Originally published by Who What Why

How do Wall Street, oil companies and the shadow government agencies like the CIA and NSA really shape the global political order?

That’s the question author Peter Dale Scott examines in his forthcoming book “The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy,” due out on Nov. 12. Scott, a professor emeritus of English at Berkeley and former Canadian diplomat, is considered the father of “deep politics”—the study of hidden permanent institutions and interests whose influence on the political realm transcends the elected.

In the “American Deep State,” Scott takes a compelling look at the facts lurking behind the official histories of events to uncover the real dynamics in play. In this exclusive excerpt—the first of several we will feature on WhoWhatWhy—he looks at the revolving door between Wall Street and the CIA, and what that demonstrates about where power truly resides. 

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In the last decade it has become more and more obvious that we have in America today what the journalists have called… America’s “deep state.” (1)

This expansion of a two-level or dual state has been paralleled by two other dualities: the increasing resolution of American society into two classes—the “one percent” and the “ninety-nine percent”—and the bifurcation of the U.S. economy into two aspects: the domestic, still subject to some governmental regulation and taxation, and the international, relatively free from governmental controls. (2)

All three developments have affected and intensified each other—particularly since the Reagan Revolution of 1980, which saw American inequality of wealth cease to diminish and begin to increase.(3) Thus for example Wall Street—the incarnation of the “one percent”— played a significant role in creating the CIA after World War II, and three decades later the CIA and big oil played a significant role in realigning American politics for the Reagan Revolution.

There is an ambiguous symbiosis between two aspects of the American deep state:

  1. The Beltway agencies of the shadow government, like the CIA and NSA, which have been instituted by the public state and now overshadow it, and
  2. The much older power of Wall Street, referring to the powerful banks and law firms located there.

Top-level Treasury officials, CIA officers, and Wall Street bankers and lawyers think much alike because of the “revolving door” by which they pass easily from private to public service and back.

But a much larger role for the private sector has come with the increased outsourcing of the government’s intelligence budget. Tim Shorrock revealed in 2007 that “about 70 percent of the estimated $60 billion the government spends every year on . . . intelligence” is now outsourced to private intelligence contractors like Booz, Allen & Hamilton (now Booz Allen Hamilton) and SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation). (4)

The Overworld

I shall argue that in the 1950s, Wall Street was a dominating complex. It included not just banks and law firms but also the oil majors whose cartel arrangements were successfully defended against the U.S. government by the Wall Street law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, home to the Dulles brothers. This larger complex is what I mean by the Wall Street overworld.

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director. Although he did not formally join the CIA until November 1950, he was in Berlin before the start of the 1948 Berlin Blockade, “supervising the unleashing of anti-Soviet propaganda across Europe.” (5) In the early summer of 1948, he set up the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), in support of what became, by the early 1950s, “the largest CIA operation in Western Europe.”(6)

The CIA never abandoned its dependency on funds from outside its official budget to conduct its clandestine operations. In Southeast Asia in particular, its proprietary firm Sea Supply Inc. supplied an infrastructure for a drug traffic supporting a CIA-led paramilitary force, PARU. [Two CIA proprietaries, Sea Supply Inc. and Civil Air Transport (CAT) Inc. (later Air America), initially supplied the KMT 93rdDivision in Burma that organized opium mule trains down to Thailand, where opium sales were still legal.

Later, when the USG officially distanced itself from the KMT drug army, the CIA organized an offensive and defensive paramilitary unit, PARU, inside the Thai Border Police (BPP). Like the BPP, PARU financed itself by seizing KMT opium and turning it in to the Thai Government, receiving a bounty payment of 12.5 percent of the retail value.] (7)

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The CIA appears also to have acted in coordination with slush funds from various U.S. government contracts, ranging from the Howard Hughes organization to the foreign arms sales of U.S. defense corporations like Lockheed and Northrop. (8)

The international lawyers of Wall Street did not hide from each other their shared belief that they understood better than Washington the requirements for running the world.

This mentality exhibited itself in 1952, when Truman’s Justice Department sought to break up the cartel agreements whereby Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) and four other oil majors controlled global oil distribution. (The other four were Standard Oil Company of New York or Socony [later Mobil], Standard Oil of California [now Chevron], Gulf Oil, and Texaco. Together with Royal Dutch Shell and Anglo-Iranian, they comprised the so-called “Seven Sisters” of the cartel.)

Faced with a government order to hand over relevant documents, Exxon’s lawyer Arthur Dean at Sullivan and Cromwell, where Foster Dulles was senior partner, refused: “If it were not for the question of national security, we would be perfectly willing to face either a criminal or a civil suit. But this is the kind of information the Kremlin would love to get its hands on.” (9)

Overthrowing Iran

At this time the oil cartel was working closely with the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC, later BP) to prevent AIOC’s nationalization by Iran’s Premier Mossadeq [or Mosaddeq], by instituting, in May 1951, a successful boycott of Iranian oil exports. “In May 1951 the AIOC secured the backing of the other oil majorswho had every interest in discouraging nationalisation. . . . None of the large companies would touch Iranian oildespite one or two picturesque episodes, the boycott held.” (10)

Mohammad Mossadeq

But Truman declined, despite a direct personal appeal from Churchill, to have the CIA participate in efforts to overthrow Mossadeq, and instead dispatched Averell Harriman to Tehran in a failed effort to negotiate a peaceful resolution of Mossadeq’s differences with London. (11)

All this changed with the election of Eisenhower in November 1952 (with considerable support from the oil industry), followed by the appointment of the Dulles brothers to be Secretary of State and head of CIA.

In November 1952 CIA officials began planning to involve the CIA in the efforts of MI6 and the oil companies in Iran (12)—although its notorious Operation TP/AJAX to overthrow Mossadeq was not finally approved by Eisenhower until July 22, 1953. (13)

Dr. Mossadeq entering court for his trial.

Dr. Mossadeq entering court for his trial.

Nearly all recent accounts of Mossadeq’s overthrow treat it as a covert intelligence operation, with the oil cartel (when mentioned at all) playing a subservient role. However the chronology, and above all the belated approval from Eisenhower, suggest that it was CIA that came belatedly in 1953 to assist an earlier oil cartel operation, rather than vice versa.

In terms of the deep state, in 1951 the oil cartel or deep state initiated a process that the American public state only authorized two years later. Yet the inevitable bias in academic or archival historiography, working only with those primary sources that are publicly available, is to think of the Mossadeq tragedy as simply a “CIA coup.”

Notes

 1.          Mike Lofgren, “A Shadow Government Controls America,” Reader Supported News, February 22, 2014, http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/22216 -a-shadow-government-controls.

2.           To take a single telling example, six of Sam Walton’s heirs are now reportedly wealthier than the bottom 30 percent of Americans, or 94.5 million people (Tim Worstall, “Six Waltons Have More Wealth Than the Bottom 30% of Americans,” Forbes, December 14, 2011, www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/12/14/six -waltons-have-more-wealth-than-the-bottom-30-of-americans/). 

3.           See Kevin Phillips, The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (New York:     HarperCollins, 1991). 

4.           Tim Shorrock, Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008), 6. 

5.           Gordon Thomas, Secret Wars: One Hundred Years of British Intelligence Inside MI5 and MI6 (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin’s Press, 2009), 98. 

6.           Richard Aldrich, The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secret Intelligence (Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2001), 343. Dulles also chaired the executive committee of the companion National Committee for a Free Europe (behind the Iron Curtain), whose legal affairs were handled by Sullivan and Cromwell (Wilson D. Miscamble, George F. Kennan and the Making of American Foreign Policy, 1947–1950 [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992], 204). 

7.             Scott, American War Machine, 65–67, 87–96.

8.             Norman Mailer, “A Harlot High and Low: Reconnoitering Through the Secret Government,” New York, August 16, 1976 (Hughes); Michael Schaller, Altered States: The United States and Japan Since the Occupation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 294 (Lockheed). 

9.             Ovid Demaris, Dirty Business: The Corporate-Political Money-Power Game (New York: Avon, 1974), 213–14.

10.           J. P. D. Dunbabin, International Relations Since 1945: A History in Two Volumes, 
vol. 2, (London: Longman, 1994), 344. The boycott is denied without argumentation in Exxon’s corporate history (Bennett H. Wall et al., Growth in a Changing Environment: A History of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), Exxon Corporation, 1950–1975, vol. 4 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988), 476: 

11.           Mostafa Elm, Oil, Power, and Principle: Iran’s Oil Nationalization and Its Aftermath (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 198–99 (Churchill); Robert Moskin, American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2013), 627–28 (Harriman). 

12.           William Roger Louis, “Britain and the Overthrow of Mossadeq,” in Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne, eds., Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004), 168. Cf. William R. Clark, Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2005), 125: “The Dulles brothers had already conceived a plot when Eisenhower became president in January 1953;” Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 83: “[In November 1952] “The CIA was setting out to depose [Mossadeq] without the imprimatur of the White House.”

13.           Scot Macdonald, Rolling the Iron Dice: Historical Analogies and Decisions to Use Military Force in Regional Contingencies (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000), 98. Cf. Richard H. Immerman, John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 67. Allen Dulles played a personal role in TP/AJAX, by flying to Italy and persuading the frightened Shah to return to Tehran.

IMAGE: Peter Dale Scott

IMAGE: Dr. Mossadeq Waves

IMAGE: Dr Mossadeq enters Court

Ebola: Understanding The Disease

November 5th, 2014 by Global Research News

 by Aubree Ritter

 

Courtesy of: Infographic World

A definite shift in India’s Look East Policy is underway with added emphasis on Buddha diplomacy under the new dispensation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to market the Buddha card to the countries in the region as India is the place of origin of Dhamma and Sangha. He indicated such a change in emphasis by his first official visit abroad to a neighbouring Buddhist country Asia, Bhutan, and then to Nepal, where Buddha was born. His first official visit outside South Asia was to another Buddhist country, Japan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on his visit to India in September landed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where Prime Minister Modi received him and narrated the importance of the state in the Buddhist era and the visit of the ancient Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) in 7th century AD. The Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, on a visit to India on October 27-28, made offerings at the Bodhgaya temple on his arrival.

The emphasis in the policy is likely to become more evident when the Prime Minister visits Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar for the India-ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit slated in the second week of December. Further edge to the new Look East Policy will be given when he visits Brisbane for the G20 Summit and have bilateral meetings with the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the middle of next month. Thereafter, Mr Modi gets the chance of expressing his Neighbours First Policy at the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu (November 26-27).

People-to-people contact is one of the cornerstones of Mr Modi’s foreign policy. His plans for making this as central to South Asia and then integrating with the South-East Asia makes him deploy the soft power of Buddha diplomacy. As forging integration in South Asia may become difficult due to the belligerent attitude of Pakistan, the Prime Minister may have the option of taking along with him the BIMSTEC group of countries -  Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal – and seek integration with the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

With a vast population of Buddhists in east and south-east Asia plans are afoot to make India a pilgrimage for world Buddhists. The work on phase-I Buddhist Tourist Circuit is gathering pace. This includes Lumbini in Nepal where the Buddha was born, Bodhgaya where he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh where he delivered his first sermon, Rajgir in Bihar where he lived and taught, Nalanda which became the centre of Buddhist learning and teaching, Kushinagar in UP where he departed from the world, Kapilavastu on the India-Nepal border where Buddha spent his early years before embarking on the long journey to enlightenment, Vaishali in Bihar where he delivered his last sermon, Sravasti in UP where he spent 24 rainy seasons at Jetavan monastery and Kausambi where he preached.

A study by the International Finance Corporation has suggested an investment of Rs 500 crore each by the public and private sector over a span of four years. The government has proposed some initial investment in the current budgetary proposals. As the government is bullish in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), Mr Modi is expected take up this issue with leaders of east and south-east Asian countries. As regards the revival of the ancient Buddhist centre of learning, Nalanda University, several countries have already pledged their contributions.

Buddha’s relics are found in many places across India and other parts of the world, interred within hemispherical mounds called stupas. In subsequent phases there are plans to develop ancient Buddhist sites across 17 states in the country, including Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha.

Believers from several Buddhist countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have set up monasteries around the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya for their pilgrims. But in modern times there is need to develop accommodations and budget hotels for different classes of tourists. Since the conception of the Buddhist Tourist Circuit in 1986, little has been done and India attracts a mere 0.005% of global Buddhist tourists. Most foreign tourist arrivals are in the winter season as they find summer uncomfortable; they miss out Buddhist sites on major festive occasions like Buddha Jayanti in the month of Vaisakh (April/May). There are other festive occasions celebrated in India like Lasar or the Tibetan New Year, Hemis Fair in Ladakh, Ullambana, Sangha Dayor Magha Puja, Asatha Day and Pavarana Day.

While India is seeking help for revival of Buddhist sites, it is also helping to revive ancient temples and sites in South-East Asia. Hence it seems to be a quid pro quo basis of cooperation. The Archaeological Society of India is engaged in reviving Angkor Vat and Ta Prohm Temples in Siem Reap in Cambodia, Vat Phou Temple in Laos, Ananda Temple in Bagan in Myanmar, Thiruketeeswaram Temple in Mannar in Sri Lanka. It is slated to take up works on the My Son group of temples in Vietnam.

India has the excellent opportunity to rope in Mahayana Buddhists from China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam, Theravada Buddhists from Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Vajrayana Buddhists from Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, western China, Russia and Nepal. Sikkim in India is the home to all sects of Buddhism. Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which are now not Buddhist countries, have ancient Buddhist sites of importance to tourism.

Buddha in Indian diplomacy is a soft power that can connect to the people in the east and south-east Asian region. China would have particular interest in the travel route of the ancient Chinese scholars like Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang), Faxian (Fa Hien) and others. Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh host numerous sites of interest to Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhists. China, which is ready to give an alternative route to the Hindu pilgrim site at Mansarovar in Tibet via Nathu La in Sikkim, should be liberal in allowing Tibetan pilgrims to visit India.

After hosting the Olympics in Beijing, China has become assertive in projecting its ancient cultural identity, and will look towards India for its ancient linkages, particularly in matters of the spread of Buddhism and the visit of ancient scholars. Though its claim over Arunachal Pradesh remains a contentious issue between the two countries, many analysts believe that ultimately it has to look towards India in quest for preserving its ancient tradition and culture.

Buddha diplomacy, therefore, can be an effective tool and soft power for India’s engagement with South Asia, South-East Asia, East Asia, China and even Russia, which has a history of interest in Indian mysticism. People-to-people contact and cultural exchanges can go a long way to resolve contentious political issues in the near future. Moving a step ahead, Mr Modi at the UN General Assembly proposed a UN Day for Yoga, which received instant support from Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It appealed to many Buddhist countries also.

An India-Buddhist axis is a well thought of plan in the country’s diplomacy for the entire India-Pacific region. Can the Modi government attract considerable foreign direct investment (FDI) for developing the Buddhist Tourist Circuit and make India a beacon for global Buddhists? Only the future will tell how far India’s Buddha diplomacy would go to bring about bonhomie in the region and resolve contentious issues.

The Republican Party won control of the US Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, taking more than the six Democratic-held seats needed to obtain the 51 required for a majority. Republican candidates defeated incumbent Democratic senators in North Carolina, Arkansas and Iowa and won open Democratic seats in West Virginia, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana.

A Democratic seat in Alaska was in jeopardy as vote-counting continued late into the night, and in Louisiana, another Democratic-held seat, the Republican candidate led and is heavily favored in a runoff to be held December 6. The Republicans did not lose a single seat.

The Republicans also expanded their majority in the House of Representatives, with a net gain of at least eight seats, putting them in full control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 2006, and for the first time in the presidency of Barack Obama.

Elections for state governorships produced more mixed results, with Democrats retaining California and New York among the four largest states and Republicans retaining Texas and winning narrowly in Florida. The Democratic governor of Illinois and the Republican governor of Pennsylvania were both defeated for reelection.

Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin, notorious for his attacks on public employees in the state, easily won reelection over a multi-millionaire Democrat who tacitly backed his anti-worker legislation. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who pushed through a right-to-work law and oversaw the bankruptcy of Detroit, also won reelection.

The outcome of the vote is a debacle for the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, which threw in the towel in terms of the House of Representatives months ago and concentrated their efforts on holding onto a handful of Senate seats needed to maintain a narrow majority in the upper house. This effort produced dismal results, with only one of the threatened Democratic seats, in New Hampshire, successfully defended.

The Republican victory does not represent a shift by the American population to the right, but demonstrates the bankrupt and reactionary character of the Democratic Party and the mass disillusionment with the Obama administration. In the absence of any progressive alternative to the two right-wing, corporate-controlled parties, the majority of potential voters stayed home. Voter turnout hit another record low, with only 38 percent going to the polls.

The working class had no representation in the 2014 elections in either party. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are controlled by the financial aristocracy that rules America. Corporate bosses and billionaires dictate the policy and personnel of both parties, and they are now demanding a further shift to the right in official Washington.

Obama and the Democrats are more than happy to oblige. Before the polls had closed on the West Coast, Obama had already sent out an invitation to a bipartisan group of legislators, including the congressional leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, to meet in the White House Friday to begin discussions on future collaboration.

In an interview on CNN Monday, Vice President Joseph Biden said the White House was willing to compromise with Republicans and had begun working on areas where joint action might be possible. He said the Republicans had to make a decision: “Are they going to begin to allow things to happen? Or are they going to continue to be obstructionists? And I think they’re going to choose to get things done.”

That agenda will undoubtedly include major tax cuts for corporations, further cuts in spending on federally funded social programs like food stamps, intensified repression of immigrants, and the continued buildup of the military/intelligence apparatus in the United States along with expanded military aggression overseas.

These policies are deeply unpopular with American working people and youth. They are increasingly turning away from both capitalist parties and their sham electoral contests, which employ mudslinging and lies to disguise the two parties’ fundamental agreement on doing the bidding of big business.

The election took place amid widespread public hostility to both corporate-controlled parties, with dismal poll numbers for President Obama and the congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle. The $4 billion expended to promote one party and vilify the other served only to further alienate the population from the entire political structure.

In nearly all the closely contested Senate contests, both the Republican and Democratic candidates were regarded unfavorably by a majority of voters. The same was true in most of the closely contested races for state governor.

Voter turnout rose in a handful of the most closely contested states, but fell below previous record lows in many states. Voter participation by young people fell particularly sharply. Barely one-third of eligible voters went to the polls in California, the most populous state.

In Ukraine, A Tale of Two Elections

November 5th, 2014 by Daniel McAdams

The US government loves to “promote democracy” overseas, often at the barrel of a gun. Strangely enough, however, it often “deplores” actual elections being held in such places. Take Ukraine, for example. An election held last week by a group that forcibly seized power from a legitimately-elected government was hailed by the US administration as a great democratic achievement.

Said John Kerry about last week’s parliamentary election held by the post-coup government in Kiev:

We applaud Ukraine’s commitment to an inclusive and transparent political process that strengthens national unity. … The people of Ukraine have spoken, and they have again chosen to chart the course of democracy, reform, and European integration.

In this US-approved vote, the parties disapproved by the US were harassed and even essentially banned. But that’s OK.

However in eastern Ukraine, which refused to recognize February’s US-backed coup in the western part of the country, parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for tomorrow are scorned and even “deplored” by the US administration.

The White House condemned tomorrow’s elections in eastern Ukraine in no uncertain terms:

We deplore the intent of separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine to hold illegitimate so-called local ‘elections’ on Sunday, November 2. If held, these ‘elections’ would contravene Ukraine’s constitution and laws and the September 5 Minsk Protocol.

So much does the US administration hate the idea of unapproved people voting, that it even refused to call them elections, placing the very term in “scare quotes.”

Shortly after the February coup in Kiev, referenda were held in Crimea and in parts of eastern Ukraine to determine whether to remain tied to Kiev or declare independence from the new regime. Those elections were also condemned by the US.

“We reject the ‘referendum’ that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine.  This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution,” said the White House immediately after the March vote in that region. The February coup was also contrary to Ukraine’s constitution but that did apparently not bother Washington.

Similarly, when referenda were held in eastern Ukraine this spring to determine that region’s future course, the White House spokesmancondemned them as “illegal under Ukrainian law and a transparent attempt to create further division and disorder.”

When the wrong people hold votes, it seems, “division and disorder” are the result.

Those who overthrow democracy by force are legitimized – you might even say laundered – by an election they had no legal right to hold in the first place, while those who stood by previously-elected leaders and scheduled elections as a way out of the crisis caused by US interference are condemned, ignored, and not even recognized by the US government.

So here is the real message from the US government: elections overseas are only legitimate if we have pre-approved the parties allowed to stand and if we have pre-approved the outcome. The election must result in exactly the kind of “pro-West” government that we desire or we will begin destabilization and regime change, if completely ignoring the results does not do the trick.

Is that what John Kerry meant when he said, “you just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion”?

Santa Elena de Uairen – On Monday, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced his approval of a workers’ proposal to increase the minimum wage by 15% starting December 1st.

The new wage will be 4,889 bolivars per month (US$776 at the official exchange rate of 6.3)

This marks the third hike in salaries approved in 2014, making the current minimum wage 64.5% higher than at the start of the year. However, this latest announcement brings workers’ salaries just above the rate of inflation, which reached 63.4% during that same period.

An additional adjustment to the denominator used to calculate food tickets, which are mandatorily issued by employers and used like cash at most major supermarkets, increases workers’ access to items hardest hit by inflation.

The adjustment raises the allotment from 0.5 UT to 0.75 UT, which converts to about 95 bolivars (U$15) daily for food.

The measures come just before the holiday season, whereupon employers are obligated to pay three months wages as an end-of-year bonus.

Last week’s launching of the Happy Christmas 2014 Plan dovetails into the government’s economic strategy to improve affordability of key items and stimulate the consumption of nationally-produced products featured at nationwide fairs in preparation for the holidays.

A special commission of Economic Intelligence, also announced yesterday, will now permit three government bodies which preside over customs, criminal intelligence, and commerce (Seniat, SEBIN, and Cencoex, respectively), to share information in continued efforts to combat speculation, hoarding, and other activities Maduro has dubbed “economic warfare.”

“This war is silent, those who cause the damage are hidden…” said Maduro. “The bourgeoisie emerges, smiling, to explain that the socialist model has failed, but [while] they are below- mining the road, we are above it, overcoming the obstacles.”

This morning, nearly US$450 million dollars were allotted to 313 companies at the preferential rate of 12 bolivars to the dollar, in a massive effort to provide importers with enough resources to combat scarcity. The receiving companies were primarily importers of automobiles and car parts, construction materials, home appliances, medicines, and paper products.

Workers’ Bank and Collective Contracts

During yesterday’s event, Maduro also signed an act which implements a commission for the discussion of collective contracts for public administrative workers.

The document was written and upheld by the Workers’ Social Process minister, Jesus Martinez, the president of the National Federation of Workers in the Public Sector, Franklin Rondon, and the vice minister of social planning, Lidice Altuye.

Meanwhile, the Bicentenary Bank, formed in 2009 by the merging of three nationalized banks, has been absorbed by a new initiative called the Bicentenary Bank for the Venezuelan Working Class.

The 536 currently functioning agencies will now offer specific services directed at clients earning the minimum wage and their families, including high-yield savings accounts. The worker’s bank is also meant to accelerate applications for housing credits.

The Venezuelan leader closed the ceremony after highlighting official data which indicates current unemployment rates are at the lowest they’ve been for 40 years.

by Arthur Firstenberg

Briefly, the Navy is proposing to turn a large part of Washington’s magnificent Olympic Peninsula, as well as a portion of northeastern Washington, into Electronic Warfare training ranges. A giant antenna resembling a house-sized golfball will be installed at the Naval Station at Moclips, just outside the Quinault Indian Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula. According to the data in the Environmental Assessment, I calculate that it will have an effective power of 5 million watts. It will be capable of sending 64 simultaneous beams at frequencies of between 2 and 18 GHz. The golfball will only be 40 feet off the ground.

In addition, three mobile, truck-mounted antennas will be moved around between 15 different sites in the Olympic National Forest, and three more mobile antennas will operate from 8 different locations in the Okanagan and Colville National Forests in northeastern Washington. They will each have a power of 100,000 watts, and will be in use 260 days a year, 8 to 16 hours a day. The city of Forks will be directly in the line of fire, right between three of these locations and the Pacific Ocean. The locations in the Colville National Forest are next to the Colville Indian Reservation, about 70 miles northwest of Spokane, and one is only 3 miles from the city of Oroville.

In addition, UHF transmitters will be added to an existing tower on Octopus Mountain in the Olympic Peninsula for communication with aircraft and ships.

Needless to say, the peace of the Olympic Peninsula will be destroyed forever. The radiation in both locations will impact predominantly native Americans.

Arthur Firstenberg,  http://www.cellphonetaskforce.org

Unfortunately I didn’t learn about this terrifying Navy project until today. The deadline for public comment is October 31, 2014 extended to November 28th. You may submit comments [or demand, or Notices of Liability, etc] about the plan to the US Forest Service here:

https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=42759

I urge you to send a comment, however brief, before the deadline.


UPDATE (2 Nov 2014) — RECEIVED FROM USDA FOREST SERVICE:

In addition to extending the comment period, the City of Port Angeles is hosting Navy and US Forest staff for a question and answer session on Thursday, November 6th from 6-8pm in Port Angeles, WA. The location for this event is the City Council Chambers, located at 321 East Fifth Street, Port Angeles, WA.

Those wishing to provide input and have standing (eligibility) during the future Objection period for this project can be submitted to the project website, http://go.usa.gov/785z, and click on the “Comment on Project” link on the right side. If you have any questions regarding the details of this proposal or have comments, please contact Greg Wahl at (360) 956-2375.

ACTION:

1) Demand an immediate halt to all plans for Electromagnetic Warfare in the Olympic Peninsula: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=42759

2) Email your demand: [email protected] and [email protected]

3) Sign and share this petition: http://www.change.org/p/us-navy-do-not-put-any-camper-sized-trucks-with-electromagnetic-radiation-equipment-to-conduct-war-exercises-with-military-aircraft-from-15-sites-in-clallam-jefferson-and-grays-harbor-counties

4) Continue outreach past all “deadlines”, enforcing accountability and liability.

RESOURCES:

1) Exotic Hikes: Electromagnetic Warfare Training coming to Washington Coasts and Rainforests
2) Stop OC Smart Meters: What is Electromagnetic Radiation?

There is nothing inevitable about the Ebola epidemic now devastating parts of Africa. Like other disasters, it too is the product of history, of the decisions that governments have made in the past as well as the present.

Modern African history teaches, often tragically, the need to distinguish between what might be called natural phenomena from those that are essentially socio-economic-political. The droughts that ravaged many parts of the continent in the early 1970s were an example of the former. (I leave aside the issue of human actions and global warming.) As drought-stricken California presently shows, the famines and the tens of thousands of lives lost that came in their wake were not, however, inevitable. That horrific outcome was largely the product of the policies put in place by colonial governments and dutifully and sadly reproduced by post-colonial regimes.

The same lesson is being taught, again, tragically, by the continent’s latest scourge. Human pathogens have existed in Africa ever since our species began to evolve there and they too evolve, sometimes resulting in viruses like Ebola. But there’s nothing inevitable about the Ebola epidemic that’s still unfolding. Like famines, it too is the product of history, the decisions that governments have made in the past as well as the present. The relevant question is whose interests are prioritized in those choices? How a society responds to that most natural of processes, the evolution of human pathogens, testifies to the answers it gives to that question.

Colonial regimes, in place from about the last quarter of the nineteenth century to a decade or so after the Second World War, were, above all else, designed to extract Africa’s natural resources in the most lucrative way. Social services that might have benefited the colonial subjects, such as healthcare and education, were, to save costs, kept to a minimum—if that. This explains the profoundly undemocratic character of those regimes. The last thing the extractors wanted is for the subjects to have some say-so about how they were governed and, hence, how their natural resources should be utilized. These were the arrangements that post-colonial elites not only inherited and readily embraced but deepened to advance their own narrow class interests. In the case of Liberia, a semi-colony of the U.S.—nominally independent since 1847—its elite (the descendants of repatriated slaves from America) ensured that Firestone Rubber would reap enormous profits from its operations there. Thus, the outrageously ironic situation today where, in one of the world’s leading rubber producers, there are not enough rubber gloves to protect its citizens from the scourge.

In recent decades, in the name of fighting wasteful government spending and corruption, international lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund have demanded as a condition for getting new funding African governments must reduce their spending. African elites have willingly agreed to do so with resulting cuts in healthcare and education—helping to create the perfect storm for the Ebola virus.

Lest it be assumed that only poor or underdeveloped countries are afflicted with such tragic outcomes, consider what happened in the richest country in the world in 2005. In the wake of a natural phenomenon, Hurricane Katrina—global warming again notwithstanding—more than 1,600 people (and still counting for those of us intimately familiar with what happened) lost their lives in New Orleans and environs. Yet two months earlier a hurricane of greater intensity, Dennis, struck Cuba twice and only 15 of its citizens perished. Neither outcome was inevitable. The difference, rather, evidenced the deep going structural transformations in Cuban society after 1959—its revolution. For the first time in Cuba’s history, its toilers had a government that prioritized their interests and not those of a tiny elite. Their life chances, as measured by, for example, infant mortality rates, life expectancy, levels of education, dramatically improved, despite the fact that Cuba is still poor and underdeveloped. The starkly different aftermaths of the two hurricanes in both societies spoke volumes about what Cuba’s toilers had achieved and what their apparently better-off counterparts 400 miles to the north had not.

Neither is it a coincidence that Cuba has stepped forward, unlike any other country, to commit healthcare personnel to fight the Ebola scourge. Four hundred and sixty-one Cubans are either on their way or already in the affected areas. They were selected from 15,000 of their 11 million citizens who volunteered to go. That’s tellingly in contrast to, as of this week, the 2,700 U.S. citizens, out of a population of 316 million, who, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development, have volunteered to do the same. For Cubans there is nothing unusual about what they are doing since four thousand of their healthcare workers already serve in 38 African countries and about 45,000 in 28 countries elsewhere. Thus, the political choices a society makes have consequences not only for the life chances of its own citizens but also for those of other countries. And therein is the most important lesson. Until the toilers not only in Africa but elsewhere have governments that serve their interests they risk being once again needless victims of natural phenomena.

August H. Nimtz is a professor of political science and African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota.

If nothing else, the [Melbourne] Cup is always a handy reminder Melbourne’s conceit of being Australia’s most ‘sophisticated’ city is a case of pulling a skivvy over a bogan, if not applying lipstick to a pig. Sam de Brito, Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 5, 2014

It seems more than a touch daft.  A horse race, with its cruelties, its crudities, and its suggestions, capturing a nation the first Tuesday of every November, with aging commentators doing the rounds over dresses that you can hang coats off and casting about suggestions about odds.  Agitated beasts are herded into cages awaiting the spring.  But the Melbourne Cup, in terms of money and interest, is only growing.

The Cup has become a cultural spectacle of Australian life, one increasingly dedicated to obliterating sessions of inanity and sozzled intercourse.  Workplaces conduct sweepstakes.  Parties are organised across the country.  The betting halls hum to the tune of cash and punt.  A description is offered by Sydney Morning Herald columnist Sam de Brito: “If it’s anything like workplaces I’ve graced, it’s the pissheads and gamblers followed by the flighty types who get excited over everything except their job”.

It is, however, the alcohol consumption that would intrigue the anthropologists.  It is done on vast scale, and it is done with committed purpose.  “Like Australia Day and Anzac Day, the Cup Day is a uniquely Australian celebration that seems increasingly about getting slaughtered on the drink.”

If it had stayed confined to that, well and good.  But this Cup did provide another disconcertingly ugly spectacle, one of those uncomfortable reminders to aficionados who dabble and profit from the equine racing industry.  While animal rights activists tend to be treated by the horse racing industry as disconnected loons who scant understand the equine heart, their voice was heard over the din. After all, two horses had perished after racing proceedings.

As Racing Victoria’s Terry Bailey announced, “The favourite Admire Rakti upon returning to the tie-up stalls after the race has collapsed and died.”  The seventh-placegetter Araldo broke his leg on a fence following the run, and was euthanized.  The animal welfare organisation, the RSCPA, was not impressed.  “Events like these are a stark reminder to the community of the real risks to horses associated with racing.  This is a tragic outcome for both horses and we expect there to be a full and transparent investigation undertaken into both incidents.”[1]

The animal rights activists were getting a slice of the publicity, venting over the treatment of animals in the name of spectatorship.  The consequences for the animals engaged in the race tend to be serious.  Injured horses are put down and disposed of.   The stresses of travel, and the race itself, are strenuous.  “We raced another horse to death,” observed Western Australian Greens Senator, Scott Ludlam. “Hope there’s plenty of champagne.”

Defenders cite the entire racing industry as putative necessity, giving the impression that such tournaments have an inexorable inevitability about it.  Animals perish because other animals of the biped guzzling variety must get their fill.  But another side of the commentary on such fallen animals is the peculiar suggestion that they race in such tortured settings because they, masochistically, like it. The Daily Telegraph, for instance, suggested that, “Thoroughbreds are meant to run.  They thrive on it.”  A bit of animal psychobabble goes a long way, with the editorial observing the enthusiasm of the winning horse, Protectionist, with his “jaunty post-race stroll to the winner’s area.”

The grief shown for the animals – notably those in attendance of the game – tended to demonstrate mismatched ideas.  Were they grieving for the fallen equine combatants forced to run to either an animal’s death or a human’s glory, or the loss of an asset to the value of hundreds of thousands?  The loss of 125 horses last year, a reported by the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, suggests a heavy toll for a betting industry, and a heavy price for love.

Not so, according to some observers who see the figures as minute.  There are 30,000 thoroughbreds racing in the industry, with 20,000 races in any given year.  Just over 0.4 per cent of horses perish.  “Another way of looking at that is that one horse dies every 160 races.”[2]  The slaughter, in short, is minimal, but it proves highly reductionist.

Justifications tended to come from those defending what was essentially a highly regulated industry, which is tantamount to suggesting that a regulated arms trade is still a good thing.  In the view of the Daily Telegraph, “There is probably no sports industry more closely regulated and better policed than thoroughbred horse racing.”

With such prevailing views, the general view is that the industry will continue to thrive, and the spectators continue to come.  Commentators note that horse racing is peculiarly bound up with Australian nationhood, be it the first race being held in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 1810, or the employing of tens of thousands of people. It is, in short, an industry of equine sacrifice that exists for itself.

The Melbourne Cup will continue to be that tormenting race that stops a nation.  And the horses will continue being those unfortunate “equine athletes… forced to take part in being flogged around a paddock for the pleasure of 100,000 drunken halfwits.”[3]

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

Notes

This important article was first published in August 2014.  Its assessment is broadly correct.

We’ll go considerably farther than has yet been revealed by the professional intelligence community, to provide the actual evidence that conclusively shows that (and how) the Ukrainian Government shot down the Malaysian airliner, MH-17, on July 17th.

The latest report from the intelligence community was headlined on August 3rd by Robert Parry, “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts,” and he revealed there that,

“Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings. This judgment — at odds with what President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed publicly — is based largely on the absence of U.S. government evidence that Russia supplied the rebels with a Buk anti-aircraft missile system that would be needed to hit a civilian jetliner flying at 33,000 feet, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

It’s actually based on lots more than that; it’s based not on an absence of evidence, but on positive proof that the Ukrainian Government shot the plane down, and even proving how it was done. You will see this proof, right here, laid out in detail, for the first time.

The reader-comments to my July 31st article, “First Examination of Malaysian MH-17 Cockpit Photo Shows Ukraine Government Shot that Plane Down,” provided links and leads to independent additional confirmatory evidence backing up that account, of retired Lufthansa pilot Peter Haisenko’s reconstruction of this event, to such an extent that, after exploring the matter further, I now feel confident enough to say that the evidence on this matter is, indeed, “conclusive,” that Haisenko is right.

Here is all of that evidence, which collectively convinces me that Haisenko’s conclusion there, is, indeed, the only one that can even possibly explain this wreckage:

“There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine-gun fire, very very strong machine-gun fire.”

This remarkable statement comes not from Haisenko, but from one of the first OSCE investigators who arrived at the scene of the disaster.

Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ze9BNGDyk4 and you will see it.

That youtube snippet in an interview with Michael Bociurkiw, comes from a man who is

“a Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), [who] has seen up close … the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Bociurkiw and one other colleague were the first international monitors to reach the wreckage after the jet was shot down over a rebel-held region of eastern Ukraine July 17.”

That description of him is from the lead-in to the full interview with him, at the 29 July 2014 CBC news article, “Malaysia Airlines MH17: Michael Bociurkiw talks about being first at the crash site.” The far briefer youtube clip shows only what’s presented on 6:10-6:24 of this CBC interview with Bociurkiw. The CBC reporter in the video precedes the interview by announcing, “The wreckage was still smoldering when a small team from the OSCE got there.” So: he had to have been there really fast. “No other officials arrived for days,” she said.

So: one of the two first international monitors on-site saw conclusive evidence that the Malaysian plane had been hit by “very very strong machine-gun fire,” not by ground-based missile-fire.

Peter Haisenko’s reconstruction of the downing of that airliner, was here being essentially confirmed on-site by one of the two first OSCE international monitors to arrive on-site, while the wreckage was still smoldering. That’s as close to virgin, untouched evidence and testimony as we’ll ever get. Unlike a black-box interpretation-analysis long afterward by the Russian Government, or by the British Government, or by the Ukrainian Government, each of which governments has a horse in this race, this testimony from Bociurkiw is raw, independent, and comes from one of the two earliest witnesses to the physical evidence. That’s powerfully authoritative testimony, and it happens to confirm pilot Peter Haisenko’s theory of what happened. Bociurkiw arrived there fast because he negotiated with the locals for the rest of the OSCE team, who were organizing to come later: Bociurkiw speaks the local languages there — Ukrainian and Russian.

Furthermore, this is hardly testimony from someone who is supportive of the anti-Government rebels. Earlier, there had been this, http://pressimus.com/Interpreter_Mag/press/3492, which transcribed the BBC’s interview with Bociurkiw on July 22nd. He said then: “We’re observing that major pieces, and I’m looking at the tail fin as I said, and then there’s also the rear cone section of the aircraft, they do look different than when we first saw them, … two days ago.” So, he had arrived on-scene July 20th at the latest. (Neither the BBC nor the CBC, both of which interviewed him, were sufficiently professional to have reported the specific date at which Bociurkiw had actually arrived on-scene, but, from this, it couldn’t have been after July 20th. The downing had occurred July 17th. If some of the debris was still “smoldering” as the CBC journalist said, then maybe he had arrived there even earlier.)

The youtube snippet of Bociurkiw came to me via a reader-comment to my article, from Bill Johnson, after which I web-searched the youtube clip for its source and arrived then at the 29 July 2014 CBC news article and its accompanying video.

Further, there’s this crucial 21 July photo-reconstruction of that cockpit-fragment positioned into place on the aircraft as it had originally been in that intact-airliner:  https://twitter.com/EzraBraam. (Sometimes that doesn’t work, so here’s another screen of it from someone who copied it.) Looking at that photo-reconstruction, one can easily tell that the SU-25 or other fighter-jet that was firing into the cockpit from the pilot’s left side didn’t just riddle the area surrounding the pilot with bullets, but that it then targeted-in specifically onto the pilot himself, producing at his location a huge gaping hole in the side of the plane precisely at the place where the pilot was seated. Furthermore, this gaping hole was produced by shooting into the plane, precisely at the pilot, from below and to the pilot’s left, which is where that fighter-jet was located — not from above the airliner, and not from beside it, and also not from below it.

In other words: this was precise and closely-targeted firing against the pilot himself, not a blast directed broadly against, and aiming to hit, the plane anywhere, to bring it down.

Haisenko explained how this penetration of the plane, though it was targeted specifically at the pilot, caused immediately a breaking-apart of the entire aircraft.

Other readers have responded to my news-report about Haisenko’s article, by saying that shrapnel from a Buk missile could similarly have caused those holes into the side of the cockpit. However, that objection ignores another key feature of Haisenko’s analysis. Haisenko said there: “You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likeley that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile. The edge of the other, the larger and slightly frayed exit holes showing shreds of metal pointing produced by the same caliber projectiles. Moreover, it is evident that … these exit holes of the outer layer of the double aluminum reinforced structure are shredded or bent — outwardly!”

What this means is that in order to have some of those holes frayed inwardly and the other holes frayed outwardly, there had to have been a second fighter-jet firing into the cockpit from the airliner’s right-hand side.

That’s critically important, because no ground-based missile (or shrapnel therefrom) hitting the airliner could possibly have produced firing into the cockpit from both  sides of the plane. It had to have been a hail of bullets from both sides, that brought the plane down, in that circumstance. This is Haisenko’s main discovery, by his pointing that out. You can’t have projectiles going in both directions — into the left-hand-side fuselage panel from both its left and right sides — unless they are coming at the panel from different directions. Nobody before Haisenko had noticed that the projectiles had ripped through that panel from both its left side and its right side. This is what rules out any  ground-fired missile.

Peter Haisenko posted an extremely high-resolution image from that photo which he used, and it shows unequivocally that some of the bullet-holes were inbound while others of them were outbound: Here it is, viewed very close-up.

Although the fighter jets that were said to have been escorting the Malaysian plane into the war-zone were alleged to be SU-25 planes, a different type might have been used. SU-25s are designed to be flown up to 23,000 feet without an oxygen-mask, but can go much higher if the pilot does wear that mask, which was probably the case here. Of course, an airliner itself is fully pressurized. That pressurization inside the airliner is, moreover, a key part of Haisenko’s reconstruction of this airliner’s downing. Basically, Haisenko reconstructs the airliner’s breaking apart as soon as that hail of bullets opened and released the plane’s pressurization.

The specific photo of that cockpit-fragment, which Haisenko had downloaded immediately after the disaster, was removed from the Internet, but other photos of this fragment were posted elsewhere, such as at the British publication (which, like the rest of the Western “news” media is slanted pro-Obama, anti-Putin), on July 21st, headlining their anti-Putin missile-theory bias, “MH17 crash: FT photo shows signs of damage from missile strike.” Their “reporters” opened with their blatant anti-Russian prejudice:

“The first apparent hard evidence that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile is emerging from the crash site in eastern Ukraine, after experts confirmed on Monday there were signs of shrapnel damage to the aircraft.”

Although they didn’t say in their opener that the “surface-to-air missile” was from the rebels, they made clear their pro-Ukrainian-Government anti-Russian bias by saying, “Over the weekend, western intelligence agencies pointed to mounting evidence that backs Ukraine’s claim that the aircraft with 298 people on board was shot down by mistake by pro-Russian separatists and Russian military personnel with an SA-11 missile launched from a Buk-M1 SAM battery.” Their stenographers (or as they would say “reporters”) stenographed (“reported”) that, “Douglas Barrie of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the photographic evidence ‘was consistent with the kind of damage you would expect to see from the detonation of a high explosive fragmentation warhead of the type commonly used in a SAM system’.” No analyst from the pro-Putin camp  was interviewed by their “reporters.” For example, Russia’s Interfax News Service headlined on July 29th, the same day as the FT’s  article, “Boeing’s downing by Buk missile system unlikely — military expert,” and they stenographed their  “expert,” as follows:

Chief of the Russian Land Forces’ tactical air defense troops Maj. Gen. Mikhail Krush said he doubts that the Malaysian passenger liner was brought down by a Buk surface-to-air missile system. “No one observed a Buk engaging targets in that region on that day, which provides 95 percent proof that Buk systems were not used in this concrete case,” the general said in an interview with the Voyenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer military weekly to be published on Wednesday [July 30th]. ”This is no more than a theory for now. However, a guided missile launched by a Buk missile system leaves behind a specific smoke trail as it flies, like a comet. In daylight this trail can be clearly seen within a radius of 20-25 kilometers from the missile system. It cannot remain unnoticed. There are no eyewitnesses to confirm there was any. No one reported a launch. This is one thing,” he said. “Second. The holes left by the strike elements on the Boeing’s outer skin indicate that the warhead blew up from below and sideways. A Buk missile strikes the target from above,” he said. “The damage done to the plane suggests that a different missile was used. Our guidance method is a zoom, when the missile strikes the target from above covering it with a thick cloud of fragments” the general said. “I cannot state categorically, guided by this data, but I can suggest, using my experience, that it was not a Buk missile that hit the Boeing,” the expert said.

General Krush’s statement can fit with Haisenko’s and with Bociurkiw’s, but not with FT’s  or the rest of the “reporters” (just consider them as rank propagandists) in the West.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been saying all along that Russia – against which he is actually systematically building toward war – and not Ukraine (which he’s using as his chief vehicle to do that), is to blame for this airliner-downing. Previously, he had said that the snipers who in February had killed many people at the Maidan demonstrations against the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych came from Yanukovych’s State Security Service and not from the far-right political parties that were trying to bring Yanukovych down and that Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland selected to run the new Ukrainian government. But that too was an Obama lie. He lies a lot, and it’s just about the only type of statement he ever makes about Russia, and about Ukraine: lies.

If someone wants to verify how rabidly the U.S. Government lies, and has lied since at least the time of George W. Bush’s Presidency, just look at this video, by starting at 16:00 on it and going to 42:00 on it, and you will be shocked. (It pertains to lies by Bush that are still being covered up by Obama.) And when you further consider the many obvious questions it points out, which U.S. “news” media refused to ask and still refuse to ask about the matter, you’ll recognize that we are being lied to systematically and with utter contempt of the public, and with no respect for the public’s right to know the truth, even regarding massive history like that. It’s really brutal.

Ignorant “reporters” sometimes slip-up and include, in their stenography, facts that actually support the opposite side’s narrative of events and that discredit their own story-line. Such has been the case, for example, in the Financial Times  piece, which included the statement that, “Anti-aircraft missiles are not designed to score a direct hit as they are targeted to destroy fast, agile fighter jets. Instead, they are designed to explode within about 20m of their target, sending out a cloud of red hot metal to increase the chances of inflicting as much damage as possible.”

But rather than merely “a cloud of red hot metal,” what actually brought down this plane was what Haisenko has said brought it down: magazines-full of carefully targeted rapid-fire machine-gun bullets pouring forth from below the plane, at both its left and right.

This was a Ukrainian Government job. It was close-in. (No missile fired from the distance more than 30,000 feet down to the ground could have been that precise to target the pilot rather than the far larger target of the plane’s entire body.) It came from the Government that Obama installed there in February and that’s now carrying out an ethnic-cleansing campaign against the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, the places where Yanukovych’s voters live (to the extent that they still can and do live).Compare that picture with the following one, which I take from a propaganda-site for the U.S. regime, and so which is intended instead to support the Administration’s line on this, certainly not Haisenko’s explanation of how the airliner was downed, though it actually supports Haisenko’s case:

As you can see there, a plane that’s hit by a ground-fired missile, instead of by bullets fired from an attack-plane only a few yards away, has the damage spread rather widely over its body, not concentrated into a tiny area, such as to where the plane’s pilot is seated. Certainly, the contrast between that photo and this one is enormous.

Furthermore, note also that the shrapnel damage to that plane comes from above it, which is where missiles usually hit a plane from, releasing their shrapnel from above, down onto the plane. By contrast, the hail of bullets to the Malaysian plane’s pilot came from below the plane, aiming upward at the cockpit, from both sides of the cockpit.

 

As regards whether there were actually two fighter jets firing into the Malaysian airliner or only one, a proponent of the single-jet hypothesis, Bill Johnson, posted as a reader-comment to my article on August 4th, a series of extreme close-ups of the side-panel, in which he inferred that the explanation of the apparent left-side (pilot-side) bullets was probably the shape of the bullets. I then asked him why he declined to accept the possible existence of two jets. He said,

“from what I could find Russian military radar detected only one Ukrainian fighter jet, not two. I have looked and looked for any type of radar confirmation of a second fighter jet and can not find it.”

However, the most virginal, earliest, online evidence concerning the matter was on July 17th, within moments of the downing, headlined in the subsequent English translation, “Spanish Air Controller @ Kiev Borispol Airport: Ukraine Military Shot Down Boeing #MH17,” and it included, “@spainbuca’s TWITTER FEED,” which included his observation, only minutes after the downing, “2 jet fighters flew very close” to the plane. Furthermore, immediately before that, he had tweeted, “The B777 plane flew escorted by Ukraine jet fighter until 2 minutes before disappearing from the radar.” So, perhaps the second jet appeared distinct to him only immediately prior to the downing.

The accompanying news-report, also on July 17th, said:

“This Kiev air traffic controller is a citizen of Spain and was working in the Ukraine. He was taken off duty as a civil air-traffic controller along with other foreigners immediately after a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine killing 295 passengers and crew on board. The air traffic controller suggested in a private evaluation and basing it on military sources in Kiev, that the Ukrainian military was behind this shoot down. Radar records were immediately confiscated after it became clear a passenger jet was shot down.” If this is true, then the radar-records upon the basis of which those tweets had been sent were “confiscated.”

The best evidence is consistent that those bullet-holes came from two directions not from one. What is virtually certain, however, is that at least one jet fighter was close up and shot down the Malaysian plane. The rest of the tweets from @spainbucca, there, described the immediate hostility of the Kiev authorities toward him on the occasion, and his speculations as to who was behind it all.

And the European Union has been playing along with this hoax. (If you still have any further doubts that it’s a hoax, just click onto that link and look.) And the mass of suckers in the West believe that hoax: it’s succeeding to stir a fever for war, instead of a fever to get rid of our own leaders who are lying us into a war that will benefit only the West’s aristocrats, while it inflicts massive physical and economic harms against everyone else – as if it were the invasion of Iraq except multiplied in this case a thousand-fold, especially with nuclear weapons possibly at the end of it.

If we had a free press, the news media would be ceaselessly asking President Obama why he doesn’t demand accountability against the Ukrainian Government for their massacre perpetrated on May 2nd inside the Trade Unions Building in Odessa, where that newly Obama-installed regime’s peaceful opponents were systematically trapped and then burned alive, which the Obama-installed Ukrainian Government has refused to investigate (much less to prosecute). Basically: Obama had sponsored the massacre. So, our “news” media ignore it, even though it started this civil war on Russia’s doorstep, and thereby re-started the Cold War, as Obama had intended that massacre (his  massacre, and his  subsequent ethnic cleansing) to do. (Similarly, the “news” media, though all of them receive my articles by email, virtually all refuse to publish them, because I won’t let them control what I find and report.)

And while Obama leads this Republican policy, and Vice President Dick Cheney’s top foreign-policy advisor Victoria Nuland actually runs it for Obama, congressional Democrats are just silent about it, and do not introduce impeachment of this fake “Democratic” hyper-George W. Bush neo-conservative President, who’s a “Democrat” in rhetoric only – and though Obama’s policy in this key matter threatens the entire world.

A reader-comment to an earlier version of this news report and analysis objected to my identifying Obama as a Republican-in-”Democratic”-sheep’s clothing, and said:

“They may be rethug policies in origin but they are decidedly BI-PARTISAN to anyone who wants to admit FACTS. The democratic party you all think still exists is DEAD and only exists in your brain (the part that doesn’t accept reality).”

