GMOs Could Destroy the Global Ecosystem: Risk Expert

March 26th, 2014 by Washington's Blog

“Black Swan” Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb Demolishes the Claim that GMOs Are Low-Risk

Risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb predicted the 2008 financial crisis, by pointing out that commonly-used risk models were wrong.  Distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University, author of best-sellers The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, Taleb became financially independent after the crash of 1987, and wealthy during the 2008 financial crisis.

Now, Taleb is using his statistical risk acumen to take on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Taleb’s conclusion:  GMOs could cause “an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”

Sound crazy?

Sure it does … but only because we don’t understand statistics, and so we have no handle on what’s risky and what’s not.

Taleb and his 2 co-authors write in a new draft paper:

For nature, the “ruin” is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.

***

Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle, i.e. the rule that we should err on the side of caution if something is really dangerous] not because of the harm to the consumer because of their systemic risk on the system.

Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.) There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ”natural”. [i.e. evolving over thousands of years in a natural ecosystem, or at least breeding over several generations.]

What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global. I do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there—our non-naive version—simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.

 Do We Have a Right to Know If Our Food Has Been Genetically Modified?

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Taleb shreds GMO-boosters – including biologists – who don’t understand basic statistics:

Calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

***

It became popular to claim irrationality for GMO and other skepticism on the part of the general public —not realizing that there is in fact an ”expert problem” and such skepticism is healthy and even necessary for survival. For instance, in The Rational Animal, the author pathologize people for not accepting GMOs although ”the World Health Organization has never found evidence of ill effects” a standard confusion of evidence of absence and absence of evidence. Such a pathologizing is similar to behavioral researchers labeling hyperbolic discounting as ”irrational” when in fact it is largely the researcher who has a very narrow model and richer models make the ”irrationality” go away).

In other words, lack of knowledge of basic statistical principles leads GMO supporters astray. For example, they don’t understand the concept that “interdependence” creates  “thick tails” … leading to a “black swan” catastrophic risk event:

Fat tails result (among other things) from the interdependence of components, leading to aggregate variations becoming much more severe than individual ones. Interdependence disrupts the functioning of the central limit theorem, by which the aggregate is more stable than the sum of the parts. Whether components are independent or interdependent matters a lot to systemic disasters such as pandemics or generalized crises. The interdependence increases the probability of ruin, to the point of certainty.

(This concept is important in the financial world, as well.)

As Forbes’ Brian Stoffel notes:

Let’s say each GM seed that’s produced holds a 0.1% chance of — somehow, in the intricately interdependent web of nature — leading to a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem that we rely on for life. All by itself, it doesn’t seem too harmful, but with each new seed that’s developed, the risk gets greater and greater.

The chart below demonstrates how, over time, even a 0.1% chance of ecocide can be dangerous.

I cannot stress enough that the probabilities I am using are for illustrative purposes only. Neither I, nor Taleb, claim to know what the chances are of any one type of seed causing such destruction.

The focus, instead, should be on the fact that the “total ecocide barrier” is bound to be hit, over a long enough time, with even incredibly small odds. Taleb includes a similar graph in his work, but no breakdown of the actual variables at play.

Taleb debunks other pro-GMO claims as well, such as:1. The Risk of Famine If We Don’t Use GMOs. Taleb says:

Invoking the risk of “famine” as an alternative to GMOs is a deceitful strategy, no different from urging people to play Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty.

And calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

2.  Nothing Is Totally Safe, So Should We Discard All Technology?  Taleb says this is an anti-scientific argument. Some risks are small, or are only risks to one individual or a small group of people.  When you’re talking about risks which could wipe out all life on Earth, it’s a totally different analysis.

3. Assuming that Nature Is Always Good Is Anti-Scientific.  Taleb says that statistical risk analysis don’t use assumptions such as nature is “good” or “bad”. Rather, it looks at the statistical evidence that things persist in nature for thousands of years if they are robust and anti-fragile.  Ecosystems break down if they become unstable.

GMO engineers may be smart in their field, but they are ignorant when it comes to long-run ecological reality:

We are not saying nature is the smartest pos­sible, we are saying that time is smarter than GMO engineers. Plain statistical significance.

4.  People Brought Potatoes from the Americas Back to Europe, Without Problem.  Taleb says that potatoes evolved and competed over thousands of years in the Americas, and so proved that they did not disrupt ecosystems. On the other hand, GMOs are brand spanking new … created in the blink of the eye in a lab.

GMOs Also INCREASE Pesticide Use, DECREASE Crop Yield, And May Be VERY Dangerous to Your Health

As if the risk of “ecocide”isn’t enough, there are many other reasons to oppose GMO foods – at least without rigorous testing – including:

On the plus side?  A few companies will make a lot of money.

Ukraine and The Geopolitical Chessboard

March 26th, 2014 by Jack A. Smith

“The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined beforethen. Henry Kissinger, Washington Post, March 6, 2014

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.” Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard (1998)

Russia has taught the United States a stern and embarrassing lesson in Ukraine as a riposte to Washington-backed regime change in Kiev, the capital. “So far,” Moscow in effect warned a thoroughly shocked Washington, “but no further.” Crimea was integrated into the Russian Federation after a Referendum.

 Nothing quite like this move on the geopolitical chessboard has happened since the U.S. became the world’s single superpower over two decades ago.

 The objective of the Obama Administration’s support for a coup to remove an essentially neutral Ukrainian government (though neighborly toward Russia) was to install a regime leaning toward — and economically dependent upon — the United States and the European Union. The purpose is to compromise Russia’s revival as a regional power critical of U.S. policies.

 The neutrality of the Kiev government, if not close ties, is exceptionally important to Moscow for its own long-term regional goals, and it will work toward repairing relations in time. Considerable support for Russia remains in the country.

Washington was obviously disoriented by Russia’s unexpected move in Ukraine, and perhaps even more so when Putin shrugged off President Obama’s subsequent threats. But for all the anti-Russia rhetoric, sanctions and other punishments emanating from the U.S. and EU, the danger of an armed clash or greatly heightened East-West tensions is relatively remote at the moment, but if the confrontations continue there may be more serious problems ahead.

On March 21, Putin said “he wanted to halt the cycle of tit-for-tat retribution between Moscow and Washington,” according to the New York Times. But it is too early for the self-righteous Obama Administration and Congress to simmer down. Russia in effect challenged the global superpower — an act of supreme lèse-majesté — and this requires considerable posturing, tough rhetoric and a dose of pain from an offended Washington.

From Moscow’s point of view, however, the U.S. and EU made a deep penetration into Russia’s long recognized sphere of influence and Putin had to respond with some degree of equivalence. He easily found it in Crimea.

The U.S. and EU so far have imposed relatively mild sanctions on Russia though warning they would be significantly intensified should Moscow engage in other military moves in Ukraine, which President Putin earlier ruled out. On March 24, the Group of 8 wealthy countries announced it would not invite Russia to future meetings, as least temporarily, and also decided not to attend the scheduled upcoming G8 meeting in the Olympic city of Sochi but will gather at the “G7” in Brussels next June. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia wasn’t disturbed by the development.

Incongruously, the act that provoked the Crimean referendum — the U.S.-backed right wing coup against the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich — received far less attention from the American media and hardly any outrage from Washington and most European capitals, even over the fact that organized fascist elements joined the protests leading to the so-called “revolution.”

 Washington intrigued to bring about a coup against as punishment for his recent decision to rely on Russian aid and not that offered by the European Union (which was backed by the U.S.) to help bail Ukraine out of a severe economic crisis.

The Ukraine government had been in discussions with the EU to produce a tentative proposal last year. It was short of the country’s needs but better than nothing, even though it also demanded economic,social  and infrastructural “reforms” to get the funding. Last fall, Moscow then offered Ukraine an exceptionally generous aid package — a better deal for the government and the working class than the pending proposition from the austerity-minded EU and the conservative International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 The entire situation could possibly have been avoided. According to journalist, author and Russia expert Stephen Cohen, interviewed on Democracy Now Jan. 30:  “The European Union in November told the government of Ukraine, ‘If you want to sign an economic relationship with us, you cannot sign one with Russia.’ Why not? Putin has said, ‘Why don’t the three of us have an arrangement? We’ll help Ukraine. The West will help Ukraine.’”

 The EU and U.S. refused. Our guess is that they wanted to control Ukraine for themselves, not least because it was the most important Soviet republic after Russia itself— a blow to Moscow — as well as a military threat.

 Why a coup over this? The White House has long sought to separate Kiev from Moscow since the implosion of the Soviet Union in order to eventually move American power and NATO bases directly up to Ukraine’s Russian border. Washington has been engaged for about two decades in seeking to transform Ukraine into a pro-Western state situated within Washington’s sphere of influence and leadership.

The U.S. thought it achieved its objective when it helped engineer Ukraine’s so-called “Orange Revolution” in 2004, but this victory was short-lived — the victim of infighting and treachery in a basically oligarch-controlled democratic political system that of course still exists. Yanucovich’s election in 2010 was a major turning of the page, and now seems to be turning back.

 One proof of Washington’s role in regime change materialized when a secretly taped telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and Geoffrey Platt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, appeared on YouTube Feb. 6. The call was made weeks earlier. They were so sure of a coup several weeks ahead that they discussing who would be the U.S. candidate to replace Yanukovich when the day came. There were three possible “moderate Democratic” pro-U.S. choices..

Nuland pushed for Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the rightwing opposition Fatherland party, and Platt agreed. Yatseniuk, a 39-year-old banker, lawyer and politician, was named Prime Minister Feb. 27, five days after Yanukovich was ejected. Nuland’s by now infamous “F**k the E.U.” comment on the tape reflected Washington’s displeasure that the European Union was not moving fast enough to take full advantage of the crisis.

Neoconservative Nuland is evidently managing the current aspect of the State Department’s Ukraine project. In a mid-December speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting U.S.-European political and business values in the old homeland — i.e., it’s anti-Russian — Nuland revealed that the American government spent at least $5 billion over the years to turn Ukraine toward Washington. Dozens of U.S.-affiliated NGO’s and government agencies have been engaged in “democracy building” projects in Ukraine over the years, including the United States Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, the Open Society Foundations, Freedom House, and The National Democratic Institute.

The Obama Administration clearly knew of the important contribution toward regime change made by fascist and neo-Nazi forces involved in the three months of demonstrations against the government following Russia’s aid offer. Nuland and her entourage even attended a mass demonstration, giving out pastries and urging people to keep up the good work. Several top American politicians also dropped by to show support and to appear important. Some — such as Sen. John McCain — allowed themselves to be photographed with fascist leaders.

 Secretary of State John Kerry was a frequent visitor to Kiev during the months of anti-government protests, dashing here and there and making pompous pronouncements on behalf of President Obama. Vice President Joe Biden also showed up, no doubt thinking about how the trip will improve his hopeless chances to become the next Democratic presidential nominee. The Nuland tape has her telling Platt she was sending Biden to Kiev to say “ata-boy” to America’s candidate in the Ukraine election.

The White House was mum about the role of the extreme right wing in the protests since it served U.S. interests. The Oval Office also didn’t say a peep about the provisional government’s decision — for the first time in Europe since the Nazi era — to name several fascist leaders to high level positions. It will be of intense interest if these same ultra right groups are again elevated to significant office in the permanent government to be elected May 25.

The fascist groups, mainly Svoboda and the Right Sector, have grown very fast in the last several years. Svoboda won only a couple of seats in the 2006 parliamentary elections, but in 2012 it obtained 37 seats out of 450.

