda.

The RPF grew by ten-fold in the number of troops under arms and was transformed from a defeated conventional army of “NRA Ugandan-Rwandan deserters” to a highly effective light infantry capable of seizing power, according to Gen. Dallaire in his Reconn. Report  to the UN Security Council in September 1993. This rapid transformation in two years on Ugandan territory required nation-state sponsorship. Then as now, the UK is Uganda’s largest donor and its Ministry of Defense (MOD) a major supplier.

In “Rwanda’s Untold Story,” interviews with U.S. academics, Dr. Allan Stam and Dr. Christian Davenport of the U. of Michigan and former ICTR Prosecution experts shed light on the RPF government’s claims that 300,000 Tutsi remained in Rwanda after the genocide. Census and UN figures show 500,000 were present before the genocide. If, there were “1,000,000 victims” as the world has been told in the popular account, the vast majority of those killed must have been Hutus, or the size of the tragedy must have been more in keeping with the “Burundi genocide” of October 1993 in which some 200,000 to 300,000 Hutu peasants were killed by the Burundian Tutsi-controlled and dominated military. In any case, a very large number of Hutu-victims must be included in “the victims of the genocide” as these experts and the documentary show.

However, in Rwanda such a suggestion is a crime that resulted in 2010 Rwandan Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire being sentenced to 17 years in prison for asking where can “the memorials to Hutu victims” be found?  The “Rwanda genocide” is now called the “Genocide against the Tutsi” and all Hutu are required to accept their collective guilt for crimes committed against the Tutsi, when in fact all could not have been involved.  All of which give lie to the claim by the RPF government that “there are no ethnicities in Rwanda, anymore.”  Ethnic discrimination is hardwired into Rwandan society through the mechanism of collective guilt and punishment.

Some commentators have expressed amazement that, despite the shocking nature of these revelations there is very little that is “new” in the BBC documentary. Most of the sources and documentary evidence has been available for years and has been hiding in plain sight.

Much of it can be found in the records of the UN Tribunal for Rwanda, although this database has been made virtually impenetrable for the untrained.

The BBC has “broken the spell” of organized denial regarding the role of Paul Kagame and his U.S. and UK allies in sponsoring and covering-up their own role in the Rwanda genocide, and the resulting 20-years of massive human misery in central Africa.

It’s time for other mainstream media to experience a similar awakening from quiescent slumber that permits monstrous crimes of U.S.-supported criminals to continue unchecked by public opinion, much less the rule of law.

Erlinder is Director, International Humanitarian Law Institute, St. Paul, MN; past-President of the National Lawyers Guild, NY, NY; past-President of UN-ICTR Association des Avocats de la Defense, Arusha, Tanzania; Professor of Law (ret.) Wm. Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN.

“The Tories’ major announcement was to scrap the Human Rights Act, because, and I quote, ‘people get very frustrated with human rights.’”

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrats President, The Guardian, Oct 7, 2014

Political positions were only ever the designations of seating arrangements.  Left and Right distinctions have as much to do with actual political differences as they do with furniture – witness the 1789 arrangements of the National Assembly. Occasionally, such positions fall to the way side, or at the very least, become peculiarly artificial. The Human Rights Act in the UK has been one of those grand British contradictions, typical in a society thrilled with rights as a matter of “values”, but suspicious about their suggestive nannyism.  Be free, but be suspicious when told about where you went wrong about protecting them.

The Tory party are, in that sense, typically confused about where to place such rights. Paradoxically, they batter and pound for the platform that liberties are meant to be protected – at least when it comes to some of them.  But liberties are one thing – once they assume the proper form of genuine rights, the sort one can actually claim (lawyers term these “claim rights”) the water of discussion gets somewhat murkier.  Liberty talk is always deemed more attractive than that of rights.  When the purse gets involved, the conservatives will run.

The Human Rights Act (1998) is deemed insidious in a range of ways.  It supposedly clips sovereignty by slipping European law into the lives of British citizens. It stands guard over British officials.  For that reason, the British conservatives are advocating the British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities as both counter strike and replacement.  The response is characteristically piecemeal, so much so that the anti-EU UK Independence Party have deemed the proposal by David Cameron’s party worthless.  Labour and the Lib Dems take more traditional views on this – a pure political agenda is at work.

The Tories point is to place Britain in an exceptional category – for them, it is the Rolls Royce of human rights reform and innovation.  This is done while placing the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 in its historical place.  The enemy in this enterprise of reform is the European Court of Human Rights, a creature of judicial unsoundness which is suffering from “mission creep” (such is the curse of military operational language.)

In taking such a stance, the Tory statement is placing the European Convention in the zoo of legal paraphernalia, distant and hopefully irrelevant.  “It was agreed in the shadow of Nazism, at a time when Stalin was still in power in the Soviet Union and when people were still being sent to the gulags without trial.”[1]

Such wording sets the scene for a rather crude, and frightened, form of originalism – reading the charter in a virginal state that has bucked evolution over the years.  Such documents, in terms of intention, are read at the creation, rather than in the current point of history.  When the drafters of the charter came together, claim the writers of the Tory manifesto, they did not contemplate various “voting rights for prisoners”. Nor was artificial insemination for prisoners and their partners something that the drafters had in mind (oh, how unimaginative they must have been.)

The Tories are now arranging the legal furniture for 2015, assuming that they will retain power (without the Liberal Democrats) and be rid of the turbulent priest that is the European justice system.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has been claiming that there should be no “legal blank cheque to take human rights into areas where they have never applied”, a fascinatingly restricted view on rights if ever there was one.[2]

It is then with some irony that the conservative approach to human rights, once established, is not that they stay in unmodified stone, but evolve in the matter befitting society.  Evolution, in other words, is appropriate as long as it is parochial.  All is fine if Britain does it.  Conservatives, after all that jostling, like nothing more than to mould and adjust the way a human right is applied.  The point to stress here is that it is always being done for the public good.  “Over the past 20 years, there have been significant developments which have undermined public confidence in the human rights framework in the UK, and which make change necessary today.”

The leap of eccentricity occurs when rights become situational – a matter of interpretation for the country in question.  This is the classic contradiction – things change, but things must stay the same.  By all means, “fundamental human rights is as important as ever.”  But the logic of this, then, is not to have a meddlesome supra national entity seeking to place their judicial paws on the Sceptred Isle, with its own brand of rights to uphold and parade. “That is why we must put Britain first, taking action to reform the human rights laws in the UK, so they are credible, just and command public support.”

Not all will be comfortable with Cameron’s stance.  The Daily Mirror has made a good fist of attempting to justify the rewards of the Human Rights Act over the years.[3]  It points out, as Lib Dem President Tim Farron has, that no one less than the conservative deity, Winston Churchill, saw scope for the European Convention.[4]

The rights of such people as Gary McKinnon, UFO fantasist and hacker of US government computers, were protected because the legislation prohibits “degrading treatment or punishment”.  The right to have children is preserved, as is that of preventing families from being separated.  Victims of domestic violence fall under its protective umbrella.  And it has been used as a weapon against the surveillance community.

Removing the act will not simply be an excuse for political restructuring – it will be an announcement that rights are purely subordinate entities, lying at the mercy of state discretion.  This will not worry those negotiators, who are already sharpening their implements.  Should there be “anything in that relationship [with the EU] which encroaches upon our new human rights framework, then that is something […] for us to address as part of the renegotiation.”[5]

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

Is the “Conventional Wisdom” All Wrong?

The New York Times reported in 2000:

The Ebola virus, which has caused deaths from high fever and bleeding in African outbreaks, can also infect without producing illness, according to a new finding by African and European scientists.

The possibility of asymptomatic infection was only suggested in earlier studies, they said in last week’s issue of The Lancet, a medical journal published in London. Now they said they had documented such infections for the first time. They found that the Ebola virus could persist in the blood of asymptomatic infected individuals for two weeks after they were first exposed to an infected individual. How much longer the virus can persist is unknown.

***

If people can be carriers without showing symptoms, it means control might be more difficult.

“This degree of containment would be virtually impossible if symptom-free carriers posed a significant threat of infection,” Dr. Alan G. Baxter of Newtown, Australia, wrote in an editorial in the same issue of The Lancet.

***

An immediate effect is to raise the need to reassess health policy about one of the most virulent viruses known and to determine how often healthy carriers transmit it, said the scientific team headed by Dr. E. M. Leroy of Franceville, Gabon.

***

Dr. Leroy’s team studied 25 individuals who never developed symptoms although they lived with family members and cared for them without using gloves and other precautions in two outbreaks in Gabon in 1996.

Using standard virologic techniques, the scientists from Gabon, Germany and France said they could not detect the virus in the blood of the healthy contacts. But Dr. Leroy’s succeeded by using a technique known as polymerase chain reaction to grow the tiny amount of virus present.

Here is the study published in Lancet.  And here is the editor’s comment.

The Lancet study does not warn of an apocalyptic scenario where any casual contact could cause infection. It is more focused on contagion through sex or blood transfusions.

But Western governments and scientists have repeatedly said that Ebola carriers can only infect others if they are showing symptoms.  So they need to adjust their strategies to account for potential contagion from people who aren’t showing any symptoms.

Aerosol Transmission

Two national experts on infectious disease transmission – both professors in the School of Public Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, at the University of Illinois at Chicago – report that Ebola can be transmitted by aerosols … i.e. fluids mixed with air (footnotes omitted):

We believe there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients, which means that healthcare workers should be wearing respirators, not facemasks. [Aerosols are liquids or small particles suspended in air. An example is sea spray:  seawater suspended in air bubbles, created by the force of the surf mixing water with air.]

The important points are that virus-laden bodily fluids may be aerosolized and inhaled while a person is in proximity to an infectious person and that a wide range of particle sizes can be inhaled and deposited throughout the respiratory tract.

***

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

***

Many body fluids, such as vomit, diarrhea, blood, and saliva, are capable of creating inhalable aerosol particles in the immediate vicinity of an infected person. Cough was identified among some cases in a 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and coughs are known to emit viruses in respirable particles. The act of vomiting produces an aerosol and has been implicated in airborne transmission of gastrointestinal viruses. Regarding diarrhea, even when contained by toilets, toilet flushing emits a pathogen-laden aerosol that disperses in the air.

***

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

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

***

Experimental studies have demonstrated that it is possible to infect non-human primates and other mammals with filovirus aerosols. [Ebola is a type of filovirus]

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

In other words, these two infectious disease experts believe that Ebola is already – in its current form – transmissible via aerosols.  They therefore urge all doctors and nurses working with Ebola patients to wear respirators.

We need to understand how Ebola is really spread, and then take appropriate counter-measures.

Ebola Is Mutating

In addition, Ebola is mutating.   The discoverer of the disease (Dr. Peter Piot) said last week:

It is clear that the virus is mutating.

Indeed, top doctors say that – unless contained – it could eventually mutate to become airborne.

And the Washington Post notes that terrorists could use Ebola as a bio-weapon. The longer the outbreak rages, the more likely such a scenario becomes.

We Need a World War 2, Marshall Plan or Moon Landing Level Effort to Stop This

According to American nurses, the U.S. healthcare system is woefully unprepared to handle Ebola.

We need an effort on the scale of World War 2, the Marshall Plan or the moon shot to contain and eradicate this modern plague.

“I vividly recall how, in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing, Obama partisans triumphantly declared that this would finally usher in the winding down of the War on Terror. On one superficial level, that view was understandable: it made sense if one assumes that the U.S. has been waging this war for its stated reasons and that it hopes to vanquish The Enemy and end the war.

But that is not, and never was, the purpose of the War on Terror. It was designed from the start to be endless.”   - Glenn Greenwald, in his latest piece for the Intercept

Leon Panetta is pretty much the epitome of a status quo insider. Someone, who due to his influence and mainstream veneer of respectability, is capable of inflicting an almost inconceivable amount of damage to freedom and prosperity in America. In fact, you could say that Mr. Panetta is as responsible as almost anyone else for the banana republic laughing stock that this nation has been transformed into over the past several decades. Why? Because he served in top positions for several of America’s Presidents over that time.

He started out working for Richard Nixon, before switching parties and serving nine terms as a Democratic Congressman from California. He then served the Clinton Administration, including as Chief of Staff. Most recently, he was head of the Department of Defense and the CIA under Obama. This is an extremely political animal.

His ties run deepest with the Clintons, and while he criticizes Obama heavily in his new book, he excitedly proclaims that Hilary Clinton would be “great president,” and that “one thing about the Clintons is, they want to get it done.”

I’m sure they do, but get what done exactly. In the case of of Bill Clinton, it was dismantling Glass Steagall, and fully turning over the entire U.S. economy and public policy to financial oligarchs.

Think I am exaggerating? In a recent USA Today interview, we can clearly see exactly what “getting it done” would mean during a Hilary Clinton Presidency: Endless War.

USA Today reports that:

“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war,” he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

In the book’s final chapter, however, he writes that Obama’s “most conspicuous weakness” is “a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause.” Too often, he “relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” On occasion, he “avoids the battle, complains, and misses opportunities.”

Back to USA Today…

Panetta also argues that there is time for Obama to change tactics and recover — and that it is imperative he do so.

He makes a similar observation about Hillary Clinton, saying she would be a “great” president. “One thing about the Clintons is, they want to get it done,” he says, in words that draw an implicit contrast with Obama. “When it comes to being president of the United States, it’s one thing to talk a good game. It’s another thing to deliver, to make things happen.”

“He may have found himself again with regards to this ISIS crisis. I hope that’s the case. And if he’s willing to roll up his sleeves and engage with Congress in taking on some of these other issues, as I said I think he can establish a very strong legacy as president. I think these next 2 1/2 years will tell us an awful lot about what history has to say about the Obama administration.”

Think about that deeply for a moment. He thinks Obama may have “found himself again with regards to this ISIS crisis.” This is quite telling, since what has characterized Obama’s ISIS policy, is him launching an illegal war that makes George W. Bush look like a constitutional scholar. According to Panetta, that decision characterizes Obama “finding himself.” Naturally, what appeals to Panetta most about Hilary Clinton is her bloodlust for more war. Glenn Greenwald chimes in:

Leon Panetta, the long-time Democratic Party operative who served as Obama’s Defense Secretary and CIA Director, said this week of Obama’s new bombing campaign: “I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war.” Only in America are new 30-year wars spoken of so casually, the way other countries speak of weather changes. He added that the war “will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.” And elsewhere: not just a new decades-long war with no temporal limits, but no geographic ones either. He criticized Obama – who has bombed 7 predominantly Muslim countries plus the Muslim minority in the Phillipines (almost double the number of countries Bush bombed) – for being insufficiently militaristic,despite the fact that Obama officials themselves have already instructed the public to think of The New War “in terms of years.”

Then we have Hillary Clinton (whom Panetta gushed would make a “great” president). At an event in Ottawa yesterday, she proclaimed that the fight against these “militants” will “be a long-term struggle” that should entail an “information war” as “well as an air war.” The new war, she said, is “essential” and the U.S. shies away from fighting it “at our peril.” Like Panetta (and most establishment Republicans), Clinton made clear in her book that virtually all of her disagreements with Obama’s foreign policy were the by-product of her view of Obama as insufficiently hawkish, militaristic and confrontational.

At this point, it is literally inconceivable to imagine the U.S. not at war. It would be shocking if that happened in our lifetime. U.S. officials are now all but openly saying this. “Endless War” is not dramatic rhetorical license but a precise description of America’s foreign policy.

Just yesterday, Bloomberg reported: “Led by Lockheed Martin Group (LTM), the biggest U.S. defense companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world.” Particularly exciting is that “investors see rising sales for makers of missiles, drones and other weapons as the U.S. hits Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq”; moreover, “the U.S. also is the biggest foreign military supplier to Israel, which waged a 50-day offensive against the Hamas Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip.” ISIS is using U.S.-made ammunition and weapons, which means U.S. weapons companies get to supply all sides of The New Endless War; can you blame investors for being so giddy?<

I vividly recall how, in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing, Obama partisans triumphantly declared that this would finally usher in the winding down of the War on Terror. On one superficial level, that view was understandable: it made sense if one assumes that the U.S. has been waging this war for its stated reasons and that it hopes to vanquish The Enemy and end the war.

But that is not, and never was, the purpose of the War on Terror. It was designed from the start to be endless. Both Bush and Obama officials have explicitly said that the war will last at least a generation. The nature of the “war,” and the theories that have accompanied it, is that it has no discernible enemy and no identifiable limits. More significantly, this “war” fuels itself, provides its own inexhaustible purpose, as it is precisely the policies justified in the name of Stopping Terrorism that actually ensure its spread (note how Panetta said the new U.S. war would have to include Libya, presumably to fight against those empowered by the last U.S. war there just 3 years ago).

As I outlined in my post, The American Public: A Tough Soldier or a Chicken Hawk Cowering in a Cubicle? Some Thoughts on ISIS Intervention, as long as the citizenry remains in a fetal position praying for the return of a middle-class lifestyle that is not coming back without concerted effort and struggle, it will continue to be slaughtered like sheep and milked like cows.

Libya: Militants Parade ISIS Flags Through East Libyan Town

October 7th, 2014 by Global Research News

A video posted to YouTube on Monday purportedly shows a large convoy of cars parading through eastern Libya with men displaying their support for the Islamic State (IS).

The video shows a long line of vehicles driving through the streets of Derna with the black flag of IS clearly visible and men chanting slogans in support of IS, which has come to prominence in Syria and Iraq.

Al Arabiya reported the Ansar al-Sharia group had declared Derna an “Islamic emirate” and “pledged allegiance” to IS. Ansar al-Sharia is designated a terrorist organisation by the US who accuse them of being responsible for the 2012 killing of their ambassador Christopher Stevens in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The group retain a strong presence in Benghazi, where there continues to be fierce fighting between their members and forces loyal to rogue army general Khalifa Haftar, who has led months of air strikes against “terrorists”.

However, the EFE Spanish news agency reported the parade in Derna was by a new “radical militia” called Al Galuo, which “denies any links to Ansar al-Sharia” according to their security source who said it is made up of fighters returning from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Libyan analyst Mohamed Eljarh said he had information that a foreign emir will be appointed to rule the newly declared IS emirate in Derna.

Libya has been racked by fighting and political division since the 2011 ouster of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. Rival cities, militias, tribes and parliaments are battling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves in a country of just over six million people.

The recently elected House of Representatives (HoR) has been forced to reconvene from Benghazi to the eastern town of Tobruk, where it has struggled to impose its authority over the capital Tripoli, which they have lost control of to the Misratan Led Alliance (MLA).

The MLA has supported the General National Congress (GNC) to reconvene in Tripoli, which has announced a cabinet of its own as political divisions mirror violence between various groups across Libya.

UN brokered peace talks between the rival political factions were held in the remote town of Ghadames on 29 September, with another round of discussions due to take place after the Eid al-Adha holiday. The UN has threatened sanctions “including asset freezes and travel bans” against those who reject the talks.

The corporate and financial sectors have an overwhelming presence on the governing boards of major public television stations, a new FAIR study finds.

The study looked at the occupations of the current trustees of WNET (New York City/Newark), WGBH (Boston), WETA (Washington, DC), WTTW (Chicago) and KCET (Los Angeles).

Out of these boards’ 182 total members, 152—or 84 percent—have corporate backgrounds, including 138 who are executives at elite businesses. Another 14 members appear to be on the board because of their families’ corporate-derived wealth, often with a primary affiliation as an officer of a family charitable foundation.

Many board members are affiliated with major corporations like Boeing, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. Seventy-five board members, nearly half of all those with corporate ties, are financial industry executives. Another 24 are corporate lawyers.

Public TV board members without corporate ties were few and far between. Of these, nine are categorized as academics, while six are affiliated with nonprofit groups (not counting family grant-making foundations). There are three former government officials, two non-corporate lawyers, two journalists, one religious educator and a former principal of a magnet school. Six board members are station insiders.

WNETWGBH and WETA are considered to be the “big three” PBSaffiliates, producing a large share of programming for PBS nationally. WTTWand KCET were included because they serve two of the largest US metropolitan areas. Four of these stations are affiliated with PBSKCET disaffiliated in 2010, but remains a prominent regional public television station.

The boards range in size from WTTW’s 63 members to KCET’s 20. WTTWand WNET have the most corporate representation on their boards, each at 92 percent. KCET’s board is 80 percent corporate-affiliated, while DC’s WETA is at 73 percent. Corporate-tied board members were least common at WGBH,where they still made up two-thirds of the board.

One hundred sixteen members (64 percent) are male. It was not possible to do a breakdown of board members’ ethnicities.

 

Last year, the issue of corporate influence over public television was thrust into the spotlight when the film Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream was broadcast by PBS affiliate WNET (New Yorker5/27/13FAIR Blog5/21/13). The film examined the concentration of wealth and power in the United States by looking at the super-rich residents of 740 Park Avenue—who included then-WNET board member and major station donor David Koch, a billionaire industrialist well known for his donations to right-wing causes.

WNET president Neil Shapiro was said to be “concerned” about a film critical of one of his biggest funders. WNET ended up not receiving a large donation from Koch—potentially in the seven-figure range—becausePark Avenue was broadcast, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported.

PBS then preemptively pulled the plug on Citizen Koch, another film that examined the Koch family’s political influence—apparently practicing self-censorship in an attempt to placate a wealthy donor. Koch would eventually resign from the WNET board of trustees. Since then, acampaign has been launched demanding that Koch also resign from the board of Boston’s WGBH, where he is still a trustee.

Public television stations depend on underwriting from the corporate sector, which is undoubtedly why executives and their families so dominate public TV’s boards. Over the years, FAIR has found public TV displaying bias and favoritism towards corporations (Press Release, 10/19/10; Action Alert,4/23/12).

Some individuals within public TV acknowledge the problem of such influence. In a leaked farewell address, former PBS producer Sam Topperoff (Gawker,5/24/10) was scathing about the state of New York public television, includingWNET:

I see our general programming for the wider public as elitist and offensive in the extreme…. But, of course, when stations run on very rich people’s and corporate money, how could it be otherwise? And when the corporation is directed by those very clever and very ambitious fellows whose careers will float them to good places no matter what, what else could we reasonably expect?

Controlling the board means wielding ultimate power over the direction and character of a public television station. Boards have the power to elect top executives (presidents, CEOs, CFOs, etc.), manage the station’s finances and, of course, oversee the programming that their stations produce.

To join a public television board, an individual must be elected by existing board members. What sort of people are these business-dominated boards likely to select? They will likely perpetuate the corporate culture, rendering the “public” in Public Broadcasting Service an ironic anachronism.

Based on its legacy, the CBS show 60 Minutes is still sometimes thought of as the remaining place in TV news where tough investigative journalism has a home. But lately, they’ve been doing something else.

The most recent example came last night (10/5/14), when correspondent Scott Pelley sat down with FBI director James Comey–a powerful government official who, Pelley tells viewers right off the bat, they probably don’t know:

Do you know the name of the director of the FBI? Probably not. James Comey has been America’s top cop for just one year, and he hasn’t done a major television interview until tonight.

What follows was essentially an ad for the FBI, absent any critical scrutiny or questioning. Pelley and Comey talk about the threat of cybercrime (“Sounds like cybercrime is a long way from Bonnie and Clyde for the FBI,” as Pelley puts it) and the various threats posed by the ISIS group in Syria and Iraq. We learn that Comey doesn’t like the term “lone wolf” to refer to potential homegrown terrorist threats–”I’d prefer lone rat.”

In return for this kid-glove approach, CBS got access to places TV cameras don’t often get to go, like the training center for the agency’s Hostage Rescue Team, which, Pelley explains, “has joined US Special Operations Forces for hundreds of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

This is part of a shift at the FBI, Pelley tells viewers: “The new emphasis, these days, is to bring terrorists to court.”

If the point was for the FBI to appear in command and on top of the threats to Americans, then CBS did what it set out to do. And the report looked very similar to a 2013 profile of an outgoing CIA official: “Mike Morell was deputy director of the CIA and gave us the only television interview he’s ever done,” said CBS correspondent John Miller (10/27/13)–who was, by the way, previously the assistant public affairs director at the FBI (FAIR Blog,10/29/13).

Miller was also the 60 Minutes correspondent who brought us a fawning tribute to the NSA, heavy on the this-has-never-been-seen-on-TV-before details and light on critical questioning of a highly controversial government agency (FAIR Action Alert, 12/16/13).

As with the NSA, there are plenty of tough questions to ask the FBI, on topics ranging from Patriot Act abuses to attacks on whistleblowers and journalists. See the ACLU’s “The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11” for a helpful list of subjects CBS could have asked about.

Former CBS correspondent John Miller has returned to government; he’s currently heading the New York Police Department’s intelligence division. But maybe 60 Minutes is trying to show viewers–and, more importantly, massive government agencies–that it can still produce softball profiles of powerful government figures without him.

At the close of the segment, Scott Pelley tells viewers:

Our conversation with FBI Director James Comey continues here next week, when we ask whether the FBI is snooping on average Americans.

I think we already know the answer to that one.

When protests in Hong Kong exploded people looked for US involvement. It was not hard to find. The overt intrusion of the US is available in budgets, documents and websites; the covert involvement has not yet been uncovered but is no doubt there.  What does US involvement mean for the credibility of the protest movement and the future of Hong Kong?

The issues raised by the protests, democracy and unfair economy, are very real. But so are the concerns of Beijing for economic growth and continuing to lift people out of poverty, something China has done remarkably well. Those who seek to transform governance and create a more equal economy now have a more challenging task than organizing protests, they must build national consensus on their issues in Hong Kong and in China’s leadership.

Now that the US has been exposed, it needs to be removed. US goals are very different than the people in Hong Kong. The US is in the process of encircling China militarily and economically. It sees China as a competitor, a nation that can undermine the US as the single world superpower.  Conflict between Hong Kong and Beijin g would serve US interests but undermine the Hong Kong economy which is tied to China. The protest movement has already begun to separate itself from people too close to the US. Hong Kong needs to go further and expel US influence, remembering the historic imperialism of the US in China and noting the current strategic goals of the United States.

The Occupy Central Movement Gets the Attention of the World

The Occupy Central movement, or Umbrella Revolution, has gotten the attention of the world and challenged Beijing. The protests are at a turning point. The next few days will determine its immediate impact, its longer term effects are impossible to predict. It has shown an awakening of hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong and if political leadership in Beijing and Hong Kong does not respond to the issues raised, more insurrections will follow.

The protesters have gained sympathy because of their consistently nonviolent behavior which is emphasized in their Manual for Disobedience. They have also cleaned up, even dividing their trash for recycling being labeled the polite protest. And, they have used excellent symbolism and rhetoric. They have broadened participation in the protests and have not only included students – a powerful force in their own right – but the elderly, families and workers. The protesters have strategically escalated their actions and increased pressure on the government.

October 2nd and 3rd were turning points as the chief executive of Hong Kong gave a Mubarak-like speech and refused to resign but agreed to negotiations with the protesters. When the protests began he refused to negotiate so his position has changed. Yesterday saw Occupy Central protesters having a sophisticated debate about whether to block a key road, with some arguing that it would undermine their primary goal of garnering broad public support emphasizing that the goal of the protests was to show the people of Hong Kong were with them. Few protests movements are sophisticated enough to see the goal of protesting the government is directed more at the people, for their support, to build national support.