However, U.S. Senate bill 2277, which invites Obama to provide direct U.S. military support to the Obama-installed Ukrainian regime, has 26 sponsors, and all of them are Republican U.S. Senators. Democratic Senators, by contrast, are just silent on Obama’s turn toward nazism (or racist — in this case anti-ethnic-Russian racist –  fascism); the Senate’s Democrats aren’t seeking for it to be stepped up.

This is a Republican policy, which congressional Democrats are simply afraid to oppose. Any realistic person knows that however far right Obama turns, the overt  Republican Party will turn even farther to the right, because they have to be to his right in order for them to be able to win Republican primaries and retain their own  Party’s nomination. Just because Obama’s game of moving the American political center as far to the right as he can move it is succeeding, doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party itself should end. It instead means that progressives need to take the Democratic Party over, just like conservatives took the Republican Party over with Reagan. There is no other hope.

If a Democrat in the U.S. House will simply introduce an impeachment resolution against Barack Obama, then the right-wing takeover of the Democratic Party might finally end, and the world might yet be saved, because the Democratic Party itself could then reject Obama as being a fake “Democrat,” a Democrat-in-rhetoric-only. It could transform American politics — and American politics needs such a transformation, which would move the Democratic Party back to progressivism, more like the FDR Democratic Party was, so that Republican politicians would no longer need to be so fascist as they now have become (and as they now need to be  in order to be able to win their own  Party’s nomination). If Democrats fail to renounce the conservatism of Obama and of the Clintons, then the Party will end, and needs to be replaced, just like the Republican Party replaced the Whig Party immediately before the Civil War. Nazism has become today’s slavery-type issue – it’s beyond the pale, and Obama’s installation and endorsement of it in Ukraine is like James Buchanan’s endorsement of slavery was during the 1850s: either the Democratic Party will become the progressive party, or else the Democratic Party is over.

But that’s just my own theory of how Obama’s frauds might yet be able to be overcome and defeated, if they still can be; it’s not part of my presentation of the explanation of what brought down the Malaysian airliner, which has been an open case since July 17th, and which is now a closed case. This is past history, not future.

The present news story is being circulated free of charge or copyright to all “news” media in the English-speaking world, in the perhaps vain hope that the cover-ups of our leaders’ constant lies will cease soon enough to avoid a World War III, even though communism is long since gone from Russia and so the ideological excuse wouldn’t make any sense here.

This insanity is actually all about aristocratic conquest, like World War I was. It’s not for the benefit of the public anywhere. Silence about it (by “Democrats,” and the “news” media) is a scandal, which needs to stop. The real Democratic Party (the Party of FDR, who loathed and despised nazis — and even mere fascists — yet today Obama installs nazis into Power in Ukraine) must be restored, and a real news media needs to become established in America. Even Republicans need it, because the very idea of “victory” in a nuclear war is a vicious fantasy. It is a dangerous lie, though there are some people who find it a very profitable one. And time might be short — let’s hope not already too  short.

After all, Obama’s hoax of having won from Europe the stepped-up economic sanctions against Russia after the government that Obama had installed in Ukraine downed the Malaysian plane and successfully blamed it on “Russian aggression,” is very encouraging to him. And European leaders know that Obama’s entire operation is a very bloody fraud (read the phone-transcript there — it’s a stunner). So, they certainly won’t save the world from it. It’s up to us.

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.

[There] is a memo [at the Pentagon] that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (1997-2000), (March 2, 2007)

“I don’t want to just end the [Iraq] war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.” Presidential candidate Barack Obama, (January 31, 2008)

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865), 16th President of the United States (1861-65)

When the U.S. government of George W. Bush (2001-2009) decided to illegally invade militarily the country of Iraq and overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein, against the advice of many thinking persons, it opened a “Pandora Box” of woes that is still spewing out its calamities today, and probably will for many years to come. This is the first and foremost cause of the current quagmire prevailing in Iraq and in Syria today.

In 2009, the Barack Obama administration thought that it could wash its hands and walk away from the “biggest mistake in American military history” and let local Iraqi politicians sort things out and form an “inclusive” government in Baghdad. Here is what President Obama said on February 27, 2009:

“Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end… Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government [negotiated by the previous Bush administration], I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”

Well, as it should have been expected by anybody who has any knowledge of history in that part of the world, Iraq was far from being a stable “democracy”. Instead, the Shi’ite-led and paranoid Malaki government was everything but “inclusive” of the Sunni minority. Indeed, the Shi’ite-controlled Iraqi government was bent on taking revenge on the Sunnis for the suffering Shi’ites endured under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Using the sophisticated military gear supplied by the U.S., it tracked down Sunni opposition and dissenters to the regime, many were killed, and it excluded prominent Sunni politicians from the government.

There lies the second cause of the Sunni revolt that has helped create the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State militia (IS), [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)], whose fighters are often foreign volunteers, at least in Syria. Some are ethnic Chechens, and many come from western countries such as the U.K. —When one sows terrorism, one should expect to reap terrorism. And that’s what the U.S. government and some other western countries have got in Iraq and Syria. In the U.S. case, it is for invading the former militarily and for reneging on its obligations to behave as a responsible occupying power under international law.

Added to that ill-thought and improvised U.S. policy in Iraq was the incoherent and misguided American policy of destabilizing the neighboring Syria by supporting and arming Islamist rebels against the established Assad government, in association with the Sunni governments of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These three countries had political and economic reasons of their own to oppose the Syrian Assad government, but not the United States. Many of these American-supported “moderate” Islamist terrorist organizations have since been absorbed by the rabidly terrorist ISIL organization. One can hardly think of a more flawed policy.

Last year, while the religious totalitarian terrorist IS organization was gaining strength both in Iraq and in Syria, and U.S. ambassadors in those countries were sounding the alarm, the Obama administration’s attention was concentrated on overthrowing the elected government of Ukraine and on overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria. Now, the IS militia are well entrenched in many cities and well armed with sophisticated American-supplied weapons that they have used to terrorize, torture and slaughter thousands of people who oppose their lunatic views, both in Iraq and Syria. That’s a total mess.

But what does the Obama administration do? Faced with a most serious humanitarian and military crisis in Iraq and in Syria that the United States itself has ignited with its policies, President Obama, surrounded by his neocon advisers (whose real allegiance is most dubious), has appeared hesitant, confused, overwhelmed, clueless, incoherent, passive and reactive. The old saying “A stitch in time saves nine”would seem to apply here. Indeed, problems tend to pile up when solutions are postponed and delayed. The brutal monster of IS in Iraq and in Syria has been allowed to develop and grow because of the U.S. government’s wishful indifference in Iraq and of its misplaced policies in Ukraine and in Syria. The result has been a Washington D.C.-made quagmire in those countries. It is not exaggerated to say that the U.S. government has blood on its hands for the savage carnage taking place in these countries.

How could the world stand still when fanatical and delusional seventh century barbaric butchers slaughter people right and left, for their ethnicity, their religion or their ideas? There is a word for that savage behavior, and that is “ethnic cleansing”. It is genocide.

The sad truth is that for the last twenty some years, there has been very weak intellectual leadership in Washington D.C., and this at the highest echelons. Ruinous wars and costly financial crises have resulted.

In the future, the Clinton-Bush-Obama years will probably be known as the “Vacuum years”, because the U.S. government of the day would have abused and de facto destroyed the international law system created after WWII, while being incapable of providing an efficient and socially and politically responsible alternative. In fact, the U.S. neocon-inspired U.S government of the last twenty years has been unable to match its world empire ambitions with concrete solutions and workable institutions. This is not a good record, far from it.

On Tuesday, November 4, American voters had their say about the U.S. elected officials who have been behind the mayhem and destruction brought to Iraq and Syria, and also Libya, by their failed policies. Indeed, the November 2014 mid-term election was dubbed a “referendum on President Barack Obama“, focusing on his competency, coherence and relevancy, but also on the weak state of the U.S. economy. The electoral results have not been very good for democratic candidates who paid a heavy price for their president’s failures.

With both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate now under firm Republican control, it is obvious that the last two years of the Obama presidency will be difficult for the embattled “lame-duck” president.

Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is an internationally  renowned economist and author, whose last two books are: The Code for Global Ethics, Prometheus Books, 2010; and The New American Empire, Infinity Publishing, 2003. To read Dr. Tremblay’s blog, please visit: http://www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.htm The author can be reached at: [email protected].

Did you know that we buy nearly five times as much stuff from the Chinese as they buy from us?  According to government numbers that were just released, we imported 44.9 billion dollars worth of stuff from China in September but we only exported 9.3 billion dollars worth of stuff to them.  And this is not happening because our economy is so much larger than China’s.  In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the entire planet on a purchasing power basis.  No, the truth is that this is happening because our economy is broken.  Every month, we consume far more wealth than we produce.  Because the outflow of money is far greater than the inflow, we have to go to major exporting nations and beg them to lend our dollars back to us so that we can pay our bills.  Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go down and our formerly great manufacturing cities are rotting and decaying.  We are committing national economic suicide, and most Americans don’t seem to care.

Barack Obama is constantly hyping a “manufacturing resurgence” in America, but the numbers don’t lie.  In September, our manufactured goods trade deficit with the rest of the world soared to a new all-time record high of 69.16 billion dollars.  For the year, we are nearly 12 percent ahead of last year’s record pace.

When we buy far more things than we sell, we get poorer as a nation.

How do you think that we ever got into a position of owing China more than a trillion dollars?

We just kept buying far more from them than they bought from us, and their money just kept piling up.  Now it has gotten to the point where our politicians literally beg them to lend our money back to us.  They are the head and we are the tail.

And we did this to ourselves.

Once upon a time, the United States was the greatest manufacturing powerhouse that the world had ever seen.  But now China manufacturesmore stuff than us and China also accounts for more total global trade (imports plus exports) than us.

This should never have happened.  Several decades ago, the Chinese economy was a complete joke.  But decades of incredibly foolish decisions by our politicians have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing facilities, millions of good paying jobs and the destruction of vast stretches of our economic infrastructure.

During the same time frame, gleaming new manufacturing facilities have gone up all over China.

China is literally wiping the floor with us on the global economic stage and most Americans don’t even understand what is happening.  Here is more on the trade deficit numbers that were just released from the RealityChek Blog

>The China goods deficit of $35.56 billion blew past the old mark of $30.86 billion, set in July, by 15.23 percent. The new deficit also represented a 17.77 percent increase over the August level of $30.20 billion.

>U.S. goods exports to the still strongly growing Chinese economy fell on month in September from $9.63 billion to $9.33 billion (3.12 percent). U.S. merchandise imports from China jumped by 12.70 percent over August levels, from $39.83 billion to $44.89 billion – itself an all-time high.

>The U.S. goods deficit with China this year is now so far running 5.62 percent ahead of 2014’s record pace.

>The longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade shortfall shot up from $59.10 billion in August to $69.16 billion in September. This 17.02 percent jump resulted in a beat of the old record of $67.33 billion, also set in July, by 2.72 percent.

And it isn’t just cheap plastic trinkets that China is selling to us.

In fact, their number one export to us is computer equipment.

Meanwhile, one of our main exports to them is “scrap and trash”.

For much more on how China is absolutely dominating us, please see my previous article entitled “Not Just The Largest Economy – Here Are 26 Other Ways China Has Surpassed America“.

Sadly, there are a couple of factors that will probably make our trade deficit with the rest of the world even worse in the months ahead.

Number one, the currency war that I wrote about earlier this week will probably push the U.S. dollar even higher against the yen and the euro.

You might think that a rising dollar sounds good, but the truth is that it will make our exports less competitive in the global marketplace.

Nations such as Japan devalue their currencies so that they can sell more stuff to us.  But that hurts our own domestic industries.  And when our own domestic industries suffer, that means less jobs for American workers.

Secondly, the collapse in the price of oil could have very serious implications for the shale oil industry.

In recent years, the shale oil revolution has caused local economic booms in states such as Texas and North Dakota.  But shale oil tends to be quite expensive to extract.  As I write this, the price of U.S. oil has fallen to about 77 dollars a barrel.  If it stays at that level or keeps going down, shale oil production in the United States will slow down dramatically.

In other words, a lot of these shale oil “boom towns” could go “bust” very rapidly.

If that happens, the amount of oil that we import will rise substantially and that will add to our overall trade deficit.

But of course the biggest factor fueling our trade deficit is that the vast majority of Americans simply do not care that we are committing national economic suicide.

When we buy products made in America, we support American businesses and American workers.

When we buy products made overseas, we hurt American businesses, we kill American jobs and we make ourselves poorer as a nation.

Of course there is nothing wrong with buying a foreign-made product once in a while.  But this holiday season, most people will fill their shopping carts to the brim with foreign-made goods without even thinking twice about it.

The next time that you go into a huge retail establishment such as Wal-Mart, start picking up products and look to see where they were made.

I think that you will be shocked at how few of them are actually made inside the United States.

When are Americans going to get sick and tired of making China wealthier at our expense?

We are willing participants in the destruction of the U.S. economy, and yet only a small minority of people seem to care.

What is it going to take for people to finally wake up?

Originally published in December 2013:

The increase in police brutality in this country is a frightening reality. In the last decade alone the number of  people murdered by police has reached 5,000. The number of soldiers killed since the inception of the Iraq war, 4489.

What went wrong? In the 1970’s SWAT teams were estimated to be used just a few hundred times per year, now we are looking at over 40,000 military style “knock and announce” police raids a year.

The police presence in this country is being turned into a military with a clearly defined enemy, anyone who questions the establishment.

If we look at the most recent numbers of non-military US citizens killed by terrorism worldwide, that number is 17. You have a better chance of being killed by a bee sting, or a home repair accident than you do a terrorist. And you are 29 times more likely to be murdered by a cop than a terrorist!

eor

A hard hitting mini film by film maker Charles Shaw, properly titled RELEASE US, highlights the riveting and horrid reality of America’s thin blue line.

From the film:

500 innocent Americans are murdered by police every year (USDOJ). 5,000 since 9/11, equal to the number of US soldiers lost in Iraq.

In 1994 the US Government passed a law authorizing the Pentagon to donate surplus Cold War era military equipment to local police departments.

In the 20 years since, weaponry designed for use on a foreign battlefield, has been handed over for use on American streets…against American citizens.

The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” replaced the Cold War with billions in funding and dozens of laws geared towards this new “war” against its own citizens.

This militarization of the police force has created what is being called an “epidemic of police brutality” sweeping the nation.

The largest-ever protest by Israeli top brass has taken place, with at least 105 retired generals and intelligence chiefs writing a letter to premier Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him to “initiate a diplomatic process” for peace with Palestine.

“We, the undersigned, reserve IDF commanders and retired police officers, who have fought in Israel’s military campaigns, know firsthand of the heavy and painful price exacted by wars…. Here we are again sending our children out onto the battlefield, watching them don their uniforms and combat vests and go out to fight in Operation Protective Edge,” the letter read.

A few of those who signed the letter told the state Mako-Channel 2 News that, in their opinion, Israel had the strength and means to come to a two-state roadmap to get out of the current crisis.

The agreement wasn’t reached due to “weak leadership,” the country’s top brass added.

“We’re on a steep slope toward an increasingly polarized society and moral decline, due to the need to keep millions of people under occupation on claims that are presented as security-related,” reserve Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven told the channel.

“I have no doubt that the prime minister seeks Israel’s welfare, but I think he suffers from some sort of political blindness that drives him to scare himself and us,” he added, Haaretz reported.

The idea of writing the letter belonged to reserve Major General Amnon Reshef, who said in an interview he was “sick and tired of a reality of rounds of fighting every few years, instead of a genuine effort to adopt the Saudi initiative,” Ynetnews.com quoted him as saying.

He referred to the Saudi peace plan adopted in 2002 that offered full peace for Arab states and Israel. Tel Aviv, in turn, was to withdraw to borders based on the pre-1967 armistice lines.

Among the signatories to the protest, 101 are IDF veterans with the rank of brigadier or major general, two are ex-chiefs of the Mossad intelligence agency and three former commanders of Israel’s National Police, Haaretz reported.

It’s not the first collective effort of the Israeli top brass to urge the country’s leadership to step up the peace drive.

For instance, almost three years ago, 52 former generals signed a petition calling for a law to make military or equivalent national service compulsory for men who practice Haredi Judaism.

And in November 2011, 19 ex-top brass urged the IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz to fight against increasing religious extremism in the military forces.

The latest letter comes a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for around 1,000 new settler homes to be built on occupied Palestinian land. This triggered an alarmed response from the Palestinian authorities.

FEMA Detention Camp in Upstate New York?

November 5th, 2014 by 21st Century Wire

Where is your nearest FEMA camp? An NBC news crew may have stumbled across one in upper state New York…

Executive Directive 51 was signed by George W. Bush in 2007, which gives the US Federal gov’t the power to declare impose martial law in the event a ‘national emergency’, giving the White House and Homeland Security (DHS) the ability to detain millions of Americans on US soil under Rex 84 and other military programs previously planned and run as inter-agency exercise drills.

A number of bloggers, patriot groups, survivalists and preppers have compiled lists of FEMA Camp locations, but much of the reporting is still isolated and anecdotal.

One reason why evidence is relatively sparse could be because it’s not easy to film at these secluded sites with hired security personnel intimidating press and media.

It’s not just alternative media outlets being harassed by privatized government contractors. Even mainstream media crews are being chased off of these secret sites too…

OFFICIAL MAP: Which FEMA region will you be in? (Source: FEMA.gov)

There are some strange aspects to this report to begin with. Local NBC news claim they were simply filming a news package for the “129th anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant’s passing” (bizarre anniversary date, 129 years?), and then decided to use an abandoned prison as the backdrop while he was speaking to the camera. Quite the odd incident occurred however when a prison Lieutenant rolled up,

According local NBC affiliate WNYT, “Corrections employees who are still working at the empty prison made every attempt to stop Mark Mulholland from doing his job.” This included a demand from a private contractor to ‘get off state land’ and then to hand over the tape – or face arrest.

Why the secrecy? Why the stress on the part of the private prison contractors (from Wakenhut, or Serco?) when it’s supposed to be ‘closed’? Clearly, this is not just an “empty prison” as WNYT reported.

Watch the incident here:

News crew threatened with arrest and confiscation of footage after stumbling across a potentially operational FEMA camp facility inside a “closed” prison


News Crew Threatened with Arrest after Stumbling across a potentially Operational FEMA Camp

by Shepard Ambellas

Intellihub

WILTON, NY  – WNYT News 13′s Mark Mulholland and his cameraman had a few rather interesting encounters with overly aggressive State correctional officers while trying to do a story on a historic monument, Grant’s Cottage, which is located at the top of Mount McGregor.

During the encounters, which were all caught on video, the crew was repeatedly asked to stop filming what appeared to be a closed prison facility in the backdrop.

“You are on State property right now. You can’t film here.”, said the officer after pulling up to the news crew on a public roadway in an aggressive manner with his unmarked vehicle. “You are going to leave the mountain now.”, the officer continued, insinuating that the news crew was on the mountain for a “different reason”.

After the conflict, the correctional officer, identified only as “Lieutenant Dorn”, radioed to his co-worker to block the roadway with another vehicle as the crew tried to enter the historic monument where the supposed “closed” prison facility.

Finally after bickering with Lt. Dorn and the State Police for over an hour, the crew managed to be released with all of their footage…

Continue this article at Intellihub

End the Bloodshed: It’s Time for Peace in Ukraine

November 5th, 2014 by William Hawes

Since the snap elections in Ukraine, observers have been uneasily watching and waiting to determine how events will play out. As rebel leaders have won regional voting in both Donetsk and Luhansk, the Kiev government is now crying foul. National troops are being mobilized to head to the southeast, as Poroshenko and the EU have both denounced the results in the Donbass as illegitimate. NATO has also called for more troops to be deployed to the Baltic nations as well, fueling instability on both sides of the conflict.

As Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Turchynov and various Ukrainian elites confer on how to deal with the conflict, the economy continues to suffer. Oligarchs continue to fund private paramilitaries with fascist, neo-Nazi elements, and the Right Sector and Svodoba continue to attract voters throughout Ukraine. These bigoted people are eerily similar to Greece’s Golden Dawn. Sadly, unlike Greece, there is no strong leftist party like Syriza to counter these racist reactionaries. In the vacuum, oligarchs like Igor Kolomoisky have managed to weasel their way to power. (1)

Predictably, relying on such unsavory allies may backfire on the Kiev government. The chocolate king Poroshenko may just be too moderate for the Right Sector, which already has made veiled threats against him. (2) In turn, Poroshenko may ramp up his war in the east, if only to appease the marauding degenerates who comprise his thuggish militias, as well as his western overlords.

If peace is what Kiev really wanted, it would already be so. For all their courage, the rebels in the Donbass are short on supplies and manpower, and seem willing to stick to a ceasefire and end the suffering. Kiev, however, wants to punish the rebels for their insubordination and tacit alliance with Russia. No doubt, the Kiev oligarchs are also in the pocket of the US, as Ambassador Nuland has made clear.

Similar to Kiev, Washington’s aim is to punish Russia for its takeover of Crimea and support for the rebels. Using Kiev as a proxy, Washington knows that a crippled Ukraine will hurt the EU, but will drag down Russia for decades. It is a strategic risk that the US seems willing to take, although the consequences may be severe. Building on Cold War containment theory, a divided Ukraine would contribute to the “Grand Chessboard” plans of Zbigniew Brzezinski and turn containment into conflict. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO crept eastward, and Russia objected, but with a patient and friendly outlook, cognizant of its temporary weakness. Today, Russia has rebuilt itself into an energy-exporting giant and military superpower.

The main reasons Washington is worried about Moscow’s intentions are as follows: the decoupling of the dollar from oil sales; the alliance between Russia, Syria, and Iran; the growing power of the BRICS and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a quasi-military partnership comprising China, Russia, Kahazstan, which is considering adding Iran, Pakistan, and India in the future). So the proxies are brought out: in Syria and Iraq, the despicable Wahhabist ISIS, in Ukraine, the nationalist and fascist paramilitary.

With direct conflict flooding the headlines, the insidious manipulation, bribery, and coercion by the western powers (what US policy experts refer to as soft power or smart power) are mostly ignored.  In Libya by 2011, the dream of the Arab Spring devolved into a nightmare, with NATO air power squashing the Qaddafi regime even as NATO supported tribal warlords of the radical Islamist variety. In Egypt, the US supported Mohammed Morsi even as it became clear of his undemocratic and Sharia-embracing tendencies. Today, the Euromaidan protests have only brought chaos and instability to Ukraine. Also, Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” threatens to spread unrest and a lockdown of freedoms in China.

Yet these recent displays of controlled opposition and “spontaneous” protests are ultimately of little significance for the US. For the West, Ukraine is simply a bridge, a stepping-stone, albeit an important one. The real prize is Russia. By hook or by crook, the US will try to turn Russia into the pro-West camp. Its resources are too vast, its technological capabilities too high, and as an independent power with a Western culture it represents too great a threat to our delusional leaders in the Beltway. Their ideal goal is a Russia integrated into the EU. When Putin expressed desire for a free trade agreement “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” in 2010, the US may choose to take the idea a step further: they want an EU spanning Eurasia, all under Washington’s control, of course.

Right now, the US plan seems to be to inoculate the Russian populace against Putin and his courtiers, with Western media implacably opposed to him. Consider the media loudmouths casting him as some sort of arch-villain, and the ludicrous comparison with Hitler. All of this was a psychological operation aimed not only to distract the American public, but to fracture support among Russian citizens. Yet it has not worked, and its citizens hugely support the Donbass rebels and reintegrating Crimea.

The US has chosen to slow-play the situation as sanctions continue to harm the Russian economy, and as there is no substantial liberal opposition in Moscow. The reason why? Conventional pro-western analysts insist it is because of the repression of Russian oligarchs and the state. The truth that cannot be uttered by them is that the Kremlin has developed soft power of its own: many state-owned media institutions critical of western hegemony, the non-violent referendum and takeover of Crimea, the asylum given to Ed Snowden, the recent multi-billion dollar gas deal with China.

Putin knows he has the upper hand in Ukraine for now, and will dig in for the long-term. He knows Poroshenko is hanging by a thread, and that ordinary Ukrainians will chafe under the EU’s proposed austerity measures. He wants a strong eastern Ukranian coalition like the Party of Regions to regain power, and a reliable (if weak) partner like Yanukovyck to emerge, but that ship has sailed, and there is no turning back time. So for now, both Putin and the US want what they simply cannot have.

It is time for the superpowers to step back from the precipice and hammer out a lasting solution for peace. Enough blood has been spilt. Ukrainian leaders on both sides can and will choose peace if their backers forge a deal. The West must accept a Russian Crimea and acknowledge the Donbass rebels as legitimate holders of territory, not simply terrorists. Russia must learn to live with an EU-oriented western Ukraine.

A legitimate peace deal for Ukraine would achieve much more than any rhetorical US-Russian “reset” and could bring about a breakthrough in international relations. Together, the US and Russia could work in tandem to police human rights abuses, alleviate poverty in the Global South, modernize and enforce international law, invigorate the unwieldy UN, fight radical terrorism abroad, and uphold western notions of liberty. A united West could reengage the world more honestly, and force its nations to acknowledge the exploitation and inequality built into their neoliberal economic structures. Cultural bonds could be strengthened and social welfare programs in the US and Russia could be improved by learning from European models. Yet this will all be a pipe-dream if our leaders squander the opportunity for peace in Ukraine. The stakes are high, and the world is watching.

William Hawes is an independent author specializing in environmental issues and geopolitics.

Notes

American Financial Markets Have No Relationship To Reality

November 5th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

As we have demonstrated in previous articles, the bullion banks (primarily JP Morgan, HSBC, ScotiaMocatta, Barclays, UBS, and Deutsche Bank), most likely acting as agents for the Federal Reserve, have been systematically forcing down the price of gold since September 2011. Suppression of the gold price protects the US dollar against the extraordinary explosion in the growth of dollars and dollar-denominated debt.

It is possible to suppress the price of gold despite rising demand, because the price is not determined in the physical market in which gold is actually purchased and carried away. Instead, the price of gold is determined in a speculative futures market in which bets are placed on the direction of the gold price. Practically all of the bets made in the futures market are settled in cash, not in gold. Cash settlement of the contracts serves to remove price determination from the physical market.

Cash settlement makes it possible for enormous amounts of uncovered or “naked” futures contracts — paper gold — to be printed and dumped all at once for sale in the futures market at times when trading is thin. By increasing the supply of paper gold, the enormous sales drive down the futures price, and it is the futures price that determines the price at which physical quantities of bullion can be purchased.

The fact that the price of gold is determined in a paper market, in which there is no limit to the supply of paper contracts that can be created, produces the strange result that the demand for physical bullion is at an all time high, outstripping world production, but the price continues to fall! Asian demand is heavy, especially from China, and silver and gold eagles are flying off the shelves of the US Mint in record quantities. Bullion stocks are being depleted; yet the prices of gold and silver fall day after day.

The only way that this makes sense is that the price of bullion is not determined in a real market, but in a rigged paper market in which there is no limit to the ability to print paper gold.

The Chinese, Russians, and Indians are delighted that the corrupt American authorities make it possible for them to purchase ever larger quantities of gold at ever lower prices. The rigged market is perfectly acceptable to purchasers of bullion, just as it is to US authorities who are committed to protecting the dollar from a rising price of gold.

Nevertheless, an honest person would think that the incompatibility of high demand with constrained supply and falling price would arouse the interest of economists, the financial media, financial authorities, and congressional committees.

Where are the class action suits from gold mining companies against the Federal Reserve, its bullion bank agents, and all who are harming the interest of the mining companies by short-selling gold with uncovered contracts? Rigged markets–especially on the basis of inside information–are illegal and highly unethical. The naked short-selling is causing damage to mining interests. Once the price of gold is driven below $1200 per ounce, many mines become uneconomical. They shut down. Miners are unemployed. Shareholders lose money. How can such an obviously rigged and manipulated price be permitted to continue? The answer is that the US political and financial system is engulfed with corruption and criminality. The Federal Reserve’s policy of rigging bond and gold prices and providing liquidity for stock market speculation has damaged the US economy and tens of millions of US citizens in order to protect four mega-banks from their mistakes and crimes. This private use of public policy is unprecedented in history. Those responsible should be arrested and put on trial and they should simultaneously be sued for damages.

US authorities use the Plunge Protection Team, the Exchange Stabilization Fund, currency swaps, Federal Reserve policy, and purchases of S&P futures to support an artificial exchange value of the dollar and to provide the liquidity needed to support stock and bond prices, with the latter so artificially high that savers receive negative real interest rates on their saving.

The authorities have created a financial system totally out of sync with reality. When the authorities can no longer keep the house of cards standing, the collapse will be extreme.

It is a testament to the complicity of economists, the incompetence of financial media, and the corruption of public authorities and private institutions that this house of cards was constructed. The executives of the handful of mega-banks that caused the problem are the people who are running the US Treasury, the New York Fed, and the US financial regulatory agencies. They are using their control over public policy to protect themselves and their institutions from their own reckless behavior. The price for this protection is being paid by the economy and ordinary Americans – and that price is rising.

The latest orchestrated takedown of the gold price is related to two events (see the graphs below). One is that the Federal Reserve decided to boost the upward spike in the dollar’s exchange rate from the Fed’s announcement of the end of Quantitative Easing (QE). The Fed’s announcement of the end of dollar creation in order to support bond prices lessened the rising anxiety in the world about the US dollar’s value when the supply of new dollars continued to increase faster than the US output of goods and services. The Fed reinforced the boost that its announcement gave to the dollar by having its bullion bank agents drive down the gold price with naked short-selling. [1]

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Naked short selling was also used to offset the effect on the gold price by the Bank of Japan’s surprise announcement on October 31 of a massive new program of QE. Apparently, the Bank of Japan either has been pressured by Washington to inflate Japan’s currency in order to support the dollar’s value or is applying a policy based on the Keynesian Phillips Curve that 2-3% inflation stimulates economic growth. Japan has been in the economic doldrums for a long time and is now reduced to pre-Reagan “snake oil” prescriptions in a desperate attempt to revive its economy.

Japan’s announcement of infinite money creation should have caused the price of gold to rise. To prevent a rise, at 3:00 AM US Eastern Time, during one of the least active trading periods for gold futures, the electronic futures market (Globex) was hit with a sale of 25 tonnes of uncovered Comex paper gold contracts, which dropped the gold price $20 dollars. No legitimate seller would destroy his own capital by selling a position in this way.

The gold price stabilized and moved higher, but at 8 AM US Eastern Time, and 20 minutes prior to the opening of the New York futures market (Comex), another 38 tonnes of uncovered paper gold futures were sold. The only possible purpose of such a sale is to drive down the price of gold. Again, no legitimate investor would unload a huge amount of his holdings in this way, thereby wiping out his own wealth.  [2]

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Allegedly, the United States is the home of scientific economics with the predominance of winners of the Nobel Prize in economics. Despite these high qualifications, the price of gold, silver, equities, and bonds that are set in the US bear no relationship to economic reality, and American economists do not notice.

The divergence of markets from economic reality disturbs neither public policymakers nor economists, who promote the interests of the government and its allied interest groups. The result is an economy that is a house of cards.

Thanks to the persistent efforts by civil society groups demanding access to the full text of India-UAE bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPA) under the Right to Information Act, the agreement was recently made public by the concerned appellate authority of Ministry of Finance. 

On December 12, 2013, India signed the agreement with the United Arab Emirates despite an ongoing official review of its existing BIPAs. In early 2013, the then government initiated the review and imposed a moratorium on all ongoing BIPA negotiations in the wake of public outcry over arbitration notices served by foreign investors (including Vodafone and Sistema) demanding billions of dollars in compensation for the alleged violation of existing agreements signed by India.

The Growing Backlash

It is important to note that India is not alone in reviewing its bilateral investment protection regime. Currently, a number of developing countries are questioning the rationale of investment agreements as these are neither necessary nor sufficient to attract foreign investment. The growing number of investor claims against sovereign states challenging a wide array of public policy decisions and regulatory measures has evoked deep concerns about the potential costs associated with such treaties.

South Africa, for instance, terminated its treaties with Germany, Switzerland and Spain based on a three-year review and replaced its bilateral investment regime with a domestic legislation which aims to protect investor rights while safeguarding domestic policy space.

In March 2014, Indonesia decided to terminate its bilateral investment treaty with the Netherlands and other countries due to its growing unease with the existing treaties.

While the new model treaty text is awaited, let us examine some of the important clauses of India-UAE BIPA.

Broader Definition of Investment

Like earlier agreements, India-UAE BIPA defines investment in the broadest terms possible. It means “every kind of asset” including moveable and immoveable property, shares and other interests in companies, monetary claims and contractual rights, intellectual property rights, know-how and goodwill – without any reference to certain limitations or exceptions. Of late, many countries are opting for a narrow definition of investment in treaties by excluding certain forms of investments. In the Indian context, a narrow definition of investment excluding short-term portfolio investments (held less than one year) would have been a better option as the country receives substantial hot money flows from the UAE.

Expansive Obligations

The India-UAE BIPA includes several ambiguous and standalone clauses which could be interpreted in a very expansive manner by foreign investors and arbitral tribunals. It is indeed worrisome that binding provisions such as most favoured nation (favour one, favour all), national treatment (treating foreign and local investors equally) and fair and equitable treatment have been incorporated in the agreement without any qualifications in the agreement. Not long ago, India lost a case against White Industries when the Australian investor took advantage of relying on the most favoured nation provisions in the India-Australia BIPA.

At the global level, a cursory look at some of recently concluded treaties shows that governments are adding exceptions in treaty clauses to pursue specific public policy objectives besides obligations are being carefully worded in a more precise manner to avoid expansive interpretations by arbitral tribunals.

Surprisingly, the India-UAE BIPA prohibits the imposition of additional performance requirements (in the post-establishment phase) “unless such requirements are deemed vital for reasons of public order, public health or environmental concerns.” One wonders why similar exemptions to treaty obligations were not added in other core principles of the agreement.

On the positive side, taxation issues have been excluded from the scope of this agreement to avoid Vodafone-type tax disputes in the future.

Unrestricted Transfer of Payments

The agreement allows unrestricted transfer of payments (including initial capital, returns, earnings, royalties and fees) without any exceptions. This clause is problematic on three counts. Firstly, it would weaken the ongoing efforts to curb cross-border flow of illicit money between India and the UAE. It is well-known that the illicit money derived from corruption, money laundering and other illegal means in India is sent to the UAE (and other low tax jurisdictions such as Mauritius and Singapore) via hawala (an informal system of money transfer across borders) and then sent back home in the guise of foreign investment to earn profits and tax benefits. This process (popularly known as round tripping) is carried out to conceal the identities of actual investors and for tax avoidance purposes. The Indian tax authorities have become increasingly concerned about round-tripping of funds resulting in the loss of huge tax revenues to the exchequer.

Secondly, this clause may restrict the ability of Indian authorities to deploy capital controls in the event of serious balance-of-payments and external financial shocks. It would be a grave mistake for India to surrender the ability to deploy capital controls in order to seek greater investment flows from the UAE. It is important to note that the Article 69 of the India-Japan FTA (signed in 2011) allows the imposition of restrictions on transfer of payments to safeguard the balance-of-payments. What stopped India to include this important provision in the text of India-UAE BIPA?

Thirdly, the government is considering a move to re-impose the limits on royalty payments paid by the Indian subsidiaries to their foreign parent firms. This move has been triggered due to high quantum of outflows on account of technology transfers, know-how, use of brand names and trademark fees since 2009 when the limits were withdrawn. Such outflows accounted for 16-33 percent of the FDI inflows into India between 2010 and 2013. Given India’s vulnerability to external sector shocks, the move to re-impose limits on royalty payments is grounded on legitimate policy objective to curb excessive outflows and therefore cannot be viewed as discriminatory or arbitrary.

Important Changes in Dispute Settlement System

For the settlement of investor-state investment disputes, the BIPA provides an explicit choice to foreign investors to bring their claims to domestic courts or international arbitration (under the framework of UNCITRAL or ICSID). Once an investor has submitted a dispute under any particular forum, that choice “shall be final and binding on that investor.”

In other words, a foreign investor cannot bring claim against host state before an international arbitration tribunal once it has brought its case to domestic courts, and vice versa. This indeed is a major departure from India’s earlier BIPAs which provide recourse to both international arbitration and domestic courts.

More importantly, the India-UAE agreement allows investors to challenge only executive decisions of central and state governments within a period of 5 years. The judicial pronouncements (à la 2G telecom scam) have been kept out of the ambit of this agreement.

Besides, the agreement does not allow the use of umbrella clause – a controversial provision that requires each Contracting State to observe all investment obligations entered into with investors from the other Contracting State. Under the umbrella clause, any breach of investor-State contracts could be considered as treaty violation.

The agreement also describes dispute settlement provisions and procedures in greater detail than previous agreements signed by India.

Furthermore, there is no mention of “sunset clauses” in the BIPA which guarantee investment protection for a further period (usually 10 to 15 years) even after the termination of agreement.

The Article 18 of India-UAE BIPA states that “The agreement shall remain in force for a period of ten years. During that period, and not later than January 1, 2016, both contracting parties shall commence renegotiation of the terms of this agreement and endeavor to enter into a revised or new agreement within a reasonable period.” Put simply, this agreement would be renegotiated before January 2016 once the new model text is ready.

Moving Beyond Tinkering

It is beyond doubt that the current BIPA regime needs a complete overhaul, not just tinkering around the edges. Unfortunately, neither political establishment nor powerful business groups appear to be interested in an overhaul despite the convincing evidence that the current system is susceptible to abuse. The government’s intention is to remain engaged with the BIPA regime.

As second-best option, New Delhi should develop a robust BIPA policy framework with a more balanced and coherent model text, in tune with domestic policies as well as new realities of international investment landscape.

Since the successive Indian governments have shown a keen interest to sign BIPAs with US, Canada and other countries in the coming days, it is imperative that a fine balance between investor rights, regulatory space and investor responsibilities is maintained in the future treaties. The BIPAs, at the very least, should not restrict the ability of the central and state governments to pursue legitimate public policy objectives.

Kavaljit Singh is Director of Madhyam, a policy research institute, based in New Delhi (www.madhyam.org.in)

This week’s column is being written on November 4, 2014, the election day of the most propagandistic, most costly, most wasteful mid-term American political campaign of all time, bar none.

It‘s obvious to me that the worst of the venom and untruths in the political ads have been coming from anonymous wealthy, (mostly right-wing) political, economic or religious groups or from the political action committees run by cunning political operatives like the NeoConservative Republicans Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others. (Adelson is the multibillionaire gambling empire magnate and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who has endorsed the likes of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, flushing down the toilet hundreds of millions of his and his corporation’s dollars in campaign “contributions” to right-wing politicians.)

The final results of this sobering circus, where the two major political parties have spent billions of desperate dollars mindlessly purchasing expensive TV commercial time (to the delight of television executives), will not be tabulated by column deadline tonight. So there is no point in my trying to help voters discern – this time around – what parties or candidates might be best for them, their children, our terminally-ill planet, our rapidly disappearing democracy, or our corrupted economic system that is being strangled by extremist forces on the right-wing fringes of the political spectrum.

The moneyed interests of powerful right-wing think tanks have cunningly been trying to influence our votes with the lavish help of the corporate-controlled major media outlets that are virtually all owned by the super-rich 1% who care greatly about their bottom line but not about the common good.

What Should Pro-democracy Antifascists be Doing Between Now and the Next Election Cycle?

Unless readers of this column have been living under a rock or have been using FoxNews and other hate- and fear-mongering talk shows as their major source of information, they will understand that our democracy is being threatened, just like the Weimar Republic, by any number of other authoritarian, non-democratic entities that are being heavily funded by billionaires and the corporations who have the propaganda power of the press.

The groups that want us to believe the myth that capitalism and democracy are one and the same include the following non-democratic, chain-of-command institutions, where group decisions are not made democratically, voting doesn’t happen and where unconditional obedience to powerful elites is demanded of subordinates. That includes such entities as the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, multinational corporations, religious institutions, some educational institutions, police departments, and parents who utilize punitive parenting tactics (where parental cruelty easily spreads contagiously through the generations with disastrous social, political and spiritual consequences for both the individual and the society).

Let us naïve voters beware, especially us liberals who tend to wear rose-colored glasses, wanting to believe our elected or unelected leaders in the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the corporate media. I would advise progressives, who may have the most to lose, to start preparing for the next election cycle right now, working to expose, and then correct, the tyranny of the Federal Reserve Board, the Wall Street financiers, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, Citizens United, ALEC, the right-wing political action committees and the corrupting influence of multibillionaires like the Koch Brothers and others of their ilk..

I recommend that progressives start organizing right away, no matter who declares victory tonight or what party controls next year’s legislative or executive branches of government. Progressives need to learn how to sniff out the crypto-fascists, the plutocrats, the charlatans and the psychopaths among us who are wearing sheep’s clothing. We need to learn how to recognize propaganda wherever it exists and learn how to read between the lines. We need to always question authority figures, and we need to speak out consistently when injustice occurs anywhere.

And then, between now and the next election cycle, we may actually be able to identify the Friendly American Fascists among us as well as the paymasters of any psychopathic politician that wants to take control of our democracy, our government, our judicial system, our military or our economy.

And, above all, we need to keep in mind that, like all hungry wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are always on the lookout for their next meal.

Dr Kohls is a retired family physician from Duluth, Minnesota who practiced holistic (non-drug) mental health care for the last decade of his career. He is involved in peace, nonviolence and justice issues and often writes about mental ill health, toxic food issues, corporate pollution, the corporate-controlled media, corporate-controlled politics, crony capitalism, militarism, racism, fascism, imperialism, totalitarianism, economic oppression, anti-environmentalism and other violent, unsustainable, anti-democratic movements.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday morning, the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, assaulted the worshipers with concussion grenades, gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, and invaded the main mosque within the compound.

The Maan News Agency said dozens of soldiers invaded the yards of the mosque through the al-Magharba Gate and the Chain Gate (Bab as-Silsila) and assaulted dozens of worshipers who managed to reach the mosque yards.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, head of the Islamic Waqf and Endowment in Jerusalem, stated that dozens of soldiers invaded the al-Qibli mosque while heavily armed.

Al-Khatib denounced the military desecration of the mosque, and this serious violation, especially since the soldiers violated the sanctity of the mosque, wearing their shoes and carrying their weapons into the house of prayer, in a serious escalation and assault.

Eyewitnesses said clashes took place inside the al-Qibli mosque of Al-Aqsa and that the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades at the worshipers causing several injuries. Two people suffered serious head wounds, and one who was shot in his eye.

Palestinian medics rushed to the scene, but the soldiers prevented them from entering the mosque compound for more than 30 minutes before they decided to allow just one doctor and a nurse to enter.

Initial reports indicate that around 40 Palestinians have been injured.

The soldiers then closed the gates of the al-Qibli mosque with chains and iron bars, and hurled concussion grenades at the mosque guards.

Earlier on Wednesday at dawn, the soldiers prevented all Muslim men below the age of 50 from entering the mosque, and allowed the women through only after withholding their ID cards.

Following dawn prayers, Israel prevented all worshipers, including Waqf Department employees and around 500 Sharia students, from entering the mosque.

The soldiers opened the mosque more than an hour later following extensive talks.

The soldiers also closed all gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, except for Bab Hatta, Bab Al-Majlis (Council Gate) and Bab as-Silsila (Chain Gate).

In related news, dozens of Israeli fanatics invaded the yards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, amidst extensive police and military deployment, and toured in the area amidst calls for more extensive invasions of the Mosque compound.

Also in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers demolished an under-construction Palestinian home in the at-Tour neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.

The soldiers also kidnapped at least 17 Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, and Abu Dis nearby town.

Across Haiti, thousands of students have taken to the streets to demand that teachers return to their classrooms. Teachers in turn are demanding several months of unpaid salaries. Many teachers also want employment letters which they still lack after years in the classroom. Of the 10,000 teachers working in the public sector, 3,000 do not have employment letters and have not been paid.

About two months after the start of the school year, public high schools are not functioning normally, and their students are demonstrating in the streets. This will adversely effect children’s education around Haiti.

Teachers of the Teachers’ Collective of the North and North-East are protesting against the daily deterioration of their living and working conditions. They have worked since October 2011 without receiving a penny, they say. These teachers were part of the Free and Compulsory Universal Schooling Program (PSUGO), which supposedly provided “free education” constantly trumpeted by President Michel Martelly. Teachers have closed the doors of the School District Office (BDS) in different districts of the North and Northeast departments, particularly in the town of Acul-du-Nord.

In Petit Goâve, several thousand students have also been protesting against the henchman of pro-Martelly deputy Jacques Stevenson Thimoléon. The regime agents have tried to take education hostage by assaulting the directors of public schools.

“We are not in politics! We are not in the opposition! We just say no to the politicization of Faustin Soulouque High School!” the young demonstrators chanted.

The students also called for the arrest of a man close to Deputy Thimoléon who they say arrested one of their teachers. “We want teachers to teach courses,” said one student. “We need an education.”

The demonstrating high school students blocked traffic on some streets in Petit Goâve in an effort to close other schools since the high school is not functioning. The Faustin Soulouque High School there has not opened since the start of the school year on Sep. 8. Teachers there have been on strike since a student’s parent, close to Mr. Thimoléon, insulted the school’s director.

At high schools in downtown Port-au-Prince, in Delmas 75, in La Saline, and at the Georges and Antoine Izméry High School near the capital’s Petite Place Cazeau neighborhood, among others, students have been demonstrating for their teachers to return to their classrooms.

With the appointment of Nesmy Manigat as the Minister of National Education and Vocational Training in April, the PSUGO program was closed, without any accounting for the hundreds of millions of dollars collected for it through an illegal $1.50 tax on every international money transfer and five cents per minute for every international phone call since 2011. Many charge that, instead of going to fund education, this revenue has gone to enrich Martelly’s clique, bribe deputies in the Parliament’s pro-Martelly block, and fund extravagant regime propaganda.

Although PSUGO has ended, the taxes on transfers and phone calls continues, still without transparency or accounting.

The school principals hired by the PSUGO were once again in front of the gates of the Education Ministry on Nov. 3 to demand their due. Meanwhile, Minister Manigat has closed schools for a week without any clear explanation.

In his statement to the international press during his visit to France, Martelly spoke of free education several times, but the reality is something else. The schools are still dysfunctional.

Martelly’s biggest lie is that he brought free education to Haiti. For many decades, the Haitian state has provided free education throughout Haiti through public high schools, municipal, community, and national schools, as well as the State University of Haiti (UEH). In fact, most of those in power today obtained free education in Haiti’s public schools and UEH. Under the Haitian Constitution of 1987, Articles 32: “The State guarantees the right to education. It sees to the physical, intellectual, moral, professional, social and civic training of the population. Education is the responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions. They must make schooling available to all, free of charge, and ensure that public and private sector teachers are properly trained. The first responsibility of the State and its territorial divisions is education of the masses, which is the only way the country can be developed. The State shall encourage and facilitate private enterprise in this field. Primary schooling is compulsory under penalties to be prescribed by law. Classroom facilities and teaching materials shall be provided by the State to elementary school students free of charge. Agricultural, vocational, cooperative and technical training is a fundamental responsibility of the State and its communes. Higher education shall be open to all, on an equal basis, according to merit only….”

So it is a patently false when Martelly pretends that he was the first to bring free, universal education to Haiti.

Over 400 schools were enrolled in the PSUGO. Nonetheless, some 78% of Haitian students failed their state exams earlier this year. This dismal result speaks volumes about the concrete effectiveness of Martelly’s touted education campaign.

Meanwhile, many striking teachers are angry at Josué Mérilien, the formerly radical and outspoken leader of the National Union of Haitian Normaliens (UNNOH). Recently the Education Ministry provided him with a 30-seat minibus and hired some of his relatives. Many striking teachers now question whether Mr. Mérilien has been bought off.

Governor Brown spoke last week lobbying for Proposition 1 at Stanford University on October 23rd, at a conference organized by the Stanford Wood’s Institute, whose co-director is Stanford Hoover Institute member Barton Thompson. The Stanford Hoover Institute and Bechtel (the multi-billion dollar construction company), through the funding of studies taught at Stanford, appear to be promoting the DTP and its probable use as a source of water for fracking in the possible 15 Billion barrel Monterey Shale Formation spread across central and southern California. 

The DTP is being promoted by a study called, “Managing California’s Water”, co-written by Hoover Institute member Barton Thompson.  The study is being taught at Stanford (a 501c3 Non-profit) with co-funding coming from the Steven Bechtel Jr. foundation (a 501c3 Non-profit).  The Stanford Woods Institute is funding another Stanford study supporting fracking, “Water and Energy Nexus”.  Lauren Dachs, the President and Board member of S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation is also on the Stanford Woods Institute’s leadership (Advisory council) as well as formerly on the board of trustees at Stanford.

Bechtel is one of the few companies that have the capacity to construct the enormous water tunnel (DTP).  When Bechtel’s spokeswoman Michelle Michael was asked about the possibility of Bechtel building the Delta Tunnel Project she explained, “We’ll keep an eye out”.

Chevron Oil is holding onto the largest oil reserves in California but is waiting to frack, perhaps needing to acquire water from the DTP first.  Chevron declined to respond to emails questioning their potential desire to use DTP’s water for fracking.

The Stanford Hoover Institute is intimately connected to Chevron in numerous ways including that former Secretary of State and Provost of Stanford University, Condoleezza Rice, served on the Chevron Board of Directors.  Currently, Ms. Rice is a Stanford professor and a Hoover Institute member.  In addition, Ms. Rice is on the board of directors of Makena Capital (located on Stanford’s Campus), which has heavily invested in hydrocarbons that include Chevron and Occidental Oil stocks.  Occidental is currently the largest fracker in California and recently donated $27 thousand to Governor Brown’s campaign.  After several phone calls and emails, no one at Stanford’s media relations department was able to respond to questions about the university’s ownership of oil stocks (i.e. Chevron) or explain Stanford’s official relationship with Makena Capital.

California Governor Gerald Brown, who received $54 thousand in campaign contributions from Chevron in 2013, is supporting the Delta Tunnel Project.  Governor Brown’s office declined to comment on his possible connections with Chevron and the DTP.  The DTP’s movement of the critical water down south could open up more fracking possibilities that could contaminate some of California’s most productive farmland.  Fracking could demolish California’s agricultural productivity, which generates over $100 billion annually.  Fracking a single well requires up to 7 million gallons of water loaded with toxic chemicals which are secret thanks to deregulation by former Vice President Cheney’s “Halliburton loophole”.