President Obama and leaders of the European Union were blindsided by the Crimea affair. They refuse to accept the astonishingly popular vote, alleging the secession was illegal and that the vote was meaningless because the rest of the country must also vote in such a situation. Considerable hypocrisy pervades the current U.S./EU hand-wringing about territorial integrity, given their own recent conduct, such as:

The province of Kosovo broke away from the Serbian component of Yugoslavia in 1999 with help from a devastating three-month U.S.-NATO bombing campaign that caused heavy damage and many lives in Belgrade, the capital. There was no vote at all for secession by the residents of Kosovo province or throughout Serbia. Washington and the UN then recognized Kosovo’s separation and helped support the territory until it became an independent state. EU entities encouraged and backed this move as they did earlier “assisted” secessions from socialist Yugoslavia. Kosovo now houses Camp Bondsteel, a large U.S./NATO base. In recent years the U.S. has supported the separation of South Sudan from Sudan, Eritrea from Ethiopia, and East Timor from Indonesia.

 Regarding the need for an entire country to vote, Canada’s separatist Parti Québécois has participated in different (failed) legal referenda on national sovereignty for the province of Quebec without the rest of the country voting. There are other examples, of course.

 The struggle that took place in Ukraine from November until now is extremely complex and in this article we shall look back in history— back to the origins and travail of Crimea, back to Washington’s expensive two-decade effort to lure Ukraine into America’s sphere of influence and to bring it into NATO as well.

 First, a word about Ukraine: It is the largest country situated entirely in Europe. If it were a U.S. state it would be third in size at 233,032 sq. mi. The population was 44.3 million, until the 2.2 million people of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation. (This includes Sevastopol city, within Crimea but under the jurisdiction of the national capital Kiev, not Crimea’s capital of Simferopol.) Residents of Crimea who wish to retain their Ukrainian citizenship were given 30 days to make their application. Ukraine is an urban, industrialized country that excels in agriculture and is a major exporter of grain and corn. U.S. business interests, primarily Big Agriculture, are deeply invested in the country.

 Moscow is far weaker than the U.S but holds some powerful pieces in this geopolitical chess match:

Russian public opinion strongly supports President Putin and his handling of the Ukraine crisis. Putin’s popularity is usually about 60% but it has jumped to 75.7%, since Jan.1, the highest in five years, according to the VCIOM All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center. RT reports a second poll March 14-15 that showed 91.4% of Russian citizens approve of Crimea becoming a part of the Russian Federation. Only 5% said they were opposed.

In the U.S., CBS reported March 25 that a new poll found “61% of Americans do not think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the situation between Russia and Ukraine, nearly twice as many as the 32% who think it does…and specifically 65% do not think the U.S. should provide military aid and equipment to Ukraine in response to Russia’s actions, while only 26% think the U.S. should.” A few days earlier, a Pew Research poll shows that 56% of Americans oppose becoming “too involved in the Ukraine situation.” Those favoring “a firm stand against Russian actions” amounted to 29%. The “don‘t knows” were 15%. Only 8% of the people thought the U.S. should “consider military options.”

 What is remarkable here is that most Americans get their information about international affairs from a mass media and government that is one-sided and often deceptive — and still they strongly opposed going to war against Syria a few months ago and now want to keep out of Ukraine. This is quite a change from the public support for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, subversion and near war against Iran, and potential wars or regime-change in Venezuela, Bolivia and North Korea. The people are weary of war.

 • Sanctions aren’t a big worry for Moscow at this point. Russia supplies 30% of the EU’s essential natural gas supply and much oil as well. Russia’s energy sector produces over half of government revenues — and for the next several years at least Europe is in no position to allow sanctions to disrupt this centerpiece of Russia’s economy. Obama is a master at applying sanctions — a virtual qualification for the presidency — but they will cause nothing like the pain being applied to Iran.

In this connection it must be noted that Russia is cooperating with U.S. sanctions against Iran but if Washington and the EU were to significantly increase sanctions or demands on Russia, Moscow could retaliate, in the words of the New York Times March 22, by reviving “plans for a barter deal with the Iranians that would enable them to sell more oil, undercutting the pressure exerted on Iran by Western sanctions.” The Financial Times reported March 25 that in addition Russia could decide to sell Iran the long-range S-300 air defense missile system analysts say “can be a game changer because it would reduce Israel’s ability to attack Iran.”

On March 20 Standard & Poor downgraded Russia’s credit rating from stable to negative, a move that may have been more political than financial. Europe is obviously reluctant to impose strong sanctions and Obama is restrained by objections from U.S. finance and corporate interests that profit from doing business with Russia. So far a number of ranking Russians are being inconvenienced by individual sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes, and Visa/MasterCard owners are out of luck — but the economy, which wasn’t in such good shape to begin with,seems to be remaining stable.

 A March 21 report in Politico by Oliver Bullough suggests U.S. sanctions may actually be helping Putin’s several-year campaign to pressure Russian capitalists to deposit their money in Russian, not foreign, banks, where they often hide their assets to cheat tax collection at home. The Russian leader hopes that sanctions and the threat of having their assets frozen will bring more money back to Moscow. Putin has greatly weakened the power of the oligarchs since taking office. Having more of their money in Russian banks empowers state control.

 •As a member of the UN Security Council Moscow has an important say (and a veto) in global matters, including those pertaining to Syria, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — all countries the U.S. seeks to punish or overthrow.

Russia has many nuclear weapons and adequate delivery systems. After falling apart during the 1990s following the implosion of the USSR, Russia’s armed forces and weapons are now considered sufficient for most challenges. Given this and the Crimean episode, it is now quite doubtful a sober White House will order NATO bases built in Ukraine in the foreseeable future. Halting NATO’s continual advance toward Russia is an existential matter for Moscow. Interim Prime Minister Yatseniuk sought to assure Russia by stating, “association with NATO is not on the agenda.” But Moscow wasn’t born yesterday, and knows today’s agenda could change tomorrow.

 As the Soviet Union was beginning to come apart in 1990, Washington promised Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev — in return for the reunification of Germany — that it would not seek to recruit NATO membership from the impending dissolution of the Warsaw Pact or from the various ex-republics. The U.S. broke that promise right after the USSR imploded 23 years ago.

 Years later Gorbachev declared: “They probably rubbed their hands rejoicing at having played a trick on the Russians,” adding this probably is a factor behind Russia’s distrust today.

 The anti-Soviet NATO military pact never disbanded and now functions as Washington’s Foreign Legion, fattened by the acquisition of nearly all the former East European members of the Warsaw Pact and three former Soviet republics — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

 In 2008, the Bush Administration announced that Ukraine and Georgia were becoming members of NATO. Moscow announced it would not tolerate any such maneuver, and briefly invaded Georgia on the side of separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Washington’s support and intimate involvement in the undemocratic ouster of Yanukovich renewed Moscow’s deep concern about the expansion of NATO to Ukraine, which they would never tolerate any more than the U.S. would Russian troops at the Mexican border.

 • Moscow has friends. The 120 member nations of the Non-Aligned Movement have no beef with the Russian Federation. It would hardly be surprising if many of them quietly admired Russia’s chutzpah for standing up to the imperial superpower. A number of other countries are close to Moscow, such as those in Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization or Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The BRICS group of rising economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — is not about to chasten a fellow member of a club that prefers a multilateral world leadership in place of the existing unilateral hegemon. (Incidentally, Harvard history Professor Niall Ferguson wrote this month that the first four BRICS countries will come close within five years to overtaking the four established economic giants: The U.S., UK, Germany and Japan.) China is keeping silent about Ukraine because of its non-interference policy, and it is unenthusiastic about successions, being jittery about Tibet, but if the conflict sharply intensifies Beijing will work to ease tensions, probably siding with Russia in extremis.

 Putin’s facilitation of Crimea’s desire for independence from Ukraine was not simply Moscow getting back at Washington for the overthrow of Yanukovich or the desire to protect Russian speakers from the fascist elements, although they were factors. It is also a genuine belief held by most Russians that it is time to bring the Crimean people back home. Further, and this cannot be underestimated, it secured Russia’s prized Navy base.

 Without firing a shot, Moscow’s response to regime change was so adept it could have been choreographed by the Bolshoi. On March 11, the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea adopted a declaration of independence from Ukraine. Five days later a peaceful democratic and honest referendum was conducted in the region and 96.77% voted to return to Russia (see election sidebar). The next day President Vladimir Putin, with overwhelming backing from the Russian people and parliament, annexed the territory.

 Only one-third of the Ukrainian soldiers and their families stationed in Crimea are heeding Kiev’s call to return to Ukraine. The remaining two-thirds have opted to stay in Russian Crimea. We don’t know the reasons.

 Crimea had been part of Russia since the late 1700s. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to neighboring Ukraine in 1954, supposedly to facilitate construction of a huge hydro-electrical project that would supply power to Ukraine and Crimea.

 Another motive was noted by former Bush Administration UN Ambassador John Bolton in speaking to a student conference Washington, D.C., Feb. 16. He said Khrushchev “gave the eastern portion and the Crimea to the Ukraine, hoping to water down the still latent Nazism that survived World War II in western Ukraine.” There had been a substantial pro-Nazi movement in the country during the war, part of which fought alongside the Germans and/or against the Russians. Many of Ukraine’s younger fascists today look up to those earlier fighters as heroes.

 The people of Crimea, virtually all Russians at the time, were not consulted about the shift and most resented Khrushchev’s decision, though they at least remained in the same Soviet Union, as close to each other as New York to New Jersey. Many longed for Crimea to return to Russia, especially after the union fell apart in 1991.

 In 1994 the people of Crimea held their first referendum on separation from Ukraine, and 80% voted for independence but nothing came of it. Twenty years passed before the second referendum, and Crimea returned to Russia.

When Ukraine absorbed Crimea, Russia retained leased rights to the huge strategically important northern Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea, which it has occupied for 221 years.The facility is a geopolitical treasure because it is Russia’s only significant warm water port. Obviously, Moscow was worried that a U.S.-installed regime in Kiev might refuse to renew Russia’s lease. Now this important military facility is safely in Russian hands. (As an aside, Russia’s main warm water port outside its own territory is in the Mediterranean Sea at Tartus in Syria. From the Russian point of view, both strategic bases have been endangered by U.S. imperialism — one by regime change in Ukraine, one by supporting regime change in Syria.)

 Serious opposition was aroused in November when Yanukovich rejected the EU-U.S. bailout measure in favor of the Russian aid package. The trouble was mainly in western Ukraine where many citizens identify with Europe, and less so in east and south Ukraine where there is a large population of ethnic Russians, especially in Crimea.

 The demonstrations were not so much arguments about the merits of the offer from the European Union, U.S. and International Monetary Fund versus that from Moscow but whether to move toward Europe or Russia. Moscow offered the near-bankrupt Ukrainian government a huge package of aid, including an offer to buy $15 billion of the country’s bonds and reduce the price of Russian gas imports by a third.

President Obama offered a $1 billion loan guarantee, but it is not clear what is coming from the EU and IMF because the situation is changing.  Previous offers were considerably lower than Russia’s, and strings were attached.

Within a week 100,000 protesters converged in Maidan Square in a largely peaceful demonstration. There were clashes with police outside the square when breakaway groups smashed their way into Kiev’s city hall, while otherstried to crash through police lines to get to the presidential office, resulting in 35 arrests. Hundreds of thousands participated in a protest on Dec. 8.