On October 3rd, anti-occupy protesters, some wearing masks, came into the protest areas and violently attacked occupy protesters demanding they stop. Police and occupy protesters report that some of the attackers were members of the Triad organized crime group, perhaps encouraged by the government. Occupy Central announced that due to lack of action by the police to stop the attacks they would not be meeting with the government to negotiate. The next morning the occupiers had rebuilt the destroyed tents and other infrastructure of the protest. On October 5th the students agreed to return to negotiationsbut among their requirements was investigation that the government indulged the attacks on them.

This weekend and Monday will need to show signs of continued strength in the streets in order for the protest to build its impact. Monday is turning to be a pivot point in the current protests as the government insists on re-opening schools and businesses; so far, protesters are ignoring threats and remaining.

If they succeed in sustaining the protest and keeping public support, more compromises, even the replacement of the chief executive are possible. If not, then the negotiations with the government need to be pursued and reported on widely by the protest movement so if they fail – and it is hard to imagine the governments in Hong Kong and Beijing compromising sufficiently without more protest – the democracy can re-energize and take the streets again to show their displeasure.

While the Federation of Students has made clear that their movement is “absolutely not a revolution,” even if Leung Chun-ying resigns, the issues raised will not be resolved. The major changes being sought will require ongoing work, building on the awakening of recent days and convincing the population and leadership that the changes are necessary and beneficial. This will take deep organizing, persistence and refusal to compromise.

What has been the US involvement?

Complicating the protest, and undermining it, was reports documenting US involvement in the democracy movement. Those of us who follow US actions around the world are not surprised by this; indeed, we’d be surprised if the US were not involved in fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.  The US consistently uses legitimate concerns of people to build its Empire and challenge perceived enemies. China is at the top of the list for the US with the Asian Pivot of military forces to the region, building military relationships with Asian allies and negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership that excludes China – all isolating and threatening China with economic and military force. It is not surprising that the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong are being used by the US.

Sadly, US involvement will undermine the credibility and goals of the protests because the US agenda is not the people’s agenda. And, if the revolt were to succeed, what kind of influence would the US have over the selection of the next leader? Would Hong Kong end up with a leader like Ukraine, where the US spent $5 billion to foment revolt and now has President Petro Poroshenkowho, according to Wikileaks documents, has been known in the US government as “Our Ukraine Insider” for being an informant for the State Department since 2006. Will the next government protect neoliberal capitalism that allows the US investor class entry into China through Hong Kong for their benefit and not the benefit of the people?

Already there are signs that the Occupy Central leadership, which has US ties, is not trusted. As one participant on the ground reports “the dynamic the movement has taken on” its own energy and it is now “the actions of ordinary people in their struggle for democracy.” Now “the movement can now be considered largely leaderless.” As examples the author points to the protest beginning two days before the Occupy Central leaders wanted and the refusal to follow the order to leave after police attacks last Sunday. Instead thousands stayed. Revolution News reported how a group of students climbed over the fence of the Central Government Offices Complex, remaining there and facing arrest the entire time, without the support of the elders of ‘Occupy Central’ for the next two days. Thankfully students came to their rescue.

On October 2nd, a Mint Press News article exposed US support for democracy movements in Hong Kong. The article described what it called “a deep and insidious network of foreign financial, political, and media support. Prominent among them is the US State Department and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as NED’s subsidiary, the National Democratic Institute (NDI).”

The article describes work by the NDI in Hong Kong dating back to 1997, so it has been a long term strategy of the United States to foment a democracy movement in Hong Kong. “Democracy movement” means keeping Beijing from selecting who can run for office in Hong Kong and universal suffrage. NDI writes that it has been training young leaders in Hong Kong since 2005 on “political communication skills.”

The US has been funding various civic organizations in Hong Kong to work on these issues including a think tank at the University of Hong Kong, the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, from which Occupy Central “self-proclaimed” leader Benny Tai served on the board and collaborates. Another notable Occupy Central activist, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, works closely with Tai and speaks at numerous US funded forums.

Other Hong Kong democracy movement figures in bed with NED include, according to Mint Press, Martin Lee (here’s his bio on NED website and the award the NED gave him), founding chairman of Hong Kong’s Democrat Party, who this year came to Washington, DC, met with Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  Lee took part in an NED talk hosted specifically for him and his agenda of “democracy” in Hong Kong. Anson Chan, another prominent figure currently supporting the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong’s streets, was also in DC and met with Biden and Pelosi.

Revolution News went further into US ties to the Occupy Central movementexamining the budgets of US ‘democracy’ institutions.  They report that one of Occupy Central’s key tactics this summer, a “referendum” on democracy signed by 780,000 Hong Kong residents, more than 1/5th of Hong Kong voters, was funded by the US State Department. (A similar tactic was used in the Egyptian protest against Morsi that led to the Sisi dictatorship.)

Revolution News follows the money and reports that: USAID Hong Kong budget for 2012 was $754,552, in 2010 it was $1,591,547. One of the key projects funded by the US has been the Hong Kong Transition Project. The project has been regularly surveying the views of the people of Hong Kong regarding democracy since 1991. In a HKTP report from January 2014 they write the purpose of the polling is how people view “the fairness of the current consultation process and initial reactions to a possible confrontation with Beijing.”

The Transition Project has been doing in-depth public opinion research everythree months that not only looks broadly at public opinion but zeroes in depth on key groups like youth. They also did an in-depth study of who is likely tosupport Occupy Central and under what circumstances in January 2014. In April of this year they did a report examining public opinion that described a looming confrontation and broad-based support for democracy in Hong Kong. This type of public opinion research is never available to grassroots movements but is invaluable in deciding when to act, how to act, who to focus on in outreach and tactics of any protest.

In addition to public opinion research, funding key organizations and activities, the NDI monitors the movement. For example, the impressive young, iconic leader Joshua Wong, the founder of Scholorism, has beenmonitored by NDI since he was 15. (No documents indicate that he has been co-opted.)

Revolution News also reports on numerous Wikileaks cables that show the close involvement of the US State Department in monitoring the development of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, turnout at protests, rhetoric of organizers and how to improve future organizing and mobilizing.

We do not report US involvement because we oppose the movement for democracy and a fair economy in Hong Kong, quite the contrary. We agree with Revolution News which introduces its article making the following points:

We Fully Support A People’s Movement In Hong Kong. As we explain further details about ‘Occupy Central’, it is the intention of this article to help the students and Hong Kongese people who are fighting for the future of Hong Kong make informed decisions on who they join in coalitions with and choose for Chief Executive when they achieve True Universal Suffrage.

We also agree with Hong Kong born writer Ming Chun Tang who points out that “prospects are only diminished by the involvement of the United States, with its own neoliberal and far-less-than-democratic agenda.” Like Tang, we are not surprised to see US involvement and urge it to stop or be stopped by activists in Hong Kong, Tang writes:  “I am not surprised at this, nor do I welcome it, given the United States’ questionable record (to put it nicely) at bringing ‘democracy’ to countries where it has intervened in the past. It is most likely in Hong Kongers’ best interests that the US withdraw its monetary support for Occupy Central, as unlikely as this is to happen.”

Despite US involvement, the people of Hong Kong have very real grievances not only regarding self-governance but also regarding the economy. And, we also recognize that the protesters are people not acting for the United States, indeed the vast majority have nothing to do with the US or organizations the US has funded, but acting on their own accord. We hope exposing US involvement diminishes those in Hong Kong who work closely with the US and encourages the movement to remain independent of the United States.

Beyond Democracy: Economic Issues are a Major Part of Protest Movement

While democracy has gotten the headline, economic injustice in Hong Kong is also a driving force of these protests.  The fact that the right-wing Heritage Foundation applauds the Hong Kong economy as the world’s freest economyis really a signal that it is among the most unfair; i.e., poor worker and environmental protection and lack of regulation preventing corporate abuse. Life in Hong Kong for most people is difficult, Ming Chun Tang writes:

As City University of Hong Kong professor Toby Carroll points out, one in five Hong Kongers live below the poverty line, while inequality has risen to levels among the highest in the world. Wages haven’t increased in line with inflation – meaning they’ve fallen in real terms. The minimum wage, only introduced in 2010, is set at HK$28 (US$3.60) an hour – less than half of that even in the United States. The average workweek is 49 hours –- in case you thought 40 was rough. Housing prices are among the highest in the world. Even the neoliberal Economist placed Hong Kong top of its crony capitalism index by some distance.

Or, as Jeff Brown, author of 44 Days Backpacking in Chinawrites:

The middle class and poor are being decimated by the Princes of Power’s draconian, libertarian capitalist policies of pushing the Territory’s profits to the 1%, at the expense of the 99%. Students are graduating from college and finding it difficult to get good paying jobs or affordable places to live. . . . Standards of living for the 99% are cratering. Like in the US, Hong Kongers are having to work 2-3 jobs and much more than 40 hours a week, just to pay the bills, never mind prosper.

There is a trade union in Hong Kong with 160,000 members and 61 affiliates in various sectors, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, which is represented in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong pushing for greater worker protections and union rights. There is also a pro-Beijing trade union – the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions.

The economic challenges in Hong Kong are, in part, related to its changing role in China. The Guardian reports that when Deng Xiaoping announced economic reforms in 1978 Hong Kong was the entry point into China. This led to the ‘golden era’ of Hong Kong.  It attracted major financial institutions and transnational companies that wanted to participate in Chinese economic growth. This made Hong Kong a wealthy city. But, China has grown and become more open so Hong Kong is no longer the entry point or financial center of China. The China Daily bluntly reports:

Much has changed since 1997. Hong Kong has lost its role as the gateway to the mainland. Previously Hong Kong was China’s unrivalled financial centre, now it is increasingly dwarfed by Shanghai. Until recently, Hong Kong was by far China’s largest port: now it has been surpassed by Shanghai and Shenzhen, and Guangzhou will shortly overtake it.

Martin Jacques of the Guardian writes that while this has caused “a crisis of identity and a sense of displacement” the reality is Hong Kong’s “ future is inextricably bound up with China.” When it comes to Hong Kong’s economic future, he concludes: “China is the future of Hong Kong.”

The Awakening of the Democracy Movement Now Requires Perseverance to Build National Consensus

Hong Kong has had two successful revolts against the government prior to these protests. In 2003 protests of 500,000 people stopped the implementation of a national security law that would have undermined civil liberties. And, in 2012 students were able to stop a new curriculum from being put in place that would have emphasized patriotism for China in schools.  Many of these students are involved in the current protests. Thus, the people of Hong Kong have experienced political success.

The protests today are facing a much more difficult issue, the doctrine of ‘one country, two systems’ is at a potential breaking point because the idea of self-governance, real democracy where Beijing does not approve candidates who run for office, challenges Communist Party rule.  In addition, the Hong Kong challenge should be looked at in light of widespread economic and environmental protests in China. Researchers at Nankai University estimatedthat there were 90,000 protests in China in 2009.

Activists should not feel like they accomplished nothing if these protests to not gain them the democracy they want. The awakening of a national democracy movement is a major advancement and it is common for successful social movements to go through a mass awakening followed by no immediate change. After the protests the job of the movement is to persevere and develop national consensus that cannot be ignored. They must convince the people of Hong Kong and the leadership in Beijing that their vision of real democracy and a fair economy are the best path for the nation. They have started down a historic path and must continue to succeed.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC, co-direct Its Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DCRead other articles by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers.

El Estado del Vaticano ante las Naciones Unidas

October 7th, 2014 by Oscar Fortin

Que bueno que el Secretario del Estado del Vaticano tomé la palabra para dar a conocer su pensamiento relacionado a lo que sucede en nuestro mundo. Entre otras cosas lamenta, con razón, que las Naciones Unidas no logren hacer unanimidad frente a lo que sucede en Irak, en Siria, en Ucrania y podríamos añadir en muchas otras partes del mundo. Al mismo tiempo, pone de relieve y lo lamenta también el silencio y la pasividad de muchos Estados frente a la crueldad que vive nuestra humanidad. 

“Es una pena , que hasta el momento, la comunidad internacional se haya caracterizado por voces contradictorias e incluso por el silencio con respecto a los conflictos en Siria, Oriente Medio y Ucrania.”

Sin que lo diga de forma explicita, Pietro Parolin, considera como positivas las intervenciones de Estados Unidos y de sus aliados para destruir este terrorismo que se caracteriza, entre otras cosas, por “el hecho de no tomar en cuenta la existencia del Estado y, en consecuencia de todo el orden internacional”. 

De hecho, los Estados Unidos no se quedaron los brazos cruzados. No esperaron las directivas de las Naciones Unidas para formar una coalición con otros Estados y meterse en todas las luchas tanto en Irak, Siria, Ucrania y en muchas otras partes del mundo donde declaran que hay terroristas. Al no conseguir la unanimidad en las Naciones Unidas, Estados Unidos se considera justificado llevar con sus aliados esta lucha contra los terroristas del Estado islámico. A la vista del Secretario general estas iniciativas demuestran que estos países de la coalición no quedan insensibles a las victimas de estos criminales y no pueden quedarse los brazos cruzados en espera de que las Naciones Unidas se pongan de acuerdo para decidir como hacerlo de manera a que sean respetados todos los derechos de las personas y de los pueblos. 

En esta lógica, los de la coalición se merecen los honores de la lucha en defensa de la humanidad, bombardeando en Irak, en Siria a los terroristas de EI y multiplicando las sanciones contra Rusia considerada como responsable de todo lo malo que sucede en Ucrania. Sin embargo, uno puede preguntarse ? Qué sabe el Secretario de Estado del Vaticano del rol asumido por Estados Unidos en la formación de estas brigadas terroristas que ellos mismos armaron y utilizaron en Libia y en Siria? Ya sabe cuales son las intenciones de Estados Unidos en Siria por haber participado a la preparación del encuentro de Geneva 2 en que habían establecido una estrategia común.

Si el cardenal Parolin habla de la necesidad de remodelar las Naciones Unidas se guarda bien de entrar en el análisis de las causas de su ineficacia. Él no habla del Consejo de seguridad en el cual cinco países disponen del derecho de veto. No dice nada relacionado a los distintos puntos de vistas que dividen a ciertos países cuando se trata de Irak, Siria, Ucrania. El Vaticano no se refiere mucho a lo que piensa Rusia, China, India, Corea del Norte cuando se trata de conflictos como los que vivimos presentemente. En estos casos, el Vaticano se presenta mas como un aliado natural del Occidente y los enemigos de este ultimo son considerados mas como sospechosos.

La única alusión critica al Occidente que vi en la intervención del Secretario de Estado esta relacionada al sistema financiero. Vale la pena prestar atención a las palabras utilizadas para hablar de este tema.

“’…”un sistema financiero regido sólo por la especulación y la explotación máxima de las ganancias, o en el que los individuos se consideren como artículos desechables -en una cultura del descarte- podría ser equivalente, en ciertas circunstancias, a una ofensa contra la dignidad humana.”

Es lo que podemos llamar la diplomacia al servicio de los amigos.

Si leimos lo que dice el papa Francisco en su exhortación apostólica Evangelii Gaudium nos damos cuenta que el estilo es distinto:

202. La necesidad de resolver las causas estructurales de la pobreza no puede esperar, no sólo por una exigencia pragmática de obtener resultados y de ordenar la sociedad, sino para sanarla de una enfermedad que la vuelve frágil e indigna y que sólo podrá llevarla a nuevas crisis. Los planes asistenciales, que atienden ciertas urgencias, sólo deberían pensarse como respuestas pasajeras. Mientras no se resuelvan radicalmente los problemas de los pobres, renunciando a la autonomía absoluta de los mercados y de la especulación financiera y atacando las causas estructurales de la inequidad[173], no se resolverán los problemas del mundo y en definitiva ningún problema. La inequidad es raíz de los males sociales.

Es lo que se puede llamar la diplomacia al servicio de los pueblos.

Bueno, siguiendo mi reflexión, me sorprendió la característica que el Secretario del Estado dio al terrorismo del EI. Me sorprende porque corresponde también a lo que hace Estados Unidos en muchas partes del mundo:  no tomar en cuenta la existencia del Estado y , en consecuencia de todo el orden internacional”. Al decir eso por los terroristas no podía, el SG, ignorar que era justamente lo que Estados Unidos y sus aliados estaban haciendo en Siria. Entran y salen del país como quieren, bombardean donde quieren sin tomar en cuenta el Estado sirio. Lo mismo pasa en sus actividades clandestinas en que financia y arma a opositores y mercenarios para deshacer a gobiernos y tomar así el control de los Estados. Lo que esta pasando en Venezuela, en Ecuador, en Bolivia, en Cuba, en Ucrania y en muchos otros países corresponde a acciones que no reconocen a los Estados, tampoco al orden internacional. ¿Qué diferencia hay entre los terroristas del EI y el terrorismo del Estado imperial? Una pregunta a la cual el Estado del Vaticano tendrá que analizar y contestar.

El Secretario del Estado habla mucho de los silencios. No se sabe de que silencio se trata. De hecho, hay muchas voces que se levantan para poner de relieve las grandes contradicciones que se encuentran en los que se presentan como libertadores de la humanidad. Esas voces no aparecen en los medios oficiales de comunicación, tampoco en los del Vaticano. Por ejemplo, recién se ha descubierto en el Este de Ucrania fosas comunes con centenares de muertos entre los cuales hombres, mujeres y niños. Todos son victimas del ejercito ucranio. Rusia y otros países pidieron a las Naciones Unidas que lleven una encuesta profundizada sobre los responsables de estos mártires de la violencia odiosa. En Siria, el gobierno se dijo favorable para cooperar con Estados Unidos con tal que las intervenciones en Siria se hagan con el acuerdo del Gobierno y en coordinación con él. Rusia, por su parte, abogó en este mismo sentido ante el Consejo de seguridad. Estados Unidos y sus aliados, sin tomarlos en cuenta, bombardean en territorio sirio, destruyendo mas refinerías que terroristas.

Yo termino mi reflexión con el tema de la promoción de una cultura de paz. Ella, dice el cardenal, “exige renovados esfuerzos a favor del dialogo, el aprecio de las culturas y la cooperación, respetando la diversidad de sensibilidades.” En este sentido, todos los pueblos y naciones, todos los Estados tienen que hacer un examen de consciencia en cuanto a su disposición para favorecer este dialogo al servicio de la paz. La aceptación de la diversidad en las culturas, pensamientos y orientaciones políticas y sociales debe imponerse como base a este dialogo de paz. Una paz que se conjugue con el respeto de los derechos humanos, con la justicia, la verdad y la solidaridad humana. La voz del Vaticano para ser entendidas con credibilidad de la parte de todas las naciones tendrá que elevarse y independizarse del pensamiento único del Occidente. Le corresponde al Estado del Vaticano volver a la catolicidad de la Iglesia.

Oscar Fortin
1er de octubre 2014

The Real Reason Big Pharma Rips Us Off

October 7th, 2014 by Robert Reich

According to a  new federal database put online last week, pharmaceutical companies and device makers paid doctors some $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period in 2013. Some doctors received over half a million dollars each, and others got millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop. Doctors claim these payments have no effect on what they prescribe. But why would drug companies shell out all this money if it didn’t provide them a healthy return on their investment?

America spends a fortune on drugs,  more per person than any other nation on earth, even though Americans are no healthier than the citizens of other advanced nations. Of the estimated $2.7 trillion America spends annually on health care, drugs account for  10 percent of the total.

Government pays some of this tab through Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But we pick up the tab indirectly through our taxes. We pay the rest of it directly, through higher co-payments, deductibles, and premiums. Drug company payments to doctors are a small part of a much larger strategy by Big Pharma to clean our pockets.

Another technique is called “product hopping” —making small and insignificant changes in a drug whose patent is about to expire, so it’s technically new.

For example, last February, before its patent expired on Namenda, its widely used drug to treat Alzheimer’s, Forest Laboratories announced it would stop selling the existing tablet form of in favor of new extended-release capsules called Namenda XR. The capsules were just a reformulated version of the tablet. But even the minor change prevented pharmacists from substituting generic versions of the tablet.

Result: higher profits for Forest Labs and higher costs for you and me.

Another technique is for drug companies to continue to aggressively advertise prescription brands long after their 20-year patents have expired, so patients ask their doctors for them. Many doctors will comply. America is one of few advanced nations that allow direct advertising of prescription drugs.

A fourth tactic is for drug companies to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay their cheaper versions. These so-called “pay-for-delay” agreements generate big profits for both the proprietary manufacturers and the generics. But here again, you and I pay. The tactic costs us an estimated $3.5 billion a year.

Europe doesn’t allow these sorts of payoffs, but they’re legal in the United States because the major drug makers and generics have fought off any legislative attempts to stop them.

Finally, while other nations set wholesale drug prices, the law prohibits the U.S. government from using its considerable bargaining power under Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate lower drug prices. This was part of the deal Big Pharma extracted for its support of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The drug companies say they need the additional profits to pay for researching and developing new drugs. But the government supplies much of the research Big Pharma relies on, through the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, Big Pharma is spending more on advertising and marketing than on research and development—often tens of millions to promote a single drug.

And it’s spending hundreds of millions more every year lobbying. Last year alone, the lobbying tab came to $225 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s more than the formidable lobbying expenditures of America’s military contractors.

In addition, Big Pharma is spending heavily on political campaigns. In 2012, it shelled out over $36 million, making it the biggest political contributor of all American industries.

Why do we put up with this? It’s too facile to say we have no choice given how much the industry is spending on politics. If the public were sufficiently outraged, politicians and regulatory agencies wouldn’t allow this giant ripoff.

But the public isn’t outraged. That’s partly because much of this strategy is hidden from public view. But I think it’s also because we’ve bought the ideological claptrap of the “free market” being separate from and superior to government. And since private property and freedom of contract are the core of the free market, we assume drug companies have every right to charge what they want for the property they sell. Yet in reality the “free market” can’t be separated from government because government determines the rules of the game.

It determines, for example, what can be patented and for how long, what side payoffs create unlawful conflicts of interest, what basic research should be subsidized, and when government can negotiate low prices.

The critical question is not whether government should play a role in the market. Without such government decisions there would be no market, and no new drugs. The issue is how government organizes the market. So long as big drug makers have a disproportionate say in these decisions, the rest of us pay through the nose.

Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Obama’s transition advisory board. His latest book is “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future.” His homepage is www.robertreich.org.

Mexican federal forces have disarmed the entire police department in the southern city of Iguala after its officers were accused of collaborating with a gang behind the recent disappearance of 43 students.

On Monday, the government’s new federal police unit took over security in Iguala, located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of the capital, Mexico City.

The federal unit was tasked with holding order in the city and helping search for the students who went missing last month after a deadly police shooting.

The deployment in the southern violence-stricken state of Guerrero came after President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed to establish justice and bring an end to corruption in the country.

Pena Nieto said he had dispatched the federal forces to Iguala to “find out what happened and apply the full extent of the law to those responsible.”The decision to disarm Iguala’s police corps came just days after 28 charred bodies were found in a mass grave on the outskirts of the city.

State prosecutor Inaky Blanco has said the recovered bodies probably belonged to the missing students. State officials also say it will take up to two weeks to receive the results of DNA tests to identify the corpses.

The students, all trainee teachers, went missing following a police attack on September 26 against a protest over teachers’ rights.

According to Blanco, state investigators have obtained video footage showing local police arresting a number of students during the clashes and taking them away.

Prosecutors said the Guerreros Unidos drug gang also participated in the police shooting that left six people dead and 25 others wounded.

Mexican authorities have already arrested 22 officers and issued arrest warrants for Iguala mayor Jose Luis Albarca and his security chief over the deadly incident.

Watch video here

Ukraine: Nazis in Plain Sight

October 7th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

The Western press recently reported the destruction of a Soviet-era statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The Washington Post would claim in its report, “Ukrainians just pulled down a massive Lenin statue. What does that signal for Russia?,” that:

Anti-Russian protesters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, pulled down a massive statue of Vladimir Lenin late Sunday, a sign of hardening anger toward the Kremlin in an eastern Ukrainian area where sympathies are split between Kiev and Moscow.

The pro-European protests that swept Ukraine in the winter were accompanied by a wave of Lenin statues being pulled down, eliminating symbolic vestiges of the Soviet Union that had endured after its 1991 breakup. But few such statues were toppled in eastern Ukraine, which has long been a bastion of pro-Russian sentiment and where separatists have embarked on an insurgency that has cost thousands of lives.

As usual with reports from the Western press, the deception can manifest itself just as much from what is omitted as from what is actually said. The Washington Post maintains that those who destroyed the statue were merely “anti-Russian protesters.” In reality, it was a mob led by literal Neo-Nazis of the notorious Azov Battalion – fielded and directed by Kiev’s Interior Ministry itself.

While the Washington Post attempts to claim the statue’s destruction was a manifestation of the people’s will in eastern Ukraine, it was in reality a stunt pulled by some of Kiev’s most vicious, ultra-right, and illegitimate supporters – supporters the West works continuously to obfuscate from public view.

Azov’s role in the Kharkiv incident was revealed not by the Russian media, but instead by the European Union and NATO’s own Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors on the ground in Ukraine. Submitting daily reports often ignored by the Western press, the OSCE stated in its September 29, 2014 briefing that (emphasis added):

On 28 September, at 14:30hrs, the SMM observed in Kharkiv a large demonstration of some 2,000 pro-Ukraine supporters gathering in front of the Opera house. The crowd, composed of men and women of different ages and including children, was led by members of the “Azov” volunteer battalion, as well as young men and women with masks. Some of the demonstrators marched towards Liberty Square, where Lenin’s monument was located. There, the SMM observed a group of young men with masks trying to climb on top of Lenin’s statue, while the crowd present on the square had increased to approximately 5,000 people. The demonstrators who had climbed up to the statue began using an electric cutting instrument to dismantle the base of the statue. Whilst not visible on the square, the SMM observed the police deploy and set up an outer perimeter cordon around the square and three buses of police behind the regional administration building. At 22:40hrs Lenin’s Statue was pulled down by the demonstrators. As the SMM left the scene, it did not observe any further incident.

While Azov’s role in much of Ukraine’s daily violence goes unreported, the Western media has tentatively reported on the group in the past. The Telegraph in one article titled, “Ukraine crisis: the neo-Nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists,” reported that:

As Ukraine’s armed forces tighten the noose around pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, the western-backed government in Kiev is throwing militia groups – some openly neo-Nazi – into the front of the battle.

The Azov battalion has the most chilling reputation of all. Last week, it came to the fore as it mounted a bold attack on the rebel redoubt of Donetsk, striking deep into the suburbs of a city under siege.

The Telegraph would also report in the same article that:

Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming.

The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.

If this is who is tearing down statutes across Ukraine, including now eastern cities like Kharkiv, then to answer the Washington Post’s question as to what it “signals for Russia,” is a Nazi threat openly backed by the European Union, NATO, and the United States, lurking once again along its borders just as it did in the 1930′s and in immediate need of being addressed. This threat goes unnoticed to most among Western audiences primarily because of dishonest reporting from papers like the Washington Post as well as the West’s continuous campaign to defame and undermine Russian media who has apparently been accurately reporting the growing Nazi threat in Ukraine for some time.

