The village of Berezovka, Kazakhstan. Photo: Sanat Urnaliyev. Used under Creative Commmons license

A Kazakh oil consortium has been accused of “mass poisoning” after 25 school children and four teachers passed out almost simultaneously at a school in Berezovka village in northwest Kazakhstan. The incident is the latest in a decade of allegations of pollution caused by the neighboring Karachaganak oil field.

Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V.(KPO) is a joint venture among multiple stakeholders that were awarded the exclusive rights to extract oil from the Karachaganak reserves in 1997. BG Group of the UK and ENI of Italy each hold 29.25 percent while Chevron from the U.S., Lukoil from Russia and nationally owned KuzMunaiGas hold smaller stakes.

“The emergency situation which arose on November 28 is not surprising. This is a direct result of omissions by the public authorities, and violations by KPO of the requirements for environmental and industrial safety,” said Sergey Solyanik, a lawyer with Crude Accountability, a U.S. based NGO.

“All of this has led to human rights violations, as well as the fact that the villagers are subjected to discrimination based on their place of residence, social status and economic situation. The residents of Berezovka and their children are hostages of the Karachaganak oil field.”

The Karachaganak oil field covers over 280 square kilometers on the eastern border of Russia extending down to the Caspian Sea. The field reserves contain 1.2 billion tons of oil condensate and 1.35 trillion cubic meters of gas.

In 2002, the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, provided a $150 million loan to Lukoil to help develop the field. In late 2003, Karachaganak started to produce oil and now the oil fields have become a mainstay of the Kazakh economy. In 2013, a quarter of the gross domestic product was derived from oil revenues. 

But ever since the first oil was produced, the villagers of Berezovka have complained about the pollution. 

A 2003 study found that 45 percent of Berezovka villagers suffered from chronic illness while another study conducted the same year showed 25 toxic compounds including carbon disulfide, hydrogen sulfide and methylene chloride. A 2004 study by Zhasil Dala (Green Steppe), another Kazakh NGO, found heavy metals in vegetables grown in Berezovka with cadmium levels 2 to 2.5 times higher than average.

The following year Crude Accountability made a short film – Five Kilometers of Indifference - with the help of the local organizations that had conducted independent health studies of villagers in late 2004.

Also in 2004, Crude Accountability and the Green Salvation Ecological Society in Kazakhstanfiled a complaint with the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank for environmental violations, followed by two more complaints in 2007 and 2008. The CAO upheld part of the complaint in 2008, relating to air pollution.

On November 28, 2014, 29 children between the ages of 10 and 15 and four teachers fainted at the Berezovka village school.

“We are not talking about any one classroom. “Children from different classrooms located at different floors fainted,” Azamat Safimaliye, the district vice governor, told Tengrinews.

The villagers immediately blamed the oil field. “There are so many flares that we don’t need streetlights during the night. There has been a strong smell lately, and there were loud pops at the field a couple of days ago. But whatever we say, no one wants to listen to us,” Aleksey Koba, the father of a seventh grader at the school, told Tengrinews.

Manshuk Aimurzieva, the deputy head of the regional healthcare department, later confirmed that an “unidentified toxic substance had a selective effect on the central nervous system” of the children admitted to the hospital.

KPO immediately issued a statement expressing concern for villagers’ safety but refused to accept any liability.

“We have special ecological control posts set all around the field. Their measurements are very precise and they’re all functioning,” Steve Wright, the health, safety, environmental and quality controller for KPO, said in a statement.

On December 11, more than half of the citizens of Berezovka, signed a petition to the President and Prime-Minister of Kazakhstan asking to be relocated from the village. “What happened was the last straw of the villagers’ patience,” Solyanik of Crude Accountability, told the media. “The appeal was signed by 951 villagers out of the total of 1,580 people who live here. That is, more than a half of the residents are asking to be relocated.”

On December 15, Berdybek Saparbayev, the deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, visited the village and announced that a state investigation would take place, with results to be announced in late January.

Copenhagen.

There was a time when getting a taxi in Copenhagen on the eve of Christmas, the traditional date of celebration, was nigh impossible. A booking had to made weeks in advance, in some cases, months. To risk getting to a venue on December 24th and not have a ride home through the biting cold, even as the public transport system slept, was something residents took.

Then came a rivalling solvent, a solution to the dilemma: Uber. The evening of this December 24th, several Uber drivers were on hand in the Danish capital, drawn up on that multi-connected smorgasbord of an item known as the smartphone. In the world of hyper surveillance and monitoring, drivers and locations would be displayed, with your choice of driver duly selected.

They even come with a personalised dimension, the necessary touch for prospective customers. This particular driver boasted a name strikingly similar to the al-Nusra front in Syria, but this was not an occasion to joke. People just wanted to get home, and drivers not associated with the regular taxi market wanted to make earnings.

This is a company that became so large it is brushing past and pushing the competition out of regulated taxi markets. Venture capitalists continue salivating at its growth. Indeed, Uber seemed to be the ideal competitive model.  But all models will at some point reach levels of stress, facing the specifics of local problems. The bigger the system, the greater the propensity to unfold.

Uber provides the classic example. Multinational experiments face local problems. A universal template has to yield to the specifics of locality. Precisely the seemingly loose nature of the Uber model, regulatory gurus are wondering how to rein in the driving company.

As are the anti-Uber groups which have sprung up, comprising such leading voices as Steve Wright who has argued that the company is a sinister entity, “backed by corporate titans like Goldman Sachs, and incur no tax liabilities in the UK” (The Independent, Jun 11, 2014). Besides, argues Wright, there is a safe system in operation as it is, competitive in nature and cost, comprising private hire vehicles and taxis.

Those sympathetic to Wright’s case cite safety examples, with a case of alleged rape of a passenger in New Delhi by an Uber driver last December. (The accused is currently standing trial over charges.)  For all of that, James Cook, writing in Business Insider (Dec 8, 2014), argues that, “Uber remains one of the safest, if not the safest, ways to order a car.”  The company monitors the cars used, the routes taken, and duly informs passenger of the route taken.

Then come the tax problems with the singular structure of the company, claiming that it is a tech entity which just takes fees for linking drivers and passengers. There are issues with those who work for Uber, thinking that there is an agency relationship between the company and the driver.

Uber has also made it into the publicity bad books with a spectacular demonstration of the profit motive in action.  Just to show that the desire to make some ruddy cash does not diminish with a hostage siege, Uber made it to the front pages as it charged surging prices for individuals seeking to leave the Sydney central business district during the Lindt Café hold up. “One way to guarantee outrageously expensive Uber surge pricing?  A hostage situation, apparently” (New York Magazine, Dec 15). An algorithm was deployed, raising prices to four times the standard rate as residents made a dash for it. The company went into placating overdrive: refunds were offered, and even free rides.

The problems posed by Uber’s push into various markets has been telling.  In several European countries, Uber has faced operations clipping their influence. Bans against the use of the UberPOP service have been issued in Spain by judges, though these have been openly defied and challenged in court (The Straits Times, Dec 27, 2014). The regulators are pushing back, in some cases with a good degree of fury.  In Portland, Oregon, Uber braved the local market by launching its operations without the approval of local officials.  The response came in the form of threatened fines for both the company and its drivers.

The most recent instance of this is a cease and desist order from local government authorities in South Carolina, concerned that an Uber subsidiary, Raisier LLC, runs drivers without the appropriate credentials to be picking customers up and taking them to their destinations for money (The Verge, Jan 15). Since operating its UberX service in the state, regulators have been chewing over a classification regime for the company’s services, and those similar to it.

For all of these problems, the market for hired drivers, accessible at the touch of a booking app, is only getting larger. Uber’s not-so-saintly approach to making profits is bound to change as the regulators creep into the purses and incorporate this model of driver hire.

Those working in regulated, and in some cases closed taxi markets have already seen the threat manifest itself in an all too effective way. The rearguard actions are being mounted, though a mellowing is bound to take place. For all of that, one could still get a ride back in the cold Copenhagen night of Christmas Eve.

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

Haiti by the Numbers, Five Years After the Earthquake

January 16th, 2015 by Center for Economic and Policy Research

(Note: A number of the links below are for PDF or Excel files.)

Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300

Minimum number of Haitians killed by the U.N.–caused cholera epidemic: 8,774

Number of years it took after the introduction of cholera for the international community to hold a donor conference to raise funds for the cholera response: 4

Amount pledged for cholera eradication: $50 million

Amount needed: $2.2 billion

Number of years it would take to fully fund the cholera-eradication plan at current disbursement rate: 40

Number of Haitians who died from cholera through the first 8 months of 2014: 55

Number who have died since, coinciding with the start of the rainy season: 188

Number of new cholera cases in 2014, through August: 9,700

Projected number of cholera cases for all of 2014, after the United Nations reduced their estimate in September 2014: 15,000

Minimum number of new cholera cases since that announcement: 14,000 (through December 8)

Number of U.N. lawyers who were present during oral arguments in a federal court in New York to argue in favor of the U.N.’s immunity: 0

Number of members of the U.S. Congress who wrote to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month urging the U.N. to respond justly to cholera claims: 77

Humanitarian funding appeal for 2014, by the United Nations: $157 million

Percent of appeal covered, as of December 30, 2014: 54 percent

Minimum amount raised by tax on international phone calls that is supposed to be allocated to the National Education Fund: $95.6 million

Number of students the Haitian government says have received free tuition as a result: 1.3 million

Estimated amount missing from the Education Fund in 2012: $26 million

Number of principals and other school officials arrested for fraudulently receiving benefits from National Education Fund: at least 29

Percent of school-age children in school in 2001: 78

Percent in 2012: 90

Number of years the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have funded similar tuition waiver programs: 8

Poverty rate in 2012: 58.5 percent

Poverty rate in rural areas in 2012: 74.9 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2000: 38 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2012: 38 percent

Percent of income held by the richest 20 percent: 64

Percent of income held by the poorest 20 percent: Less than 1

Percent of Haitian workers who have a job yet earn less than the minimum wage: 60

Percent less that women earn as compared to men: 32

Percent by which per capita GDP is lower today than it was in 2000: 2.7

Dollar amount of textile exports to the United States in fiscal year 2012/13: $387.7 million

Percentage points of GDP growth these exports accounted for in that year: 0.32[i]

Percent of textile exports to the United States made with local goods: 0.6

Minimum amount committed by the Inter-American Development Bank and United States to the Caracol Industrial Park and related infrastructure: $482.9 million[ii]

Total amount of budget support to the Haitian government since the earthquake: $340.2 million

Number of jobs at the Caracol industrial park as of September 2014: 4,156

Estimated number of jobs that will be created, according to the U.S. State Department: 65,000

Estimated amount of tax revenue collected from Caracol’s largest tenant over first 15 years of operations: $0

Minimum amount spent by USAID on feasibility and other studies for a planned port in northern Haiti, which was never built: $4.25 million

Number of apparel factories with a union presence, before earthquake: 1

Share of apparel factories in Haiti where there is at least a partial union presence now: Over one-half

Minimum number of workers fired for apparent union activity, since 2011: 223[iii]

Number of people still living in tent camps, as of September 2014: 85,432

Percent decrease from its peak: 93.7

Share of this decrease that return programs (rental subsidy & other programs) were responsible for: 16.7 percent

Percent of remaining IDPs that are “not targeted” for return programs: 81.5

Number of individuals living in informal settlements on outskirts of Port-au-Prince, not counted in official displaced population, according to Haitian government: 300,000

Number of new homes built by international reconstruction efforts, as of October 2014: 9,032

Planned number of new homes originally to be built with USAID support: 15,000

Original planned cost of those new homes: $53 million

Current planned number of new homes to be built: 2,600

Actual cost: More than $90 million

Minimum cost for additional work on 750 houses in Caracol that were found to be built with substandard materials: $4.5 million

Number of projects financed by Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program: 268

Total projected cost: $1.7 billion

Share of Haitian government’s capital expenditure financed by Petrocaribe: 25 percent

Total debt cancellation for Haiti since 2010: $895 million

Total public debt, as percent of GDP, in fiscal year 2009/10: 13.0

Total public debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 19.8

Interest payments on external debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 0.1

Percent of total external public debt owed to Venezuela through Petrocaribe Initiative:84.7

Total amount committed by international donors and NGOs since 2010, according to the Haitian government: $9.3 billion

Amount disbursed: $7.6 billion

Total number of projects funded by donors since 2010: 2,262

Total amount awarded in contracts and grants by USAID: $1.5 billion[iv]

Percent that went directly to Haitian organizations: 1[v]

Percent that went to firms located inside the beltway (DC, Maryland and Virginia): 56

USAID’s goal for local procurement in Haiti: 17 percent

Amount of USAID funds earmarked for local procurement in 2015: $5.5 million

Total amount awarded to Chemonics International, a for-profit development company, since the earthquake: $216 million[vi]

Performance bonus paid to Chemonics CEO Richard Dreiman last year: $2.5 million[vii]

Amount awarded directly to Haiti’s Ministry of Health (one of the only government institutions to receive direct funding) by the U.S. government: $170.9 million[viii]

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2006: 29

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2012: 22

Number of hospitals, out of 48 total, which were put out of service by the earthquake:37

Minimum number of cities where health facilities have been renovated, with U.S. support: 9

Percent of Haitian government’s budget that went to health ministry in 2014: 5.3

Minimum number of sexual abuse allegations against the U.N. mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, since 2007: 94[ix]

Percent of total U.N. troops worldwide, stationed in Haiti: 7.2

Share of total worldwide sexual abuse allegations against U.N. troops that MINUSTAH has accounted for over the last 2 years: 1 in 4 [x]

Months that partial legislative and local elections have been delayed: 39 and counting

Number of “municipal agents” named by President Martelly to replace elected mayors whose terms expired in 2012: 130

Share of Senate seats currently empty due to lack of elections: One-third

Number of members of the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies whose terms expire on January 12, 2015: 99

Percent of parliament represented by women: 4

Number of environmental monitoring officers deployed in 2014, to protected areas:150

Percent of land covered by forest: Less than 3

Number of seedlings planted between 2010 and 2014: 5.5 million

Notes

[i] Author’s calculation.

[ii] Calculation based on numbers from IADB productive infrastructure programs, GAO report from 2014, and a new $15 million commitment from the U.S.

[iii] Calculation based on numbers in reports from Better Work Haiti and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

[iv] Author’s calculations based on data from USAspending.gov and USAID.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[vii] From personal communication with Chemonics spokesperson.

[viii] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[ix] Author’s calculation based on data from U.N. Conduct and Discipline Unit.

[x] Ibid.

Condoleezza Rice made headlines when she testified Thursday at the leak trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling — underscoring that powerful people in the Bush administration went to great lengths a dozen years ago to prevent disclosure of a classified operation. But as The Associated Press noted, “While Rice’s testimony helped establish the importance of the classified program in question, her testimony did not implicate Sterling in any way as the leaker.”

Few pixels and little ink went to the witness just before Rice — former CIA spokesman William Harlow — whose testimony stumbled into indicating why he thought of Sterling early on in connection with the leak, which ultimately resulted in a ten-count indictment.

Harlow, who ran the CIA press office, testified that Sterling came to mind soon afterNew York Times reporter James Risen first called him, on April 3, 2003, about the highly secret Operation Merlin, a CIA program that provided faulty nuclear weapon design information to Iran.

Harlow testified that he tried to dissuade Risen without confirming the existence of Operation Merlin, first telling the reporter “that if there was such a program, I didn’t think a respectable newspaper should be writing about it.” The next day, when Risen called back, “I said that such a story would jeopardize national security.”

Not until cross-examination by a defense attorney did Harlow acknowledge something that he’d failed to mention when describing his initial conversation with Risen: In fact, Harlow had told Risen that only Al Jazeera would be willing to cover the story he was pursuing.

As a prosecution witness, Harlow volunteered some information that may come back to haunt the prosecutors. With alarm spreading among CIA officials, Harlow testified, someone at the agency mentioned to him that Sterling had worked on the Operation Merlin program. In his testimony, Harlow went on to say that Sterling’s name was familiar to him because Sterling, who is African American, had filed a race discrimination lawsuit against the CIA.

Left dangling in the air was the indication that Harlow thought of Sterling as a possible leaker because he’d gone through channels to claim that he had been a victim of racial bias at the CIA.  Sterling’s complaint had received substantial coverage in several major news outlets. (The CIA eventually got the suit thrown out of court on the grounds of state secrets.)

According to Harlow’s testimony, everything he heard about Operation Merlin at the CIA was that it was going swimmingly. The only words otherwise came from Risen, who told him the Iranians were already aware of the flaws in the nuclear weapons design that the CIA had arranged to be passed along to them. Harlow testified that it was the first time he’d heard any assertion that Operation Merlin was not well run.

Along the way, on the witness stand Thursday afternoon, the veteran PR operative for the CIA let some paternalism slip: “I did think there was a way to dumb the story down so it would be appropriate to put in the paper,” Harlow said.

But his hopes to block the story or water it down enough to render it insignificant were clearly failing. Risen showed no sign of backing off. So the CIA called in big guns. Twenty-seven days after Risen’s first call on the subject to Harlow, national security adviser Rice hosted a meeting that included CIA Director George Tenet and other government officials  as well as Risen and Times Washington bureau chief Jill Abramson.

The pressure worked. Within 10 days, the Times told the National Security Council that it would not publish the story. “I was relieved when I learned the story was not running,” Rice testified on Thursday, “and I was grateful to the Times.”

Her relief lasted almost three years, until Risen included a chapter about Operation Merlin in his 2006 book State of War. But Rice has never had a reason to rescind her gratitude to the New York Times; the newspaper never published the story. Information about the dangerous CIA program only reached the public because Risen took the risk of putting it in a book.

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

I walked down to the Save the Children offices accompanied by Miranda Landgraf and Robin Priestley from 38 Degrees to deliver the petition to the offices of Save the Children UK on Tuesday 13th January 2015.

handing in the petition

We had a private meeting with Brendan Cox, director of Policy and Advocacy who listened and responded well although we all had to agree that it was now impossible to remove the award from Tony Blair, especially as the award was from the semi autonomous USA branch of the charity. However, Brendon did agree that it had been a misjudgement on Justin Forsyth’s part not to challenge the choice of recipient for their award or inform his staff, and that communication and consultation between members of the Save the Children Fund Global federation needs to be improved so that such internationally damaging choices are not repeated.

We had a brief debate about the differences in the perception of Tony Blair and policy in the Middle East compared to that of the UK branch, as well as the shortfall in our own UK government’s response to the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the overall political situation of occupation and oppression.

Miranda Landgraf handed Brendon the three baskets of crocheted flowers (490 altogether) that she had brought with her. Each flower has the name and age, where known, of a child victim in Gaza. Countless more flowers could have been produced to represent so many more of the innocent children that have died across the Middle East under Blair’s watch in his various roles. Rather too many for one person to create.

flowers

Many of those who signed this petition had voted that Malala Yousafzai be put forward for a future award and I suggested  Ebola nurse William Pooley. Unfortunately it is not clear if the award is an annual event, but our suggestions will be forwarded to them.

Brendon Cox agreed to make a public statement about the error of judgement made by Justin Forsyth and to address some of our other points. We explained that we were not out to damage Save the Children UK , but rather to help them regain the trust of those who have so generously supported them over the years.

In the circumstances the outcome was as positive as was possible and some good has been achieved. Hopefully such a situation will not happen again and communication will be improved all round.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-save-the-children-charity-from-giving-tony-blair-their-annual-global-legacy-award

Best wishes

Miranda Pinch

British Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has stated that genetically modified (GM) food should be grown in Britain because it is more ‘eco-friendly’. She adds that steps should be taken to speed up this development. Her statements come as little surprise to many because Truss’s predecessor, Owen Paterson, was also a staunch supporter of GM technology.

He was so staunch in his support that fellow Conservative Party MP Zak Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet (see here). Paterson was ignorant of or quite content to ignore the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GMOs (see here). He acted as a mouthpieces for the GMO biotech sector and made numerous false claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that flew in the face of research findings.

During his ministerial stint, Owen Paterson was keen to reassure the British public that safety concerns over GMOs are based on “humbug” and that GM food is completely safe to eat. His comments appeared to come from the school of bogus logic that is based on the premise that ‘no one has ever died from eating GM food.’

Paterson, Truss and other supporters of GMOs (and indeed the pesticide-ridden food that we are fed) might like to consider the long-term negative health impacts that petrochemical agriculture is having on humans before claiming that GMOs are safe or indeed are safer than ‘conventional’ food (as Paterson once stated). Writing in India’s Deccan Herald newspaper, food policy analyst Devinder Sharma cites evidence indicating the wholly fallacious nature of such a claim, especially as illnesses and diseases relating to pesticide use can take more than a generation to show up (see here).

Paterson’s support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see here).

The evidence strongly suggests that the Government and the GMO industry is manipulating the media and forcing GM crops into Britain. Details of certain emails were made public and revealed what the veil of secrecy is trying to hide and what many strongly suspected: collusion between the government and the GMO sector is rife.

Truss was appointed to her current role six months ago. It is the first time she has spoken out in public in favour of GMO technology, and her recent statements, like many of her predecessor, are based on ignorance or merely parrot a slick PR soundbite that comes courtesy of the GM biotech cartel.

At last week’s Oxford Farming Conference, Truss supported plans to weaken EU laws that have so far kept commercial GM crops out of Britain.

She stated:

“I think GM crops have a role to play here… If you look at what has happened in the US, crops are being grown in a more environmentally friendly way with less water usage and less pesticide usage. I would like us to have that opportunity. Our farmers need access to technology that will help them work in world markets.”

Did she take that passage from a glossy industry brochure?

Probably not, but it wouldn’t be the first time an official has read from such a script and used cut-and-paste ‘puff’ material written by the industry to become what campaigner Aruna Rodrigues calls “uncaged corporate parrots” (see here), based on her analysis of the politics underlying the GM issue in India.The statement by Truss flies in the face of evidence that associates GM crops with higher pesticide use, the advance of ‘super weeds’, falling yields and a negative impact of biodiversity and the environment (see here).

But Truss is correct when she says this technology would certainly help – it would help the GMO biotech corporations (not “farmers” as she states) ‘work’ in world markets. It would allow Monsanto et al to genetically modify organisms, subsequently slap patents on them and thus secure monopolistic control over seeds, markets and the food supply. This is who Truss is representing - not the British electorate who do not want GMOs (see here).

On behalf of Big Biotech, the UK government’s strategy involves an ongoing attempt to get GM food into the Britain via the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the weakening of pan-European legislation, which to date has prevented GM crops from being grown in most European countries.

The GMO biotech sector staunchly supports the TTIP and is the biggest lobby group in Brussels pushing for this deal (see here). TTIP is aimed at dismantling regulations, bypassing democratic procedures and threatening governments with legal action if their decisions in any way harm profits (see here).

Result of new vote will allow for GM cultivation in Europe

As for the weakening of pan-European safeguards concerning GMOs, which the UK government has been spearheading (see here), on 13 January the European Parliament passed a law that could in effect permit EU-wide GMO crop cultivation – exactly what the UK wanted.

Writing in The Ecologist (here), Oliver Tickell states that with regulation and safeguards now devolved to member states as a result of the vote and only limited ‘opt-out’ rights on the table, this is a recipe for chaos that GM corporations will ruthlessly exploit.

The proposed law allows individual member states to ban genetically modified crops, but only on very limited grounds that many fear could be subject to legal challenges. The law also opens the door to the possibility of more varieties of GM crops being approved in the EU. Currently only one GM crop is grown in Europe, but a further seven GM varieties are in the pipeline and may be approved early this year. The outcome of the vote will allow the GMO biotech companies to pick off each country one at a time.

Tickell quotes Green UK MEP Keith Taylor as saying:

“This agreement is not all it seems. While giving EU countries new powers to ban GMOs, I believe what this will mean in reality for the UK is more GMOs not fewer. This is because our pro-GM Government are now able to give the go-ahead to more authorisations.”

Lawrence Woodward on the Beyond GM website (here) says the UK government is setting time aside to clear away all obstacles to the introduction of GMOs to English farms. He reports that in a letter to Beyond GM, Defra (Department for Environment and Rural Affairs) junior minster Lord de Mauley, confirmed that:

“We do not expect any commercial planting of GM crops in the UK for at least a few years as no GM crops in the EU approval pipeline are of major interest to UK farmers… the government will ensure that pragmatic rules are in place to segregate GM and non-GM production.”

Woodward argues that “pragmatic rules” imply as few and as weak as possible with no rules on liability and nothing to ensure that ’the polluter pays’ in the event of organic and non-GM crops and habitats being contaminated.The so called ‘opt-out’ regulation will now free up countries such as the UK, which in reality wanted to ‘opt-in’ and enable genetically engineered crops to be grown in its fields. Woodward notes that prior to the vote on 13th January, the proposal had already been through a non-transparent process involving a trialogue, where the European Commission (EC), EP and representatives of the Council of Ministers secretly wheel and deal to facilitate the passage of legislation. The process stripped out all mandatory measures to prevent contamination of non-GM crops.

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director, is quoted in Oliver Tickell’s piece in The Ecologist as saying:

“Environment ministers say they want to give countries the right to ban GM crop cultivation on their territory, but the text they have agreed does not give governments a legally solid right. It ties their hands by not allowing them to use evidence of environmental harm to ban GM cultivation. This leaves those countries that want to say ‘no’ to GM crops exposed to legal attacks by the biotech industry.”

Tickell also quotes the Green French MEP José Bové:

“In the short term, this change will allow multinationals like Monsanto to challenge national bans at the WTO or, if free trade deals like TTIP are finalised, in arbitration tribunals.”

With the exception of the Greens, all the main political groups in the European Parliament united to back this new GMO law.

Oliver Tickell goes on to state that among the problems in the new law is the absence of strict regulation at the European level. Instead it will be up to member states to impose their own safeguards and regulations.

Tickell quotes GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill:

“This directive offers no meaningful protection to people who want to make informed choices about what they are eating or to farmers who want to protect their fields from the superweeds and biodiversity loss associated with the kind of GM crops likely to be heading our way. There are no EU-wide mandatory measures to prevent contamination within an individual member state and no rules governing liability.

That means it’s down to the UK Government to protect our right to grow and eat GM Free.”

And how do you stop cross-border contamination? GM pollen does not respect national borders. But  contamination suits the aims of the GMO biotech industry just fine (see here). It is arguably a deliberate strategy.Peter Melchett from the Soil Association argues that the new law:

“… fails to require countries to ensure that any GM crops grown will not contaminate GM free farms, nor to ensure that the cost of any contamination will fall on the shoulders of the GM companies who own the patented products, not on farmers or food businesses that suffer from pollution…. The rights of farmers who do not wish to grow GM crops, particularly in England, are therefore under threat by this proposal. Indeed, the entire organic sector, growing rapidly in Europe and which may double by 2020, is in danger – as are the rights of anyone who wants to buy GM free foods.” (Quoted by Tickell)

Tickell concludes by saying that amid the chaos the law will create, at least one thing is certain: that the situation will be exploited by the GM corporations to introduce GMOs as widely as possible with a minimum of regulation.

The GMO biotech sector’s false narrative

Officials like Truss, Paterson and Anne Glover, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission from 2012 to 2014 (see her views here), parrot industry claims that are ultimately based on a false narrative: there is or will soon be a food crisis and only GMOs or more petrochemical agriculture can save us.

There is more than enough food currently being produced to feed a projected world population of nine billion, let alone the current one of 7.2 billion. Furthermore, agro-ecological processes (not petrochemical or GM) are key to securing food security for the planet (see here), without the massive costs in terms of health, the environment, energy use, population displacement, etc. which result from the current petrochemical/GMO system.

I have stated the following in a recent article, but it is worth stating again:

Despite the slick lobbying and PR from Monsanto et al, this isn’t about nutrition or ‘feeding the world’, it’s about modifying organisms to create patents that will allow monopolistic control over seeds, markets and the food supply. It’s not about objective science stripped of vested interests either. It’s ultimately about the geopolitics of oil-dependent agriculture and resultant debt, it’s ultimately about seed freedom and it’s ultimately about food democracy. 

Before finishing, consider the following:

“There is no global or regional shortage of food. There never has been and nor is there ever likely to be. India has a superabundance of food. South America is swamped in food. The US, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe are swamped in food (e.g. Billen et al 2011). In Britain, like in many wealthy countries, nearly half of all row crop food production now goes to biofuels… China isn’t quite swamped but it still exports food… No foodpocalypse there either.” Jonathon Latham (read his article here ”How the great food war will be won.”)

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture and World Trade Organisation rules that agritech companies helped draw up for their benefit to force their products into countries (see here) are a major cause of structural hunger, poverty, illness and environmental destruction. By its very design, the system is meant to suck the life from people, nations and the planet for profit and control (see here). Some bogus technical quick-fix will not put that right. It represents more of the same. The disease is offered as the cure.

Truss should realise this before jumping into bed with the agritech cartel.

But, as their new handmaiden within what is a staunchly pro-GM government, the suspicion is that she already does.

Mexico is desperately trying to avoid a bioterrorism takeover by Big GMO, which is insistent upon ushering in genetically modified (GM) maize to replace the dozens of native corn varieties already grown throughout the country. The Mexican Chapter of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal has issued an urgent plea to the Mexican government to once and for all ban all plantings of GM maize in order to avoid catastrophic losses to the “center of origin and diversity of this staple crop.”

The ruling, which came after the Tribunal spent three years gathering evidence from more than 1,000 organizations on GMO safety and effectiveness, warns that GM maize threatens to contaminate Mexico’s roughly 60 native corn varieties. More than just a staple crop, corn is a cultural treasure of Mexico, and because there is already a natural diversity of it, corn grows exceptionally well without the need for genetic alterations.

But the biotech overlords aren’t having any of it, as they repeatedly try to thwart national laws to get GM corn into Mexican fields. There has been considerable public resistance against this egregious form of “biocide,” but the Mexican government has yet to issue an official ban. As it currently stands, there is sort of a “people’s moratorium” in place that has left GM corn off the table for now, but this moratorium needs to be reinforced by actual law to prevent future plantings.

In its ruling, the Tribunal urges the Mexican government to “adopt all necessary measures to ensure the conservation of peasant maize as the main food source and as a vital element of the social structure and cohesion.” After all, Mexico’s existing corn supply is currently grown by roughly 3 million independent farmers who plant many diverse varieties, avoiding the pitfalls of monoculture and all the detriments that come with it, including resistant “superweeds” and “superbugs.”

Tribunal declares GMOs the “ultimate weapon against independent food production”

Recognizing that GMOs inherently undermine traditional food production systems, the Tribunal also declared in its indictment that GMOs need to be banned because they are the “ultimate weapons against independent food production… and the corporations that control them.” This is particularly true in regions where agriculture is subsisted by many smaller farms rather than a few larger farms.

Besides this, GM maize isn’t even necessary. It won’t serve any purpose other than to potentially reduce yields, consolidate control into the hands of a few powerful corporations and increase the risk that corn crops will fail. And all this while farmers end up getting locked into contracts with corporations like Monsanto, which will bleed them dry, steal their land and eliminate all biodiversity and food sovereignty.

In 2013, a group of activists and organizations filed a class action lawsuit against the Mexican government to stop it from issuing grow permits for GM maize. The effort put an immediate stop to the permits and all plantings, but the case is currently pending, which means it could be overturned and the plantings will resume, unless an official ban is enacted.

“Fighting transgenic corn is not only a national issue — it affects the very foundations of the world food security,” said Veronica Villa of the ETC Group in Mexico, in clear opposition to the proposed takeover. “These communities and organizations will continue fighting the release of transgenic seeds; the Peoples’ Tribunal has brought the problem to the international attention.”

Sources:

http://naturallysavvy.com

http://www.tppmexico.org

http://articles.latimes.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

The Escalating War on Islam. The Phony War On Terror

January 16th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam. Injustice triumphed. So did hate and fear. Muslims are fair game.

US targets of choice. Britain, France, Germany and other Western partners march in lockstep against them.

Waging phony war on terror. Pretext for state terror. Against targeted Muslim counties, groups and individuals.

After last week’s Paris killings, Le Monde headlined “Le 11 Septembre Francais.” Saying US history was “before (and) after 9/11.”

For France it’s “before (and) after 1/7.” An accompanying article said anti-Islamic protests erupted in Paris, Dresden and other European cities.

Muslims are vilified for their faith and ethnicity. Expect more violence to follow. Manipulated by Western interests. With dirty CIA and Mossad hands involved.

French authorities arrested dozens extrajudicially. Outrageously accused of “glorifying terrorism.” By exercising their free expression right.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley said so-called French support for freedom features crackdowns on free speech.

“If the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws” threatening free expression with “criminal prosecution.”

“(N)ews (reports) indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre.”

Only government allowed speech is OK. France and other Western countries are “falling out of faith with free speech, which is now something to be prosecuted rather than protected,” said Turley.

France’s National Assembly voted 488 to 1 to escalate air strikes on IS. Perhaps authorizing them against Syria is next. Partnered with other US-dominated NATO allies.

IS and other Takfiris are the pretext. Assad’s government the target. Regime change the objective.

France’s “11 Septembre” assures escalated imperial wars. Stepped up homeland repression. Militarized for extra harshness.

Calls for increased surveillance. Curtailed free speech, privacy and other fundamental rights.

Banned online encryption. Anything goes replacing constitutional governance. Infesting Europe.

US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson saying: “Recent world events call for increased vigilance at home.”

Code language for more congressional repressive legislation. Militarizing America more than ever.

Abolishing constitutionally protected freedoms altogether in the name of national security. Waging greater war on humanity.

Muslims more than ever are in the eye of the storm. No matter that Paris killings were less about terrorism and more about false flag deception.

State terrorism. Using Kouarchi brothers and Coulibaly as convenient patsies. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Charlie Hebdo killings “a war on civilization.”

Blaming Muslims for “barbarity.” Ignoring French involvement in US-led NATO aggression. Murdering millions of Muslims.

Mostly defenseless men, women and children. Media scoundrels marching in lockstep with imperial lawlessness.

Ignoring genocidal high crimes. Feigning concern about 17 French deaths. “(D)efending the (selective) right to offend,” said Media Lens.

Western offensiveness against Muslims. The other way around called terrorism.

“The Western tendency to act with ruthless, overwhelming violence is, of course, a key reason why” some Muslims retaliate, said Media Lens.

“(W)e live in a time when a ‘war for civilization’ is seen as something more than a grotesque contradiction in terms.”

Perhaps the bloodiest modern attack on European journalism occurred on April 23, 1999.

US-led NATO bombed Serbian state radio and television. An act of cold-blooded murder.

Killing 16. Injuring 16 others. Victims included an editor. Program director. Cameraman. Make-up artist. Three security guards. Other support staff.

Additional media outlets throughout Serbia were attacked. Amnesty International called bombing iits state media “a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.”

A Pentagon spokesman outrageously called it “part of Milosevic’s murder machine…right up there with security forces and the military.”

It bears repeating. When Muslims retaliate against crimes harming their lives and wellbeing, it’s called terrorism.

US-led NATO raping Yugoslavia was called liberating it. Terror bombings reflect longtime US strategy.

Willfully targeting civilians. Killing them in cold blood. In all US wars. Post-9/11, murdering millions of Muslims.

Journalists are prime targets. In November 2001, US air strikes targeted Al Jazeera’s Kabul, Afghanistan satellite TV station.

In April 2003, a US tank shelled Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel. Where many foreign journalists were based.

Striking a 14th floor balcony. Sky News journalist David Chater was in the hotel at the time.

Saw the tank aiming in his direction before firing. Asking at the time how Western journalists could continue working if US forces targeted them.

American bombs killed Al Jazeera’s cameraman Tareq Ayoub. Injured a Reuters reporter, photographer, technician and cameraman.

In July 2011, US-led NATO bombed Libyan media in Tripoli. Killing three media workers. Injuring 21 others

When US-led NATO warplanes commit cold-blooded murder, it’s called liberating oppressed people. Humanitarian intervention. Responsibility to protect.

Making the world safe for plunderers ready to take full advantage. When Muslims defend themselves, they’re called cold-blooded killers.

When Israel murders over 2,200 mostly Palestinian civilians, injures thousands more, turns large parts of Gaza to rubble, it’s called self-defense.

Including willfully targeting and murdering 17 Palestinian journalists. Preventing them from reporting Israeli atrocities.

Bad guys are them. Not us. Western reports on Charlie Hebro killings are one-sided and then some. Hypocrisy taken to a higher level.

In France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Israel, holocaust denial is criminalized.

If Western media mock or vilify Islam, it’s OK. Muslims are targets of choice.

Imperial wars rage against them. Homeland repression targets them. Expect worse ahead post-Charlie. Across Europe. In America.

Media scoundrels hype nonexistent threats. On January 14, Wall Street Journal editors headlined “France’s War on Terror.”

Instead of explaining its war OF terror. Against Muslims. Anyone legitimately against lawless state policy. Exercising their free expression right to say so.

Not according to Journal editors. Hyping the need to defend against “Islamist terror.” Applauding France’s response.

Turning the country into a militarized armed camp. Likely with orders to shoot to kill resisters. Mass arrest others.

Imprison them for exercising their democratic rights. What free societies champion.

French legislation being drafted eviscerates them. Bravo, say Journal editors. Keep “boost(ing) counterterrorism capabilities.”

Forget about longstanding rule of law principles. Ones all free societies respect. Protecting monied interests from political, economic and social justice matters more.

“To prevent future attacks, the French government should do more,” said Journal editors. Maybe they have criminalizing all Muslims in mind. Targeting them for praying to the wrong God.

“Effective counterterrorism requires some civil-liberties trade-offs,” say Journal editors. Benjamin Franklin once said sacrificing freedom for security assures losing both.

“(H)omicidal violence…is the hallmark of radical Islam, Journal editors claim. Genocidal slaughter is the “hallmark” of US-led NATO aggression.

Waging permanent wars. Against one country after another. Killing millions. Destroying nations. Turning them to rubble. Don’t expect Journal editors to explain.

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

US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro agreed to normalize the relationship in December but there is nothing to ensure a smooth process. The 50-year period of conflicts and mutual claims cannot be simply forgotten. The enrooted mistrust of the Cuban leadership towards the United States is hard to overcome. There is a growing conviction in Havana that the imperialist enemy will not miss an opportunity to deliver a deadly strike against the country of victorious socialism. This point of view is permanently set in the mindset of veteran revolutionaries who have determined the strategy of the country’s development. The same applies to the pragmatic generation of Communist leaders who have launched the process of gradual political and economic modernization. 

Cuba is resolved to maintain its independence and protect the gains of the revolution. The people support the reforms, including the democratization of political and social life. It’s important to define the pace of changes and create economic basis for improving living conditions of common people. Washington is not interested in the evolutional pattern of Cuba’s development.

Paul Craig Roberts, a well-known US economist and politician, expressed the opinion that Obama will turn the US embassy in Havana into an instrument used to implement his hostile intentions. The United States will use non-governmental organizations for inciting street protests like it was done in Ukraine. There are a growing number of posts to Twitter saying that, no matter the White House sounds soft on Cuba, the US special services are concentrated on organizing Cuban Maidan demonstrations. The protests could be even more radical. Anti-Cuban subversive centers function in the US, Canada and Europe dissipating information about «luxurious life» of Cuban high standing Communist Party functionaries and government officials isolated from common people. The information on corruption in the ranks of state and party officials is an important aspect of the non-government organizations under the control of US special services. Their mission is to undermine stability, law and order in Cuba. Normally the corruption fighters use the materials fabricated by the US Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

Since a long time ago the US mission in Havana has been involved in the activities aimed at establishing non-government organizations, including training of «young opposition» and their introduction to the methods used for staging «color revolutions». American diplomats seldom openly call for the fight against the «Castro regime». Instead they display great fervor making comments on the chosen episodes of documentary films devoted to «color revolutions» and overthrow of tyrants and dictators! They provide deep insight into the activities conducted by young activists of protest movements in other countries. They admire their readiness for self-sacrifice pursuing the ideas of democracy and humanism embodied in America! Yoani Sanchez has been spreading anti-government information with a hostile intent for a number of years. Her success evokes envy in the ranks of dissidents: she gets well paid and is often invited to make foreign trips. As a human rights activist, Yoani receives prestigious awards. It is said she may be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. And she has followers.

