Real leftists should not support Bernie Sanders for the simple reason that he is not actually a socialist. When asked about socialism he is very quick and eager to point out that he is no Marxist, but rather a “democratic” socialist. It sounds less threatening, I suppose, to your average ignorant American raised on anti-communist propaganda to put the “democratic” qualifier in there; whatever the hell that means.

Besides making excuses for his cute, watered-down version of socialism, Bernie makes it clear that he does not deign to represent the interests of the working class. Almost without fail he frequently uses the terms “middle class,” “working people,” or “working families” instead.

Bernie is no internationalist, either. This is a key component of real socialism, by the way. Several times in the most recent Democratic debate he referred to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria as a “terrible dictator.” He has also been quick to badmouth President Vladimir Putin, condemning his “invasion” of Ukraine and initially (before later changing course as politicians are wont to do) criticizing Russia’s intervention in Syria, saying that “Mr. Putin is going to regret what he is doing.”

Sanders has stated that he is attempting to lead a “political revolution,” not a social revolution. He does not want to fundamentally reshape American society. He’s here to save the capitalist system from itself, kind of like FDR did back in the 30’s with the New Deal. In an audience before the DNC in August of last year he made it quite clear that he considered himself to be a Democrat through and through. In his comments he indicated that his campaign would be an effort to bring voters back into the Democratic Party fold who had become disillusioned and disgusted with it over the years. His twofold concern (which does not seem to include actually winning the presidency) can be summed up by these statements from his DNC talk:

“I think you’re looking at the candidate who can substantially increase voter turnout all across the country.”

“If the question is, ‘Can we defeat the Republicans?’ I think the answer is that, yes, we can.”

Some have reasoned that if, against all odds, Bernie is actually elected President, then he will very likely sell out or otherwise be ineffective. However, the theory goes, this will provide absolute proof to the yearning masses, through painful but necessary experience, that the system is hopelessly rigged against them. This is expected to spur them to action to move the revolution forward.

Flawed thinking like this only proves why historians are so helpful to society and especially to progressive social movements. The thing is, we’ve had this experience before. We don’t need to go through this trauma again.

The most recent and obvious example of how the system is rigged happened in the period of 2006 – 2010. In the 2006 congressional elections the Democrats promised that if they got control of Congress and the Senate that they would do all in their power to end the Iraq war. They did nothing. In 2008 Obama campaigned as the peace candidate who would put an end to the wars and close down Guantanamo. He did nothing of the sort.

For two years the Democrats had a large majority control in both houses of congress and they held the presidency. They had the power to do practically anything they wanted, maybe even make amendments to the constitution, but they did absolutely . . . nothing!

Let it be clearly understood that Bernie has always caucused with the Democrats, he is running as a Democrat, and he always has been, in essence, a Democrat. The Democratic Party is a key part of the political establishment and they will never, ever lead a revolt or even a significant reform movement against the status quo.

Comrades, do not be tempted to support Bernie Sanders in any way! Don’t vote for Bernie! In fact, I urge you not to vote at all!

Joseph Waters is a political activist. He operates the blog, Proletarian Center for Research, Education and Culture (Prole Center).

Spin Shift on Bernie: The Escalating Media Assault

January 27th, 2016 by Norman Solomon

For a long time, as he campaigned for president, a wide spectrum of establishment media insisted that Bernie Sanders couldn’t win. Now they’re sounding the alarm that he might.

And, just in case you haven’t gotten the media message yet — Sanders is “angry,” kind of like Donald Trump.

Elite media often blur distinctions between right-wing populism and progressive populism — as though there’s not all that much difference between appealing to xenophobia and racism on the one hand and appealing for social justice and humanistic solidarity on the other.

Many journalists can’t resist lumping Trump and Sanders together as rabble-rousing outliers. But in the real world, the differences are vast.

Donald Trump is to Bernie Sanders as Archie Bunker is to Jon Stewart.

Among regular New York Times columnists, aversion to Bernie Sanders has become more pronounced in recent days at both ends of the newspaper’s ideological spectrum, such as it is. Republican Party aficionado David Brooks (whose idea of a good political time is Marco Rubio) has been freaking out in print, most recently with a Tuesday column headlined “Stay Sane America, Please!”

Brooks warned that his current nightmare for the nation is in triplicate — President Trump, President Cruz or President Sanders. For Brooks, all three contenders appear to be about equally awful; Trump is “one of the most loathed men in American public life,” while “America has never elected a candidate maximally extreme from the political center, the way Sanders and Cruz are.”

That “political center” of power sustains huge income inequality, perpetual war, scant action on climate change and reflexive support for the latest unhinged escalation of the nuclear arms race. In other words, what C. Wright Mills called “crackpot realism.”

Meanwhile, liberal Times columnist Paul Krugman (whose idea of a good political time is Hillary Clinton) keeps propounding a stand-on-head formula for social change — a kind of trickle-down theory of political power, in which “happy dreams” must yield to “hard thinking,” a euphemism for crackpot realism.

An excellent rejoinder has come from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Krugman doesn’t get it,” Reich wrote. “I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.”

And Reich added:

“Political ‘pragmatism’ may require accepting ‘half loaves’ — but the full loaf has to be large and bold enough in the first place to make the half loaf meaningful. That’s why the movement must aim high — toward a single-payer universal health, free public higher education, and busting up the biggest banks, for example.”

But for mainline media, exploring such substance is low priority, much lower than facile labeling and horseracing… and riffing on how Bernie Sanders sounds “angry.”

On “Morning Edition,” this week began with NPR political reporter Mara Liasson telling listeners that “Bernie Sanders’ angry tirades against Wall Street have found a receptive audience.” (Meanwhile, without anger or tirades, “Hillary Clinton often talks about the fears and insecurities of ordinary voters.”)

The momentum of the Sanders campaign will soon provoke a lot more corporate media attacks along the lines of a Chicago Tribune editorial that appeared in print on Monday. The newspaper editorialized that nomination of Trump, Cruz or Sanders “could be politically disastrous,” and it declared: “Wise heads in both parties are verging on panic.”

Such panic has just begun, among party elites and media elites. Eager to undermine Sanders, the Tribune editorial warned that as a “self-declared democratic socialist,” Sanders “brandishes a label that, a Gallup poll found, would automatically make him unacceptable to nearly half the public.”

A strong critique of such commentaries has come from the media watch group FAIR, where Jim Naureckas pointed out that “voters would not be asked to vote for ‘a socialist’ — they’d be asked to vote for Bernie Sanders. And while pollsters don’t include Sanders in general election matchups as often as they do Hillary Clinton, they have asked how the Vermont senator would do against various Republicans — and he generally does pretty well. In particular, against the candidate the Tribune says is ‘best positioned’ to ‘capture the broad, sensible center’ — Jeb Bush — Sanders leads in polls by an average of 3.0 percentage points, based on polling analysis by the website Real Clear Politics.”

In mass media, the conventional sensibilities of pundits like Brooks and Krugman, reporters like Liasson, and outlets like the Chicago Tribune routinely get the first and last words. Here, the last ones are from Naureckas:

“When pollsters match Sanders against the four top-polling Republican hopefuls, on average he does better than Clinton does against each of them — even though she, like Bush, is supposed to be ‘best positioned’ to ‘capture the broad, sensible center,’ according to the Tribune.

“Actually, the elements of Sanders’ platform that elite media are most likely to associate with ‘socialism’ — things like universal, publicly funded healthcare and eliminating tuition at public colleges – are quite popular with the public, and go a long way to explain his favorable poll numbers. But they are also the sort of proposals that make Sanders unacceptable to the nation’s wealthy elite — and to establishment media outlets.”

Norman Solomon is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Bernie-SandersThe Populist Revolution: Bernie Sanders and Beyond. Nationalizing the Failed Megabanks

By Ellen Brown, January 27 2016

The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton – contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals.

DSEI-arms-fair-LondonCommon Security – Progressive Alternatives to the New Arms Race

By Dr Steven Schofield, January 27 2016

Is a new arms race inevitable?

eyeSimple Digital Privacy in a Complex Digital Age

By Martin Matuszewski, January 27 2016

In an age where a Google search can reveal horrible or embarrassing content about anyone (…) Fortunately, there are a few actions one can take to reduce visibility in the digital realm in case that is a concern (which for me, it personally is a concern).

VENEZUELA_MADURO_031515.jpgCan People’s Power Save the Bolivarian Revolution?

By Richard Fidler, January 25 2016

People’s Power [is] the grassroots mobilizations of ordinary citizens organized territorially in communal councils and communes or politically in support of the “process of change” – a force that is diffuse and still lacking a coherent structured national leadership. It is unclear at this point what role this relatively new force can play in helping to overcome the current economic and political crisis.

The US Supreme Court and "The Rule of Flaw"It’s Not Too Late For Trade Unions to Win Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association (CTA)

By Shamus Cooke, January 13 2016

The Friedrichs decision now seems inevitable, but nothing is inevitable in politics. The decision will not be announced until June, and this 5 month delay allows unions time to fully express their power. A nationwide series of actions would certainly make the Supreme Court think twice. And the Supreme Court is especially politically sensitive.

El histórico fin de la era del dinero barato que operó la Fed (Reserva Federal de Estados Unidos) en forma unilateral mediante el alza de un cuarto de punto de las tasas de interés repercute con cataclísmicos daños colaterales e implicaciones geopolíticas profundas al restante del catatónico planeta, en particular a América Latina (AL).

La Fed representa de facto el único banco central global: conglomerado de bancos privados (sic) de Wall Street que aplican políticas monetarias estatales/federales que resultan globales debido a la perniciosa hegemonía del dolarcentrismo: el máximo poder de EU, al unísono de su panoplia multifacial del Pentágono, Hollywood, los multimedia y el grupo cibernético Gafat (Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon/Twitter).

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, feroz palafrenero de la Casa Real británica, pondera los altos riesgos de la aventura del alza por la Fed cuando “los cementerios de la política global están sembrados con los centralbanquistas, quienes han elevado las tasas a prisa, para solamente retractarse después de haber empujado a sus economías a la recesión o después de haber realizado un mal juicio sobre las poderosas fuerzas deflacionarias en el mundo post-Lehman (http://goo.gl/3ysCWl)”. Se refiere a la quiebra de Lehman Brothers en 2008, que sumió a EU y, por ende, al mundo en su grave crisis que aún no ha sido resuelta.

Los ejemplos de Evans-Pritchard son ilustrativos desde las dos fallidas alzas del Banco Central Europeo de 2011 que casi llevó al colapso a la unión monetaria hasta el curso reverso de Suecia, Dinamarca, Corea del Sur, Canadá, Australia, Nueva Zelanda, Israel y Chile.

El alza no es solamente un vulgar incremento, sino que comporta también un singular ritmo cuando la Fed tiene contemplado elevar las tasas en forma gradual a lo largo de 2016 para alcanzar 1.375 por ciento (http://goo.gl/Qn7f5s).

¿Aguantarán el mundo y el México neoliberal itamita otras cuatro alzas consecutivas de un cuarto de punto cuando a la primera llevó a la quiebra a ICA, una de las principales constructoras de AL?

Fue lastimoso que el Financial Times (FT) –que teledirige sin desparpajo la política petrolera y monetaria del México neoliberal itamita– haya anunciado dos días antes (¡supersic!) el alza local de las tasas a 3.25 por ciento.

FT sentencia que la economía del México neoliberal itamita está esclavizada (¡supersic!) a la política monetarista de EU cuando en lugar de apretar las tuercas necesita relajarlas (http://goo.gl/Z7EdDn).

El New York Times se lamenta de que la atadura de México a la política monetaria de EU “haya devaluado al peso cerca de 30 por ciento en menos de una semana (http://goo.gl/FuTxGx)”.

Hasta Stratfor (https://goo.gl/6800XF) –la CIA empresarial tras bambalinas– admite que la Fed maneja en forma egoísta y unilateral las tasas sin miramiento al estado cataléptico del restante del planeta que afecta(rá), a mi juicio, primordialmente a la Unión Europea y a China: dos de los principales motores del crecimiento global.

Según Peter Spence, de The Telegraph, los países más expuestos son Brasil, Chile y Sudáfrica y los mercados emergentes pudieran ser particularmente vulnerables cuando muchos de ellos han amasado enormes cantidades de deuda que pudieran ser inmanejables. (Nota: como es el caso del parasitario Grupo Monterrey: desde Cemex hasta Alfa.)

Brasil y Sudáfrica pertenecen a los vapuleados BRICS, lo cual abona a la teoría de que el alza por la Fed tiene la intención colateral de golpearles de lleno ya que también Rusia es apaleada por la abrupta disminución de los ingresos petroleros a los límites de 35 dólares el barril, mientras la divisa china yuan/renmimbi será aporreada hasta una devaluación proyectada de 30 por ciento (http://goo.gl/CvY58m).

Así funciona la guerra multidimensional que ha decretado EU para arrinconar al resto del planeta.

Zhang Yi, de la agencia noticiosa Xinhua, comenta que China puede muy bien lidiar con el alza, ya que el dinero será necesario para invertir en los “trenes de alta velocidad, satélites y supercomputadoras que ahora fabrica China (http://goo.gl/tTsjJB)” y no solamente en juguetes.

En forma hipócrita, la israelí-estadunidense Janet Yellen, que jefatura la Fed –cuyo vicegobernador es extrañamente Stanley Fisher, ex mandamás del Banco central de Israel– se dice sorprendida por el desplome del petróleo que acompañó al alza y predijo que existen límites (sic) debajo de los cuales los precios del petróleo eran improbables de caer.

Ya había señalado que los yihadistas habían colocado el límitea 15 dólares en el que rematan el barril expoliado que venden a Israel (http://goo.gl/5XZI56).

Evans-Pritchard considera que el momento del alza es propicio debido a cuatro años de recortes presupuestales y de una tasa de desempleo que ha caído 5 por ciento.

Más allá de las triviales y aburridas medidas monetaristas, existe un panorama turbio, ya que la manufactura de EU no es nada boyante y el crecimiento de su PIB nominal no despunta de un mediocre 3 por ciento anual.

Tampoco el mercado laboral es tan apretado como parece y no faltan analistas que consideren que la Fed eche reversa.

Otros analistas aducen que el verdadero apretón sucedió hace dos años cuando la Fed cesó de comprar 85 mil millones de dólares al mes bajo el esquema de la facilitación monetaria (quantitative easing: QE).

Más allá de las piruetas y alquimias de los casi siempre equivocados monetaristas, el verdadero problema radica en los 9 billones de dólares (trillones en anglosajón) de deuda foránea que incurrieron en la demencia de endeudarse en dólares y que desde julio de 2014 ha llevado a una revaluación inédita de casi 20 por ciento del superdólar que ha perpetrado una carnicería en los mercados emergentes supeditados a las aplastadas materias primas, con los consecuentes cambios de regímenes que operan desde Venezuela hasta Argentina.

A ocho días de ascender a la presidencia, el Macri-neoliberalismosumió la riqueza de Argentina a niveles de Guinea Ecuatorial después de su superdevaluación de más de 30 por ciento, según FT, mientras en Brasil, el ministro de Finanzas, el israelí-brasileño Joaquim Levy, renunció después de haber conseguido la degradación de los bonos a niveles chatarra de la máxima economía de AL, por la descalificada calificadoraFitch. ¿Nos encontramos ante una guerra global de divisas operada por la Fed contra el resto del mundo catatónico y atónito? La única divisa respetable que se ha revaluado ha sido el superdólar que ha propinado severas palizas a todos sus competidores.

La divergencia es atroz, ya que EU efectúa su apretón (léase: sequía crediticia que encarece el valor del dinero), mientras China y Europa luchan por mantener un relajamiento monetario que, de paso, devalúa sus divisas respectivas. ¿Conviene a EU un superdólar que comprará a precio de remate los activos, más que nada, de los mercados emergentes, como México, que rematará sus principales activos petroleros en las aguas profundas en el Golfo de México en beneficio de las cuatro petroleras anglosajonas Exxon, Chevron, Shell y BP?

Nada está predeterminado y el alza de la Fed metió en forma riesgosa al mundo a un incierto mapa aún por navegar.

Alfredo jalife-Rahme

www.alfredojalife.com

Twitter: @AlfredoJalifeR_

Facebook: AlfredoJalife

 

The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died

January 27th, 2016 by Glen Ford

The Haitian people’s furious resistance to yet another fraudulent presidential election has scuttled U.S. plans to replace “Sweet Mickey” Martelly with another flunky named the “Banana Man.” The aborted fraud is a reminder that Secretary of State Clinton was an imperial bully who rigged the previous presidential election in Haiti and stole the country blind, along with her accomplice and husband, Bill. Those chickens may yet come home to roost.

The island nation of Haiti is on the verge of finally ejecting the criminal President Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, the dance hall performer and gangster who was foisted on the Haitian people by the United States through the bullying of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, back in 2011. Martelly’s term is up, and he is constitutionally required to leave office by February 7. Martelly and his American, French and Canadian backers had hoped to use rigged elections and strong-arm tactics to install another puppet politician, Jovenel “The Banana Man” Moise, in the presidential palace. The “Banana Man” – who wants to turn Haiti into a real banana-exporting republic, to the further impoverishment of its small farmers – came in first in an October election that was so blatantly stolen, even the thoroughly corrupt Haitian elite could not endorse the outcome.

In fact, virtually no one in Haitian society except the “Banana Man” and “Sweet Mickey” and the tens thousands of Haitians who were paid to vote, repeatedly, at different polling places in October, considered the election to be valid. Jude Célestin, the candidate that came in second in the October electoral farce – and who was also cheated of victory by “Sweet Mickey” Martelly in the election five years ago – refused to go along with the travesty. Célestin said he would not take part in the bogus run-off election that was scheduled for this past Sunday – meaning, the “Banana Man” would have been the only candidate.

But, even the prospect of a one-man contest could not stop the Americans from insisting on going ahead with the run-off. The U.S., which pays for the Haitian elections and, therefore, believes it has the right to decide who wins and who loses, growled that Haiti should go along with the fraudulent process. The Americans were upset that they might have no reliable replacement for their loyal puppet, “Sweet Mickey.” Plus, the discrediting of the elections would also reflect very badly on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who claims to have brought stability to Haiti when she was at the State Department but, in fact, is culpable for all of the Haitians who were murdered by the Martelly regime. The truth is that Hillary and Bill were the Bonnie and Clyde of Haiti, robbing the country for their own and other corporate criminals’ benefit. The teams of FBI agents that are now matching Hillary’s emails with contributions to the Clinton Foundation are tapping a Mother Lode of corruption that may yet bring her down before Election Day in the United States.

If that happens, the Haitian people will deserve some of the credit for saving the U.S. from another period of rule by the Crooked Clintons, in the process of saving Haiti’s sovereignty and self-respect. The Haitians’ furious grassroots resistance forced the cancellation of Sunday’s run-off election; “Sweet Mickey” is slated to leave office in less than two weeks; and negotiations are underway to form an interim government that would hold clean elections. The struggle now is for Haiti’s poor majority to make its voice heard above the growling of the U.S. imperialist occupiers and their hired Haitian flunkies – some of whom are real killers, whose names aren’t funny at all.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

Stream the radio show here

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

Around 17,000 Syrians desperate to flee the violent civil war in their country are marooned in a remote and barren area in no-man’s land near a military base on the southern border with Jordan, in what a Jordanian official has described as a “de facto refugee camp.”

More than 4.5 million people have fled Syria, the vast majority to neighbouring countries, since the start of the proxy war led by the United States, its European and Gulf allies and Turkey to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011. The exodus intensified in the wake of US airstrikes that started in September 2014 and Russian air strikes that began at the end of September 2015, with more than one million having fled since September 2014.

The number now stranded on the border is growing as Syria’s civil war enters its fifth year and neighbouring countries are preventing Syrians from entering.

Lebanon, which according to its government hosts around 2 million refugees, has effectively sealed its borders by requiring Syrians to have an embassy appointment, a flight out of Beirut airport, or a guarantor—a citizen who takes responsibility for their residency—almost impossible conditions for the vast majority.

Turkey, which hosts around 1.8 million refugees, has tightened its entry requirements for those who arrive by air or sea. Earlier this month, some 400 Syrians were stranded at Beirut airport when cancelled flights to Istanbul meant they missed the chance to land before the new policy was enforced. They were forced to fly back to Syria.

Jordan has for the last two years strictly controlled the number of refugees coming into the kingdom, which has fallen from several thousand a day in 2012 to just 50-100 a day, and on some days, none at all, as the daily reports in the local newspapers show. Most of these are emergency cases.

While the government in Amman has justified this with concerns about “security,” it wants to limit the Syrian refugee population, particularly those of Palestinian origin, so as not tip the demographic balance further towards Jordan’s Palestinians and away from its pre-existing and largely indigenous Bedouin population.

Following Amman’s closure of the border, refugees began massing in the desert north of the border in makeshift tent cities at Rukban and Hadalat. In many cases, they had paid smugglers hundreds of dollars to drive them from the north of the country controlled by Islamist militias through government-held territory to the eastern desert in a journey that can take days with little food or water.

Aid workers and Jordanian officials say that this sudden rise in refugees is a consequence of Russia’s bombing of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-controlled areas in Homs, Palmyra and Raqqa, contradicting US claims that Russia is not targeting ISIS.

As the number of refugees on the border has grown, so has the need for supplies such as water, food, medicine, tents, medical aid and logistical support that the aid agencies are struggling to provide. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warned in December that health conditions were deteriorating, with the emergence of diarrhoea, vomiting and acute malnutrition among children. According to aid officials cited by theFinancial Times, “tens” of Syrians—mostly the elderly or children—have died there. Many of the women are pregnant, and at least five babies have been delivered at the border, according to the Red Cross.

Jordan’s King Abdullah sought to justify the border closure in an interview with CNN earlier this month, saying, “Part of the problem is that they have come from the north of Syria, from Al Raqqa, Hasaka and Deir Ezzor, which is the heartland of where [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] is. We know there are [ISIS] members inside those camps.”

European officials, determined to prevent any refugees reaching Europe, have pressed Jordan to open its borders. But a senior European diplomat added, “These people are not fleeing ISIS. They are seeking safety on Jordan’s border away from coalition bombing.” He added that the large group in Rukban came “from Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIS] areas and will not be let in.”

Jordan hosts about 1.4 million Syrian refugees, about 20 percent of its entire population. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to nearly 64 million refugees in the US, which in contrast has allowed just 2,647 Syrian refugees to settle—just 0.06 percent of the 4.5 million who have fled the country since 2011.

The Syrian refugees follow the generations of Palestinians, Iraqis and more recently, Libyans, who have sought refuge in Jordan. According to a World Bank official, “one in every three persons [is] … a refugee” in Jordan, making Jordan the world’s second largest host of refugees per capita following Pakistan, and host to the fifth-largest refugee population in absolute terms.

According to the World Bank, there are 2.7 million registered refugees in Jordan, including 2.1 million Palestinians, although the UNHCR has only about 700,000 persons from 41 nationalities registered as refugees in Jordan.

Of the Syrian refugees, only about 600,000 have registered with the UNHCR, with some 120,000 living in refugee camps in Zaatari and Azraq. Zaatari has become Jordan’s fourth-largest “city” and the second-largest refugee camp in the world. Since July 2014, refugees have been unable to leave the camp without sponsorship from a Jordanian citizen and the payment of a fee, rendering them virtual prisoners.

The vast majority are living outside camps, with only 68 Jordanian dinars ($100, 87 euros) a month in support from the aid agencies. Forced to work illegally in the informal sector, they face the constant threat of being transferred to the refugee camps where only the poorest of the poor live or sent back to Syria.

Jordan estimates each Syrian refugee costs around US$280 per month. Jordan has a public debt to GDP ratio of 85 percent, growing unemployment officially running at about 15 percent (unofficially about 30 percent), rising living costs and an estimated budget deficit of 10 percent of GDP in 2016.

There has been a huge shortfall in the aid pledged at donor conferences, with only $272 million of the pledged $1.2 billion actually paid out. Last September, European Union leaders agreed a miserly $1.1 billion for Syrian refugees in the Middle East, in contrast to the $3 billion bribe to Turkey to ensure it stops the flow of refugees to Europe. In late 2015, Jordan appealed for $7.99 billion for its costs for 2016-18, having received barely a third of the $3 billion it estimates it needs this year to pay for the humanitarian costs of the Syrian crisis.

Last year, Washington announced it would increase annual aid to Jordan to $1 billion from $660 million, although it was unclear how much was of this was military support.

Most of the aid goes to United Nations agencies and the international NGOs that work in the camps, although the majority of the refugees are living in some of Jordan’s poorest municipalities. Local authorities that manage public services get little or no support, exacerbating already overstretched services such as education and healthcare, and infrastructure, particularly water and waste management, where the build-up of waste is highly visible. According to the US Agency for International Development, the total fiscal cost of the refugee crisis for municipal governments was around $25.4 million in 2013 and $33.0 million in 2014.

Schools are forced to operate two shifts, leading to an increase in the proportion of students attending double-shifted schools from 7.6 percent in 2009 to 13.4 percent in 2014. Nearly half of all schools in Amman and Irbid have classes of 40-50 pupils. Following the ending of free primary and secondary health care for registered Syrian refugees in November 2014, previously eradicated communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio and measles have re-emerged.

The US military plans to maintain a presence of thousands of US forces in Afghanistan for “decades,” unnamed senior US military officials told theWashington Post Tuesday.

“The US was supposed to leave Afghanistan by 2017. Now it might take decades,” unnamed US military leaders cited by the Post said.

The confirmation of long-term US troop deployments to Afghanistan has been prompted by the instability of the US-backed regime in Kabul, whose tenuous hold over the capital is threatened by insurgent forces including the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS, the US officials said.

Current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is a US and NATO stooge imposed through a managed election geared to deflect popular hatred of the previous US- backed ruler, Hamid Karzai. Ghani was described by the US officials as a “willing and reliable partner” who can “provide bases to attack terror groups not just in Afghanistan, but also throughout South Asia for as long as the threat in the chronically unstable region persists.”

US officials added, “There’s a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan Army and police force will take a generation’s commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding.”

The US-NATO intervention in Afghanistan will also require “constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground,” the officials said.

“We’ve learned that you can’t really leave,” an unnamed Pentagon official said. “You’re going to be there for a very long time.”

Unnamed Obama administration officials confirmed the White House’s support for the plans, saying that the US intervention is analogous to that in South Korea, where Washington has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers since the end of the Second World War to cement its domination over the Pacific Rim.

The Post report, which amounts to a de facto US government press release, comes amid a broader upsurge of escalatory moves by the US military in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Last week the Obama administration signed orders authorizing the US military to expand its military operations in northeast Afghanistan in the name of targeting the Islamic State. US Department of Defense chief Ashton Carter announced further deployments of US ground forces to Iraq, pledging to put “boots on the ground.” US Vice President Joseph Biden declared that Washington is prepared to seek a “military solution” in Syria.

On Friday, US General Joseph F. Dunford said that the US is on the verge of launching “decisive military action” in Libya, in coordination with a NATO coalition.

Dunford’s statements have signaled “the opening of a third front in the war against the Islamic State,” according to a New York Times editorial Tuesday. The new US war in Libya “could easily spread to other countries on the continent,” the Times admitted, before calling for the US Congress to pass a new authorization to use military force.

With the US and European powers engaged in a competitive scramble over the redivision of the world, the announcement that US forces will remain in Afghanistan for untold decades underscores the centrality of the Central Asian region in the strategic calculations of US imperialism.

The US ruling class and military establishment seek to utilize Afghanistan as a permanent military outpost for operations throughout South and Central Asia. Washington is determined to project power throughout the entire Eurasian landmass as part of its campaign to destabilize Russia and China and foster conditions more suitable to US control over the world’s decisive economic centers.

On Sunday, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a prominent US think tank, noted, “Major geopolitical shifts and internal dynamics are setting the stage for possible increased great-power competition in Central Asia.” The Carnegie report calls for the US to “prioritize regional engagement with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan” and “harness Russian and Chinese actions to advance US interests.”

The US military presence in Afghanistan is a key component in the global struggle against Moscow and Beijing, as US imperialism’s strategists openly state. As a result of increased involvement by Russia and China, “the region is becoming less hospitable to the projection of US power,” the Carnegie Endowment wrote.

Last April, the Obama administration released a plan, “An Enduring Vision for Central Asia,” laying out provisions to deepen US security and military ties to the region and build up “human rights” organizations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry followed up on the White House’s “vision” by visiting the region in November for talks with leaders of five Central Asian governments, establishing a new forum known as the C5+1 to streamline the collaboration of US-aligned forces in the region.

Central Asian states “have aided in the War on Terror and have the potential to serve as a bulwark to Russian and Chinese influence,” George Washington University’s International Affairs Review noted last week in a report, “Achieving America’s Vision for Central Asia.”

China’s energy-rich western province of Xinjiang has also increasingly become a focus for US imperialism’s network of State Department-backed NGOs. “Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown,” the New York Times warned at the beginning of January.

The Chinese ruling elite has sought to deepen its own involvement in Afghanistan, spurred on by the crisis of the US-backed regime. Beijing strives to insert itself into the US- and Pakistan-backed Afghanistan Peace Process, as part of its efforts to construct a Eurasian-wide economic and political alliance to counter efforts by the US to isolate the Chinese economy.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry arrived in Beijing on Monday for week-long talks aimed at a political deal that would integrate sections of Afghanistan’s economic elite into the commercial and infrastructure network being developed by the Chinese government.

“A stable Afghanistan could become a critical transportation hub and market for Chinese goods, and another investment opportunity for President Xi Jinping’s grand economic plans for Central Asia,” the Times wrote in a report Sunday, “China Considers Larger Role in Afghanistan Peace Process.”

“The big backdrop is that the United States will have withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan with the antiterrorism mission unfinished,” Du Youkang of Shanghai’s South Asia Studies Center at Fudan University in Shanghai told the Times on Sunday. The Post report is a statement from the Obama administration and the military that, in fact, the US has no intention of withdrawing its forces.

Las imposiciones y el chantaje del BCE a Grecia

January 27th, 2016 by Eric Toussaint

Se presenta aquí un resumen de la conferencia ofrecida por Éric Toussaint en el Parlamento Europeo el 14 de enero de 2016, durante la reunión internacional organizada por el grupo parlamentario de la izquierda europea GUE/NGL. El tema general del encuentro tenía por título «El BCE: un gobierno no elegido de Europa» (véase el programa completo en http://www.guengl.eu/news/article/the-ecb-europes-unelected-government).

Éric Toussaint dio esta conferencia en el marco de un panel moderado por Dimitris Papadimoulis, eurodiputado de Syriza, en el que también intervinieron Marika Frangakis, miembro del secretariado político de Syriza y responsable de su departamento económico, y Pearse Doherty, portavoz para temas financieros del partido irlandés Sinn Fein. Durante esta jornada, consagrada al BCE, se realizaron otros paneles en los que intervinieron Gabi Zimmer, eurodiputada de Die Linke, presidente de la GUE/NGL, Fabio Di Masi eurodiputado de Die Linke, Miguel Urbán, eurodiputado de Podemos, Harald Schumann, quien realizó un excelente documental dedicado a la Troika (véase en: http://www.arte.tv/guide/fr/051622-000/puissante-et-incontrolee-la-troika ). El conjunto de intervenciones se puede ver en un vídeo disponible en: http://www.guengl.eu/news/article/the-ecb-europes-unelected-government

1.- Jean-Claude Trichet, presidente del BCE durante la preparación del memorando impuesto a Grecia en mayo de 2010, amenazó con reducir la liquidez que necesitaban los bancos griegos si Grecia pedía una reducción de su deuda.

Panagiotis Roumeliotis, representante de Grecia en el FMI entre marzo de 2010 y diciembre de 2011, antes de ser vicepresidente del Piraeus Bank, declaró durante la audición ante el Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda pública griega: «Mr. Trichet, en esa época presidente del BCE, estaba entre los que combatieron una reestructuración de la deuda, amenazando a Grecia con cortarle la liquidez. En realidad, ¡Mr. Trichet fanfarroneaba para salvar a los bancos franceses y alemanes!» Véase http://cadtm.org/Audition-de-Panagiotis-Roumeliotis

Lo que hizo el BCE en 2015 bajo la presidencia de Mario Draghi, constituye la concreción de la amenaza pronunciada por su predecesor Jean-Claude Trichet.

2.- El BCE participó en mayo de 2010 en la creación de la Troika. Ésta impuso unas medidas que violaron los derechos fundamentales de los ciudadanos y ciudadanas griegas. El informe del Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda griega recopiló una larga lista de medidas dictadas por la Troika (en la que el BCE tuvo y tiene todavía un papel clave) que tuvieron por efecto la violación de los derechos fundamentales.

Los préstamos acordados a Grecia en el marco del memorando sirven para proteger los intereses de los grandes bancos privados franceses, alemanes y griegos, a pesar de que fueron los responsables de la creación de una burbuja especulativa del crédito, que comenzó a explotar en 2009.

3.- En el marco del programa SMP (programa de compra de deuda soberana), el BCE compró en 2010-2011-2012 títulos griegos con un importante descuento.

Durante el periodo 2010-2012, el total de compras de títulos griegos a los bancos privados alcanzó los 55.000 millones de euros. A comienzos de 2016, el BCE todavía posee cerca de 20.000 millones de euros en títulos comprados durante ese periodo y que Grecia deberá reembolsar, normalmente, hasta el año 2018.

Al recomprar los títulos griegos en el mercado secundario, el BCE ayudó a los bancos franceses, alemanes y griegos, y otros bancos privados a deshacerse de esos títulos con el fin de evitar el recorte que se produciría en 2012. Además, la compra por el BCE de cantidades significativas de títulos en el mercado secundario tuvo por efecto aumentar el precio de esos instrumentos financieros. Eso permitió a los bancos franceses, alemanes y griegos reducir sus pérdidas en el momento de la reventa.

En 2012, el BCE rechazó participar en la reestructuración de la deuda, y en 2015 exigió el reembolso a precio facial, durante los meses de julio y agosto, de la suma de 6.700 millones de euros.

Entre 2011 y 2015, el BCE recibió intereses muy importantes debido a los títulos griegos (véase más adelante).

La manera en que el BCE, en el marco de la Troika, organizó la reestructuración de 2012 fue totalmente escandalosa y marcada por una evidente ilegitimidad.

Los grandes bancos franceses y alemanes se vieron librados de esa situación ya que habían sido advertidos de que se estaba preparando un recorte del valor de los títulos. Los bancos chipriotas que habían comprado una cantidad enorme de títulos griegos estuvieron directamente afectados por ese recorte. Pero, aún más grave, los fondos de pensiones griegos, los pequeños tenedores griegos de títulos de la deuda, los trabajadores de Olympic Airways fueron las víctimas directas de dicho recorte. El sistema griego de pensiones todavía no se ha recuperado. Los fondos buitre, por el contrario, fueron librados de esa reducción del valor de los títulos.

El BCE compró deuda griega pero impuso unas condiciones drásticas. En algunos momentos, cuando las autoridades griegas no cooperaron lo suficiente en la implementación de las medidas dictadas por la Troika, el BCE suspendió sus compras de títulos a modo de chantaje.

Los beneficios obtenidos por el BCE a costa del pueblo griego

Si bien el endeudamiento de Grecia con el BCE es de menor importancia que el de Italia o España, el BCE percibe de Grecia más intereses que de esos dos países. Para el año 2014, el gobierno griego pagó 298 millones de euros de intereses por los préstamos del BCE, monto que representa el 40 % de los 728 millones de euros de ingresos que el BCE percibió de cinco países involucrados en el SMP, aunque la deuda griega con el BCE represente solo el 12 % del total.

Deuda con el BCE de países involucrados en el SMP (febrero de 2015)

Las ganancias que obtendrá el BCE gracias a los títulos griegos se elevarán a más de 7.700 millones de euros de aquí a 2018, cuando los últimos títulos no reestructurados hayan sido reembolsados por Grecia. La posibilidad de restituir a Grecia los beneficios abusivos realizados por el BCE, se utilizó siempre como un medio de chantaje sobre Grecia. Durante los primeros seis meses del gobierno de Tsipras, el BCE rechazó la devolución a Grecia de las ganancias abusivas que había obtenido desde 2012. Después de la capitulación del gobierno griego del 13 de julio de 2015, los beneficios fueron en parte restituidos pero con la condición de que sirvan para pagar a los acreedores. Esas ganancias restituidas a Grecia no benefician para nada a la población griega. |1|

Aquí abajo se puede ver un extracto de un documento oficial de julio de 2015:

Total SMP and ANFA profits until July 2018 amount to EUR 7.7 bn. 

If agreed by Member States, the SMP profits of 2014 and 2015

(totalling EUR 3.3 bn), although insufficient, could be used

in July to repay arrears to the IMF and other upcoming payments.

SMP profits of 2016, 2017 and 2018 could also be used for subsequent

programme financing. Over the July 2015-July 2018 period, Greece is expected to receive EUR 2.7 bn in SMP profits (excluding the 2014 and 2015 profits used for urgent debt payments) and EUR 1.7 bn in ANFA profits from the other Member States and the BoG, reducing financing needs accordingly.” Voir : http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/assistance_eu_ms/documents/2015-07-10_greece_art__13_eligibility_assessment_esm_en.pdf page. 10

El BCE y el fondo de estabilización financiera griego encargado de la recapitalización de los bancos griegos (Hellenic Financial Stability Fund –HFSF–)

Entre los miembros del Consejo General del Fondo de Estabilidad Financiera, |2| se encuentra Pierre Mariani |3| que es corresponsable del fracaso y del desastre financiero del banco Dexia. Ese banco franco-belga-luxemburgués tuvo que ser rescatado tres veces por las autoridades belgas, francesas y luxemburguesas. Las grandes pérdidas registradas por Dexia entre 2008 y 2012 no impidieron que el Sr. Mariani se hiciera votar unos substanciales aumentos en su remuneración. Sin embargo, el BCE no encontró nada mejor que designarlo como uno de los dirigentes del Fondo de Estabilidad Financiera a cargo de la recapitalización de los bancos griegos.

¿Es aceptable que se ponga en la dirección de un organismo encargado de gestionar la recapitalización de los bancos griegos a alguien que tuvo una gran responsabilidad en el desastre de un gran banco como Dexia? Este banco vendió miles de millones de euros en préstamos tóxicos a administraciones públicas francesas y su quiebra impactó fuertemente en las finanzas públicas de Bélgica, de Francia y de Luxemburgo. ¿Acaso es prudente continuar confiando en Pierre Mariani? Cuando Dexia fue rescatada por el Estado belga, Pierre Mariani tuvo que abandonar el banco debido a su calamitosa gestión, y, sin embargo, tuvo derecho a un dorado finiquito de un millón de euros. Durante el año 2012. Dexia le pagó 1,7 millones de euros. |4| Y ahora este señor está en Grecia para participar en el saneamiento de los bancos griegos.

Entre los otros miembros del Consejo General del Fondo se encuentra Wouter Devriendt. Este consejero de Bélgica en materia bancaria, desempeñó importantes funciones en dos bancos que tuvieron que ser rescatados de la quiebra en 2008: Fortis, auxiliado por el gobierno belga y revendido a BNP Paribas, y ABN-Amro, nacionalizado por el gobierno holandés. Wouter Devriendt figura, como Pierre Mariani, entre los responsables de la crisis bancaria en Europa.

No se puede concluir este punto sobre la composición del Consejo General del HFSF sin mencionar a Steven Franck, quien también desempeñó importantes funciones en el banco estadounidense Morgan Stanley, y luego en el BNP Paribas entre 2006 y 2009, en el periodo en el que este banco contribuía activamente a la creación de una burbuja especulativa del crédito privado en Grecia y se veía envuelto en el mercado de las subprime y de los productos estructurados en Estados Unidos. Hay que señalar que Steven Franck también trabajó para la presidencia de Estados Unidos en la Casa Blanca y que sirvió en la aviación de la marina de guerra de Estados Unidos.

Planteemos la cuestión: ¿Es normal que los intereses de los ciudadanos griegos y del país se confíen a personajes de este tipo? La composición del órgano de dirección encargado de la recapitalización de los bancos griegos acaso no ilustra perfectamente la naturaleza de la intervención del BCE y de la troika en general como son la defensa y la promoción de los intereses del gran capital y de las grandes potencias.

El chantaje permanente del BCE con respecto al gobierno de Tsipras en lo que concierne al acceso a la liquidez de los bancos griegos.

El BCE tiene la obligación de suministrar liquidez a los bancos de la zona euro. Durante las pruebas de estrés a la que los bancos debieron someterse en 2014, el BCE y las autoridades de control afirmaron que los bancos griegos eran suficientemente sólidos. Por consiguiente, el BCE debía actuar para suministrar liquidez al sistema bancario griego. Empero, durante los 6 primeros meses del gobierno Tsipras, el BCE realizó de forma constante declaraciones que desestabilizaron al gobierno griego y suscitaron las peores dudas sobre lo que iba a ocurrir con los depósitos bancarios. Eso catalizó gravemente la retirada de una parte significativa de depósitos (cerca de 40.000 millones de euros entre enero y julio de 2015). El BCE mantuvo abierto el grifo de la liquidez de urgencia, dejando entender que en cualquier momento lo podría cerrar. Lo que finalmente hizo a fines de junio de 2015, cuando el gobierno de Tsipras organizó un referéndum para el 5 de julio de 2015. En consecuencia, los bancos griegos estuvieron cerrados a partir del 28 de junio durante un periodo de tres semanas.

En el momento en que el BCE limitó la liquidez de urgencia, el gobierno pensó que los bancos podrían tener acceso a los 28.000 millones suplementarios de la liquidez de urgencia. El BCE claramente no cumplió con sus obligaciones tales como las previstas en los Tratados europeos. El bloqueo del sistema de pagos de Grecia constituye una violación clara de las disposiciones previstas en el artículo 127 del Tratado de Funcionamiento de la Unión Europea (TFUE).

Señalemos también que en la política de desestabilización del gobierno de Tsipras, el BCE rechazó la compra de títulos griegos en 2015. Sin embargo, desde enero de 2015, en el marco del Quantitative Easing, el BCE compró títulos de otros Estados de la zona euro por cerca de 60.000 millones de euros por mes. Ahora que el gobierno griego se ha sometido a un tercer memorando, el BCE piensa en comenzar a comprarle los títulos de deuda siempre y cuando el gobierno griego respete las imposiciones neoliberales que atacan de nuevo las pensiones, siguen con las privatizaciones, etc.

El BCE y el referéndum del 5 de julio de 2015

El BCE actuó para cerrar los bancos griegos a partir del 28 de junio.

El 29 de junio de 2015, Benoit Cœuré, miembro del directorio ejecutivo del BCE, en una entrevista en el diario Les Echos declaró que «una salida de la zona euro, hasta el presente totalmente teórica, no puede desgraciadamente ser excluida», agregando que se trata de una consecuencia de la decisión de Atenas de romper las negociaciones. Diciendo a continuación que si los griegos votaban “sí” en el referéndum, no habría ninguna duda en que las autoridades de la zona euro encontrarían una solución para Grecia. Por el contrario, si ganara el “no”, «el diálogo sería muy difícil». |5|

El 3 de julio de 2015, el vicepresidente del BCE, Vitor Constancio anunció que no podía confirmar que el BCE dispusiera de liquidez de urgencia (Emergency liquidity assistence – ELA–) para los bancos griegos en el caso de que los griegos votasen No el domingo siguiente. «Se tratará de una decisión del Consejo de gobernadores del BCE. Deberemos esperar y ver cómo el Consejo analiza la situación» dijo en una conferencia de prensa después de su participación en una conferencia destinada al sector financiero. |6|

El 14 de septiembre de 2015, en una entrevista ofrecida a la agencia Reuters, VitorConstancio respondió a la cuestión «¿Cuáles fueron las dudas que planteó el euro?» de la siguiente manera: «Solamente los mercados tuvieron dudas en cuanto a una eventual salida de Grecia de la zona euro, pero la mayoría de los Estados miembros nunca se lo planteó. Nosotros pensamos que el euro es irreversible. Ningún país puede legalmente ser objeto de una expulsión. Por lo tanto, esa perspectiva jamás fue una seria amenaza».

La situación de los bancos griegos

Diversas administraciones públicas se convirtieron en accionistas principales de los 4 principales bancos griegos desde 2010 por expreso pedido del BCE. Sin embargo, aunque no pueden ejercer realmente el poder ya que solo disponen de acciones preferenciales que no les otorgan el derecho de voto que, en cambio, permiten las acciones ordinarias.

La concentración bancaria aumentó. Los cuatro bancos principales absorbieron otros siete desde 2010. Una gran parte de los 45.000 millones de euros inyectados en los bancos griegos está repartida por el extranjero y sirvió a los accionistas privados de los bancos a aumentar su poder económico.

Un elemento clave de la mala salud de los bancos griegos reside en la cantidad de préstamos dudosos (Non Performing Loans – NPL–).

En diciembre de 2015, el BCE empujó al Eurogrupo a una operación financiera sobre los non performing loans, al favorecer, especialmente, una vez más el interés particular del sector privado. Por consiguiente, los fondos de inversiones podrán comprar una parte de los NPL y sacar un beneficio de ello. Una de las consecuencias de esta operación será la reducción de una parte del capital que poseen los gobiernos.

El Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda pública griega que había sido creado por la presidente del Parlamento griego en abril de 2015, y que fue disuelto por el nuevo presidente de dicho Parlamento en noviembre de 2015, prosigue sus trabajos teniendo en cuenta el nuevo contexto definido por el tercer memorando. Este Comité publicó un documentó sobre la situación de los bancos griegos haciendo un balance crítico de la manera en la que los bancos habían sido recapitalizados.

Tendremos la ocasión de presentar ese documento en el Parlamento Europeo el 1 de marzo de 2016.

Como conclusión, y por las razones que acabo de exponer, el Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda pública griega consideró, en su informe publicado en junio de 2015, que las deudas reclamadas a Grecia por el BCE deben ser consideradas ilegítimas, ilegales, odiosas e insostenibles.