So large has this threat the Western press previously was adamant did not exist, that the Western press itself has begun reporting in articles like, “Azov fighters are Ukraine’s greatest weapon and may be its greatest threat – The battalion’s far-right volunteers’ desire to ‘bring the fight to Kiev’ is a danger to post-conflict stability,” published in the London Guardian, that:

…there is an increasing worry that while the Azov and other volunteer battalions might be Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists, they also pose the most serious threat to the Ukrainian government, and perhaps even the state, when the conflict in the east is over. The Azov causes particular concern due to the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members.

As usual, while the Western press invents an impressive cast of villains for Western regimes to intervene against, it is their own proxies who often pose the greatest threat to global peace and stability. Nazis ravaging not only the West’s enemies in eastern Ukraine, but now threatening their own proxy regime in Kiev is just one of many examples.

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

The Heroes of Our Time

October 7th, 2014 by Fidel Castro Ruz

There is much to say about these difficult times for humanity. Today, however, is a day of special interest to us and perhaps for many people. Throughout our brief revolutionary history, from the cunning coup March 10, 1952 sponsored by the empire against our small country, quite often we saw the need to make important decisions. When there was an alternative, other young people of any other nation in our complex situation, doing or about to do the same as us, although in the case of Cuba the chance, as so often in history, played a decisive role. From the drama created in our country by the United States at that time, no other goal than curb the risk of limited social advances that could encourage future of radical changes in the Yankee property that had been converted Cuba, our Socialist Revolution engendered.

The Second World War ended in 1945, consolidated the power of the United States as the largest economic and military power, and became the country “whose territory was far from the battlefield” the most powerful on the planet. The landslide victory of 1959, we can assert without a shadow of chauvinism, became an example of what a small nation fighting itself can also do for others.

Latin American countries, with a minimum of honorable exceptions, were launched after the crumbs offered by the United States; for example, Cuba’s sugar quota, which for nearly a century and a half supplied to that country in his critics, was divided between producers eager markets in the world.

The distinguished American general who presided over that country then, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had led the coalition troops in the war in which they released, despite having powerful means only a small part of Europe occupied by the Nazis. The replacement of President Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, turned out to be the traditional conservative than the United States, such policies typically assume responsibilities in difficult years.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics “which formed until the end of the twentieth century, the greatest nation in the history of the fight against the ruthless exploitation of human beings” was dissolved and replaced by a Federation reduced the area of the great State multinational in no less than five million 500 thousand square kilometers.Something, however, could not be dissolved: the heroic spirit of the Russian people, who joined his brothers in the rest of the USSR has been able to preserve such a powerful force that along with the People’s Republic of China and countries like Brazil, India and South Africa are a group needed to stop the attempt to recolonize the planet.

Two illustrative examples of these realities of living in the People’s Republic of Angola. Cuba, like many other socialist countries and liberation movements, worked with her and others who fought against Portuguese rule in Africa. This was exercised direct administrative form with the support of its allies. Solidarity with Angola was one of the main points of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Socialist Camp. The independence of the country was inevitable and was accepted by the world community. The racist state of South Africa and the corrupt government of the former Belgian Congo, with the support of European allies, carefully prepared for the conquest and division of Angola.

Cuba, which for years cooperated with the struggle of the people, was asked to Agostinho Neto to train its armed forces, installed in Luanda, the capital, should be ready for inauguration officially established for November 11, 1975.

The Soviets, faithful to their commitments, had supplied them with military equipment and expected only independence day to send instructors. Cuba, meanwhile, agreed to send instructors requested by Neto. The condemned and despised by the world opinion, racist regime of South Africa decided to bring forward their plans and sends motorized forces in armored vehicles, equipped with powerful artillery, after breaking hundreds of kilometers from its border, attacked the first camp instruction, where several Cuban instructors died in resistance. After several days of sustained fighting for those instructors brave with the Angolans, managed to stop the advance of South Africans towards Luanda, capital of Angola, where he had been airlifted a battalion of Special Troops of the Interior Ministry, transported from Havana in old Britannia aircraft of our airline. Thus began that epic struggle in this country of black Africa, bullied by white racists, in which motorized battalions and brigades of tanks, armored fighting media suitable artillery, infantry rejected the racist South African forces and forced to retreat the very edge of where they started. It was only in 1975 that the most dangerous stage of that struggle. This took place about 12 years later, in southern Angola.

So what appeared to be racist adventure in southern Angola was only the beginning, but at least been able to understand that those revolutionary forces of black and white Cubans, and mulattoes, along with Angolan soldiers were able to swallow dust of defeat the supposedly invincible racist. Maybe then relied on its technology, wealth and support of the dominant empire. Although it was never our intention, sovereign attitude of our country was not without contradictions with the USSR itself, who did so much for us on really tough days when cutting fuel supplies to Cuba from the United States would have led to a long and costly conflict with the powerful Northern power. Missing that danger or not, the dilemma was deciding to be free or resign themselves to be slaves of the powerful neighboring empire.

In so complicated as access to Angola’s independence situation in direct struggle against neocolonialism, it was impossible not differences arise in some aspects that could have enormous consequences for the objectives, which in the case of Cuba, as part in that struggle, had the right and duty to lead it to success. Whenever we believe any aspect of our foreign policy could collide with the strategic policy of the USSR, did his best to avoid it. Common objectives required of everyone respecting the merits and experiences of each. Modesty is not incompatible with the serious analysis of the complexity and importance of each situation, although in our policy we were always very strict with all that concerned the solidarity with the Soviet Union.In decisive moments of the struggle in Angola against imperialism and racism occurred one of those contradictions, which was derived from our direct involvement in that war and the fact that our forces not only fought, but also instructed each year thousands of Angolan fighters, whom we supported in their struggle against the forces pro and pro Yankee racist South Africa.

A Soviet military was the government advisor and planned employment of Angolan forces. Disagreed, however, on one point and certainly important, repeated often the wrong standard to use in that country the best Angolan troops trained nearly 1500 kilometers from Luanda, the capital, the very conception defended other war, nothing like the subversive and counterrevolutionary guerrilla Angolans. Actually there was no capital UNITA, Savimbi had not resist a point where it was a lure racist South Africa serving over there just to attract the best and Angolan troops supplied to beat them at will. Therefore we opposed to this concept more than once was applied to the last in which he claimed hit the enemy with our own forces that led to the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

I will say that this prolonged military engagement against the South African army occurred following the latest offensive against the alleged “capital of Savimbi” “in a far corner of the border of Angola, South Africa and Namibia busy” to where the brave Angolan forces starting from Cuito Cuanavale, former military base off NATO, although well equipped with the newest armored cars, tanks and other means of combat, began their march hundreds of miles to the alleged counterrevolutionary capital. Our daring fighter pilots supporters with Mig-23 when they were still within their range. When exceeded those limits, the enemy struck heavily Valiant FAPLA soldiers with combat aircraft, heavy artillery and well equipped ground forces, causing heavy casualties in dead and wounded. But this time they were going, in pursuit of battered Angolan brigades to the former NATO military base.

The Angolan units retreated on a front of several miles wide with gaps of miles of separation between them. Given the severity of the losses and the danger that could result from them, with the usual application of security advice to the President of Angola to appeal to the Cuban support would occur, and it did. The strong response this time was that such a request would be accepted only if all the forces and means of Angolans fighting on the Southern Front were subordinated to the Cuban military command. The immediate result was that this condition is accepted.Forces quickly mobilized depending on the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, where the South African invaders and their sophisticated weapons crashed into the armored units, artillery and conventional Mig-23 piloted by the brave pilots of our aviation. The artillery, tanks and other Angolan media located at this point that lacked staff were put on combat readiness by Cuban personnel.

The Angolans tanks retreating could not overcome the obstacle of the mighty river Queve, east of the old NATO base “whose bridge had been destroyed weeks ago by a South African drone laden with explosives” were buried and surrounded by antipersonnel and antitank. South African troops advancing ran a short distance to an impassable barrier which crashed. That way with a minimum of casualties and advantageous conditions, the South African forces were decisively defeated at the Angolan territory. But the fight was not over, imperialism in collusion with Israel to South Africa had become a nuclear country. In our army we played a second time the risk of becoming a target of such a weapon. But that point, with all relevant evidence, is for developed and perhaps we can write in the coming months.

What events occurred last night that this extended analysis led?

Two facts, in my opinion, of particular importance:

The first game of the Cuban Medical Brigade to Africa to fight Ebola. The brutal murder in Caracas, Venezuela, the young revolutionary deputy Robert Serra.

Both facts reflect the heroic spirit and the ability of the revolutionary processes taking place in the homeland of José Martí and the birthplace of American freedom, the heroic Venezuela Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. Many lessons contained in these amazing events! Just the words enough to express the moral value of such events that occurred almost simultaneously. Could never believe that the crime of the young Venezuelan deputy is by chance. It would be so amazing, and so adjusted to the practice of the worst Yankee intelligence agencies, the real chance outside the disgusting fact not been done intentionally, even when it absolutely fits as planned and announced by the enemies of the Venezuelan Revolution.

Anyway I think it is absolutely correct the position of the Venezuelan authorities to raise the need to investigate the nature of the crime. The people, however, expressed his deep conviction touched on the nature of the brutal fact blood.

Sending the first medical brigade to Sierra Leone, noted as one of the major points of presence of the cruel Ebola epidemic is an example of a country which can boast, it is not possible at this time to reach a place of highest honor and glory.If anyone had the slightest doubt that the hundreds of thousands of fighters who went to Angola and other countries in Africa or America, lent to mankind an example that can never be erased from human history; least hesitation that the heroic action of the army of white coats occupy a high place of honor in that story.

There are manufacturers who reach lethal weapons deserved honor. May the example of Cubans march to Africa also garment in the minds and hearts of other physicians in the world, especially those with more resources, practice one religion or another, or the deepest conviction of duty of human solidarity.
It does the work of those who go into battle against Ebola and the survival of other human beings, even at the risk of his own life. We must not stop doing everything possible to ensure, to fulfill such duties, the maximum safety in performing tasks and measures to take to protect them and our own people, in this or other diseases and epidemics. The staff marching to Africa is also protecting us who were here, because the worst that can happen is that such an epidemic or other worst extend our continent, in the midst of the people of any country in the world, where a child , a mother or a human being can die. There are enough doctors on the planet so that nobody has to die for lack of attendance. It’s what I want to express.

Honor and glory to our brave fighters for the health and life!

Honor and glory for the young Venezuelan revolutionary Robert Serra with companion Mary Herrera!

Write these ideas on October 2 when I heard two news, but preferred to wait another day for the international opinion is well informed and ask Granma to publish it on Saturday.

Fidel Castro Ruz

Despite being described by Spain’s public health director as “a national jewel,” the head of Spain’s Nursing Council warns “something went wrong” in the health care system’s protocols. As RT reports, Spanish health officials have 4 patients interned including infected initial nurse, her husband, and a 2nd nurse (male). Furthermore, 22 more possible Ebola cases are under surveillance having had direct contact with the infected nurse during her vacation after being infected (officials have said they ‘don’t know’ how she became infected with the deadly virus). Images within the hospital show “irregularities” and make-shift isolation units and an insider account said “I do not want to create social alarm, but explain what is still a reality everyday for a few months of nursing staff at the ICU.”. One researcher noted ”air traffic is the driver.,” and added ominously, “it’s just a matter of who gets lucky and who gets unlucky.”

As RT reports,

Health officials in Madrid say three more people are in the hospital on suspicion of contracting Ebola. The news comes a day after a nurse who treated two Ebola patients at a city hospital became infected with the disease.

The nurse is now being treated with a drip using antibodies from those previously infected with the virus, Reuters reports. Approximately 22 contacts of the woman, often referred to as the ‘Spanish Ebola nurse,’ have been identified and are being monitored, Madrid health officials told a press conference on Tuesday.

The officials added that the hospitalized include the nurse’s husband, another health worker and a traveler who had spent time in one of he affected West African countries.

Spanish authorities are struggling to explain the infection, as The Daily Mail reports

“At the moment we are investigating the way in which the professional was infected,” said Antonio Alemany, the head of Madrid’s primary health care services.

“We don’t know yet what failed,” he was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “We’re investigating the mechanism of infection.”

Mercedes Vinuesa, the head of Spain’s public health service, told parliament today that the nurse’s husband had been placed in quarantine.

And, as RT reports, in a similar vein to Dallas, it appears local hospitals were anything but prepared for this…

Spanish authorities have come under increasing pressure to explain how the disease was able to spread in their hopital. While they say all proper protocols and procedure were followed while providing care to the deceased missionaries, reports to the contrary have surfaced.

According to the Guardian, staff at the hospital said waste from the rooms of both patients had been carried out in the same elevator used by all personnel. The hospital was also reportedly not evacuated when the second patient, García Viejo, was taken in to receive treatment.

Union workers also accused the government of providing hospital staff with adequate hazmat-suits.

Some Spanish medical-worker representatives said the situation should prompt an overhaul of the procedures and facilities used to treat those afflicted with the virus.

“Something went wrong,” Máximo Gonzalez Jurado, head of Spain’s General Nursing Council, told Spanish news agency EFE. “They need to establish if the protocol is correct or not correct so that a case like this, that never should have happened, doesn’t happen again.”

*  *  *

“Air traffic is the driver,” warns Professor Alessandro Vespignani of Northeastern University in Boston…predicting where the virus will spread…

There is a 50 per cent chance a traveller carrying the disease could touch down in the UK by October 24, a team of U.S. researchers have predicted.

Using Ebola spread patterns and airline traffic data they have calculated the odds of the virus spreading across the world.

They estimate there is a 75 per cent chance Ebola will reach French shores by October 24.

And Belgium has a 40 per cent chance of seeing the disease arrive on its territory, while Spain and Switzerland have lower risks of 14 per cent each.

 

‘It’s just a matter of who gets lucky and who gets unlucky.”

*  *  *

An insider whistle-blows on the weakness in Spanish anti-Ebola protocols (via Google Translate)

I am a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Hospital La Paz. The reason for addressing you is to inform the public the facts that have happened recently regarding the “Crisis of the Ebola virus” opinion. Do not want to create social alarm, but tell what is still a reality in everyday for a few months of nursing staff the ICU among which I include ago.

Since the hospital was named La Paz as a reference center for the diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection in April 2014, the staff has been showing its disconfor to that measure and irregularities have been committing the direction of nursing the hospital as a whole. (See attachment Notification Judge).

These irregularities summarize, focus on that:

• The hospital does not have adequate infrastructure to enter patients affected with this type of disease (the famous isolation rooms with negative pressure).

• The original protocols of the Ministry of Health were modified to fit like the gaps that had the hospital: If you do not have “negative pressure” we say “as far as is demonstrated airborne transmission is not necessary.”

• General (modified or not) protocols are not handed to staff for knowledge, nor were exposed at various meetings with management nursing.

• As ICU care were demanding the implementation of specific protocols UCI (Today still not exist or at least personnel have not arrived)

• Staff training requires the completion of courses and training to work in situations like this.

• The Department of Preventive Medicine Hospital offers two informative talks (45 minutes) of such as personal protective equipment required. In those talks and the inexperience of the same staff that taught, costumes torn apart, replaced the shims for plastic bags, there were no complete SCUBA and coming to say more or less I had to do a hack to cover his face with masking tape.

Without being solved any of these issues by the Department of the hospital, you will hanging out and communicating to staff that will be the Hospital of the defense “Gómez Ulla” who takes these emergencies but as it is in the process of reform to create appropriate facilities, until the month of October will remain referral hospital.

Finally only remains to emphasize that in all this there is a lot of improvisation and a lot of reckless attitude of those who truly, really … NOT going to be ahead of the virus at him in the face. Listen to those who are on the front line have something to say.

*  *  *

Un-contained…

America is Truly a Country Run for the Few

October 7th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics headline this morning reads:  “Payroll employment increases by 248,000 in September; unemployment rate declines to 5.9%.”

How can this be?  US corporations are investing in buying back their own stocks, not in new business ventures that produce new jobs.

According to the Census Bureau’s Poverty Report, US real median family income has declined to the level of twenty years ago.    Consumer credit and real retail sales are not growing.  Construction is limited to rental units.  Construction shows 16,000 new jobs, half of which are “specialty trade contractors” or home remodelers.

The payroll jobs report lists 35,300 new jobs in retail trade.  How is this possible when J.C. Penny’s, Macy’s, Sears, and the dollar store chains are in trouble and closing stores, and shopping centers are renting space by the day or hour?

At a time when there is a surfeit of office buildings and only 500 new jobs in “heavy and civil engineering construction,” the jobs report says 6,000 new jobs have been created in “architectural and engineering services.”  What work are these architects and engineers doing?

The 4,900 computer systems jobs, if they exist, are likely short-term contracts from 6 to 18 months.  Those who have the jobs are not employees but “independent contractors.”

The payroll jobs report gives an unusually high number–81,000–of “professional and business services” jobs of which 60,000 are “administrative and waste services,” primarily “temporary help services.”

“Health care and social assistance” accounts for 22,700 of the new jobs, of which 63 percent consist of “ambulatory health care services.”

“Performing arts and spectator sports” gave the economy 7,200 jobs, and 20,400 Americans found employment as waitresses and bartenders.

State governments hired 22,000 people.

Let’s overlook the contribution of the discredited “birth-death model” which overstates on average the monthly payroll jobs by at least 50,000, and let’s ignore the manipulation of seasonal adjustments.  Instead, let’s assume the numbers are real. What kind of economy are we looking at?

We are looking at the workforce of a third world country with the vast bulk of the jobs in low-pay domestic service jobs.  People working these part-time and independent contractor jobs cannot form a household or obtain a mortgage.

As John Titus, Dave Kranzler and I have shown, these jobs are filled by those aged 55 and over who take the low paying jobs in order to supplement meager retirement incomes. The baby boomers are the only part of the US labor force whose participation rate is rising.   Of the claimed new jobs in September, 230,000 or 93 percent were jobs filled by those 55 and older. Employment of  Americans of prime working age (25-54) declined by10,000 jobs in September from the August level.

As the US labor force continues its transition from first world to third world, real median family income will continue to decline.  Ladders of upward mobility will continue to be dismantled, and income and wealth will continue to concentrate in the pockets of the One Percent.  America is truly a country run for the few.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is How America Was Lost.

Questioning someone’s integrity is not something I do lightly, especially when I share much ideological common ground with them. But the unsavoury behaviour of George Monbiot, a leading columnist for the Guardian and one of Britain’s most prominent progressive intellectuals, is becoming ever harder to overlook – and forgive.

On a whole range of issues, such as corporate greed and threats to the planet posed by climate change, I agree wholeheartedly with Monbiot. It is also entirely possible for two people to disagree, even intensely, but still believe their opponent’s views are legitimate and advanced in good faith. That is how I regard, for example, Monbiot’s support for nuclear power as the least-bad option for dealing with mounting carbon emissions. It’s not a position I share, but he has set out his reasoning clearly and honestly. But I can extend no such understanding to his campaign of vilification begun three years ago against several leading figures on the progressive left.

It started with an article in 2011 in which he attacked two scholars for publishing a book, the Politics of Genocide, in which they collected together their own and other experts’ research into two supposedly well-documented genocides, in Rwanda and the Balkans. After examining the evidence, they reached a controversial conclusion: that the nature of events in both genocides had been distorted to fit western political agendas.

They did not question that large numbers of people had been killed in either conflict. They and their contributors argued instead that the term “genocide” had been used as a way to draw a veil over the events, cementing an official narrative that could not be questioned or re-assessed. Instead, they suggested, the official narrative might be serving political ends rather than reflecting accurately who had been killed and why.

 One of the two authors is Ed Herman, most famous for an influential book, Manufacturing Consent, jointly written with Noam Chomsky, which argues that the mainstream media are not the democratic and pluralistic institutions they claim to be but rather corporations advancing official narratives designed to serve elite – including, of course, their own – interests. Their thesis has only found more adherents over time, particularly as the internet has provided dissident writers, including Chomsky, with a rival platform from which to challenge the consensus policed by the corporate media.

So it is hardly surprising, given their starting point about the media’s role in manufacturing consent, that Herman and his collaborator David Peterson should be suspicious of two of the strongest consensual narratives of recent times: the Rwanda and Balkan genocides, which even had their own dedicated international tribunals established to very publicly try the official bad guys.

It may also not be stretching credulity to suspect that Monbiot, a leftwing intellectual who has thrown in his lot and reputation with the Guardian on the assumption that Herman and Chomsky are wrong about the corporate media, might not look too kindly on their thesis. If Manufacturing Consent is right, then Monbiot is not a guardian of our moral consciences, as he likes to think, but a guardian of the outer limits of a corporate-sanctioned consensus.

It is increasingly hard to shake such suspicions given his behaviour over the past three years. Monbiot’s 2011 column denounced Herman and Peterson as genocide deniers, probably the most serious accusation one can level against a fellow intellectual. One might have assumed that Monbiot would marshal enormous evidence before making such a serious allegation. Not a bit of it: in his column he made a brief and sweeping condemnation of their thesis and their right to question the official narrative.

A single ugly column by Monbiot might possibly have been excused as an unfortunate lapse. But he then revisited the theme a year later in what can only be characterised this time as an exercise in leftwing McCarthyism. Having no stronger argument than before, Monbiot on this occasion recruited four academics to his cause of denouncing Herman and Petersen as genocide deniers.

As someone who himself challenges orthodoxies – in my case Israeli ones – I know precisely how weak this kind of resort to an argument from authority is. Were I to so wish, I could easily seek to discredit the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in similar fashion for his argument – an entirely correct one – that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Israel in 1948. All I would need is find a handful of respected historians and public intellectuals like Benny Morris, Anita Shapira and Ari Shavit to support my case. But what would this prove? Only that the job of many, if not most, “experts” in any field is to help construct and maintain official narratives. That is, after all, why they are official narratives!

But not satisfied with tarring the reputations of Herman and Peterson, this time Monbiot chose to drag in Chomsky too. On his website, he published a lengthy correspondence between the two in which he tried first to cajole, then demand that Chomsky join him in denouncing Herman as a genocide denier. Chomsky staunchly refused, repeatedly providing Monbiot with his reasoning.

Monbiot’s performance here was as ugly as watching McCarthy in his heyday grilling American intellectuals to expose their Communist sympathies. In full righteous mode, Monbiot ended by flaunting like some diva his “depression” at the left’s “idiocy”. He lamented how Chomsky, once his “hero”, had – by refusing to agree with him – proven himself a fellow traveller with genocide deniers. What underlies this argument, unexamined by Monbiot – presumably because he lacks the self-awareness to understand it – is a serious divergence of views about power.

Monbiot’s clash with Herman, Peterson and Chomsky is not really over the facts of a genocide, but over who has a right to speak. Monbiot, embedded in the camp of the corporate media, has adopted its ethos as his own. Those who are respected – that is, those who stay within the limits of officially sanctioned thought – have the right to advance their claims. Those outside the magic circle – those not credited by the corporate guardians of legitimate thought – do not. Herman, Peterson and Chomsky’s work implicitly exposes the vacuous and circular logic of Monbiot’s assumptions.

That point becomes especially clear if one reads through Monbiot’s correspondence with Chomsky. Chomsky struggles to hide his exasperation at Monbiot’s inability to grasp the elementary arguments he is making, even though he is forced to make them repeatedly. Monbiot, on the other hand, thinks he has cornered Chomsky in some kind of intellectual hypocrisy. What he has revealed instead is how deeply embedded he is in the corporate mindset, one that reserves for itself the right to determine the limits of the thinkable.

Interestingly this month, however, Monbiot found his own assumptions exposed from an unlikely quarter: the BBC. The corporation – one of the most powerful enforcers of official narratives – made an unusually daring programme, Rwanda’s Untold Story, questioning the consensus on the Rwandan genocide, all be it 20 years after the events. The programme-makers’ conclusions echoed those of Herman and Peterson: that census figures and death toll estimates do not support the accepted narrative of a genocide in which the Tutsis were the main victims of the slaughter. The data, in fact, indicate the exact opposite: more Hutus were killed than Tutsis, possibly many times more.

This has ramifications beyond the historical. Paul Kagame, the leader of the Tutsi militia the RPF, and therefore now potentially in the frame as the chief perpetrator of a genocide against the Hutus, is today the much-respected leader of Rwanda, a man feted by western leaders.

On my blog I suggested last week, given that even the hyper-cautious BBC appears ready to concede that the Rwanda genocide needs a reassessment, it might be time for Monbiot to apologise for his ugly accusations against Herman, Peterson, Chomsky and others.

So far Monbiot has made no proper response, despite receiving similar demands for a retraction from a number of people on social media. It would be nice to think that his silence suggests he is engaged in soul-searching and formulating the necessary response. But unfortunately the omens are not good.

Monbiot has not yet spoken himself but he has not remained entirely silent either. In an indication that this may be more about his ego and self-appointed status as guardian of a left righteousness, he retweeted a flippant dismissal of his critics, including me, provided by a group called Mediocre Lens.

Sadly, that is very much of a piece with Monbiot’s behaviour on this issue. Mediocre Lens is the poor cousin of what Monbiot has rightly exposed elsewhere as the phenomenon of “fake persuaders”, usually corporate lobbyists hiding behind front organisations that pose as “concerned ordinary citizens”. The point of the fake persuaders is to create the impression of popular support for corporate policies that harm our interests, such as destroying forests and polluting rivers. In short, the fake persuaders are there to uphold official narratives that serve business interests.

Mediocre Lens does something similar, if rather more feebly. In its case it claims to be a group of ordinary journalists with a “left perspective” who promote the idea that the mainstream media is there to serve our interests. More precisely, its sole rationale is to discredit Media Lens, an increasingly popular website whose editors – wait for it – advance the thesis of Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.

Monbiot’s promotion of a tweet from Mediocre Lens should make about as much sense – if he were the independent thinker he claims to be – as Naomi Klein retweeting approvingly an attack on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by a climate change denial group.

But it makes rather more sense if we understand that Monbiot is no longer what he claims to be or seems. Years of being embedded in the corporate media have eroded his ability to remain truly independent or to appreciate those like Herman, Peterson and Chomsky who demand the right to retain that privilege for themselves.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

Where is the Antiwar Movement?

October 7th, 2014 by Alex Kane

When President Obama said he intended to strike Syria last year after the Assad regime launched a chemical weapons attack, anti-war sentiment surged in the U.S. Phone calls and e-mails poured into Congressional offices with one message: don’t bomb Syria. The president eventually backed off from his plan after agreeing to a Russian proposal that saw President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons.

One year later, the administration declared war on the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group that has taken over territory in Syria and Iraq. Warplanes have repeatedly hit targets in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S. is reportedly considering a no-fly zone over Syria.  But this U.S. war is commencing with no serious opposition to slow the president down.

The anti-war movement is struggling to gain traction in the face of headwinds that include fear over the Islamic State, or ISIS, a media incessantly broadcasting news of ISIS atrocities and the loss of one obvious leverage point: Congress. Last year, Obama tossed the ball to Congress on the question of whether to attack the Assad regime. This time, though, there has been no Congressional vote on whether the U.S. should bomb Syria and Iraq. The president did it anyway in a move criticized by some legal analysts.