 By now it was becoming evident that the conservative forces in opposition to Yanukovich were losing control of the demonstrations as extreme right wing organizations began setting up a battlefield in the Maidan. By mid-January Kiev appeared under siege and anti-government demonstrators expanded their protests to several cities in western Ukraine, storming and occupying government offices. Parliament then passed anti-protest laws, but they were ineffective. Prime Minister MykolaAzarov resigned near the end January. Parliament rescinded the new laws and passed legislation dropping all charges against arrested protesters if they leave government buildings. In mid-February all 234 arrested demonstrators were released and the office occupations ended.

 The real trouble began a couple of days later. Some 25,000 people were in the square when gunfire broke out, killing 11demonstrators and seven police. Hundreds were wounded. It has not been established how it began.  Feb. 20 was the worst day of violence when 88 people were killed. The police were largely blamed although there were reports that provocateurs fired at both sides to create even stronger opposition to the government. The next day Yanukovich signed a substantial power sharing deal with opposition leaders, but protests, led by the extreme right, continued and government offices were again occupied. On Feb. 22, as protests continued, Yanukovich “fled for his life,” ending up in Russia.

 The coup was completed Feb. 23 when Parliament, including Yanucovich’s Party of the Regions, quickly capitulated to reality and oligarch instructions and voted 328-0 to impeach the president. They then elected Obama’s choice, Yatseniuk, interim Prime Minister.

According to Richard Becker’s article “Who’s Who In Ukraine’s New [Semi-Fascist] Government?” in Liberation newspaper March 6: “The new, self-appointed government in Kiev is a coalition between right-wing and outright fascist forces, and the line between the two is often difficult to discern. Moreover, it is the fascist forces, particularly the Svoboda party and the Right Sector, who are in the ascendancy, as evidenced by the fact that they have been given key government positions in charge of the military and other core elements of the state apparatus.” Here is a list of five fascists in the new government and their positions:

1.      DmytroYarosh, Right Sector neo-Nazi commander who said “our revival begins with our Maidan,” is now second-in-command of the National Defense and Security Council (covering the military, police, courts and intelligence apparatus).

2.      AndriyParubiy, co-founder of the fascist Social National Party, which later changed its name to Svoboda, is the new top commander of the National Defense and Security Council.

3.      IhorTenyukh, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda party, was named Minister of Defense, but resigned March 24 over accusations he mishandled the troop withdrawal from Crimea, a charge he denied.

4.      OleksandrSych, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda, is one of three Vice Prime Ministers.

5.      Oleg Makhnitsky, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda, is now Prosecutor-General (Attorney General), and has immediately set out to indict the leaders of Crimea who do not want to live under the new order in Kiev.

 Yatseniuk was summoned to Washington and to receive his official elevation from the leader of the free world on March 12. Sitting in the Oval Office chatting with President Obama, he promised he would “never surrender” to Russia. He then paraphrased a famous quote from former President Reagan: “Mr. Putin, tear down this wall, the wall of war, intimidation and military aggression.” Obama and Nuland  certainly picked the right man for the job.

Virtually the entire U.S. mass media did not question or critically examine the implications of the White House honoring an unelected prime minister who just replaced a democratically elected prime minister who was overthrown by mass demonstrations that included fascists, some of whom are ending up in the new government. This is an interesting commentary on the condition of American democracy. Ah, the corporate media will reply, “but he was subsequently impeached,” and this makes it all peachy.

 The U.S. government dislikes President Putin, especially after Moscow provided the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden sanctuary in Russia. The antipathy goes back for over a decade. The New York Times published a front page article Feb. 24 headlined “3 Presidents And A Riddle Named Putin.” Former presidents and other leading officials are quoted over the years as characterizing him as cold, or autocratic, or uninformed, or a stone killer, or KGB, or a dictator. Hillary Clinton compared President Putin to Hitler last week, a title Washington usually reserves for political leaders it is about to bomb, though this time it probably was just HRC revving up for 2016.

 In reality there are three real reasons for America’s antipathy: 

Russia was a traumatized basket case for a decade after socialism was replaced by robber baron capitalism and forced into an undignified subservience to Washington. Putin took power in 2000 after the abrupt resignation of the by then exceptionally unpopular Boris Yeltsin, who had dissolved the Soviet Union against public opinion. Over the last 14 years as president, premier and president again, Putin’s policies have pulled Russia out of Uncle Sam’s pocket and helped bring the country back to life. James Petras, in a March 11 article, described it this way: “With the advent of President Vladimir Putin and the reconstitution of the Russian state and economy, the U.S. lost a vassal client and source of plundered wealth.” 

He openly criticizes America’s unjust wars and its attempt to dominate the rest of the world.

He had the effrontery to declare in a 2005 State of the Nation speech to the Russian people: “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century…. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.”

 Putin was being honest. The Russian people certainly understood what he meant — even those who opposed communism. But the neoconservatives who dominated George W. Bush Administration and those of lesser number in the Obama Administration (who happened to be quite active in the Ukraine regime-change operation) remain unforgiving and do their best to demonize the actions and intentions of Russia and its president.

Putin has shortcomings and has made mistakes, of course. He is fairly conservative in general but most pronouncedly in certain social matters that probably coincide with the thinking of a majority of the Russian people. His government’s antagonism toward the LGBT community is about where the U.S. was 30 or 40 years ago and where many Americans still are today. (How many months ago was it when the White House first okayed same sex marriage?) He is also too much a one-man show with an ego as large as Russia.

 But the principal aspect of his governance is that he is reviving an independent Russia as a regional power, after a number of post-Soviet years in the doghouse, and that’s what mainly irks Washington.

The New York Times March 25, noting that the Russian president has been complaining for years “about the West moving unilaterally to reorder the Continental balance of power… [Interpreted U.S.-UE] courting of Ukraine… as a step too far, prompting Mr. Putin to risk sanctions and the worst conflict since the Cold War to make clear that Washington and its friends do not call all of the shots anymore.”

It seems impossible for the White House to see the world the way Putin sees it — through Russian eyes that cannot forget the relatively recent past and are wide open to the geopolitical realities taking place today. The Russian president also might think that Washington’s support for Ukraine regime change was an appalling and mocking “thank you” for recently (1) saving Obama’s face by providing him with an exit from an unpopular decision to bomb Syria, and (2) for Russia’s influence on Iran’s leadership that played some role in the recent rapprochement between Tehran and Washington.

 The U.S. news media have been asking what nefarious deed to expect next from Russia, and whether Putin plans to grab more territory. It is risky making predictions but this writer’s view the Russian government is going to watch and wait, with no dramatic actions in the immediate future. Russia will try hard to win friends, especially with former republics, to bolster its position against further infringements from Washington. Putin has domestic and other matters on his agenda, including a Eurasian Economic Union. He is flying high after Crimea, Sochi Olympics/Paralympics, super high approval ratings and he’d rather not climb down for a while.

 The real question is what the U.S. will do next about Russia and about a very troubled Ukraine, given all the other crises on the crowded agenda of American empire. Obama or his successor will eventually try in one way or another to pay Russia back for Crimea, a deed no self-respecting superpower can simply shrug off. Moscow will be prepared.

 The problem for Washington may be its latest geopolitical acquisition. The new Ukrainian government to be elected in May will be utterly dependent on the U.S., its principal enabler and protector, lesser so the EU and the IMF. The economy is in a serious crisis. The IMF austerity program could cause great hardship for working people. The oligarchs will remain oligarchs, richer now because of the business and security the U.S. brings with it.

The country is split into antagonistic factions. Potential trouble can be expected between Ukrainian and Russian speakers. Hot heads will want to retaliate for the loss of Crimea. The fascists have come out boldly and assumed considerable responsibility in overthrowing Yanukovich. They expect a big payoff.

Despite all this, the accomplishment-starved Obama Administration evidently thinks the entire adventure is a big success in that it has just pocketed Ukraine and found an issue with which to throttle Russia for years to come. However, this well may end up far more of a headache than Washington ever imagined. Obama and the Europeans would have been much smarter to accept Russia’s offer of three equal parties sharing the cost of bailing out the Ukraine, and left well enough alone.

Desde febrero de 2014 las manifestaciones violentas, limitadas a los barrios ricos de algunas ciudades, entre ellas Caracas, sacuden Venezuela. El sector golpista de la oposición – que acaba de sufrir cuatro reveses electorales en un año y 18 sobre 19 elecciones desde 1998, en escrutinios alabados por todas las instituciones mundiales, desde la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) hasta la Unión Europea– orquestó esos actos que costaron la vida a más de 30 personas, entre ellas varios miembros de las fuerzas del orden. 1

Incapaz de tomar el poder por la vía legal y democrática, la oposición ha decidido volver a los métodos violentos que usó en 2002 y que desembocaron en un golpe de Estado contra el presidente legítimamente electo Hugo Chávez. La comunidad internacional condenó esos nuevos ataques contra el orden constitucional y brindó su apoyo al gobierno de Nicolás Maduro.

Efe (21/03/2014)

María Corina Machado, diputada opositora, saluda simpatizantes frente a la sede de la OEA, en Washington

Así, la OEA expresó, por unanimidad de sus 35 miembros –menos tres voces (Estados Unidos, Canadá y Panamá)– su “pleno respaldo […] [al] Gobierno democráticamente electo de Venezuela” 2.  Del mismo modo, los 12 países de la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas declararon de forma unánime su “solidaridad” con el “Gobierno democráticamente electo de esa nación” y condenaron “los recientes actos de violencia” de la oposición. 3

Amnistía Internacional es una organización que defiende los derechos humanos, la democracia y el Estado de derecho en el mundo. Habría parecido natural y lógico que denunciara los atentados contra la democracia venezolana orquestados por la extrema derecha del país y que brindara su apoyo a las autoridades legítimas de la nación. No fue el caso.

Peor aún, el 12 de marzo de 2014, Amnistía Internacional publicó un comunicado sobre Venezuela en el que pide al Gobierno y a la oposición que “garanticen el respeto de los derechos humanos” 4.  Ubicó así en un mismo plano a las autoridades legítimas, que sufren violencias y que intentan restaurar el orden en el marco definido por la ley, y a la extrema derecha golpista, cuyos actos causaron la muerte de 31 personas y daños materiales de varias decenas de millones de dólares (tiendas de alimentos destinadas a las capas populares incendiadas, oficinas del canal de televisión público VTV saqueadas, sedes ministeriales atacadas, etc.). 5

Para ilustrar su comunicado, Amnistía Internacional publicó una foto de un joven estudiante arrestado por la Guardia Nacional. La organización podría haber elegido publicar también una de las numerosas fotos que muestran a esos mismos estudiantes, con bombas incendiarias en mano, destruyendo edificios públicos o armados de pistolas y desfilando encapuchados por las calles sembrando el terror entre los habitantes, con el fin de brindar una imagen equilibrada de la situación en Venezuela. No fue el caso y esa elección partidista arroja una sombra sobre la imparcialidad de AI, y por consiguiente sobre su credibilidad. 6

Amnistía Internacional a través de Guadalupe Marengo, directora adjunta del programa Américas, incluso fue más lejos. Denunció “las proclamas cada vez más violentas de las autoridades”, las cuales “amenazan con acabar con el respeto de los derechos humanos y el Estado de derecho”. En ningún momento AI citó las palabras mencionadas ni designó con nombres a esas autoridades. Hay una razón para ello: la realidad es opuesta a la imagen que presenta la organización de defensa de los derechos humanos. 7

En efecto, todos los dirigentes venezolanos, sin excepción alguna, desde el presidente Nicolás Maduro, pasando por los ministros y parlamentarios, lanzaron llamados al diálogo y a la calma y convidaron a la oposición a que expresara sus desacuerdos mediante la vía democrática. Así, Maduro multiplicó los llamados a la concordia y expresó su rechazo de todas las violencias: “Nuestra victoria será la paz y consolidaremos la justicia. Debemos mantenernos unidos y vencer con la paz”. 8
La OEA no cometió semejante error y expresó, contrariamente a Amnistía Internacional, su “pleno respaldo y aliento a las iniciativas y los esfuerzos del Gobierno democráticamente electo de Venezuela […] para que continúe […] avanzando en el proceso de diálogo nacional”. 9 La UNASUR, por su parte, expresó su apoyo y decidió “respaldar los esfuerzos del Gobierno de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela para propiciar un diálogo”. 10

Efe (16/03/2014)

La organización podría haber elegido publicar fotos que muestran a esos mismos estudiantes en actos de violencia

Amnistía Internacional decidió ignorar todas las declaraciones del Gobierno legítimo a favor del diálogo y del respeto de las instituciones y exigió “de las autoridades que indicaran de modo absolutamente claro que su prioridad era el respeto de los derechos humanos y del Estado de derecho” 11 , trastocando los papeles entre los autores de los actos de violencia y el presidente Maduro quien intenta restablecer el orden en el marco previsto por la ley, cumpliendo así su deber ejecutivo. No obstante, además de los llamados a la resolución pacífica de los diferendos políticos, el poder bolivariano repitió varias veces –desde el inicio de las manifestaciones– que prevalecería la Constitución. “Nada nos apartará del camino de la Patria y de la vía de la democracia”, expresó Nicolás Maduro 12.  Amnistía Internacional decidió ocultar deliberadamente esas declaraciones.