Eric Toussaint

Véase http://cadtm.org/Informe-preliminar-del-Comite-de

http://www.auditamosgrecia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/3MOU_v4.pdf

 

Notas

|1| Estas informaciones fueron sacadas del capítulo 3 del Informe preliminar del Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda pública griega. Este informe se puede consultar y descargar gratuitamente en: http://cadtm.org/Informe-preliminar-del-Comite-de

|2| La composición del Consejo general se encuentra consultar en la web oficial del Fondo: http://www.hfsf.gr/en/generalcouncil.htm

|3https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Mariani

|4http://www.rtbf.be/info/economie/detail_pierre-mariani-a-touche-une-indemnite-de-1-7-million-d-euros-de-dexia?id=7963605

|5http://www.lesechos.fr/monde/europe/021174193580-benoit-coeure-bce-la-sortie-de-la-grece-de-leuro-ne-peut-plus-etre-exclue-1132860.php

|6| Citado en el Comité para la verdad sobre la deuda griega, «Análisis de la ilegalidad, ilegitimidad, odiosidad e insostenibilidad del tercer rescate a Grecia de agosto de 2015» http://www.auditamosgrecia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/3MOU_v4.pdf

Autor

Eric Toussaint es maître de conférence en la Universidad de Lieja, es el portavoz de CADTM Internacional y es miembro del Consejo Científico de ATTAC Francia. Es autor de diversos libros, entre ellos: Procès d’un homme exemplaire, Ediciones Al Dante, Marsella, 2013; Una mirada al retrovisor: el neoliberalismo desde sus orígenes hasta la actualidad, Icaria, 2010; La Deuda o la Vida (escrito junto con Damien Millet) Icaria, Barcelona, 2011; La crisis global, El Viejo Topo, Barcelona, 2010; La bolsa o la vida: las finanzas contra los pueblos, Gakoa, 2002. Es coautor junto con Damien Millet del libro AAA, Audit, Annulation, Autre politique, Le Seuil, París, 2012. Este último libro ha recibido el premio Prix du livre politique, otorgado por la Feria del libro político de Lieja. Ultimo livro : Bancocracia Icaria Editorial, Barcelona 2015.

Es coordinador de las publicaciones Comisión de la Verdad Sobre la Deuda.

Equipos forenses españoles han iniciado el pasado 19 de enero la excavación de una fosa común en España, en busca de los restos mortales (ver nota de El País) solicitados por los familiares de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá. En el año 1939, las fuerzas franquistas lo fusilaron aduciendo “auxilio a la rebelión” y lo enterraron con 22 cuerpos más. A una semana de iniciada la exhumación, los expertos han confirmado que la fosa común excavada es la de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá (ver  nota  de ABC del 26 de enero del 2016).

Breve puesta en contexto

Esta exhumación se debe a una acción llevada ante la justicia de Argentina por los familiares de la víctima, debido a los obstáculos encontrados ante el aparato judicial español (Nota 1). En efecto, pese a incesantes reclamos de víctimas, familiares de víctimas, colectivos de abogados y ONG españolas, la falta de investigaciones y la impunidad campean en la materia (Nota 2). En noviembre del 2015, una asociación canaria de víctimas (denominada ACVF) presentó una denuncia con 1800 nombres, que se incorporará al expediente tramitado ante el Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal y Correccional Federal número 1 de Buenos Aires, Argentina (ver  nota  de prensa).

Con relación a las víctimas del régimen franquista, en mayo del 2013, España suspendió una videoconferencia acordada por la justicia argentina desde Buenos Aires con varias de ellas en España, aduciendo que para realizar este tipo de diligencias, se debe aplicar “el tratado bilateral de extradición y asistencia judicial en materia penal de 3 de marzo de 1987, requiriendo, de acuerdo con lo previsto en los artículos 30 y 41, la solicitud debidamente cursada mediante comisión rogatoria dirigida al Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, como Autoridad Central, tal y como ha sido el caso respecto a diligencias similares practicadas con anterioridad” (ver  nota  de El País). No se tiene seguridad que las “diligencias similares practicadas con anterioridad” refirieran a recabar los testimonios de víctimas del franquismo ante un juez argentino.

En donde en cambio hay una gran certeza es con relación a las exhumaciones de las fosas comunes españolas: la primera exhumación de una víctima de la guerra civil en España fue realizada directamente por familiares, sin intervención judicial alguna (ni de ninguna autoridad estatal) en octubre del año 2000. Los restos encontrados de Emilio Silva Faba, fusilado en 1936, fueron confirmados por análisis de ADN de laboratorios en el 2003 (ver  nota  de El País del 2003). En aquel momento, el nieto de esta víctima del franquismo, quién fundó posteriormente la Asociación por la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (ARMH), señaló: “Sólo se cierra un ciclo personal, se abre el colectivo“.

Desde su creación,  la ARMH (ver  sitio ) ha establecido una importante red en el territorio español para recabar información y para proporcionar ayuda a los familiares de víctimas de la guerra civil y del franquismo. Se lee en su sitio que: “A raíz de fuerte repercusión mediática que tuvo la exhumación en Priaranza del Bierzo (León), cientos de cartas, llamadas y correos electrónicos llegaron a los responsables de los trabajos. En ese punto y dado el volumen de casos de asesinatos extrajudiciales y desapariciones llegados desde todo el país y siempre con el mismo patrón: secuestro-asesinato-desaparición. Se decide crear por primera vez en España una Asociación civil que canalice todos esos casos y que intente dar respuesta a unas preguntas que el estado español nunca ha dado”.

Esta primera exhumación en el año 2000 de una víctima fusilada en 1936 durante la guerra civil española se dio durante el segundo período del Gobierno de José María Aznar en España: a diferencia del primer período (1996-2000), para el segundo período (2000-2004), Aznar contó con una mayoría en las elecciones de marzo del 2000. Difícilmente el Estado español acompañaría con algún tipo de reforma legislativa o con algún cambio de actitud por parte de sus autoridades, el clamor de las víctimas del franquismo. En el 2002, la precitada ARMH exigió al jefe del Ejecutivo español una declaración política de condena del franquismo y de ayuda para los familiares de las víctimas (ver  nota  de prensa de noviembre del 2002), sin mayor éxito. Años después, se oiría de este personaje de la política española que: “Tenemos que recuperar un espíritu de concordia y unidad perdido en gran medida (…) nacido en la transición española. Que eso no se hace removiendo tumbas ni removiendo huesos ni tirándose a la cabeza, se hace trabajando todos los días seriamente, pensando en el futuro del país” (ver nota de prensa sobre declaraciones recientes particularmente duras de alcaldes en España sobre las víctimas del franquismo, y video en Youtube que recoge las cuestionables declaraciones del susodicho personaje).

Familiares y abogados persistentes

Ante el hermetismo de las entidades públicas españolas, la perseverancia y la insistencia de los descendientes de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá llevaron a sus abogados a interponer una demanda en Argentina en el 2010. La jueza argentina María Servini de Cubría obtuvo de las autoridades judiciales de España, en aplicación del principio de jurisdicción universal, que sea exhumada esta fosa común ubicada en Guadalajara, ubicada a unos 50 kilómetros de Madrid.

La solicitud hecha en el 2014 por la jueza desde Argentina precisaba (ver  nota ) que: “Líbrese exhorto diplomático al Titular del Juzgado Territorial, que por razones de turno corresponda, con jurisdicción en Guadalajara (…) a fin de solicitarle arbitre los medios necesarios para que en presencia de quien suscribe se proceda a la exhumación del cuerpo sin vida que se encontraría inhumado en la fosa n° 2, ubicada en el patio n° 4 del cementerio de Guadalajara, ocupando el penúltimo lugar, comenzando de arriba hacia abajo, o segundo lugar de abajo hacia arriba, de diecisiete cuerpos que se hallarían apilados en forma vertical“. Se indica en este  sitio  sobre la memoria histórica en Guadalajara que el ayuntamiento español respondió al juez español a cargo de tramitar la solicitud argentina que: “El informe, fechado el 27 de junio de 2014 y remitido al Juzgado de Instrucción Número 1 de Guadalajara, explica que la fosa en la que fue enterrado Timoteo es una fosa común cuyo primer enterramiento data del 16 de noviembre de 1939 y el último el 9 de septiembre del mismo año. En la fosa se enterraron, según consta en el informe, 22 o 23 personas ejecutadas por el Juzgado Especial de Ejecuciones, según los distintos registros“. El documento elaborado por el ayuntamiento de Guadalajara y sus diversos anexos están disponibles en esta  nota .

Pese a la información muy detallada proveída por el ayuntamiento, la primera respuesta de la justicia española a la petición proveniente de Argentina fue negativa: en su escrito de enero del 2015, se alegó por parte de la jueza española incertidumbre sobre la localización exacta del cuerpo para ordenar una exhumación. Según se lee en esta nota de prensa, para la jueza española María Lourdes Platero “de la inspección ocular realizada y de las manifestaciones efectuadas no queda acreditado fehacientemente que en la fosa nº2 del patio 4 del Cementerio de Guadalajara se encuentre el cuerpo sin vida de D. Timoteo Mendieta”.

Una segunda solicitud enviada desde Argentina en marzo del 2015 logró finalmente que se procediera a la exhumación, iniciada en esta tercera semana del mes de enero del 2016. Resulta oportuno precisar que esta exhumación ha contado con una inédita presencia de autoridades españolas esta vez: “En el cementerio de Guadalajara se hicieron presentes hoy un juez y un fiscal, algo poco habitual” se lee esta  nota  periodística de Telam (Argentina).

Algunas consecuencias de principios adoptados en el plano internacional

En España, se estima a unos 150.000 los desaparecidos durante la guerra civil española. En la precitada  nota  de El País del año 2003, “Priaranza se convirtió en el primer pueblo de España donde, tras la recuperación de la democracia, se abría la tierra para sacar a los muertos republicanos de las cunetas y llevarlos a los cementerios”.

Según el mapa oficial de fosas comunes elaborado después de la adopción de la ley sobre la memoria histórica en el 2007, existen más de 2000 fosas comunes en el territorio español (ver mapa). En el año 2011, se adoptó un “Protocolo de actuación en exhumaciones de víctimas de la guerra civil y la dictadura” (ver  texto  publicado en el Boletín Oficial del Estado del 27 de septiembre del 2011). A enero del 2012, se lee que las exhumaciones de 278 fosas comunes en busca de víctimas de la guerra civil española entre  el 2000 y el 2011 se habían realizado directamente por parte de familiares y organizaciones civiles, sin intervención judicial de ningún tipo (Nota 3).

Cabe recordar que la ley del 2007 se aprobó en España a pocos años de la resolución  60/147  sobre “Principios y directrices básicos sobre el derecho de las víctimas de violaciones manifiestas de las normas internacionales de derechos humanos y de violaciones graves del derecho internacional humanitario a interponer recursos y obtener reparaciones” (adoptada en diciembre del 2005 por la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas,  ver  texto ). En el 2006, se adoptó además un instrumento vinculante: la Convención Internacional para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas (aprobada por la Asamblea General en su resolución 61/177, de 20 de diciembre de 2006). Este instrumento internacional, que cuenta en la actualidad con un centenar de firmas y solo unas 50 ratificaciones, fue suscrito por España en septiembre del 2007 y ratificado en septiembre del 2009 (ver  estado oficial  de firmas y ratificaciones).

De la misma manera, el Protocolo antes mencionado sobre exhumaciones en España se dio a pocos años de la adopción de la resolución 12/12 aprobada en el 2009 por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos sobre el derecho a la verdad (ver  texto ): esta resolución encuentra su origen en una resolución adoptada por la Comisión de Derechos Humanos (Resolución 2005/66 “El derecho a la verdad”) adoptada en abril de 2005 en Ginebra, a iniciativa de Argentina.

Notemos que estos esfuerzos del Estado español fueron precedidos por iniciativas en algunas comunidades autónomas: por ejemplo,  Cataluña adoptó en junio del 2009  la  Ley 10/2009 “sobre la localización e identificación de las personas desaparecidas durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura franquista, y la dignificación de las fosas comunes” (ver  texto ). En septiembre del 2009, fue la Junta de Andalucía la que adoptó la “Orden de 7 de septiembre de 2009, por la que se aprueba el Protocolo Andaluz de actuación en exhumaciones de víctimas de la Guerra Civil y la Posguerra” (ver  texto ). En septiembre del 2011, pocos días antes de que España adoptara un Protocolo, el País Vasco adoptó un “Protocolo de Actuación en materia de Exhumaciones en el País Vasco” (ver  nota  de prensa y texto del Protocolo en el Anexo I (pp. 22-28) de este  documento  oficial del Gobierno Vasco titulado “Plan Vasco 2015-20 de investigación y localización de fosas para la búsqueda e identificación de personas desaparecidas durante la Guerra Civil”).

La situación de las víctimas y sus familiares ante la justicia en España

Si bien existen algunos tímidos avances en materia legislativa en España (como la ley del 2007 y el protocolo del 2011), y regulaciones adoptadas por varias comunidades autónomas, la justicia en España se ha mostrado extremadamente reservada con relación a investigar y a sancionar a los crímenes perpetrados durante la guerra civil española. Las interpretaciones restrictivas sobre el alcance de las cláusulas de los instrumentos internacionales aplicables a la materia han impedido que una simple solicitud de acceder a restos mortales por parte de familiares reciba algún tipo de respuesta.

En esta  nota  de prensa se puede leer la percepción que tiene de la justicia española la hija de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá, Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, y que posiblemente comparten muchos familiares de víctimas españolas: “En España no ha habido justicia para las víctimas ni solidaridad, lo ha impedido la tan cacareada ley de amnistía, que en realidad a quien amnistió fue a los personajes que participaron en las atrocidades que se cometieron contra los ciudadanos de este país” /…/, y añade que las víctimas de la dictadura no tienen “un estatuto jurídico como sí otras víctimas, por ejemplo las del terrorismo, que me alegro mucho por ellas, pero hemos viajado muy solitos“.

En una  entrevista  del 2013, el juez que se puede considerar como el más conocido fuera de las fronteras españolas, Baltasar Garzón Real, declaró: “Me da mucha pena que tenga que ser en Argentina donde se investiguen estos crímenes porque España en su día paralizó el proceso, cuando me suspendió y con el auto posterior del Tribunal Supremo que cerraba todas las vías para las víctimas“.

El examen reciente ante Naciones Unidas

Ante el Comité sobre Desapariciones Forzadas de las Naciones Unidas (establecido mediante la precitada Convención Internacional para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas), una coalición de ONG españolas detalló en años recientes (ver  nota ) el panorama actual en España: “Los datos son elocuentes: más de 150.000 desaparecidos, más de 30.000 niños robados, al día de hoy, y más de 2.232 fosas documentadas de las que sólo 390 han sido abiertas. Un dato que convierte a España en el segundo país en el mundo en número de fosas comunes. Y todo ello sin ningún procedimiento judicial abierto en demanda de verdad, justicia y reparación, y no por falta de voluntad de afectados, sean familiares o ciudadanos interesados en ello”.

En sus observaciones al informe oficial presentado por España al Comité de Naciones Unidas sobre Desapariciones Forzadas en diciembre del 2012, la fundación Baltasar Garzón hizo ver el error interpretativo de las autoridades españolas, al indicar que: “A este respecto, debe ponerse de manifiesto que España incurre en un grave error de interpretación cuando afirma que la fecha a partir de la cual debe informar al Comité, es la de entrada en vigor de la norma, es decir, el 23 de diciembre de 2010. El Estado español realiza una interpretación en detrimento de las decenas de miles de víctimas de desapariciones forzadas cometidas durante la guerra civil y el franquismo, en nuestro país. La interpretación que aporta, quebranta clamorosamente el principio internacional consolidado de no impunidad de este crimen, máxime cuando ha sido cometido en forma sistemática y contra sectores de la población civil y como parte de la política del Estado (crímenes contra la humanidad)” (ver   informe  de la Fundación Baltasar Garzón, p. 2).

En sus observaciones al informe presentado por España (ver  informe CED/C/ESP/CO/1, dado a conocer en diciembre del 2013), el Comité sobre Desapariciones Forzadas de Naciones Unidas le señaló a España que: “12. El Comité, teniendo en consideración el régimen de prescripción vigente en España en relación con los delitos de carácter permanente, insta al Estado parte a que vele por que los plazos de prescripción se cuenten efectivamente a partir del momento en que cesa la desaparición forzada, es decir, desde que la persona aparece con vida, se encuentran sus restos o se restituye su identidad. Asimismo, lo exhorta a que asegure que todas las desapariciones forzadas sean investigadas de manera exhaustiva e imparcial, independientemente del tiempo transcurrido desde el inicio de las mismas y aun cuando no se haya presentado ninguna denuncia formal; que se adopten las medidas necesarias, legislativas o judiciales, con miras a superar los obstáculos jurídicos de orden interno que puedan impedir tales investigaciones, en particular la interpretación que se ha dado a la ley de amnistía”.

En noviembre del 2013, los integrantes de otro mecanismo de Naciones Unidas, el Grupo de Trabajo sobre las Desapariciones Forzadas o Involuntarias, luego de realizar una misión a España (ver  informe ) concluyeron, entre otros,  que: “Adicionalmente, no se ha tenido en cuenta que el carácter de delito de lesa humanidad de las desapariciones cometidas durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura. Esta interpretación es contraria a las obligaciones internacionales de España y se recomienda su modificación. El Grupo de Trabajo insta al Estado español a juzgar las desapariciones forzadas a la luz de estas obligaciones internacionales y a establecer legislativamente la imprescriptibilidad de las desapariciones forzadas o la determinación de que la prescripción solo puede comenzar a computarse a partir del cese de la desaparición forzada”.

En otro informe sobre España del año 2014, (ver documento A/HRC/27/3/Add.1, disponible  aquí ), el Relator Especial de Naciones Unidas sobre la promoción de la verdad, la justicia, la reparación y las garantías de no repetición, consideró en sus conclusiones (punto 102) que: “El Relator Especial nota que varios representantes del Gobierno en las reuniones que mantuvieron enmarcaron las discusiones en el siguiente esquema: “o todos concluimos que ya estamos totalmente reconciliados o la única alternativa es el resurgir de odios subyacentes, lo cual implicaría un riesgo demasiado alto”. En opinión del Relator Especial, esta posición no le hace justicia a los avances logrados durante el proceso de democratización en España. Recalca que, considerando la fortaleza de las instituciones y la ausencia de riesgos para la estabilidad del orden democrático, resulta especialmente sorprendente observar que no se haya hecho más en favor de los derechos de tantas víctimas”. En el párrafo 99 de su informe, se precisa por parte del experto de Naciones Unidas que: “El Relator Especial alienta al Estado a retomar cuanto antes este análisis y reitera su disposición para acompañar este proceso en el marco de su mandato. Recalca que estudios comparados de otras experiencias de países que han enfrentado retos similares, incluyendo en el contexto europeo, como Alemania, pueden resultar sumamente provechosos”.

En marzo del 2015, a raíz de una decisión de España de no extraditar a 17 ciudadanos españoles acusados por la justicia argentina de ser responsables de violaciones de los derechos humanos cometidas durante el régimen franquista, un grupo de expertos de Naciones Unidas denunció nuevamente a España. Externaron, en una carta pública, que las autoridades españolas tienen la obligación de extraditar a estas personas, mientras no se tomen medidas en España para garantizar el acceso a la justicia y el derecho a la verdad de las víctimas ante las instancias legales españolas. En este  comunicado de prensa  de Naciones Unidas, se precisa, por parte de los expertos internacionales que: “La denegación de la extradición deja en profundo desamparo a las víctimas y a sus familiares, negando su derecho a la justicia y a la verdad”.

Un breve balance

Como se puede apreciar, son muchos y muy variados los señalamientos hechos al Estado español por parte de organismos de la sociedad civil y asociaciones de familiares de víctimas en España; en el 2008, a raíz de una maniobra de la justicia para inhibirse de conocer la causa de las víctimas del franquismo planteadas ante los juzgados españoles, Amnistía Internacional circuló un  comunicado  denominado “Para pasar página, primero hay que leerla“, reuniendo la firmas de diversos  especialistas y juristas españoles y de América Latina. En el  texto  se puede leer que “España tiene el deber  de poner fin a la prolongada injusticia de la que han sido objeto las víctimas de desaparición forzada y otros crímenes y sus familiares, llevando a cabo las investigaciones  necesarias para dar con el paradero de los restos de estas personas, y esclarecer las circunstancias en que tan graves abusos se produjeron”. También los firmantes expresaron sin ninguna contemplación para el Estado español que: “Los que suscriben el presente manifiesto ya observaron, con motivo de la aprobación de la Ley 52/2007, por la que se reconocen y amplían derechos y se establecen medidas a favor de quienes padecieron persecución o violencia durante la guerra civil y la dictadura, que en ella no quedaban plasmados los estándares internacionales fijados en materia de desapariciones, exhumaciones y recuperación de cuerpos. No existe antecedente alguno en que un Estado haya trasladado a las familias de las víctimas las tareas, costos y responsabilidades de dichas acciones”.

Como lo hemos brevemente reseñado, en los últimos años, los señalamientos sobre los incumplimientos por parte de España han también provenido de expertos y de entidades de Naciones Unidas internacionales encargadas de velar por el debido cumplimiento de las obligaciones contraídas por el Estado español.

A diferencia de los procesos realizados en América Latina sobre graves violaciones de los derechos humanos ocurridas en el pasado, que han dado lugar a una variada experiencia en el plano nacional y a una extensa jurisprudencia elaborada por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (desde sus primeros fallos contra Honduras en los años 80) (Nota 4), el Estado español se ha mostrado extremadamente reacio a replicar algunas de estas experiencias. Para las víctimas y sus familiares, el sistema judicial español no tiene cómo implementar y desarrollar figuras jurídicas tales como el derecho a la verdad, la obligación de investigar y de sancionar a responsables de cometer graves violaciones ocurridas en el pasado, o garantizar a los familiares de las víctimas el denominado derecho al duelo o derecho al luto (Nota 5).

En este  artículo  de Página12 (Argentina) sobre el caso de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá, las lágrimas que brotaron en los ojos de Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, al momento de ser informada del “sí”, dado en el 2015 por la justicia española para proceder a la exhumación de los restos de su padre, ilustran el dolor lacerante de muchas familias en España: “–¿Por qué llorás? –preguntó la abogada argentina. –Lloro porque pienso en él; toda la vida bajo tierra –respondió. En opinión de la letrada, esa expresión revela el sufrimiento del familiar de un desaparecido, al que no ha visto morir ni sabe dónde está. “Para el familiar, el desaparecido no está muerto hasta que ve sus restos”.

Ante esta permanente y apremiante incertidumbre con la que convive diariamente un familiar en estos casos, y ante la ausencia de respuestas a las solicitudes de exhumar las fosas comunes españolas, el tiempo ha transcurrido sin que la justicia española logre superar las resistencias que se mantienen desde su interior. Desde el 2010, (ver  nota  de El País) se advirtió que los “tiempos” del único juez español interesado en investigar los crímenes del franquismo estaban siendo “manejados” por el Tribunal Supremo, lo cual culminó con la separación del juez Baltasar Garzón Real de la judicatura española el 10 de febrero del 2012 ( ver sobre el particular esta  nota  de El País). Menos sutil, el rechazo (sin mayor sustento) a la primera solicitud de la jueza argentina del 2014 evidencia el profundo temor del aparato judicial español.

Más allá del plano estrictamente jurídico, la sociedad española sigue manteniendo una histórica deuda consigo misma y con todas las víctimas del franquismo que exigen que se haga justicia. Sobre las razones dadas para aplazar una y otra vez el debate en España sobre este delicado tema, una reciente publicación del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Deusto, explica sobre este punto preciso que: «[d]urante la guerra civil y la dictadura, no era el momento para que los familiares de desaparecidos reclamaran saber dónde estaban ni tampoco justicia, pues su seguridad e integridad estaba en peligro. Durante el proceso de transición de la dictadura a la democracia, tampoco fue el momento de tratar y solucionar el problema de los desaparecidos. Han pasado casi treinta años desde la transición, y ya es hora de que estos familiares, como víctimas también de violaciones de derechos humanos, tengan “su” momento» (Nota 6).

Esta misma publicación termina con una frase poco halagadora para las víctimas españolas y para sus familiares: “A fecha de hoy ya han pasado más de esos treinta años, y en lo que respecta a la inmensa mayoría de los tribunales de justicia en España, todo indica que «su momento» ni ha llegado aún, ni probablemente llegará”. Era sin contar con la perseverancia de la familia Mendieta.

Conclusión

La exhumación del cuerpo de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá permitirá a sus familiares, en particular a su hija Ascensión, una incansable mujer de 90 años, acceder a sus restos mortales: desde sus 13 años, edad que tenía cuando su padre fue fusilado, anhelo toda su vida ese momento. Se lee en esta nota de prensa del pasado 21 de enero que: “A mi padre lo enterraron de los primeros, debe estar al final de todo… Ahora lo voy a tener conmigo. Me voy tranquila, feliz”.

La tenacidad de Doña Ascensión viene ahora a interpelar ante los ojos de España y del mundo el sistema judicial español y ponerlo a prueba. Esta exhumación bien podría convertirse en un emblemático precedente para muchas otras víctimas de la guerra civil española y para sus familiares. También podría contribuir a relanzar el debate en el seno de la sociedad española sobre la pesada deuda que mantiene con su pasado.

Nicolás Boeglin

 

Notas

Nota 1: Remitimos al lector al artículo siguiente: LÓPEZ LÓPEZ P., “Los crímenes del franquismo y el derecho internacional”, Vol. 20, Revista Derecho y Realidad (2013), pp. 279-318. Artículo disponible  aquí .

Nota 2: Véase la obra siguiente sobre el particular: CABRERA MARTÍN M., La impunidad de los crímenes cometidos durante el franquismo. Obligaciones del Estado español bajo el derecho internacional, Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH), 2014. Texto integral de esta obra disponible  aquí .

Nota 3: En un artículo publicado en España en el año 2012 se lee que:”… es bien sabido que las exhumaciones de la Guerra Civil en España no están siendo realizadas bajo la tutela judicial a excepción de algunos casos puntuales que han sido investigados desde los respectivos juzgados de instrucción…”: véase ETXEBERRIA GABILONDO F., “Exhumaciones contemporáneas en España: las fosas comunes de la guerra civil”, Número 18,  Boletín Galego de Medicina Legal e Forense (enero 2012), pp. 13-28, p. 19. Artículo disponible  aquí . Los gráficos incluidos (pp.14-15) por el autor permiten tener una idea del número de individuos encontrados y la repartición geográfica de los trabajos de exhumación en España realizados entre el 2000 y el 2011.

Nota 4: Con relación a los Estados del hemisferio americano pesan estas y muchas más obligaciones, tal y como lo señaló la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en un  informe  del 2014 titulado “Derecho a la verdad en América” (sus conclusiones en páginas 115-117 precisan los desafíos existentes en la región en cuanto a su debida implementación). En un reciente artículo en el que se analiza el caso de las negociaciones de paz en Colombia, se concluye por parte del autor que: “El caso colombiano es ilustrativo de la posición prudente que asume la Corte Interamericana frente a contextos de justicia transicional. Sin embargo, es en el marco de ese caso particular donde serán desarrollados los futuros debates sobre la compatibilidad de las medidas y mecanismos implementados para la terminación negociada de un conflicto armado interno con las obligaciones estatales emanadas del derecho internacional”: véase GUTIÉRREZ RAMÍREZ L.M., “La obligación internacional de investigar, juzgar y sancionar graves violaciones a los derechos humanos en contextos de justicia transicional”, Vol. 16, Estudios Socio-Jurídicos (2014), pp.23-60, en  pp.53-54. Artículo disponible aquí.

Nota 5: En un caso contra Bolivia (caso de detención, tortura y desaparición forzada de José Carlos Trujillo Oroza),  la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos indicó en el 2002 en su sentencia sobre reparaciones que: “115. En este sentido la Corte considera que la entrega de los restos mortales en casos de detenidos-desaparecidos es un acto de justicia y reparación en sí mismo. Es un acto de justicia saber el paradero del desaparecido, y es una forma de reparación porque permite dignificar a las víctimas, ya que los restos mortales de una persona merecen ser tratados con respeto para con sus deudos y con el fin de que éstos puedan darle una adecuada sepultura” (ver  texto  de la sentencia del 27 de febrero del 2002, Caso Trujillo Oroza Vs. Bolivia).

Nota 6: Véase CHINCHÓN ÁLVAREZ J., El tratamiento judicial de los crímenes de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo en España. Una visión de conjunto desde el Derecho internacional, Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Número 67, Cuadernos Deusto de Derechos Humanos (2012), p. 142.  Texto integral disponible aquí.

 

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

L’asse segreto Usa — Arabia Saudita

January 27th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

Nome in codice «Timber Sycamore»: così si chiama l’operazione di armamento e addestramento dei «ribelli» in Siria, «autorizzata segretamente dal presidente Obama nel 2013»: lo documenta una inchiesta pubblicata domenica dal «New York Times». Quando è stata incaricata dal presidente di effettuare questa operazione coperta, «la Cia sapeva già di avere un partner disposto a finanziarla: l’Arabia Saudita».

Insieme al Qatar, «essa ha fornito, armi e diversi miliardi di dollari, mentre la Cia ha diretto l’addestramento dei ribelli».

La fornitura di armi ai «ribelli», compresi «gruppi radicali come Al Qaeda», era iniziata nell’estate 2012 quando, attraverso una rete predisposta dalla Cia, agenti segreti sauditi avevano comprato in Croazia e nell’Europa orientale migliaia di fucili da assalto Ak-47 con milioni di proiettili e i qatariani avevano infiltrato in Siria, attraverso la Turchia, missili portatili cinesi Fn-6 acquistati sul mercato internazionale.

Poiché la fornitura di armi avveniva a ruota libera, alla fine del 2012 il direttore della Cia David Petraeus convocava gli alleati in Giordania, imponendo un più stretto controllo dell’Agenzia sull’intera operazione.

Pochi mesi dopo, nella primavera 2013, Obama autorizzava la Cia ad addestrare i «ribelli» in una base in Giordania, affiancata da una in Qatar, e a fornire loro armi tra cui missili anticarro Tow. Sempre con i miliardi del «maggiore contribuente», l’Arabia Saudita. Non nuova a tali operazioni.

Negli anni Settanta e Ottanta, essa aiutò la Cia in una serie di operazioni coperte.

In Africa, in particolare in Angola dove, con i finanziamenti sauditi, la Cia sosteneva i ribelli contro il governo alleato dell’Urss.

In Afghanistan, dove «per armare i mujahiddin contro i sovietici, gli Stati uniti lanciarono una operazione del costo annuo di milioni di dollari, che i sauditi pagarono dollaro su dollaro attraverso un conto della Cia in una banca svizzera».

In Nicaragua, quando l’amministrazione Reagan varò il piano segreto per aiutare i contras, i sauditi finanziarono l’operazione della Cia con 32 milioni di dollari attraverso una banca delle Isole Cayman.

Attraverso queste e altre operazioni segrete, fino all’attuale in Siria, si è cementata «la lunga relazione tra i servizi segreti degli Stati uniti e dell’Arabia Saudita».

Nonostante il «riavvicinamento diplomatico» di Washington all’Iran, non gradito a Riyad, «l’alleanza persiste, tenuta a galla su un mare di denaro saudita e sul riconoscimento del mutuo interesse».

Ciò spiega perché «gli Stati uniti sono riluttanti a criticare l’Arabia Saudita per la violazione dei diritti umani, il trattamento delle donne e il sostegno all’ala estremista dell’Islam, il wahabismo, che ispira molti gruppi terroristi», e perché «Obama non ha condannato l’Arabia Saudita per la decapitazione di Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, il dissidente religioso sciita che aveva sfidato la famiglia reale».

Si aggiunge il fatto, di cui il «New York Times» non parla, che il segretario di stato John Kerry, in visita a Riyad il 23 gennaio, ha ribadito che «nello Yemen, dove l’insurrezione Houthi minaccia l’Arabia Saudita, gli Usa sono a fianco degli amici sauditi».

Gli amici che da quasi un anno fanno strage di civili nello Yemen, bombardando anche gli ospedali, aiutati dagli Usa che forniscono loro intelligence (ossia indicazione degli obiettivi da colpire), armi (tra cui bombe a grappolo) e sostegno logistico (tra cui il rifornimento in volo dei cacciabombardieri sauditi).

Gli stessi amici che il premier Renzi ha ufficialmente incontrato lo scorso novembre a Riyad, garantendo loro il sostegno e le bombe dell’Italia nella «comune lotta al terrorismo».

Manlio Dinucci

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

January 27th, 2016 by Anthony Bellchambers

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

We agree about acts against civilian life. That is why the original terrorist act that murdered 92 people in the bombing of the King David Hotel in  Jerusalem in 1946 by Irgun Zvai Leumi, the militant group to which a certain Benzion Netanyahu was closely associated, was such a heinous act which tragically established
such a terrible precedent for the Middle East and the world.

The current Likud Party is the direct political successor of the Irgun terrorists of 1946.

It is unfortunate that certain traits appear to run in families, particularly in respect of political allegiances.

In August 2015 the CBC reported the results of a study from Statistics Canada showing risk of avoidable death for First Nations peoples twice that (in some cases five times that) of non-natives. On January 15th, 2016, it featured a plea by the Ontario First Nations Regional Chief, Isadore Day, that Canadians deal with the fact of inadequate health care for aboriginal peoples.

The CBC notes that according to the Ministry of Health TB rates are five times the general population for First Nations people, and fifty times the general population for the Inuit. If verifiable these disastrous figures would show something of an improvement.

In 2009 Night’s Lantern reported UNICEF‘s findings that noted the tuberculosis rate among Canadian aboriginal people was 90 times the national average for the years 2004 to 2006.

In 2013 Night’s Lantern noted news reports of the rate of Inuit tuberculosis as 186 times that of native born non-aboriginals. Sources of reliable information concerning damages to Canadian First Nations were intentionally removed by the Harper government in 2012 when the Conservative government de-funded the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). Studies linking TB rates to Canada’s poverty levels are also not easily available.

Lack of transparency raises issues of the government’s enduring intentions. Historically both disease and lack of adequate health care have been used as a weapon. To my understanding, aboriginal communities of North Western Ontario do not have resident doctors. The CBC noted last October that 10 First Nations in Ontario’s North West have gone without safe tap water for ten years, while citing a Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine report of “dramatic increase in invasive disease.” The recent rate of sepsis and pneumonia is estimated as about 20 times that of Calgary. The rate of rheumatic fever is reported as 75 times higher than Canada’s general population.

The statistics are so far outside the norm that a continuing lack of normalization implies intent by the government and calls into force Article II b and c of the Convention on Genocide. Despite occasional highly placed political appointments, a genocide warning for Canadian Aboriginal people remains in effect.

Partial sources online:

“First Nations adults more than twice as likely to die from avoidable causes,” Aug. 19, 2015, CBC News; “First Nations leaders cite deplorable health conditions, urge action,” Kristy Kikup The Canadian Press, Jan. 15, 2016, CBC News; “Bad water in First Nations leads to high rate of invasive infection, doctor says,” Jody Porter, Oct. 26, 2015, CBC News; “Rheumatic fever rates in some Ontario First Nations 75 times higher than rest of Canada,” Jody Porter, Oct. 22, 2015, CBC News.

Haiti: Longstanding US Colony. Rigging of Elections

January 27th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Haiti is no stranger to adversity, anguish and overwhelming human misery.

It endured over 500 years of severe repression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, overwhelming human suffering and destructive natural disasters.

Democracy is pure fantasy – Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s tenure the exception to the longstanding rule.

Elections when held are farcical, populist candidates excluded or marginalized to insignificance. Brazen disenfranchisement, ballot box stuffing, massive state-sponsored fraud and other irregularities are standard practice.

Except for the Aristide years, last October’s first-round presidential vote was no different from earlier ones – fraudulent, illegitimate by any standard.

Current president Michel Martelly won the same way, governing illegitimately. Hillary Clinton as Obama’s Secretary of State rigged things to install him.

October 2015 elections produced no majority winner. The December 27 runoff between ruling Farmers’ Response Party candidate Jovenel Moise and Jude Celestin was indefinitely postponed.

On January 1, Martelly announced it would be held on January 17, days later changing the date to January 24.

On January 20, Celestin pulled out, saying whoever “participates in this (runoff) is a traitor to the nation.”

Last Sunday’s process was again postponed, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) president Pierre-Louis Opont duplicitously called the decision “an effort to protect the life of voter, of the CEP personnel, the institution itself, particularly school buildings placed at the disposal of the CEP.”

No new runoff date was set. Haitians began protesting massive electoral fraud last year, highlighting their subjugation under US dominance, given no say on how their country is run, exclusively serving US, Canadian, other Western and local monied interests.

On Sunday, former anti-Aristide coup leader, fugitive drugs trafficker Guy Philippe endorsed the US-supported regime candidate, threatening war to “divide the country,” saying:

“We are ready for war. I call on my supporters and my soldiers across the country to get ready.”

Last weekend, thousands of Haitians protested in Port-au-Prince, demanding Martelly and prime minister Evans Paul resign, an interim government replacing them.

Things remain in flux. Washington controls Haiti’s political process, assuring business as usual always wins.

On January 26, New York Times editors headlined “Democracy on Hold in Haiti,” knowing none exists, supporting indefinite postponement of its runoff instead of explaining its rigged electoral process.

A January 24 State Department statement lied, saying “(t)he United States reaffirms its support for credible, transparent and secure elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people.”

Martelly rules by decree. The terms of most so-called elected officials expired long ago. His term ends February 7.

Nothing in prospect suggests relief for long-suffering Haitians.

 

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

 

Simple Digital Privacy in a Complex Digital Age

January 27th, 2016 by Martin Matuszewski

In an age where a Google search can reveal horrible or embarrassing content about anyone, the global Justice-Intelligence Complex stores everything it can on all individuals at all times, and private companies deploy secretive aggressive tracking technologies hiding public knowledge in the depths of discombobulating Terms of Service agreements, one can indeed feel less free and fearful, even if no one actually took away one’s freedoms. 

The state of fear, caused by the more baleful possibilities this passive data storage enables and worsened by the inherent weakness in so many ‘secure’ technologies, can inhibit one’s ability to perform normal tasks involving online technologies.  This, for some, is equally as crippling to freedom as physical bullies, ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, or municipal bureaucrats are.  Fortunately, there are a few actions one can take to reduce visibility in the digital realm in case that is a concern (which for me, it personally is a concern).

The Internet Search or Protection against Individuals

The first and easiest (at least, according to me on account of my experiences in researching the methods behind this article) privacy task anyone can do is reduce their visibility in search engines, namely Google.  Note that this particular tactic is only practical if you are not a particularly public figure, as it is beyond the scope of this article to assist public figures in their disappearance from public view.  This is meant for non-public individuals.  Chances are, you have heard people say, ‘Google it!’  An article published to Cision emphasizes the widespread significance of this powerful phrase.[1]  Although the author discusses how to achieve top results in a Google search, that knowledge is useful in determining how to hide results of pages that you made about yourself on the web, or to at least hide these results from Google and other search engines.  If you have EU citizenship and would like to take this a step further, you could research the ‘Right to Be Forgotten,’ though it should be noted that this only applies to EU citizens on EU  versions of search engines and can lead to what can beinterpreted as censorship, and that discussion is for another time.[2]

Now, a rudimentary understanding of search engines is quite beneficial in one’s hunt to hide personally-posted, public content online.  Search engines operate by using what are called web crawler programs, the name of which is probably of little relevance to this article.  These crawler programs provide the Google results you see by periodically finding publically available, standard-format content about anything on the internet.  This information is then analyzed automatically and, in many cases, leaves a copy of that information on Google.  Some of that information might pertain to you negatively or positively, but regardless, all that it can find, link, and read, it places a link or sometimes a copy of that information onto Google’s servers for anyone to find.  Understanding this process is how one can render a more effective search for data to hide.

These facts are necessary premises to communicate the next point, which will include screenshots.  To hide content that you posted years ago from Google or other search engines, you can complete one or more of several tasks:

1)    A proof-of-concept, personally tested method: Make the data non-existent, at least in the published form on a particular website’s server.  If you happen to have a web page or post that you made that you would like removed, contact that website’s management and request that that specific page be taken down.  Usually the contact form will ask for a name, an email address to contact you by, and a box to enter in your message or an email address to send inquiries to.  Be courteous, state your request (and include the precise link or links) and leave an email address they can contact you by and, in my experiences, management usually respond within 48 hours. Either the page will have been successfully taken down or the management may ask you for verification of information of some sort, usually an email address, and in rare cases, a photo ID picture (which you can blot out the sensitive information of).  In the images below, I detail what I mean using Wunderground.com, where I actually requested that my account be removed from their servers last week, and received a successful response within 10 minutes!

2)    In case the non-existent page results still appear in search results and does not update after a few days, it may be time to request Google to remove the result for at least 90 days from its search results.  The page for that should look like the image below, minus the obvious edits:

3)    If you do not want to eliminate the content, update the content so that it is private.  If this involves social media posts or pages, for example, simply change some settings on your account so that your account and posts are private.  To take this a step further, use an alias for your accounts online, as I do for my Twitter page.

4)    If you do not want to eliminate your content and still want it to be publically accessible, you can move the content into non-standard file formats that web crawlers cannot read or in pages that are not linked on other webpages.  Web crawlers do not watch videos and they often are unable to explore onion links.  You may also utilize a robots.txt file with mixed results.

5)    Often times, public records are available publicly online and display discomforting amounts of information about individuals in searchable formats.  While this is usually searchable by standard search engines, a first and last name is all one needs to get vast amounts of other information about an individual.  My only recommendation here isto simply not register one’s self into voter databases and the like.[3]

While it might seem like I am a spokesman for Google or other companies here (or that this writing is condescending), know that the internet is operated by private companies and so practical advice will involve at least some of these names, especially when one like myself cannot code.  Also, some of these names are about to come under heavy criticism.

Stealth against Private Companies and Governmental Organization

Since at least the Edward Snowden leaks of mid 2013,USIC, theFive Eyes Network and local, state, regional and federal law enforcement agencies have sought to rapidly extend their surveillance reach to everyone and to compromise every single network communication they can collect, store, and analyze.[4][5]  They have billions of dollars in funding and a vast array of employees.  So what can one do?

First, one must understand how communications are stored, how one is targeted and by whom.  If you chat or send text messages, it is safe to assume that the company providing this service and the middle companies transferring the data are storing your communications ormetadata about your communications in some form.[6]  After logging in, you notice your chat history is still there—clear evidence of storage.  This storage is indeed convenient and many individuals do want their communications stored for this reason, but it is how that chat history is used afterwards that can be spooky.

It may be encrypted or unencrypted, but even many encrypted services have built in weaknesses called ‘backdoors’ that were intentionally designed for exploitation by government organizations, particularly the Five Eyes Network organizations.  Something you communicated, created, or searched a while ago could come trouble you legally, even if you were not involved in illicit actions you were chatting about.  For instance, with today’s private-government alliances, The Guardian and other sources reported that a woman had her house searched by police after a family member’s search history that involved pressure cooker explosives and backpacksprompted the former employer to notify police about their online activities.[7]

And even if the consequence of the searches does not manifest itself in the form a visit from armed bureaucrats, it could still end you up on one of many watch lists.  More often than not, certain keywords in posts or internet searches that are often completely benign in nature may result inincreased DHS surveillance of your online activities using the ‘Desktop Binder.’[8]

This document was only released to the public viathe arduous legal efforts of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), though with some redaction as a sort of taunt to the public.[9]  The digital aggression, however, is evident even in the unsealed elements of the document.  Imagine the sheer amount of harmless communications that these agencies capture and then pursue without a justifiable reason.  What a waste of effort and what a horrifying thought.  And the DHS would not be the first agency to experience this ‘needle in an artificial haystack’ problem.  An NSA document titled Too Many Choices provided to The Intercept discusses the problem of scale within intelligence agencies in general, especially for SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence): expanding the haystacks of communications captured in the surveillance machine will increase the difficulty of finding the needles.[10]

But the ability to retroactively look at everything a person said online in the past, metadata or not, public and private, is far too tempting for bureaucrats to let go of.  US President Barack Obama pushed for an extension of key surveillance provisions in the Patriot Act under the USA ‘Freedom Act.’  The only difference, at least officially, is that private companies will be required to collect and store all the information in bulk which the NSA was authorized to do under the expired provisions of the Patriot Act.  So now, Verizon, AT&T, Facebook, Google, and other major telecommunication companies will collect all that invasive metadata that, under Smith v. Maryland,is not protected under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.[11]

Let us face it—every single person has something to hide.  The next time you see an anti-privacy advocate, politely ask them for their house key and for their online account information by reason that they should not possess anything they are hiding.  Usually their reaction should provide you with all the verification you need to substantiate that claim.  As an example, according to page 171 of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald reports that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, purchased four adjacent homes around his property in Palo Alto with costs in the millions of dollars—all to ensure his own personal privacy.[12]  The fact that he is such a public figure while generating revenue from Facebook user’s willingness to share information about themselves is not the point—the point is that even he has something he does not want others seeing.  I imagine that other internet company chief executives have similar dilemmas, but enough about them and their dilemmas, as they are not relevant to low cost privacy tactics.

The first weapon in the battle against passive, mass surveillance is encryption.  Yes, I am fully aware that Facebook, Apple, Google and other companies encrypt your communications—but the systems automatically read through your posts and messages.  That is why you have targeted ads related to your online activities displayed on the sides of unrelated webpages.

Also, the keys to your encrypted conversations are stored on the host servers, so if company employees decide they have reason to search your conversations, your conversations will be exposed and can be handed over to authorities, should you happen to discuss pressure cookers and backpacks.  AReuters article from 2012 describes how a man who allegedly solicited a minor was flagged by Facebook’s software and reported to authorities and subsequently arrested.[13]  A Facebook page created by Facebook staff for law enforcement sheds some more light on the nature of this surveillance.[14] This is an example of the more passive surveillance that ultimately may lead to exposure of conversations once thought to be totally private.  In my own experiences, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps other companies offer you the option of downloading your data archive if you so choose.  The archive is the minimum amount of data these companies store concerning you—chats, emails, posts, photos, videos, friends, apps, et cetera.  What the archives likely may not include is the metadata associated with that content, which is conditionally more invasive than content itself.  To demonstrate the feasibility of this claim, let me show you a redacted screenshot of a data archive that I had to fight a certain company to obtain about my own data.  Take a look:

The data stored that they gave me included time when messages were sent to and from that account, to whom the messages were sent (identified by phone number), and the messages themselves.  I happened to be sent a set of Microsoft Excel files, which is why I have an image of the archive I requested in Excel.  That is the minimum amount of data this company stores about me and my messages that I had to obtain via legal consent forms from the law enforcement team at this particular company.

While it does present some metadata, it is likely that the law enforcement team decided to not include more metadata such as MAC addresses, network identifiers, device operating systems, ISP information, log-in data, and, with further coordination with service providers, real-time location data of users to an accuracy of centimeters.  Now, granted, some of these companies will not care about this data very much and will actually overwrite your data periodically and may actually use it for benign purposes.

If you want to use location services to locate yourself on a map, you need to give some information to that service so that it locates you.  These are very valuable services—when controlled, known, and consensual.  But because the capabilities of these services are oftenburied deep in Terms of Service agreements, patents, or trade secrets that may change without notice, are sometimes difficult to find, and often incomprehensible without a justice degree, I think it is fairly reasonable to suspect that any phone today may be locatable whenever it is on and within range of a cell tower.[15]  In western countries, nearly every location on land is within range of a cell tower.