There has been no big demonstration to call attention to anti-war sentiment, though groups have held dozens of small actions.

For now, polls show that the American people are backing U.S. intervention, though they don’t want U.S. troops to be sent to Syria or Iraq. (At least 1,600 soldiers are already in Iraq in what the administration says is an “advisory” role.)

Anti-war organizers say that the beheadings of two American journalists–James Foley and Steven Sotloff–by ISIS are the principal reason why there’s widespread support for the intervention.

“It’s always hard in the beginning of a war when you have all of the hype about how awful the enemy is, and the enemy is always awful. and certainly ISIS is no different–it’s horrible just like Saddam Hussein was horrible, just like Al Qaeda is horrible and the Taliban is horrible,”

said Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CODEPINK, a group that has been visibly active against the new U.S. bombing campaigns. “The beheadings are particularly impactful on people’s sense of outrage.”

Adding to the anti-war movement’s difficulties is that “this is a different fight than the ones we’ve had before…it’s a much more complicated situation, it requires much more public education, much more understanding the issue,” said Stephen Miles, the advocacy director of Win Without War, a coalition of about 40 progressive groups.

Organizers also say that media outlets have played a big role in encouraging support for war. Some prominent figures like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have voiced skepticism and opposition about American intervention. But that’s more the exception than the rule. “War time is when TV screens are full of former generals and hawkish politicians, and reporters are busy transmitting official claims,” wrote Peter Hart, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s activism director, in a September blog post criticizing media coverage of the intervention against ISIS.

Compounding these obstacles for the anti-war movement is that the election of President Obama in 2008 deflated activism in opposition to Middle Eastern wars. CODEPINK’s Benjamin said that the decrease in peace activism can be attributed to a focus on domestic issues, frustration at the inability to change U.S. foreign policy, Democratic support for the president and Obama’s opaque drone wars. “We’ve never been able to have a big demonstration, anti-war demonstration, ever since Obama came into office. So that’s number one–the whole peace movement is really a shadow of what it was under Bush,” she said.

But even though organizers acknowledge the uphill battle, some say there’s cause for optimism. There was some Congressional opposition to arming Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. The authorization to help rebels passed the House by a 273-156 vote; the Senate opposition amounted to only 22 votes.

“This war is far less popular than either the Afghanistan or Iraq War at their outset at this time period. And it’s worth remembering that inevitably what happens, no matter where these wars start, they always end at the same place, which is incredibly unpopular,”

Win Without War’s Miles told me.

So where does the anti-war movement go from here? Ali Issa, the national field organizer with War Resisters League, says the key is connecting struggles against militarism to other movements. War Resisters League has been linking police militarization in the U.S. and war-making worldwide. He cited the “multi-racial, cross-movement coalition” that opposed Urban Shield, an annual international weapons expo featuring SWAT training. The event also sees arms vendors showing off their wares to police departments around the country and globe. After protests were held, the mayor of Oakland announced that Urban Shield would no longer be held in the city.

“If we take this experience as a lesson for how to address the recent U.S. military escalation, that can provide a model for how the anti-war movement builds across communities,” he said. “Without strategic organizing centered on relationship building, it’s going to be hard to break through the pro-war media noise which exists to shock and awe us.”

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University’s Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Anti-fracking protesters outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s policy summit in 2012. (Photo: Credo Action/cc/flickr)

Internal government documents show how state officials may have tried “to mitigate any political complication” the research may have caused for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gas drilling policies

The administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo altered and delayed the findings of a key federal fracking study commissioned by the state, according to a review of internal government documents published on Monday.

An original draft of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) study, obtained and reported on by the Albany newspaper Capital, reportedly contained descriptions of environmental and health risks posed by the shale gas drilling technique. However, following “extensive” email communication between the USGS representatives, study authors and state officials—also obtained in “heavily redacted form” through a Freedom of Information Act request—those details were either “played down or removed” from the final published report.

“The messages reveal an active role by Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation in shaping the text, and determining the timing of the report’s release,” writes Capital reporter Scott Waldman.

The study was commissioned in 2011 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Capital notes, as a potential stepping stone to implementing a controversial plan to begin fracking on a “limited scale” in a number of Southern Tier counties, generally found west of the Catskill Mountains along Pennsylvania’s northern border. According to the state’s contract with USGS, “the objective of the proposed study is to define a pre-shale-gas-development baseline.”

Fierce community resistance has thus far delayed those plans as local groups have repeatedly called for a permanent state-wide fracking ban to replace the temporary moratorium currently in place. The controversial drilling technique has been linked to the pollution of air and groundwater, as well the increased emission of methane, found to be a major contributor to climate change.

Anti-fracking advocates across the world are mobilizing for the 2014 Global Frackdown on October 11, during which over 200 organizations will band together for an international day of protests to call for an end to fracking and a shift to a renewable energy system.

In light of his upcoming reelection bid, Cuomo has continually maintained an official “non-position” over fracking, while simultaneously cobbling together plans to build more gas infrastructure including a gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region.

“The administration’s involvement in shaping the report seems designed, above all, to mitigate any political complication it might have caused the governor as he formulated his plan for fracking,” Waldman reports.

According to documents obtained by Capital, the draft report included a note that gas “drilling, extraction, transport via pipelines, and underground storage” could inadvertently introduce methane into drinking water supplies.

“But the version published after the copy was reviewed and edited by staff members from the state D.E.C. and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority omits the reference to pipelines and underground storage,” Waldman continues. “The later, administration-vetted version also includes a line that wasn’t in the earlier draft, saying that methane pollution risks in fracking are mitigated by well designed gas wells: ‘This risk can be reduced if the casing and cementing of wells is properly designed and constructed.’”

Further, according to Waldman’s investigation, the redacted emails also reveal that, following the study’s publication, NYSERDA officials tracked people who read the report online and then grouped them “into a few categories including Syracuse and Penn State universities, the U.S. Department of Energy, Chesapeake Energy, state government addresses and a ‘known state landowner/lease group cooperative,’ which is likely the Joint Landowners Coalition,”—a pro-drilling group.

Amid reports that nearly 350 US-led air strikes over the past three weeks have failed to stem advances by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, there are mounting signs of justifications being prepared, and plans made, for an escalating presence of US ground forces in the region.

Low-flying US Apache helicopters have also joined the attacks on ISIS positions in Iraq, marking a major shift in the military intervention, and bringing closer the prospect of the full-scale involvement of “troops on the ground.”

For all President Obama’s denials of any intention to send “combat troops” into Iraq and Syria, the latest developments underline the fact that ISIS, itself the creation of the earlier US interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria, has provided a pretext for a renewed US-led intervention to oust President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria.

Media reports from northern Syria indicate that ISIS fighters are getting closer to taking control of the Turkish border town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, which has been under siege by ISIS for the past three weeks. Street-to-street fighting is said to be underway with Kurdish militias, forcing the evacuation of all civilians.

Air strikes by the US and its allies failed to halt the advance of ISIS, which has besieged the town from three sides and pounded it with heavy artillery. ISIS has seized much of the area around Kobane, triggering an exodus of some 186,000 refugees into nearby Turkey.

If ISIS takes Kobane, it will command a large tract of land along the Turkish-Syrian border and for 300 kilometres down to Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, adding to the significant areas, including the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, it controls in northern and western Iraq.

In what could be a preparation for intervention, Turkey increased its military presence in the Kobane area on Monday, locking down country roads and positioning a long line of tanks on a hill overlooking the border. Turkish troops also suppressed Kurdish protesters demanding to be permitted to join the battle against ISIS, clearing any gatherings with barrages of tear gas and water cannon.

Other media outlets fuelled calls for US ground intervention by reporting that Abu Ghraib, only about 40 kilometres from Baghdad, was in ISIS hands, bringing the capital, and particularly its international airport, within ISIS’s artillery range. ISIS also continued its advance elsewhere in Iraq’s western Anbar province, seizing Kubaisa, another town near the provincial capital, on Saturday.

The US Central Command, which is responsible for the US forces in the Middle East, announced yesterday that it was flying Apache helicopters against ISIS for the first time, thus exposing US troops to greater risk from ground fire. According to a spokesman, the helicopters struck at mortar teams and other units near Fallujah.

Christopher Harmer, a former Navy aviator who is now an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War think tank, told Reuters this was a significant escalation in the level of risk being taken by US troops. “When you’re flying a helicopter 150 feet (50 meters) above the ground, that helicopter can be shot with a rocket-propelled grenade or a heavy machine gun,” Harmer noted.

Any such losses, and in particular helicopter crew members falling into the hands of ISIS, would trigger further demands for the deployment of US ground forces.

In another ominous development, NATO’s recently installed secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, declared that the US-dominated body stood ready to assist Turkey if it became involved in the Syrian conflict. “The Turks know that NATO will be there if there is any spillover and attacks on Turkey as a consequence of the violence we see in Syria,” he said.

Speaking from Poland, Stoltenberg said NATO’s main responsibility was to protect all allied countries and for this reason the military alliance had deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey. He claimed that NATO was facing “challenges” on its southern border, as well as its eastern flank, nominating both ISIS and Russia as “threats” to the alliance.

The implications of these events became clearer when Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared his country’s willingness to send troops into Syria, provided that it was part of a coordinated campaign to oust Assad. “We are ready to do everything if there is a clear strategy that after ISIS, we can be sure that our border will be protected,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday.

For the past three years, the Turkish government, led by now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been heavily involved, alongside Washington, in helping fund and arm the Islamist militias, including ISIS, that launched the civil war against Assad. It criticised the US last year for shelving plans to bomb Syria.

Davutoglu told Amanpour that US air strikes in Syria were necessary but not enough for a victory, insisting that nothing would be resolved until Assad was removed. “If ISIS goes, another radical organisation may come in,” he said. “So our approach should be comprehensive, inclusive, strategic and combined … to eliminate all terrorist threats in the future, and also to eliminate all brutal crimes against humanity committed by the regime.”

The Turkish prime minister asserted that ISIS had exploited Washington’s failure to move against Assad. Davutoglu also reiterated Turkey’s support “by all means” for the so-called moderate opposition in Syria. His comments underscore the real thrust of the supposed new “coalition of the willing” assembled by the US for its war in Iraq and Syria—to remove Assad’s government, which is backed by Iran and Russia.

Davutoglu said Turkey warned the West “several times” about the rise of radicalism in Syria. His remarks were also directed at putting a lid on the embarrassing admission made by US Vice President Joe Biden last week, when he accused Turkey of funding and arming the jihadist groups in Syria, like ISIS, al-Nusra and other Al Qaeda-linked elements.

The truth is that the US and its regional allies, notably Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, poured weapons and millions of dollars into the hands of ISIS and other militias fighting the Syrian government, and only turned on ISIS after its conquests spread to Iraq, threatening to overturn the US puppet regime there.

Even now, while it seeks to halt ISIS’s advances, the US is arming and promoting “moderate” forces within Syria that are openly allied with al-Nusra and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. This includes the so-called Free Syrian Army, which has known ties to Islamist factions. According to media reports, Washington is still trying to decide which of these proxy forces it will train, arm and fund as it seeks to create a 5,000-strong anti-Assad army.

Behind the “war against ISIS,” the main target of American imperialism remains the Syrian government, which is why Turkey and other countries that fostered ISIS are now supporting the operation. Washington’s strategic goal remains the domination of the entire energy-rich and geo-strategically vital Middle East and Central Asia.

Germany to Deploy Combat Troops in Ukraine

October 7th, 2014 by Christoph Dreier

On 29 August 1944, the Soviet Red Army ended the Lvov-Sandomierz operation which liberated Western Ukraine from German army occupation. German troops left behind a devastated country. Now, the government in Berlin is moving to deploy German troops to Ukraine for the first time since the Second World War.

On Friday, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen informed the Defence Committee of the government’s plans to massively expand German army (Bundeswehr) missions abroad. The current German training mission in Iraq is to be expanded, in addition to the operations in Ukraine.

According to von der Leyen, the government plans to send a still unknown number of reconnaissance drones to the embattled region of eastern Ukraine. The drones are to be deployed as part of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission to monitor the ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.

The decision is based on an agreement struck between the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the French President François Hollande on the fringes of the last NATO summit in Wales. In September, the two governments sent a team of observers to clarify details of the operation.

According to a report in the Bild newspaper, the team concluded that at least 150 German soldiers were needed to keep the drones regularly in the air, plus 50 additional armed soldiers to protect the operation.

The possible deployment of German troops comes at a critical time. When it appeared a few weeks ago that Ukrainian armed forces were on the verge of defeat, President Petro Poroshenko negotiated a truce with the separatists. This truce has been violated on a daily basis.

Dozens of people, including many civilians, have been killed in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in the last days by artillery shelling and missiles fired by Ukrainian forces. The Kiev government says that the attacks were carried out by rogue forces over which it had no control. The rebels report, however, that either the Kiev regime had lost control over sections of its troops drawn from private battalions, or that Kiev had deliberately broken the ceasefire.

German troops will not take a neutral position in war-torn eastern Ukraine. Along with the US, the German government was a driving force behind the coup in February to overthrow the government of President Viktor Yanukovych. Since then it has offered strong support to the regime in Kiev, which in turn relies on fascist forces. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin enthusiastically welcomed the German offer to deploy drones.

The OSCE includes Russia, and any expansion of its mandate would require the agreement of all 57 member states. OSCE spokeswoman Natacha Rajakovic, therefore, described any possible German-French intervention as “speculation”. In particular, any use of armed troops is likely to be resisted. The OSCE up to now has insisted that its mission in Ukraine is of an unarmed, civilian character.

On Monday, however, the French news agency AFP announced that two of a total of four drones had already been sent to Ukraine.

It would not be the first time that Germany has used the OSCE as a cover for its own military operations in Ukraine. In April, a group of 13 soldiers led by four German officers were accused of espionage activities by pro-Russian separatists. Germany claimed that the arrested soldiers were part of a civilian OSCE mission in the country, which the OSCE firmly denied.

In September, three German soldiers were involved in NATO maneuvers in Western Ukraine.

The new NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made his first official trip to Poland on Monday and publicly threatened Russia. Stoltenberg said that NATO could deploy its forces wherever it wanted, essentially rejecting a treaty signed with Russia in 1997 that prohibits the permanent stationing of NATO troops on the borders of Russia.

In addition to the Ukraine mission, von der Leyen also announced an expansion of the German army’s deployment in Iraq. The government is planning to establish an outpost in the northern Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, where the Bundeswehr is to train Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers. German officers will also support the Iraqi Joint Staff.

The training center would be part of a network of eight to twelve such camps intended to officially augment the US-offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In reality, the air strikes by the US-led coalition and the equipping of Iraq and the Kurds are primarily directed against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, while ensuring American dominance in the region.

The German ruling class is determined to increase its participation in the new war in the Middle East to make sure its interests are also represented.

The expansion of Bundeswehr operations abroad is the next stage of a comprehensive campaign to militarize Germany. Earlier this year, the Berlin government announced the end of all military restraint. Since then it has systematically worked on the implementation of these plans.

In the last few weeks, there has been an unceasing campaign in political circles and the media devoted to demonstrating the apparent disastrous condition of the army and the necessity for a huge increase in military spending. A report was published by the KPMG consulting firm on Monday, listing the problems and deficiencies in major arms projects. The order for the report was given by von der Leyen in February.

Von der Leyen used the report and the announcements of the new military missions to argue for a massive increase in the defense budget. On Sunday, the defence minister declared that the crises all over the world “demand that we take responsibility.”

In prose recalling the German satirist Karl Valentin, von der Leyen declared: “We are, I believe, all aware of how urgently Germany responsibility is needed in this difficult, crisis-ridden world. That means we will also have to invest in it, and that costs money.”

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agencies investigated the appearance of what appeared to be GE wheat on an Oregon farm, and concluded that it was an isolated incident. The investigation was closed after ‘exhausting all leads,’ but new GMO wheat has been detected at the Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Montana, where Monsanto and researchers grew GE wheat as part of field trials from 2000 to 2003.

The Oregon wheat was later suspected by environmentalists to be a development by Monsanto, meant to withstand the spraying of RoundUp. The APHIS found no evidence at that time that the GE wheat had been released into the market. Just this week, the agency is releasing its full findings on their investigation with personal information and confidential business information redacted.

This time; however, a new investigation will be opened to investigate regulatory compliance issues with the GE wheat found growing at the research facility in Montana. While this site was previously authorized for Monsanto to conduct field trials, the company is not supposed to be growing GM wheat or any other GM crop there now.

Furthermore, the GM wheat found growing there now has been genetically tested and is significantly different from the GE wheat found growing in Oregon last year.

Since the original field trials granted to Monsanto, the APHIS has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties. They are not to be for sale or in commercial production in the U.S.

During the Oregon farm GE wheat investigation, conducted over a period of ten months, 291 interviews were held with wheat growers, grain elevator operators, crop consultants, and wheat researchers. Thousands of pages of evidence were collected and carefully reviewed.

Also, 100 samples were collected from businesses that purchased and sold ‘certified’ seeds from the farm in Oregon, as well as harvested grain that was gathered from the grower. It was after researching this incident exhaustively that the APHIS concluded that the incident was a one-off. No one was sure how the GM wheat was found to be growing at the Oregon farm.

A copy of the 12,842 pages that comprise the complete report of investigation and evidence file is available on the APHIS website.

Montana Investigation

Though Monsanto’s initial GM wheat field tests were conducted under APHIS’ regulatory approval, they have no business growing GM wheat now. This is a serious breech of compliance, and as many have suspected, Monsanto has little regard for regulatory approval for their GM crop experiments, though they often receive it through political maneuvering and illegal campaign contributions nonetheless. The field trials were supposed to be a part of research conducted on the safety of GM crops, not a free pass to develop new wheat strains to sell to the unwitting public.

The APHIS claims that it is taking steps to make sure that other strains of GM wheat do not show up elsewhere in the U.S., and that they will inspect field trials planted in 2014. Additionally, they will remove plants that appear ‘as volunteer plants,’ meaning that they appeared later after an initial harvest, as plants sometimes do.

It is clear with this new Montana GM scandal that cross-breeding, the scarce but resilient GM plant that lasts after a crop has been cleared, as well as the insidious business habits of Monsanto are still threatening organic farmers’ fields and the right of the U.S. public to have GMO-free food.

The Ebola Test: Let the Test’s Inventor Speak

October 7th, 2014 by Jon Rappoport

Dr. Kary Mullis

Amidst the hysteria about Ebola, one stubborn fact sits like a rock: everything depends upon being able to accurately diagnose Ebola in each patient.

And then it follows: you must examine the test that is being used to diagnose Ebola. Is it accurate? Does it have flaws? Is it being applied correctly?

Because, if there is a serious problem with the test, the whole house of cards collapses. The entire narrative about Ebola is fatally flawed.

Last week, when a man was admitted to a hospital in Dallas, the CDC held a press conference. CDC Director Tom Frieden stated that this patient had been diagnosed with Ebola—with a test that is “highly accurate. It’s a PCR test of blood.” (see the 2m06s mark in the video of the press conference.)

This is, indeed, the test of choice for Ebola.

However, as I’ve written, the PCR test has problems. It is open to errors. One of those errors occurs right at the beginning of the procedure:

Is the sample taken from the patient actually a virus or a piece of a virus? Or is it just an irrelevant piece of debris?

Another problem is inherent in the method of the PCR itself. The test is based on the amplification of a tiny, tiny speck of genetic material taken from a patient—blowing it up millions of times until it can be observed and analyzed.

Researchers who employ the test claim that, as a result of the procedure, they can also infer the quantity of virus that is present in the patient.

This is crucial, because unless a patient has millions and millions of Ebola virus in his body, there is absolutely no reason to think he is sick or will become sick.

So the question is: can the PCR test allow researchers and doctors to say how much virus is in a patient’s body? Many years ago, journalist John Lauritsenapproached a man named Kary Mullis for an answer.

Source-1: For a brief excerpt from John Lauritsen’s article about Kary Mullis, see Frontiers in Public Health, 23 September, 2014, “Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent,” by Patricia Goodson. (See also this.)

Source-2: For John’s 1996 article in full, see “Has Provincetown Become Protease Town?”

Kary Mullis… is thoroughly convinced that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. With regard to the viral-load tests, which attempt to use PCR for counting viruses, Mullis has stated: ‘Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron.’ PCR is intended to identify substances qualitatively, but by its very nature is unsuited for estimating numbers. Although there is a common misimpression that the viral-load tests actually count the number of viruses in the blood, these tests cannot detect free, infectious viruses at all; they can only detect proteins that are believed, in some cases wrongly, to be unique to HIV. The tests can detect genetic sequences of viruses, but not viruses themselves.

Kary Mullis is a biochemist. He is also a Nobel Prize winner (1993, Chemistry).

And oh yes, one other thing.

Mullis invented the PCR.

That’s why he won the Nobel Prize.

Mullis’ answer was succinct: “Quantitative PCR is an oxymoron.” 

Translation: the PCR test can’t be used to say how much virus is in a person’s body.

Therefore, the CDC’s gold standard for testing Ebola patients says nothing about whether they are sick or will become sick. It says nothing about why some patients do become sick.

And the other problems with the test are significant as well: errors in carrying out the highly sensitive procedure; lab contamination of the sample taken from the patient; choice of a sample that is not a virus at all, or is the wrong virus.

And upon this foundation of sand, the whole “Ebola epidemic” is being foisted on the public.

In analyzing so-called epidemics and their causes for 27 years now, I have often pointed out that the diagnostic test is the key—unless people want to jump to conclusions and spread fear and walk down the wrong road, while patients die for reasons other than the stated causes—including misdirected and highly toxic medical treatment.

Again, I point that out now.

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

The numerous violations of disease protocol surrounding the Dallas, Texas Ebola case are intentional, according to an emergency response manager.

The manager, who was involved in the emergency response to both Hurricane Katrina and Rita in addition to planning for small pox outbreaks, said the official response to the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States purposely avoided the basic actions the government would take to prevent a virus from spreading.

“The reason I know the Ebola outbreak is being conducted on purpose is because it violates all protocol,” he said.

The violations of protocol are almost too numerous to mention. For one thing, government officials were slow to decontaminate the apartment of Thomas Eric Duncan, the 40-year-old Liberian national who was the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S.

Before the apartment was sanitized, however, five Dallas Co. sheriff’s deputies were ordered to enter the unit without protective gear to remove Duncan’s family members who were placed under quarantine.

Dallas Co. Sheriff’s Association President Christopher Dyer said the deputies were uncomfortable with the order.

“They’re very concerned,” Dyer said to WFAA 8. ‎”Their families are concerned. You’ve got to go home and tell your spouse, ‘Hey, I was just inside this house where a guy had Ebola.’”

The workers who were ordered to clean the sidewalk where Duncan vomited were also not wearing protective clothing, despite the fact that Ebola spreads through bodily fluids.

And, like Duncan’s apartment, officials were slow to decontaminate the ambulance which transported Duncan to the hospital, meaning that the homeless man who was transported in the ambulance after Duncan was potentially exposed to the disease.

The Obama administration also refused to ban travelers from Ebola-stricken African nations from entering the U.S., which allowed Duncan to fly to Dallas.

“The fact that [Ebola] being allowed to travel into the United States is insane and the fact that emergency operations have not been activated is insane and this is on purpose and by design,” the emergency response manager stated. “There are many competent people in the CDC, the military and emergency management officers who need to blow the whistle.”

“They’re being ordered to stand down from the top.”

A former CIA officer, Robert David Steele, warned of an Ebola false flag a few weeks before Duncan’s diagnosis.

Hong Kong, sotto l’ombrello

October 7th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Di fronte alla «Umbrella Revolution» (definizione made in Usa), il governo britannico si dice «preoccupato» che a Hong Kong siano garantiti «i fondamentali diritti e le fondamentali libertà». Londra su questo può dare lezione.  Nell’Ottocento  gli inglesi, per penetrare in Cina, ricorrono allo smercio di oppio che portano dall’India, provocando enormi danni economici e sociali. Quando le autorità cinesi confiscano e bruciano a Canton l’oppio immagazzinato, intervengono le truppe inglesi costringendo il governo a firmare nel 1842 il Trattato di Nanchino, che impone tra l’altro la cessione di Hong Kong alla Gran Bretagna. Da allora fino al 1997 Hong Kong è colonia britannica, sotto un governatore inviato da Londra. I cinesi sono sfruttati dai monopoli britannici e segregati, esclusi anche dai quartieri abitati da britannici. Scioperi e ribellioni vengono duramente repressi. Dopo la nascita della Repubblica popolare nel 1949, Pechino, pur rivendicando la sovranità su Hong Kong, la usa  come porta commerciale, favorendone lo sviluppo. La Hong Kong riannessa alla Cina quale regione amministrativa speciale, con 7,3 milioni di abitanti su quasi 1,4 miliardi della Cina, ha oggi un reddito procapite di 38420 dollari annui, più alto di quello italiano, quasi il sestuplo di quello della Cina. Ciò perché Hong Kong, quale porta commerciale della Cina, è il 10° esportatore mondiale di merci e l’11° di servizi commerciali. Inoltre, essa viene visitata ogni anno da oltre 50 milioni di turisti, dei quali 35 milioni cinesi. La crescita economica, pur inegualmenrte distribuita (v. il sottoproletariato locale e straniero che campa con «l’arte di arrangiarsi»), ha portato a un generale miglioramento delle condizioni di vita, confermato dal fatto che la durata media della vita è salita a 84 anni (rispetto a 75 nell’intera Cina). Il movimento studentesco nato a Hong Kong per chiedere che l’elezione del capo di governo sia diretta e non condizionata da Pechino, è formato da giovani appartenenti in genere agli strati sociali avvantaggiati dalla crescita economica. Su questo sfondo si pone la domanda: perché, mentre si ignorano centinaia di milioni di persone che in tutto il mondo lottano ogni giorno per i più elementari diritti umani in condizioni ben peggiori, si trasformano alcune migliaia di studenti di Hong Kong, al di là delle loro stesse rivendicazioni, in icona globale di lotta per la democrazia? La risposta va cercata a Washington. Gli ispiratori e i capi di quello che viene definito «un movimento senza leader» – dimostra un’ampia documentazione –  sono collegati al Dipartimento di stato e a sue emanazioni sotto forma di «organizzazioni non-governative», in particolare la «Donazione nazionale per la democrazia» (Ned) e l’«Istituto democratico nazionale» (Ndi) che, dotate di ingenti fondi, sostengono «gruppi democratici non-governativi» in un centinaio di paesi. Due esempi fra i tanti. Benny Tai, il docente di Hong Kong che ha lanciato il movimento «Occupy Central»  (v. il South China Morning Post del 27 settembre), è divenuto influente grazie a una serie di forum finanziati da queste «ong». Martin Lee, fondatore del «Partito democratico» di Hong Kong, è stato invitato a Washington dalla Ned e, dopo un briefing teletrasmesso (2 aprile), è stato ricevuto alla Casa Bianca il 7 aprile dal vice-presidente Biden. Da questi e altri fatti emerge una strategia, analoga a quella delle «rivoluzioni colorate» nell’Est europeo, che, strumentalizzando il movimento studentesco, mira a rendere Hong Kong ingovernabile e a creare movimenti analoghi in altre zone della Cina abitate da minoranze nazionali.