If the DTP were built, and western water privatization expanded by the company Cal Water, California could possibly see a water crisis similar to the 1999 energy crisis.  The privatization schemes that are being promoted by (p.339) “Managing California’s Water”, taught at Stanford could earn CAL Water, the biggest water company in the west, a pretty penny.  The corporate leadership of CAL Water includes a former Stanford trustee and vice president of Stanford (Linda Meier) and Stanford high ups (i.e. a top executive of Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital whose revenues were $265 million in 2011, Thomas Krummel).  Cal Water board of directors includes some who were, just prior to California’s energy deregulation, previously in corporate leadership positions (George Vera & Chairman Peter Nelson) with the same companies who were the architects of the Enron scandal (Arthur Anderson and PG&E).  Mr. Vera was also the former vice president & CFO of David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which co-founded the Stanford’s pro water privatization study, “Managing California’s Water”.

Bechtel has been down the road of corporate expulsion of public property before.  In 1999 Bechtel’s privatization of Bolivia’s water, incredibly including rain water, resulted in the murder of civilians protesting the crippling poverty of Bechtel’s privatization scheme.

If the past is any indicator of the extent to which these “connected groups” will go to secure oil and profits, it is prudent to carefully scrutinize the intent and goals of current legislation (DTP & Prop. 1) relating to exploiting the water supply and these supposed scientific studies of a Stanford University that are enormously entangled with these powerful profiteers.  Perhaps it is time to advocate for alternative energy options to prohibit oil interests from dominating our public policy and fracking our farmlands.  According to a NASA funded study released this year, if our oil based energy policy is not changed and social economic inequalities addressed, our industrial civilization will collapse.  

There are signs of hope.  The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is questioning the legality of the DTP and Stanford has recently decided to divest from coal.  Also, Stanford University and the Steven Bechtel Jr. Foundation are 501c3 Non-Profits whose tax exemption status could be revoked by the IRS if it were ruled financial gains were being made through conflicts of interest.

Connecting the dots:

~ Riley and Steven Bechtel Jr. are part owners of Bechtel and members of the Stanford Hoover Institute, as well as substantial donors to Stanford University.

~Bechtel’s & Chevron’s numerous connections to Washington D.C. & Stanford’s Hoover Institute run deep.

~George Shultz whose titles include: the former Bechtel president, former Secretary of State, Stanford Hoover Institute member and former board of director of Chevron/Unocal.

~Caspar Weinberger whose titles include: former Bechtel vice president, Secretary of Defense and Stanford Hoover Institute writer/researcher.  During President Regan’s tenure, Weinberger’s and Shultz’s State Department Angolan visit further secured Chevron assets in Angola, in addition to the then recently secured loans from the Import Export Bank, previously headed by a former head of Bechtel’s Far East Operations, John Moore Jr.

~Since World War II, Bechtel has often landed sole source government contracts ranging from millions to billions of dollars

~Steven Bechtel Sr.’s (former advisory for the Import Export Bank) past business partner of the Bechtel-McCone Company was the former head of the Atomic Energy Commission and later former CIA director, John McCone.

~Bechtel has ongoing partnerships with Chevron and with the Stanford Research Institute, formerly officially affiliated with Stanford University.

For further details and analysis including sources and references, read the complete article (pdf)

 

Is it legal to lock people up against their will for mere “suspicion” of something? It’s not a difficult question. The correct answer is NO, it’s not legal. But fear of Ebola seems to make the answer not so simple for many Americans.

Many otherwise logical and liberty-minded folks have quickly dumped their principles over Ebola fears; a crisis which they believe to be real, demanding draconian actions from the government to protect the public.

This same group of people, and you know who you are, claim to rise above the fear of terrorism to demand an end to invasive government spying, indefinite detention and torture, and extrajudicial killing. The argument being that, genuine crisis or not, fear and safety don’t trump individual rights.

But fear of Ebola, which is not yet a genuine threat in any measurable way, has infected these people enough to support government tyranny.

Calling for blanket travel bans and mandatory detention for those suspected of coming in contact with Ebola is just the start of what the establishment hopes you’ll demand.

The rebel quarantined nurse story in Maine reeks of pre-controlled opposition, but we’ll pretend it’s genuine. Kaci Hickox, a nurse who treated Ebola patients in Africa, had been screened extensively and she tested negative for Ebola. She was quarantined under an emergency political decree, challenged it in court and the judge ruled despite her good health, there was still reasonable suspicion to keep her movements restricted.

Although the judge eventually lifted the mandatory quarantine, at one point Hickox was ordered to stay 3 feet away from all people, and was banned from public places and from using public transportation. In other words, still house arrest by a different name – all for suspicion of an illness, not even suspicion of a crime.

Despite media chaos and a poll which revealed that roughly 3/4 of Americans were happy with quarantines and restricted movements, Maine has settled with the nurse:

Maine has reached a settlement with a nurse who was briefly quarantined in her home after treating victims of Ebola in West Africa, allowing her to travel freely in public but requiring her to monitor her health closely and report any symptoms.

The settlement, filed in nurse Kaci Hickox’s home town of Fort Kent, in Maine’s far north, keeps in effect through Nov. 10 the terms of an order issued by a Maine judge on Friday. (Source)

So after suggesting a mandated hospital quarantine, then house arrest, then restricted movements, the State has backed off (for now) by demanding monitoring and reporting of symptoms. The “compromise” is full-spectrum surveillance. What a win for liberty, eh? Sadly, it is still not adequate for some of you terrified citizens.

Must everyone have to prove to society that they’re perfectly healthy before they can leave their homes? What proof would be good enough amid a range of symptoms that could be anything? If a negative test isn’t enough evidence, who decides the details of reasonable suspicion – the State? You? Or are we all just guilty until proven innocent whenever an outbreak of fear-mongering takes place?

And you know government can’t discriminate, right? Maybe forcing mandatory vaccines into everyone will be the only “equal” way to finally calm your fears sufficiently? Oh, wait . . . that might be viewed as tyrannical.

Ron Paul (Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

Former Congressman Ron Paul told RT in the midst of Tuesday’s midterm elections that the “monopoly” system run by the leaders of the two main parties is all too evident as Americans go to the polls this Election Day.

“This whole idea that a good candidate that’s rating well in the polls can’t get in the debate, that’s where the corruption really is,” Paul, the 79-year-old former House of Representatives lawmaker for Texas, told RT during Tuesday’s special midterm elections coverage. “It’s a monopoly…and they don’t even allow a second option,” he said.

“If a third party person gets anywhere along, they are going to do everything they can to stop that from happening,” the retired congressman continued.

Paul, a longtime Republican, has been critical of the two-party dichotomy that dominates American politics for decades, and once ran as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president of the United States. While third-party candidates continue to vie against the left and right establishment, however, Paul warned RT that even the two-party system as Americans know it is in danger.

“What do they do with our young people? They send them all around the world, getting involved in wars and telling them they have to have democratic elections,” he told RT. “But here at home, we don’t have true Democracy. We have a monopoly of ideas that is controlled by the leaders of two parties. And they call it two parties, but it’s really one philosophy.”

All hope isn’t lost, however; according to Paul, American politics can still be changed if individuals intent on third-party ideas introduce their ethos to the current establishment. Americans can “fight to get rid of the monopoly of Republicans and Democrats,” Paul said, or “try to influence people with ideas and infiltrate both political parties.”

With respect to the midterm elections, though, Paul told RT that he’s uncertain what policies will prevail this year — excluding, of course, an obvious win for the status quo.

“I think the status quo is pretty strong right now, and I imagine that the status quo is going to win the election tonight,” he said Tuesday afternoon.

A central part of the American Right’s false Founding Narrative is that the Tenth Amendment trumps the Constitution’s creation of a powerful central government that possesses a mandate to do what’s necessary to provide for the country’s “general Welfare.” In Right-Wing World, the Tenth Amendment gives nearly all powers to the states.

Yet, the reality is that the Tenth Amendment is one of the most meaningless of all the amendments to the U.S. Constitution, except maybe the Eighteenth, which prohibited the sale of liquor and was subsequently repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment.

Indeed, the Tenth Amendment – read in the context of the broad powers that the Federalist authors of the Constitution gave to the central government – carries almost no weight at all. It says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the people.”

But the relevant point is that the Constitution granted nearly unlimited power to the U.S. Congress to enact legislation on behalf of “the general Welfare” – within the context of republican governance, with the approval of the U.S. president, and with the sign-off of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Image: President George Washington, who detested the concept of states’ rights because of the harm it did to the Continental Army and to prospect of building a strong nation.

This concept — embraced by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and other Framers — was to rely on the Constitution’s intricate checks and balances to prevent government overreach, not to hamstring the people’s elected representatives from doing what was necessary to build the nation both then and in the future.

This reality of what was done in Philadelphia in 1787 was not lost on either supporters or opponents of the Constitution. The so-called Anti-Federalists were shocked that the Federalists had, in effect, hijacked the Constitutional Convention away from its original goal of amending the Articles of Confederation, which made the states “sovereign” and “independent” and left the central government as merely a “firm league of friendship.”

But General George Washington, in particular, despised the concept of states’ rights, since he had seen his Continental Army go without pay and supplies – to nearly starve – during the Revolutionary War. He was joined in this sentiment by his bright protégé Madison and his old wartime aide-de-camp Hamilton.

So, the Constitutional Convention tossed out the Articles of Confederation and proposed a new structure making “We the People of the United States” the nation’s new sovereign and relegating the states to an inferior status, what Madison called “subordinately useful.”

Angry People

I realize that this reality – or my pointing it out – makes some people angry. They want to believe that their hatred of the federal government matched what the Framers felt. And the Right has done a remarkable job in propagandizing a large segment of the U.S. population into believing this invented narrative.

Some right-wing believers even insist that any action by the U.S. government to provide for “the general Welfare” is “unconstitutional,” such as the Affordable Care Act which addressed what was an undeniable threat to “the general Welfare,” the fact that tens of millions of Americans were forced to live in fear of premature death because they could not afford health insurance.

But the Framers’ mandate to provide for “the general Welfare” was not some mistake or afterthought. It is included both in the famous Preamble and in Article One, Section Eight, which delineates the so-called “enumerated powers.” There, the Constitution states “That Congress shall have Power To … provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States,” with the only stated restriction that “all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

Article One, Section Eight further grants Congress the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

Put together, as Alexander Hamilton and other Federalists noted, the Constitution empowered Congress to do what was needed to protect and build the new nation. As historian Jada Thacker wrote, “these clauses – restated in the vernacular – flatly announce that ‘Congress can make any law it feels is necessary to provide for whatever it considers the general welfare of the country.’”

And that was not just the view of the Federalists back then or some historian today. It was why the enemies of the Constitution fought so hard to block its ratification in 1788. For instance, New Yorker Robert Yates, who walked out of the convention in protest, wrote a month after the Constitution had been completed:

“This government is to possess absolute and uncontrollable power, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends. … The government then, so far as it extends, is a complete one. … It has the authority to make laws which will affect the lives, the liberty, and the property of every man in the United States; nor can the constitution or the laws of any state, in any way prevent or impede the full and complete execution of every power given.”

Madison, then a staunch Federalist, had favored giving even more power to Congress and making the states even more subordinate. “Madison wanted the federal assembly to have a veto over the state assemblies,” wrote David Wootton, author of The Essential Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. But Madison’s veto idea was jettisoned in favor of giving the federal courts the power to judge whether state laws violated the Constitution.

Fighting the Constitution

Despite these few concessions, the Constitution emerged from the secret meetings in Philadelphia as a stunning assertion of federal power. Anti-Federalists immediately recognized what had happened and rallied strong opposition to the new governing framework.

As dissidents from the Pennsylvania delegation wrote: “We dissent … because the powers vested in Congress by this constitution, must necessarily annihilate and absorb the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the several states, and produce from their ruins one consolidated government.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Inside-Out Constitution.”]

The Constitution’s broad powers were particularly alarming to southern slaveholders because of the prospect that the North would eventually gain economic and political supremacy and push through anti-slavery legislation that would wipe out the South’s vast investment in human chattel and thus destroy the region’s plantation aristocracy.

Virginia’s Patrick Henry and George Mason made this argument most aggressively to Virginia’s ratifying convention, with Henry warning the Commonwealth’s slave owners that if they approved the new governing structure, “they’ll free your niggers!”

Faced with these alarms about federal powers, Madison agreed to propose some limiting amendments though he felt that a Bill of Rights was superfluous. Nevertheless, some of the first ten amendments did specifically restrict Congress’s power.

For instance, the First Amendment begins with the phrase “Congress shall make no law…” while other amendments assert specific rights of citizens. The Tenth Amendment, however, simply states that powers not granted to the national government by the Constitution remain with the people and states.

Thus, the scope of the Tenth Amendment is entirely dependent on what preceded it, i.e., the nearly unlimited powers that the Constitution granted to the national government. In other words, if the Framers declared – as they did – that Congress could enact any law that it deemed necessary to promote “the general Welfare” and that federal law would be supreme, then the Tenth Amendment meant almost nothing since there were few powers left over for the states. It was a sop to the Anti-Federalists.

Still, the Constitution’s opponents – especially slave owners in Virginia – did not just surrender after ratification. Instead, they devised a clever strategy for preventing the possibility that Congress would wipe out their massive capital investment in slavery.

Behind the charismatic Thomas Jefferson, who was in Paris in 1787 and thus did not participate in the Constitutional Convention, the plantation aristocracy simply pretended that the Constitution didn’t mean what it said.

Jefferson’s Wordsmithing

Jefferson, one of Virginia’s biggest slaveholders and a masterful wordsmith, promulgated the absurd notion of “strict construction,” which meant that only specific powers mentioned in Article One, Section Eight could be exercised by Congress. Regarding domestic policy, that meant such relatively narrow powers as coining money, setting up post offices, establishing rules for nationalization, regulating interstate commerce, etc.

Jefferson’s “strict construction” was absurd because it ignored the obvious intent of the Framers and the need for the United States to act in ways that could not be specifically anticipated in 1787, a reality that confronted Jefferson himself after he was elected president in 1800.

Three years later, President Jefferson had the opportunity to buy the Louisiana Territories from France but there was no wording in Article One, Section Eight about expanding the size of the United States. Clearly, the Framers had enacted elastic phrasing for just such an eventuality but Jefferson had insisted on his crazy “strict construction” argument.

So, what did Jefferson do? He simply ignored his previous “principle” and implicitly accepted the Federalist interpretation of the Constitution, which they had principally authored. Congress approved the purchase of the Louisiana Territories doubling the size of the United States and giving Jefferson what is regarded as his greatest accomplishment as president.

Though even Jefferson – the inventor of “strict construction” – chose to repudiate his own argument, this insidious notion has survived the past two centuries in the fetid swamps of Right-Wing World.

It was a factor in the South’s resistance to anti-slavery restrictions that preceded the Civil War and it has been touted in modern times by such right-wing luminaries as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as part of his self-serving “originalism,” i.e., whatever Scalia wants done must have been what the Framers wanted done.

The real history of the Constitution has little impact on these ideologues. They have simply found it useful to wrap themselves in the cloaks of the Framers even when that requires distorting what the actual Framers intended.

While there can be legitimate arguments about the proper size and scope of the federal government (or for that matter any government), the facts should be the facts and the history should be the history. The Right, however, has deceived millions of Americans into believing a false narrative about the U.S. Constitution and the nation’s Founding – for the purpose of distorting the debate.

[For more on this history, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison” and “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath.”]

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

Dr. Norman Finkelstein, PhD Political Science, Princeton, prolific author, descendant of Holocaust death camp victims and son of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, on the “Enabler in Chief” of the 2014 Israeli massacre against the trapped Palestinian refugees:

It became, straight out, just a terror assault.  The mosques, the schools, the hospitals, the ambulances, the civilians.  You’d have to be blinder than King Lear not to see what was going on.  It was just a pure terrorist attack.

By the end of it, the head of the International Community of the Red Cross, he said, and I’m quoting him, “I have never seen such massive destruction ever before.”  And the normally comatose puppet of the United States, UN secretary general Ban ki Moon, he said, “Such massive deaths and destruction have shocked and shamed the world.”

Now, in the last thirty seconds, we have to ask ourselves, who or what allowed that to happen?  And there can be no question whatsoever.  None.

The Enabler in Chief of that massacre in Gaza, the Enabler in Chief of that death and destruction, was president Barack Obama.

That is not rhetorical.  That is not a cheap shot.  That’s a fact.  I don’t say it as a person on the political left.  I don’t say it as a member of the Tea Party.  I say it as someone who is simply observing the facts.

Each day Mr. Obama went out, or one of his spokespersons went out, and when he was asked, or his spokesperson was asked about what was happening in Gaza, each day he repeated that same refrain, quote: “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Now, already by the tenth day, the human rights organizations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, they were copiously and carefully documenting that Israel was targeting civilians in civilian sites.  There was no dispute, no doubt about what was happening.  Each time [Obama] came out and said “Israel has the right to defend itself”, each day that he did that, he was giving Israel the green light to continue the terrorist attack on Gaza.

Now, if you have any doubt, any doubt whatsoever about who was the Enabler of that massacre, all of that doubt is dispended by how it ended.  How did it end?

Israel targeted one UN school shelter, a second UN school shelter, a third UN school shelter, then a fourth, and then a fifth.  By the time it came to the fifth, the international community was erupting in a rage, and the pressure became so intense that even that brain-dead, comatose Ban ki Moon, he finally said that Israel was committing “a criminal act”.  Ban ki Moon.  Can you imagine?  Ban ki Moon.  For those of you who don’t know who he is, he’s the secretary general of the United States … United Nations.  Very hard to tell.  In any case, what happened?

After even Ban ki Moon condemned it as a criminal attack, Obama was completely isolated on the entire world stage.  He was completely alone.  So, finally, the state department started issuing statements calling what happened “disgraceful”, “awful”, “terrible”.  That was August third.  The US finally, on August third, denounced what happened.

What happened the same day?  What happened the exact same day?  Netanyahu announced “The ground invasion is over.  It’s finished.”

Who was responsible for what happened?  Look at the sequence of events.  It was made, paid for, the green light was given, here.

Thank you.

The entire speech:

Quoted section starts at 20:20.

Website of Dr. Finkelstein

US/Israel’s Operation Solid Cliff (English name: “protective edge”) against Gaza, Palestine:

  • 2,100 kills, approx. 75-80% civilian, almost 600 children
  • 11,000 wounded
  • 1,000 children inflicted with lifelong disabilities
  • 1,500 children orphaned
  • 89 bloodlines completely wiped out
  • Nearly 20,000 housing units destroyed or almost destroyed
  • 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed
  • Afterwards, Israel seized another 1,000 acres of Palestine, and announced or began construction of thousands of new settlement housing units in Palestine.  All settlements are classed as war crimes.

Statistics compiled by journalist Max Blumenthal

A study reported on last week in the Jerusalem Post found that Israel has the “best air force in the world”.

Gaza has no air force or air defenses.

Obama has requested more money for Israel than any president ever.

The US is currently selling/giving Israel billions of dollars more in planes to “sharply strengthen” Israel’s air force, already considered the world’s best.  

Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

The European Union Uses Death to Deter Immigrants

November 5th, 2014 by Martin Kreickenbaum

On November 1, the Italian government officially ended the naval operation Mare Nostrum, which has retrieved more than 100,000 refugees from the Mediterranean Sea in the course of the past year. The termination is a deliberate decision of the European Union to permit thousands of refugees to die at sea in order to deter others from trying to set foot on European shores.

The Italian government commenced Operation Mare Nostrum on October 18, 2013 after nearly 500 refugees drowned in one week off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. The operation was aimed at preventing similar catastrophes by an improved system of maritime surveillance.

In practice, sea rescue was always of secondary importance to Mare Nostrum. Deployment of the Italian Navy was intended as an act of deterrence, to detect refugee boats off the coast of Libya and Tunisia at an early stage and escort them back to Africa.

Nevertheless, when those picked up by merchant vessels off the coast of Italy are included, a total of approximately 150,000 refugees were rescued under the Mare Nostrum programme. Thousands more lost their lives attempting the dangerous passage across the sea. In just the first ten months of this year, more than 3,000 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean. Since 2000, the total stands at about 25,000.

Although the other European governments and the European Union claimed they wished to prevent any repeat of Lampedusa, they refused to provide a single euro for rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström castigated Mare Nostrum, “because the probability that refugees will be rescued has increased” and they would therefore be induced to attempt the crossing in even smaller and more unseaworthy boats.

Baroness Joyce Anelay, minister of state in the British foreign ministry, went so far as to claim that the rescue measures: “create an unintended ‘pull factor’ thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.”

When the Italian government then declared it was no longer able to finance the monthly €9 million for military vessels engaged in the operation, its European partners refused to share the costs. The operation was terminated.

By comparison, in just the first 43 days of the 2003 Iraq war the US expended ammunition worth $2.7 billion. This sum would be sufficient to finance Mare Nostrum for 20 years. The US and its European allies spent similar sums in the succession of wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Gaza (in military aid to Israel) and now Syria— the regions where most of the refugees crossing the Mediterranean come from.

Since 2007, the European Union has provided €4 billion for a fund bearing the name “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows.” Most of this money, however, has been allocated to the military enhancement of border protection, i.e., construction of fences and border guard posts, deployment of infrared and thermal imaging cameras, and drone and satellite-based surveillance of external borders.

Mare Nostrum will be succeeded by Operation Triton under the overall control of the European border agency Frontex. However, Triton’s mandate is not the rescuing of refugees, but the securing of borders against “illegal” immigration and the entry of refugees. “Frontex is responsible for the surveillance of borders and has not been tasked to rescue refugees,” said the agency’s director Gil Arias Fernandez in a recent interview with the Tagesspiegel daily, adding: “Unlike crews of the Mare Nostrum ships, we will not deliberately go out to search for refugee boats.”

Frontex’s draft paper on Operation Triton, which differs from Mare Nostrum in only covering the Mediterranean within 30 nautical miles of the Italian coast, makes no secret of the fact “that the withdrawal of naval forces from the sea area near the Libyan coast … will probably lead to a higher number of deaths.”

The paper actually asserts that this result is preferable, since “significantly fewer migrants will attempt to cross the Mediterranean in bad weather and prices for the crossings will rise.” The number of refugees would thus decline to “the level of previous years.”

Francois Crepeau, UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, fiercely condemned the EU’s approach to refugee policy, declaring: “It is appalling to claim that an increase in the number of fatalities will have the effect of deterring future migrants and asylum seekers. It is as though one were to say: Let them die, because that is a good deterrent for others.”

The deliberate decision to stop the rescue measures in the Mediterranean and allow refugees to drown as a deterrent, shows the real face of the European Union. It does not embody the “unity of Europe,” but rather the dictatorship of the most ruthless capitalist interests over Europe.

The EU is employing the same ruthlessness against the continent’s working population and its international rivals as it does against refugees at its borders. Following the financial crisis of 2008 the EU has dictated one austerity package after another in order to recoup the trillions handed over to bailout the banks, all at the expense of working people again. In Ukraine it has provoked a confrontation with Russia and it is preparing a new war in the Middle East that will have even more disastrous consequences than the current military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

The working class can only effectively oppose the EU and European governments by joining forces internationally and fighting for a socialist Europe, for the United Socialist States of Europe. The unconditional defense of refugees is a precondition for the defense of the democratic and social rights of all working people.

Image: Palestinians take cover from rain inside a makeshift shelter near the ruins of their houses east of Gaza City, October 19, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

I have always thought that those who resort to violence or those who go as far as exploding themselves are sick and inhuman. But now I know how it feels to have nothing to lose but your worthless life. I know how it feels to be so desperate that you literally cry from disappointment when you actually wake up in the morning, and to spend the night before asking God for a last favor … to take your life because you’re just too cowardly to take it yourself. #‎Gaza‬ is no longer a city or a territory. It is a disease. It is an unbearable pain, an un-treatable wound. Gaza is the opposite of life, but at the same time far beyond death.

This is the Facebook post to which I woke up yesterday, written by Maisam Morr, one of the few Gazans who typically serve as my “rocks” – resilient spirits who never give up, and keep my hope alive that we can beat back the grinding, dehumanizing force that is the Israeli occupation. She is the one who dreamed up the Rubble Bucket Challenge (the Palestinian response to the ALS ice bucket), and who – in the midst of the unremitting “gray” of the destruction that is Gaza – asked for a pink laptop for her birthday. And yet now, she was succumbing.

The breaking point for Maisam was the announcement Sunday that Israel had closed its two crossings into Gaza for all but the most critical humanitarian aid, in response to the firing of a single rocket.  No injuries or property damage resulted, and no groups in Gaza claimed responsibility or credit. According to Maisam, “almost all Gazans swear that it is some sort of a trick (a planned trap) to open another front with Israel.” F16s are now flying low over Gaza again, as if on cue.

According to news reports, Israel had not decided how long the crossing would be closed. “It will depend on the security situation.” There’s that code phrase…”security situation” – a cover for just about any action Israel chooses to take, and which no one in the international community (in the West at least) is courageous enough to challenge. (Update: the crossings re-opened today, and Palestinian officials said 330 truckloads of goods, as well as one of cement, would be allowed in. Seriously? ONE truckload of cement? In a way, I think that’s how Israel uses closures – as a device to make Gazans happy for crumbs when they come.)

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Oct. 24 attack on an army checkpoint in the northern Sinai that killed 31 soldiers, Egypt has emulated Israel. It declared a three-month lockdown in the area, including a dawn-to-dusk curfew, and indefinitely closed the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only non-Israeli-controlled bridge to the outside world. Meanwhile, Egypt is demolishing an estimated 800 homes housing 10,000 residents to set up its own buffer zone along the border with Gaza (546 yards wide, 8 miles long). As with the Israeli rocket, no group claimed responsibility, yet the Egyptian government has been quick to implicate Hamas and other Gaza-based “terror groups.” In addition to slamming its doors shut to thousands of Palestinians seeking medical treatment or opportunities to study abroad, the Egyptian government canceled indefinitely the indirect talks between Israelis and Hamas on a long-term truce.

“My dearest Egypt,” wrote Maisam on her blog.

“You treat me like an infectious disease. You see me as a threat to your national security while all I ever wanted is to protect my life, my dignity and my very being. Forgive me for being so selfish and so blind for I simply cannot understand how come my call for freedom collides with your mighty security. Only few years ago, I thought we fought a shared enemy but it looks like that I AM the enemy.”

Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau and a member of the Palestinian reconciliation delegation, describes the closures as collective punishment, in contradiction of all understandings, agreements and international law, and adds that it will be impossible to sit idly by. And can you blame him? Since the ceasefire was announced on Aug. 26, two Palestinian rockets were shot by unknown parties. Israel, however, has violated it 19 times by shooting at fishermen and farmers, and opened the crossings on an extremely limited basis – far less than implied by the spirit of the ceasefire terms. (It doesn’t help that Israel wants the “civilian nature” of every project to be verified by Israeli and U.N. officials.) See my blog post for a complete listing of ceasefire violations and an overall status report.

Yet, Nicole Ganz, spokeswoman for the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, says the Palestinian Authority has yet to file a complaint. And the international activist community? It sometimes seems it takes a war to mobilize us in mass numbers as well – which explains why we’re all focused on Syria and Iraq, with barely a mention or attempt to push back on the daily deteriorations in Gaza and the West Bank.

“During the war, I was getting messages all the time from foreigners who wanted to help, who promised to help me get out for a bit after it was over,” recalls Maisam. “But now..nothing. Even during the war, I never felt like I wanted to die. This is new to me. I guess we’ll just keep breathing until we stop.”

Pam Bailey is a freelance writer and activist who has travels frequently to Gaza and is co-founder of a new nonprofit called New Generations for Palestinian Youth & Children

Energy Shock: What Happened to Over-Priced Oil?

November 5th, 2014 by Andrew McKillop

Until recently, Oil giants have been used to record profits – which means that industry experts, nonproductive middle men like Goldman Sachs, and hungry shareholders in the 21st century, now believe their business is ‘no longer viable’ under $100 per barrel. 

The reality: there is an over-supply of oil on the market. For many of the top economies, oil demand has been decreasing. Developed nations have increased energy efficiency and energy sources have diversified. Shale gas has also disrupted the old mix.

With petrol/gasoline prices are down, in the US as low as $2.70 gallon this week – you can see a smile back on the faces of working class Americans, for now. On the other hand, for big oil producing countries and their governments, this drop in price not so great – revenues are down and that’s causing major strain which will lead to cuts in domestic spending in the short term.

Has the shale gas ‘Fracking’ revolution is bankrupting the oil industry – or is gas production in the US really a financial bubble, destined to deflate?

High on High Priced Oil

Royal Dutch Shell’s new chairman Chad Hallyday says that falling oil prices are the top of his agenda and like other “historic majors”, oil giants such as ConocoPhillips and ENI, Shell – will reap painful bottom line hits from new lower prices.

Reported by the Financial Times, October 31, Hallyday says that each $10 fall in the barrel price means $3 billion less earnings a year and a prolonged period of Brent prices around $85 a barrel would translate to $8 bn-a-year of reduced profits for Shell. Nevertheless Hallyday is not only a former Bank of America chief, but also co-chaired the UN’s high level group on sustainable energy, which in 2011 pledged a doubling of renewable energy in world energy by 2030.

On its current energy output, this would rather heavily crimp Shell’s earnings. But that is only a first-cut analysis.

Shell’s “Dash for Gas” strategy dating from around 1998 was originally defended as more sustainable and less harmful to the climate than producing oil and coal.

Corporate investment in gas was ramped up to the mid-decade, but the start of the US shale gas boom from 2009 exposed the company to continuing high investment needs in expanding gas output but unexpected falls in US domestic gas prices. Like several other majors such as BP, its attempted and related “Go for Green” renewable energy investment strategy in the early years of the decade was a low performer, and despite Chad Hallyday’s long term relations with the World Wildlife Fund, Shell may take quite some time to renew its attempts to promote and sell “renewable energy”.

The bottom line is that bridging to the renewables needs high-cost bridge building based on high prices for fossil fuels and high corporate earnings. With world coal prices almost inevitably set to stay low and with US natural gas prices always struggling to reach and hold $4 per million BTU($23.20 a barrel equivalent), capped by repeated and record-sized world gas finds since 2009 feeding output which is likely to seriously dent current non-US gas prices, this could be a bridge too far. Shell’s leading role in ‘GTL’, or gas to liquids conversion to oil-substitute fuels and chemicals has never been a major revenue earner, and can only break even where gas prices are extreme-low.

Until mid-year 2014, paying for the party was backstopped by the extreme high price of oil. This was the missing link and magic solution, able to bolster corporate earnings and pay for past errors – as well as finance futurist dreams of “totally eliminating fossil fuels” from the energy mix However, as the 2008-2009 oil price crash proved, it is not only Saudi Arabia which decides when oil prices will slump – energy demand in a context of financial markets in free fall is another factor. Combined with ultra low growth rates of oil demand and a Middle Eastern geopolitical context where ISIS does not (presently) threaten oil production, but steals oil and sells it at $33 – $40 a barrel, and increasingly independent Kurdistan sells its oil at $50 a barrel, the life expectancy of overpriced oil is short.

Carbon Capture and the Climate Cult

The UN’s efforts to relaunch the bugaboo of runaway global warming and its supposed link with human CO2 emissions, which is curiously always cranked up in wintertime has however this time set up the summertime 1915 Paris climate change summit as the Big One.

We will have to hope for the ‘Carbon Correct’ cult-community and their slavish media outlets (like the UK’s BBC still showing us polar bears wading in thin ice) to acknowledge that Paris in July is always nice and hot! Agenda items will certainly include moving carbon capture and sequestration to worldwide conventional status, for which British print and TV news media has given outline cost figures of about or around $200 per household (125 pounds) per year as the additional cost of household electricity if all power plant emissions were captured and sequestered.

This $5 bn-a-year hike of electricity prices would be a “reasonable price to pay” according to UK academic ‘Carbon Capture and Storage’ (CCS) experts like professor Stuart Haszeldine.

However this expert, like others is forced to admit that currently operational CCS installations not also providing gas for EOR-enhanced oil recovery through reinjection into depleting oil wells are very few and far between. Imagining they could be “ramped up” to handle all power plant emissions, even in small densely-populated countries like England, by 2030, is stretching the imagination.

The IPCC – which the media claims is the “UN’s climate protection agency” despite having no formal UN status – has been stretching its imagination and our ability to believe in this technology pipe dream for years, and on the basis of learn nothing-forget nothing is still whining about it today – despite the scientifically controversial status, as well as extreme high cost of any national large scale CCS strategy. The US

National Academy of Sciences in two separate 2012 studies by different researchers concluded that CCS is viable “despite its very high cost” and also published data on the earthquake-provoking risks of widespread CCS.

In its March 2013 report ‘Decommissioning in the North Sea’ the UK Royal Academy of Engineering gave considerable attention to CCS as an alternative for decommissioning and removal of North Sea oil and gas installations, forecast by the Academy to cost around $50 bn (£35 pounds) to 2030 unless alternate uses for non-performing and obsolete oil-gas equipment can be found. The Academy’s workshop report was, however, forced to admit that the current experimental, small scale and high cost examples of “pure CCS” not used for EOR concern, were at most, only a few million tons of CO2 per year.

World total human CO2 emissions, including emissions from mining, transport, industry and agriculture are about 30 billion tons per year. Also reported by the Academy, the abandonment costs of CCS when injected aquifers or basalt formations, or other storage media become saturated, will be similar or possibly higher than for abandoned oil-gas installations.

 

Saudi: ‘We’re not bothered’

According to professor Jim Krane, from Rice University, Saudi Arabia may have a big hand in the current oil price parlor game.

“If you’re somebody who looks at geopolitics and energy, you could come up with any number of ways or any number of reasons why the Saudis are not doing what they would usually do”.

“There [are] lots of good reasons for them to keep on producing, but exactly why they’re doing it, probably only a few dozen people in Saudi Arabia know that,” he adds. NPR also explains here:

“One popular conspiracy theory is that Saudi Arabia is trying to deprive Russia of valuable oil revenues because of its support of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Saudi Arabia is opposed to Assad. Another target is its arch-rival in the region, Iran. Bronson says the low oil prices are hurting Russia and Iran, both of which depend heavily on oil exports and require higher prices than Saudi Arabia does to meet all their domestic needs.”

‘Paying for the Party

Falling oil prices not only threaten the national budgets of almost any major (and several minor) oil producer and exporters, from Russia and Venezuela – to Malaysia and Argentina, but also oil producing regions and states within federal republics. Note that almost half of Russia’s staterevenues are from oil and gas – and they are feeling that pain.

Back in in 1987, with WTI-West Texas Intermediate oil trading at less than $20 a barrel, after reaching nearly $40 a barrel before in 1986, Texan lawmakers faced one of the worst budget shortfalls in the state’s history. They ultimately slashed spending and approved more than $5 billion-a-year in new taxes. At that time, oil and gas production taxes made up close to a quarter of all Texas tax revenue, making the state’s budget especially vulnerable to oil price volatility.

The “hidden consensus” since at latest the 2005-2007 period is that high oil prices are normal as long as world and regional GDP growth is positive. Rationales for this extend far and wide from budget balancing for free-spending governments, even of oil importer countries where fuel and energy taxation is a major contributor to state spending. Paying for the pipedream of CCS, and decommissioning obsolete oil-gas installations, as well as paying for a forced march transition to renewable energy can be added to the list. In the case of Shell and other “historic majors” their own transition away from the upstream, and their uncertain dabbling in renewable energy are other high-cost ventures needing the solid basis of extreme high oil prices to pay for the party.

As we are finding in recent months – there is no rational energy-economic basis for triple-digit oil prices, and the major problem is forecasting how far oil prices can fall, to a now high cost break-even threshold for an increasing number of producers, in the $75 a barrel region.

“Canada will never be intimidated. In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home. Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.” -Prime Minister Stephen Harper, October 22, 2014 [1]

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On the morning of October 22, 2014, a man later identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, approached Corporal Nathan Cirillo while he was carrying out Ceremonial guard duties at Ottawa’s National War Memorial and fatally shot him in the back. Cirillo later succumbed to his injuries. [2] [3]

Zehaf-Bibeau then drove his vehicle the short distance to Parliament Hill, headed out on foot through a gate in the fence surrounding the Parliament Hill precinct, carjacked a parliamentary Minister’s vehicle and headed for the Centre Block Parliament Building. After a brief struggle with a security guard at the entrance in which the guard was shot in the foot, the gunman ran down the hall near where government and opposition members of parliament were holding caucus meetings. [4]

The attacker was eventually brought down by Kevin Vickers, a retired RCMP officer who was working on the hill as Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. [4]

Zehaf-Bibeau, a convert to Islam, had a history of drug abuse and was considered to be mentally unstable. He was obstructed from obtaining a passport to travel to an Islamic country that shared his beliefs. He had been staying in an Ottawa Mission in the days preceding the attacks. It is unknown how he was able to attain the firearm he used. [5]

In the heightened climate of fear and insecurity that the incident provoked, the Harper government quickly defined Zehaf-Bibeau’s rampage as a terrorist attack and began promoting and expediting the passage of legislation which boosts Canadian security forces’ powers of surveillance, detention and arrest. [6]

This event, insofar as it appears to have enabled heightened police powers at home and increased military aggression abroad (combat mission against ISIL) evokes the US reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

One analyst who has remarked on this similarity is Peter Dale Scott. He is a poet, former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at Berkeley. He is the author of the soon to be released book  The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy.

He has long written about what he calls “Deep Politics” and has argued that at the root of all modern states there is a tendency toward suppressive authoritarian power that competes with democratic persuasion from the masses. Deep events such as 9/11 and the Kennedy Assassination have the impact of reinforcing those dark secret forces within the corridors of power which are now well advanced in the U.S.

In this week’s program Professor Scott takes listeners through the history and purpose of deep events, the contraction of democratic impulses that results, his view that the recent Ottawa Shooting may constitute such a deep event and the role of military and security harmonization between Canada and the United States and how that connects with what he calls the Continuity of Government.

For more on Peter Dale Scott’s writings and how to obtain a copy of his latest book, go to www.peterdalescott.net

 

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

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

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

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

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

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

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. 

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Tune in Wednesdays from 12am to 1am.

 

Notes:

1) Stephen Harper’s speech on the Ottawa shooting, full text;  National Post Wire Services | October 22, 2014; http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/22/stephen-harpers-speech-on-the-ottawa-shooting-full-text/

2) Josh Visser (October 23, 2014); National Post; RCMP release security footage of Michael Zehaf Bibeau during attack, say he shot soldier in back; http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/23/rcmp-release-security-footage-of-michael-zahef-bibeau-during-attack-say-he-shot-soldier-in-back/

3) The Toronto Star (October 22, 2014); Soldier dead after shooting at War Memorial in Ottawa, police confirm; http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/10/22/hamilton_soldier_dead_after_shooting_at_war_memorial_in_ottawa.html

4)Glen McGregor; David Reevely; Dean Tweed; Dennis Leung. “Terror in the Capital”. Ottawa Citizen ; https://postmediaottawacitizen2.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/1023shootingupdate-gr.jpg

5) Andrew Seymour and Greg McGregor (October 23, 2014); Ottawa Citizen; “Shooter Zehaf-Bibeau was staying at Ottawa Mission before Rampage: Witnesses”; http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/shooter-zehaf-bibeau-was-staying-at-ottawa-mission-before-rampage-witnesses

6) Bill Curry and Kathryn Blaze Carlson (October 23, 2014) Globe and Mail; Harper vows to strengthen national security laws after Ottawa shooting; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/mps-return-to-house-in-emotional-gathering-after-ottawa-shooting/article21263777/

The Republican Party won control of the US Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections, taking more than the six Democratic-held seats needed to obtain the 51 required for a majority. Republican candidates defeated incumbent Democratic senators in North Carolina, Arkansas and Iowa and won open Democratic seats in West Virginia, Iowa, South Dakota and Montana.

A Democratic seat in Alaska was in jeopardy as vote-counting continued late into the night, and in Louisiana, another Democratic-held seat, the Republican candidate led and is heavily favored in a runoff to be held December 6. The Republicans did not lose a single seat.

The Republicans also expanded their majority in the House of Representatives, with a net gain of at least eight seats, putting them in full control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 2006, and for the first time in the presidency of Barack Obama.

Elections for state governorships produced more mixed results, with Democrats retaining California and New York among the four largest states and Republicans retaining Texas and winning narrowly in Florida. The Democratic governor of Illinois and the Republican governor of Pennsylvania were both defeated for reelection.

Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin, notorious for his attacks on public employees in the state, easily won reelection over a multi-millionaire Democrat who tacitly backed his anti-worker legislation. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who pushed through a right-to-work law and oversaw the bankruptcy of Detroit, also won reelection.

The outcome of the vote is a debacle for the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, which threw in the towel in terms of the House of Representatives months ago and concentrated their efforts on holding onto a handful of Senate seats needed to maintain a narrow majority in the upper house. This effort produced dismal results, with only one of the threatened Democratic seats, in New Hampshire, successfully defended.

The Republican victory does not represent a shift by the American population to the right, but demonstrates the bankrupt and reactionary character of the Democratic Party and the mass disillusionment with the Obama administration. In the absence of any progressive alternative to the two right-wing, corporate-controlled parties, the majority of potential voters stayed home. Voter turnout hit another record low, with only 38 percent going to the polls.

The working class had no representation in the 2014 elections in either party. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are controlled by the financial aristocracy that rules America. Corporate bosses and billionaires dictate the policy and personnel of both parties, and they are now demanding a further shift to the right in official Washington.

Obama and the Democrats are more than happy to oblige. Before the polls had closed on the West Coast, Obama had already sent out an invitation to a bipartisan group of legislators, including the congressional leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, to meet in the White House Friday to begin discussions on future collaboration.

In an interview on CNN Monday, Vice President Joseph Biden said the White House was willing to compromise with Republicans and had begun working on areas where joint action might be possible. He said the Republicans had to make a decision: “Are they going to begin to allow things to happen? Or are they going to continue to be obstructionists? And I think they’re going to choose to get things done.”

That agenda will undoubtedly include major tax cuts for corporations, further cuts in spending on federally funded social programs like food stamps, intensified repression of immigrants, and the continued buildup of the military/intelligence apparatus in the United States along with expanded military aggression overseas.

These policies are deeply unpopular with American working people and youth. They are increasingly turning away from both capitalist parties and their sham electoral contests, which employ mudslinging and lies to disguise the two parties’ fundamental agreement on doing the bidding of big business.

The election took place amid widespread public hostility to both corporate-controlled parties, with dismal poll numbers for President Obama and the congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle. The $4 billion expended to promote one party and vilify the other served only to further alienate the population from the entire political structure.

In nearly all the closely contested Senate contests, both the Republican and Democratic candidates were regarded unfavorably by a majority of voters. The same was true in most of the closely contested races for state governor.

Voter turnout rose in a handful of the most closely contested states, but fell below previous record lows in many states. Voter participation by young people fell particularly sharply. Barely one-third of eligible voters went to the polls in California, the most populous state.

La globalizzazione della guerra

November 5th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Il mondo è ad un bivio pericoloso. Gli Usa si sono lanciati in un’avventura militare che minaccia il futuro dell’umanità.

Il mondo è al bivio della più grave crisi della storia moderna scrive su Global Research Michel Chossudovsky. Gli Stati Uniti e i loro alleati della NATO hanno intrapreso un’avventura militare, “una lunga guerra”, che minaccia il futuro dell’umanità. Questa “guerra senza confini” è intimamente legata ad un processo mondiale di ristrutturazione economica, che ha condotto al crollo delle economie nazionali e all’impoverimento di vasti settori della popolazione mondiale.

I produttori di armi statunitensi sono i destinatari dei miliardi di dollari di appalti del Dipartimento della Difesa statunitense per i sistemi d’arma avanzati. “La battaglia per il petrolio” in Medio Oriente e l’Asia centrale serve direttamente gli interessi dei giganti petroliferi anglo-americani. Gli Stati Uniti e i suoi alleati stanno “battendo i tamburi di guerra” al culmine di una depressione economica in tutto il mondo.

Il dispiegamento militare delle forze USA-NATO accoppiato con una  ”guerra non convenzionale”, che comprende operazioni segrete di intelligence, sanzioni economiche e la spinta al “cambio di regime” – si sta verificando simultaneamente in diverse regioni del mondo.

Centrale per la comprensione della guerra, è la campagna mediatica che concede legittimità agli occhi dell’opinione pubblica. La guerra è stata dotata di un mandato umanitario sotto la “responsabilità di proteggere” della NATO (R2P). Le vittime degli Stati Uniti sono presentati come i responsabili della guerra. I civili in Ucraina, Siria e Iraq sono responsabili per i loro morti.

Nel frattempo, il comandante in capo della più grande forza militare sul pianeta si presenta come un pacificatore globale. Il conferimento del Premio Nobel per la pace nel 2009 al presidente Barack Obama è diventato parte integrante della macchina di propaganda del Pentagono. Esso fornisce un volto umano agli invasori, si demonizza chi si oppone all’intervento militare statunitense.

Il Comitato per Nobel afferma che il presidente Obama ha dato al mondo “la speranza per un futuro migliore”. Il premio è stato assegnato per gli “sforzi straordinari di Obama per rafforzare la diplomazia internazionale e la cooperazione tra i popoli. Il Comitato ha attribuito particolare importanza “alla visione e al lavoro di Obama per un mondo senza armi nucleari. 

… La sua diplomazia si fonda sul concetto che coloro che sono alla guida del mondo devono farlo sulla base di valori e atteggiamenti che sono condivisi dalla maggioranza della popolazione mondiale. ( Il Premio Nobel per la Pace per il 2009: Barack H. Obama,  Comunicato Stampa 9 ottobre 2009)

La realtà è capovolta. “La guerra è pace”, ha detto George Orwell. I media in coro sostengono la guerra come uno sforzo umanitario. “Le guerre ci rendono più sicuri e più ricchi” , dice il Washington Post.

La grande bugia diventa la verità. A sua volta, sostenere la verità – attraverso un’attenta documentazione e analisi investigativa degli orrori che le guerre degli Stati Uniti hanno portato –  è classificato come “teoria della cospirazione”.

Mentre Washington preme per una “guerra globale al terrorismo”, coloro che si oppongono con forza alle guerre americane di aggressione sono bollati come terroristi. La guerra diventa pace, un’utile “impresa umanitaria”. Il dissenso pacifico diventa eresia.

Con gli eventi in corso in Ucraina e in Medio Oriente, l’umanità è ad un bivio pericoloso. Dalla crisi dei missili di Cuba il mondo non mai stato più vicino all’impensabile: uno scenario da Terza Guerra Mondiale, un conflitto militare globale che coinvolge l’uso di armi nucleari.

La macchina di morte viene distribuita a livello globale, nel quadro della struttura di comando unificata. E’ regolarmente confermata dalle istituzioni di governo, i media aziendali e dagli intellettuali del Nuovo Ordine Mondiale a Washington di think tank e istituti di studi di ricerca strategica, come strumento indiscusso di pace e di prosperità globale.

Una cultura di morte e violenza si è impossessata della coscienza umana.

La guerra è ampiamente accettata come parte di un processo sociale: La Patria ha bisogno di essere “difesa” e protetta.

“La violenza legittimata” e le uccisioni extragiudiziali contro i “terroristi” sono accettati nelle democrazie occidentali come strumenti necessari di sicurezza nazionale.

Una “guerra umanitaria” è confermata dalla cosiddetta comunità internazionale. Non è condannata come un atto criminale. I suoi principali architetti vengono premiati per il loro contributo alla pace nel mondo.

Le armi nucleari sono presentate dal governo degli Stati Uniti come strumenti di pace. L’uso preventivo di armi nucleari è classificato come un atto di “autodifesa”, che contribuisce ad un concetto illusorio di “sicurezza globale”.

Il cosiddetto “scudo antimissile” o iniziativa “Star Wars” è stata sviluppata a livello mondiale in diverse regioni del mondo. Lo scudo missilistico è in gran parte diretto contro la Russia, la Cina, l’Iran e Corea del Nord.

Nel frattempo, nel contesto degli eventi in Siria e in Ucraina, vi è stato un crollo della diplomazia internazionale. Considerando che un regime neo-nazista direttamente sostenuto dall’Occidente è stato installato a Kiev, la Federazione Russa è ora minacciata da USA-NATO sulla sua frontiera occidentale.

Una nuova Guerra Fredda?

Mentre questo rinnovato confronto Est-Ovest è stato erroneamente etichettato come “nuova Guerra Fredda”, nessuna delle garanzie della Guerra Fredda prevale. La Russia è stata esclusa dal Gruppo degli Otto (G-8), che è tornata al G-7 (gruppo di sette nazioni). La diplomazia è crollata. A sua volta, il Consiglio di Sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite è diventato un portavoce de facto del Dipartimento di Stato degli Stati Uniti.

Inoltre, le armi nucleari non sono più considerate un’ “arma di ultima istanza” nella dottrina della guerra fredda della “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD). Le armi nucleari sono considerate dal Pentagono “innocue per la popolazione civile circostante, perché l’esplosione è sotterranea”. Nel 2002, il Senato degli Stati Uniti ha dato il via libera per l’uso di armi nucleari nel teatro di guerra convenzionale. Le armi nucleari fanno parte della “cassetta degli attrezzi militare” per essere usato insieme alle armi convenzionali.

La “minaccia comunista” della Guerra Fredda è stata sostituito dalla minaccia mondiale del “terrorismo islamico”. Considerando che la Russia e la Cina sono diventate economie capitaliste di “libero mercato”, un primo attacco nucleare preventivo è comunque contemplato.

Cina e Russia sono considerate non più come “una minaccia per il capitalismo”. Tutto il contrario. Ciò che è in gioco è la rivalità economica e finanziaria tra potenze capitaliste concorrenti. L’alleanza Cina-Russia nel quadro dela Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), costituisce un “concorrente blocco capitalista”, che mina l’egemonia economica degli Stati Uniti.

In Asia, gli Stati Uniti hanno contribuito con il  ”Pivot to Asia” ad incoraggiare gli alleati della regione Asia-Pacifico, tra cui Giappone, Australia, Corea del Sud, Filippine e Vietnam, a minacciare e isolare la Cina come parte di un processo di “accerchiamento militare” della Cina, che ha guadagnato slancio alla fine del 1990.

Nel frattempo, la propaganda di guerra è diventata sempre più pervasiva. La guerra viene accolta come un’operazione di pacificazione.

Quando la guerra diventa pace, il mondo è capovolto. La concettualizzazione non è più possibile. Un sistema sociale inquisitorio emerge. Il consenso è fare la guerra. Le persone possono più pensare per se stessi. Essi accettano l’autorità e la saggezza dell’ordine sociale costituito.

La comprensione degli eventi sociali e politici fondamentali viene sostituita da un mondo di pura fantasia, dove “persone pericolose” sono in agguato. L’obiettivo della narrazione della “guerra globale al terrorismo” – che è stata pienamente approvata dall’Amministrazione degli Stati Uniti – è galvanizzare il sostegno pubblico per una campagna mondiale contro l’eresia.

Il disegno militare globale del Pentagono è la conquista del mondo. Il dispiegamento militare delle forze USA-NATO si sta verificando in diverse regioni del mondo contemporaneamente.