El comunicado de Amnistía Internacional dedica una frase a la oposición con un tono diplomático que contrasta con la virulencia usada hacia las autoridades legítimas: “Exhortamos por otra parte a los dirigentes de la oposición a lanzar un llamado a sus partidarios para recomendarles que no usen la violencia, particularmente contra las personas cuyas opiniones políticas difieren de las suyas”. En ningún momento Amnistía Internacional mencionó o condenó las declaraciones de los principales dirigentes de esta misma oposición que públicamente llamaron a romper el orden constitucional. 13

Así, la Organización de defensa de los derechos humanos habría podido citar las palabras de Leopoldo López, líder del partido Voluntad Popular, que participó en el golpe de Estado de abril de 2002, y que lanzó una llamada a la insurrección en enero de 2014. “Queremos lanzar un llamado a los venezolanos […] a que nos alcemos. Convocamos al pueblo venezolano a decir ‘basta ya’. […] Con una meta a discutir: ‘la salida’. ¿Cuál es la salida de este desastre?”. 14  Mientras los actos de violencia causaron la muerte de 31 personas, el 19 de marzo de 2014, López volvió a alentar a sus partidarios a perpetrar nuevas violencias: “Hago un llamado a todo el país a mantener y aumentar la presión hasta quebrar la dictadura”. 15 Amnistía Internacional habría podido condenar este llamado público a derrocar a un Gobierno democráticamente electo. No fue el caso.

También Amnistía Internacional habría podido mencionar las declaraciones de la diputada de la oposición María Corina Machado, quien exhortó a los Venezolanos a la revuelta: “El pueblo de Venezuela tiene una respuesta: ‘Rebeldía, rebeldía’. Hay algunos que dicen que debemos esperar a unas elecciones en unos cuantos años. ¿Pueden esperar los que no consiguen alimentos para sus hijos? ¿Pueden esperar los empleados públicos, los campesinos, los comerciantes, a quienes les arrebatan su derecho al trabajo y a la propiedad? Venezuela no puede esperar más”. 16 ¿Acaso condenó Amnistía esas declaraciones? De ningún modo.

Al apoyar a la oposición golpista venezolana, al silenciar los crímenes que cometió la extrema derecha, al manipular la realidad factual, al pronunciarse abiertamente contra el gobierno legítimo de Nicolás Maduro, contra le democracia venezolana y contra la voluntad mayoritaria del pueblo venezolano expresada en las urnas, Amnistía Internacional se mofa de sus principios y de su razón de ser, a saber la lucha por los derechos humanos. La organización internacional engaña deliberadamente a la opinión pública y traiciona los valores a los cuales se adhirieron cientos de miles de militantes de la emancipación humana de todo el mundo.

Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de La Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, con un prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página en Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

1. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Fallece otro efectivo de la GNB por violencia fascista en Táchira”, 19 de março de 2014.
2. Organisation des Etats américains, “Consejo permanente aprobó declaración sobre la situación en Venezuela”, 7 de marzo de 2014. http://www.oas.org/es/centro_noticias/comunicado_prensa.asp?sCodigo=C-084/14 (site consultado no dia 18 de março de 2014).
3. Union des nations sud-américaines, “Resolución”, 12 de marzo de 2014. http://cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/RESOLUCI%C3%93N-UNASUR-MARZO-2014.pdf (site consultado no dia 19 de março de 2014).
4. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela : le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, 12 de março de 2014. http://www.amnesty.fr/AI-en-action/Violences/Armes-et-conflits-armes/Actualites/Venezuela-les-droits-humains-etouffes-11151 (site consultado em 18 de marzo de 2014).
5. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Grupo fascista encapuchado atacó sede del Ministerio del Ambiente en Táchira”, 20 de março de 2014.
6. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela : le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
7. Ibid.
8. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Maduro: Nuestra victoria será la paz”, 19 de março de 2014.
9. Organisation des Etats américains, “Consejo permanente aprobó declaración sobre la situación en Venezuela”, op. cit.
10. Union des nations sud-américaines, “Resolución”, op. cit.
11. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela: le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
12. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela“, Opera Mundi, 23 de fevereiro de 2014.
13. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela: le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
14. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela”, Opera Mundi, op. cit.
15. EFE, “Opositor Leopoldo López pide a venezolanos aumentar presión ‘hasta quebrar la dictadura’”, 19 de março de 2014.
16. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela”, Opera Mundi, op. cit.

As of now, Kuwait is hosting its first Arab League Summit. The slogan for this year’s Summit is “Solidarity For A  Better Future”. Question is: will the Kuwait Summit ensure solidarity for the region?

 It is a well known fact that the Arab World has seen its own share of regional alliances formed on the basis of ideological, sectarian and regional dynamics. With the recent cases of the Arab Spring, such dynamism has become all the more complicated and thus, regional solidarity is surely a challenging task to accomplish.

 Historical Overview

Back in the 1950s-60s, the Arab World was divided into two factions: pro-Soviet Arab nationalists led by Egypt, and pro-West conservatives led by Saudi Arabia. The division between the two factions was so paramount that Malcolm Kerr termed it as The Arab Cold War.

Alignments changed in the year 1978 after the signing of the Camp David Accord, when Egypt decided to quit the Arab-Israeli conflict. Both Syria and Iraq tried their best to isolate Egypt after Camp David, but the situation refused to remain static. Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, Iraq’s attention shifted towards Iran, and the Arab World witnessed another set of factionism. This time, countries such as Syria, Libya and Algeria sided with Iran, whereas the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan aided Iraq.

Things soon went out of control when Saddam Hussein, the then leader of Iraq, decided to invade Kuwait. Yemen and Jordan supported Iraq in rhetoric, whereas most of the Gulf States aided the US-led alliance to drive Saddam Hussein out Kuwait. This round of musical chairs continued right until the early 1990s, when the Madrid Peace Conference was held and a dual containment policy was forwarded to keep a check on both Iran and Iraq, under the observation of USA, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt.

The policy of dual containment remained in effect until 2003, when USA decided to invade Iraq and eliminate Saddam Hussein. Thereafter, a new regional factionism emerged. This time, the Gulf States (with the possible exception of Qatar), Egypt and Jordan decided to be the moderate voice in the region, whereas Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah emerged as the new axis of resistance against the US. The war in Lebanon (2006) and Israel’s attack against Hamas in Gaza further widened the gap.

Then came the phase of the Arab Spring revolutions, which made the picture all the more complicated. While proponents of the Arab Spring surely talked a good deal about freedom and liberty, its ideological blindness became well evident. A movement that refused to distinguish between the more moderate Hosni Mubarak and the comparatively radical Bashar al-Assad is confused at best, directionless at worst.

The Present Day

As of now, the region has three major groups, each with its own ideological, sectarian and geo-political agenda to pursue.

First, we have the pro-Shiite camp, which is led by the Maliki government of Iraq and Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Second, there is the counter-revolution group, led by Saudi Arabia and supported by UAE, Jordan and possibly Egypt.  

Third, we have the moderate elements, such as Turkey and Qatar, that are trying to server as a balancing force in the region.

There is not much to talk about the first group, simply because has a clearly-defined gameplan of its own — siding with Shiite regimes and factions wherever possible.

The second group, however, is trying hard to keep the eerily confused and horribly chaotic Arab Spring revolutions at bay. Saudi Arabia, for instance, offered to host the deposed President(s) of both Egypt and Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali respectively. Even more so, in spite of its animosity with Gaddafi, Saudi Arabia expressed no support for the Libyan Revolution either. In fact, the only reason Saudi Arabia is supporting Syrian Revolution is because if al-Assad’s regime survives, the Shiite faction under Iran will become a regional hegemon.

The third group, on the other hand, is pushing for peace, and calls for the restoration of democracy in Egypt.

Conclusion

Quite obviously, the Middle East has a good number of challenges to tackle and achieving true solidarity is an uphill task.

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, has been trying for quite some time to melt the ice between Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yet, this three-way battle in the region is way too complicated to be tackled easily and this makes the purpose of this year’s Arab League Summit all the more difficult.

Therefore, as the host country of this year’s Summit, Kuwait needs to mend fences between rival brothers and ensure that regional hiccups do not escalate into a full-fledged crisis.

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

 

In light of ongoing geopolitical tensions in Russia, Ukraine and hotly contested Crimea, three (yes, three!) U.S. Congressional Committees held hearings this week on the U.S. using its new angled oil and gas bounty as a blunt tool to fend off Russian dominance of the global gas market.

Though 14 combined witnesses testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power and U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, not a single environmental voice received an invitation. Climate change and environmental concerns were only voiced by two witnesses.

Using the ongoing regional tumult as a rationale to discuss exports of U.S. oil and gas obtained mainly via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the lack of discussion on climate change doesn’t mean the issue isn’t important to national security types.

Indeed, the Pentagon’s recently published Quadrennial Defense Review coins climate change a “threat force multiplier” that could lead to resource scarcity and resource wars. Though directly related to rampant resource extraction and global oil and gas marketing, with fracking’s accompanying climate change and ecological impacts, “threat force multiplication” impacts of climate change went undiscussed. 

With another LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal approved by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Cos Bay, Ore., to non-Free Trade Agreement countries on March 24 (the seventh so far, with two dozen still pending), the heat is on to export U.S. fracked oil and gas to the global market.

So, why wasn’t the LNG climate trump card discussed in a loud and clear way? Well, just consider the source: ten of the witnesses had ties in one way or another to the oil and gas industry.

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Headed by recently named chair U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), the March 25 U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing featured four of five witnesses with industry ties, all of which went undisclosed. It was titled, “Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs. Can it be Reversed?”

“The last thing Putin and his cronies wants (sic) is competition from the United States of America in the energy race,” Landrieu declared in her opening statement. “Tyrants and dictators throughout history have had many reasons to fear revolutions, and this U.S. energy revolution is one they should all keep their eyes on!” More on that later.

Given the enthusiasm conveyed in her statement, perhaps it’s unsurprising Landrieu — whose state of Louisiana is an oil and gas industry hub like few others — also has close industry ties.