Manlio Dinucci

Since the global food crisis of 2008, there has been a massive wave of private sector investment in food production. The World Bank maintains that this money means innovation, jobs and more food for a hungry planet.

But examining the investments made by one of the most active private sector players in the global rush to acquire farmland – Chinnakannan Sivasankaran – GRAIN has uncovered a worrying picture of how foreign investors are grabbing the lands of rural communities in Africa and Asia and setting up complex corporate structures to facilitate tax avoidance, kickbacks and obscene payouts to their directors.

Since 2008, the Indian billionaire’s Siva Group has acquired stakes in around a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations. His investments are channeled through a web of shell companies based in offshore tax havens such as Singapore and the British Virgin Islands, and companies specialising in acquiring lands from poor rural communities, particularly in Africa.

  • Liberia – Sivasankaran bought a controlling interest in UK-registered Equatorial Palm Oil, with claims to two concessions. One was a staggering 700,000 ha concession secured for around $3 million from two anonymous companies registered in the British Virgin Islands; the other, a controversial land deal involving people close to President Sirleaf that has degenerated into violent conflicts with the local community who say they were never consulted and who refuse to give up their lands.
  • Sierra Leone – Several communities are outraged at a series of concessions secured by UK army veteran Kevin Godlington on behalf of British businessmen. These were eventually sold to Sivasankaran. Different companies, same address, and same pattern in each case – deals reached via pressure on chiefs, with members of local communities adamant that they have never agreed to part with their land.
  • Côte d’Ivoire – Sivasankaran bought DekelOil, a company based in the tax haven of Cyprus and listed on London’s AIM stock exchange, which raised money with an ambitious plan to lease lands for oil palm plantations and contract growing in the Guitry region. Admin expenses here have totaled ten times more than operating costs as Dekel’s executives draw generous salaries and bonuses. Curiously, local community leaders say they never negotiated any leases for their land and deny the company’s official claim that a deal for the lands was signed.
  • DR Congo – In 2009, a financial whiz kid from Toronto promised to revolutionise African agriculture with a bold new startup called Feronia. Ravi Sood bought up an old Unilever plantation, raised $20 million from Sivasankaran and several funds managed by Sood. But the company has declared escalating losses every year, its stock price has tanked and local communities say working conditions and services provided by the company to the community have deteriorated badly. This has not stopped Feronia from making handsome payouts to its directors, one of whom is a right-hand man to President Kabila. Nor did it stop the UK’s CDC and other European development finance agencies from taking over the company and bailing out its shareholders last year.
  • Papua New Guinea – Sivasankaran-owned Geoff Palm, based in the tax haven of Labuan, Malaysia, took control of a 110,000 hectare concession in East Sepik Province that belonged to 230 local clans before it was converted to a special lease behind their backs and snapped up by a local MP, who then leased it to a mysterious Australian company, SPV. A month later, SPV sold it to Geoff Palm. Locals say they were never consulted – they haven’t even seen the papers that transferred their lands, and don’t know who signed them.

“The companies Sivasankaran has invested in are far better at funnelling generous payments into the pockets of their directors than they are at producing food,” says Devlin Kuyek, a research with GRAIN. “Sivasankaran symbolises a new wave of investors that are stripping peasant farmers of the main assets they need for their livelihoods and for producing food for their communities – their lands.”

Instead of protecting local people or holding investors to account, governments are providing these investors with generous incentives and support. The door is thus left wide open for financial players like Sivasankaran to grab lands and make quick profits, permanently undermining food systems and the livelihoods of farmers in the process.

There are much more effective methods to generate investment in agriculture, in ways that keep control and profits in the hands of local farmers. The peasant-owned and controlled palm oil cooperatives in Honduras are one example. Traditional oil palm cultivation and processing on mixed farms or semi-wild groves in West and Central Africa is an even stronger model for how local people – especially women – can reap economic and social benefits.

The global expansion of oil palm production by vertically-integrated corporations like the Siva Group is a clear threat to food sovereignty. Communities – who have cared for ecologically vital tropical forest for generations – cannot be an afterthought to quick profits. Their rights and access to land must be protected.

Read the report: grain.org/e/5048

Contact

Devlin Kuyek, Montreal (EN, FR)
+1 514 571 7702
[email protected]

Ange David Baimey, Côte d’Ivoire (FR, EN)
+233 269 089 432
[email protected]

Kartini Samon, Indonesia (EN)
+62 813 1476 1305
[email protected]

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: The Political Dimensions

October 7th, 2014 by Abayomi Azikiwe

On Sept. 28 Patrick Eric Duncan was finally admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas where he was diagnosed with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). He had visited the same facility just two days before complaining of symptoms associated with the disease but was not admitted but given antibiotics and sent home.

This diagnosis of the first case of Ebola which impacted a Liberian national who had recently visited the West African state where the outbreak has had a profound impact, resulted in the focusing of attention by the corporate media to the United States in relationship to the crisis. Several people returning from West Africa have been pulled off airplanes and given special screenings by representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

None so far who have been examined after exiting planes were determined to have EVD. A U.S. photojournalist, Ashoka Mukpo, has been transported to a hospital in Nebraska where two other patients who had also been in West Africa were successfully treated. The journalist had been working in Nigeria which has had very few cases and only the possibility eight deaths from EVD.

In the Dallas area press reports indicate that over 100 people have been monitored and examined who may have had contact with Patrick Eric Duncan who as of Oct. 6 was reported to be fighting for his life in a critical condition. Children who may have had contact with Duncan have been taken out of school and at least one homeless man is also being monitored by health officials in Texas.

Duncan’s health status deteriorated during the first weekend of Oct. Perhaps the delay in admitting him to a hospital may be a factor in his worsening condition.

According to the Reuters press agency “The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States was fighting for his life at a Dallas hospital on Sunday and appeared to be receiving none of the experimental medicines for the virus, a top U.S. health official said.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden revealed that doses of the experimental medicine ZMapp were “all gone” and that the drug, which is manufactured by the San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, is “not going to be available anytime soon.” (Oct. 5)

When Frieden was queried about a second experimental drug, which is produced by the Canadian Tekmira Pharmaceuticals firm, he said the medication “can be quite difficult for patients to take.” Later Frieden went on to say that the physicians and the patient’s family would make the decisions over whether to use the available drugs, if “they wanted to, they would have access to it.” (Reuters, Oct. 5)

Within the top echelons of the infectious disease diagnosis and treatment hierarchy in the U.S. it has been admitted that there is no specific medical protocol for the screening and treatment of Ebola patients. MZapp, the vaccine that has been tested on at least two U.S. patients evacuated from West Africa, is still not approved for general usage even if it was available for broader distribution.

The African Crisis Continues

Nonetheless, the spread of EVD is continuing in the most affected states of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The threat of contracting the disease in the U.S. has been described as almost nil by leading healthcare professionals.

In a report published by nbcnews.com on Oct. 6, it says “Sierra Leone recorded 121 deaths from Ebola and scores of new infections in one of the single deadliest days since the disease appeared in the West African country more than four months ago, government health statistics showed on Sunday (Oct. 5). The figures, which covered the period through Saturday, put the total number of deaths at 678, up from 557 the day before. The daily statistics compiled by Sierra Leone’s Emergency Operations Centre also showed 81 new cases of the hemorrhagic fever.”

The CDC provided statistics on the number of cases and deaths from EVD as of Oct. 3. There numbers say that 7,470 possible cases have occurred while the death toll had reached 3,431.

Even though there has only been one case documented in the U.S. involving someone who had traveled to the affected region and may have assisted a woman exhibiting symptoms prior to returning to Texas, the focus of the disease has shifted to Patrick Eric Duncan in Dallas. The apartment where Duncan stayed prior to being hospitalized was not investigated by health officials until Oct. 4.

Reports said that the residents of the apartment were not being allowed to leave. This level of panic has generated concerns in the African immigrant community in Dallas of a possible racist stigmatization.

African immigrants who live in the Dallas area told Reuters news agency that they are experiencing fewer handshakes and more suspicious stares. One resident said that someone told him to go into quarantine.

Even those Africans who came to the U.S. from regions far away from the epicenter of the EVD outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are facing paranoia and fear. “Some immigrants from Somalia wearing traditional clothing that includes headscarves for women, say they have seen fingers pointed their way on the neighborhood streets,” reported Reuters. (Oct. 5)

“People are looking at us in a bad way. We didn’t have anything to do with this. Somalia does not have Ebola. It is on the other side of Africa,” said Shadiya Abdi, 27, an immigrant from Somalia. (Reuters)

Workers World Public Forum Held on Oct. 3

A public meeting on the political aspects of the EVD outbreak in West Africa was held on Oct. 3 sponsored by Workers World Party in New York City. It was important for the organization to place the current crisis within a political and historical context.

Noting that since the disease is at present affecting regions of Africa where there have been significant levels of immigration into the U.S., it was necessary to demonstrate solidarity with these communities in the New York area and around the country. Workers World newspaper has published several articles on the outbreak and the need to view the crisis within the context of the legacy of imperialism in Africa.

The European slave trade and colonialism did not target Africa to foster its development but to seize control of the labor power and resources of the continent. The lack of proper healthcare infrastructures in the impacted states is clearly related to the spread of EVD as well as other preventable and curable diseases such as malaria, polio, measles and meningitis which annually kills far more people than Ebola.

Even a National Geographic article published on Oct. 5 featuring an interview with writer David Quammen by Simon Worral, quoted the author as saying that “The severity of this outbreak in West Africa reflects not only the transmissibility of the disease, but also the sad circumstances of poverty and the chronic lack of medical care, infrastructure, and supplies. That’s really what this is telling us: that we need to try harder to imagine just what it’s like to be poor in Africa. One of the consequences of being poor in Africa, especially in a country like Liberia or Sierra Leone, which have gone through a lot of political turmoil and have weak governance and a shortage of medical resources, is that the current outbreak could turn into an epidemic.”

Therefore in the medium and long-term there must be the advocacy of genuine development in West Africa and throughout the continent. Imperialism being the source of this underdevelopment must be eradicated in order for the people of Africa to claim their rightful place in world affairs.

Note: This writer was a featured speaker at the Workers World forum held in New York City on Oct. 3, 2014. Azikiwe’s presentation at the meeting can be found at the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2XNpb1C2bg

Los héroes de nuestra época

October 6th, 2014 by Fidel Castro Ruz

Mucho hay que decir de estos tiempos difíciles para la humanidad. Hoy, sin embargo, es un día de especial interés para nosotros y quizá también para mu­chas personas.

A lo largo de nuestra breve historia revolucionaria, desde el golpe artero del 10 de marzo de 1952 promovido por el imperio contra nuestro pequeño país, no pocas veces nos vimos en la necesidad de tomar importantes decisiones.

Cuando ya no quedaba alternativa alguna, otros jóvenes, de cualquier otra nación en nuestra compleja situación, hacían o se proponían hacer lo mismo que nosotros, aunque en el caso particular de Cuba el azar, como tantas veces en la historia, jugó un papel decisivo.

A partir del drama creado en nuestro país por Estados Unidos en aquella fecha, sin otro objetivo que frenar el riesgo de limitados avances sociales que pudieran alentar futuros de cambios radicales en la propiedad yanki en que había sido convertida Cuba, se engendró nuestra Revo­lución Socialista.

La Segunda Guerra Mundial, finalizada en 1945, consolidó el poder de Estados Unidos como principal potencia económica y militar, y convirtió ese país —cuyo territorio estaba distante de los campos de batalla— en el más poderoso del planeta.

La aplastante victoria de 1959, podemos afirmarlo sin sombra de chovinismo, se convirtió en ejemplo de lo que una pequeña nación, luchando por sí misma, puede hacer también por los demás.

Los países latinoamericanos, con un mínimo de honrosas excepciones, se lanzaron tras las migajas ofrecidas por Estados Unidos; por ejemplo, la cuota azucarera de Cuba, que durante casi un siglo y medio abasteció a ese país en sus años críticos, fue repartida entre productores ansiosos de mercados en el mundo.

El ilustre general norteamericano que presidía entonces ese país, Dwight D. Eisenhower, había dirigido las tropas coaligadas en la guerra en que liberaron, a pesar de contar con poderosos medios, solo una pequeña parte de la Europa ocupada por los nazis. El sustituto del presidente  Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, resultó ser el conservador tradicional que en Estados Unidos suele asumir tales responsabilidades políticas en los años difíciles.

La Unión de Repúblicas Socialistas Soviéticas —que constituyó hasta fines del pasado siglo XX, la más grandiosa nación de la historia en la lucha contra la explotación despiadada de los seres humanos— fue disuelta y sustituida por una Federación que redujo la superficie de aquel gran Estado multinacional en no menos de cinco millones 500 mil kilómetros cuadrados.

Algo, sin embargo, no pudo ser disuelto: el espíritu heroico del pueblo ruso, que unido a sus hermanos del resto de la URSS ha sido capaz de preservar una fuerza tan poderosa que junto a la República Popular China y países como Brasil, India y Sudáfrica, constituyen un grupo con el poder necesario para frenar el intento de recolonizar el planeta.

Dos ejemplos ilustrativos de estas realidades los vivimos en la República Popular de Angola. Cuba, como otros mu­chos países socialistas y movimientos de liberación, colaboró con ella y con otros que luchaban contra el dominio portugués en África. Este se ejercía de forma administrativa directa con el apoyo de sus aliados.

La solidaridad con Angola era uno de los puntos esenciales del Movimiento de Países No Alineados y del Campo So­cialista. La independencia de ese país se hizo inevitable y era aceptada por la co­munidad mundial.

El Estado racista de Sudáfrica y el Go­bierno corrupto del antiguo Congo Belga, con el apoyo de aliados europeos, se preparaban esmeradamente para la conquista y el reparto de Angola. Cuba, que desde hacía años cooperaba con la lucha de ese pueblo, recibió la solicitud de Agostinho Neto para el entrenamiento de sus fuerzas armadas que, instaladas en Luanda, la capital del país, debían estar listas para su toma de posesión oficialmente establecida para el 11 de noviembre de 1975. Los soviéticos, fieles a sus compromisos, les habían suministrado equipos militares y esperaban solo el día de la independencia para enviar a los instructores. Cuba, por su parte, acordó el envío de los instructores solicitados por Neto.

El régimen racista de Sudáfrica, condenado y despreciado por la opinión mundial, decide adelantar sus planes y envía fuerzas motorizadas en vehículos blindados, dotados de potente artillería que, tras un avance de cientos de kilómetros a partir de su frontera, atacó el primer campamento de instrucción, donde varios instructores cubanos murieron en heroica resistencia. Tras varios días de combates sostenidos por aquellos valerosos instructores junto a los angolanos, lograron detener el avance de los sudafricanos hacia Luanda, la capital de Angola, adonde había sido enviado por aire un batallón de Tropas Especiales del Ministerio del Interior, transportado desde La Habana en los viejos aviones Britannia de nuestra línea aérea.

Así comenzó aquella épica lucha en aquel país de África negra, tiranizado por los racistas blancos, en la que batallones de infantería motorizada y brigadas de tanques, artillería blindada y medios adecuados de lucha, rechazaron a las fuerzas racistas de Sudáfrica y las obligaron a retroceder hasta la misma frontera de donde habían partido.

No fue únicamente ese año 1975 la etapa más peligrosa de aquella contienda. Esta tuvo lugar, aproximadamente 12 años más tarde, en el sur de Angola.

Así lo que parecía el fin de la aventura racista en el sur de Angola era solo el comienzo, pero al menos habían podido comprender que aquellas fuerzas revolucionarias de cubanos blancos, mulatos y negros, junto a los soldados angolanos, eran capaces de hacer tragar el polvo de la derrota a los supuestamente invencibles racistas. Tal vez confiaron entonces en su tecnología, sus riquezas y el apoyo del imperio dominante.

Aunque no fuese nunca nuestra intención, la actitud soberana de nuestro país no dejaba de tener contradicciones con la propia URSS, que tanto hizo por nosotros en días realmente difíciles, cuando el corte de los suministros de combustible a Cuba desde Estados Unidos nos habría llevado a un prolongado y costoso conflicto con la poderosa potencia del Norte. De­sa­parecido ese peligro o no, el dilema era decidirse a ser libres o resignarse a ser esclavos del poderoso imperio vecino.

En situación tan complicada como el acceso de Angola a la independencia, en lucha frontal contra el neocolonialismo, era imposible que no surgieran diferencias en algunos aspectos de los que po­dían derivarse consecuencias graves para los objetivos trazados, que en el caso de Cuba, como parte en esa lucha, tenía el derecho y el deber de conducirla al éxito. Siempre que a nuestro juicio cualquier aspecto de nuestra política internacional podía chocar con la política estratégica de la URSS, hacíamos lo posible por evitarlo. Los objetivos comunes exigían de cada cual el respeto a los méritos y experiencias de cada uno de ellos. La modestia no está reñida con el análisis serio de la complejidad e importancia de cada situación, aunque en nuestra política siempre fuimos muy estrictos con todo lo que se refería a la solidaridad con la Unión Soviética.

En momentos decisivos de la lucha en Angola contra el imperialismo y el racismo se produjo una de esas contradicciones, que se derivó de nuestra participación directa en aquella contienda y del hecho de que nuestras fuerzas no solo luchaban, sino que también instruían cada año a miles de combatientes angolanos, a los cuales apoyábamos en su lucha contra las fuerzas pro yankis y pro racistas de Sudáfrica. Un militar soviético era el asesor del gobierno y planificaba el empleo de las fuerzas angolanas. Discrepábamos, sin embargo, en un punto y por cierto importante: la reiterada frecuencia con que se defendía el criterio erróneo de emplear en aquel país las tropas angolanas mejor entrenadas a casi mil quinientos kilómetros de distancia de Luanda, la capital, por la concepción propia de otro tipo de guerra, nada parecida a la de carácter subversivo y guerrillera de los contrarrevolucionarios angolanos. En realidad no existía una capital de la UNITA, ni Savimbi tenía un punto donde resistir, se trataba de un señuelo de la Sudáfrica racista que servía solo para atraer hacia allí las mejores y más suministradas tropas angolanas para golpearlas a su antojo. Nos oponíamos por tanto a tal concepto que más de una vez se aplicó, hasta la última en la que se demandó golpear al enemigo con nuestras propias fuerzas lo que dio lugar a la batalla de Cuito Cuanavale. Diré que aquel prolongado enfrentamiento militar contra el ejército sudafricano se produjo a raíz de la última ofensiva contra la supuesta “capital de Savimbi” —en un lejano rincón de la frontera de Angola, Sudáfrica y la Namibia ocupada—, hacia donde las valientes fuerzas angolanas, partiendo de Cuito Cuanavale, antigua base militar desactivada de la OTAN, aunque bien equipadas con los más nuevos carros blindados, tanques y otros medios de combate, iniciaban su marcha de cientos de kilómetros hacia la supuesta capital contrarrevolucionaria. Nuestros audaces pilotos de combate los apoyaban con los Mig-23 cuando estaban todavía dentro de su radio de acción.

Cuando rebasaban aquellos límites, el enemigo golpeaba fuertemente a los valerosos soldados de las FAPLA con sus aviones de combate, su artillería pesada y sus bien equipadas fuerzas terrestres, ocasionando cuantiosas bajas en muertos y heridos. Pero esta vez se dirigían, en su persecución de las golpeadas brigadas angolanas, hacia la antigua base militar de la OTAN.

Las unidades angolanas retrocedían en un frente de varios kilómetros de ancho con brechas de kilómetros de separación entre ellas. Dada la gravedad de las pérdidas y el peligro que podía derivarse de ellas, con seguridad se produciría la solicitud habitual del asesoramiento al Presidente de Angola para que apelara al apoyo cubano, y así ocurrió. La respuesta firme esta vez fue que tal solicitud se aceptaría solo si todas las fuerzas y medios de combate angolanos en el Frente Sur se subordinaban al mando militar cubano. El resultado inmediato fue que se aceptaba aquella condición.

Con rapidez se movilizaron las fuerzas en función de la batalla de Cuito Cuanavale, donde los invasores sudafricanos y sus armas sofisticadas se estrellaron contra las unidades blindadas, la artillería convencional y los Mig-23 tripulados por los audaces pilotos de nuestra aviación. La artillería, tanques y otros medios angolanos ubicados en aquel punto que carecían de personal fueron puestos en disposición combativa por personal cubano. Los tanques angolanos que en su retirada no podían vencer el obstáculo del caudaloso río Queve, al Este de la antigua base de la OTAN —cuyo puente había sido destruido semanas antes por un avión sudafricano sin piloto, cargado de explosivos— fueron enterrados y rodeados de minas antipersonal y antitanques. Las tropas sudafricanas que avanzaban se toparon a poca distancia con una barrera infranqueable contra la cual se estrellaron. De esa forma con un mínimo de bajas y ventajosas condiciones, las fuerzas sudafricanas fueron contundentemente derrotadas en aquel territorio angolano.

Pero la lucha no había concluido, el imperialismo con la complicidad de Israel había convertido a Sudáfrica en un país nuclear. A nuestro ejército le tocaba por segunda vez el riesgo de convertirse en un blanco de tal arma. Pero ese punto, con todos los elementos de juicio pertinentes, está por elaborarse y tal vez se pueda escribir en los meses venideros.

¿Qué sucesos ocurrieron anoche que dieron lugar a este prolongado análisis? Dos hechos, a mi juicio, de especial trascendencia:

La partida de la primera Brigada Mé­dica Cubana hacia África a luchar contra el Ébola.

El brutal asesinato en Caracas, Vene­zuela, del joven diputado revolucionario Robert Serra.

Ambos hechos reflejan el espíritu heroico y la capacidad de los procesos revolucionarios que tienen lugar en la Patria de José Martí y en la cuna de la libertad de América, la Venezuela heroica de Simón Bolívar y Hugo Chávez.

¡Cuántas asombrosas lecciones encierran estos acontecimientos! Apenas las palabras alcanzan para expresar el valor moral de tales hechos, ocurridos casi simultáneamente.

No podría jamás creer que el crimen del joven diputado venezolano sea obra de la casualidad. Sería tan increí­ble, y de tal modo ajustado a la práctica de los peores organismos yankis de inteligencia, que la verdadera casualidad fuera que el repugnante hecho no hubiera sido realizado intencionalmente, más aún cuando se ajusta absolutamente a lo previsto y anunciado por los enemigos de la Revolución Venezolana.

De todas formas me parece absolutamente correcta la posición de las autoridades venezolanas de plantear la necesidad de investigar cuidadosamente el carácter del crimen. El pueblo, sin embargo, expresa conmovido su profunda convicción sobre la naturaleza del brutal hecho de sangre.

El envío de la primera Brigada Médica a Sierra Leona, señalado como uno de los puntos de mayor presencia de la cruel epidemia de Ébola, es un ejemplo del cual un país puede enorgullecerse, pues no es posible alcanzar en este instante un sitial de mayor honor y gloria. Si nadie tuvo la menor duda de que los cientos de miles de combatientes que fueron a An­gola y a otros países de África o América, prestaron a la humanidad un ejemplo que no podrá borrarse nunca de la historia humana; menos dudaría que la acción heroica del ejército de batas blancas ocupará un altísimo lugar de honor en esa historia.

No serán los fabricantes de armas letales los que alcancen merecido honor. Ojalá el ejemplo de los cubanos que marchan al África prenda también en la mente y el corazón de otros médicos en el mundo, especialmente de aquellos que poseen más recursos, practiquen una religión u otra, o la convicción más profunda del deber de la solidaridad humana.

Es dura la tarea de los que marchan al combate contra el Ébola y por la supervivencia de otros seres humanos, aun al riesgo de su propia vida. No por ello debemos dejar de hacer lo imposible por garantizarle, a los que tales deberes cumplan, el máximo de seguridad en las ta­reas que desempeñen y en las medidas a tomar para protegerlos a ellos y a nuestro propio pueblo, de esta u otras enfermedades y epidemias.

El personal que marcha al África nos está protegiendo también a los que aquí quedamos, porque lo peor que puede ocurrir es que tal epidemia u otras peores se extiendan por nuestro continente, o en el seno del pueblo de cualquier país del mundo, donde un niño, una madre o un ser humano pueda morir. Hay suficientes médicos en el planeta para que nadie tenga que morir por falta de asistencia. Es lo que deseo expresar.

¡Honor y gloria para nuestros valerosos combatientes por la salud y la vida!

¡Honor y gloria para el joven revolucionario venezolano Robert Serra junto a la compañera María Herrera!

Estas ideas las escribí el dos de octubre cuando supe ambas noticias, pero preferí esperar un día más para que la opinión internacional se informara bien y pedirle a Granma que lo publicara el sábado.

Artículo Los héroes de nuetra época

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fidel Castro Ruz
Octubre 2 de 2014
8 y 47 p.m.

Come mutano le alleanze politico-militari in Medio Oriente

October 6th, 2014 by Valentin Vasilescu

Sullo sfondo del rischieramento delle forze militari statunitensi dal Medio Oriente al Pacifico occidentale per contrastare la Cina, i leader regionali abbandonati dagli USA ne spezzano l’alleanza ventennale, alcune delle quali considerate contro natura.

Tra i Paesi dalle maggiori riserve di gas naturale, in prima posizione vi è la Russia con il 25%, seguita dall’Iran (15,57%). Il Qatar detiene il 3° posto (13,39%), l’Arabia Saudita il 5° posto con il 3,92% e gli Emirati Arabi Uniti il 6° (3,19%). Nel 2009, Bashar al-Assad, sostenuto da Iran e Russia, rifiutò di accettare la costruzione di un oleodotto del Qatar che, passando per Arabia Saudita, Giordania e Siria, doveva raggiungere la Turchia dove avrebbe fornito il gas necessario al gasdotto Nabucco, eliminando dal mercato la Gazprom. Casualmente, subito dopo il suo rifiuto scoppiò la guerra civile in Siria. I rapporti degli Stati Uniti con l’Arabia Saudita hanno avuto dei problemi visibili, dopo la decisione del presidente Obama di rinunciare a bombardare la Siria, seguendo le geniali iniziative diplomatiche della Russia. Le recenti vittorie su tutti i fronti dell’Esercito arabo siriano hanno convinto il governo degli Stati Uniti ad unirsi alla posizione russa nel negoziare il futuro della Siria. Ciò è dispiaciuto ad Arabia Saudita e Qatar, che dal 2010 hanno speso più di 4 miliardi di dollari per il reclutamento e l’armamento dei ribelli islamisti inviati a rovesciare Bashar al-Assad. Le manifestazioni di piazza in Turchia, nell’estate-autunno del 2013, hanno posto fine alle aspirazioni indotte dall’Arabia Saudita e dal primo ministro Recep Tayyip Erdogan, per ripristinare i confini dell’Islam in Europa, come nel periodo 1860-1878 sotto l’impero ottomano, comprendendo Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, la Grecia dal settentrione al Golfo di Corinto, Kosovo e Bosnia-Erzegovina.