Il concetto di “guerra lunga” degli Stati Uniti ha caratterizzato la dottrina militare dalla fine della seconda guerra mondiale. La militarizzazione globale è parte di un programma economico globale.

La militarizzazione a livello globale è gestita attraverso la struttura di comando unificata dei Esercito americano: l’intero pianeta è diviso in aree geografiche di combattimento. I Comandi sotto il controllo del Pentagono. Il Comando Strategico degli Stati Uniti (USSTRATCOM) con sede in Omaha, Nebraska, svolge un ruolo centrale nel coordinamento delle operazioni militari.

Mentre circondano Russia e Cina, le nuove basi militari statunitensi sono stati istituiti al fine di stabilire sfere di influenza americana in ogni regione del mondo. C’è stato un rafforzamento dei sei comandi geografici  tra cui la creazione nel 2008 della  United States Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Questa militarizzazione dell’Africa da parte degli Stati Uniti mira alla conquista economica del continente, al saccheggio delle sue risorse naturali, all’acquisizione delle sue vaste riserve di petrolio e di gas, ecc

AFRICOM è lo strumento di un progetto neocoloniale degli Stati Uniti portato avanti di concerto con il Regno Unito che consiste nell’espansione della sfera di influenza anglo-americana in particolare in Africa Centrale, nell’Africa francofona occidentale e nel Nord Africa, in gran parte a spese della Francia.

Mentre gli Stati Uniti hanno basi militari e / o strutture in più di 150 paesi, con 160.000 personale in servizio attivo, la costruzione di nuove basi militari è prevista in America Latina, in Colombia, al confine immediato con il Venezuela.

Gli aiuti militari ad Israele sono aumentati. La presidenza Obama ha espresso il suo sostegno inflessibile ad Israele e all’esercito israeliano, che svolgerà un ruolo chiave nella guerre USA-NATO  in Medio Oriente. L’ordine del giorno non detto è l’eliminazione definitiva della Palestina e l’ascesa di un “Grande Israele”.

 Italiano : http://www.lantidiplomatico.it/dettnews.php?idx=82&pg=9032

NATO’s War of Aggression Against Yugoslavia

November 5th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

On September 10, 2014, at a Ceremony at the University of Ottawa, Michel Chossudovsky was granted the Gold Medal of Merit of the Republic of Serbia for his writings on NATO’s war against the people of Yugoslavia. The gold medal was granted by HE The Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Canada, Mr. Mihailo Papazoglu on behalf of Serbia’s President Tomislav Nicolic.  

The ceremony was chaired by the head of the Economics Department Professor Y. Dissou in the presence of the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Marcel Merette, professors, support staff and graduate students. The granting of the gold medal to Professor Chossudovsky was confirmed by The Governor General’s office as contained in the Canada Gazette  (May 31, 2014). 

From Left to Right Professor Y Dissou, HE Ambassador Mihailo Papazoglu, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Dean Marcel Merette

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Author’s Note

I am much indebted to the people of Serbia for this award, to Serbia’s President Tomislav Nicolic and Ambassador Mihailo Papazoglu.  I also wish to thank my colleagues in the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ottawa for their support.

In the course of last 15 years, the West has been rewriting the history of the 1999 US-NATO war of aggression against Yugoslavia.  The crimes committed by the Western military alliance have been casually blamed on the victims.  NATO’s intervention is heralded as a humanitarian endeavour. 

This article written at the height of the 1999 bombing campaign of Yugoslavia documents the insidious framework of US foreign policy as well as the hideous crimes committed against the people of Yugoslavia including the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium ammunition.  According to Walter J. Rockler, former prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials:

“The bombing war also violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok.”

The article was first published by several online publications in June 1999. It was subsequently published by Global Research in 2003.  Much of what is recorded in this article in the course of war has been erased ad dismissed by the Western media. The objective of US-NATO is to rewrite and distort history. It is, therefore, important that the historical record of these war crimes should not be forgotten. The battle for the truth is an ongoing process. There is no such thing as a “humanitarian war”. The war criminals and political architects of the 1999 war on Yugoslavia must be  identified and ultimately brought  to justice. 

Michel Chossudovsky, November 4, 2014 

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General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme commander in Europe, confirmed in late May that “NATO’S air campaign has not reached its peak yet and the alliance should be prepared for more civilian casualties.”. General Clark also confirmed that “he would be seeking to increase the number of air strikes in Kosovo and expand the range of targets.

As the bombings entered their third month, there was also a noticeable change in “NATO rhetoric”. The Alliance had become increasingly unrepentant, NATO officials were no longer apologising for civilian casualties, claiming that the latter were contributing to “helping Milosevic’s propaganda machine.”

Low Intensity Nuclear War

With NATO air-strikes entering their third month, a new stage of the War has unfolded. NATO’s “humanitarian bombings” have been stepped up leading to mounting civilian casualties and human suffering. Thirty percent of those killed in the bombings are children.1 In addition to the use of cluster bombs, the Alliance is waging a “low intensity nuclear war” using toxic radioactive shells and missiles containing depleted uranium. Amply documented, the radioactive fall-out causes cancer potentially affecting millions of people for generations to come. According to a recent scientific report, “the first signs of radiation on children including herpes on the mouth and skin rashes on the back and ankles” have been observed in Yugoslavia since the beginning of the bombings.2

In addition to the radioactive fall-out which has contaminated the environment and the food chain, the Alliance has also bombed Yugoslavia’s major chemical and pharmaceutical plants. The bombing of Galenika, the largest medicine factory in Yugoslavia has contributed to releasing dangerous, highly toxic fumes. When NATO forces bombed plants of the Pancevo petrochemical complex in mid-April “fire broke out and huge quantities of chlorine, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride monomer flowed out. Workers at Pancevo, fearing further bombing attacks that would blow up dangerous materials, released tons of ethylene dichloride, a carcinogen, into the Danube.”3

Nato to the “Rescue of Ethnic Albanians”

Ethnic Albanians have not been spared by NATO air raids. Killing ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is said to be “inevitable” in carrying out a “humanitarian operation on behalf of ethnic Albanians”. In addition to the impacts of the ground war between the KLA and the Yugoslav Armed Forces, the bombings and the resulting radioactive fall-out in Kosovo have been more devastating than in the rest of Yugoslavia.

Presented as a humanitarian mission, the evidence amply confirms that NATO’s brutal air raids of towns and villages in Kosovo have triggered the exodus of refugees. Those who have fled their homes to refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania have nothing to return to, nothing to look forward to… An entire country has been destroyed, its civilian industry and public infrastructure transformed into rubble. Bridges, power plants, schools and hospitals are displayed as “legitimate military targets” selected by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Vicenza, Italy and carefully “validated prior to the pilot launching his strike.”

With the “diplomatic shuttle” still ongoing, the Alliance is intent on inflicting as much damage on the Yugoslav economy (including Kosovo) as possible prior to reaching a G8 brokered “peace initiative” which will empower them to send in ground troops. “Allied commanders have steadily widened their list of economic targets… Increasingly, the impact of NATO air strikes has put people out of work… causing water shortages in Belgrade, Novi Sad and other Serbian cities. … [T]he effect was to shut down businesses, strain hospitals’ ability to function and cut off water…”4. Some 115 medical institutions have been damaged of which several have been totally demolished. And hospital patients –including children and the elderly– are dying due to the lack of water and electricity…5

General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme commander in Europe, confirmed in late May that “NATO’S air campaign has not reached its peak yet and the alliance should be prepared for more civilian casualties.”6. General Clark also confirmed that “he would be seeking to increase the number of air strikes in Kosovo and expand the range of targets.7 As the bombings entered their third month, there was also a noticeable change in “NATO rhetoric”. The Alliance had become increasingly unrepentant, NATO officials were no longer apologising for civilian casualties, claiming that the latter were contributing to “helping Milosevic’s propaganda machine.”

Extending the Conflict Beyond the Balkans

Drowned in the barrage of media images and self-serving analyses, the broader strategic interests and economic causes of the War go unmentioned. The late Sean Gervasi writing in 1995 had anticipated an impending War. According to Gervasi, Washington’s strategic goals stretched well beyond the Balkans. They largely consisted in “installing a Western-style regime in Yugoslavia and reducing the geographic area, power and influence of Serbia to a minimum….”8

In this context, the installation of American power in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean also constitutes a step towards the extension of Washington’s geopolitical sphere of influence beyond the Balkans into the area of the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and West Asia.

In this regard, NATO’s military intervention in Yugoslavia (in violation of international law) also sets a dangerous precedent. It provides “legitimacy” to future military interventions. To achieve its strategic objectives, national economies are destabilised, regional conflicts are financed through the provision of covert support to armed insurgencies… In other words, the conflict in Yugoslavia creates conditions which provide legitmacy to future interventions of the Alliance into the “internal affairs of sovereign nations”.

The consolidation of American strategic interests in Eastern Europe, the Balkans (and beyond) was not only marked by the enlargement of NATO (with the accession of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic as NATO members) barely two weeks before the beginning of the bombings, the War in Yugoslavia also coincided with a critical split in geopolitical alignments within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In late April, Georgia, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldava signed a pact in Washington, creating GUUAM, a regional alliance which lies strategically at the hub of the Caspian oil and gas wealth, “with Moldava and the Ukraine offering [pipeline] export routes to the West”.9 This geopolitical split bears a direct relationship to the crisis in Yugoslavia. The region is already unstable marked by nationalist conflicts and separatist movements.

The members of this new pro-NATO political grouping not only tacitly support the bombings in Yugoslavia, they have also agreed to “low level military cooperation” with NATO while insisting that “the group is not a military alliance directed against any third party,  namely Moscow.”10

Dominated by Western oil interests, the formation of GUUAM is not only intent on excluding Russia from the oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area but also in isolating Moscow politically thereby potentially re-igniting Cold War divisions…

The War Has Stalled Nuclear Arms Controls

In turn, the War in Yugoslavia has significantly stalled nuclear arms-control initiatives leading to the cancellation of an exchange program “that would have had US and Russian nuclear weapons officers in constant contact at year’s end to prevent any launches as a result of Year 2000 computer troubles.”11

Moreover, Russia’s military has also voiced its concern “that the bombing of Yugoslavia could turn out in the very near future to be just a rehearsal for similar strikes on Russia.”12.

According to Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, co-president of the Nobel Peace Prize winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the impact of NATO bombings of Yugoslavia “on nuclear weapons policy is an extremely serious development… Russians feel a sense of betrayal by the West… because NATO took this action outside the UN.”13

Aleksander Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Defence Committee of the Russian State Duma U.S.-Russian relations describes the War in Yugoslavia as the “worst most acute, most dangerous juncture since the U.S.-Soviet Berlin and Cuban missile crises.”14 According to Arbatov:

“START II is dead, co-operation with NATO is frozen, co-operation on missile defence is out of the question, and Moscow’s willingness to co-operate on non-proliferation issues is at an all-time low. Moreover, anti-U.S. sentiment in Russia is real, deep and more wide-spread than ever, and the slogan describing NATO action – “today Serbia, tomorrow Russia,” is “deeply planted in Russian’s minds.”…15 Mary-Wynne Ashford also warns that whereas Russia was moving towards integration with Europe, they [the Russians] now:

“…. perceive their primary threat from the West. Officials in [Russia's] Foreign Affairs (Arms Control and Disarmament) told us that Russia has no option but to rely on nuclear weapons for its defence because its conventional forces are inadequate…. Even if the bombings stop now, the changes in Russia’s attitude toward the West, its renewed reliance on nuclear weapons with thousands on high alert, and its loss of confidence in international law leave us vulnerable to catastrophe…. This crisis makes de-alerting nuclear weapons more urgent than ever. To those who say the Russian threat is all rhetoric, I reply that rhetoric is what starts wars”.16

The Media War: “Silencing the Silent Majority”

This war is also “a War against the Truth”. With protest movements developing around the World, NATO has reinforced its clutch over the mass media. In a stylised (“wag the dog”) media mascarade, the Alliance is relentlessly portrayed as “the saviour of ethnic Albanian Kosovars”. A full-fledged “cover-up operation” has been set in motion with a view to thwarting public debate on the War. The hidden agenda is to “silence the silent majority.” The Western media heeding to the Alliance’s demands has blatantly misled public opinion. Casually portrayed on TV screens, civilian deaths are justified as inevitable “collateral damage”. According to the Pentagon, “there is no such thing as clean combat.”17

Meanwhile, anti-war commentators (including former ambassadors and OSCE officials) have been carefully removed from mainstream public affairs programmes, TV content is closely scrutinised, the images of civilian deaths and destruction relayed from Belgrade are seldomly and selectively displayed, journalists are under tight supervision. While the media does not hesitate to criticize NATO for having committed “errors” and “tragic mistakes”, the legitimacy of the military operation and its “humanitarian mandate” are not questioned:

“Public opinion is confronted with a loaded question which allows only one answer. In the present war, that question is, “Doesn’t ethnic cleansing have to be stopped?” This simplification allows the media to portray Yugoslavia rather than NATO as the aggressor. The alliance, in a complete inversion of reality, is presented as conducting an essentially defensive war on behalf of the Kosovar Albanians…” when in fact ethnic Albanians are the principle victims of NATO’s “humanitarian bombings.”18

According to NATO’s propaganda machine, “ethnic Albanians do not flee the bombings” and the ground war between the KLA and the Yugoslav Army. According to Diana Johnstone this makes them “nearly unique [because] throughout history, civilians have fled from war zones…. No, as we have heard repeatedly from NATO spokesmen and apologists, Kosovo Albanians run away from only one thing: brutal ethnic cleansing carried out by Serbs.”19

The refugee crisis we are told by NATO is limited to Kosovo. Yet the evidence (withheld by the Western media) confirms that people throughout Serbia are fleeing major cities:

Reliable estimates put the number of refugees who have left Belgrade to escape the bombing at 400,000. Most are women and children, as with the Kosovo Albanians. At least another 500,000 have left Serbia’s other cities, notably Novi Sad and Nish, where NATO bombing has caused air pollution, cut the water supply, and struck purely civilian targets such as market squares. Altogether, according to the Italian daily “Il Manifesto”, the NATO bombing has produced at least a million refugees in Serbia. Predrag Simic, foreign policy adviser to Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic, told a Paris conference [in late May] that Kosovo was being so thoroughly devastated by NATO bombing that nobody, neither Albanians nor Serbs, would be able to go back and live there”.20

Who is Responsible for War Crimes?

Public “disapproval” of NATO bombings is immediately dismissed as “Serb propaganda”. Those who speak out against NATO are branded as “apologists of Milosevic”. While most anti-War critics in NATO countries are not defenders of the Milosevic regime, they are nonetheless expected to be “balanced” in their arguments. “Looking at both sides of the picture is the rule”: anti-war commentators are invited to echo NATO’s fabricated media consensus, to unequivocally “join the bandwagon” against Milosevic. Under these circumstances, an objective understanding and analysis of the role of the Milosovic government since the civil War in Bosnia and in the context of the present crisis in Kosovo has been rendered virtually impossible.

Media double standards? Whereas President Milosevic and four members of his government were indicted by the Hague International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) (late May) for organising a policy of “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo, the news media failed to mention that several parallel law suits were launched at The Hague Tribunal (ICTY), accusing NATO leaders of “crimes against humanity.”21

It is also worth mentioning that the UK government (whose Prime Minister Tony Blair is among the list of accused in one of the parallel law suits) has provided The Hague Tribunal with “intelligence on the situation within Kosovo” since the beginning of the bombings.22 Part of this intelligence material was relayed by the KLA with which British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has been in frequent contact as well as through British Special Forces (SAS) directly collaborating with the KLA.

Law Suit Directed Against Nato Leaders

In May, a group of 15 Canadian lawyers and law professors together with the American Association of Jurists (with members in more than 20 countries) launched a suit against NATO leaders at the ICTY in the Hague.23 The suit points to “open violation” of the United Nations Charter, the NATO treaty, the Geneva Conventions and the “Principles of International Law Recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal”. The latter makes: “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances” a crime.24

The list of crimes allegedly committed by NATO leaders includes:

“wilful killing, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction of property,… employment of poisonous weapons [implying radioactive fall-out] or other weapons to cause unnecessary suffering, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity,… “25

Under the terms of reference of the ICTY “a person who planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of a crime shall be individually responsible for the crime” and “the official position of any accused person, whether as Head of State or Government or as a responsible Government official, shall not relieve such person of criminal responsibility or mitigate punishment.”26

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson (and former President of Ireland) confirmed in Geneva on 30 April that the Prosecutor of the War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY) has the mandate not only to prosecute Serb forces but that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and NATO may also come under scrutiny, “if it appears that serious violations of international humanitarian law have occurred.”

According to Walter J. Rockler, former prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials:

“The bombing war also violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok.”27

Shaky Evidence of a “Humanitarian Catastrophe” Prior to the Bombings

In the course of “covering-up” the real motivations of NATO in launching the War, the international media has also failed to mention that an official intelligence report of the German Foreign Ministry (used to establish the eligibility of political refugees from Kosovo) confirmed that there was no evidence of “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo in the months immediately preceding the bombings. Who is lying? German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer had justified NATO’s intervention pointing to a “humanitarian catastrophe”, yet the internal documents of his own ministry say exactly the opposite:

“Even in Kosovo an explicit political persecution linked to Albanian ethnicity is not verifiable. The East of Kosovo is still not involved in armed conflict. Public life in cities like Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilan, etc. has, in the entire conflict period, continued on a relatively normal basis. The actions of the security forces [were] not directed against the Kosovo-Albanians as an ethnically defined group, but against the military opponent [KLA] and its actual or alleged supporters.”… “29

[W]ith an agreement made with the Serbian leadership at the end of 1998 … both the security situation and the conditions of life of the Albanian-derived population have noticeably improved… Specifically in the larger cities public life has since returned to relative normality.”29

The above assessments are broadly consistent with several independent evaluations of the humanitarian situation in Kosovo prior to the onslaught of the bombing campaign. Roland Keith, a former field office director of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), who left Kosovo on March 20th reported that most of the violence in Kosovo was instigated by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA):

“Upon my arrival the war increasingly evolved into a mid intensity conflict as ambushes, the encroachment of critical lines of communication and the [KLA] kidnapping of security forces resulted in a significant increase in government casualties which in turn led to major Yugoslavian reprisal security operations… By the beginning of March these terror and counter-terror operations led to the inhabitants of numerous villages fleeing, or being dispersed to either other villages, cities or the hills to seek refuge… The situation was clearly that KLA provocations, as personally witnessed in ambushes of security patrols which inflicted fatal and other casualties, were clear violations of the previous October’s agreement [and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199]. The security forces responded and the consequent security harassment and counter-operations led to an intensified insurrectionary war, but as I have stated elsewhere, I did not witness, nor did I have knowledge of any incidents of so-called “ethnic cleansing” and there certainly were no occurrences of “genocidal policies” while I was with the KVM in Kosovo. What has transpired since the OSCE monitors were evacuated on March 20, in order to deliver the penultimate warning to force Yugoslavian compliance with the Rambouillet and subsequent Paris documents and the commencement of the NATO air bombardment of March 24, obviously has resulted in human rights abuses and a very significant humanitarian disaster as some 600,000 Albanian Kosovars have fled or been expelled from the province. This did not occur, though, before March 20, so I would attribute the humanitarian disaster directly or indirectly to the NATO air bombardment and resulting anti-terrorist campaign.”30

Chronology of Nato Planning

Carefully removed from the public eye, preparations for both “the air campaign” and “the ground War” have been ongoing for almost a year prior to the beginning of NATO’s “humanitarian bombings” on March 24th 1999.

Responding to broad strategic and economic objectives, the Alliance’s first priority was to secure the stationing of armed combat troops in Macedonia on the immediate border with Kosovo. US Secretary of Defense William Cohen had travelled to Skopje in late December 1997 for discussions with the Macedonian government and Military. These high levels talks were followed a few months later by the visit of Macedonia’s Defense Minister L. Kitanoski to Washington for meetings at the Pentagon. On the agenda: the establishment of a NATO base in Macedonia.31

No time was lost: on May 6, 1998, the NATO Council met “to review alliance efforts” in the region; a major military exercise entitled “Cooperative Best Effort” was slated to take place in Macedonia in September. NATO nonetheless “reassured the international community” that the military exercise was not meant to be “a rehearsal”, rather it was to enable “NATO military authorities to study various options. Decisions on whether to execute any of those options would be a matter for future decision.”32

Largely the consequence of KLA terrorism, the deterioration of the security situation in Kosovo conveniently provided NATO with a pretext to build up its ground forces in Macedonia (composed largely of British and French troops). According to NATO, it was therefore necessary to envisage “a more complicated and ambitious [military] exercise [in Macedonia] to send a clear political signal [to Belgrade] of NATO’s involvement”.33

The Role of the Kosovo Liberation Army

In parallel with the setting up of its military operations in Albania and Macedonia, NATO had established direct links with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). A US Department of Defense briefing confirms in this regard that “initial contacts” between the KLA and NATO had taken place by mid-1998:

“…the realization has come to people [in NATO] that we [NATO] have to have the UCK [acronym for KLA in Albanian] involved in this process because they have shown at least the potential to be rejectionists of any deal that could be worked out there with the existing Kosovo parties. So somehow they have to be brought in and that’s why we’ve made some initial contacts there with the group, hopefully the right people in the group, to try and bring them into this negotiating process. 34

While these “initial contacts” were acknowledged by NATO officially only in mid-1998, the KLA had (according to several reports) been receiving “covert support” and training from the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) since the mid-nineties.35

The concurrent building up of KLA forces was part of NATO planning. By mid-1998 “covert support” had been gradually replaced –despite the KLA’s links to organised crime– by official (“overt”) support by the military Alliance in violation of UN Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1160 of 31 March 1998 which condemned: “…all acts of terrorism by the Kosovo Liberation Army or any other group or individual and all external support for terrorist activity in Kosovo, including finance, arms and training.”

On 24 September 1998, another key UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1199) was adopted which called “upon the authorities in Belgrade and the leadership of the Kosovar Albanian community urgently to enter without preconditions into a meaningful dialogue on political status issues.” It also required Belgrade to withdraw its troops from Kosovo.

Following a renewed wave of KLA terrorism, the Yugoslav authorities were blamed for the “crackdowns on ethnic Albanians” providing NATO defense ministers meeting in Vilmoura Portugal (September 24th on the same day as the adoption of UNSCR 1199) with the “justification” to issue an “activation warning” for a campaign of air strikes against Serb positions. The Vilmoura statement called upon Belgrade to “take immediate steps to alleviate the humanitarian situation…, stop repressive actions against the population and seek a political solution through negotiations with the Albanian majority”.36

This so-called “activation warning” was followed in mid-October by “an activation order” by the North Atlantic Council authorising NATO’s Supreme Commander for Europe General Wesley Clark to initiate “limited air strikes” and a “phased air campaign” … should the Yugoslav authorities refuse to comply with UNSCR 1199.37

Under the impending threat of air strikes, a partial withdrawal was carried out by Belgrade (following the adoption of UNSCR 1199) creating almost immediately conditions for the KLA to occupy positions previously held by retreating Serb forces. In turn, the strengthening of the KLA was accompanied by renewed terrorist activity and a consequent “worsening of the security situation”. NATO’s hidden objective, in this regard, was to use the KLA insurgency to further provoke ethnic tensions and generate social strife in Kosovo.

In the meantime, US envoy Richard Holbrooke had entered into discussions with President Milosovic. Forged under the threat of NATO air strikes, negotiations on Kosovo’s political status had also been initiated in Pristina between a Serbian delegation led by President Milan Milutinovic and Ibrahim Rugova, President of the Democratic League (DLK) representing ethnic Albanians. While Mr Christopher Hill, the US envoy had been invited as an observer to these meetings, Milutinovic had insisted that the negotiations (which proceeded from UNSCR 1199) were an internal matter.

Following the agreement between US envoy Richard Holbrooke and President Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia was to complete negotiations on “a framework for a political settlement” by the 2nd of November 1998. Moreover, a Verification Mission to establish compliance with resolutions UNSCR 1160 and UNSCR 1199, was put in place in Kosovo under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). A parallel NATO air verification mission (complementing the OSCE verification mission) was established following an agreement signed in Belgrade on 15 October 1998 by the Yugoslav Chief of General Staff and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, General Wesley Clark.

The terms of both the OSCE and NATO verification agreements were subsequently embodied in UNSCR 1260 of October 24th. Whereas Belgrade was given a 96 hour “deadline for compliance”, the Alliance decided to postpone the initiation of air strikes following talks in Belgrade (October 25-26) between President Slobodan Milosevic and General Wesley Clark. According to the Alliance statement: “NATO will remain prepared to carry out air operations should they be necessary” 38. In the meantime, NATO launched Operation Eagle Eye using unarmed aircraft and unmanned predator aerial vehicles (UAVs). Eagle Eye surveillance activities were coordinated with the “ground verification” mission conducted by OSCE observer teams and by the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM).

A Former “Iran-Contragate” Official Heads the OSCE Verification Mission

In the meantime, a career US diplomat, Ambassador William G. Walker was appointed Head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). A tailor-made assignment: Walker was well-known for his role in the “Iran-Contragate” scandal during the Reagan administration. The KLA insurgency was in many regards a “carbon copy” of the Nicaraguan Contras which had also been funded by drug money with covert support from the CIA.

Well documented by court files, William G. Walker –in association with Oliver North– played a key role in channelling covert funding to the Nicaraguan Contras while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs in the Reagan Administration. In this capacity, he became a special assistant to Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, “a figure whose name would soon be making its way into the headlines on a daily basis in connection with … the “Iran-Contra” affair.”39

William G. Walker had been involved in the so-called Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office (“NHAO”) in the State Department which was a cover-up fund whereby covert military aid was supplied to the Contras. The objective was to circumvent the so-called “Boland Amendments”, –ie. “riders” to the Department of Defense Appropriation Act, “which prohibited the [US] government from spending money for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua”. 40 Confirmed by files of the US Court of Appeal (District of Columbia), “Walker attended some meetings of the Restricted Interagency Group for Central America, of which Oliver North was a member”.41

Walker was never indicted for criminal wrong-doings in the Iran- Contragate scandal. Upon completing his work with Oliver North, he was appointed US Ambassador to El Salvador. His stint in El Salvador coincided with the rise of the death squadrons and a period during which the country was virtually “under the grip of US sponsored State terror.”42

In Kosovo, William G. Walker applied his skills in covert operations acquired in Central America. As head of the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), Walker maintained close links to the KLA military command in the field.43 From the outset of his mission in Kosovo, he used his position to pursue the interests of the Alliance.

“The Racak Massacre”

The so-called “Racak massacre” occurred shortly before the launching of the Rambouillet “peace initiative”. although it turned out to be a fake, the Racak massacre nonetheless played a key role in “setting the stage” for NATO’s air raids. William Walker declared (in his capacity as head of KVM) that the Yugoslav police had carried out a massacre of civilians at Racak on January 15th. The Yugoslav authorities retorted that local police had in fact conducted an operation in this village against the Kosovo Libration Army and that several KLA soliders had died in cross-fire. As later reported by several French newspapers (Le Monde, Le Figaro and Liberation), it was confirmed that the “Racak massacre” was indeed a fake put together with a view to discrediting Belgrade:

“Eventually, even the Los Angeles Times joined in, running a story entitled “Racak Massacre Questions: Were Atrocities Faked?” The theory behind all these exposs was that the KLA had gathered their own dead after the battle, removed their uniforms, put them in civilian clothes, and then called in the observers.”44.

The Rambouillet Process

On January 22, senior officials of the so-called “Contact Group” of six countries (including the US, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy) meeting in London called for a peace conference which would bring together the Yugoslav government and “representatives of ethnic Albanians.” In turn, NATO warned that it was “ready to act” if the peace plan to be finalised by the Contact Group were rejected. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan concurred during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels that the threat of force was “essential” to press both sides into a settlement.45

In the meantime, while supporting the KLA insurgency on the ground, the Alliance had also contributed to spearheading KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year “freedom fighter”) into heading the Kosovar delegation to Rambouillet, on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority. The Democratic League headed by Ibrahim Rugova had been deliberately side-stepped. The Alliance was relying on its KLA puppets (linked to organised crime) to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under NATO military rule.

While negotiations were ongoing in Rambouillet, NATO decided to increase the readiness of its assigned forces “so as to make them able to execute the operation within 48 hours”.46 In other words, “peace negotiations” had been initiated in Rambouillet (contrary to the Vienna Convention) under the threat of impending air strikes. NATO had granted a three weeks period to the parties meeting in Rambouillet to conclude negotiations.

On February 19, one day prior to the deadline, NATO Secretary General Javier Solano reaffirmed that, “if no agreement is reached by the deadline set by the Contact Group, NATO is ready to take whatever measures are necessary to avert a humanitarian catastrophe”.47 And on 22 March 1999, NATO’S North Atlantic Council authorised”the Secretary General to decide, subject to further consultations, on a broader range of air operations if necessary.”48 And on 23 March 1999, NATO’s Secretary General directed the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark to initiate air operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Air operations commenced on 24 March 1999 under the nickname “Operation Allied Force.”49

Sending in Ground Troups Under a G-8 “Peace Plan”

Since the brutal onslaught of the air campaign on March 24, the Alliance has continued to build up its ground combat troops on the Macedonian border in anticipation of an impending military invasion. Initially NATO had envisaged a Kosovo occupation force of 50,000 troops which could be increased to 60,000 with a larger US share than the 4,000 initially envisaged under Rambouillet.

In other words, the proposed invasion force was to be more than double that under Rambouillet (28,000 troops) while also enforcing all the normative clauses of the initial Rambouillet agreement including the “free movement” of NATO combat units throughout Yugoslavia.

In the meantime, NATO’s military establishment was forcing the pace of international diplomacy. The Alliance hinted in May that a ground offensive could be launched prior to reaching a “peace agreement” sanctioned by the G8 and ratified by the United Nations Security Council.

In addition to the 16,000 ground troops already stationed (well before the beginning of the bombings) in Macedonia (of which almost half are British), some 7000 NATO troops and “special forces” were also present in Albania, not to mention the NATO troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina under Operation Joint Endeavour:

“We’ve already put quite a lot of troops in Macedonia as the nucleus of that operation”, said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. “There are over 12,000 there already… and last weekend [14-15 May] we committed another two and a half thousand to go there. We need to build up – actually we need to build up now…”50.

In late May, the 60,000 troops target was revised to 150,000. Alliance officials estimating that “if the alliance later decides to mobilize for a land attack … an invasion force could number more than 150,000 soldiers.”51 Prime Minister Tony Blair in a separate statement had (without any form of parliamentary debate) confirmed the sending of 50,000 British troops as part of the 150,000 invasion force.

In early June, a NATO led invasion under a bogus G8-UN peace initiative was put forth. While the latter served to appease and distract public opinion, it usefully provided the Alliance with a semblance of legitimacy under the UN Charter. It also purported to overcome the hesitation of elected politicians including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema. The US Administration also required the “rubber stamp” of the United Nations Security Council so as to acquire the assent of the Republican dominated Congress:

“House and Senate Democrats agree there is little support at this point for launching ground troops… even if Clinton and other NATO leaders could reach a consensus on such a dramatic shift in tactics. For now, Clinton has said he is opposed to ground troops.”52

The US House of Representatives (in what appeared to be a partisan “anti-Clinton” vote) has declined to even endorse the air campaign while signifying its refusal to authorize a “ground war” without congressional approval. In early April, Republicans and Democrats joined hands in the House and threw out a proposed “declaration of war on Yugoslavia” by an overwhelming 427-2 vote.

In late May [1999], seventeen members of Congress launched a suit against President Clinton pointing to the blatant breach of the US Constitution:

“that the Defendant, the President of the United States, is unconstitutionally continuing an offensive military attack by United States Armed Forces against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without obtaining a declaration of war or other explicit authority from the Congress of the United States as required by Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, and despite Congress’ decision not to authorize such action.” 53

The law suit launched in District Court (District of Columbia) also pointed to the violation of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a Vietnam War-era legislation which requires “the sitting President congressional approval for the “introduction into hostilities” of the U.S. armed forces for longer than 60 days”:

Plaintiffs also seek a declaration that a report pursuant to Section 1543(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution was required to be submitted on March 26, 1999, within 48 hours of the introduction into hostilities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia of United States Armed Forces. Additionally, Plaintiffs seek a declaration that, pursuant to Section 1544(b) of the Resolution, the President must terminate the use of United States Armed Forces engaged in hostilities against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no later than sixty calendar days after March 26, 1999. The President must do so unless the Congress declares war or enacts other explicit authorization, or has extended the sixty day period, or the President determines that thirty additional days are necessary to safely withdraw United States Armed Forces from combat.54

NATO as “Peace-keepers”

Echoing the barrage of self-serving NATO propaganda, the media scam now consists in skilfully portraying Alliance ground troops as bona fide “peace-keepers”. Public opinion should not be deluded as to the meaning of a G8-UN brokered diplomatic solution.

An “international presence” consisting largely of NATO troops under the G8 proposal (ratified by the Serbian Parliament in early June) could include a token participation of “non-NATO forces” including Russia and the Ukraine. While Moscow agreed in early June that all Yugoslav forces be withdrawn from Kosovo alongside the disarmement of the KLA, Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin nonetheless insisted that the command structure of the proposed international force be under the control and jurisdiction of the United Nations.

Despite his perfunctory condemnation of NATO bombings, Russian President Boris Yeltsin is a Western puppet. Chernomyrdin writing in the Washington Post had earlier warned that a continuation of the air raids could hurt US-Russian relations: “The world has never in this decade been so close as now to be on brink of nuclear war…” adding that “Russia would pull out of the negotiating process if NATO bombing, which started March 24, doesn’t stop soon.”55

In the meantime, the Alliance, however, had persisted in maintaining a unified NATO command structure (which was unacceptable to Moscow and Belgrade). NATO has also stepped up the bombings as a means of pressuring Belgrade into accepting (without prior negotiation) NATO’s “five conditions”.

If the G-8 proposal were to be ratified, NATO would first send in US Marines into Kosovo from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Adriatic Sea. The Marines would be part of a so-called “Enabling Force” prior to the moving in of a force of 50,000 troops.

A G-8 “peace proposal” (implying a de facto military occupation of Kosovo) could be formally ratified at the Cologne G7-G8 Summit in mid-June. All G7 heads of government and heads of State together with President Boris Yeltsin will be in attendance at Cologne in what is hoped to be a highflown display of unity in favour of a (G8 sanctioned) NATO led invasion. NATO nonetheless warned in early June that should the diplomatic initiative not succeed, the Alliance would proceed with a ground invasion involving 150,000 troops….

The Sending in of “Special Forces”

In the meantime, an incipient undeclared ground War has already commenced: special British, French and American forces were reported to be advising the KLA in the conduct of ground combat operations against regular units of the Yugoslav Army. To support this initiative, a Republican sponsored bill was launched in the US Congress to provide direct military aid to the KLA.

These “special forces” are “advising the rebels at their strongholds in northern Albania, where the KLA has launched a major recruitment and training operation. According to high-ranking KLA officials, the [British] SAS is using two camps near Tirana, the Albanian capital, and another on the Kosovar border to teach KLA officers how to conduct intelligence-gathering operations on Serbian positions”.56 In May, three French special forces officers wearing uniforms of the French Armed Forces (“Parachutistes”) were reported killed on the Albania-Yugoslavia border by the Yugoslav daily Vecernje Novosti. According to the French daily Libration, the three men were allegedly “instructors in charge of coordinating ground war activities by the KLA…”57.

An Unholy “Marriage of Convenience”

In addition to the dispatch of Western special forces, Mujehadeen mercenaries and other Islamic fundamentalist groups (financed inter alia by Iran and Saudi financier Osmane Bin Laden) have been collaborating with the KLA in the ground war.

“[B]y early December 1997, Iranian intelligence had already delivered the first shipments of hand grenades, machine-guns, assault rifles, night vision equipment, and communications gear… Moreover, the Iranians began sending promising Albanian and UCK [KLA] commanders for advanced military training in al-Quds [special] forces and IRGC camps in Iran…58.

Bin Laden’s Al Qa’ida allegedly responsible for last year’s African embassy bombings “was one of several fundamentalist groups that had sent units to fight in Kosovo, … Bin Laden is believed to have established an operation in Albania in 1994 … Albanian sources say Sali Berisha, who was then president, had links with some groups that later proved to be extreme fundamentalists”.59

Nato in Close Liaison with KLA Ground Operations

According to Jane Defence Weekly (10 May 1999), the KLA’s new chief of staff is former Croatian Armed Forces Brigadier General Agim Ceku (an ethnic Albanian) who is currently under investigation by the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague (ICTY) for his role in “summary executions, indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations and `ethnic cleansing’ during the War in Bosnia.”60

NATO spokesman Jamie Shea’s response to the appointment of a War criminal as KLA chief of staff was communicated in a Press Briefing:

“I have always made it clear, and you have heard me say this, that NATO has no direct contacts with the KLA. Who they appoint as their leaders, that is entirely their own affair. I don’t have any comment on that whatever.61

Shea’s statement that NATO has “no direct contacts with the KLA” is a lie. It is in overt contradiction with other Alliance statements: “I speak regularly to Hashim Thaci, the leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army who’s in Kosovo. I spoke to him at the end of last week” said British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.62

Operations on the ground (led by the KLA and NATO Special forces) are now being carefully coordinated with the air campaign. Moreover, some 50 Canadian armed forces “are working with the KLA in Kosovo” to help report “where the bombs are falling” so they can better target “where the next bomb should go.”63

 Pentagon Sponsored Mercenaries in Kosovo

The KLA has also been provided with “a long-term training deal with Military and Professional Resources International [MPRI], a mercenary company run by former American officers who operate with semi-official approval from the Pentagon and played a key role in building up Croatia’s armed forces [during the War in Bosnia].”64 And General Brigadier Agim Ceku (despite his role in “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia), is currently collaborating closely with the Pentagon’s mercenary outfit MPRI on behalf of the KLA.

The KLA to Form a “Post-conflict Government”

A self-proclaimed provisional KLA government of Kosovo has been established. With KLA leader Hashim Thaci as Prime Minister designate, the KLA has already been promised a central role in the formation of a “post-conflict government”.

While openly promoting a “freedom movement” with links to the drug trade, NATO was also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who had earlier called for an end to the bombings. Rugova was branded as a “traitor” by the KLA. According to Albanian state-run TV, the KLA had sentenced Rugova to death accusing him of being “an agent of the regime in Belgrade.”65

In April, Fehmi Agani, one of Rugova’s closest collaborators in the Democratic League was killed. The Serbs were blamed by NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea for having assassinated Agani. According to Skopje paper Makedonija Danas quoting reliable sources in Albania: “Agani was killed… on the orders of Tirana where Thaci is located with the members of his illegal government”.66

According to a report of the Foreign Policy Institute:

“…the KLA have [no] qualms about murdering Rugova’s collaborators, whom it accused of the “crime” of moderation. Most recently, although Rugova’s recent meeting with Milosevic may well have been under duress, the KLA declared Rugova a “traitor” – yet another step toward eliminating any competitors for political power within Kosovo.”67

The KLA military regime had replaced the duly elected (by ethnic Albanians) civilian provisional Kosovar government of President Ibrahim Rugova. In a statement issued in April, the KLA considered the (parallel) “parliamentary elections” organised by the Democratic League and held in March 1998 to be invalid.

The self-proclaimed Kosovar administration is made up of the KLA and the Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties opposed to Rugova’s Democratic League (LDK). In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controls the ministries of finance, public order and defence. In the words of US State Department spokesman James Foley:

`We want to develop a good relationship with them [the KLA] as they transform themselves into a politically-oriented organization,’ ..`[W]e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become.’68

With the KLA poised to play a central role in the formation of a “post conflict” government, the tendency is towards the installation of a “Mafia State” with links to the drug trade. The US State Department’s position is that the KLA would “not be allowed to continue as a military force but would have the chance to move forward in their quest for self government under a ‘different context’” meaning the inauguration of a de facto “narco-democracy” under NATO protection: “If we can help them and they want us to help them in that effort of transformation, I think it’s nothing that anybody can argue with.”69

In recent developments, the Alliance, however, has sought through the intermediation of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to reconcile divisions between Thachi, Rugova and other ethnic Albanian leaders “primarily with a view to strengthening its [the Alliance's] own position in the region.”70

Imposing “Free Market” Reforms

Wall Street analysts concur that “war is good for business” particularly during a period of “economic slowdown”. The US Congress has approved increased budgetary allocations to finance the War in Yugoslavia which will result in multi-billion contracts for America’s Defense industry. In turn, the War will boost the military-industrial complex and its related high tech sectors in the US and Western Europe. A ground war combined with a prolonged military occupation (as in Bosnia) will prop up military spending. In turn, covert support and financing of “freedom fighters” (extending beyond the Balkans into Central Asia and the Middle East) will contribute to boosting the lucrative contraband in small arms for an expanding market of insurgent nationalist movements.

“Economic Reconstruction”

The “post conflict” agenda (under the proposed G8 “peace initiative” consists in establishing in Kosovo an occupied territory under Western administration (broadly on the same model as the 1995 Dayton Agreement imposed on Bosnia-Herzegovina).

“Free market reforms” are envisaged for Kosovo under the supervision of the Bretton Woods institutions. Article I (Chapter 4a) of the Rambouillet Agreement stipulates that: “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles”.

“Civilian administration [in Kosovo] and reconstruction would be carried out by non-military bodies including the EU and the OSCE, with input from the World Bank and the IMF to rebuild war-damaged infrastructure and rehouse refugees.71

In close liaison with NATO, the Bretton Woods institutions had already analyzed the consequences of an eventual military intervention leading to the military occupation of Kosovo: almost a year prior to the beginning of the War, the World Bank conducted “simulations” which “anticipated the possibility of an emergency scenario arising out of the tensions in Kosovo”.72 The “simulations” conducted in Washington have in fact already been translated into a panoply of “emergency recovery loans” for Macedonia and Albania, and there is more to come… Since the imposition of the embargo, Yugoslavia, however, is no longer considered a member of the Bretton Woods institutions and will not be eligible for IMF-World Bank loans until the sanctions are lifted.

The proposed “Marshall Plan” for the Balkans is a delusion. We recall that in Bosnia, the costs of reconstruction were of the order of 50 billion dollars. Western donors initially pledged $3 billion in reconstruction loans, yet only a meagre $518 million dollars were granted in December 1995, part of which was tagged (under the terms of the Dayton Peace Accords) to finance some of the local civilian costs of the Implementation Force’s (IFOR) military deployment as well as repay debt arrears with international creditors.73

The eventual “reconstruction” of Yugoslavia formulated in the context of the “free market” reforms and financed by international debt largely purport to create a safe haven for foreign investors rather than rehabilitate the country’s economic and social infrastructure. The IMF’s lethal “economic medicine” will be imposed, the national economy will be dismantled, European and American banks will take over financial institutions, local industrial enterprises which have not been totally destroyed will be driven into bankruptcy. The most profitable State assets will be transferred into the hands of foreign capital under the World Bank sponsored privatisation programme. In turn, “strong economic medicine” imposed by external creditors will contribute to further boosting a criminal economy (already implanted in Albania and Macedonia) which feeds on poverty and economic dislocation.

“The Allies will work with the rest of the international community to help rebuild Kosovo once the crisis is over: The International Monetary Fund and Group of Seven industrialized countries are among those who stand ready to offer financial help to the countries of the region. We want to ensure proper co-ordination of aid and help countries to respond to the effects of the crisis. This should go hand in hand with the necessary structural reforms in the countries affected — helped by budget support from the international community.74

In turn, the so-called “reconstruction” of the Balkans by foreign capital will signify multi-billion contracts to multinational firms to rebuild roads, airports and bridges which will eventually be required (once the embargo is lifted) to facilitate the “free movement” of capital and commodities.

The proposed “Marshall Plan” financed by the World Bank and the European Development Bank (EBRD) as well as private creditors will largely benefit Western mining, petroleum and construction companies while fuelling the region’s external debt well into the third millennium. And the countries of the Balkans are slated to reimburse this debt through the laundering of dirty money in the domestic banking system which will be deregulated under the supervision of Western financial institutions. Narco-dollars from the multi-billion dollar Balkans drug trade will be recycled (through the banking system) and channelled towards servicing the external debt as well as “financing” the costs of “reconstruction”.

The pattern for Kosovo is, in this regard, similar to that of Macedonia and Albania. Since the early 1990s, the IMF’s reforms have impoverished the Albanian population while spearheading the national economy into bankruptcy. The IMF’s deadly economic therapy transforms countries into open territories. In Albania and Macedonia it has fostered the growth of illicit trade and the criminalisation of State institutions.

Moreover, even prior to the influx of refugees, NATO troops in Macedonia and Albania had already occupied civilian facilities (including hotels, schools, barracks and even hospitals) without compensating the national governments for the use of local services.75

In a cruel irony, a significant part of these incurred costs as well as those associated with the refugee crisis are now to be financed not by the Alliance but by the national governments on borrowed money:

“[T]he Albanian government’s formal structures have been paralysed by the crisis. The country’s treasury has been emptied by the initial efforts to help the refugees.”76

Who Will Pay War Reparations?

The extensive destruction of Yugoslavia, would normally require the Alliance to “pay war reparations” to Belgrade. However, following a pattern set in both Vietnam and Iraq, the Alliance will no doubt compel Belgrade “to pay for the costs” of Operation Allied Force (including the cruise missiles and radioactive shells) as a condition for the “normalisation of relations” and the lifting of the economic embargo.

We recall in this regard that whereas Vietnam never received War reparations payments, Hanoi was compelled –as a condition for the “normalisation” of economic relations and the lifting of the US embargo in 1994–, to recognize the “bad debts” of the defunct Saigon regime which were largely used to finance the US War effort. By recognizing (in a secret Paris Club agreement negotiatied in 1993) the legitimacy of these debts, Vietnam had accepted “to pay war reparation damages” to her former enemy.77

Similarly Baghdad has been “billed for the costs of the Gulf War”, – –ie. accumulated Iraqi debts including private claims against Iraq have been carefully recorded by a special unit of the UN Security Council. The recognition of these debts by Baghdad at some future date will be a condition for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq.

Notes

1. Statement by UNICEF Representative in Belgrade, quoted in Yugoslav Daily Survey, Belgrade, 23 May 1999, No. 4351.

2. Report by Dr Siegwart-Horst Guenther, meeting of the PBS (Federal Socialists), Bonn, 17 May 1999.

3. International Action Center, “NATO Bombing Unleashes Environmental Catastrophe in Europe”, Press Release, 14 May 1999).

4. Joseph Fitchett, “Is Serb Economy the True Target? Raids Seem Aimed at Bolstering Resistance to Milosevic”, International Herald Tribune, Paris, 26 May 1999.

5. Tanjug Press Release, 25 May 1999.

6. Statement to Ambassadors of 19 NATO Countries, quoted in Daily Telegraph, London, 28 May 1999.

7. Ibid.

8. Sean Gervasi, Bosnia and Vietnam, draft text, 1995.

9. Financial Times, London, 6 May 1999, p. 2.

10. Ibid.

11. The Boston Globe, 8 April 1999.

12. According to Viktor Chechevatov, a Three-star General and Commander of ground forces in Russia’s Far East, quoted in The Boston Globe, 8 April 1999

13. Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, “Bombings Reignite Nuclear War Fears”, The Victoria Times-Colonist. 13 May 1999, page A15. Mary-Wynne Ashford is co-president of the Nobel Peace Prize winning IPPNW.

14. Quoted in Mary-Wynne Ashford, op. cit.

15 Quoted by Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, op. cit.

16. Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, op cit.

17. Quoted in The Washington Post, May 9, 1999, page A20.

18. World Socialist Website editorial, 24 May 1999.

19. Diana Johnstone, On Refugees, Paris, 30 May 1999.

20. Ibid.

21. See “Lawyers Charge NATO Leaders Before War Crimes Tribunal”, Toronto, 6 May 1999.

22. See Financial Times, 27 May 1999.

23. See “Lawyers Charge NATO Leaders Before War Crimes Tribunal”, Toronto, 6 May 1999; see also Jude Wanniski, “Memo to US House Majority Leader”, Polyconomics, New York, 10 May 1999.

24. Lawyers Charge NATO, op cit.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Chicago Tribune, 10 May 1999. 28. Intelligence Report from the German Foreign Office, January 12, 1999 to the Administrative Court of Trier.

29. Status Report of the German Foreign Office, November 18, 1998 to the Upper Administrative Court at Mnster, February 24, 1999.

30. See, Roland Keith, “Failure of Diplomacy, Returning OSCE Human Rights Monitor Offers A View From the Ground in Kosovo”, The Democrat, May 1999.

31. US Department of Defense Press Release, 6 April 1999. The stated purpose of the mission was “to discuss a range of security issues with the recent ethnic clashes in Kosovo.” In Skopje, the agenda consisted in examining security arrangements to be implemented after the termination of United Nations UNPREDEP programme.

32. Background briefing by a Senior Defense Official at NATO Headquarters, Thursday, June 11, 1998.

33. Ibid.

34. US Department of Defense, Background Briefing, July 15, 1998.

35. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Kosovo `Freedom Fighters’ Financed by Organised Crime, Ottawa, 1999.

36. Quoted in The Daily Telegraph, London, 25 September 1998.

37. See Federation of American Scientists, “Operation Determined Force”, 24 March 1999, see also Financial Times, October 12, 1998.

38. Quoted in Federation of American Scientists, op. cit.

39. See Roland Keith, Appendix, op. cit.

40. United States Court of Appeals, for the District of Columbia Circuit, Filed January 23, 1996, Division No. 86-6, in Re: Oliver L. North.

41. Ibid.

42. Roland Keith, Appendix, op. cit.

43. Confirmed by several press reports as well as statements of the KLA, see also Radio 21 Dispatch, Tirana, February 28, 1999.

44. Roland Keith, Appendix, op cit.

45. Daily Telegraph, London, 29 January 1999.

46. Federation of American Scientists, op. cit.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid.

49. Ibid.

50. “Margaret Warner talks with Cook about the latest developments in the Yugoslav conflict”, Jim Lehrer News Hour, 21 May 1999.

51. New York Times, 26 May 1999.

52. Washington Post, 23 May 1999.

53. Action launched in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Preliminary Statement, District of Columbia, 27 May 1999.

54. Ibid., see also Truth in Media, Phoenix, 23 May 1999.

55. Washington Post, 27 May 1999.

56. Sunday Telegraph, London, 18 April 1999.

57. Libration, Paris, 19 May 1999.

58. Yossef Bodansky, “Italy Becomes Iran’s New Base for Terrorist Operations,” Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy, London, February 1998. Bodansky is Director of the US House Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare

59. Chris Steven, “Bin Laden Opens European Terror Base in Albania”, Sunday Times, London, 15 November 1998.

60. “War Crimes Panel Finds Croat Troops ‘Cleansed’ the Serbs,” New York Times, 21 March 1999.