Up for re-election in 2014, Landrieu has already taken close to half a million dollars from the industry to the chagrin of environmentalists. Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has taken $40,600 during this campaign cycle, as well, even though she isn’t up for re-election until 2016.

Daniel Adamson, senior counsel for the committee, worked as a lobbyist for natural gas utility company Avista Corporation from 2004-2010.

And now for the witnesses:

- Adam Sieminski: Before taking the seat as head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2012, Sieminski worked in the fossil fuel finance sector.

“From 2005 until March 2012, he was the chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank, working with the bank’s global research and trading units,” explains his EIA biography. “From 1998 to 2005, he served as the director and energy strategist for Deutsche Bank’s global oil and gas equity team.”

- W. David Montgomery: Testifying at both this committee hearing and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing, Montgomery is the senior vice president of NERA (National Economic Research Associates) Economic Consulting.

NERA penned a study on behalf of the DOE published in December 2012 concluding LNG exports will be economically beneficial to the U.S. It recently published an updated follow-up study funded by Cheniere — the first company to receive a permit to export fracked U.S. gas in Sabine Pass, La., in 2012 — concluding “unlimited LNG exports benefit U.S.

W. David Montgomery; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Author of a 2009 paper titled, “Organized Hypocrisy as a Tool of Climate Diplomacy,” commissioned by the fossil fuel funded American Enterprise Institute, Montgomery is not a climate change denier. He just doesn’t think anything should be done to tackle climate change.

“Trying to bribe or coerce unwilling countries into curtailing their GHG emissions threatens to cause more harm than good,” he wrote in the American Enterprise Institute paper.

Montgomery sang a similar tune during a March 2011 U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing:

“First, if the U.S. were to act [on climate change] without solid assurance of comparable efforts by China, India, and other industrialized countries, its efforts would make almost no difference to global temperature, especially if industrial production and associated emissions are simply exported to other countries. Second, even global action is unlikely to yield U.S. benefits commensurate with the costs it would incur in making steep GHG emission cuts. Third, globally, even with moderate emission reductions, benefits would not be much greater than costs, and, fourth, conflicting economic interests will make international agreements on mandatory limits unstable.

He has also done work for the climate change denying think-tanks like the George Marshall Institute and the Heritage FoundationBecause of his track record, Skeptical Science has labeled him a “climate misinformer.”

NERA‘s roots go back to running defense for Big Tobacco, as revealed here on DeSmogBlog. 

- David Goldwyn: Goldwyn currently wears many hats. A member of the DOE‘s National Petroleum Council, he also is a corporate attorney for the firm Sutherland, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and president of oil and gas industry consulting firm Goldwyn Global Strategies LLC.

Before opening up his new consulting firm, Goldwyn worked as Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs at U.S. Department of State from 2009 to 2011.

While working for the State Department, Goldwyn created the Global Shale Gas Initiative (now known as the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program) and its cousin, the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative. These programs, in essence, are the State Department’s shale gas “missionary force,” in which the Department teams up with U.S. fracking companies to teach “best practices” to countries around the world.

David Goldwyn; Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State

A State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks via whistleblower Chelsea Manning reveals Goldwyn also helped Canadian oil companies develop talking points to promote tar sands during his time working as State Department Special Envoy.

Prior to working for the State Department, Goldwyn owned another consulting firm called Goldywn International Strategies LLC. It was during his time working for this consultancy that he did some of his most ugly work with the very same “tyrants and dictators” decried in Landrieu’s opening statement.

In 2008, Goldwyn lobbied on behalf of the U.S.-Libya Business Group at the time the country was under the dictatorial rule of Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in October 2011. Goldwyn scrubbed this detail from his biography once he got a job at the State Department.

He also scrubbed out his former gig as an unregistered lobbyist for Turkmenistan, another U.S.-friendly gas-rich and oppressive dictatorship. Goldwyn did so as the former executive director of the U.S.-Turkmenistan Business Council, which was “primarily funded by American oil companies (Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon) hoping to do business in the country,” according to investigative journalist Ken Silverstein.

Although dictatorships such as those in Libya and Turkmenistan are “often a threat to their own people, they do not harbor or finance groups that threaten U.S. interests,” Goldwyn once said in a Congressional hearing in speaking to human rights concerns of doing business in these countries.

And Goldwyn’s latest push: opening up the floodgates for U.S. oil and gas companies to operate inside of Mexico.

- Edward Chow: A senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Energy and National Security Program, a conservative think-tank, Chow worked for two decades at Chevron.

 “While he was Chevron’s principal international representative in Washington, he worked closely with the White House, Capitol Hill, federal departments and agencies, foreign governments, international financial institutions, and the foreign policy community on international economic policy affecting worldwide energy investments,” explains Chow’s CSIS biographical sketch. “Between 1989 and 1991, he was based in Beijing as Chevron’s country manager for China.”

Edward Chow; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Like Goldwyn, Chow has maintained close ties with Turkmenistan. Wikileaks cables reveal he visited from March to April 2009 to offer “his assessment of Turkmenistan’s oil and gas prospects” and discuss “policy perspectives on development of the country’s oil and gas sector” with the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister Wepa Hajiyev.

As he disclosed in an August 2013 Congressional testimony, Chow also serves as an advisor to the State Department on the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) Pipeline. TAPI, stalled for years due to Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, is set to pump Turkemenistan’s gas to Fazilka, India, located near the Pakistan-India border.

ExxonMobil, which has an office in Turkmenistan, “has expressed interest in financing and running the pipeline project,” according to the Oman Tribune.

Rounding the circle, in 2011 ExxonMobil gave CSIS a $4 million grant.

U.S. House Energy and Power Subcommittee

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing honed in on the proposed H.R. 6, colloquially known as the “Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act.” With 40 co-sponsors (38 Republicans, 2 Democrats), the bill mandates expedited approval of LNG permits with World Trade Organization countries.

The bill was proposed on March 6 in the midst of ongoing events between Ukraine and Russia and roughly one month after the Energy and Commerce Committee published its report titled, “Prosperity at Home and Strengthened Allies Abroad — A Global Perspective on Natural Gas Exports.”

“Passing this legislation sends the clear signal that America intends to take full advantage of our energy resources…to ensure the lifeline of U.S. gas supplies will be available to our allies, and that we will stand firm to Putin and supplant Russia’s influence,” said U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) in a press release announcing the legislation.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Upton’s Public Disclosure forms for 2012 reveal he invested $1,000 to $15,000 in BP, $15,000 to $50,000 in Chesapeake, $16,000 tp $65,000 in GE and $115,000 to $300,000 in ExxonMobil.

As investigative journalist Lee Fang revealed, subcommittee “staff counsel Patrick Currier is a former lobbyist for gas and energy companies, including the Gas Processors Association, FirstEnergy Corp, and the CCS Alliance…[and] chief counsel Tom Hassenboehler is a former lobbyist for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, one of the most vocal trade groups pushing to build more LNG export capacity.”

Fang also discovered Subcommittee chair Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) holds between $250,000 and $500,000 in stock with both ExxonMobil and Chevron.

Whitfield has taken $70,500 from the oil and gas industry during this election cycle and took $126,500 from the industry during his 2012 race for office.

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Witnesses with oil and gas industry ties included:

- Paula Gant: Gant is the DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for oil and natural gas. She got there by passing through the government-industry revolving door. She formerly worked as senior vice president for policy and planning for the American Gas Association, a gas industry trade association which supports LNG exports.

 

 

 

Paula Gant; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

- Anita Orbán: Author of the book “Power, Energy, and the New Russian Imperialism,” Orbán sits as Hungary’s Ambassador-at-Large for Energy Security. She also testified in October 2013 in front of the subcommittee in a hearing titled, “The Geopolitical Implications and Mutual Benefits of U.S. LNG exports.”

Anita Orbán; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Orban worked at industry-funded think-tanks Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute while working toward her PhD at Tufts University.

- Kenneth Ditzel: A principal at Charles River Associates, Ditzel formerly worked as a production engineer at Dow Chemical.

Dow is part of the chemical industry-funded coalition called America’s Energy Advantage, which has rallied against the rampant push to export U.S. oil and gas. But, given the company’s own toxic legacy, it’s far from an environmental voice and climate change isn’t among its concerns.

Kenneth Ditzel; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

Ditzel authored a Dow Chemical-funded report in February 2013 titled, “US Manufacturing and LNG Exports: Economic Contributions to the US Economy and Impacts on US Natural Gas Prices.”

America’s Energy Advantage — which also came out against the approval of the Jordan Cove LNG export facility in Coos Bay, Ore., — advocates for the State Department’s “missionary force” approach for shale gas diplomacy, as it opined in a press release about the Energy and Power subcommittee’s hearing.

“To weaken Putin and strengthen our European allies, the Committee should be focused on the export of American drilling technology and know-how to allies so they can develop their own domestic shale gas resources,” reads the press release. “It is much better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish.”

- Dave Schryver: Executive vice president of the American Public Gas Association, which is also a member of America’s Energy Advantage.

U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs also held a hearing titled, “The Geopolitical Potential of the U.S. Energy Boom.”

Committee Chair U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) took $10,500 from the oil and gas industry for the 2012 elections and has already taken $13,000 in the run-up to the 2014 elections.

Further, three of the four witnesses have industry ties:

- Harold Hamm: The chairman and CEO of Continental Resources, Hamm served as Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s energy adviser during his race against President Barack Obama in 2012. He’s also the chairman of the lobbying and campaign contribution powerhouse Domestic Energy Producers Alliance and broke campaign contribution giving limit rules during the 2012 campaign.

Harold Hamm; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

- Elizabeth Rosenberg: Rosenberg is a senior fellow and director of the energy, environment and security program for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS receives industry funding aplenty, from the likes of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, ConocoPhillips, General Electric and Chevron.

While far from a robust analysis of climate change and environmental concerns, Rosenberg did mention “concerns about the environmental and community effects of the energy boom and further growth in unconventional energy globally” during her testimony.

- Michael Levi: The David M. Rubenstein senior fellow and director of the program on energy security and climate change for the Council on Foreign Relations, Levi’s fellowship is named after and funded by the CEO of private equity firm giant, the Carlyle Group.

Michael Levi; Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot

“Energy is one of the investment fields Carlyle specializes in, and it recently escalated its energy holdings by buying a $424 million stake in NGP Energy Capital Management (for ‘Natural Gas Partnership’),” explained Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Carlyle also co-owns a major oil refinery in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, a joint venture with Sunoco. That refinery is a major recipient of oil fracked from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, which is delivered to the refinery via freight rail.

Council on Foreign Relations oil and gas industry corporate members include BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, Total, Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips and GE.

Levy mentioned mild concerns about the climate change and environmental impacts of the U.S. unconventional oil and gas boom in his testimony.

“Just a Bill…on Capitol Hill”

In elementary school civics class, many children are taught the “Schoolhouse Rock” version song of U.S. politics on how the “legislative sausage is made.”

“While I’m sitting in committee, but I know I’ll be a law someday,” the song goes. “At least I hope and pray that I will, but today I am still just a bill.”

Yet with representatives listening to a slate of witnesses like this on the future of the global energy economy, this isn’t your elementary school version of how Capitol Hill works.

In a sense, given the climate change stakes at play, it’s more like another song: “It’s the End of World (as We Know It).”

The leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee,  Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho),  released a draft bill on Sunday that would provide explicit government guarantees on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) generated by privately-owned banks and financial institutions. The gigantic giveaway to Wall Street would put US taxpayers on the hook for 90 percent of the losses on toxic MBS the likes of which crashed the financial system in 2008 plunging the economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression. Proponents of the bill say that new rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) –which set standards for a “qualified mortgage” (QM)– assure that borrowers will be able to repay their loans thus reducing the chances of a similar meltdown in the future. However, those QE rules were largely shaped by lobbyists and attorneys from the banking industry who eviscerated strict underwriting requirements– like high FICO scores and 20 percent down payments– in order to lend freely to borrowers who may be less able to repay their loans.  Additionally, a particularly lethal clause has been inserted into the bill that would provide blanket coverage for all MBS  (whether they met the CFPB’s QE standard or not) in the event of another financial crisis. Here’s the paragraph:

“Sec.305. Authority to protect taxpayers in unusual and exigent market conditions….

If the Corporation, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, determine that unusual and exigent circumstances threaten mortgage credit availability within the U.S. housing market, FMIC may provide insurance on covered securities that do not meet the requirements under section 302 including those for first loss position of private market holders.” (“Freddie And Fannie Reform – The Monster Has Arrived”, Zero Hedge)

In other words, if the bill passes,  US taxpayers will be responsible for any and all bailouts deemed necessary by the regulators mentioned above.  And, since all of those regulators are in Wall Street’s hip-pocket, there’s no question what they’ll do when the time comes. They’ll bailout they’re fatcat buddies and dump the losses on John Q. Public.

If you can’t believe what you are reading or if you think that the system is so thoroughly corrupt it can’t be fixed; you’re not alone. This latest outrage just confirms that the Congress, the executive and all the chief regulators are mere marionettes performing whatever task is asked of them by their Wall Street paymasters.

The stated goal of the Johnson-Crapo bill is to “overhaul” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that “private capital can play the central role in home finance.” (That’s how Barack Obama summed it up.) Of course, that’s not really the purpose at all. The real objective is to hand over the profit-generating mechanism to the private banks (Fannie and Freddie have been raking in the dough for the last three years) while the red ink is passed on to the public. That’s what’s really going on.

According to the Wall Street Journal,  the bill will

“construct an elaborate new platform by which a number of private-sector entities, together with a privately held but federally regulated utility, would replace key roles long played by Fannie and Freddie….”

“The legislation replaces the mortgage-finance giants with a new system in which the government would continue to play a potentially significant role insuring U.S. home loans.” (“Plan for Mortgage Giants Takes Shape”, Wall Street Journal) 

“Significant role”? What significant role? (Here’s where it gets interesting.)

The WSJ:

“The Senate bill would repurpose the firms’ existing regulator as a new “Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp.” and charge the agency with approving new firms to pool loans into securities. Those firms could then purchase federal insurance to guarantee payments to investors in those bonds. The FMIC would insure mortgage bonds much the way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. provides bank-deposit insurance.”

Unbelievable. So they want to turn F and F into an insurance company that backs up the garbage mortgages created by the same banks that just ripped us all off for trillions of dollars on the same freaking swindle?

You can’t be serious?

More from the WSJ:  “Mortgage guarantors would be required to maintain a 10% capital buffer against losses and to have that capital extinguished before the federal insurance would be triggered.”

10 percent? What the hell difference does 10 percent make; that’s a drop in the bucket.  If the banks are going to issue mortgages to people who can’t repay the debt, then they need to cover the damn losses themselves, otherwise they shouldn’t be in the banking biz to begin with, right?

This is such an outrageous, in-your-face ripoff, it shouldn’t even require a response. These jokers should be laughed out of the senate. All the same,  the bill is moving forward, and President Twoface has thrown his weigh behind it. Is there sort of illicit, under-the-table, villainous activity this man won’t support?

Not when it comes to his big bank buddies, there isn’t. Now check out this clip from an article by economist Dean Baker. Baker refers to the Corker-Warner bill, but the Crapo-Johnson fiasco is roughly the same deal. Here’s Baker:

“The Corker-Warner bill does much more than just eliminate Fannie and Freddie. In their place, it would establish a system whereby private financial institutions could issue mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that carry a government guarantee. In the event that a large number of mortgages in the MBS went bad, the investors would be on the hook for losses up to 10 percent of its value, after that point the government gets the tab.

If you think that sounds like a reasonable system, then you must not have been around during the housing crash and ensuing financial crisis. At the peak of the crisis in 2008-2009 the worst subprime MBS were selling at 30-40 cents on the dollar. This means the government would have been picking up a large tab under the Corker-Warner system, even if investors had been forced to eat a loss equal to 10 percent of the MBS price.

The pre-crisis financial structure gave banks an enormous incentive to package low quality and even fraudulent mortgages into MBS. The system laid out in the Corker-Warner bill would make these incentives even larger. The biggest difference is that now the banks can tell investors that their MBS come with a government guarantee, so that they most they stand to lose is 10 percent of the purchase price.” (“The disastrous idea for privatizing Fannie and Freddie”, Dean Baker, Al Jazeera)

Just ponder that last part for a minute: “The bill would make these incentives even larger.”

Do you really think we should create bigger incentives for these dirtbags to rip us off? Does that make sense to you? Here’s more from Baker:

“The changes in financial regulation are also unlikely to provide much protection. In the immediate wake of the crisis there were demands securitizers keep a substantial stake in the mortgages they put into their pools, to ensure that they had an incentive to only securitize good mortgages. Some reformers were demanding as much as a 20 percent stake in every mortgage.

Over the course of the debate on the Dodd-Frank bill and subsequent rules writing this stake got ever smaller. Instead of being 20 percent, it was decided that securitizers only had to keep a 5 percent stake. And for mortgages meeting certain standards they wouldn’t have to keep any stake at all.

Originally only mortgages in which the homeowner had a down payment of 20 percent or more passed this good mortgage standard. That cutoff got lowered to 10 percent and then was lowered further to 5 percent. Even though mortgages with just 5 percent down are four times as likely to default as mortgages with 20 percent or more down, securitizers will not be required to keep any stake in them when they put them into a MBS.”

Hold on there, Dean. You mean Dodd Frank didn’t ”put things right”?  What the heck? I thought that “tough new regulations” assured us that the banks wouldn’t blow up the system again in five years or so. Was that all baloney?

Yep, sure was. 100% baloney. Once the banks unleashed their army of attorneys and lobbyists on Capital Hill,  new regulations didn’t stand a chance. They turned Dodd Frank into mincemeat and now we’re back to square one.

And don’t expect the ratings agencies to help out either because they’re in the same shape they were before the crash. No changes at all.  They still get paid by the guys who issue the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) which is about the same as if you paid the salary of the guy who grades your midterm exam. Do you think that might cloud his judgment a bit? You’re damn right, it would; just like paying the ratings agencies guarantees you’ll get the rating you want. The whole system sucks.

And as far as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, well, you guessed it. The banks played a role in drafting the new “Qualified Mortgage” standard too, which is really no standard at all, since no self-respecting lender would ever use the same criteria for issuing a loan or mortgage. For example, no banker is going to say, “Heck, Josh, we don’t need your credit scores. We don’t need a down-payment. We’re all friends here, right? So, how much do you need for that mortgage old buddy, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000.  You name it. The sky’s the limit.”

No down payment? No credit scores? And they have the audacity to call this a qualified mortgage?

Qualified for what? Qualified for sticking it to the taxpayers?  The real purpose of the qualified mortgage is to protect the banks from their own shifty deals. That’s what it’s all about. It provides them with “safe harbor” in the event that the borrower defaults. What does that mean?

It means that the government can’t get its money back if the loan blows up.   The qualified mortgage actually protects the banks, not the consumer. That’s why it’s such a farce,  just like Dodd Frank is a farce. Nothing has changed. Nothing. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Now we’re on the hook for whatever losses the banks run up peddling mortgage credit to anyone who can fog a mirror.

We’ll leave the last word for Dean Baker, since he seems like the only guy in America who has figured out what the hell is going on:

“In short, the Corker-Warner plan to privatize Fannie and Freddie is essentially a proposal to reinstitute the structure of incentives that gave us the housing bubble and the financial crisis, but this time with the added fuel of an explicit government guarantee on the subprime MBS. If that doesn’t sound like a great idea to you then you haven’t spent enough time around powerful people in Washington.”

The Johnson-Crapo bill doesn’t have anything to do with “winding down” Fannie and Freddie or “overhauling” the mortgage finance industry. It’s a bald-face ripoff engineered by two chiseling senators who are putting the country at risk to beef up Wall Street’s bottom line.

It’s the scam of the century.

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].

According to Jane (the British Defense News and Analysis) the majority of military personnel stationed in Crimea have joined the Russian armed forces. Those who refused to join, have left the peninsula and returned to Ukraine. According to Russian sources, some 189 Ukrainian bases on Crimea, including the Balbek airbase are under Russian control.

Moscow also confirms that Admiral Serhiy Haydukin in charge of the Ukrainian Navy was arrested and “dropped off at the border checkpoint with Ukraine”:

According to Jane:

 Ukraine’s maritime forces have been dealt a heavy blow by the Russian intervention in Crimea, with 12 of its 17 major warships and much of its naval aviation assets falling under Moscow’s control.

… [A]lmost every Ukrainian naval base and ship on the peninsula has been seized by Russian forces or local pro-Moscow self defence units.

The scale of the crisis facing the Ukrainian navy is apparent from the fact that around 12,000 of its 15,450 personnel were based in Crimea when Russia intervened on 27 February. Over the past three weeks, the majority of the Ukrainian military personnel on Crimea have defected to the Russian military or resigned from military service, according to announcements by the new pro-Kremlin administration in Crimea. Some independent media reports appear to broadly support Russian claims in this regard.

In Sevastopol, the Russians seized intact four major warship, the Grisha V-class frigates Ternopil and Lutsk , the Pauk-class corvette/patrol vessels Khmelnytskyi , and the Bambuk-class command ship Slavutych , as well as Ukraine’s only submarine, the Foxtrot-class Zaporizhzhia . Also seized in Sevastopol was the ocean-going tug Korets .

Most of Ukraine’s Navy was stationed in Crimea including 12,000 out of a total of 15,400 Navy personnel.  The remaining naval forces are stationed in Odessa.

The rump of the Ukrainian navy is now concentrated at the service’s Naval Base North at Odessa. This force boasts less than half a dozen large surface combatants as well as several small patrol craft.

Ukraine’s navy now faces an uncertain future. …

Russian naval patrols have also blockaded the access to the Sea of Azov to the east of Ukraine, cutting off military and civilian access to ports in the east of the country.

According to the report:

On 24 March, the last remaining major unit of the Ukrainian navy on Crimea still holding out – the 750 strong 1st Marine Battalion at Feodesia in the east of the peninsula – was overrun and many of its personnel were arrested. The unit’s commanders had been negotiating with the Russians to be allowed to drive off Crimea with all their vehicles, weapons, and equipment so its dispersal will be a significant blow to its morale and unit cohesion.

The fate of the last two Ukrainian air defence regiments on Crimea, the 55th regiment at Yevpatoriya and 50th regiment at Feodesia – and their S-300 and Buk-M1 weapon systems – is uncertain.

Some 2,000 Ukrainian air force and air defence personnel were believed to be based in Crimea before the crisis, along with a similar number of paramilitary police and border guard personnel. No major Ukrainian army units were trapped on Crimea, so the service has largely escaped the convulsions that have seriously impacted the country’s navy and air force. (Jane)

To consult the complete report by  Jane:

Egypt on the Verge of a Social Explosion

March 26th, 2014 by Jean Shaoul

The purpose of the military junta’s savage repression of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), expressed most recently in the mass death sentence handed down March 24 against 529 of its members, is not just the elimination of its main bourgeois political rival. It is aimed at intimidating and suppressing opposition to what the military-backed government has in store for the working class.