Il 7 novembre 2013, su iniziativa della Russia a Ginevra è iniziato un nuovo ciclo di negoziati a sei (i cinque membri permanenti del Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite e la Germania), con i rappresentanti dell’Iran. Preparandosi da diversi mesi, gli Stati Uniti avevano dichiarato in modo inequivocabile di essere pronti ad eliminare gradualmente le sanzioni contro l’Iran. Il Washington Post aveva riferito che dieci alte spie israeliane che agivano in territorio iraniano furono sorprese ricevere istruzioni da ufficiali di collegamento israeliani in Turchia. Dopo essere stati scoperti, gli agenti israeliani furono scaricati dal servizio di controspionaggio turco. Questo incidente dimostra che i bei vecchi tempi, quando il servizio segreto turco MIT collaborava nell’infiltrazione di agenti israeliani in Iraq e in Iran dal territorio turco, sono finiti. Questo incidente è comprensibile se si considera che il capo dell’intelligence turca e il viceministro dell’Intelligence iraniana hanno firmato un accordo di cooperazione e mutuo sostegno in cui Iran e Turchia si impegnano a non permettere a qualsiasi altro Paese di utilizzare il territorio di una parte per lanciare un’azione militare o spionistica contro l’altro. L’accordo fu firmato con la tacita approvazione degli Stati Uniti, quando Victoria Nuland, assistente del segretario di Stato per gli affari europei ed eurasiatici visitava Ankara. A seguito di questi sviluppi imprevisti, nell’ottobre 2013, una delegazione di Arabia Saudita, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait e Bahrain si recò in Israele per trovare una soluzione alla crisi causata dalla cancellazione, da parte degli Stati Uniti, di ogni proposizione di attacco contro l’Iran. Presumibilmente i presenti accettarono di fare qualcosa di diverso, non solo per unire le forze e fare pressione contro la nuova direzione in politica estera di Obama, attraverso le loro lobby al Congresso, come facevano in precedenza.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Cairo

Israele attualmente possiede quattro sottomarini tedeschi classe Dolphin (Tipo 212) e recentemente ne ha ordinato altri sei. Il quotidiano tedesco Bild ha riferito che i funzionari israeliani hanno incontrato le loro controparti saudite presso i cantieri navali ThyssenKrupp, nel nord della Germania, dove si producono i sottomarini. Espressero l’intenzione di acquisire 25 sottomarini tedeschi Tipo 212, per 2,5 miliardi di dollari per i primi cinque. Le richieste saudite di armamenti, che venivano respinte in passato dalla Germania per motivi di sicurezza legati allo Stato d’Israele, ora vengono accettate. Si noti che l’esercito saudita, che ha importato armi moderne da Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna e Francia, è classificato 7° al mondo con un bilancio annuale di 56,7 miliardi dollari, seguito da India, Germania, Italia e Corea del sud. L’Arabia Saudita, nota anche per avere un seggio al Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite, sostiene che i cinque membri permanenti (Stati Uniti, Russia, Cina, Francia e Gran Bretagna) non possono risolvere i complessi problemi del Medio Oriente senza il suo supporto. Il segretario di Stato USA John Kerry aveva compiuto una visita inattesa in Arabia Saudita, dove aveva incontrato re Abudullah bin Abdulaziz e il suo omologo saudita Saud al-Faisal, per disinnescare le tensioni create da Riyadh con la sua reazione a Washington. Kerry aveva respinto la presenza alla riunione di Bandar al-Sultan, il potente capo dell’intelligence saudita, uomo di grande influenza sui leader militari sauditi. Kerry aveva precedentemente chiesto a Sultan di cambiare la sua strategia, sospendendo per un certo periodo il sostegno ai gruppi terroristici, tra cui al-Qaida. Sultan non solo non ha accettato, ma ha minacciato Kerry che avrebbe cessato ogni cooperazione nella sicurezza con Washington. Cosa sa Kerry e cosa Sultan non capisce?

In una recente intervista con i giornalisti russi, il ministro della difesa russo Sergej Shojgu aveva detto: “il principale nemico della Russia è il terrorismo internazionale, guardate chi combatte in Siria, Afghanistan, Mali, Libia.” Il precedente stabilito dall’avvio della “primavera araba”, contraria alla democrazia e che genera instabilità su larga scala con il pretesto dell’Islam, è stato seguito dall’armamento di un’entità non statale, come i mercenari islamici in Siria, Arabia Saudita e Qatar, nonché dai ripetuti attacchi aerei israeliani contro le truppe, l’aviazione e i depositi di armi dell’Esercito arabo siriano, al fine di aiutare i ribelli. Tutto ciò ha portato all’apertura del vaso di Pandora e la Russia non può lasciare andare le cose, senza prendere misure adeguate. Non c’è bisogno di spiegare che questa affermazione definisce anche la creazione e il ruolo della flotta russa di nuova costituzione ed oggi operativa nel Mediterraneo orientale. Nella prima parte del 2014, si unirà alla flotta russa nel Mediterraneo la prima portaelicotteri da assalto anfibio russa classe Mistral, motivo per cui l’Arabia Saudita s’è improvvisamente innamorata dei sottomarini tedeschi. La Papandreou Air Base di Paphos, a Cipro, inoltre dovrebbe ospitare, a partire dal 2014, la componente aerea della forza antiterrorismo della Russia, consistente in un gruppo di caccia-bombardieri armati principalmente con il missile da crociera stealth Kh-101 (3500 km di raggio di azione) e un gruppo da trasporto aereo pesante (4000 km di raggio di azione), necessari al 108.vo e 247.mo reggimento paracadutisti appartenenti alle forze per operazioni speciali russe. Il primo passo per la dichiarazione di guerra totale contro il terrorismo da parte della Russia è stato fatto il 7 novembre 2013, quando la prima parte di attrezzature per la lotta antiterrorismo in Iraq è stata consegnata dalla Russia, tra cui quattro elicotteri d’attacco e sistemi di difesa aerea. Dopo più di otto anni di ondate di attacchi etnici continui, l’Iraq vuole farla finita al più presto chiedendo il sostegno russo. L’Iraq, confinante con Turchia e Iran, e le cui riserve di petrolio sono classificate al 6° posto nel mondo, non può utilizzare questo potenziale per l’esportazione, per via della forte concorrenza di Arabia Saudita e dei suoi satelliti del Golfo, in coincidenza con l’instabilità interna prodotta e alimentata di continuo.

Dopo la sospensione del contributo annuale per gli armamenti, pari a 1,5 miliardi di dollari, da parte degli Stati Uniti (che comprendevano anche quattro F-16, 10 AH-64 Apache, quattro carri armati M1A1, ricambi per questi mezzi e missili antinave Harpoon), l’Egitto ha deciso di interrompere la collaborazione con gli Stati Uniti, modificando come l’Iraq la sua direttiva geopolitica regionale, chiedendo il sostegno della Russia per fermare gli attentati terroristici perpetrati dai Fratelli musulmani. Sergej Shojgu e Sergej Lavrov hanno discusso con i loro omologhi egiziani di Cairo, il 13 novembre 2013, per un accordo sugli armamenti da 4 miliardi di dollari finanziati dai crediti russi. Preparando anche la visita del Presidente Vladimir Putin in Egitto, che si avrà alla fine di questo mese, durante il quale il contratto sarà firmato. Ciò potrebbe essere un primo passo, elicotteri d’attacco Mi-28 (invece degli statunitensi AH-64), MiG-29M e Su-30MK2 (al posto degli F-16 Block 52) e batterie costiere missilistiche Bastion-P, armate con i missili supersonici Jakhont (invece dei missili Harpoon). Questo momento segna anche il possibile ritorno della Russia, dopo un’assenza di 40 anni, nella sua ex-base aerea nella penisola di Ras Banas, sul Mar Rosso (200 km dalla base navale saudita di Yanbu e 400 km dalla base aerea di Jeddah) da dove evacuarono per far posto agli statunitensi. E l’installazione del quartier generale delle forze navali antiterrorismo russe a Port Said, base navale che controlla l’accesso al Canale di Suez.

D’ora in poi i gruppi terroristici in Medio Oriente non possono contare per nulla sull’elemento chiave rappresentato dagli “attacchi preventivi” degli Stati Uniti o dal possibile supporto aereo di Israele, Arabia Saudita e loro satelliti del Golfo persico. In un articolo precedente scrissi che l’Almaz-Antej ha completato l’organizzazione per la produzione dei sistemi S-300PMU-2 presso gli stabilimenti di Nizhnij Novgorod e degli S-300PMU-3 (S-400 Triumf) a Kirov, che raggiungeranno il pieno regime nei primi mesi del 2014. Nel 2015, quando si avvierà la produzione dei nuovi sistemi S-500 e si apriranno altri tre impianti per missili balistici, l’Almaz-Antej diventerà leader mondiale in questa categoria di armamenti. L’aggiornamento dei vecchi sistemi missilistici antiaerei russi nelle industrie russe di Kirov e Nizhnij, mentre si acquisiscono nuovi sistemi antiaerei a lungo raggio, sembra essere una delle soluzioni più pratiche per gli Stati e le organizzazioni politico-militari della regione devastata dalle azioni dei gruppi terroristici. Poiché i nuovi sistemi antiaerei russi sono progettati per negare il vantaggio che Israele, Arabia Saudita e i loro satelliti del Golfo hanno nella loro flotta di moderni aerei F-15, F-16, F- 18, Eurofighter Typhoon e AH-64 Apache.

8eb2e6bd8736b83b788e52436e8038378ce2aa62

Valentin Vasilescu

 

alliance

Comment se reconfigurent les alliances politico-militaires au Moyen-Orient?

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

Valentin Vasilescu, pilota ed ex-vicecomandante della base militare di Otopeni, laurea in Scienze Militari presso l’Accademia di Studi Militari a Bucarest, nel 1992.

Israele ha paura del sistema russo S-350E

October 6th, 2014 by Valentin Vasilescu

L’S-350E Vitjaz è un sistema mobile antiaereo e anti-balistico limitato, superiore all’ERAM RIM-174 (SM-6) dell’US Navy che dovrebbe entrare in servizio nel 2014 negli Stati Uniti e dopo pochi anni nell’esercito israeliano. L’SM-6 è il vecchio missile superficie-aria SM-2ER Block IV, su cui è stato montato il sistema di guida del missile aria-aria AIM-120C (AMRAAM). Il 2 settembre 2013, al culmine delle tensioni internazionali connesse all’eventuale attacco statunitense alla Siria, l’esercito israeliano, con la complicità degli Stati Uniti, aveva lanciato un missile-bersaglio Ankorda un aereo F-15B. Il missile lanciato dal caccia aveva simulato la traiettoria di un missile balistico dalla gittata di 1000-1500 km. Il lancio fu effettuato dal centro del Mar Mediterraneo verso le coste del Libano. I comandamenti delle unità ELINT dell’esercito israeliano rimasero confusi scoprendo che il loro lancio fu subito individuato da uno sconosciuto complesso antiaereo, simile al sistema navale Aegis, di un cacciatorpediniere russo nel Mediterraneo a 550 chilometri dall’F-15.  L’obiettivo fu inquadrato e inseguito fino a quando non cadde in mare. Infine i russi annunciarono che l’obiettivo sarebbe stato rilevato dal colossale radar di allarme antimissile di Armavir sul Mar Nero, nascondendo così il cacciatorpediniere russo utilizzato per i test dei sistemi S-350E Vitjaz. Le funzionalità dell’S-350E Vitjaz, integrate dall’S-400 Trjumf, è un cocktail micidiale per gli israeliani perché i moderni sistemi antiaerei russi furono creati per proteggere direttamente gli interessi della Russia nel mondo e di cui sono iniziati i negoziati per esportarli nei tradizionali partner della Russia in Medio Oriente. Come Valentin Mandrasescu dimostra, l’azienda russa Sojuzneftegaz ha ottenuto la licenza per sfruttare quattro lotti petroliferi in Siria, al confine con il Libano e presso il porto di Banias. Tali blocchi forniranno tra pochi anni 3,2 milioni di barili al giorno, pari alla produzione del Quwayt. Brutta mossa per il primo ministro israeliano Netanyahu, costretto a visitare Mosca il 20 novembre 2013, incontrando per quattro ore di colloqui diretti Vladimir Putin. Nella breve conferenza stampa  seguita, il primo ministro israeliano ha utilizzato un linguaggio diplomatico in cui sembrava che i due capi di Stato non s’intendessero neanche sullo schieramento di questi sistemi al confine d’Israele, e ancor meno sull’abbandono della loro vendita a Paesi considerati ostili ad Israele.

Con una gittata di 150 km, una velocità di risposta molto alta rispetto a S-300 e S-400, il Vitjaz è un’arma antiaerea a lungo raggio ideale per equipaggiare le navi della Marina russa. La flotta recentemente creata per operare continuamente nel Mediterraneo orientale, e considerata la spina dorsale della forza anti-terrorismo della Russia, è composta da due incrociatori della classe SlavaMoskva e Varjag, e dall’incrociatore a propulsione nucleare della classe KirovPjotr Velikij. Le tre navi sono armate con sistemi S-300PMU-2 ed S-300FM, che saranno sostituiti nel 2014 dall’S-350E Vitjaz. Da un paio di settimane sono stati rilasciati dai cantieri, dopo l’ammodernamento, i cacciatorpediniere Admiral Panteleev e Smetlivij, seguiti dalle fregate NeustrashimijLadnij e Pitlivij della stessa flotta. È chiaro che il sistema S-350E Vitjaz è stato montato su questi vascelli. Il Ministero della Difesa della Federazione Russa vuole dotare le truppe di 30 sistemi S-350E nei prossimi quattro anni, realizzando uno scudo antiaereo compatto composto da S-500, S-400, S-350E e Pantsir S-1. L’azienda russa Almaz-Antej ha già presentato il nuovo sistema di difesa aerea S-350E Vitjaz all’air show MAKS 2013. Una batteria terrestre di S-350E è costituita da un centro di controllo su un autoveicolo speciale, due radar attivi phased array AESA resistenti alle interferenze e 6 autoveicoli con 12 lanciamissili ciascuno. I missili sono del tipo uguale all’S-400 Trjumf, i 9M96E2, così anche quelli a gittata più corta, i 9M100. L’S-350E è in grado di rilevare, monitorare e lanciare missili contemporaneamente contro due missili balistici a corto raggio (e a medio raggio), contro 16 aeromobili o 12 missili da crociera. Il nuovo sistema è stato realizzato nel 2013 negli stabilimenti di San Pietroburgo e ha completato i test questo autunno nel poligono di Kapustin Jar. Il passaggio alla produzione in serie per l’impiego su vasta scala dovrebbe iniziare nei primi mesi del 2014. In un articolo precedente su Voce della Russia, l’Almaz-Antej aveva dichiarato di aver completato l’organizzazione della produzione in serie dei sistemi S-400 Trjumf negli stabilimenti di Nizhnij Novgorod e Kirov. Almaz-Antej inizierà la produzione del nuovo sistema S-500 ed aprirà altri tre impianti per missili balistici diventando il leader mondiale in questa categoria di armamenti.

La Russia aveva offerto alla Romania la possibilità di costruire un impianto a Craiova, oltre a più di 100 MiG-29K/KUB e la tecnologia per la produzione di missili più moderni. I missili superficie-aria 9K338 Igla-S, resistenti alle contromisure elettroniche e dotati di visori notturni, i missili aria-aria R-77RVV-AE (gittata di 100-120 km), soprannominati dagli occidentali Amraamski. Anche missili anticarro laserguidati 9A4172 Vikhr e il missile Kh-35 Uranchiamato Harpoonski in occidente, che può essere lanciato da batterie costiere o da navi da guerra o dai MiG-29M, per attaccare obiettivi terrestri e marittimi. La Romania decise di rifiutare l’offerta dei russi e di aderire alla NATO, comprando armi usate, obsolete e vecchie più di 30 anni.

s350e-1Valentin Vasilescu, pilota ed ex vicecomandante della base militare di Otopeni, laureato in Scienze Militari presso l’Accademia di Studi Militari di Bucarest 1992.

 

Système militaire

Israël a peur du système russe S-350EPar Valentin Vasilescu, 04 octobre 2014

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened an emergency session in Brussels last month to examine whether Israel committed war crimes in the besieged Gaza Strip during “Operation Protective Edge,” the summertime military assault that killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and left Gaza in ruins.

After hearing testimony from journalists, eyewitnesses, legal scholars and physicians present during the onslaught, the 12-member jury, made up of world-renowned intellectuals and international law experts, found Israel guilty of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.”

Though it was virtually ignored by both mainstream and progressive media outlets, the tribunal was significant in that it did what the so-called international community has time and again refused to do. The Russell Tribunal put Israel on trial for its crimes against Palestinians.

Incitement to Genocide

Journalist David Sheen delivered a horrifying presentation on incitement to genocide within Israeli society, which was consumed by genocidal rhetoric from top Israeli government officials to the lynch mobs barreling down the streets of Jerusalem shouting “death to Arabs.”

 

Sheen’s testimony stunned the jury, which concluded that absent outside intervention and accountability, the potential for genocide is likely.

“In light of the clear escalation in the physical and rhetorical violence deployed in respect of Gaza in the summer of 2014, the tribunal emphasizes the obligation of all states parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention ‘to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide,” the judges implored in their final ruling.

“It is recognized that in a situation where patterns of crimes against humanity are perpetrated with impunity, and where direct and public incitement to genocide is manifest throughout society, it is very conceivable that individuals or the state may choose to exploit the conditions in order to perpetrate the crime of genocide,” they warned, adding, “We [sic] have a genuine fear that in an environment of impunity and an absence of sanction for serious and repeated criminality, the lessons from Rwanda and other mass atrocities may once again go unheeded.”

Grisly executions

 

Journalist Max Blumenthal delivered powerful testimony on evidence of war crimes he gathered while in Gaza following a five-day ceasefire in mid-August.

Blumenthal described in vivid detail the grisly executions he documented of civilians, paramedics and fighters carried out by invading Israeli soldiers. He also highlighted several instances of Israeli soldiers summarily executing older men in Gaza after learning they spoke Hebrew, leading to speculation that soldiers were ordered to eliminate anyone capable of understanding their commands.

Blumenthal posted a transcript of his testimony here.

Kidnappings and human shields

Gaza-based journalist Mohammed Omer described to the jury the crimes he witnessed and reported on in Gaza as well as the hardships of daily life under siege (see video of his testimony at the top of this post). He cited summary executions, kidnappings of Palestinian men at gunpoint and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by invading Israeli soldiers in the now obliterated farming community of Khuzaa.

Omer was the only Palestinian eyewitness that made it out of Gaza to attend the session.

Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, and filmmaker Ashraf Mashharawi were scheduled to testify but the Egyptian military regime prevented them from leaving through the Rafah crossing.

Deliberate and systematic

Renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert presented the jury with descriptions and photos of the gruesome injuries he witnessed while working at the overwhelmed al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City at the peak of Israel’s latest bombing campaign, which marked the fourth time since 2006 that Gilbert has operated in Gaza during an Israeli military attack.

Outlining the devastation inflicted on Gaza’s health sector, Gilbert emphasized his admiration for the medical workers who risk their lives repairing the bodily damage caused by Israel’s “deliberate, systematic attack on the Palestinian civilian society.”

 

Taken together, the testimonies presented at the Russell Tribunal (all of which can be viewed here) demonstrate a clear pattern of intentional destruction of Gaza and its people by an increasingly extreme settler-colonial state “primed for genocide,” as Max Blumenthal put it.

Genocide does not happen overnight or in a vacuum. There are warning signs, many of which were raised at the Russell Tribunal.

Israel has been destroying and erasing Palestine for over six decades in an effort to consolidate and maintain a demographically engineered Jewish majority in an area that is historically Palestinian.

As long as countries including the United States continue to unconditionally shower Israel with weapons while shielding its leaders from accountability on the international stage, Israel’s destruction of Palestine will not only continue, it will intensify. So the question becomes, how bad do the atrocities need to get before the world puts a stop this madness?

Independent Media Delivers Truth and Accountability

October 6th, 2014 by Global Research

Since September 2001, Global Research has been bringing our readers a broad spectrum of voices analyzing global situations, from military threats against RussiaIran and Syria, the humanitarian crisis in Palestine, to the economic machinations of the financial elite. And we will continue to do so because we believe that access to information is the key to the truth. We encourage you to read as much as possible and discuss widely the issues on the table. Challenge yourselves and challenge each other, and in that way we will come to identify the real limits to our freedom and democracy and thereby determine the course of action that is right for us. It is time to seek out the truth and engage in responsible decision-making.

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Israelis hoisted an ISIS-inspired black and white flag in an anti-African march in Tel Aviv today, to protest a recent court ruling that rendered illegal a desert detention facility where African asylum seekers are being held without charge. The ISIS-style flags waved have the Hebrew word “bagatz,” meaning “High Court,” across the banners. Some of the marchers are holding them in tandem with Israeli flags, but others hold the handmade ISIS-style drapes alone.

Simone Wilson, the Jewish Journal‘s foreign correspondent in Israel, is covering the protest now in south Tel Aviv in an African refugee neighborhood where Israeli youngsters have taken over the streets and attempted to break into African-owned businesses. She is live-tweeting the protest and captured the backers of the ISIS aesthetic: a soldier in uniform, settler leader Baruch Marzel, and Mai Golan, the anti-African darling of Israel’s right-wing who soared to fame two summers ago when she declared in a similar march, “I am a proud racist,” and shortly after took a position in the city government.

Israel’s High Court decided in late September that Holot, an “open residential facility” where Africans incarcerated are granted afternoon leave from the prison but must return under lock and key at night, is illegal. The Africans jailed there have committed no crime, but their lack of status as protected persons have left them vulnerable to an interpretation of an Israeli law aimed at jailing those who cross the Jewish state’s borders in order to commit violent crimes. African seeking asylum are protected under International conventions barring imprisonment, which the court acknowledged last month. Yet the demonstrating Israelis are furious over the verdict, which will let Africans out of Holot in the next three months. They represent a nationalist sect of Israeli society that does not want any African non-Jews present in the country. For such activists as Marzel, the court’s decision to release the asylum seekers back to Tel Aviv is “more dangerous to Israel than ISIS.”

From Wilson’s timeline (@simone_electra):

 

 

 

 

 

 

China, Russia to Sign 30 Agreements During Annual Meet

October 6th, 2014 by The Brics Post

Russia and China will ink more than 30 agreements on energy, finance and high-speed rail cooperation during the annual Russia-China Prime Ministers summit to be held on 13 October, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced on Saturday.

The two states’ premiers will also hold a meeting at the international forum Open Innovations on 14 October, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in Beijing. Russia has been attempting to shrug off its dependence on European energy markets and instead adopt a “look-east” policy towards China and India.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Wang Yang will head for Russia for the 19th annual meet to hold talks with their Russian counterparts Dmitry Medvedev and Dmitry Rogozin.

The Prime Ministers summit this year follows successful meetings between President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin where the two leaders have overseen enormous Sino-Russian joint ventures, including a landmark $400 billion gas deal in Shanghai after a decade-long gas supply talks between the two countries.

Russia also plans to sign a new 30-year gas supply contract with China via the western route, Russian energy giant Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller told President Vladimir Putin last month.

As the US and EU step up pressure on Moscow with a new round of sanctions, Russia is seeking to strengthen ties with allies in the region, predominantly China.

Putin and Xi also met last month during a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State meet in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where Putin batted for aligning China’s Silk Route revival project with Russian plans for a trans-Siberian railway.

“We see great potential in the idea of developing a common SCO transport system that would make use too of Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway and Baikal-Amur Mainline and be tied into China’s plans for developing the Silk Road route. I am sure that big projects of this kind serve the interests of our organisation’s members and would benefit all countries in Eurasia,” said Putin.

Putin said earlier this year that the Sino-Russian ties, including those on approaches to international problems, are at an unprecedented level.

“As for our relations with China’s People’s Republic, they develop successfully and are at an unprecedentedly high level – both at the level of trust and the level of cooperation. I mean also the political sphere, our common approaches to estimations of international situations and to security in the world,” he said during a Q&A session in April in Moscow.

Russia’s trade turnover with China is almost thrice as big as that with the US.

“It is absolutely clear that we will be expanding collaboration with China. Our trade with the United States is 27.5 [billion], but trade with China is 87 billion, and it is growing. And experts will agree that China is gradually becoming the number one economic power. The question is when it will happen: in 15, 20 or 25 years. But everybody understands that it is inevitable,” asserted Putin.

The Russian and Chinese central banks have recently agreed on a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments.

Bloomberg report says the yuan-ruble trade on the Moscow Exchange has jumped 10-fold this year to $749 million in August.

Earlier last month, Moscow and Beijing have entered into a pact to boost use of the rouble and yuan for trade transactions.

The Chinese Premier will also visit Germany, Italy and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization(FAO) headquarters in Rome during his Europe trip and attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Milan from Oct. 16 to 17.

An unprecedented trial to assess the legality of force-feeding methods used at Guantanamo Bay will begin today, Monday Oct 6, at 10am (EST) in courtroom 26A of the District Court, Washington DC.

The trial, in the case of Dhiab v. Obama, will be open to the public after the US Government’s request to have it held in secret was denied by District Court Judge Gladys Kessler. Today’s hearing comes in the wake of Judge Kessler’s ruling on Friday that the US must release several hours of video footage showing cleared Syrian detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who is represented by international human rights NGO Reprieve, being force-fed and manhandled to the force-feeding chair.

In the first trial of its kind, Mr Dhiab, who has been cleared for release since 2009, is challenging the legality of the force-feeding practices used against hunger strikers at Guantánamo. These practices include movement of compliant prisoners to force-feeding by the ‘Forcible Cell Extraction Team’, a squad of soldiers in riot gear, and the use of a painful multi-point restraint chair.

Three expert witness doctors are due to testify in open court–two of them after examining Mr. Dhiab at Guantánamo – and are expected to describe the daily procedure as both punitive and abusive.

Two of the doctors due to testify have previously conducted an independent medical examination of Guantanamo’s last remaining British resident, Shaker Aamer, who has been cleared for release since 2007. Despite the British government’s position being that Mr Aamer should be returned to his wife and children in London he remains detained at the US prison.

Cori Crider, an attorney at Reprieve who will be representing Mr Dhiab in court, said: The government has tried, at every possible opportunity, to deny our client his day in court to challenge the abusive and punitive way in which he is force-fed. Thankfully the principles of open justice have prevailed. We look forward to shining a light on the awful tactics being used to punish Guantanamo detainees who are peacefully protesting in objection to their indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

On Sunday Vice President Joe Biden called Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and apologized for telling the truth.

The previous day he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and did the same.

Last week during a speech delivered at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University Biden told the audience the Persian Gulf Wahhabist regimes and Turkey are responsible for supporting ISIS and al-Nusra.

Biden said in response to a question that the

“Saudis, the Emiratis, etc… were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. Now you think I’m exaggerating – take a look. Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

This is only part of the story. In fact, the United States, Britain and Israel have played a key role in arming and training ISIS, now the Islamic State. Direct evidence of this support emerged during congressional hearings on Benghazi when the CIA’s “rat line” arms shipment to “moderate rebels” in Syria was exposed.

As Infowars.com noted last year, ambassador Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi, was instrumental not only in facilitating weapon transfers to Syria from Libya, but also served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya.