61. NATO Press Briefing, 14 May 1999.

62. Jim Lehrer News Hour, op cit.

63. According to Canadian MP David Price, April 19, 1999, UPI Press Dispatch. 64. Sunday Telegraph, London, 18 April 1999.

65. “US Is Trying to Reconcile Ethnic-Albanian Separatists”, Belgrade, Tanjug Press Dispatch, 30 May 1999.

66. Quoted in Tanjug Press Dispatch, 14 May 1999.

67. See Michael Radu, “Don’t Arm the KLA”, CNS Commentary from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, 7 April, 1999).

68. New York Times, 2 February 1999.

69. Ibid.

70. Tanjug Press Dispatch, 30 May 1999.

71. See World Bank Development News, Washington, 27 April 1999.

72. Ibid.

73. See Michel Chossudovsky, Dismantling Yugoslavia, Colonising Bosnia, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 56. Spring 1996.

74. Statement by Javier Solano, Secretary General of NATO, published in The National Post, Toronto May 1999.

75. See Jan Oberg, Press Info, no. 59, Insecuring Macedonia, Transnational Foundation TFF, March 18, 1999.

76. Jane Intelligence Review, June 1999.

77. See Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalisation of Poverty, Impacts of IMF and World Banks Reforms, Third World Network Penang and Zed Books, 1997, chapter 8.

The Israeli parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to suspend Haneen Zoabi, a legislator representing the state’s large Palestinian minority, for six months as a campaign to silence political dissent intensified.

The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted by 68 to 16 to endorse a decision in late July by its ethics committee to bar Zoabi from the chamber for what it termed “incitement.”

It is the longest suspension in the Knesset’s history and the maximum punishment allowed under Israeli law.

At a press conference, Zoabi denounced her treatment as “political persecution.”

“By distancing me from the Knesset, basically they’re saying they don’t want Arabs, and only want ‘good Arabs.’ We won’t be ‘good Arabs,’” she said.

The Knesset’s confirmation of Zoabi’s suspension comes as she faces a criminal trial for incitement in a separate case and as the Knesset considers stripping her of citizenship.

But Zoabi is not the only Palestinian representative in the firing line. Earlier this year the Knesset raised the threshold for election to the parliament, in what has been widely interpreted as an attempt to exclude all three small parties representing the Palestinian minority. One in five citizens of Israel belong to the minority.

In addition, it emerged last week that a bill is being prepared to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, the only extra-parliamentary party widely supported by Palestinian citizens.

Along with Zoabi, the Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has been among the most vocal critics of Israeli policies, especially over the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem.

Death threats

Zoabi was originally suspended after legislators from all the main parties expressed outrage at a series of comments from her criticizing both the build-up to Israel’s summer assault on Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” and the 51-day attack itself, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians.

In particular, fellow members of Knesset were incensed by a radio interview in which she expressed her disapproval of the kidnapping of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank, but refused to denounce those behind it as “terrorists.” The youths were later found murdered.

Zoabi faced a wave of death threats and needed to be assigned a bodyguard for public appearances.

During the Knesset debate on her appeal against the suspension, Zoabi said: “Yes, I crossed the lines of consensus — a warlike, aggressive, racist, populist, chauvinist, arrogant consensus. I must cross those lines. I am no Zionist, and that is within my legal right.”

Zoabi, who has come to personify an unofficial political opposition in the Knesset against all the main parties, is under attack on several fronts.

Last week she was informed that the state prosecution service had approved a police recommendation to put her on trial for criminal incitement for “humiliating” two policemen.

She is alleged to have referred to the policemen, who are members of the Palestinian minority, as “collaborators” as she addressed parents of children swept up in mass arrests following protests against the Israeli assault on Gaza over the summer.

Faina Kirschenbaum, the deputy interior minister in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, has also drafted two bills directly targeting Zoabi.

The first would strip someone of the right to stand for the Knesset if they are found to have supported “an act of terrorism,” while the second would strip them of their citizenship.

Because ministers are not allowed to initiate private bills, the task of bringing the measures to the floor of the parliament has been taken up by the Knesset’s Law, Constitution and Justice Committee.

Intentional subversions

Zoabi further infuriated fellow members of Knesset this month when she compared the Israeli army to the Islamic State, the jihadist group that has violently taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq and has become notorious for kidnapping westerners and beheading them.

In an apparently intentional subversion of Netanyahu’s recent comparison of the Islamic State and Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement, Zoabi described an Israeli Air Force pilot as “no less a terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” She added that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and no red lines.”

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, was among those who responded by calling Zoabi a “terrorist.”

“The law must be used to put the terrorist — there is no other word for it — the terrorist Haneen Zoabi in jail for many years,” he told Israel Radio.

A poll this month found that 85 percent of the Israeli Jewish public wanted Zoabi removed from the Knesset.

“There is a great deal of frustration among Israeli politicians and the public at their army’s failure to defeat the Palestinian resistance in Gaza,” said Awad Abdel Fattah, the secretary general of Balad, a political party representing Palestinians in Israel. “At times like this, the atmosphere of repression intensifies domestically.”

Silencing all political dissent

The initiatives against Zoabi are the most visible aspects of a wider campaign to silence all political dissent from the Palestinian minority.

Last week, Lieberman instructed one of his members of Knesset, Alex Miller, to initiate a bill that would outlaw Salah’s Islamic Movement.

The legislation appears to be designed to hold Netanyahu to his word from late May. Then, the Israeli media revealed that the prime minister had created a ministerial team to consider ways to ban the movement.

At the same time, the Israeli security services claimed that Salah’s faction was cooperating closely with Hamas in Jerusalem.

After Israel barred the Palestinian Authority from having any presence in Jerusalem more than a decade ago and expelled Hamas legislators from the city, Salah has become the face of Palestinian political activism in Jerusalem.

Under the campaign slogan “al-Aqsa is in danger,” he has taken a leading role in warning that Israel is incrementally taking control of the most sensitive holy site in the conflict.

Last month it emerged that the Knesset is to vote on legislation to give Jewish religious extremists greater access to the mosque compound. Already large numbers of Jews, many of them settlers, regularly venture on to esplanade backed by armed Israeli police.

They include Jewish extremists that expressly want to blow up the al-Aqsa mosque so that a replica of a Jewish temple from 2,000 years ago can be built in its place.

Last week, Yehuda Glick, a leader of one of these extremist groups, was shot and wounded in Jerusalem. In response, Israel shut down al-Aqsa for the first time since the outbreak of the second intifada fourteen years ago. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, called it a “declaration of war.”

According to the text of Lieberman’s bill, the northern wing of the Islamic Movement “subverts the State of Israel’s sovereignty while making cynical use of the institutions and fundamental values of the Jewish and democratic state.”

It also blames the movement for “an eruption of violence and unrest among the Arab minority in Israel, while maintaining close relations with the terrorist organization Hamas.”

Raising the threshold

The attacks on Zoabi and the Islamic Movement come in the wake of legislation in March to raise the electoral threshold — from 2 percent to 3.25 percent — for a party to win representation in the Knesset.

The new threshold is widely seen as having been set to exclude the three Palestinian parties currently in the Knesset from representation. The minority’s vote is split almost evenly between three political streams.

Zoabi’s Balad party emphasizes the need for the Palestinian minority to build its own national institutions, especially in education and culture, to withstand the efforts of Israel’s Zionist institutions to strip Palestinian citizens of their rights and erase their identity. Its chief demand has been for “a state for all its citizens” — equal rights for Jewish and Palestinian citizens.

Balad’s chief rival is the joint Jewish-Arab party of Hadash, whose Communist ideology puts a premium on a shared program of action between Jewish and Arab citizens. However, its Jewish supporters have shrunk to a tiny proportion of the party. It too campaigns for equal rights.

And the final party, Raam-Taal, is a coalition led by prominent Islamic politicians.

The three parties have between them eleven seats in the 120-member Knesset, with one held by a Jewish member of Knesset, Dov Chenin, for Hadash.

Abdel Fattah said his Balad party had been urging the other parties to create a coalition in time for the next general election to overcome the new threshold.

So far it has faced opposition from Hadash, which is worried that an alliance with Balad would damage its image as a joint Jewish-Arab party. A source in Hadash told Israeli daily Haaretz in late September: “Hadash is not an Arab party, and there’s no reason it should unite with two Arab parties.”

Abdel Fattah said Hadash’s objections were unreasonable given that both Balad and the Islamic faction believed it was important to include Jewish candidates on a unified list. “Eventually they will have to come round to a joint list unless they want to commit political suicide,” he remarked.

Falling turnout

Balad has been under threat at previous general elections. The Central Elections Committee, a body representing the major political parties, has repeatedly voted to ban it from running. Each time the decision has been overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court.

In 2007 the party’s former chairman, Azmi Bishara, was accused of treason while traveling abroad and has been living in exile ever since.

But the representation of all the parties is now in danger from the raised threshold. Over the past thirty years, turnout among Palestinian citizens has dramatically fallen to little more than half of potential voters, as the minority has seen its political demands for equality greeted with a wave of laws entrenching discrimination.

Among the anti-democratic measures passed in recent years are laws that penalize organizations commemorating the Nakba, the Palestinians’ dispossession of their homeland in 1948; that provide a statutory basis to admissions committees, whose function is to prevent Palestinian citizens living on most of Israel’s territory; and that make it impossible for most Palestinian citizens to bring a Palestinian spouse to live with them in Israel.

Uncompromising stance

Last week, Balad MKs boycotted the opening ceremony of the Knesset, following the summer recess, in protest at Zoabi’s treatment.

At a press conference in the parliament, her colleague, Basel Ghattas, warned: “The day is approaching when Arab MKs will think there is no use participating in the political sphere. We are discovering more and more that we are personae non gratae at the Knesset.”

On Facebook, Lieberman responded that he hoped the Arab MKs would “carry out this ‘threat’ as soon as possible.”

The increasingly uncompromising stance towards all the Palestinian minority’s political factions marks a shift in policy, even for the right.

Although no Israeli government coalition has ever included a Palestinian party, and the Nasserist al-Ard movement was banned in the 1960s, Jewish politicians have generally viewed it as safer to keep the Palestinian parties inside the Knesset.

Analyst Uzi Baram observed in Haaretz that even Menachem Begin, a former hardline prime minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party, believed it would be unwise to raise the threshold to keep out Arab parties. If they were excluded, Baram wrote, it was feared “they would resort to non-parliamentary actions.”

‘Paving the way toward fascism’

Zoabi petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against her suspension from the Knesset in early October. However, the judges suggested she first use an arcane appeal procedure before the Knesset’s full plenum to demonstrate she had exhausted all available channels for lifting the suspension.

Israeli legal scholars have noted the irregularities in the ethics committee’s decision to impose a record-long suspension on Zoabi. The committee’s task is to regulate parliament members’ behavior inside the Knesset, not political speech outside it.

Aeyal Gross, a constitutional law professor at Tel Aviv University, warned that the Knesset’s treatment of Zoabi was “paving the way towards fascism and tyranny.”

Gross noted the extreme severity of the committee’s punishment of Zoabi, contrasting it with that of another MK, Aryeh Eldad. In 2008 he called for Ehud Olmert, the prime minister at the time, to be sentenced to death for suggesting that parts of the occupied territories become a Palestinian state.

Eldad was suspended for just one day, even though it was a clear example of incitement to violence in a country where a former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered by a right-wing extremist, citing similar justification for his actions.

Tyranny of the majority

The Supreme Court, which has shifted rightwards in recent years, may not be sympathetic to Zoabi’s appeal against her suspension.

In September the court jailed Said Nafaa, a former MK from her Balad party, for one year after he was convicted of visiting Syria in 2007 with a delegation of Druze clerics and meeting a Palestinian faction leader in Syria.

The crime of making contact with a foreign agent is the only one in Israeli law in which the defendant must prove their innocence.

The court may also be wary of making unpopular rulings at a time when it is under concerted attack from the Israeli right for being too liberal.

Ayelet Shaked, of the settler Jewish Home party, which is in the government coalition, has introduced a bill that would allow a simple majority of the Knesset to vote to override Supreme Court rulings.

Human rights lawyers warned that the bill would further erode already limited protections for minority rights.

Debbie Gild-Hayo, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, warned that protections for minorities from the tyranny of the majority would be in severe jeopardy as a result. “These proposals wish to break down the checks and balances that are fundamental to democracy,” she said.

Zoabi remained defiant. She noted that, while she was being hounded, the legal authorities had ignored genocidal remarks made by Jewish politicians against Palestinians during the summer attack on Gaza.

“They’re putting me on trial over a trivial, meaningless matter, while ministers and MKs who incited to racism and incited to violence and even to murder aren’t being investigated, even after complaints were filed against them.”

She added: “If I am indicted, I’ll turn the hearings into the most political trial in Israel’s history.”

This article was first published more than 10 years ago in February 2004

It was a day before the scheduled return of Haiti’s exiled president Jean Betrand Aristide, and it was clear that the October 30, 1993 deadline for a return to democratic rule in the western hemisphere’s poorest nation could not occur. Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest who had been elected nearly three years before with 70 percent of the vote in Haiti’s first free election, was speaking to a packed session of the United Nations General Assembly.

In a dramatic move, Aristide told the diplomats that the military government of Haiti had to yield the power that was to end Haiti’s role in the drug trade, a trade financed by Colombia’s Cali cartel, that had exploded in the months following the coup. Aristide told the UN that each year Haiti is the transit point for nearly 50 tons of cocaine worth more than a billion dollars, providing Haiti’s military rulers with $200 million in profits.

Aristide’s electrifying accusations opened the floodgate of even more sinister revelations. Massachusetts senator John Kerry heads a subcommittee concerned with international terrorism and drug trafficking that turned up collusion between the CIA and drug traffickers during the late 1980s’ Iran Contra hearings.

Kerry had developed detailed information on drug trafficking by Haiti’s military rulers that led to the indictment in Miami in 1988, of Lt. Col. Jean Paul. The indictment was a major embarrassment to the Haitian military, especially since Paul defiantly refused to surrender to U.S. authorities. It was just a month before thousands of U.S. troops invaded Panama and arrested Manuel Noriega who, like Col. Paul, was also under indictment for drug trafficking in Florida.

In November 1989, Col. Paul was found dead after he consumed a traditional Haitian good will gift—a bowel of pumpkin soup. Haitian officials accused Paul’s wife of the murder, apparently because she had been cheated out of her share of a cocaine deal by associates of her husband, who were involved in smuggling through Miami.

The U.S. senate also heard testimony in 1988 that then interior minister, Gen. Williams Regala, and his DEA liaison officer, protected and supervised cocaine shipments. The testimony also charged the then Haitian military commander Gen. Henry Namphy with accepting bribes from Colombian traffickers in return for landing rights in the mid 1980’s.

It was in 1989 that yet another military coup brought Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril to power. Under U.S. pressure Avril, the former finance chief under the 30-year Duvalier family dictatorship, fired 140 officers suspected of drug trafficking. Avril, who is currently living in Miami, is being sued by six Haitians, including Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, who claim they were abducted and tortured by the Haitian military under Avril’s orders in November 1989. According to a witness before Senator John Kerry’s subcommittee, Avril is in fact a major player in Haiti’s role as a transit point in the cocaine trade.

Four years later, on the eve of Aristide’s negotiated return as Haiti’s elected president, a summary of a confidential report prepared for Congress and leaked to the media says that corruption levels within the (Haitian military-run) narcotics service are substantial enough to hamper any significant investigation attempting to dismantle a Colombian organization in Haiti. The report says that more than 1,000 Colombians live in Haiti using forged passports of the neighboring Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic leader Joaquin Balaguer opposes the UN blockade of Haiti, and maintains close ties with the Haitian military. The road connecting Port-au-Prince with the border town of Jimini in the Dominican Republic is the only well paved route in Haiti, and serves as the lifeline for the regime. Despite the embargo and U.S. naval blockade of Haiti, the road to the Dominican Republic has become not only the route for oil tanker trucks breaking the embargo, but the major route for cocaine shipments as well.

Fernando Burgos Martinez, a Colombian national with major business interests in Haiti, has been named in congressional records as a major cocaine trafficker, brazen enough to do business with other Colombian drug dealers on his home telephone. One DEA source says both the U.S. embassy and Haitian government have been pressed unsuccessfully to authorize wiretaps, despite DEA allegations that Martinez has been involved in every major drug shipment to Haiti since 1987.

The Kerry report claims Martinez is the bag man for Colombia’s cocaine cartels, and supervises bribes paid to the Haitian military. According to Miami attorney John Mattes, who is defending a Cuban-American drug trafficker cooperating with U.S. prosecutors, Martinez was paid $30,000 to bribe Haitian authorities into releasing two drug pilots jailed in Haiti after the engine in their plane conked out, forcing them to land in Port-au-Prince.

Martinez claims innocence from his lavish home in Petionville, an ornate suburb where Haiti’s ruling class live, overlooking the slums of the capital. He runs the casino at the plush El Rancho Hotel, that prior to the embargo realized nearly $50 million in business each week, a cash flow adequate to conceal a major money laundering operation.

But the most disturbing allegations have been of the role played by the CIA in keeping many of the coup leaders on the agency’s payroll, as part of an anti-drug intelligence unit set up by the U.S. in Haiti in 1986. Many of these same military men have had their U.S. assets frozen, and are prevented from entering this country because of their role in overthrowing Aristide, and subsequent human rights violations, including torture and murders of political opponents, raising the question—was the U.S. involved in a cocaine coup that overthrew Aristide?

War on Drugs and Human Rights Violations

When thousands of U.S. soldiers went crashing into Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega on December 20 1989, the administration of President George Bush justified the action as a major victory in the war on drugs. The cost of that victory was played down in the rush of propaganda hailing a rare victory, in a war where the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t often seen. The White House claimed casualties were low, 200 Panamanians killed along with about 20 U.S. soldiers. Bush declared the price worth the achievement of ending Panama’s role as banker and transit point for cocaine smuggled from the cartels of Colombia.

But the human cost turned out to be a great deal larger then the official pronouncements. A lawsuit brought by New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of 300 victims of the Panama invasion, charges that the casualties were actually more than 2,000 killed, that the assault left 20,000 homeless and damages exceeding $2 billion. Mass graves were unearthed after the invasion, and hundreds of victims buried in U.S.-made body bags were discovered, and eyewitnesses testified that they saw U.S. troops throwing the bodies of civilians into trenches. These revelations moved the OAS to open an investigation into possible human rights violations by the United States during its invasion of Panama, the first such investigation of a U.S. intervention ever mounted by an international body.

The gunfire had barely subsided in Panama, and General Noriega was hardly settled into his new digs in a federal prison, when another battle in the war on drugs seemed won. In Haiti, decades of brutal dictatorship seemed to be passing, with the election of President Jean Bertrand Aristide to lead the Caribbean nation of six million. It was a time when dreams of a better future by Haiti’s impoverished people seemed within reach.

But it wasn’t long before the dream was transformed into a nightmare. Less than a year after the election, on September 30 1991, Haiti’s army launched a ruthless coup d’etat that forced Aristide into exile. The coup ushered in yet another period of military repression in Haiti’s tortured history—a history marked by twenty years of U.S. military occupation, beginning with the 1915 crushing of a popular revolt by U.S. Marines.

Human rights groups report that Haitians killed in the repression following the coup may be more than 3,000. More than 2,000 others were seriously injured, including victims of gunshots and torture. The OAS imposed an embargo that failed to topple the coup leaders, but forced negotiations, brokered by the UN at Governors Island in New York last July. There coup leader General Raoul Cedras agreed to allow Aristide to return in exchange for an end to the embargo.

Yet as the date for Aristide’s return grew near, the military began a campaign of terror against their opponents. The killings peaked in the days before the scheduled return of Aristide, with the brazen murder of Antoine Izmery, a businessman and key Aristide backer, who was abducted from a cathedral and gunned down on a busy city street. Later, Guy Malary, Aristide’s justice minister, was also killed, and his body left by a roadside.

President Bill Clinton publicly expressed his support for Aristide’s return to Haiti, and sent the transport USS Harlan County, with hundreds of troops, to insure the transition to democracy. But at the port where the ship was to dock, pro-military government thugs staged a demonstration, prompting the Harlan County to turn back. It was shortly after the images of dead U.S. troops dragged through the streets of Somalia had shocked Americans, and provided an excuse for the Clinton administration to back off from what promised to be another open-ended intervention.

The Boys From the Company

Meanwhile, the CIA was openly running a full-scale disinformation campaign against Aristide. Ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, a leading opponent of Aristide, brought CIA analyst Brian Latell to Capitol Hill in October, to brief selected senators and representatives on allegations that Aristide had been treated for mental illness. It turned out that the time during which the CIA report alleges Aristide was treated at a Canadian hospital falls within the same period that Aristide was studying and teaching in Israel. Latell also said he saw no evidence of oppressive rule in Haiti.

While Helms was a long-time backer of the brutal dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier, the Democrats have their own ties to the human rights violators and drug dealers who rule Haiti.

Former Democratic party head and current secretary of commerce Ron Brown headed a law firm that represented the Duvalier family for decades. Part of that representation was a public relations campaign that stressed Duvalier’s opposition to communism in the cold war. United States support for Duvalier was worth more than $400 million in aid to the country, before the man who called himself Haiti’s President-for-Life was forced from the country.

Even Duvalier’s exit from Haiti, in February 1986, is shrouded in covert intrigue and remains an unexplored facet of the career of Lt. Col. Oliver North. Shortly after Duvalier’s ouster, North was quoted as saying he had brought an end to Haiti’s nightmare, a cryptic statement that was never publicly perused by the Iran-Contra hearings.

The CIA and the Cocaine Connection

As Jesse Helms was using the CIA to slag Aristide in the media, an intelligence service in Haiti set up by the agency to battle the cocaine trade, had evolved into a gang of political terrorists and drug traffickers. Three former chiefs of the Haitian National Intelligence Service (NIS) are now on the list of 41 Haitian officials whose assets in the United States were frozen for supporting the military coup.

The CIA poured millions into the NIS from its founding in 1986 to the 1991 coup. A 1992 DEA document describes the NIS as a covert counter-narcotics intelligence unit which often works in unison with the CIA. Although most of the CIA’s activities in Haiti remain secret, U.S. officials accuse some NIS members of becoming enmeshed in the drug trade. A U.S. embassy official in Haiti told the New York Times that the NIS was a military organization that distributed drugs in Haiti.

Aristide’s exiled interior minister Patrick Elie says the relationship between the CIA and NIS involves more than drugs. Elie told investigative reporter Dennis Bernstein that the NIS was created by the CIA. Created, Elie says, to infiltrate the drug network. But Elie adds, the NIS, which is staffed entirely by the Haitian military, spends most of its resources in political repression and spying on Haitians.

After the 1991 coup, Elie maintains that the drug trade took a quantum leap, taking control over the national Port Authority through the offices of Port-au-Prince Police Chief Lt. Col. Michel Francois. It was Francois’s thugs, called attaches, who were primarily responsible for the waves of political killings since the coup.

United States government sources say the NIS never provided much narcotics intelligence, and its commanding officers were responsible for the torture and murder of Aristide supporters, and were involved in death threats that forced the local DEA chief to flee the country. Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and received extensive CIA briefings, said that the drug intelligence the U.S. was getting came from the very same people who in front of the world are brutally murdering people.

Legacy of Corruption

In the early 1980’s, when Haiti was still under Duvalier’s rule, the drug trade in Haiti was the province of individually corrupt military men associated with Duvalier’s powerful father-in-law. By 1985 the cocaine cartels began to seek transit points for the booming cocaine industry. A natural candidate was Haiti lying just south of the Bahamas—another favorite transit route.

Haiti is particularly attractive to the drug smugglers because the most direct route from the Colombian coast to Florida lies through the Windward passage between northern Haiti and eastern Cuba. Port-au-Prince is approximately 500 nautical miles north of Colombia and 700 miles southeast of Miami. A former agent in charge of the Miami DEA, Thomas Cash, told Senator Kerry’s committee that Haiti’s attraction to smugglers is aided by dozens of small airstrips, the lack of patrols over Haitian airspace and the total lack of any radar monitoring approaches to the country. Combined with the legendary corruption of public officials, these conditions make Haiti a very fertile ground for drug traffickers.

In fact, infamous drug trafficker George Morales told Kerry that during the mid 1980’s I used the isle of Haiti mainly as a parking lot, as a place that I would place my aircraft so they could be repaired. When asked if he shipped drugs through Haiti, Morales replied, Yes, I did, adding, it’s something which is done fairly commonly.

Since then the role of Haiti in the drug trade has grown, and the profits to the Haitian officials involved have skyrocketed. This may explain the difficulty Aristide experienced during his short rule, in trying to interdict drug shipments. A confidential DEA report provided to Michigan Representative John Conyers told of the case of Tony Greco, a former DEA agent in Haiti, who fled for his life in September 1992, following the arrest of a Haitian military officer charged with drug running.

Patrick Elie says he got no assistance from the Haitian military in attempts to interdict drug shipments. And when Greco received information in May 1991 that 400 kilos of cocaine were arriving in Haiti, the DEA man watched helplessly as the drugs were delivered to waiting boats. Greco told Elie that the military was conspicuously absent at a moment they knew drugs were coming in.

Greco said he finally gave up and fled the country after he received a telephone death threat against his family from a man who identified himself as the boss of the arrested officer. Greco says only army commander Raoul Cedras and Port-au-Prince police chief Michel Francois, leaders of the 1991 coup, had his private number.

Despite Tony Greco’s experiences, the DEA defends their continuing presence in Haiti. There are currently two DEA agents still stationed in the country, and the DEA has continued its contacts with the military following Aristide’s ouster, despite the DEA’s admission that over 26,400 pounds of cocaine entered the United States in 1993, transhipped through Haiti with the cooperation of the military.

The DEA remains defensive of its contacts with the Haitian military. Agency spokesperson William Ruzzamenti says, Quite frankly and honestly, we have gotten reliable and good support in the things we’re trying to do there. He acknowledged that the DEA has received reports of Haitian army officers’ involvement in the drug trade, but said that the reports have not been verified.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, released in April by the U.S. Department of State—Bureau of International Narcotics matters, says the current level of detected air and maritime drug-related activity in Haiti is low. On the subject of official corruption, the report says the United States does not have evidence directly linking senior government of Haiti officials to drug trafficking, though rumors and (unsubstantiated) allegations abound. Responding to the State Department report, Representative Major Owens, who heads the Haiti committee of the Congressional Black Caucus, told the SHADOW that the State Department’s failure to act on evidence of corruption by Haiti’s military commanders was a good question the government has failed to answer. Owens says Secretary of State Warren Christopher is guilty of a double standard motivated byracism against Black Haitian refugees.

The Shadowy World of Col. Francois

Most Haitians believe that Port-au-Prince police chief Col. Michel Francois and his elder brother Evans currently run the drug trade. Col. Francois has gained that control and become one of Haiti’s most powerful men , by recruiting hundreds of police auxiliaries or attaches, to control and eliminate his rivals. Francois commands his own independent intelligence service that spies on opponents and allies alike, while running a protection racket for local drug traffickers. Michael Ratner, an attorney with the CCR, says Francois and former dictator Prosper Avril are the rule behind the facade of General Cedras.

Francois and his men have a history of involvement in the torture of opponents and death-squad-style murders of Aristide supporters. In one recent incident, attaches mobbed Port-au-Prince City Hall to prevent the capital’s mayor, Evans Paul, an Aristide supporter, from entering his offices.

One person was killed and 11 wounded during the September 8th incident, when the mob opened fire on Aristide supporters. Witnesses say the attack began when attaches dragged two of Paul’s aides from a car, viciously beating an Aristide official. Francois is also considered responsible for the murder of Justice Minister Guy Malary.

This article was first published more than ten years ago in February 2004

Journalist Dennis Bernstein writes that Francois was trained at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas , known in Latin America as La Escuela de Golpes, the school of coups. Originally based in Panama, the SOA was moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1984. In its 40-year history, the SOA has trained 55,000 military personnel from Latin America, including the late Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto d’Aubuisson.

On April 21st 1994, a convicted Colombian drug trafficker, Gabriel Taboada, who is in the fifth year of a 12-year sentence in a Miami federal prison, fingered Francois at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator John Kerry. Taboada testified that Lt. Col. Francois collaborated in shipping tons of cocaine to the United States during then 1980’s.

Taboada said he met Francois while he was in the Medellin, Colombia office of drug king Pablo Escobar, in 1984. During a thirty minute conversation, Taboada told Francois he was a car importer. Francois, he said, asked why wasn’t I in the drug business since the drug business made good money.

Speaking through an interpreter, Taboada said: I asked him what his business was and he said that at the time he was in Medellin arranging a cocaine deal. Taboada said he later learned that Francois was Chief of Police in Haiti.

Taboada told the committee that the cartel took planes out of Colombia and landed in Haiti, protected by the Haitian military. Michel Francois protected the drugs in Haiti, and then allowed the drugs to continue to the United States. Taboada also told the subcommittee that Haitian military figures often met Medellin cartel members in Colombia, including strongman Prosper Avril, who along with Francois, has long been linked to the drug trade in Haiti.

The White House said today:

History shows that a free press remains a critical foundation for prosperous, open, and secure societies, allowing citizens to access information and hold their governments accountable. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates the fundamental principle that every person has the right “to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Each and every day, brave journalists make extraordinary risks to bring us stories we otherwise would not hear – exposing corruption, asking tough questions, or bearing witness to the dignity of innocent men, women and children suffering the horrors of war. In this service to humanity, hundreds of journalists have been killed in the past decade alone, while countless more have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, and tortured. In the overwhelming majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these crimes against journalists go unpunished.

All governments must protect the ability of journalists to write and speak freely. On this first-ever International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the United States commends the priceless contributions by journalists to the freedom and security of us all, shining light into the darkness and giving voice to the voiceless. We honor the sacrifices so many journalists have made in their quest for the truth, and demand accountability for those who have committed crimes against journalists.

We whole-heartedly agree.

But that’s stunning hypocrisy, given that the U.S. is actually one of the world’s worst offenders against press freedom … treating reporters like terrorists and criminals.

Even top mainstream reporters have said that this administration is more hostile to the press than any other in history.

As just one example, the Washington Post reports that USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page says the current administration is more threatening to press freedom than “any administration in American history,” that she was “really worried” about what could happen if the White House continues to prevent reporters from doing their job of telling the news and telling the truth, and:

This administration has been more restrictive and more challenging to the press, more dangerous to the press, really, than any administration in American history.

This administration may be the most hypocritical in history.   Indeed – in an attempt to hide its hypocrisy – the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidentscombined.

Kagame’s Mass Atrocities in Rwanda and the Congo

November 4th, 2014 by Christopher Black

Of particular relevance is this article published by Global Research two years ago in August 2012

by Christopher Black , Alex Mezyaev

On 17th August 2012 counsel (1) for several Rwandan and Congolese (DRC) political and civil organizations, (2) delivered a complaint to the Prosecutor of the ICC concerning crimes allegedly committed by the current President of Rwanda Paul Kagame which are within the jurisdiction of the ICC. (3)

The complaint filed included UN reports dating back to 1994 concerning Kagame’s mass atrocities in Rwanda and Congo. These reports, two of which were suppressed by the UN and the prosecutors of the ICTR (4), are just a small sample of the extensive and overwhelming evidence which exists in the possession of the ICTR prosecutors that establish that serious crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed by Kagame and his Ugandan and western allies in Rwanda and Congo since 1990. The reports filed include the report of Robert Gersony of USAID who was tasked by the UNHCR in later 1994 with determining the conditions for the return of Hutu refugees who had fled the RPF forces into then Zaire that year. In his October 1994 report, Gersony states that the RPF forces committed systematic and sustained massacres of Hutus civilians beginning in April 1994 and that they were continuing. The UNHCR marked this report confidential and it was suppressed. However, it was placed in the hands of the prosecutor at the ICTR but the various prosecutors there have also kept it suppressed and even denied its existence.

The second report is that of Michael Hourigan, the Australian lawyer and Lead Investigator for Louise Arbour when she was Prosecutor.  She tasked him with the mission of determining who had assassinated the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and the Rwandan Army chief of staff on April 6, 1994 when their plane was shot down over Kigali. She did so thinking those responsible were Hutu «extremists». However, Hourigan learned, and had the documentary evidence and testimony to prove it, that the Zero Network of the RPF shot down the plane on Kagame’s orders, with the help of a foreign power.

When Hourigan presented this evidence to Arbour she ordered the investigation terminated and the file handed over to her. No further action has been taken on that evidence since. There is evidence that she stopped the investigation on the orders of the American government. This had three consequences; it hid the truth of who was responsible for the events in Rwanda in 1994 from the world, it made Louise Arbour an accessory to a mass murder, and at the same time, it established her value as a cooperative asset that the USA could use in the aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 when she was told by Bill Clinton to prevent negotiations and prolong the war by charging President Milosevic with false accusations of crimes against humanity.

The third report included in the complaint is the Mapping Report of 2010 to the UN Secretary General that details the large-scale atrocities that were committed by the RPF and the Ugandans and the Congolese in Rwanda and Zaire (DRC) from 1993 to 2003. The final UN report is the Addendum report of the Special Committee of the Security Council (Group of Experts) on the situation in the Congo of June 2012.

These UN reports are supported by the evidence held by the Prosecutors at the ICTR and by the evidence presented by the defence in several of the trials as to what actually transpired in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994. This evidence is completely at odds with the accepted western version but has been studiously ignored by both the western media and academics and many so-called experts.

The UN Report giving the ICC jurisdiction over Kagame is known as the Addendum.  It is a supplement to a letter to the Secretary General of the UN submitted by the Group of Experts. Once again, it appears there were efforts to suppress this report as the United States tried to prevent its release. These documents present findings that provide a reasonable basis to conclude that crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court have been and are being committed by Paul Kagame and others under his command and control and which could not escape the attention of an ICC Prosecutor who was dedicated to eliminating impunity for war crimes.  The documented evidence establishes that the Rwandan authorities, led by President Paul Kagame, and including, among others, his minister of defence, General James Kaberebe, General Charles Kayonga, the Rwandan Defence Forces Chief of Staff, and his Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, General Jack Nziza, committed serious international crimes in the DRC by supporting the M23 «rebel» group.

Specifically the Addendum provides reliable and documented evidence that these officers are providing direct military assistance to the M23 rebellion inside the DRC including the use of children under the age of 18 as M23 combatants (5), and forced former enemy combatants of the Democratic Forces For the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to serve with units sent by the Rwanda Defence Forces to reinforce M23 (6). The criminal responsibility of the President Paul Kagame and his subordinates for these crimes is based on Article 28 of the Rome Statute of the ICC concerning superior responsibility.

The Mapping Report of 2010, which covers the period 1993 to 2003, provides evidence that the crimes committed by Kagame and his allies amounting to genocide against the Hutu people in Rwanda spread into the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, beginning in 1996 through to 2003, where the armed forces of Rwanda, Uganda and of the DRC committed genocide against the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC. One Hutu witness at the ICTR who fled 3,000 kilometers through the Congo forest to escape this attempted extermination called it the «genocide with no name and further testified, along with other witnesses,  that they observed UN and US spotter planes over them before each RPF attack». (7)  During the entire period of time in which these crimes were committed Paul Kagame had command responsibility over the Rwandan armed forces. (8)

The Complainants in the action of August 17 represent various civil society groups in Rwanda and Congo and include former senior members of the RPF government in Rwanda. This action is perhaps the first of its kind by Hutus and Tutsis acting in cooperation against the Kagame regime and provides a basis for optimism that Hutus and Tutsis can come to an accord and can lead Rwanda and its people forward together.  They have requested the Prosecutor to commence an investigation with a view to laying charges against Paul Kagame and any other person or persons complicit in the crimes set out in the Addendum and they have relied on the stated intention of the ICC, set out in its preamble, that no one has impunity for crimes committed within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The Complaint also notes that there is a vast amount of evidence against Kagame in the hands of the Prosecutors of the ICTR and that, while neither this evidence nor that of the Gersony, Hourigan or Mapping reports provide the ICC with evidence of crimes within its jurisdiction, they do provide evidence that the crimes of Kagame are of a continuing and grave nature and reveal a systematic pattern and intention and add credence to the Addendum Report. The Complainants also note that this protection of Kagame and his allies from prosecution at the ICTR has had the direct consequence of giving him a sense of impunity and has encouraged him to commit more crimes.  An example of the evidence in the hands of the ICTR, (the Hourigan Report being another cited above) is the testimony of  defence witness Abdul Ruzibiza, a former officer of the RPF, who testified in the Military I trial that the assassination of the Rwanda and Burundi presidents in 1994 was planned and committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front under command of current President Kagame and that he was a member of the shoot down team. (9) In September of 2010, Ruzibiza died in Norway at the age of 40 under unclear circumstances and amid rumours of threats against him by the CIA.

This is not the first death of witnesses who gave testimony or others who were intent on exposing the crimes of the RPF and Kagame. Witness GAP, a prosecution witness in the Military II trial against General Bizimungu, the Rwandan army chief of staff, and who had recanted his testimony as false and extorted by threats of the RPF regime was recalled in 2009 to the ICTR to explain his recantation. He never reached the courtroom.  He arrived in Arusha and was placed in a UN safe house to await his testimony.  The day before he was due to testify he disappeared from the UN safe house and has not been seen by anyone since. Protests and a demand for an investigation by defence counsel about how he could disappear from a UN guarded safe house were ignored.

Seth Sendashonga, the former RPF Minister of Interior, was assassinated by an RPF death squad in Nairobi May 16, 1998, after he announced he was going to testify at the ICTR that the witnesses provided by the RPF to the tribunal were all forced to give false testimony by the RPF government (10). In December 2005, Juvenal Uwilingiyimana, a Hutu, and former Minister of Trade and Commerce, was found floating in a canal in Brussles, naked, with his hands cut off, after disappearing a few weeks earlier. He had been in contact with Steven Rapp and two of his investigators, who were pressuring him to give false testimony for the prosecution at the ICTR, according to a letter he had sent to the President of the ICTR prior to his disappearance. In the letter to the President of the ICTR and to Rapp, he said that Rapp’s two Canadian investigators had threatened to kill him and cut his body in pieces unless he cooperated. He refused to do so and refused to meet with them again. Shortly after that letter was sent he was murdered. Again, a demand by defence counsel for the suspension of Rapp and the two Canadian investigators pending an investigation into their possible involvement was ignored.

One of the writers (11), counsel to General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, chief of staff of the gendarmerie of Rwanda in the Military II trial, was himself threatened in July 2008 by a CIA officer working at the ICTR that if he did not watch his step he would be killed. This threat, echoing previous threats by the RPF, was reported to the President of the Tribunal but he was disbelieved. Scottish lawyer Andrew McCartan, Scotland’s foremost military lawyer, was killed in October 2003 when his car went off a cliff in Scotland just a few weeks after having told the same writer at a meeting in Toronto that he had tried to confront Bill Clinton about the US role in Rwanda and that he had learned secrets about the US involvement in Rwanda in 1994 and its control of the ICTR. Scottish police could find no cause for the car crash. In her memoirs the former Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Carla del Ponte, reported that Paul Kagame torpedoed the investigation of crimes committed by RPF and that the US government also put pressure on her to leave Kagame alone and when she refused to sign a document to that effect she was soon replaced. (12) To no one’s surprise the new Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, immediately lost interest in the RPF and Kagame. In 2010, American defence counsel, Peter Erlinder was arrested by the RPF regime the day he arrived in Rwanda to try to defend FDU-Inkingi politician Victoire Ingabire, facing political charges by the regime, because he had merely repeated publicly what the evidence was at the ICTR about RPF crimes. He was only released after extensive intervention by other defence counsel and the reluctant intervention of the US State Department.

The Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo beginning in 1996 created a severe problem for Africa. Year by year the situation became worse. In 1999 the Democratic Republic of the Congo initiated proceedings against Rwanda in the International Court of Justice. (13) That proceeding was later discontinued because of the Congo’s expressed belief in their ability to resolve the matter by negotiation. But in 2002 Congo was forced to institute new proceedings against Rwanda. Because of technical reasons (with very questionable argumentation) (14) the ICJ found no jurisdiction in the case, so the Congolese claims stay unanswered. (15)

The attempts by the NANO powers to indict heads of state for actions committed on the territory of foreign countries, using the UN as their tool, have become more and more frequent but the leaders targeted for this treatment are those who stand in the way of western interests, never those that bend to their interests. We can cite as examples the case against Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for the alleged planning and fuelling of the war crimes in Bosnia, that against Liberian President Charles Taylor for his alleged aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sierra Leone, and finally the case against the vice-president of the DRC J-P.Bemba for the military assistance in CAR.

Kagame is an example of an American supported leader whose crimes go unpunished because he is useful to them and because they are party to his crimes. The Prosecutors of the ICTR have wasted 17 years protecting Kagame from his responsibility for the crimes he and his forces committed in Rwanda in 1994. The consequence has been a continuation of those crimes into the Congo, drowning the Great Lakes region of Africa in blood. Since the ICTR has refused to act on its responsibilities, it is now up to the ICC to take up the burden and to commence an investigation into the crimes set out in the Addendum report and the crimes committed by Kagame and others who support him since 2003, the date on which the jurisdiction of the ICC begins. The impunity given to Kagame and his allies can only come to an end, and with it the wars in the Great Lakes region, when his crimes and those of the powers that support him are exposed and brought to justice. It is not enough to study the consequences of these wars. It is necessary to understand the reasons and the causes for these wars. The August 17 action at The Hague is an attempt to start the long delayed process of bringing Kagame and his allies to justice.  Only when this is achieved can Africans begin the to create the conditions for the restoration of peace and the conditions necessary to develop Africa’s immense potential .  The August 17 action should be supported.

Christopher C. Black – Barrister, Counsel to the complainants in the present case (Canada).
Alexander B. Mezyaev – Head of the Department of International Law, Law Faculty, University of Management (Russia).

Notes

(1) Christopher Black
(2) The United Forces For Democracy in Rwanda (FDU), the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), le Reseau International des Femmes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RIFDP) – from Rwanda; and L’Association Pour la Promotion de la Democratie et du Developpement de la RDC (APRODEC) and Congonova, represent significant elements of the civil society of the Democratic Republic of Congo – from the DRC.
(3)Article 15 (1) of the ICC Statute states that «The Prosecutor may initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court». And article 53 of the ICC Statute requires the Prosecutor to «initiate an investigation unless he or she determines there is no reasonable basis to proceed…».
(4) The report of Robert Gersony to the UNHCR of October 1994 and the report of ICTR Lead investigator for Louise Arbour of 1997 to the UN OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight)
(5) See Addendum (para 19). This action constitutes a war crime under Article 8(b)(xxvi) and 8(e)(vii) of the ICC Statute.
(6) See Addendum (paras 20-21). This action constitutes a war crime under Article 8(2)(a)(v) of the ICC Statute (that forbids compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power).
(7) Transcripts, Military II Trial, ICTR.
(8) DRC Final Report (the Mapping Report) of June 2010 (made to the Secretary-General of the United Nations by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights N.Pillay,). Paras 20-33.
(9) Prosecutor v. Bagosora et al., transcript of 9 March 2006. See also the book of this witness «Rwanda. L’Histoire Secret». Paris. 2005.
(10) Prunier, Gerard (2009) Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwanda Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, Oxford
(11) Christopher Black
(12) C. Del Ponte, The Hunt. Me and the War Criminals.  2008, Oxford, Oxford University Press pp 366-367.
(13) Application instituting proceedings see on the official website of the International Court of Justice on the Internet: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/117/7071.pdf. The Livre blanc prepared of the Government of the DRC is available: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/117/13461.pdf.
(14) Two judges expressed their dissenting opinions and eight judges – separate opinions to the judgment.
(15) Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application : 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda). ICJ Judgment of 3 February 2006.

The Socialist Party (PS) government is launching a violent crackdown on protests that have spread across France against the police murder of Rémi Fraisse, a 21-year-old ecological activist, at a protest against the building of a dam at Sivens in the Tarn area of southern France on October 26.

Fraisse, a peaceful protester, was killed on the sidelines of clashes in the early morning between police and members of the reactionary Black Bloc anarchist group, which is heavily penetrated by police provocateurs and regularly stages battles with police. While Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve immediately accused protesters of “exploiting” Fraisse’s death, autopsy results showed that Fraisse was killed by fragments of a concussion grenade fired by riot police.

At one point, according to a friend who was with Fraisse before he was killed, “I saw him get up all of a sudden and say ‘Come on, let’s go.’ He began to run ahead. He had nothing to protect himself with, and he had not realized what he was facing. The cops fired a volley of shots, I threw myself to the side to take cover. When I turned around, Rémi was not there anymore.”

Protests rapidly spread against the murder of Fraisse and the PS government’s use of deadly weapons against unarmed protesters. They were met by escalating repression by police.

Though Cazeneuve announced an end to the use of concussion grenades against protesters amid calls for his resignation, police are continuing to deploy deadly weapons and overwhelming force at protests against the killing of Fraisse. Cazeneuve has not suspended the policeman who fired the grenade at Fraisse.

On November 1, riot police attacked protests in Dijon, Nantes and Toulouse. Six people were wounded in Nantes, including three protesters beaten and injured by grenade fragments, a policeman who suffered acid burns to the hand, and one protester whose nose was torn off by a rubber bullet shot to the head. Thirteen people were arrested in Toulouse and 21 in Nantes.

Police have consistently used violence by small minorities of protesters as a pretext to violently attack protests. Chloé, who joined the protest in Toulouse, told RFI radio: “There were attacks by demonstrators, but it was not at all on equal terms. Demonstrators had small rocks, and on the other side they were firing grenades that go off and burn your hands. My foot was burned, but it was nothing compared to some other people.”

She added, “The violence of the police is much more aggressive than that of the demonstrators. It is too bad that we cannot establish a true dialogue, because there is no dialogue there, it’s just explosives going off in all directions with helicopters flying overhead.”

On Sunday, thousands of riot police were mobilized in Paris for a crackdown and mass arrests at a protest at Stalingrad Square that was banned by the PS government. Approximately 300 people defied the ban. Ultimately, police arrested 78 people.

“They are attacking us with batons and projectiles,” 19-year-old student Sandrine Bisset told the British Daily Mail. “The CRS riot police act like thugs, if they see the slightest sign of trouble, they just attack everyone.”

Pseudo-left groups supporting the PS backed an alternate, legal demonstration in Paris, where a few hundred people gathered near the Eiffel Tower. The Pabloite New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), which had originally called for protesters to join the Stalingrad protest, joined the Eiffel Tower protest instead. There, its members rubbed shoulders with Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the ex-Pabloite and former Le Monde editor Edwy Plenel.

Europe-Ecology-The Greens (EELV) officials posted statements on their Twitter feeds criticizing the protests as violent, though EELV leader and former PS government minister Cécile Duflot had initially laid blame for the killing partially on Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“In September, the prime minister went to the Tarn region to say ‘We held on at Sivens,’ with a martial tone and his usual capacity to overplay his authority. I think this statement by Manuel Valls, while experts were still working on a report, made the situation more tense,” she told Le Monde .

Figures from across the rest of the spectrum of French bourgeois politics virulently denounced the protests. Former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault of the PS issued a statement to “condemn with the greatest firmness the deliberate violence of radical groups that have only one enemy, democracy.”

Neo-fascist National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen posted a statement on Twitter asking Cazeneuve: “Nantes, Toulouse, when will impunity end for far-left thugs?”

The police murder of Fraisse and the PS’s savage crackdown on the ensuing protests testify to the advanced state of decay of French democracy. Discredited and unpopular due to its wars and attacks on workers’ living standards, the PS government has resorted to law-and-order rhetoric and cultivated the police as its social base, with President François Hollande naming Valls, a former interior minister, as prime minister in April.

Over the past year, Hollande has predictably kept sinking to historically unprecedented levels of unpopularity. A poll this summer found that Hollande had only 13 percent approval ratings. Now, with 5 million Frenchmen unemployed or underemployed, an Odaxa poll found that only 3 percent of the population supports his jobs policy; 71 percent of the population wants Hollande to leave office before his term expires in 2017.

The bans against protests against Fraisse’s murder comes after Hollande banned protests this summer against Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians.

The French ruling class is proving utterly bankrupt. As popular discontent now mounts with police brutality, the PS has nothing to offer but a policy of crushing protests outright through bans, violent crackdowns and mass arrests.

Above all, these events testify to the politically reactionary role of the pseudo-left parties who supported Hollande’s election in 2012, calling for a PS vote in the run-off against the right-wing incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. Mélenchon and the NPA justified their support for the reactionary Hollande administration by claiming it would be easier to “pressure” Hollande with street protests in order to compel him to carry out “left” policies (see “France’s New Anti-capitalist Party backs Socialist Party candidate in May 6 run-off”).

This was a political lie. It is now widely recognized that Hollande’s policies are even more savagely reactionary than those of Sarkozy, while the pseudo-left forces and allied union officials—having done nothing to mobilize the working class against the PS—are now scheduling their pro forma protests in line with the demands of Valls’s police.

Washington’s strategy in its three-month-old war in Iraq and Syria appeared to suffer another humiliating blow over the weekend as one of the last remaining strongholds of US-backed “moderate rebels” in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib fell to the Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda.

The collapse of the US-backed force in Syria came amid reported plans for a major retraining of the Iraqi army in preparation for a US-orchestrated offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq sometime next year.

Both developments underscore the unreliability of the proxy forces the Obama administration has indicated are to serve as the “boots on the ground” in the two countries and point to the inevitable expansion of the number and role of US troops deployed to prosecute the new Middle East war.

Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly, who has been one of the most enthusiastic media propagandists for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the so-called “moderate rebels,” questioned whether the FSA would “manage to survive the trouncing inflicted in recent days” by the Nusra Front. She described the events in Idlib as “throwing the rebels into disarray and upending the Obama administration’s hopes for a moderate alternative to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

The “trouncing” was accomplished without a shot being fired. Two US-backed groups, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement), surrendered without opposing the Al Qaeda-linked militia. It was reported that a large number of their members went over to the Nusra Front, while others fled.

The clashes between the various “rebel” groups have been developing and growing in intensity for over a year, pitting the Nusra Front and ISIS (which Al Qaeda disavowed earlier this year) against other US-backed groups as well as against each other. While these conflicts have been attributed in some instances to Islamist ideological differences, they have often arisen over control of oil and gas fields, border crossings and other sources of wealth.

One of the reasons for the latest clashes appears to be the US air strikes against Nusra Front positions in Syria, carried out under the pretext of disrupting a previously unheard of “Khorasan group,” which was supposedly plotting attacks against the West. The reaction of the Nusra Front, which had previously fought together with the Western-backed militias against ISIS, has been an offensive against US-backed groups, which it sees as a threat. The US attacks also have led to a mending of fences between the Nusra Front and ISIS, which have recently fought together in joint operations.

In the latest developments, significant stocks of arms supplied by the US, including heavy weapons such as TOW anti-tank missiles and Grad rockets, have been turned over by the so-called moderates to the Nusra Front, which is classified by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.