Immediately after the scandalous relationship between Sanchez and the CIA was revealed to become public domain, new opposition activists took the positions at the front line of struggle against «the dictatorship of Castro brothers», especially Eliecer Ávila. He attracted the attention of anti-Cuban subversive centers in 2008 when he asked some Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, the President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, a few sharp questions about the freedom of press, direct access to Internet and the weak points of the Cuba’s election system. Alarcon answered candidly and adduced solid arguments. That was it, so it seemed to be then, but somebody made a video recording of the meeting. The fragment with the recorded event and the curious student asking hot questions was shown in American TV programs devoted to Cuba, as well as European TV channels. All of a sudden Eliecer Ávila became famous.

A simple peasant from province who received higher education in Cuba (he received a degree in information technology) became known. It made his head go round. Then the same pattern as in the case of Yoani Sanchez was used to get him into public spotlight. Western media outlets paint him as a competent expert on Cuba, a potential political leader able to form and lead a political organization (and do it pretty soon) which could take the place of incumbent Communist Party. CIA sponsors arranged a foreign trip for him (Sweden, the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Spain, the United States and other places) so that he could know what real democracies are like. During the tour they held discussions to shape his opinion on the formation of new party. At present one can only guess what is in store for Ávila and what his political career path would be like. Ill-wishers spread the rumors among dissidents that Ávila collaborates with the Cuban counter-intelligence. That’s why he is so passive when it comes to opposing the regime.

There are around twenty-thirty non-government organizations operating in Cuba. One way or another, they coordinate their activities with the United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana. The Ladies in White (Las Damas de Blanco) is the best known organization which stages protests against «the Castro regime» and the politically motivated imprisonments. There are 53 people imprisoned in Cuba for political reasons, according to the US State Department’s list. In the given case the word «political» has a rather dubious meaning. At that the Cuban government started to release the prisoners in accordance with the agreement concluded with President Obama. One can tell a lot about the sophisticated operations of US special services in Cuba. The USAID activities among young music fans, especially rappers, are a good example. They used front organizations to promote the band called Los Aldeanos. Other musicians were invited to join in. They planned to organize a festival as a way to spread around «fresh ideas». The «rap operation» was conducted along with other subversive activities. For instance, USAID launched the project ZunZuneo, a Cuban Twitter, calling for political struggle against the government. At the same Cuban tours were organized for the young people coming from other Latin America countries so that they could instigate their Cuban contemporaries to anti-government uprisings.

All these plans have been frustrated but the looming détente in the US-Cuba bilateral relations opened new opportunities for the enemies of Cuban revolution. The US Interest Section in Havana is not idle as the process of its transformation into the full-fledged embassy has been launched. The complex plan of preparing a «color revolution» is being gradually implemented. The just started reduction of tensions is used as a cover. The US special services never stop rehearsals to prepare potential actors for the roles in the play called «Maidan-style performance».

Paris Charlie: The “Shock Doctrine” par Excellence

January 16th, 2015 by Peter Koenig

On 12 January the French Parliament approved with almost unanimity – with one abstention only – the budget for France’s continuous and enlarged involvement in the new war on Iraq, a new war engagement led by Washington and supported by its vassals, UK, Canada, Australia and France. Aircraft carriers and troops were immediately mobilized, not even losing a day. Doesn’t that conspicuously smell of an earlier preparation, just waiting for that crucial and appropriate event, prompting parliamentary approval? 

At the same time France lawmakers agreed to display 10,000 troops throughout the country to protect ‘vulnerable places’; spying on citizens, for their protection takes on new forms and formats. A direct reaction to the attack on Charlie Hebdo on January 7 and the assault on a kosher supermarket on January 9? – Killing 17 people in all? Is that it?

French Ministers of the Interior and of Defense have advanced their wish of substantially increased respective police and defense budgets, when the 2016-2017 allocations are being discussed later this year. No doubt they will get their way.

And – no doubt, this is the shock doctrine at its best. People are in awe and shock after the assault on the satirical and Moslem insulting Charlie Hebdo. A million and a half took to the streets in Paris this past weekend, the largest manifestation since the liberation of Paris after WWII in 1945. Some media report more than 6 million people marching throughout Europe. Almost all waving signs “I am Charlie” – Solidarity or stupidity?  Hard to say. Most likely just sheer ignorance.

It’s ignorance that kills our democracies, our human values; public ignorance allows leaders (sic) to wage wars, to aggress nations that refuse to submit, to fall to their knees. It’s ignorance perpetuated daily by our mainstream media and swallowed without question, day-in-day-out like breakfast coffee.

Neocon leaders, all over Europe, the new patsies of Washington that we, the people, have voted into office, under shrewd but hardly perceptible Washington-funded propaganda, through NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and other well-endowed CIA sponsored so-called think-tanks, meddling in local politics, sowing subtle threats or acts of destabilization. Europe’s new masters that a majority of the people doesn’t really like, but who are in office anyway – these spineless stooges constitute Europe in Brussels, the EU itself having become a miserable colony of Washington.

So, with a populace under shock, politicians have it even easier to get away literally with murder, with whatever they want under the pretext of fighting the eternal enemy – the Moslem terrorist armies, Al Qaeda, ISIS and whatever other names they have morphed into or morphed out from in the course of the last couple of decades. Eternal war on eternal terrorists perpetuates evil and more terrorism and – war budgets yielding insane profits for the war industry throughout the western Washington-aligned world.

Under shock and awe, people will approve every aberrant and sick wish of aggression by politicians – if being told that it is for their good and protection. Yes, that’s what the propaganda machine has done to the ‘free-thinking’ minds of the citizens of our ever so heralded democracies. Democracies, freedom of expression, freedom of press – mon oeil !

The Charlie atrocities reek all over of false flag. An attack so well and professionally carried out with cutting edge Kalashnikovs and get-away methodology, way beyond the capacities of the Kouachi brothers, who have no doubt criminal records, spent time with and were trained by the very AlQada and ISIS that were created and funded by Washington and by its European puppets – including the French, according to President (sic) Hollande’s own admission.

Yes, the French were and are funding counter-terrorism in Iraq and Syria, the very counter-terrorism that provides them in turn with pretexts to bomb the two war-torn countries to even more rubble – just for regime change, with the added benefit of oil and gas, and a constant profit generating war machine – leaving millions of deaths behind, mostly civilians, women and children and elderly – and other untold millions as refugees, in miserable unsanitary camps, or fleeing across dangerous borders to unknown destinies, to disease, hunger and death – people the world forgets, the media stays away from – forgotten lives.

The Kouachi brother, as well as Amedy Coulibaly, the suspect in the hostage drama of the Hyper Cacher food market in eastern Paris, whose identities and past activities were well recorded in French police files, were most likely pre-identified as perpetrators of the probable pre-meditated murderous attacks that left 17 people dead within three days of horror in Paris; attacks so well organized and carried out that they could easily wear the stamp of French special forces, CIA, Mossad or all three of them – because, cui bono – who benefits? – Perhaps the Masters of all three of them?

The Kouachi brothers were identified only by a conveniently lost ID in the get-away car, reminiscent of the intact passport of one of the 9/11 ‘terrorists’ found in the rubble of the twin towers. Are people really ignorant enough to believe such a farce? – All three were caught and killed almost immediately by police. Dead men don’t talk.

And there is more – coincidentally, as reported by Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, the Police Commissioner, Helric Fredou,  Number Two Police Officer of the Regional Service of France’s Judicial Police in Limoges, “committed suicide on the night of Wednesday to Thursday at the police station.” Commissioner Helric Fredou had participated in the police investigation into the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

The reason given for the ‘suicide’ is ‘burn-out’ and depression – depression when in charge of one of France’s most prominent criminal investigations of the century? The incidence as of this day is hardly covered by the msm.

False flag written all over the walls of Charlie Hebdo’s publishing house. – The publisher being controversial, having received frequent threats for its Moslem-offensive cartoons was normally under heavy police protection. Why was on 7 January only one police car with one police officer parked half a block away?

False flag – converted immediately into public shock, the perfect condition for ramming any police, military and surveillance legislation down the people’s throats. Better, it doesn’t even have to be ‘rammed down’, the population asks for it. They want to be protected and secured. They want their government going to war to wipe out Moslem terrorism, never mind how violent and how cruel they go about it, never mind the criminal acts these governments are committing in the name of protecting their citizenry.

Does anybody take to the streets in Europe, in the US with posters saying “I am…. blank” … the million victims of Iraq, of Syria – of Libya, of Afghanistan, of Yemen, of Pakistan, of Sudan, of Somalia – and the list is almost endless. These millions of lives wiped out by Obama’s drones and NATO count for nothing in the dulled minds of the western civilization (sic).

The war and killing machine that feeds the propaganda machine, driven by the six Zionist-Anglos-Saxon monster media that control 90% of the western information system, shy not from dishing out lie after lie after lie to indoctrinate the populace with believes that have zilch to do with reality – but they transform our western populace into hapless zombies.

What does it take to stop this vicious cycle and awaken consciousness?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, the Voice of Russia / Ria Novosti, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Just as the earthquake had rattled the ground under the feet of Haitians, the dissolution of the Haitian Parliament at midnight, 00:00 on January 12, 2015, exactly five years later, has shaken to the core Haiti’s republican institutions. Right at the day’s start, the terms expired for all 99 members of the House of Representatives and 10 Senators. With only 10 members left, the Senate lacks a quorum and cannot function.

This loss of the legislature, plus the replacement in 2012 of every elected judge, mayor and other local executive by presidentially-appointed “interim executives,” have concentrated all the country’s power in Michel Martelly, who is now a full-blown dictator. The current state of affairs resulted from Martelly’s deliberate neglect to organize elections during the last four years. Year after year, he demanded a rewrite of the Constitution as a precondition for elections, and year after year, the Senate refused to yield to his demands. One of the amendments would have allowed consecutive terms for Haitian presidents and made it possible for him to extend his tenure to 10 years.

As Haiti’s government was systematically dismantled according to a plan laid out by Bill Clinton in 2011, the international community wholeheartedly supported Martelly. Every year, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) justified its $500 million budget and the renewal of its mandate by promises that it would organize elections and render the horrific situation in Haiti yet more stable. After 10 years of such “stabilization,” the crime rate has climbed, the parliament is dysfunctional, and the Haitian government counts less than one percent of its normal number of elected officials.

The absence of legislators from Haiti did not deter United States Ambassador Pamela White from organizing a meeting at 10 a.m. between Martelly and Haiti’s phantom lawmakers and then trumpeting, in a press release, that they had reached an agreement. The pact was signed by the following motley crew of insignificant parties and non-governmental organizations (NGO):

  • Jean Henry Ceant, Renmen Ayiti
  • Jose Ulysse, Ansanm Nou Fo
  • Pasteur Chavannes Jeune, Alliance Chretienne et Citoyenne pour la Reconstruction d’Haiti (ACCRHA)
  • Marc Guillaume, Union des Patriotes pour l”Avancement National (UPAN)
  • Harry Precius Dessieu, Konfyans
  • Fils-Aime Ignace Saint-Fleur, Patriyot Natif Natal (PNN)
  • Kettly Adam Surin, Union Patriotique des Democrates Chretiens (UPDC)
  • Masconne Polyte, Parti de la Diaspora Haitienne pour Haiti (MUDHAH)
  • Eddy Mesidor, Union des Democrates Haitiens (UNDH)
  • Sene Debre Juslair, Rassemblement des Militants Progressistes d’Haiti (RAMPHA)
  • Pierre Melisca Romestil, Parti Resistance Nationale Contre la Pauvrete (PRENACOP)
  • Asnel Alexandre, Mobilisation Democratique pour le Relevement d’Haiti (MDRH)

Notice the absence of Fanmi Lavalas, Platfom Pitit Desalin, Mouvement Patriotique de l’Opposition Démocratique (MOPOD) and other parties and popular organizations that, together, command more than 90 percent of the electoral support.

The reason for such contortions by the US to display a semblance of a democratic process in Haiti is because the Latin American participants in MINUSTAH have announced that they would not serve as the praetorian guard for a US client in repressing Haitians. Of course, they already do so, but they do it in a pseudo-democracy rather than an outright dictatorship. Form is everything.

Crowds of angry Haitian citizens took to the streets to continue the protests they began more than three months ago, despite having suffered several deaths and countless injuries from police attacks. Having successfully forced the release of political prisoners and ejection of the previous prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, the protesters continue to call for:

1. Martelly’s departure.
2. Formation of an Electoral Council that is credible and in accord with the spirit of the 1987 Constitution.
3. Formation of a transitional government to organize general elections in 2015.

At Haiti’s official earthquake commemoration, Martelly took a break from his orders of police attacks on protesters, lewd insults to journalists, physical assaults against congressmen, and release of hardened criminals from prison, to discuss how much the country needs reconciliation. He should know: he needs forgiveness more than anyone. During his rule, charges of usurpation and money laundering against his wife and son resulted in the suspicious death of the investigating judge. Numerous political activists have died under questionable circumstances or have been killed in drive-by shootings that were essentially assassinations. In early November 2014, in a television interview, Martelly casually announced that he would rule by decree, come January 12. If his American puppeteers have toned down his rhetoric, they have not dampened his ambition.

With a little help from Rafael Correa, Martelly might soon be able to do as he pleases. A large force of tontons macoutes loyal only to him is being quietly assembled and will be put at his disposal by Summer 2015. At 7:45 a.m. on Monday, January 12, 2015, for example, the third installment of 40 soldiers (tontons macoutes) graduated from Ecuador’s Escuela de Formación de Soldados del Ejército.

Former United States President Bill Clinton missed Haiti’s official earthquake commemoration this year: a good sign for Haitians. He is no longer welcome in Haiti, and legal action has been taken against him with regard to the disposal of earthquake reconstruction funds by his Interim Haiti Recovery Committee (IHRC). Clinton attended a different event: the fourth annual “Help Haiti Home” gala fundraiser held by Sean Penn on the evening of Saturday January 10. This party has become a major place in which to be seen and photographed on a red carpet in designer clothes. In previous years, it was held in Haiti, in complete disregard for the poverty around it and the mourning related to the earthquake anniversary. In 2015, the opulent affair was held in Los Angeles: another good sign. Clinton’s protégé, disgraced Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who is also under investigation for fraud, was in attendance. The event raised another $6 million of reconstruction funds.

Martelly’s handlers failed to catch his gaffe, of also declaring January 12 — the day to mourn the 300,000 victims of the earthquake — to be the official start of the 2015 pre-carnival activities. This was bound to happen. After all, carnivals are what Martelly does best. The carnival king evidently plans to dance over yet more graves while he sings about reconciliation, and he might well do so, unless the Haitian people cut short his incipient career as the konpa dictator.

News Junkie Post Editor’s Notes: Photograph one and three by Eric Goldhagen; five and six from Ansel‘s archive; four, eight, nine and ten from Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador‘s archive; and seven and eleven from United Nations Photo archive. This article is also available in French.

China’s Global Political Shift

January 16th, 2015 by F. William Engdahl

I have been to China over the years more than a dozen times. I have spoken with people at all levels of policy-making, and one thing I have come to realize is that when Beijing makes a major policy change, they make it carefully and with great deliberation. And when they arrive at a new consensus, they execute it with remarkable effect on all levels. That is the secret to their thirty-year economic miracle. Now China’s top leadership has made such a policy decision. It will transform our world over the next decade.

On November 29, 2014, a little-noted but highly significant meeting took place in Beijing as Washington was absorbed with its various attempts to cripple and ultimately destabilize Putin’s Russia. They held what was termed The Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs. Xi Jinping, Chinese President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered what was called “An Important Address” there.

Careful reading of the official Foreign Ministry statement on the meeting confirms it was indeed “important.” The central leadership of China has now made official a strategic global shift in geopolitical priorities in Chinese foreign policy.

No longer does China regard its relationship with the United Sates or even the EU as of highest priority. Rather they have defined a new grouping of priority countries in their carefully-deliberated geopolitical map. It includes Russia, as well as the entire BRICS rapidly-developing economies; it includes China’s Asian neighbors as well as Africa and other developing countries.

To give a perspective, as recently as 2012 China’s foreign ptries in the world, including China); Multilateral Organizations (UN, APEC, ASEAN, IMF, World Bank etc.), and public diplomacy which determines which situations to become engaged in around the world. Clearly China has decided those priorities no longer work to her advantageolicy priorities were described in a general framework: Great Powers (principally the USA, EU, Japan, and Russia); Periphery (all countries bordering China); Developing Countries (all lower income coun.

In his address to the meeting, President Xi highlighted a sub-category of developing countries: “Major Developing Powers (kuoda fazhanzhong de guojia). China will “expand cooperation and closely integrate our country’s development” with the designated Major Developing Powers, Xi declared. According to Chinese intellectuals, these are countries now deemed especially important partners “to support reform of the international order.” It includes Russia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Mexico, that is, China’s BRICS partners, as well as Indonesia and Mexico. China has also ceased calling itself a “developing country,” indicating the changed self-image.

Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin indicated one significant aspect of the new policy when at the conference in Beijing he declared that the “imbalance between Asia’s political security and economic development has become an increasingly prominent issue.” China’s proposal to create an Asian “community of shared destiny” aims to resolve this imbalance. That implies closer economic and diplomatic ties with South Korea, Japan, India, Indonesia, even Vietnam and the Philippines.

In other words, although the relationship with the United States will remain highest priority because of America’s military and financial power, we can expect an increasingly outspoken China against what it sees as American interference. This was seen clearly in October when the official China Daily wrote an OpEd during Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” asking, “Why does Washington Make Color Revolutions?” The article named the Vice President of the US Government-financed regime-change NGO, National Endowment for Democracy as involved. Such directness would have been unthinkable just six years ago when Washington tried to embarrass Beijing by stirring up violent protests by the Dalai Lama Movement in Tibet just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

China is openly rejecting the usual Western criticism on human rights and recently declared a freeze in China-UK diplomatic relations following a meeting by the Cameron government with the Dalai Lama and to Norway over its recognition of dissident Liu Xiaobo. Over the past year, step-by-step Beijing has dismissed Washington’s criticism of its reclamation of its historical claims in the South China Sea.

But perhaps most significant, in recent months, China has boldly moved an agenda to build alternative institutions to the US-controlled IMF and World Bank, a potentially devastating blow to US economic power if it succeeds. To counter the US attempt to economically isolate China in Asia through creation of a US Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Beijing has announced its own Chinese vision of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), an “all inclusive, all-win” trade deal that really promotes Asia-Pacific cooperation.

Elevating Russian Relations

At present, what clearly emerges is China’s decision to make its relation with Putin’s Russia central to this new priority strategy. Despite decades of mistrust following the 1960 Sino-Soviet split, the two countries have begun a depth of cooperation unprecedented. The two great land powers of Eurasia are welding economic bonds that create the only potential “challenger” to future American global supremacy, as US foreign policy strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski described it in his The Grand Chessboard in 1997.

At a time when Putin was engaged in a full-scale NATO economic sanctions war aimed at toppling his regime, China signed not one, but several gigantic energy deals with Russian state companies Gazprom and Rozneft, allowing Russia to offset the growing threat to her west European energy exports, a life-and-death issue for the Russian economy.

During the November APEC meeting in Beijing, where Obama was given an unmistakable Chinese diplomatic downgrade for the official photo by being told to stand next to the wife of one of the Asian presidents while Putin stood beside Xi. In politics symbols, especially in China carry great import as an essential part of communication. During the same occasion, Xi and Putin agreed

To build a West Route Gas Pipeline from Siberia to China, as an addition to the historic East Route Pipeline agreed with Russia in May. When both are completed, Russia will deliver 40% of China’s natural gas. At the same occasion in Beijing the Chief of the Russian General Staff announced significant new areas of cooperation between Russian Armed Forces and the ChinesePLA.

Now, in the midst of Washington’s full-scale currency war against the Russian ruble, China has announced its readiness, if asked, to help its Russian partner. On December 20 amid a record fall in the Ruble to the dollar, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China will provide help if needed and is confident Russia can overcome its economic difficulties. At the same time Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia.

There are other synergies between Russia and China where both coordinate more closely, including Putin’s decision to meet in Spring with the North Korean President, as well as with India, a long-time Russian ally with whom China has had fragile relations since the 1950’s. As well Russia has a strong position with Vietnam going back to the Cold War and development by Russian oil companies of Vietnam’s offshore oil discoveries. In short, for both, once in a harmonized geopolitical strategy, Brzezinski’s worst geopolitical nightmare is taking on a life of its own, thanks, largely, to the very stupid policies of Washington’s neo-conservative warhawks, President Obama, and the very rich, loveless families who pay their bills.

All of these moves, while fraught with danger, signal that China has deeply understood the Washington geopolitical game and the strategies of the neo-conservative US warhawks and, like Putin’s Russia, have little intention of bending their knee to what they see as a Washington global tyranny. The year 2015 shapes to be one of the most decisive and interesting in modern history.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Originally published by WhoWhatWhy

The federal government’s case in the Boston Marathon Bombing hinges on the allegation that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an equal to his elder brother, Tamerlan, in plotting and executing the attack.

Yet there’s a witness out there who said otherwise, and on a widely-viewed national TV broadcast at that: the still-anonymous carjacking victim “Danny.” The shadowy “Danny” told NBC interviewer Matt Lauer that Dzhokhar appeared to be a follower—an errand boy even—dominated by his older brother.

This the same “Danny” who said the brothers admitted to him that they carried out the bombing and murdered MIT cop Sean Collier. That was the crucial revelation “Danny” made that would favor the prosecution.

It is widely assumed that since the government claims to have such airtight evidence, his defense team’s best hope is to show that Dzhokhar was not a willing participant in the bombing and its aftermath. Rather, they’ll argue that he was coerced into the plot by his domineering older brother. That argument would, theoretically, help the defense avoid the death penalty for their client.

But the recent revelation that Stephen Silva, a friend of Dzhokhar who’s facing sentencing for drug and weapons charges unrelated to the bombing, struck a plea bargain means he will likely testify in the bombing trial. Silva is expected to testify that Dzhokhar procured the Ruger pistol allegedly used to kill Officer Collier, thereby undermining Tsarnaev’s defense.

Dzhokhar: Fellow Traveler or Flunky?

The importance of Silva’s testimony to the prosecution’s case was made apparent soon after his arrest this past summer. That’s when a high-ranking law-enforcement official anonymously told ABC Newsthat proving Dzhokhar procured the weapon undermines any notion that he was an unwilling participant. It proved, the official said, that he played an active role in the conspiracy:

The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind, but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon.

But not long after the bombings, “Danny” painted Dzhokhar as the errand boy of his brother:

Matt Lauer: Did you get a sense, from the way they interacted with each other, that they were equals?

Danny: I think Jahar is like a follower.

Matt Lauer: Why do you say that?

Danny: Because… Jahar, he went out to the ATM. He went out to get the gas. Tamerlan never get out of the car.

Matt Lauer: So, he was the guy doing the errands.

Danny: Yeah, yeah.

None of this to say that “Danny” was telling Lauer the truth. He may not have been. An exclusive WhoWhatWhy investigation into “Danny” uncovered massive questions about his credibility. He has told multiple contradictory stories about the time he spent with the Tsarnaev brothers during the carjacking.

Nonetheless, “Danny’s” story about Dzhokhar’s relationship with his brother is one the defense may want to put in front of the jury. There is little risk to their case in doing so during the second phase of the trial, where the jury will decide what punishment to give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

It will be interesting to see exactly how the government handles this a man who, at first, looked like he might be a slam-dunk witness for the prosecution. With Silva firmly under their control and linking Dzhokhar to the crime, it may be that prosecutors will decide that “Danny” is too risky to expose to cross-examination.

Will the mysterious “Danny” even testify? And if so, will it be for the defense?

***

For a selection of essential stories that will bring you up to speed about the ongoing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, please click here

Glyphosate (Monsanto Roundup) Found in Hospital Feeding Tube Liquid

January 16th, 2015 by Global Research News

Thanks to Moms Across America supporters; our sponsors and private citizens donating thousands of dollars in three days to pay for testing, glyphosate has been found in feeding tube liquid which is given to babies and children with cancer in hospitals.

Microbe Inotech lab detected 6 out of 20 (30%) of Pediasure samples from the same batch tested postive at levels above 75ppb at 800-1110 X higher than has been shown to destroy gut bacteria in chickens (.1ppb).  Only 50ppT ( trillion) was shown to cause liver, kidney and sex hormone changes in rats. These samples were sent by a Moms Across America supporter.This is the exact brand used in the pediatric rehabilitation hospital where she worked and was fed patients needing tube feeding in critical care.

Moms Across America finds it appalling that our health care providers have been led to believe this feeding tube liquid is safe. Our children and loved ones who are depending on our health institutions to support their immune system and recovery. Instead they are being fed a liquid which scientists and knowledgeable care givers now believe is doing the exact opposite.

The Pediasure Enteral Nutritional Drink tested is loaded with GM corn syrup, soy, and sugar, which have been shown to cause inflammation, and are sprayed with gyphosate during the growing season and at harvest as a drying agent. See EPA allowable levels glyphosate on 160 of our food crops here.

Glyphosate is scientifically accepted to function as a chelator; which draws out the vital nutrients of any living thing it touches.

It is a patented antibiotic; destroying gut bacteria, where 70% of the immune system lies, and the body’s ability to create Tryptophan/Serotonin, and Melatonin, which regulate insulin/diabetes and protect from sleeplessness, depression, bipolar and violent behavior.

It is a proven endocrine disruptor; which impacts, deforms or halts the development of a fetus, leading to miscarriage, birth defects, infertilityand sterility.

It is also  a cell disintegrator; breaking down the blood brain barrier and allowing toxins into the brain, (correlating the rise of autism with the increased use of gyphosate as close as 99%.)

The rise of autism is 99% correlated with the increased use of glyphosate. New studies find glyphosate also feeds antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Pediasure Enteral Nutritional Drink samples for Glyphosate detection by ELISA assay. Detectable level 75 ppb. Lab report here.

 

A description of how glyphosate impacts the body from MIT PhD. scientist Stephanie Seneff:

1) Glyphosate is an antimicrobial agent (antibiotic) and it perferentially kills the good bacteria, which causes an overgrowth of pathogens in the gut. This leads to leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory issues.

2) Glyphosate chelates rare minerals like manganese, cobalt, molybdenum, copper, iron, sulfur, selenium, etc., and this disrupts the management of these very important nutrients throughout the body.  The minerals end up piling up in the wrong places, causing both toxicity and deficiency at the same time.

3) Glyphosate disrupts cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver, which are important for many things, two of which are activating vitamin D and detoxifying multiple toxic chemicals and drugs.  Acetaminophen (tylenol), for example, becomes toxic when these enzymes aren’t working.

4) Glyphosate works synergistically with the aluminum, mercury, and glutamate in vaccines to cause much greater harm than would be the case if there were no glyphosate present in the blood when the vaccine was administered.

5) Glyphosate interferes with the shikimate pathway, which is used by both microbes and plants to produce the essential aromatic amino acids. Our own cells don’t have this pathway, and they depend upon food sources and synthesis by gut microbes to supply these nutrients. They are precursors to many biologically important molecules such as the neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, melanin, vitamin E, vitamin K, etc.

In my view, the core pathology in autism is insufficient sulfate in the cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.  This causes a severe impairment in neurogenesis and an inability to “clear the trash.”  It’s indirectly caused by sulfur deficiency, melatonin deficiency, impaired sulfate synthesis, impaired sulfate transport, and excess flushing of sulfate through the kidneys – all induced by glyphosate.  There’s also neuroexcitotoxicity from glutamate and glyphosate and aluminum working synergistically.

Stephanie Seneff, Co-Author Glyphosate papers
Senior Research Scientist
MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Despite all the reporting and commentary on the terrorist attacks on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, political pundits and mainstream media have failed to shed any light on some of the submerged factors that might have provoked those heinous attacks. Indeed, the simplistic and politically expedient explanations such as “incompatibility” of Islam with the modern world or “good vs. evil” have shed more heat than light on the issue [1].

Such crude explanations of terrorism are essentially popularized versions of the theory of “the clash of civilizations,” which implies that Islam is inherently irreconcilable with modernization and Western values. The theory, initially expounded by Samuel Huntington in the early 1990s, sets out to identify “new sources” of international conflicts in the post-Cold War world. During the Cold War years, major international conflicts were explained by the “threat of communism” and the rivalry between the two competing world systems.

In the post-Cold War era, however, argue Huntington and his co-thinkers, the sources of international rivalries and collisions have shifted to competing and incompatible civilizations, which have their primary roots in religion and/or culture. It is on the basis of these dubious projections that champions of the theory of “the class of civilizations” can argue that international conflicts erupt not because of imperialistic pursuits of economic, territorial, or geopolitical advantages but because of non-Western civilizations’ reactions to Western power and values [2].

Huntington’s theory of “the clash of civilizations” is essentially a subtle version of Richard Perle’s strategy of “de-contextualization.” Perle, a leading neoconservative militarist (and a prominent advisor of the Likud party of Israel), coined the term “de-contextualization” as a way to explain both the desperate acts of terrorism in general and the violent tactics of the Palestinian resistance to occupation in particular. He argued that in order to blunt the widespread global criticism of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, their resistance to occupation must be de-contextualized; that is, we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to terrorism. Instead, he suggested, the reasons for the violent reactions of such groups must be sought in the arenas of culture and/or religion—in the Islamic way of thinking. Like the “clash of civilizations” theory, de-contextualization strategy has been part of a well-orchestrated effort to divert attention from the root causes of terrorism, and attribute it to “pathological problems of the Muslim mind.”

Beneficiaries of war dividends, that is, big banks and military-industrial-security-intelligence complexes in major capitalist countries, have found this sinister strategy of obfuscating the root causes of terrorism quite useful for the purposes of justifying their military adventures in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Ever since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 beneficiaries of war and militarism

in major Western countries have been searching for substitutes for the “communist threat” of the Cold War era in order to maintain and justify their lion’s share of their respective countries’ national budgets or public finance. The view that Western civilization is threatened by militant Islam has provided these beneficiaries with a “perfect” substitute for the communist threat of the Cold War era.

Aside from their poisonous implications for international relations, such obfuscating explanations simply fail the test of history. The history of the relationship between the modern Western world and the Muslim world shows that, contrary to popular perceptions in the West, from the time of their initial contacts with the capitalist West more than two centuries ago until almost the final third of the twentieth century, the Muslim people were quite receptive of the economic and political models of the modern world. Many people in the Muslim world, including the majority of their political leaders, were eager to transform and restructure the socioeconomic and political structures of their societies after the model of the capitalist West. As Karen Armstrong, author of a number of books on religious fundamentalism, points out:

“About a hundred years ago, almost every leading Muslim intellectual was in love with the West, which at that time meant Europe. America was still an unknown quantity. Politicians and journalists in India, Egypt, and Iran wanted their countries to be just like Britain or France; philosophers, poets, and even some of the ulama (religious scholars) tried to find ways of reforming Islam according to the democratic model of the West. They called for a nation state, for representational government, for the disestablishment of religion, and for constitutional rights” [3].

Writing in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Armstrong then asks: “So what happened in the intervening years to transform all of that admiration and respect into the hatred that incited the acts of terror that we witnessed on September 11?”

While profound questions of this type could go some way to help a healthy debate over some of the more deep-seated factors that contribute to heinous crimes of terrorism, political and media manufacturers of public opinion have so far effectively kept such questions off the national/international debate.

A moment of contemplation over questions of this nature reveals a number of critically important but rarely mentioned issues.

To begin with, the essential roots of the madness of cold-blooded terrorist killings lie not in the Islamic teachings but in the politics of demonization, discrimination and occupation. The causal relationship between politics/geopolitics and religion tend to run from the former to the later, not the other way around, as it is often portrayed by the states and the media in major Western countries. Islam is often used as a means to justify terrorist actions in pursuit of disgraceful ends—just as Christianity was used by the Crusaders for material and/or territorial gains.

The biased characterization of Islam fails to consider the fact that the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity far surpass those committed in the name of Islam. The brutal wars of the Crusades, fought in the name of Christianity, continued sporadically over hundreds of years. Written in blood and terror, they were often prompted by a desire to usurp the wealth and treasures of other nations through looting and spoils of war in order to ease the domestic economic and political difficulties of the papacy and major princes of Europe.

But the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity did not cease with the end of the Middle Ages and the Crusades. Transition to capitalism and the dawn of the modern era brought forth its own share of aggression and horrific wars that were also often fought in the name of Christianity and civilization. These included the Holy Inquisition, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Reformation, the Counter-Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, the English Civil War, the St. Bartholomew Massacre, Cromwell’s slaughter in Ireland, the enslavement and widespread extermination of native peoples in Africa and the Americas, the Eighty Years’ War in Holland, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France, the pogroms, the burning of witches, and many other horrific events right down to The Holocaust itself, which was largely the work of people who considered themselves, as did the slave drivers of America’s South, to be Christians [4].

Close scrutiny of the Muslim world’s early responses to the challenges of the modern West reveals that, as mentioned earlier, the overall policy was moving in the direction of reform and adaptation. That policy of adaptation and openness continued from the time of the Muslim world’s initial contacts with the modern world in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries until approximately the last third of the twentieth century.

It was only after more than a century and a half of imperialistic pursuits and a series of humiliating policies of intervention, occupation and regime change in the region that the popular masses of the Muslim world turned to religion and the conservative religious leaders as sources of defiance, mobilization, and self-respect. In other words, for many Muslims the recent turn to religion often represents not so much a rejection of Western values and achievements as it is a way to resist and/or defy the humiliating imperialistic policies of Western powers.

This explains why many of the frustrated youth in the Muslim world (as well as in the belly of the beast, in the core capitalist countries) are flocking into the ranks of militant anti-imperialist forces and employing religion as a weapon of mobilization and defiance.

“The circumstances that attract young men and women to these groups are creations of the Western world that they inhabit – which is itself a result of long years of colonial rule in the countries of their forebears. We know that the Parisian brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi were long-haired inhalers of marijuana and other substances until . . . they saw footage of the Iraq war and, in particular, of the torture taking place in Abu Ghraib and the cold-blooded killings of Iraqi citizens in Fallujah” [5].

Calling the tragically reckless terrorist reactions to US international involvements “blowbacks from imperialistic US foreign policies,” the late Chalmers Johnson in his illuminating book, Blowback, lists many instances of US interventions in the domestic affairs of other countries, as well as some of the violent responses to such interventions:

“What the daily press reports as the malign acts of ‘terrorists’ or ‘drug lords’ or ‘rogue states’ or ‘illegal arms merchants’ often turn out to be blowbacks from earlier American operations. . . . If drug blowback is hard to trace to its source, bomb attacks, whether on US embassies in Africa, the World Trade Center in New York, or an apartment complex in Saudi Arabia that housed US servicemen, are another matter” [6].

This is, of course, not to condone or justify, in any way, the destructive terrorist reactions to imperialistic foreign interventions—legitimate grievances do not justify illegitimate responses. Nor is it meant to disrespect the innocent victims of such atrocious reactions, or to disparage the pain and agony of the loss of the loved ones. The point is, rather, to place such reactions in a context, and to suggest an explanation.

As the late Gore Vidal put it, “It is a law of physics . . . that in nature there is no action without reaction. The same appears to be true in human nature—that is, history.” The “actions” Vidal refers to here are, of course, interventionist military or covert operations abroad, which are sometimes called state or wholesale terrorism. “Reactions,” on the other hand, refer to desperate individual or group terrorism, which are also called retail terrorism [7].

Aside from the fact that wild terrorist acts of desperation often take innocent lives, such misguided actions are also counterproductive in terms of achieving whatever objectives the perpetrators may be pursuing.

To the US, French and other Western powers who are anxious to justify their imperial policies of regime change in the Muslim world, the mindless Paris attacks must feel like manna from heaven, crocodile tears for the victims of the assault notwithstanding. The attacks are expediently utilized to justify not only the imperialist aggressions abroad but also escalate the police/security/intelligence operations at home.

In light of the chronic economic recession and the resulting social tensions in Europe, major European capitalist powers must also be pleased with the timing of the terrorist actions as such actions tend to be quite useful to the goal of diverting attention from economic problems. Conditions of economic distress tend to provide fertile grounds for the rise of fascism. Not surprisingly, fascistic sentiments against Muslims and other immigrants seem to be on the rise in Europe, just as such sentiments targeted the Jews and other minorities during the 1930s economic depression and gave birth to fascism in Europe.

There are clear signs of hypocrisy on the part of Western powers and their media messengers in blaming the attacks on Charlie Hebdo as an indication of Muslims’ intolerance of free press. As historian David North points out, “In the midst of this orgy of democratic hypocrisy, no reference is made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in the Middle East, is responsible for the deaths of at least 15 journalists” [8]. These were the journalists who could not be tolerated by imperialist powers as they were exposing the atrocities committed by the occupying forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

For example, when in 2003 Al Jazeera reporters provided reports from Baghdad of the operations of the US occupying forces that were at variance with the official accounts, the occupiers “taught them a lesson” when an “air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad . . . left three journalists dead and four wounded” [9].

Another example is the murder (in July 2007) of two Reuters’ journalists, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, working in Baghdad: “Both men were deliberately targeted by US Apache gunships while on assignment in East Baghdad.” The American and international public was first able to view a video of the cold-blooded murder of the two journalists as the result of WikiLeaks’ release of classified material that it had obtained from an American soldier, Corporal Bradley Chelsea Manning [10].

The US and European governments’ double standard approach to freedom of expression is also evident in their treatment of Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, who has been subjected to unrelenting persecution and de-facto imprisonment in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

More blatantly, the double standard is evident in these governments’ ban on hate speech (when it is directed at Jews), on the one hand, and their protection/support of Charlie Hebdo-type demonization of Muslims, on the other. As the Egyptian Islamic scholar Anjem Choudary wrote on his Twitter on the same day the terrorists attacked Charlie Hebdo, “If freedom of expression can be sacrificed for criminalizing incitement and hatred, why not for insulting the Prophet of Allah?”

The narrative created by the state and the media of Charlie Hebdo portrays the magazine as representing a glorious democratic tradition of iconoclastic journalism. But the hard-hitting satirists and cartoonists of that venerable tradition of democratic journalism directed their scorn against the elites, the parasitic/rentier classes and aristocratic privileges. By contrast, Charlie Hebdo consistently ridicules (in the most offensive manners possible) the faith, the culture and the life-style of Muslims—in effect, poking fun at the maligned, the poor and the powerless, instead of the rich, the oppressor and the powerful. Whereas the enlightened, positively stimulating and educational tradition of satire operated in the realm of politics, economics and social justice/injustice, Charlie Hebdo focuses primarily on religion, culture and life-style.

As the well-regarded author/scholar Diana Johnstone (among many others) has argued, “Charlie Hebdo was not in reality a model of freedom of speech. It has ended up, like so much of the ‘human rights left,’ defending U.S.-led wars against ‘dictators’” [11].

Charlie Hebdo portrays itself as having a mission to defend democratic secular values against all religions. To petty bourgeois liberals and smug elites, this sounds an admirable mission. In principle, however, it is misguided and counterproductive, as changes in people’s views of religion come from long-term, evolutionary changes in their life style and economic/technological circumstances, not by ridiculing their religion and insulting their intelligence.

Furthermore, Charlie Hebdo has been patently inconsistent and highly hypocritical in carrying out its purported mission “against all religions,” as it has disproportionately targeted Muslims by lampooning their prophet and besmirching their religion. “It has occasionally attacked Catholicism, but it’s hardly ever taken on Judaism (though Israel’s numerous assaults on Palestinians have offered many opportunities) and has concentrated its mockery on Islam” [12].

It must be pointed out once again that, as David North puts it,

“To speak bluntly and honestly about the sordid, cynical and degraded character of Charlie Hebdo is not to condone the killing of its personnel. But when the slogan ‘I am Charlie’ is adopted and heavily promoted by the media as the slogan of protest demonstrations, those who have not been overwhelmed by state and media propaganda are obligated to reply: ‘We oppose the violent assault on the magazine, but we are not—and have nothing in common with—Charlie’” [13].