Moreover, the effort by the U.S., Turkey and the Gulf Emirates to support and arm radical Wahhabist factions in Syria – who are the only effective fighters in the proxy war to unseat al-Assad – has been widely documented in the European press while generally ignored in the United States.

Back in 2007, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalistSeymour Hersh sketched out the rationale for the collaboration between the U.S., Britain, Israel, Turkey, and the Gulf Emirates:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

This plan began in the 1980s with a policy paper written by Israeli scholar Oded Yinon – A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties – and was updated in 1996 by the establishment’s neocon faction in A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions,” the document states.

Joe Biden, notorious for his foot-in-the-mouth commentary, inflicted minor albeit temporary damage on the effort to portray ISIS as an arch enemy instead of what it really is – a key component in the effort to take down al-Assad and confront Iran.

Despite Biden’s embarrassing admission the larger agenda – removing Bashar al-Assad and his Shia government – remains paramount. This will be accomplished by supposedly attacking the Islamic State mercenary army, said to number around 30,000 fighters. This relatively small army allegedly controls 25 percent of Syrian territory and a third of Iraq.

Despite air strikes and hyperbolic speeches by Obama and British PM David Cameron, ISIS recently took control of Abu Ghraib and key cities in the Anbar province. It is now reportedly a mile outside Baghdad.

The U.S., Israel, Britain, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan and Turkey share an overriding agenda – to exacerbate the Sunni-Shia conflict and balkanize the region along ethnic and religious lines. This will continue and criticism of the effort will be deflected on the Saudis and Qataris who are impervious and in a position to force an American vice president to grovel at their feet.

War is a dirty, unforgiving business.  It is not rendered clean by remote deployments and orders executed at a distance from seemingly safe areas.  It takes lives, inflicts unspeakable harm, and rarely brings smiles to those who suffer it. But the members of the US-led coalition currently involved in striking Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq would have you think otherwise.  They give the impression that clean distances are golden, and air strikes will have their intended “degrading” effect.  Therein lies the message about the false salvation of machinery – the technological panacea that rarely does what it is meant to.

The notion that air power would win the day has been something of a fetish for enthusiasts, both of the prophetic and practising sort.  It prophetically concerned H. G. Wells in The War in the Air(1908).  It enraptured Britain’s blood lusting Air Marshal Arthur “Bomber” Harris during World War II, who believed in characteristically delusional fashion that his death sowing fleets won the war in exclusive fashion.  Curtis “Demon” Le May fronted as the US equivalent, instrumental behind the striking of sixty-four Japanese cities between March and August 1945 that killed around 330,000 people.  The doctrinal holy water, however, came from the font of the US Strategic Bombing Survey.

At most times, however, such bombing took place alongside massive deployments of troops on the ground, a complementary union of industrially inflicted destruction.  As sophisticated as weapons might ever be, the lack of ground impetus is a fundamental weakness to any assertions of effect.

The technical imperative has culminated in the myth of “surgical” bombing, suggesting that the state being targeted is to be treated equally as an enemy to be defeated and a patient to be cured.  Spare the civilians, despoil the regime.  Such notions became popular with the emergence of that troubling notion of “humanitarian” intervention, treating the human subject as sacred even as bombs rain all around.

Such tactics generally show that most targets will survive sorties waged by “surgical” strike.  In some cases, there is desperation to find targets that are even worth striking, a matter hampered by considerations regarding high civilian casualties and the like.  The list invariably runs out, with pilots all dressed up with weapons with nowhere to go.

NATO’s campaign in Kosovo revealed the vast problems and ineffectiveness associated with a campaign waged by the distant and the righteous.  While there was a dangerous fatuousness in bombing targets in Serbia (refineries, facilities, control towers, television stations) over conduct taking place in Kosovo proper, any strategic assessment of the results was always going to be grim.  (Being humanitarian to Kosovo refugees by bombing bridges used by civilians in Novi Sad and Belgrade was peculiar, cock-eyed moral arithmetic.)

In terms of crude efficiency, the NATO deployments were grossly ineffective, with analysts glowering at the average daily figure of 0.75 sorties a day.  In the words of the UK Commons defence committee, “The limitations of air power in pursuit of … humanitarian goals were clearly demonstrated and this lesson must be learned.”[1]  The foiling strategy from the Serb forces proved impressive – over 79 days, NATO seemed to be flying blind, hitting a mere 13 of the 300 battle tanks in the inventory.  Dummy targets proved easy bait for expensive weaponry.

This still doesn’t stop the reminiscences of such individuals as Lieutenant General Michael C. Short, commander of NATO forces involved in the campaign, from babbling about severing “the head of the snake on the first night”.  In the words of Martin van Creveld, “We know that, when the shooting stopped and the smoke cleared, the Serb Army emerged practically intact from the woods which it was hidden.  To that extent, the campaign was a failure.” [2]

Then came Libya, another exercise of holy humanitarianism, this time dressed in the garishly ugly garb of the responsibility to protect.  The effort to save civilian lives, having been pimped by such individuals as the loud and erratic philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, took aim at a host of targets that served merely to embolden the militias with easily available weapons, destroying any semblance of stability.

The next pit stop on the race of absurdity in waging limited humanitarian war has taken place with the bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq against Islamic State targets and the Khorasan Group.  By the admission of the US Pentagon, “gaps” have emerged in intelligence.  This stands to reason – the Pentagon is using a technological imperative to drive a technological mission, spiced by the subject of altruistic valour.  In the war of the video gamers, there are few human “spotters” on the ground, and these are being left to special forces.  In the main, however, surveillance flights, satellites and drones are being used to identify the targets. Vague assessments are being made in the aftermath of such strikes as to whether any civilians were lost in the encounter.

Pentagon officials are suggesting that the intelligence (always a problematic term in itself) is less thorough in Syria and Iraq than it has been in Pakistan and Yemen during the drone campaigns.  It has already been noted that empty buildings long vacated by Islamic State fighters have been struck.[3] It is even being admitted now by US officials that earlier Tomahawk cruise missile strikes on the Khorasan Group in Syria did little to kill key members or disrupt supplies.[4]

Rather dispiritingly, retired colonel and former advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Tom Lynch has said that, “it’s much harder for us to be able to know for sure what it is we’re hitting, and what it is we’re killing and what[sic] it is collateral damage.”  Something to truly inspire confidence.

From “gaps” in intelligence come gaping holes in credibility.  It has become necessary on the part of the raiders of misguided principle to rhetorically bolster the enemy being confronted.  Like the Serbs during the NATO bombings of 1999, the Islamic State forces are been seen as cunning, devious adversaries who won’t play by the rules of easy targeting. (How unsporting of them!)  The US-led forces do not want to look like blind aggressors leading more blind aggressors, but this is an impression they are finding hard to dispel. “They’re a smart adversary,” insists Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigan.[5] A smart adversary facing rather thick ones.

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

Notes

Here, we’ll quickly review a few very weighty MSM/U.S. Government Ebola lies before discussing what may be the most dangerous Ebola lie yet, which involves the risk of false negative Ebola tests.  The lies in the next few paragraphs are mentioned in this article primarily because they might intersect in disconcerting ways with the false negative problem—a problem the CDC and MSM would rather lie about and pretend does not exist.

The current outbreak (which actually began on or before December, 2013) presents genetic strains of Ebola that have never been seen before.  The Guinea variant of Ebola was itself novel enough to form its own clade.  Now, via Recombinomics and with respect to Sierra Leone, we have:

“The June Sierra Leone sequences have evidence of some drift from the March sequences from Guinea.  A prior Zaire sub-clade, which was found in apes and a chimpanzee and was associated with an outbreak in Gabon in 2002 had strong evidence of recombination, which raises concerns of more evolution in the current sub-clade, which has produced a record number of reported Ebola cases and deaths.”

It is curious indeed that the Ruling Class seems uninterested in broaching, to its serfs, the possibility that these genetic alterations might be causally related to the current outbreak’s dramatically higher fatality counts and, evidently, higher contagion probability.  As to whether the novel viral genotypes might signify that Ebola is now airborne, the CDC continues to insist that the only ones who think it might be airborne are paranoid tinfoil hat wearers—although the United Nations has uttered the heresy that even if Ebola isn’t airborne now, it soon might be regardless of its causal origins.

And then we have the incessantly repeated reckless claim that it is impossible for asymptomatic carriers to transmit Ebola. Who can say this with complete confidence given that we have novel genetic variants of Ebola in play?  Furthermore, any scientist who is remotely competent will observe that asymptomatic transmission cannot possibly be completely ruled out regardless of the fact that we are dealing with new variants—simply because there can never be enough cases to statistically eliminate small probabilities of asymptomatic transmission.  The only scientific question on this issue is whether such probabilities are so small that they can be considered negligible from a practical standpoint—and, right now, we don’t have a tremendous amount of cases at this point to base our conclusions on anyway.

Let’s pivot now to the Ebola test false-negative problem.  False-negative results, of course, occur when tests indicate the absence of a condition even though the condition is in fact present.  For many reasons (including human perceptual and cognitive errors), no test offers 100% accuracy in this respect or any other.  Therefore, there is always some risk that tests returning negative results for Ebola are wrong.  The U.S. Department of Defense has spoken to this issue with reference to the Ebola Zaire variant it says was detected in the current outbreak in West Africa:

If this test is negative, does that mean that I do not have Ebola Zaire infection?

Most, but not all, people with Ebola Zaire infection will have a positive test. Therefore, if your test is negative, something else may be responsible for your illness. There is a small chance that this test can give a negative result that is wrong (called a false negative) meaning you could possibly still have an Ebola Zaire infection even though the test is negative. Therefore, while a negative test most likely means you do not have an Ebola Zaire infection, your health care provider must consider the test result together with all other aspects of your illness (such as symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location) in deciding how to treat you.”

So, suppose, for example, that the “small chance” of an Ebola false negative rate is 1%.  It’s bad enough that many will then jump to the conclusion that such a result indicates that there is a 99% chance that the negative result indicates absence of the disease, so let’s show why that construal is wrong.

It is true that, given a 1% false negative rate, the true positive rate is 99%.  This is because the  true positive rate is the complement of the false negative rate.  But all a 99% true positive rate says is that positive test results capture 99% of cases that are in fact positive.

The Ebola-related practical concern addressed in this article is that a 99% true positive rate (also referred to as 99% “sensitivity”), which speaks to what might be informally called the “accuracy” of positive test results, does not really say much about the probability that a negative test result should be believed.  To generate that probability, the false negative rate must be combined with the prior probability that the person tested is not afflicted (which of course is by definition the complement of the probability that they are afflicted) with the illness as well as with the true negative rate, which is the probability of negative results when persons are actually negative.  This is the sort of thing Bayes’ Theorem does.

The “prior probability” is estimated on the basis of whatever information pertaining to the likelihood of Ebola infection exists before tests are administered.  These are factors such as “symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location” as the U.S. Department of Defense properly indicates (and isn’t it interesting that a military wing of the U.S. government admits the problem, while the civilian CDC lies by omission).  As the application of Bayes’ Theorem makes clear, the significance of a negative test result varies in terms of its practical significance with the prior probability of Ebola affliction, which means that if the prior probability of affliction is high enough in particular cases, people shouldn’t feel comfortable even if the risk of false negative tests is very low and negative test results do a very good job of capturing those cases that are in fact negative.

What this means is simply that, particularly in view of scores on factors such as friendship and social networks, having lived in and travelled from hot zones might imply that negative Ebola tests applied to such persons have very little significance—especially when cases are viewed in the aggregate.  When one puts this together with the reality that negative test results will often   result in the release of persons who may well be infected into civil society, the extraordinary danger we face is obvious—the more so, again, if we keep hearing smiley-faced CDC/MSM stories about bunches of negative test results.

Let’s wrap up by synthesizing this conclusion with the U.S. Government/MSM lies noted at the outset.  The lies mentioned at the beginning of the article were included because each interacts with the prospect of potentially widespread false negatives in harrowing ways.  So, for example, all else equal, greater contagion potential suggests greater potential for false negative test results.  And, clearly, all else equal the prospect of airborne contagion implies the same thing.  Furthermore, it is even possible that the novel Ebola strains are such that false negative results are more likely than they were before.

But, even if none of these things is true, the more negative tests we hear about, the more confident we can be that at least one of them is false.  At some point, a threshold will be passed beyond which we can be very confident indeed that someone who is in fact positive has nonetheless been released into civil society on the basis of an erroneous test result.

Viewed together, all of the above suggests that thoughtful observers should be on the lookout for CDC/MSM lies and/or nondisclosures regarding specific biographical details about persons who test negative—because these are what inform prior probability estimates.

Dr. Jason Kissner is Associate Professor of Criminology at California State University. Dr. Kissner’s research on gangs and self-control has appeared in academic journals. His current empirical research interests include active shootings. You can reach him at crimprof2010[at]hotmail.com

Who Was Responsible for The 2014 Destruction of Gaza?

October 6th, 2014 by Karin Brothers

After 50 days of Israeli attacks on a basically defenseless civilian population in Israeli-occupied Gaza, the media is claiming that Hamas was responsible for Gaza’s utter devastation.  According to such media accounts, Hamas was not only responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the three settler students on June 12th – they also initiated the attacks on Israel, forcing Israel to “defend itself” by obliterating Gaza’s infrastructure and devastating their population.  Hamas, according to such accounts, refused legitimate ceasefire deals by insisting that the 8-year siege be lifted, broke the temporary ceasefires, and refused to disarm, thus bringing the disaster on themselves.  Israel’s supporters now run ads that compare the democratically-elected resistance government to ISIS.  What are the facts behind those accusations against Gaza’s government?  Why was Gaza attacked?

Gaza, under continuous Israeli military occupation since 1967, has also been under an Israeli blockade since Sept. 2006; experts compare the largely censored siege to the notorious Warsaw Ghetto of 1940-1942.  Gazans, like the Jews of the Ghetto, used tunnels to survive; they became desperate when the new Egyptian government closed the tunnels.  Hamas, which had won the 2006 election held in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, was then forced to join the Fatah party in a new, US- recognized “unity government” that was sworn in on June 2, 2014 — days before three settler students were kidnapped.

Three settler students leaving Hebron were kidnapped and killed the night of June 12th.  One student called the emergency police hotline to report that he was being kidnapped; the message was followed by shots, groans and almost two minutes of silence.  Despite an exchange of 54 early-morning phone calls from a parent, a “search” was not started until the next day.  Media was then informed that the students had been killed, but the government put a gag order on the story that lasted until the bodies were found on June 30th. [Tarachansky]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of the crime – producing no hard evidence (Tarachansky) – and tried to pressure Mahmoud Abbas into ending the “unity government”.  Despite Hamas’ denials, “retaliatory” air strikes on Gaza started on June 14th*, along with a “search” that started what would be a two-month rampage of arrests, beatings, killing and destruction throughout the West Bank — and a propaganda campaign that whipped Jewish Israelis into a genocidal frenzy of anti-Arab hatred.

The police emergency hotline response to the dramatic phone call for help was suspiciously apathetic, as was the 8-9 hour delay before starting a search (Harel), which allowed perpetrators ample time to cover their tracks.  On July 4th, Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff pointed out the complexity of the operation and, implicitly, the likelihood of some Shin Bet involvement:

 [The accused] did not act alone. They clearly had people to help them in preparing a hiding place, buying food, obtaining a car, and arranging transport from one place to another during the operation. They also apparently had someone to maintain communications with the people who funded the attack. Someone also helped them transfer the bodies to the Khirbat Arnab ruins area, and perhaps even helped to hide them.

In short, there were between five and 10 people, if not more (not including the outer circle of car thieves and weapons dealers), who aided them directly in carrying out the attack. And they all managed to evade the Shin Bet. …

In order to reach the Khirbat Arnab ruins, one must leave Halhul heading west, toward Kfar Nuba. Next to a house there, which is undergoing construction, runs a paved road that turns into dirt after a kilometer. After a few more minutes, you turn left on a dirt road that a regular car would have difficulty navigating, go up a hill, and from there only 4×4 vehicles can continue…. if the vehicle in which the teens were kidnapped was the Hyundai 35 found burnt out near Dura in southwest Hebron, then it stands to reason that a different vehicle took the terrorists and their three victims to the Arnab ruins. …

While Israel started “retaliatory” air strikes on Gaza on June 14th, it was only after Israel killed a senior Hamas official on June 30, that Hamas responded with its first rockets since 2012. (Tarachansky)  Former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk claimed that “there’s no legal, political or moral argument that would uphold the claim that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense.” (Klipperstein)

Israel not only targeted Gaza civilians (Washington Blog) (almost 2200 were murdered, with 11,000 injured) but also targeted the civilian infrastructure such as UN facilities, schools, hospitals, clinics, ambulances and medics, virtually every mosque, and the only power plant, which provided potable water.  Over 400,000 were left homeless; entire families were wiped out; entire neighborhoods were razed to the ground. Despite the carnage, Hamas refused to agree to laying down arms until Israel lifted the siege. Gazans agreed to choose death over a continuation of the siege. (Sourani)

Gaza has been left with little food, no potable water, a lack of critical medical supplies, no electricity, or even material to rebuild with. Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza illustrated its use of the Dagan Plan, using Israeli civilian deaths as an excuse to cause massive Palestinian casualties and its Dahiya Doctrine, causing such extensive destruction that it would take decades to recover, thus weakening the government. Despite the ceasefire agreement, Israel has refused to honor its pledge to lift the siege and it has continued to attack Palestinians and grab land.

Responsibility for the kidnappings and murders

The Hamas leadership had nothing to gain and everything to lose from kidnapping Israeli students and they issued an official denial the day after Netanyahu’s accusation.  There were two subsequent Hamas- related admissions of guilt: one from exiled Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri that al-Qassam Brigades was responsible for the abductions, and on August 5th, an admission of Hussam Kawasme, a member of Hamas from Hebron, who also implicated other family members and acquaintances. The Kawasme admissions were treated with some scepticism in initial Israeli articles [Issacharoff, Aug 10], presumably because they could have been the result of torture.  In Israeli media, Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal appeared to acknowledge the results of the Israeli investigations implicating local Hebron members but implied that the students were legitimate targets. [Isakoff]  Despite the admissions, the Hamas leadership was not believed to have been responsible for the kidnappings and deaths. (Cameron, Crowcroft, Ginsburg)  The Israeli September 23rd killing of the two accused men from Hebron precluded their presentation of further evidence.

Israel had motives for these attacks.  Netanyahu used the kidnappings to wreck havoc on Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank – and claim over a thousand more acres of land near Bethlehem The new US- backed unity government ended Israel’s excuse to stall peace negotiations.  Mideast experts such as Noam Chomsky, Henry Siegman and Michel Chossudovsky have noted other motives: an Israeli annexation of Gaza and Israel’s ultimate control of Gaza’s offshore gas (which Israel is meanwhile benefiting from).  Norman Finkelstein noted that Israel’s demand that Gaza be disarmed is tantamount to demanding that Gaza agree to Israeli annexation.  Israel is not legally permitted to annex Gaza and the demand denies the Palestinian right to self-determination and an ending of the occupation.

A week before the kidnappings, Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo publicly wondered at the reaction if three students disappeared (Chossudovsky); the chief of Shin Bet had been seen in the Hebron area the week before the abductions. (Issacharoff) An extremist Salafi organization known as Dawlat al-Islam linked to ISIS claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three Israelis on August 13th; such a link could connect the act with the Israeli military, which has known links to ISIS.  (Chossudovsky)  

Conclusion and urgent call to action:

There is an urgent need to confront the media before the new blame- the- victim accounts are entrenched in the public understanding.  Media accounts must hold Israel fully accountable for the devastation of Gaza and for the lethal, ongoing siege.

The media should acknowledge that Palestinians have the right to self-determination.  Hamas should be recognized as the democratically- elected party of all Palestinians living under occupation; legislators and members must not be treated as “terrorists” by virtue of that membership.

Those who care about the situation facing Palestinians must take it upon themselves to challenge media accounts that blame the victims; Israeli impunity threatens the international humanitarian laws that defend everyone in the world community.  The only hope for a just peace depends on people speaking up.

Notes:

Cameron, Dell. Israeli police official refutes claim that Hamas kidnapped Israeli teens. The Daily Dot. July 25, 2014. Accessed Sept. 3, 2014 at: http://www.dailydot.com/politics/israel-gaza-kidnap-false-inaccurate/

Chossudovsky,Michel.“Justified Vengeance”, The Pretext for Bombing Gaza: Was the Netanyahu Government behind the Killings of the Three Israeli Teenagers?. Global Research. July 13, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2014 at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/justified-vengeance-the-pretext-for-bombing-gaza-was-the-netanyahu-government-behind-the-killings-of-the-three-israeli-teenagers/5391093

Cohn, Marjorie. US Leaders Aid and Abet Israeli War Crimes, Genocide & Crimes against Humanity. Jurist. August 8, 2014. Accessed on Sept. 3, 2014 athttp://jurist.org  /forum/2014/08/marjorie-cohn-israel-crimes.php

Crowcroft, Orlando. Hamas official: we were behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. The Guardian. August 21, 2014. accessed Sept. 3, 2014 at:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/21/hamas-kidnapping-three-israeli-teenagers-saleh-al-arouri-qassam-brigades

KLIPPENSTEIN, KEN. An Interview with Richard Falk on the Crisis in Gaza. Counterpunch. August 13, 2014. accessed Sept. 4, 2014 at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/13/an-interview-with-richard-falk-on-the-crisis-in-gaza/

Gilbert, Mads. Brief report to UNRWA: The Gaza Health Sector as of June 2014.

accessed at: http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/final_report_-_gaza_health_sector_june-july_2014_-_mads_gilbert_2.pdf

Ginsburg, Mitch. Alleged mastermind of 3 teens’ killing indicted. Times of Israel. September 4. Accessed on Sept. 4, 2014 at: http://www.timesofisrael.com/alleged-mastermind-of-3-teens-killing-indicted/#ixzz3CNoCpUig

 Harel, AmosTapes reveal pleas of kidnapped boy’s father met with call center apathy. Ha’aretz. July 2., 2014. accessed July 2, 2014 at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.602537

 IsikoffMichael. Mashaal admits Hamas members killed Israeli teens. The Times of Israel.  August 22 2014. accessed Sept. 1, 2014 at: http://www.timesofisrael.com/mashaal-admits-hamas-members-killed-israeli-teens/

 

 Issacharoff, Avi.  How did the Shin Bet fail to spot the Hebron kidnap cell in time?. The Times of Israel. July 4, 2014. accessed Sept 3, 2014 at:  http://www.timesofisrael.com/with-accomplices-kidnappers-evade-the-shin-bet-for-now/#ixzz3CDTXfnrK

 Issacharoff, Avi. Palestinian sources: Teens’ killling planned, funded by Hamas. The Times of Israel. Aug 10. 2014.  accessed at: www.timesofisrael.com/palestinians-say-teens-killing-planned-and-funded-by-hamas/#ixzz3CD0nTnYa

 Ratner, Michael. The Dahiya Doctrine: Evidence of Israel’s Intentional Mass Slaughter in Gaza. The Real News. August 24, 2014. accessed Sept. 3, 2014 at: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12271

Sourani, Raji. Violence has gone on too long – we have lost all hope. The Independent. July 11, 2014; accessed Sept. 1, 2014 at: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/violence-has-gone-on-too-long-we-have-lost-all-hope-30423452.html

Tarachansky, LiaIsraeli Government and Press Knew Teenagers Were Dead for Weeks. The Real News Network (TRNN). July 1, 2014. Accessed on July 1, 2014: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=767&Itemid=74&jumival=12063

Washington’s Blog. 150 + International Legal Experts: Israel Has Committed War Crimes. Global Research. August 9, 2014. accessed Sept. 3, 2014 at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/150-international-legal-experts-israel-has-committed-war-crimes/5395356

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.

New European Commission Stacked With Corporate Lobbyists

October 6th, 2014 by Colin Todhunter

Europeans require the European Commission (EC) to act in the interests of ordinary people and the environment, not a handful of powerful private corporations. The previous Barosso Commission was accused of being a willing but captive servant of a corporate agenda and a disgrace to Europe’s democratic traditions. It pursued an agenda on behalf of big business [1].

The EC is the executive body of the European Union (EU) and is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union’s treaties and the day-to-day management of the EU. Commissioners pledge to be completely independent in carrying out their duties during their mandate.

The Commission operates as a cabinet government and comprises 28 members (informally known as commissioners). The European Council nominates a candidate to be president of the Commission, who must be approved by a majority of the members of the European Parliament. The president-elect (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) chooses the commissioners from candidates put forward by the EU countries.  

As the EC is the fulcrum of power within the EU, the people of Europe have a right to know just who the new commissioners are and their suitability in terms of any conflicts of interest.

In the images below, courtesy of Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and Attac Austria, basic insight is provided into the backgrounds of some of the prospective members of the new Juncker Commission, which will be in office from November 2014 to 2019. The information reveals serious conflicts of interest.

More in-depth evidence of these conflicts are provided with regard to the wholly unsuitable corporate backgrounds of candidates Jonathan Hills and Arias Canate on the CEO website [2,3].

Can it be right that an ex-corporate lobbyist is put in charge of regulating the financial services sector or that an ex-petroleum industry insider becomes responsible for climate action?

The previous Barosso Commission sold out ordinary people’s interests to powerful corporations. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) [4] could well be the ultimate outcome of this.

With a new Commission being stacked with former corporate lobbyists and people from the world of big business, Europeans have every right to be sceptical and feel that the Juncker Commission will continue to serve a corporate agenda.

Notes 

1] http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/record_captive_commission.pdf

2] http://corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors/2014/07/uk-prime-minister-david-cameron-nominates-revolving-door-ex-lobbyist-eu

3] http://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2014/09/many-business-dealings-commissioner-designate-miguel-arias-canete

4} http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership-ttiptrojan-horse-selling-out-europe-to-us-corporate-plunder/5405170

A very significant and dangerous trend has been accelerating in recent weeks. This trend consists of leaders throughout the globe coming out and blatantly calling for censorship and restrictions on free speech.

Of course, in so-called Western democracies, the leaders have to be more subtle and nuanced in their approach. They can’t just come out and say they hate the internet. We saw this tactic from the UK Conservative Party as of late with its call for the banning “non-violent” extremism from public discourse. I covered this terrifying plan in my recent post: The UK’s Conservative Party Declares War on YouTube, Twitter, Free Speech and Common Sense.

While that’s how British politicians pitch totalitarianism, their Turkish counterparts don’t seem to have any qualms about just coming out and admitting their disdain for the proliferation of free speech that the internet allows. We learn from the Independent that:

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his government’s efforts to control online speech, telling a press freedom conference: “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.”

Mr Erdoğan’s comments came during an “unprecedented” meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI).

Local newspapers and major publications such as The New York Times and CNN International were among those slammed by officials, according to the CPJ.

“Media should never have been given the liberty to insult,” Mr Erdoğan was quoted as saying during the 90-minute meeting.

In a nod to the Western strategy, he also throws out the “terrorism” talking point.

He also expressed concern that criminal and terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State go online to recruit followers, saying he is “increasingly against” the internet.

His remarks come after he approved a law tightening control of the internet and increasing the powers held by telecoms authorities earlier in September.