“For the United States, the weapons they supplied falling into the hands of Al Qaeda is a realization of a nightmare,” the British daily Telegraphcommented.

Following the overrunning of the northern Idlib province villages previously held by the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm, Nusra Front fighters have reportedly begun massing near a strategic Syrian town on the Turkish border, Bab al-Hawa, which has served as a key pipeline for arms and supplies funneled by Washington and its allies to the “rebels.” It is also a major smuggling route, providing whoever controls it with a reliable source of revenue.

Despite support from the US, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf State monarchies, the so-called “moderate rebels” never developed into a serious force, with the Western-backed war for regime-change in Syria remaining dominated by extreme Islamist groups such as ISIS and the Nusra Front. Nonetheless, Washington had hoped to draw on these “moderate” militias to carry out its stated plan to train 5,000 fighters a year as a new force to be turned against both ISIS and the Assad government. That plan now lies in ruins.

An article by independent journalist Theo Padnos in the Sunday magazine section of the New York Times on his abduction and two-year imprisonment by the Nusra Front in Syria is instructive in terms of the reliability and allegiance of supposedly “vetted” forces.

In the article, entitled “My Captivity,” Padnos recounts how not once, but twice, he managed to escape from his Nusra Front captors and seek aid from the so-called moderates of the Free Syrian Army, only to be quickly handed back to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group.

He also writes that FSA soldiers, who were fighting alongside the Nusra Front group that was holding him about 20 miles east of Damascus, told him that they had recently returned from training at a US base in Jordan, ostensibly for the purpose of combating groups such as the Nusra Front and ISIS.

Asked by Padnos about fighting the Nusra Front, one of the FSA fighters replied, “Oh that, we lied to the Americans about that.”

In Iraq, meanwhile, the New York Times reported Monday that US and Iraqi officials have agreed to prepare a “major spring offensive” against ISIS, which the newspaper notes “is likely to face an array of logistical and political challenges.”

At the center of these plans is the US training of three new Iraqi divisions, some 20,000 troops, to replace units that disintegrated in the face of the ISIS offensive last summer, with commanders deserting and troops throwing down their weapons, tearing off their uniforms and fleeing for their lives. The Pentagon had spent $25 billion over the course of eight years to train those forces.

To prepare for the planned offensive, the Pentagon, according to the Times, has set up a new task force under Lt. Gen. James Terry, the top Army commander for CENTCOM, which oversees all US forces in the Middle East. The newspaper reports that as these preparations are implemented “the American footprint is likely to expand from Baghdad and Ebril to additional outposts,” including in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province, which has been largely overrun by ISIS.

Citing senior US officials, the Times reported that “Army planners have drafted options that could deploy up to an additional brigade of troops, or about 3,500 personnel, to expand the advisory effort and speed the push to rebuild the Iraqi military.”

No matter how many US “advisers” Washington deploys to the country, however, the contradictions underlying the US intervention—not least the bitter sectarian divisions provoked by a decade of US war and occupation—are overwhelming. The Iraqi army that Washington claims will do the fighting in predominantly Sunni areas such as Anbar is some 90 percent Shia and is seen by the population in these areas as an occupying force. Moreover, in recent fighting, the army has leaned heavily on Shia militias that have openly engaged in ethnic cleansing operations against Sunni populations.

Until now, Washington has tried to paper over these contradictions while waging a sporadic campaign of air strikes that has had little effect on ISIS’ control over a broad swath of Iraq and Syria. The real war is still to come and will be launched in earnest once today’s midterm elections are over. Given the sorry state of Washington’s chosen proxy forces in both Iraq and Syria and the real aims that it is pursuing—US imperialist hegemony over the entire Middle East—sooner rather than later this new war will involve large numbers of US ground troops in another killing spree.

The newly elected president of the European Commission and his cabinet – who together form the central executive body for the 28 member states of the European Union – have deep ties with powerful corporate interests that make them poor choices to support citizen rights, say critics.

The European Commission oversees a European Union budget of €142 billion a year and over 23,000 staff. The Commission functions plays a key role in proposing and implementing pan European legislation which directly affect its 507 million citizens as well as rules that govern the national budgets of the 28 member states.

Jean-Claude Juncker who elected by the European Parliament to take over as European Commission president on November 1 came to the job after eight years as the.prime minister of Luxembourg, where he helped transform the country into the largest tax haven on the continent.

“Juncker has dedicated his career to ensuring that society becomes less fair; that wealthy institutions and individuals can avoid the taxes little people and small businesses must pay,” writes Nick Cohen, a columnist for the Guardian.

Indeed the European Commission that Juncker has taken over is currently investigating tax arrangements for two major multinationals in Luxembourg – a deal with Amazon from the U.S. struck in 2003 and another with Fiat of Italy that was agreed in 2012.

“National authorities must not allow selected companies to understate their taxable profits by using favourable calculation methods,” said Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission vice president in charge of competition policy, in a press statement issued one week before Juncker took the helm in Brussels. “It is only fair that subsidiaries of multinational companies pay their share of taxes and do not receive preferential treatment which could amount to hidden subsidies.”

Juncker will be joined by 27 other commissioners, one from each member state, who were elected October 22 after four weeks of hearings, that activists say were deeply flawed. “Commissioners were not adequately grilled about their background and possible conflicts of interest and thus if they were suitable for the role,” says Olivier Hoedeman of Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels based research and campaign group.* “Too often they failed to elicit precise answers, letting the commissioners-designate off-the-hook.”

Corporate Europe Observatory singled out several who they believe are ill suited for their new roles including Miguel Arias Cañete of Spain, the new climate commissioner; Jonathan Hill of the UK, in charge of financial services; Carlos Moedas of Portugal, the research commissioner; and Karmenu Vella of Malta, who will take on environment, fisheries and maritime affairs.

For example Cañete, the new Energy and Climate Change commissioner, is a shareholder and former president of two Spanish oil companies: Petrolífera Dúcar SL and Petrologis Canaris SL. “Given his current and recent ties to the oil industry, he would regularly find himself caught in real or perceived conflicts of interest,” writes Fabian Flues of Friends of the Earth Europe. (Cañete was elected despite the fact that almost 600,000 people signed a petition to oppose his appointment.)

Hill from the UK, the new Financial Services and Capital Markets Union commissioner, founded a public relations and lobbying company called Quiller Consultants that has typically represented financial businesses like Bank of America and HSBC and investment managers like Brewin Dolphin and Citadel. Oliver Wright of the Independent called Hill the “most senior former lobbyist in Government” when he became Speaker of the House of Lords.

“European citizens who care about the environment, about tackling the banks, about de-intensifying agriculture, should all be concerned about the composition and direction of the Juncker Commission,” adds Hoedeman. “It will continue, and possibly expand, the pressure on social rights and public services, including under the slogan of ‘competitiveness’, as advocated strongly by the biggest and most powerful corporate lobby groups.”

 Pratap Chatterjee is a member of the advisory board of Corporate Europe Observatory.

What is the point of a social network that doesn’t share your content with friends and followers? Oh, yeah, for profit, government spying, emotional experiments and now, political manipulation.

Since they went public, Facebook has been playing with their algorithms to prevent “viral” content from occurring naturally in favor of charging users to show content to their followers. This profit-seeking strategy destroyed the only thing that made Facebook useful. Now it seems to serve as little more than an oversized telephone or IM app. But underneath, in the shadows, it’s still so much more than that.

Mother Jones reports that Facebook has been conducting stealthy political experiments on users, including tweaking the news feeds of almost 2 million users to boost articles shared from the top 100 media outfits. The purpose was to test voter turnout in the 2012 election.

As Huffington Post summarizes:

Facebook quietly tweaked the news feeds of 1.9 million users before the 2012 election so they would see more “hard news” shared by friends.

That change may have boosted voter turnout by as much as 3 percent, according to a little-known study first disclosed Friday by Mother Jones.

For the study, news articles that Facebook users’ friends had posted appeared higher in their feeds — the stream of status updates, photos and articles that show up when you first sign on to the site. The researchers wanted to see whether increasing your exposure to news stories shared by friends before an election would convince you to vote.

Facebook said the news stories being shared were general in nature and not political. They came were from a list of 100 top media outlets from the New York Times to Fox News, according to the Mother Jones story, written by Micah Sifry, a democracy activist.

Lost in the reporting about this voting experiment is how dangerous it is to only boost establishment news feeds for political outcomes. What if they switch to only boosting GOP or Democrat news feeds? Could they sway elections?

We already know they can sway users’ emotions without their knowledge.

As Huffington Post points out:

The revelation of the voter experiment comes four months after the social network was criticized for conducting a separate psychological experiment on about 700,000 users.

More on this study in the short video below:

Illegal or not, these experiments will likely continue in secret. Incidentally, it is well known that Facebook was funded by the CIA’s “not for profit” venture capital firm In-Q-Tel leading many to believe it’s a data collection hub for the U.S. government.

Facebook has clearly demonstrated that they dictate what you see in your news feed, not your social media friends. And they intend to continue to manipulate you in secret. Most troubling is that they’re targeting your emotions and political reality.

Facebook manipulated the news feeds of almost 2 million American users during the 2012 presidential election without telling them. The manipulation led to a 3 percent increase in voter turnout, according to the company’s own data scientist.

In a stunning revelation, the three months prior to Election Day in 2012 saw Facebook “tweak” the feeds of 1.9 million Americans by sharing their friends’ hard news posts rather than the usual personal posts. The effect was felt most by occasional Facebook users who reported in a survey they paid more attention to the government because of their friends’ hard news feeds. Facebook didn’t tell users about this psychology experiment, but it boosted voter turnout by 3 percent.

The experiment was first shared with the public in two talks given by Facebook’s data scientist, Lada Adamic, in the fall of 2012, and more details were disclosed recently by Mother Jones. In those talks, Adamic said a colleague at Facebook, Solomon Messing, “tweaked” the feeds. Afterwards, Messing surveyed the group and found that voter turnout and political engagement grew from a self-reported 64 percent to more than 67 percent.

Michael Buckley, vice president for global business communication at Facebook, said the Messing study was an “in product” test designed to see how users would react with news feeds that were more prominent.

“This was literally some of the earliest learning we had on news,” Buckley told Mother Jones. “Now, we’ve literally changed News Feed, to reduce spam and increase quality of content.”

Buckley said the public will not receive full answers about that experiment until some point in 2015, when the academic papers are expected to be published.

U.S. President Barack Obama waves before he speaks at a campaign event for Tom Wolf, who is running for Governor of Pennsylvania, while in the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, November 2, 2014. (Reuters/Larry Downing)

It is not the first time that Facebook has been exposed for conducting psychological experiments on its users without their knowledge. In June, it was revealed that Facebook tried to manipulate users’ emotions when toying with the feelings of 689,003 randomly-selected, English-speaking Facebook users by changing the contents of their news feed. During a week-long period in January 2012, researchers staged two parallel experiments, reducing the number of positive or negative updates in each user’s news feed.

“These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks, and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network,” according to a paper published in the June edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists (PNAS).

The Facebook users were not notified of the experiment. However, according to Facebook’s terms of service (to which every person agrees when they register on the social network), user data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.” The researchers argue that their experiment was consistent with Facebook’s data use policy.

Reuters/Larry Downing

These experiments are raising eyebrows over the manipulation of voters, as well as the possibility that big data can eventually be used to “engineer the public” without the public’s knowledge, according to sociologist Zeynep Tufekci.

“At minimum, this environment favors incumbents who already have troves of data, and favors entrenched and moneyed candidates within parties, as well as the data–rich among existing parties. The trends are clear. The selling of politicians — as if they were ‘products’ — will become more expansive and improved, if more expensive,” said Tufekci in a report on the peer-reviewed journal First Monday.

“In this light, it is not a complete coincidence that the ‘chief data scientist’ for the Obama 2012 campaign was previously employed by a supermarket to ‘maximize the efficiency of sales promotions.’ And while the data advantage is held, for the moment, by the Democratic party in the United States, it will likely available to the highest bidder in future campaigns.”

The trustworthiness of electronic voting machines has once again come under scrutiny after a touch screen in North Carolina flipped a man’s vote from Democrat to Republican in a key Senate race.

“Percy Bostick, 69, of Greensboro said he tried casting a vote for Democrat Kay Hagan at the Old Guilford County Courthouse, only to have the machine register Republican Thom Tillis as his choice,” reports the News-Record.

Bostick was forced to vote four times before the machine accurately recorded his choice.

With just over a point separating Tillis and Hagan in this crucial contest, any impropriety centered on electronic voting machines is likely to cause a dispute if the margin of victory is smaller than the amount of votes cast on touch screen systems.

This is by no means the first time that electronic touch screens have flipped votes in the run up to the mid-term elections.

A woman who voted early last week in Montgomery County, Md. saw her three votes for Republican candidates flip to Democrat right before her eyes. The error was subsequently blamed on a “calibration issue.”

Votes being cast for Republican candidates in Illinois were also changed to Democrats.

“You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat,” Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan told Fox News.

Last month, residents of Tennessee voting on an amendment that would allow the legislature to “to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother” found that their “no” votes were being flipped to “yes” by electronic voting machines.

Meanwhile in Pulaski County, Arkansas, at least a dozen residents also experienced their votes being flipped, although a KATV report didn’t specify whether they were being changed from D to R or from R to D.

“More than a quarter of U.S. voters this year will cast 100% unverifiable votes on such e-voting systems which may, or may not, record and register any votes the way that voters intended. There is no way for voters to ever know one way or another,” writes Brad Friedman.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

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In August 2005, the U.S. Congress and then-President George W. Bush blessed the oil and gas industry with a game-changer: the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Act exempted the industry from federal regulatory enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

While the piece of omnibus legislation is well-known to close observers of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) issue — especially the “Halliburton Loophole” — lesser known is another blessing bestowed upon shale gas and tight oil drillers: near zero-percent interest rates for debt accrued during the capital-intensive oil and gas production process.

Or put more bluntly, near-free money from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. That trend may soon come to a close, as the Federal Reserve recently announced an end to its controversial $3 trillion bond-buying program.

In response to the economic crisis and near collapse of the global economy, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to between 0 percent and .25 percent on December 16, 2008, a record low percentage. It also began its bond-buying program, described in a recent Washington Post article asimplemented to provide a “booster shot” to the economy.

“The Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability,” the Fed stated in a press release announcing the maneuver. “In particular, the [Federal Reserve] anticipates that weak economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for some time.”

That free money, known by economics wonks as quantitative easing, helps drilling companies finance fracking an increasingly massive number of wells to keep production levels flat in shale fields nationwide.

But even with the generous cash flow facilitated by the Fed, annual productivity of many shale gas and tight oil fields have either peaked or are in terminal decline. This was revealed in Post Carbon Institute‘s recently-published report titled, “Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom.”

Were it not for the Federal Reserve’s policy, the ever-accelerating drilling treadmill would likely slow down, making shale oil and gas production a far less lucrative endeavor for oil and gas companies and the financiers bankrolling it.

Some articles in the business press, including in the Houston Chronicle andBloomberg, speculate the Fed could lift interest rates on debt in 2015. That would sharply hinder many smaller and mid-level independent oil and gas companies.

Junk Debt Keeps Drillers on Treadmill

June article published in the Houston Chronicle highlighted the heavy reliance drillers have on “junk debt” to stay on the drilling treadmill. That is, the ever-increasing number of wells drilled to keep production numbers flat on a field-by-field basis, measured monthly or annually.

“[T]he gatekeeper of the nation’s money supply already has signaled it is planning to end its multibillion-dollar bond-buying program by the end of the year, and then begin to raise short-term interest rates toward historically typical levels from the near-zero rates that helped jump-start the recovery,” wrote Chronicle energy reporter Collin Eaton.

That bond-buying program, Bloomberg pointed out, helps frackers to “stay on [the] treadmill.” The combination of the end of the bond-buying and raising of interest rates is no small matter for drillers.

“Higher interest rates might make risky new bond issues by shale producers less attractive, and a flight of investor capital could leave the producers short on a commodity even more precious than oil: Cash,” explained Eaton.

Junk debt earned the name for a reason: it means risky business for investors, but also a higher yield of the cut if the bet goes well. It also means the cash needed for frackers to do exploration and production and the drill baby, drill process.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the horizontal drilling process for a single well can cost between $3.5 million to $9 million per well.

“What that tells us is it’s an operation heavily dependent on debt,” Vivendra Chauhan, an analyst for Energy Aspects, told the Chronicle. “Any cash you’re bringing in is being consumed by capital expenditures. This becomes a 2015, 2016 story about what happens when interest rates do rise. If they stop lending, you’ll get a pullback in production growth.”

The accelerating treadmill comes at a steep ecological cost even if the cash has come free of charge via the Fed.

“We’re concerned about what riding out the accelerating treadmill means,” Hugh MacMillan, senior researcher for Food and Water Watch and author of the report “The Urgent Case for a Ban on Fracking,” told DeSmogBlog.“It means tens of thousands of new wells each year, for decades, playing out as waves of systematic, widespread and intensive targeting of communities as years go by and as local economies go boom and bust. It means far more climate pollution than we can afford, and it means a legacy of risk to vital sources of drinking water for generations.”

“Melting Ice Cube Business”

According to Eaton, U.S. independent oil and gas producers sold $2.3 billion worth of bonds in the first quarter of 2014 alone. And Bloomberg reported that the number of bonds issued by oil and gas companies has grown by a factor of nine since 2004.

Critics within the world of finance say some investors have erred when it comes to shale, falsely assuming production levels would stay high despite the contrary facts on the ground.

“There’s a lot of Kool-Aid that’s being drunk now by investors,” Tim Gramatovich, chief investment officer and founder of Peritus Asset Management LLC, told Bloomberg in an April article.

“People lose their discipline. They stop doing the math. They stop doing the accounting,” he continued. “They’re just dreaming the dream, and that’s what’s happening with the shale boom.”

If production levels do not stay high and if the price of oil continues to drop, it could mean a real financial squeeze for investors, as well as the demise of smaller, independent oil and gas companies.

“This is a melting ice cube business,” Mike Kelly, an energy analyst at Global Hunter Securities, explained to Bloomberg back in April. “If you’re not growing production, you’re dying.”

0% Interest Rates: Not for Average People

While U.S. oil and gas companies have benefitted from near zero percent interest rates for loans, average people have not been so lucky.

A case in point: federal student loans for university students have interest rates ranging from 3.4 percent to 8.5 percent. Another example: credit cards in the U.S. generally have interest rates ranging from 7 percent to 36 percent.

Indeed, an entire activist movement offshoot of Occupy Wall Street started because of the debt crisis faced by average people. That movement coined itself Strike Debt.

Carl Gibson, founder of the anti-austerity group US Uncut, believes it is a trend emblematic of a greater whole.

Carl Gibson, US Uncut; Photo Credit: Carl Gibson

“The benefits these drilling companies get are the result of a quid-pro-quo system of government. The more they put in, the more the U.S. government puts out,” Gibson said. “When you don’t have the means to shower Congress with millions in campaign donations or hire armies of lobbyists to rig the rules in your favor, the system will always be stacked against you.”

 

Rwanda: The Untold Story,” a controversial BBC documentary first aired in the U.K. on Oct. 1, undermines the rationale for military action against the FDLR fighters in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Provinces. The FDLR has been described as the militia that committed the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, but the documentary suggests that no one was more responsible than Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame himself.

Transcript

Tanzanian President Jacaya Kikwete, right, has encouraged Rwandan President Paul Kagame, left, to negotiate with the FDLR militia for the safe return of Rwandan refugees in eastern Congo to Rwanda. Kagame has absolutely refused.

Tanzanian President Jacaya Kikwete, right, has encouraged Rwandan President Paul Kagame, left, to negotiate with the FDLR militia for the safe return of Rwandan refugees in eastern Congo to Rwanda. Kagame has absolutely refused.

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: The recent BBC documentary, “Rwanda: The Untold Story,” challenges the most fundamental and widely held beliefs about what happened in Rwanda’s war and genocide of the 1990s. Fierce argument over the documentary continues to escalate in the British, French and Rwandan press, with implications for Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the entire Great Lakes Region of Africa. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: The Rwandan government has shut down BBC programming in the Kinyarwanda language and said that it will indict the BBC producers of “Rwanda: The Untold Story” for “genocide denial.” The BBC told the London Guardian that they had a moral duty to make the film and announced that they will air it again this Friday.

U.K. publications including the Telegraph, the London Guardian, the Spectator and the BBC itself have all published argument over the BBC documentary, which has been the subject of no more than an AP wire in the U.S. corporate press.

The recent BBC documentary, “Rwanda: The Untold Story,” challenges the most fundamental and widely held beliefs about what happened in Rwanda’s war and genocide of the 1990s.

A CBS News report, “Militia accused of Rwanda genocide facing onslaught,” aired this week, but failed to mention the escalating controversy over who was actually responsible for the mass killing known as the Rwandan Genocide. It included this clip.

CBS: These men have been called killers, perpetrators of genocide, and they’ve been on the run in Congo for two decades? Now they say they want to stop fighting and go home to Rwanda.

FDLR fighter: We don’t want to remain fighters. The only thing we want is for the international community to help us go back to our homeland.

KPFA: The CBS report also quoted a U.N. source who said that U.N. troops may need the help of U.S. Marines, Special Forces and special equipment to finally hunt down this Rwandan refugee militia, the Force Democratique de Liberacion du Rwanda or FDLR, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As a senator, President Barack Obama authored the Congo Relief and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, which said that the real or perceived threat from hostile militias in eastern Congo had become a pretext for Rwanda and Uganda to invade the DRC and engage in illegal resource extraction. However, he himself is now threatening military action against one of these militias, the FDLR.

As a senator, President Barack Obama authored the Congo Relief and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, which said that the real or perceived threat from hostile militias in eastern Congo had become a pretext for Rwanda and Uganda to invade the DRC and engage in illegal resource extraction. However, he himself is now threatening military action against one of these militias, the FDLR.

But who are the FDLR, really? Although they number no more than 1,500, Kagame’s Rwanda has used them as an excuse for its past 18 years of war and illegal resource extraction in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Many Rwandan opposition leaders, including political prisoner Victoire Ingabire and exiled opposition leader and former Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, have said that the FDLR are simply Rwandan refugees who are armed to protect more than 100,000 survivors of the refugee exodus from Rwanda to Zaire, now the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1994. Tanzanian President Jacaya Kikwete has said the same and urged Rwandan President Paul Kagame to negotiate the refugees’ safe return to Rwanda.

In 1994, a Nightline reporter described the 1994 refugee exodus from Rwanda to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the most catastrophic refugee death march he had ever seen:

Nightline: The road from Goma is littered with bodies, taken out each morning like Africa’s trash, to be collected each day, then dumped in deep trenches now overflowing. Two thousand Rwandans, two thousand human beings, are dying each day now, from dysentery, dehydration and cholera. That’s more than one every minute. By the end of this broadcast, 40 more will be gone and tomorrow their bodies will join the others by the side of the road.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Who was responsible for the massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s? The armed refugees who now claim that their only goal is to protect their families and the rest of the Rwandan refugees until they can return to Rwanda? Or, as the BBC suggests, the Rwandan Patriotic Front and most of all its commander, General, now President, Paul Kagame?

If the joint U.S./U.N. military action threatened on Jan. 2 takes place, will it be hunting down victims, perpetrators or both? Or will it hunt down children younger than 20 years old, who were not even born in 1994? And is there any chance that the BBC documentary, which undermines the stated rationale for military action against the FDLR, will keep President Obama from sending in the Marines?

For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison contributes to the San Francisco Bay ViewCounterpunchGlobal Research,Colored OpinionsBlack Agenda Report and Black Star News and produces radio news and features for Pacifica’s WBAI-NYCKPFA-Berkeley and her own YouTube Channel. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website, anngarrison.com.

This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy.

You know something is going on when the cautious Boston Globe publishes not one, but two, pieces dealing with the “double government.”

This cryptic phrase encapsulates a serious claim about the American body politic: That a permanent and largely unaccountable bureaucracy keeps on doing what it wants to do, no matter who the voters elect to the White House.

Both of the Globe articles refer to “National Security and Double Government,” a book by Michael J. Glennon, professor of international law at Tufts University. From the descriptions of its contents (we haven’t read the book yet, but we will—and perhaps excerpt), the author is talking, with due academic caution, about an out-of-control security/military apparatus.

The fact that the Globe thinks this book is important enough to warrant not one but two analytical pieces is significant, because Boston was the scene of the mysterious Boston Marathon Bombing.

In the aftermath of that tragedy, the national security apparatus and its allies in the media, academia and corporate America (including, significantly, the Globe itself) rushed to discourage us from looking deeper at what happened—while at the same time the nat-sec folks used the event to further expand their influence at the expense of civil liberties.

The Secret Government

One of the Globe’s pieces was a highly favorable review of Dr. Glennon’s book by former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards. Edwards, a co-founder of the staunchly conservative Heritage Foundation, has over the years become more and more of a maverick—and more outspokenly alarmed by the path America has taken.

The other piece, which appeared in the Globe the same day,was a Q&A with Glennon. The astonishing headline was:

Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

The sub-headline wasn’t much tamer:

The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

The genesis of the book was a question that confounded Glennon about President Obama: How did a man who won election pledging to change the national security policies of his predecessor effect so little of that? Here’s what Edwards wrote in his review:

The answer Glennon places before us is not reassuring: “a bifurcated system — a structure of double government—in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy.” The result, he writes, is a system of dual institutions that have evolved “toward greater centralization, less accountability, and emergent autocracy.”

The paradox, Glennon says, is that this barely accountable government machinery actually arose from President Harry S. Truman’s attempts to reduce the military’s growing and unchecked power. The unforeseen outcome was the growth of an unaccountable civilian power center.

No Secret Conspiracy (Or Theory)

Glennon’s was hardly the first well-reviewed book to deal with this topic. In 2009 Janine Wedel, an anthropology professor at George Mason University, published Shadow Elite, which received lavish praise from Arianna Huffington and the endorsement of her “book club,” despite the fact that the Huffington Post itself has a strong aversion  to  publishing “conspiracy” stories.

Perhaps Wedel avoided being tarred with the hackneyed “conspiracy theorist” because she argues that the shadowy networks she describes are not necessarily criminal or in cahoots with multinational corporations, but merely the outgrowth of powerful and self-replenishing (if often incompetent) elites.

Glennon will likely avoid the damaging label as well, with extensive research and more than 800 footnotes in his book to back up his thesis. The author “is hardly the sort to engage in such fantasies,” Edwards wrote:

This is no secret conspiracy nor a plot to deprive Americans of their civil liberties. It is the unintended consequence of a thoughtful attempt to head off the very threats that those attempts have inadvertently created. But if Glennon’s book is enlightening it is also scary. And it’s not fiction.

Glennon turns to a familiar explanation—that every nation gets the government it deserves—to bolster his argument as to why the double government has been able to flourish:

“The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people. And indifference to the threat that is emerging from these concealed institutions,” he told the Globe.

***

Of course, the notion that the American political process and a largely compliant and docile media keep focusing attention on the wrong people and institutions is one of WhoWhatWhy’s central themes. This heretical insight is typically pooh-poohed in the corporate media and even in the so-called alternative media. Any attempt to raise the lid on what’s been called Deep Politics is routinely disparaged and condemned as the droolings of the deranged.

Well, everyone has his or her own comfort level with uncomfortable material. Some may need a credentialed professor or two to start the conversation, and a major newspaper to weigh in favorably, before they dare open their minds.

We won’t complain. We’re just glad to know that we were sane all along.

Next (though we aren’t holding our breath for this) we hope to see the Boston Globe publish an in-depth investigation of that sub rosa “Double Government” and its peculiar handling of the Boston Marathon Bombing—which to our eyes has, at best, the hallmarks of a security-fail cover-up. And an incident that considerably expanded the rationale for, and power of, the same NatSec establishment that has belatedly so alarmed the Globe.

Using the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as its justification, the Obama administration has recently given the psychiatric business and pharmaceutical industry a major gift by quietly introducing a behavioral and mental health program in public schools throughout the United States. The maneuver was initially laid out on January 16, 2013 in President Obama’s executive policy, Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect Our Children and Our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence.

The document is partly devoted to articulating Obama’s proposed gun control measures that failed to move gain legislative traction in 2013. Yet an under-reported section of Now is the Time is applied to “making schools safer” and “improving mental health services” for students.[1] While presented by the Obama administration as “commonsense solutions to gun violence,“ one is left to consider the long range implications of such an initiative, particularly in light of the Affordable Care Act and the psychopharmaceutical complex’s never-ending drive to expand its clientele.

On September 22, 2014 Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $99 million in new grants “to train new mental health providers, help teachers and others recognize mental health issues in youth and connect them to help and increase access to mental health services for young people.”[2]

On September 23 the Department of Education announced an additional $70 million in “School Climate Transformation grants.” According to the DOE, over half of the funding “will be used to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for implementing evidence based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions.” The goals of such measures include “connecting[ing] children, youths, and families to appropriate services and supports,” and “increase[ing] measures of and the ability to respond to mental health issues among school-aged youth.”[3]

Both HHS and DOE explicitly cite Obama’s Now is the Time declaration as rationale for the new programs. “The administration is committed to increasing access to mental health services to protect the health of children and communities,” Secretary Burwell asserts. “If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan similarly remarks. “Through these grants of more than $70 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensure that kids have access to the best learning experience possible.”

NITTOf the DOE’s $70 million, $13 million is allocated to aiding school districts in creating “high-quality school emergency plans.” Another $14 million goes toward “Project Prevent grants” for violence-plagued schools to “be used for school-based counseling services, or referrals to community-based counseling services for assistance in coping with trauma or anxiety.”[4]

Such designs should be viewed in light of two related concerns that hint at broader motives and agendas: 1) the US government’s continued aggressive transformation of the healthcare system; 2) psychiatry and drug manufacturers’ shared mission to persuade an increasing segment of the national and global population that it has one or more undiagnosed mental or emotional “disorders” that require analysis and treatment.

Introducing psychiatric explanations and methodologies into school environments guarantees a growing customer base for the psychiatric profession and pharmaceutical industry. Alongside government’s increasing control of healthcare, the technocratic surveillance and management of everyday thought and behavior is likewise emerging as part of what is deceptively termed “wellness.” In reality such efforts ensure an ever-expanding bureaucracy, handsomely line the pockets of a select few, and further normalize a culture of learned helplessness and control within an environment that already privileges conformity as a matter of routine.

Between the early 1990s and mid 2000s antidepressant use in the US increased almost fourfold.[5] At present 20 percent of Americans take at least one psychotropic medication, a figure that at the present rate of expansion will double by the early 2020s. Yet there is little evidence such drugs actually address the symptoms psychiatric patients are advised they have.

Indeed, the entire notion of “biological psychiatry”–that psychiatric conditions are rooted in observable processes–cannot withstand serious scientific scrutiny. Yet such notions comprise the underlying rationale of psychopharmocology. As psychology professor Elliot Valenstein observes,

The belief that the complex cognitive and emotional states that underlie any emotional disorder are regulated by a single transmitter receptor subtype is probably no more valid than the idea held earlier by phrenologists who believed that complex mental attributes could be localized in one specific part of the brain.[6]

More recently, Dr. Richard Friedman, professor of clinical psychology at Weill Cornell Medical College, remarks, “[W]e don’t yet understand the fundamental cause of most psychiatric disorders, in part because the brain is uniquely difficult to study; you can’t just biopsy the brain and analyze it. That is why scientists have had great trouble identifying new targets for psychiatric drugs.”[7]

At present de facto behavioral examinations are administered by medical providers’ inquiring on a patient’s tobacco and alcohol intake. Yet psychiatry has been pushing for “mental health screenings” to ferret out clientele since the early 1990s. The fact that such mental health practices are being introduced throughout the nation’s schools suggests how they will likely become much more commonplace under in coming years.

“Absolutely, people should have a mental health checkup,” notes Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, editor of the American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric News. “It’s just as important as having a physical checkup.” Borenstein recommends the “P.H.Q.-9,” a “patient health questionnaire,” freely available online, as a preliminary assessment for determining mild-to-major “depressive disorder.” The P.H.Q-9 was designed with funding from Pfizer.[8]

Perhaps coincidentally, the HHS and DOE announced their mental health grants just two weeks before National Depression Screening Day on October 9th. The occasion for “mental health awareness” has been observed since the early 1990s by Screening for Mental Health, Inc., a nonprofit 501c(3) offering its own free online examination.

“People stop and they check in on their physical health but they don’t do the same with their mental health,” says Michelle Holmberg, director of programs at SMH. “In the same way you would get a blood pressure screening … why aren’t people stopping to do mental health screenings?”[9]

Saul Levin, the CEO and Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association, sits on Screening for Mental Health’s board of directors. SMH received over $16 million in “gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees” between 2008 and 2012, according to the organization’s 2012 federal tax return, suggesting backing from APA and like-minded stakeholders.

Corporate news media have thoroughly blacked out the Obama administration’s program that further transforms the nation’s public schools in to lucrative referral centers for big psychopharma. In contrast, most school shootings that have become routine throughout the US receive considerable publicity, yet almost no investigative work or follow-up from the same news outlets sensationalizing them.[10]

Alongside Obama’s mental health mandate, the coverage further anchors in the public mind the idea—however subtle—that practically all youth are potential time bombs that must be closely monitored and, where appropriate, defused. Such approaches only negate the possibility for achieving what they implicitly promise: the prospect for self realization within a genuine community of peers.

Notes

[1] Now is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect Our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence (PDF), January 16, 2013, Washington DC.

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “HHS Announces $99 Million in New Grants to Improve Mental Health Services for Young People,” September 22, 2014, Washington DC.

[3] U.S. Department of Education, “U.S. Department of Education Invests More Than $70 Million to Improve School Climate and Keep Students Safe,” September 23, 2014.

[4] “U.S. Department of Education Invests More Than $70 Million.”

[5] Centers for Disease Control/National Center for Health Statistics, “Antidepressant Use in Persons Aged 12 and Over, 2005-2008”(PDF), October 2011.

[6] Elliot S. Valenstein, Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, New York: Free Press, 1998, 226.

[7] Richard A. Friedman, M.D., “A Dry Pipeline for Psychiatric Drugs,” New York Times, August 19, 2013.

[8] Ann Carrns, “A Regular Checkup is Good for the Mind as well as the Body,” New York Times, November 13, 2012.

[9] Lindsay Holmes,” This Little Mental Health Screening Could Have a Big Impact When It Comes to Depression,” Huffington Post, October 9, 2014.

[10] No major Western news outlets have given serious attention to the Sandy Hook School massacre narrative’s many unanswered questions. In the more recent Isla Vista and Las Vegas shootings the investigating law enforcement agencies have refused to publicly release their reports on those incidents.

Bill Gates at Cornell University, trying to cross-pollinate wheat. (Photo: Cornell University)

Listening to farmers and addressing their specific needs. We talk to farmers about the crops they want to grow and eat, as well as the unique challenges they face. We partner with organizations that understand and are equipped to address these challenges, and we invest in research to identify relevant and affordable solutions that farmers want and will use.”

First guiding principle of the Gates Foundation’s work on agriculture.1

At some point in June this year, the total amount given as grants to food and agriculture projects by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surpassed the US$3 billion mark. It marked quite a milestone. From nowhere on the agricultural scene less than a decade ago, the Gates Foundation has emerged as one of the world’s major donors to agricultural research and development.

The Gates Foundation is arguably the biggest philanthropic venture ever. It currently holds a $40 billion endowment, made up mostly of contributions from Gates and his billionaire friend Warren Buffet. The foundation has over 1,200 staff, and has given over $30 billion in grants since its inception in 2000, $3.6 billion in 2013 alone.2 Most of the grants go to global health programmes and educational work in the US, traditionally the foundation’s priority areas. But in 2006-2007, the foundation massively expanded its funding for agriculture, with the launch of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and a series of large grants to the international agricultural research system (CGIAR). In 2007, it spent over half a billion dollars on agricultural projects and has maintained funding at around this level. The vast majority of the foundation’s agricultural grants focus on Africa.

Image, right: A junior business advisor for TechnoServe discusses farming techniques with a Ugandan farmer. Technoserve is the NGO receiving the most funds from the Gates Foundation. It’s a US based NGO that develops “business solutions to poverty”. Running on an $80 million annual budget, it received a total of $85 million from the Gates Foundation during the last decade. Over half of these funds came through a 2007 grant “to help entrepreneurial men and women in poor rural areas of the developing world build business”. Technoserve carries out this work through partnerships with food corporations such as Cargill, Unilever, Coca Cola and Nestlé, who bring “world-class business and industry expertise” and who are offered, through the programme, “new market and sourcing opportunities”.

Spending so much money gives the foundation significant influence over agricultural research and development agendas. As the weight of the foundation’s overall focus on technology and private sector partnerships has begun to be felt in the global agriculture arena, it has raised opposition and controversy, particularly around its work in Africa. Critics say that the Gates Foundation is promoting an imported model of industrial agriculture based on the high-tech seeds and chemicals sold by US corporations. They say the foundation is fixated on the work of scientists in centralised labs and that it chooses to ignore the knowledge and biodiversity that Africa’s small farmers have developed and maintained over generations. Some also charge that the Gates Foundation is using its money to impose a policy agenda on Africa, accusing the foundation of direct intervention on highly controversial issues like seed laws and GMOs.

GRAIN looked through the foundation’s publicly available financial records to see if the actual flows of money support these critiques. We combed through all the grants for agriculture that the Gates Foundation gave between 2003 and September 20143. We then organised the grant recipients into major groupings (see table 2) and constructed a database which can be downloaded as a spreadsheet or as a more printer-friendly table from GRAIN’s website.4

Here are some of the conclusions we were able to draw from the data.

1. The Gates Foundation fights hunger in the South by giving money to the North.

Click to enlarge – Graph 1: the Gates Foundation’s $3 billion pie (agriculture grants, by region).

Graph 1 and Table 1 give the overall picture. Roughly half of the foundation’s grants for agriculture went to four big groupings: the CGIAR’s global agriculture research network, international organisations (World Bank, UN agencies, etc.), AGRA (set up by Gates itself) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). The other half ended up with hundreds of different research, development and policy organisations across the world. Of this last group, over 80% of the grants were given to organisations in the US and Europe, 10% went to groups in Africa, and the remainder elsewhere. Table 2 lists the top 10 countries where Gates grantees are located and the amounts they received, highlighting some of the main grantees. By far the main recipient country is Gates’s own home country, the US, followed by the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

 

When it comes to agricultural grants by the foundation to universities and national research centres across the world, 79% went to grantees in the US and Europe, and a meagre 12% to recipients in Africa.

The North-South divide is most shocking, however, when we look at the NGOs that the Gates Foundation supports. One would assume that a significant portion of the frontline work that the foundation funds in Africa would be carried out by organisations based there. But of the $669 million that the Gates Foundation has granted to non-governmental organisations for agricultural work, over three quarters has gone to organisations based in the US. Africa-based NGOs get a meagre 4% of the overall agriculture-related grants to NGOs.

(map excludes grants to CGIAR, AGRA, AATF and international organisations)

Click here to view in full screen

2. The Gates Foundation gives to scientists, not farmers

As can be seen in Graph 2, the single biggest recipient of grants from the Gates Foundation is the CGIAR, a consortium of 15 international agricultural research centres. In the 1960s and 70s, these centres were responsible for the development and spread of a controversial Green Revolution model of agriculture in parts of Asia and Latin America which focused on the mass distribution of a few varieties of seeds that could produce high yields – with the generous application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Efforts to implement the same model in Africa failed and, globally, the CGIAR lost relevance as corporations like Syngenta and Monsanto took control over seed markets. Money from the Gates Foundation is providing CGIAR and its Green Revolution model a new lease on life, this time in direct partnership with seed and pesticide companies.5

Click to enlarge – Graph 2: the Gates Foundation’s $3 billion pie (agriculture grants, by type of organisation).

The CGIAR centres have received over $720 million from Gates since 2003. During the same period, another $678 million went to universities and national research centres across the world – over three-quarters of them in the US and Europe – for research and development of specific technologies, such as crop varieties and breeding techniques.

The Gates Foundation’s support for AGRA and the AATF is tightly linked to this research agenda. These organisations seek, in different ways, to facilitate research by the CGIAR and other research programmes supported by the Gates Foundation and to ensure that the technologies that come out of the labs get into farmers’ fields. AGRA trains farmers on how to use the technologies, and even organises them into groups to better access the technologies, but it does not support farmers in building up their own seed systems or in doing their own research.6

We could find no evidence of any support from the Gates Foundation for programmes of research or technology development carried out by farmers or based on farmers’ knowledge, despite the multitude of such initiatives that exist across the continent. (African farmers, after all, do continue to supply an estimated 90% of the seed used on the continent!) The foundation has consistently chosen to put its money into top down structures of knowledge generation and flow, where farmers’ are mere recipients of the technologies developed in labs and sold to them by companies.

3. The Gates Foundation buys political influence

Does the Gates Foundation use its money to tell African governments what to do? Not directly. The Gates Foundation set up the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa in 2006 and has supported it with $414 million since then. It holds two seats on the Alliance’s board and describes it as the “African face and voice for our work”7.

AGRA, like the Gates Foundation, provides grants to research programmes. It also funds initiatives and agribusiness companies operating in Africa to develop private markets for seeds and fertilisers through support to “agro-dealers” (see box on Malawi). An important component of its work, however, is shaping policy.

AGRA intervenes directly in the formulation and revision of agricultural policies and regulations in Africa on such issues as land and seeds. It does so through national “policy action nodes” of experts, selected by AGRA, that work to advance particular policy changes. For example, in Ghana, AGRA’s Seed Policy Action Node drafted revisions to the country’s national seed policy and submitted it to the government. The Ghana Food Sovereignty Network has been fiercely battling such policies since the government put them forward. In Mozambique, AGRA’s Seed Policy Action Node drafted plant variety protection regulations in 2013, and in Tanzania it reviewed national seed policies and presented a study on the demand for certified seeds. Also in Tanzania, its Land Policy Action Node is involved in revising the Village Land Act as well as “reviewing laws governing land titling at the district level and working closely with district officials to develop guidelines for formulation of by-laws.”8

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is another Gates Foundation supported organisation that straddles the technology and policy arenas. Since 2008, it has received $95 million from the Gates Foundation, which it used to to support the development and distribution of hybrid maize and rice varieties. But it also uses funds from the Gates Foundation to “positively change public perceptions” about GMOs and to lobby for regulatory changes that will increase the adoption of GM products in Africa.9

In a similar vein, the Gates Foundation provides Harvard University University with funds to promote discussion of biotechnology in Africa, Michigan University with a grant to set up a centre to help African policymakers decide on how best to use biotechnology, and Cornell University with funds to create a global “agricultural communications platform” so that people better understand science-based agricultural technologies, with AATF as a main partner.

Gates & AGRA in Malawi: organising the agro-dealers

One of AGRA’s core programmes in Africa is the establishment of “agro-dealer” networks: small, private stockists who sell chemicals and seeds to farmers. In Malawi, AGRA provided a $4.3 million grant for the Malawi Agro-dealer Strengthening Programme (MASP) to supply hybrid maize seeds and chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers.

The main supplier to the agro-dealers in Malawi has been Monsanto, responsible for 67% of all inputs. A Monsanto country manager disclosed that all of Monsanto’s sales of seeds and herbicides in Malawi are made through AGRA’s agro-dealer network.

“Agro-dealers… act as vessels for promoting input suppliers’ products,” says one MASP project document. Another states: “supply companies have expressed their appreciation for field days because MASP trained agro-dealers are helping them promote their products in the very remotest areas of Malawi.” Training the agro-dealers on product knowledge is carried out by the corporate suppliers of the products themselves. In addition, these agro-dealers are increasingly the source of farming advice to small farmers, and an alternative to the government’s agricultural extension service.

An agro-dealer in Malawi. (Photo: AGRA)

A project evaluation report states that 44% of the agro-dealers in the programme were providing extension services. According to the World Bank: “The agro-dealers have… become the most important extension nodes for the rural poor… A new form of private sector driven extension system is emerging in these countries.”The agro-dealer project in Malawi has been implemented by CNFA, a US-based organisation funded by the Gates Foundation, USAID and DFID, and its local affiliate the Rural Market Development Trust (RUMARK), whose trustees include four seed and chemical suppliers: Monsanto, SeedCo, Farmers World and Farmers Association.

Adapted from “The Hunger Games” by War on Want, London, 2012.

 

Listening to farmers?

“Listening to farmers and addressing their specific needs” is the first guiding principle of the Gates Foundation’s work on agriculture.10 But it is hard to listen to someone when you cannot hear them. Small farmers in Africa do not participate in the spaces where the agendas are set for the agricultural research institutions, NGOs or initiatives, like AGRA, that the Gates Foundation supports. These spaces are dominated by foundation reps, high-level politicians, business executives, and scientists.

Listening to someone, if it has any real significance, should also include the intent to learn. But nowhere in the programmes funded by the Gates Foundation is there any indication that it believes that Africa’s small farmers have anything to teach, that they have anything to contribute to research, development and policy agendas. The continent’s farmers are always cast as the recipients, the consumers of knowledge and technology from others. In practice, the foundation’s first guiding principle appears to be a marketing exercise to sell its technologies to farmers. In that, it looks, not surprisingly, a lot like Microsoft.

GRAIN would like to thank Camila Oda Montecinos for her help in pulling together the database and the graphic materials.

Putting your money where your mouth is

In September 2014, the Rockefeller heirs decided to follow some of their philanthropic peers and divest the money in their foundations from fossil fuels, citing moral reasons. Gates too, with his foundation holding around $700 million in shares in Exxon, BP and Shell, has been under pressure to make his investments more socially responsible.11

In 2007, the Los Angeles Times revealed that hundreds of Gates Foundation investments – totalling at least $8.7 billion, or 41% of its assets – were in companies that ran counter to the foundation’s charitable goals or social philosophy.

(Graphic: Mother Jones)

Shortly afterwards, the foundation announced a review of its investments to assess their social responsibility. That review, however, was quickly trashed and the foundation decided to stick with a policy of investing for maximum return.12The foundation does, however, claim that“when instructing the investment managers, Bill and Melinda also consider other issues beyond corporate profits, including the values that drive the foundation’s work”.13

It is difficult to see what that amounts to when it comes to its food and agriculture programme. The Gates Foundation maintains that “access to diverse, nutritious foods is fundamental to good health” but its food related investments go almost exclusively to the fast food industry. A stunning $3.1 billion went to companies like Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Pepsico, Burger King, and KFC in 2012. The Foundation has $1 billion tied up in the world’s largest supermarket chain, Walmart, which is a major force driving out small farms in favour of large suppliers.14 The Gates Foundation has also bought $23 million in shares of the world’s leading producer of genetically engineered crops, Monsanto.15


Table 1: Gates Foundation agricultural grants by type of grantee, 2003-2014

Agency $US million Main recipients
CGIAR 720 The CGIAR is a consortium of 15 international research centres set up to promote the Green Revolution across the world. Gates is now amongst its major donors. Main recipients include: IFPRI ($167 million), CIMMYT ($132m), IRRI ($139m), ICRISAT ($76m), IITA ($49m), ILRI ($15m), CIP ($55m), CIAT ($33m) and others. Most of the grants are in the form of project support to each of the centres, and many of them are focussing on developing new crop varieties.
AGRA 414 A total of 14 grants for core support and AGRA’s main issue areas: seeds, soils, markets, and lobbying African governments to change policies and legislation.
Int’l orgs (UN, World Bank, etc.) 362 World Bank – IBRD ($119m); World Food Programme (WFP) ($79m); UNDP ($54m.); FAO ($50 m.) UN Foundation ($30m). The lion’s share of the grants to the World Bank are to promote public and private sector investment in agriculture ($60m), WFP is supported to improve market opportunities for small farmers, UNDP to establish rural agro-enterprises in West Africa, and the support to FAO is mostly for statistical and policy work.
AATF 95 AATF (African Agricultural Technology Foundation) is a blatantly pro-GMO pro-corporate research outfit based in Nairobi. Gates supported them with almost $100 m mostly to develop and distribute hybrid maize and rice varieties, but also to raise“awareness on agricultural biotechnology for improved understanding and appreciation”.
Universities & National Research Centres. 678 Over three quarters of all Gates funding to universities and research centres goes to institutions in the US and Europe, such as Cornell, Michigan and Harvard in the US, and Cambridge and Greenwich Universities in the UK, amongst many others. The work supported is a mix of basic agronomic, breeding and molecular research, as well as policy research. A lot of it includes genetic engineering. Michigan State University, for example, got $13m to help African policy makers “to make informed decisions on how to use biotechnology”.Although most of the foundation’s grants are supposed to benefit Africa, barely 12% of its grants to universities and research centres go directly to African institutions ($80m in total, of which $30m for the Uganda based Regional University Forum set up by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Service delivery NGOs 669 The Gates Foundation sees these as agents to implement its work on the ground. They include both large development NGOs and foundations, and the activities supported tend to have a strong technology development angle, or focus on policy and education work in line with the foundation’s philosophy. A whopping 76% of these grants end up with beneficiaries in the US, and another 13% in Europe. African NGOs get 4% of the NGO grants ($28m total, $13m of which to groups in South Africa, and another $13m for “Farm Concern International” an NGO based in Nairobi with the mission of creating “commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond”.
Corporations 50 A relatively minor share of Gates’ funding goes directly to the corporate sector. Most of the grants are for specific technologies developed by the corporations in question. The two single largest grants ($23m and $9m) are to the World Cocoa Foundation, a corporate outfit representing the worlds major food and cocoa processors, for (amongst other things) “grants to industry players who will focus on improving the productivity of cocoa”.
Advocacy & policy 122 Here we find a mix of groups working on policy issues to support the Gates Foundation’s agenda, especially in Africa. The two largest grants are for the Meridian Institute in the USA, ($20m) to “develop an Africa-based and Africa-led partnership” and to FANRPAN, a policy research network based in South Africa ($16m) to set up “nutrition sensitive agriculture programs” in sub-Saharan Africa.Please note that much of the foundation’s policy and advocacy work is implemented through grants to institutions in the other groups (such as Universities, the CGIAR and, most notably, AGRA), to get African policy makers to change seed, land, IPR and other laws to favour corporate investment and technology introduction.
Total 3110

 

Table 2: Gates Foundation agricultural grant recipients, top 10 countries 2003-2014

(excluding: grants to CGIAR, AGRA, AATF and Int’l organisations)

Country $US million Main recipients
USA 880 By far the largest recipient country of Gates agricultural grants meant to benefit farmers in poor countries: $880 million dished out in 254 grants. Recipients include US universities and research institutions to produce for crop varieties and biotechnology research for farmers in Africa (e.g. Cornell University, $90m in 12 grants), big NGO projects mostly oriented to develop technology and markets (e.g. Heifer, $51m, to increase cow productivity and Technoserve Inc., $47m, to help poor farmers to “build business that create income”), and several policy and capacity building projects to push the foundation’s agenda in Africa and elsewhere.
UK 156 A total of 25 grants with a focus on academic research such as for the University of Greenwich to work on cassava value chains in several African countries (16.6 m), the University of Cambridge to work on epidemiological modelling on wheat and cassava diseases ($4.2m) and the John Innes Centre to test the feasibility cereal crops capable of fixing nitrogen ($9.8m).
Germany 115 Three grants for the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ) to develop supply chains for African ca shews and for support to African rice farmers ($51.1m), and another three grants for the German Investment Corporation to work on African cotton and coffee farming ($48.8m), amongst others.
Netherlands 61 Mostly for two grants to the Wageningen University for agronomic research on grain legumes ($47.8m)
India 41 Total of ten grants including two grants to PRADAN ($30.8m for women farmers training), and to BAIF ($6.3 m. for establishment of cattle development centres)
China 37 Mostly for the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (two grants totalling $33 million) to develop new rice varieties for farmers across the world.
South Africa 37 14 grants to a variety of grantees, including the FANRPANnetwork to carry out agriculture programmes ($16m), University of Pretoria ($4.5m for policy research) Sangonet ($1.7m. for mobile phone applications for farmers), SACAU (two grants $5.8m to support farmers organisations and electronic farmer management systems, and the Association of African Business Schools ($1.5m to develop agribusiness management and training programmes).
Uganda 36 Mostly for RUFORUM (two grants totalling over $30 million to support agricultural research universities in the region). RUFORUM was established as a programme of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1992 and became an independent Regional University Forum in 2004.
Australia 30 A total of 14 grants mostly to universities and research centres to develop sorghum and cowpea hybrids for Africa and other sorghum breeding programmesdeliver solutions to dairy cattle genetics in poor countries, and supply cattle genotypes to dairy farmers in East Africa, amongst others.
Canada 20 A total of 8 grants mostly to universities to ensure adoption of new technologies, develop cassava seed supply chains in Tanzania, and radio programmes in Africa, amongst others.
Total top 10 1413 $1.4 billion, or almost half of all agriculture funding from Gates in the last decade went to grantees in these 10 countries: 90% to the North.