It is obvious, then, that Charlie Hebdo, masquerading as the representative the proud tradition of enlightened satire, abused that valuable tradition for the malicious purposes of denigrating the religion, the culture and the prophet of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. Shame on you Charlie Hebdo!

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion

Notes

[1] In writing this essay, I have used a number of excerpts from Chapter 5 of my book, The Political Economy of US Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007).

[2] Samuel Huntington, “The clash of civilizations,” Foreign Affairs 72, no. 3 (1993).

[3] Karen Armstrong, “Ghosts of Our Past.” Modern Maturity (January/February 2002), p. 45.

[4] John Chuckman, “Of War, Islam, and Israel,” Yellowtimes.org (3 April 2002): <http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=191>.

[5] Tariq Ali, “Maximum Horror,” <http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/09/maximum-horror/>.

[6] Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, pp. 8-9.

[7] Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002), p. ix.

[8] David North, “‘Free Speech’ hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo,” <http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/09/pers-j09.html>.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Diana Johnstone, “What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say?”: <http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/07/what-to-say-when-you-have-nothing-to-say/>.

[12] Tariq Ali, cited above.

[13] David North, cited above.

Financial markets were sent reeling Thursday when the Swiss national bank announced it was removing its ceiling on the value of the Swiss franc put in place three years ago.

In one of the most dramatic movements ever seen in the history of currency markets, the value of the Swiss franc, which had been fixed at 1.20 francs per euro, appreciated by as much as 39 percent against both the dollar and the euro in a matter of minutes.

The Swiss central bank carried out the decision without informing either the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or any other authorities, a move which IMF managing director Christine Lagarde described as “a bit surprising.”

The currency peg was put in place amid the euro crisis of 2011 to try to stop the rise of the Swiss currency, which is regarded as a “safe haven” in financial markets, and protect the country’s export markets.

But with the European Central Bank set to introduce some form of quantitative easing (QE) when its governing council meets next Thursday, Swiss authorities clearly decided they could no longer hold the line. Any move by the ECB toward QE will send down the euro, already at nine-year lows, even further. The Swiss national bank had been buying up large amounts of foreign currencies in order to maintain the ceiling, with foreign reserves now equivalent to 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

The full effects of the decision are yet to be recorded, but there is no question that it has already had a major impact in financial markets, where traders who placed bets on the ceiling being maintained will have sustained massive losses.

In the words of one hedge fund trader cited by the Financial Times: “Anyone caught on the wrong side of this will be lying on the floor.”

The Australian Business Spectator warned that the fallout from the decision was “likely to be huge.” There could be large losses for some traders, banks and hedge funds with “some of the losing parties in real trouble being forced to sell other financial assets such as stocks and bonds to cover their losses,” There would also be a move to other perceived safe havens, such as German bonds and US treasuries, with a sell-off of what are deemed to be risky assets such as low grade corporate bonds.

The decision by the Swiss national bank and the resulting gyrations are symptomatic of the deepening crisis both in financial markets and in the underlying real economy.

In a major speech yesterday in the lead-up to an IMF report on the global economy next week, IMF managing director Lagarde warned that the current growth pattern was “too low, too brittle and too lopsided.” Cheaper oil and increased US economic growth would not be enough to lift the world economy.

Speaking to a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Lagarde said:

“The oil price and US growth are not a cure for deep-seated weaknesses elsewhere. Too many countries are still weighed down by the legacies of the financial crisis, including high debt and high unemployment. Too many companies and too many households keep cutting back on investment and consumption today because they are concerned about low growth for the future.”

Rather than providing a boost to the global economy, falling oil prices could increase the risk of deflation, particularly in the euro zone, she warned. “This bolsters the case for additional monetary stimulus, which the European Central Bank has indicated that it stands ready to support as needed.”

In an interview with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit on Wednesday, ECB president Mario Draghi indicated that the bank was moving towards the implementation of a program for the purchase of government bonds in a bid to counter the effects of deflation. The chief concern of financial authorities is that the continued fall in prices is worsening the position of banks and finance houses because the real level of their debt and interest payments rise under such conditions.

The effort to shore up the position of the banks is being advanced with the claim that it is necessary to fulfil the ECB’s mandate to keep inflation near but below the level of 2 percent.

Figures released by Eurostat last week showed the euro zone has fallen into deflation for the first time since 2009. Consumer prices in the euro zone fell by 0.2 percent in December 2014, compared to a 0.3 percent price increase in November.

“All members of the ECB’s governing council are determined to fulfil our mandate,” Draghi told Die Zeit.

However this show of unity is completely cosmetic. In fact, the ECB governing council is deeply divided, with German representatives opposed to QE measures, fearing that moves to purchase sovereign bonds will make German banks responsible for the debts of other countries. German banks are already under-capitalised vis-à-vis their American and other rivals, having suffered major hits as a result of the sub-prime debacle in 2007-2008, and fear that their position will be further weakened if full-scale QE goes ahead.

Notwithstanding the growing threat of deflation, the divisions in the ECB are not narrowing but becoming greater.

In an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel published January 10, Sabine Lautenschläger, a German representative on the ECB’s governing council, said she was not convinced of the need for large-scale purchases of government bonds.

She said the problem was not that credit institutions in southern Europe were suffering from a lack of liquidity as the ECB had taken a series of measures to ensure adequate funds over the past months. “Rather, many banks are hesitant in extending loans because they believe that there is too great a risk that debtors will not be able to redeem them,” she said.

Asked whether the “successful” quantitative easing program of the US Federal Reserve, which has seen some $4 trillion pumped into financial markets, could provoke a “rethink,” Lautenschläger replied that any such comparison was misleading because of the different economic and political set-up in the euro area. Earlier in the interview she had pointed out that its “peculiarities” as a “currency area encompassing 19 sovereign states” had to be taken into account.

In other words, the push for a unified policy is foundering on the division of the area into rival and conflicting nation-states.

Rather than being overcome, these divisions may deepen as a result of any ECB decision next Thursday. One of the proposals under consideration is that sovereign bond purchases be implemented with the proviso that the central bank of the country whose bonds are being purchased would stand as the financial guarantor.

As the Financial Times European economics commentator Wolfgang Münchau noted in a column published Monday, any such decision would “effectively be the end of a single monetary policy” and make those who had advocated it wish that “they never asked for QE in the first place.”

The full ramifications of the Swiss decision have yet to be felt. But already it has pointed to the growing fragility of financial markets, while the manner of its implementation, without any information being provided to other financial authorities, reveals the way in which conflicting national interests are increasingly coming to the fore as the economic crisis deepens.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is meeting with US President Barack Obama in the White House today to discuss the escalation of military operations by the two countries in the Middle East, further NATO provocations against Russia and, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack in France, greater domestic repression in the name of the “war on terror.”

On the eve of their meeting, Obama and Cameron issued a joint statement published by the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times in London. “By confronting the terrorists who threaten us, standing together against Russia’s aggressive acts and continuing our efforts to advance our economic growth, we will continue to advance the security and prosperity that our people deserve,” the two declared.

The two heads of state—whose countries have tortured in violation of national and international laws, launched wars based on lies and deployed police state measures against their own populations—wrote, “We won’t let the voice of freedom be muzzled.” They added that “our ability to defend our freedoms is rooted in our economic strength and the values that we cherish—freedom of expression, the rule of law and strong democratic institutions.”

The statement continued,

“Whether we are facing lone fanatics or terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) or Boko Haram we will not be cowed by extremists. We will defeat these barbaric killers and their distorted ideology, which tries to justify the murder of innocents, whether children attending school in Peshawar, or girls forced to become suicide bombers in northern Nigeria.”

The two did not, of course, mention that the havoc in the Middle East has largely been authored by US and British imperialism, which, along with Turkey and their Gulf allies, has funded and armed Islamic extremists for regime-change operations in Libya, Syria and other countries.

As for Ukraine, Obama and Cameron backed ultranationalists and neo-Nazis who led the Western-backed coup last February, which overthrew Viktor Yanukovych and installed a pro-NATO and anti-Russian regime. The expansion of NATO forces to the borders of Russia has threatened to drag the planet into a nuclear world war.

Cameron is specifically seeking Obama’s cooperation in putting “pressure” on US Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter to work more closely with UK intelligence agencies. He has pledged to implement a “snoopers’ charter” Communications Bill giving the British intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 and the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) the power to access encrypted communications.

Both Obama and Cameron have provoked popular hated within their own countries for spearheading attacks on the wages and social programs of the working class while pursuing policies that have enriched the financial criminals responsible for the 2008 crash.

The French government, like its counterparts in the US and Britain, is now using the “war on terror” to justify militarism abroad and a crackdown of domestic opposition. President François Hollande—whose Socialist Party government is the most unpopular in Europe since World War II—has dispatched 10,000 troops throughout the country, courted the leader of the fascistic National Front and extended air strikes in Iraq and its joint naval presence with the US in the Persian Gulf.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Hollande in Paris today to discuss “cooperation against radical extremists,” according to NBC Nightly News.

The Paris attacks have been followed by a European-wide security crackdown. On Thursday, special paramilitary units of the federal police killed two people and arrested a third in the eastern Belgian town of Verviers, close to the German border. Prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt told reporters that police had targeted a group of suspected jihadists returning from Syria and claimed, without providing evidence, that the police assault prevented imminent “large-scale” terrorist attacks in Belgium. Officials said the two unidentified suspects were killed after opening fire on police with assault weapons.

Cameron told reporters in Washington that the events in Belgium “look like yet another indication of the huge risk we face from Islamist extremist terror in Europe. We have to remain extremely vigilant, we have to take all the steps we can to beat this evil,” the BBC reported.

In France, the Hollande government paid for the expanded print run of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, which contains another provocative anti-Muslim cartoon on its cover. Most media outlets in the country reproduced the front page, justified with declarations of a commitment to free speech even as a state clampdown on speech is underway.

For the first time since it was introduced on November 13, 2014, France has employed a law criminalizing both “directly provoking” or “publicly apologizing” for acts of terrorism, punishable by five years imprisonment and a €75,000 fine. Sentences for apologizing for terrorism committed on the Internet, whether on social networks, a blog or a video, are raised to seven years imprisonment and a fine of €100,000.

Over 50 people are under investigation related to charges of glorifying terrorism and terrorism threats, and Prime Minister Manuel Valls is seeking greater powers to target Internet sites.

In Britain, many newspapers, from The Times to the nominally liberal Guardian joined the BBC in showing the cover of Charlie Hebdo. In Germany, Deutsche Welle, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau and the Green Party-affiliated Die Tageszeitung prominently featured the cover image.

The publication by the Australian of the image was used by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to declare, “I rather like that cartoon.”

Defiant Charlie Hebdo

January 15th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

The satirical French publication normally has a circulation of around 60,000. USA Today said its latest edition has a three million copy run. 

Some reports said five million. Maybe more given heavy demand. Copies are being distributed worldwide, said AP. In 16 languages. Saying “readers in France mobbed newsstands…”

“…European newspapers reprinted (its) cartoons as a gesture of solidarity.” Red Eye Chicago said local booksellers are scrambling for copies.

Almost impossible to find locally where this writer lives and perhaps elsewhere across America. Red Eye said limited numbers could arrive by Friday.

Controversy stalks the issue. The cover again features the Prophet Muhammad. Holding a sign saying Je Suis Charlie.

Muslim groups expressed anger. Insulting their religion again, they said. Especially at a sensitive time.

Many Muslims believe depicting the Prophet is forbidden. Others feared the new cover may trigger more violence.

Cairo Al-Azhar Grand Sheik Abbas Shumann called CH’s new cover “a blatant challenge to the feelings of Muslims who had sympathized with this newspaper.”

At the same time, he urged Muslims worldwide to ignore it. “(B)y “showing tolerance, forgiveness and shedding light on the story of the Prophet.”

Reacting angrily “will not solve the problem but will instead add to the tension and the offense to Islam.”

Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Murad Abaileh called CH’s new cover “offensive” to the Prophet. At the same time condemning last week’s killings.

Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry spokesman Hossein Noushabadi strongly condemned CH’s new cover.

Saying “(t)he West has misinterpreted the concept of the freedom of speech. (It) does not mean sacrilege of the sanctities of a religion or its prophet.”

“Desecration of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is a big sin and no Muslim would accept such a behavior.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham condemned last week’s killings. Calling violence against innocent people anti-Islamic.

So are misuses of “freedom of expression, ideological extremism and character assassination of respectful figures of religions and nations, as well as insulting divine faiths and their values and symbols which are respected by those religions,” she said.

“(I)appropriate and double standard policies in dealing with violence and extremism have led to the spread of those actions and behaviors.”

She stressed President Hassan Rohani’s idea of a world free from violence and extremism.

Urged one free from double standards. One of the leading causes of violent extremism. State-sponsored. Notably from Western countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a world of differing cultures, “sanctities need to be respected.”

“I think we would have a much safer, much more prudent world if we were to engage in serious dialogue, serious debate about our differences and then what we will find out that what binds us together is far greater than what divides us.”

Egyptian cartoonist Makhlouf suggested a CH cover with an ordinary regional man carrying a placard reading “I am an artist.”

“I am for art and against killing,” he added. “May God forgive everyone.”

Anjem Choudary chaired the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He served as spokesman for the now banned Islam4UK organization.

Targeted for his anti-Western activism. Opposition to Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Heavily criticized by UK media.

He denounced CH’s new edition. Called it an “act of war.” A “blatant provocation.” Many mainstream Muslim organizations expressed outrage.

Egypt’s Dar al-Ofta called it “an unjustified provocation against the feelings of 1.5 million Muslims.” It’ll “result in a new wave of hatred in French and Western society.”

“What the magazine is doing does not serve coexistence and the cultural dialogue Muslims aspire to.”

According to AP , threats appeared on militant web sites. Urging protests against CH. French Muslim leaders urged calm.

Suburban Paris Gennevilliers mosque administrator Abdelbaki Attaf said “(w)hat is uncomfortable for us is the representation of the Prophet.”

“Any responsible Muslim will find it hard to accept that. But we shouldn’t ban it.”

“The French Council of the Muslim Religion and Union of French Islamic Organizations released a joint statement.

Urging Muslims to “stay calm and avoid emotive reactions…incompatible with…dignity…while respecting freedom of opinion.”

CH’s lawyer Richard Malks said the publication won’t “back down. Otherwise none of this has any meaning.”

“If you hold the banner ‘Je suis Charlie,’ that means you have the right to blaspheme. You have the right to criticize my religion.”

There’s a time and place for everything. Depicting France’s Black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira as a monkey was hugely offensive. Way out of line. Unacceptable.

Tensions following last week’s killings run high. Mosques in France were attacked.

Anti-Islamic protests erupted in Paris, Dresden and European cities. Muslims are vilified for their faith. Perhaps more violence will follow.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged defending “our beloved Prophet…Exemplify his true ideals.”

“Muslims…believe in freedom of speech. (T)hey respect the right of people to say what they believe…”

“However, freedom of speech should not be translated in to a duty to offend.” Mutual respect matters.

MCB stressed the “merciful character of the Prophet. Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond.”

The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said:

“Just as Charlie Hebdo has the right to publish, we have the right to peacefully challenge negative portrayals of our religious figures.”

“The answer to speech one disagrees with should not be violence, but should instead be more speech promoting tolerance and mutual understanding.”

Charlie is a privately operated French satirical weekly. Featuring irreverent/noncomforist cartoons, reports, polemics and humor.

According to its deceased editor Stephane Charbonnier, its editorial viewpoint reflects “all components of left wing pluralism and even abstainers.”

It began publishing in 1970. Ceased in 1981. Reemerged in 1992. Publishes on Wednesdays. Including unscheduled special editions like its latest.

Gerard Biard replaced the deceased Charbonnier as editor-in-chief. CH’s name is derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie.

Later renamed Charlie Mensuel (Charlie Monthly). It took its name from the Peanuts’ character Charlie Brown.

CH is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, Paris’ Grand Mosque sued then editor Philipe Val for blaspheming Islam.

Three cartoons were cited. One showed the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. An acquittal followed.

In July 2008, a column by cartoonist Sine (Maurice Sinet) cited a news item saying the son of then President Nicolas Sarkozy intended to convert to Judaism before marrying his Jewish heiress finance.

“He’ll go far, this lad,” Sine observed. Was fired days later. Sued unsuccessfully for unfair dismissal. But was awarded 90,000 euros in damages.

CH’s February 2006 edition featured the title “Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalist.” Showing a cover cartoon of a weeping Muhammad saying “it’s hard being loved by jerks.”

At the time, then French President Jacques Chirac condemned “overt provocations.” Inflaming passions, he said.

Adding “(a)nything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided.”

Future presidents Sarkozy and Francois Hollande expressed support for freedom of expression.

On November 2, 2011, CH’s office was fire-bombed. Its web site hacked. After its special edition called “Charia Hebdo.”

The Prophet Muhammad listed as “editor-in-chief.” The cover featured a cartoon lampooning him. Saying “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing.”

Editor Charbonnier said “stupid people who don’t know what Islam is “likely carried out the attack. (I)diots who betray their own religion.”

French Council of the Muslim Faith head Mohammed Moussaoui condemned “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirm(e) with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”

In September 2012, CH published a series of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Some featured nude caricatures.

The issue came days after Middle East violence followed release of an Islamic hate film. Titled Innocence of Muslims

Its producer Israeli/American filmmaker Nakoula Basseley (aka Nicola Bacily/Bacile) called Islam “a cancer.”

A widely circulated You Tube trailer called Muhammad a buffoon. A donkey. A philanderer. An opportunist.

A pedophile. Homosexual. Religious fraud. One scene depicted him having sex. France increased security at embassies, consulates cultural centers and international schools in around 20 Muslim countries.

CH got police protection against possible attacks. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized CH’s publication.

On the one hand defending free expression. On the other asking if it’s “sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire.”

A White House statement said “we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this.”

Editor Charbonnier said “(w)e do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.”

Following last week’s killings, CH said it would continue publishing. Beginning with a special edition.

With a print run of a million copies. Way more than its customary 60,000. Heavy demand increased it to 3 million.

Then 5 million or more for worldwide distribution. France contributed one million euros supporting the effort.

The Digital Innovation Press Fund donated 250,000 euros. In 2013, created by Google and a French publishing trade group.

The French Press and Pluralism Fund donated another 250,000 euros. The Guardian Media Group pledged 100,000 pounds.

Le Monde and French media giant Vivendi SA Canal Plus promised financial support.

The slogan Je suis Charlie first appeared on Twitter. Then spread widely online.

Created by French journalist Joachim Roncin following last week’s killings. Perhaps the world’s best known slogan. Propaganda rubbish crammed down our throats.

A web site Understanding Charlie Hebdo (UCH) cartoons was created. Calling its humor “very particular and somewhat unique in France.”

“(A)bsurdist in the tradition of Rubrique-a-Brac.” A humorous comic strip created by Gotib in 1968.

Widely regarded as one of the cornerstones of today’s humorous bande dessineee (drawn strips).

Expressing views on historical figures. Political ones. Folklore. Foreign countries and cultures as well as other issues.

UCH compared CH in some respects to America’s MAD magazine and British comic publication Viz.

CH humor is extremely satirical. Often crass, Showing “a complete lack of respect for many institutions,” said UCH.

“(E)mploy(ing) brutal satire against dogma, hypocrisy and hysteria, regardless of its source.”

Leaving “bitter aftertastes.” Former French President Sarkozy was a frequent target. So is current President Hollande.

CH is an equal opportunity offender. Arguably going too far at times. Lampooning is one thing. Over-the-top offensiveness another. Especially perhaps when attacking organized religions.

In 2011, after Avignon extremists vandalized “Piss Christ (a photo of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine), CH’s cover featured rolls of toilet paper labeled “Bible.” “Koran.” “Torah.”

The headline said: “In the shitter, all the religions.” CH’s anti-Islamic provocations gained it widespread notoriety.

Since first depicting the Prophet Muhammad offensively in 2006. Its editors saying they want to show believers the folly of their faith.

Hugely offending millions. Polar opposite legitimate lampooning. Reprehensible and then some.

Values no one should endorse. Continuing under its present staff. Endorsed and funded by France’s government.

Last weekend, white block letters topped Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, saying: “PARIS EST CHARLIE.”

Mayor Anne Hidalgo made CH an “honorary (Parisian) citizen.” A distinction she called reserved “for the most illustrative defenders of human rights throughout the world.”

Calling their eight slain staff members and four others “heroes.” At the same time, hypocritically defending free expression.

Calling it “sacred.” While French security forces arrested dozens extrajudicially. Outrageously accused of “glorifying terrorism.” By exercising their free speech right.

Including Black comedian Dieudonne. For posting a Facebook comment saying “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” The French kosher supermarket hostage taker.

In January, French authorities banned Dieudonne’s comedy show. Calling it anti-Semitic. For being anti-Zionist and anti-establishment.

CH blaspheming Islam is OK. Legitimate Israeli related criticism is called Jew-hating.

Dieudonne was clear and unequivocal saying “I am not anti-Semitic.”

“We live in a democratic country, and I have to comply with the laws, despite the blatant political interference.”

“As a comedian, I have pushed the debate to the very edge of laughter.” Hate speech is not part of his vocabulary. His lawyers defended his free expression rights.

In 2002, he began criticizing Israel. In 2004, he ran in European elections representing a pro-Palestinian party.

Following last week’s Paris killings, French authorities mobilized 10,000 security forces. Including thousands of combat troops.

Patrolling city streets. Guarding public areas. Protecting Jewish communities. Ignoring Muslim ones.

previous article discussed police state France. Civil liberties are being attacked en route to eliminating them altogether.

As well as in Britain. Other European countries. Perhaps America most of all.

Claims about protecting national security ring hollow. Fabricated cover for increasing state terror.

Liberte, égalité and fraternité as well as other mottos like it are meaningless slogans. Fast disappearing freedoms in Western societies. Police state subjugation replacing them.

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

This week, in a federal courtroom, I’ve heard a series of government witnesses testify behind a screen while expounding on a central precept of the national security state: The CIA can do no wrong.

Those CIA employees and consultants are more than mere loyalists for an agency that soaks up $15 billion a year and continues to loosen the bonds of accountability. The docket says “United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling,” but a more discerning title would be “National Security State v. The Public’s Right to Know.”

For the first time in 30 years, a case has gone to trial in a civilian court under the Espionage Act with charges that the defendant gave classified information to news media. Not far from the CIA headquarters in Northern Virginia, legal jargon is flying around the courtroom, but the law has very little to do with this case.

Top officials in the U.S. government leak classified information all the time, without punishment. But Jeffrey Sterling was not a top official. He’s a former CIA officer, charged with giving classified information to journalist James Risen about a CIA operation that provided Iran with flawed nuclear weapon blueprints — information that appeared in Risen’s 2006 book State of War.

Hearing the testimony from CIA operatives, it’s clear that the agency is extremely eager to make an example of Sterling. Despite all the legalisms, the overarching reality is that the case against Sterling is scarcely legal — it is cravenly political.

If it were otherwise, the last two CIA directors to leave their posts — General David Petraeus and Leon Panetta — would be going through the same kind of ordeal that Sterling has been enduring. There’s hefty evidence that both Petraeus and Panetta leaked classified information while running the agency. But these days they’re busy getting rich, not in danger of imprisonment for the rest of their lives.

On Wednesday, the jury heard vague and emphatic claims that Sterling jeopardized the safety of a “human asset” and his family by revealing information about a CIA operation. But the first page of Chapter Nine in State of War reveals a self-inflicted CIA catastrophe in Iran that Sterling had nothing to do with.

Sterling no longer worked for the CIA when the disaster occurred in 2004. An officer at the agency’s Langley headquarters made the mistake of sending data to an agent that “could be used to identify virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran,” Risen reported. And the recipient of the data was actually a double agent. Risen wrote: “The agent quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled them to ‘roll up’ the CIA’s agent network throughout Iran.”

That information hardly fits with the agency’s profuse efforts to scapegoat Jeffrey Sterling for its operational woes in Iran. There was no public accountability for the huge screw-up that led to the rollup of agents inside Iran. Vastly more important, there was no public accountability for top CIA officials who cravenly helped to lie the United States into invading Iraq a dozen years ago with the pretext of (nonexistent) Iraqi WMD.

In sharp contrast, it has been quite convenient for the CIA to try to crush whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, who — whether or not he was a source for Risen’s State of War book — by all accounts went through channels to let the Senate Intelligence Committee know about Operation Merlin, the reckless CIA maneuver that gave nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in 2000.

In an opening statement earlier this week, Sterling attorney Edward MacMahon hit a key point when he said: “A criminal case is not a place where the CIA goes to get its reputation back.” He noted that “the same CIA was telling us all that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

The CIA hierarchy continues to have no interest in accepting responsibility for its deceptions, no matter how horrific the results. But the agency has been hell-bent on making a scapegoat out of Sterling, a mid-level employee who was one of the agency’s very few African American case officers.

From the lofty heights of CIA officialdom, Sterling’s sins were unforgivable. Based on his experiences inside the CIA, he had the temerity to pursue a racial discrimination lawsuit against the agency. And he later told Senate oversight committee staffers about a highly dubious CIA operation that risked adding to proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Those actions were quite proper. But a decade ago they surely antagonized high CIA officials, including John Brennan — now the CIA’s director, and a powerful adviser to President Obama.

The CIA’s offending whistleblower is now a defendant in legal proceedings that are poisoned fruits of a political vendetta. While doing whatever damage control it can for itself, the CIA is doing all it can to damage the life of Jeffrey Sterling.

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

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As Chossudovsky examines in this updated edition, often the programs of these international financial institutions go hand-in-hand with covert military and intelligence operations undertaken by powerful Western nations with an objective to destabilize, control, destroy and dominate nations and people, such as in the cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

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Synopsis

Click here read the Preface to the Second Edition

In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this updated and enlarged edition – which includes ten additional chapters and a new introduction – the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalization.

SPECIAL: America’s “War on Terrorism” + Globalization of Poverty

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China is extending its Silk Road into the Balkans, with a planned project to construct a railroad from the Greek port of Piraeus all the way to Budapest. This would connect Beijing’s primary port of entrance for its commercial goods to one of Central Europe’s main transport conduits, thereby pushing the Silk Road into the heart of Europe and throughout the rest of the continent. As with everything else that China is doing in the world today, it must not be discounted that Russia can also reap some resultant benefits from this as part of the global Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership, which in this case, would allow for the resurrection of the South Stream project that all of its European partners have been begging for since its cancellation.

The Gamble

The possibility exists that South Stream can be reborn along a slightly modified route, closely following the Chinese railroad through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary. There would be scant legal difficulties with the final Serbian and Hungarian portions (Budapest was previously resolute in defying all EU dictates), and non-EU-member Macedonia would not be beholden to Brussels’ mandates concerning the troublesome Third Energy Package, leaving only Greece and its EU membership as the main obstacle in getting the project off the ground. There are, however, two large gambles that can change the existing equation and allow for South Stream to be built through Greek territory:

A Complete ‘Grexit’:

If Greece completely withdraws from the EU, not just in terms of the EuroZone but out of everything the arrangement entails, then it wouldn’t be beholden to the Third Energy Package and South Stream could theoretically restart construction almost immediately afterwards once an agreement is reached with Athens. Of course, this is the most extreme scenario and doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, but with many grassroots activists still literally up in arms and their collective anger ever growing, the situation may spill over into a repeat of 2012’s violence, especially if the EU enacts some kind of asymmetrical ‘punishment’ over an economic ‘Grexit’. This could lead to many unintended aftereffects that could make a full ‘Grexit’ appear mild by comparison.

A Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership:

A more probable alternative towards resurrecting South Stream would be the enactment of a Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership epitomized in coordinated moves throughout the Balkan energy sector. Specifically, what is envisioned here is a structural workaround in order to avoid the constraints of the Third Energy Package by technically separating the supplier from the distributor, whereby Russia would continue to supply the gas but it would be distributed through a Turkish company. Moscow would only go forward with this major move if it was sure that Ankara could be trusted upon not to repeat the Ukrainian scenario, which would mean that Turkey should properly understand the immense mutual benefits (economic, political, strategic) that such a condominium would entail and the heightened damage to its own interests that would ensue if it sabotaged the joint operation.

Such a Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership, the necessary prerequisite to this scenario, could already be in the making. Turkey already made a strong statement over its intended multipolar orientation through agreeing to host the New South Stream in the first place, and if a Russian-Turkish understanding can be reached over Syria (and Turkey is showing some vague signs of this), then a strategic partnership would be the next logical step. As astonishing as this narrative may seem to some readers, it mustn’t be ignored, since Turkey is currently undergoing a transformative shift in its self-identity and geopolitical awareness, and the global transition to multipolarity is having a strong residual effect on its leadership’s future calculations.

Throwing The Odds

Provided that a decision is made to resurrect South Stream via the Greek-Macedonian route, then there are two main issues that could threaten the project’s survival, both of which may realistically be exacerbated by Western forces in pursuit of their anti-Russian objectives:

Greek Nationalism:

No matter which form it takes, be it the leftist strain of Syriza or the right-wing rhetoric of Golden Dawn, Greece is notably becoming more nationalistic, and this portends a major problem for any future resurrection of South Stream.

Against Turkey:

Greece and Turkey have historically been bitter rivals, and the unresolved disputes over the Aegean Islands and Northern Cyprus are serious hurdles to any large-scale joint cooperation between them such as restoring South Stream. These problems can easily be manipulated by outside forces to produce an even stronger zeitgeist of anti-Turkish sentiment that would make any Greek-Turkish deal politically impossible for Athens. Of course, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline that intends to carry moderate amounts of Azeri gas to Southern Europe via Turkey and Greece also has the same socio-political vulnerability, but because it is fully backed by the US and EU, Greece’s overlords will do whatever they can to make sure that it doesn’t fall victim to any nationalist reactions against the Russian-led project.

Against Macedonia:

The second front where Greek nationalism threatens to derail any revival of South Stream is with Macedonia, which has been engaged in a heated naming dispute with Athens ever since itsinception as a Socialist Federative Republic in Yugoslavia after World War II. This controversy has reached such a level that it has prevented Macedonia’s closer movement to the EU or NATO (the latter of which has wielded unofficial protectorate status over the country ever since 2001’s ‘Operation Essential Harvest’), two developments that would have already been foregone conclusions had it not been for the dispute. It is not known exactly which form Greek resistance to the Macedonian leg of the pipeline may take, but considering the magnitude of emotions on the Greek side over this issue (and the country’s two-decade long campaign of halting Macedonia’s integration with other entities to spite it from the ‘benefits’), it’s all but sure that something may predictably come in the way of these plans.

Albanian Nationalism:

The second major impediment to a reiteration of South Stream is Albanian nationalism, which itself presents one of the greatest threats to overall European security due to the fact that its alliance with NATO could be activated in the event of conflicts with Serbia or Macedonia.Addressing the latter, ethnic Albanians form nearly a quarter of the country’s population and have privileged political representation as a result of the NATO-drafted Ohrid Agreement that concluded Operation ‘Essential Harvest’. By that agreement, most political processes in Macedonia must have the approval of over half of the country’s minority representatives (who are guaranteed proportional representation by the same document), thereby meaning that the Albanian minority can basically hold the wishes of the majority population hostage if they or their NATO patrons in Tirana so choose.

Not only that, but large-scale ethnic disturbances or terrorist attacks on par with those of early 2001 could also break out. Last year reminded Macedonians of the fragility of their country’s ethnic relations after Albanians rioted in Skopjefollowing the resolution of acontroversial court caseSix ethnic Albanians were found guilty for carrying out a terrorist attack in which they killed five ethnic Macedonians during Orthodox Easter in 2012, highlighting the fears the nation has over that minority group’s radicalization in recent years.Albanian nationalism is simmering in Macedonia, and a political radical and former politician even attempted to declare an independent ‘Republic of Illrida’ for ethnic Albanians in September that he intended would form part of a new federalized state. Although not taken seriously at the time, there are concerns that it could gain wider support in the future if the situation continues spiraling out of control, and a repeat of the Kosovo events is certainly not off the table. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where NATO-supported Albania coaxes its ethnic comrades across the border to carry out precisely that plan in order to obstruct any future Russian attempt to resurrect South Stream alongside China’s Balkan Silk Road through the country.

China As The Balkans Bookie

As challenging as the abovementioned threats may seem, they are not insurmountable, and the key to overcoming them may rest with China. The sheer amount of money that the country is known for throwing around in order promote its trade links across the world (notably in Africa) has earned it the reputation of being able to smooth over almost any political difference imaginable between its partners. It’s expected that this will be no different as it seeks to use the Balkans as a bridgehead to conquering the European marketplace. Being the ‘middleman’ between the Balkan ‘gamblers’ and Russia-Turkey, China can help grease everyone’s palms in order to reach as peaceful of an accommodation as possible, should it have an interest in doing so (which it arguably seems to).

Chinese capital and investment (including cash to on-the-fence politicians and potential rabble-rousers) could soothe the effects of reactionary nationalism in Greece and Albania, both of which Beijing has courted influence with in recent years. Greece, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, is home to the port of Piraeus that welcomes most of the Chinese goods that enter Europe, and China and Albania have lately sought to actively rekindle their ties via culturaltransport, andagricultural projects to restore their vaunted Cold War-era relationship that existed prior to the Sino-Albanian split in 1978.

Through these deep and developing partnerships, China can exercise a moderating influence on the respective Balkan countries to prevent them or their more extreme elements from disrupting any restoration of South Stream alongside the Balkan Silk Road that Beijing is building through their territories. It’s not a guaranteed panacea to all externally managed provocations, but given the strength and success of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership thus far (and its heightened importance under current conditions), it’s likely to play a stabilizing factor in the region if the decision is taken to continue South Stream sometime in the future.

Hit Big Or Lose Big Time

The prospective Russian-Chinese-Turkish nexus in the Balkans is the type of gamble that will likely result only in extreme dividends for those who have the courage to play, with the multipolar world betting against the unipolar one. The former has a vested interest in seeing South Stream re-enter the Balkans, whereas the latter would be more than happy for it to fail on all fronts. The following assessment is drawn from the vantage point of multipolarity:

Hitting Big:

The reestablishment of the South Stream project, albeit through Greece and Macedonia instead of Bulgaria, would lead to a Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership that could interact with and stabilize the Balkans on a similar level as the Russian-Chinese one does with Central Asia. This basically boils down to Russia and Turkey having influence over their various civilizational/religious spheres, with Russia holding sway over the Orthodox domains (except for Romania, although tempering their recalcitrant politicians and society into a more pragmatic mentality is definitely a long-term objective) while Turkey influences the Muslim ones such as Albania and Bosnia.China would be the financial overseer in this relationship that would have privileged relations with all due to its historical absence from the Balkans and the fact that it isn’t tainted nor advantaged by such a legacy. Its cash could grease over any kinks in the Russian-Turkish ‘engine’ and help smooth out the process of the Great Multipolar Powers entering Europe’s doorstep via the Balkans and directly confronting the unipolar Western world on one of its home turfs.

Losing Big Time:

Conversely, such a grand strategy is fraught with extreme risk, as the US and NATO would never allow it to succeed without applying the greatest amount of realistic pushback possible. It would begin within Anatolia through ’Operation Take Down Turkey’, which is the author’s name for the US’ plan to CEU952geopolitically dismember Turkey if it ever gets out of control and radically moves away from the Western unipolar consensus (which is what it would be doing by establishing a Russian-Chinese-Turkish nexus in the Balkans, whether or not it formally leaves NATO). The Kurdish Card is the most predictable option at play here, and given its enormous geographic and demographic implications, it’s surely an existential threat that Ankara must take with all seriousness in mind.

Should this danger be mitigated, then the anti-multipolar front would retreat back every step along the line of the proposed pipeline route, activating various levers of ‘scorched earth’ resistance in its wake. The second stage would be to instigate a crisis in Turkish-Greek relations in order to endanger the pipeline’s first international point of entry, but if that is also overcome or avoided, then the Greek-Macedonian issue would become the next point of contention. Continuing onward, if the pipeline enters the South Slavic country, then the Albanians could be harnessed to wage a massive destabilization campaign that could turn the country into the Black Hole of the Balkans.

Moving northwards, extreme Euro-Atlantic rhetoric emanating from Sarajevo could be used as a purposeful provocation to tempt Republika Srpska into succession from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which would by itself destabilize the Western Balkans and potentially draw Serbia either into a renewed conflict or international isolation. Finally, the West could ‘cork the bottle’ by removing Hungary’s Viktor Orban from power via a Color Revolution a replacing him with a liberal-nationalist individual (cut from the Navalny cloth) who would simultaneously restore the country’s pro-Western path while inflaming ethnic tensions in Serbia’s Hungarian-minority Vojvodina province.

All in all, short of a major war between the unipolar and multipolar worlds, the former will be using whichever insidious and indirect mechanisms it can muster to prolong its hegemonic moment and prevent the latter from entering Europe’s geopolitically vulnerable underbelly in the Balkans.

Concluding Thoughts

One of the central tenets of the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership is that where one goes, the other follows, and this is certainly expected to be the case in the Balkans with the Beijing-built Silk Road railway that will connect Greece to Hungary. Russia has a unique opportunity to revive the South Stream pipeline (to complement the LNG facility in Turkey) by snaking it across Greece and Macedonia along the Balkan Silk Road and onwards to the Serbian hub that it was originally anticipated to connect to before the project was scrapped. Such a vision would necessitate a Russian-Turkish Strategic Partnership to supplement the Russian-Chinese one, and eventually, the workings of a trilateral multipolar condominium over the Balkans would be created in order to help the plan succeed. Of course, the unipolar world would not take this geopolitical affront with a smile and is expected to repel the project in every asymmetrical way that it is capable of. If Russia-China-Turkey decide to gamble the fate of the multipolar world in the Balkans, they may find that it is certainly a risk worth taking and it could eventually make the West crap out and go bust.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

The Turkish Stream gas pipeline project is the sole route for Russia’s future supplies of 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe currently delivered via Ukraine, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said on Wednesday.

The Gazprom head made this statement in response to a question about the fate of Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project.

“The project is closed. The Turkish Stream is the sole route, which can deliver 63 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas transited across Ukraine so far. There are no other options,” Miller said.

Gazprom has notified its European partners about its Turkish Stream gas pipe plans and now their task is to create the necessary gas transport infrastructure from the border of Turkey and Greece, the Gazprom head said.

“They have a maximum of several years for this. This is a very tight schedule. To comply with it, work for the construction of new trunk gas pipelines should be started in EU countries right now. Otherwise, these gas volumes may be redirected to other markets,” the Gazprom head said.

INFOGRAPHICS Russian gas supplies to Europe: existing routesRussian gas supplies to Europe: existing routes

The South Stream gas pipeline worth €15.5 billion was intended to pump 67 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas to Europe annually. The pipeline’s underwater section 900 km (559 miles) long was intended to run along the bed of the Black Sea from the Russkaya compressor station on the Russian shore to the Bulgarian coast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on December 1 that the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline was closed due to the European Union’s unconstructive approach to cooperation in that sphere, including Bulgaria’s decision to stop the construction of the pipeline’s stretch on its territory.

Instead, Russia will build a gas pipeline to Turkey where a gas hub on the border with Europe will be created, Putin said.

Back in 2011, South Sudan broke away from Sudan and declared itself as an independent state. Western media verticals, as well as many pro-secession pundits claimed that statehood will usher in a new era of prosperity and growth for South Sudan, and eventually, even Sudan will have to acknowledge the superiority of the South Sudanese state.

Apparently, those dreams are yet to come true, and with things going the way they currently are, prospects do not seem promising for South Sudan.

In fact, I have written about South Sudan multiple times: back in 2013 itself, I termed South Sudan to be a failed state — I am yet to be proven wrong. In 2014, troubled by the loss of life and property in South Sudan, I questioned the logic of secession, and even thought of ways to fix the blunder named South Sudan.

However, all said and done, South Sudan continues to justify itself as a failed state.

Never-Ending Violence

The South Sudanese government and the rebels continue to blame each other for the ongoing destruction. Thousands of people have so far been massacred, and infrastructure is in ruins. Hospitals, churches, and especially masjids — everything is falling prey to the civil war in South Sudan.