Meanwhile in Egypt, the Associated Press notes that civil rights groups and humanitarian organizations are concerned that things under newly elected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, will be even more authoritarian than they were under Hosni Mubarak.

While this trend of politicians waging war on free speech is dangerous, it is also extremely encouraging. They wouldn’t feel the need to take off the velvet gloves unless they were scared to death that the plebs were on to them and actually talking to one another.

Israel Summons Swedish Envoy Over Palestine Recognition

October 6th, 2014 by Middle East Monitor

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven [pictured] announced on Friday his intention to recognize Palestine

Israel has summoned the Swedish ambassador to protest plans by Sweden to recognize the state of Palestine.

In a statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the Swedish envoy has been summoned for a meeting on Monday after Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced on Friday his intention to recognize Palestine.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday night that Lofven’s announcement was “unfortunate”, according to Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.

“Swedish Prime Minister Lofven needs to understand that no declaration and no step by an outside player can replace the direct negotiations between the sides and a solution that will be part of a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the entire Arab world,” Lieberman said.

On Friday, Lofven, Sweden’s newly elected prime minister, said that he would recognize Palestine as a state, which would make it the first longstanding E.U. member-state to do so.

”The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law,” Lofven told parliament on Friday.

”A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the State of Palestine,” he said.

The decision comes less than a month after Sweden’s Social Democrats – in alliance with the Greens and the Left Party – swept September 14 parliamentary polls.

A handful of European countries – including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – have already recognized Palestine as a state. They did so, however, before joining the E.U.

In late 2012, Palestine was granted non-member observer status at the United Nations.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.

Palestinians, for their part, continue to demand the establishment of an independent state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with East Jerusalem – currently occupied by Israel – as its capital.

British MPs are set to vote on recognising the State of Palestine on October 13th, 2014.

Instead of Bombing the Islamic State

October 6th, 2014 by Jan Oberg

This two-part article offers a pro-peace perspective on the present war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

First some principles to stimulate another discourse, another way of thinking that is not militarist – and then some concrete proposals – 27 in all for your deliberation, discussion with friends and perhaps to share through your social and other media.

Neither war nor doing nothing

The principle of ”An eye for an eye will one day make the whole world blind” – said Mohandas K. Gandhi who was born on October 2 145 years ago. Since then, human civilisation has not advanced much when it comes to handling conflict.

Let’s recognise that it is a difficult situation – the Middle East is in a mess and the West is deeply co-responsible if you look at the last roughly 100 years – Sykes-Picot, Balfour, coup d’etats, occupations, bombings, bases, oil greed etc.

So, there are no easy solutions.

However, three simple principles will help us all: 
A) Be aware of the West’s co-responsibility,
B) Don’t make everything even worse – and
C) Remember that violence begets hate, wish for revenge and more violence – blowbacks.

Unfortunately, A to C is totally ignored by the bombing nations – the US, France, Britain, Belgium and my native Denmark together with some small Arab states which paradoxically have financed ISIS – Al-Qaeda in Iraq – for years.

It is easy to be for war. The intellectually lazy are in the sense that before they arrive at war as a solution, they have seldom contemplated or tried civilian means. It is also fairly easy to cry ‘Down with all wars and weapons! - but good peace hearts alone also won’t solve the problems we are facing.

What the pro- and anti-war people have in common is a focus on war as such. We need to move that focus and ask: What are the alternatives to war and militarist pseudo solutions?

Most people don’t seem to know what the UN Charter states in its preamble – that humanity shall ”save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – i.e. abolish war entirely.

That is the vision: What are the alternatives to war? And how can humans learn to deal in civilised ways with the – unavoidable – conflicts any and every human system will always display?

That is what peace researchers grapple with who take their profession and academic responsibility serious. TFF is one of them – pro-peace and not just anti-violence.

It speaks volumes about the (Western) world that war-related research is the largest single research field with billions of dollars at its disposal, that there are military academies everywhere and countless books, films, entertainment etc. about war.

Now, ask yourself and your country: How much research, how many academies and how many books, films and teaching programs are there for non-violence, forgiveness, reconciliation etc., i.e. for the UN norm of peace by peaceful means?

The proposals that follow are not prioritised – each has some importance and some can be combined – linear thinking won’t work anyhow.

Toward a new way of thinking and a less militarised world

Learn something from earlier wars. They have not been that successful and most of the assumptions they were based on turned out to be wrong.

We are back in Iraq because of the invasion, occupation and mis-management of the entire country by woefully ignorant foreigners.

Recognise that terrorism cannot be eradicated by killing terrorists – as little as you can rid the world of criminality by killing criminals. Try to understand the underlying driving forces and why people become terrorists.

Make a comprehensive conflict analysis or diagnosis and look at the problem(s) to be solved more than on some particular actors.

Shape you own policy creatively and draw upon values that characterise your own democratic society.

If it is wrong to kill your neighbour why is it OK to kill thousands for some ‘national interest’?

Secondly, the foreign policy of a small state cannot consist in setting up a telephone answering machine only responding to calls from Washington or Brussels with the message: We’ll be there when you want us to! (Denmark’s foreign policy in a nutshell).

Think in accordance with the UN Charter (read it if you haven’t). It states with abundant clarity that all civilian means shall have been tried and found to have yielded no result before military means are introduced.

Don’t act in panic – take a longer time perspective and define the participants to a conflict broadly (there are no conflict with only two parties). In that longer perspective,include the role of the West, colonial legacy, arms trade as a problem, etc.

Use empathy – ask yourself how your opponent is likely to perceive your actions; don’t be fooled by your wishful thinking: If we do this to them, they will probably obey and do what we tell them to do! Think through several moves and counter-moves, not just one round.

Don’t get carried away by the military power/superiority you may possess – at the end of the day wars are only won and conflicts solved exclusively by the intellect and bymoral superiorityHubris is a very very dangerous partner in all international – and human – relations.

Try to understand what ISIS is, where its hate and brutality comes from – don’t see them as just mad men who must be killed. To understand is not the same as defending someone. The West has a certain responsibility for ISIS’s existence – while the Caliphate and the brutality with which it is established may be repulsive, it has historical roots both in Islam and in the West’s high-handed treatment of the region.

To go to war is the single most important decision any government can make. Ensure that you have superb expertise – many and diverse – giving their advise in proportion to that importance.

Be sure also that you have parliamentarians who are knowledgeable about international affairs in a broad sense and don’t just follow someone else’s opinion or orders.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) intervention in developing countries’ national policies, through aid conditionality and austerity programs known as Structural Adjustments Programs (SAPs), triggered a wave of global resistance against the International Financial Institutions (IFIs). in the face of growing criticism that these policies increased poverty, debt, and dependency on rich countries, saps were eventually withdrawn in 2002; however the World Bank, through renewed means, continues to pursue and impose its neoliberal agenda on the developing world.

Read the full report

Washington, D.C. — On October 10, 2014, NGOs, farmers’ groups, and indigenous organizations from across the world are coming together as part of the Our Land Our Business campaign to denounce the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings. The campaign, endorsed by over 235 organizations, will be staging “creative resistance” events at the Bank’s annual meetings in Washington D.C. and nine other cities around the world. The D.C. event is drawing support from a wide range of activist communities, including Occupy groups who will join representatives of impacted communities from Kenya, Mali, and Ethiopia.

“Under the banner #WorldVsBank, this movement is calling for the end of the Doing Business rankings and the new Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture project. They are tools of a pro-corporate, anti-poor, environmentally unsustainable model of development. If the World Bank keeps promoting economic activity that destroys biodiversity and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities, they should not have a mandate to exist,” said Alnoor Ladha of /The Rules.

The World Bank’s lending to developing countries reached $35 billion in 2012. The Doing Business rankings play a critical role in determining what form of economic development takes place around the world. According to the World Bank’s own literature, they are “an incomparable catalyst for business reforms initiatives.” In practice, this has meant liberalizing developing country economies so that large-scale land investment and western corporations can move in unimpeded. The casualties are the smallholder famers and providers who currently feed 80% of the developing world but who are all too often rendered invisible or actively dispossessed.

“Working for the World Bank’s Social Fund in Gambella, I protested the widespread coercion and forced relocation of people. Today I live in political exile in Kenya. I am protesting the World Bank on October 10 because I know firsthand how their policies negatively impact communities,” said Okok Ojulu who will share his experiences at actions planned in D.C.

To coincide with the #WorldVsBank mobilization, the Oakland Institute, one of the world’s leading think tanks on land issues, is releasing a new study tackling the Bank’s approach to land, agriculture, and development, Unfolding Truth: Dismantling the World Bank’s Myths on Agriculture and Development. In addition, the Institute will also release six new country fact sheets that expose the reforms promoted by the World Bank in Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Laos, Cambodia, and Uruguay. In each country, the Bank’s policies have served as a catalyst for massive land grabs, dispossession, and forced eviction of countless small-scale farmers.

“If you look behind many of the recent land grabs, you will find World Bank policies that enable investors to come in with projects that promise benefits to communities but don’t follow through. We can keep going after each corporation and investment group but it would be more effective if the World Bank stopped using their immense political and financial power to pave the way for what has become the systematic exploitation of land and people,” said Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute.

Our Land Our Business is also launching the world’s first transnational “missed call” campaignuniting a call-to-action across multiple countries. The idea is to make a call to a local phone number; the mobile number is then registered as an expression of support, then supporters receive free text messages to get further involved (e.g. showing up at a creative resistance). In parts of the world where first-generation mobile phones are ubiquitous but computers and the Internet are costly and inaccessible, this is a new powerful tool for mass engagement in political action.

On October 10, a street mobilization featuring speakers and artists will take place at 4pm in Rawlins Park, Washington D.C. This is followed by further action on October 11 when activists and concerned citizens from around the world will again gather outside the World Bank at 11am to protest the Bank’s attempt to dismantle critical protections for people and the planet that are currently enshrined in its operational policies. These changes come at a time when the Bank is making plans to scale up its lending to the private sector and return to the sort of risky mega-projects that characterized its now-discredited structural adjustment programs in the 1980s.

The October 10 – 11 actions send a message to the Bank that the world won’t stand for its exploitive practices.

For more on the two-day event, please visit www.ourlandourbusiness.org.

Download Unfolding Truth: Dismantling the World Bank’s Myths on Agriculture and Development and the country fact sheets.  

“Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.” Nafeez Ahmed, “How the West Created the Islamic State“, CounterPunch

“The US created these terrorist organizations. America does not have the moral authority to lead a coalition against terrorism.” Hassan Nasralla, Secretary General of Hezbollah

The Obama administration’s determination to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pushing the Middle East towards a regional war that could lead to a confrontation between the two nuclear-armed rivals, Russia and the United States.

Last week, Turkey joined the US-led coalition following a vote in parliament approving a measure to give the government the authority to launch military action against Isis in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Turkish involvement would come at a price, and that price would be the removal of al Assad. According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:

“Turkey will not allow coalition members to use its military bases or its territory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on Oct. 1…

“We are open and ready for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism. However, it should be understood by everybody that Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions, nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it,” Erdoğan said in his lengthy address to Parliament.”..

“Turkey cannot be content with the current situation and cannot be a by-stander and spectator in the face of such developments.” (“Turkey will fight terror but not for temporary solutions: Erdoğan“, Hurriyet)

Officials in the Obama administration applauded Turkey’s decision to join the makeshift coalition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed the vote as a “very positive development” while State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We welcome the Turkish Parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action…We’ve had numerous high-level discussions with Turkish officials to discuss how to advance our cooperation in countering the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”

In the last week, “Turkish tanks and other military units have taken position on the Syrian border.” Did the Obama administration strike a deal with Turkey to spearhead an attack on Syria pushing south towards Damascus while a small army of so called “moderate” jihadis– who are presently on the Israeli border– move north towards the Capital? If that is the case, then the US would probably deploy some or all of its 15,000 troops currently stationed in Kuwait “including an entire armored brigade” to assist in the invasion or to provide backup if Turkish forces get bogged down. The timeline for such an invasion is uncertain, but it does appear that the decision to go to war has already been made.

Turkish involvement greatly increases the chances of a broader regional war. It’s unlikely that Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, will remain on the sidelines while Turkish tanks stream across the country on their way to Damascus. And while the response from Tehran and Moscow may be measured at first, it is bound to escalate as the fighting intensifies and tempers flare. The struggle for Syria will be a long, hard slog that will probably produce no clear winner. If Damascus falls, the conflict will morph into a protracted guerilla war that could spill over borders engulfing both Lebanon and Jordan. Apparently, the Obama administration feels the potential rewards from such a reckless and homicidal gambit are worth the risks.

No-Fly Zone Fakery

The Obama administration has made little effort to conceal its real objectives in Syria. The fight against Isis is merely a pretext for regime change. The fact that Major General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chuck Hagel are angling for a no-fly zone over Syria exposes the “war against Isis” as a fraud. Why does the US need a no-fly zone against a group of Sunni militants who have no air force? The idea is ridiculous. The obvious purpose of the no-fly zone is to put Assad on notice that the US is planning to take control of Syrian airspace on its way to toppling the regime. Clearly, Congress could have figured this out before rubber stamping Obama’s request for $500 million dollars to arm and train “moderate” militants. Instead, they decided to add more fuel to the fire. If Congress seriously believes that Assad is a threat to US national security and “must go”, then they should have the courage to vote for sending US troops to Syria to do the heavy lifting. The idea of funding shadowy terrorist groups that pretend to be moderate rebels is lunacy in the extreme. It merely compounds the problem and increases the prospects of another Iraq-type bloodbath. Is it any wonder why Congress’s public approval rating is stuck in single digits?

TURKEY: A Major Player

According to many sources, Turkey has played a pivotal role in the present crisis, perhaps more than Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Consider the comments made by Vice President Joe Biden in an exchange with students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University last week. Biden was asked: “In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not why is now the right moment?” Here’s part of what he said:

“…my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends – and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with – the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world…

So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden – I don’t want to be too facetious – but they had seen the Lord. Now we have – the President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor – it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization.”

Biden apologized for his remarks on Sunday, but he basically let the cat out of the bag. Actually, what he said wasn’t new at all, but it did lend credibility to what many of the critics have been saying since the very beginning, that Washington’s allies in the region have been arming and funding this terrorist Frankenstein from the onset without seriously weighing the risks involved. Here’s more background on Turkey’s role in the current troubles from author Nafeez Ahmed:

“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch

Notice how the author points out the involvement of “CIA operatives”. While Biden’s comments were an obvious attempt to absolve the administration from blame, it’s clear US Intel agencies knew what was going on and were at least tangentially involved. Here’s more from the same article:

“Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Once again, classified documents prove that the US officialdom knew what was going on and simply looked the other way. All the while, the hardcore takfiri troublemakers were loading up on weapons and munitions preparing for their own crusade. Here’s a clip that Congress should have read before approving $500 million more for this fiasco:

” … Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgment of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”…

the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State”, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch)

These few excerpts should help to connect the dots in what is really a very hard-to-grasp situation presently unfolding in Syria. Yes, the US is ultimately responsible for Isis because it knew what was going on and played a significant part in arming and training jihadi recruits. And, no, Isis does not take its orders directly from Washington (or Langley) although its actions have conveniently coincided with US strategic goals in the region. (Many readers will undoubtedly disagree with my views on this.) Here’s one last clip on Turkey from an article in the Telegraph. The story ran a full year ago in October 2013:

“Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage “jihad” in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters – including Britons – to join the country’s civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.

These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the “moderate” wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda’s ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria’s civil war.

Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning – and its government has been assumed to share the West’s concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits – or may even be turning a blind eye.” (“Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses“, Telegraph)

Get the picture? This is a major region-shaping operation that the Turks, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Americans etc are in on. Sure, maybe some of the jihadis went off the reservation and started doing their own thing, but even that’s not certain. After all, Isis has already achieved many of Washington’s implicit objectives: Dump Nuri al Maliki and replace him with a US stooge who will amend the Status of Forces Agreement. (SOFA), allow Sunni militants and Kurds to create their own de facto mini-states within Iraq (thus, eliminating the threat of a strong, unified Iraq that will challenge Israeli hegemony), and create a tangible threat to regional security (Isis) thereby justifying US meddling and occupation for the foreseeable future. So far, arming terrorists has been a winning strategy for Obama and Co. Unfortunately for the president, we are still in the early rounds of the emerging crisis. Things could backfire quite badly, and probably will.

(NOTE: According to Iran’s Press TV: “The ISIL terrorists have purportedly opened a consulate in Ankara, Turkey and use it to issue visas for those who want to join the fight against the Syrian and Iraqi governments….The militants are said to be operating freely inside the country without much problem.” I have my doubts about this report which is why I have put parentheses around it, but it is interesting all the same.)

CAMP BUCCA: University of Al-Qaeda

So where do the Sunni extremists in Isis come from?

There are varying theories on this, the least likely of which is that they responded to promotional videos and propaganda on social media. The whole “Isis advertising campaign” nonsense strikes me as a clever disinformation ploy to conceal what’s really going on, which is, that the various western Intel agencies have been recruiting these jokers from other (former) hotspots like Afghanistan, Libya, Chechnya, Kosovo, Somalia and prisons in Iraq. Isis not a spontaneous amalgam of Caliphate-aspiring revolutionaries who spend their off-hours trolling the Internet, but a collection of ex Baathists and religious zealots who have been painstakingly gathered to perform the task at hand, which is to lob off heads, spread mayhem, and create the pretext for US-proxy war. Check out this illuminating article on Alakhbar English titled “The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders”. It helps explain what’s really been going on behind the scenes:

“We have to ask why the majority of the leaders of the Islamic State (IS), formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), had all been incarcerated in the same prison at Camp Bucca, which was run by the US occupation forces near Omm Qasr in southeastern Iraq….. First of all, most IS leaders had passed through the former U.S. detention facility at Camp Bucca in Iraq. So who were the most prominent of these detainees?

The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tops the list. He was detained from 2004 until mid-2006. After he was released, he formed the Army of Sunnis, which later merged with the so-called Mujahideen Shura Council…

Another prominent IS leader today is Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, who was a former officer in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This man also “graduated” from Camp Bucca, and currently serves as a member on IS’ military council.

Another member of the military council who was in Bucca is Adnan Ismail Najm. … He was detained on January 2005 in Bucca, and was also a former officer in Saddam’s army. He was the head of a shura council in IS, before he was killed by the Iraqi army near Mosul on June 4, 2014.

Camp Bucca was also home to Haji Samir, aka Haji Bakr, whose real name is Samir Abed Hamad al-Obeidi al-Dulaimi. He was a colonel in the army of the former Iraqi regime. He was detained in Bucca, and after his release, he joined al-Qaeda. He was the top man in ISIS in Syria…

According to the testimonies of US officers who worked in the prison, the administration of Camp Bucca had taken measures including the segregation of prisoners on the basis of their ideology. This, according to experts, made it possible to recruit people directly and indirectly.

Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca…was akin to an “al-Qaeda school,” where senior extremist gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees…

No doubt, we will one day discover that many more leaders in the group had been detained in Bucca as well, which seems to have been more of a “terrorist academy” than a prison.” (“The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders“, Alakhbar English)

US foreign policy is tailored to meet US strategic objectives, which in this case are regime change, installing a US puppet in Damascus, erasing the existing borders, establishing forward-operating bases across the country, opening up vital pipeline corridors between Qatar and the Mediterranean so the western energy giants can rake in bigger profits off gas sales to the EU market, and reducing Syria to a condition of “permanent colonial dependency.” (Chomsky)

Would the United States oversee what-amounts-to a “terrorist academy” if they thought their jihadi graduates would act in a way that served US interests?

Indeed, they would. In fact, they’d probably pat themselves on the back for coming up with such a clever idea.

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

Members of the Polish army, left, and Ukrainian military cadets stand in formation during the 2014 NATO Rapid Trident Training media day.

MOSCOW – US military is expanding its training exercises and coordinating the activities of its allies pitting Europe against Russia, Daniel Zubov from Rossiya Segodnya’s Center for International Journalism and Research said Thursday.

“While continuing to denounce alleged Russian military involvement in Ukraine, the American military marched east this September, participating in training, drills, and exercises spanning from Latvia to Turkey. It coordinated with its military allies in between – including in Ukraine – consolidating a front which extends 2,600 kilometers,” Zubov stated.

Collaboration between the Ukrainian and American militaries was the central point of President Poroshenko’s visit to Washington, DC,” Zubov said referring to the Ukrainian leaders’s visit to Washington on September 18, where he met with the US President Barack Obama in a bid to seek economic and military aid.

“His request for military assistance found support in Congress, where the Foreign Relations Committee quickly passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, but his request for an immediate transfer of powerful weapons, was declined by President Obama,” Zubov noted.

US President Barack Obama authorized US Secretary of State John Kerry to allocate $25 million to the Ukrainian government Wednesday, according to a memorandum released by the White House. Nevertheless, US military aid to the government of Ukraine does not include “lethal assistance,” US National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden told RIA Novosti Thursday.

“The United States has also begun a process led by the US European Command and Department of Defense civilian and military experts to work with Ukraine to improve its capacity to provide for its own defense and set the stage for longer-term defense cooperation,” the fact sheet released by the White House on September 18 reads.

This process encompasses several steps along American army’s new eastern front.

“Beginning in Riga, 47 participants from 15 countries are meeting from September 15 -26 for two operations, Steadfast Pyramid and Steadfast Pinnacle, where they will prepare for “exercising command and control during the planning, preparation and conduct of current and future operations.” These exercises are at the “forefront” of NATO’s response to the situation in Ukraine,” Zubov says noting that “about 900 kilometers due south, 1,300 NATO troops are conducting drills at the Yavoriv Training Center near Lviv in Ukraine as part of the US-led Rapid Trident.

According to Zubov, on September 8-10, the Ukrainian Navy has been conducting military exercises in the Black Sea with “Romania, Turkey, Spain, Canada, and the United States in operation Sea Breeze.” Ukrainian military has also joined NATO in Operation Saber Guardian at the Novo Selo Training Range in Bulgaria.

“Before the year is out, Ukraine will be included in two more NATO exercises due to its Observer status in the NATO South-East Europe Brigade,” Zubov notes.

“If Poroshenko, Longo [Major General Richard C. Longo, US Army Europe Deputy Commander], and the NATO brass have their way, a “bigger and more complex” and “sophisticated” military presence in Ukraine will further militarize the 2,600 kilometer European front against Russia, returning to the darkest and coldest days of the last century,” Zubov stressed.

European security has been a concern for NATO, who has been increasing its presence near Russia’s borders, citing the need to better protect its allies, and suspending entirely its cooperation with Moscow.

The relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated over the Ukrainian crisis that escalated to a military operation in mid-April, once Kiev sent troops to eastern Ukraine to suppress independence supporters.

Biden’s Admission: US Allies Armed ISIS

October 6th, 2014 by Patrick Martin

Speaking to students at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Forum Thursday, US Vice President Joseph Biden committed what the US media characterizes as a “gaffe.” In other words, he told an embarrassing truth about US government policy, one that is usually obfuscated in the remarks of government officials and the commentaries of media pundits.

Asked about US policy in Syria, Biden touched on the dirty secret of the current US-led war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS (or ISIL as the Obama administration terms it) is essentially the creation of the United States and its allies who fomented civil war in Syria against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Referring to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Biden said,

“They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad—except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

“Now you think I’m exaggerating,” he continued, to emphasize his point. “Take a look! Where did all of this go?” Biden claimed that the US opposed arming these al Qaeda-linked groups, which included ISIS, adding, “We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

According to Biden’s narrative, only in the summer of 2014 did these countries realize that ISIS was a threat to them as well as to Assad, and shifted, joining in the US campaign of air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria. He gave as an example the position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggesting that he had admitted the error of a permissive policy towards the extremists: “President Erdogan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right, we let too many people through, now we are trying to seal the border.”

It is testament to the degeneracy of the American political system that the circumstances behind ISIS’s rise, alluded to in Biden’s remarks, have not been the subject of any investigation. There have been no calls in Congress for hearings to examine the origins of an organization whose actions have been seized on to proclaim a new war in the Middle East.

As for the media, it merely serves as a government mouthpiece. Significantly, no US media source reported or commented on these portions of Biden’s remarks at Harvard. But once the comments were publicized, first by the Russian-based RT network, then throughout the Middle East, Biden hastened to mend fences with the offended client states.

The US embassy in Ankara released a statement that Biden had called Erdogan personally to “clarify recent comments made at Harvard University.” According to the embassy, “The Vice President apologized for any implication that Turkey or other Allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria.”

Whatever the level of “intentionality” involved, ISIS was the recipient of the US-supported arms aid to the Syrian rebels, routed by the CIA through Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and other Mideast client states. The State Department and CIA were well aware that the Syrian rebels included many Islamic militants, including those linked to al-Qaeda, because it had previously employed many of these fighters in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011.

Originally established as Al Qaeda in Iraq during the eight years of warfare that followed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the group only took the name ISIS in April 2013, long after it had built up significant strength in Syria as part of the US-backed rebel forces fighting the Assad regime.

In other words, as Biden admits, ISIS was created by the methods pursued by the US government and its allied reactionary regimes, both the Islamist government of Erdogan in Turkey and the Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Another confirmation of this relationship came in the form of a Washington Post report Sunday on the supposedly contradictory role of the sheikdom of Qatar, another of the Persian Gulf despotisms that is a client state of American imperialism. Qatar hosts the huge Al-Udeid Air Base, headquarters for US air operations in the region and the directing center of the air war in Syria and Iraq.

Only 20 miles from the base is the Grand Mosque in the Qatari capital, Doha, which “has served as a key outpost for al-Qaeda-linked rebels fighting the Syrian regime,” the Post noted, including the al-Nusra Front, the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which was formerly part of ISIS until a split last year.

Despite the presentation in the Post, there is nothing surprising in Qatar hosting the US Air Force and raising money for al-Qaeda militants in Syria. As long as ISIS gathered strength in Syria, as part of the US-backed “rebels” opposed to Assad, it was encouraged in its ambitions. It was only when ISIS moved its forces back across the border from Syria into Iraq—and in particular threatened oil-rich regions in northern Iraq—did the Obama administration move against it.

The contradictions in US policy persist. Even as it seeks to forestall ISIS’s advance, the US is arming and promoting “moderate” forces within Syria that are openly allied with al-Nusra and other Islamic fundamentalist groups. The main target of American imperialism remains the Syrian government, which is also the reason why Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other countries that fostered ISIS and are hostile to the Assad regime are now supporting the operation.

The “war against ISIS,” America’s erstwhile ally against the Assad regime, is only the latest episode in the intervention of US imperialism in the Middle East, whose goal is not freedom, or democracy, or the struggle against “terrorism,” but the domination of the oil-rich region and the preparation of new and even bloodier wars against Iran and against the main targets of Washington: Russia and China.

Did The UN Just Pass The Global Patriot Act?

October 6th, 2014 by Abby Martin

Abby Martin speaks with RT Correspondent Marina Portnaya, about a new UN resolution that is being compared to the US Patriot Act, going over how the text could allow countries to increase surveillance under the name of counter terrorism, as well as giving states new tools to crack down on dissent by simply labeling activists ‘terrorists’.