Ultimately, all of these practices and the rights of your own content owned almost entirely by the services you may frequently and indifferently click “I accept” to, do not be surprised if the information you shared about yourself grants you an online stalker,an investigation by your two-hop association to others, an embarrassing advertisement using your photos on social media, new spam emails, or new, physical junk mail.[16]  Any of these things may be more than the desired amount of nuisance online, so if you do not want to risk any of this, be extra careful about the content you post online, as you never know how technology companies are using your data.

Fortunately, some solutions are freely available online.  Micah Lee, one of the first people Snowden contacted about concerning the 2013 revelations,wrote a 30-page whitepaper titled Encryption Works, detailing methods of free, secure, open-source encryption that exists because of the voluntary generosity of small groups of individuals working to defend privacy online.  Since 30 pages may be too boring or time-consuming for most readers (and I do not write that in a demeaning way), I will highlight the important points.[17]

1)    On pages 10 and 11, Lee discusses OTR client programs.  For Windows and GNU/Linux users, Pidgin will be the program of choice.  For Mac OS X users, Adium will be the program of choice.  OTR programs allow you to utilize the full strength of end-to-end encryption, usually with AES-256, for individual sessions.  Each conversation has its own key, though you will need to validate the digital fingerprint of one another via other means that require more work to attack, such as Twitter.  In my case, I utilize Adium, displayed below:

Create a digital fingerprint for yourself and share it with trusted contacts via Lee’s recommended methods.

2)  On pages 16 through 23 of the document, Micah Lee discusses Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP for short.  PGP is excellent in that is allows you to add a digital signature that is verifiable to whatever you encrypt, should you so choose.  It also allows you to encrypt multiple files at once.  You can store all your keys here, and export them, if you wish, though I only recommend exporting them via flash drive and not the internet to reduce the possibility of interception. In the case of OS X, ensure that you can encrypt text, images, emails and files by changing your shortcuts in the Settings app are checked off and that your Thunderbird mail signatures are set up with the GPG keys you have created.

The green setting in the top right corner of the menu allows you to decide whether you want this particular email to be sent in encrypted form or not.  This guide from GPGTools[18] should explain what you need to know before you use this secure encryption method.

3) Use Tor (the onion router).  Tor redirects encrypted traffic via multiple random computers to ensure great difficulty of potential surveillance.  While the the endpoints do not know which machines made the original requests, this is a great way to conceal your identity online.  Because using only Tor is not foolproof, do not send communications that could identify you via Tor, including unique web searches for pressure cookers at the same time from the same node on the same search engine.  To understand why this is, look over theTor Project’s overview of Tor.[19]

4)  Use a read-only virtual machine.  While Michael Lee specifically recommends Tails, successful installation of it requires a proper flash drive, all my attempted installations of Tails were unsuccessful.  As far as a tested OS, I recommend installing Whonix on a flash drive along with VirtualBox on your computer.  Of course, you do not need to install it on a flash drive.  Whonix OS is a Linux based, read-only operating system which has Tor built in.  In case Whonix is hijacked, you can quickly quit the application without exposing your identity or details about your host machine.  This is important because it allows many key details to be hidden about your internet traffic online, which are the first clues governments and companies utilize to identify you.  An installation guide is available here.[20]  Using it should not be too difficult.  I made a video that explains how to use it once you have installed it.  Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l4_EABV3Fk

5)  Use a free (or paid) ‘no limit’ virtual private network.  I personally use Opera’s SurfEasy VPN, which is available in a free and an inexpensive premium version.  Be cautious when browsing the web, however.  There is a chance your location is discoverable even while utilizing a solid virtual private network due to insecurities in Flash, Java, et cetera.  Ensuring protection from these vulnerabilities requires further installation of browser add-ons such as NoScript for Mozilla Firefox.

6)  Use an end-to-end encrypted email service.  Edward Snowden used Lava Bit while it still was in operation, for example.  I understand that most of these services are premium-only, but there are a few free ones out there that work very well.  One that comes to mind is ShazzleMail.  Shazzlemail emails are stored locally on your computer or mobile device, not on Shazzlemail servers.  It also conceals metadata, which further secures the transmission of user data.  Additionally, it offers free and prompt user support as well as premium services, should you deem them fit.  Shazzlemail also offers the same services for mobile devices.

And there you have it.  Using this knowledge and these tactics, you should be able to boost your digital stealth in the age of general data mining.  I have not delved into the morality of the surveillance machine, as that is out of the scope of this article, though I may write another article on that should that be requested.  Ultimately though, the point is: if you do not want others seeing it, do not communicate it online.

Authors note: This article is not intended to be a promotion or demotion of any products or services.  It is simply intended to be a guide for increased privacy in the digital world which is only possible because of individuals voluntarily working to create products, services and methods that make this possible. 

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Centre for Research on Globalization or globalresearch.ca.  All images included in this article were produced by the author, and may include content that was not produced by the author but protected for publication as ‘fair use.’  For any questions or comments, you may contact the author on Twitter@VanthusPrime.  For hosting this article on other websites, the author consents so long as there is approval from globalresearch.ca management and a backlink to the original content.

Notes:

[1] Just “Google It” – What the Power of This Phrase Means for Businesses Today. (2013, June 27). Cision. Retrieved from http://www.cision.com/us/2013/06/just-google-it-what-the-power-of-this-phrase-means-for-businesses-today/

[2] Hern, Alex (2015, December 29). Wikipedia swears to fight ‘censorship’ of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/06/wikipedia-censorship-right-to-be-forgotten-ruling

[3] Khandelwal, Swati (2015, December 28). 191 Million US Voters’ Personal Info Exposed by Misconfigured Database. The Hacker News. Retrieved from http://thehackernews.com/2015/12/us-voter-database-hacked.html

[4] Director of National Intelligence. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.dni.gov/index.php/intelligence-community/members-of-the-ic

[5] Privacy International. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.privacyinternational.org/node/51

[6] National Information Standards Organization. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.niso.org/publications/press/UnderstandingMetadata.pdf

[7] New York woman visited by police after researching pressure cookers online. (2013, August 1). The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/new-york-police-terrorism-pressure-cooker

[8] Department of Homeland Security, National Operations Center. (2011). Analyst’s Desktop Binder. Retrieved from Andrea Stone, website: http://www.scribd.com/doc/82701103/Analyst-Desktop-Binder-REDACTED.

[9] Electronic Privacy Information Center. (2012). Retrieved from https://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/

[10] Inside NSA, Officials Privately Criticize “Collect It All” Surveillance. (2015, May 28). The  Intercept. Retrieved from https://theintercept.com/2015/05/28/nsa-officials-privately-criticize-collect-it-all-surveillance/

[11] Joseph D. Mornin, NSA Metadata Collection and the Fourth Amendment, 29 Berkeley Tech. L.J. (2014). Available at:  http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2042&context=btlj

[12] Greenwald, G. E. (2014). No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. New York: Metropolitan Books.

[13] Social networks scan for sexual predators, with uneven results. (2012, July 12). Reuters.    Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet-predators-idUSBRE86B05G20120712

[14] [Facebook] Safety Center. Information for Law Enforcement Authorities. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/law/guidelines/

[15] Logan, J (2014, May 20). THE BANALITY OF TERMS OF SERVICE AGREEMENTS [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://nonsenseincontext.com/2014/05/20/the-banality-of-terms-of-service-agreements/

[16] NSA warned to rein in surveillance as agency reveals even greater scope. (2013, July 17). The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/17/nsa-surveillance-house-hearing

[17] Encryption Works: How to Protect Your Privacy in the Age of NSA Surveillance. (2013, July 24). Freedom of the Press Foundation, p. 10-11, 16-23. Retrieved from                     https://freedom.press/sites/default/files/encryption_works.pdf

[18] GPGTools. (2014, August 28). GPGTools – OpenPGP on OS X (Introduction to GPG Suite)   [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7xQVZN1S6Q

[19] Tor: Overview. Tor Project. Retrieved from https://www.torproject.org/about/overview

[20] Whonix.org. Retrieved fromhttps://www.whonix.org/wiki/VirtualBox

[21] Vanthus Prime. (2015, December 29). Using Whonix OS on Mac OS X [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l4_EABV3Fk

The Russian air grouping in Syria carried out 169 sorties and hit over 484 terrorist targets in the last three days, the Russian General Staff reported on January 25. 18 combat sorties were carried out by Russian Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers. Since the Russian airstrike began in September 30, 2015 in Syria, the Russian warplanes made nearly 6000 sorties destroying significant terrorist positions and their assets.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) reportedly took full control of the Arbid Al-Judaydah district located near Kweiris Airbase in the northern province of Aleppo. The liberation of the district came after the SAA and the NDF liberated the strategic villages of Qatar and Tal Hattabat late last week. The Syrian troops are reportedly preparing a massive attack on al-Nusra militants in the coming days to break the siege of the Shiite-populated towns of al-Zahra and Nubl in northwestern Aleppo.

In the West Ghouta region of rural Damascus, the SAA and the NDF liberated the last road controlled by the terrorists of Ajnad Al-Sham and Al-Nusra. The road links the two towns of Al-Mo’adhimiyah and Darayya. Folowing a series of clashes, the militants retreated west towards Mo’adhimiyah’s southeastern district.

Having lost their advantage in western parts of the country, ISIS command has now decided to concentrate its forces on trying to seize the city of Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in the eastern part of Syria. According to the intelligence sources, up to 2,000 heavily armed militants have been redeployed by ISIS to the region.

On Jan. 26, ISIS militants stormed the SAA’s defenses at Al-Jazeera University, Al-Firat Hotel, and the Al-Rawad Hill, striking from several flanks to find a weakness in the Al-Baghayliyah District’s southern sector. 2 suicide bombers were used by ISIS near Al-Jazeera University. The SAA repel these attacks. However, heavy clashes are continuing.

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Israel Continues to Sow the Seeds of Discontent

January 27th, 2016 by Jonathan Cook

Israel, it seems, has found a new weapon against Palestinian attacks – the humble cucumber seed.

Soldiers have been handing out seeds at checkpoints with advice to Palestinians – a nation of farmers until their lands were swallowed up by Jewish settlements – to stop their recent knife attacks on Israelis and invest in a peaceful future.

Palestinians were not fooled. The seeds, the packets revealed, were produced by the very settlements that corralled them into their urban enclaves.

Israel’s image-laundering is directed at western nations that have propped up the occupation – economically and diplomatically – for decades. As ever, Israel hopes to persuade outsiders that the occupation is benevolent.

The futility of its PR, however, is highlighted by the latest initiative of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

New legislation is designed to intimidate and silence Israeli human rights organisations – the international community’s eyes and ears in the occupied territories. These groups are to be defined as “moles”, or agents of foreign governments. Justice minister Ayelet Shaked warned that such foreign intervention “endangers democracy”.

The problem is that the governments funding the human rights activity are not Israel’s enemies, but some of its staunchest supporters – European states.

Israel treats Europe’s support for human rights as malign interference, but it welcomes the vast sums channelled its way via the European Union’s special trade agreement and the billions in US military aid. It is this kind of foreign intervention that sustains the occupation.

The new legislation, however, risks leaving the EU and US exposed. Removing the minimal restraints imposed on the Israeli army by monitoring activity, the crimes of occupation – and western complicity in them – will be all the starker.

Western governments have made a show of their retaliation. They warn that, without a two-state solution, Israel is hurtling towards a binational reality and comparisons with apartheid.

Seeking to bolster the EU’s recent feeble move to recommend labelling settlement products, its foreign ministers passed a resolution last week requiring all agreements with Israel to exclude the settlements.

Europe has hinted that other penalties are in the pipeline.

The United States echoes Europe. Its ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, last week broke with US protocol and admitted that Israel has two standards of law in the West Bank, distinguishing between Palestinians and Jewish settlers.

It was the nearest Washington has dared to suggest that Israel already enforces an apartheid system in the territories.

Unused to having the US wash its dirty linen in public, Israel fumed. One of Netanyahu’s former aides even hurled an anti-Semitic insult at Shapiro, calling him a “little Jewboy”.

Israeli officials are reported to believe that the US and Europe are acting in concert to arm-twist Israel back into negotiations. Europe, they argue, is carrying out Washington’s “dirty work”.

They may not be far off the mark. A report last week by Human Rights Watch, a US group with ties to the State Department, added to the pressure, warning companies in the occupied territories that they are violating international law.

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian co-founder of the movement to boycott Israel, called the report “ground-breaking”. It floated the idea that the US and Europe should deduct funding to Israel “equivalent to its expenditures on settlements and related infrastructure in the West Bank”.

As Barghouti noted, that skates close to calling for western sanctions against Israel.

Netanyahu did not sound alarmed at Sunday’s cabinet meeting by the various admonishments. He focused instead on praising “courageous” settlers who had evicted Palestinian families next to the flashpoint of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of Hebron.

This week, the first new plans for settlement-building in 18 months were announced.

Netanyahu knows that the likelihood of the US, or Europe, truly penalising Israel is still far off.

The terrible truth for those who support the Palestinian cause is that these last months of the Obama administration are likely to be as bad as it gets for Israel. Whoever follows – whether Hillary Clinton or any of the current crop of Republicans – will almost certainly tone down Washington’s criticisms, and rein in Europe.

Last year, one of Obama’s Middle East aides promised that Washington would “always have Israel’s back”. Illustrating that commitment, US officials due in Israel this week are expected to offer new weapons systems as a reward for Israel’s silence on Iran.

The struggle for two states appears finished. As Netanyahu averred recently, Israel would prefer to “live forever by the sword” than concede territory to the Palestinians. The message of the dovish opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, is softer but the same. At the weekend he told the French president, Francois Hollande: “Now is not the time for a Palestinian state.”

The US and EU can keep chasing the chimera of a two-state solution. But Israel is busy cultivating – not cucumbers, but the fruits of an occupation without a visible end.

 

Big Pharma and Big Profits: The Multibillion Dollar Vaccine Market

January 27th, 2016 by Timothy Alexander Guzman

The business of vaccines is soon to become a major source of profits for the world’s largest pharmaceutical corporations. A press release (Business Wire, January 21st 2016) published by marketwatch.com says that Technavio, one of the leading technology research and advisory companies in the world predicts that pharmaceutical corporations who produce vaccines will reach an estimated $61 billion in profits by 2020.


Today the vaccine market is worth close to $24 billion. The report titled ‘Global Human Vaccines Market 2016-2020’ gives an “in-depth analysis” of the possible revenues and “emerging market trends” globally. According to the Press Release:

The report study indicates that the introduction of new products is fueling the growth of the market. Moreover, the significant expansion of the current product offerings is also expected to boost the market growth. Due to the increasing prevalence rates of various infectious diseases such as diphtheria, influenza, hepatitis, pneumococcal diseases, and meningococcal diseases, there has been a notable increase in the use of vaccines across the globe

What is interesting about the report is that Pharmaceutical corporations are targeting Latin America and the Caribbean with its new vaccines soon to be on the market. Merck & Co, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are expected to dominate Latin America and the Caribbean (Puerto Rico currently operates as a manufacturing hub for Merck, Pfizer and Abbott Laboratories):

In terms of geography, the Americas dominated the global human vaccines market in 2015, accounting for about 45% of the total revenue. The US was the largest revenue contributor to this region in the same year, capturing a significant portion of the global market. The Americas will continue to dominate the human vaccines market during the forecast period because of the increase in the prevalence of infectious diseases and cancers. In addition, increase in strategic alliances with expected entry of novel vaccines, is also expected to propel the growth of the market in this region

The report also says that there are two types of human vaccines, Therapeutic (cancer, metabolic disorders, chronic illnesses, and infectious diseases) and Preventable human vaccines markets (pediatric vaccinations) that are estimated to reach $55 billion worldwide. The Atlantic magazine published an article in 2015 titled ‘Vaccines Are Profitable, So What?’ Author Bourree Lam says:

While the main fixation of anti-vaccine groups is an old, discredited study linking vaccination to autism, another is a conspiracy theory circulated online that both doctors and pharmaceutical companies stand to profit financially from vaccination—which supposedly leads to perverse incentives in advocating for the public to vaccinate.

But that argument is historically unfounded. Not only do pediatricians and doctors often lose money on vaccine administration, it wasn’t too long ago that the vaccine industry was struggling with slim profit margins and shortages. The Economist wrote that “for decades vaccines were a neglected corner of the drugs business, with old technology, little investment and abysmal profit margins. Many firms sold their vaccine divisions to concentrate on more profitable drugs”

Maybe it was true at some point in time that manufacturing vaccines were unprofitable, but in today’s world, it’s all profits. What motivated pharmaceutical corporations to focus on the vaccine market in the last decade or so according to The Atlantic?

Since 2000, the Gavi Alliance has provided vaccination for 500 million children in poor countries, preventing an estimated 7 million deaths. GlaxoSmithKline reported that 80 percent of the vaccine doses they manufactured in 2013 went to developing countries. Additionally, vaccines that could turn a profit in high-income countries—constituting 82 percent of global vaccine sales in terms of value, according to the World Health Organization—hit the market

Lam also wrote that there were “two “blockbuster” vaccines also hit the market: pneumococcal conjugate for meningitis and other bacteria infections, and a vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). The industry grew”.

Merck is the only pharmaceutical giant licensed to produce and sell the measles vaccine called Prodquad and theMMR II (also used for the measles, mumps and rubella) and Varivax, a vaccine for the chicken pox. According to Lam, all three vaccines combined amounted to more than $1.4 billion in sales profits for Merck in 2014. The controversialHPV vaccine, Gardasil also brought in $1.7 billion in profits for Merck. “While a spokesperson for Merck told The Atlantic that vaccines remained one of its key areas of focus—it generated $5.3 billion in sales in 2014—she did not comment on the profit margins” Lam wrote. Of course the Merck spokesperson would not comment on the profitability of vaccines because Merck would expose itself to more controversy. Analysts say that the profit margin is“between 10 to over 40 percent.” Lam also says that “while the vaccine industry is likely more profitable now than in the 1970s or 1980s, this is the result of global market forces”. Lam forgot to mention that billionaire couple Bill and Melina Gates pledged at least $10 billion for worldwide vaccination programs supposedly to combat polio and the measles, this is where Merck & Co profit. It is also well known that Bill Gates appointed the former president and CEO of Merck, Raymond Gilmartin to the board of directors of Microsoft which lasted for more than 11 years before he announced his retirement in 2012.

Are pharmaceutical corporations motivated by profits? “Profits from vaccine production aren’t a valid argument against vaccinations—the most important question is whether vaccines are safe and effective, and the answer is unambiguously yes” wrote Lam. In 2015, Former Merck Employee and whistleblower Brandy Vaughan Spoke out against the state of California’s vaccination mandate bill SB277 and said:

The U.S. gives more vaccines than any other country in the world. Our childhood schedule for under the age of one has twice as many vaccines as other developed countries. What else do we have? The highest infant mortality rate of any developed nation. Finland has the lowest. They only give 11 by age six. Mississippi has the highest rate of vaccination in the U.S.–highest infant mortality rate. These numbers do not lie. But you will not hear that on the media, and that is not what Senator Pan will tell you.

What we have with vaccines is the highest profit margin pharmaceutical drug on the market. Drug companies make more money off vaccines than they do any other pharmaceutical drug, in terms of profit margin. There is a lack of rigorous safety studies. And they don’t have the incentive to do them because they have no liability.

Vaccines are the only products in the U.S. that do not have liability. You cannot sue for injuries or death. But that is only in the U.S. Around the world, there are law suits because of serious injuries and deaths because from vaccines. In Spain over Gardasil. In Japan over Gardasil. The flu shot was taken off the market for under five in Australia after deaths and injury. Prevnar was banned in China. Pfizer’s vaccination program was kicked out of the country. France just pulled Rotavirus off their schedule after infant deaths and injuries

With a forecast of $61 billion in projected sales, rest assured new vaccines will be developed for almost anything. Actor and comedian Jim Carrey did say that “150 people die every year from being hit by falling coconuts. Not to worry, drug makers are developing a vaccine”. With 271 vaccines in production, Jim Carrey’s comments, which were criticized by the mainstream media, may not be so farfetched after all.

Saudi Arabia Is Killing Civilians With U.S. Bombs

January 27th, 2016 by Marjorie Cohn

Saudi Arabia is bombing civilians with U.S.-made bombs, which violates both U.S. and international law. Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance. In September 2015, Saudi aircraft killed 135 wedding celebrants in Yemen. The air strikes have killed 2,800 civilians, including 500 children. Human Rights Watch charges that these bombings “have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians.”

This conflict is part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are bombing Yemen in order to defeat the Houthi rebels, who have been resisting government repression for a long time. Iran has been accused of supporting the Houthis, although Iran denies this. Yemen is strategically located on a narrow waterway that links the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Much of the world’s oil passes through this waterway.

A United Nations panel of experts concluded in October 2015 that the Saudi-led coalition had committed “grave violations” of civilians’ human rights. They include indiscriminate attacks; targeting markets, a camp for displaced Yemenis, and humanitarian aid warehouses; and intentionally preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The panel was also concerned that the coalition considered civilian neighborhoods, including Marra and Sadah, as legitimate strike zones. The International Committee of the Red Cross documented 100 attacks on hospitals.

Yemen has become one of the world

Yemen has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises following the Saudi-led intervention in 2015. | Photo: EFE

Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits the targeting of civilians. It provides that parties to a conflict “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”

Saudi Arabia is also engaging in serious individual human rights violations.

In January 2016, the Saudi government executed 47 people, including a prominent pacifist Shia cleric, who had been a leader of the 2011 Arab Spring in Yemen. Many of those executed were tortured during their detention and denied due process. Most were beheaded. This horrifies us when ISIS does it. Yet State Department spokesman John Kirby protested weakly, “We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences.”

Also in January 2016, Palestinian artist and poet Ashraf Fayadh, a Saudi citizen whose family is from Gaza, was sentenced to death by beheading. His alleged crimes: “apostasy,” or renouncing Islam, and photographing women. “Throughout this whole process,” Amnesty International UK found, “Ashraf was denied access to a lawyer – a clear violation of international human rights law.”

Both Saudi Arabia and the United States are parties to the Geneva Conventions, which define as grave breaches willful killing, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and torture or inhuman treatment. Grave breaches are considered war crimes. Also prohibited are “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

Although neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia are parties to the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, that statute sets forth standard aider and abettor liability provisions. It says that an individual can be convicted of war crimes if he or she “aids, abets or otherwise assists” in the commission or attempted commission of the crime, “including providing the means for its commission.”

The U.S. government is the primary supplier of Saudi weapons. In November 2015, the U.S. sold $1.29 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. It included more than 10,000 bombs, munitions, and weapons parts manufactured by Raytheon and Boeing, as well as bunker busters, and laser-guided and “general purpose” bombs. A month earlier, the United States had approved a $11.25 billion sale of combat ships to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. also provides intelligence and logistical support to the coalition. During the past five years, the U.S. government has sold the Saudis $100 billion worth of arms. These sales have greatly enriched U.S. defense contractors.

Why has the United States “usually looked the other way or issued carefully calibrated warnings in human rights reports as the Saudi royal family cracked down on dissent and free speech and allowed its elite to fund Islamic extremists,” in the words of New York Times’ David Sanger? “In return,” Sanger writes, “Saudi Arabia became America’s most dependable filling station, a regular supplier of intelligence, and a valuable counterweight to Iran.” Saudi Arabia, and close U.S. ally Israel, opposed the Iran nuclear deal.

In April 2015, the U.S. government prevented nine Iranian ships loaded with relief supplies from reaching Yemen. President Barack Obama also sent an aircraft carrier to the area to enforce the Saudi embargo on outside supplies. According to UN estimates, 21 million people lack basic services, and over 1.5 million have been displaced. UNICEF notes that six million people don’t have enough food.

Moreover, the U.S. government seeks to prevent scrutiny of Saudi human rights abuses in Yemen. In October 2015, the United States blocked a UN Security Council sanctions committee proposal that would have required the committee’s chair to contact “all relevant parties to the conflict and stress their responsibility to respect and uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

The U.S. government is also violating domestic law by providing the Saudis with military aid. The Leahy Law prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign security forces or military officers “if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), for whom the law was named, told Foreign Policy: “The reports of civilian casualties from Saudi air attacks in densely populated areas [in Yemen] compel us to ask if these operations, supported by the United States, violate” the Leahy Law.

Furthermore, 22 U.S.C. section 2304 provides that “no security assistance may be provided to any government which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

The Arms Trade Treaty obligates member states to monitor exports of weapons and make sure they do not end up being used to commit human rights abuses. Although the U.S. has not ratified the treaty, we have signed it. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a signatory is prohibited from taking action inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty.

The U.S. government should immediately halt arms transfers and military support to Saudi Arabia and support an independent investigation into U.S. arms transfers and war crimes in Yemen. The United States must stop participating in and call for an end to the de facto blockade so that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need, engage in diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty.

In an interesting twist, the Saudis contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In 2011, the year after the State Department had documented myriad serious human rights violations by Saudi Arabia, Hillary oversaw a $29 billion sale of advanced fighter jets to the Saudis, declaring it was in our national interest. The deal was “a top priority” for Hillary, according to Andrew Shapiro, an assistant secretary of state. Two months before the deal was clinched, Boeing, manufacturer of one of the fighter jets the Saudis sought to acquire, contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary now says the U.S should pursue “closer strategic cooperation” with Saudi Arabia.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” See www.marjoriecohn.com.

Common Security – Progressive Alternatives to the New Arms Race

January 27th, 2016 by Dr Steven Schofield

Is a new arms race inevitable? Compared to the cautious optimism at the end of the Cold War, when the prospects for disarmament and a substantial peace dividend were universally welcomed, the rhetoric now is one of confrontation and existential threat.

Some extracts from the opening pages – subtitles added:

Under the Bush/Blair axis, with its determination to use military force to secure access to oil and other resources, the West embarked ona disastrous and illegal policy of invasion and occupation. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraqand Afghanistan were either killed or suffered serious injury as a direct consequence of military intervention and social breakdown,while millions more faced a bleak future as exiles and refugees.

If that legacy demonstrates anything it is that, however much the rhetoric remains one of defence to protect ourselves against dangerous enemiesand to encourage democratic governance, the reality is an aggressive militarism that has been an abject failure. Yet, decisions are being taken by the UK government that will reinforce our subordination to the United Statesbecause the very expense of the next generation of nuclear and conventional weapons makes us ever more dependent on US technology.

Common security offers the possibility fora much-needed and fundamental re-appraisal of the UK’s role in the world. Two essential criteria are disarmament and the release of resources from military spending for international economic and environmental programmes that address fundamental security issues around poverty and climate change.

This agenda can be tracedback to the very founding of the United Nations and its inspirational charter. Quite simply, the objective was to end the scourge of war after the most destructive conflict in world history. UN disarmament initiatives were based on the recognition that any new arms race must be vigorously opposed since the build-up of forces, in itself, was a major cause of instability, feeding the demand for further military preparations in an ever-increasing cycle of confrontation.Resources squandered on armaments could then be used for social priorities that addressed the growing gap in wealth and power between rich and poor and the underlying economic and social causes of conflict.

Since its founding, the UN has also been a leading body highlighting environmental concerns and the growing security threat from climate change

Such is the scale of the crisis that there are growing calls for the rapid transition to a post-carbon economy,leaving coal, oil and gas supplies in the ground and satisfying future requirements through renewable energy matched by energy-efficiency technologies to reduce overall demand. The scale of investment is one that has only previously been mobilised for arms production and war. The challenge is to mobilise on the same scale for common security and peace.

We are living through a neo-liberal political and economic experiment that is increasing, rather than reducing income inequalities and is punishing the poor for the profligacy of the banks

There should be no illusions about the barriers to any progressive alternative. Economic growth and prosperity are seen in terms of unfettered corporate power and further exploitation of non-renewable resources, underpinned by Western military force, even where this might lead to confrontation and war.

The idea of a internationally coordinated disarmament and development programme around climate change and common security would be anathema to the range of elite groupsin the military-industrial-complex that have direct access to political power and decision-making.

A climate of fear is being inculcated. Russia is now being re-established as a major threat on the scale of the former Soviet Union, while Islamic State is represented as a new form of terrorism that could use its territorial base in Syria and Iraq to build a network dedicated to the destruction of Western societies. The threat of war, therefore,far from receeding is now muti-faceted and the world is becoming ever more dangerous.

Yet the United States and its allies refuse to take any responsibility for the deterioration in relations between the West and Russia. The policy of military encirclement and its support for corrupt and anti-democratic regimes in the Ukraine gave the Putin leadership a simple cause through which to mobilise domestic support for its own military build up, leading to the annexation of Crimea. Nor will the United States take any responsibiligy for the chaos of post-invasion politics and economics in the Middle East and, more recently North Africa, in which extremist groups can gain support.

To argue for a de-escalation of military confrontation, therefore,is not an act of weakness but an act of strength if it is linked to common security policies that help transform the international system offering both environmental and economic security.

Read the full paper, Common Security – Progressive Alternatives to the New Arms Race:

http://www.lessnet.co.uk/docs/arms-race-alternatives.pdf

Dr Steven Schofield wrote this paper following the Defence and Security Review in order to highlight the common security framework as an alternative to the new arms race.

How Doctors Use Vitamin C Against Lead Poisoning

January 27th, 2016 by Andrew W. Saul

We hear about the hazards of lead. We know that lead poisoning can cause severe mental retardation.

Lead has been clearly linked with Alzheimer’s disease. We have been told to avoid lead in our homes and in our water, and to clean up lead pollution of our environment. But we have not been told how to remove it from our bodies. Vitamin C megadoses may be the answer.

Dr. Erik Paterson, of British Columbia, reports:

When I was a consulting physician for a center for the mentally challenged, a patient showing behavioral changes was found to have blood lead levels some ten times higher than the acceptable levels. I administered vitamin C at a dose of 4,000 mg/day. I anticipated a slow response. The following year I rechecked his blood lead level. It had gone up, much to my initial dismay. But then I thought that perhaps what was happening was that the vitamin C was mobilizing the lead from his tissues. So we persisted. The next year, on rechecking, the lead levels had markedly dropped to well below the initial result. As the years went by, the levels became almost undetectable, and his behavior was markedly improved.

How much vitamin C?

Frederick Robert Klenner, M.D., insisted that large amounts of vitamin C are needed to do the job. One old (1940) paper got it wrong, and Dr. Klenner comments:

The report by Dannenberg that high doses of ascorbic acid were without effect in treating lead intoxication in a child must be ignored, since his extremely high dose was 25 mg by mouth four times a day and one single daily injection of 250 mg of C. Had he administered 350 mg/kg body weight every two hours, he would have seen the other side of the coin.

Here is what 350 milligrams of vitamin C per kilogram body weight works out to in pounds, approximately:

 

Milligrams Vitamin C Body Weight
35,000 mg 220 pounds
18,000 110 lb
9,000 55 lb
4,500 28 lb
2,300 14-15 lb
1,200 7-8 lb

 

Although these quantities may seem high, it must be pointed out that Dr. Klenner administered such amounts every two hours.

Vitamin C may be given intravenously if necessary. Oral vitamin C may be given as liquid, powder, tablet or chewable tablet. Toddlers often accept powdered, naturally sweetened chewable tablets, which may be crushed up between two spoons and added to a favorite food. Infants do well with liquid vitamin C. You can make this yourself by daily dissolving ascorbic acid powder in a small dropper bottle and adding it to fruit juice. Dr. Klenner recommended daily preventive doses, which he described as one thousand milligrams of C per year of a child’s age, plateauing at 10,000 mg/day for teens and adults.

“Vitamin C? But . . .”

Common questions from readers are likely to include these, to which we have provided the briefest of answers.

“Why so much?” Because too little will not be effective. Dr. Klenner, as well as Robert F. Cathcart, M.D., Hugh D. Riordan, M.D., Abram Hoffer, M.D. and many other highly experienced nutritional physicians have all emphasized this.

“Is it safe?” Year after year, decade after decade, national data shows no deaths at all from vitamin C. Vitamin C does not cause kidney stones, either. Read up so you know what you are doing. Work with your doctor. And make sure your doctor has read what you’ve read.

“Is ascorbic acid really vitamin C?” Yes. Linus Pauling, double Nobel-prize winning chemist, said so. He ought to know. Almost all successful medical research on vitamin C therapy has used plain, cheap, you-can-buy-it-anywhere ascorbic acid. Other forms of C will also work well.

“That’s it?” Certainly not. All sources of lead contamination must be addressed and eliminated. Vitamin C has an important role to play in so doing, and should be publicly advocated by the medical professions, government, and the media.

Immediately.

 

To learn more:

Dr. Klenner’s quote is from “The Significance of High Daily Intake of Ascorbic Acid in Preventive Medicine,” p. 51-59, Physician’s Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, Third Edition, Roger Williams, PhD, ed.) 
http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/197x/klenner-fr-j_int_assn_prev_med-1974-v1-n1-p45.htm

You can read Dr. Klenner’s Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C free of charge. It is posted in its entirety at http://www.whale.to/a/smith1988.html and also athttp://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm

Many free-access papers on vitamin C therapy are posted at http://www.whale.to/v/c/index.html

“Vitamin supplements help protect children from heavy metals, reduce behavioral disorders.” Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 8, 2007.http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v03n07.shtml

All OMNS articles are archived here: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml Many discuss the most frequently asked questions about vitamin dosages, safety, forms, and proper administration.

Dannenberg’s paper, mentioned by Klenner: 
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1160080 
Only part appears to be free access. [Dannenburg, A.M., et al (1940) Ascorbic acid in the treatment of chronic lead poisoning. JAMA. 114: 1439-1440.]

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email:[email protected] This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

Did Wall Street Banks Create the Oil Crash?

January 27th, 2016 by Pam Martens

From June 2008 to the depth of the Wall Street financial crash in early 2009, U.S. domestic crude oil lost 70 percent of its value, falling from over $140 to the low $40s. But then a strange thing happened. Despite weak global economic growth, oil went back to over $100 by 2011 and traded between the $80s and a little over $100 until June 2014. Since then, it has plunged by 72 percent – a bigger crash than when Wall Street was collapsing.

The chart of crude oil has the distinct feel of a pump and dump scheme, a technique that Wall Street has turned into an art form in the past. Think limited partnerships priced at par on client statements as they disintegrated in price in the real world; rigged research leading to the dot.com bust and a $4 trillion stock wipeout; and the securitization of AAA-rated toxic waste creating the subprime mortgage meltdown that cratered the U.S. housing market along with century-old firms on Wall Street.

Pretty much everything that’s done on Wall Street is some variation of pump and dump. Here’s why we’re particularly suspicious of the oil price action.

Price of West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil Before and After the 2008 Crash

Price of West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil Before and After the 2008 Crash

Americans know far too little about what was actually happening on Wall Street leading up to the crash of 2008. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released its detailed final report in January 2011. But by July 2013, Senator Sherrod Brown, Chair of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection had learned that Wall Street banks had amassed unprecedented amounts of physical crude oil, metals and other commodity assets in the period leading up to the crash. This came as a complete shock to Congress despite endless hearings that had been held on the crash.

On July 23, 2013, Senator Brown opened a hearing on this opaque perversion of banking law, comparing today’s Wall Street banks to the Wall Street trusts that had a stranglehold on the country in the early 1900s. Senator Brown remarked:

There has been little public awareness of or debate about the massive expansion of our largest financial institutions into new areas of the economy. That is in part because regulators, our regulators, have been less than transparent about basic facts, about their regulatory philosophy, about their future plans in regards to these entities.

Most of the information that we have has been acquired by combing through company statements in SEC filings, news reports, and direct conversations with industry. It is also because these institutions are so complex, so dense, so opaque that they are impossible to fully understand. The six largest U.S. bank holding companies have 14,420 subsidiaries, only 19 of which are traditional banks.

Their physical commodities activities are not comprehensively or understandably reported. They are very deep within various subsidiaries, like their fixed-income currency and commodities units, Asset Management Divisions, and other business lines. Their specific activities are not transparent. They are not subject to transparency in any way. They are often buried in arcane regulatory filings.

Taxpayers have a right to know what is happening and to have a say in our financial system because taxpayers, as we know, are the ones who will be asked to rescue these mega banks yet again, possibly as a result of activities that are unrelated to banking.

The findings of this hearing were so troubling that the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations commenced an in-depth investigation. The Subcommittee, then chaired by Senator Carl Levin, held a two-day hearing on the matter in November  2014, which included a 400-page report of hair-raising findings.

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The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton – contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals.

Today’s populist revolt mimics an earlier one that reached its peak in the US in the 1890s. Then it was all about challenging Wall Street, reclaiming the government’s power to create money, curing rampant deflation with US Notes (Greenbacks) or silver coins (then considered the money of the people), nationalizing the banks, and establishing a central bank that actually responded to the will of the people.

Over a century later, Occupy Wall Street revived the populist challenge, armed this time with the Internet and mass media to spread the word. The Occupy movement shined a spotlight on the corrupt culture of greed unleashed by deregulating Wall Street, widening the yawning gap between the 1% and the 99% and destroying jobs, households and the economy.

Donald Trump’s populist campaign has not focused much on Wall Street; but Bernie Sanders’ has, in spades. Sanders has picked up the baton where Occupy left off, and the disenfranchised Millennials who composed that movement have flocked behind him.

The Failure of Regulation 

Sanders’ focus on Wall Street has forced his opponent Hillary Clinton to respond to the challenge. Clinton maintains that Sanders’ proposals sound good but “will never make it in real life.” Her solution is largely to preserve the status quo while imposing more bank regulation.

That approach, however, was already tried with the Dodd-Frank Act, which has not solved the problem although it is currently the longest and most complicated bill ever passed by the US legislature. Dodd-Frank purported to eliminate bailouts, but it did this by replacing them with “bail-ins” – confiscating the funds of bank creditors, including depositors, to keep too-big-to-fail banks afloat. The costs were merely shifted from the people-as-taxpayers to the people-as-creditors.

Worse, the massive tangle of new regulations has hamstrung the smaller community banks that make the majority of loans to small and medium sized businesses, which in turn create most of the jobs. More regulation would simply force more community banks to sell out to their larger competitors, making the too-bigs even bigger.

In any case, regulatory tweaking has proved to be an inadequate response. Banks backed by an army of lobbyists simply get the laws changed, so that what was formerly criminal behavior becomes legal. (See, e.g., CitiGroup’s redrafting of the “push out” rulein December 2015 that completely vitiated the legislative intent.)

What Sanders is proposing, by contrast, is a real financial revolution, a fundamental change in the system itself. His proposals include eliminating Too Big to Fail by breaking up the biggest banks; protecting consumer deposits by reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act (separating investment from depository banking); reviving postal banks as safe depository alternatives; and reforming the Federal Reserve, enlisting it in the service of the people.

Time to Revive the Original Populist Agenda?

Sanders’ proposals are a good start. But critics counter that breaking up the biggest banks would be costly, disruptive and destabilizing; and it would not eliminate Wall Street corruption and mismanagement.

Banks today have usurped the power to create the national money supply. As the Bank of England recently acknowledged, banks create money whenever they make loans. Banks determine who gets the money and on what terms. Reducing the biggest banks to less than $50 billion in assets (the Dodd-Frank limit for “too big to fail”) would not make them more trustworthy stewards of that power and privilege.

How can banking be made to serve the needs of the people and the economy, while preserving the more functional aspects of today’s highly sophisticated global banking system? Perhaps it is time to reconsider the proposals of the early populists. The direct approach to “occupying” the banks is to simply step into their shoes and make them public utilities. Insolvent megabanks can be nationalized – as they were before 2008. (More on that shortly.)

Making banks public utilities can happen on a local level as well. States and cities can establish publicly-owned depository banks on the highly profitable and efficient model of the Bank of North Dakota. Public banks can partner with community banks to direct credit where it is needed locally; and they can reduce the costs of government by recycling bank profits for public use, eliminating outsized Wall Street fees and obviating the need for derivatives to mitigate risk.

At the federal level, not only can postal banks serve as safe depositories and affordable credit alternatives, but the central bank can provide is it just a source of interest-free credit for the nation – as was done, for example, with Canada’s central bank from 1939 to 1974. The U.S. Treasury could also reclaim the power to issue, not just pocket change, but a major portion of the money supply – as was done by the American colonists in the 18th century and by President Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century.

Nationalization: Not As Radical As It Sounds

Radical as it sounds today, nationalizing failed megabanks was actually standard operating procedure before 2008. Nationalization was one of three options open to the FDIC when a bank failed. The other two were (1) closure and liquidation, and (2) merger with a healthy bank. Most failures were resolved using the merger option, but for very large banks, nationalization was sometimes considered the best choice for taxpayers.  The leading U.S. example was Continental Illinois, the seventh-largest bank in the country when it failed in 1984.  The FDIC wiped out existing shareholders, infused capital, took over bad assets, replaced senior management, and owned the bank for about a decade, running it as a commercial enterprise.

What was a truly radical departure from accepted practice was the unprecedented wave of government bailouts after the 2008 banking crisis. The taxpayers bore the losses, while culpable bank management not only escaped civil and criminal penalties but made off with record bonuses.

In a July 2012 article in The New York Times titled “Wall Street Is Too Big to Regulate,” Gar Alperovitz noted that the five biggest banks—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs—then had combined assets amounting to more than half the nation’s economy. He wrote:

With high-paid lobbyists contesting every proposed regulation, it is increasingly clear that big banks can never be effectively controlled as private businesses.  If an enterprise (or five of them) is so large and so concentrated that competition and regulation are impossible, the most market-friendly step is to nationalize its functions. . . .

Nationalization isn’t as difficult as it sounds.  We tend to forget that we did, in fact, nationalize General Motors in 2009; the government still owns a controlling share of its stock.  We also essentially nationalized the American International Group, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, and the government still owns roughly 60 percent of its stock.

A more market-friendly term than nationalization is “receivership” – taking over insolvent banks and cleaning them up. But as Dr. Michael Hudson observed in a 2009 article, real nationalization does not mean simply imposing losses on the government and then selling the asset back to the private sector. He wrote:

Real nationalization occurs when governments act in the public interest to take over private property. . . . Nationalizing the banks along these lines would mean that the government would supply the nation’s credit needs. The Treasury would become the source of new money, replacing commercial bank credit. Presumably this credit would be lent out for economically and socially productive purposes, not merely to inflate asset prices while loading down households and business with debt as has occurred under today’s commercial bank lending policies.

A Network of Locally-Controlled Public Banks

“Nationalizing” the banks implies top-down federal control, but this need not be the result. We could have a system of publicly-owned banks that were locally controlled, operating independently to serve the needs of their own communities.

As noted earlier, banks create the money they lend simply by writing it into accounts. Money comes into existence as a debit in the borrower’s account, and it is extinguished when the debt is repaid. This happens at a grassroots level through local banks, creating and destroying money organically according to the demands of the community. Making these banks public institutions would differ from the current system only in that the banks would have a mandate to serve the public interest, and the profits would be returned to the local government for public use.

Although most of the money supply would continue to be created and destroyed locally as loans, there would still be a need for the government-issued currency envisioned by the early populists, to fill gaps in demand as needed to keep supply and demand in balance. This could be achieved with a national dividend issued by the federal Treasury to all citizens, or by “quantitative easing for the people” as envisioned by Jeremy Corbyn, or by quantitative easing targeted at infrastructure.

For decades, private sector banking has been left to its own devices. The private-only banking model has been thoroughly tested, and it has proven to be a disastrous failure. We need a banking system that truly serves the needs of the people, and that objective can best be achieved with banks that are owned and operated by and for the people.

Egypt: Five Years After the “Arab Spring”

January 27th, 2016 by Ghada Chehade

Having written about the Egyptian revolution and the ensuing political twists and turns since the 2011 uprisings, five years later I look on and wonder about the sum gains and costs. In 2011 I wrote about the importance of coupling any type of street protests and reactionary political momentum with behind the scenes, long term strategic and ideological planning for what comes after the “revolutionary moment.”

While numbers and street protests play a part in popular uprisings, without strategic planning for what comes next (i.e., plans and alternatives for the post-revolutionary trajectory) people’s uprisings can be easily co-opted and revolutionary hopes thwarted. As I noted in an article last year, “the Egyptian revolution originally began with calls for ‘bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity.’ Nowhere in this popular discourse were there demands for greater religiosity or increased state force” [1]. Yet this is the trajectory that the revolution took, with the Muslim Brotherhood co-opting the people’s uprising and coming to power in 2012, to later be ousted by the Mubarak-esque military regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, which, for many, has thus far been as draconian as that of former president Hosni Mubarak. 

While, from an anti-imperialist perspective, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi may have a better foreign policy— seemingly less acquiescent to western imperial interests and the US than both Mubarak and Morsi—to many Egyptians his regime means more of the same. Internally many Egyptians, especially dissidents and journalists, fear the police state tactics, such as repressing and preemptively preventing dissent and government criticism, that Sisi’s government has been accused of, especially in the lead up to the 2016 anniversary of the uprisings [2]. Perhaps worse than the internal situation, has been the broader picture for Egypt and the region in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring. Taken as a whole, the region is far more violent, polarized and destabilized than before the Arab Spring phenomena.

One unfortunate and bizarre general outcome of the Arab Spring was the rise to power—albeit only briefly in some states—of Islamist groups and governments. This is very strange given that religious extremism and/or a lapse into religious orthodoxy is arguably the opposite of progressive or forward moving change.  Despite hopes for change and democracy in the region, the Arab Spring seemed to usher in religious extremism and orthodoxy—sewing the seeds of violent division and sectarianism—in countries that were once secular, diverse and relatively peacefully integrated.

Oddly, the same can be said for the global war on terrorism as well as certain western humanitarian interventions. While the war on terror was sold as a mission against global Islamic terrorism, it has done much to—directly or indirectly—take down or attempt to undermine secular regimes and leaders such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Similarly, humanitarian intervention in the region has often led to the ouster or attempted ouster of secular leaders, such Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and, more recently, Syria’s Bashar al Assad.

Secular regimes tend to mean less Islamic terrorism, simply for the reason that they generally display less socio-political tolerance for sectarian division and radical extremism. Ironically, both the war on terror and the Arab Spring have ushered in less secularization, more sectarian conflict and an increase in terrorism, globally.

With respect to Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s short stint in power—which was applauded by western governments and predatory capitalist imperialist institutions like the IMF and World Bank—created conditions that helped to usher in regional terrorist groups like Daesh (ISIS), and the associated violence and destabilization of the area. This is in addition to the exponential economic costs and loss of infrastructure that came out of the Arab Spring uprisings and related conflicts. The same is true for certain neighbouring countries that saw Islamists rise to power.

All of this raises the question: are the sum costs greater than the sum gains? On whole, for the people of Egypt and the region, it appears to be a loss. But for certain other parties and interests the situation may unsurprisingly prove to be a benefit. This question will be explored in greater depth and detail in future articles.