On February 25, the new interim prime minister, Ibrahim Mehleb, declared, “Security and stability in the entire country and crushing terrorism will pave the way for investment.”

Mehleb was installed during a wave of strikes that swept the country, including walkouts by tens of thousands of textile workers and public transport workers. He called for a return to work, sacrifice and “patriotism.”

Since seizing power in July 2013 amid mass protests against MB president Mohamed Mursi, the military government—largely made up of deposed president Hosni Mubarak’s cronies—has carried out a ruthless campaign of terror, violently attacking sit-ins, demonstrations and strikes. In the process, it has killed at least 1,400 people and jailed more than 16,000. It has banned the MB, Egypt’s largest Islamist organisation, which it sees as a threat to its own commercial interests. The party’s members and supporters reportedly control up to 40 percent of Egypt’s economy as a result of the free market reforms carried out under Mubarak.

Crucially, the junta has issued an anti-protest law banning demonstrations without prior authorisation and pushed through a constitution enshrining the army’s dominant role in society. It has cracked down on the media. Twenty staff from Qatar’s Al-Jazeera news channel face trial on charges of helping a “terrorist organisation.”

Egyptian defence minister Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is expected to run for the presidency, outlined the future he has in store for the working class, promising a decades-long austerity programme. “Our economic circumstances, in all sincerity and with all understanding, are very, very difficult,” he said. “Possibly one or two generations will [have to suffer] so that the remaining generations live.”

He said this to a conference of young doctors, just days before public hospital doctors began an open-ended strike demanding higher wages and increased government spending on health care. The doctors’ strike is one sign that the explosive social conflicts in Egypt, which lay at the heart of the mass uprising that toppled long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak three years ago, are sharper than ever.

Successive governments—the interim military government, the elected MB-led government and the junta that overthrew Mursi last July—have been done nothing to ameliorate the widespread poverty or improve the abysmal public services. A recent report by CAPMAS, Egypt’s official statistical agency, stated that the number of people living below the poverty line—defined as living on less than US$2 a day—rose to 26.3 percent in 2013, compared to 16.7 percent in 2000.

Last year, a report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and CAPMAS found that 13.7 million Egyptians, 17 percent of the population, suffered from food insecurity in 2011, compared to 14 percent in 2009. The rate of malnutrition, most notably stunting among babies and children under 5, was on the rise.

In urban areas, poverty increased by nearly 40 percent (from 11 to 15.3 percent) between 2009 and 2011. Although rural Upper Egypt has the highest poverty rate, at 51.5 percent of the population (double the national average), Greater Cairo has a larger number of poor and food-insecure people (approximately 3.5 million).

A World Food Programme paper, Tackling Egypt’s Rising Food Insecurity in Times of Transition, notes that while traditional baladi bread is subsidised, 30 percent of the supply chain are subject to losses. The rationing system, which covers close to 68 percent of the population, excludes 19 percent of the most vulnerable households.

Prices have been rising for years, with inflation currently running at 12 percent, playing havoc with household budgets dependent upon subsidies for fuel and bread that account for 20 percent (US$20 billion) of government expenditure. In the five years between 2006 and 2011, the price of fuel and wheat soared by 300 percent.

Unemployment rose to 13.5 percent last June, but the World Bank warned, “These figures include only registered workers and didn’t take into account the informal economy where unemployment is believed to be higher than the official rate.”

More than three quarters of the unemployed are between 15 and 29 years of age. Sixty percent of Egypt’s population are under 30, and every year 800,000 young people enter the job market. Young graduates leave university to find there is no work for them.

Schools are so grossly underfunded that parents have to make expensive co-payments and send their children for extra private tuition. Severe overcrowding is the norm, and violence is endemic. It is not uncommon to have 60 children in a class in both morning and afternoon shifts. According to a recent study by CAPMAS, more than 16 million people over the age of 10 are illiterate, about 10 million of whom are females.

The highest rates of illiteracy are in Upper Egypt, in Minya reaching 36.7 percent, Beni Suef 34.8 percent, Fayoum 34.7 percent, Sohag 34.3 percent, Assiut 31.7 percent and Qena 30.3 percent, the areas of the highest poverty rates. Illiteracy among the poor has increased to 41 percent, as opposed to 24 percent in non-poor families.

As poverty has risen, remittances sent home from family members working overseas have more than doubled from less than US$2 billion in 2010 to more than US$4 billion in 2013.

Tourism, a major income source, and foreign investment have fallen dramatically, leading to a loss of at least 1 million jobs and a fall in foreign reserves from US$36 billion in December 2010 to US$15 billion in June 2013.

The government’s budget deficit has soared from US$19.5 billion to US$30 billion over the last three years, with the deficit for 2014 expected to be US$44 billion, 15 percent of GDP. According to the Central Bank, last June, Egypt’s total debt—including domestic and foreign debt—had risen to US$265 billion, 89 percent of GDP.

Jihadi militants in the Sinai Peninsula have blown up the gas pipelines to Israel and Jordan at least 15 times, further affecting Egypt’s export income and fuel, already in short supply as a result of growing domestic need, delays in development of new production facilities and the failure to pay at least US$4.8 billion to the international gas and oil companies. While shutoffs are frequent in summer with the high demand for air conditioning, this winter has seen frequent power failures, leading cement and other major energy users to operate at half their normal capacity.

As the economy has plummeted, interest rates on government debt have soared to 10.9 percent. The government’s interest payments have doubled in three years from US$10.5 billion in 2010 to US$21 billion in 2013, the largest item in the government budget and approximately equal to the total budget deficit.

The Egyptian ruling elite, having disposed of the Muslim Brotherhood, is determined that the burden of repaying the international bankers is to be shouldered by the already impoverished working class. They have made it clear they are ready to enforce this counter-revolution through the barrel of the gun.

Oleksandr Muzychko, a leader of the Right Sector fascist paramilitary group that led street fighting against riot police during last month’s Western-backed putsch in Kiev, was shot and killed in the western Ukrainian city of Rivne late Monday.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry confirmed that he was killed in a police operation, underscoring continuing tensions inside the far-right Western-backed regime in Kiev.

There were conflicting accounts of the killing. According to Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov, Muzychko opened fire on a police squad that was sent to arrest him and several of his confederates at a café in Rivne. He opened fire, wounding one of the policemen, who returned fire, fatally wounding Muzychko. Three of his armed bodyguards were captured. Yevdokimov called Muzychko the leader of a “criminal gang.”

Ukrainian opposition legislator Oleksandr Doniy claimed, however, that Muzychko died in a gangland-style killing by assailants who stopped his car, tied his hands behind his back, and shot him.

Doniy is affiliated to the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), a Washington, DC-based outfit whose Facebook page reposts material from Right Sector. The UCCA’s mission statement specifies that it will “cooperate with the United States government in creating an equitable world order.”

Former senior Ukrainian intelligence officials speaking to Russian news agency RIA Novosti said that the killing of Muzychko was an operation carried out under the direct orders of Ukrainian intelligence chief Valentin Nalivaichenko. “The goal of the operation was not to capture, but to neutralize Muzychko, to take him off stage,” they said.

Right Sector members in Rivne threatened to respond to Muzychko’s death by killing officials in the Kiev regime, calling the official account of Muzychko’s killing an “outright lie.”

“We will avenge ourselves on [Interior Minister] Arsen Avakov for the death of our brother. The shooting of Sashko Bily [Muzychko’s nom de guerre] is a contract killing ordered by the minister,” said Roman Koval, a Right Sector fighter in Rivne.

The most influential leader of Right Sector after Right Sector presidential candidate Dmytro Yarosh, Muzychko personified the fascist character of the forces embraced by Washington and the European Union (EU) in their drive for regime change in Kiev. In 2007, he pledged to fight “communists, Jews, and Russians for as long as blood flows in my veins.”

After the putsch, he was filmed slapping Ukrainian prosecutors and threatening Ukrainian legislators with an assault rifle. He also repeatedly threatened officials in Rivne. He was put on the Ukrainian police’s wanted list after these incidents, on March 12.

At the time of his death, Muzychko was also under investigation for involvement in Ukrainian organized crime. He also faced an international arrest warrant, for torturing Russian prisoners while fighting on the side of Islamist Chechen separatists against Russia in 1994-95.

Open Letter

His excellency, Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the ‘Court of St James’.

Dear Ambassador,

Many Britons are outraged at the manner in which Russia and its people are being ‘demonised’, especially by the UK state mouthpiece, the BBC.

Few Britons know that Nuland had visited the Ukraine three times since last November or that she had spoken of 5 billion dollars having been spent in subverting the country in the last few years.

Or that she recommend the appointment of  Yatseniuk as ”PM” in an illicit government. 

We find the word ‘hypocrisy’ becomes more inadequate the more egregious become the words and actions of US-EU-NATO ‘leaders’. 

We know that the sniper shots came from one source, killing 27 unarmed policemen and over 70 protestors. It has now been confirmed that these killings were not perpetrated by the government of Yanukovych.  These precious lives were used to justify a change in “government”

We know too that the ‘government’ arising out of this most violent Coup d’etat has swept aside any investigation of these killings.  As a surgeon I know very well that the investigation would have been straightforward.  This is a good example of the depth of illegality of this gang.

We reflect on the contrast between the killings and injuries in the Maidan and the fact that the Crimea has been brought back into Russia without one death.

We have longer memories and better learning than these wicked clowns like William Hague who rule our disorderly nation. 

I remember how the people of Murmansk celebrated the bravery of the very courageous British merchant seamen who survived the Arctic convoys and how the USSR wanted to present those men with a medal.  That was resisted, as you know.  A medal with a white ribbon was given to the surviving few by our government recently; those men who had died already did at least know the warmth of Russia for their deeds.

We know that 26 million Russians died in WW2, many suffering terribly in the cold.  Without the sacrifices on the Eastern front, we know that here in the UK we would have been serfs of the Third Reich.

We know that when the Red Army liberated that major part of Germany, it fed the people.  We know that in the ‘western’ sector at least a million Germans starved to death.

There are many western leaders who show the worst characteristics. They feed division and they frighten the people.  I have done my best to stand with the Palestinian people in Gaza and the ineptly named West Bank.  I have said often that if I took a troubled British family to Gaza and sat them in the family circle of poor people, then they would learn a great deal about calmness in the face of terrible poverty and about respect for one other, especially for the child.  And so it is with almost all humble people the world over.  We would get on with a smile and an embrace.

I see most people yearning for peace in this still beautiful world and I love the universal qualities in all of us, including our Russian sisters and brothers.

Good wishes to you and the Russian people.

For truth

David Halpin MB BS FRCS

http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/  

Two recent reports show that Obama and his Administration lied when they promised to prosecute Wall Street executives who had cheated outside investors and deceived homebuyers when selling mortgages to them.

On May 20, 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, President Obama said:

“This bill nearly doubles the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That’s why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It’s also why it expands DOJ’s authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes — institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago.”

Then, in the President’s 24 January 2012 State of the Union Address, he said:

“Tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.  (Applause.)  This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy.”

However, two years later, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on 13 March 2014 its “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” and reported that Obama’s promises to prosecute turned out to be just a lie. DOJ didn’t even try; and they lied even about their efforts. The IG found: “DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Investigative Division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Additionally, we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited.” Not just that, but, “Many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) informed us about underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases.” This was important because, “Capturing such information would allow DOJ to … better evaluate its performance in targeting high-profile offenders.”