According to United Nations, over 50,000 people have so far been killed in the conflict. Furthermore, over 1.9 million people have been displaced (since December 2013), and nearly 103,000 civilians have sought refuge in UN bases all around the country.

Sure, peace talks are also on the way. Yet, with each failed agreement, the condition worsens and both the parties, be it the government or the rebels, indulge in a new bout of fighting. Humanitarian issues seem to be of secondary importance in South Sudan.

International Response

United Nations peacekeepers are already active in the country, whereas the African Union too has launched a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the atrocities committed against civilians in South Sudan.

International aid did manage to combat the imminent famine in 2014, but due to continued fighting, displaced populace and a possibly dry season, food security still remains a challenge in South Sudan.

As such, diplomatic meetings, negotiations and arms embargo — everything is being used, but the crisis in South Sudan keeps getting from bad to worse.

The Final Comment

Amidst such hostilities, humanitarian crisis and never-ending warfare, it has become obvious that South Sudan is, by all means, a country that should not exist in the first place.

When South Sudan seceded from Sudan, most of its supporters claimed that Sudan will prove to be the weaker one, and South Sudan, riding on the shoulders of Western imperialism, will develop at an impressive rate. However, none of these claims have materialized.

Today, Sudan, in spite of having issues of its own, is managing to run a tight ship. Agreed, there are many things that Sudan needs to improve, but it is still somehow holding on, and despite poverty, the Sudanese civilians are not regularly consuming bullets and bombs for dinner.

South Sudan, on the other hand, can at best be called a mistake. It is one country that should never have been created — the southern part of Sudan was just incapable of governing itself back in 2011, and even today, the condition has not changed at all.

Foreign intervention, fake propaganda, and militant secessionism of a handful of South Sudanese rebels together led to the balkanization of Africa’s largest country. But the new state of South Sudan has repeatedly failed to get its act together, and having emerged as one of the biggest errors in the history of nation-building, there is nowhere left for South Sudan to go. The only viable and sane option will be to acknowledge the fallacy of secession and re-join Sudan — but neither the international community nor the South Sudanese leaders or rebels are strong-willed enough to swallow that.

As a result, the devastation in South Sudan continues at a rapid pace, with the average civilians paying the ultimate price, simply because they are residing in a country that does not deserve to be called a country.

Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for several print and online publications, and regularly blogs about issues of contemporary relevance at Political Periscope (www.politicalperiscope.com). You can connect with him using Facebook (http://facebook.com/sufyanism) or Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+SufyanbinUzayr?rel=author) or email him at [email protected]

Yes, the New Charlie Hebdo Cover is Offensive

January 15th, 2015 by Jonathan Cook

Those who want to claim we are in the midst of a clash of civilisations have an easy time perpetuating their narrative. Just look at the very different responses to the new Charlie Hebdo cover. The cartoon shows the Prophet Mohammed weeping as he holds up a “Je suis Charlie” placard – with the words “All is forgiven” above the image.

Here’s what the cartoonist Renald Luzier says about the moment he conceived it:

I cried. And it was the front page. We had found the front page. We had at last found this damned front page. And it was our front page, not the one the world wanted us to do, but the one that we wanted to do. It wasn’t the front page that the terrorists wanted us to do, because there isn’t a terrorist in there. There’s just a man crying, a character crying. It’s Muhammad. I’m sorry, we drew him again, but the Muhammad we drew is a man crying, above all.

Most Western media have celebrated the cartoon in similar terms. A Guardian review of the new 1 million print-run edition called it “poignant”, “typically cheeky”, “ribald”, “classic” Charlie Hebdo. Reporting suggested that those western publications that didn’t publish the cover mostly refused to do so out of fear of threats to their staff.

The response in parts of the Muslim world was, of course, much less enthusiastic. In the Philippines, there were protests at which Hebdo posters were burnt, while clerics in leading Muslim countries denounced the cartoon. Turkey is trying to block access to the front cover on the internet.

What does this show? A battle to the death between secularism and religious belief, enlightenment and barbarism? That we have a civilised West that cherishes free speech pitted against a regressive East that enforces religious orthodoxy at the cost of individual liberty?

We certainly have a very polarised debate. But we should remember that we in the West are the ones framing the debate – and in a way that inevitably makes us look good, makes us the victims.

What we have instead, I suggest, is an entrenchment of prejudice and extremism on both sides, exacerbated by the confrontation itself. What appears to be an ideological conflict is more precisely a battle for control of the narrative. There is a context and a history that inflame these passions, one that concerns control of global resources in which the West does not look half as good as it thinks it does.

For me the Charlie Hebdo cover precisely embodies the very problem it thinks it exposes: not a clash of civilisations, but our desperation to control the narrative to our advantage. It is telling in my view that the cartoonist says he cried at the moment he came up with the idea. The cartoon is not cheeky or subversive, as Western critics would have us believe; it is hugely sentimental while being at the same time presumptuous and racist in the deepest sense of the word. What it does is to strip the Prophet, and by implication all Muslims, of any agency or voice. A white cartoonist gets not only to speak for them, but to impose on them – as Muslims – an apology. To implicate them all – through those three words – in a crime committed by two gunmen.

Yes, the cartoon is offensive, but not in the clash of civilisations sense – one that leaves us in the west feeling vindicated and self-righteous. It is offensive because it offends against history, offends against the self-determination of peoples long colonised by us, offends against the values we claim for ourselves as enlightened beings.

The words above the image on the cover could just as easily have read “The white man’s burden” – the refrain of every coloniser in modern times. It seems we have not come much further than our ancestors.

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these “transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine,” Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis “within hours.”

Perhaps explaining the explosion higher in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gasThe EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable,” but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, “the decision has been made.”

As Bloomberg reports,

Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey, a surprise move that the European Union’s energy chief said would hurt its reputation as a supplier.

The decision makes no economic sense, Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president for energy union, told reporters today after talks with Russian government officials and the head of gas exporter, OAO Gazprom, in Moscow.

Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas supplier, plans to send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey, fully replacing shipments via Ukraine, Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said during the discussions. About 40 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe and Turkey travel through Ukraine’s Soviet-era network.

Sefcovic said he was “very surprised” by Miller’s comment, adding that relying on a Turkish route, without Ukraine, won’t fit with the EU’s gas system.

Gazprom plans to deliver the fuel to Turkey’s border with Greece and “it’s up to the EU to decide what to do” with it further, according to Sefcovic.

Which, as The Daily Mail reports, has led to a major (and imminent) problem for Europe…

Russia cut gas exports to Europe by 60 per cent today, plunging the continent into an energy crisis ‘within hours’ as a dispute with Ukraine escalated.

This morning, gas companies in Ukraine said that Russia had completely cut off their supply.

Six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas shipped via Ukraine today, in a sharp escalation of a struggle over energy that threatens Europe as winter sets in.

Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments from Russia through Ukraine.

*    *    *

As Bloomberg goes on to note, Gazprom has reduced deliveries via Ukraine after price and debt disputes with the neighboring country that twice in the past decade disrupted supplies to the EU during freezing weather.

“Transit risks for European consumers on the territory of Ukraine remain,” Miller said in an e-mailed statement. “There are no other options” except for the planned Turkish Stream link, he said.

“We have informed our European partners, and now it is up to them to put in place the necessary infrastructure starting from the Turkish-Greek border,”Miller said.

Russia won’t hurt its image with a shift to Turkey because it has always been a reliable gas supplier and never violated its obligations, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters today in Moscow after meeting Sefcovic.

“The decision has been made,” Novak said. “We are diversifying and eliminating the risks of unreliable countries that caused problems in past years, including for European consumers.”

*  *  *

That helps to explain today’s epic meltup in NatGas futures…

*  *  *

“They [the Russians] have reduced deliveries to 92million cubic metres per 24 hours compared to the promised 221million cubic metres without explanation,” said Valentin Zemlyansky of the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz.

“We do not understand how we will deliver gas to Europe. This means that in a few hours problems with supplies to Europe will begin.”

*  *  *

Check to you Europe (i.e. Washington)… Because it’s getting might cold in Europe…

(and bear in mind the consequences of cold weather) .

Charlie Hebdo: Mystery Surrounding Death of French Policemen

January 15th, 2015 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Officially three police officers were killed  and were honored by president Hollande in a State funeral on January 13. The ceremony was held at the Paris  prefecture de Police. The French president and prime minister Manuel Valls met with members of the families.  A fourth policeman assigned to the Charlie Hebdo investigation “committed suicide.” His death was barely acknowledged, presented as a “fait divers” with no relationship to the Charlie Hebdo police operation.

 The three police officers were posthumously awarded the Légion d’honneur.

French municipal Police officers watch the French president pays tribute to the police officers.

Paris Police officers at Ceremony  Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Lieutenant Franck Brinsolaro, 49, was a protection officer assigned by Paris police to ensure the security of Charlie Hebdo’s  Charb.  With the exception of Brinsolara who was shot on  the premises of Charlie Hebdo, the official and media reports regarding the deaths of the three other policemen are shrouded in contradictions.

Ahmed Merhabet, 40, according to official statements was shot at point blank by one of the gunmen on the street close to Charlie Hebdo’s office.

Police trainee officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe, 26, an unarmed traffic policewoman in Montrouge, in south Paris, was “gunned down by a man wearing body armour and using an automatic assault rifle.”

A fourth policeman Commissaire Helric Fredou  –who had been officially assigned to the Charlie Hebdo investigation– allegedly committed suicide in his office at police headquarters in Limoges on Wednesday evening. He was discovered with a bullet in his head at 1am on Thursday morning. Fredou although involved in the Charlie Hebdo investigation, was not honored by the French government alongside his three colleagues.

Mystery surrounds the death of Ahmed Merhabet and Helric Fredou. The circumstances of the death of Clarissa Jean Philippe remain unclear.

Ahmed Merhabet

According to official reports, Ahmed Merhabet was shot in the head at close range with an automatic weapon in the street of Charlie Hebdo’s office. The official report is refuted by video evidence. The shot fired from an AK47 visibly did not hit his head. If it had, there would have been blood all over the pavement.

An AK-47 bullet fired from close range would … have done something pretty dramatic to that policeman’s head. And if the video is real – and there doesn’t seem much doubt that it is – it clearly shows nothing significant happened to his head either as or after the bullet was fired. (Jonathan Cook, What the Charlie Hebdo Execution video Really Shows, Global Research, January 13, 2014)

Analysis of the video suggests that Merhabet may have been killed, but under different circumstances  and possibly in another location.

While the video footage aired on network TV has since been removed, the French authorities as well as the media have stuck to their fake story: Merhabet was shot to the head in the street close to Charlie Hebdo’s office .

Commissaire Helric Fredou: “The Forgotten Policeman” 

Fredou was part of the official investigation. His passing –while participating in the Charlie Hebdo investigation– has barely been acknowledged. His death in Limoges, South-West France is shrouded in mystery. He allegedly committed suicide within hours of a police debriefing and the preparation of his police report.

His body was found at 1am on Thursday morning with a bullet in his head. He allegedly committed suicide.

Fredou’s  funeral was held privately in Limoges on the same day (Tuesday) as that of the other three policemen.

The official story is that he was depressed and had suffered from a burnout following a meeting with relatives of one of the victims. There are no details as to who these relatives are and where they are living, in the region of Limoges (Haute Vienne) or in Paris (400 km. from Limoges).

What the reports fail to mention is that the Kouachi brothers had spent their high-school years in the Limoges region and that Commissaire Ferou’s police investigation was in all probability related to gathering information within the region on the Kouali brothers including their whereabouts.

”An autopsy was performed at the University Hospital of Limoges, “confirming the suicide” . The French media decided or was instructed not to cover the incident.

Commissaire Ferou committed suicide in his workplace, in his office at the police station.

Did he commit suicide? Was he incited to commit suicide?

Or was he an “honest Cop” executed on orders of  France’s judicial police?

Has his report been released?

These are issues for France’s journalists to address. It’s called investigative reporting. Or is it outright media censorship? (Michel Chossudovsky, Police Commissioner Involved in Charlie Hebdo Investigation “Commits Suicide”. Total News Blackout, Global Research, January 11, 2014)

Author’s note: since the publication of my first article on the death of Commissaire Helric Fredou (January 11, 2015, quoted above) an article published on eutimes.net entitled  French Police Commissioner Suicided After Attempting To Issue Murder Warrant Against President Obama has been circulated on the internet. This article is sheer disinformation. It is  intended to create confusion and discredit independent news and analysis concerning this important issue.  

With regard to Police trainee officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe, the press reports initially stated that she was shot by an unidentified gunman on Thursday. She was later reported to have been shot down, without concrete evidence, by Ahmedi Coulibaly.  Clarissa Jean-Philippe was not in any way connected to the police operation.

Coulibaly was depicted as a Muslim fanatic in a video in which the insignia of the Islamic State is portrayed.

The media reports are full of contradictions focussing on an unknown jogger who was shot at by Coulibaly on Wednesday January 7.

Amedy Coulibaly began his terror rampage a day earlier than previously thought by shooting a jogger and planting a car bomb, … (Daily Mail) .

On Thursday, he was said to have killed traffic policewoman Clarissa Jean Philippe, and on Friday he was allegedly involved in the killing of four hostages Yoav Hattab,  Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, and Francois-Michel Saada  at a kosher grocery store at Porte de Vincennes. He was, according to media and police reports, shot dead by policemen “after” he had killed the four Jewish hostages.

While Coulibaly was, according to reports, not directly involved in the shooting at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, he was heralded by the media as the spokesperson of the Islamic State (ISIL), which ironically is covertly supported by US-NATO as well as the French Republic.

According to the Daily Mail:

The killer, who was shot dead by police after murdering four hostages in a Jewish shop on Friday, was thought to have struck first when he killed an unarmed policewoman last Thursday.

But now Paris prosecutors think he was responsible for seriously injuring a jogger in a suburb of the capital on January 7, the same day gunmen killed 12 during the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

A ‘martyrdom video’ of the fanatic, apparently filmed midway through the wave of terror attacks, appeared online yesterday. In it he urges Western Muslims to wage war against ‘enemies of Islam’.

Terrorist Amedy Coulibaly recorded a chilling  'suicide' video, in which he is seen seated in front of a flag used by Islamic State jihadists as well as an automatic rifle propped against the wall

 Terrorist Amedy Coulibaly recorded a chilling ‘suicide’ video, in which he is seen seated in front of a flag used by Islamic State jihadists as well as an automatic rifle propped against the wall
In the slickly edited footage, the 32-year-old pledges allegiance to the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The footage claims Coulibaly planted a bomb under a car on a Paris street, seemingly referring to an explosion on Wednesday night that authorities had not linked to the terror attacks.

Prosecutors said that tests on shell cases from the jogger shooting linked them to the weapon used at the kosher supermarket two days later.

French security forces also released details of a cache of weapons, including automatic rifles and explosives, found at Coulibaly’s last address, an an apartment in Gentilly, on the outskirts of Paris. 

TO VIEW THE VIDEO CLICK HERE:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2905302/Calm-stare-Jewish-deli-terrorist-Jihadist-s-ISIS-suicide-video-emerges-confirms-link-Charlie-Hebdo-killers-calls-fellow-vigorous-Muslims-defend-prophet-Mohammed.html#ixzz3OpyH6CfR

The narrative and video have the appearances of being staged: support of the Islamic State, weapons from the Islamic State, lest we forget the Islamic State is supported and funded by the US, Britain, France and Israel.

It is worth noting that Coulibaly who -according to reports– was shot dead at the kosher grocery store at Vincennes on January 9, had been invited in 2009 to a meeting at the Elysée Palace with former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Coulibaly had a criminal record.  Several years prior to the 2009 meeting with Sarkozy, Coulibaly had been on the radar of French police and intelligence. The stated purpose of his meeting was to discuss employment creation and poverty alleviation.

What was the relationship of this alleged terrorist to a former head of State?  Nobody has bothered in the French media to ask Sarkozy to clarify the nature of his meeting with Coulibaly.

It has been verified by a source who claims she was there that then-CIA Director William Casey did in fact say the controversial and often-disputed line “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false,” reportedly in 1981.

Despite Casey being under investigation by Congress for being involved in a major disinformation plot involving the overthrow of Libya’s Qaddafi in 1981, and despite Casey arguing on the record that the CIA should have a legal right to spread disinformation via the mainstream news that same year, this quote continues to be argued by people who weren’t there and apparently cannot believe a CIA Director would ever say such a thing.

But spreading disinfo is precisely what the CIA would — and did — do.

This 1975 clip of testimony given during a House Intelligence Committee hearing has the agency admitting on record that the CIA creates and uses disinformation against the American people.

Question: “Do you have any people being paid by the CIA who are contributing to a major circulation — American journal?”

Answer: “We do have people who submit pieces to American journals.”

Question: “Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?”

Answer: “This I think gets into the kind of uh, getting into the details Mr. Chairman that I’d like to get into in executive session.”

(later)

Question: “Do you have any people being paid by the CIA who are contributing to the national news services — AP and UPI?”

Answer: “Well again, I think we’re getting into the kind of detail Mr. Chairman that I’d prefer to handle at executive session.”

It’s easy enough to read between the lines on the stuff that was saved for the executive session. Then-CBS President Sig Mickelson goes on to say that the relationships at CBS with the CIA were long established before he ever became president — and that’s just one example. Considering 90% of our media today has been consolidated into six major corporations over the past decade, it’s not hard to see that you shouldn’t readily believe everything you see, hear or read in the “news.”

“I thought that it was a matter of real concern that planted stories intended to serve a national purpose abroad came home and were circulated here and believed here because this would mean that the CIA could manipulate the news in the United States by channeling it through some foreign country,” Democratic Idaho Senator Frank Church said at a press conference surrounding the hearing. Church chaired the Church Committee, a precursor to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was responsible for investigating illegal intelligence gathering by the NSA, CIA and FBI.

This exact tactic — planting disinformation in foreign media outlets so the disinfo would knowingly surface in the United States as a way of circumventing the rules on domestic operations — was specifically argued for as being legal simply because it did not originate on U.S. soil by none other than CIA Director William Casey in 1981.

Former President Harry S. Truman, who oversaw the creation of the CIA in 1947 when he signed the National Security Act, later wrote that he never intended the CIA for more than intelligence gathering. “I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations,” Truman penned in 1963 a year after the disastrous CIA Bay of Pigs operation.

Again, please keep this in mind when you watch the mainstream “news” in this country…

“In their propaganda today’s dictators rely for the most part on repetition, supression and rationalization – the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the supression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions.”

Aldous Huxley, “Propaganda in a Democratic Society”
Brave New World Revisited

(H/T Daniel LeBlanc)

Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas literally wrap themselves in the flag.

USA Today has a feature called “Common Ground,” which is a back-and-forth involving Cal Thomas, “a conservative columnist,” and Bob Beckel, billed as “a liberal Democratic strategist” but more accurately described as a Fox NewsDemocrat with a lucrative sideline as a corporate lobbyist.

“As longtime friends,” USA Today promises, “they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot.” What the column usually illustrates is how far a corporate Democrat is willing to go to adopt right-wing language and policies (FAIR Blog,9/17/093/31/103/24/11).

In their latest column (1/14/15), Beckel and Thomas agree that “We Need Aggressive Steps” to ensure the West is “fighting to win” against Islamists in a conflict USA Today labels “World War III.” There’s not a lot of daylight between the conservative and the so-called liberal on this issue. Here’s Thomas calling for a war on Islam:

The terrorist attacks in Paris are part of an ongoing plot by Islamic fanatics to destroy Western culture and occupy Western nations. It’s past time we stop the hand-wringing and self-delusion about a “peaceful” religion and start fighting this war as if it were World War III.

To which Beckel replies:

There is no doubt that terrorists acting under the banner of Islam have declared war on us. Paris is the latest in a string of terrorist attacks dating back decades, which provide all the evidence Western nations should accept for the reality of this war.

The pair agree that not every Muslim is a terrorist, and they seem to feel that this concession gives them license to make sweeping claims about the culpability of Islam as a whole:

Thomas: These killers say they murder in the name of Islam. Western leaders should take them at their word. “Reaching out” isn’t working. It’s time to be more aggressive.

Beckel: I agree. These are Islamic terrorists, period. The first step in uniting the West against these murderers is to stop calling people “Islamophobes” when they state the obvious and quote what too many Muslims say in their sermons and media.

It’s not clear, actually, why Beckel objects to calling people Islamophobes when he proudly proclaimed that he was one a couple of days earlier on Fox NewsThe Five (1/12/15; Media Matters, 1/12/15):

I’m an Islamophobe. That’s right. You can call me that all you want…. How can you possibly not call these Islamist terrorists? And you’re making us the enemy. I mean, we’re the enemy because we’re Islamophobes, apparently.

Both Thomas and Beckel called for military reprisals against Yemen:

Thomas: Some of the Paris terrorists reportedly received training in Yemen. President Obama should attack those training camps with whatever weaponry is necessary to destroy them and kill their leaders.

Beckel: You’re right. Anyone who trains terrorists is as guilty of terrorism as the killers themselves. If we have intelligence on the location of terrorist training centers, it is insane not to act.

These calls seem a little redundant, since the US is already routinely hitting targets in Yemen with drone strikes and other weaponry.

Thomas also called for increased religion-based surveillance:

We need stepped-up surveillance of mosques and Islamic schools in the US. Those found to be encouraging sedition and antisemitism should be closed.

In a rare deviation from purely echoing Thomas, Beckel added a caveat to his agreement: “I don’t have a problem with stepped-up surveillance as long as we follow the rule of law.” The suggestion that US shouldn’t take steps against Islam that are actually illegal, which Beckel made more than once, was the main thing that seemed to distinguish the “liberal” from the conservative point of view.

Beckel did not, however, object to Thomas’ proposal that the envisioned crackdown should ignore the First Amendment. (You have a free-speech right to express antisemitic views–just as you have a right to be an Islamophobe, self-declared or otherwise.)

Nor did Beckel have anything to say about Thomas’ comparison of Islam to Ebola: “Ebola is being fought with disinfectant. We must disinfect Europe and America, or this virus of fanaticism will become incurable.”

Beckel did, though, balk at Thomas’ idea that dozens of groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, should be shut down on the say-so of the United Arab Emirates, a coalition of hereditary dictatorships. “We need solid evidence,” Beckel demurred.

Finally, Beckel and Thomas agreed that the Charlie Hebdo killers were basically Hitler:

Beckel: If anything good has come out of the Paris murders, they have united people across different political and even religious divides. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein wrote a column for Variety in which he compared the murderers to the Nazis. He said we are engaged in a battle between good and evil.

Thomas: I completely agree with this longtime Democrat and Obama supporter. Weinstein sees the problem more clearly than some of our political leaders.

Beckel: Now there’s a great example of common ground.

It’s a great example of Godwin’s Law, actually.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas join world leaders in Paris; both Israel and the Palestinian Authority routinely abuse the rights of journalists. (European Council President)

Palestinian journalists and social media activists are facing a crackdown on free expression at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas marched in Paris following fatal attacks in that city against the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.

Journalists in the occupied West Bank continue to face the threats of persecution and violence from both Israeli and Palestinian Authority forces, accoding to a recent report by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA).

According to the Ramallah-based group, Israeli occupation authorities arrested Palestinians “for their writings on Facebook” and the Palestinian Authority cracked down on “journalists, media students and activists for their writings on Facebook.”

In addition to a litany of other press violations, MADA noted that Israel arrested eight Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem for their Facebook postings. The men, aged 18-45, were all indicted by an Israeli court in late December for “inciting anti-Jewish violence,” Agence France-Presse reported at the time.

As documented time and again at The Electronic Intifada, Israeli groups and high-ranking politicians regularly incite violence against Palestinians but rarely, if ever, face legal repercussions.

During Israel’s 51-day military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip this past summer, Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, was just one of several Israeli leaders to call for increased bloodshed. Writing on his Facebook page, Feiglin called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters.”

“This is our country — our country exclusively,” he added, “including Gaza.”

“Stormed the house”

Noting a clear “escalation of violations” in December, the MADA report says that Israeli and Palestinian forces committed a combined total of thirty violations against Palestinian journalists throughout that month.

In the West Bank, Baha al-Jayoushi was one of several Palestinians arrested for criticizing the Palestinian Authority online. On 2 December, after being called into police headquarters several times for interrogation, al-Jayoushi was arrested for “vilifying” PA figures on Facebook, according to MADA.

The following day PA security forces arrested 23-year-old Islam Zaal, a media student at the Jerusalem-area Al-Quds University, for “inciting… against the Palestinian Authority on Facebook.”

PA security forces “stormed the house” of 22-year-old Amer Abu Hlayel, also a media student at Al-Quds University, on 5 December. After searching his home, “they handed an arrest order to his family for his writings on Facebook.”

A MADA spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada that Abu Hlayel was later “interrogated several times and then released.”

In addition to targeting students, the PA “committed violations against a number of freelance journalists,” the MADA report adds. Freelance journalist Amer Abu Aram, Wattan TV cameraman Mohammed Awad and Al-Quds TV producer Majdouline Hassoune were all interrogated in December for Facebook postings.

Aysar Barghouti, a correspondent for Wattan TV, was targeted for his reporting and arrested from his home in Kufr Ein, a Ramallah-area village. Freelance journalist Muath Amleh was also threatened and beaten for his writing.

On 14 December, “Quds Press agency correspondent Zaid Abu Arra received a summons from the director of the [PA’s] preventive security through his phone telling him that the apparatus are going to arrest him,” MADA continues, adding that just two days earlier “the preventive security forces summoned the media student at Al-Quds University, Qutaiba Hamdan, [and] detained, interrogated and beat him.”

Bullet “exploded in my leg”

While the Palestinian Authority has received increased criticism for its press crackdowns, Israeli forces — which regularly target, arrest and assault Palestinian journalists — continue to pose the greater threat to press freedom for Palestinians.

Israeli forces fired live ammunition at Palestinian cameraman Bashar Nazzal, 36, during a weekly demonstration in the central West Bank village of Kafr Qaddum on 5 December. “While we were standing at a distance of around 90-100 meters away from the Israeli forces, one of the snipers shot at me. I was far away from the protesters, visible from the army, and there were no other bullets or grenades shot in my direction,” the journalist told MADA.

“The bullet hit my leg and exploded inside, breaking bones,” he recalled. “I underwent surgery [on 6 December] in the Arab Specialist Hospital in Nablus. Four fragments were removed from my leg, but others are still inside.”

During Israel’s 51-day military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip last summer, fifteen Palestinian media workers and one foreign photojournalist, an Italian national, were killed. These journalists were killed and many others were injured while Israeli forces attacked Gaza from land, air and sea — and in some cases press workers appear to have been deliberately targeted.

recent report issued by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders deemed present-day Israel, the West Bank and Gaza the second deadliest place in the world for journalists in 2014.

Yet, as world leaders (including US President Barack Obama) condemned the fatal attacks on French journalists in Paris and claimed to support free speech and media freedom, condemnations of Israel’s attacks on Palestinian journalists remain few and far between.

Is America in the throes of a class war?

Look at the chart below and decide for yourself. It’s all there in black and white, and you don’t need to be an economist to figure it out.

But, please, take some time to study the chart, because there’s more here than meets the eye. This isn’t just about productivity and compensation. It’s a history lesson too. It pinpoints the precise moment in time when the country lost its way and began its agonizing descent into Police State USA. That’s what it really means.

It all began in the 1970s, that’s when everything started going down the plughole. Once wages detached from productivity, the rich progressively got richer. They used their wealth to reduce taxes on capital, role back critical regulations, break up the unions, install their own lapdog politicians, push through trade agreements that pitted US workers against low-paid labor in the developing world, and induce their shady Central Bank buddies to keep interest rates locked below the rate of inflation so they could cream hefty profits off gigantic asset bubbles. Now, 40 years later, they own the whole f*cking shooting match, lock, stock and barrel. And it’s all because management decided to take the lion’s share of productivity gains which threw the whole system off-kilter undermining the basic pillars of democratic government. Here’s how FDR summed it up:

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies.,” April 29, 1938. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Graph: Growth of Real Hourly Compensation for Production/Nonsupervisory Workers and Productivity, 1948–2011

Are we there yet?

Pretty close, I’d say. The only way to preserve democracy is by keeping one hand firmly clasped around the windpipe of every rich bastard in the country. If you can’t keep your tycoons in check, you’d might as well throw in the towel and accept a life of indentured servitude now, because that’s where you’re headed anyway. Here’s a short rundown of the changes that took place in the ’70s by economist Lawrence Mishel:

“Productivity in the economy grew by 80.4 percent between 1973 and 2011 but the growth of real hourly compensation of the median worker grew by far less, just 10.7 percent…. The pattern was very different from 1948 to 1973, when the hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity. Reestablishing the link between productivity and pay of the typical worker is an essential component of any effort to provide shared prosperity and, in fact, may be necessary for obtaining robust growth without relying on asset bubbles and increased household debt.

It is hard to see how reestablishing a link between productivity and pay can occur without restoring decent and improved labor standards, restoring the minimum wage to a level corresponding to half the average wage (as it was in the late 1960s), and making real the ability of workers to obtain and practice collective bargaining.” (The wedges between productivity and median compensation growth, Lawrence Mishel, EPI)

When was the last time you heard Obama talk about “improving labor standards” or “collective bargaining”?

Don’t make me laugh. It’s not even on his radar. Did you know that inequality has actually gotten worse under Obama? Much worse.

It’s true. He might proclaim his determination to “tax millionaires” in one of his blustery orations, but it’s all just rhetorical fakery. The fact is, the 1 percenters have done better under Obama than they did under Bush. Check this out from Naked Capitalism:

Yup, under Bush, the 1% captured a disproportionate share of the income gains from the Bush boom of 2002-2007. They got 65 cents of every dollar created in that boom, up 20 cents from when Clinton was President. Under Obama, the 1% got 93 cents of every dollar created in that boom. That’s not only more than under Bush, up 28 cents. In the transition from Bush to Obama, inequality got worse, faster, than under the transition from Clinton to Bush. Obama accelerated the growth of inequality.” (Growth of Income Inequality Is Worse Under Obama than Bush, Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism)

93 cents of every buck has gone to the 1 percenters under Obama. And you wonder why Wall Street loves this guy? It’s because he’s bent over backwards to make them richer, that’s why. Just look:

Graph (4) above: the blue line across the bottom of the graph represents the wealth of the bottom 90% of U.S. households. The red line represents the wealth of the richest 0.1%. Source: Emmanuel Saez (The Climate Crisis is Capitalism, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)

The rich are making money hand over fist, and it’s all due to President Twoface and his dodgy friends at the Federal Reserve. Of course, Obama would like everyone to think that he’s really rooting for the little guy, doing his best to boost wages, create more jobs and raise living standards for ordinary working people.

Right. Check out this speech he gave in 2013:

“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe. And it is not simply a moral claim that I’m making here. There are practical consequences to rising inequality and reduced mobility.”

Got that? Obama is all about closing the gap between the rich and the poor. Just don’t look at his record or you might notice a slight discrepancy between what he says and what he does.

The fact is, stocks have surged under Obama as have corporate profits which “have doubled since he took office in 2009″. At the same time, he’s overseen the slowest recovery in the postwar era, stood idle while middle class incomes were shaved by nearly $5,000 annually, and refused to intervene when over 700,000 public sector jobs were slashed in the early days of his administration. And we won’t even mention the health care debacle, the endless spying, the perennial warmongering, targeted assassinations or Gitmo.

But as bad as Obama may be, the problem didn’t start with him. It goes back decades as the first chart indicates. The steady erosion of workers bargaining power, changes in the tax code favoring capital, anti-worker trade agreements, deregulation, loosey-goosy monetary policy and, of course, the “biggie”, financialization, have all contributed to the evisceration of the middle class which now appears to be hanging by a thread. Check out this clip from authors John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff who researched the roots of financialization and wrote about it in an article in The Monthly Review titled “Financial Implosion and Stagnation”:

“It was the reality of economic stagnation beginning in the 1970s, as heterodox economists Riccardo Bellofiore and Joseph Halevi have recently emphasized, that led to the emergence of “the new financialized capitalist regime,” a kind of “paradoxical financial Keynesianism” whereby demand in the economy was stimulated primarily “thanks to asset-bubbles.” Moreover, it was the leading role of the United States in generating such bubbles—despite (and also because of) the weakening of capital accumulation proper—together with the dollar’s reserve currency status, that made U.S. monopoly-finance capital the “catalyst of world effective demand,” beginning in the 1980s. But such a financialized growth pattern was unable to produce rapid economic advance for any length of time, and was unsustainable, leading to bigger bubbles that periodically burst, bringing stagnation more and more to the surface.

A key element in explaining this whole dynamic is to be found in the falling ratio of wages and salaries as a percentage of national income in the United States. Stagnation in the 1970s led capital to launch an accelerated class war against workers to raise profits by pushing labor costs down. The result was decades of increasing inequality.” (Financial Implosion and Stagnation, John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, Monthly Review)

Let me get this straight: Persistent stagnation paved the way for financial engineering and asset bubbles where investors could make beaucoup dough regardless of the (abysmal) condition of the underlying economy? Is that it?

Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it; where corporations are minimizing their capital expenditures, laying off workers, and reducing revenues, but still making record profits by goosing stock prices with buybacks which add absolutely nothing to productivity. But, then again, why expand your business if you can make piles of moolah by just loading up on your own shares?

It’s madness, and it’s all the result of 6 years of zero rates and QE which has lured investors further and further out on the risk curve. The system is so deluged with liquidity that people are taking chances they never would have otherwise.

But where do we see “the falling ratio of wages and salaries as a percentage of national income in the United States” that the authors mention in their article? Is there any real proof of a class war or is it just more leftist folderol?

Graph: Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements/Gross Domestic Product

It sure looks like class war to me.

Foster and Magdoff make a pretty convincing case that the system has been rejiggered to overcome stagnation. Financial assets provide a place where the big wigs can grow their money during the periods when the economy is flatlining due to crappy wages, weak demand and slow growth. And that’s the name of the game, isn’t it; creating outlets for profitable investment even in the down-times?

You bet it is. That’s what QE is really all about, Bernanke even admitted as much in an op-ed in the Washington Post in 2010. He said:

“…higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence, which can also spur spending. Increased spending will lead to higher incomes and profits that, in a virtuous circle, will further support economic expansion.”

There it is from the horse’s mouth. Bernanke wanted higher stock prices, and that’s what he got. But when does all that wealth start trickling down to the worker-bees like he promised? (At present, the economy is still growing just a touch above 2 percent, not at all what one would expect after $4 trillion in asset purchases.)

More important, who are the lucky ducks who own all those stocks and bonds that the Fed just inflated with 3 rounds of QE? It certainly isn’t Joe Sixpack who can barley scrape up enough dough to make the monthly payment on his ’99 Chevy Caprice.

Of course not. The only people who own stocks are the rich and the very, very rich Take a look:

(The Great Economic Misdirection, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)

Just think about that for a minute: Bernanke admits that the purpose of QE is to inflate asset prices but, on closer examination, we see that those very assets are owned almost exclusively by a small group of very rich investors. Does that seem like an evenhanded policy to you, dear reader, or does it seem like the former Fed chair simply used QE to transfer trillions of dollars to his shifty constituents?

QE was never intended to boost inflation, (it doesn’t), spur more lending (it hasn’t) or lower long-term rates. (Long-term rates dropped after all 3 rounds of QE, and are currently lower than during the Great Depression!) The program’s real objective which was to funnel more money to Bernanke’s moocher friends via asset inflation. In that regard, it has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Just look:

Graph: Average income growth in US recoveries: top 10% versus the bottom 90%. (Pavlina Tcherneva) (Smart Charts: An Economic Recovery for the 1%, Bill Moyers)

You can see from the chart above that the bottom 90 percent have gone from treading water to sinking like a stone. And, as we all know, a growing number of these same people are rapidly slipping through the cracks, loosing their spot in the middle class, and entering a terrifying new world of economic hardship and uncertainly.

This is no accident nor is it the result of free market operations that unavoidably create winners and losers. The upward distribution of wealth is the natural corollary of decades of aggressive lobbying, government infiltration, and political arm-twisting. Ruling elites are a like-minded bunch who know what they want and will stop nothing until they get it. The system has been effectively restructured to serve their needs and those of their constituents. They alone control the levers of state power as well as the marionette politicians who do their bidding.

So, is America in the throes of a class war or not?

Indeed, it is. But only one side is fighting.

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

The FBI is at it again. Creating fake terror plots to justify their existence. And this plot hits on all the themes one would expect from a good fake terror plot.

The FBI initially found a patsy by trolling Twitter for support of ISIS. That’s exciting because finding someone retarded enough to admit support for murderers is really difficult. Then they sent an in-house jihadist to team up with the patsy to plan a grand terror attack on the nation’s Capitol. Heroically, the moment the 20-year-old patsy said he would “go forward with violent jihad” the FBI steps in and declares a victory in the war on terror.

NBC News reports:

Ohio man was arrested Wednesday and accused of planning to attack the U.S. Capitol, U.S. officials told NBC News. But the officials said the man, identified as Christopher Cornell, 20, was dealing with an undercover agent the entire time and was never in a position to carry out his plan.

“There was never a danger to the public,” an official told NBC News.

The officials said that starting in August, Cornell began posting comments on Twitter in support of ISIS under an alias, Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah. Shortly after those posts began appearing, the FBI sent an undercover operative to meet with him.

During a meeting with the operative, court documents say, Cornell said he wanted “to go forward with violent jihad” and that Anwar al-Awlaki — the U.S.-born Muslim cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone in September 2011 and was the first U.S. citizen publicly known to have been added to the U.S. kill-or-capture list — and others had encouraged that kind of action.

Seriously, Anwar al-Awlaki again? Hasn’t his name become synonymous with “false flag”? He’s a proven federal asset who also supposedly handled the Fort Hood Shooter, the Underwear Bomber and even the recent Paris Shooters – all incredibly shady events that served to advance the “war on terror” agenda.

The FBI has incubated fake terror plots over and over: See thisthisthisthisthisthisthis, andthis. Surely they’d never let an event go live, would they? What would they have to gain?

Well, the only reason this story exists at all is to make the public feel that there are genuine terror threats targeting the US Capitol. That is then used to justify spying on the Internet and funding the huge terrorism-industrial complex that has nothing better to do than make up the reasons to keep giving them money.

The police state is a ruthless business, and false flag terror is its most effective marketing tool.

Racist Provocation and the “War on Terror”

January 15th, 2015 by Patrick Martin

Early Wednesday morning, the new edition of Charlie Hebdo went on sale across France, with the press run ramped up from the usual 60,000 to 5 million. The new issue, with a degrading cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on its cover, is not a monument to “press freedom,” as portrayed in media accounts, but rather a state-supported provocation.

Through this publication and its echoes throughout the media, millions of French citizens are being bombarded by an anti-Muslim campaign that was, until recently, the province of the neo-fascist National Front. These sentiments are being deliberately whipped up to provide a base of support for renewed military operations by French imperialism.

The conduct of the “war on terror” is acquiring ever more openly a racist character.

That the campaign is being very carefully coordinated is evident in the fact that the French government paid for the enormously expanded press run, while leading journals of the French bourgeoisie made it possible: Le Mondesupplied computers, Libération opened its offices to the surviving Charlie Hebdo staff. Prime Minister Manuel Valls dropped by to show his support.

The French government has wasted no time in utilizing the January 7 attacks to promote its war drive in the Middle East. Following Tuesday’s 488 to 1 vote in France’s National Assembly to extend air strikes in Iraq, French President François Hollande, until recently the most unpopular official in France, appeared on the deck of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to address its crew as they set sail for the Middle East. He cited the events of the previous week, which left 20 dead in Paris, saying the situation “justifies the presence of our aircraft carrier.”

The carrier is to join the US military in the Persian Gulf, where American forces are raining bombs down on western Iraq and eastern Syria as part of the war targeting, for the present, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad next in line.

The US-led coalition of imperialist powers and Gulf sheikdoms carried out 18 air strikes on Monday alone. There is little doubt that these bombing attacks slaughter more innocent people every day than the number of people who died in Paris last week, albeit with far less attention from the Western press.