Ghada Chehade is a writer and performance poet. She holds a PhD from McGill University. She expresses her views and opinions through spoken word poetry and written commentaries

 

Notes

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/something-is-wrong-in-the-cradel-of-the-arab-spring-reflections-on-egypts-revolution-three-years-later/5366218

[2] http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/01/25/five-years-after-tahrir-square-egypts-police-state-worse-ever

Saudi Arabia, one year after king Salman acceded to the throne and 9-months after appointing his favourite – young and inexperienced – son, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) Deputy Crown Prince (DCP), is grappling with not merely an increasingly relentless power struggle, compounded by an unprecedented devastating plunge in oil prices,  but far more ominously the ruinous implications of a highly aggressive foreign policy that has ultimately led to a full-blown costly yet futile war against the Houthi-rebels in Yemen, and has increasingly fuelled proxy sectarian wars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

The Saudi regime has made no secret that the overarching goal of its newly adopted muscular foreign policy, which is aggressively spearheaded by MbS, is to counter what it perceives as Iran’s growing yet highly perilous influence. Surprisingly, however, the German Foreign Intelligence BND publically acknowledged, on Dec 2, that Saudi Arabia at the behest of MbS – who is frantically accumulating more powers as he resolutely strives to become the next King – is increasingly shifting to an impulsive and interventionist foreign policy, swiftly turning Riyadh into a major destabilising force in the Middle East. Amid the mounting fear of further terrorist atrocities in European cities by ISIL, following the Nov 13 Paris terrorist attacks, the German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, on Dec 6, scathingly scolded the Saudi regime for funding extremists in the West and around the world by building and funding radical Wahhabi Mosques.

The Head of the SPD group in the German Parliament Thomas Oppermann, went even further, forcefully emphasizing that Wahhabism the formal religion of Saudi Arabia has offered a comprehensive ideology for ISIL and Al Qiada. Although the German Government rapidly scrambled to distance itself from the report, however, the BND’s assessment has unquestionably gained added weight by MbS’s highly impulsive declaration, on Dec 15, of forming a 34-nation anti-terror Islamic military coalition – which strikingly resembles the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen in terms of its starkly anti-Shia sectarian nature and the way it was introduced by MbS in March 2015 – without consulting the overwhelming majority of countries mentioned. MbS’s highly controversial declaration came, a day after Obama’s call – at the U.S. National Security Council – on Saudi Arabia to focus more on confronting ISIL rather than on Yemen.

Saudi Arabia ushered out 2015 with 157 executions, breaking all records since 1995. It herald the beginning of 2016 by executing a record number of 47 people, sending out a chillingly barbarous message to the people of Saudi Arabia: All those who dare to defy, oppose or merely demand an end to Riyadh’s medieval dictatorship, whether through terrorism like Al Qaida and ISIL or via peaceful nonviolent protests like Shiekh Nimr Baquer Al-Nimr – who was undeniably the driving force behind the 2011 popular uprising, clamouring for democracy and an end to virulently sectarian discrimination against the Shia – would beyond doubt have their heads chopped off and their dead bodies crucified as they would at the hands of ISIL.  But, even more menacingly is the inescapable reality that such monstrous punishments are issued, in both Saudi Arabia and under ISIL rule, by religious courts adhering to the extremist hard-line Wahhabi Salafi idiology, propagated and exported by Saudi Arabia’s government-funded Wahhabi Salafi Religious Establishment.

The Saudi regime’s highly unusual step of executing a prominent religious leader like Al-Nimr was deliberately intended to spark spontaneous outrage and thereby provoke an uncalculated retaliation, from above all Iran. Hence, effectively turning Riyadh into the main victim of the crisis. As such, the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran was music to the Saudi ears, prompting it, on Jan 3, to cut off not only diplomatic and economic ties, but more significantly to the Saudi regime, preventing its Shia citizens from travelling to Iran.

As Salman acceded to the throne, on Jan 23, after the death of his half-brother King Abdullah, he swiftly scrambled to shore up his position by:

First, ripping the power base of Abdullah’s son – Metab – apart by dismissing his father’s chief of the Royal Court and his two brothers.

Second, elevating Muqrin from DCP to Crown Prince (CP), despite his knowledge that Muqrin was specifically appointed DCP by Abdullah to ensure that he returns the throne to Metab. In essence, Salman’s decision was driven by fear that ousting Muqrin would rock the boat.

Third, securing the internal front while also appeasing the U.S. by determining that Mohammed bin Nayef ( MbN ), who is the Interior Minister and also considered U.S.’s most trusted ally, should be the first among the Grandsons of Abdulaziz – usually called Ibn Saud – in line to the throne. Fourth, bolstering his young son’s MbS power, by appointing him Defence Minister and Head of the Economic and Development Council.

But as It became increasingly evident that the war unleashed by MbS, in Mar 2015, in Yemen, which was partly aimed at rapidly propelling him to prominence, was a spectacular failure, and amid MbS’s profound worries that his father’s – who is in poor health – death would terminate his ambitions. Consequently, on Apr 29, Salman ousted Muqrin, while promoting MbN to become CP and defiantly promoting MbS to DCP. Yet, paradoxically, Salman’s move has not only irrefutably amplified MbS’s vulnerability by practically demonstrating that a new king does not have to stick with his predecessor’s choice of DCP, but far more critically, deepening the distrust between MbS and MbN and thereby injecting new urgency to MbS’s strenuous drive to dislodge MbN.

And although Salman’s highly divisive declaration  infuriated the royal family, it was however incontestably, his first formal visit, in early Sept 2015, to the U.S. accompanied by his son MbS – who was fervently welcomed by Obama and top U.S. officials – that pushed the long-simmering power struggle to perilously destabilising levels, prompting senior members of the royal family, on Sept 28, to uncharacteristically throw caution to the wind, forcefully calling for a palace coup to depose Salman, MbN and MbS. To make matters worse, this coincided with a double disaster at Mecca, essentially exacerbating an increasingly pervading atmosphere of an inherently incompetent leadership that is conspicuously incapable of adequately managing the hajj pilgrimage, from which it draws its ultimate legitimacy in leading the Islamic world.

Riyadh’s decision to push the sectarian tension to boiling point was internally intended to: First, stave off an internal uprising in the Sunni heartland by trumpeting the patently deceitful myth that Saudi Arabia is still the guardian of Sunni Islam and above all, is heavily engaged in combating an existential threat posed by the Shia, namely Iran. Second, with tumbling oil prices and an unimaginable budget deficit, compelling Riyadh to raise taxes and also to compensate for its inability to rely heavily – as both King Abdullah during the Arab Spring and King Salman when acceding to the throne – on its most potent weapon to head off and curb popular dissent: vast oil revenue. Third, lending credence to its claims of facing an immensely serious national security threat, enabling Salman and MbS to call into question the very patriotism of those challenging their authority and therefore severely undermine the growing campaign, spearheaded by senior members of the younger generation of the royal family, to replace Salman with his full Sudairi brother, 73-years-old Ahmed.

While externally Riyadh aimed to: First, sabotage, or at the very least, discredit the Nuclear deal signed, on Jul 14, between Iran and the P 5+1, – which Riyadh has tenaciously resisted every inch of the way, insisting that the U.S.’s overriding priority should persistently be isolating and containing Iran – by practically highlighting to the U.S. and its allies that Iran is utterly unreliable. Indeed, the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran, on Jan 16, was by far the most devastating blow to the Saudi regime. But, to add insult to injury, even Riyadh’s staunchest allies in the GCC -except Bahrain which was invaded and still occupied by Saudi Arabia since the Arab Spring – and among Arab countries – except Sudan and Jeboty - have fiercely resisted severing diplomatic ties. Second, resurrect MbS’s 34-nation Islamic alliance – which has so far failed to materialise – and also reviving MbS’s faltering Arab alliance in Yemen, by employing the highly incendiary sectarian confrontation as the perfect pretext to rally sectarian support for such emphatically anti-Shia coalitions. Third, critically undermine the painstakingly negotiated Russian-U.S. roadmap, unanimously endorsed, on Dec 18, by UN-Security Council resolution number 2254, explicitly stressing that Syria’s president Bashar Al Assad’s future must be exclusively decided by the Syrian people.

In the eyes of Riyadh this clearly marked a severe blow to its implacable campaign to topple Assad. Riyadh’s invitation to Syrian opposition groups, on Dec 8, was designed to thwart resolution 2254, by signalling that it is the one calling the shots by forming, monopolising and incorporating representatives of terrorist organisations within the opposition’s negotiating team. Indeed, Riyadh has consistently been blaming Obama’s administration for its indecisive leadership while also furiously lashing out against the highly effective Russian air-campaign backed up by unflinching Iranian support, which has decisively turned the tide against terrorist organisations like ISIL, JN, Ahrar Al Sham and Jaish Al Islam, all of which have shamelessly been armed and financed by Saudi Arabia, according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion, in Oct 2014.

As ISIL dramatically broadens its strategy from being a regional to an increasingly international threat, targeting US and western citizens around the world. It is high time for the American people to cast their decisive vote on whether the best way of promoting U.S.’s interests is by covering up Saudi Arabia’s abhorrent record of escalating human rights violations, of exporting its extremist Wahhabi Salafi ideology and bloodthirsty jihadists, of promoting radical preachers of death giving religious legitimacy to monstrous atrocities against Shias, Christians, Jews and moderate Sunnis, of arming and funding ISIS, JN, and Taliban and of spreading tyranny and dictatorship in the Middle East.

Both politicians kept in power by huge transfers of money: one from the Saudi Arabian royal family, the other from the AIPAC lobby-led, US congress. Neither has apparently committed any crime by the acceptance of these sums but to call such activity ‘democratic’ is to call a pork chop, kosher.

Such sums are routinely used to irrevocably damage the democratic principle of ‘government by the people, of the people and for the people’. In these two instances, it is government by the people but for Riyadh and Washington respectively. That is not democracy but a travesty of the democratic process perpetrated by vested business and political interests.

For one state, or a cabal within a state, to seek to influence the choice of government of another state by the direct transfer of funds calculated to direct the result of a national election, should be designated a criminal activity. It is banned in European democratic elections – but neither Malaysia nor Israel are in Europe and nor, of course, is Saudi Arabia or America. More’s the pity. Then the world would not have had to deal with the ineptitude of the pathetic US president, George Bush, and similar results of corrupted democratic process.

Both politicians kept in power by huge transfers of money: one from the Saudi Arabian royal family, the other from the AIPAC lobby-led, US congress. Neither has apparently committed any crime by the acceptance of these sums but to call such activity ‘democratic’ is to call a pork chop, kosher. Such sums are routinely used to irrevocably damage the democratic principle of ‘government by the people, of the people and for the people’. In these two instances, it is government by the people but for Riyadh and Washington respectively.

That is not democracy but a travesty of the democratic process perpetrated by vested business and political interests. For one state, or a cabal within a state, to seek to influence the choice of government of another state by the direct transfer of funds calculated to direct the result of a national election, should be designated a criminal activity. It is banned in European democratic elections – but neither Malaysia nor Israel are in Europe and nor, of course, is Saudi Arabia or America. More’s the pity. Then the world would not have had to deal with the ineptitude of the pathetic US president, George Bush, and similar results of corrupted democratic process.

Selected Articles: Europe in a State of Flux

January 26th, 2016 by Global Research News

Syrian refugeesRefugees claim Islamic State (ISIS) Militants Living among them in Germany

By RT, January 24 2016

Christian refugees from Syria claim they saw a former Islamic State member living in Frankfurt, and that this is not an isolated case.

Syrian refugeesAustria Closes its Borders to Refugees

By Marianne Arens, January 26 2016

Europe is firmly in the grip of winter, and the Balkans are covered in snow with temperatures below freezing. Nonetheless, one government after another is closing its borders and sending hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees back to war zones that they have risked their lives to flee.

FrancePrime Minister Valls Pledges Permanent State of Emergency in France

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier, January 26 2016

On Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reaffirmed initial Socialist Party (PS) statements after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamist State (IS, or Daesh), that the current state of emergency in France must be made permanent.

NHSCrisis of Britain’s NHS: Healthcare Professionals Challenge Cameron Government, “The Tories Are Vulnerable”

By Tomasz Pierscionek, January 26 2016

Last week saw the first strike by junior doctors in four decades, as thousands of healthcare professionals took action against the attacks on their terms and conditions. The popularly-supported struggle is set to continue next week, as medics carry on the fight against the Tories and their attempts to dismantle the NHS. Dr Tomasz Pierscionek of the BMA reports (personal capacity).

VIDEO: BBC Defends Decision to Censor the Word "Palestine"Fake News: The BBC’s Uses “Old 2014 Video Footage” in 2016 Madaya, Syria Report

By Robert Stuart, January 26 2016

The following is the text of a complaint filed with the BBC. Submitted via BBC Complaints webform

Click here to order the book now! 

Control the oil, and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people.”* -Henry Kissenger

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation” by F. William Engdahl is a skillfully researched book that focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread.

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms. The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and world peace.

What follows is the Preface to ”Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation” by F. William Engdahl (available through Global Research):

Introduction

“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so,we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”
-George Kennan, US State Department senior planning official, 1948

This book is about a project undertaken by a small socio-political elite, centered, after the Second World War, not in London, but in Washington. It is the untold story of how this self-anointed elite set out, in Kennan’s words, to “maintain this position of disparity.” It is the story of how a tiny few dominated the resources and levers of power in the postwar world.

It’s above all a history of the evolution of power in the control of a select few, in which even science was put in the service of that minority. As Kennan recommended in his 1948 internal memorandum, they pursued their policy relentlessly, and without the “luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”

Yet, unlike their predecessors within leading circles of the British Empire, this emerging American elite, who proclaimed proudly at war’s end the dawn of their American Century, were masterful in their use of the rhetoric of altruism and world-benefaction to advance their goals. Their American Century paraded as a softer empire, a “kinder, gentler” one in which, under the banner of colonial liberation, freedom, democracy and economic development, those elite circles built a network of power the likes of which the world had not seen since the time of Alexander the Great some three centuries before Christ—a global empire unified under the military control of a sole superpower, able to decide on a whim, the fate of entire nations.

This book is the sequel to a first volume, A Century ofWar: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. It traces a second thin red line of power. This one is about the control over the very basis of human survival, our daily provision of bread. The man who served the interests of the postwar American-based elite during the 1970’s, and came to symbolize its raw realpolitik, was Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Sometime in the mid-1970’s, Kissinger, a life-long practitioner of “Balance of Power” geopolitics and a man with more than a fair share of conspiracies under his belt, allegedly declared his blueprint for world domination: “Control the oil and you control nations. Control the food, and you control the people.”

The strategic goal to control global food security had its roots decades earlier, well before the outbreak of war in the late 1930’s. It was funded, often with little notice, by select private foundations, which had been created to preserve the wealth and power of a handful of American families.

Originally the families centered their wealth and power in New York and along the East Coast of the United States, from Boston to New York to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. For that reason, popular media accounts often referred to them, sometimes with derision but more often with praise, as the East Coast Establishment.

The center of gravity of American power shifted in the decades following the War. The East Coast Establishment was overshadowed by new centers of power which evolved from Seattle to Southern California on the Pacific Coast, as well as in Houston, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Miami, just as the tentacles of American power spread to Asia and Japan, and south, to the nations of Latin America.

In the several decades before and immediately following World War II, one family came to symbolize the hubris and arrogance of this emerging American Century more than any other. And the vast fortune of that family had been built on the blood of many wars, and on their control of a new “black gold,” oil.

What was unusual about this family was that early on in the building of their fortune, the patriarchs and advisors they cultivated to safeguard their wealth decided to expand their influence over many very different fields. They sought control not merely over oil, the emerging new energy source for world economic advance. They also expanded their influence over the education of youth, medicine and psychology, foreign policy of the United States, and, significant for our story, over the very science of life itself, biology, and its applications in the world of plants and agriculture.

For the most part, their work passed unnoticed by the larger population, especially in the United States. Few Americans were aware how their lives were being subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, influenced by one or another project financed by the immense wealth of this family.

In the course of researching for this book, a work nominally on the subject of genetically modified organisms or GMO, it soon became clear that the history of GMO was inseparable from the political history of this one very powerful family, the Rockefeller family, and the four brothers—David,Nelson, Laurance and John D. III—who, in the three decades following American victory in World War II, the dawn of the much-heralded American Century, shaped the evolution of power George Kennan referred to in 1948.

In actual fact, the story of GMO is that of the evolution of power in the hands of an elite, determined at all costs to bring the entire world under their sway.

Three decades ago, that power was based around the Rockefeller family. Today, three of the four brothers are long-since deceased, several under peculiar circumstances.However, as was their will, their project of global domination—“full spectrum dominance” as the Pentagon later called it—had spread, often through a rhetoric of “democracy,” and was aided from time to time by the raw military power of that empire when deemed necessary. Their project evolved to the point where one small power group, nominally headquartered in Washington in the early years of the new century, stood determined to control future and present life on this planet to a degree never before dreamed of.

The story of the genetic engineering and patenting of plants and other living organisms cannot be understood without looking at the history of the global spread of American power in the decades following World War II. George Kennan, Henry Luce, Averell Harriman and, above all, the four Rockefeller brothers, created the very concept of multinational “agribusiness”. They financed the “Green Revolution” in the agriculture sector of developing countries in order, among other things, to create new markets for petro-chemical fertilizers and petroleum products, as well as to expand dependency on energy products. Their actions are an inseparable part of the story of genetically modified crops today.

By the early years of the new century, it was clear that no more than four giant chemical multinational companies had emerged as global players in the game to control patents on the very basic food products that most people in the world depend on for their daily nutrition—corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, even vegetables and fruits and cotton—as well as new strains of disease-resistant poultry, genetically-modified to allegedly resist the deadly H5N1 Bird Flu virus, or even gene altered pigs and cattle. Three of the four private companies had decades-long ties to Pentagon chemical warfare research. The fourth, nominally Swiss, was in reality Anglodominated. As with oil, so was GMO agribusiness very much an Anglo-American global project.

In May 2003, before the dust from the relentless US bombing and destruction of Baghdad had cleared, the President of the United States chose to make GMO a strategic issue, a priority in his postwar US foreign policy. The stubborn resistance of the world’s second largest agricultural producer, the European Union, stood as a formidable barrier to the global success of the GMO Project. As long as Germany, France, Austria, Greece and other countries of the European Union steadfastly refused to permit GMO planting for health and scientific reasons, the rest of the world’s nations would remain skeptical and hesitant. By early 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) had forced open the door of the European Union to the mass proliferation of GMO. It appeared that global success was near at hand for the GMO Project.

In the wake of the US and British military occupation of Iraq, Washington proceeded to bring the agriculture of Iraq under the domain of patented genetically-engineered seeds, initially supplied through the generosity of the US State Department and Department of Agriculture.

The first mass experiment with GMO crops, however, took place back in the early 1990’s in a country whose elite had long since been corrupted by the Rockefeller family and associated New York banks: Argentina.

Seeds of DestructionThe following pages trace the spread and proliferation of GMO, often through political coercion, governmental pressure, fraud, lies, and even murder. If it reads often like a crime story, that should not be surprising. The crime being perpetrated in the name of agricultural efficiency, environmental friendliness and solving the world hunger problem, carries stakes which are vastly more important to this small elite. Their actions are not solely for money or for profit. After all, these powerful private families decide who controls the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and even the European Central Bank. Money is in their hands to destroy or create.

Their aim is rather, the ultimate control over future life on this planet, a supremacy earlier dictators and despots only ever dreamt of. Left unchecked, the present group behind the GMO Project is between one and two decades away from total dominance of the planet’s food capacities. This aspect of the GMO story needs telling. I therefore invite the reader to a careful reading and independent verification or reasoned refutation of what follows.

F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages. 


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Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
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On January 25th, which was the date when peace talks on Syria were to start, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the organization founded by Osama bin Laden admirer, Zahran Alloush, represent the anti-Assad forces in the upcoming Syrian peace talks, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov very reluctantly accepted.

Alloush had founded and led the jihadist organization, Jaysh al-Islam.

“Jaysh al-Islam ex-leader Zahran Alloush gave a speech on the merits of Hajj in 2013 and praised Usama bin Laden, addressing him by the honorific ‘Sheikh’ and the honorific ’rahimahu Allah. … Alloush addressed the Al-Qaeda organization Jabhat al-Nusra as ’our brothers’.”Wikipedia

Al-Nusra had helped in carrying out a U.S.-Turkish-Saudi-Qatari arranged sarin gas attack in August 2013 that President Obama blamed on Assad and that Obama still cites as his reason and justification for bombing Assad’s army. Even when Obama entered the White House in 2009, he was aiming to find a way to remove Syria’s President, Assad, from power. Setting up this gas-attack (and blaming it on Assad) turned out to be the way to make that possible.

Al Jazeera announced on 25 December 2015 that “Russian Air Raids Kill Prominent Rebel Commander” Alloush. Both Russia and Assad now will have to negotiate with Mohammad Alloush, his survivor. Even French leader Francois Hollande supports Alloush — despite the recent jihadist attacks in France. Apparently, anything to get rid of Russia’s ally Assad is okay with Western leaders.

The Saud family actually required Alloush to head the anti-Assad delegation. The Sauds were insisting on it even back in early December 2015. Kerry and the rest of the West weren’t entirely comfortable with that demand. A ‘compromise’ was reached: there will be two heads: Alloush, and another figure supported by the Sauds: Asad al-Zoubi. This is yet another example of the Saud family’s leadership of the Western alliance against Russia and its allies.

Thus, on the one side of these peace talks will be Assad (the non-sectarian Shiite leader who is supported by the vast majority of Syrians and is also supported by Russia and by Iran); and, on the other side will be Zaroush and al-Zubi, two favorites of the Saud family (supported by the West, which is led by the Saud family, who financed Al Qaeda).

Lavrov faced a bad choice: either take the blame for preventing the peace talks, or else accept the Saud family’s ‘compromise’ position; and he chose the latter.

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

On Jan. 3, 1966, a 21-year-old activist from Tuskegee, Alabama, Samuel Leamon “Sammy” Younge, Jr. [pictured left] was shot and killed at a gas station for attempting to use a white only restroom.

During the period in the southern United States prior to the late 1960s, African Americans were by law denied equal access to public and private accommodations. It was not only until the summer of 1964 that a comprehensive Civil Rights bill was passed aimed at ending the Jim Crow system of strict racial segregation.

In August 1965, a Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the aftermath of the repression meted out against the people of Alabama, who were merely attempting to enforce previous legislation and the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution ostensibly guaranteeing due process and the franchise to all who were born and naturalized citizens of the country.

Lynch Law Still Prevalent in the 1960s

The blatant character of the killing of Sammy Younge, Jr. prompted the historic statement of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) against the war in Vietnam issued on January 6, becoming the first major Civil Rights organization to do so. Younge had worked with SNCC and the University-based Tuskegee Institute Advancement League (TIAL), which led many of the campaigns in the state during 1965 aimed at voting rights and independent political organization.

Prior to Younge’s intervention in the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Past website said of his origins that “Between September 1957 and January 1960 Younge attended Cornwall Academy, a college preparatory school for boys in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a town famous as the birthplace of W.E.B. DuBois. Younge graduated from Tuskegee Institute High School in 1962 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.” (blackpast.org)

This website goes on to say “Soon after his enlistment Younge served on the aircraft carrier USS Independence during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the vessel participated in the United States blockade of Cuba.  After a year in the Navy, Young developed a failing kidney that had to be surgically removed.  He was given a medical discharge from the Navy in July 1964.”

After the Selma Campaign of early 1965, an area where SNCC had worked since 1962, organizers spread out to neighboring Lowndes County where the first Black Panther organization was formed by the soon-to-be SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael (after 1979 known as Kwame Ture) and his comrades, working in close collaboration with local activists in the area. Younge, whose parents were professional African Americans connected with Tuskegee Institute and the segregated public school system, saw SNCC and TIAL as avenues of expression designed to win full equality and self-determination for the African American people.

After returning from the U.S. Navy, Younge enrolled in Tuskegee Institute and joined both SNCC and TIAL. He participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery March held during March 21-26, 1965.

Both organizations were engaged in voter registration efforts as well as challenging segregated facilities which proliferated even after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964-65.

Martyrdom Sparked Heightened Resistance

Younge’s racist murder at a Standard Oil Gas Station run by its elderly white night attendant, Marvin Segrest, came as he was working as a volunteer in a voter registration campaign in Macon County.

The murder led to a variety of protests.  Younge’s death served as a symbol of why people had to intensify the struggle to expose the false notions of fighting for freedoms abroad that were routinely denied in the U.S.

Student protests erupted in Tuskegee when white county officials initially declined to indict Segrest and even later after the all-white jury, in a majority African American county, deliberated only one hour and ten minutes delivering a verdict of not-guilty for Segrest in his December 1966 show trial.

SNCC was in the process of transitioning its program to Black Power and revolutionary nationalism in 1965-66 and its views on the war drew widespread attacks on its activists across the South. The statement issued by the organization drew the ire of the administration of the-then President Lyndon B. Johnson along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a wide spectrum of politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

This statement by SNCC read in part as follows:

“The murder of Samuel Younge in Tuskegee, Alabama, is no different than the murder of peasants in Vietnam. For both Younge and the Vietnamese sought and are seeking to secure the rights guaranteed them by law. In each case, the United States government bears a great part of the responsibility for these deaths. Samuel Younge was murdered because United States law is not being enforced. Vietnamese are murdered because the United States is pursuing an aggressive policy in violation of international law. The United States is no respecter of persons or law when such persons or laws run counter to its needs or desires.”

SNCC activist Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia state legislature in late 1965 and was slated to take office in early 1966. He was denied his seat for two years because he refused to distance himself from the SNCC position on the war.

SNCC called for not only the end of the U.S. war against Vietnam but the abolition of the draft. Their stance sent shock waves through the ruling class particularly with the dozens of urban rebellions which erupted during the spring and summer of 1966.

In June 1966 during the “March Against Fear” through the state of Mississippi, the slogan Black Power was advanced by SNCC field secretary Willie Ricks (now known as Mukasa Dada) and Carmichael who was elected chairman of SNCC just the month before. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the leader and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), left the emerging Chicago Freedom Movement to march alongside SNCC, Floyd McKissick, the-then executive secretary of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), which had also adopted the Black Power slogan, in solidarity with the youth and farmers of Mississippi to the capital of the state in Jackson.

Civil Rights, Black Power and Opposition to the Vietnam War

SCLC had not taken a formal position against the war even after the statement issued by SNCC in early January. Nonetheless, King later admitted in March and April of 1967 that he was no longer prepared to refrain from speaking against what the Johnson administration was doing to the people of Vietnam and its relationship to the failure of Washington to adequately address poverty and racism in the U.S.

On March 25, 1967 in Chicago, King and other anti-war activists including Dr. Benjamin Spock, the noted pediatrician and author, led a demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people calling for a comprehensive halt to hostilities against North Vietnam and the revolutionaries fighting for the national liberation of the south of the country. Just ten days later, the SCLC leader would deliver his historic speech labelled “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam” at Riverside Church in New York City.

A cacophony of condemnation poured in against King’s views on Vietnam. On April 15 he would participate in another march from Central Park to the United Nations in New York condemning the bombing of Hanoi and the need to withdraw U.S. forces from the country.

Just one year later King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 while he was assisting an African American sanitation workers’ strike seeking recognition as a labor organization under AFSCME. His combined efforts in the areas of Civil Rights, opposition to U.S. militarism and imperialism as well as the demand for the elimination of poverty sealed his fate with the ruling class.

 Author’s note: For more detailed information on the life and times of Sammy Younge, Jr. see the book “Sammy Younge, Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement”, by James Foreman, 1968.

Abayomi Azikiwe edits the Pan-African News Wire

Cameron and Britain’s Muslim Women

January 26th, 2016 by Binoy Kampmark

British Prime Minister David Cameron is all pent up about another crusade, this time about rescuing Muslim women.  The latest idea is a £20m language-learning scheme suggesting that a lack of competence in English and extremism are somehow linked. (The PM has obviously not been keeping up with the radical recruits for ISIS.)

Women are the primary focus, with Cameron claiming that 190,000 British Muslim women, or 22 percent, speak little or no English.  Muslim men were ever in the background spreading “backward attitudes” and exercising “damaging control” over their female relatives.[1] Such a view prompted Baroness Sayeeda Warsi to make the point that, “Women should have the opportunity to learn English full stop. Why link it to radicalisation/extremism?”[2]

Western advocates from various parts of the political spectrum simply cannot leave them alone.  Liberating the down trodden Muslim woman is a condition of Western consciousness, one of those obsessive imperatives that occupies mission and purpose.  Cameron’s funding policy provides, as Madeleine Bunting scoffed, “a new twist on an old colonial story.”[3]

From a political perspective, Islamic women make excellent public relations opportunities, equipping the messianically inclined with gendered themes for liberation that can be slotted in for the next invasion, or reform program.  They supply the basis for purported change as capably as any lethal weapon.

The US First Lady Laura Bush chose to do exactly that on November 17, 2001.  The country was giddy with war fervour a few months after the attacks on US soil by al-Qaeda, and the flag of emancipation had been woven.  Taliban-governed Afghanistan was the first choice, obvious only because of some flexible reasoning on the part of the White House.  “Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan,” suggested the First Lady, “women are no longer imprisoned in their homes.  They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment.”

The radio address had one overarching tendency: obliterating concepts, mashing terms.  The Taliban and terrorists became, as anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod noted, “a kind of hyphenated monster identity”.[4]  And this was not all. Women’s causes were bound together with the broader mission against the Taliban, be it malnutrition, poverty, and ill-health on the one hand, and their employment, schooling and “joys of wearing nail polish” on the other.  As Laura Bush explained, “The fight against terrorism is also the fight for the rights and dignity of women.”

This appropriated theme – whether Muslim women need saving – is an old one indeed. It tends to bubble to the surface as a matter of strategic interest rather than genuine concern, though there is little doubt that some people have believed it.  When the Taliban was in the US State Department’s good books, and the treasury was readily forking out to the theocratic opium opportunists, down trodden women, segregation, and limited schooling, were of little interest.

Such precedents of manipulation stack the annals of misguided history.  Sociologist Marnia Lazreg had also noted that French colonialism made use of women towards such ends.  Muslim women were unveiled in choreographed ceremonies, one which took place on May 16, 1958 in Algeria.  The event had been organised by French generals steadfastly opposed to the country’s liberation, a spectacle which involved a few thousand local men been taken by bus from nearby villages, and various women set for the unveiling.  They were suitable bodies, strategically used and deployed in the broader story about French freedom.

Afghanistan provided a similar battleground five decades later.  The US Central Intelligence Agency’s public relations boffins felt that oppressed women in the Islamic faith would provide excellent material for the US-led cause.  WikiLeaks, ever useful, provided material to that end.  A classified document shows that, when interest in Afghanistan was flagging in 2010 on the part of various contributing countries, notably France and Germany, the motif of oppressed women would come to the rescue. This was particularly the case with France.

The CIA Red Cell memorandum (“Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission – Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough”, 11 March 2010), stemming from a section charged by the Director to “provoke out-of-the-box” approaches, is a deliciously cynical piece of advice.[5]

Far from being out-of-the-box, the memorandum is distinctly within it, noting how leaders have used public apathy “to ignore voters” and drive up commitments to the conflict.  French and German respondents did not see Afghanistan as necessarily a primary issue; politicians had capitalised, sending more troops and supplies to the ISAF mission.  For all that, “Casualties Could Precipitate Backlash.”

The response, then, would be to massage, or “leverage” guilt, noting the “adverse consequences of an ISAF defeat for Afghan civilians” to French (and other European) states.  Girl’s education, for instance, “could provoke French indignation, and become a rallying point for France’s largely secular public”.

The authors of the memorandum make the blatant suggestion that, “Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s inability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory.”  Media opportunities would be made available for articulating the cause.

This was bound to smack of imperialist reflection – noble native women, incapable of articulating their plight, used to idealise an invasion against obscurantist forces. It ended up playing out what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak would suggest during a moment of unusual coherence in her essay “Can the Subaltern Speak’?”: a story of white men saving brown women from brown men.[6]

While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish.

The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war.

President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.

It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law.

The prospects of such an escalation are not all that far-fetched. At the insistence of Saudi Arabia and with US backing, the representatives of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva peace talks will include members of the Army of Islam, which has fought with al-Qaeda in Syria. Does anyone expect these kinds of people to compromise? Isn’t al-Qaeda supposed to be our enemy?

The purpose of the Legislative branch of our government is to restrict the Executive branch’s power. The Founders understood that an all-powerful king who could wage war at will was the greatest threat to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is why they created a people’s branch, the Congress, to prevent the emergence of an all-powerful autocrat to drag the country to endless war. Sadly, Congress is surrendering its power to declare war.

Let’s be clear: If Senate Majority Leader McConnell succeeds in passing this open-ended war authorization, the US Constitution will be all but a dead letter.

“WHAT ARE YOU doing? Why are you here?”  The soldier asks. “I’m keeping an eye on the children getting to and from school” I replied. The soldier blinks in disbelief.  “Do children not go to school in Ireland?”. “Of course they do” I replied, “But not in the presence of an army. Not in the presence of tear-gas, rifles and jeeps”.

“Ah”. A smile crept across his face as he looked down, shaking his head. “So you’re watching me”.

I’ve been in the West Bank for nearly 40 days, travelling from Ireland as an ecumenical accompanier (human rights monitor) with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). In this piece of land, smaller than Galway, the abnormal has become normal, the wrong has become right, and the profound beauty of the land has been muted by sirens, demolitions, stabbings and shootings.

My days are filled with travel and sweet tea.  I accompany children to school, and collect stories of military incursions, night raids, and settler attacks – filling report after report, which are shared with UN bodies, and others needing such testimonies.

5.1.16, Soldier stands at the entrance to As-Sawiya School. EAPPI_A.Dunne Soldier stands at the entrance to As-Sawiya School.

Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank is more than 40 years old and continues to hurt both Palestinians and Israelis to this day. EAPPI believes it is the keystone to the long-term resolution of conflict in the region.

The Oslo Accords of the early 1990’s, an interim agreement for the establishment of a Palestinian state, are now 23 years old and 17 years overdue, and are seen by many Palestinians as the second occupation. With the Accords’ establishment of Areas A, B and C, the hope of achieving a functioning contiguous Palestinian state has never seemed further from reality.

6.1.16, Israeli soldiers establish checkpoint for the children collecting exam results, As-Sawiya School, West Bank. EAPPI_A.Dunne

Israeli soldiers establish checkpoint for the children collecting exam results, As-Sawiya School, West Bank.

Since 1993, the number of Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank, has more than tripled from just over 200,000 at the beginning of the 1990’s to over 650,000 today. Settlements are Israeli-only towns and villages and are illegal under international law. Land continues to be seized for the expansion of these settlements and the more fundamentalist, ideological settlers have raised their profile within society, assuming top positions of power in Israel’s government.

EAPPI is committed to supporting all those working nonviolently for peace and one of the difficult things to witness is the distress many Israeli peace organisations and activists are feeling under the policies of their government. These Israelis know that their country’s future relies on a lasting peace and a just end to the occupation.

The more these organisations work for peace from within Israel, the more that their government tries to stimmy their efforts. This can be seen in the Bill currently before the Israeli Knesset (parliament) that seeks to curtail the access and viability of international and national NGOs operating within Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territory.

18.12.15, Memorial march to home of killed teenager, Abdullah Nasasreh, Beit Furik, West Bank. A.Dunne

Palestinians I meet in the West Bank, all insist that their problem is not with Israelis, or even the state of Israel. Their issue is with being under a military occupation:  restrictions to movement through a series of checkpoints (solely within the occupied West Bank, not within Israel); a separation barrier  that is not built on the internationally agreed Armistice Line but one that snakes into and annexes private Palestinian land; and almost daily harassment and humiliation.

Take for example, the use of collective punishment procedures that see the family homes of Palestinian attackers being demolished and the family sent the bill.

9.12.15, Mosque, Huwwara Village, West Bank. A.Dunne Mosque, Huwwara Village, West Bank.

It’s no wonder that many young people here ask me: “For a Palestinian in the West Bank, what’s the difference between being dead and being alive?”

In stark contrast, many of the young people I speak with in West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv shy away from the subject of the occupation – slipping through the conversational trap door of: “I’m not interested in politics” or “You’d understand if you lived here”.

Maybe now, in our centenary year, whilst we’re spending time with our own history in a way we haven’t done before, we may meaningfully seek an end to the occupation in the West Bank.

It’s now 13 months since both houses of the Oireachtas called upon the government in an unopposed private members bill to recognise the State of Palestine along the UN’s 1967 borders. Recognition is not a radical step. We’ll be joining a club that has over 130 members, some of which are close neighbours.

Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time to act on recognition, supporting the campaign of SADAKA in Ireland, pursuing an end to the occupation and a just peace for all.

Alex J Dunne is currently serving in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a human rights observer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programe in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Instagram: alex.j.dunne

With Syria “peace talks” ostensibly set to begin in Geneva today, Washington has ratcheted up threats of US military escalation throughout the region. In the past few days, top US civilian and military officials have declared that they are prepared to seek a “military solution” in Syria, put “boots on the ground” in Iraq and launch another US-NATO war in Libya.

The talks themselves, which are being convened under the auspices of the United Nations, are not expected to begin as scheduled because of continuing sharp differences over what forces will be invited to attend and how the proposed agenda for a “political transition” will affect the future of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.

The US and its regional allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are insisting that the delegation representing the Syrian opposition be limited to a so-called High Negotiations Committee, an alliance dominated by Islamist militias that was formed under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy.

Russia has opposed the participation in the talks of Salafist militias linked to Al Qaeda, which Washington and its allies have attempted to pass off as “moderate rebels.” It has also backed the participation of the Kurdish YPG militia that has seized substantial territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which all sides claim to be fighting.

Meanwhile, Turkey has indicated that it will boycott the talks if the Kurds are allowed to participate.

Underlying the bitter disputes over who will attend the so-called peace talks are the sharply divergent interests of the US, which, together with its regional allies, has backed the Islamist militias with arms and funding in a bid to topple the Assad government, and Russia, which counts this government as its principal ally in the Middle East. For its part, Turkey, while claiming to oppose ISIS, is principally concerned with overthrowing Assad and quelling the rise of a Kurdish territory on its southern border.

The Obama administration is determined to use the talks as an instrument for furthering its goal of regime change in Syria and, more broadly, the assertion of US imperialist hegemony throughout the Middle East. It insists that any political transition must include the speedy removal of Assad.

It faces being thwarted in these efforts, however, by Russia’s military intervention. The bombing campaign initiated by Moscow has begun to produce significant military gains by the Syrian army and allied militias against the Islamist forces backed by the US and its allies.

Backed by Russian airstrikes, Syrian government troops and local militias Sunday took back the strategic city of Rabia in western Latakia province, which had been under control of so-called “rebels,” including the Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, since 2012. The Syrian army has been making major gains as well in the north of Latakia, near the Turkish border, where Turkey staged its shoot-down of a Russian warplane. These advances threaten to cut off a principal supply route for the Western-backed Islamists.

The US has responded to the events in Syria with a flurry of visits to its closest regional allies and key sponsors of the Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria, along with a steady drumbeat of threats.

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Riyadh over the weekend, barely three weeks after the Saudi monarchy sparked international outrage and revulsion with the mass beheadings of 47 prisoners, including Nimr al-Nimr, a Muslim cleric and leading spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s oppressed Shiite minority. Uttering not a word of criticism of the savagely repressive and viciously sectarian absolute monarchy, Kerry declared that the US maintained “as solid a relationship, as clear an alliance and as strong a friendship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we have ever had.”

Vice President Joseph Biden, meanwhile, visited Turkey where he solidarized himself with the brutal crackdown by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against the country’s Kurdish minority that has seen tanks firing on neighborhoods and has cost the lives of hundreds of civilians.

Biden declared that Washington and Ankara were engaged in a “shared mission on the extermination of” ISIS. In reality, the Turkish government has been one of the main pillars of support for ISIS and other Islamist militias. It has directed its fire principally at Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria, the same forces that the US has employed as proxy ground troops in its air war.

Biden said that Washington was determined to press ahead with the talks in Geneva, adding, “But we are prepared if that is not possible to having a military solution to this operation.”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated that the Pentagon is also preparing an escalation of its military intervention in Iraq, declaring at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the US is “looking for opportunities to do more, and there will be boots on the ground—I want to be clear about that—but it’s a strategic question, whether you are enabling local forces to take the hold, rather than trying to substitute for them.”

The Obama administration had repeatedly foresworn US “boots on the ground” in the region, referring to the deployment of large numbers of combat troops. Now it is deliberately employing the same phrase to justify the steady escalation of the deployment of “advisers” and “trainers” who are becoming ever more directly involved in combat operations.

At the same time, the US military is preparing to invoke the spread of ISIS as the pretext for intervening for the second time in less than five years in Libya.

“It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIL in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”

In other words, President Barack Obama, has, without a word of warning to the American people, handed the Pentagon brass authorization to launch “decisive military action,” i.e., yet another war, whenever it sees fit.

The growth of ISIS in Libya, as in Iraq and Syria, is a direct product of US imperialist interventions in the region that have claimed over a million lives and turned millions more into refugees.

The US-NATO war in Libya toppled and murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, smashed the country’s governmental and social infrastructure, and triggered a protracted civil war between the various Islamist militias—including those now affiliated to ISIS—that the US used as proxy forces in the 2011 war.

These same Libyan Islamist elements were funneled, together with large Libyan arms stockpiles, into Syria to wage the US-orchestrated war for regime change in that country. Now many of them have returned, bringing with them thousands of so-called foreign fighters.

Another war by the US and the European powers in Libya will not be aimed at smashing ISIS, any more than the last one was directed at defending “human rights” and “democracy.” Its principal objective will be the imposition of a puppet regime that will place the country’s huge oil reserves firmly under Western control.

Behind this region-wide eruption of American militarism there exist sharp differences within the US ruling establishment and Washington’s sprawling military-intelligence apparatus. The conflict is between those demanding a major new escalation in the Middle East and those opposing a large commitment of troops and materiel, insisting instead on a “pivot” to confront US imperialism’s major strategic rivals, principally China and Russia.

In the end, however, American imperialism is driven by its crisis to attempt to assert its control over the entire planet, and the so-called war against ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa becomes indissolubly linked with the buildup toward war with Russia and China. The increasingly frenetic interventions in Syria, Iraq and Libya could provide the spark for a global conflagration.

China Launches New Wave of Military Reforms

January 26th, 2016 by South Front

Over the past several decades, China has risen to become a prominent player on the world stage with global operations and interests far from its shores. The People’s Liberation Army reorients itself toward China’s evolving priorities in all spheres from weapons acquisitions to the army organization. The growing competition in the Indo-Asia-Pacific with the United States and its allies means that it is urgent for China to increase its military’s ability to conduct seamless joint operations.

The PLA has already upgraded its hardware and devoted an increasing share of resources to the navy, air force and the Rocket Force. The recent round of China’s military reforms was launched in 2016 and aimed to design military structures that can coordinate combined arms on the battlefield and to increase command and control, situational awareness and precision. Implementation of technological networking should raise China’s People’s Liberation Army to conduct successfully joint and  operations and to protect Chinese interests in a complex environment of the modern world.

Following the current wave of reform, the Central Military Commission will be in charge of setting and executing the overall policies of the military while the commanders of unified battle zones will be charged with combat. The service headquarters will focus mainly on force development.

This has to improve the PLA’s ability to function as a joint force and avoid the confusion caused by the convoluted command chain. The very same time,  the commanders of the reformed battle zones should accept additional authority if they are to be effective. These improvements will allow the PLA to become a force truly capable to meet the challenges of modern warfare from organizational side. Still, the reforms alone won’t be sufficient to fully meet the Chinese goals. Despite the increasingly large joint training exercises, the PLA still has a lack of real experience. However, this would be solved with expected growth of Chinese involvement in humanitarian, anti-terrorist and other missions over the world.

 

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Washington tolerates no governments it doesn’t control, wanting pro-Western vassal states replacing sovereign independent ones – notably Russia and China, both countries targeted for regime change.

Neocon/super-hawk former US Deputy Defense Secretary and World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz [pictured left] earlier explained Washington’s “first objective is prevent(ing) the re-emergence of (rival states), either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.”

America seeks unipolar/New World Order dominance, pursuing a policy of state terrorism globally, wanting control over all other nations, threatening world peace, stability and security.

Russia knows what it’s up against. America is not “ally” or “partner”. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was notably frank, saying:

“The policy of restraining Russia continues, though it is high time to drop this policy and file it in the historical archives.”

Washington remains intractably hostile, wanting all nations operating under its rules, serving its interests exclusively, posing no challenge to its hegemonic aims.

US administrations “attempted to impose agreements on us, respecting the interests of either the European Union or (America) in the first place, trying to convince us that they will not damage our interests. That’s over now,” said Lavrov.

Moscow seeks “close, constructive cooperation” with all nations, based on mutual solidarity and trust – “without interference (in any country’s) internal affairs,” respecting their sovereign independence.

Washington imposes its will on other nations politically, economically and militarily, seeking “one-sided benefits, (attempting) to punish us for conducting an independent international policy,” Lavrov explained.

Russia responds appropriately, prioritizing its interests and national security. Lavrov highlighted Washington’s “counterproductive and dangerous policy…”

“(B)uilding up (US-dominated NATO’s) military (presence) near our borders and the creation of global European and Asian segments of a global US missile system” threatens world peace and security.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday clock stands at three minutes to midnight, reflecting the “high” probability of “global catastrophe.”

Last January, BAS said “unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”

“World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.”

Since established in 1947, the clock was adjusted 18 times, ranging from two minutes to midnight in 1953 after America and Russia tested thermonuclear bombs to 17 minutes in 1991 – following Washington and Moscow’s Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and Soviet Russia’s yearend dissolution.

On Tuesday, BAS will announce whether its Doomsday Clock is closer, further distant from or unchanged from potential disaster.

 

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

Note from the editor of Tikkun.org: Rabbi Arik Ascherman [pictured left] is one of our great contemporary heroes. His work to save the Israeli Bedouins from being obliterated by the Israeil government deserves your fuill support.

Please read his call to you below! Standing up for the humanity of everyone on the planet is part of the goal of Tikkun magazine and our interfaith and secular-humanist welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives. To keep up with developments in the US and around the world, you are invited to receive (for FREE) updates through our Tikkun Daily Blog at www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/join-tikkun-daily/Rabbi Michael Lerner

As you read this, JNF bulldozers are preparing the first stage of building the Jewish community of “Hiran” on the rubble of the Israeli Negev Bedouin community of “Umm Al-Hiran.”  The government plans to expand the Yatir forest to overrun Atir.  A week ago, the Israeli High Court removed the last legal hurdle preventing the immediate expulsion of over 1,000 men, women and children from their homes. The mayor of the artificial Bedouin township of Hura, where the Israeli government wishes to move them, says he has that Hura’s inadequate zoning plan leaves no place to put them. 