 


Notes

1 Gates Foundation website, “Agricultural Development, strategic overview”.

2 Gates Foundation website, Foundation Fact Sheet.

3 We used the grants database on the Gates Foundation website and analysed the grants listed under ‘Agricultural Development’, 610 grants totalling US$ 3,110,591,382. (Database last accessed on 7 October 2014: http://tinyurl.com/m9s42z7).

4 Download the database as an Excel spreadsheet or as a more printer-friendly table (44 pages).

5 For a discussion on Gates and the CGIAR, see: SciDevNet, “Are Gates and CGIAR a good mix for Africa?”, 2010.

6 Several good critiques on AGRA already exist and we won’t repeat them here. See, for example, African Centre for Biosafety, “AGRA: laying the groundwork for the commercialisation of African agriculture” , by Food First, “Out of AGRA: the Green Revolution returns to Africa” (2008), GRAIN, “A new Green Revolution for Africa?” (2007) and others.

7 From the Gates Foundation’s Agricultural Development Strategy 2008-2011, quoted in Phil Bereano and Travis English, “Looking in a gift horse’s mouth”, in: Third World Resurgence, TWN, Penang, 2010.

8 On the Policy Action Nodes, see: AGRA 2013 Annual Report. For info about the Ghana Food Sovereignty Network: http://foodsovereigntyghana.org/

9 Most of these activities are carried out by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), created by AATF in 2006 to achieve “increased adoption of GM products in Africa and the rest of the world” See: http://allianceforscience.cornell.edu/partners

10 Gates Foundation website, “Agricultural Development, strategic overview”.

11 Figures based on the foundation’s 2012 tax returns, as reported in Alex Park and Laeah Leet, “The Gates Foundation’s hypocritical investments”, Mother Jones, 6 December 2013.

12 Charles Piller, Edmund Sanders and Robyn Dixon, “Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation”, Los Angeles Times, 7 January 2007.

13 Gates Foundation website, “Our investment policy

14 Figures based on the foundation’s 2012 tax returns, as reported in Park and Leet, “The Gates Foundation’s hypocritical investments”, Mother Jones, 6 December 2013.

15 John Vidal, “Why is the Gates foundation investing in GM giant Monsanto?” Guardian, 29 September 2010.

James T. Griffiths of the South China Morning Post was preparing a hit piece on analysts exposing the US role behind Hong Kong’s ongoing street protests organized by “Occupy Central.” Through a series of various logical fallacies, Griffiths was attempting to undermine and discredit these alternative news sources that have filled in the missing pieces intentionally left out by larger, subjectively pro-Western media monopolies and reporters like Griffiths himself. 

In a conversation with Griffiths, after discussing the unscrupulous nature of his tactics, he finally conceded that indeed, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was providing cash for certain political groups to carry out their activities in Hong Kong. Griffiths would claim in response to the suggestion that “Occupy Central” taking US cash constituted sedition that:

If you think a pro-democracy NGO handing out money to pro-democracy organisations is creepy, then sure.

Only NED is not a “pro-democracy NGO.” It is a functionary of the United States government and more specifically the US State Department whose very existence is to serve US interests, not those of the many nations its various funding arms, including USAID and NED, meddle in.

Neo-Cons and Corporate Fascists for Democracy? 

Griffiths’ backpedaling is typical. First denying “Occupy Central” was funded from abroad, but since forced to concede otherwise, he is now claiming that such foreign funding constitutes no conflict of interest and is merely the promotion of “democracy.”  It appears, however, that Griffiths either is being dishonest, or is uninformed about the true nature of the National Endowment for Democracy. He refused to comment when presented with a full list of NED’s board of directors.

NED and its subsidiaries, Freedom House, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), despite the lofty mission statement articulated on their websites, are little more than fronts for executing American foreign policy. Just as the US military is used under the cover of lies regarding WMD’s and “terrorism,” NED is employed under the cover of bringing “democracy” to “oppressed” people. However, a thorough look at NED’s board of directors, as well as the board of trustees of its subsidiaries definitively lays to rest any doubts that may be lingering over the true nature of these organizations and the causes they support.
More importantly, for the many well-meaning left-leaning liberals intrigued by, and tempted to support “Occupy Central,” revelations that “Occupy Central” is in fact a far-right Neo-Con corporate-fascist scheme to expand a confrontation with China and extort from Beijing geopolitical and economic concessions should at the very least give pause for thought.

The Neo-Cons  

Upon NED’s board of directors are Neo-Conservatives including Elliot AbramsFrancis FukuyamaZalmay KhalilzadWill Marshall, and Vin Weber, all signatories of the pro-war, pro-corporate Neo-Con Project for a New American Century. Within the pages of documents produced by this “think tank” are pleas to various US presidents to pursue war against sovereign nations, the increase of troops in nations already occupied by US forces, and what equates to a call for American global hegemony in a Hitlerian 90 page document titled “Rebuilding Americas Defenses.”

The “Statement of Principles,” signed off by NED chairmen Elliot Abrams, Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Vin Weber, states, “we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.” Of course this “international order,” is merely a poorly disguised euphemism for global neo-imperialism. Other Neo-Con that signed their name to this statement include Freedom House’s Paula DobrianskyDan Quayle (formerly), and Donald Rumsfeld(formerly). Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and Eliot Cohen also signed their names to this document.

A PNAC “Statment on Post-War Iraq” regarding a wholehearted endorsement of nation-building and continued occupation features the signatures of NED chairman Will Marshall, Freedom House’s Frank Carlucci (2002), and James Woolsey (formerly), along with Martin Indyk (Lowy Institute board member, co-author of the conspiring “Which Path to Persia?” report), and William Kristol and Robert Kagan both of the warmongeringForeign Policy Initiative. It should be noted that the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is, for all intents and purposes, PNAC’s latest reincarnation and in 2011 featured an open letter to House Republicans calling on them to disregard the will of the American people and continue pursuing the war in Libya.

Image: US Senator John McCain, chairman of NED’s subsidiary IRI, walks in 
Libya’s terrorist capital of Benghazi beside soon-to-be-murdered US
Ambassador Christopher Stevens – killed by the very terrorists he and McCain
had helped arm. 

The FPI letter even suggested that the UN resolution authorizing the war in the first place, was holding America “hostage” and that it should be exceeded in order to do more to “help the Libyan opposition.” This “opposition” was vocally supported by NED subsidiary IRI’s chairman and US Senator John McCainwho stood in Libya’s terrorist capital of Benghazi pledging arms and cash in front of a courthouse that would later serve as a parade ground for legions of Al Qaeda terrorists.

An untitled PNAC letter addressed to then US President George Bush regarding a general call for global warmongering received the seal of approval from Freedom Houses’ Ellen Bork (2007), Ken Adelman (also former lobbyist for Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra viaEdelman), and James Woolsey (formerly), along with notorious Neo-Cons Richard Perle, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Daniel Pipes.

The Corporate-Fascists 

Upon NED’s board of directors we first find John Bohn who traded petrochemicals, was an international banker for 13 years with Wells Fargo, and is currently serving as a principal for a global advisory and consulting firm, GlobalNet Partners, which assists foreign businesses by making their “entry into the complex China market easy.” Surely Bohn’s ability to manipulate China’s political landscape through NED’s various activities both inside of China and along its peripheries constitutes an alarming conflict of interest.

Image: A visual representation of the National Endowment for Democracy’s corporate-financier ties found across their Board of Directors. Far from “human rights advocates,” they are instead simply leveraging such issues to disguise what is in reality corporate-financier hegemonic expansion.

NED’s current and former board of directors also include the following representatives of Wall Street’s big business:

William Galston: Brookings Institution (corporate sponsors here).

Moises Naim: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (corporate funding here).

Robert Miller: (formerly) corporate lawyer.

Larry Liebenow: (formerly) US Chamber of Commerce (a chief proponent of SOPA), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

Anne-Marie Slaughter: (formerly) US State Department, Council on Foreign Relations (corporate members here), director of Citigroup, McDonald’s Corporation, and Political Strategies Advisory Group.

Richard Gephardt: (formerly) US Representative, Boeing lobbyist, Goldman Sachs, Visa, Ameren Corp, and Waste Management Inc lobbyistcorporate consultantconsultant & now director of Ford Motor Company, supporter of the military invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

Marilyn Carlson Nelson: CEO of Carlson, director of Exxon Mobil.

Stephen Sestanovich: US State Department, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, CFR.

Judy Shelton: (formerly) director of Hilton Hotels Corporation & Atlantic Coast Airlines.

Andrew J. Nathan: government and business consultant regarding China.

Margaret Spellings:  president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former senior adviser to President George Bush, CEO of her own corporate consultant firm. Melanne Verveer: CFR and World Bank member.

Robert Zoellick: Senior Fellow at big-oil’s Belfer Center, served as Vice Chairman, International of Goldman Sachs Group, president of the World Bank Group from 2007-12, served in President George W. Bush’s cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005 and as Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006.

NED’s subsidiary, NDI, is likewise chaired by a collection of corporate-financier interests. NDI in particular has taken center stage amid the ongoing “Occupy Central” protests, having directly funded various programs and organizations “Occupy Central’s” leadership belong to.

Image: Here, “Occupy Central” co-organizers Martin Lee and Anson Chan attend a 2014 NED-hosted talk in Washington D.C. in a bid to marshal support for planned unrest that would become the “Umbrella Movement.” 

Some select NDI members include:

Robin Carnahan: Formally of the Export-Import Bank of the United States where she “explored innovative ways to help American companies increase their sale of goods and services abroad.” The NDI’s meddling in foreign nations, particularly in elections on behalf of pro-West candidates favoring free-trade, and Carnahan’s previous ties to a bank that sought to expand corporate interests overseas constitutes an alarming conflict of interests.

Richard Blum: An investment banker with Blum Capital, CB Richard Ellis. Engaged in war profiteering along side the Neo-Con infested Carlyle Group, when both acquired shares in EG&Gwhich was then awarded a $600 million military contract during the opening phases of the Iraq invasion.

Bernard W. Aronson: Founder of ACON Investments. Prior to that, he was an adviser to Goldman Sachs, and serves on the boards of directors of Fifth & Pacific Companies, Royal Caribbean International, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Chroma Oil & Gas, Northern Tier Energy. Aronson is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which in turn represents the collective interests of some of the largest corporations on Earth.

Sam Gejdenson: NDI’s profile claims Gejdenson is “in charge of” Sam Gejdenson International, which proclaims on its website ”Commerce Without Borders,” or in other words, big-business monopolies via free-trade. In his autobiographical profile, he claims to have promoted US exports as a Democrat on the House International Relations Committee. Here is yet another case of conflicting interests between NDI’s meddling in foreign politics and board members previously involved in “promoting US exports.”

Nancy H. Rubin: CFR member.

Vali Nasr: CFR member and a senior fellow at the big-oil, big-banker Belfer Center at Harvard.

Rich Verma: A partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP - an international corporate and governmental legal firm representing for Verma, a multitude of conflicting interests and potential improprieties. Setptoe & Johnson is active in many of the nations the NDI is operating in, opening the door for manipulation on both sides to favor the other.

Lynda Thomas: A private investor, formally a senior manager/CPA at Deloitte Haskins & Sells in New York, and Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte in London. Among her clients were international banks.

Maurice Tempelsman: Chairman of the board of directors of Lazare Kaplan International Inc., the largest cutter and polisher of “ideal cut” diamonds in the United States. Also senior partner at Leon Tempelsman & Son, involved in mining, investments and business development and minerals trading in Europe, Russia, Africa, Latin America, Canada and Asia. Yet another immense potential for conflicting interests, where Tempelsman stands to directly gain financially and politically by manipulating foreign governments via the NDI.

Elaine K. Shocas: President of Madeleine Albright, Inc., a private investment firm. She was chief of staff to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations during Madeleine Albright’s tenure as Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nation, illustrating a particularly dizzying “revolving door” between big-government and big-business.

Madeleine K. Albright: Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm – directly affiliated with fellow NDI board member Elaine Shocas, representing an incestuous business/government relationship with overt conflicts of interest. Albright infamously stated that sanctions against Iraq which directly led to the starvation and death of half a million children “was worth it.”

Image: IRI chairman and US Senator John McCain appears again overseas,
this time in support of literal Nazis as they violently overthrew the elected
government of Ukraine.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) also consists of similarly troubling leadership including US Senator John McCain who recently took to the stage in Kiev next to literal Neo-Nazis in support of their violent overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine, and retired general turned corporate lobbyist Brent Scowcroftwho owned stock in companies including General Electric, General Motors, ITT, and Lockheed Martin while acting as US President George Bush’s National Security Adviser.

Freedom House also includes a long list of right-wing Neo-Conservatives, corporate lobbyists, and corporate directors including Neo-Con and corporate lobbyist Kenneth Adelman, Neo-Con and senior fellow at big-oil’s Belfer Center Paula Dobriansky, vice president of International Governmental Affairs for Ford Motor Company Stephen E. Biegun,  Ellen Blackler representing the revolving door between government and big-media having held senior positions both within the US government regarding telecommunications as well as within AT&T and Disney, and Kathryn Dickey Karolrepresenting corporations ranging from Caterpillar to big-pharma giants Eli Lilly & Company and Amgen.

Pro-Democracy? Really? 

It is safe to say that neither NED, Freedom House, nor any of their subsidiaries (IRI/NDI) garner within their ranks characters appropriate for their alleged cause of “supporting freedom around the world.” It is also safe to say that the principles of “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human rights” they allegedly champion for, are merely props behind which they couch their self-serving agendas. Big-oil, big-defense, telecommunication, and pharmaceutical giants, as well as individuals shamelessly spending their entire careers passing through the revolving doors between big-business and big-government do not care about “democracy” in Hong Kong. They care about what they can accomplish under the guise of caring.

James T. Griffiths of the South China Morning Post and supporters of “Occupy Central” have it upon themselves to reconcile the insidious nature of NED, its subsidiaries and the “Occupy Central” leaders willfully accepting support from them. Many of those providing aid to “Occupy Central” and funding their political activity have documented invested interests in manipulating the sociopolitical and economic landscape of both Hong Kong and China, and appear to be doing exactly that – not for the sake of the people of Hong Kong or mainland China, but for the sake of Wall Street and their respective corporate-financier interests

NED represents the very corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of power many in “Occupy Central” claim to be opposed to. However, those involved in NED’s deception have skillfully dressed up these abuses as progressive – hence why left-leaning liberals find themselves zealously supporting the various global gambits of Neo-Conservatives, corporate-fascists, and faux-liberals.

And just as NED’s other interventions in the Middle East via the “Arab Spring” and the so-called “Euromaidan” in Ukraine have led to bloodshed and chaos, so too will the unrest in Hong Kong if it is not exposed and dismantled. NED has left a trail of destruction, war, subversion, division, and chaos everywhere it has gone – it is now on China’s doorstep.

Burkina Faso: Masses Rise Up Against Neo-Colonial Rule

November 4th, 2014 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Hundreds of thousands of people in Burkina Faso have forced the longtime imperialist-backed leader, President Blaise Compaore, to resign amid mass demonstrations and rebellions in several cities across the West African country. Compaore took power in a French-supported coup on Oct. 15, 1987 against revolutionary Pan-Africanist and socialist leader Capt. Thomas Sankara. 

Several political parties and movements that are seeking to reclaim the legacy of Sankara were very much in evidence during the unrest that reached a critical point on Oct. 30 when thousands stormed the parliament building and setting it alight. The legislative body was set to vote on a motion to extend the 27-year rule of Compaore, who although coming out of the military, ran for office repeatedly as a civilian candidate.

Compaore sought to reassert his authority by refusing to formally resign from the presidency until the evening of Oct. 31. Gen. Honore Traore announced after the rebellion on Oct. 30 that he was assuming power and dissolving parliament.

Immediately people within the various opposition parties began to object to the leadership of Traore. The following day Nov.1, yet another military leader emerged claiming to be in charge.

This time it was Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, the deputy commander of the elite presidential guard. Media reports emanating from Burkina Faso said that the military had endorsed the leadership of Zida.

After meeting with foreign diplomats on Nov. 3, Zida said that the military would hand over power to a civilian transitional authority which is acceptable to the people of the country. If the military leader does not move swiftly in this regard, there could be more violent unrest.

Masses Call for Return to Civilian Rule 

On Nov.1, the opposition forces called for a major mobilization on Sun. (Nov. 2) to demand that Zida relinquish power. Thousands took to the streets and later gathered outside the national television station (RTB) in the capital of Ouagadougou.

Members of the crowd attempted to enter the television studios but were prevented in doing so by the army. The soldiers later fired shots and one person was killed.

Reports indicated that opposition leader Ms. Saran Sereme was at the television station saying that she and a leading general were prepared to head a transition team. Sereme later denied this claim and said she was brought to the location by force.

The army continued to emphasize on Nov. 3 that it does not want to maintain power but create the conditions for a smooth transition to civilian control. Nonetheless, the opposition forces were demanding a rapid turnover to non-military figures to lead the country.

An army spokesman said in the aftermath of the clashes on Nov. 2 that “The army does not want power. But the anarchy needs to stop. Any violation will be punished with the utmost energy,” said Auguste Barry, in reference to the shooting at the television station.

Later on Nov. 2 after leaving the RTB studios, the crowds moved towards the Place de la Nation where disturbances on Oct. 30 resulted in the attacks on parliament. Military forces set up barricades to prevent demonstrators from getting close to the location that was damaged by fire.

Burkina Faso Emerges As Major Gold Producer in Africa

Historically the country of Burkina Faso, formerly known as Upper Volta, was known as an agricultural producing state. In recent years the production of gold and other mineral commodities such as granite, marble, phosphate rock, cement, dolomite and pumice have accelerated.

At present Burkina Faso is the fourth largest producer of gold in Africa. There are at least six major mines in operation.

However, the revenue generated from the export of gold and other minerals are not being shared with the majority of workers, farmers and youth. The official unemployment rate is 77 percent and the country ranks 183 out of 186 on the index of living standards for nations throughout the world.

Burkina Faso still maintains close ties with the former French colonial power. Paris has used the country as a rear-base for its operations against rebel fighters in northern Mali.

The close ties with the mining industry have not benefited the country’s people at all. One of the major firms involved in the extraction is Orezone Gold Corporation based in Ottawa, Canada.

In a 2011 study by Orezone, it noted that Burkina Faso ranked sixth in the level of potential for mineral production, including gold. Orezone has been involved in the country since the late 1990s.

According to the mineral analysis conducted by Orezone in 2011, a section of the report says that:

“We recognized the enormous potential of Burkina Faso 15 years ago when we started exploring the area. Although we have discovered more than 10 million ounces of gold to date and we expect to put new gold mines into production over the next few years, we believe we have barely scratched the surface in terms of its true potential. The results of this survey demonstrate the on-going commitment of Burkina Faso to creating a favorable investment climate for companies like Orezone Gold and we are delighted to work in this country.” (orezone.com, 2011)

The recent unrest inside the country has reportedly caused a suspension in gold production. Orezone issued a statement on Nov. 3 indicating that it is following the political situation closely in light of the economic interests it has in the country.

This statement posted to their website says that “Orezone Gold Corporation has temporarily halted its activities in Burkina Faso until the political situation in country has stabilized. All personnel are safe and accounted for.” (orezone.com, Nov. 3)

The same statement goes on to say that:

“Although the area around Bomboré has been relatively calm during the recent events, minor vandalism occurred at the Bomboré camp over the weekend. Our staff and the local community at Bomboré, including the police and local representatives, have been very supportive with respect to the safety or our employees, camp security and our efforts to continue to develop the project; for that we are grateful.”

Legacy of Sankara Still Relevant 

During the tenure of Capt. Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), the Burkinabe leader advocated the cancellation of the international debt which African states were obligated to pay due to the legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism. Sankara instituted policies which utilized local production of cotton and other commodities for internal consumption.

With Burkina Faso being a landlocked state, it is essential that it develops genuine trade links in partnership with neighboring African countries. Nonetheless, the imperatives of the transnational corporations based in the imperialist states is to exploit the natural resources and labor of the African states which does nothing for the improvement of the conditions for the majority of the populations within these countries.

Sankara attempted to build mass organizations and Marxist study groups throughout the country. His efforts were undermined by France and its major ally at the time in the region, Ivory Coast, then led by President Felix Houphouet- Boigny.

In recent months unrest and strikes among the working class have increased in West Africa. In Ghana, to the south of Burkina Faso, a general strike impacting oil workers, educators and other public sector employees has prompted legal actions by the government to force the employees back on the job.

Both Ghana and Burkina Faso have been lauded for their increasing rates of economic growth. Nevertheless, if these profits from the production of gold and other strategic minerals are not shared with the people, the working class and youth will continue to demonstrate and strike in opposition to neo-colonial rule.

Cuban healthcare workers have played a leading role on the African continent for decades. The revolutionary government views its work in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as a manifestation of internationalism and solidarity with Africa.

In a surprised twist in diplomatic protocol for Washington, the administration of President Barack Obama noted the role of Cuban doctors and nurses in Liberia where they will be working in a facility that is being reconstructed as a treatment center. Cuban healthcare workers have been deployed to Liberia and Sierra Leone, two of the three countries that have been at the epicenter of the most recent and widespread EVD outbreak.

Recently Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf inaugurated the first of 17 new Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) that are being constructed with funds donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). At the ceremony in Congotown near the capital of Monrovia, Johnson-Sirleaf expressed her gratitude for the donor countries that have contributed to the project so far.

An article published by the Voice of America on Nov. 1, reported that “Some of the 90 doctors and nurses sent by Cuba to help the West African country, who attended the unveiling, will be working at a field hospital currently under construction at the former site of the Liberian Defense Ministry. It will be connected to the ETUs built with funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID.”

Later in this same article it states:

“The largest of the 17 ETUs that the U.S. military is building in Liberia – which will house 200 beds – is located only a few meters from the site of the former Liberian Defense Ministry. The Cuban doctors and nurses will be mainly responsible for its operation. The other ETUs contain about 100 beds and cost between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 to build.”

From the perspective of Havana, the VOA notes that “Cuba’s official government website confirmed that Cuban health personnel will begin working Monday (Nov. 3) at the newly-opened unit.”

Cuban healthcare workers have a long history of responding to natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti during 2010, when they were the first to establish a field hospital. The Caribbean Island-nation has also trained countless numbers of medical personnel from throughout world at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

Despite over five decades of a blockade by the U.S. against Cuba, the government is able to take a principled approach in working with Washington in the battle against EVD.

Former President Fidel Castro wrote an article published by Granma International saying:

“We gladly cooperate with American personnel in this task (the fight against Ebola), and not in pursuit of peace between the two states that have been adversaries for many years but, in any case, for world peace.”

The VOA reports that “Ronald Hernandez Torres, one of the Cuban doctors who traveled to Liberia wrote in Spanish on his Facebook page saying ‘This unit has the best conditions for patient care, and the best professionals from different countries working side by side.’ U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., Ambassador Samantha Power, praised Cuba for its contribution to the fight against Ebola after returning from a recent trip to West Africa.”

The Struggle Continues Against EVD

Another physician died on Nov. 2 in Sierra Leone where the rise in outbreaks of EVD has shifted from rural eastern region of the country to the urban areas, including the capital of Freetown. Dr. Godfrey George reported that he was not feeling well and was transported from his place of work at the Kambia Government Hospital in the north of the country to Freetown where he expired.

Four other doctors have died after treating EVD patients. These deaths take a tremendous toll on the country since it is the Sierra Leone medical personnel who are on the frontline against the disease.

Just four years ago in 2010, it was reported that the country had two physicians for every 100,000 residents. The country underwent a civil war for a decade and has only begun to recover from the war as well as previous decades of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

A regional conference of the World Health Organization (WHO) began in Benin on Nov. 3. Benin, a former French colony in West Africa, has not reported any cases of the disease.

The international assistance in the campaign to defeat the Ebola outbreak was high on the WHO agenda in Benin. In a comment from Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, she stressed that “The Ebola epidemic has set back political stability and economic recovery in the afflicted countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. She also said the disease has taken a “heavy toll on front-line domestic medical staff.” (Associated Press, Nov. 3)

In Gueckedou, Guinea, in the south of the country on the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia, where this outbreak of EVD is said to have originated, the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) envoy, Anthony Banbury, reported that the number of cases in the area had been reduced significantly.

“The first case of Ebola, in December 2013, was just down the road from here, so I was very interested and coming and seeing the situation on the ground for myself,” Banbury said, pointing out that “happily, the number of cases in Guéckédou has gone down a lot.”

Banbury reported that the transmissions are declining and the number of cases in the area is almost zero. Even though there are cases outside the town, “there’s been good progress made over these past months.” (United Nations News Center, Nov. 1)

However, another person working in the field in Guinea, Elisabeth Faure, the country Director of the World Food Program (WFP), said that her agency has gotten involved with transporting medical personnel and equipment to treatment facilities. Faure’s observations paint another picture of developments inside the country.

“We’ve seen several waves, with the number of cases increasing and then declining and increasing and declining again,” Faure claimed. “But we’re now in a kind of third peak – by far the highest peak – with the highest number of cases since the epidemic started in Guinea.” (Guardian, Oct. 30)

Despite the international attention focused on the three African states most severely impacted, there still not enough resources being directed to the most distressed areas. Those solidarity and human rights organizations in the western industrialized states should demand that the governments in these countries provide the necessary medical personnel, medications and protective gear needed to successfully fight and eradicate EVD.

Alisdair Macleod of Goldmoney.com in a recent article    suggests China may already have accumulated between 20,000 and 25,000 tons of gold prior to 2002.  Please read this very carefully as it makes very good sense and puts a piece into the puzzle which was missing for so long.  Let me also add, if this turns out to be true then it is THE biggest financial news since August 15, 1971 when the U.S. defaulted on the gold standard.

Macleod believes that China has been playing possum regarding their gold reserves.  If you recall, China announced in 2009 they had accumulated a whopping 1,054 tons of gold.  The news at the time was a huge surprise and led to bullishness in the gold market as China was then a confirmed buyer.  This total vaulted them into the major leagues of gold hoards.  If Macleod is correct about holdings of 20-25,000 tons AS OF 2003, why would China want to “lie” about how much gold they have accumulated?  It is important to understand the mindset of the Chinese and the deep rooted thought process instilled in them by General Sun Tzu.  “Deception” is a core strategy to war, under this category would come the thought “help your opponent in his underestimation of you”.  Why would the Chinese announce true or huge holdings if it was their intent to continue hoarding?  They wouldn’t.

I wrote several months back regarding China’s gold holdings and identified at least 8,000 tons, but my calculation was ONLY from 2009 forward and assumed the 1,054 tons to be accurate.  I hypothesized that if you added the 1,054 tons announced in 2009, plus 3,000 to 4,000 tons over the last 2-3 years and then add in another 2,000 tons of domestic production you could easily see 7,000 tons without anything from 2009-2011.  I postulated maybe another 1,000 tons over these three years and arrived at 8,000 tons.  Keep this number in mind for a calculation later.

So, is it even possible for China to have accumulated as much as 30,000 tons over the 20 years from 1983-2002?  I think it’s very possible and here’s why.  This would mean China needed to purchase 1,700-2,000 tons per year out of a market that was producing only slightly more than 2,000 tons per year.  From a monetary standpoint, this would only have been $20 billion-$25 billion per year as gold averaged around $350 pear year during this timeframe, a sizeable sum back then but remember, China was attracting foreign “hot” investment capital and they were running a trade surplus every year.  From the standpoint of whether or not China could have afforded this, I believe yes it was possible.

The other side of the coin is whether or not this “size” of gold could have been available?  Is it possible for China to have purchased 20,000 tons and at the same time have the price dropping in a 20 year bear market?  I think it is for several reasons.  First, we know for a fact that many Western central banks were net sellers (The Washington agreement for example).  We also know about mining companies and central banks leasing gold (which gets sold into the market) from Frank Veneroso.  He estimated a total of between 10,000 and 16,000 tons leased back in 2002.  Central banks for the most part were asleep to the fact that gold was money, even the Swiss sold a large portion of their gold.  A couple of other anecdotes are the Germans and the Italians.  It has been thought for years that LTCM’s was short 300 tons or more of Italian gold they had leased.  Also, why can’t Germany repatriate her gold from the N.Y. Fed?

Now for the big question, “how could the price have been dropping if China was such a big buyer?”.  First, could China have just stood “under the market” all along and absorbed the leasing and sales?  Is it possible that China (via proxies) NEVER ever “bid” up for gold?  Could they have just stepped aside while the market was being capped (some of you may remember the $6 rule, same as the 2% rule today) and waited for the daily raids to accumulate positions?  Could they have even been part of the paper shorts to depress the price?  Did they maybe lose money on the paper side in order to accumulate the physical product?  Some of you may even remember Jim Sinclair speaking of “Hung Phat and Dr. No” ten years ago or more, …maybe of Chinese origin?

There is one more source of either supply or demand for gold we haven’t talked about yet, the Arabs and in particular the Saudis.  Alisdair Macleod hypothesizes that the Arabs were big buyers of gold between 1983 and 2002, Early in the 1980′s they may well have been.  But what if they were actually net sellers over the entire time period?  What if the U.S. somehow convinced the House of Saud with a “deal they couldn’t refuse”?  We have been the protector of Saudi Arabia all these years, is it possible we told them that unless they released tonnage, our “protection” might disappear?  I’m just thinking out loud here because if China were to accumulate such large gold tonnage, it had to come from somewhere and that “somewhere” had to be a combination of mine supply, central bank sales and what ever other sellers that could be coaxed.  I also would like to mention that throughout the 80′s and 90′s many Arab children were educated in Western universities, were they taught of gold’s new “barbarous relic” status and helped pry some of it loose from the older generations?

Earlier I mentioned my figure of China accumulating 8,000 tons since 2009, if we assume Alisdair Macleod is on to something but cut his estimate in half to 10,000 tons …we have a number of almost 20,000 tons or well more than double what the U.S. “claims” to have!  Another little tidbit of information is that China has allowed their population to purchase gold since 2003, why would they do this?  Did they as Macleod asserts have their sovereign fill and then decide it was time for the population to save in gold?  Was China actually more capitalistic than we ever believed and played possum for years while accumulating gold?  I believe this is very possible.

I do want to mention that if this is true, then our theory that China via proxies is the stubborn long in the silver market who refuses to go away has much more credibility.  China is said to have leased 300 million ounces of silver (maybe even 600 million or more) to the U.S. back in 2003.  The U.S. ran out of silver back then and China had it to lease.  Did China lease this silver in order to continue their drain of Western gold?  Have they had their silver returned to them or are they now angry because they were stiffed?  Did they sacrifice silver for the real crown jewels, our gold?  China has all new infrastructure and even ghost cities already built.  Who was the fool when we were laughing at them for building these ghost cities?  Was the West just plain dumb and sold off all of their gold or was it treason?

To finish I want to point out the obvious.  If China has amassed 20,000, 25,000 tons of gold or even more, what does it mean?  It means the West is financially bankrupt as by process of elimination much of this gold has had to come from Western vaults!  It means that money and power has shifted East right before our very eyes and under our noses.  It means that China can price or value gold at any price they would like …and in any currency they’d like.  It means we will be living in a China centric world where the “rules are made by those who have the gold”.  It means the U.S. (and much of the West) will be relegated to nearly immediate 3rd world status.  The danger of course is in today’s world, if this really was a miscalculation by the West, a very nasty and game ending war could break out.  I don’t believe we will have to wait too long to find out if China did in fact play possum as Alisdair Macleod may have now let the cat out of the bag!  As I said at the beginning, this could be THE biggest financial revelation in over 40 years!

The parliamentary elections in Ukraine has been lavished with praise by Western politicians and the mainstream media as confirmation of the country’s turn towards democracy and a rejection of Putin’s evil Russian empire. What the media drones and corporate politicians won’t tell you is that these elections represent a disaster for the ordinary people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is bankrupt and its economy is rapidly collapsing. It has been promised billions in aid from the IMF and EU in return for the most vicious austerity measures that will make Greece look like a picnic. Industry and agriculture are suffering steep declines in production while austerity measures will lead to huge cuts in wages and welfare benefits. At the same time the rapid immiserisation of the masses is worsening due to massive price increases in basic foodstuffs and essential utilities such as electricity, gas and water.

All of the capitalist politicians elected to the new Rada have no solution to these devastating economic problems. Their economic programme can be summed up in the slogan; ”Austerity, austerity and yet more austerity.” Western capitalism’s macro-economic reform progamme offers an extremely bleak future to the ordinary people of Ukraine.

The election will return a government that is committed to continuing the war against its own people in the rebel held regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. It confirms the splitting up of the country into several parts. Crimea will stay with Russia while the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk which make up Novorossia will continue to fight for their independence, which leaves the rest of Ukraine minus about 15% of its former population.

It would be more accurate to call this election the ”battle of the billionaires”. All of the political parties that got representation in the new Rada are puppets of the different billionaire oligarchs. It is these people who really call the shots in collaboration with their masters in Washington.

There is nothing remotely progressive about the motley collection of ultra-nationalists who will make up the new Rada. Most of the new MP’s are rabidly right wing and ultra hostile to Russia, the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the trade unions, the Communist Party, the list goes on. It includes an assortment of Holocaust deniers and sympathisers for the Ukrainian Nazis who fought with the SS during World War Two. It would appear that even people wanted by Interpol for inciting terrorism and responsible for the Odessa massacre on 2 May, such as Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh, can be elected to the new Rada.

Let’s take a few examples to show how deeply hollow are the claims that the new Rada will be committed to democracy and freedom. The People’s Front party of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk topped the poll with 22.2% of the vote. The People’s Front is closely allied with various volunteer battalions of neo-Nazis that have fought in the Donbass region committing war crimes against Russian speakers. Take for example the Aidar battalion which Amnesty International has accused of war crimes during the Ukrainian government’s summer offensive against Novorossia.

Along with this bunch of murderers you have the ultra violent crazies found in the Radical Party led by Oleh Lyashko. The Radical Party received around 8% of the vote and 22 seats in the Rada. The coup in February that brought the CIA sponsored regime to power has meant psychopaths such Lyashko can go around illegally arresting people and taping himself torturing them with impunity. Amnesty International has called on Ukraine’s government to arrest Lyashko and his armed associates.

Then we have newly elected MP Yury Bereza commander of the volunteer battalion Dnepr-1. Live on Ukrainian television he recently said that the volunteer battalions are ready to invade Russia and carry out acts of sabotage including the carrying out of bombings. This great democrat was criticised by a recent UN report that accused volunteer battalions including Dnepr-1 of violating international humanitarian law during the summer.

In the absence of any Left alternative that can lead a fightback against the austerity measures demanded by Western capitalism the people of Ukraine face an almost certain revival of the civil war. The ultra nationalists who dominate the new Rada show no mood for compromise with the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. A revival of the war will be used to try and distract the shivering masses away from their daily struggle to pay the bills and make ends meet.

I recently spoke with Russian blogger Rozhin Boris, otherwise known as Colonel Cassad, whose indepth reports from the front lines of Novorossia shed a lot of light on military/political developments in this war torn region.

The United Nations has recently estimated that over 3,660 people have been killed in the fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Could you describe the extent of the humanitarian crisis facing ordinary people in Novorossia?

This assessment is very far from the reality. The armed forces of the Kiev junta have lost 12 to 18 thousand dead. They are responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians. The militias of Novorossia have lost 5-6,000 dead. The total number of deaths is approximately 25-30 thousand with of tens of thousands of wounded militia members, civilians and junta soldiers. Officially more than 250,000 civilians have fled the Donbass, unofficially its over a million. The Donbass is facing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Should the people of Donetsk and Lugansk regions be allowed to decide their own fate? The right of nations to self-determination has a long history in the region. When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917 Lenin proclaimed this right for national groups living within the Russian Empire, and Finland gained its independence. Why do you think the US and it’s European allies steadfastly refuse to recognise the national aspirations of the people of Lugansk and Donetsk?

The people of Donetsk and Lugansk have already decided in a referendum on 11 May (which was held in defiance of the will of the Junta, which had been against the referendum and against the will of Moscow, which had tried to stop it). The U.S. refused to recognize the new reality, because they are engaged in a hybrid war against Russia in the Ukraine, and the establishment of these republics they saw as the success of Russia, which is contrary to their interests. The fact that, in so doing, they are following double standards, recognizing the legitimacy the secession of Kosovo from Serbia and not recognizing the legitimacy of Donetsk and Lugansk from Ukraine. This is their normal practice for the protection of their national interests.

The return of Crimea to the Russian federation is being used as the pretext for economic sanctions against Russia. Do you think these sanctions will have any significant impact on the policies/actions of Russia with regard to Novorossia?

These sanctions already had some impact, forcing Russia to recognize the legitimacy of the Kiev junta and to abandon the idea of open-ended input to support the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. There is an effective limit to this pressure, as Russia in spite of the threats from Obama to capitulate does not want to and will not do so. Further sanctions will only escalate the confrontation. Their economic impact will increase, but the political component will fail.

The Poroshenko regime launched an ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation) in June designed to eliminate the “terrorists” in Lugansk and Donetsk. Throughout the summer it made numerous claims that it was defeating the self-defence militias of Novorossia and that by 24 August 2014 the ‘separatist forces’ would have been crushed. However, it is obvious this has not happened. Can you tell us why Poroshenko has failed in his military objectives?

The Ukrainian army had the overwhelming superiority in numbers of men and technology. Despite some tactical successes the Ukrainian army has suffered a series of disastrous military defeats, which lost thousands of soldiers, dozens of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and hundreds of pieces of armour. The main causes of defeat were: low morale of the Ukrainian army and punitive battalions of the National Guard, poor condition of its logistics and intelligence, resilience of the infantry militia of Novorossia, military-technical assistance on the part of Russia, and the incompetent command of the Ukrainian minister of defence.

During the summer the Western media was full of warmongering articles screaming for more and more sanctions on Russia which had allegedly invaded Eastern Ukraine. Since the Minsk ceasefire agreement the Western media has gone fairly quiet on the issue of the war against the people of Novorossia. Has the ceasefire agreement led to a cessation of hostilities against the people of Novorossia?

Sanctions against Russia had been in force before the present hot phase of the war on the Donbass and therefore the participation of Russia in support for the militia of Novorossia. Russia is being punished by sanctions for the accession of Crimea and its support for the uprising in the Donbass. The Minsk agreement has not ended the war simply the intensity of the fighting has fallen. Nevertheless, almost every day artillery of the junta has shelled the city of Donetsk, almost every day it has killed civilians and militiamen, on some days – tens of people. The militia in turn continues to attack parts of the junta’s armed forces causing her serious losses, which are sometimes in the tens per day.

The Kiev regime is confronting a series of crises. It faces a collapsing economy that will be compounded by the massive austerity cuts demanded by the IMF and EU. Secondly, it faces an energy crisis due to its refusal to pay its gas debts owed to Gasprom. Finally, it faces a military crisis due to the defeats it suffered in late August. There are elections looming in Ukraine on 26 October. How likely is it that Poroshenko will launch another military offensive against Novorossia after the elections?

There is a strong chance that there will be an offensive after the elections with a view to raise the government’s poll ratings by tactical victories on the front. Strategically, the war is being driven by the US, within the framework of its continuing confrontation with Russia. The Kiev junta needs a war against Novorossia to distract the Ukrainian people from increasing socio-economic problems and it will carry on trying to solve the ”problem” of Novorossia by force.

How significant are the activities of Neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine? Over the last year groups such as Svboda and the Right Sector have been used to help overthrow Yanukovich through the Maiden protests. They have been used to attack trade unionists and members of the Communist Party and small socialist groups, such as Borotba. Besides this, they have been used to intimidate and attack Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine. Neo-Nazis have played a significant role in the various volunteer battalions that have committed war crimes against Russian speakers in the Donbass. Many people on the Left in Europe dismiss these groups as insignificant. What do you think?

Fascist groups are fighting on behalf of the Ukrainian billionaire oligarchs and are used to implement their policy objectives to suppress the working class. The billionaire oligarchs openly seized power, refusing even the shortest period of power sharing with the politicians who are puppets. The country is now openly managed by the oligarchs who are dependent on American imperialism. We can see that for fascism, communism remains its worst of enemies. Ukrainian fascists are infected with primitive racist attitudes towards Russian speakers. Ukrainian fascists get support from their media. In Europe part of the left does not understand the threat posed by fascism in Ukraine due to political blindness. From my point of view, any modern people of left or communist views are obliged to one degree or another to take part in the fight against the Ukrainian fascism, as it threatens not only the people of Ukraine, but also threatens to plunge the world into a major war.

The war in Eastern Ukraine has led to an influx of foreign volunteers going to fight for the self-defence militias of Lugansk and Donetsk. According to a report in August by Paula Slier of Russia Today a brigade of international volunteers is to be formed called ‘United Continent’. Do you think parallels can be drawn between this force and the International Brigades that fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s?

First you need to understand that the major part of the army of Novorossia are local residents. Volunteers from Russia make up about 10-15 % of the militia. 1-2% of the volunteers who serve in the militias come from other countries – the US, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Serbia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and a number of other countries. The main motivation of these people is to fight against fascism. With the increase in the number of left-wing and communist units in the armed forces of Novorossia (especially in the Mechanized Brigade “The Ghost” led by Alexey Mozgovoy, which openly advocated the elimination of large capital), this analogy with the International Brigades has become even more apparent. It is understood that, in combat units there are people with different political and ideological views – in one battalion can be found Christian believers (Orthodox, or Mormons), and atheists, communists, and anarchists.

The fight against Ukrainian fascism has drawn these seemingly polar ideological and political currents together. It is therefore to strengthen the Armed Forces of Novorossia that Lenin portraits can peacefully coexist with icons. One commander who does not love communists, can still raise people in an attack with screaming, “For the Homeland! For Stalin! “. For many in the the Russian Federation and Europe – this is not just a war, this is our Spain 1936-1938. The present bloody war reflects the profound contradictions of the contemporary global capitalist world.

The Long Story: The British Establishment

November 3rd, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

There have been stages in British history when the Establishment, a term popularised by Henry Fairlie in the 1950s, has come in for some rough treatment, if only in cranky press columns.  Structurally speaking, the Establishment – that group of individuals whose role is merely to influence others by means of the Oxbridge common room deal – remains relevant, even if it remains an unhealthy sore of British tradition.

Recently, the establishment, if it passes for that, has come in for another round of punishment given the resignation of London’s Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf as head of the Government’s child sex abuse inquiry.  It is said that she had links to Lord Leon Brittan, who, as Tory Home Secretary in the 1980s, failed to act on a dossier of paedophilia allegations.[1] In her words, such “negative comment and innuendo” based on mere “perceptions” were the reasons cited for the resignation.

This brings the number of resignations for a perceived conflict of interest in the same position to two, with Baroness Butler-Sloss quitting because her late brother Sir Michael Havers was attorney-general during the Thatcher years. The Establishment face-off with efforts to unmask paedophilia continues.

Such conflicts are the stuff of tired institutions, notably those seemingly beyond reform.  When Prime Minister John Major implemented his disastrous “Back to Basics” campaign, one which emphasised traditional values which were promptly ignored in both bedroom and home, Martin Jacques would write in the Sunday Times (Jan 16, 1994) that it was a “parable about the state of our nation.”  British society was “embarrassed by its own radicalism”, having “no language in which to express it properly.”  Institutions had been left stranded, and the past a poor substitute to articulate matters relevant to the present.

All that, however, hardly matters.  The establishment continues to prove infuriating with rituals, which possess an almost byzantine quality. They are protected by the media, which is very much attuned to the protocols of establishment discretion.  Sources are often anonymous, with the information cycle and resulting decisions, being controlled by “credible” links.  These remain hidden.  People are shrouded, tracks covered.  It was this point that Fairlie noted in writing about the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union, both of the Cambridge Five set who, ironically, worked within the establishment against itself.  But old boys always remain old boys, even if they piddle in the ponds of their upbringing.

Fairlie’s own description of the establishment was one featuring both “the centres of official power” and “the whole matrix of official and social relations within which such power is exercised.”  Notably here, the exercise of that power is based on those “subtle social relationships” with links, connections, engagement.

Owen Jones, in the latest book on the same subject, prefers to see the establishment as a network of “powerful groups that need to protect their position in a democracy in which almost the entire adult population has the right to vote.”[2]  Establishment thinking is corrupted by its own assumptions – it rejects the state but thrives on its complicity and assistance, be it rights and protections of private property, vast subsidies, bailouts, a form of “socialism for the rich”.

But the new establishment wealth is what bothers such individuals as Martin Amis, unhappy that money has gotten the better of Britain, creeping along the class lines and then liquidating them like an asphyxiating fig tree.  “Money has won.”[3]  The host has been strangled – class Britain has become moneyed Britain. This is not merely some grumpy snipe – Britain has changed.  The Thatcherite misfits have become the tenured Blairites, who have become the drunk Cameroonians dealing in disingenuous notions of shrinking the state.  This is a crude Britain, but it hardly suggests a more egalitarian one. The new billionaires are stalking the land, modern oligoi who have taken all and sundry under the direction of the law.  Some of the Tory toffs are struggling to keep up.

All societies tend towards elites of some sort, even as they deny they are doing so.  “The idea of the establishment survives more in the aspiration to show defiance than the craving to belong,” argues Rafael Behr in The New Statesman (8-14 Feb, 2013).  This is not necessarily a healthy thing, but it need not be an unhealthy one.  As Jacques himself noted, such an elite needs to work according to forms of “openness and porousness”.  Those in power should be accountable. It should be wielded with a degree of transparency. Breaches of that trust should be punished.

Such visions remain impaired, more by structural features such as the continued dominance of elite universities that feed Whitehall and City, and the sideways movement of state privatisation.  The establishment has become outsourced and very much a creature of market principles.  The People’s Army of UKIP, for that reason, are a bubbling menace for it, dragging away support with its truculent populism.  UKIP’s victory at Clacton-on-Sea, and close calls at Heywood and Middleton, are giving the Tories blushes and headaches.  In some parts of the country, they also risk doing the same to Labour.

The pub, rather than Parliament, has tended to be the great leveller. It is something UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage knows all too well.  The pint at the bar with the ‘common folk’ implies precisely that, an undermining of the threads of hierarchical relations with chummy familiarity and engagement.  Common is not establishment, a sort of nervous rejection about the same people who just might vote for the same party. That is the exercise of power by social relations of a different sort, with people Prime Minister David Cameron all too prematurely termed “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

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

Notes

Cuba, the Empire and Ebola

November 3rd, 2014 by Prof. Tim Anderson

‘The Ebola epidemic constitutes an enormous risk… we have to struggle so it does not become one of the greatest pandemics … by planning and working together … and this in turn requires political will, rigorous organisational discipline and efficiency.’  - José Ángel Portal Miranda, Cuban Vice Minister of Health

In early October, as a first group of 165 Cuban doctors arrived in Sierra Leone, the Wall Street Journal recognised that Cuba was ‘at the forefront’ of the battle against Ebola in Africa. This was unusual North American praise for Cuba.

The reluctant admission shows some of the reasoning behind a semi-covert relationship which has developed between Cuba and Washington over the Ebola crisis. Nevertheless, stark differences in approach signal the deep ideological divide between the would-be global empire and the small socialist island.

The imperial approach has been to present a militarised and self-referential response to Ebola, as a security threat to ‘Americans’. Focus quickly moved to ill-conceived quarantine measures. In contrast, Cuba’s international solidarity approach was to send trained health workers and help build a coordinated social medicine response, which includes specialist training for local health workers.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is transmitted by the bodily fluids of an infected person and has a fatality rate of from 25% to 90%. According to the WHO, 70% of affected people die because of the lack of proper treatment and facilities.

The Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was declared in March 2014 and, by late October, almost 5,000 people had died, 10% of them health workers. The WHO calls it an international public health emergency.

Local health workers die due to lack of training and lack of protective equipment and facilities. One member of the Cuban team in Guinea, Jorge Juan Guerra Rodriguez, has already died, but from another deadly disease, cerebral malaria.

Margaret Chan, Director of the WHO, said: ‘What we need most are people, medical people … the most important thing to prevent the transmission of disease is to have the right people, appropriately trained specialists.’

Washington sent troops. US President Barrack Obama said: ‘we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source – in West Africa.’ The US troops were directed to secure facilities and build treatment centres.

With more than 4,000 health workers already in Africa, Cuba by late October had sent another 350, most of them doctors and all with specialist training. Mexico, Venezuela and even Timor Leste are logistically and financially supporting the Cuban effort. After Cuba, the international organisation Médecins Sans Frontières also has 270 international health workers in the affected countries, while employing many locals.

By the end of October, dozens of the almost nine hundred US troops in ‘Operation Unified Assistance’ in Liberia and Senegal were being withdrawn from West Africa, to face a quarantine regime in Italy and leaving behind USAID branded tent-style treatment centres. Photos from Liberia show that Cuban doctors are now using those facilities.