On its way to the Persian Gulf, the Charles de Gaulle will pass along the coast of Yemen, giving the Hollande government the capability to launch air strikes on targets in that country. US and French officials have suggested that Said Kaouchi received military training and instructions in Yemen from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. There have been unconfirmed suggestions in the media that a massive attack on Yemen, either by French warplanes or US drone missiles, or both, is imminent.

The Charlie Hebdo attack is also being used to rapidly escalate the other component of the “war on terror”—the assault on democratic rights at home.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, describing the mobilization of 10,000 French troops to stand guard at public transport centers, schools and other supposed targets of terrorist attack, said Tuesday, “This is a military operation like the military operations we conduct abroad,” directed at “the same enemy.” He added that “today, the new and serious element is that there is no dividing line between the external threat and the internal threat.”

While claiming to defend “freedom of speech” at Charlie Hebdo, the French authorities have arrested at least 54 people for “defending terrorism”—that is, for speech, including posts on social media. Four of those arrested are minors, and some have already been convicted and sentenced under legislation that provides for expedited trials.

Alongside the crackdown on public expressions of sympathy with Islamic fundamentalism is the buildup of sweeping police state powers that will be directed not merely at Islamic radicals, but at any opposition to the French bourgeoisie, above all that from the working class.

Valls promised that within three months his government will have drafted new laws on expanded phone-tapping and Internet surveillance, as well as measures to restructure the French educational system and change the country’s housing policy (aimed at breaking up Muslim communities in impoverished suburbs around major cities).

Given that France is home to some five million Muslims—the largest Muslim population in Western Europe—these measures are not only anti-democratic and provocative, they are also extremely reckless.

Supporters of the propaganda offensive of the French bourgeoisie proclaim that all criticism of the vile provocations of Charlie Hebdo is an attack on “free speech,” and that somehow the mobilization of the resources of the French state to promote the magazine is a defense of democratic rights.

It is one thing to defend the legal right to publish a vicious, racist, right-wing magazine. Marxists oppose the banning even of outright fascist publications by the bourgeois state, because any laws used against the extreme right will be used far more violently against the working class and the left.

It is a far different matter to cover up for, and even glorify, the repulsive political messages of such publications. There is no difference in principle between cartoons distorting and degrading the prophet Muhammad and the anti-black caricatures of the Ku Klux Klan or, for that matter, the anti-Semitic caricatures long popular in the neo-fascist and neo-Nazi camp. This is demonstrated by the logic of French politics, as President Hollande combines solidarity with the anti-Muslim caricatures of Charlie Hebdo with an invitation to Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist National Front, to a meeting at the Elysée Palace.

The relentless pollution of public opinion and the distortion and misdirection of the natural anger and shock over the Paris massacre reveal the ideological bankruptcy of the French bourgeoisie and of imperialism as a whole. American imperialism justified its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by waving the bloody shirt of 9/11, a pretext that is now completely exhausted.

As they plot new military adventures, assuming the dimensions of a veritable new Crusade, the ruling classes in France and internationally are playing the race card. Inexorably, however, the fundamental class contradictions in all the major capitalist countries will make themselves felt.

The working class must shake off the stultifying effects of the media propaganda barrage and take up the struggle for its independent class interests—the defense of jobs, living standards and democratic rights, and the fight against imperialist war.

Charlie Hebdo And The War For Civilisation

January 15th, 2015 by Media Lens

In 2003, a top security expert told filmmaker Michael Moore, ‘there is no one in America other than President Bush who is in more danger than you’. (Michael Moore, ‘Here Comes Trouble – Stories From My Life,’ Allen Lane, 2011, p.4)

Moore was attacked with a knife, a blunt object and stalked by a man with a gun. Scalding coffee was thrown at his face, punches were thrown in broad daylight. The verbal abuse was ceaseless, including numerous death threats. In his book, ‘Here Comes Trouble’, Moore writes:

‘I could no longer go out in public without an incident happening.’ (p.20)

A security company, which compiled a list of more than 440 credible threats against Moore, told him:

‘We need to tell you that the police have in custody a man who was planning to blow up your house. You’re in no danger now.’ (p.23)

But why was Moore a target? Had he published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad?

The problem had begun in the first week of the 2003 Iraq war when Moore’s film ‘Bowling For Columbine’ won the Oscar for best documentary. At the March 23 Academy Awards ceremony, Mooretold a global audience:

‘I’ve invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us. They are here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction, yet we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts: we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you! And anytime you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up! Thank you very much.’ (p.5-6)

About halfway through these remarks, Moore reports, ‘all hell broke loose’. On arriving home from the ceremony, he found three truckloads of horse manure dumped waist-high in his driveway. That night, Moore witnessed for himself the extent to which US corporate journalism defends the right to offend:

‘…as I flipped between the channels, I listened to one pundit after another question my sanity, criticise my speech, and say, over and over, in essence: “I don’t know what got into him!” “He sure won’t have an easy time in this town after that stunt!” “Who does he think will make another movie with him now?” “Talk about career suicide!” After an hour of this, I turned off the TV and went online – where there was more of the same, only worse – from all over America.’ (pp.9-10)

This is the reality of respect for free speech in the United States. If, on Oscar night, he had held up a cartoon depicting President Bush naked on all fours, buttocks raised to a pornographic filmmaker, would Moore still be alive today?

War – Total, Merciless, Civilised

In stark contrast to the campaign of near-fatal media vilification of Moore, journalists have responded to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris by passionately defending the right to offend. Or so we are to believe. The Daily Telegraph’s chief interviewer, Allison Pearson, wrote:

‘Those that died yesterday did so on the frontline of a war of civilisations. I salute them, those Martyrs for Freedom of Speech.’

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agreed, describing the attacks as ‘a war declared on civilisation’. Joan Smith wrote in the Guardian:

‘I am feeling sick and shaky. I have been writing all day with tears running down my face. I don’t suppose I’m alone in reacting like this to the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, which is an assault on journalists and free speech.’

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen tweeted:

‘I am shaking with rage at the attack on Charlie Hebdo. It’s an attack on the free world. The entire free world should respond, ruthlessly.’

The Western tendency to act with ruthless, overwhelming violence is, of course, a key reason why Islamic terrorists are targeting the West. Glenn Greenwald asked Cohen:

‘At whom should this violence be directed beyond the specific perpetrators, and what form should it take?’

Sylvain Attal, editor of new media at TV station France24, replied:

‘response must be both merciless and respectful of our legal system. Period’

End of discussion. American journalist and regular Fox News talk show host, Geraldo Rivera, raved:

‘The French extremists say they are committed to Jihad and are willing to die for their cause. We should make their wish come true. No mercy’

The ‘entire free world’, then, should resort to ruthless, merciless violence to defend ‘civilisation’, a term some naïve souls have associated with compassion, restraint, and even the bizarre exhortation:

‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’

Cohen retweeted Anand Giridharadas, who writes for the New York Times:

‘Not & never a war of civilizations or between them. But a war FOR civilization against groups on the other side of that line. #CharlieHebdo’

Thus, we live in a time when a ‘war for civilisation’ is seen as something more than a grotesque contradiction in terms.

Much, but thankfully not all, media coverage has been this extreme. To his credit, former Independent editor Simon Kelner managed a rather more nuanced view.

Journalism – Part Of ‘The Murder Machine’

In The Times, the perennially apocalyptic David Aaronovitch wrote:

‘Yesterday in Paris we in the west crossed a boundary that cannot be recrossed. For the first time since the defeat of fascism a group of citizens were massacred because of what they had drawn, said and published.’

The Guardian took a similar view:

‘Wednesday’s atrocity was the… bloodiest single assault on western journalism in living memory.’

But, in fact, the bloodiest attack on journalism in living memory, at least in Europe, happened on April 23, 1999 when Nato bombed the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television, killing 16 people. The dead included an editor, a programme director, a cameraman, a make-up artist, three security guards and other media support staff. Additional radio and electrical installations throughout the country were also attacked. The New York Times witnessed the carnage:

‘The Spanish-style entrance was ripped away by the blasts, which seemed to hit the roof just under the large girder tower that holds numerous satellite dishes. Although the tower and blackened dishes remained, the control rooms and studios underneath had simply disappeared.’ (Steven Erlanger, ‘Survivors of NATO Attack On Serb TV Headquarters: Luck, Pluck and Resolve,’ The New York Times, April 24, 1999)

Presumably this had been some kind of terrible mistake by the civilised West crossing a boundary that could not be recrossed. No, Nato insisted that the TV station, a ‘ministry of lies’, was a legitimate target and the bombing ‘must be seen as an intensification of our attacks’. A Pentagon spokesman added:

‘Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic’s murder machine as his military is. The media is one of the pillars of Milosevic’s power machine. It is right up there with security forces and the military.’ (Erlanger, op.cit.)

Amnesty International responded:

‘The bombing of the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television was a deliberate attack on a civilian object and as such constitutes a war crime.’

In all the corporate press discussion of the Paris killings, we have found no mention of Nato’s bombing of Serbian TV and radio.

In August 2011, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, condemned Nato’s bombing of Libyan state broadcasting facilities on July 30, killing three media workers, with 21 people injured:

‘I deplore the NATO strike on Al-Jamahiriya and its installations. Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006) condemns acts of violence against journalists and media personnel in conflict situations.’

Again, Nato confirmed that the bombing had been deliberate:

‘Striking specifically these critical satellite dishes will reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians while [preserving] television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict.’

In November 2001, two American air-to-surface missiles hit al-Jazeera’s satellite TV station in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing a reporter. Chief editor Ibrahim Hilal said al-Jazeera had communicated the location of its office in Kabul to the American authorities.

In April 2003, an al-Jazeera cameraman was killed when the station’s Baghdad office was bombed during a US air raid. In 2005, the Guardian quoted the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ):

‘”Reports that George Bush and Tony Blair discussed a plan to bomb al-Jazeera reinforce concerns that the US attack in Baghdad on April 8 [2003] was deliberate targeting of the media” said Aidan White, the general secretary of the IFJ.’

According to the Daily Mirror, Bush had told Blair of his plan:

‘He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem. There’s no doubt what Bush wanted to do – and no doubt Blair didn’t want him to do it.’

Similarly, during last summer’s blitz of Gaza, Israel killed 17 journalists. An investigation led by Human Rights Watch concluded that Israeli attacks on journalists were one of many ‘apparent violations’ of international law. In a 2012 letter to The New York Times, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, head spokeswoman to foreign media for the Israel Defense Force, wrote:

‘Such terrorists, who hold cameras and notebooks in their hands, are no different from their colleagues who fire rockets aimed at Israeli cities and cannot enjoy the rights and protection afforded to legitimate journalists.’

‘Sorry For Any Offence’

Aaronovitch warned that ‘appalling’ as previous attacks on Western free speech had been, ‘they were generally the work of disorganised loners’, whereas the Paris attacks seemed to have been more organised. What then to say of lethal attacks on journalists conducted, not by a group of religious fanatics, but by democratically elected governments?

Given this context, corporate media commentary on the Charlie Hebdo massacre all but drowns in irony and hypocrisy. The Telegraph commented:

‘But the march in Paris reminds us, at the very least, that the men of violence are not just a minority, but a fragment of a fragment. And it may be that it also acts as a turning point. The US is to hold a conference at the White House on countering violent extremism…’

In fact, as LSE student Daniel Wickham clarified, ‘men of violence’ were among the marchers. Certainly the White House is a good place for people to do some serious thinking about violent extremism and how to stop it.

A Guardian leader observed:

‘When men and women have gone to their deaths for nothing more than what they have said, or drawn, there is only one side to be on.’

True, but if it is to be meaningful, support for the right to offend must not defer to a self-serving view of a world divided into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, ‘us’ and ‘them’. Like the rest of the media, the Guardian protests passionately when ‘bad guys’ commit an atrocity against ‘us’, but emotive defences of free speech are in short supply when ‘good guys’ bomb Serb and Libyan TV, or threaten the life of progressive US filmmakers. Far fewer tears are shed for Serb, Libyan or Palestinian journalists in US-UK corporate media offices.

The Guardian added:

‘Being shocking is going to involve offending someone. If there is a right to free speech, implicit within it there has to be a right to offend. Any society that’s serious about liberty has to defend the free flow of ugly words, even ugly sentiments.’

The sentiment was quickly put to the test when BBC reporter Tim Willcox commented in a live TV interview:

‘Many critics though of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.’

This mild statement of obvious fact brought a predictable flood of calls for Willcox to resign. The journalist instantly backed down:

‘Really sorry for any offence caused by a poorly phrased question in a live interview in Paris yesterday – it was entirely unintentional’

A BBC spokesman completed the humiliation:

‘Tim Willcox has apologised for what he accepts was a poorly phrased question… He had no intention of causing offence.’

Glenn Greenwald describes the prevailing rule:

‘As always: it’s free speech if it involves ideas I like or attacks groups I dislike, but it’s something different when I’m the one who is offended.’

Chris Hedges notes:

‘In France a Holocaust denier, or someone who denies the Armenian genocide, can be imprisoned for a year and forced to pay a $60,000 fine. It is a criminal act in France to mock the Holocaust the way Charlie Hebdo mocked Islam.’

A point emphasised by the recent arrest of a French comedian on charges of ‘defending terrorism’.

The irony of the BBC apology, given recent events, appears to have been invisible to most commentators. Radical comedian Frankie Boyle is a welcome exception, having earlier commented:

‘I’m reading a defence of free speech in a paper that tried to have me arrested and charged with obscenity for making a joke about the Queen’

The Guardian leader concluded:

‘Poverty and discrimination at home may create fertile conditions for the spread of extremism, and western misadventures abroad can certainly inflame the risks.’

The term ‘western misadventures’ is a perfect example of how media like the Guardian work so hard to avoid offending elite interests with more accurate descriptions like ‘Western atrocities’ and ‘Western genocidal crimes’.

A leader in The Times observed of the Charlie Hebdo killers:

‘Their victims knew the risks they ran by defying the jihadist strategy of censorship through terror. They accepted those risks. They understood that freedom is not free, and so should we all.’ (Leader, ‘Nous Sommes Tous Charlie,’ The Times, January 8, 2015)

Fine words, but in 2013 Times owner Rupert Murdoch apologised for a powerful cartoon by Gerald Scarfe that had appeared in the newspaper. The cartoon depicted the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinians but was not in any way anti-Semitic. Murdoch, however, tweeted:

‘Gerald Scarfe has never reflected the opinions of the Sunday Times. Nevertheless, we owe major apology for grotesque, offensive cartoon.’

In its response to the Paris killings, The Times perceived ‘a vital duty for Muslim clerics who must embrace a new role actively deradicalising their followers. It also imposes an urgent responsibility on Muslim political leaders’.

Did the paper have any positive role models in mind?

‘One controversial figure who appears to have understood this is Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In a remarkable speech to imams last week to mark the birthday of Muhammad, he called for a “religious revolution” to prevent the Islamic world being “lost by our own hands”.’

The Times went on:

‘Mr al-Sisi is not unique. Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, has championed moderate political Islam at home and abroad.’ (Leader, ‘Freedom Must Prevail,’ Times, January 9, 2015)

Thus, Sisi, leader of a military coup, someone who oversaw the massacre of 1,000 civilian protestors on a single day in August 2013, is hailed as a ‘champion’ of ‘moderate political Islam’.

There is so much more that could be said about just how little passion the corporate media have for defending the right to offend. Anyone in doubt should try, as we have, to discuss their own record of failing to offend the powerful. To criticise ‘mainstream’ media from this perspective is to render oneself a despised unperson. In response to our polite, decidedly inoffensive challenges on Twitter we have been banned by champions of free speech like Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, Jeremy Bowen of the BBC, Peter Beaumont of the Observer and Guardian, and many others.

Even rare dissident fig leaves on newspapers like the Guardian dismiss as asinine and, yes, offensive, the suggestion that they should risk offending their corporate employers and advertisers. Not only is no attempt made to defend such a right, the very idea is dismissed as nonsense unworthy even of discussion.

World Bank Lowers its Growth Forecast

January 15th, 2015 by Nick Beams

The World Bank has underscored the deepening malaise in the global economy, once again revising downward its estimate for growth in 2015. In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, issued earlier this week, the World Bank cut its forecast for global growth this year to 3 percent, having predicted an increase of 3.4 percent last June.

The growth rate of 2.6 percent for 2014 was also well below the forecast of 3.4 percent as a result of what the report called a “string of disappointing” results in the euro area, Japan, parts of emerging Europe, in particular Russia, and Latin America. The euro area and Japan accounted for half of the downward revisions for global growth in 2014 and one third for the 2015 forecasts.

World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu said the world economy was “running on a single engine. It is only the US economy that is forging ahead in a global economy with so much uncertainty. We need several engines.”

However, the US “engine” is far from functioning with a steady beat. Figures released by the Commerce Department yesterday showed that retail sales fell by 0.9 percent in December from the previous month, compared to a forecast decline of 0.1 percent. The figures were described as a “big surprise” by at least one analyst, as they included a 0.4 percent decline in core sales, including electronics, clothing and sporting goods, but excluding gasoline.

As if to underscore the World Bank’s message of a weakening global economy, copper prices fell to their lowest levels in five-and-a-half years yesterday. The price of the metal, which is used extensively in the construction and electrical industries, dropped by as much as 6.6 percent on the London market.

Copper has joined other industrial commodities, most notably iron ore and oil, in falling to price levels not experienced since the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008–2009. The Bloomberg Commodity Index is now down to levels last seen in 2002.

There is significant doubt over whether the World Bank’s revised prediction of 3 percent for global growth will be met, because risks “remain tilted to the downside.” The euro area and Japan could both experience a “prolonged period of stagnation or deflation.” There is also a risk of financial volatility as a result of the divergence between the policies of the world’s major central banks.

The US Fed is officially moving towards a tightening interest rate regime, while the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are expected to step up their programs of quantitative easing. Financial turbulence could also be triggered by increased geopolitical tensions, sharp movements in commodity markets, or financial stress in emerging markets, because a rise in the value of the US dollar could increase the real debt burden of dollar-denominated loans.

Basu warned that “the stalled recovery in some high-income countries and even some middle-income countries may be a symptom of deeper structural malaise.”

The report made clear that hopes that growth in lower income countries and emerging markets could provide a boost to the global economy have been well and truly dashed. Growth in middle- and low-income countries had fallen to 4.4 percent in 2014, with “deep structural factors,” including a slowdown in productivity, set to dampen growth prospects in the medium term. “Since the post-crisis rebound, output growth in the developing world has settled down at a pace below that of the first decade of the 2000s,” the report noted.

Tightening financial conditions, rising geopolitical tensions or repeated growth disappointments could cause investors to reappraise developing country risks and expose “some underlying financial vulnerabilities.”

Assigning such an event a “low probability,” the report nevertheless warned that the “slowdown in China could turn into a disorderly unwinding of financial vulnerabilities with considerable implications for the global economy.”

While the report described the recovery in the United States as “robust,” this assessment is not borne out by the figures. The report said growth would be 2.4 percent in 2014, rising to 3.2 percent in 2015, before declining to 2.4 percent in 2017. It noted that while the official level of unemployment had fallen, “labour force participation has declined to levels not seen since the early 1980s.”

The bank wrote that investment levels in the US would increase, but remain below the levels reached before the financial crisis. In addition, a strong dollar would dampen net exports, while low oil prices would “negatively affect capital expenditure in the energy sector.”

Activity in the euro area had been weaker than expected, especially in France, Germany and Italy—the core economies of the region.

The report identified a potential source of financial turbulence in emerging markets, warning that after “several years of rapid credit growth and record debt issuance on international bond markets, corporations in many developing countries have accumulated significant liabilities and exposure to both global interest rates and exchange rate fluctuations.”

One of the most significant indicators of the state of the global economy is the level of world trade. The World Bank noted that since the global financial crisis, world trade growth “has slowed significantly” from the trend of the 1990s and early 2000s. Despite some expected pick-up, global trade growth was not expected to return to the rising path of the years before the crisis.

The bank’s forecast of growth of 3 percent has been on the assumption of a strengthening recovery in major economies, a modest rebalancing of demand in China, and a smooth transition of developing countries to tighter financial conditions.

But as the report acknowledged, major consequences would follow if any one of these conditions were not met. Turbulence in financial markets in May–June 2013 and financial volatility in January and October 2014 indicated how rapidly market sentiment could turn.

In Europe, the continuing fall in inflation could signify so-called “secular stagnation,” with weak consumption, low investment and falling prices feeding off each other to produce a deflationary spiral. This would have major global ramifications, given that the euro area accounts for a sixth of global gross domestic product and a quarter of global trade and cross-border banking assets.

Likewise if what the bank called “China’s carefully managed slowdown” turned disorderly. That would have major consequences for its financial system and the world economy as a whole.

Like other reports on the state of the world economy, including by the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank’s Global Prospects study underscores the fact that the crisis of 2008 represented a fundamental breakdown in the functioning of the global capitalist economy—a crisis that is continuing to deepen.

Western states’ policies were responsible for the attacks by Paris gunmen last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Czech newspaper, adding that countries should share intelligence concerning terrorism.

Assad reiterated his condolences to the families of the 17 victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris in an interview with Czech newspaper Literarni noviny, excerpts of which were published by state SANA news agency on Wednesday.

He said that Damascus sympathizes with the families of victims as Syria is

 “one of the countries which best understand this issue because we have been suffering from terrorism for the past four years and we lost thousands of innocent lives.”

However, Assad reminded that Syria has been addressing the West and “talking about these repercussions” since the conflict in Syria began in 2011.

“We have been saying, you shouldn’t support terrorism and provide it with a political umbrella, because this will reflect on your countries and your people. They didn’t listen to us,” Assad said.

He accused European policies of being responsible for the crisis in Syria and said that the Paris attacks

brought European policies to account, because they are responsible for what happened in our region, for what happened in France, and maybe what happened earlier in other European countries.”

Assad urged western nations to fight terrorism with “good policies” and share intelligence.

“We should fight ignorance with culture and education, should build a good economy to fight poverty, and there should be an exchange of information among the countries concerned with fighting terrorism,” he said.

Assad, who has a medical background, compared terrorism with cancer, saying that you should extract it.

“The problem cannot be addressed in the way they addressed it in Afghanistan, I mean what they did in Afghanistan in 2001. A group of Congressmen visited Damascus at that time and they were talking about invading Afghanistan in revenge for what happened in New York earlier.

“I said this is not how you should do it, because fighting terrorism is similar to treating cancer. You do not treat cancer by cutting it, but by extracting it. What happened in Afghanistan is that they cut the cancer, and the result was that it spread much faster.”

Aerial view taken on January 11, 2015 of the Unity rally “Marche Republicaine” at the Place de la Republique (Republique's square) in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists. (AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)Aerial view taken on January 11, 2015 of the Unity rally “Marche Republicaine” at the Place de la Republique (Republique’s square) in Paris in tribute to the 17 victims of a three-day killing spree by homegrown Islamists. (AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)

The Paris shootings have prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets in France and other European countries showing solidarity with the victims. The attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices was triggered by cartoons published earlier by the satirical left-wing paper that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a record 3 million copies of the magazine’s new edition – the first after the shooting – appeared on French newsstands, with new caricatures triggering outrage among Muslims all over the world, and threats from radical Islamists.

Dieudonné, the controversial French comic pictured here in 2007, was arrested Wednesday morning for a Facebook post mocking the Charlie Hebdo attack. (Photo: Alexandre Hervaud/cc/flickr)

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week and just days since the historic Paris unity rally when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and declared their support for freedom of speech, French authorities have arrested 54 people on charges of “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism.

The French Justice Ministry said that of those arrested, four are minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing, AP reports. Individuals charged with “inciting terrorism” face a possible 5-year prison term, or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online. None of those arrested have been linked to the attacks.

Controversial comic Dieudonné was one of those taken into custody Wednesday morning for a Facebook post in which he declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”—merging the names of the satire magazine and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher market on Friday.

Since last week’s multiple terrorism attacks that left 17 people dead, “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism,” AP reports.

The irony that the west was rallying to defend a magazine that was attacked for its alleged slander of Islam, while at the same persecuting individuals for voicing their views was not lost on many.

“As pernicious as this arrest and related ‘crackdown’ on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote on Wednesday.

Greenwald went on to question the charge of “defending terrorism” brought against Dieudonné and others. Greenwald continued:

If you want “terrorism defenses” like that to be criminally prosecuted (as opposed to societally shunned), how about those who justify, cheer for and glorify the invasion and destruction of Iraq, with its “Shock and Awe” slogan signifying an intent to terrorize the civilian population into submission and its monstrous tactics in Fallujah? Or how about the psychotic calls from a Fox News host, when discussing Muslims radicals, to “kill them ALL.” Why is one view permissible and the other criminally barred – other than because the force of law is being used to control political discourse and one form of terrorism (violence in the Muslim world) is done by, rather than to, the west?

Also Wednesday, Ines Pohl, who runs the German satire magazine die tageszeitungpublished an op-ed in Politico warning against the exploitation by political leaders in the wake of such an attack or crisis, which in this case is the European right pushing an agenda of closed borders and general ethnocentrism.

“The blood in Paris wasn’t even dry when the first German politician, Alexander Gauland, one of the top candidates from the Alternative für Deutschland party, claimed this killing as a proof that Germany has the right to fear the influence of Muslim culture and that Germans have the right, and the obligation, to defend their Christian heritage,” Pohl writes.

Drawing a line between the current climate since the Paris attacks and the post-9/11 crackdown, Pohl goes on to note that next week the CIA torture reports are to be released in German and adds: “This report is the proof of how a country can be misled when it becomes ruled by fear.”

Torture victim Maher Arar and others shared their reactions to the French crackdown online.

 

Britain’s Jewish Community and the Thrust of Political Zionism

January 15th, 2015 by Anthony Bellchambers

It is difficult to argue with the result of a recent poll of British Jews that because of anti-Semitism there is but a questionable future for them, as a community, either within the United Kingdom or in the rest of Europe.

However, that situation is entirely self-imposed, and rectifiable. In the United States where there is today the largest Jewish population in the world, members of that cohort clearly define themselves first and foremost as American citizens with a primary duty towards the land of their birth and upbringing – with any allegiance towards the state of Israel being one of a subsidiary nature only.

American Jews are immensely proud of their country and the majority also of their religion, and are not diminished in any way either by the insignificant minority that emigrate to Israel or by the number who marry out of their faith – or by US foreign policy, or by political lobbies such as AIPAC. They recognise that which many British Jews do not – that no individual can properly swear allegiance to two states – one in the West and one in the East.

In Britain today there is a dichotomy imposed by a section of the Jewish community to show indiscriminate support for the state of Israel regardless of its continuous violation of international law and the human rights provisions of both the Geneva Conventions and the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Members of the Jewish communities of London, Manchester and elsewhere are torn between the Political Zionist movement of a secular state which they are exhorted by their peers to unquestioningly support but which arrogantly acts against the very tenets of Judaism; against democratic principles – and against their own conscience. The majority are very aware that the subjugation and dispossession of the Muslim Arab communities in former Palestine makes a travesty of Jewish ethics and religious belief but many are too afraid of being ostracised if they speak out.

Others are ashamed and saddened to recognise the similarities to their own family history of the pogroms of Eastern Europe of just a hundred years ago when their own grandparents were persecuted and forced to leave the lands of their birth.

There is no necessity for any Jewish family to leave Britain but there is an imperative to openly condemn any state that arrogantly and continuously violates human rights, in their name. A failure to do so automatically means an identification with that state and a pressure by the rest of society for them to join it.

There is a clear and voluntary choice. That is, whether to opt to live in a European democracy or in the Middle East. There are many who believe that the latter is the most dangerous place in the world for anyone, but that depends on your understanding of justice, freedom and democracy – and, of course, your allegiances.

Stepan Bandera’s 106th birthday celebration passed on New Year’s day 2015 and the question of what it means in Ukraine is front and center again. Are there really nazis in Ukraine today? When the Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseni Yatsenyuk can say on German News “We cannot allow Russia to attack Ukraine and Germany again like the Soviet Union did in 1941” – Isn’t that case closed regarding ideology?

Yet history and the facts are clear that the Bandera legacy has little to do with Ukrainian history except mass murder.

Instead history shows the mass murderer and torturer Bandera’s greatest impact on the world was in North America through the OUN(Bandera’s nationalist army)-ABN (Anti-Bolshevik Nations)-UCCA (Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America), and Eastern European emigre groups.

Stepan Bandera ordered the attempted assassination of one sitting US President as the last leg of an attempted nazi coup in the United States. Bandera brought one of America’s greatest war time generals and a sitting president to heel on more than one occasion. Bandera was directly responsible for US involvement in the Korean war which caused over 50,000 US servicemen to die.

Bandera’s legacy was the real reason the United States went to war in Vietnam and another 50,000 servicemen gave their lives.

The Bandera groups spent 60 years running the cold war propaganda machine both domestically in the US and internationally. Their propaganda was a large part of what made the defense industry and military budgets as large as they are. Their influence on American perceptions of the Soviet Union, Russia, and definition of Nationalism changed the way the US sees both itself and the world.

Bandera’s legacy includes helping to build Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood rise as a powerhouse, and ISIL’s rise in the Middle East. When the veneer of Islam is stripped away only ABN-APACL-WACL fascism is left.

Bandera’s legacy has affected every presidential administration and session of Congress since the 1950′s. In America today, no national politician can get elected without paying homage to “the Bandera.”

As the proofs are laid out plain where will that put you? For the United States to take the international stance today it now assumes, no matter how uncomfortable it is to look at; domestically a large shift in how citizens perceive American Democracy had to happen first.

The big question is does it matter? As the proofs are provided, you decide.

The First Coup Attempt Big Media Hid

In the 1930′s Stepan Bandera and the OUN sent letters to US president Franklin D. Roosevelt to gain US recognition for the right of Ukrainian nazis to set up their own country. This came at the same time as Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. President Roosevelt rebuffed Bandera’s efforts and made it clear this would never happen.

In 1936 US Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd sent President Roosevelt a letter in which he stated - ”A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime.”

This coup attempt culminated in a plan to assassinate sitting US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The assassination was planned between 1940-42. This was done even though there was already an investigation into the coup plot. Stepan Bandera ordered his favorite assassin to murder a sitting US President because Roosevelt refused to legitimize Bandera’s terrorist organization, the OUN-ABN-UCCA. Consider that this was the beginning of WW2 for the United States. What would have happened if the Bandera attempt had been successful? Consider what would have happened if the US came into WW2 under its own fascist government. Today there is only one official record of this occurrence and its not part of well known American history.

“There is also evidence of the OUN collaboration with Nazi Germany against the US in the beginning of World War II. For example, archival documents show that the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, the State Department, a special intelligence unit created by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and other agencies investigated in 1940-1942 an involvement of OUN and specifically, OUN-B, members, leaders, and sympathizers in a Nazi-led plot to assassinate President Roosevelt. They indicate that Christian Zinsser, an agent of German security services who worked under cover of a German press attaché in Buenos Aires in Argentina, recruited in 1940 Hryhori Matseiko with a mission to kill President Roosevelt. Matseiko was a leading OUN terrorist who assassinated the minister of internal affairs of Poland on the order of Stepan Bandera in 1934. The American, British, and Soviet intelligence services reported involvement of the OUN, in particular, Matseiko, in assisting role in the assassination of the King of Yugoslavia and the Foreign Minister in France in 1934.”- The Politics of World War II in Contemporary Ukraine Ivan Katchanovski Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 210-233

The official version of the assassination attempt is only found at the Roosevelt Library- Henry Field Papers, Box 52, Folder “1964,” Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New

York; Department of State Confidential Decimal File, Case 800.20211/Matzejko. National

Archives, College Park, Maryland; Pavel Sudoplatov, Spetsoperatsii. Lubianka i Kreml 1930-1950 gody (Moscow: OLMA-Press, 1998/2003) 26.

Roosevelt ordered the investigation of the OUN-ABN-UCCA Ukrainian nationalists in the United States under the House Un-American Activities Committee for nazism. After Roosevelt’s successor Harry Truman took the presidency the OUN-ABN-UCCA were reclassified as anti-communists and the nazi investigation was closed. Instead of testifying to the US Congress about their own anti- American activities like treason and attempted assassination, the Bandera stood behind Senator Joseph McCarthy and wrote the questions that defined what it meant to be un-American and demanded the answers.

Stepan Bandera and the OUN-ABN-UWC-UCCA leadership never answered for the assassination attempt or even apologized.

Instead the Bandera groups were given large budgets to work with to promote the coup planners version of anti-communism in America. For the coup planners the only alternative was an American brand of fascism and the groups involved have spent 70 years tirelessly working at it.

The American Liberty League, the working group behind the coup attempt went on to morph into the most powerful political engine in American history which was the China Lobby. One of the founders of the China Lobby was Yaroslav Stetsko. Stetsko was second in command to the Ukrainain nazi Stepan Bandera. His groups gave Senator Joe McCarthy the questions that defined what it meant to be a good American during the red scares. This mass murdering nazi became powerful enough in American politics to write points into Democratic and Republican presidential campaign platforms by the early 1950′s.

On January 13th 12 passengers on a bus going to Donetsk were killed in an explosion near the Ukrainian controlled town of Volnovaha. Ten casualties were reported directly and two more died later in the hospital. Both Kiev and Marie Harf of the Obama Administration were quick to put the blame on the Novorussia army saying it was an artillery strike. “Attacks on the airport of Donetsk and the shelling of the bus, which killed 10 people and injured 13 more, constitute gross violations of the Minsk agreements”, – said Harf.

The problem is the nearest artillery set up in DNR is over 50 kilometers away which is well out of range.

Poroshenko immediately ordered another mobilization of conscripts and Kiev tightened the blockade of Donbass by stopping bus and train travel near the war torn area.

The problem for the Ukrainian and US Administration’s claim is video footage from the scene shows clearly that the area was mined. The footage was taken by Ukrainian soldiers at the scene.

bus mines claymore signs - Eliason

Further complicating the claim that this was an artillery attack is in an apparent attempt at a coverup by Kiev. This hole is what the Ukrainian government is claiming to be the crater from the shell blast. The hole itself has square edges obviously made with the shovel used to dig it.

bus mines claymore hole square  - Eliason

Simplifying the investigation is this image from the scene that shows a Ukrainian soldier with what appears to be a claymore mine. Claymore mines are direction anti-personnel mines that can be triggered remotely.

Shown in the Vkontakte social media post below Pravy Sektor has taken responsibility for the attack saying they killed 15 terrorists and took 3 prisoners. The men, women, and children on the bus were civilians whose crime was traveling on a bus on the wrong day. The area they were traveling in is completely in the Ukrainian government’s control. This is another outrage.

 

bus mine pravy sektor takes responsibility  - Eliason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Kiev Up To?

For the last few days Kiev has gone on the offensive again. In the last 24 hours Kiev has broken the peace treaty over 60 times. Incendiary shells rained down on Donetsk overnight. Over the previous 24 hours prior to that Kiev attacked over 40 times. Donbass forces are now on a counter offensive retaking towns Poroshenko’s forces have attacked with tanks in what is supposed to be neutral area.

In a hacked document from Ukrainian SBU (equivalent to FBI) head Valentin Nalyvaichenko, dated December 25th, 2014, attacks on civilians in towns occupied by the Ukrainian army were ordered. (Note: this is in the Ukrainian Government controlled area, not in the rebel-held area.) The document states that patriotic nationalist officers were to set up temporary artillery positions and kill civilians. The reasoning according to the document is low Ukrainian troop morale. Local citizens are questioning the soldiers’ right to be there, and these citizens support the the Novorussia volunteers. Ukrainian conscript-soldiers are losing the will to continue fighting in the war. (The objective of simply killing the local residents — the people who live there — is not what they had thought that the alleged ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation,’ or ATO, was all about.) The document was not written by conscripts, who are the general Ukrainian population; it was instead written by a true-believing nazi, or fascist racist, an individual who instead represents the people that the Obama Administration (now with the full support of the U.S. Congress) had placed into power during the February 2014 coup — and these nazis’ particular hatred is directed specifically against Russians, and against anyone who supports Russia and Russians. The killing of the residents there is thus a morale-booster for the relatively few nazis who are fighting on the side of the Ukrainian Government, but not for the majority of that Government’s troops, for whom it is the opposite: very depressing to be participating in.

The document stipulates that after the attacks are completed, nationalist officers were to then move the artillery positions and blame Donbass defense forces for the attack. This propaganda move is designed to enrage conscripts in the Ukrainian army against “the enemy” and raise morale needed for the offensive Kiev is now beginning. The officers would be reassigned to a different location away from the apparent war crime.

nalivaichenko attack civilians jan 2015 2  - Eliason

The document shown above is more clear evidence of crimes against humanity by the Ukrainian government. The question is how long will they be allowed to investigate their own criminal actions, and when will the world demand justice for the people of Ukraine and Donbass?

The Perfect Storm for Wall Street Banks

January 15th, 2015 by Pam Martens

JPMorgan Chase reported 2014 fourth quarter earnings this morning, missing analyst estimates. Analysts had expected $1.31 per share while the actual number came in at $1.19. Listening to the conference call this morning, there was the impression that the $1.19 would have been worse had the bank not released loan loss reserves in a number of business areas.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was back to characterizing the bank’s P&L as the “fortress balance sheet.” The London Whale credit derivatives traders almost blew up the fortress in 2012 and the markets are becoming skeptical as to just how much visibility there is on energy and emerging market loans souring on the books of the mega Wall Street banks.

In early December, Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski noted in a report that plunging oil prices could be the greatest threat to the largest U.S. banks since the epic financial turmoil in 2008 while also warning that visibility into the banks’ loan exposure to the oil and exploration industry is limited.

That’s a very valid point. Another valid point is that visibility into the big banks’ exposure as counterparties to derivatives tied to plunging oil and commodity prices and shaky emerging market debt is also being kept under wraps – at least for now. The only clue as to which banks may take a hit, either from direct exposure or from loans to hedge funds taking a bath in the sectors, is the price action of the bank shares in the open market.

In a December 15 article by Patrick Jenkins in the Financial Times, readers learned that data from Barclays indicated that “energy bonds now make up nearly 16 per cent of the $1.3 trillion junk bond market — more than three times their proportion 10 years ago,” and “Nearly 45 per cent of this year’s non-investment grade syndicated loans have been in oil and gas.” Raising further alarms, AllianceBernstein has released research suggesting that the deals were not fully subscribed by investors with the potential that “as much as half of the outstanding financing from the past couple of years may be stuck on banks’ books.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is having its own perfect storm: two big oil plays, ExxonMobil and Chevron are in the Dow along with two big financial plays, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. After fifteen minutes of trading this morning, the Dow was down more than 220 points with JPMorgan and Citigroup off by more than 3 percent.

Citigroup will issue its fourth quarter earnings report tomorrow at 8 a.m. but the market has already been prepped for a blood bath. At a Goldman Sachs conference on December 9, Citigroup’s CEO, Michael Corbat, preannounced that Citigroup would take $3.5 billion in charges for the fourth quarter, likely wiping out all but a sliver of earnings for the quarter. According to Corbat, $2.7 billion of that figure would be litigation related with another $800 million resulting from closing retail branches.

Fortunately for the market, Citigroup was kicked out of the Dow on June 8, 2009 after becoming a penny stock and replaced with The Travelers Companies. Citigroup’s current stock price in the high $40s paints a rosier picture than the reality of the situation: the company did a 1 for 10 reverse stock split in 2011, stripping 9 shares away from its shareholders for every 10 owned. Without that maneuver, its stock would have opened at $4.90 this morning rather than $48.96.

Read complete article

On Tuesday, Egypt’s high court overturned the last remaining conviction against former dictator Hosni Mubarak, paving the way for his possible release, four years after the mass revolutionary struggles of the Egyptian working class that overthrew him.

Mubarak had been sentenced to three years in prison last May for embezzlement. His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, had received four-year sentences in the same case. They will be retried after the court accepted their appeal. Following the verdict, Mubarak’s lawyer Farid El-Deeb filed a request and a complaint to the General Prosecution to take into account the three men’s pre-trial detention time, claiming that Mubarak had already served the maximum detention period and must be freed.

For the time being Mubarak remained in the military hospital in Maadi—an upscale neighborhood in Cairo—where he is held allegedly due to ill health. However, there are increasing signs of an impending release.