You can act, and also read more background regarding Umm Al-Hiran and Atir, at www.dontdemolish.com.  Here is some more general background about the Negev Bedouin.

While the world focuses on the Occupied Territories, the plight of Israel’s Bedouin citizens goes unnoticed, or is deemed an “internal matter.”  For people of conscience, there can be no “internal matter,” and these approximately 250,000 Israeli citizens are also created in God’s Image.

Until 1948 the Negev served as home to 65,000-100,000 Bedouin who inhabited, worked and claimed ownership to somewhere between 2 and 3 million dunams of land (four dunam to an acre), as documented by the pre-State Zionist movement in 1920 In almost every case, the proofs of ownership cited were traditional Bedouin documents based on their internal system of land ownership. Although the Ottomans, British, pre-State Zionist movement and the early State recognized these claims, today the State does not. Israeli courts do not accept Bedouin documents as proof of ownership. Whether one chooses to view this dispute as a boldfaced attempt to take over Bedouin lands, and/or as cultural imperialism unwilling to recognize the land ownership system of a traditional culture, the end result has been massive dispossession.

When I am in the Negev, I often reflect upon the Biblical story of Abraham and his nephew Lot recounted in Genesis 13: 5-12. A conflict arises between Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds because they were living together and there wasn’t enough pasture. Abraham is the senior, and can clearly lay down the law.  He doesn’t.  Rather, he bends over backwards to avoid conflict within the family.  “Let there be no strife between you and me, between my shepherds and ours, for we are brothers.  Is not the whole land before you? Let us separate if you go north, I will go south, and if you go south, I will go north.” We, the descendents of Abraham struggle mightily to claim the land he bequeathed us. Were we to exert a fraction of the efforts we invest in fighting over that physical inheritance in living up to the moral example Abraham bequeathed us, Israel/Palestine would look much different than it does today.

After the 1948 War only about 10% of the Bedouin population remained, living under a military regime unti 1966. The Bedouin were moved out of the Western Negev in the 1950′s, and into a triangle between Beersheva, Arad and Yeroham.  In the 1960′s-1980′s Israel created 7 townships that radically alter the Bedouin lifestyle and destroy their social fabric.  These townships have become magnets for poverty, crime, drugs and despair.

In the 1970’s the State of Israel allowed the Bedouin to submit claims of land ownership. Perhaps there were those who thought that Bedouin know nothing about land ownership, and that the results would be so jumbled that it would be easy to dismiss them.  The some 3,100 claims submitted fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Bedouin asserted they owned about 1,250,000 dunams of land. Of those, about 500,000 dunams of communal pastureland were immediately taken off the table. Subsequently somewhere between 200,000 to 350,000 dunams have been resolved in court or through arbitration. They Bedouin have always lost because their proofs of ownership aren’t recognized.  About 650,000 dunams of land remain unresolved.

Today  approximately  120,000 live in the seven Bedouin townships. The rest of the community lives in 11 “recognized” villages and 35 “unrecognized” villages.  While most of the unrecognized villages existed before the State of Israel, and the remainder are located where the State moved them, they are literally not on the map.  For the most part they have no water, electricity, schools or master building plans allowing them to build legally.  Over 1,000 homes are demolished every year. Crops are destroyed.  When the village Khassim Zannih went to court to stop a planned highway from destroying it, the State’s response was “What village? There is no village there.”

A series of plans of how to deal with the Bedouin have been promulgated since 2008.  The latest was the Begin Bill,  that we believe would have led to the demolition of tens of villages, the transfer of some 40,000 additional Bedouin into the townships, and the loss of most of their remaining lands. It was frozen in 2013 not only because the Bedouin and their supporters opposed it, but because the Israeli right thought it to be too generous!

Subsequently, the Israeli government has been implementing elements of the Begin Bill without legislation. Over 1,000 Bedouin homes are demolished yearly, even as the State plans tens of new Jewish communities in the Negev and intends to move most of Israel’s army bases there.

“Hiran” is one of ten new planned Jewish communities that are part of the “Arad Area Development Plan.’ It is the first that was literally planned on the rubble of an existing Bedouin community, but not the only one. Again, you can find more information about Umm Al-Hiran and Atir, and send a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, at www.dontdemolish.com.

The tensions created by this injustice are harmful to both the Jewish and Bedouin residents of the Negev. Mistreatment also sends a message to Palestinians that they have nothing to expect from Israel if this is the way Israel treats her own citizens.  There is another way. An Israeli television movie documented the identification of Bedouin with the State in the mostly recognized villages in northern Israel, versus the anger and rage in the Negev.  You can click here for a brief clip from the movie with subtitles

In 2013, Rabbis For Human Rights conducted a poll demonstrating showing that 90% of Israeli Jews subscribe to the statement that “The Bedouin are taking over the Negev.” Some 70% believed that the Bedouin claimed at least 25% of the Negev. The median was 43/9%.  When informed that if remaining Bedouin land claims were recognized and honored, they come to only 5.4% of the Negev, the majority said, “We are not sure we believe you, because that is not what we have heard in the media.  However, if that is the case, that sounds fair.”

Have we Israelis all too often in our short history been oppressors, transferors and dispossessors? Sadly, yes.  Is it who we are in our souls? No.  This poll is one of the pieces of evidence that gives me hope, and allows me to maintain my faith in the goodness and decency of my fellow Israelis, even as my job is to deal on a daily basis with the darkest corners of the society I am a part of and the people I love.  It teaches me that our job is not to rub the nose of the naughty puppy in the mess they have made, but to hold up a mirror and say, “We know that you are good and decent people striving to do justly. However, you need to look in the mirror, in order to get back on track.” Our word in Hebrew for prayer is “tefillah,” a reflexive verb meaning to “judge one’s self.” Created in God’s Image, God is in the mirror into which we gaze in order to look deeply into ourselves, and understand what we must do in order to return to our highest and truest selves.  Tikkun Olam is partnering with God by helping to hold up the mirror.

Please help hold up the mirror by sending a letter now. You can use the letter we’ve prepared at www.dontdemolish.com

For more information, please go to the Bedouin section on the RHR website

Or to the website of the Negev Coexistence Forum

Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the President and Senior Rabbi of Rabbis For Human Rights.  He is currently on trial for standing with the “unrecognized” village of El-Araqib when Israeli forces the demolished structures built inside their cemetery fence in June 2014, because the cemetery perimeter had been sacrosanct during the tens of previous demolitions.

The global house price crash is being led the most important cities in the world and where they are not falling yet, they soon will be.

The fault lies directly in the lap of central banks as quantitative easing caused an enormous injection of cash into economies, forcing interest rates to fall the their lowest levels in history. This knee-jerk over-reaction effectively halted price corrections that should have fully unfolded but didn’t and put rocket boosters under house price inflation the world over.

With banks and their financial services operations now seen by the public as nothing more than criminal gangs operating with impunity, both legally saved money and laundered cash needed a safe haven. Normal people know nothing about derivatives, day-trading and the like. Property is something most people know something about. Criminals just want to harbour ill gotten gains.

With institutional investors, individuals looking to boost pension incomes, criminals with global reach and an aspirational general public all combined, mountains of cash found their way into property. The international property bubble inflated as the market uncoupled from both the economy and reality.

In Britain, a blinkered Chancellor, unable to see the obvious, supported naive first time buyers in various ways all at the expense of the taxpayer in the hope of winning votes in his 2020 bid. By then the housing market in Britain will have crashed and all his first time buyer voters will be in negative equity for another decade.

It now takes an average skilled worker 14 years to buy a 600q ft one bed apartment in London, the equivalent of renting it for 30 years. What could go wrong?

Sales in London have now dropped by a quarter, prices are already deflating with some commentators blaming new stamp duty/taxation rules imposed for April this year. This is just another reason for the impending decline soon to engulf London and then ripple out to the rest of the country. The average price of a property in Britain is 300 per cent higher today than 20 years ago and that includes the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression.

Hong Kong is experiencing property price falls with most commentators expecting declines of 20 per cent, some at 30 per cent and a few at 40 per cent. The government backed builders to construct rented property to ease the ridiculous prices required to buy an apartment. It took ten years and now rental prices have fallen back just as property investment has taken a nosedive.

In Sydney there’s been a total collapse of business investment and corresponding increase in property investment as Australians got on the ‘get-rich-quick’ bandwagon. Prices are now falling at around 1.5 per cent a month. Not much you might think but by mid 2016, prices could easily be off 12 per cent with no indication of the bottom.

So over-stretched are they in Vancouver it is estimated that a normal price correction of 20 per cent would completely wipe out ten per cent of homeowners. Not surprising as house prices there are by some estimates now 30 per cent overvalued.

America’s most important housing market, San Fransico is about the feel the big house price chill after its epic over-heating. It managed an eye-watering 103 per cent increase in some plush areas in just four years. Affordability has tanked and only the top 10 per cent of earners in the city can now afford to own a home there. If prices fall back to 2008 levels, the 60 to 70 per cent average increase in prices since then could dive with catastrophic consequences.

In The Netherlands just 7 per cent of properties sell for more than the asking price – about the norm for the country. In Amsterdam that figure is about 60 per cent. Housing stock has vaporised and prices today have shot past the 2008 peak. These are the ominous signs of a price correction. Amsterdam may continue to rise for a short while but soon the party will be over.

In Geneva, Switzerland 90 per cent of all household debt is mortgaged. Since 2008, property prices have increased what some might say is a modest 24.3 per cent. Price falls are expected for several reasons; the imposition of a countercyclical capital buffer (CCB) to prevent the real estate market from further overheating, other stricter (mortgage) lending controls and a squeeze on immigration which was causing house price inflation. Switzerland’s mortgage market is 140 per cent of GDP. Expectations are that prices will deflate more slowly, but deflate they will.

The French property market had the dubious distinction of being the most overvalued in Europe in 2011. Even the OECD gave a stern warning that Paris was about to implode – it probably knew best as that is where it’s office are located. Property prices in Paris rose 278 per cent in eleven years to 2011 with two well known French economists predicting steady house price falls for the next ten years totalling 35 per cent to 2025 and a best case scenario of falls until 2020.

What all this says now is obvious. The financial crash in 2008 was caused by reckless banks deliberately overextending mortgage lending that led to the public speculating in the property market. Central banks then pumped trillions of dollars, euros and pounds into the market in order to save the banks. It saved them in part by deliberately inflating property prices.

Investors are now getting out of the game. They know the QE scam is over. As ZeroHedge reportsHow Billionaires Are Investing In 2016: “The Only Winning Move Is Not To Play The Game“. Here they report that the rich and powerful have ended their investment strategies; the only way now is to hold cash, duck and see what happens as the global markets in all asset classes unravel. It confirms what is being said here; that all this ‘funny money’ has created growing distortions in nearly all asset prices—from stocks to bonds to real estate.

The UBS global real estate bubble index for 2016 makes for sobering reading, predicting falls in 10 major cities this year. Fortune reports that the “world is headed for disaster, and will take the prices of equities down with it. How much? Edwards predicts the U.S. stock market could plunge as much as 75%. That would be worse than during the financial crisis, in which stocks from their peak to trough dropped a brutal 62%.”

Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett has got this all wrong as his stock is heading south and about to enter ‘bear’ territory.

Bloomberg agrees: “Fed Up Investors Yank Cash From Almost Everything Just Like 2008“.

And what they mean by everything is not just stocks and bonds. The FTGlobal property bubble fears mount as prices and yields spike”. Here the FT reports that returns for rental income (globally) has collapsed when a crash in massively overleveraged property triggered the 2008 international banking crash. Time to get out.

Everyone got into property because prices were expected to beat bond prices, and they did.

When the worlds biggest, wealthiest and most powerful start losing their shirts they rapidly divest to save the proverbial bacon. Result? Asset prices fall and house prices with it. The global house price crash is on and coming to a town near you.

O eixo secreto EUA-Arábia Saudita

January 26th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

Nome de código “Timber Sycamore”: assim se denomina a operação de armamento e treinamento dos “rebeldes” na Síria, “autorizada secretamente pelo presidente Obama em 2013”. É o que documenta uma investigação publicada no domingo (24) pelo New York Times.

Quando foi encarregada pelo presidente de efetuar esta operação encoberta, “a CIA já sabia que tinha um parceiro disposto a financiá-la: a Arábia Saudita”. Com o Catar, “esta forneceu armas e bilhões de dólares, ao passo que a CIA dirigiu o treinamento dos rebeldes”. O fornecimento de armas aos “rebeldes”, inclusive os “grupos radicais como Al Qaeda”, tinha começado no verão de 2012 quando, através de uma rede disposta pela CIA, agentes secretos sauditas tinham comprado na Croácia, na Europa Oriental, milhares de fuzis de assalto AK-47 com milhões de projéteis, e quando os catarianos infiltraram na Síria, através da Turquia, mísseis portáteis chineses FN-6 comprados no mercado internacional. Como o fornecimento de armas era feito livremente, no fim de 2012 o diretor da CIA David Petraeus convocou os aliados na Jordânia, impondo-lhes um controle mais estrito por parte da Agência sobre o conjunto da operação. Alguns meses mais tarde, na primavera de 2013, Obama autorizou a CIA a treinar os “rebeldes” em uma base na Jordânia, e em outra no Catar, e a lhes fornecer armas incluindo mísseis antitanques TOW. Sempre com os bilhões do “maior contribuinte”, a Arábia Saudita. Nenhuma novidade nesse tipo de operações.

Nos anos 1970 e 1980, esta ajudou a CIA em uma série de operações secretas. Na África, notadamente em Angola, onde, com financiamento saudita, a CIA apoiou os rebeldes contra o governo aliado à URSS. No Afeganistão, onde “para armar os moudjaedins contra os soviéticos, os Estados Unidos lançaram uma operação ao custo anual de milhões de dólares, que os sauditas pagaram dólar por dólar em uma conta da CIA num banco suíço”. Na Nicarágua, quando a administração Reagan lança o plano secreto para ajudar os contras, os sauditas financiaram a operação da CIA com 32 milhões de dólares por intermédio de um banco nas Ilhas Cayman. Com essas operações e algumas outras, secretas, até a atual na Síria, cimentou-se a “longa reação entre os serviços secretos dos Estados Unidos e da Arábia Saudita”. Apesar da “reaproximação diplomática” de Washington com o Irã, não apreciada em Riad, “ a aliança persiste, mantida à tona sobre um mar de dinheiro saudita e sobre o reconhecimento de seus interesses mútuos”. Isto explica por que “os Estados Unidos são reticentes em criticar a Arábia Saudita sobre a violação dos direitos humanos, o tratamento às mulheres e o apoio à ala extremista do Islã, o wahabismo, que inspira numerosos grupos terroristas”, e por que “Obama não condenou a Arábia Saudita pela decapitação do Sheik Nimr al-Nimr, o dissidente religioso xiita que tinha desafiado a família real”.

Acrescenta-se o fato, sobre o qual o New York Times não fala, de que o secretário de Estado John Kerry, em visita a Riad em 23 de janeiro, reafirmou que “no Iêmen onde a insurreição Houthi ameaça a Arábia Saudita, os EUA estão do lado de seus amigos sauditas”. Os amigos que desde há quase um ano massacram civis no Iêmen, bombardeando até mesmo hospitais, com a ajuda dos EUA que lhes fornecem indicações (ou seja, mostrando os alvos a atingir), armas (inclusive bombas de fragmentação) e um apoio logístico (incluindo abastecimento em voo dos caças-bombardeiros sauditas). Esses mesmos amigos que o primeiro–ministro italiano Renzi encontrou oficialmente em novembro último em Riad, garantindo-lhe o apoio e as bombas da Itália na “luta comum contra o terrorismo”.

Manlio Dinucci

 

Fonte: Il Manifesto

http://ilmanifesto.info/lasse-segreto-usa-arabia-saudita/

Traduzido por José Reinaldo Carvalho para o Blog da Resistência

Manlio Dinucci é jornalista e geógrafo.

Writing in India’s Deccan Herald newspaper on 26 January 2016, Kalyan Ray places great store in a flawed year-old British Parliament document to promote a pro-GM agenda. According to Ray, the document ‘Advanced Genetic Techniquesfor Crop Improvement: Regulation, risks and precaution’ from the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee reflects several arguments in favour of GM crops that certain Indian scientists have been voicing for years.

He asserts that the weight of peer-reviewed scientific evidence has shown the EU-adopted ‘precautionary principle’ towards GM to be misguided. In his view, where genetically modified crops have been shown to pose a risk, this has invariably been a result of the trait displayed — for example, herbicide tolerance — rather than the technology itself. Ray adds that no inherent risks have so far been identified to human or animal health from this consumption or to the environment from their cultivation. 

Rays seems to concur with the report’s conclusion that Europe’s precautionary GMO regulation is preventing the adoption of GM crops in the UK, Europe and the developing world.

He says:

“Worldwide, over 175 million hectares are dedicated to GM crop, accounting for 12 per cent of arable land. No inherent risks have so far been identified to human or animal health from this consumption or to the environment from their cultivation.”

Implicit in this claim is a common tactic: the industry does not have to prove safety (in its view), but now GM has been fraudulently (see Steven Druker’s book) released onto the market, the onus is placed on everyone else to prove it is unsafe  - regardless of the fact that clear, serious safety issues were downplayed or silenced back in the 1990s when GM was being forced onto the US public (again, see Druker).

Moreover, the implication of the above quote is that farmers are freely choosing to plant GM. This is based more on free-market ideology than actual fact. Aside from employing coercive tactics to try to get GM into countries, the closing off of alternatives plays a major role in influencing adoption of certain technology (see this for how the Gates Foundation is supporting agro dealer networks to push chemical intensive agriculture in Africa, this on Bt cotton in India and this on Monsanto’s game plan in Ukraine).

Ray’s claim about GM technology not posing unique risks to health or the environment is not only wrong (for example, see this and this), but any implications derived from this claim that GM is no different from conventional breeding techniques is also incorrect and needs to be challenged. Furthermore, it is conventional breeding techniques that are delivering on the promises that GM has thus far failed to deliver on (see page 8 of this document) and which the GM industry often attempts to pass off as its own successes.

However, Ray’s biggest mistake is relying on a seriously flawed report to try to make a case for GM.

“Shocking ignorance” being use to promote GM

Dr Rupert Read, reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia, condemned the report’s “shocking ignorance of scientific logic and the nature of risk” and said it confused “inconclusive evidence of harm from GMOs with conclusive evidence of safety.” The prominent risk expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb called the report “an insult to science.”

The Select Committee report claims that scientific evidence supporting the safety of genetically modified crops is very strong. But, as Claire Robinson from GMWatch says, the evidence cited is the EU Commission report, ‘A decade of EU-funded GMO research’. Although this EU report did conclude that GMOs were “not, per se, more risky than… conventional plant breeding technologies,” she argues it is a baseless conclusion because it presents no data that could provide evidence to support that conclusion – for example, from long-term feeding studies in animals.

Robinson notes that of the small handful of animal feeding studies carried out under the project, none tested a commercialised GM food; none tested the GM food for long-term effects; all found worrying differences in the GM-fed animals, including alterations in blood biochemistry and immune responses; and none were able to conclude on the safety of the GM food tested, let alone on the safety of GM foods in general. Indeed, the purpose of the EU report was not to test any GMO food for safety but to focus on developing safety assessment “approaches.”

The resulting report provides only a few references to published papers, which are listed randomly on some pages, with no clue provided as to which of the report’s claims they are supposed to support.

What’s more, the Select Committee displays an uncritical reliance on a published meta-analysis by Klümper and Qaim, which claims that GM crops have “reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%.”

This meta-analysis is being widely cited by lobbyists who want to push Europe down the GMO path, according to Robinson. But it relies on outdated data from the early 2000s – before herbicide-resistant superweeds and Bt resistant pests made GM herbicide-tolerant and Bt insecticidal traits less effective and caused higher costs and inconvenience to farmers. Charles Benbrook’s analysis is based on more up-to-date USDA data and shows that GM crops in North America have increased overall pesticide use by 7%.

Robinson further notes that Klümper and Qaim’s meta-analysis also ignores the fact that Bt crops are in themselves pesticides, with the total pesticide content in the plants’ cells often being many times greater than the volume of chemical spray pesticides that are supposed to be replaced. Also, the Bt toxins in GM crops are not the same as the natural Bt long used as an insecticide spray by organic and conventional farmers – they are structurally different and have a different mode of action, which could explain why they have been found to be toxic to non-target insects and mammals in some studies.

Regarding yields, Klümper and Qaim’s meta-analysis uses suspect data collected from Monsanto field trials. The real picture on GMO yields comes from a study published in 2013 by Jack Heinemann and his team. It looked at 50 years’ worth of data from the US and Europe, before and after GM was introduced in the US. It found that yields for staple crops in the US – which are largely GM – have declined since GM has been adopted, and are lagging behind those of Europe, where production is mostly non-GM. Europe also uses less pesticides.

GM traits do not confer higher yields but tolerance to herbicides or an insecticidal toxin trait. A high-yielding GM crop is a crop with high-yielding background genetics achieved by conventional breeding, into which GM traits for herbicide tolerance or insecticidal proteins have been inserted.

In conclusion, Robinson states that the Select Committee relies on outdated and discredited data to paint a fantasy picture of the success of GM crops, while ignoring more up-to-date and relevant data that threaten that picture.

GM unwanted and not needed in India

According to Kalyan Ray, good risk management requires the potential benefits of an action to be thoroughly considered alongside the risks. It also requires a consideration of the risk of failing to act. He implies that hold-ups in allowing GM crops into India is preventing Indian agriculture from progressing.

In what way is India’s agriculture not progressing one might wonder. Indian farmers already produce bumper harvests (despite policies that make it difficult to operate and cause them economic distress), have achieved self-sufficiency in a number of food staples and use traditional, indigenous varieties of crops that seem to be more resilient in the face of pest management or climate change.

Ray quotes the UK Select Committee report that says:

“We are convinced by the evidence provided to us that this suite of technologies is a potentially important tool, particularly in the developing world, which should not be rejected unless there are solid scientific evidence those technologies may cause harm.”

Of course, the report’s opinion is in sharp contrast to report after report recommending support for conventional agriculture, agroecology and local economies, especially in the global south. Critics of GM therefore want to know where is the advantage in India adopting GM and why the government is experimenting given all the attendant risks.

To make the case for non-GM agriculture, campaigner Aruna Rodrigues cites the World Bank-funded International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge and Science for Development Report, which India signed in 2008. That report is the work of over 400 scientists, took four years to complete and was twice peer reviewed. The report states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in the global south through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable.

Despite this, based on a flawed UK select committee report, Ray advocates regulatory reforms to smooth the entry of GM to India are essential.

There is a credible body of evidence that GMOs were placed on the US market due to fraud and the bypassing of scientific procedures and ignoring evidence pertaining to risk, as described in Steven Druker’s book ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’. It thus might appear strange that someone would rely on a seriously questionable report to try to make a case for GM, especially when a series of official reports in India have come out against the introduction of GM to India: the ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’ of February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal, overturning the apex Regulator’s approval to commercialise it; the Sopory Committee Report (August 2012); the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops (August 2012) and the TEC Final Report (June-July 2013).

What supporters of GM technology like to ignore is that it is an extension of the overhyped  ‘green revolution’, which has arguably been a disaster for India (see Bhaskar Save’s views and Raj Patel’s analysis). They also like to overlook the fact there is no scientific consensus on the safety or efficacy GM (contrary to the much-publicised pro-GM public relations machine that claims otherwise).

But while side-lining these concerns, they like to promote GM as the answer to hunger. But, as Viva Kermani says:

“When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected is blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”

Too often, supporters of GM promote the technology as a proxy for deep-seated social, political and economic factors that are responsible for poverty and hunger.

What they also choose to sideline is false claims concerning yields pertaining to GM mustard (any improvement in yield is due to hybridisation, not GM technology), which could soon be the first food crop to be officially sanctioned in India. They also put forward fallacious justifications for embracing GM mustard (to reduce over-reliance on imports) that conveniently ignore the impact of trade policies that seriously undermined the indigenous mustard industry and India’s inability to attain self-sufficiency in this foodstuff.

If we want science and objectivity to guide us where GM is concerned, surely it would be best to adhere to proper procedures that are open and transparent rather than engage in “unremitting fraud” and secrecy in order to force GM onto the commercial market in India And surely it would be better to root out and call to account the conflicts of interest that are fuelling the pro-GM agenda in India.

When so much faith is placed in a patently flawed report to make a case for smoothing the progress of GM in India, are we to conclude that what we are reading is just an example of poorly researched journalism?

Or should we conclude what we see is a case of more pro-GM spin?

Austria Closes its Borders to Refugees

January 26th, 2016 by Marianne Arens

Europe is firmly in the grip of winter, and the Balkans are covered in snow with temperatures below freezing. Nonetheless, one government after another is closing its borders and sending hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees back to war zones that they have risked their lives to flee.

The Austrian government closed its borders last Wednesday. Already at the beginning of the week, it made clear its intention to send more refugees back to Slovenia. Then on Wednesday, a conference was held on refugees between leading Social Democrat (SPÖ) and conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) politicians to impose an upper limit for refugees. Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) justified the decision by stating, “A joint European answer cannot be expected”.

Austria is the first European Union (EU) country to impose an upper limit for refugees. This was in no small part a response to measures taken by Germany. Also on Wednesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (Christian Democrats, CDU) extended border controls for an undetermined period of time. Germany has already refused entry to 2,000 refugees this month at its border with Austria.

In Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Werner Feymann (SPÖ) told the press that in 2016, Austria would only accept 37,500 asylum seekers. Including the 90,000 refugees who remained in the country last year, an upper limit of 1.5 percent of the population would be reached.

The Social Democratic chancellor embraced the arguments of the notorious anti-immigrant ÖVP interior minister, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, announcing a strict review procedure at the border.

“If we undertake more controls, we will find out more”, Feymann bluntly told Austrian broadcaster ORF. If people cannot credibly explain why they want to come into the country, they would not be allowed in. Feymann had ordered a report by the foreign, interior and defence ministries to determine “everything that is legally possible” at the border.

At the Spielfeld crossing on the Austrian-Slovenian border, a 4-kilometre-long border fence is being constructed. Last Sunday, the government deployed 200 soldiers to the Slovenian border. Their task is to examine the refugees and their luggage and deport all of those unable to provide valid travel documents. In the first three weeks of the year, Austria has already deported over 1,000 refugees.

Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia are also in the process of closing their borders. In a rapid domino effect, one country after another is re-establishing posts at its borders. Slovenia closed its borders at the beginning of last week and also announced the introduction of an upper limit for immigrants.

The Serbian government immediately adopted measures to make it more difficult for immigrants to enter the country. A government spokesman stated that Serbia would in the future accept refugees on its territory only if they were seeking to claim asylum in Germany or Austria. “From today onwards … no more migrants can travel through Serbia unless they explicitly state an intention to claim asylum in the territory of Austria or Germany”, Prime Minister Alexander Vulin toold Serbian news agency Tanjug.

Croatia’s interior minister also announced that his country would from now on ask every refugee if they intended to apply for asylum in Germany or Austria. In the Balkan country, the government of Tihomir Orešković has just begun its period in office. Since the highly indebted country is heavily dependent on the EU, it will seek to do everything demanded by the EU, including stricter measures targeting refugees.

Macedonia responded on Wednesday morning by rejecting 600 refugees at the Greek border, including many children. The AFP news agency cited a police spokesman in Skopje, who said that Macedonia was reacting to a request from Slovenia. The blockade was lifted again on Thursday evening, but not for all refugees.

Those people arriving at the border already have behind them the grueling journey of crossing the Mediterranean through Turkey and Greece during the winter. The Greek coastguard reported that on Thursday alone, it had saved 73 refugees from the Aegean Sea. For one young child, help came too late: the child died a few hours after arrival on the island of Lesbos. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 87 people have already drowned in the Mediterranean this year.

The chain reaction of border closures has completely undermined the Schengen agreement between EU states. Introduced in 1985, Schengen is a key element of the European Union and meant that border controls between European countries were eliminated. On Monday, EU interior ministers met in Amsterdam to discuss extending border controls for two years.

EU Council President Donald Tusk warned last Tuesday that the Schengen agreement could fail entirely. He called upon all heads of government to back a joint EU concept before the Brussels conference scheduled for March 16-17. The content of this concept would be negotiations with African states about “repatriation”, military action against so-called smuggler bands, and better securing of the EU’s external borders—all measures that will put the lives of refugees at greater risk.

In addition, “combatting the causes of flight” is being used as a justification for military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa, and the expansion of wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and North African states.

What is to happen to the refugees shut out because of the new upper limits is unclear. The EU has already announced plans to build detention centres and so-called hot spots along the Balkan route and distribute refugees across all EU countries. But Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary have firmly opposed the quota system, and many other countries have silently boycotted it.

The plans are equally bureaucratic as they are inhumane, since refugees often try to travel to countries where they have relatives or friends. They are not only denied this option on organisational grounds: the EU countries, led by Germany, are creating miserable conditions to deter refugees from coming.

On Thursday it was revealed that not only Denmark and Switzerland, but the German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, would search refugees arriving at the border and confiscate money and valuables. This was confirmed by Bavaria’s interior minister Joachim Hermann (Christian Social Union, CSU) to the Bild newspaper, who said, “Cash and valuables can be secured if … a claim for reimbursement exists or is expected against the person”.

In Bavaria, refugees will be permitted to retain €750, and in Baden-Württemberg only €350. Such measures recall the Nazi era, when the National Socialist regime robbed the Jewish population of all their possessions.

On Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reaffirmed initial Socialist Party (PS) statements after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris carried out by the Islamist State (IS, or Daesh), that the current state of emergency in France must be made permanent.

In an interview with the BBC while attending the economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, Valls proclaimed that France is waging all-out war with IS. “As long as the threat is there, we must use all available means,” he said, adding that the state of emergency must stay in place “until we can get rid of Daesh”.

He continued,

“In Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia we must eradicate, eliminate Daesh, it is a total and global war that we face with terrorism. … We will have to live for decades or for many years with this menace or this threat and that’s why it’s a war. There are many generations that will have to live with this and the crisis will have to be managed in north Africa and the Middle East.”

The implications of Valls’ statements are staggering. Like Egypt, now ruled as a military dictatorship by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a personal friend of President François Hollande, France is to be run under a permanent state of emergency lasting generations, perhaps forever. According to Valls’ statement, the French people have effectively lost fundamental social and democratic rights guaranteed to them by the French Constitution.

As if in a slow-motion coup d’état, the ruling elite is moving to transform political life in France, creating an authoritarian regime. Under the state of emergency, public protests are banned, there is no guarantee of freedom of the press or freedom of assembly, and no judicial oversight of arbitrary searches and seizures carried out by police. Already, the government banned protests against the COP21 ecological summit in Paris after the November 13 attacks and put the organizers under house arrest.

Police can enter anyone’s house, search without warrants, and arrest people on mere suspicion that they are a threat to public order. The state has sentenced Goodyear workers to prison for striking and struggling to defend their jobs, even after Goodyear itself dropped all charges against them.

The arguments provided by Valls to justify the indefinite suspension of democratic rights are a pack of lies. IS (Daesh) is not an unstoppable foe that poses an existential threat to the French Republic and to the French people, leaving the French state no choice but to suspend democratic rights in order to safeguard the very survival of the French people.

IS is, in fact, a political asset of the ruling class of France and of all the major NATO countries. It is a militia operating in Iraq and Syria, financed and backed by key French allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as part of the regime change operation to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This organisation emerged from wars launched under Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, who played a central role in pressing for a war, ultimately led by all the NATO powers, against Libya. The NATO powers, led by the United States, France and Britain, encouraged Islamist fighters to come to Libya to act as proxy ground forces whilst they provided aerial bombardments. Many of these Islamist forces were then dispatched from Libya to Syria, as the spearhead of the NATO war for regime in Syria.

Valls’ claim that France and its allies are engaged in total, global war with IS does not hold water. Rather, IS and the reactionary attacks it has carried out in France are being invoked as a pretext to push through vast attacks.

As late as last year, Hollande insisted that France would only attack IS in Iraq—where Paris had joined Washington in bombing IS in 2013 to prevent IS from toppling the US puppet regime in Baghdad—so as to avoid weakening opposition to Assad by attacking IS in Syria.

In his February 5, 2015 press conference after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Hollande explained that France would not bomb IS forces in Syria, but only Iraq. He said, “It is in Iraq that we direct our efforts. Why? Because it is in Iraq that there is a state, sovereignty, and army that can struggle against IS and ensure the reconquest of lost territory.”

That is, Hollande was willing to shield and rely upon IS as a tool of various twists and turns of French and NATO policy against Assad. When IS emerges as a domestic policy issue, however, the PS suddenly insists France is engaged in an all-out war on IS in which no democratic right can be allowed to stand in the way of the assertion of state power.

The claim that the assault on democratic rights is primarily a response to the IS’ terror attacks is a political fraud. This assault is the response of the French ruling class to the worsening class and geo-strategic contradictions of international capitalism, preparing above all for war against the working class.

As a presidential candidate, Hollande said his enemy was “finance”, but once in power, he has pushed for austerity and war on every front. While collaborating with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to impose deeper austerity on the Greek people, he launched wars across Africa and the Middle East and worked closely with the Obama administration to threaten Russia. Social inequality is reaching explosive levels, and Hollande had to admit last year that France now found itself on the brink of “total war” with Russia.

Besides the danger of a major international war waged with nuclear weapons, Hollande fears social anger developing in the working class under conditions where the PS and its political and trade union satellites are thoroughly discredited. The response of the PS has been to dub Hollande a “war president” and a conscious turn towards military and authoritarian forms of rule within France.

During the French invasion of Mali in 2013, French presidential advisors at the Elysée told Le Point that they were hoping for a “Falklands effect.” While the war was presented to the public as part of a struggle against Islamist terrorism, the PS’ main concern was to shift official public opinion far to the right, so as to be able to impose a drastic austerity program.

Pointing to the similarities between the Falkland Island (Malvinas) war and French imperialism’s wars today, Le Point journalist Anna Cabana wrote:

“When the Argentine troops landed on the Falklands in 1982, Margaret Thatcher decided to reply militarily. The Iron Lady [Margaret Thatcher], deeply unpopular at the time due to her drastic free-market reform policies, embarked Britain on a military adventure that ensured her re-election in 1983.”

The PS’ incendiary and politically criminal policy of launching wars of aggression in an attempt to anti-democratically impose anti-working class policies at home has failed, however. The looting of much of Africa and the Middle East did not make PS austerity any more popular, and social and international tensions have only grown since 2013.

Unable to win over the masses of working people, the French ruling class is preparing to stake everything on a ruthless attempt to repress them.

The following is the text of a complaint filed with the BBC.

Submitted via BBC Complaints webform

Dear Sir / Madam

Syrian government ‘to let aid into besieged Madaya’ – BBC News, 7 January 2016

As evidenced by the copy below [1], at 50 seconds in the original version of the above BBC report a young man is shown passionately addressing cameras as Jim Muir’s narration states:

“Back in October when the last food got in things were already bad enough.”

However the scenes of the young man date from at least July 2014, when the You Tube video below was uploaded. Further, the title of this video claims that the scenes were shot in Yarmouk refugee camp, not Madaya.

Picture1crop

Screengrab showing date of upload to You Tube of scenes featuring young man

I note that some scenes, including those of the young man, have been removed from the version of the report which is now available on the BBC website.

Please can you explain how the scenes of the young man came to accompany narration describing the situation in Madaya in October 2015 and why the subsequent re-editing of the report has not been acknowledged on the BBC website.

Yours faithfully

Robert Stuart

https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

Note

[1] A copy of the original report is also saved here.

The Spread of the Mosquito-borne Zika Virus

January 26th, 2016 by J.R. Smith

If you have been watching the news this week you will have seen one story which has been gaining traction in western media coverage, that of the mosquito-borne illness known as the Zika Virus, which authorities are saying will cause birth defects for expecting mothers.

While there are certainly many health risks apparent with this particular pathogen, media outlets and government agencies appear to be pushing one incredible talking point now – asking women‘not to get pregnant until 2018.

Latin American officials, led by El Salvador are now urging women not to get pregnant for “up to two years.”

Latin American governments, in conjunction with the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), are claiming that over the past four months, they have ‘received reports’ of nearly 4,000 cases ofmicrocephaly in newborns – and they are claiming these are all linked to the Zika Virus. This information has served as the chief catalyst for the current wave of fear.

1-zika-virus

The Washington Post stated this week that:

The World Health Organization says at least 20 countries or territories in the region, including Barbados and Bolivia, Guadeloupe and Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Panama, have registered transmission of the virus.

Although the Zika virus has been documented since the 1940s, it began its assault on Latin America in the past several months. The hardest-hit country has been Brazil, where more than 1 million people have contracted the virus. In the past four months, authorities have received reports of nearly 4,000 cases in which Zika may have caused microcephaly in newborns. The condition results in an abnormally small head and is associated with incomplete brain development. Colombia, which shares an Amazonian border with Brazil, reacted to its own Zika outbreak, numbering more than 13,000 cases, by urging women not to get pregnant in the next several months. Other countries, including Jamaica and Honduras, also have urged women to delay having babies.

Zika ‘Threat’ Goes Global

If contracted, the Zika Virus is said to have an incubation period of only 5 to 10 days, and authorities are claiming that it’s within this window that mothers are at risk. Some common symptoms include red spots on the skin, intermittent fever, spots on the eyes and later on with persistent pains in muscles, joints and head.

Clearly though, the alarm for a Zika epidemic is already being sounded internationally. This has tremendous potential implications on society.

In the US, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is warning that pregnant women not to travel to 14 countries in Latin America. We were also told that last week, the US recorded the first case of microcephaly “linked to Zika” virus in Hawaii. According to The New York Times, the baby’s mother “might have” been infected when she traveled to Brazil in May last year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned today that the virus will spread to both North America and South America. Based on how easily the US population was whipped into a hysterical haze during the Ebola scare in 2014, it goes without saying that if Zika ‘reproductive’ fears hit the US in a big way it would be a political circus of fear and media manipulation.

It’s not clear exactly how they have come to the conclusion that this apparent epidemic is a result of the Zika Virus, and not through some other combination of factors. Neither journalists nor the world’s scientific community are questioning the current course of public policy on this issue. Why? No one is addressing that it is nearly impossible to make a scientific ruling on these issues in such a short space of time, much less institute government guidelines on reproduction.

Why is Latin America and El Salvador so significant? Social engineers appear to locking horns with the Catholic Church on this issue. The Post adds here:

Morality says that people shouldn’t have that control” over procreation, Figueroa said. “But the church also isn’t going to say something that runs contrary to life and health.

This is a first in human history – central government advocating for a universal ban on procreation, and probably the most significant development in social engineering since the outbreak of the AIDs virus in the early 1980’s.

‘No Child Policy’

The public should not underestimate the significance of this latest story. Again, while there are definitely real risks associated with Zika and other related viruses to health and women’s prenatal health, is it premature to call for what amounts to a ‘no child policy’?

How this story has escaped critical analysis in the mainstream media and discourse is a testament as to how well the establishment has done in conditioning the public to accept a range of modern eugenics-based ‘population reduction’ policies.

Last week saw the first strike by junior doctors in four decades, as thousands of healthcare professionals took action against the attacks on their terms and conditions. The popularly-supported struggle is set to continue next week, as medics carry on the fight against the Tories and their attempts to dismantle the NHS. Dr Tomasz Pierscionek of the BMA reports (personal capacity).

On Tuesday 12th January, over 30,000 junior doctors went on strike for the first time in their lives. The fact that junior doctors have not taken strike action for 40 years adds emphasis to the fact that this is a last resort; a necessary evil to avoid the future consequences – for us and for our patients – that acquiescence to Jeremy Hunt’s proposals would involve. We did it for our patients: past, current and future; we did it for the NHS.

The reality is rapidly dawning on many working within the NHS that the Conservatives’ aim is to demoralise healthcare professionals, demand that these same healthcare workers do more with less funding, and allow the NHS to fall apart, in order to justify opening it up to privatisation.

On the first day of strike action, I attended my local picket line to join a few dozen colleagues on strike, some of whom had arrived before 8am. Despite the biting cold, morale was high and the support we received from the public, as well as solidarity visits from the Fire Brigade Union and the National Pensioners Convention, was greatly appreciated. Drivers hooted their horns in support and a local councillor attended our picket to underline her support for our actions. Colleagues across England reported similar experiences. Whereas Jeremy Hunt kept a low profile that morning, support from the public, as well as from fellow trade unionists and consultant colleagues, was highly visible. One medic not sharing this optimistic mood was Hunt’s advisor, Professor Norman Williams, who was forced to explain his boss’ media absence.

Later that day, my colleagues and I collected petition signatures and spoke with members of the public about our rationale for taking industrial action in one of the many Meet the Doctors events across the country. Public support was again on our side and my only challenge to collecting signatures was the heavy rain wetting the paper and smudging the ink. The day concluded with a rally in central Newcastle where I estimate, despite the now heavy rain and lack of umbrellas, several hundred doctors and our supporters stood undeterred.

Despite polls showing overwhelming public support for the first doctors’ strike to take place in four decades, with 66% in support, the usual suspects in the Tory press worked overtime to smear those on strike.

First up was the Daily Mail, who tried to launch a red scare by claiming that the “BMA’s senior ranks are stuffed with left-wing anti- austerity campaigners”, naming and shaming several BMA activists whose ‘militancy’ and ‘radical’ actions included: “[signing] a letter stating Mr Corbyn was the only Labour leadership candidate who could ‘resist the Conservative consensus”; donating to the National Health Action Party; speaking at “a fundraiser for Corbyn”; and signing the ‘Defend the Link’ petition. The Daily Mail propaganda piece sought to paint the picture that the BMA is stuffed with Jeremy Corbyn supporters – a claim that is, unfortunately, not true!

The Sun joined in the attacks too by claiming that “Junior doctors leading Tuesday’s NHS strike over new contracts are champagne-swilling socialists, trying to prove their hysterical smears by showing pictures of doctors on holiday. This intrusion into medics’ private lives was met by a successful satirical response on social media by junior doctors, ridiculing the Sun’s crude and desperate propaganda.

At the same time, Hunt’s clumsy deceptions about increased morality on weekends continue to be exposed.

Such media lies and slander by the right-wing press reflect the desperation of a Tory Party facing ever increasing opposition to their attacks on working people. Rumours are now circulating that Hunt may return to the backbenches and that the ‘poisoned chalice’ of crushing ‘radical doctors’ may be handed to Boris Johnson.

The Tory press’ attacks also demonstrate the ruling class’ fear that the struggle of the junior doctors will inspire other workers and youth, who realise that they share a common cause in the struggle against Tory austerity – the result of capitalism’s continuing crisis.

Doctors and others within the NHS are increasingly seeing the link between the attacks on the national health care system and the wider austerity programme being implemented by Cameron’s government.

However, due to the logic of capitalism in crisis and the levels of austerity required, the Tories have no option but to attack the NHS and its staff. As a result, in the coming weeks, Cameron and co. are likely to up the ante with their spin, supported by the most reactionary elements of the media, whose attacks against doctors will become even more vitriolic and ridiculous.

The massive support we received from the public, trade unions and other health professionals shall not be forgotten. Tellingly, a union whose members had no experience of mounting strike action -many of whom only became politicised in a baptism of fire over the past several months – managed to stand up to the Tories and put them on the back foot.

The struggle of the junior doctors has shown that the Tories, the most reliable parliamentary representatives of the ruling class, are vulnerable to organised action. But junior doctors are only the first group in the firing line. Consultants also face the imposition of a new unfavourable contract andstudent nurses and midwives face losing bursaries.

Now, junior doctors, along with the rest of the labour movement, must support our consultant and nursing colleagues in their own battles, as part of a wider fight against the Tories, against austerity, and for a socialist alternative.

On Monday, Arab League/UN envoy to Syria Steffan de Mistura announced the date without indicating who’ll participate.

From what’s known, US/Saudi-backed terrorist groups will be involved, including Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam).

It operates like ISIS, equally ruthless, responsible for the August 2013 Ghouta, Syria chemical weapons attack, killing scores, injuring numerous others, Assad wrongfully blamed for its high crime.

What other US/Saudi-backed terrorist groups will participate remains for de Mistura to name them, begging the question.

How can peace talks be legitimate when one side is committed to Syria’s destruction, its popularly elected government replaced by one decided by outside forces – Syrians having no say over who’ll lead them?

How can they succeed when Obama and rogue allies want endless war until achieving regime change – using ISIS and other terrorist groups as imperial foot soldiers?

Geneva I and II talks failed. Expect this round to fare no better, de Mistura admitting things will be “uphill” at best, mission impossible most likely.

Proximity talks are planned, shuttle diplomacy, mediated by Western-controlled UN negotiators, not both sides meeting face-to-face – a process to last at least six months, maybe much less if intractable deadlock occurs.

Initial talks for several weeks will focus on increasing humanitarian aid, combating ISIS, and negotiating a ceasefire with selected opposition terrorist groups – committed to continue fighting.

Anti-Assad moderate combatants don’t exist. Perpetuating the myth otherwise persists. De Mistura claiming “suspensions of fighting” can be negotiated with US/Saudi-backed terrorists is pure fantasy.

Nearly five years of Obama’s terror war with no foreseeable end speaks for itself. Syrian UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari will head his government’s delegation.

A so-called High Negotiations Committee opposition coalition named serial killer Mohammed Alloush to head its side, a key Army of Islam terrorist, drawing sharp criticism, perhaps rendering peace talks dead-on-arrival.

Who can negotiate with someone holding a knife to his throat, guilty of gruesome atrocities, showing no signs of ending them, enjoying full US/Saudi support?

It bears repeating what earlier articles stressed. Chances for restoring peace and stability to war-ravaged Syria any time soon are virtually nil.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

Pentagon Plans for Renewed War in Libya

January 26th, 2016 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Reports abound of foreign troops presence and plans for major western deployment

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted recently as saying that the United States is preparing in conjunction with its imperialist allies a renewed military campaign in Libya.

Speaking as if the U.S. had a limited or even non-existent role in the current military and security crisis in the North African state, Pentagon officials along with other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) including France, Britain and Italy are saying they are motivated by the instability and threat of terrorism posed by the situation particularly the seizure of territory along the western Mediterranean coast by the so-called “Islamic State.”

Gen. Dunford said with reference to a deepening interventionist policy toward Libya, “You want to take decisive military action to check ISIL’s expansion and at the same time you want to do it in such a way that’s supportive of a long-term political process…. I think it’s pretty clear to all of us — French, U.S. alike — that whatever we do is going to be in conjunction with the new government,” referring to the neo-colonial dominated regime that United Nations Libyan envoy Martin Kobler has been attempting to mold together.