That link is not an accident. A report in the New York Times observes that ‘a mid-level official’ from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention attended a regional ALBA meeting on Ebola in Havana, and that Secretary of State John Kerry recently (and unusually) invited Cuba’s top diplomat in Washington (there is no ambassador, as the US and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations) to his speech on Ebola. The NYT writer aptly observes that the Ebola crisis ‘seems to be injecting a dose of pragmatism to Washington’s poisonous relationship with Havana’.

Cuban medical team in Liberian Hospital Juan Carlos Dupuy on GlobalResearch.ca

However we should not exaggerate the significance of this cooperation. The US and European relationship with West Africa has a dreadful history. Freed slaves from Britain and the US played a major role in the creation of both Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latter a British colony until 1961. Liberia became the focus of a ‘return to Africa’ movement in North America, after it became clear that the abolition of slavery in the US did not mean acceptance of African-Americans as equal citizens.

In more recent times western-controlled multilateral banks and aid agencies have made sure that these poorest of poor countries have not developed strong public education and health systems. The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) says the Ebola epidemic exposes ‘the chronic and deep wounds in the African Continent [from] colonialism, by the continuous plundering of the wealth-producing resources and by the high public debts that keep African states and their economies enslaved to the IMF, the World Bank and monopolies cartels’.

The WFTU observes that Ebola is facilitated by ‘the poverty, the malnutrition, the lack of basic healthcare infrastructure and social welfare’, the absence of strong public and free education systems, and the prevalence of slum housing along with militarised and violent states, panicking in face of desperation. All this is in place of what they could have: strong ‘human development enabling’ states (see Anderson 2014).

On top of this, West African countries have become the preferred site for western countries to dump chemical, electronic and apparently even nuclear waste. This was ‘market forces’ at work, as a 1988 report in the New York Times observed: ‘As safety laws in Europe and the United States push toxic disposal costs up to $2,500 a ton, waste brokers are turning their attention to the closest, poorest and most unprotected shores – West Africa’. Toxic waste dumping, although to a large degree outlawed by international conventions, has become as lucrative a business as trafficking in drugs and human beings (Brooke 1988, Selva 2006 and Koné 2010).

Cuba, which has a very different history in Africa, decided to supplement its emergency brigades with four doctors for each of a range of African countries (not just the affected countries), for specialist Ebola training. This is consistent with its social medicine approach which emphasises promotion and prevention, as well as genuine capacity building through local empowerment.

Havana has a range of partners, most of whom, at this stage, seem to be financing the costs of its medical teams, particularly in transport and equipment. These teams include specialists in infectious disease, epidemiology and specialist nursing.

Plans for the Americas were high on the agenda of the eight-country ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) special Summit in Havana on 20 October. This group, affirming its basic principles of solidarity, cooperation and complementarity, agreed to support the western African missions while they developed their own regional protection plan. That plan includes taking coordination efforts to the wider 33-member CELAC group (Community of Caribbean and Latin American States). Venezuela committed several million dollars to Cuba’s West African mission.

The Government of Mexico also says it will ‘join forces’ with Cuba in the campaign against the epidemic, at first by WHO-channelled finance for ‘specialised equipment’ for the Cuban brigades. Doctors have to burn gloves, masks and other protective equipment after treating each patient.

Timor Leste, now benefiting from more than 800 Cuban-trained Timorese doctors, has decided to join in, by financing the costs of 35 of the Cuban doctors in West Africa.

A Cuban offer to cooperate directly with Washington seems to have been deflected in favour of low-profile discussions and cooperation through third parties, such as the WHO, the UN Ebola Mission (UNMEER) and the respective governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Cuban medical team in Libera hospital GlobalResearch.ca

Cuban doctor Ronald Hernández Torres, now in Liberia, says the Cuba brigade is working well with professionals from other countries and that Cuban medical training, along with specialist Ebola training is going on in Liberia. Another group of Cubans is working in Guinea.

Cuban Ambassador in Liberia, Jorge Fernando Lefebre Nicolás, said the emergency brigade represented a strong sense of solidarity his government had for Liberia, and that it was help ‘improve the existing links between both countries … [and] mark the beginning of [further] health cooperation between Cuba and Liberia’.

Liberia’s foreign minister Augustine Kpehe Nga­fuan thanked Cuban Government for its ‘solid friendship and solidarity with needy people’, adding that he believed the epidemic would soon be eradicated in his country.

 
Notes
Anderson, Tim (2014) ) ‘Human development, the state and participation’, Development Studies Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp. 64-74, online: http://bit.ly/1rc6shX
 
Brooke, James (1988) ‘Waste Dumpers Turning to West Africa’, New York Times, July 17, online: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/17/world/waste-dumpers-turning-to-west-africa.html
 
 
Lamrani, Salim (2014) ‘Organización Mundial de la Salud: Cuba da el ejemplo en la lucha contra el virus del ébola en África’, Global Research, September 23,
 
Londoño, Ernesto (2014) ‘U.S. and Cuba Come Together Over Ebola, Infuriating Republicans’, New York Times, October 31
 
Selva, Meera (2006) ‘Toxic shock: How Western rubbish is destroying Africa’, UK Independent, 21 september, online: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/toxic-shock-how-western-rubbish-is-destroying-africa-416828.html
 

If most polls are correct and voters elect a Republican-controlled Congress on Tuesday, a principal reason is that many Americans have been sold on a false recounting of the nation’s Founding Narrative. They have bought the Right’s made-up storyline about the Constitution’s Framers detesting a strong federal government and favoring states’ rights.

This notion of the Framers as enemies of an activist national government is untrue but has become a popular meme as promoted through the vast right-wing media and accepted by the timid mainstream press, which is unwilling to fight for an accurate portrayal of what the Federalists who wrote the Constitution intended.

So, without much pushback from those who know better, the Tea Partiers, Libertarians and many Republicans have successfully walled off much of the U.S. population from the actual history, which would reveal the American Right to be arguably the opposite of true patriots in its disdain for the assertive national governance devised in 1787.

Plus, the Right’s fake interpretation of the Constitution cannot be disentangled from the disgraceful history of slavery, segregation and today’s renewed efforts to prevent black and brown Americans from voting.

Indeed, race has always been an intrinsic element in the American Right’s history, which can be roughly divided into four eras: the pre-Confederate period from 1787 to 1860 when slave owners first opposed and then sought to constrain the Constitution, viewing it as a threat to slavery; the actual Confederacy from 1861 to 1865 when the South took up arms against the Constitution in defense of slavery; the post-Confederate era from 1866 to the 1960s when white racists violently thwarted constitutional protections for blacks; and the neo-Confederate era from 1969 to today when these racists jumped to the Republican Party in an attempt to extend white supremacy behind various code words and subterfuges.

President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but also a Virginia slave owner.

Image: President James Madison, an architect of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but also a Virginia slave owner.

It is true that the racist Right has often moved in tandem with the wealthy-elite Right, which has regarded the regulatory powers of the federal government as a threat to the ability of rich industrialists to operate corporations and to control the economy without regard to the larger public good.

But the historical reality is that both the white supremacists and the anti-regulatory corporatists viewed the Constitution as a threat to their interests because of its creation of a powerful central government that was given a mandate to “promote the general Welfare.” The Constitution was far from perfect and its authors did not always have the noblest of motives, but it created a structure that could reflect the popular will and be used for the nation’s good.

The key Framers of the Constitution – the likes of George Washington, James Madison (who then was a protégé of Washington) Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris (who wrote the famous Preamble) – were what might be called “pragmatic nationalists” determined to do what was necessary to protect the nation’s fragile independence and to advance the country’s economic development.

In 1787, the Framers’ principal concern was that the existing government structure – the Articles of Confederation – was unworkable because it embraced a system of strong states, deemed “sovereign” and “independent,” and a weak central government called simply a “league of friendship” among the states.

The Constitution flipped that relationship, making federal law supreme and seeking to make the states “subordinately useful,” in Madison’s evocative phrase. Though the Constitution did make implicit concessions to slavery in order to persuade southern delegates to sign on, the shift toward federal dominance was immediately perceived as an eventual threat to slavery.

Fearing for Slavery

Key Anti-Federalists, such as Virginia’s Patrick Henry and George Mason, argued that over time the more industrial North would grow dominant and insist on the elimination of slavery. And, it was known that a number of key participants at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, including Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, were strongly opposed to slavery and that Washington was troubled by human bondage though a slaveholder himself.

So, Henry and Mason cited the threat to slavery as their hot-button argument against ratification. In 1788, Henry warned his fellow Virginians that if they approved the Constitution, it would put their massive capital investment in slaves in jeopardy. Imagining the possibility of a federal tax on slaveholding, Henry declared, “They’ll free your niggers!”

It is a testament to how we have whitewashed U.S. history on the evils of slavery that Patrick Henry is far better known for his declaration before the Revolution, “Give me liberty or give me death!” than his equally pithy warning, “They’ll free your niggers!”

Similarly, George Mason, Henry’s collaborator in trying to scare Virginia’s slaveholders into opposing the Constitution, is recalled as an instigator of the Bill of Rights, rather than as a defender of slavery. A key “freedom” that Henry and Mason fretted about was the “freedom” of plantation owners to possess other human beings as property.

As historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg wrote in their 2010 book, Madison and Jefferson, Henry and Mason argued that “slavery, the source of Virginia’s tremendous wealth, lay politically unprotected.” Besides the worry about how the federal government might tax slave-ownership, there was the fear that the President – as commander in chief – might “federalize” the state militias and emancipate the slaves.

Though the Anti-Federalists lost the struggle to block ratification, they soon shifted into a strategy of redefining the federal powers contained in the Constitution, with the goal of minimizing them and thus preventing a strong federal government from emerging as a threat to slavery.

In this early stage of the pre-Confederacy era, the worried slave owners turned to one of their own, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and a charismatic politician who had been in France during the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and enactment of the Bill of Rights.

Though Jefferson had criticized the new governing document especially over its broad executive powers, he was not an outright opponent and thus was a perfect vehicle for seeking to limit the Constitution’s reach. Even as Washington’s Secretary of State, Jefferson began organizing against the formation of the new government as it was being designed by the Federalists, especially Washington’s energetic Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton.

The Federalists, who were the principal Framers, understood the Constitution to grant the central government all necessary powers to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” However, Jefferson and his fellow Southern slaveholders were determined to limit those powers by reinterpreting what the Constitution allowed much more narrowly. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-Up Constitution.”]

Partisan Warfare

Through the 1790s, Jefferson and his Southern-based faction engaged in fierce partisan warfare against the Federalists, particularly Alexander Hamilton but also John Adams and implicitly George Washington. Jefferson opposed the Federalist program that sought to promote the country’s development through everything from a national bank to a professional military to a system of roads and canals to support for manufacturing.

As Jefferson’s faction gained strength, it also pulled in James Madison who, for reasons of political survival and personal finances, embraced the slave interests of his fellow Virginians. Madison essentially moved from under Washington’s wing to under Jefferson’s. Then, with Madison’s acquiescence, Jefferson developed the extra-constitutional theories of state “nullification” of federal law and even the principle of secession.

Historians Burstein and Isenberg wrote in Madison and Jefferson that these two important Founders must be understood as, first and foremost, politicians representing the interests of Virginia where the two men lived nearby each other on plantations worked by African-American slaves, Jefferson at Monticello and Madison at Montpelier.

“It is hard for most to think of Madison and Jefferson and admit that they were Virginians first, Americans second,” Burstein and Isenberg said. “But this fact seems beyond dispute. Virginians felt they had to act to protect the interests of the Old Dominion, or else, before long, they would become marginalized by a northern-dominated economy.

“Virginians who thought in terms of the profit to be reaped in land were often reluctant to invest in manufacturing enterprises. The real tragedy is that they chose to speculate in slaves rather than in textile factories and iron works. … And so as Virginians tied their fortunes to the land, they failed to extricate themselves from a way of life that was limited in outlook and produced only resistance to economic development.”

Because of political mistakes by the Federalists and Jefferson’s success in portraying himself as an advocate of simple farmers (when he was really the avatar for the plantation owners), Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans prevailed in the election of 1800, clearing the way for a more constrained interpretation of the Constitution and a 24-year Virginia Dynasty over the White House with Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe, all slaveholders.

By the time the Virginia Dynasty ended, slavery had spread to newer states to the west and was more deeply entrenched than ever before. Indeed, not only was Virginia’s agriculture tied to the institution of slavery but after the Constitution banned the importation of slaves in 1808, Virginia developed a new industry, the breeding of slaves for sale to new states in the west. Jefferson even wanted all the new states from the Louisiana Territories to be slave states. [For details on this history, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison” and “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath.”]

Toward Civil War

Thus, America’s course to the Civil War was set. Ironically the warnings of Patrick Henry and George Mason proved prescient as the growing industrial strength of the North gave momentum to a movement for abolishing slavery. When Abraham Lincoln, the presidential candidate for the new anti-slavery Republican Party, won the 1860 election, southern slave states seceded from the Union, claiming they were defending the principle of states’ rights but really they were protecting the economic interests of slave owners.

The South’s bloody defeat in the Civil War finally ended slavery and the North sought for several years to “reconstruct” the South as a place that would respect the rights of freed slaves. But the traditional white power structure reasserted itself, employing violence against blacks and the so-called “carpetbaggers” from the North.

As white Southerners organized politically under the banner of the Democratic Party, which had defended slavery since its origins in Jefferson’s plantation-based political faction, the North and the Republicans grew weary of trying to police the South. Soon, southern whites were pushing blacks into a form of crypto-slavery through a combination of Jim Crow laws, white supremacist ideology and Ku Klux Klan terror.

Thus, the century after the Civil War could be designated the post-Confederate era of the American Right. This restoration of the South’s white power structure also coincided with the emergence of the North’s Robber Barons – the likes of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan – who amassed extraordinary wealth and used it to achieve political clout in favor of laissez-faire economics.

In that sense, the interests of the northern industrialists and the southern aristocracy dovetailed in a common opposition to any federal authority that might reflect the interests of the common man, either the white industrial workers of the North or the black sharecroppers of the South.

However, amid recurring financial calamities on Wall Street that drove many Americans into abject poverty and with the disgraceful treatment of African-Americans in the South, reform movements began to emerge in the early Twentieth Century, reviving the founding ideal that the federal government should “promote the general Welfare.”

With the Great Depression of the 1930s, the grip of the aging Robber Barons and their descendants began to slip. Despite fierce opposition from the political Right, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted a series of reforms that increased regulation of the financial sector, protected the rights of unions and created programs to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.

After World War II, the federal government went even further, helping veterans get educated through the GI Bill, making mortgages affordable for new homes, connecting the nation through a system of modern highways, and investing in scientific research. Through these various reforms, the federal government not only advanced the “general Welfare” but, in effect, invented the Great American Middle Class.

Civil Rights

As the nation’s prosperity surged, attention also turned to addressing the shame of racial segregation. The civil rights movement – led by remarkable leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and eventually embraced by Democratic Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson – rallied popular support and the federal government finally moved against segregation across the South.

Yet, reflecting the old-time pro-slavery concerns of Patrick Henry and George Mason, southern white political leaders fumed at this latest intrusion by the federal government against the principle of “states’ rights,” i.e. the rights of the whites in southern states to treat “their coloreds” as they saw fit.

This white backlash to the federal activism against segregation became the energy driving the modern Republican Party, which abandoned its honorable legacy as the party that ended slavery. Instead, it became home for Americans who feared social change and resented policies that disproportionately helped racial minorities. The smartest right-wingers understood this reality.

On the need to keep blacks under white domination, urbane conservative William F. Buckley declared in 1957 that “the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.”

Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona, who wrote the influential manifesto Conscience of a Conservative, realized in 1961 that for Republicans to gain national power, they would have to pick off southern segregationists. Or as Goldwater put it, the Republican Party had to “go hunting where the ducks are.”

Then, there was Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” of using coded language to appeal to southern whites and Ronald Reagan’s launching of his 1980 national presidential campaign with a states’ rights speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the notorious site of the murders of three civil rights workers. The two strands of historic conservatism — white supremacy and “small government” ideology — were again wound together.

In New York magazine, Frank Rich summed up this political history while noting how today’s right-wing revisionists have tried to reposition their heroes by saying they opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 simply out of high-minded “small-government principles.” But Rich wrote:

“The primacy of [Strom] Thurmond in the GOP’s racial realignment is the most incriminating truth the right keeps trying to cover up. That’s why the George W. Bush White House shoved the Mississippi senator Trent Lott out of his post as Senate majority leader in 2002 once news spread that Lott had told Thurmond’s 100th-birthday gathering that America ‘wouldn’t have had all these problems’ if the old Dixiecrat had been elected president in 1948.

“Lott, it soon became clear, had also lavished praise on [the Confederacy’s president] Jefferson Davis and associated for decades with other far-right groups in thrall to the old Confederate cause. But the GOP elites didn’t seem to mind until he committed the truly unpardonable sin of reminding America, if only for a moment, of the exact history his party most wanted and needed to suppress. Then he had to be shut down at once.”

Unholy Alliance

This unholy alliance between the racists and the corporatists continues to this day with Republicans understanding that the votes of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities must be suppressed if the twin goals of the two principal elements of the Right are to control the future. That was the significance of the 2013 ruling by the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority to gut the Voting Rights Act. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Supreme Court’s War on Democracy.”]

Only if the votes of whites can be proportionately enhanced and the votes of minorities minimized can the Republican Party overcome the country’s demographic changes and retain government power that will both advance the interests of the racists and the free-marketeers.

That’s why Republican-controlled statehouses engaged in aggressive gerrymandering of congressional districts in 2010 and tried to impose “ballot security” measures across the country in 2012 and 2014. The crudity of those efforts, clumsily justified as needed to prevent the virtually non-existent problem of in-person voter fraud, was embarrassing to watch.

As Frank Rich noted, “Everyone knows these laws are in response to the rise of Barack Obama. It is also no coincidence that many of them were conceived and promoted by the American Legal Exchange Council, an activist outfit funded by heavy-hitting right-wing donors like Charles and David Koch.

“In another coincidence that the GOP would like to flush down the memory hole, the Kochs’ father, Fred, a founder of the radical John Birch Society in the fifties, was an advocate for the impeachment of Chief Justice Warren in the aftermath of Brown [v. Board of Education] Fred Koch wrote a screed of his own accusing communists of inspiring the civil-rights movement.”

Blaming the Democratic Party for ending segregation – and coyly invited by opportunistic Republicans like Nixon and Reagan to switch party allegiances – racist whites signed up with the Republican Party in droves. Thus, the Democratic Party, which since the days of Jefferson had been the party of slavery and segregation, lost its southern base, ceding it to the new Republican Party.

A Flip of Allegiance

This flip in the allegiance of America’s white supremacists – from Democrat to Republican – also put them in the same political structure as the anti-regulatory business interests which had dominated the Republican Party from the days of the Robber Barons. These two groups again found themselves sharing a common interest, the desire to constrain the federal government’s commitment to providing for “the general Welfare.”

To the corporate Republicans this meant slashing taxes, eliminating regulations and paring back social programs for the poor or – in Ayn Rand vernacular – the moochers. To the racist Republicans this meant giving the states greater leeway to suppress the votes of minorities and gutting programs that were seen as especially benefiting black and brown Americans, such as food stamps and health-care reform.

Thus, in today’s neo-Confederate era, the American Right is coalescing around two parallel ideological motives: continued racial resentment (against black and brown people getting welfare to the presence of a black family in the White House) and resistance to government regulations (from efforts to control Wall Street excesses to restrictions on global-warming emissions).

Though the white racist element of this coalition might typically be expected to proudly adopt the Stars and Bars of the Old Confederacy as its symbol, the modern Right is too media-savvy to get boxed into that distasteful imagery of slavery.

So, instead the Right has opted for a rebranding as Revolutionary War-era patriots – calling themselves Tea Partiers, donning tri-corner hats and waving yellow banners with a coiled snake declaring “don’t tread on me.” Instead of overtly defending the Confederacy, the Right proclaims its commitment to the Founding Principles found in the Constitution.

But this sly transformation required the Right to rewrite the Founding Narrative, to blot out the initial interpretation of the Constitution by the Federalists who, after all, were the ones who primarily crafted the document, and to pretend that Jefferson’s revisionist view – representing the pre-Confederate position of the southern plantation owners – was the original one. [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-Up Constitution.”]

Now this doctored history – accepted by millions of Americans as true – has become the driving force for what many pundits predict will be a “wave election” for the Republicans and the Right.

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

Who outside of Syria knows the names Yara Abbas, Maya Naser, Mohamed al-Saeed…? The corporate media has inundated us with news of the two American journalists allegedly beheaded, the first of whose execution video has been deemedfaked. But what of the non-Western journalists and civilians beheaded and murdered by ISIS, al-Nusra, and associated terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine?

Why didn’t the August 2012 execution (which some reported as a beheading) of TV presenter Mohamed al-Saeed, claimed by the Nusra gang, create the same outrage? Or the December 2013 kidnapping and point blank execution in Idlib by ISIS of Iraqi journalist Yasser al-Jumaili?

Why wasn’t the murder of Yara Abbas—a journalist with al-Ikhbariaya, whose crew’s car was attacked by an insurgent sniper—broadcast on Western television stations? Or that of Lebanese cameraman for al-Mayadeen, Omar Abdel Qader, shot dead by an insurgent sniper on March 8, 2014 in eastern Syria.

Maya NaserAli AbbasHamza Hajj Hassan (Lebanese), Mohamad Muntish(Lebanese), Halim Alou (Lebanese)…all were media workers killed by the Western-backed insurgents in Syria. Their deaths were reported by local media, some even got a passing notice in corporate media, but none resulted in a media frenzy of horror and condemnations as came with the alleged killings of Westerners. Another at least 20 Arab journalists have been killed by NATO’s death squads in Syria in the past few years.

The killing of 16 Palestinian journalists in Gaza, at least 7 targeted while working, during the July/August 2014 Zionist Genocide of Gaza, also fell on deaf ears. Nor were the previous years of murdering Palestinian journalists noted, let alone whipped into a media frenzy. [see also: Silencing the PressSixteenth ReportDocumentation ofIsraeli Attacks against Media Personnel in the opt ]

In Syria, there are thousands of civilians and Syrian soldiers who have been beheaded—and in far more brutal and realistic manner than the SITE videos insinuate—by the so-called “moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Nusra, Da’esh (ISIS), and hoards of other Western-backed mercenaries. At the hands of the various NATO-gangs, tens of thousands more civilians have been assassinated and subjected to various sadistic practices—torture, mutilation, crucifixion, burning in ovens, throwing into wells, and a sick lot more. Thousands more, including children and women, remain missing after being kidnapped during mercenary raids and massacres.

Nidal Jannoud, a farmer from Banias (southwestern Syria), was one of the earlier victims of “moderate rebel” assassination. Jannoud was tortured and slaughtered by “peaceful demonstrators” in April, 2011. Omar Ayrout and Yahya Al Rayes confessedlater that they aided a mob in killing Janoud. “I heard gunfire and saw a group of people detaining Jannoud….I took a knife from Taha al-Daye and stabbed Jannoud in his right shoulder…Then the group attacked him with knives and mutilated his body afterwards,” Yahya al-Rayyis confessed.

In the case of the organ-eating al-Farouq Brigade militant “Abu Sakkar,” who bit into the lung out of a Syrian soldier, there was corporate media notice and general horror. Yet, very quickly corporate media like the BBC, The Guardian, TIME, among others, rushed to justify his cannibalism (see: Face-to-face with Abu SakkarSyrias ‘heart-eating cannibal and BBC whitewashes Syria ‘heart-eating cannibal‘ to justify armingal-Qaeda). How the tides would have turned if the lung in question belonged to a Western soldier, or worse, an “Israeli”soldier… would the BBC have then humanized the perpetrator of this barbaric act? Would the world have so quickly moved on, forgotten? Of course not.

Apart from the thousands more individual slaughters, there are also numerous massacres, mostly overlooked or simply lied about in the media.

In Raqqa, overtaken by al-Nusra and the so-called FSA in March 2013, then two months later by ISIS, civilians have faced floggings (including whipping of women),executions and crucifixions…with bodies left on public display for days, usually for the “crime” of supporting President Assad and the Syrian army, and often for the “crimes” of not living up to the warped version of Islam by their executioners. [see also: Raqqais Being Slaughtered Silently]

With the May 2012 slaughter of 108 Houla civilians (including 49 children and 34 women)—among them patients in a hospital and entire families in their homes—most corporate media and political fingers pointed at the Syrian Arab Army as the culprits, without a shred of evidence. The BBC brandished Italian journalist Italian journalistMarco Di Lauros image of dead Iraqi civilians in shrouds, claiming it to portray Houla victims. Upon demand of the aghast journalist, the claim was later retracted and corrected, an “accident…but who was listening by that point? Once the trickery of the BBC and other corporate media was revealed, the massacre was no longer newsworthy. [see: “SyriaMedia LiesHidden Agendas and Strange Alliances” and “Syria : One Year After the Houla MassacreNew Report on Official vsReal Truth” and Syrias ‘false flag’ terrorismHoula and the United Nations”]

While later investigations into Houla revealed the culpability of the so-called insurgents, the MSM had already moved on, leaving the average person confused, or stuck with the initial lies. Investigative articles aside, there was the confession of aninsurgent member who was present that Friday in Houla:

“…we’d been asked by our supporters from outside to do something to inflame the situation…The planning came from outside…On Friday after prayers, a large number of armed men came…they didn’t enter the mosque or pray. …The goal was to attack an army checkpoint and to liquidate these families supportive of the government. There were men, like Haytham al-Hassan, who had weapons including a cleaver. They butchered families….They sent people to announce that ‘Shabbiha’ had entered the village and slaughtered everyone. I was there. There were no Shabbiha.”

The December 2012 slaughter in Aqrab of at least 150 Alawites was likewise misreported, in spite of survivor testimonies. The UK Channel 4’s Alex Thomson met Aqrab survivors whose separately-given accounts corroborated one another:

“…our eyewitnesses say Sunni rebels took hundreds of Alawite civilians as prisoner,” noted Thomson, also writing, “They all insist…rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) corralled around 500 Alawite civilians in a large red-coloured two-storey house…” kept there for 11 days.

“They had long beards, and sometimes you couldn’t quite understand what they said. They were not dressed in the normal way,” said one survivor, Madlyan Hosin. A second interviewee, Hayat Youseh, said, “…they forced us out of our homes and set fire to them.”

A Syrian from a village three kilometers from Aqrab told me, “When Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya started saying that the Syrian Arab Army had attacked Aqrab, I went there to find out. I interviewed a lady from Aqrab who said that no army had come near there at the time of the massacre.”

Kassab, a predominantly Armenian Christian village near the Turkish border, came under heavy assault earlier this year by insurgents and Turkish soldiers. Kim Kardashian tweeted about Kassab…then, otherwise, the world largely forgot. In Latakia, some of Kassab’s internally-displaced spoke of the March 21, 2014 assault originating from Turkey. One young woman reported that the insurgents “raped our older women because they couldn’t find any girls.”

According to a Latakia resident, with friends and a home in Kassab, 88 Christians were murdered, 13 of whom were beheaded, others who were shot dead on the spot. Another 22 elderly were kidnapped and taken to Turkey where they were held for about three months before being released into Lebanon.

The fact that Christians were murdered by foreign mercenaries, let alone beheaded, should have created shock waves in the media. But, not surprisingly, it has had the exact opposite effect, because spotlighting those crimes doesn’t serve the West’s stated agenda to overthrow President Assad, to dismember Syria as the NATO-backed takfiris are dismembering Syrians.

It the case of the Kassab massacre, it became transparent that the lack of any governmental/political condemnation of the massacre and kidnappings was not due to lack of knowledge: Turkey helped commit the attack and housed the kidnapped [see: NATO and Turkeys Genocidal War on Syria and Searching for casus belli:Turkeys assault on Kassab?]; the West’s darling, Ahmed Jarba, visited soon after, sitting with “what appeared to be local rebel commanders in a house that was said to be in Latakia province,” the Daily Star reported, noting “Jarba also said ‘the Coalition has provided assistance to (fighters on) the front’, according to his office.”

Four months after it was liberated of the terrorists, most of the displaced from Kassab still have not returned to their desecrated and looted homes. According to a Latakia resident who keeps informed on Kassab, “The roads are fairly safe, but they have been targeted by short range missiles and mortars from Turkey. The ‘threat’ of attack and lack of money or resources to rebuild their homes and shops has kept most away. A handful will have enough money to repair, and those who are dirt poor may freeze this winter.”

The August 2013 insurgent massacre and kidnappings in the villages of Balouta, Hambushiya, and a number of other agricultural hamlets in the Latakia countryside did briefly receive some corporate media coverage…and also absolutely zero international outrage. That outrage was reserved for the falsified sarin gas attacks not long after, using the kidnapped children to stage their videos. [For a very detailed account of the Latakia massacre and its relation to FSA-falsified Sarin gas videos, see: “Combating the Propaganda Machine in Syria”]

In the nearly two weeks of attacks on these rural hamlets, 220 civilians were massacred (according to doctors in a Latakia hospital), including infants, children, women, and elderly—even a nonagenarian. At least one hundred were kidnapped (mostly children, some women), only 44 of which were nine months later released. These kidnap survivors spoke of torture at the hands of their “moderate rebel” captors. Al Akhbar reported that “according to another freed child, the fighters gouged out the eyes of one of the abducted children.”

The assault took place by roughly 20 coordinated factionsincluding ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the so-called FSA (with the knowledge and approval of the SNC’s George Sabra).

But, there was no outcry by the humanitarian, would-be interventionalists and their public.

Two months after the fact, the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele reported on the attacks, including the insurgents’ move early on August 4 from their base in nearby Salma village to attack the Latakia countryside. Surprisingly, the article actually quoted Syrian Arab Army and National Defence Forces (NDF) officers’ testimonies:

Special forces officer Hassan told Steele, “I heard a rebel telling another rebel: ‘Kill this one, but not that one’. One rebel asked: ‘What do I do about the girls?’ The answer came: ‘I’m sending a truck to pick them up’. Several were taken and raped, and have not been seen again.”

NDF officer Shadi told Steele, “When we got into the village of Balouta I saw a baby’s head hanging from a tree. There was a woman’s body which had been sliced in half from head to toe and each half was hanging from separate apple trees.’”

SAA soldier Ali told Steele, “We found two mass graves with 140 bodies. They were not shot. They had their throats slit. About 105 people of different ages were kidnapped…Salafists from abroad were behind the attack.”

In a separate video interview, a resident of one of the villages (unnamed for his safety) testifies:

“There were Chechen, Libyan, Saudi, and Afghan terrorists among them….One group was killing people by swords. And the other group was running after those who had been able to escape and killing them by shooting them….They broke into house while people were sleeping and beheaded them. They removed the foetus of a pregnant woman. I lost 42 from my family. Some of them were killed and others arrested (kidnapped).”

In the face of mounds of evidence, eyewitness testimony, mass graves, doctor and coroner reports of death by throat slitting, the massacre in Latakia resulted again in none of the fervor that we’ve seen in recent months…in spite of 220 civilians being brutally massacred, another 100—mostly children—abducted by the West’s freedom-loving terrorists.

Twenty km north of Damascus, Adra industrial town suffered horrific atrocities that went largely unreported in the corporate media. The town came under Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwa Al-Islam insurgents attack on December 11, 2013, Russia Todayreported, massacring at least 80 residents.

In another report, Russia Today interviewed eyewitnesses, one of whom said:

“There was slaughter everywhere…The eldest was only 20 years old; he was slaughtered. They were all children. I saw them with my own eyes. They killed fourteen people with a machete. I don’t know if these people were Alawites. I don’t know why they were slaughtered. They grabbed them by their heads and slaughtered them like sheep.”

In addition to the massacre of entire families”, bakery workers were executed and “toasted…in ovens used to bake bread ,” an Adra resident told RT.

Professor Tim Andersons report noted “Beheaded bodies from Adra were proudly displayed by the terrorists… Severed heads were also said to have been hung from trees.”

In Latakia city in April, 2014, I met refugees from Harem, a northwestern city 2 km from the Turkish border, who had fled after Harem came under attack by McCainsmoderates, with the help of Turkey.

One man told me:

“The terrorists attacked us, terrorists from Turkey, from Chechnya, and from Arab and other foreign countries. They had tanks and guns, like an army, just like an army. For 73 days we were surrounded in the citadel of Harem. They hit us with all kinds of weapons. We had women and children with us. They showed no mercy. When they caught any of us, they slaughtered him, and then send his head back to us. They killed over 100 people, and kidnapped around 150… children, civilians, soldiers. Until now, we don’t know what’s happened to them.”

Harem refugee in Latakia centre speaks of atrocities committed by foreign insurgents. Photo by Eva Bartlett.

The first Turkish-backed attacks on Harem were in September, 2012, and by October 31, al Akhbar reported that 4,000 civilians were under siege in the town fortress, warning of a potential massacre by insurgents who are “known to have been supplied with Turkish-made short-range missiles and launchers mounted on four-wheel drive vehicles, as well as an abundance of mortars.” The report also noted Turkey’s role in treating the FSA terrorists: “the FSA wounded are transported across the border to Turkey in ambulances,” and in killing Harem residents: “Dozens of people were killed in Harem’s al-Tarmeh neighborhood after it was subject to a missile bombardment from a Turkish police station.”

Once again, the FSA and ISIS attack was misreported in the corporate media, and the kidnappings of Harem residents not reported period. The situation of occupied Harem has been non existent in the media since. Breaking that silence, on October 12, Twitter user “Nutsflipped @Nutsflipped_z_1 ” tweeted a series of updates on Harem:

“I just talked to someone from #Harem near the Turkish borders. 60 SAA held off 5000 Islamist all coming from #Turkey for 1 year.#Syria

They literally killed 1000s of attackers, until the Turks gave Islamist Grad MLRS and flooded the town with fighters from #Turkey#Syria

#Kobani#Kessab and #Harem, cities in #Syria near the Turkish border attacked in the same manner by Islamist coming from#Turkey.”

In a personal message, he explained further. His information, he said, is from a contact from Harem now displaced who has “lost many male relatives. Executed. He was almost executed himself fleeing.”

“ISIS is genociding the natives of Harem, throwing their bodies in caves, selling their women and children. This has been going on since 2012, it was first FSA but they were losing. Then Turkey unleashed ISIS. Now ISIS has stepped up the massacre. Turkey is behind this. The West turns a blind eye. Turkey did the same thing all across the border.”

Some of the most recent massacres and atrocities at the hand of the Western/NATO/Gulf-backed/financed/trained terrorists that have gotten scant notice or tears include:

Shim’s suspect death went unnoticed by corporate media for at least a day; were she a Western journalist who died—accident or assassination—all the major media would have been broadcasting her death endlessly. [see: Journalists under attack, hypocritical Western media remains silent]

And this is the point. The murders of non-Westerners—whether in Syria, Palestine or elsewhere—doesn’t matter to the media and public, unless it serves an Imperialist or Zionist agenda.

In fact, supremacism and racism aside, the only reason the alleged-beheadings of the two Western journalists, among others, is really being trumpeted and shoved down our fear-mongered throats is that these questionable stories serve perfectly the Axis-of-Destruction’s agenda: a justification to bomb Iraq and Syria, to re-invade, to attempt to implement the Yinon Plan.

The murders of Syrians and other Arab journalists and civilians by NATO thugs are not forgotten, even if the corporate media would have it otherwise. And whereas the corporate media shirks their obligation to report these murders, let alone to report honestly on the real agenda to oust President Assad and destroy Syria as per Iraq, Libya, independent journalists, activists, and concerned pro-resistance people must fill the gap.

The new book by academics Nadia Abu-Zahra and Adah Kay — Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restrictions (PlutoPress, 2013) — is a brilliant achievement, and a landmark in the study of both the ongoing Israel genocide in Palestine,1 and national liberation struggles in general.

At first look the book is simply a well-researched academic treatise, with 693 endnotes, about administrative controls imposed on Palestinians by Israel. It is written in a sober style with great intellectual clarity.

As one enters its pages, however, Unfree becomes a far reaching analysis of the mechanics of a colonial state’s eradication and domination of an indigenous population, that has parallels in other modern states such as Canada.2 And it becomes an incisive description of the psychological and cultural anatomy of the awe-inspiring Palestinian resistance.

The unstated lessons of this book are transportable to any colonial nation state, and the picture is one that exposes the vicious nature of colonialism in the institutional instruments that are used. Despite the balanced and academic approach of the authors, readers will be horrified to learn the minutia of  what Palestinian citizens continue to endure in “the only democracy in the Middle East”, and to learn the history of Israel’s colonialism through the lens of administrative controls.

How has and does Israel contravene international law? Let us count the ways…

… the Hague Regulations, the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention, various United Nations Resolutions, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

These legal documents run parallel to another story – that of the largest denationalisation project in modern history. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees describes Palestine as “by far the most protracted and largest of all refugee problems in the world today”.2 In Palestine, the tools of the census, the population registry, and residence permits effectively denationalised a nation. It is one of the greatest ironies that, as nationalism faded in Europe, it waxed in the Zionist movement to Palestine, and as international law opposed denationalisation, denationalisation in Palestine rose ever higher. [p. 20]

One of the most profound chapters in Unfree is the one entitled “Coercion and Collaboration” (Chap. 4). The authors recognize that colonialists always depend on collaborators, and that any colonialist enterprise must implement a strategy for securing collaboration. Israel’s methods to coerce Palestinians to become collaborators in its genocide are violations of the explicit language of international statutes, and are inhuman, as the facts presented demonstrate. The authors always summarize by understating, such as:

The pressure to collaborate is one of the most difficult demands on Palestinians who either need IDs or need to retrieve them. This pressure permeates and is instrumental to the perpetuation of the system of control. [p. 83]

At times, the explicit descriptions of documented Israeli war and occupation crimes overpowers any human reader, such as:

In the first decade after 1948, “curfews became the most common method of controlling Palestinians”.68 Perhaps the best-known incident in this period took place in 1956, in the village of Kafr Qassem. The Israeli army gave only a half hour’s notice to the village leader that a curfew would take effect at sunset. With no way of telling the villagers returning home at dusk, the villagers were surprised to be confronted by armed forces asking if they were from the village. When they said “yes”, 47 men, women, and children were shot dead, one by one, at close range, in the first hour of the curfew alone.69

Defending the premeditated massacre, Brigadier Shadmi had told his forces, “A dead man is better than the complications of detention”. Shadmi and his men eventually served short prison sentences, were formally pardoned, and then promoted to leading roles in Palestinian municipalities and the Dimona nuclear facilities.70 [p. 106]

There are descriptions of routine Israeli interferences with births, and with Palestinian health services in general:

Médecins du Monde reported in November 2003 that Israeli officials had been holding birth delivery kits at the airport for seven months (sent by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA). The Ministry of Health in Nablus had been waiting for these kits since February 2003. In 2002, when Palestinian needs were greatest after Israeli attacks, Israeli officials at the airport kept medicines for eight months – until one third of them had expired – that had been sent from Germany, the US, and Italy to the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.23 [p. 129]

Some of the introductory summaries to chapters are among the most compelling academic statements on the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, such as:

In the spring of 2002, yellow and purple blossoms covered the fields and trees around Jenin, a Palestinian town named for the fertility of its earth, and known for the largest forested area in the West Bank. But that spring, the forest had a different use. Israeli army forces were sweeping through the West Bank, taking over 8,500 Palestinians from their homes and workplaces and holding them captive in makeshift camps. Around Jenin, the army separated the men aged between about 18 to 50 from the children, women, and older men; then they took the men to the forest: handcuffed, blindfolded, in their underwear; they were forced to kneel or squat in the cold mud, and denied blankets, food, and water.1

Soldiers had written the ID numbers on Palestinians’ wrists with blue ink.2 Then each man was photographed, interrogated with the use of a digital file containing details about his life, and had his ID number written on the back of the photo. Using plastic shackles – described by Amnesty International as a form of torture because they stop blood circulation and cut into the skin – to bind captives’ hands, they blindfolded them, and kept them, “squatting, sitting or kneeling, not allowed to go to the toilet, and deprived of food or blankets during at least the first 24 hours”.3

Majdi Shehadeh was one of over 600 Palestinians taken from Tulkarem refugee camp:

“We weren’t given any food, and when we asked for water they poured it over us. The handcuffs were tight and when the blindfolds were taken off on our arrival I saw some people with hands black and swollen.4″

By 3.30 a.m. they began to shake with cold. Elsewhere, in the Ramallah area, so many Palestinians were taken that the army forced them into a dried-up septic tank for lack of space in the prisons.5 After a day and a half, they were given their first food:

[F]or 10 people we got a tomato and an apple and we shared this. Every six people had a loaf of bread, but a very small one and 200 grams of yoghurt.6

From 1967 to 2006, Israel incarcerated almost 700,000 Palestinians, that is, nearly one-fifth of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza.7

[...]

Harvard professor Sara Roy, whose father carried an identification number imprinted on his arm in the Second World War, was one of those who noticed the connections between these so-called bureaucratic elements during the 2002 mass arrests:

“[W]hat does it mean when Israeli soldiers paint identification numbers on Palestinian arms; when young Palestinian men and boys of a certain age are told through Israeli loudspeakers to gather in the town square; when Israeli soldiers openly admit to shooting Palestinian children for sport; when some of the Palestinian dead must be buried in mass graves while the bodies of others are left in city streets and camp alleyways because the army will not allow proper burial; when certain Israeli officials and Jewish intellectuals publicly call for the destruction of Palestinian villages in retaliation for suicide bombings or for the transfer of the Palestinian population out of the West Bank and Gaza; when 46 per cent of the Israeli public favors such transfers and when transfer or expulsion becomes a legitimate part of popular discourse; when government officials speak of the “cleansing of the refugee camps”; and when a leading Israeli intellectual calls for hermetic separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the form of a Berlin Wall, caring not whether the Palestinians on the other side of the wall may starve to death as a result.10″ [p. 160, 161]

Finally, a most fascinating section of Unfree explains the Palestinian spirit and culture of resistance that is termed “sumud“. The following sequence of quotes from Unfree constitutes a description of sumud:

“We Palestinians have learned to lose without being defeated.30″ [p. 172]

Sumud is [...] described by Edward Said as “a way of turning presence into small-scale obduracy”,33 in which sheer presence constitutes resistance; it contradicts “the natural behavior expected … exodus and leaving”.34 [p. 172]

The internationalisation of the term sumud is attributed to Shehadeh, who explains that, faced with the two options of “mute submission” or “blind hate”, he would choose the third: sumud.35 [p. 173]

People in difficult conditions like Hani Amer often refer to their children, their families, and all people suffering collectively, as reasons for staying in place. [p. 173]

[Quoting Anthropologist Rema Hammami:]

“In terms of the society’s self-image, this is a society that for more than fifty years has lived in a constant state of dispossession. [It is] an incremental dispossession: it goes on, and on, and on. And the society is extremely strong in terms of survival, in terms of survival strategies. It’s very proud of that as well.

I mean, I think the self-image that most Palestinians have – we all have of ourselves – is that, “We are constant losers. We’re just people, and we just lose all the time. And we lose, but you know what? At the end of the day, they are not going to win. Because we’re stubborn. We’re stubborn bastards, right. I got nowhere else to go. This is my home. They can do what the hell they want. But I’m staying”.41″ [p. 174]

Thus, sumud is a powerful and foundational explanation of the phenomenal Palestinian resistance. Sumud is a psychological alternative to suicidal physical resistance against a vastly more powerful invader, and to fleeing or accepting death. This alternative is made possible by being culturally embedded, and the feasibility of sumud is consistent with the “self-image-incongruence model of individual health” that I have recently described, based on known socio-medical research.3

There is one aspect of Unfree with which I do not agree. In their final chapter, the authors cast sumud as a technique of non-violent resistance. I do not see why the cultural and psychological basis for sumud would have to be inconsistent with a resistance that includes armed self-defence.

In other words, there is no reason, in my view, that sumud is at odds with an armed intifada. Indeed, it seems to me that sumud and armed rebellion are natural partners and supporters of each other, and that neither can survive without the other.

This is important because it is becoming more-than-apparent that nothing short of physical force on the ground will stop Israel in its “cleansing” and “grass mowing” projects. Certainly sumud alone, no matter how noble and admirable, is no match for years and decades more of business as usual in Palestine. Applying the myth of pacifism as a realistic counter to a genocidal maniac nation such as Israel would only ensure the murder of Palestinian society.

Nonetheless, that is a minor interpretational aspect, and Unfree, will be of great benefit to anyone interested in the truth about the so-called “Israel-Palestine conflict”, or interested in resistance struggles in history and in colonized regions (everywhere).

  1. Note: The authors of Unfree do not qualify Israel colonialism as a “genocide”. It is not their goal to establish any legal judgements, but rather solely to factually describe the historic realities on the ground. []
  2. See: Rancourt, Denis G., Israel’s Attempted Genocide Must Fail — Lessons from genocide in “Canada”Dissident Voice, August 2, 2014. []
  3. See: Rancourt, Denis G., Self-Image-Incongruence Theory of Individual HealthDissident Voice, October 26, 2014. []

Denis G. Rancourt is a former professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism

Noted infectious disease experts have said that the current strain of Ebola virus plaguing Africa and slowly spreading in the United States is potentially much more lethal than previous strains identified by virologists.

As reported by Washington’s Blog, Dr. Michael Osterholm, the head of the Center for Infection Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, a prominent public health researcher who is nationally recognized, gave a talk in recent days explaining what another top Ebola virologist has found.

During his talk, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, Osterholm said Gary Kobinger, chief of Special Pathogens for Canada’s national health agency, has said the current Ebola strain appears to be far worse than any previous strain. He added that Kobinger believes that the current strain could more easily be spread through aerosols than those previously identified as well.

“Today I’ve been given permission — something I’ve known about for a few weeks… when I wrote the piece, I knew about this, and it’s concerned me greatly,” said Osterholm, in discussing an article that he previously wrote on the issue with an audience at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a video clip that can be seen here.

‘It is very worrisome to me’

“Gary Kobinger and colleagues at Winnipeg — the Canadian National Lab — actually took one of the [Ebola] strains from Guinea and put it into macaques [monkeys],” in early September, he said. “What they saw was remarkable. It was unlike any of the Ebola viruses they’ve seen in monkeys. It was much, much more severe; the pathology in the lungs was remarkable, and, as Gary said — who is one of the most prominent Ebola virologists in the world — said, ‘It is very worrisome to me, about what I saw there.’ Maybe this is a different virus.”

Osterholm said he was not trying to scare anyone or raise undue fears, but rather, he said, the goal was to motivate policymakers to come up with a “Plan B” should the virus, at some point, mutate and become airborne, like the common influenza virus — a huge deal, now that flu season is once again around the corner.

Just a week earlier, another top virologist, Peter Jahrling, chief scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he runs the emerging viral pathogens section, said he, too, is worried because “the mutations of the virus that are circulating now look to be more contagious than the ones that have turned up in the past,” Vox reported.

“When his team has run tests on patients in Liberia, they seem to carry a much higher ‘viral load.’ In other words, Ebola victims today have more of the virus in their blood — and that could make them more contagious,” the site reported.

It is largely forgotten now except within the virology community, but in April, a few months after the outbreak began in West Africa, a group of 30 scientists and researchers published a report in the New England Journal of Medicine which said that the current strain of the virus did not come from Central Africa but was instead a new strain.

‘How did it get there?’

As Reuters reported at the time:

Ebola is endemic to Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan and Gabon, and scientists initially believed that Central Africa’s Zaire strain of the virus was responsible for the outbreak.

Using analysis of blood samples from infected patients, however, researchers determined that while the Guinean form of the Ebola virus (EBOV) showed a 97 percent similarity to the Zaire strain, the disease was not introduced from Central Africa.

Syndicated columnist, author and former Reagan Administration Treasury official Paul Craig Roberts believes that the Obama Administration’s response — sending 4,000 US troops to virus-ravaged West Africa though they have no specific infectious disease training — is “peculiar.” He goes on to speculate that perhaps the administration might be using troops to test an experimental Ebola vaccine. And he further writes:

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an expert of the perfidies of the US government, reminds us that Sierra Leone and Liberia, the countries most affected by the ebola outbreak, are two West African countries that host US biological warfare laboratories. Professor Boyle asks how the disease, which is mainly associated with equatorial Congo reached West Africa thousands of kilometers away.

It’s a worthy question, given the evidence and findings that the current strain did not originate where the last strain originated.

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at www.BioDefense.com

Sources:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com

http://www.lewrockwell.com

https://www.youtube.com

http://www.vox.com

http://uk.reuters.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

An herb discussed below caused a big upset a few years back when researchers realized it could be more successful at killing cancerous cells than an expensive chemo drug. Since that discovery, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fast-tracked the plant compounds to be used in pharmaceutical meds. Want to know how to get yours from the natural source without paying Big Pharma for their patents? Read on.

Feverfew (tanacetum parthenium), also known as wild chamomile, is no small herb. Its properties are so powerful it has been shown to outperform anti-leukemia chemo drugs. The active ingredient in feverfew, which is responsible for much of its healing power, is known as Parthenolide.

Until recently, feverfew was used by herbalists primarily as a treatment for migraine headaches and nausea, but it turns out that the extent of its true healing powers were being overlooked.

One abstract concluded:

“It has multiple pharmacologic properties, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, antispasmodic, an emmenagogue, and as an enema for worms. In this review, we have explored the various dimensions of the feverfew plant and compiled its vast pharmacologic applications to comprehend and synthesize the subject of its potential image of multipurpose medicinal agent. The plant is widely cultivated to large regions of the world and its importance as a medicinal plant is growing substantially with increasing and stronger reports in support of its multifarious therapeutic uses.”

Parthenolide has shown great promise in treating multiple cancers, though admittedly not in human testing. It works by reducing the spread (metastasis) or the recurrence of several types of cancerous cells, including breast, prostate, lung, bladder, leukemia, and myeloma.

Good News: Blushwood Berries Kill Cancer Fast – Big Pharma Tackles Patent

Another study, published in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Researchconcluded:

“The parthenolide can inhibit the cell growth, migration, and induce the apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer. These findings may provide a novel approach for pancreatic cancer treatment.”

Harikrishna Nakshatri, associate professor of surgery, biochemistry, and molecular biology, and Marian J. Morrison, an investigator in breast cancer research, has discovered that parthenolide could block the activity of a protein called NF-kB in breast cancer cells. NF-kB promotes the production of proteins that block cell death. In moderation, that’s a good thing, but when NF-kB becomes overactive, cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs.

Fortunately, the active feverfew compound, parthenolide, is not highly soluble in water, which makes it harder for pharmaceutical companies to extract the compound and patent it. They have to modify its structure slightly for it to still work to kill cancerous cells. But you could also just take the much less expensive herb, and get the compound as nature intended it. Feverfew can also be grown in your own garden, and you can take the herb to induce cancer cell apoptosis for pennies.

When once planted it [feverfew] gives year after year an abundant supply of blossoms with only the merest degree of attention.”

I’m quite certain the American Medical Association and American Cancer Society wouldn’t want you to know that.

Additional Sources:

WebMD