Egyptian media reported that Mubarak had been expected to be released on January 17, even if the conviction had been upheld, because of the time he already spent in custody. According to a judiciary source, the latest verdict means that Mubarak will be released because there is no other remaining case against him.

Tuesday’s decision follows a verdict in November, when an Egyptian court dropped charges against Mubarak for state murder, i.e., the killing of 846 people and the wounding of 6,000 protesters during the 18 days of revolutionary struggles in early 2011 that ended his 30-year rule.

The acquittal of Mubarak shortly before the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution is a provocation and a statement by the regime of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Egyptian military, with the backing of the imperialist powers, is signaling that it will continue to carry through the counterrevolution and crush any resistance by the working class.

Since the 2013 July 3 military coup, the al-Sisi regime has been aiming to restore the old regime through massive bloodshed. The Egyptian military and security forces killed at least 3,000 people, most of them supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who opposed the coup against Islamist president Mohamed Mursi. In the past year, Egyptian courts condemned a total of 1,397 political prisoners to death. The regime has also issued a law banning unauthorized demonstrations or strikes and passed a new constitution, basically enshrining permanent military rule.

According to official numbers, the al-Sisi regime has imprisoned nearly 10,000 people in 2014 alone. Human rights groups however estimate that over 40,000 people have been detained under al-Sisi’s rule, many of them without charges and tortured by the notorious Egyptian security forces in secret prisons.

Mubarak’s release and the whitewashing of his crimes highlights the reactionary role of the entire affluent middle class milieu in Egypt. Its liberal and pseudo left parties initially claimed to oppose Mubarak, but then lined up behind al-Sisi’s coup as part of organizations such as the National Salvation Front and Tamarod in order to pre-empt and suppress the growing political movement of the Egyptian working class against then Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.

Now the very same parties are either indifferent to Mubarak’s acquittal or are even seeking to integrate themselves more directly into the regime – despite the fact that it is prosecuting some of their members.

Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the liberal Constitution Party, ten of whose members are currently imprisoned for violating the anti-protest law, commented: “After the release of police officers charged with killing demonstrators and of Mubarak aides, and his acquittal over the killing of protesters, this is not shocking news.” He added cynically: “I don’t think Mubarak is the issue any more. The Egyptian people gave their verdict against him four years ago.”

At the same time, the “liberal” party founded by Mohamed El Baradei in 2012 attended a joint meeting with de facto dictator al-Sisi. The party talks held on Monday and Tuesday also included leaders of the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Wafd Party, the Salafist Nour-Party, the Free Egyptians Party of Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, the National Movement Party of Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, and the Tagammu Party, a melting pot of old Nasserites and Stalinists.

According to media reports, al-Sisi announced that he would favour a “national party list” for the upcoming parliamentary elections and promised to back it if the political forces unite. According to the chairman of Tagammu, Sayyed Abdel Aal, al-Sisi warned the assembled parties that the people could revolt again if the next parliament fails to confront the tasks it faces.

Behind the regime’s violence and calls for “unity” hides the fear of Egypt’s ruling elite of a renewed social explosion. After Mubarak’s ouster, none of the contradictions which led to the mass upheaval in 2011 have been resolved. On the contrary, poverty and unemployment have increased only further, and amidst a deepening economic crisis, living conditions for millions of people have become unbearable. At the beginning of this week, Egyptian minister for urban development Leila Iskander admitted that half of Egypt’s population lives in informal slum areas.

Huge class tensions are once again building up under the surface of military rule. According to a report by the Mahrousa Forum for Researches and Public Policy Studies, Egypt witnessed 2,274 labor protests in the past year. While the first quarter of 2014 saw 1,420, the highest number of protests, the last quarter including October, November and December came in second with 318 protests.

Throughout the year, the capital, Cairo, witnessed the most protests (429), followed by Alexandria (185) and Sharqiya (150). Industrial workers were most active staging 558 or 25 percent of all protests. Civil servants came in second with 426 protests (19 percent), followed by the medical sector (323 protests), the educational sector (137) and the textile sector (117).

The report counted different forms of protests such as strikes, vigils, marches, demonstrations, sit-ins, hunger strikes, blocking roads, detaining officials, gathering signatures, and even committing suicide. The main factors triggering the protests were social and economic, the report said, referring to demands such as a minimum wage, higher salaries and better working conditions, opposition to layoffs and calls for the release of detained colleagues.

Governments throughout Europe have responded to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in France by moving quickly to push through a raft of anti-democratic measures. They are exploiting the shock and confusion generated by the event in Paris to take actions that have long been prepared, but that have so far encountered resistance.

Immediately after the attacks, the police presence at airports, in front of embassies, government buildings, newspaper offices and public places was reinforced by thousands of security forces in European capitals and major cities.

Heavily armed and camouflaged military troops have been deployed throughout Paris and elsewhere in France, including at the Eiffel Tower and in all public places. Parts of the city resemble a war zone.

On Monday, the Ministry of Defence in Paris announced the deployment of 10,000 troops to maintain peace and order and protect public buildings. In addition, the government has provided 4,700 police officers and gendarmes to guard Jewish schools and synagogues that are considered particularly vulnerable.

After a cabinet meeting on Monday, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke of a permanent threat. Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised more money for the secret services and more effective surveillance.

At a security summit last weekend in Brussels, the European powers agreed that a European-wide passenger data system must be adopted as soon as possible. Airlines will be obliged to retain the records of their passengers for up to five years. US General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and chief of the NSA, also took part in the meeting. Hayden has been responsible for implementing and expanding much of the illegal and unconstitutional spying programs developed in the United States.

Individual countries throughout Europe are planning their own measures. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) has called for better international intelligence cooperation.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) stressed on Monday that one of the most important measures in Germany was the deployment of more intelligence staff for the monitoring of Islamic fundamentalist groups. For this, funding would have to be significantly increased, he said.

De Maizière and others have called for the reintroduction of data warehousing. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the mass storage of telephone, e-mail and internet traffic data of all users for several months, without any grounds of suspicion, was legally questionable.

Last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that such monitoring and collection of personal data was illegal. It explained that the storage of communications could not abrogate professional secrets, including those of journalists. Now, in the name of defending the freedom of the press, the German ruling class is pushing to rapidly implement these anti-democratic measures.

Also on Monday, Justice Minister Heiko Maas (Social Democratic Party, SPD) said that individuals accused of traveling to participate in terrorist activity will face even harsher punishment. Up to now, only those attending a terrorist camp in order to prepare an attack could be punished. In the future, it will be a criminal offence to travel abroad with the intention of participating in attacks or to train as a terrorist. It will make no difference whether the accused individual actually arrives at the terrorist camp.

According to political weekly Die Zeit domestic political affairs spokesman Burkhard Lischka (SPD) complained that there are cases in which someone expressed their intentions in a letter or on a social network, but could not be prosecuted. In the future, these individuals could be detained in Germany or abroad.

The Minister of Justice also wants to create a specific criminal offence of financing terrorism. Donations of all sizes supposedly aimed at supporting terrorist activities would be punishable. In the US, such laws have been broadly applied and used to target groups that are not directly connected to any Islamic fundamentalist organizations.

Later this week, the government in Germany will consider a bill that provides for the withdrawal of identity cards from “potential attackers.” It is already possible to withdraw a suspect’s passport under certain conditions.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a drastic expansion of Internet surveillance. He wants to ban encryption programmes and news services like WhatsApp.

Cameron said that there must be no “means of communication” that “we cannot read.” Previous governments have hesitated in taking such steps, Cameron said, but they are necessary so that, “in extremis,” any communication could be obtained with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary.

The “Snoopers Charter”, as these proposals came to be known when they were first introduced, failed to pass parliament in 2012. They would require communications companies to retain details of their entire communication traffic for twelve months. Any person who communicates using encryption or sends encrypted files would be required to provide government officials access to cryptographically-protected information. Those refusing to hand over their password could face up to two years in prison.

The Italian government under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (PD, Democratic Party) has also announced a significant expansion of state powers. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has announced that he will introduce a bill in the Council of Ministers that will enable the police to withdraw the passport of any terrorism suspect.

In addition, Alfano will provide the police and judiciary with extraordinary powers that will allow increased Internet surveillance. The government is planning to shut down suspicious websites. Internet service providers must cooperate in the future, to “track messages in the network that contribute to radicalization,” Alfano said. The government would prohibit providers “from accepting websites that incite terrorist behavior.”

The main purpose of this coordinated offensive by the European powers is not the fight against an alleged “Islamist threat.” The ruling elites are increasingly turning the continent into a police state as popular resistance against the European Union and its policies is growing. The military employed in the streets of Paris, the building up of the intelligence apparatus and the assault on democratic rights are directed above all at the growing opposition in the European working class to austerity at home and unending war abroad.

Breakthrough in Greece? Austerity and Solidarity

January 14th, 2015 by Socialist Project

 by International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)

Greece will hold parliamentary elections on January 25 and Syriza, the left-wing party which has consistently called for debt restructuring and an end to austerity, is leading the polls. The IMF-European Commission-European Central Bank (Troika) are warning of the ‘threat’ of Syriza coming to power and have forcefully indicated their support for Greece’s ruling coalition by conditioning further financial support on the re-election of a pliable government. A Syriza victory indeed threatens the suffocating grip of the European and global austerity regime, and for that reason should be welcomed and actively supported.

For the last four years, a succession of aggressively harsh austerity programs have been imposed on the country by the Troika as a condition for supporting the banks and the treasury. At the Troika’s insistence, the minimum wage was reduced by 22%, and 32% for workers under 25. Collective bargaining has been shredded, in blatant violation of international and EU law. Public services have been gutted and there are shortages even of basic medicines. Economic output has declined by 25% compared with pre-crisis levels, a level of destruction normally associated with war. A quarter of the workforce is jobless, with unemployment over 50% for young people. Malnutrition and infant mortality are on the rise.

Worsening Conditions

Unsurprisingly, years of austerity have only worsened the country’s capacity to service its debt; the public debt to GDP ratio is now an unmanageable 175% – up by over 34% since 2010. Greece simply has no resources to pay its sovereign debt, as even the IMF has reluctantly recognized. The Eurozone’s slide into austerity-induced deflation aggravates the problem. Yet the Troika continues to inflict social and economic damage on a massive scale, and insists that the carnage continue.

All of this was predictable, and at every stage alternatives were feasible. Substantial debt restructuring coupled with increased public investment in the early phases of the crisis would have averted much of the pain, and not only in Greece. Cutbacks in public spending have never lifted a country out of recession. ‘Internal devaluation’ – lowering costs to make exports more competitive by reducing wages – was never a plausible solution to the Greek debt crisis; the country’s negative trade balance has improved, but only because imports have been substantially reduced as a result of the radical decline in consumption.

If the Troika insists on more of the same, and not only in Greece, it is because they have a political project to fulfill: public services, union power, living standards and corporate taxes must be reduced, everywhere. Privatization will plug any fiscal holes.

Austerity is not the product of a deficient grasp of macroeconomics or a failure of ‘social dialogue’: it is a conscious blueprint for expanding corporate power. The program has been practiced and refined for decades in the developing world, everywhere with similarly disastrous results.

Left Response?

It came to the European Union for the first time with the imposition of extreme austerity in Estonia and Latvia following the 2008 financial meltdown. Despite decades of increasing volatility and cascading crises, a weakened labour movement was unprepared for the crisis and unequipped to articulate and impose a coherent Left response. Labour and social-democratic parties had long been complicit, even active participants in enforcing the new fiscal and political orthodoxy. There was little debate in Sweden when the Baltic economies were ravaged to bail out Swedish banks. Workers in those countries were left on their own, with no real support.

With little effective opposition, European austerity spread; first to Greece, then to Spain and Portugal, then further north. At the same time, austerity’s forward march cleared the path for an increasingly aggressive, racist and xenophobic Right which offers simplistic answers to the crisis of the status quo.

Syriza emerged from a groundswell of popular revolt, and that revolt should be encouraged. But an election victory on January 25 will immediately set in motion widespread financial hostility. Even if the party succeeds in putting together a coalition government – and there will be massive pressure to block this – the difficulties will have only begun. Negotiating debt relief will be tough, and Greece could be left no choice but to quit the Euro, triggering massive capital flight. Pressure will also fall immediately on Spain and Portugal, where elections are scheduled for later this year, and Spain’s ascendant Podemos has, like Syriza, become a vehicle for hope.

The Greek elections offer a potential breakthrough, but to carry out their program a government of the Left will need massive understanding and support abroad. Unions should be in the forefront of building that support.

This editorial was published on the website of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) - www.iuf.org.

Civil liberties in America and Europe are gravely threatened. Already seriously eroded.

previous article warned of more to come following last week’s Paris killings.

A mid-February White House summit will be held on Countering Violent Extremism. Expect repressive legislation to follow.

Other likely policy initiatives. Ones inimical to free society norms and standards. Growing tyranny fast replacing them.

MSM reports say little. Only that Western officials want tighter border controls. Cooperation on tracking down nationals heading to Syria and Iraq.

Combating radicalized Islamic online propaganda and recruitment. Attorney General Eric Holder stressed new measures needed to “protect the values that truly unite us.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest highlighted new efforts required to stop extremists from “radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others.”

Civil liberties again are under attack. Perhaps en route to eliminating them altogether. In the name of over-hyped security.

Crammed down our throats irresponsibly. Waging all-out war on freedom. Based on invented threats. Ignoring real ones.

State terrorism writ large. Police state lawlessness. Protecting capital from beneficial social change.

Making the world safe for monied interests. At the expense of fundamental human and civil rights.

Things free societies hold most dear. Along with peace and stability. Governments of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.

Absent in Western countries. Expect lots worse ahead. In Europe and America. On January 13, a White House press secretary announcement headlined:

“SECURING CYBERSPACE – President Obama Announces New Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal and Other Cybersecurity Efforts.”

CISPA is back. More on this below. Obama saying through his press secretary:

“(O)ur first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent…attacks from taking place.”

Obama intends asking Congress for legislation permitting “information-sharing.” Claiming it’ll enhance cybersecurity.

The failed 2011 Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) never went away.

It’s more about destroying personal freedom than online security. Giving government and corporate giants unlimited power to access personal/privileged information online.

Directly assaulting civil liberties. Anything online can erroneously be called cybersecurity threats. Real or imagined.

Invented to hype fear. So-called “information sharing” threatens constitutional protections. Including free expression, assembly, association and privacy.

By accessing personal communications. Other private information. Giving Big Brother more power than already. Legitimizing what demands rejection.

In February 2013, Obama’s executive order on “improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity’” said threats continue to grow. National security challenges must be met.

“It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties.”

“We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.”

At the time, civil libertarians expressed outrage. The ACLU said CISPA “fails to protect privacy.”

It lets “companies share sensitive and personal American internet data with the government, including the National Security Agency and other military agencies.”

“CISPA does not require companies to make reasonable efforts to protect their customers’ privacy and then allows the government to use that data for undefined ‘national-security’ purposes and without any minimization procedures, which have been in effect in other security statutes for decades.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called CISPA deeply flawed. Letting companies share private information with government agencies flies in the face of fundamental freedom.

The Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at the Center for Democracy & Technology warned of creating a cybersecurity “back door intelligence surveillance program run by a military entity with little transparency or public accountability.”

EFF commented on Obama’s new cybersecurity proposal. Legitimate protections are needed, it said. Ones conforming to the letter and spirit of fundamental rule of law principles.

“But President Obama’s cybersecurity legislative proposal recycles old ideas,” said EFF.

Around since 2011. On the shelf ready to be reformulated. Repackaged. Reintroduced.

Compromising consumer protections. Potentially violating state data breach laws.

Overreaching national security concerns and law enforcement measures “poses a serious risk,” said EFF. Irresponsibly compromising personal information.

Obama’s proposal if adopted will legitimize the illegitimate. EFF expressed concern about enacting measures inimical to personal freedom.

“Instead of proposing unnecessary computer security information sharing bills, we should tackle the low-hanging fruit,” said EFF.

“This includes strengthening the current information sharing hubs and encouraging companies to use them immediately after discovering a threat.”

Information can be shared through existing Information and Analysis Centers (ISACs).

Public reports. Homeland Security’s Enhanced Cybersecurity Services. According to EFF:

“(T)hese institutions represent robust information sharing hubs that are underutilized and underresourced.”

Increasing Computer Fraud and Abuse Act penalties assures further civil liberty erosionsc.

Surveillance already is all pervasive. Obama’s legislative proposal follows his announcement to pursue federal data breach laws.

“Consumers have a right to know when their data is exposed, whether through corporate misconduct, malicious hackers, or under other circumstances,” said EFF.

Over 38 states already have some form of breach notification law…” Most Americans are already protected.

Details of Obama’s proposal aren’t known. HIs May 2011 cybersecurity legislative proposal preempts state notification laws.

Overrides California’s strong standard. Replacing it with a weaker one.

Risks becoming “a backdoor for weakening transparency or state power, including the power of state attorneys general and other non-federal authorities to enforce breach notification laws,” said EFF.

Obama’s proposal looks like recycled old policies. EFF urges viewing them “skeptically.”

“As with any (proposed) legislation, the devil is in the details.” EFF will keep monitoring what’s ongoing. Updated reports will follow.

At stake are fundamental civil liberties. It bears repeating. They’re fast disappearing. Gravely compromised already.

En route to being eliminated altogether. Unless public outrage stops what no free societies accept.

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

The Charlie Hebdo Attack: Characteristics of a False Flag Operation?

January 14th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Charlie Hebdo affair has many of the characteristics of a false flag operation. The attack on the cartoonists’ office was a disciplined professional attack of the kind associated with highly trained special forces; yet the suspects who were later corralled and killed seemed bumbling and unprofessional. It is like two different sets of people.

Usually Muslim terrorists are prepared to die in the attack; yet the two professionals who hit Charlie Hebdo were determined to escape and succeeded, an amazing feat. Their identity was allegedly established by the claim that they conveniently left for the authorities their ID in the getaway car. Such a mistake is inconsistent with the professionalism of the attack and reminds me of the undamaged passport found miraculously among the ruins of the two WTC towers that served to establish the identity of the alleged 9/11 hijackers.

It is a plausible inference that the ID left behind in the getaway car was the ID of the two Kouachi brothers, convenient patsies, later killed by police, and from whom we will never hear anything, and not the ID of the professionals who attacked Charlie Hebdo. An important fact that supports this inference is the report that the third suspect in the attack, Hamyd Mourad, the alleged driver of the getaway car, when seeing his name circulating on social media as a suspect realized the danger he was in and quickly turned himself into the police for protection against being murdered by security forces as a terrorist.

Hamyd Mourad says he has an iron-clad alibi. If so, this makes him the despoiler of a false flag attack. Authorities will have to say that despite being wrong about Mourad, they were right about the Kouachi brothers. Alternatively, Mourad could be coerced or tortured into some sort of confession that supports the official story. https://www.intellihub.com/18-year-old-charlie-hebdo-suspect-surrenders-police-claims-alibi/

The American and European media have ignored the fact that Mourad turned himself in for protection from being killed as a terrorist as he has an alibi. I googled Hamid Mourad and all I found (January 12) was the main US and European media reporting that the third suspect had turned himself in. The reason for his surrender was left out of the reports. The news was reported in a way that gave credence to the accusation that the suspect who turned himself in was part of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Not a single US mainstream media source reported that the alleged suspect turned himself in because he has an ironclad alibi.

Some media merely reported Mourad’s surrender in a headline with no coverage in the report. The list that I googled includes the Washington Post (January 7 by Griff Witte and Anthony Faiola); Die Welt (Germany) “One suspect has turned himself in to police in connection with Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of Parisian satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo;” ABC News (January 7) “Youngest suspect in Charlie Hebdo Attack turns himself in;” CNN (January 8) “Citing sources, the Agence France Presse news agency reported that an 18-year-old suspect in the attack had surrendered to police.”

Another puzzle in the official story that remains unreported by the presstitute media is the alleged suicide of a high ranking member of the French Judicial Police who had an important role in the Charlie Hebdo investigation. For unknown reasons, Helric Fredou, a police official involved in the most important investigation of a lifetime, decided to kill himself in his police office on January 7 or January 8 (both dates are reported in the foreign media) in the middle of the night while writing his report on his investigation. A google search as of 6pm EST January 13 turns up no mainstream US media report of this event. The alternative media reports it, as do some UK newspapers, but without suspicion or mention whether his report has disappeared. The official story is that Fredou was suffering from “depression” and “burnout,” but no evidence is provided. Depression and burnout are the standard explanations of mysterious deaths that have unsettling implications.

Once again we see the US print and TV media serving as a ministry of propaganda for Washington. In place of investigation, the media repeats the government’s implausible story.

It behoves us all to think. Why would Muslims be more outraged by cartoons in a Paris magazine than by hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed by Washington and its French and NATO vassals in seven countries during the past 14 years?

If Muslims wanted to make a point of the cartoons, why not bring a hate crime charge or lawsuit? Imagine what would happen to a European magazine that dared to satirize Jews in the way Charlie Hebdo satirized Muslims. Indeed, in Europe people are imprisoned for investigating the holocaust without entirely confirming every aspect of it.

If a Muslim lawsuit was deep-sixed by French authorities, the Muslims would have made their point. Killing people merely contributes to the demonization of Muslims, a result that only serves Washington’s wars against Muslim countries.

If Muslims are responsible for the attack on Charlie Hebdo, what Muslim goal did they achieve? None whatsoever. Indeed, the attack attributed to Muslims has ended French and European sympathy and support for Palestine and European opposition to more US wars against Muslims. Just recently France had voted in the UN with Palestine against the US-Israeli position. This assertion of an independent French foreign policy was reinforced by the recent statement by the President of France that the economic sanctions against Russia should be terminated.

Clearly, France was showing too much foreign policy independence. The attack on Charlie Hebdo serves to cow France and place France back under Washington’s thumb.

Some will contend that Muslims are sufficiently stupid to shoot themselves in the head in this way. But how do we reconcile such alleged stupidity with the alleged Muslim 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo professional attacks?

If we believe the official story, the 9/11 attack on the US shows that 19 Muslims, largely Saudis, without any government or intelligence service support, outwitted not only all 16 US intelligence agencies, the National Security Council, Dick Cheney and all the neoconservatives in high positions throughout the US government, and airport security, but also the intelligence services of NATO and Israel’s Mossad. How can such intelligent and capable people, who delivered the most humiliating blow in world history to an alleged Superpower with no difficulty whatsoever despite giving every indication of their intentions, possibly be so stupid as to shoot themselves in the head when they could have thrown France into turmoil with a mere lawsuit?

The Charlie Hebdo story simply doesn’t wash. If you believe it, you are no match for a Muslim.

Some who think that they are experts will say that a false flag attack in France would be impossible without the cooperation of French intelligence. To this I say that it is practically a certainty that the CIA has more control over French intelligence than does the President of France. Operation Gladio proves this. The largest part of the government of Italy was ignorant of the bombings conducted by the CIA and Italian Intelligence against European women and children and blamed on communists in order to diminish the communist vote in elections.

Americans are a pitifully misinformed people. All of history is a history of false flag operations. Yet Americans dismiss such proven operations as “conspiracy theories,” which merely proves that government has successfully brainwashed insouciant Americans and deprived them of the ability to recognize the truth.

Americans are the foremost among the captive nations.

Who will liberate them?

There is only one ongoing news story that’s being systematically censored out of virtually all U.S. news media. This has been the finding from a first-of-its-kind test of virtually all U.S. news media that report national and international news. The most-censored news story during 2014 will be identified here.

The method that I employed in order to determine how heavily the U.S. press censors out a particular news story is: Throughout 2014 I constantly submitted original news reports, regarding specifically the topics that were (and still are) most widely considered by journalists (and often also by historians, and by other interested segments of the American public) to be the most puzzling and the least coherently explained and reported ongoing news stories in the American press. Prominent recent examples of such news stories are (and most of the examples that are being cited here come from my own news reports on them, my actual tests of these stories, as was summarized by me in mid-2014 here, and so that’s where you’ll find the details on these ongoing heavily-censored stories):

Barack Obama’s zero prosecutions of bank CEOs who were implicated by Senator Carl Levin’s Committee, and by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice, and by other federal investigations, into the cause of the 2008 economic collapse and the resulting soaring Federal Government (i.e., taxpayer) indebtedness (bailouts) in order to recover from this collapse, which was clearly caused by an explosion in mortgage-backed-securities frauds, though none of the implicated CEOs — the people who were in command and who were making billions from these MBS frauds — was prosecuted for it;

Obama’s zero prosecutions also of the individuals who participated in America’s illegal torture program after 9/11, including George W. Bush and possibly also Barack Obama himself (as being an accessory-after-the-fact for his covering up their crimes, if not possibly even as his being a continuer of some of those crimes);

The failure of any of the State Department’s Environmental Impact studies of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to calculate, or even to employ investigators who possessed scientific backgrounds relevant to the calculation of, the likely impact that the proposed pipeline would have on raising the Earth’s mean temperature during coming centuries and millennia — the commonly called “global warming” impact of the pipeline, if built and used — and the amount of sheer corruption which was involved in those Federal studies;

The massacre in Odessa Ukraine on 2 May 2014 of opponents of the coup that the U.S. had carried out via the State Deportment, CIA and other agencies, which coup had overthrown (on 22 February 2014) the Russia-friendly, democratically elected, Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych;

The subsequent U.S.-sponsored Ukrainian ethnic cleansing program which has been carried out since then by the U.S.-backed new Ukrainian regime in order to eliminate the voters in the area of Ukraine called Donbass, which had voted 90% for Yanukovych and which voters therefore presented the threat of possibly electing out-of-office the Obama-installed leaders and thus of restoring a Russia-friendly person to Ukraine’s Presidency.

Those news stories are the main contestants that I have come up with as having been possibly the most-censored news story of 2014. I tested also other ongoing but under-reported news stories (by submitting, to virtually all national U.S. news media, the news reports I did regarding all of the various contesting ongoing suppressed news stories), but the few ongoing news stories, that are listed here, provide some sense of the sorts of news events and stories which I was testing, throughout this past year.

Without question, the most-censored news story of 2014, as determined by this test — a test that I have been constantly carrying out ever since the May 2nd massacre that the new Ukrainian Government perpetrated in Odessa — is precisely the Ukrainian news story: it’s the winner of my contest. This ongoing news story started with the February 22nd coup, then included the May 2nd massacre which led to Donbass’s secession from Ukraine, and it finally is continuing with this ethnic cleansing of Donbass. The purpose of the May 2nd massacre was, in fact, to terrify the pro-Russians in Ukraine’s southeast — especially in Donbass, the most pro-Russian area — so as to precipitate the secession of Donbass, so that there would then be an excuse for the Ukrainian Government to bomb it and so to get rid of the residents there, whose overwhelming votes had clearly made Yanukovych Ukraine’s President. The Obama regime doesn’t want the people there; it wants only the land on which they live. It needs this in order to be able to place nuclear missiles there, aimed against next-door Russia. The Obama Administration’s game-plan is to keep the land, and to kill the people who are living on it.

This sequence of events has been major news, and it’s been thoroughly suppressed in the U.S.

I have found that, whereas I was able to place, at some mainstream and some alternative-news sites, even news reports about President Obama’s violations of his publicly stated policy-commitments, and other such ‘controversial’ matters, only around a half-dozen news-media accepted even a single one of my numerous news-reports about the Ukrainian coup and its aftermaths — events that might even lead to a World War III, and that therefore are unquestionably important news events, which the public in a democracy ought to know about.

Not even President Obama’s promise in which he privately assured the assembled CEOs of Wall Street, at the beginning of his Administration, that he would not prosecute any of them, but instead would protect all of them from being prosecuted — and his following through with that secret promise — not even this protection by him of the mega-bank CEOs, has been as heavily censored out of the American press as has been the Ukrainian story.

Consequently, America’s press-lords are even more determined and united to suppress the reality in Ukraine than they are to suppress the reality about America’s 2008 economic crash and the resulting bailouts and soaring federal debt. There is something about the Ukrainian story that has caused virtually all owners of America’s news media to be determined to prohibit the American public from knowing the reality there. (See here how much in fear of losing their jobs the reporters throughout the West are, and how they are kept in line by their publishers and by the editors whom their publishers hire.)

This finding is, itself, like all of my news reports and commentaries, being distributed free of charge to virtually all U.S. national-news media (print, TV, and radio). The few media that will publish it are likely to be the same ones that have carried one or more of my news reports about the situation in Ukraine (and that’s fewer than ten). As regards all other American news media: those are the ones that are covering-up this important matter — not reporting it to their readers, viewers, and listeners.

It’s clear that they have been covering it up, because they certainly have been informed of the numerous events in this ongoing news-story about Ukraine after May 2nd: I and other investigative journalists have been submitting honest and well-researched and well-written news stories to them throughout that time regarding this U.S.-initiated and backed Ukrainian ethnic-cleansing program.

There is, for some reason, virtual unanimity among the owners of America’s press, that America’s public must be prohibited from knowing about the America Government’s operation in Ukraine. Perhaps one reason why this ongoing news story is so heavily censored is that the entire issue taking place in Ukraine could lead to something that might be far larger and potentially far more dangerous than merely a local ethnic-cleansing campaign. And Americans would then pay close attention to it. The importance of this news story is why it is being suppressed.

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.

Since the announcement that elections will be held in Greece on 25 January 2015, the prospect that they be won by SYRIZA has been presented as a menace to international public opinion and in particular, as a threat to the Eurozone. Yet those who are sounding the alarm are fully aware that SYRIZA has announced that it has no intention of suspending debt repayments once elected, and wishes to remain in the Eurozone. On the other hand SYRIZA is committed to putting an end to the unjust and antisocial measures implemented by previous governments and the Troika.

This campaign against the supposed dangers of SYRIZA is aimed at intimidating Greek voters into renouncing their right to change. It is also intended, in the event of a SYRIZA victory, to cause part of European public opinion to reject the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left in order to avoid Podemos winning the autumn 2015 Spanish elections in its wake. Other surprises could be in store from countries such as Cyprus, Portugal and Slovenia if their citizens considered that it would be worth trying to replace disastrous ultraconservative policies by left-wing measures. European leaders and the large private corporations that support them are aware that the majority of the Eurozone population has a negative opinion of the policies that have been implemented in recent years, and would be ready to vote for change. A SYRIZA victory would represent a major threat to the mainstream parties, whether conservative or “socialist”, fearing that the contamination could spread to Spain.

The debt that Greece is expected to pay is equivalent to 175% of annual national wealth, and is an intolerable burden for the Greek people.

What would happen if a SYRIZA government decided to apply, to the letter, Article 7 of a regulation adopted by the European Union in May 2013 “on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability”, concerning countries subject to astructural adjustment plan, including in particular Greece, Portugal and Cyprus.

Paragraph 9 of Article 7 maintains that States subject to structural adjustment should carry out a complete order of public debt in order to explain why indebtedness increased so sharply and to identify any irregularities. Here is the text in full: “A Member State subject to a macroeconomic adjustment programme shall carry out a comprehensive audit of its public finances in order, inter alia, to assess the reasons that led to the building up of excessive levels of debt as well as to track any possible irregularity”. |1|

The Greek government, under Antonis Samaras refrained from applying this regulation so as to hide from the Greek population, the real reasons for the increase in debt, and the irregularities linked to it. In November 2012, the Greek parliament, dominated by a right wing majority, rejected a SYRIZA motion for the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the debt, by 167 to 119 with zero abstentions.

It is clear that should SYRIZA win the elections, the government that would then be set up could well decide to apply the letter of European law and create a parliamentary debt audit commission (with citizen participation) to analyse the process that led Greece into excessive indebtedness, to track probable irregularities, and to identify the illegitimate, illegal, odious … parts of the debt.
Citizen participation is fundamental to a rigorous and independent audit process. Article 8 of the above-mentioned regulation recommends that: “A Member State shall seek the views of social partners as well as relevant civil society organisations when preparing its draft macroeconomic adjustment programmes, with a view to contributing to building consensus over its content.” One more reason for active citizen collaboration in the audit process.

Here are some key points that could be revealed by carrying out an audit.

Greek debt, which was at 113% of GDP in 2009 before the onset of the Greek crisis and the intervention by the Troika, which now holds 4/5 of total debt, reached 175% of GDP in 2014. We therefore see that the Troika intervention was followed by a very considerable increase in Greek debt.

Between 2010 and 2012, the loans that the Troika granted to Greece were very largely used to repay its most important creditors at that time, mainly the private banks of the principal European economies, starting with the French and German banks. |2| In 2009, some 80% of Greek public debt was held by the private banks of seven EU countries. Fifty percent was held by French and German banks alone.

An audit of Greek debt will show that European private banks greatly increased their loans to Greece between the end of 2005 and 2009 (rising by more than €60 billion, from €80 billion to €140 billion) without taking into account Greece’s real repayment capacities. The banks acted recklessly, reassured in their conviction that the European authorities would come to their aid if there was a problem.

As previously mentioned, an audit will show that the so-called bail-out of Greece set up by the European institutions with assistance from the IMF, has in fact enabled the banks of some European countries with a decisive influence on European institutions to continue collecting debt repayments while at the same time transferring the risk to the Member States through the Troika. It is not Greece that has been saved, but a handful of big private banks mainly based in the strongest countries of the EU.

Private European banks were thus replaced by the Troika as Greece’s main creditor as from late 2010.

The audit will analyse the legality and legitimacy of the bail-out process. Is it in conformity with European treaties (especially Article 125, which prohibits EU countries from taking on the financial engagements of another EU country)? Did it comply with normal EU decision making procedure? Did the public lenders in 2010 (the 14 EU countries that granted Greece €53 billion of loans, the IMF, the ECB, the European Commission etc.) respect the principal of the free will of the borrower, Greece, or did they profit from Greece’s distress in the face of aggressive speculation to impose agreements that were against its own interests? Did these creditors impose one-sided conditions such as excessive interest rates on the loans? |3| Did the 14 member States that each granted Greece a bilateral loan respect their own laws and constitutions, as well as those of Greece?
Another purpose is to audit the actions of the IMF. We know that several members of the IMF Executive Board (the Brazilian, the Swiss, the Argentine, the Indian, the Iranian, the Chinese, and the Egyptian member) had expressed considerable reservations regarding the loan granted by the IMF, pointing out, among other things, that Greece would not be able to repay it due to the policies that were being imposed on the country |4|. Did the Greek government, in collusion with the Managing Director of the IMF at the time, request that its statistics department falsify the exact data in order to issue such a negative report on the country’s financial health that the IMF would be justified in launching a bail-out plan? Several highly-place Greek civil servants say so.

Did the ECB seriously overstep its prerogatives in requiring the Greek Parliament to pass legislation concerning the right to strike, health care, the right of association, education, and the regulation of wage levels?

In March 2012, the Troika organized a restructuring of the Greek debt that was presented at the time as a success. We should recall that George Papandreou, the Prime Minister, had announced in early November 2011, just before a meeting of the G20, that in February 2012 he would call a referendum on the restructuring of Greece’s debt prepared by the Troika. Under pressure from the Troika, that referendum never took place and the Greek people were denied their right to express their opinion of the new debts. The mainstream media relayed the narrative which said that the restructuring would reduce Greece’s debt by 50%. In reality, Greece’s debt is greater in 2015 than in 2011, the year before the so-called 50% cancellation. The audit will show that this restructuring operation, which was in fact a huge confidence trick, was linked to an extension of policies that run counter to the interests of Greece and its population.

The audit must also evaluate whether the strict conditions imposed on Greece by the Troika in exchange for the loans it received are a fundamental violation of a series of treaties and conventions with which the public authorities on the side of both the creditors and the borrower, Greece, are required to comply. The professor of law Andreas Fischer-Lescano, commissioned by the Vienna Chamber of Labour, |5| has irrefutably demonstrated that the Troika’s programs are illegal under European and international law. The measures defined in the adjustment programs that have been imposed on Greece and the concrete policies that are their direct consequence violate a series of fundamental rights – such as the right to health care, to education, housing, social security, to a fair wage, and also freedom of association and collective bargaining. All these rights are protected by many laws at international and European level, such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, the two UN Human Rights Covenants, the Charter of the UN, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and also the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which have the status of basic legal principles. The list of articles violated by the Memoranda imposed on Greece, meticulously drawn up by professor Fischer-Lescano, is impressive and the entities who make up the Troika or were put in place by it (the European Stability Mechanism, for example) are legally liable for those violations.

The audit will need to verify whether, as provided for in Regulation (EU) No. 472/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 May, 2013, mentioned above, “The draft macroeconomic adjustment programme… fully observe[s] Article 152 TFEU and Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.” The audit must also verify whether the following passage of the Regulation is adhered to: “The budgetary consolidation efforts set out in the macroeconomic adjustment programme shall take into account the need to ensure sufficient means for fundamental policies, such as education and health care.” It must also be determined whether the following fundamental principle of the Regulation has been applied: “Article 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that, in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union is to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health.” The above provisions need to be taken into consideration in the light of the assessment report published in April 2014 by the EU on the implementation of the second structural adjustment program, in which the authors express satisfaction at the elimination of 20% of all jobs in Greece’s public sector |6|. In an inset entitled “Success stories of the Economic Adjustment Programme,” we learn that labour-market reforms have served as the pretext for a reduction in the legal minimum wage and that 150,000 jobs have been eliminated in the public administration (“Decrease in general government employment by 150,000”, p. 10).

The audit should show clearly that the measures dictated by the creditors are in fact manifestly regressive in terms of fundamental human rights and a clear violation of a series of treaties. Considerable irregularities can be identified. Consequently, the commission in charge of the audit will be able to give a reasoned opinion as to the illegality, the illegitimacy, and even the nullity of the debt contracted by Greece with the Troika.


Translated by Snake Arbusto, Adam Clark-Gimmig and Mike Krolikowski

Notes

|1| ttp://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32013R0472

|2| C. Lapavitsas, A. Kaltenbrunner, G. Lambrinidis, D. Lindo, J. Meadway, J. Michell, J.P. Painceira, E. Pires, J. Powell, A. Stenfors, N. Teles : “The eurozone between austerity and default”, September 2010. http://www.researchonmoneyandfinanc…
See also Eric Toussaint, “Greece-Germany: who owes who? (Part 2) Creditors are protected, the people of Greece sacrificed”, published 6 November 2012, http://cadtm.org/Greece-Germany-who…

|3| The interest rates imposed in 2010-201 were between 4 % and 5.5 %. In 2012 they were, after protests (including from the Irish government who was also asked to pay high interest in 2010), reined in to 1 %. Lowering the rate was tacit acknowledgement, by the 14 States, that the interest rates were too high.

|4| See the revelations made by the Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013…Also see: http://greece.greekreporter.com/201…

|5| See his report “Human Rights in Times of Austerity Policy”, published 17 February, 2014, available at http://www.etui.org/content/downloa…).pdf.

|6| European Commission, Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, The Second Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece, Fourth Review – April 2014, p. 3, Seehttp://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance…. The report contains 304 pages.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who holds a Ph.D. from the universities of Paris VIII and Liège. He is the Spokesman for CADTM International (www.cadtm.org), and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy, Merlin Press, London, March 2015; he is coauthor with Damien Millet of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, New York: Monthly Review Books, 2010. Alongwith Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria he has co-authored Les Chiffres de la dette 2015. See http://cadtm.org/Les-Chiffres-de-la…

“With the rapid increase in sophisticated and effective cyber attacks, what we need is more and better security tools, not fewer and weaker ones.” – Lance Cottrell, Chief Scientist at Ntrepid, Jan 14, 2015.

This week, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided to throw a confused cat among even more confused pigeons.  He made comments suggesting that end-to-end encryption should be a thing of the past, a necessary measure to combat that ever woeful virus many deem terrorism.  “Are we going to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremis, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally, that we cannot read?”  Naturally for him, the answer was no.  “The first duty of any government is to keep our country and our people safe.”

The statements prompted some commentators to wonder what had gotten into Cameron.  Certainly, he is moving the gear into electoral mode, with a general poll set for May.  And there were the Paris killings, with various decrepit responses from politicians to out bid each other in terms of who could look tough on terrorism.  Cameron, evidently, felt he could outdo all of them with a spike of hawkishness.  For all of that, Twitter went into apoplectic overdrive, drumming with WebCameronClangers or #CameronCryptoBollox (TechCrunch, Jan 13).