There are two rival regimes stemming from a split within the political forces which were installed in the aftermath of the war of regime change carried out in 2011. Rebel organizations, including many who had been labelled as “terrorists”, were funded, armed, given diplomatic support and media acceptance by the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Office and others in an effort to impose them as “legitimate’ leaders of the oil-rich country.

At present the Pentagon and State Department efforts are ostensibly being carried out against the growing influence of the so-called Islamic State which has taken control of several cities and towns on the Mediterranean coast. Washington has been fighting a low-level war against IS in Iraq, Syria and now Libya. Nonetheless, the intervention of the Russian Federation during concluding months of 2015 has been rejected by the administration of President Barack Obama as unwarranted interference designed to bolster the internationally-recognized government of President Bahsar al-Assad in Damascus.

However, with specific reference to Libya, Gen. Dunford stresses that action needs to be taken soon, perhaps not days but weeks, he has emphasized in statement to the press. “My perspective is we need to do more. Quickly is weeks not hours” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff noted.

Unity Under Neo-colonialism

Setting the stage for such an intervention has been politically dependent upon the securing of a purported unity accord between the two rival factions claiming “legitimacy” in the North African state. Although there have been numerous announcements of an agreement, most ranking elements within the General National Congress in Tripoli and the House of Representatives in Tobruk have rejected the terms of the peace treaty.

In addition to problems between both Libyan camps, some have rejected the notion of a foreign military occupation. If the elements opposed to imperialist intervention maintain their position, it could easily signal a much more complicated and contentious tenure for the proposed force of 6,000 troops which will ostensibly be led by Italy, the former colonial power in Libya prior to independence in 1951.

An article published by Colin Freeman on January 21 said “A senior figure in Libya’s new unity government has warned that the country may be unwilling to accept British troops in its fight against Isil’s growing presence. Ahmed Mateeq, the newly appointed deputy prime minister, said that Libya ‘did not need’ to take up the offer from Britain of 1,000 soldiers to train Libyan troops.” (Telegraph, UK)

Such a statement delivered only a few days after the announcement of a unity accord aimed at ending a year-and-a-half of civil war between the U.S.-backed forces installed by Washington and Brussels, could signal the unravelling of the entire scheme. If imperialist forces are fired on by Libyan political groups who are supposedly party to the UN-brokered agreement, this could bring an even higher degree of instability to the country and the region.

Freeman in the same above-mentioned article pointed out that “Mr Mateeq said that while Western help was welcome in terms of ‘logistical and technical support’, most Libyans would not accept the presence of foreign troops on their soil. ’This is highly sensitive for Libyans and we prefer to look after the Libyan soil ourselves. At the moment I don’t think we could accept that, although we do view the British as our friends and allies.”

Mateeq is a member of the 32-member ministerial regime established in late January capping off more than 18 months of heated talks mediated by Kobler, a career German diplomat who has been involved in other imperialist war scenarios including Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even if Kobler and his western backers can strong arm the divided rival regimes into accepting the unity accord this does not take into consideration the hundreds of other armed militias which are roaming the country acting in many cases as the law unto themselves.

The Telegraph correspondent Freeman emphasized that “Contrary to Mr Mateeq’s remarks, diplomats close to the UN negotiations on the new unity government said last weekend that they thought the new unity government was likely to accept the British offer [of indefinite foreign occupation], as long as the troops were confined to a training role.”

Nonetheless, he continues, “A previous British training arrangement for Libyan troops ended in chaos two years ago when Libyan soldiers stationed at Bassingbourn Barracks were accused of sexual assault. Diplomats say that with hindsight, the mission should have been carried out on Libyan rather than UK soil.”

Moreover, a report by the Al-Arabiya news website on January 23 claimed that Russian troops were also present in Libya purportedly in support of the unity accord negotiated by the UN envoy Kobler. This article says “Dozens of British, Russia and American troops have arrived in Libya in support for the weak internationally-recognized government in Tobruk, London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat reported. The daily also said French troops are expected to arrive soon for the same purpose.”

This article also says “The officers and soldiers are currently stationed in Jamal Abdulnasir military base south of Tobruk where the parliament is holding its sessions in the city. Witnesses in the base, meanwhile, said the number of foreign troops has grown to 500 in the past three weeks, but a security official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said they are just dozens.”

The claims of Russian involvement remain to be verified. Russia has played a critical role in defending the Syria government by assisting the national military in retaking large swaths of territory inside the embattled state.

Libya and the presidential elections for 2016

These discussions are taking place amid the presidential primary campaigns where one leading Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, played a key role in the blockades, massive bombing and rebel ground war against the Jamahiriya government led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi five years ago. Apart from the Congressional hearings held last year over the attacks on the Benghazi compound occupied by Ambassador Christopher Stevens along with diplomatic personnel and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel in September 2012, the question of the role of Clinton in the Libyan destabilization, bombing and subsequent chaotic security situation which has fostered instability across North and West Africa has not been brought to the debates or evoked by the corporate media.

The region is far more unstable than at any time in over four decades when a war was fought between Egypt and Israel in 1973, prompting an oil embargo and the consequent economic crisis inside the U.S. during this period. Later on in 1978-79, the Egyptian government of the-then President Anwar Sadat, under tremendous pressure from Washington, signed a separate peace agreement with Tel Aviv.

This agreement with Israel effectively neutralized the role of Cairo in the struggle for the independence of Palestine. At present the bulk of discussion centering around North African and Middle Eastern affairs focuses on the role of IS, al-Qaeda and other so-called “Islamist extremist organizations.”

This narrative provides a rationale and political justification for a permanent imperialist occupation of the regions negating the right to self-determination for the states involved.

tahrir_square_0Five Years After Tahrir Square, Egypt’s Police State Worse Than Ever

By Lauren McCauley, January 25 2016

Five years after mass popular uprisings ousted longtime dictator Hosni Mubarek, Egyptians are again under siege.

Egypt’s Revolution-Creative Destruction For A ‘Greater Middle East’?Egypt’s Revolution: Creative Destruction For A ‘Greater Middle East’?

By F. William Engdahl, January 25 2016

Originally published in February, 2011

syria-war-planeThe Paris Meeting of Conspirators in Support of Syria’s “Moderate Terrorists”: Talks Filled With Sinful Crime.

By Christopher Black, January 24 2016

On January 20th a cabal of dependencies of the United States of America, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy, met in Paris to discuss war on Syria.

2000px-Iraq_Syria_Locator.svgExpanding US-NATO Military Presence inside Syria. American Boots on the Ground

By South Front, January 25 2016

The United States is expanding its presence in Syria. Satellite imagery taken Dec. 28 shows construction underway to extend the runway at an airfield in Rmeilan, al-Hasaka province, which would prepare the site to accommodate larger aircraft.

us-syria flagsOn Eve of Syria “Peace Talks,” Washington Threatens Escalation across Region

By Bill Van Auken, January 25 2016

With Syria “peace talks” ostensibly set to begin in Geneva today, Washington has ratcheted up threats of US military escalation throughout the region.

Multi-billionaire/former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly has advisors preparing plans for a possible independent presidential bid.

He’s unhappy about Trump’s likely Republican nomination and both Democrat contenders. Earlier, he considered a third-party run, deciding he couldn’t win.

What makes him think now is different, he’ll have to explain. Forbes reported his net worth at $38.1 billion as of October 2015. He indicated willingness to spend a billion dollars or more for a presidential bid.

Reportedly he’ll decide by early March, enough time to be on ballots in all 50 states. He commissioned a poll last month to see how he’d fare against Trump and Clinton. He plans another in early February.

His strategy appears to be to convince voters that a self-made, problem-solving (super-rich) businessman is America right choice today – much like Trump’s game plan, with a huge leg up on a potential late-to-the game challenger.

Bloomberg’s challenges are daunting. No independent candidate ever became president. America’s duopoly power system prevents it, assuring one-party rule.

Republicans and Democrats take turns, marching in lockstep on all major issues, serving wealth and power interests exclusively.

Bloomberg ideologically is no different. He didn’t become super-rich by being a nice guy. As mayor, he ignored public needs.

New York is one of America’s poorest large cities. Unemployment and underemployment are among the highest.

Most city workers lack pensions. Many earn sub-subsistence wages. Poverty is extremely high. It rose annually during Bloomberg’s tenure. City homelessness more than doubled on his watch.

Many others live in overcrowded substandard dwellings. Hard times getting harder forced large numbers to live with families or friends. Unaffordable rental prices created crisis conditions.

Bloomberg did nothing to address them. Unprecedented social polarization worsened on his watch. New York’s top 20% earns 40 times more than the bottom one-fifth. It’s top 1% earns infinitely more.

Bloomberg waged war on labor. Onerous tax burdens were imposed. Over $1 billion in public worker concessions were demanded.

Massive layoffs affected thousand of teachers, hundreds of firefighters and many other city workers. Dozens of senior centers and day care ones were closed.

Public wages were frozen or minimally increased. Benefits were cut. At the same time, Wall Street got generous ones on top of trillions of dollars of federal bailout funding.

Throughout his tenure, Bloomberg implemented numerous financial sector tax giveaways. Ordinary city residents got tax increases.

He and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly persecuted city Blacks and Latinos, intensifying racist stop and frisk practices.

He won elections the old-fashioned way, anointed by party bosses and Wall Street, outspending challengers multiple times over, drowning out opposition voices.

 

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

The Black Sea Fleet is an operational-strategic command of the Russian Navy located on the Black Sea which also includes the ships harbored in the Azov Sea. The history of the fleet begins in the late 18th century in the city of Sevastopol. At that time Russia struggled with its main adversary in that region for naval superiority in the Black Sea – the Ottoman Empire.

The most notable engagements of the fleet include the Battle for the Kerch Strait in 1790 against Ottoman Empire, the Crimean War in the mid 19th century, both World Wars and the Georgian conflict in 2008. The Black Sea Fleet has an immense political and military significance for the Russian government. This has been proven throughout history and also during the most recent Crimean Crisis. The geostrategic significance of the Black Sea Fleet is further increased by the possibility of accessing the Mediterranean Sea by the Bosphorus and Dardanelle straits, which allows Russia to send its naval force into a warm-water sea. This fact is one of the most important traits of the Black Sea Fleet which explains how and why this fleet survived since the 18th century and why the Crimean Peninsula is so important to Russian.

Strategic Role

Beside Russia, the other countries that have coastlines on the Black Sea are Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Turkey. The Ukrainian Navy has around 6,000-7,000 servicemen with HQ in Odessa (before the coup the Navy had more than 13,000), the Romanian Navy numbers around 7,000 servicemen (one part of the navy operates on the Black Sea coast the other on the Danube river), the Bulgarian Navy has around 3,500 servicemen with HQ in Varna, Georgia whose Navy was merged with the Coast Guard in 2009 under the jurisdiction of the Border Guard and the Ministry of Interior Affairs has 5,000 servicemen and HQ in Poti. And finally, Turkey which has the longest coastline and is also the country which controls the Bosphorus and the Dardanelle straits.

The Turkish Navy has around 50,000 servicemen (~15,000 active and ~35,000 conscripts) with its Northern Sea Area Command in Istanbul and Southern Sea Area Command in Izmir. Although the country has the largest coastline on the Black Sea, Turkey’s primary naval objectives are focused on the two straits connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. These two straits have an enormous impact on all naval forces in the Black Sea as well as on the commerce of Turkey and other countries in that region. The significance of these straits can be seen in the daily transportation of oil which reaches more than 2.9 million barrels per day transported by 5,500 oil tankers. Though Turkey has sovereignty over the Bosphorus and the Dardanelle, closing these straits for whichever navy would mean an open act of aggression, exceeding the incident with the SU-24 downing. Recently there have been concerns of imposing some kind of restrictions to the Russian ships passing these straits, especially since the incident in Syria, but these restrictions are farfetched.

The Black Sea Fleet is truly a major asset for Russia, especially since the unification of Crimea. Also, the power of this fleet can be further boosted by the Caspian Flotilla which is connected to the Black Sea via the Volga-Don canal. In the recent years this fleet has proven to be very important for the Syrian forces. Since the autumn of 2015 for the Russian forces as well – transporting and delivering supplies, and also providing military support against the potential external threats for Syria.

Though this fleet is heavily dependent on the two Turkish straits in order to access the Mediterranean Sea, successful operations in Syria and a possible ending of the conflict could provide Russia with two important naval bases in the Mediterranean. The Russian navy already has some military installations and facilities in Tartus which could be expanded, and in the future we could see similar naval activities taking place in Latakia. As always, the financial aspect determines the state, as well as, the military policy. If Russia decides to expand its navy in the future, it must be cost-effective and efficient.

Igor Pejic graduated Political Science Foreign Affairs Department at the Faculty of Political Science and now he is a postgraduate student on the MA Terrorism, Security and Organised Crime at the University of Belgrade, Serbia.


ANNEX

Structure

Black Sea Fleet ~11,000 servicemen (including marines)

30th Surface Ship Division

  • Missile Cruiser – Moskva ♦ Missiles: 16 x P-500/SS-N-12 Bazalt/Sandbox SSM; 8 x B303A VLS systems; 2 x Osa-MA Sam Systems ♦ Guns: 1 – Twin 130 mm / 70 cal. AK 130. DP; 6 – AK-630 CIWS Gatling Guns; 2 – 45 mm / 85 cal Gun
  • Large Antisubmarine Ship – Kerch ♦ Missiles: 2 x 4 URK-5/SS-N-14 Rastrub/Silex SSM/ASW missiles; 2 Shtorm SAM systems; 2 Osa-M SAM systems ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 76.2 mm/59cal AK-726 DP; 4 x 6 30 mm AK-630 AA
  • Patrol Ship – Smetlivyy ♦ Missiles: 2 x Uran; 2 Volna-M SAM systems ♦ Guns: 1 x 2 76.2 mm/59 cal DP AK-726
  • Patrol Ship – Ladnyy ♦ Missiles: 4 URK-5/SS-N-14 Rasturb/Silex SSM/ASW missiles; 2 Osa-MA-2 SAM systems ♦ Guns: 2 dual 76.2 mm/59cal DP AK-726
  • Patrol Ship – Pytlivyy ♦ Missiles: 4 URPK-5 Rasturb/SS-N-14 Siles SSM/ASW missiles; 2 Osa-MA-2 SAM systems ♦ Guns: 2 x 1 100 mm DP AK-100

197th Assault Ship Brigade

  • Large Landing Ship – Nikolay Filchenkov ♦ Missiles: 3 SA-N-5 Grail launchers manual aiming; 122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70 DP; 2 dual 25 mm AA
  • Large Landing Ship – Orsk ♦ Missiles: 3 SA-N-5 Grail launchers manual aiming ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70 DP
  • Large Landing Ship – Saratov ♦ Missiles: 3 SA-N-5 Grail launchers manual aiming ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70DP
  • Large Landing Ship – Azov ♦ Missiles: 4 x 8 Strela (SS-N-3); 2 122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment ♦ Guns: 1 AK-726 DP (1 x 76.2 mm); 2 x 6 – AK-630 CIWS Gatling Guns
  • Large Landing Ship – Novocherkassk ♦ Missiles: 4 x 8 Strela (SS-N-3); 2 122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment ♦ Guns:2 x 2 AK-725 DP (2 x 57 mm)
  • Large Landing Ship – Tsesar Kunikov ♦ Missiles: 4 x 8 Strela (SS-N-3); 2 122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 AK-725 DP (2 x 57 mm)
  • Large Landing Ship – Yamal ♦ Missiles: 4 x 8 Strela (SS-N-3); 2 122 mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 AK-725 DP (2 x 57 mm)

4th Independent Submarine Brigade

  • Diesel-Electric Submarine B-871 – Alrosa ♦ Armament: 6 x 21 inch torpedo tubes; 8 Strela-3 (SA-N-8 Gremlin) or 8 Igla (SA-N-10 Gimlet) missiles
  • Diesel-Electric Submarine – B-380 ♦ Armament: 6 x 21 inch torpedo tubes; 24 x 21 inch anti-submarine or anti-ship torpedoes
  • Diesel-Electric Submarine B-261 – Novorossiysk ♦ Armament: 6 x 21 inch torpedo tubes; 8 Strela-3 (SA-N-8 Gremlin) or 8 Igla (SA-N-10 Gimlet) missiles
  • Diesel-Electric Submarine B-237 – Rostov on Don ♦ Armament: 6 x 21 inch torpedo tubes; 8 Strela-3 (SA-N-8 Gremlin) or 8 Igla (SA-N-10 Gimlet) missiles
  • Diesel-Electric Submarine B-435 – former Zaporizhzhia ♦ Armament: 10 x 21 inch torpedo tubes

68th Coastal Defense Ship Brigade

149th Antisubmarine Ships Tactical group:

  • Small Missile Ship – Alexandrovets ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70cal DP; 1 30 mm AA
  • Small Missile Ship – Suzdalets ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70cal DP; 1 30 mm AA
  • Small Missile Ship – Muromets ♦ ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 dual 57 mm/70cal DP; 1 30 mm AA

150th Minesweepers Tactical Group:

  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Kovrovets ♦ Missiles: 2 x Twin Grail Launchers (10x Grail SAM) ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 30 mm AK-230 guns in twin turrets; 2 x 2 25 mm 2M-3M-230 guns in twin turrets
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Ivan Golubets ♦ Missiles: 2 x Twin Grail Launchers (10x Grail SAM) ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 30 mm AK-230 guns in twin turrets; 2 x 2 25 mm 2M-3M-230 guns in twin turrets
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Turbinist ♦ Missiles: 2 x Twin Grail Launchers (10x Grail SAM) ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 30 mm AK-230 guns in twin turrets; 2 x 2 25 mm 2M-3M-230 guns in twin turrets
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Vice Admiral Zhukov ♦ Missiles: 2 x Twin Grail Launchers (10x Grail SAM) ♦ Guns: 2 x 2 30 mm AK-230 guns in twin turrets; 2 x 2 25 mm 2M-3M-230 guns in twin turrets

41th Missile Boat Brigade

166th Novorossiysky Small Missile Ships Battalion:

  • Surface Effect Warfare Corvette – Bora ♦ Missiles: 2 x 4 3M-80/SS-N-22 Moskit/Sunburn SSM; 1 Osa-MA SAM system ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Surface Effect Warfare Corvette – Samum ♦ Missiles: 2 x 4 3M-80/SS-N-22 Moskit/Sunburn SSM; 1 Osa-MA SAM system ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Shtil ♦ Missiles: 6 P-120/SS-N-9 Malakhit/Siren SSM; 1 Osa-M SAM system ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Mirazh ♦ Missiles: 6 P-120/SS-N-9 Malakhit/Siren SSM; 1 Osa-M SAM system ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Zelenyy Dol ♦ Missile: 1 x 40 retractable A-215 Grad-M; 2 x 4 UKSK VLC Cells Kalibar-NK; 1 x 4 3M47 Gibka; 2 x 4 Komar ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Serpuhkov ♦ 1 x 40 retractable A-215 Grad-M; 2 x 4 UKSK VLC Cells Kalibar-NK; 1 x 4 3M47 Gibka; 2 x 4 Komar ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630 Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm

295th Sulinsky Missile Boats Battalion:

  • Missile Boat – R-60 ♦ Missiles: 4 SS-N-22 Sunburn (2 twin) launchers; SAM – SA-N-5 Grail quad launcher ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 1 Palash CIWS 2 x 6 30 mm
  • Missile Boat – R-71 ♦ Missiles: 4 SS-N-2 Styx (2 twin) launchers ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic.
  • Missile Boat – R-109 ♦ Missiles: 4 SS-N-22 Sunburn (2 twin) launchers; SAM – SA-N-5 Grail quad launcher ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630M Gatling gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Missile Boat – R-239 ♦ Missiles: : 4 SS-N-22 Sunburn (2 twin) launchers; SAM – SA-N-5 Grail quad launcher ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630M Gatling gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Missile Boat – Ivanovetc ♦ Missiles: : 4 SS-N-22 Sunburn (2 twin) launchers; SAM – SA-N-5 Grail quad launcher ♦ Guns: 1 AK-176 76.2 mm/59cal DP full automatic; 2 AK-630M Gatling gun AA 6 x 30 mm

184th Coastal Ship Brigade

  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Povorino ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 76.2 mm/59cal DP; 1 30 mm AA
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Eysk ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 76.2 mm/59cal DP; 1 30 mm AA
  • Small Antisubmarine Ship – Kasimov ♦ Missiles: 1 Osa-M SAM system; 2 SA-N-8 SAM positions ♦ Guns: 1 76.2 mm/59cal DP; 1 30 mm AA
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Velentin Pikul ♦ Missiles: 18 x sets of MANPAD Igla; 2 x anti-submarine RBU-1200 ♦ Guns: 2 AK-630M Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Zheleznyakov ♦ Missiles: 18 x sets of MANPAD Igla; 2 x anti-submarine RBU-1200 ♦ Guns: 2 AK-630M Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm 
  • Seagoing Minesweeper – Vice Admiral Zakharyin ♦ Missiles: 18 x sets of MANPAD Igla; 2 x anti-submarine RBU-1200 ♦ Guns: 2 AK-630M Gatling Gun AA 6 x 30 mm 
  • Base Minesweeper – Mineralnie Vodi ♦ Armament: 2 x 30 mm guns; 2 x 25 mm guns
  • Base Minesweeper – Leytenant Ilyin ♦ Armament: 2 x 30 mm guns; 2 x 25 mm guns
  • Harbour Minesweeper – RT-46 ♦ Armament: 2 x 14.5 mm machine guns
  • Harbour Minesweeper – RT-278 ♦ Armament: 2 x 14.5 mm machine guns

Black Sea Naval Infantry:

  • 810th Naval Infantry Brigade
  • 382nd Independent Naval Infantry Battalion

Black Sea Fleet Naval Air Force HQ Sevastopol:

  • 25th Independent Anti-submarine Helicopter Regiment ~20 helicopters Ka-27 Mi-14
  • 917th Independent Composite Air Regiment ~10 Antonov; 4 Be-12; ~10 Mi-8
  • 43rd Independent Naval Assault Squad 18 Su-24M; 4 Su-24MR

The United States is expanding its presence in Syria. Satellite imagery taken Dec. 28 shows construction underway to extend the runway at an airfield in Rmeilan, al-Hasaka province, which would prepare the site to accommodate larger aircraft.

Separate reports of the U.S. preparing deployment of aircraft to Rmeilan have been circulating since early December. The images confirm that at least some of those reports are true.

Before the war, the airfield’s runway was only 700 meters long, a length that appears to be doubling. The airfield has since been captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has controlled the airport for more than two years.

The confirmation of the expanding US presence in Syria arisen amid militaristic statements of Vice President Joseph Biden who claimed that the US is ready for military solution in Syria during a speech at a press conference with the Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.

A day before a ground operation in Iraq and Syria was also announced by the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. It’s stated that 101st Airborne Division will soon deploy 1,800 troops to Iraq. The plans for Syria are unknown yet. The US-led military block is with no doubt surprised by the success of the Syrian Arab Army supported by the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces and allegedly Russian military advisors.

There are also reports that Russia uses a civilian airport in Syrian city Qamishli which is currently controlled by the Kurds. The airport is located in the province of al-Hasaka and the Turkish media claim that it has been visited by about 100 Russian officers and military experts who thoroughly checked the airport. We remember since the Russian missile systems S-400 appeared in Syria – Turkish warplanes no longer violate the air space of the country.

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

Implementing of this plan could easily lead to a global war launched by military escalation over the Syrian crisis. The stakes of the global geopolitical standoff have been raised again.

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The Craziest Conspiracy Theory of Them All

January 25th, 2016 by Justin Raimondo

To those of us who grew up during the cold war years, it’s just like old times again: Russian plots to subvert the West and poison our precious bodily fluids are apparently everywhere. Speaking of poisoning plots: the latest Russkie conspiracy – and the most imaginative by far – was the alleged assassination by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko [pictured left], a former agent of the Russian intelligence services who fled to the West to become a professional anti-Russian propagandist and conspiracy theorist with a talent for the improbable. According to his fantastic worldview, the many terrorist attacks that have occurred in Russia have all been committed by … Vladimir Putin.

Aside from championing the Chechen Islamo-terrorists who actually committed these crimes, Litvinenko’s stock-in-trade was an elaborate conspiracy theory in which he regularly accused Putin of blowing up Russian apartment buildings and murdering schoolchildren and then diverting attention from his own nefarious plots by blaming those lovable Chechens. Not very believable – unless one is predisposed to believe anything, so long as it casts discredit on those satanic Russians.

The conspiracy theory promulgated by the British government – and now memorialized in this official report – surpasses anything the deceased fantasist might have come up with. According to the Brits, Litvinenko was poisoned on British soil whilst imbibing a cup of tea spiked with a massive dose of radioactive polonium-210 – and, since Russia is a prime source of this rare substance, and since the Russians were supposedly out to get Litvinenko, the FSB – successor to the KGB – is named as the “probable” culprit.

Looking at the report, one has to conclude that they don’t make propaganda the way they used to: the certitude of, say, a J. Edgar Hoover or a Robert Welch has given way to the tepid ambiguity of Lord Robert Owen, the author of this report, whose verdict of “probably” merely underscores the paucity of what passes for evidence in this case.

To begin with, if the Russians wanted to off Litvinenko, why would they poison him with a substance that left a radioactive trail traceable from Germany to Heathrow airport – and, in the process, contaminating scores of hotel rooms, offices, planes, restaurants, and homes?  Why not just put a bullet through his head? It makes no sense.

But then conspiracy theories don’t have to make sense: they just have to take certain assumptions all the way to their implausible conclusions. If one starts with the premise that Putin and the Russians are a Satanic force capable of anything, and incompetent to boot, then it’s all perfectly “logical” – in the Bizarro World, at any rate.

The idea that Litvinenko was a dangerous opponent of the Russian government who had to be killed because he posed a credible threat to the existence of the regime is laughable: practically no one inside Russia knew anything about him, and as for his crackpot “truther” theories about how Putin was behind every terrorist attack ever carried out within Russia’s borders – to assert that they had any credence outside of the Western media echo chamber is a joke. So there was no real motive for the FSB to assassinate him, just as there is none for the FBI to go after David Ray Griffin.

The British report doesn’t bother presenting any real evidence: instead, we are given a detailed account of the lives of the alleged killers – Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoy – that reads like a Daily Mail article. Included in this compendium of character assassination and gossip is the testimony of one of Kovtun’s ex-wives that he “wanted to be a porno star.” That this factoid would find its way into an official report of the United Kingdom is extraordinary – but not, I fear, unexpected. Salaciousness has its place in contemporary fiction, particularly the pulp-thriller genre, of which this report is a prime (if pedestrian) example.

The rest of the report is a complicated account of every move Kovtun, Lugovoy, and Litvinenko made in the days leading up to Litvinenko’s poisoning. It neither compromises nor exonerates the accused: presumably it was included to give the report the appearance of substance. The meat of the matter – the real “evidence” – is hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Lord Owen’s inquiry was for the most part conducted in secret closed  hearings, with testimony given by anonymous witnesses, and this is central to the “evidence” that is supposed to convict Kovtun, Lugovoy, and the Russian government. Lord Owen, explains it this way:

“Put very shortly, the closed evidence consists of evidence that is relevant to the Inquiry, but which has been assessed as being too sensitive to put into the public domain. The assessment that the material is sufficiently sensitive to warrant being treated as closed evidence in these proceedings has been made not by me, but by the Home Secretary. She has given effect to this decision by issuing a number of Restriction Notices, which is a procedure specified in section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005. The Restriction Notices themselves, although not, of course, the sensitive documents appended to them, are public documents. They have been published on the Inquiry website and are also to be found at Appendix 7 to this Report.”

In other words, the “evidence” is not for us ordinary mortals to see. We just have to take His Lordship’s word for it that the Russian government embarked on an improbable assassination mission against a marginal figure that reads like something Ian Fleming might have written under a pseudonym.

Yes, you might say, but Litvinenko was poisoned. So who killed him?

As I pointed out here:

“Litvinenko was an employee of exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky – whose ill-gotten empire included a Russian syndicate of car-dealerships that had more than a nodding acquaintance with the Chechen Mafia – but was being slowly cut out of the money pipeline. Big-hearted Boris, who had initially put him on the payroll as anti-Putin propagandist, was evidently getting sick of him, and the out-of-work “dissident” was reportedly desperate for money. Litvinenko had several “ business meetings ” with Lugovoi in the months prior to his death, and, according to this report , he hatched a blackmail scheme targeting several well-known Russian tycoons and government officials.”

Indeed, Litvinenko, in the months before his death, had targeted several well-known members of the Russian Mafia with his blackmail scheme. That they would take umbrage at this is hardly shocking.

Furthermore, there are indications that Litvinenko was engaged in the smuggling of nuclear materials. That he wound up being contaminated by the goods he was peddling on the black market seems far more credible than the cock-and-bull story about a vast Russian plot originating in the Kremlin,. Apparently Lord Owen has never heard of Occam’s Razor.

You can check out Justin Raimondo‘s Twitter feed by going here. He’s written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of his 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), his biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

La demanda tiene por objeto que no se agregue el herbicida a la lista de cancerígenos bajo la Proposición 65, que obliga al Estado a publicar una lista de los productos químicos que se sabe que causan cáncer, defectos de nacimiento u otros daños reproductivos. El anuncio se produjo el 4 de septiembre de 2015.

Reuters informó que la empresa presentó la demanda contra la Oficina del Estado de Evaluación de Riesgos de Salud Ambiental (OEHHA) en los tribunales del estado de California para evitar que se informe a  los residentes sobre los riesgos de los diferentes productos químicos, y sustancias que causan cpáncer. OEHHA hizo el anuncio, después de que la Agencia Internacional de la Organización Mundial de la Salud para la Investigación sobre el Cáncer (IARC) anunció su probable vínculo con el cáncer en marzo de 2015.

Si el glifosato es añadido a la lista, Monsanto estaría obligado a proporcionar una advertencia en los marbetes a los consumidores, de que el producto químico es un reconocido carcinógeno.Monsanto afirma que esto es una violación de sus derechos de la Primera Enmienda y, de acuerdo con la denuncia presentada, “causaría un daño irreparable a Monsanto y el público y que afectaría negativamente a la reputación de Monsanto para la fabricación de herbicidas seguros y confiables; sería potencialmente una pérdida de ventas y obligaría a la empresa a gastar importantes sumas de dinero para volver a etiquetar sus productos “.

Si esto no fuera suficiente el Environmental Working Group, una organización de vigilancia de la industria que publica periódicamente informes sobre la seguridad de todo, desde productos de alimentos procesados y productos de cuidado personal, acaba de publicar una lista de los productos químicos más potentes, que causan cáncer , en su conocida lista “Dirty Dozen “(docena sucia).Otros estudios afirman que el glifosato no merece su lugar en la lista de los productos químicos que causan cáncer e incluyen una revisión completa hecha en 2015 por la Autoridad Europea de Seguridad Alimentaria. La conclusión de la EFSA que el glifosato era seguro fue criticado tanto por la IARC y casi 100 científicos de alto nivel en Europa, que firmaron una carta abierta al comisario europeo de la salud Vitenis Andriukaitis en noviembre de 2015, acusando a las autoridades de la UE de ignorar esta opinión al hacer regulaciones de glifosato para Europa.

El Director de negocios de Monsanto, Gary Philpotts  dijo que, “La opinión de la IARC es un caso atípico en este cuerpo de evidencia científica. Sin embargo, la opinión de la IARC encaja con los reclamos activistas contra los químicos y  que estos grupos continúan invirtiendo en comunicaciones que tratan de poner en duda el consenso científico acerca de la seguridad del glifosato “.

Además, Phil Miller, vicepresidente de Monsanto de asuntos regulatorios, sostiene que la clasificación de la IARC es incoherente con otras investigaciones y “no es una base sólida para cualquier acción reguladora.

Pamela Coleman, PhD de Farm and Food Policy y un analista del Instituto Cornucopia no está de acuerdo :- “Contrariamente a la actual concepción errónea generalizada de que el glifosato es relativamente inofensivo para los seres humanos, la evidencia disponible muestra que el glifosato puede más bien ser el factor más importante en el desarrollo de múltiples enfermedades y condiciones crónicas que han llegado a ser frecuente en las sociedades occidentalizadas.” Relacionado con la disfunción generalizada mitocondrial en las células, un problema más de una larga lista de problemas de salud como la enfermedad de Alzheimer, la diabetes tipo 2, el Parkinson y la obesidad, según el Centro Canadiense para la Investigación sobre la Globalización.

En octubre pasado la OEHHA de California, aceptaba comentarios públicos acerca de su intención de agregar al glifosato en el listado, de acuerdo con la Proposición 65, y recibió cerca de 8.000 comentarios con respecto a esta decisión, incluyendo los comentarios de Monsanto.

California es un ejemplo a seguir en todo el mundo, lamentablemente Argentina sería incapaz de tomar una decisión análoga para protegernos del tóxico del siglo, con un Senasa estéril, menos aún en Buenos Aires, con un Ministro de Asuntos Agrarios ex empleado de Monsanto y con un Ministerio de Agricultura de la Nación,  manejado por Aacrea, Aapresid y la sede oficial de la empresa al mando de Lino Barañao.Ser PROtransgénicos y PROvenenos es parte del Cambio, para desgracia de los argentinos. Como respuesta, el latiguillo es que la culpa la tiene el que se fué, no del que llega a incentivar y a perpeturar el genocidio silencioso.

Graciela Vizcay Gomez

Originally published in February, 2011:

Fast on the heels of the regime change in Tunisia came a popular-based protest movement launched on January 25 against the entrenched order of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Contrary to the carefully-cultivated impression that the Obama Administration is trying to retain the present regime of Mubarak, Washington in fact is orchestrating the Egyptian as well as other regional regime changes from Syria to Yemen to Jordan and well beyond in a process some refer to as “creative destruction.”

The template for such covert regime change has been developed by the Pentagon, US intelligence agencies and various think-tanks such as RAND Corporation over decades, beginning with the May 1968 destabilization of the de Gaulle presidency in France. This is the first time since the US-backed regime changes in Eastern Europe some two decades back that Washington has initiated simultaneous operations in many countries in a region. It is a strategy born of a certain desperation and one not without significant risk for the Pentagon and for the long-term Wall Street agenda. What the outcome will be for the peoples of the region and for the world is as yet unclear.

Yet while the ultimate outcome of defiant street protests in Cairo and across Egypt and the Islamic world remains unclear, the broad outlines of a US covert strategy are already clear.

No one can dispute the genuine grievances motivating millions to take to the streets at risk of life. No one can defend atrocities of the Mubarak regime and its torture and repression of dissent. No one can dispute the explosive rise in food prices as Chicago and Wall Street commodity speculators, and the conversion of American farmland to the insane cultivation of corn for ethanol fuel drive grain prices through the roof. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, much of it from the USA. Chicago wheat futures rose by a staggering 74% between June and November 2010 leading to an Egyptian food price inflation of some 30% despite government subsidies.

What is widely ignored in the CNN and BBC and other Western media coverage of the Egypt events is the fact that whatever his excesses at home, Egypt’s Mubarak represented a major obstacle within the region to the larger US agenda.

To say relations between Obama and Mubarak were ice cold from the outset would be no exaggeration. Mubarak was staunchly opposed to Obama policies on Iran and how to deal with its nuclear program, on Obama policies towards the Persian Gulf states, to Syria and to Lebanon as well as to the Palestinians.[1] He was a formidable thorn in the larger Washington agenda for the entire region, Washington’s Greater Middle East Project, more recently redubbed the milder-sounding “New Middle East.”

As real as the factors are that are driving millions into the streets across North Africa and the Middle East, what cannot be ignored is the fact that Washington is deciding the timing and as they see it, trying to shape the ultimate outcome of comprehensive regime change destabilizations across the Islamic world. The day of the remarkably well-coordinated popular demonstrations demanding Mubarak step down, key members of the Egyptian military command including Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan were all in Washington as guests of the Pentagon. That conveniently neutralized the decisive force of the Army to stop the anti-Mubarak protests from growing in the critical early days.[2]

The strategy had been in various State Department and Pentagon files since at least a decade or longer. After George W. Bush declared a War on Terror in 2001 it was called the Greater Middle East Project. Today it is known as the less threatening-sounding “New Middle East” project. It is a strategy to break open the states of the region from Morocco to Afghanistan, the region defined by David Rockefeller’s friend Samuel Huntington in his infamous Clash of Civilizations essay in Foreign Affairs.

Egypt rising?

The current Pentagon scenario for Egypt reads like a Cecil B. DeMille Hollywood spectacular, only this one with a cast of millions of Twitter-savvy well-trained youth, networks of Muslim Brotherhood operatives, working with a US-trained military. In the starring role of the new production at the moment is none other than a Nobel Peace Prize winner who conveniently appears to pull all the threads of opposition to the ancien regime into what appears as a seamless transition into a New Egypt under a self-proclaimed liberal democratic revolution.

Some background on the actors on the ground is useful before looking at what Washington’s long-term strategic plan might be for the Islamic world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf and ultimately into the Islamic populations of Central Asia, to the borders of China and Russia.

Washington ‘soft’ revolutions

The protests that led to the abrupt firing of the entire Egyptian government by President Mubarak on the heels of the panicked flight of Tunisia’s Ben Ali into a Saudi exile are not at all as “spontaneous” as the Obama White House, Clinton State Department or CNN, BBC and other major media in the West make them to be.

They are being organized in a Ukrainian-style high-tech electronic fashion with large internet-linked networks of youth tied to Mohammed ElBaradei and the banned and murky secret Muslim Brotherhood, whose links to British and American intelligence and freemasonry are widely reported.[3]

At this point the anti-Mubarak movement looks like anything but a threat to US influence in the region, quite the opposite. It has all the footprints of another US-backed regime change along the model of the 2003-2004 Color Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and the failed Green Revolution against Iran’s Ahmedinejad in 2009.

The call for an Egyptian general strike and a January 25 Day of Anger that sparked the mass protests demanding Mubarak resign was issued by a Facebook-based organization calling itself the April 6 Movement. The protests were so substantial and well-organized that it forced Mubarak to ask his cabinet to resign and appoint a new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman, former Minister of Intelligence.

April 6 is headed by one Ahmed Maher Ibrahim, a 29-year-old civil engineer, who set up the Facebook site to support a workers’ call for a strike on April 6, 2008.

According to a New York Times account from 2009, some 800,000 Egyptians, most youth, were already then Facebook or Twitter members. In an interview with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment, April 6 Movement head Maher stated, “Being the first youth movement in Egypt to use internet-based modes of communication like Facebook and Twitter, we aim to promote democracy by encouraging public involvement in the political process.” [4]

Maher also announced that his April 6 Movement backs former UN International Atomic Energy Aagency (IAEA) head and declared Egyptian Presidential candidate, ElBaradei along with ElBaradei’s National Association for Change (NAC) coalition. The NAC includes among others George Ishak, a leader in Kefaya Movement, and Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, president of the parliamentary bloc of the controversial Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood.[5]

Today Kefaya is at the center of the unfolding Egyptian events. Not far in the background is the more discreet Muslim Brotherhood.

ElBaradei at this point is being projected as the central figure in a future Egyptian parliamentary democratic change. Curiously, though he has not lived in Egypt for the past thirty years, he has won the backing of every imaginable part of the Eyptian political spectrum from communists to Muslim Brotherhood to Kefaya and April 6 young activists.[6] Judging from the calm demeanour ElBaradei presents these days to CNN interviewers, he also likely has the backing of leading Egyptian generals opposed to the Mubarak rule for whatever reasons as well as some very influential persons in Washington.

Kefaya—Pentagon ‘non-violent warfare’

Kefaya is at the heart of mobilizing the Egyptian protest demonstrations that back ElBaradei’s candidacy. The word Kefaya translates to “enough!”

Curiously, the planners at the Washington National Endowment for Democracy (NED) [7] and related color revolution NGOs apparently were bereft of creative new catchy names for their Egyptian Color Revolution. In their November 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, the US-financed NGOs chose the catch word, Kmara! In order to identify the youth-based regime change movement. Kmara in Georgian also means “enough!”

Like Kefaya, Kmara in Georgia was also built by the Washington-financed trainers from the NED and other groups such as Gene Sharp’s misleadingly-named Albert Einstein Institution which uses what Sharp once identified as “non-violence as a method of warfare.” [8]

The various youth networks in Georgia as in Kefaya were carefully trained as a loose, decentralized network of cells, deliberately avoiding a central organization that could be broken and could have brought the movement to a halt. Training of activists in techniques of non-violent resistance was done at sports facilities, making it appear innocuous. Activists were also given training in political marketing, media relations, mobilization and recruiting skills.

The formal name of Kefaya is Egyptian Movement for Change. It was founded in 2004 by select Egyptian intellectuals at the home of Abu ‘l-Ala Madi, leader of the al-Wasat party, a party reportedly created by the Muslim Brotherhood. [9] Kefaya was created as a coalition movement united only by the call for an end Mubarak’s rule.

Kefaya as part of the amorphous April 6 Movement capitalized early on new social media and digital technology as its main means of mobilization. In particular, political blogging, posting uncensored youtube shorts and photographic images were skillfully and extremely professionally used. At a rally already back in December 2009 Kefaya had announced support for the candidacy of Mohammed ElBaradei for the 2011 Egyptian elections.[10]

RAND and Kefaya

No less a US defense establishment think-tank than the RAND Corporation has conducted a detailed study of Kefaya. The Kefaya study as RAND themselves note, was “sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.” [11]

A nicer bunch of democratically-oriented gentlemen and women could hardly be found.

In their 2008 report to the Pentagon, the RAND researchers noted the following in relation to Egypt’s Kefaya:

“The United States has professed an interest in greater democratization in the Arab world, particularly since the September 2001 attacks by terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon. This interest has been part of an effort to reduce destabilizing political violence and terrorism. As President George W. Bush noted in a 2003 address to the National Endowment for Democracy, “As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export” (The White House, 2003). The United States has used varying means to pursue democratization, including a military intervention that, though launched for other reasons, had the installation of a democratic government as one of its end goals.

However, indigenous reform movements are best positioned to advance democratization in their own country.” [12]

RAND researchers have spent years perfecting techniques of unconventional regime change under the name “swarming,” the method of deploying mass mobs of digitally-linked youth in hit-and-run protest formations moving like swarms of bees.[13]

Washington and the stable of “human rights” and “democracy” and “non-violence” NGOs it oversees, over the past decade or more has increasingly relied on sophisticated “spontaneous” nurturing of local indigenous protest movements to create pro-Washington regime change and to advance the Pentagon agenda of global Full Spectrum Dominance. As the RAND study of Kefaya states in its concluding recommendations to the Pentagon:

“The US government already supports reform efforts through organizations such as the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Programme. Given the current negative popular standing of the United States in the region, US support for reform initiatives is best carried out through nongovernmental and nonprofit institutions.” [14]

The RAND 2008 study was even more concrete about future US Government support for Egyptian and other “reform” movements:

“The US government should encourage nongovernmental organizations to offer training to reformers, including guidance on coalition building and how to deal with internal differences in pursuit of democratic reform. Academic institutions (or even nongovernmental organizations associated with US political parties, such as the International Republican Institute or the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) could carry out such training, which would equip reform leaders to reconcile their differences peacefully and democratically.

“Fourth, the United States should help reformers obtain and use information technology, perhaps by offering incentives for US companies to invest in the region’s communications infrastructure and information technology. US information technology companies could also help ensure that the Web sites of reformers can remain in operation and could invest in technologies such as anonymizers that could offer some shelter from government scrutiny. This could also be accomplished by employing technological safegaurds to prevent regimes from sabotaging the Web sites of reformers. ” [15]

As their Kefaya monograph states, it was prepared in 2008 by the “RAND National Security Research Division’s Alternative Strategy Initiative, sponsored by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

The Alternative Strategy Initiative, just to underscore the point, includes “research on creative use of the media, radicalization of youth, civic involvement to stem sectarian violence, the provision of social services to mobilize aggrieved sectors of indigenous populations, and the topic of this volume, alternative movements.” [16]

In May 2009 just before Obama’s Cairo trip to meet Mubarak, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a number of the young Egyptian activists in Washington under the auspices of Freedom House, another “human rights” Washington-based NGO with a long history of involvement in US-sponsored regime change from Serbia to Georgia to Ukraine and other Color Revolutions. Clinton and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman met the sixteen activists at the end of a two-month “fellowship” organized by Freedom House’s New Generation program.[17]

Freedom House and Washington’s government-funded regime change NGO, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are at the heart of the uprisings now sweeping across the Islamic world. They fit the geographic context of what George W. Bush proclaimed after 2001 as his Greater Middle East Project to bring “democracy” and “liberal free market” economic reform to the Islamic countries from Afghanistan to Morocco. When Washington talks about introducing “liberal free market reform” people should watch out. It is little more than code for bringing those economies under the yoke of the dollar system and all that implies.

Washington’s NED in a larger agenda

If we make a list of the countries in the region which are undergoing mass-based protest movements since the Tunisian and Egyptian events and overlay them onto a map, we find an almost perfect convergence between the protest countries today and the original map of the Washington Greater Middle East Project that was first unveiled during the George W. Bush Presidency after 2001.

Washington’s NED has been quietly engaged in preparing a wave of regime destabilizations across North Africa and the Middle East since the 2001-2003 US military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The list of where the NED is active is revealing. Its website lists Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Sudan as well, interestingly, as Israel. Coincidentally these countries are almost all today subject to “spontaneous” popular regime-change uprisings.

The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs mentioned by the RAND document study of Kefaya are subsidiary organizations of the Washington-based and US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy.

The NED is the coordinating Washington agency for regime destabilization and change. It is active from Tibet to Ukraine, from Venezuela to Tunisia, from Kuwait to Morocco in reshaping the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union into what George H.W. Bush in a 1991 speech to Congress proclaimed triumphantly as the dawn of a New World Order. [18]

As the architect and first head of the NED, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991 that, “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”[19]

The NED Board of Directors includes or has included former Defense Secretary and CIA Deputy head, Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group; retired General Wesley Clark of NATO; neo-conservative warhawk Zalmay Khalilzad who was architect of George W. Bush’s Afghan invasion and later ambassador to Afghanistan as well as to occupied Iraq. Another NED board member, Vin Weber, co-chaired a major independent task force on US Policy toward Reform in the Arab World with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and was a founding member of the ultra-hawkish Project for a New American Century think-tank with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, which advocated forced regime change in Iraq as early as 1998.[20]

The NED is supposedly a private, non-government, non-profit foundation, but it receives a yearly appropriation for its international work from the US Congress. The National Endowment for Democracy is dependent on the US taxpayer for funding, but because NED is not a government agency, it is not subject to normal Congressional oversight.

NED money is channelled into target countries through four “core foundations”—the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, linked to the Democratic Party; the International Republican Institute tied to the Republican Party; the American Center for International Labor Solidarity linked to the AFL-CIO US labor federation as well as the US State Department; and the Center for International Private Enterprise linked to the free-market US Chamber of Commerce.

The late political analyst Barbara Conry noted that,

“NED has taken advantage of its alleged private status to influence foreign elections, an activity that is beyond the scope of AID or USIA and would otherwise be possible only through a CIA covert operation. Such activities, it may also be worth noting, would be illegal for foreign groups operating in the United States.” [21]

Significantly the NED details its various projects today in Islamic countries, including in addition to Egypt, in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. In short, most every country which is presently feeling the earthquake effects of the reform protests sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa is a target of NED. [22]

In 2005 US President George W. Bush made a speech to the NED. In a long, rambling discourse which equated “Islamic radicalism” with the evils of communism as the new enemy, and using a deliberately softer term “broader Middle East” for the term Greater Middle East that had aroused much distruct in the Islamic world, Bush stated,

“The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is a difficult and long-term project, yet there’s no alternative to it. Our future and the future of that region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery, while radicals stir the resentments of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, and for our generation and the next. If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and by their participation as free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow, and eventually end…We’re encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We’re standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow…” [23]

The US Project for a ‘Greater Middle East’

The spreading regime change operations Washington from Tunisia to Sudan, from Yemen to Egypt to Syria are best viewed in the context of a long-standing Pentagon and State Department strategy for the entire Islamic world from Kabul in Afghanistan to Rabat in Morocco.

The rough outlines of the Washington strategy, based in part on their successful regime change operations in the former Warsaw Pact communist bloc of Eastern Europe, were drawn up by former Pentagon consultant and neo-conservative, Richard Perle and later Bush official Douglas Feith in a white paper they drew up for the then-new Israeli Likud regime of Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996.

That policy recommendation was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It was the first Washington think-tank paper to openly call for removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, for an aggressive military stance toward the Palestinians, striking Syria and Syrian targets in Lebanon.[24] Reportedly, the Netanyahu government at that time buried the Perle-Feith report, as being far too risky.

By the time of the events of September 11, 2001 and the return to Washington of the arch-warhawk neoconservatives around Perle and others, the Bush Administration put highest priority on an expanded version of the Perle-Feith paper, calling it their Greater Middle East Project. Feith was named Bush’s Under Secretary of Defense.

Behind the facade of proclaiming democratic reforms of autocratic regimes in the entire region, the Greater Middle East was and is a blueprint to extend US military control and to break open the statist economies in the entire span of states from Morocco to the borders of China and Russia.

In May 2009, before the rubble from the US bombing of Baghdad had cleared, George W. Bush, a President not remembered as a great friend of democracy, proclaimed a policy of “spreading democracy” to the entire region and explicitly noted that that meant “the establishment of a US-Middle East free trade area within a decade.” [25]

Prior to the June 2004 G8 Summit on Sea Island, Georgia, Washington issued a working paper, “G8-Greater Middle East Partnership.” Under the section titled Economic Opportunities was Washington’s dramatic call for “an economic transformation similar in magnitude to that undertaken by the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.”

The US paper said that the key to this would be the strengthening of the private sector as the way to prosperity and democracy. It misleadingly claimed it would be done via the miracle of microfinance where as the paper put it, “a mere $100 million a year for five years will lift 1.2 million entrepreneurs (750,000 of them women) out of poverty, through $400 loans to each.” [26]

The US plan envisioned takeover of regional banking and financial afairs by new institutions ostensibly international but, like World Bank and IMF, de facto controlled by Washington, including WTO. The goal of Washington’s long-term project is to completely control the oil, to completely control the oil revenue flows, to completely control the entire economies of the region, from Morocco to the borders of China and all in between. It is a project as bold as it is desperate.

Once the G8 US paper was leaked in 2004 in the Arabic Al-Hayat, opposition to it spread widely across the region, with a major protest to the US definition of the Greater Middle East. As an article in the French Le Monde Diplomatique in April 2004 noted, “besides the Arab countries, it covers Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Israel, whose only common denominator is that they lie in the zone where hostility to the US is strongest, in which Islamic fundamentalism in its anti-Western form is most rife.” [27] It should be noted that the NED is also active inside Israel with a number of programs.

Notably, in 2004 it was vehement opposition from two Middle East leaders—Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the King of Saudi Arabia—that forced the ideological zealots of the Bush Administration to temporarily put the Project for the Greater Middle East on a back burner.

Will it work?

At this writing it is unclear what the ultimate upshot of the latest US-led destabilizations across the Islamic world will bring. It is not clear what will result for Washington and the advocates of a US-dominated New World Order. Their agenda is clearly one of creating a Greater Middle East under firm US grip as a major control of the capital flows and energy flows of a future China, Russia and a European Union that might one day entertain thoughts of drifting away from that American order.

It has huge potential implications for the future of Israel as well. As one US commentator put it, “The Israeli calculation today is that if ‘Mubarak goes’ (which is usually stated as ‘If America lets Mubarak go’), Egypt goes. If Tunisia goes (same elaboration), Morocco and Algeria go. Turkey has already gone (for which the Israelis have only themselves to blame). Syria is gone (in part because Israel wanted to cut it off from Sea of Galilee water access). Gaza has gone to Hamas, and the Palestine Authority might soon be gone too (to Hamas?). That leaves Israel amid the ruins of a policy of military domination of the region.” [28]

The Washington strategy of “creative destruction” is clearly causing sleepless nights not only in the Islamic world but also reportedly in Tel Aviv, and ultimately by now also in Beijing and Moscow and across Central Asia.

F. William Engdahl is author of  Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order. His book, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order has just been reissued in a new edition. He may be contacted via his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.


Notes

[1] DEBKA, Mubarak believes a US-backed Egyptian military faction plotted his ouster, February 4, 2011, accessed in www.debka.com/weekly/480/. DEBKA is open about its good ties to Israeli intelligence and security agencies. While its writings must be read with that in mind, certain reports they publish often contain interesting leads for further investigation.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Center for Grassroots Oversight, 1954-1970: CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood ally to oppose Egyptian President Nasser, www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=western_support_for_islamic_militancy_202700&scale=0. According to the late Miles Copeland, a CIA official stationed in Egypt during the Nasser era, the CIA allied with the Muslim Brotherhood which was opposed to Nasser’s secular regime as well as his nationalist opposition to brotherhood pan-Islamic ideology.

[4] Jijo Jacob, What is Egypt’s April 6 Movement?, February 1, 2011, accessed in http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/107387/20110201/what-is-egypt-s-april-6-movement.htm

[5] Ibid.

[6] Janine Zacharia, Opposition groups rally around Mohamed ElBaradei, Washington Post, January 31, 2011, accessed in http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/31/AR2011013103470_2.html?sid=ST2011013003319.

[7] National Endowment for Democracy, Middle East and North Africa Program Highlights 2009, accessed in http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/middle-east-and-northern-africa/middle-east-and-north-africa-highlights.

[8] Amitabh Pal, Gene Sharp: The Progressive Interview, The Progressive, March 1, 2007.

[9] Emmanuel Sivan, Why Radical Muslims Aren’t Taking over Governments, Middle East Quarterly, December 1997, pp. 3-9

[10] Carnegie Endowment, The Egyptian Movement for Change (Kifaya), accessed in http://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2010/09/22/the-egyptian-movement-for-change-kifaya

[11] Nadia Oweidat, et al, The Kefaya Movement: A Case Study of a Grassroots Reform Initiative, Prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Santa Monica, Ca., RAND_778.pdf, 2008, p. iv.

[12] Ibid.

[13] For a more detailed discussion of the RAND “swarming” techniques see F. William Engdahl, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, edition.engdahl, 2009, pp. 34-41.

[14] Nadia Oweidat et al, op. cit., p. 48.

[15] Ibid., p. 50.

[16] Ibid., p. iii.

[17] Michel Chossudovsky, The Protest Movement in Egypt: “Dictators” do not Dictate, They Obey Orders, January 29, 2011, accessed in http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22993

[18] George Herbert Walker Bush, State of the Union Address to Congress, 29 January 1991. In the speech Bush at one point declared in a triumphant air of celebration of the collapse of the Sovoiet Union, “What is at stake is more than one small country, it is a big idea—a new world order…”

[19] Allen Weinstein, quoted in David Ignatius, Openness is the Secret to Democracy, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 30 September 1991, pp. 24-25.

[20] National Endowment for Democracy, Board of Directors, accessed in http://www.ned.org/about/board

[21] Barbara Conry, Loose Cannon: The National Endowment for Democracy, Cato Foreign Policy Briefing No. 27, November 8, 1993, accessed in http://www.cato.org/pubs/fpbriefs/fpb-027.html.

[22] National Endowment for Democracy, 2009 Annual Report, Middle East and North Africa, accessed in http://www.ned.org/publications/annual-reports/2009-annual-report.

[23] George W. Bush, Speech at the National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, DC, October 6, 2005, accessed in http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com/speeches/10.06.05.html.

[24] Richard Perle, Douglas Feith et al, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, 1996, Washington and Tel Aviv, The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, accessed in www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

[25] George W. Bush, Remarks by the President in Commencement Address at the University of South Carolina, White House, 9 May 2003.

[26] Gilbert Achcar, Fantasy of a Region that Doesn’t Exist: Greater Middle East, the US plan, Le Monde Diplomatique, April 4, 2004, accessed in http://mondediplo.com/2004/04/04world

[27] Ibid.

[28] William Pfaff, American-Israel Policy Tested by Arab Uprisings, accessed in  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/american-israeli_policy_tested_by_arab_uprisings_20110201/

Image: Egyptian flags fly over Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 2011 uprising. (Photo: Ramy Raoof/cc/flickr)

Five years after mass popular uprisings ousted longtime dictator Hosni Mubarek, Egyptians are again under siege. In an attempt to thwart demonstrations honoring the 2011 Arab Spring, the government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has deployed troops, raided homes and cultural centers, and reportedly disappeared hundreds of activists in the lead-up to the anniversary on Monday, intensifying a widespread crackdown on dissent.

Over the past two weeks, security forces interrogated residents and searched more than 5,000 homes in central Cairo as a “precautionary measure” against demonstrations, which officials claim ”are aimed at polarizing society and mobilizing the masses against the government.”

Meanwhile, activists estimate that between August and November more than 340 people “disappeared” into government custody. Sherif Mohie Eddin of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the total number recently imprisoned is “not less than 1,000,” adding to the tens of thousands of journalists, religious and protest leaders, and other political detainees already held in Egyptian prisons.

Despite the climate of fear, some protesters braved the streets on Monday to honor the legacy of January 25 and call attention to the ongoing violence and suppression.

Al Jazeera reports:

Egyptians demonstrated against the military-led government in Alexandria’s Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square, which was the site of 2011 protests, as well as in Nasr City and Shubra district in the capital, Cairo.

Two Egyptians were shot dead by police in an alleged “exchange of gunfire” in Cairo’s October 6 district.  Security forces also used gas bombs to disperse protesters in Cairo’s eastern al-Matareya district as well as in Kafr Sheikh.

Residents reported that the build-up of security forces, along with recent crackdowns on activists and arbitrary raids on homes, reflected the government’s resolve to prevent marking the anniversary with popular demonstrations similar to those in 2011.

As the New York Times‘ Kareem Fahim notes, “the scale of the clampdown has baffled many people here, as has the level of official alarm, from a government that has faced no challenge from large-scale protests in years. In word and deed, Mr. Sisi and other officials have treated even the possibility of demonstrations on the anniversary as a grave threat to the nation.”

Activists say that state repression today is even worse than under Mubarak.

“This is without doubt the worst we’ve ever seen,” Hossam Bahgat, an investigative reporter who was recently detained by Egypt’s military intelligence agency, told theGuardian ahead of the anniversary.

“The level of repression now is significantly higher than it was under the Mubarak regime, and people from older generations say it is worse than even the worst periods of the 1950s and 1960s [under the rule of Gamal Abdel Nasser].”

“Five years after euphoric crowds celebrated the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, the hopes that the ‘25 January Revolution’ would herald a new era of reforms and respect for human rights have been truly shattered. Egyptians have been made to watch as their country reverts back to a police state,”

said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s deputy Middle East and North Africa programme director.

“Peaceful protesters, politicians and journalists have borne the brunt of a ruthless campaign against legitimate dissent by the government and state security forces,” Boumedouha continued. “Tens of thousands have been arrested and the country’s prisons are now overflowing, with widespread reports of torture and hundreds held without charge or trial.”

Without a trace of irony, in a televised speech on Sunday, al-Sisi praised the “noble principles” of those whose lives were lost during the Tahrir Square uprisings, adding:

“Egypt today is not the Egypt of yesterday. We are building together a modern, developed and civilian state that upholds the values of democracy and freedom. Democratic experiences don’t mature overnight, but rather through a continuing and accumulative process.”

The five year anniversary comes amid intensifying war in the Middle East, which has enabled the United States and other western governments to continue to support Egypt as a key ally—with aid, arms, and military “cooperation”—despite the widespread and documented human rights abuses.

For many who helped bring the revolution about, the anniversary marks a moment of reflection.

Abdel Rahman Mansour, one of the activists who helped spur the 2011 uprising, argued Monday that Egyptians are engaging in a “silent protest” against the current regime.

“I think the collective psyche of the Egyptian people is waiting for a moment, an opportunity, because you cannot achieve success twice with the same tools, and I think this is a good sign,” Mansour said.

He continued:

The low turnout in the last parliamentary elections is a reflection of people’s understanding of what type of regime they are living under.  The low turnout was a silent protest on the part of the Egyptian people against the regime. When they see that the moment is ripe to defeat the police again, they will take to the streets to do so. January 25 came about because people believed in their ability to achieve victory. This moment is yet to come, and waiting for it is not a mistake. The onus is on the ordinary people who can make meaningful change.

Tahrir Square protester Omar Robert Hamilton in a column Monday suggests that the memory of the revolution will hopefully sustain another someday.

“What else do we have left to fight with? That memory of possibility is all we have,” he states. “Maybe, for now, it is enough. We know that it still scares them: the idea of revolution. January 25th will always carry a symbolic and emotional potency, and the state has shown its nervousness.”

“The question is what might come next,” Hamilton continues.

“The possibilities line up before us: decades of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi overseeing a country slowly crumbling into the sea. A series of intra-military coups. More uprisings of the hungry and dispossessed. A slow democratisation process played out between competing elites. State collapse and an Islamic State insurgency. An acceleration in climate change, the flooding of the Nile Delta and widespread famine.

“Or, something different, something none of us can see yet,” he concludes. “I can’t say that I’m optimistic. But I’m not dead and I’m not in prison so I have no right to say it’s all over.”

Let’s say you lend your brother-in-law, Pauli, 5,000-bucks so he can get his fledgling construction business off-the-ground.  Then, you find out a week later that ‘good-old Pauli’ has shot the wad playing the horses at Long-acres and buying cocktails for his loafer-friends at Matt’s Mad Dog tavern?  Would you feel like you’d been ripped off?

Sure you would. But when some slick corporate fraudster pulls the same scam, no one even raises an eyebrow.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about the way that corporate bosses are allowed to take the hard-earned money from Mom and Pop investors and divide it among their freeloading shareholder friends via stock buybacks. You see, buybacks have been driving the market higher for the better part of six years, and every year the amount of cash diverted into this swindle gets bigger and bigger. According to Research Affiliates:

“In 2013, S&P 500 companies….spent $521 billion on buybacks. In 2014 that amount rose to $634 billion and moved higher still to $696 billion when total repurchases by all publicly traded companies in the U.S. market are included.”  (“Are Buybacks an Oasis or a Mirage?“, Research Affiliates)

And, here’s more from an older article at the Wall Street Journal:

“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (“Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?“, Wall Street Journal)

Whatever the exact figure may be, we’re talking serious money here, something in the neighborhood of a half trillion dollars per year. And it’s all being used for the sole purpose of jacking stock price so voracious CEOs and their shareholders can make a killing. Not one dime of this money is going into expanding operations, hiring more employees, Research and Development or improving productivity.  The lone objective of this farce is to inflate stock prices to Hindenburg proportions in order to line the pockets of filthy-rich one percenters.

And that’s just the half of it. The part I’ve left out is the part about how much debt these corporations are loading onto their balance sheets in order to feather their own nests. Take a look at this from Bloomberg:

“It’s official, using proceeds from debt sales to send cash to stockholders has never been more popular.

Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies listed buybacks or dividends among the use of proceeds in $58 billion of bond deals in the past three months, the most on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and Sundial Capital Research Inc. More than $460 billion in repurchases were announced during the first five months of 2015, on pace to top last year’s record.”  (“Debt Gone Wild” – Debt Funded Stock Buybacks Soar“, Advisor Perspectives)

$58 billion here, $58 billion there. Pretty soon you’re talking real money.

So let’s do the math: $58 billion in three months translates into $232 billion per year, which means that a heckuva a lot of the money that’s being given back to shareholders is being borrowed from–you guessed it– Mom and Pop, the suckers who’ll be left holding the bag when the whole system goes bust again in the not-too-distant future.

And why have Mom and Pop been buying all these crappy corporate bonds that are just adding to executive compensation instead of building stronger companies for a brighter future??

Because of the damn Fed, that’s why.  The Fed has been holding rates underwater for seven years to keep the money flowing to Wall Street and to force smalltime investors (who have been trying to scrape by on their withering retirements) to look for a higher return on their savings then they’re getting on their risk-free fixed-income investments. In other words, the Fed has put a gun to their heads and forced them back into the Wall Street sharktank.

It’s all a question of incentives, right? If you keep rates low enough, long enough, “they will come”….and get fleeced again for that matter. Which is exactly the way the system is designed to work. Low rates mean more pigs to the slaughter. Period. Now check this out from theFiscal Times: 

“Not only are investors willing to buy more debt, they’re also attaching fewer conditions. Rating service Moody’s tracks covenant quality, essentially a measure of standards that bond issuers must meet, and reported Thursday that the latest reading remains near record highs, which indicates weak restrictions.”

(“Why Corporate Debt Is Hitting Record Levels“, The Fiscal Times)

“Weak restrictions”, you say?

Well, that’s just great.

So, Mom and Pop got into bonds thinking, “I don’t trust stocks after the last crash, so I’ll load up on bonds cuz they’re safer”, right?  Only now they see they’ve been led into a minefield where they might not get out in one piece. Some bond funds have already suspended redemptions, which means investors can’t withdraw their money.  I’m dead serious.  It’s like the Hotel California, “You can check out, but you can’t leave.” Not with your money at least. So you can kiss that retirement “Goodbye”  and start filling out that job app for Taco Time now before the spot is taken by some other struggling graybeard.

Don’t you think companies should have to sign an oath to investors that they will NOT use their investment to divvy up among their shareholders?  I do. And, besides, if a CEO doesn’t have a plan for reinvesting profits in his own business, then he shouldn’t be the CEO, right?

No one buys a bond thinking  some corporate jerkoff is going to use the money to goose stock prices. That’s just pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Like I said earlier, no one in their right mind is going to lend brother-in-law Pauli 5K so he can blow it at the races or the tavern. Nor are they going to hand over their paltry retirement-savings to some shifty CEO who wants to use it to buy a bigger yacht or install a fountain at his palatial vacation retreat in the Hamptons.  That’s not why people invest money.

This whole stock buyback-thing shouldn’t even be an issue, mainly because we used to have rules that prohibited the practice before the Deregulator in Chief, Ronald Reagan, took office and everything went to hell in a handbasket. Check it out:

 “Prior to the Reagan era, executives avoided buybacks due to fears that they would be prosecuted for market manipulation. But under SEC Rule 10b-18, adopted in 1982, companies receive a “safe harbor” from market manipulation liability on stock buybacks if they adhere to four limitations.” (“SEC Admits It’s Not Monitoring Stock Buybacks to Prevent Market Manipulation“, Dave Dayen, Intercept)

Now, anything goes and the sky’s the limit.  Wall Street basically tells its lackey Congressmen what they want and, BAM, Congress changes the rules like that.  That’s basically how the system works.

As a result, Big Business keeps piling on more and more debt, creating more and more instability, and paving the way for another agonizing financial crisis.

Yes, I realize you’ve all heard that nonsense about “the strength of US corporations” and their “fortress balance sheets”  that are bulging with $2 trillion in excess cash. Sorry to break the news to you, but it’s all baloney. Take a look at this from Bloomberg:

“Corporate leverage is now at its highest level in a decade, according to a new analysis from Goldman Sachs….

Years of low interest rates and eager investors have encouraged Corporate America to go on a shopping spree. On its list are share buybacks and dividend hikes to reward equity investors, as well as a series of merger and acquisition deals, all funded through a generous bond market. Since cash flow has not kept up with the boom in bond sales, the splurge has left Corporate America with its highest debt load in about 10 years, according to the bank…..

“The spectre of rising rates, potential global disinflation (dare we say ‘deflation’?), declining operating profits and wider credit spreads continues to create near-term consternation for weak balance sheet stocks,” the analysts conclude.” (“Goldman Sachs Says Corporate America Has Quietly Re-levered“, Bloomberg)

Talk about understatement! Corporate America didn’t go on a “shopping spree”.  That’s ridiculous. They went on a six year debt-bender offloading zillions in bonds to credulous investors who’ll probably never see their money again. There’s no reason to dignify that sort of chicanery as a “shopping spree.”

And reread that last paragraph slowly and try to savor what the author is really saying. He’s saying that everything has changed; the Fed is taking its foot off the gas, earnings are shrinking, credit is tightening and the whole rickety infrastructure that keeps this Ponzi house of cards upright is about to collapse. Not today. Not tomorrow. But soon.

Which brings us to our final point, which is that there’s been no recovery. It’s all a big fraud. There was no restructuring of debt, no rebuilding of household wealth, no rebound in wages, incomes or employment. (excluding shitty-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs.)  The whole lie has been predicated on a failed monetary policy that has created gigantic, system-devouring asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, corporate debt, derivatives, ETFs, REITs… you-name-it, it’s inflated. The Fed has created the same mess it created last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that….

Anyway, you get the picture. What was that saying about “Old dogs and new tricks”?

That goes double for the Fed.

Introducción

A finales del siglo XIX, Estados Unidos había terminado la conquista del territorio continental con la última batalla de Wounded Knee de 1890, que desembocó en otra masacre de los indios Dakota y en otra violación del tratado de paz firmado con ese pueblo. En pleno auge industrial, la nueva potencia estadounidense se encontraba con un excedente de capitales y de productos. Washington empezó entonces a buscar nuevos mercados y organizó del 2 de octubre de 1889 al 19 de abril de 1890 la primera Conferencia Internacional Americana, que agrupó a los representantes de las naciones del continente. El objetivo era aumentar el comercio de Estados Unidos con el resto de América Latina, cuyos intercambios se realizaban sobre todo con Europa, por razones históricas evidentes, y particularmente con Inglaterra, gran potencia económica de la época. Para ello, Washington también deseaba crear una unión aduanera, establecer una red de comunicación más eficiente entre los principales puertos del continente, adoptar una moneda común basada en el patrón plata, uniformar el sistema de pesos y medidas, ajustar los criterios de la propiedad intelectual e instaurar un sistema de arbitraje internacional para solucionar los conflictos entre los países americanos.

Unos meses más tarde, del 7 de enero al 8 de abril de 1891, la Comisión Monetaria Internacional se reunió en Washington para echar las bases de una unión panamericana. Estados Unidos deseaba asentar su hegemonía económica y comercial, y por consiguiente política, en el continente e imponer la plata como moneda de cambio. Como cónsul de la República de Uruguay, José Martí participó activamente en las ocho sesiones de debate y desarrolló una intensa reflexión en las diferentes comisiones. Se afanó por informar a la opinión pública continental de los peligros de una alianza tan estrecha con Estados Unidos e intentó convencer a sus colegas latinoamericanos de que no cedieran a las propuestas de Washington, con el fin de preservar la independencia y la soberanía de América Latina.

Entre el 28 de septiembre de 1889 y el 31 de agosto de 1890, redactó once crónicas detalladas, diez para el diario argentino La Nación, uno de los más importantes de América Latina, y una para el periódico mexicano El Partido Liberal. También intercambió tres cartas al respecto con su amigo Gonzalo de Quesada entre el 29 de octubre de 1889 y febrero de 1891 y escribió un largo informe que se publicó en La Revista Ilustrada de Nueva York en mayo de 1891.

En esos escritos de vocación pedagógica, José Martí alerta a América Latina sobre los peligros de una alianza desequilibrada con Estados Unidos y expresa su pensamiento antiimperialista. Los designios hegemónicos de Washington, que empezaba a emerger como principal potencia mundial, eran patentes. Entonces era vital para las naciones hispanoamericanas presentar un frente unido ante esa amenaza.

1.     Apertura del Congreso de Washington

En su primer artículo titulado “El Congreso de Washington”, publicado el 28 de septiembre de 1889 en el diario La Nación, José Martí narra sus primeras impresiones sobre la cumbre panamericana.[1] Aunque la mayoría de las naciones latinoamericanas están presentes, 17 en total, faltan varios países. Así, a causa de un diferendo de orden territorial con Estados Unidos, Haití declinó temporalmente la invitación por las pretensiones de Washington sobre la península de San Nicolás, sitio estratégico en el extremo oeste de la isla considerado el “Gibraltar del Caribe”. El presidente haitiano Hippolyte, en pleno conflicto fratricida, dio prueba de firmeza y se negó a ceder dicho territorio al Presidente Benjamín Harrison, que deseaba construir allí una base naval. Del mismo modo la República Dominicana, también en conflicto con Estados Unidos a propósito de la Bahía de Samaná de la cual deseaba apoderarse, no asistió a la Conferencia Internacional y hubo represalias económicas por parte de Washington. Otros países, como Paraguay, estaban ausentes, sin mencionar a Cuba y Puerto Rico, entonces colonias españolas.

Antes del inicio de las sesiones de noviembre, Estados Unidos organizó un viaje de un mes a través del país para mostrar a los huéspedes la “grandeza y esplendidez de las ciudades” y las “industrias”. El objetivo era convencer a América Latina para que fuese el principal socio comercial de Estados Unidos aunque sus productos eran “más caro[s], sin ser en todo mejor[es]”. Martí denuncia las condiciones que desea imponer Washington a los pueblos del Sur y advierte a sus compatriotas de la trampa de una alianza comercial que no se basaría en la reciprocidad, el respeto mutuo y la no injerencia en los asuntos de las naciones hispanoamericanas. Así, para ser socio comercial del vecino del Norte, los países latinoamericanos tienen que someter su política exterior comercial o diplomática a la voluntad de Estados Unidos y por lo tanto renunciar a su independencia y a su soberanía. Tienen que comprometerse “a no recibir ayuda ni aceptar tratos de ningún otro pueblo del mundo”.[2]

Washington impondría ese tipo de condiciones a Cuba en 1901. Así, tras la intervención militar estadounidense en la Guerra de Independencia de Cuba en 1898, los cubanos, contra su voluntad, tuvieron que integrar la enmienda Platt a la nueva Constitución. Además de autorizar la intervención militar de Estados Unidos en los asuntos internos cubanos, ese apéndice de ocho puntos, redactado por el senador Orville H. Platt, estipulaba, entre otros, que La Habana no podía establecer relaciones económicas, comerciales, financieras o diplomáticas con otras naciones sin el consentimiento de la Casa Blanca.[3]

Desde el inicio, ese Congreso estaba condenado al fracaso, según Martí, pues sólo era la “bandera de la campaña presidencial” estadounidense y simbolizaba la lucha entre el presidente saliente Benjamín Harrison (1889-1893) y su sucesor Groover Cleveland (1893-1897). No obstante, constituirá “el recuento del honor, en que se vea quienes defienden con energía y mesura la independencia de la América española, donde está el equilibrio del mundo”.[4]

Los embajadores de las naciones latinoamericanas son representativos de todas las actitudes y todas las corrientes ideológicas, ilustrando así la falta de unidad mencionada por Martí. El espectro es amplio. Por una parte, se encuentra el lacayo “con los labios fríos como dos monedas de oro” que considera a Estados Unidos como su patria y piensa que Washington “va a poner en la riqueza y en la libertad a los pueblos que no la saben conquistar por sí propios”. Por otra parte, están “los de alma americana”, como el embajador de Honduras Jerónimo Zelaya, que celebra con “elocuente pasión beldad o fuerza su patria centroamericana”. Favorable a la unión de las naciones latinoamericanas, “es de los que quieren resucitar de la tumba de Morazán a Centroamérica”. Martí se refiere al general José Francisco Morazán Quesada, Presidente de la República de Honduras de 1827 a 1830, de Guatemala en 1829, de la República Federal de América Central de 1830 a 1834 y de 1835 a 1839, del Salvador en 1839 y 1840 y de Costa Rica en 1840. Líder del Movimiento liberal, partidario de la integración regional, Morazán fue una importante figura de la vida política centroamericana del siglo XIX y sigue siendo un símbolo de la voluntad de emancipación de los pueblos[5].

Martí no rechaza el comercio ni el mundo de los negocios. Sólo exige que sea “libre y natural”, que favorezca a todos los actores y que no sirva de herramienta para encadenar a los pueblos y saquear los recursos del continente. “La mano extranjera” no ha de atar a los pueblos del Sur con “cemento de espinas”.[6]

La mirada condescendiente y despectiva de la prensa estadounidense sobre América Latina, sea el Mail and Express de Nueva York, el Herald, el Tribune o el Sun, convencida de que “ha llegado la hora de hacer sentir [su] influencia en América”, es emblemática de la mentalidad del Congreso. No se trata de un intercambio o un diálogo basado en el entendimiento cordial y el respeto mutuo. Al revés, Washington está presente para aleccionar a América Latina, cuyo papel se limitará a aprobar, aplaudir y mostrarse reverenciosa. El cónsul de la República de Uruguay enumera los golpes bajos que da Estados Unidos. El secretario de Estado Blaine se impuso como Presidente del Congreso sin ser siquiera miembro del mismo. En vano protestó Vargas, el representante chileno: Hubo “esgrima, intriga, calumnia[7]”.

2.     La resistencia necesaria

A pesar de su deber de reserva, al que debe someterse como diplomático, José Martí no vacila en expresar claramente sus temores y en alertar a sus compatriotas. Fiel a su adagio según el cual “la palabra no es para encubrir la verdad, sino para decirla”, el cubano siente que debe informar a los pueblos del Sur:

Jamás hubo en América, de la Independencia acá, asunto que requiera más sensatez, ni obligue a más vigilancia, ni pida examen más claro y minucioso, que el convite que los Estados Unidos potentes, repletos de productos invendibles, y determinados a extender sus dominios en América, hacen a las naciones americanas de menos poder, ligadas por el comercio libre y útil con los pueblos europeos, para ajustar una liga contra Europa, y cerrar tratos con el resto del mundo. De la tiranía de España supo salvarse la América española; y ahora, después de ver con ojos judiciales los antecedentes, causas y factores del convite, urge decir, porque es la verdad, que ha llegado para la América española la hora de declarar su segunda independencia[8].

Martí llama a la vigilancia y la prevención. No hay que callar los peligros que amenazan al continente: “Lo primero en política, es aclarar y prever”. Frente a las ambiciones imperialistas de Washington hace falta “una respuesta unánime y viril”. Sin unión, América Latina caerá en la sumisión que le reserva el “Norte revuelto y brutal”. Martí no descarta la posible traición de “repúblicas venales o débiles” sometidas a Estados Unidos. Hace falta resistir a “la política secular y confesa de predominio de un vecino pujante y ambicioso” que ha extendido su influencia en todo el continente y quiere obligarlo “a comprar lo que no puede vender” y a “cortar por la intimidación sus tratos con el resto del universo, como en Colombia”. Martí alude aquí al Tratado Mallarino-Bidlack de 1846 entre la República de Nueva Granada y Estados Unidos que obligó a Bogotá a ceder el uso del canal de Panamá a Washington[9].

Firme defensor de los oprimidos, Martí se siente afligido por la realidad de la segregación racial que afecta a Estados Unidos y brinda su testimonio en una crónica publicada en noviembre de 1889. Es golpeado por el incesante ballet de los hombres de color que están al servicio de los delegados: “Los negros van y vienen, diez para cada huésped, cepillo en mano”.[10] Según él, América Latina no debe esperar nada de una nación que condena a semejante ostracismo a una parte de sus hijos y “que no vio crimen en dejar a una masa de hombres, so pretexto de la ignorancia en que la mantenían, bajo la esclavitud”.[11]

Martí recuerda la realidad histórica. Durante la epopeya independentista de América Latina, los pueblos emancipados conquistaron su libertad por sus propios esfuerzos, sin el concurso del Vecino del Norte. Aún más, Washington “exigió que los ejércitos del Sur abandonasen su proyecto de ir a redimir las islas americanas del golfo de la servidumbre de una monarquía europea”. El Apóstol alude aquí al proyecto de Gran Colombia y México de 1824 de montar una expedición bajo el liderazgo de Simón Bolívar para liberar a Cuba y Puerto Rico. Estados Unidos, con sus proyectos anexionistas para los dos archipiélagos, los cuales deseaba integrar a su Unión, había expresado con vehemencia su oposición a tal iniciativa[12].

“Acababan de unirse, con no menor dificultad que las colonias híbridas del Sur, los trece Estados del Norte y ya prohibían que se fortaleciese, como se hubiera fortalecido y puede fortalecerse aún, la unión necesaria de los pueblos meridionales, la unión posible de objeto y espíritu, con la independencia de las islas que la naturaleza les ha puesto de pórtico y guarda”. América Latina no puede confiar en una potencia que se opone a la libertad de todos los pueblos del Sur y que usurpó a México más de la mitad de su territorio. De Thomas Jefferson a John Quincy Adams, pasando por Clay o Webster, todos los expansionistas declararon su voluntad de someter al continente. Sería entonces peligroso vincular su suerte con la de “un pueblo rapaz de raíz, criado en la esperanza y certidumbre de la posesión del continente”.[13]

Estados Unidos se caracteriza por “su ambición de pueblo universal”, su “producción falsa” que incrementa sin cesar “para que no decaigan su influjo y su fausto”. Martí exhorta a América Latina a que no se deje sumergir por esa dominación y se oponga a esa forma de opresión: “Urge ponerle cuantos frenos se puedan fraguar, con el pudor de las ideas […] y la declaración de la verdad”. Hay una razón para ello: “La simpatía por los pueblos libres dura hasta que hacen traición a la libertad; o ponen en riesgo la de nuestra patria”.[14]

El discurso inaugural de Blaine estuvo marcado por la condescendencia “imperial”, según Martí. El Maestro recuerda los crímenes que cometió el secretario de Estado en América Latina, particularmente en Chile y en Perú, “quien perturbaba y debilitaba a los vencidos, con promesas que no les había de cumplir”. Ese Congreso americano que organiza Washington sólo es una cortina de humo detrás de la cual se disimulan el capital y los intereses de las multinacionales, que desean apoderarse de las riquezas del continente, controlar el comercio y encontrar nuevos mercados, con la complicidad de los políticos locales corruptos. Martí recuerda un lema de la época que repetía el mundo de los negocios respecto a la construcción de un canal en América Central: “O por Panamá, o por Nicaragua, o por los dos, porque los dos serán nuestros”.[15]

Este Congreso marca “el planteamiento desembozado de la era del predominio de los Estados Unidos sobre los pueblos de la América”, y no hay que fiarse de “la aparente mansedumbre de la convocatoria” que no es más que una “primera tentativa de dominio”. Esta reunión no puede disociarse de los planes imperiales de la Casa Blanca que desea aplastar a América Latina y ello se ve “en el exceso impropio de sus pretensiones”. Hay una realidad innegable: “Los pueblos más débiles e infelices de América […] son, fuera de México, tierra de fuerza original, los pueblos más cercanos a los Estados Unidos”. José Martí piensa claramente en la suerte de su patria, aún bajo el yugo del colonialismo español, que no deja de suscitar las apetencias de Washington.[16]

Martí llama a la reflexión. ¿Cuáles son los verdaderos intereses de los pueblos de Bolívar? Las dos Américas son distintas. ¿Acaso no valdría establecer las relaciones sobre bases libres “como amigas naturales”? Sería peligroso someterse “a un pueblo de intereses distintos, composición híbrida y problemas pavorosos, resuelto a entrar, antes de tener arreglada su casa, en desafío arrogante, y acaso pueril, con el mundo”. Los pueblos de América Latina no deben “abdicar su soberanía” en favor de una potencia que “no les ayudó jamás”. Martí exhorta a sus compatriotas a no firmar un pacto con el diablo. Al revés, hace falta “vivir en la salud de la verdad, sin alianzas innecesarias con un pueblo agresivo”, “un pueblo que comienza a mirar como privilegio suyo la libertad, que es aspiración universal y perenne del hombre, y a invocarla para privar a los pueblos de ella”.[17]

3.     El arbitraje

Para José Martí, conviene no fiarse de las apariencias exteriores, no “ver las cosas en la superficie”, sino al contrario, analizar cuidadosamente la realidad.[18] En apariencia, los objetivos buscados por el Congreso son nobles, sea la cuestión de la unión aduanera, la creación de una red de comunicación eficiente entre los puertos americanos, la adopción de una moneda común, la uniformidad del sistema de pesos y medidas, la extradición de criminales o el arbitraje de los diferendos.

Pero la realidad es otra y un abismo separa la retórica de Estados Unidos y su acción. Martí cita como ejemplo la actuación de Washington en Haití que, en vez de intervenir como mediador pacífico en plena guerra civil, eligió “proveer de armas al bando que le ha ofrecido cederle la península de San Nicolás, para echar del país al gobierno legítimo, que no se la quiso ceder”. El diplomático Martí deja de lado las conveniencias para expresar su pensamiento. Conviene desconfiar de ese pueblo que se autoproclama rey, en nombre de una “moralidad geográfica” y que intenta apoderarse de la isla de Cuba. “¿Y han de poner sus negocios los pueblos de América en manos de su único enemigo?”, pregunta Martí. Para él, la respuesta es evidente. América Latina debe resistir, unirse “y merecer definitivamente el crédito y respeto de naciones”.[19]

No hay diferencias entre Demócratas y Republicanos. En el caso de Haití, los Demócratas, a pesar de su fama de moderados, “iniciaron la misma política de conquista que los Republicanos”. Martí recuerda que los Demócratas de Thomas Jefferson lanzaron la política de expansión con la adquisición de la Luisiana (2 millones de km²) en 1803, vendida por Francia por la irrisoria suma de 15 millones de dólares.[20]

América Latina no puede aliarse conscientemente con una nación que intenta transformar a Haití y la República Dominicana en protectorados, que se obsesiona por adueñarse de Cuba para integrarla en su seno, que se apoderó de las riquezas de América Central, que quiere tomar el control de Nicaragua para construir allí un canal, que fomenta la discordia entre países hermanos (México, Costa Rica, Colombia) y que se extendió en Alaska desde 1867, comprada a Rusia.

Martí fustiga las complicidades locales en referencia a “un pretendiente a la presidencia en Costa Rica, que prefiere a la unión de Centroamérica la anexión a los Estados Unidos”. El Maestro alerta contra “la admiración ciega, por pasión de novicio o por falta de estudio” por Estados Unidos, pues “es la fuerza mayor” sobre la cual cuenta Washington para imponer su dominio. “La admiración justa por la prosperidad de los hombres liberales y enérgicos” no puede justificar los crímenes y los atentados contra la libertad de los demás pueblos. “¿O son los pueblos de América estatuas de ceguedad” incapaces de ver las maniobras del poderoso vecino? “¿A qué ir de aliados, en lo mejor de la juventud, en la batalla que los Estados Unidos se preparan a librar con el resto del mundo?”. Conviene resistir a la empresa hegemónica de Estados Unidos en todo el continente y oponerle una “política de la dignidad”.[21]

En su reflexión del 31 de marzo de 1890 en el diario La Nación, José Martí se congratula de la unión que mostraron los delegados latinoamericanos frente a las pretensiones de Estados Unidos, particularmente sobre la cuestión del arbitraje, en la cual Washington deseaba imponer su tutela. Los intentos de Blaine de conseguir el apoyo de algunas naciones fracasaron y la condescendencia y la prepotencia de la delegación estadounidense irritaron fuertemente a los embajadores del Sur.[22] La prensa estadounidense reconoció la prevalencia latinoamericana subrayando “la victoria patente y completa del pensamiento hispanoamericano sobre arbitraje, marcadamente opuesto al pensamiento de los Estados Unidos”.[23]

Martí indica a sus compatriotas la vía a seguir: “Los pueblos castellanos de América han de volverse a juntar pronto […]. El corazón se lo pide”. La expresión de resistencia frente a los intentos de división que orquestó Washington conforta a Martí en su misión de precursor y de pedagogo. “Vale más resguardarse juntos de los peligros de afuera, y unirse antes de que el peligro exceda a la capacidad de sujetarlo”.[24] Los esfuerzos tuvieron éxito y Martí relata la victoria de los pueblos del Sur: “La unión de los pueblos cautos y decorosos de Hispanoamérica, derrotó el plan norteamericano de arbitraje continental y compulsorio sobre las repúblicas de América, con tribunal continuo e inapelable residente en Washington”.[25]

Martí se felicita de la resistencia de las naciones latinoamericanas: “La conferencia de naciones pudo ser, a valer los pueblos de América menos de lo que valen, la sumisión humillante y definitiva de una familia de repúblicas libres […] a un poder temible e indiferente, de apetitos gigantescos y objetos distintos. Pero ha sido, ya por el clamor del corazón, ya por el aviso del juicio […] la antesala de una gran concordia”. Las ambiciones de las dos Américas son disímiles. Mientras que la América sajona “quiere ponerse sobre el mundo”, América Latina “le quiere abrir los brazos”.[26]

4.     La unión aduanera

Para eliminar a Inglaterra, su rival comercial, e imponer su dominio en el continente, Estados Unidos lanzó la idea de una unión aduanera panamericana. José Martí expresó inmediatamente su oposición al proyecto. En efecto, la unión aduanera tenía como objetivo inundar a América Latina de excedentes de producción de Estados Unidos y arruinaría las economías locales. El único objetivo que buscaba el poderoso vecino era encontrar “acomodo a los sobrantes” y deseaba que sus “vecinos se priv[as]en de todo, o de casi todo”, particularmente de las rentas aduaneras en su propio beneficio.[27]

Martí señala que sólo se pide sacrificios a América Latina a la que se intimida para que baje sus aranceles mientras Washington los aumenta para los productos de América Latina como la lana suramericana, el cobre chileno, el plomo mexicano o el azúcar cubano. Así, Estados Unidos “exige además la sumisión” imponiendo sus productos y excluyendo los del Sur. Se requiere a los países de América Latina que liberalicen su comercio cuando la Casa Blanca impone medidas proteccionistas para preservar su producción[28] –impuestos de un 60% a la lana argentina– y esa ausencia de reciprocidad por parte de los Estados Unidos “pletóricos y desdeñosos” es inaceptable.[29]

Según Martí, Washington hace un regalo envenenado a América Latina. La unión comercial que propone el poderoso vecino del Norte es un mal negocio. Está destinada a someter a las naciones del Sur, atando sus economías a la de Estados Unidos, privándolas de todo margen de maniobra y reduciendo singularmente su independencia económica. El continente no debe limitarse al papel de simple suministrador de materias primas baratas y constituir un mercado seguro para los productos manufacturados estadounidenses. Resulta vital preservar las relaciones comerciales, basadas en la reciprocidad y el beneficio mutuo, con Europa y el resto del mundo. En caso contrario, al atar su suerte a la de la economía estadounidense, América Latina volverá a la esclavitud y la dependencia.

La unión aduanera y la eliminación eventual de las barreras al comercio y de los impuestos sobre las importaciones privarían los países latinoamericanos de una importante fuente de ingresos y de divisas necesarias para la adquisición de bienes y servicios y el desarrollo nacional. Del mismo modo, la penetración masiva de productos estadounidenses arruinaría la industria local, que no podría resistir a la competencia desleal de las mercancías importadas. Por otra parte, semejante unión ocasionaría la llegada masiva de capitales extranjeros que se apoderarían de todos los sectores de la economía nacional.

Washington no conseguiría imponer la unión aduanera pero lograría establecer años más tarde con América Latina los famosos tratados de reciprocidad, tan defendidos por Blaine, que materializarían los temores de José Martí y los cuales Cuba sufriría a partir de 1903. Luego los tratados de libre cambio firmados de modo bilateral entre Estados Unidos y las naciones latinoamericanas inaugurarían la era del neocolonialismo estadounidense y tendrían consecuencias catastróficas para las economías del Nuevo Mundo. La entrada en vigor de la ALENA en 1994 entre Canadá, Estados Unidos y México sería emblemática. La economía mexicana, sea el sector agrícola, industrial o de los servicios, ha sido totalmente devastada y no ha podido resistir a la competencia de los productos estadounidenses. Las consecuencias sociales han sido trágicas con el aumento del desempleo, la precariedad y la pobreza.

Al respecto, Martí recordaría que el deber de todo hombre libre es ubicarse al lado de los marginados, los aplastados y los humillados: “¡Malhaya el que teme verse solo, o acompañado de los humildes, cuando tiene una idea noble que defender, y los de cuenta de banco y botín de charol están del lado de los que la sofocan o abandonan!”[30] Martí se refería al proyecto de ley debatido en el Senado cuyo objetivo era deportar a las poblaciones negras de Estados Unidos a África o a América Latina y subraya la decadencia de la sociedad estadounidense: “convida a los norteamericanos negros a expatriarse, a salir de su patria para siempre, para que no tengan que tratarlos como hombres, y sentarse a su lado en los carros, los norteamericanos blancos”.[31]

5.     Prohibición de la guerra de conquista

Durante la sesión de abril de 1890, los países del Sur propusieron un proyecto de resolución que condenaba las guerras de conquista. Ésas “serían actos injustificables de violencia y despojo” y “la inseguridad del territorio nacional conduciría fatalmente al sistema ruinoso de la paz armada”. Entonces, “la conferencia acuerda resolver: Que la conquista quede eliminada para siempre del derecho público americano: Que las cesiones territoriales serán insanablemente nulas si fuesen hechas bajo la amenaza de la guerra o la presión de la fuerza armada: Que la nación que las hiciese, podrá siempre recurrir al arbitraje para invalidarlas: Que la renuncia del derecho de recurrir al arbitraje carecerá de valor y eficacia, cualesquiera que fuesen la época, circunstancias y condiciones en que hubiere sido hecha”.[32]

Sin sorpresa, la delegación estadounidense expresó su firme oposición a la adopción de la resolución, que contradecía sus designios expansionistas. Washington no dio explicaciones a los embajadores latinoamericanos. El senador Ingalls mostró más franqueza en una entrevista al diario World: “Dentro de poco todo el continente será nuestro, y luego todo el hemisferio”.[33]

Quintana, representante de Argentina y autor del proyecto, recibió las felicitaciones de todas las delegaciones por defender con vehemencia y pasión el derecho a la paz. Martí, “americano sin patria, hijo infeliz de una tierra que no ha sabido aún inspirar compasión a las repúblicas de que es centinela natural, y parte indispensable”, resultó conmovido por “aquel arrebato de nobleza”. Todas las delegaciones latinoamericanas, con la excepción de Chile que eligió la abstención, por su conquista de una parte de Bolivia, aprobaron la resolución. “¿Por qué los Estados Unidos son los únicos en oponerse?”, pregunta Martí.[34] La respuesta resulta evidente. En un último esfuerzo, Washington propuso limitar la vigencia de la resolución a veinte años, petición que las distintas delegaciones aceptaron en nombre del consenso, algo que lamentó el Maestro.