The free speech imperative is aligned with the notions of privacy – these are the Siamese twins of political and social practice in the democratic realm.  Central to this is the messaging phenomenon in which encryption is king, be it such services as ChatSecure, Cryptocat, Signal/Redphone, Silent Phone and Silent Text, to name but a few star performers outlined by the EFF (TechCrunch, Jan 13).  The British Prime Minister is showing a rather scant knowledge of their workings, not to mention the way technology plays out. Then again, he may simply be playing the cheapest of populist cards.

No matter – the victims of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that should, given the chance, lampoon Cameron for his anti-encryption fantasy, have become the excuses for firm prying from overly sensitive authorities. Be careful what you say, and to whom you say things to, which is, in essence, the fundamental rationale of police state politics.

Various key areas are of importance, and it would seem that the Cameron government is getting busy undermining privacy in each one of them.  Home Secretary Theresa May has cobbled a code of practice covering the use of police surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

The measures contained therein have been deemed inadequate in curbing sweeping powers regarding the access of  “phone and email records of professionals such as journalists, lawyers, doctors, MPs and priests who handle privileged, confidential information” (The Guardian, Jan 13).

Cameron’s anti-encryption agenda conform to that spirit of rampant, and ultimately futile intrusiveness.  They prove to be suggestions of an astoundingly counter-productive nature, undermining a constituency vital for his party: the corporate dimension.  For a party that fancies The City of London and all that it does – hefty financial transfers, fat loans, the energy of the big wheeling and dealing – removing firm encryption settings will be an unwelcome development.

Companies operating in Britain, using central privacy settings for their services, such as Apple with its iMessage or FaceTime, are less likely to alter their privacy settings to placate a small market when they can move operations elsewhere (The Guardian, Jan 13).

“If introduced,” Brian Honan, CEO of BH Consulting and Special Advisor to the Europol Cybercrime Centre, “this could have a devastating impact on businesses within the United Kingdom” (Help Net Security, Jan 14).  It would effectively encourage “competitive disadvantage against products developed in other countries which can employ more robust encryption.”

Honan has another accusation.  Rather than forking out for security services, Cameron is choosing an undermining, and lazy route, treating “the symptoms of a problem and not the root causes of that particular problem”.  Provide, in other words “proper funding, training and resources to law enforcement agencies.”

Lance Cottrell, Chief Scientist at Ntrepid, also points out the plan’s redundant nature.  “Such a proposal is unlikely to have significant impact on the ability of law enforcement or intelligence organisations to track the serious terrorists” (Help Net Security, Jan 14). The reason being that open source encryption tools were plentiful and readily available for all, criminal or otherwise.

Cameron’s move, should it materialise, will trickle down.  In giving the backdoor keys to government, hacking will be a breeze and distinctly less challenging.  Ironically, it will not only make it easier for British security services to access unencrypted communications – it will make it easier for everybody else.  Internationally recognised privacy settings, reflected in EU guidelines and those of the domestic Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), risk being violated by companies adopting compromised data protection measures.

“Slow clap for David Cameron,” posed former White House employee and current CEO of Digg and Instapaper Andrew McLaughlin, “whose proposal to ban encrypted comms (leaving UK wide open to hacking, spying etc.) is colossally stupid” (Twitter, Jan 13).

The security dimension in a world free of encryption will create an information free-for-all that would strike terror at the heart of any property minded Tory. Not to mention the customers of any communication service.

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

Secret Israeli Report Sees Rift With Europe Growing

January 14th, 2015 by J.J. Goldberg

A classified Israeli foreign ministry document, leaked to the daily Yediot Ahronot, warns that 2015 will see Israel’s standing on the world stage steadily deteriorating. It predicts

“worsening drift in Europe toward Palestinian positions, more parliaments recognizing the State of Palestine, fear of sanctions and labeling merchandise [to separate settlement products from tariff-free Israel-proper products] and no certainty that the United States will continue after Israel’s March elections to protect Israel with its veto.”

The document is said to be a summary of an interministerial assessment roundtable convened by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, and is signed by foreign ministry deputy director-general Gilead Cohen. It was circulated to Israel’s ambassadors around the world, Yediot reported.

In addition to labeling settlement products and parliamentary votes to recognize Palestine, the foreign ministry document warns of European nations halting the supply of replacement parts for Israeli equipment and demanding compensation for damage caused by Israel to European projects in the territories.

“The Europeans are creating a clear link between political and economic relations, and in this context it should be remembered that Europe is Israel’s main trading partner.”

European diplomats and politicians increasingly view Israel as responsible for the failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, claiming that Israel sets unreasonable conditions for a peace agreement in order to continue deepening its hold on the West Bank.

The tensions surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Paris this week are an outgrowth of that growing gulf of suspicion. As Haaretz diplomatic correspondents Barak Ravid and Asher Schechter both reported, French president Francois Hollande initially asked Netanyahu not to come to Paris for the Sunday solidarity rally, because he wanted to avoid injecting the divisive Israeli-Palestinian issue into the rally’s theme of national and Europe-wide unity and solidarity.

Once Netanyahu announced that he was coming, Hollande made clear to him that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would be invited as well.

Netanyahu has said repeatedly since last week’s Paris attacks, in his initial sympathy statement and again in his remarks Monday at the site of the kosher supermarket attack, that the terror plaguing Europe is the same as the terror Israel faces. He said he hoped Europe would “wake up in time” to the terrorist threat. He continued: “Israel supports Europe in its fight against terrorism and it’s time Europe supported Israel in the same fight.”

His comments have caused resentment in France. Like most of Europe, French leaders regard Israel’s conflict with Arab terrorists as fundamentally different from the jihadist terrorism spreading from Syria to the European continent. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is seen as a territorial dispute, albeit with religious overtones where Hamas is concerned, while Al Qaeda and ISIS are seen as essentially nihilistic movements that seek to undermine Western civilization.

As for “waking up” to the terrorist threat, French observers note that they are carrying the fight against Al Qaeda in Mali on their own, had one of the largest NATO troop contingents fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and maintain what’s considered one of the best counter-terrorism intelligence operations in the West.

In effect, Netanyahu’s call for Europe to “wake up” and “support Israel” in its struggle against terrorism is seen as a demand that Europe acquiesce in his effort to entrench Israeli presence in the territories, rather than withdrawing and permitting a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines.

On July 24, 2011, two days after Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers, in Norway to call attention to his view that Muslim immigration was a bad thing, NBC‘s Meet the Press didn’t mention the words “Breivik” or “Norway.” Nor did CBS‘s Face the Nation.

On ABCThis Week With Christiane Amanpour–who prided herself on her international perspective–did have 258 words on the massacre. No discussion, but we did hear there were “some incredible survivor stories.”

Fast forward three-and-a-half years, after another politically motivated killing spree in Europe, this one resulting in the deaths of 20 people. This European violence was decidedly more interesting to Meet the Press, which previewed its January 11 episode:

PARIS TERROR ATTACK: As the French authorities dissect how these horrific acts of violence were committed in the name of Islam, Chuck Todd will ask Attorney General Eric Holder how the US government is dealing with potential home-grown terrorists in this country….

PLUS: The attack on Charlie Hebdo once again highlights the vulnerability of the West to deadly terrorist attacks that can paralyze a major city. How does religion encourage some people to choose violence? And can these attacks be prevented? Our panels weigh in.

Face the Nation: Terror in Paris

Face the Nation, January 11, 2015

At Face the Nation, hostBob Schieffer described his upcoming show on Bob’s Blog (1/9/15):

After a series of terror attacks in Paris that left more than a dozen people dead this week, many questions remain about the perpetrators and their motives.

But the big question in the United States is: Are we safe here at home? We’ll ask the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, who will appear on Face the Nation from Paris where he plans to attend an international summit on terrorism.

Holder will meet with top European officials to discuss one of the gravest challenges of our day: preventing Westerners from traveling to the Middle East, training with terror groups, and bringing their terror home.

We’ll also talk to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

Then Scheiffer said he would bring on Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to “discuss the GOP agenda, which in the House includes withholding funding for the Department of Homeland Security in protest of President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration. In light of the Paris terror attacks, is this really the right time for a showdown on funding the department that keeps us safe?”

Scheiffer also promised another segment that would talk about “bigger questions about the influence of radical Islam and how to prevent these ‘lone wolf’ incidents from continuing in the future.”

This Week: Terror in Paris

This Week, January 11, 2015

On This Week, the topic of the day was likewise to be “Terror in Paris”:

On Sunday, This Weekcovers the latest on the terror attack in Paris, with Attorney General Eric Holder, and Sen.Richard Burr, R-N.C., the new chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Why is that Islamist violence is drop-everything fascinating to US corporate media, while a bloodbath by a right-wing anti-Muslim zealot doesn’t seem to be even worth talking about? Is it because Muslims are the only people who commit political attacks in the United States? Well, no–the vast majority of political terrorism in the United States is perpetrated by non-Muslims (Extra!,5/11).

In fact, the day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, a bomb went off outside the NAACP office in Colorado Springs, which the FBI was investigating as a potential terrorist attack (Democracy Now!1/9/15). The person wanted for questioning in the incident is described as “a white male around the age of 40.” But don’t expect corporate media to spend much time discussing the possible threat posed by middle-aged white guys.

In recent days all the most hawkish protectors of US global hegemony and American Empire status quo, prominent politicians like Senators Feinstein and McCain, are circling their wagons in a defensive rush to the rescue of the former military rock star, onetime presidential hopeful General David Petraeus. Last Friday the FBI recommended to the Justice Department that it should proceed with plans to file criminal charges against Petraeus that could turn the most famous so called US war hero of the modern era into a convicted felon. On last Sunday’s CNN’s “State of the Nation, Senator Feinstein stated:

This man has suffered enough in my view. It’s done. It’s over…. David Petraeus is the four-star general of our generation and a very brilliant man.

What the chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee is objecting to is the Justice Department announcement that it may charge the former CIA Director Petraeus with passing classified information onto his lover at the time Paula Broadwell. Despite the retired general’s dubious contention claiming he’s an innocent man and never did give his former mistress access to top secret documents, the FBI maintains that it found classified evidence of secret files on her confiscated computer after raiding her North Carolina home in search of potential criminality and intelligence leaks that may have breached national security.

The White House leaks information and mostly disinformation to the press constantly at will whenever it so desires. Then it turns around and hypocritically arrests journalists for unwillingness to breach confidentiality of their sources protected by the First Amendment, or indicts whistleblowers under the Espionage Act for complying with the 1989 Whistleblower Act designed to protect them for their brave acts of public service. Just another double standard by which this administration has become infamous.

Also appearing on Sunday’s CNN news platform, Senator McCain raged against the machine for the Petraeus story to be slipped to the New York Times last Friday. McCain went on to defend his war buddyPetraeus venting, “No American deserves such callous treatment, let alone one of America’s finest military leaders whose selfless service and sacrifice have inspired young Americans in uniform and likely saved many of their lives,” referring to Petraeus’ inflated accolades as “the savior of Iraq War” for his 2009 surge. His constant escort Senator Lindsey Graham chimed in calling the investigation of their war hero “outrageous,” and both senators charged that it has been “grievously mishandled.”

We all recall the media circus of November 2012 when just two days after President Obama won his second term in office, CIA Director Petraeus was forced to resign his post after news of his torrid affair went public. Paula Broadwell was a major in the Army Reserves at the time she was given unlimited private access to the general while he was stationed overseas commanding from the Afghanistan warfront and continued stateside after he resigned from the Army to head the CIA. Idolizing her man while she was all into him writing his All In biography, Paula was eager to share her insider’s secrets with the rest of the world while making the media talk show circuit zealously touting both Petraeus and her book.

At one point just a couple weeks prior to her and her man’s sudden fall from grace, while on her book tour speaking at the University of Denver, Ms. Broadwell enthusiastically shared her privy info that only she could have learned from her intimacy with the CIA director himself. She made the bold claim that the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12 where Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered came as the result of the CIA’s detainment of several local al Qaeda affiliated leaders. She maintained the attackers of the Benghazi compound were acting on either an attempt to rescue their fellow militiamen or deliver violent retribution to America for adducting their leaders.

Of course as CIA director, Petraeus was working closely with Hillary Clinton using her State Department as cover for the highly illegal arms smuggling operation that was shipping much of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rather large arsenal of chemical weapons and surface-to-air missiles from the port of Benghazi through Turkey to aid the US backed al Qaeda fighting the US proxy war in Syria against President Assad’s forces.

Because back in January 2009 upon coming to power Obama signed Executive Order 13491 explicitly prohibiting the detainment of foreign nationals, Broadwell’s need to shine as the darling insider biographer inadvertently revealed that the CIA under Obama had simply continued its widespread practice of rounding up detainees throughout the Middle East and North Africa and engaging in unlawful acts of torture that they’d been ordered by the Bush administration to cease. Of course once confronted with Broadwell’s allegations after their adulterous scandal broke, the CIA as a rogue government agency that lies for a living emphatically denied any violation of Obama’s executive order. But clearly Paula Broadwell both incriminated her lover and his agency while at the same time incriminated Petraeus himself in passing CIA secrets off to his concubine. How else could she have known about the CIA detaining Libyans as that entire illicit Benghazi affair was as top secret as it gets?

That the Obama administration likely authorized the Benghazi detainment against his own order only shows why he is so quick to sweep the CIA torture history under the rug, calling for Americans to look forward rather than backward. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is still in prison for blowing the lid off CIA torture for going public exposing the unlawful practice under the Bush regime. Kiriakou maintainsthat torture under Obama’s watch has only submerged deep enough underground to not be noticed but still goes on. This also explains Obama’s recent choice to not hold those guilty criminals in both the Bush-Cheney administration as well as the sadistic perpetrators within the CIA and military accountable for inflicting such inhumane treatment as waterboarding on mostly innocent foreign nationals in our name. On top of all that, torture proved ineffective in producing any results.

In September 2012 at least 35 CIA personnel were reported to be overseeing the gun smuggling shipments in the largest CIA operation in North Africa from their Benghazi annex located just a mile away from the ambassador’s compound. In an August 2013 report CNN interviewed anonymous CIA operatives stationed in Benghazi at the time of the attack. They all admitted that every month they must submit to lie detector tests to ensure they do not spill the beans on what really happened in Benghazi. They also alluded to being under the strictest order to remain silent about their Libyan role or face threats from the Obama administration that they and their families would be harmed if their loose lips dared to sink Obama and Hillary’s deepest, darkest secrets ships. Ships that would forever sink his presidential legacy to the bottom of the heap alongside Nixon’s, and permanently shatter her political aspirations of a presidential future.

Petraeus has kept his silence as well, and swiftly rewarded. Within a week after Petraeus’ CIA resignation, his wife Holly victimized by her husband’s extramarital affair, was suddenly being rewarded a promotion to a newly created job just for her by President Obama himself, earning nearly $200,000 a year to compliment her husband’s $220,000 intact pension (despite his violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice for adultery which by law would preclude him from collecting any pension at all or retiring at his four-star general’s rank). The ever-close time proximity alone between the scandal breaking and his wife’s new cushy job raises questions of it being hush money.

Of course as a bi-coastal professor at City University of New York, Harvard and USC, Petraeus is peddling the environment killer fracking these days with his course syllabus entitled “The Coming North American Decade.” He also holds a prominent position in the elitist New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and is a faithful annual Bilderberg and Council on Foreign Relations member, so the Petraeus household is still raking in millions as an established elitist family. “Mums” been the word on Petraeus keeping his mouth shut, no spillage of secrets that could have brought down Barack and Hillary, despite his taking the fall for them for his illicit affair, which was definitely not the actual reason he went down.

Petraeus’ penchant for outsourcing CIA to private paramilitary subcontractors similar to how he outsourced the US military largely replaced by the multitude of paramilitary mercenary-type civilian contractors also had lots to do with his downfall. By March 2011 more Americans were employed by private civilian contractors like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp (155,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan than Americans serving in military uniform (145,000).  By March 2010, 27,000 armed private security contractors were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Largely under the radar this last decade, General Petraeus changed how the US fights its modern wars. Because civilian contractors earn five to ten times or more than US soldiers, resentment and conflict have been a natural outcome. Complete lack of transparency and accountability have led to obscene wasteful misappropriation of taxpayer dollars as well as mercenary war crime atrocities – an all too familiar theme with both our military but especially civilian Department of Defense contractors, Blackwater the most notorious of all.

General Petraeus was in bed with these shady unscrupulous defense contractors, raising a growing concern from critics both inside and outside the beltway. We can in large part thank King David for the myriad of problems arising from blurred roles and boundaries as well as lack of oversight.

A case in point raising a few eyebrows is the cozy embedded relationship Petraeus had while Afghanistan War commander with married think tank couple Fred and Kimberly Kagan. They represent the hawkish power interests of the core Republicans in Congress. The general had them set up with offices in Afghanistan for almost a year at government expense, giving them free access to both him and his field commanders. As influential policymakers, they directly implemented change in how the military was waging war. They had been instrumental in both designing and backing Petraeus’ surges on both fronts, advocating a long term military presence in both nations.

Petraeus stretched the envelope like never before in promoting the corrupt, self-serving merger, blurring and obscuring all boundaries between the US armed forces, private civilian contractors that made $138 billion in Iraq alone, $39.5 going to top earner KBR (the former Halliburton subsidiary that Cheney CEO’d), and private think tanks. The current spreading malignancy that is the Empire’s military industrial complex, characterized by rampant waste, cronyism, fraud and grossest unaccountability, has never been more evident or extreme in its destructive power to destroy the planet. And the most famous general of them all has been its chief ring-leading, cheerleading war architect.

After Betray-us Petraeus was such an instrumental proponent in transforming the US military through outsourcing in addition to how America fights wars with the failed dogma of his authored Counterinsurgency manual (COIN), upon taking command of the CIA, he began arrogantly doing the same thing there and quickly made enemies. His micromanaging military style contrasted with the series of laissez faire CIA directors like Petraeus’ predecessor Leon Panetta. The CIA was used to operating freely.

Retired Navy Seal Brandon Webb and retired Green Beret Jack Murphy in their book Benghazi: The Definitive Report lay bold claim that disloyal deputies and bodyguards serving under General Petraeus leaked his affair to the CIA that then arranged circumstances for the affair to be investigated by the FBI. Jack Murphy told the Daily Mail, “It’s almost like they wanted him not just to resign but they wanted him kicked out of the political game for at least a number of years.”

Though numerous holes and loose ends make their report anything but “definitive,” their contention that professional spies who already did not trust their new boss might learn of his improper sexual liaison is a no-brainer. In fact the spy agency likely knew of his affair while he was still a general in Afghanistan, and that prior to Obama even selecting him as the next CIA chief, Obama knew too. It’s an insult to Americans’ intelligence to buy the official lie that the president never knew about it until after his reelection.

The CIA has a long tradition as an independent rogue element unto itself within the US government, very used to operating under little or no oversight with complete impunity and a bottomless deep pocket engaging in terrorism to wreak havoc all over the earth. Any time an outsider from the rival military is appointed its new director, a backlash amongst powerful senior intelligence officials is to be expected. And when the new boss treats seasoned CIA officers just like military subordinates, cutting them out of their sanctified intelligence gathering domain of control and outsourcing them with paramilitary operations that included prioritizing drone warfare, for every action, especially in the form of unwanted change imposed by a ruthless outsider, there is a counter-reaction. Obama selecting a war commander fresh from fighting two wars to CIA director to fight those and other low intensity wars with drones was also a direct move toward militarization of the CIA.

Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi stated that “former military officers are generally not liked at the CIA.” Despite acting as though he was there to learn his first days at Langley, it didn’t take long for Petraeus’ egotistical arrogance to quickly start rubbing the CIA rank and file the wrong way. His response to counterterrorism was to push drones and to utilize paramilitary contractors, replacing the way historic CIA operations of clandestine services were delivered. Ex-CIA officer Giraldi states, “Petraeus was particularly resented because he was perceived as moving forward with the paramilitarization of the agency.” Operating drones took up much of the budget at the expense of job layoffs. Senior staff were being pushed out to make room for younger remote controlled drone pilots and outsourced work to non-CIA contractors. Additionally, the general’s overbearing military style of micromanagement was neither welcomed nor trusted within the CIA halls of Langley, Virginia.

Petraeus would bristle every time others voiced a differing opinion or dare disagree. The megalomaniac had become so full of himself, consumed with his own power, for decades always getting his way no questions asked, his pompous, military brand of toxic leadership grated against the CIA’s bureaucratic culture of autonomy and independence. No longer having his trusted warrior-scholars nor his longtime nurse-maid aides catering to his every narcissistic whim, Petraeus suddenly found himself as a CIA civilian in a very different cultural environment, unsettled and uncomfortable as a fish out of water, outside his old familiar elements he’d grown so accustomed to over the previous 37 years. Observers at the CIA stated that he often ate alone. Reports of those close to him claim that he had changed, growing more distant from both family and friends. His inner crowd dwindled to very few confidantes.

Waging Empire wars for most of the last decade, he and his wife were rarely even together for any length of time. Holly Petraeus lamented how little of it they did have between them. She wished that he’d spent more time with his family, hoping his military retirement would afford him that opportunity. But the intimacy she’d been longing for that they once shared was already long gone.

Because David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell shared so much in common, both as fellow West Pointers (he from the Class of 1974 directly behind me and she from the Class of 1995) and Army officers as well sharing their passion for power and politics, throw in their mutual addiction as fitness fanatics and the familiar cliché scenario of the older gent plowing and sowing his seeds with the younger, attractive, adoring female, and you have the anatomy of their adulterous affair. Their increasing amount of alone time together that began in Afghanistan would only continue stateside. Spending time with his admiring mistress who idolized him helped Petraeus adjust to the culture shock of his new life as a civilian. With his “men-opausal” change of life from general to CIA director accompanied, soothed and stimulated by their romantic trysts, they probably wished she could continue writing his biography forever. But all good things must pass, and once the book was completed and published, their increased time apart had Paula’s radar nets spreading to places like Tampa, honing in on any and all real or imagined threats, specifically another young, attractive social climber similarly enraptured by the aphrodisiac of power – Jill Kelley. And the rest is history.

Just as it was all too obvious to those in the know in Afghanistan, the Petraeus-Broadwell romance had to be supplying both intrigue and fodder for the spy world gossip mill. And since Petraeus was alienating himself from those who thrive on the “information is power” game, a growing army of the CIA rank and file increasingly viewed their new director and his reckless indiscretions as a potential risk and breach of national security, in the end an expendable liability. The CIA could have just as easily tipped off the FBI, but hey, let’s leave it at jealous, catty, threatening anonymous emails from Paula that make for such juicier soap opera plot. Sleeping with his biographer was merely the front used to oust the unwelcomed intruder encroaching and making unwanted changes on unfriendly CIA turf.

Professor, writer and astute geopolitical analyst James Petras presented a convincing argument against the notion that one lone wolf, low level FBI agent in Frederick Humphries Jr., a known Islam-aphobic rogue with pro-Zionist leanings handed over his “evidence” to bring down two of the most powerful figures in US foreign policy. CIA Director Petraeus and CENTCOM and Afghan war commander General John Allen (Annapolis Class of 1976) were Empire militarists who embraced jihadist mercenaries in proxy wars like Libya and Syria and rightwing Islamic regimes in efforts to topple mostly secular Middle Eastern governments. We also know the FBI agent presented the damaging goods to recently voted-out-of-office, pro-Zionist ex-powerful Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn submitted the dirt to FBI Director Mueller with the express order to act on the investigation or face his own Congressional inquisition.

What we also know is Petraeus saw Israel as a geopolitical liability to Empire aims in the Middle East in dealing with Arab states since the US is merged hip deep in Israeli shit. It slipped out in a Petraeus email a couple years ago that brought all kinds of Zionist heat down on him to have to beg Max Boot from the Council on Foreign Relations to smooth over the ruffled Jewish feathers.  The exclusive power of the Israeli lobby to dictate US global policy to the extent of potentially causing the downfall of America’s most powerful military leaders plausibly falls within the realm of possibilities if not probabilities.

Though an Iraq and Afghanistan war criminal many times over during his near four decade long military career, technically Petraeus never violated any criminal laws indulging in an extramarital affair. Since his extracurricular activity with Broadwell overseas was common knowledge to those around him, it’s virtually impossible for Obama not to have known about Petraeus’ adultery prior to selecting him as CIA director in July 2011. The salacious truth would have certainly been uncovered even without a thorough, comprehensive background check. Obama may well have chosen to cast Petraeus aside into the hidden shroud of CIA secrecy as an effective ploy to keep the war hero out of the limelight long enough for Obama to get reelected. The question then becomes if he already knew about the affair, is the most secretive president in US history cunning and devious enough to purposely set Petraeus up for a later timed public exposure once Obama secured his second term in office? In one fell swoop it would be a win-win for Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 to eliminate their stiffest, most formidable competition…food for thought. And somebody out there knows the truth.

With Hillary providing the State Department cover in Benghazi for Petraeus’ CIA arms smuggling operation, making King David the CIA chief may have been the perfect masterful stroke to first set him up and then forever eliminate him as a Republican presidential rival. By bringing him on board to participate in their internationally illegal gun running operation from Libya through Turkey to fight against Assad in Syria, in order to protect themselves, all three – Obama, Hillary and Petraeus – would be sworn to secrecy. That’s why Petraeus has kept his mouth shut and Obama and Hillary have gone to such great lengths to silence the truth from ever coming out about Benghazi. As sinister psychopaths, their political lives and legacies depend on it. So with the damaging goods on Petraeus already secured, regardless of their covert Benghazi operation with or without the added complication of the ambassador and three other dead Americans, Obama and Hillary would have Petraeus’ power checkmated by simply exposing his affair at the optimally strategic time right after the November 2012 election as true cloak and dagger politics in twenty-first century America.

From February 2012 when the FBI allegedly began gathering Petraeus’ dirty laundry through intercepted emails, it’s extremely unlikely that the FBI director meeting weekly with Obama would either not know about the affair himself or choose to withhold that information from the president. It’s far more likely that the adultery was uncovered PRIOR to Petraeus even taking his new job. But ironically it was not his actual affair that did him in. It was far more plausible an increasing number of CIA personnel that the general was pissing off were responsible for bringing down King David. Busily outsourcing their work to privatized paramilitary contractors was the likely clincher, causing CIA with or without the CENTCOM groupie from Florida to invite rival FBI to look closer at his personal affairs.

In any event, fortunately for us, Petraeus will never become the third West Pointer to reach the White House. But as America’s most famous living general, as the shrewd opportunist he is, King David has nonetheless been cashing in on his fame, or more fittingly his infamy, earning millions with cushy creampuff university jobs and as a high profile figurehead to an elitist investment firm.

The David Petraeuses of the world are sadly the sycophantic type of leader who invariably ends up at the highest echelons of elitist power in America, be it in the military, politics, academia, legal or corporate world. And that’s because the psychopathic system that reeks of rotten moral decay is one and the same in all these intertwined and twisted worlds… a world where blind ambition means selling your soul to the devil, throwing your own mother under a bus and kissing the ass off those in power above you. Because those in power have played the game so zealously, simple law of attraction has them imbuing power through promotion to those deemed just like them. Few righteous souls with any moral integrity, character or conscience would ever enter this soulless world by choice because they’d refuse to play the game, and refusing to play the game is tantamount to suicide in their psychopathic world. It’s why I as a West Point cadet and officer clashed so much with the system and why people like Petraeus thrive so much in it.

David Petraeus may be the poster boy of our morally bankrupt system gone wrong, be it West Point, the Army or the United States of America, cranking out a methodically trained amoral, blindly ambitious, coldhearted, imperialistic, bureaucratic, ass-kissing politician-general for its leadership that systematically rises to the very pinnacle of this country’s power pyramid. And of course this case in point explains and richly illustrates more than anything else why the state of our world is so sadly and currently in such a heap of shit.

That’s why as a CFR-Bilderberg elitist, the war criminal will never see one day in jail nor ever be brought to trial as a potentially convicted felon. We all know that there exists two systems of justice in the United States, one for the privileged rich who simply buy their get-out-of-jail cards and the other system that will unjustly hang the rest of us for simply looking the wrong way or insisting on the truth be told. Though for sensationalism effect, all the mainstream press are currently reporting that Mr. Petraeus’ future hangs precariously in outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s hands, we the little people who know too well how the (in)justice system in America works, and therefore we already know the outcome. So the mainstream press can spare us the drama.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

A Tuesday meeting between President Obama and top lawmakers, including the Republican leadership who now control both chambers of Congress, was used to discuss plans for passing a war authorization bill that would give congressional blessing to the U.S. war in Iraq and Syria that began in the summer of 2014.

According to lawmakers who left the meeting, language for an ‘authorization for use of military force’ (or AUMF) against Islamic State (or ISIL) militants who operate and control territory on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border could be sent to Congress within weeks.

As Politico notes, the topic of “authorizing the continuing air war against ISIL emerged as a rare area of cooperation in a year that has so far featured several veto threats.”

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who now chairs the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicated progress and said language from the administration could come soon.

“I’m hopeful [the White House will] send something over in the next few weeks,” Corker said. “Hopeful.”

After the meeting, a White House statement said President Obama is “committed to working with members of both parties on text for an AUMF that Congress can pass to show the world America stands united against ISIL.” An administation official told reporters, “we look forward to sharing a draft with Congress that reflects their bipartisan input.”

Critics of Obama’s war in the region have repeatedly rejected claims by the administration that AUMF’s left over from the Bush-era are still valid for the current military operations.

As the Huffington Post reports:

It’s been five months since the U.S began bombing Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. In that time, the U.S. has spent more than $1 billion, participated in more than 1,700 air strikes, authorized roughly 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and lost three U.S. soldiers. All of this has gone on without new war authorization.

Obama maintains he doesn’t need new authority to bomb the Islamic State,citing a sweeping AUMF from 2001 as his legal justification, but has said he welcomes it anyway. Lawmakers in both parties disagree he has that authority. Some in Congress have grown tired of waiting for the White House to send draft language and have pushed for Congress to move its own AUMF, but others are wary of advancing a war bill without sign-off from the White House. Typically, the White House begins the war authorization process.

It remains to be seen what the White House’s language will include, but the best indication of their position came from testimony by Secretary of State John Kerry during a Senate committee hearing in December. In those remarks, Kerry said the White House wanted an expansive, essentially limitless, authorization—one without geographic or time constraints. In addition, Kerry indicated the Pentagon did not want restrictions placed on its ability to send additional ground forces, including “combat troops,” if they felt such forces were needed.

“We do not think an AUMF should include a geographic limitation,” Kerry said at the time. And added, “we would not want an AUMF to constrain our ability to use appropriate force against ISIL in those locations if necessary. In our view, it would be a mistake to advertise to ISIL that there are safe havens for them outside of Iraq or Syria.”

Commenting at Antiwar.com, Jason Ditz remarked on the likely warm reception the White House AUMF would receive in both the House and Senate. “With hawks dominated most of the committees in the new Senate,” he wrote, “it seems like the passage of any authorization vote should be fairly easy, so long as the wording is vague enough to leave open the prospect for escalation.”

UK Moves One Step Closer to Orwell’s 1984 Nightmare

January 14th, 2015 by Carey Wedler

In the United States, government officials responded to Apple and Droid’s new encryption services by throwing temper tantrums in speeches and making archaic arguments in court. In the United Kingdom, home of big brother and big brother to the U.S., they simply want to ban forms of communication they cannot intrude upon.

British Prime Minister David Cameron drew media attention this week when, in response to the Paris terrorist attacks, he said

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which […] we cannot read?”

He is opposed to the reality that encrypted data on services like the iPhone’s iMessage (iPhone to iPhone texting) and international communication app “WhatsApp” cannot be accessed, even with a warrant, and suggested such tools should be outright banned. Droid operating systems would also fall into this category. Cameron’s statement has strong implications in implying that people should not be allowed to communicate unless the government is privy to it.

Cameron’s comments came as a part of a broader push for more state surveillance powers in the name of “safety.” Legislation
nicknamed the “snooper’s charter” was blocked previously by liberals in the British legislature, but Cameron is pouncing on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy to push for support in a newer version. He will re-introduce the bill if he wins the next general election, set for May of this year.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Emma Carr, condemned such a move:

“It is the wrong solution and would divert resources from focused surveillance operations at a time when
the agencies are already struggling to cope with the volume of information available.”

Since Edward Snowden’s leaks in 2013, there has been powerful opposition to state surveillance. However, many citizens
cower to privacy violations when global tragedies occur and lawmakers exploit the surrounding fear to expand state reach. It is difficult to believe that the British people would tolerate banning many of the world’s most common and convenient forms of text messaging, but Conservatives (Cameron’s party) are currently ahead in electoral polls.

At the same time, the establishment’s preferences are strong and vocal. London’s Mayor Boris Johnson declared

“I’m not particularly interested in all this civil liberties stuff when it comes to these people’s emails and
mobile phone conversations. If they’re a threat to our society then I want them properly listened to.”

The ambiguity of words like “these people” and “threat,” however, are exactly why companies enhanced encryption features in the first place.

Scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Univ. of California San Diego & Kyushu Univ., made available Oct 16, 2014 (emphasis added):

We estimated a lower limit of 5.2 × 1021 slow neutrons m–2 sec–1 [m–2 sec–1 = per sq. meter per secondwere emitted from the nuclear fuel rods to the sea water injected in the reactors

  • Priyadarshi et al. (2011) have estimated a release amount of 4 × 1011 slow neutrons m–2. The large difference with our estimation [13,000,000,000 times higher] comes from the intrinsic limit of the box model study by Priyadarshi et al.
  • Our model directly estimates the amount of material released from the reactor core
  • The estimated… number of neutron represent a lower limit of the amount of radiation emitted from the nuclear reactors… These values can be used as a proxy to the total amount of radiation emitted since the melt down
  • [The authors] express their gratitude to… the Japanese Ministry of Environment…Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT)… [and] the Cabinet Office

Priyadarshi et al.Evidence of neutron leakage at the Fukushima nuclear plant… Despite the obvious implication for human health… there are no quantitative estimates of the neutron flux leakage… [T]ons of seawater were used as a coolant… A consequence is that salts and minerals present in seawater become radioactive by reaction with thermal neutrons… We calculated the total number of neutrons that leaked from the reactor core [and] estimate that a total of 4 × 1011 neutrons per m2 were released before March 20.

Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Coordination: Neutron radiation is a kind of ionizing radiation which consists of free neutrons… Neutrons readily pass through most material, but interact enough to cause biological damage. Neutron radiation is considered to be the most severe and dangerous radiation available. Neutrons can travel great distances

After Boko Haram reportedly killed hundreds of people in the remote Nigerian town of Baga and detonated a bomb in Maiduguri, The Telegraph estimated the terror group now controls approximately 20,000 square miles of territory, an area the size of Belgium.

The British newspaper characterizes the group as the African version of the Islamic State — a caliphate that has supposedly “achieved mastery over 11 local government areas with a total population exceeding 1.7 million people.”

“There is a copy-cat element at work here,” said Andrew Pocock, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria. “If Isil can declare a Caliphate, then so can we. Boko Haram want to be seen by their peers as grown-up jihadis. They want to show ‘we can control territory, we can control a Caliphate’.”

RAND Corporation: We should pay attention to Boko Haram and Africa.

The Nigerian attacks fell on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo drama in France, although the former did not capture the same amount of corporate media attention despite a significantly higher death toll.

Actor Angelina Jolie, special envoy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, brought a modicum of attention to Boko Haram’s atrocities on Monday when she urged the United States and other nations to offer Nigeria help to “collect evidence and bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.”

In 2012,  Obama invoked the War Powers Resolution to increase the number of U.S. military personnel deployed to Nigeria. The incoming Commander of the U. S. Africa Command (Africom) at the time, Gen. David M. Rodriguez, said Boko Haram operations threatened Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Mali and Chad. Rodriguez said the U.S. has authority in Africa in response to the threat posed by al-Qaeda.

Boko Haram: A Wahhabist Project

Omitted from the discussion and from establishment media reports on Boko Haram is the fact the terror group, not unlike the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq — and, according to the BBC, now in Afghanistan — is supported and funded by Saudi Arabia and has also received assistance from Libyan mercenaries linked to al-Qaeda.

In May, 2014, I wrote:

In 2012, The Nigerian Tribune reported Boko Harm’s funding was traced to the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, specifically from the Al-Muntada Trust Fund. In 2005, The Center for Security Policy stated “Al-Muntada has, incidentally, been particularly active in promoting Wahhabi-style Islamism in Nigeria… Al-Muntada… pays for Nigerian clerics to be ‘brainwashed’ in Saudi universities and imposed on Nigerian Muslims through its well-funded network of mosques and schools.”

Similar schools, known as madrassas, were established in Pakistan during the CIA’s covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They were financed by Saudi Arabia and its network of charities. “Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia and the Far East would pass their baptism under fire with the Afghan mujahideen,” writes Phil Gasper. The Afghan mujahideen would ultimately produce al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

In addition to support by the Saudis, Boko Haram has received indirect assistance from NATO via Libya’s al-Qaeda mercenaries.

The increasingly brutal attacks by terrorist groups inspired by Wahhabism and funded by Saudi Arabia with the covert assistance of the United State, NATO and the EU serve as a powerful propaganda campaign in preparation for a large scale war against Islam.

ISIS, Boko Haram and the “New Normal”

On Tuesday the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said ISIS must be wiped out and declared France will increase its participation in air strikes against ISIS.

Reuters reported on Tuesday:

After the United States, France has the largest number of planes and troops involved in the coalition fighting the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), which last year took control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

It also has about 3,500 troops and special forces operating in the Sahel-Sahara region hunting down Al Qaeda-linked militants.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Shari’a and Boko Haram are said to operate in the Sahel-Sahara region of northwest Africa.

The NATO invasion of Libya contributed to the spread of jihadist groups in the region and set the stage for the “militarization of the Sahel-Sahara and the entrenchment of foreign powers there,” according to areport commissioned by the Remote Control Project, an organization sponsored by the Network for Social Change.

Africom, short for the United States Africa Command, leads the charge:

The new report notes that the US is increasing its presence more steadily in line with the maturation of its newest combatant command, Africa Command (AFRICOM), and the rolling out of a crisis response concept known as the “New Normal”. Already tested in South Sudan and Libya, this could see US Marines establish bases across the continent with the capacity to deploy within hours to anywhere that US citizens and interests are threatened.

Securing Strategic Minerals for War Matériel

Those interests, erroneously attributed to the American people, include oil — Nigeria is the 13th largest oil producer in the world — and numerous strategic minerals, including chromium, cobalt, platinum and manganese.

Without these minerals, “it would be virtually impossible to produce many defense products such as jet engine, missile components, electronic components, iron, steel, etc.,” notes a report issued by the U.S. Marine Corp.

The main competitor for these strategic minerals is China, which has pushed aside the United States and France in African trade.

Africom was established explicitly to counter this perceived threat.

In 2012, The Guardian noted:

To reassert its waning influence on the continent in the face of growing Chinese investment, the US established Africom – the “Africa Command” of the US military – in October 2008. Africom co-ordinates all US military activity in Africa and, according to its mission statement, “contributes to increasing security and stability in Africa – allowing African states and regional organizations to promote democracy, to expand development, to provide for their common defense, and to better serve their people”.

Or, more accurately, to provide for the military-industrial complex, as Vice Admiral Robert Moeller pointed out during a conference in 2008. Moeller said Africom’s mission is about preserving “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market.”

Boko Haram: Problem-Reaction-Solution

Minus the threat of Boko Haram, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Shari’a, Africom and its partners would have scarce pretext for intervening in Africa and countering the competitive presence of China.

Like ISIS in Syria, these terror groups were specifically designed to fulfill a problem-reaction-solution agenda. Ultimately, the war against ISIS will displace the al-Assad government in Syria and allow for the reintroduction of troops in Iraq and, as previously noted, in Afghanistan. The blueprint for Syria follows that of Libya and Iraq — failed state status and irreconcilable differences between social and political factions.

The global elite are now producing a wave of heretofore unimaginable violence and brutality. The accompanying propaganda campaign will, as it did on 9/11, forge the sort of consensus required to fully engage and, in the process, marginalize those who oppose the agenda and its deadly consequences.