La historia mostraría rápidamente que Estados Unidos no respetaría ni siquiera ese compromiso de veinte años ya que menos de una década después se apoderaría por la fuerza de la isla de Cuba y de Puerto Rico durante su intervención en la Guerra de Independencia contra España.

6.     Un ineludible fracaso

El Congreso llegó a su término con una constatación de fracaso.[35] Los delegados latinoamericanos se dieron cuenta de que sólo se trataba de un “ardid electoral” en la lucha que oponía a los dos candidatos a la presidencia. José Martí se alegró de la lucidez de sus compatriotas. Ese encuentro permitió por lo menos que todos tomaran conciencia de los verdaderos objetivos de Washington y acercase a los pueblos. Así, los embajadores “vuelven a Centro América, los de los cinco países, más centroamericanos de lo que vinieron, porque al venir se veían de soslayo unos a otros, y ahora se van juntos como si comprendieran que este modo de andar les va mejor”.[36]

El desdén del Norte hacia las repúblicas latinoamericanas se expresó en la revista militar en la Casa Blanca antes del regreso de las delegaciones a sus respectivos países. Martí apuntó en su crónica del 5 de mayo de 1890 que no se autorizó a las esposas de los embajadores a entrar en el recinto presidencial. Fueron abandonadas “al fuego del sol en los carruajes descubiertos, ni les llevaron a los coches la limonada republicana, ni salió a recibir a sus huéspedes la esposa del Presidente, que miraba de atrás de una cortina, ni saludó el Presidente a las señoras”.[37]

7.     Intercambios epistolares con Gonzalo de Quesada

José Martí había previsto hacer del Congreso una tribuna a favor de la independencia de Cuba. Es lo que refleja el intercambio epistolar con su amigo Gonzalo de Quesada. En una carta del 29 de octubre de 1889, Martí hizo una constatación lúcida de los resultados del encuentro de Washington y no se hace ilusiones: “ésta del congreso, de donde nada práctico puede salir, a no ser lo que convenga a los intereses norteamericanos, que no son, por de contado, los nuestros”. Puso en guardia contra las artimañas tramadas por “el vecino codicioso”: “Creo, en redondo, peligroso para nuestra América o por lo menos inútil, el Congreso Internacional”.[38]

La única resolución aceptable para los patriotas sería una que garantizaría “a Cuba su absoluta independencia”. El principal opositor a semejante texto sería desde luego Estados Unidos que deseaba apoderarse de la Perla de las Antillas y sólo esperaba la descomposición de la isla: “Eso espera este país, y a eso debemos oponernos nosotros” pues “una vez en Cuba los Estados Unidos ¿quién los saca de ella?”[39]

En otra misiva, de diciembre de 1889, Martí denunció de modo profético el proyecto de intervención militar de Estados Unidos en Cuba, que se realizaría en 1898: “Sobre nuestra tierra, Gonzalo, hay otro plan más tenebroso que lo que hasta ahora conocemos y es el inicuo de forzar a la Isla, de precipitarla a la guerra para tener pretexto de intervenir en ella, y con el crédito de mediador y de garantizador, quedarse con ella. Cosa más cobarde no hay en los anales de los pueblos libres: Ni maldad más fría”.[40]

8.     Informe para La Revista Ilustrada

En mayo de 1891, en La Revista Ilustrada  de Nueva York, José Martí publicó un largo informe sobre la Conferencia Internacional y las conclusiones que adoptó la Comisión Monetaria Internacional que nació del primer encuentro. Martí recordó el génesis. En mayo de 1888, el Presidente de Estados Unidos convidó a todas las naciones de América Latina y al reino de Hawái a una Conferencia Internacional en Washington para establecer una moneda común basada en el patrón plata que tendría un “uso forzoso en las transacciones comerciales recíprocas de los ciudadanos de todos los Estados de América[41]”.

Desde 1873, el valor del metal plata se había depreciado de modo sustancial tras la decisión de Washington de suprimir el dólar plata. En vísperas de las elecciones presidenciales estadounidenses, los lobbies mineros presionaron a los dirigentes para revalorizar dicho metal. En abril de 1890, la Conferencia Internacional Monetaria crea una Comisión Monetaria encargada de estudiar las modalidades de la elaboración de esa moneda plata (cantidad, valor, relación entre los patrones oro/plata). En 1891, Estados Unidos se encontraba en plena lucha entre los lobbies del Oeste ligados al sector minero, favorables al bimetalismo, y los del Este que representaban al sector financiero vinculado al comercio, la industria y la banca, partidarios de la paridad dólar/oro. Washington propuso no obstante a la Comisión, que vino “a cumplir lo que se había recomendado”, estudiar las posibilidades durante las ocho sesiones de trabajo que se desarrollaron entre enero y abril de 1891.

Martí declaró su escepticismo, pues durante los debates de la Comisión, “lo uniforme no era allí la moneda, sino la duda”, para ilustrar la justificada desconfianza de los países del Sur. Si el proyecto era loable pues “La América ha de promover todo lo que acerque a los pueblos, y de abominar todo lo que los aparte”, la elaboración del bimetalismo no suscita la unanimidad entre las repúblicas latinoamericanas, a causa de la oposición de algunas potencias europeas que son importantes socios comerciales del Nuevo Mundo. Así Argentina, cuyo principal socio comercial era Inglaterra, favorable al monometalismo oro, se opuso al proyecto. Conviene recordar que hasta los años de 1920 Inglaterra era el principal inversionista en América Latina. Personalmente, Martí estaba favorable con tal de que se estableciera una relación fija entre el oro y la plata, que se controlara la producción para evitar una depreciación de la plata y que hubiera un consenso entre las naciones. Dado que no estaban reunidas dichas condiciones, no había llegado la hora de semejante unificación.

Por otra parte, Martí desconfiaba de las verdaderas intenciones de Washington. No había que fiarse de las apariencias pues “en la política, lo real es lo que no se ve”. Así, “a todo convite entre pueblos hay que buscarle las razones ocultas”. La unión sólo puede realizarse sobre bases de una comunidad de intereses y “los pueblos menores, que están aún en los vuelcos de la gestación, no pueden unirse sin peligro con los que buscan un remedio al exceso de productos de una población compacta y agresiva”. “En la vida común, las ideas y los hábitos han de ser comunes”. Ahora bien, todo separa las dos Américas y un cordero no puede aliarse a un cóndor sin peligro. ¿Cómo América Latina puede echar su suerte con la nación que “consumió la raza nativa, fomentó y vivió de la esclavitud de otra raza y redujo o robó los países vecinos?”

Martí se muestra implacable con Estados Unidos de quien fustiga los abusos, la condescendencia y la arrogancia: “Creen en la necesidad, en el derecho bárbaro, como único derecho: ‘esto será nuestro, porque lo necesitamos’. Creen en la superioridad incontrastable de ‘la raza anglosajona contra la raza latina’. Creen en la bajeza de la raza negra, que esclavizaron ayer y vejan hoy, y de la india, que exterminan”.

Mientras Estados Unidos muestre su ignorancia verificada sobre las realidades latinoamericanas, sólo sentirá desprecio para con los pueblos del Sur. Con tales condiciones, “¿pueden los Estados Unidos convidar a Hispanoamérica a una unión sincera y útil para Hispanoamérica? ¿Conviene a Hispanoamérica la unión política y económica con los Estados Unidos?” Para Martí, la respuesta es categóricamente negativa. Hay una razón para ello: “Quien dice unión económica, dice unión política. El pueblo que compra, manda. El pueblo que vende, sirve. Hay que equilibrar el comercio, para asegurar la libertad. El pueblo que quiere morir, vende a un solo pueblo, y el que quiere salvarse, vende a más de uno. El influjo excesivo de un país en el comercio de otro, se convierte en influjo político. […] Cuando un pueblo fuerte da de comer a otro, se hace servir de él”.

Por consiguiente, América Latina debe imperativamente emanciparse de la tutela comercial de Estados Unidos si no quiere encontrarse irremediablemente sumisa. Debe hacer alarde de una unión sagrada pues “lo primero que hace un pueblo para llegar a dominar a otro, es separarlo de los demás pueblos”. La dependencia, sea económica o comercial, es irreparablemente sinónimo de subordinación: “El pueblo que quiera ser libre, sea libre en negocios. Distribuya sus negocios entre países igualmente fuertes. Si ha de preferir a alguno, prefiera al que lo necesite menos, al que lo desdeñe menos”. De ningún modo puede ser “el Norte revuelto y brutal que los desprecia”. La cercanía geográfica no obliga para nada a una unión comercial, es decir a una unión política.

América debe preservar su relación comercial con Europa y diversificarla para no caer en la trampa de la dependencia del “vecino codicioso”. La unificación monetaria mediante el patrón plata es deseable si el objetivo es llegar a “la paz igual y culta” entre los pueblos, si es que “acerque a los hombres y les haga la vida más moral y llevadera”. Pero, de ninguna forma, debe ser una herramienta de dominación ni de guerra comercial contra Europa. Debe conseguir la unanimidad entre socios comerciales y no imponerse por la fuerza: “Si los países de Hispanoamérica venden principalmente, cuando no exclusivamente, sus frutos en Europa, y reciben de Europa empréstitos y créditos, ¿qué conveniencia puede haber en entrar, por un sistema que quiere violentar al europeo, en un sistema de moneda que no se recibiría, o se recibiría depreciada, en Europa?” Para Martí, el sistema debe servir el interés de la comunidad internacional y no sólo de los productores de plata estadounidenses.

Conclusión

Las dos conferencias que convocó Estados Unidos estuvieron condenadas al fracaso. Nada salió salvo la constitución formal de una Unión Internacional de Repúblicas Americanas. Las reflexiones de José Martí, intelectual infalible capaz de adivinar los peligros relacionados con una dependencia demasiado estrecha con Estados Unidos, sobre esas reuniones son emblemáticas de su pensamiento antiimperialista. Usando su talento pedagógico, su manifiesta lucidez y su capacidad de persuasión, el revolucionario incorruptible logró desvelar los planes maquiavélicos del “vecino codicioso” y consiguió una victoria política simbólica sobre Estados Unidos. Aunque actuó como representante de la República de Uruguay, no dejó de defender “los derechos patentes de [los] países americanos”.[42]

La historia ha dado razón al precursor de la unión continental y se justifican sus advertencias. Así hoy, las multinacionales estadounidenses controlan una gran parte del mercado mundial y ejercen una fuerte influencia en la vida política de muchos países de América Latina y del Tercer Mundo, e incluso de los países desarrollados. Esa innegable injerencia tiene una fuerte incidencia en la soberanía de las naciones del mundo. El capital financiero estadounidense está implicado en la inmensa mayoría de los golpes de Estado que derrocaron gobiernos democráticos, populares y reformistas en América Latina e impuso sangrientas y represivas dictaduras en el siglo XX.

Aunque Estados Unidos no logró imponer el patrón plata como moneda única a finales del siglo XIX, el fracaso sólo fue temporal y la futura victoria superó todas las esperanzas. En efecto, desde 1944 y los acuerdos de Bretton Woods, Washington logró imponer el dólar como moneda de referencia en el mercado mundial con una relación nominal con el oro. Así, la masa monetaria en circulación en el mundo se garantizaba con reservas en oro. Estados Unidos dibujó así el nuevo sistema financiero internacional que le permite una dominación total sobre el resto del mundo. La suspensión de la convertibilidad dólar/oro en 1971, a causa de la falta de reservas suficientes, confirmó la hegemonía estadounidense en el campo financiero y monetario, indiscutida hasta hoy a pesar de la emergencia de otras monedas como el euro o el yuan. Así, gracias a la imposición de su sistema monetario, Estados Unidos ejerce un control sobre las economías de los países del Sur y sanciona a las naciones díscolas, como lo ilustra el caso de Cuba hoy.

 Salim Lamrani

 

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2014, con un prólogo de Eduardo Galeano. http://monthlyreview.org/books/pb4710/ Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected] Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

 


[1] José Martí, «El Congreso de Washington», La Nación, 28 septiembre de 1889. (Todos los documentos citados en este artículo se encuentran en la Biblioteca Ayacucho: http://www.bibliotecayacucho.gob.ve/fba/index.php?id=97&backPID=103&begin_at=16&tt_products=15 (sitio consultado el 20 de abril de 2015)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Enmienda Platt. http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/servlet/SirveObras/01371529900164820760035/p0000001.htm (sitio consultado el 20 de abril de 2015).

[4] José Martí, «Carta al Director», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889.

[5] José Martí, «El Congreso de Washington», La Nación, 28 septiembre de 1889, op. cit.

[6] Ibid.

[7] José Martí, « El Congreso de Washington », La Nación, 4 octobre 1889.

[8] José Martí, «El Congreso de Washington», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889.

[9] Ibid.

[10] José Martí, «El Congreso de Washington», La Nación, 4 de octubre de 1889, op. cit.

[11] José Martí, «El Congreso de Washington», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889, op. cit.

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] José Martí, «Carta al Director», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] José Martí, «Carta al Director», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889.

[22] José Martí, “Carta al Director”, La Nación, 31 de marzo de 1890.

[23] José Martí, «La Conferencia de Washington 8», La Nación, 31 de mayo de 1890.

[24] José Martí, «La Conferencia de Washington 7», La Nación, 9 de mayo de 1890.

[25] José Martí, «Carta al director», La Nación, 18 de abril de 1890.

[26] José Martí, “Carta al Director”, La Nación, 31 de marzo de 1890, op. cit.

[27] José Martí, «Carta al Director», La Nación, 2 de noviembre de 1889.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] José Martí, «Carta al director», La Nación, 24 de enero de 1890.

[31] José Martí, «Carta al director», La Nación, 20 de marzo de 1890.

[32] José Martí, «Carta al director», La Nación, 18 de abril de 1890, op. cit.

[33] José Martí, «La Conferencia de Washington 8», La Nación, 31 de mayo de 1890.

[34] José Martí, « Carta al Director », La Nación, 15 de junio de 1890.

[35] Ibid.

[36] José Martí, «Carta al Director», La Nación, 3 de mayo de 1890.

[37] José Martí, «Los delegados argentinos en Nueva York 10», 19 de junio de 1890.

[38] José Martí, «A Gonzalo de Quesada», 29 de octubre de 1889.

[39] Ibid.

[40] José Martí, «A Gonzalo de Quesada», diciembre de 1889.

[41] José Martí, «Comisión Monetaria Internacional Americana», La Revista Ilustrada, mayo de 1891.

[42] Paul Estrade, «La acción de José Martí en el seno de la Comisión Monetaria Internacional Americana», en Martí en su siglo y en el nuestro, La Habana, Centro de Estudios Martianos, 2008, p. 19.

Mass Shootings in America: A Historical Review

January 25th, 2016 by Global Research News

Originally published in 2013.

by Jasmine Henriques

Mass-shootings
Source: Security Degree Hub

Mass Shootings

Mass shootings have been around for a long time in America. But public, random violence is on the rise.

Mass Murder:
One aggressor.
Kills at least 4 others.
In a 24 hour period.

The earliest
1913–Ernst August Wagner–Stabbed wife and four children, drove to Mühlhausen an der Enz, Germany. Open fired on 20, killing nine, several animals, and burning down several buildings.
1927–Stephanus Swart–shot eight before killing himself outside Charlestown, South Africa.
1938–Mutsuo Toi, a 21 year old, killed half of his small village in Japan. Killing 30 with shotgun, sword, and axe before committing suicide.
1954-1957–William Unek, on two separate killing sprees killed 57 people in Belgium Congo. 27 were killed by axe, 26 with gun, 2 with fire, and one by strangulation.

Note: There are words for mass-murderer in many languages, including ancient ones.

In America
Two trends:
1930-1960–most mass shootings familicides and felony related killings.
1960-present–most mass shootings are in public places against unknown bystanders.

Recently: 2000-2010[3]
84 Active Shooter Situations
Location:
37% businesses
34% Schools
17% Outdoor (public) places
12% other
Weapons:
60% pistols
27% rifles
10% shotguns
3% other
With 41% of shooters carrying multiple weapons
4% using body armor
and 2% using IEDS

Mass shootings in America
By decade:[4]
1900′s:0
1910′s:2
1920′s:2
1930′s:9
1940′s:8
1950′s:1
1960′s:6
1970′s:13
1980′s:32
1990′s:42
2000′s:28
2010-2013:14

Worst Years:
1991: 8
1999,2012:7

Increasingly Public Danger
Worst public mass shootings, 1980-present

The 80′s[1]

1982: Welding shop shooting: Junior high school teacher Carl Robert Brown, 51, opened fire inside a welding shop and was later shot dead by a witness as he fled the scene: 8
1984: Dallas Nightclub Shooting: Abdelkrim Belachheb, 39, opened fire at an upscale nightclub after a woman rejected his advances. He was later arrested: 6
1984:San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre: James Oliver Huberty, 41, opened fire in a McDonald’s restaurant before he was shot dead by a police officer:22
1986:United States Postal Service shooting: Postal worker Patrick Sherrill, 44, opened fire at a post office before committing suicide:15
1987:Shopping centers spree killings: Retired librarian William Cruse, 59, was paranoid neighbors gossiped that he was gay. He drove to several supermarkets, killing as he went before being captured by police and placed on death row:6
1988: ESL shooting: Former ESL Incorporated employee Richard Farley, 39, gunned down seven people at his former workplace. He was later arrested and now sits on death row at San Quentin:7
1989: Stockton Schoolyard Shooting: Patrick Purdy, 26, an alcoholic with a police record, launched an assault at Cleveland Elementary School, where many young Southeast Asian immigrants were enrolled. Purdy killed himself with a shot to the head:6
1989: Standard Gravure Shooting: Joseph T. Wesbecker, 47, gunned down eight people at his former workplace before committing suicide:9

The 90′s[1]

1990:GMAC Massacre: James Edward Pough, 42, opened fire at a General Motors Acceptance Corporation office before committing suicide. The day prior he shot a pimp and prostitute:10
1991:Luby’s Massacre: George Hennard, 35, drove his pickup truck into a Luby’s cafeteria and opened fire before committing suicide:24
1991:University of Iowa Shooting: Former graduate student Gang Lu, 28, went on a rampage on campus and then committed suicide at the scene:6
1991:Royal Oak Postal Shootings: Laid-off postal worker Thomas McIlvane, 31, opened fire at his former workplace before committing suicide:5
1992: Lindhurst High School Shooting: Former Lindhurst High School student Eric Houston, 20, angry about various personal failings, killed students and a teacher at school. After an eight-hour standoff he was captured then later sentenced to death:4
1992: Watkins Glen Killings: John T. Miller, 50, killed four child-support workers in a county office building before turning the gun on himself. Miller was upset about a court order garnishing his paycheck to cover overdue child-support payments: 5
1993: 101 California Street Shootings: Failed businessman Gian Luigi Ferri, 55, opened fire throughout an office building before he committed suicide inside as police pursued him:9
1993: Luigi’s Shooting: Army Sgt. Kenneth Junior French, 22, opened fire inside Luigi’s Italian restaurant while ranting about gays in the military. He was shot then arrested:4
1993: Long Island Railroad Massacre: Colin Ferguson, 35, opened fire on an eastbound Long Island Rail Road train as it approached a Garden City station. He was later arrested:6
1993: Chuck-E-Cheese Shootings: Nathan Dunlap, 19, a recently fired Chuck E. Cheese’s employee, went on a rampage through his former workplace and was arrested the following day. He now awaits execution on death row:4
1994: Air Force Base Shooting: Former airman Dean Allen Mellberg, 20, open fired inside a hospital at the Fairchild Air Force Base before he was shot dead by a military police officer:5
1995: Walter Rossler Company Massacre: Disgruntled former metallurgist James Daniel Simpson, 28, open fired throughout the Walter Rossler Company where he had worked. He then exited the building and committing suicide:6
1996: Fort lauderdale Revenge Shootings: Fired city park employee Clifton McCree, 41, opened fire on former coworkers he called “racist devils” inside their municipal trailer in an act of revenge after failing a drug test. He then committed suicide:6
1997: R.E. Phelon Company Shooting: Ex-con Hastings Arthur Wise, 43, opened fire at the R.E. Phelon Company in retaliation for being fired after an argument with a supervisor. He attempted suicide by ingesting insecticide, failed, and was executed by the state of South Carolina eight years later:4
1997: Caltrans Maintenance Yard Shooting: Former Caltrans employee Arturo Reyes Torres, 41, opened fire at a maintenance yard after he was fired for allegedly selling government materials he’d stolen from work. He was shot dead by police:5
1998: Connecticut Lottery Shooting: Lottery worker Matthew Beck, 35, gunned down four bosses over a salary dispute before committing suicide.:5
1998: Westside Middle Side Shootings: Mitchell Scott Johnson, 13, and Andrew Douglas Golden, 11, two juveniles, ambushed students and teachers as they left the school; they were apprehended by police at the scene:5
1998: Hurston High School Shooting: After he was expelled for having a gun in his locker, Kipland P. Kinkel, 15, a freshman at Thurston High, went on a shooting spree, killing his parents at home and two students at school. Five classmates wrestled Kipland to the ground before he was arrested:4
1999: Columbine: Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire throughout Columbine High School before committing suicide:15
1999:Atlanta Day Trading Spree Killings: Day trader Mark O. Barton, 44, who had recently lost a substantial sum of money, went on a shooting spree through two day-trading firms. He started at the All-Tech Investment Group, where he worked, then went on to Momentum Securities. He fled and hours later, after being cornered by police outside a gas station, committed suicide. (Two days before the spree, he killed his wife and two children with a hammer):9
1999:Wedgewood Baptist Church Shootings: Larry Gene Ashbrook, 47, opened fire inside the Wedgwood Baptist Church during a prayer rally before committing suicide:8
1999: Xerox Killings: Byran Koji Uyesugi, 40, a Xerox service technician, opened fire inside the building with a 9mm Glock. He fled and was later apprehended by police:7
1999: Hotel Shooting: Hotel employee Silvio Leyva, 36, gunned down four coworkers at the Radisson Bay Harbor Inn before killing a woman outside who refused to give him her car. He was arrested shortly after the shootings:5

The 2000′s[1]

2000: Wakefield Massacre: Michael McDermott, 42, opened fire on co-workers at Edgewater Technology and was later arrested:7
2001: Navistar Shooting: Fired employee William D. Baker, 66, opened fire at his former Navistar workplace before committing suicide:5
2003: Lockheed Martin Shooting: Assembly line worker Douglas Williams, 48, opened fire at his Lockheed Martin workplace in a racially motivated attack before committing suicide:7
2004: Damageplan Show Shooting: Nathan Gale, 25, possibly upset about the breakup of Pantera, gunned down former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and three others at a Damageplan show before a police officer fatally shot Gale:5
2005: Living Church of God Shooting: Living Church of God member Terry Michael Ratzmann, 44, opened fire at a church meeting at a Sheraton hotel before committing suicide:7
2006:Goleta Postal Shootings: Former postal worker Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, shot dead a former neighbor then drove to the mail processing plant where she used to work. Inside, she opened fire, then committed suicide:8
2006: capital Hill Massacre: Kyle Aaron Huff, 28, opened fire at a rave after-party in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle before committing suicide:7
2006: Amish School Shooting: Charles Carl Roberts, 32, shot 10 young girls in a one-room schoolhouse in Bart Township, killing 5, before taking his own life:6
2007: Trolley Square Shooting: Sulejman Talović‡, 18, rampaged through the shopping center until he was shot dead by police:6
2007: VA Tech Massacre: Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, opened fire on his school’s campus before committing suicide: 33
2007: Crandon Shooting: Off-duty sheriff’s deputy Tyler Peterson, 20, opened fire inside an apartment after an argument at a homecoming party. He fled the scene and later committed suicide:6
2007: Westroads Mall Shooting: Robert A. Hawkins, 19, opened fire inside Westroads Mall before committing suicide:9
2008: Kirkwood City Council Shooting: Charles “Cookie” Lee Thornton, 52, went on a rampage at the city hall before being shot and killed by police:6
2008: Northern Illinois University Shooting: Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall, then shot and killed himself before police arrived:6
2008: Atlantis Plastics Shooting: Disgruntled employee Wesley Neal Higdon, 25, shot up an Atlantis Plastics factory after he was escorted out of his workplace for an argument with a supervisor. Higdon shot the supervisor outside the factory before opening fire on coworkers inside. He then committed suicide:6
2009: Carthage Nursing Home shooting: Robert Stewart, 45, opened fire at a nursing home where his estranged wife worked before he was shot and arrested by a police officer:8
2009: Binghamton Shootings: Jiverly Wong, 41, opened fire at an American Civic Association center for immigrants before committing suicide:14
2009: Ford Hood Massacre: Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, opened fire on an Army base in an attack linked to Islamist extremism. Hasan was injured during the attack and later arrested:13
2009: Coffee Shop Police Killings: Maurice Clemmons, 37, a felon who was out on bail for child-rape charges, entered a coffee shop and shot four police officers. Clemmons, who was wounded fleeing the scene, was later shot dead after a two-day manhunt:4

The 2010′s[1]

2010: Hartford Beer Distributor Shootings: Omar S. Thornton, 34, shot up his Hartford Beer Distributor workplace after facing disciplinary issues, then committed suicide:9
2011: Tuscon Shooting: Jared Loughner, 22, opened fire outside a Safeway during a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before he was subdued by bystanders and arrested:6
2011: Ihop Shooting: Eduardo Sencion, 32, opened fire at an International House of Pancakes restaurant and later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound:5
2011: Seal Beach Shooting: Scott Evans Dekraai, 42, opened fire inside a hair salon and was later arrested:8
2012: Su Jung Health Sauna Shooting: Jeong Soo Paek, 59, returned to a Korean spa from which he’d been kicked out after an altercation. He gunned down two of his sisters and their husbands before committing suicide:5
2012: Oikos University killings: One L. Goh, 43, a former student, opened fire in a nursing classroom. He fled the scene by car and was arrested nearby a few hours later:7
2012: Seattle Cafe Shooting: Ian Stawicki, 40, gunned down four patrons at a cafe, and another person during a carjacking nearby, then shot himself as police closed in. (He died later that day in a Seattle hospital:6
2012: Aurora THeater Shooting: James Holmes, 24, opened fire in a movie theater during the opening night of “The Dark Night Rises” and was later arrested outside:12
2012: Sikh Temple Shooting: U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page, 40, opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot would during a shootout with police:7
2012: Accent Signage Systems Shooting: Andrew Engeldinger, 36, upon learning he was being fired, went on a shooting rampage, killing the business owner, three fellow employees, and a UPS driver. He then killed himself:7
2012: Newtown Shooting: Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother dead at their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary school. He forced his way inside and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults before committing suicide:28
2013: Mohawk Valley Shootings: Kurt Myers, 64, shot six people in neighboring towns, killing two in a barbershop and two at a car care business, before being killed by officers in a shootout after a nearly 19-hour standoff:5
2013: Pinewood Village Apartment Shootings: Dennis Clark III, 27, shot and killed his girlfriend in their shared apartment, and then shot two witnesses in the building’s parking lot and a third victim in another apartment, before being killed by police:5
2013:Santa Monica Rampage: John Zawahri, 23, armed with a homemade assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, killed his brother and father at home and then headed to Santa Monica College, where he was eventually killed by police:6
2013: Hialeah apartment shooting: Pedro Vargas, 42, set fire to his apartment, killed six people in the complex, and held another two hostages at gunpoint before a SWAT team stormed the building and fatally shot him:7
2013:Washington Navy yard Shooting: Aaron Alexis, 34, a military veteran and contractor from Texas, opened fire in the Navy installation, killing 12 people and wounding 8 before being shot dead by police:13

Shooters of the last thirty years

65/67 shooters had mental health issues
55/67 obtained weapons legally
Location:
12/67 = School
20/67 = Workplace
3/67 = Religious
32/67 = Other Public Places

Mass shootings are a matter of public and mental health, and they’re increasing in frequency. Support preventative measures before it’s too late.

Notes:

  1. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map
  2. http://news.discovery.com/history/mass-shootings-history-121220.htm
  3. http://alerrt.org/files/research/ActiveShooterEvents.pdf
  4. http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130112/NEWS02/701129949
  5. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/20-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-u-s-history-fast-facts/index.html

Mass-shootingsThumb

 

A major new report by the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS) has laid out detailed plans for the Pentagon’s preparations for war in Asia. The report, entitled “Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025: Capabilities, Presence, and Partnerships,” examines the range of threats to US dominance in Asia, but there is no doubt that its chief preoccupation and target is China.

The CSIS document, released last week, has a semi-official status. It was commissioned by the US Department of Defence at the instigation of Congress under the 2015 National Defence Authorisation Act. The report is a follow-up to a similar CSIS study conducted for the Pentagon in 2012 following President Obama’s formal announcement of the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia in November 2011.

Since 2012, last week’s report declares, “the international security environment has become significantly more complicated. China has accelerated the frequency of its coercive activities and the pace of its island building in the East and South China Seas.” After noting that US military interventions in Eastern Europe against Russia and in the Middle East have “competed with the Asia Pacific for attention and resources,” it stresses the importance of countering China. “Militarily, the Pacific Command has fully embraced the rebalance, but the [Chinese] anti-access challenge is worsening and China’s tolerance for risk has exceeded most expectations,” it states.

The very terms used in the report are designed to present China as an aggressive, expansionist power and obscure the dramatic US military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific over the past three years as part of the pivot. The phrase “China’s tolerance of risk” really means China’s failure to bow to sustained US pressure and provocations in the region and accept Washington’s demands.

The Pentagon’s overall strategy for war against China, known as AirSea Battle, involves massive air and missile strikes on the Chinese mainland aimed at destroying key military assets, bases and infrastructure, as well as disrupting the country’s communications, economy and political leadership. It also involves an economic blockade of the country by cutting off shipping lanes, particularly those bringing vital supplies of energy and raw materials from the Middle East and Africa via the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.

These operations are premised on US control of the air and seas near the Chinese mainland from US military bases in South Korea, Japan, Guam and Australia, as well as the ability to launch strikes from aircraft carriers and submarines. The report’s summary of the current US force posture in the Asia-Pacific underscores these aims:

“Current US capabilities resident or routinely deployed in the Asia-Pacific include power projection from carrier strike groups, strategic bombers, and guided-missile submarines; ballistic missile defence from a network of installations and platforms in Japan, Korea, Guam, and forward-deployed Aegis-equipped navy ships; anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability resident in ships, submarines, and patrol aircraft operating throughout the Asia-Pacific theatre; air superiority from fourth- and fifth-generation fighters deployed to Japan and Korea; and ISR [Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities from space-based to tactical systems to provide early warning and support to warfighters.”

If China were to “forward-deploy” military forces on this scale permanently to waters off the Californian coast and openly discuss plans to annihilate forces on the American mainland, it is not difficult to imagine the belligerent and aggressive US response. Yet that is exactly what Washington is doing in the Western Pacific and more broadly in Asia.

Not surprisingly, Beijing is seeking the means to counter the US threat through what is referred to as “anti-access/area denial” or A2/AD—that is, the military capacity to restrict or deny access to US naval and air forces to sensitive waters off the Chinese mainland and to attack US bases, particularly in South Korea and Japan. The CSIS report reflects concerns in the Pentagon that China might be able to disrupt US plans to devastate Chinese bases and cities and “at the current rate of US capability development, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States.”

After assessing the potential threats, primarily from China, as well as Russia and North Korea, the report bluntly declares:

“We reject the option of withdrawal from the Western Pacific because of these new challenges. Such a withdrawal would lead to rapid deterioration of the security environment and render operations more difficult rather than easier.”

The 275-page CSIS study is devoted to a detailed and comprehensive analysis of what is required to speed up the US military build-up in Asia, to ensure maximum military support from regional allies and strategic partners, and to research and build new weapons systems to neutralise Chinese defence capacities.

The report is nothing less than a master plan for an accelerating arms race in Asia in preparation for a conflict that would inevitably draw in the entire region and the world. It is critical of the Obama administration for failing to articulate “a clear, coherent or consistent strategy for the region, particularly when it comes to managing China’s rise,” and for making cuts to the defence budget that have “limited the Defence Department’s ability to pursue the rebalance.”

One element of the CSIS’s solution to the budgetary difficulties is to place new demands on other countries. The study examines in detail and in turn the role that each of the US allies and partners would be required to play, as well as the necessary expansion of their military forces and facilities. While focusing considerable attention on Japan, South Korea and Australia, it appraises a long list of countries, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as the potential for political resistance and opposition to US plans. Its recommendations include mechanisms to ensure the interoperability and integration of the various military forces into a US-led conflict against China.

At the same time, the CSIS study foreshadows a huge expansion of US military spending, involving trillions of dollars, to fund its recommendations. These recommendations include:

* Restructuring and consolidating US military forces in Japan and South Korea, including the completion of new bases, a major extension of military facilities on Guam, and the expansion of the American Marine, air and naval presence in Australia.

* Stationing a second aircraft carrier strike group to complement one already permanently stationed in Japan, as well as “additional surface force presence,” such as Littoral Combat Ships, four of which are due to be stationed in Singapore.

* Improving “undersea capacity,” such as the “near-term” stationing of two additional nuclear attack submarines in Guam and the future basing of advanced Virginia class nuclear submarines elsewhere in the region, including at Stirling naval base in Western Australia and the Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia.

* Expanding and reorganising the US Marine and Army forces throughout the region.

* Diversifying air bases to counter potential Chinese attacks, including to “the Philippines, Australia and others.”

* Boosting anti-missile systems throughout the region to neutralise China’s ability to respond to a US attack—nuclear or non-nuclear.

* Stockpiling “critical precision munitions” in secure locations to ensure the US military’s ability to engage in “large-scale and high-intensity conflicts.”

* Undertaking major research aimed at countering any potential Chinese military response to US attack, such as a new generation of advanced, long range anti-ship, anti-surface and anti-air missiles, and the development of new weapons, including “three promising options”—railgun, directed-energy and upgraded conventional guns. Other projects include a new long range strike bomber, greater payload capacity for nuclear submarines, and augmented space, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities.

The Pentagon’s watchword is that US forces must have the ability to “fight tonight.” In other words, the military must be able to launch a major war against China within hours and sustain it for whatever time is necessary.

The massive expansion of the military budget required for this arms race will necessarily take place at the expense of the working class. This means the gutting of what remains of social programs and infrastructure and the further impoverishment of the working class. Both in the US and in each of its allies and partners, the turn to militarism will only intensify the class struggle. While the CSIS study makes no mention of the political consequences of its proposals, the boosting of the military abroad takes place alongside the build-up of the police-military apparatus, and police-state measures at home aimed against the eruption of social unrest.

State of Unease: The Return of the X Files

January 25th, 2016 by Binoy Kampmark

They are returning, Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully looking somewhat well preserved, and a greyish David Duchovny as Fox Mulder.  The FBI duo, dynamic or otherwise, mining the consciousness of conspiranoia, tapping into the perennial scepticism about official accounts, standard narratives, the truth dictated as gospel from the powers that be. They were always meant to know better, even if more questions than answers were found.

Chris Carter was eager to draw from the well of X-File mania to give the series a new six-episode run.  But the supplementary soil, in terms of events, has been fertile.  “We deal with fear in a lot of different ways… The fact that we’re being spied on and don’t seem to be raising any protest is a frightening prospect for me.”  Carter’s points of reference? WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, and whistleblower Edward Snowden.[1]

Carter is by no means the only one to share this view.  According to Evan Valentine, “Honestly, our present society and time is probably a much better fit for the X-Files than it was during the era when it first debuted.”  Why? “Questioning authority has become part of the course,” a point the creators took to heart in resurrecting Mulder and Scully.[2]

The America of the 1990s from which the X-Files issued forth was, tritely put, another country.  But it did have its weekly digest of tabloid alien abductions, unexplained sightings, and millenarian terrors.  Given the absence of a politicised global Yeti or Big Foot in the form of the Soviet Union, people just had to make do with other backyard, paranormal findings.

Even as the series limped into oblivion in 2002, the arsenals of delusion were being readied for their catastrophic release in 2003.  Call them aliens, weapons of mass destruction, terrorists – everyone had to have something to believe, their conspiracy to treasure.  The events of September 11, 2001 were already sowing seeds of suspicion; the invasion of Iraq on specious, concocted grounds (the WMD conspiracy) added to the ledger of speculations.  The tree of conspiracy began to flower; there were false flags everywhere.  The “truthers” had arrived in numbers.

These days, it would fair to say that the truther pedigree has become so distorted the very idea of seeking something remotely factual, history exactly as it was, is becoming a challenge.  There are Ted O’Malley (the host of the Conservative talk show “Truth Squad with Ted O’Malley”) types in abundance.  The conspiracy market is teeming with contenders, and even presidential candidates of varying quality have decided to purchase a share of it. This is the were-monster as invisible hand, haunting the US electoral landscape.

Duchovny hazarded his own view about the X-Files’ spawning legacy.  Without the Carter’s creation, “you don’t have shows like ‘Lost’ or ‘Heroes’ or even ‘Bones’.”  Out of the river that was the X-Files came “tributaries”, a veritable “Cosmic Con-ization of the world.”[3]

The guardians of quality assurance – or discouragement – were already out warning eager viewers that the return of such a program from the “televisual mausoleum” would not end happily.  Carter’s efforts in the filmic versions – The X-Files from 1998 and 2008’s The X-Files: I Want To Believe – were hardly stonking successes.    The sense that the series was working on a tired autopilot of dreary seriousness, with an actor such as Anderson obviously more talented than her FBI cut-out would permit her to be, was hard to avoid.  The air had gone out of the balloon.

The new series embraces the old themes with gusto, though with current twists.  Human-alien hybridisation nods to previous episodes, but there are nuclear weapons, weather distortions, the use of the Patriot Act, and the muscular actions of the police state.  Reviewers tend to confine themselves to familiar terrain. Kaly Soto prefers those “stand-alone story lines as opposed to the mythology arcs” (New York Times, Jan 25). Some people just love their monsters.

Series with the X Files profile would have little purchase were it not for the fact that secrecy accompanies government functions, lacing it with a covering deemed necessary for public order.  Do they govern for us, or in their own name and interest?

All shades of government seem to endorse that view: secrecy is essential; transparency, an unfortunate wickedness that can be managed carefully through limited freedom of information regimes. Governments do conceal, deceive and dissimulate. The public’s continued response to that approach bears all kinds of fruit – and they continue to vary in taste and colour.  “Conspiracy sells,” Mulder suggests regarding O’Malley’s credibility. “It pays for bulletproof limousines.”

If anything, the X Files risks diminishing that brand of deception, propelling officialdom’s mendacity, and own conspiracies, into the realm of ET.  The supernatural dimension detracts from, in Ed Power’s words, “real government skulduggery”, a point that is transcendent of the “extra-terrestrials-in-the-warehouse” notion.[4]  Whether it is hybrid alien projects or the XKeyscore surveillance program, the point is clear enough, though the latter poses a far greater problem than the former.

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

Notes:

[1] http://bigstory.ap.org/article/1fb1945d9fca41d692dfe0b285ab947a/scully-mulder-paranoia-return-x-files-reboot

[2] http://collider.com/x-files-reboot-review-new-york-comic-con-2015/

[3] http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/tv/article56331960.html

The British government, whose foreign policy is overtly hostile to their Russian counterpart, declared last week that their investigation into the killing of a former Russian intelligence agent in London nearly a decade ago concluded there is a “strong probability” the Russian FSB security agency was responsible for poisoning Alexander Litivenko with plutonium.

They further declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably approved” of the act. The British investigation, which was likely politically motivated, seemingly raised more questions than it answered. But American corporate media were quick to use the accusations against Putin to demonize him, casting him as a pariah brazenly flaunting his disregard for international conventions.

The Washington Post (1/23/16) editorial board wrote that:

“Robert Owen, a retired British judge, has carefully and comprehensively documented what can only be called an assassination… Mr. Owen found (Andrei) Lugovoi was acting ‘under the direction’ of the FSB in an operation to kill Mr. Litivenko – one that was ‘probably approved’ by the director of the FSB and by Mr. Putin.”

Actually, Owen did not find that former KGB operative Lugovoi was acting under the direction of the FSB to kill Litivenko. He found there was a “strong probability” this was the case. This means that even in Owens’s view, there is not near certainty, which would meet the legal standard of reasonable doubt that would preclude a guilty judgement. There is even more doubt that even if it were the case the FSB ordered the murder, they did so on Putin’s orders.

The New York Times editorial board (1/21/16) finds the investigation’s results “shocking.” For the Times, this confirms a pattern of Putin’s rogue behavior. They claim Putin’s “deserved reputation as an autocrat willing to flirt with lawlessness in his global ventures has taken on a startling new aspect.”

Both of the prestigious and influential American newspapers argue that the British findings impugn Putin’s respectability in international affairs. The Times says:

Mr. Putin has built a sordid record on justice and human rights, which naturally reinforces suspicion that he could easily have been involved in the murder. At the very least, the London inquiry, however much it is denied at the Kremlin, should serve as a caution to the Russian leader to repair his reputation for notorious intrigues abroad.

The more hawkish Post says: “This raises a serious question for President Obama and other world leaders whose governments do not traffic in contract murder. Should they continue to meet with Mr. Putin as if he is just another head of state?”

Putin’s alleged “sordid record on justice and human rights,” which is taken for granted without providing any examples, is seen as bolstering the case for his guilt in the case of the poisoning death of Litivenko. This, in turn, adds to his “notorious” reputation as a violator of human rights.

The Post draws a line between the lawless Putin and the respectable Western heads of state, such as Obama. Though they frame their call to treat Putin as an outcast as a question, it is clearly intended as a rhetorical question.

It is curious that The Post draws a contrast between Putin and Obama, whose government is supposedly above such criminality. The newspaper does not mention the U.S. government’s drone assassination program, which as of last year had killed nearly 2,500 people in at least three countries outside of declared military battlefields. Estimates have shown that at least 90 percent of those killed were not intended targets. None of those killed have been charged with any crimes. And at least two – Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdul Rahman – were Americans.

Obama himself is personally responsible for those killed by missiles launched from unmanned aircraft over the skies of sovereign countries. Several news reports have indicated that Obama is presented in meetings each week by military and national security officials with a list of potential targets for assassination. Obama must personally approve each target, at which point they are added to the state-sanctioned “kill list.”

The British government has also assumed for itself the power to assassinate its own citizens outside a declared battlefield. Last fall, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the deaths of two British citizens in Syria, who were subsequently disposed of in a lethal drone strike.

The Washington Post editorial board (3/24/12) claimed that Obama was justified in carrying out lethal drone strokes that kill American citizens “to protect the country against attack.” Their lone criticism was that “an extra level of review of some sort is warranted.”

After it was revealed that an American hostage was inadvertently killed in a drone strike in Pakistan, The Post (5/1/15) said that the issue of whether the American government continues to conduct drone strikes should not be up for debate. “(T)here is little question that drones are the least costly means of eliminating militants whose first aim is to kill Americans,” they wrote.

While they tacitly accept the legal rationale for Obama’s assassination program, the New York Times editorial board at least demonstrated some skepticism. In “A Thin Rationale for Drone Killings” (6/23/14), they called the memo “a slapdash pastiche of legal theories – some based on obscure interpretations of British and Israeli law – that was clearly tailored to the desired result.” They say that “the rationale provides little confidence that the lethal action was taken with real care.”

Yet they do not chastise Obama for his “intrigues abroad” nor do they condemn this as an example of his “sordid record on justice and human rights,” language they used for Putin. The idea that relying on what are transparently inadequate legal justifications for killing an American citizen without due process would merit prosecution is clearly beyond the limits of discussion for the Times.

Recently Faheem Qureshi, a victim of the first drone strike ordered by Obama in 2009 (three days after his induction as President), who lost multiple family members and his own eye, told The Guardian that Obama’s actions in his native lands are “an act of tyranny. If there is a list of tyrants in the world, to me, Obama will be put on that list by his drone program.”

Surely both The New York Times and Washington Post disagree with Qureshi, because they believe the U.S. government is inherently benevolent and its motives are beyond reproach. But based on their editorials about the British investigation of the Litivenko poisoning, if Putin was responsible and was described by Qureshi in the same way, they would wholeheartedly agree.

The U.S. government and its allies in NATO, like Great Britain, have a clear agenda in vilifying Russia and its President. The US-NATO alliance supported the government that came to power in Ukraine in 2014 through a coup. After provinces in Eastern Ukraine – the vast majority of whose population is ethnically Russian and Russian-speaking – refused to recognize the NATO-backed coup government in Kiev, the Russian government supported them.

It should be easy to see how, from Russia’s perspective, the Ukranian conflict can be understood as an extension of NATO encroachment towards Russia’s borders that has continued unabated since James Baker told Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 NATO would move “not an inch east.”

“We’re in a new Cold War,” Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and politics, told Salon.

“The epicenter is not in Berlin this time but in Ukraine, on Russia’s borders, within its own civilization: That’s dangerous. Over the 40-year history of the old Cold War, rules of behavior and recognition of red lines, in addition to the red hotline, were worked out. Now there are no rules.”

Additionally, Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011 throughout that country’s civil war, and more recently its direct military intervention in the conflict that has turned the tide against US-backed rebels, has strongly rankled Washington.

The language used by top government officials to describe Russia has been astoundingly combative. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the man in charge of the entire US military, claimed Russia is responsible for aggression and is “endangering world order.”

The U.S. government’s hyping of the Russian “threat” has been used to justify massive spending on the U.S. space program and other military expenditures, such as the $1 trillion to upgrade nuclear weapons,

One could even argue that the narrative of an aggressive and belligerent Russia is the principal justification for the continued existence of the NATO itself, two and a half decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The alliance allows the US military to be stationed in hundreds of bases throughout Europe under the guise of a purely defensive organization.

The U.S.’s most prominent media organizations should demonstrate the strongest skepticism towards the policies and actions of their own government. At the very least, they should hold their own country’s leaders to the same standards as they do others. But time and again, the media choose to act as a mouthpiece to echo and amplify Washington’s propaganda. They do the government’s bidding, creating an enemy and rallying the public towards a confrontation they would otherwise have no interest in, while allowing the government to avoid accountability for its own misdeeds.