On the sidelines of the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in Brisbane, US President Barack H. Obama delivered a keynote speech to diplomats, policymakers, faculty members, and students at the University of Queensland on the United States of America’s foreign policy and Obama’s so-called “Asian pivot” or “pivot to Asia.”

In 2013, a report by Brian Andrews and Kurt Campbell for the British think-tank Chatham House described Washington’s redeployment efforts in the Asia-Pacific region like this: “The United States government is in the early stages of a substantial national project: reorienting significant elements of its foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific region and encouraging many of its partners outside the region to do the same.”

“The ‘strategic pivot’ or rebalancing, launched four years ago, is premised on the recognition that the lion’s share of the political and economic history of the 21st century will be written in the Asia-Pacific region,” the Chatham House report points out. In one way or another, what this analysis insinuates is that the nation that controls the Asia-Pacific region will dominate the world.

During the time Obama had been in Australia for the G20 gathering, it was falsely but consistently reported by the mainstream media in the US, Canada, the European Union, and Australia that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his delegation were isolated by the leaders of the so-called “Western” countries. Not only did Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott fail to violently “shirtfront” President Putin at Brisbane like he promised, but in fact Abbott had a cordial bilateral meeting with Putin days earlier in the Chinese capital of Beijing during the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. Nor did British Prime Minister David Cameron or Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper – men of Abbott’s own conservative political cloth that have subordinated their countries to Washington and its empire – dare confront Putin.

Swearing fealty as vassals and subordinates to Washington is not an issue of conservative politics versus socialist politics or left-wing parties versus right-wing parties. Despite different forms of rhetoric and varying nuances, the main political parties in Australia, as well as in countries like Bulgaria, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Romania, South Korea, and Spain, have all followed the same contours in regards to their foreign policy as subordinates supporting US militarism.

Abbott’s Labor Party predecessors in the Lodge and Kirribilli House wholly endorsed Washington’s Asia-Pacific pivot and deepened Canberra’s military ties with the Pentagon, even speaking abrasively about China to the point where the Chinese government broke its typical policy of silence to warn the federal government not to damage or endanger Australian-Chinese bilateral relations. Both officials in the Liberal and Labor Party even called for barring Putin from coming to Queensland for the G20 gathering; Australian Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman openly criticized Prime Minister Abbott for allowing the Russians to attend Brisbane for the G20 meeting.

The key word here is ‘deceit’. While one thing is said, another is done or acted. At the G20 meeting everything was polite and diplomatic. Like the earlier APEC meeting in Beijing, Ukraine was not even on the agenda in Brisbane for group discussions by the gathering of world leaders. This, however, did not stop the US and its allies from taking jabs at the Russian Federation outside of the meeting rooms and G20 forums. The false portrayal of what happened in Brisbane between President Putin and the US and its allies are characteristic of Washington’s deceitful regional approach in the Asia-Pacific region: in the name of peace and stability the area is being militarized and destabilized by the stoking of tensions by the United States.

Manufacturing an “Axis of Evil” for the Asia-Pacific?

In his speech at the University of Queensland, Obama warned potential aggressors to never question the resolve or commitment of Washington to its regional allies in East Asia and Oceania. Although President Obama did not emphasize this directly or too much, everyone knew which countries he was talking about, and the media vividly filled in the blanks. While President Obama directly named the nuclear program and missile arsenal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea as a regional threat, he was careful in how he talked about the People’s Republic of China. Beijing was mentioned casually in terms of regional territorial disputes. Russia’s mention was short too. The Russian Federation was only named once and briefly when President Obama said the Russians were a threat to the world because of their actions in Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine.

It is with the above understanding that the billing the mainstream media narrative gave to Obama’s University of Queensland speech was one that understood Washington’s commander-in-chief was talking tough and hard to the villainous trio of China, Russia, and North Korea. Unlike Obama’s speech, the names of these three countries were repeatedly named and demonized in the mainstream media. Beijing, Moscow, and Pyongyang have either directly or tacitly been portrayed as some type of “Axis of Evil” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Like Washington’s Asia-Pacific policy, Barack Obama’s University of Queensland speech was deceptive. China was mentioned seventeen times throughout the body of the speech while North Korea was mentioned twice and Russia once. Even though Beijing was not directly or openly called an adversary in the speech, it is clear the main US concern in the Asia-Pacific region is the Chinese. In reality, President Obama’s message was a US call to arms against the Chinese, which along with the Russians are Washington’s main global adversaries or rivals.

Although North Korea was thrown into the equation by Obama, Pyongyang is merely a pretext for Washington to station the Pentagon’s forces and US nuclear assets in South Korea and Japan and to target Beijing and its strategic ally Moscow in East Asia. Under the justification of protecting South Korea, the Pentagon maintains over a million Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors on standby for a nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The US even controls the South Korean military – in the event of a war whoever sits as the president of the United States in the Oval Office will give the South Korean military general command its orders through the Pentagon.

Beijing and Moscow understand the real targets of the Pentagon in East Asia. This is why China and the Russian Federation have always worked to prevent a confrontation in the Korean Peninsula from occurring by mediating in the tensions that North Korea has with South Korea and the United States. This is also the reason why the Chinese eventually intervened as combatants against the US in the Korean War in 1950. The Chinese did not want US troops directly on their border and so close to Beijing. Chinese leaders realized that North Korea was a stepping stone towards the US goal of encircling, destabilizing, and neutralizing the People’s Republic of China.

Encircling and Isolating the Chinese and the Russians: Towards Unipolarity?

“I decided that given the importance of this region to American security, to American prosperity, the United States would rebalance our foreign policy and play a larger and lasting role in this region,” Obama told his audience at the University of Queensland. He explained that more US Marines were going to be deployed to Australia while Washington’s alliances with Australia and Japan would be deepened.

The Asia-Pacific region has steadily militarized in recent years. The Australian Defence Ministry has talked about a regional arms race and issued reports on increased Chinese military spending and naval expansion. Never once is it mentioned the Chinese naval expansion and Beijing’s increased military spending are reactions to US militarism and Washington’s attempts to encircle the Chinese. China is acting defensively and trying to secure the Indian Ocean’s maritime trade routes and energy corridors from the US, because it fears the US could block them in the scenario of a confrontation.

Washington’s militarization agenda is tied to a multilateral trade agenda that has hegemonic connotations. In other words, there is a trade dimension to the militarization and the stoking of tensions in the Asia-Pacific. The case is the same for Europe too. In both cases, Washington’s thirst for a unipolar world order is evident. It is in this context that China and Russia are being demonized to help increase US influence and justify a larger US presence in both regions. The United States is trying to exclude and cast out the Russians and Chinese in both Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. While Washington works to exclude China and Russia, the US goal is to integrate the other countries of these areas with itself.

In Europe, the objectives of the US are to create instability in the flow of Russian energy supplies to the European Union by instigating problems inside Ukraine and between the Russian Federation and the Ukrainians. What the US is actually doing through this is working to weaken both the Russians and the European Union economically. This includes the goal of disrupting trade ties between the different sides in the European theatre. The deterioration of EU-Russian trade ties and relations is meant to aid US negotiations and weaken the European Union. This is part of the US strategy to eventually economically control and swallow the European Union under the framework of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is under negotiation between Brussels and Washington.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is loosely the military equivalent of the TTIP. Washington’s objective is to construct a single US-controlled Euro-Atlantic military, political, and economic space. Doing this is one step closer towards the unipolar world order that the US seeks.

In the Asia-Pacific region the US is following or using the same strategy of artificially creating tensions and instigating problems between China and other countries in the region. This is exactly why Obama mentioned territorial disputes in his speech and the reason why the US has been getting itself involved in bilateral disputes between China and several local countries over territorial issues. The US government has used this to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the Asia-Pacific theatre. Creating tensions between the Chinese and other East Asian countries, like Vietnam, is part of the strategy to expand US influence.

Ultimately, what the US wants is to subordinate and control China and Russia. In the case of Russia, it wants to control Russia’s vast resources and technology. This is why Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state during the presidency of Bill Clinton, has had the nerve and audacity to say in doublespeak that the Russians have “undemocratic” control of the world’s resources on their country’s vast territory.

In the case of the Chinese, the US wants to control China as an industrial colony. Washington and Wall Street want China to be a giant factory of labor and manufacturing for US corporations. In this regard, Washington’s goal is to put a leash on China and harness the Chinese dragon like a beast of burden that carries or pulls heavy loads. This is why President Obama made the following points to his audience in Brisbane: “And the question is, what kind of role will it play? I just came from Beijing, and I said there, the United States welcomes the continuing rise of a China that is peaceful and prosperous and stable and that plays a responsible role in world affairs.”

What Obama was really saying is that Beijing serves Washington interests as a manufacturing hub. “So we’ll pursue cooperation with China where our interests overlap or align. And there are significant areas of overlap: More trade and investment,” in Obama’s own words. This is also part of the reason for the contradictions in the Australian government’s foreign policy. While Canberra is a part of the US alliance directed against Beijing, Australia continues to deepen economic and business ties with the Chinese. [On 17 November, Australia and China signed off on a free trade pact.]

Cold War 2.0 and the Threat of a Nuclear World War

The Cold War was more than an ideological struggle. Ideology was merely utilized as a justification for foreign policy and unacceptable actions. The divisions that were perceived to have existed during the Cold War did not or have not disappeared either, because the struggle fuelling the Cold War did not really end. In reality, there has been a “post-Cold War cold war” or a cold war after the Cold War. Over the years it has become increasingly clear that the divisions that existed in the Cold War have been carried on and merely transformed. Those divisions have slowly re-emerged and are displaying themselves again.

Nor has the specter of a nuclear war disappeared. The threat of a nuclear war has actually increased because there is less pressure for constraint on public officials due to the fact that the general public is less aware of the nature of global rivalries and the dangers of nuclear escalation. This is why people like Malcolm Fraser, one of Australia’s former prime ministers, warn against the path being followed by Australia and the United States.

A chain of US-controlled alliances and a military missile shield are being constructed and equipped around both China and Russia. Chinese and Russian allies, such as Iran, Belarus, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Serbia, Brazil, Sudan, and Kazakhstan, are being targeted too. While NATO has expanded eastward in Europe towards the borders of Russia and its allies in the post-Soviet space, the US has tightened its system of alliances in East Asia and Oceania against China.

Land components of the missile shield have been kept and expanded in the Balkans, Israel, Turkey, and the Asia-Pacific region. Aside from land elements, the Pentagon’s missile shield project has been expanded to include a naval armada of ships that will surround Eurasia from the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, South China Sea, and the East China Sea. In Europe and the Middle East the missile shield project includes NATO. Missiles that are pointing at Armenia, Iran, Syria, and Russia have been deployed to Turkey while infrastructure has been put in place in Poland on the direct borders of Russian ally and Eurasian Union founding member Belarus, as well as the Russian Federation’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

The Commonwealth of Australia, alongside both Japan and South Korea, is a key part of the global missile shield system targeting the Chinese and Russians. Australia, Japan, and South Korea are also homes to US-led rapid response military forces that are configured for immediate military action should a war ignite with China, Russia, or North Korea. The policies of Australia, Japan and South Korea have also begun to radically change as they harden themselves as frontline states facing the People’s Republic of China. For example, the strategic aim of the Pentagon to encircle and contain China has encouraged successive Japanese governments to turn their backs on the Japanese Constitution, specifically Article 9, by re-arming Japan in an offensive context. Despite the objections and anger of many Japanese citizens and many more East Asians, Tokyo has violated and breached the framework of its constitution by militarizing.

There is very little question that Japan is a full partner with Australia, the US, Singapore, Taiwan, and NATO, against Beijing and Moscow. In 2007, Japan signed its second post-Second World War bilateral security agreement. The first one was with the US, but the 2007 agreement was with the Commonwealth of Australia. This was the beginning of the Australia-Japan-US Trilateral Security Dialogue. The security agreement led to the eventual signing of the Japan-Australia Acquisition and Cross-servicing Agreement (ACSA) on 19 May 2010, which allows for the pooling and sharing of military resources by both Canberra and Tokyo.

As for Australia, it has had a steady stream of secret deals and talks with the US government and the Pentagon. The deal signed between the Australian and US governments over the Pentagon intelligence facility and signals base in Geraldton followed years of secretive discussions between both sides. In 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government allowed the US to deploy troops on Australian territory after a series of secret and public discussions.

The integration of Australia and Japan into a US-led military front against China and Russia has not only included the formation of the Australia-Japan-US Trilateral Security Dialogue. The creation of this Washington-led front includes NATO as a key feature of the strategy of militarily encircling all Eurasia. It is in this context that the accession of both Canberra and Tokyo, alongside South Korea, New Zealand, and Colombia, as NATO partners has occurred. These NATO partnerships are referred to by NATO Headquarters and the North Atlantic Council as NATO’s “global partners” program. Mongolia, post-2003 Iraq, and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan are also partners. NATO has also created different partnership programs that include countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, the Republic of Georgia, Ukraine, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Mauritania.

The hardening lines being created, specifically with the instigation and agitation of the United States, threaten to turn Europe and the Asia-Pacific region into war theatres. These regions could be theatres of a global confrontation or start off as theatres of regional wars that quickly escalate into a global nuclear war. This is why  Malcolm Fraser warned that Australians risks being pulled into a disastrous war against China. Fraser has argued that successive Australian governments have surrendered their nation’s strategic independence to Washington.

In 2011 the Chinese warned Canberra it was walking down a dangerous road. Prime Minister Gillard’s deal with Obama for allowing US troops into Australia was unwelcomed by the Chinese and seen as the first significant expansion of the Pentagon into the Asia-Pacific region since the Vietnam War. In 2013, the Chinese told the governments of Australia, Japan, and the US not to use their regional alliance to inflame local tensions any further or to instigate hostilities in East Asia by interfering in bilateral territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. In the same year, an official at the Chinese National Defence University even warned about the possibility of a nuclear war erupting because of the front being created by the US, Australia, and Japan against Beijing.

At the same time that tensions are being ratcheted up with the Chinese, tensions with the Russians are increasing too. Russian politicians and military leaders have continuously warned that if tensions continue, a nuclear war could erupt and devastate the world. Both China and Russia have taken measures to prepare for a possible global military conflict with Washington and its allies. Beijing and Moscow have increased their interoperability and are training together through bilateral exercises and through multilateral military exercises held by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. All the while, as Washington pushes the world closer to the abyss, the governments of countries like Australia and Japan continue sleepwalking their people towards disaster.

We bring to the attention of our readers an article published by Haaretz concerning Netanyahu’s visit to Paris. Of significance, president Hollande was reported to have asked Netanyahu not to attend the Sunday march. (Ed. GR)

by Asher Schechton

The Paris trip was supposed to be good for Benjamin Netanyahu. The anti-terrorism march, held on Sunday in Paris in the wake of last week’s gruesome attacks and which broke attendance records, alongside solidarity marches across France, with an estimated 3.7 million participants, was supposed to provide the Israeli prime minister with plenty of opportunities to present himself at his diplomatic best: marching shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, holding hands with leaders of the free world, positioning himself as one of the leaders in the battle against global terrorism. This was all supposed to remind the world of Netanyahu as powerful, authoritative, internationally-renowned.

That was not at all what happened. Netanyahu’s trip to Paris turned into a series of unfortunate humiliations. First, there was the fact that he had been asked, by French President Francois Hollande, not to attend the march in an effort to keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of Europe’s show of unity. Netanyahu initially planned not to go, but he changed his mind after learning that his two main competitors in the upcoming election for the votes of the Israeli right-wing, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennet, would be attending.

Then there was the matter of the march itself, which supplied Netanyahu’s political rivals with a enough images, videos, gifs and memes for four election campaigns, not one.

Netanyahu was captured by news cameras elbowing his way into the front row, gently pushing aside the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The French weekly Paris Match later reported that Netanyahu’s place in the front row (alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) was in fact determined by the organizers of the rally, but by that point the videos showing Netanyahu’s break into the first row were already out. The damage was done.

During the march Netanyahu was caught off-guard again, waving to the crowd in response to a pro-Israel shout from the audience, looking rather cheerful in comparison to his grim and somber compatriots, who kept their cool and did not respond to the crowd.

Of course, Netanyahu’s biggest humiliation was a video that has since gone viral, in which he is seen waiting for a bus to take him to the rally, after missing the bus that ferried other world leaders to the march.

The footage, captured by a French TV station, is remarkable: The prime minister of Israel looks nervous, dejected, beaten down, surrounded by his security detail yet still standing in the middle of the street, looking exposed to danger in a way world leaders should never be. Netanyahu appears furious, annoyed, confused, trying to busy himself with talking on his phone or fixing his hair, constantly looking over his shoulder to check whether his bodyguards are still there. Even the French news anchors had to sympathize with his distress.

In no time, Netanyah’s anguish over the bus like was memefied and joked about. His gauche waving became the subject of scorn and derision, his apparent shoving the subject of intense criticism.

“Such behavior as cutting in line, sneaking onto the bus by pushing and shoving, using elbows to get to the front at some event is so Israeli, so us, so Likud Party Central Committee, that I want to shout: “Je suis Bibi!”wrote my Haaretz colleague columnist Yossi Verter.

Netanyahu’s Paris disaster could be seen as a campaign stunt that backfired. Lieberman and Bennett had visits that were far more productive, devoid of PR disasters. Or one could see it as something more sinister: a disturbing glimpse into the level of isolation Israel has reached under Netanyahu, and an even more disturbing glimpse at its possible future.

Netanyahu, after all, is not a private person. He is an elected official, the elected leader of the State of Israel. Gauche manners aside, the way that world leaders treat him is a reflection of what the world thinks of Israel. It wasn’t just Netanyahu who was excluded from the bus — it was Israel itself. Or, more accurately, its current policies — its constant building in West Bank settlements, its disregard for human rights, its unwillingness to negotiate with the Palestinians, its narrowing democracy — of which Netanyahu is the chief representative.

The France that left Netanyahu out in the cold is, after all, the same France that has repeatedly condemned Israel in the past 12 months, over its construction in East Jerusalem and its conduct during this summer’s Gaza war. It was only a month ago that Netanyahu himself called Hollande and beseeched him to halt the French initiative to have the UN Security Council set a two-year timetable for reaching a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, including a Palestinian state. (France eventually sided with the Palestinians). The Palestinians’ Security Council bid ultimately failed, but the animosity toward Netanyahu among European nations (and the Obama administration) remained.

Even if what happened to Netanyahu in Paris was not deliberate — and given the obvious security hazards, it is more plausible that it was not — it is still a stunning metaphor for the depths of isolation Israel has reached in recent years. One video of Israel’s prime minister, waiting in the cold for a bus that’s not coming, speaks more loudly than a hundred resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state.

Israel begins 2015 with its international status at a record low, its supporters dwindling. It is a liability, a burden. Netanyahu, as prime minister, put it there.

Unfortunately, the joke isn’t just on Netanyahu. It’s on the country that elected him and that might soon reelect him.

Israeli Media Steps up Propaganda War against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran

January 13th, 2015 by Timothy Alexander Guzman

Former White House Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama and the current Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel once said “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” 

Der Spiegel’s report on Syria’s alleged nuclear weapons program titled ‘Assad’s Secret: Evidence Points to Syrian Push for Nuclear Weapons’ is a true testimony to what Emanuel meant. The terror attacks in the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo took place on January 7th; two days later Der Spiegel’s report is published. The timing is perfect. Israeli media is running with it. The Tel-Aviv based www.ynetnews.com published an article titled ‘Syrian rebels: Iranian officers spotted near site of reported nuclear facility’ which confirms Der Spiegel’s accusations:

Following reports Syrian President Bashar Assad was building an underground nuclear facility, a senior Syrian rebel official told Saudi paper Okaz on Sunday that the Free Syrian Army has noted suspicious Syrian and Iranian movements in the town of Qusayr on the outskirts of Homs, where the facility is said to be.

According to the official, Abu Muhammad al-Bitar, the Free Syrian Army noted the presence of Iranian officers and “unprecedented” Hezbollah security in the area. Al-Bitar said the Friday report on Der Spiegel has been discussed at length in command meetings of rebel factions in the Kalamoon area. He went on to say that “what can be confirmed is that what’s going on there is happening under direct Iranian supervision and the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this.”

Now the Free Syrian Army is a trusted source of information? Why would the editors of Der Spiegel release their findings regarding “Assad’s Secret” nuclear weapons program right after the terrorist attack in Paris? Officials in Iran and Syria reject Der Spiegel’s claims. According to ynetnews:

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. rejected the Der Spiegel report on Sunday as “ridiculous,” saying “the magazine’s allegation is one of the attempts made by those circles whose life has been based on violence and fear to cloud the international community with illusion and create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic,” according to the FARS news agency.

Would Iran jeopardize the upcoming summit with U.S. officials concerning its nuclear program by assisting the Syrian government in developing nuclear weapons? A media source told the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA):

that Syria refutes these allegations in their entirety, asserting that the allegations, which were made by a magazine that often publishes preposterous allegations devoid of credibility, contradict the most basic rules of journalism ethics, and that they are part of the conspiracy and media misdirection campaign targeting Syria.

Part of the report specifically focuses on the “intercepted Communication” by a high-ranking Hezbollah official and Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission:

However, the clearest proof the report cited was an intercepted communication by radio traffic recently intercepted local spies, in which the voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah official can be heard calling the place an “atomic factory” specifically naming Qusayr as the area.  More importantly, the Hezbollah official frequently updated Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. The Syrian regime has transferred 8,000 fuel rods to the plant that had been planned for a facility at Al-Kibar, it added

The new propaganda campaign against the Syrian government is a dangerous elevation towards war. Der Spiegal’s report can be a starting point for a Western media propaganda blitz that will follow their government’s line, especially in the U.S. The allegations bring back memories of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi politician who provided false information regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) and Saddam’s alleged connection to Al-Qaeda. The information led to the Bush administration’s decision to invade and eventually occupy Iraq in 2003.

Der Spiegel and Israeli media are following Rahm Emanuel’s advice with the recent terror attacks in Paris. With more than 40 World leaders in attendance at a Paris solidarity movement against Islamic extremism this past Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were at the forefront with French President Francois Hollande. Can Netanyahu be exploiting the terrorist attacks in Paris for an Israeli propaganda campaign against its adversaries back home because they too, face terrorism on a daily basis? Can he be as cynical as Madonna when she sent a “Je Suis Charlie” image on Instagram with a Hashtag promoting her new album ‘Rebel Heart’? Yes, of course he can. The point is that people in power especially politicians, will exploit any crises to their advantage, in this case, new accusations that Syria is in the process of developing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials in the past has warned that terrorists can eventually use “nuclear suitcases” in New York and other European cities as reported by the Washington Examiner in 2013:

An Israeli official warned that the agreement could result in a nuclear attack on the United States. “If a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York or Madrid five years from now, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning,” Naftali Bennett, the nation’s minister of trade, industry, and labor.

Bennet was speaking about Obama’s diplomatic efforts concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli government wants hegemony in the Middle East but it has a few obstacles in the way, and that is Syria and Iran. Many people in Israel prefer that the U.S. and its European allies to attack Syria. In 2013, a Gal Hadash poll was published in Israel Hayom, an Israeli national Hebrew-language newspaper and stated that more than 66 percent of respondents are in favor of a U.S. and European military intervention in Syria. For the Israeli government, a U.S-NATO attack on Syria would give the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) an open opportunity to pursue a war with Hezbollah and eventually Iran. Israel can use Der Spiegel’s report to its advantage no matter how preposterous it sounds. Right now, the world is mourning the 12 people who were gunned down in cold blood by Islamic extremists in Paris, France and you can bet Israel will exploit the tragedy to discredit its perceived enemies in the Arab world.

Israel is prepared for another war with Hezbollah as it is also awaiting the outcome of the upcoming nuclear talks between Iranian and U.S. officials which will resume on January 14th. One thing is for sure, 2015 is proving to be a very dangerous year for war and it can begin in Syria. Der Spiegel has ignited a new propaganda campaign against Syria as did the New York Times who made the same tragic mistake right before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. But the question we need to ask is, will the world buy their story?

Sunday’s impressive “Anti-Terror Rally”, lauded by the global media as an ‘unprecedented show of solidarity’ wasn’t meant to look awkward, but it did.  

The million-strong crowds were impressive, as were the variety of people who made it out to the event. Unfortunately, our televisions, newspapers and websites were more interested in plastering the eerily contrived image of our 50 ‘world leaders’, with arms locked “in an act solidarity”, in support of “the fallen” at French political cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo.

What was designed as a globally-syndicated #kumbaya moment, instead gave off the distinct odeur of shameless political opportunism, in what can only be described as the world’s biggest-ever photo-junket for what can only be described as some of the world’s most unpopularleaders decked-out in $5,000 suits, camel hair overcoats and hipster glasses.

The only real consolation was that Tony Blair didn’t invite himself to this one…

1-Netanyahu-Abbas-Paris
SACRE BLEU! Luckily for Hollande, only dirty looks were exchanged between Israel’s Netanyahu and Palestine’s Abbas.

There they marched. The leaders of the free, and not so free worlds. Normally, all these artful dodgers coming together might be impressive, if not for the fact that most of the dynastic executives in attendance are each running their own unique pogroms back at home.

Indeed, much has been made recently of ‘the values we hold dear’ as fully paid-up members of the International Community, but the hypocrisy is overwhelming once you survey Sunday’smotlëy crew of the oil monarchs, theocrats, neofascists, dictators, along with various and sundry CIA-backed henchman (listed below). One glance at Daniel Wickham’s Twitter feed over the last 24 hours is like a who’s who of the international enemies  of free speech, and equally as guilty are their western accomplices: members of NATO’s nuclear cartel and shakedown gang  led by the US, Germany, France, Netherlands and Britain – all who share guilt on this issue.

The fact that neither the US President or Secretary of State was present for Sunday’s parade is strangely fitting, considering how the US is certainly one of the worst offenders, especially in high-profile cases. Aside from the obvious case of NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden (journalist Glenn Greenwald’s comments here are certainly worth reading) who has been forced into exile under threat imprisonment (or worse), and Bradley-Chelsea Manning (currently wasting away in a US federal prison for acting in the wider public interest), the  federal government is unashamedly hell-bent on stamping out any reports that  expose its run-away corruption. There are a number of other good examples which show just how hypocritical the whole Parisian political orgy really is. President Obama’s war on whistleblowing has seen him use theEspionage Act 1917 more any other leader in US history.

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou described the situation as a complete meltdown of long-held freedoms in the US. He explains, “Shame on this president for persecuting whistleblowers with a legal relic, while administration officials leak with impunity”.

“It was my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program and for confirming to the press, despite government protestations to the contrary, that the US government was, indeed, in the business of torture.”

Even bigger is the case of General James Cartwright, who blew the whistle on the Pentagon’s illegal deployment of the STUXNET virus – an incredibly risky, covert operation designed to destabilize civilian nuclear power facilities in Iran, and, targeting facilities in Russia, too. Theoretically, this reckless hack placed millions of innocent lives at risk, but that aspect of this scandal was simply avoided by an overwhelmingly pro-Washington media. It so happens to have been a joint-venture of sorts between the United States and Israel. Cartwright’s crime: he leaked additional details of the story to New York Times after it was already out in public domain, and was then indicted for espionage. Ironically, this government racketeering operation was organized by the Department of Justice and Obama’s legal pit-bull, Attorney General Eric Holder, who was actually in Paris this weekend, but thankfully didn’t show up for the ‘Unity March’.

Not satisfied with intimidating and ruining the career of one the countries most decorated servicemen, secrecy-obsessed Washington (we’re also told that, ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about’, right?) went after the other journalists, placing a ‘chilling effect’ on America’s free press. In addition to this, Holder, who seized on events in Paris as an opportunity to win cheap political points,  saw fit to raid offices of the Associated Press (AP) news agency, in search of the names and contact details of sources that AP was using in its investigation of an Islamic suicide terror squad out of Yemen which, it turns out, was being led by a CIA ‘double agent’ – and managed covertly by CIA boss John Brennan. In the end, as a result of Holder’s brazen assault on the press, longtime sources have since ‘stopped talking to the AP’, said head Gary Pruitt at the National Press Club.

It doesn’t end there. There’s also James Risen, the journalist who wrote the book, “State of War.” Only last week, the New York Times reporter has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of a former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information. Again, it’s a case of the government attempting to crack down on reporters’ right to keep confidential sources, but it’s really a case of the government abusing its power to conceal its own crimes.

It seemed like only yesterday when France denied access to the Bolivian Presidential Jet over French airspace, all because of the child-like rumor that Snowden was smuggled on board. So if Evo Morales did dot comply with French orders, what would they have done – shoot down a head of state? When Washington called, Francois Hollande danced to Yankee Doodle Dandy.N’est-ce pas?

In Britain, David Cameron has his own basement of horrors which Westminster is working full-time to sweep under the rug. In addition to the shadowy deeds of its GCHQ spy agency which works in concert with the NSA digital dragnet in America, successive British governments, police and members of the judiciary appear to have all colluded to suppress a vile institutional VIP paedophile epidemic.

By all indications, countries like the US and Britain are tightening their vice, not loosening it.Western security states are currently engaged in a war on whistleblowing, and its ultimate goal is the prevent the press from being able to expose high level crimes carried out by those in positions of power. So it’s incumbant on morally-inclined citizens to also stand up in the face ofstate tyranny, and to support the efforts of whistleblowers, and what is left of the free press.

Freedom of the press in the west? Oh, la vache! The Fourth Estate has already been transformed into a Fifth Column. The last time we saw millions people on the streets in London, Paris, New York and dozens of other cities, was on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003, and media moguls like the BCC were nowhere to be found – and even went to erroneous lengths toobscure the true number of protesters. Why? Because what was happening on the streets did not fit the crass narrative of their drive to war – a war which media majors like CNN and the BBCactively promoted. But for some reason, yesterday in Paris, they spared no expense, throwing their entire staff out to cover the event (in exhausting detail). It’s a tale of two marches, and it speaks volumes as to who our corporate media really work for.

1-George-Clooney-Charlie-HebdoHollywood also got in the act. Apparently, his flippant comments and wild conspiracy theories (‘Sh*t, North Korea did it!’) on the Sony Hack Hoax weren’t enough. Hollywood’s promising political hopeful (yes, you read that right), George Clooney, didn’t miss the opportunity to use the zeitgeist de jour, ‘Je Suis Charlie’, to reinsert himself into international affairs last night at the Golden Globe Award. While receiving the Cecile B. DeLux award for lifetime achievement, Clooney gave a short sermon at the alter of power politics andsycophanty, stating, “They were leaders of countries all over the world and they didn’t march in protest,” he said. “They marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it. So, ‘Je Suis Charlie.’ Thank you.” With the amount of despotic regimes represented at the Paris photo-op, and the fact that his wife Amal is considered by some as a leading human rights barrister, makes Clooney’s comments all the more shallow and uninformed (sadly, perfect for politics).

The problem here is that you’ll never hear Clooney, or any other Hollywood political contender, dare to challenge the state power apparatus. Why is that? Answer: sucking up to money and power. George Clooney has a lifetime membership to Bilderberg’s working group in New York City, the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations), where he proudly rubs elbows and takes selfies with various CEO’s, banksters, as well as torture advocates and war-hawks like Dick Cheney, Zbigiew Brzezinski, Hillary Clinton and many others.

George reinforces the establishment because he doesn’t want to lose the special access he enjoys to the White House, where he and his new wife are currently the darlings of the establishment, and for fear of breaking Hollywood’s sacred covenant with the US Military-Industrial Complex. From a PR perspective, I can see how George is trying to position himself here, and to add value to his ‘brand’, but smart audiences can see through the cheap, shallow approach to politics when they see it (‘smart’ being the operative word). When will Clooney give the speech about how CIA’s own joint production with Sony, Zero Dark Thirty, distorts history, and glorifies and sells torture to Americans? We’re still waiting.

So suffice to say, when it comes to ‘freedom of the press’ in the US, quislings in Washington, London and elsewhere in Europe, do not have a leg to stand on. In some countries, the only difference between assorted governments stasi units, and the paramilitary GLADIO-stylegunman who stormed into Charlie Hebdon, would be that one group wears badges, while the others don’t. Had the latter had the proper credentials, then would’ve simply invited themselves in, and closed down the office. If you think that statement is an exaggeration, you might consider some of the gross indiscretions on liberty of a few of these ‘world leaders’ festooning down theChamps-Élysées on Sunday. Hey, we’ve all got room for improvement, but some have more than others.

Here are a few interesting examples of what one might consider to be ‘hypocritical’ politicians strong-arming the press worldwide and who have hijacked this event, compiled by writer Simone Wilson from the Jewish Journal

JE-SUIS-CHARLIE-PARIS-RALLY

PHOTO-OP: Cynically staged photo-op, designed to look as if our brave leaders have millions behind them.

The attack against French satirical cartoon Charlie Hebdo in Paris last Wednesday, in which 12 were murdered by Islamic extremists, was one of the ugliest and symbolic assaults on free press in modern history.

However, it’s far from the worst terrorist attack. In fact, as many in 2,000 people — including women and children — were massacred in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the very same day. And in terms of free press, authoritarian and oppressive regimes around the world have done far more to censor the world’s journalists, overall, than religious extremists.

But that’s not stopping some of the very perpetrators of this state censorship from joining the millions-strong unity march in support of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today.

More than 50 world leaders showed up for the march, linking elbows for a flagrantly exploitative PR charade that scoffs at the paper’s true allies. Here is a compilation of 12 of the worst.

Jordanian King Abdullah II and Queen Rania

Insecure about waves of the Arab Spring and ISIS fandom reaching Jordan, its king has tightened his grip on journalists. There’s now a law in Jordan allowing the government to shut down any website it wants — and it’s been put to use on hundreds of sites, including many news outlets.

This summer, Jordanian security raided the Al-Abasiya TV station in Amman and arrested more than a dozen staffers. The year before, journalists covering Jordanian elections reportedly“faced many difficulties to report because of interference by security forces” and a Palestinian-Jordanian reporter for the Jerusalem Post was sentenced to 15 years of jail with hard labor. (Luckily, he sought asylum first.)

Jordan is now ranked 153rd out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, below Libya and Chad.

(Quick anecdote: When I traveled to Jordan to cover the Syrian refugee crisis for the Jewish Journal, the country’s press officials said I couldn’t enter the Zaatari refugee camp because my newspaper was Jewish. After I essentially threw a tantrum in the lobby, they finally let me into Zaatari. However, Jordanian police followed me everywhere, called me “Mossad,” curbed my questioning and interrupted whenever a Syrian said something that might make them look bad.)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Five journalists and two media workers died in Ukraine this year. That wasn’t entirely President Poroshenko’s fault; warring Ukrainian factions and an invading foreign army made for violent chaos in which journalist attacks and kidnappings could thrive. (Aka, blame Putin.) But the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that since Ukraine’s former president was ousted in May, Poroshenko has done little to improve the situation. Although the new administration was “elected after pledging allegiance to democratic ideals,” says the CPJ, they’ve offered no new protection for journalists and have imposed new “military escort” rules for battle zones. They’ve also detained and expelled some journalists themselves, when coverage wasn’t going their way. “We urge the authorities to support journalists,” says CPJ. “They could start with bringing to justice those who ordered and executed assaults against the press corps in Ukraine a year ago.” Instead, they’re supporting Charlie Hebdo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Press freedoms inside Israel proper are generally alive and well, save a phone tap or two. But poke one toe outside the green line with Palestine (or, um, live there), and your rights instantly evaporate. Journalists covering protests in the West Bank are constantly injured or detained, and seven Palestinian reporters were killed in the recent war on Gaza while wearing press vests.

From this year’s World Press Freedom Index blurb on Israel: “Security needs continue to be used as an excuse to limit freedom of information. The Israeli media are able to be outspoken but media located in ‘Israeli territory’ must comply with prior military censorship and gag orders.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas once threw a Palestinian journalist in prison for comparing his face to that of a French detective on a Syrian TV show (No joke). But more than a hypocrite, Abbas is a man with his own increasingly dire humanitarian crisis to worry about.

Babies in Gaza are literally freezing to death right now. And seeing as Israel and Hamas aren’t doing anything about it, the de facto leader of the Palestinian people needs to step in. Abbas’ cameo at the Charlie Hebdo march sends a message to the world that Palestinian leadership opposes these Islamist terror tactics and wants to be seen as more moderate. But in the eyes of his people, Abbas is just hopping on one more plane. Thus reenforcing the now very public opinion that Abbas loves the UN podium more than historic Palestine.

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan

A long list of foreign and local journalists in the United Arab Emirates have been jailed throughout the Arab Spring for supposedly slanting their coverage in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood — or even just Tweeting the trials of alleged Brotherhood members. One of these journalists, Egyptian national Anas Fouda, was held “incommunicado” for a month without trial. During this time, he told the CPJ he was blindfolded, chained, interrogated and held in solitary confinement.

Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa

Tunisian government officials are known for puppeteering state media — appointing the heads of all broadcast media while making sure the independents are rubbed out. “Authoritarian methods continue to short-circuit reform attempts and block state media independence,” reads last year’s World Press Freedom Index.

As we speak — and as Tunisian Prime Minister Jomaa marches in Paris — Tunisian blogger Yassine Ayari is behind bars for “defaming the army” in a series of Facebook posts. “Tunisia’s new parliament, elected two months ago, should make it a priority to repeal laws that make defaming state officials and institutions a criminal offense,” says Amnesty International in a statement.

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to France Mohammed Ismail Al-Sheikh

That a Saudi Arabian official would even show his face outside the embassy today is offensive. As we all know, women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and journalists are constantly tracked and jailed for writing about this law. So you can imagine the kind of punishment a writer gets for insulting Islam.

On the same day Saudi Arabian officials condemned the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, they dragged Saudi blogger Raif Badawi from his jail cell, where he is serving a seven-year sentence, and flogged him in the public square. It was the first of 12 floggings he will receive for criticizing the country’s harsh Muslim laws. In one of his last blog posts, Badawi wrote: “Whether we like it or not, we, being a part of humanity, have the same duties that others have as well as the same rights. … Let us all live under the roof of the human civilization.”

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba

Although he’s not famous for violence against journalists, Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba keeps his country’s media in check by swiftly suspending any outlets who aren’t nice to him. Over the past few years, at least five different newspapers have been suspended for criticism of his regime. One of them, Le Gri-Gri de la Griffe, is — get this — a satirical newspaper accused of “indulging in indecency and vulgarity in most of its publications.” The irony is deafening.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
Bahrain is the second largest jailer of journalists, per capita, in the world. (One freelance Bahraini journalist who documented police brutality is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.) There are also widespread reports of torture during jailtime. Among some of Bahrain’s crimes,according to the CPJ:

“Journalists covering opposition protests were harassed, detained, and deported, while some were attacked by opposition protesters who considered them biased. The government arrested at least three bloggers and photographers in the lead-up to a major opposition protest on [August 14, 2013]. A court upheld the acquittal of a policewoman accused of torturing a journalist in 2011. Authorities continued to clamp down on online expression by blocking websites, infiltrating social media accounts, prosecuting citizens who insulted officials, and considering restrictions on Internet-based telecommunications services. Bahraini blogger Ali Abdel Imam, convicted on anti-state charges, was forced to flee into exile after hiding for two years from Bahraini authorities.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

This has got to be a sick joke. In 2012 and 2013, Turkey imprisoned more journalists than any other country. And although China took that title in 2014, Turkish officials are quickly catching up with what seems like another TV, radio or newspaper raid and mass arrest every few months.

It’s all very public, too. The Turkish prime minister’s predecessor, now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has waged one of the most egomaniacal, borderline psychotic wars on free speech in the democratic world. He once sued a journalist for insulting him on Twitter. Another time, he shut down Twitter entirely. He also shut down YouTube when scandalous videos of him leaked online.

And perhaps most of absurdly of all, given Prime Minister Davutoglu’s spot in the Charlie Hebdo march today: Turkish cartoonist Mehmet Düzenli served three months in prison this year for crticizing Muslim leader Adnan Oktar. He reportedly called Oktar’s preachings “overzealous.”


See the full article and see the full list of violators at the Jewish Journal

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