Privately, Obama had told Wall Street executives that he would protect them. On 27 March 2009, Obama assembled the top executives of the bailed-out financial firms in a secret meeting at the White House and he assured them that he would cover their backs; he promised “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks”. It’s not on the White House website; it was leaked out, which is one of the reasons Obama hates leakers. What the DOJ’s IG indicated was, in effect, that Obama had kept his secret promise to them.

Here is the context in which he said that (from page 234 of Ron Suskind’s 2011 book, Confidence Men):

The CEOs went into their traditional stance. “It’s almost impossible to set caps [to their bonuses]; it’s never worked, and you lose your best people,” said one. “We’re competing for talent on an international market,” said another. Obama cut them off.

“Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that,” he said. “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.

But then Obama’s flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. “You guys have an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem,” he said. “And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices.” According to one of the participants, he then said, “I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you. But if I’m going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation.”

No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn’t seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.

 After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.

He had been lying to the public, all along. Not only would he not prosecute the banksters, but he would treat them as if all they had was “an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem.” And he thought that the people who wanted them prosecuted were like the KKK who had chased Blacks with pitchforks before lynching. According to the DOJ, their Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was “established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.” But, according to the Department’s IG, it was all a fraud: a fraud that according to the DOJ itself had been going on since at least November 2009.

The IG’s report continued by pointing out the Attorney General’s lies, noting that on 9 October 2012, “the FFETF held a press conference to publicize the results of the initiative,” and:

“The Attorney General announced that the initiative resulted in 530 criminal defendants being charged, including 172 executives, in 285 criminal indictments or informations filed in federal courts throughout the United States during the previous 12 months. The Attorney General also announced that 110 federal civil cases were filed against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims. According to statements made at the press conference, these cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.

“Shortly after this press conference, we requested documentation that supported the statistics presented. … Over the following months, we repeatedly asked the Department about its efforts to correct the statistics. … Specifically, the number of criminal defendants charged as part of the initiative was 107, not 530 as originally reported; and the total estimated losses associated with true Distressed Homeowners cases were $95 million, 91 percent less than the $1 billion reported at the October 2012 press conference. …

“Despite being aware of the serious flaws in these statistics since at least November 2012, we found that the Department continued to cite them in mortgage fraud press releases. … According to DOJ officials, the data collected and publicly announced for an earlier FFETF mortgage fraud initiative – Operation Stolen Dreams – also may have contained similar errors.”

Basically, the IG’s report said that the Obama Administration had failed to enforce the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This bill had been passed overwhelmingly, 92-4 in the Senate, and 338-52 in the House. All of the votes against it came from Republicans. The law sent $165 million to the DOJ to catch the executive fraudsters who had brought down the U.S. economy, and it set up the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and had been introduced and written by the liberal Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. President Obama signed it on 20 May 2009. At that early stage in his Presidency, he couldn’t afford to display that he was far to the right of every congressional Democrat, so he signed it.

Already on 15 November 2011, Syracuse University’s TRAC Reports had headlined “Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall,” and provided a chart showing that whereas such prosecutions had been running at a fairly steady rate until George W. Bush came into office in 2001, they immediately plunged during his Presidency and were continuing that decline under Obama, even after the biggest boom in alleged financial fraud cases since right before the Great Depression. And, then, on 24 September 2013, TRAC Reportsbannered “Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions,” and said that “prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013.” This was especially so in the Wall Street area: “In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions — 27.8 percent — was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).”

Another recent report documents lying by the Administration regarding its promised program to force banks to compensate cheated homeowners for fraud in their mortgages, and sometimes even for evictions that were based on those frauds. The investigative journalist David Dayen headlined on 19 March 2014, “Just 83,000 Homeowners Get First-Lien Principal Reductions from National Mortgage Settlement, 90 Percent Less Than Promised.” He documented that, “the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development sold the settlement on a promise of helping 1 million homeowners, and the final number missed the cut by over 916,000. That … shows the essential dishonesty [Obama’s HUD Secretary Shaun] Donovan displayed in his PR push back in 2012. … We’re used to the Obama Administration falling far short of their goals for homeowner relief, whether because of a lack of interest or a desire to foam the runway for the banks or whatever. Even still, the level of duplicity is breathtaking.”

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.

Ukraine Crisis: How Much War Does Washington Want?

March 26th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

I doubt that the Ukraine crisis precipitated by Washington’s overthrow of the democratic government is over.  Washington has won the propaganda war everywhere outside of Russia and Ukraine itself. Within Ukraine people are aware that the coup has made them worse off.  The Crimea has already separated from the US puppet government in Kiev and rejoined Russia. Other parts of Russian Ukraine could follow.

In Kiev itself where the unelected, imposed-by-Washington dictatorial government resides, extreme right-wing Ukrainian nationalists, whose roots go back to fighting for National Socialist Germany, are at work intimidating public prosecutors, media editors, and the US imposed “government” itself.  There is an abundance of videos available on the Internet, some made by the extreme nationalists themselves, that clearly reveal the intimidation of the imposed and unelected government installed by Washington.

In Kiev US bribes contend with naked neo-nazi force. Which will prevail?

The murder of ultra-nationalist Right Sector militant leader Myzychko by police of the acting Interior Minister of the American stooge government in Ukraine on March 25 has resulted in another Right Sector leader, Dmitry Yarosh, demanding the resignation of Arsen Avakov, the acting Interior Minister and the arrest of the police who killed Muzychko. Yarosh declared: “We cannot watch silently as the Interior Ministry works to undermine the revolution.” Right Sector organizer Roman Koval in Rovno, Ukraine, warned: “We will take revenge on Avakov for the death of our brother.”

How this will play out is uncertain at this time. The violence provided by the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist groups was essential to the success of the Washington-backed coup in overthrowing the elected democratic government. But the Right Sector has emerged as both an embarrassment and a threat to the unelected coup government and to its Washington sponsors who are selling the Washington-installed puppet government as a progressive exercise in democracy. This sell is difficult when ultra-nationalist thugs are beating up the imposed government.

Could civil war break out in Kiev between the Right Sector and the government installed by Washington?  We know that the Right Sector was sufficiently organized and disciplined to take over the protests.  We don’t know how well organized is the Washington puppet government or what force this group has at its disposal. We don’t know whether Washington has provided mercenaries to protect the government Washington has installed. It is not clear at this time where the power balance lies between the Right Sector and the US stooge government.

The American, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, EU propaganda machine has blamed Putin for all the trouble.  But so far the Russian government has not had to do anything except comply with the self-determination of the people in the Russian areas of Ukraine.  Much of Ukraine, as it exists or existed today, consists of Russian territories added to Ukraine by Soviet rulers.

When Ukraine became independent with Russia’s agreement when the Soviet Union collapsed, had the Russian territories first been put back into Russia from whence they came, Washington’s coup would not have resulted in the same level of crisis.

Instead, under Washington’s pressure, the Russian territory was retained by Ukraine, and in compensation Russia was given a 50-year lease on Sevastopol, Russia’s Black Sea naval base. 

The purpose of the Washington financed and orchestrated coup in Kiev was to put  Ukraine, with its artificial boundaries, into the EU and NATO and to evict Russia from its warm water port and ring Russia with US missile bases.  Washington and its European puppets described this as “bringing democracy to Ukraine.”

Ukraine already had democracy, a young one trying to put down roots, and Washington destroyed it.  As Russian President Putin observed, overthrowing a brand new democracy destroys democracy. Washington’s coup established for Ukraine the precedent  that force and propaganda rule, not democracy.

But Washington cares not for democracy, only for its agenda.  And Russia, China, and Iran are in the way.

The neoconservatives, who have controlled US foreign policy since the Clinton regime,  concluded that the Soviet collapse meant that History has chosen America as the socio-economic system for the world. They declared the US to be “exceptional” and “indispensable” and above international law.  Washington had a free pass to invade, murder, destroy, and dominate.  The neoconservative claims of “American exceptionalism” sound like Hitler’s claims for the German nation. When the White House sock puppet expressed in a speech the claim of American exceptionalism, Putin replied: “God made us all equal.”

Washington’s opinion is that the exceptional and indispensable nation–the US–is above not only all other nations but also above law. What Washington does is legal.  What anyone else does in opposition is illegal.

Washington’s intervention in Ukraine has unleashed dark forces. Yulia Tymoshenko, the criminal Ukrainian oligarch, who braids her hair or hair piece  over her head like a crown, was released from prison by Washington’s stooges and has not stopped putting her foot, or both feet, in her mouth.  Her latest in her intercepted and leaked telephone conversation is her declaration that “it’s about time we grab our guns and go kill those damn Russians together with their leader.” She declared that not even scorched earth should be left where Russia stands.  http://rt.com/news/tymoshenko-calls-destroy-russia-917/

Tymoshenko was sentenced to prison by Ukrainians, not by Russians. Contrast her extreme language and Russophobia with the calm measured tones of Putin, who reaffirms Russia’s interest to continue good relations with Ukraine.

On March 23 Tymoshenko was interviewed by the German newspaper, Bild, a mouthpiece for Washington. The crazed Tymoshenko declared that Putin was even more dangerous than Hitler. http://rt.com/news/tymoshenko-calls-destroy-russia-917/  

This year 2014 is the 100th anniversary of World War 1. As my Oxford professor, Michael Polanyi, said, this was the war that destroyed Europe.  He meant culturally and morally as well as physically.  As John Maynard Keynes made clear in his prediction, the propagandistic way in which World War 1 was blamed on Germany and the “peace” that was imposed on Germany set up World War 2.

We are witnesses today to the same kind of propagandistic lies with regard to Russia that caused World War 1. In The Genesis Of The World War, Harry Elmer Barnes quotes the French chief editor of a French account of the organization of propaganda in France during World War 1. The French built a massive building called La Maison de la Presse. In this building images of people were created with hands cut off, tongues torn out, eyes gouged out, and skulls crushed with brains laid bare. These images were then photographed and “sent as unassailable evidence of German atrocities to all parts of the globe, where they did not fail to produce the desired effect.”  Also provided were “fictitious photographs of bombarded French and Belgian churches, violated graves and monuments and scenes of ruins and desolation. The staging and painting of these scenes were done by the best scene-painters of the Paris Grand Opera.”

This vicious propaganda against Germany meant that Germany could be blamed for the war and that all of President Woodrow Wilson’s guarantees to Germany of no reparations and no territorial loss if Germany agreed to an armistice could be violated.

The propaganda success guaranteed that the peace settlement would be so one-sided as to set up the Second World War.

Russia has observed Washington’s strategic moves against Russian national interests and Russian sovereignty for two decades.  What does Putin think when he hears the vicious anti-Russian propaganda based 100% in lies?

This is what Putin thinks:  The Americans promised Gorbachev that they would not take NATO into Eastern Europe, but the Americans did. The Americans withdrew from the ABM Treaty, which prohibited escalating the arms race with anti-ballistic missile systems.

The Americans arranged with Poland to deploy anti-ballistic missile bases on Poland’s border with Russia.  The Americans tell us the fantastic lie that the purpose of American missile bases in Poland is to protect Europe from non-existent Iranian ICBMs.  The Americans change their war doctrine to elevate nuclear weapons from a retaliatory deterrent to a pre-emptive first strike force.

The Americans pretend that this change in war doctrine is directed at terrorists, but we know it is directed at Russia. The Americans have financed “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine and hope to do so in the Russian Federation itself. The Americans support the terrorists in Chechnya. The Americans trained and equipped the Georgian military and gave it the green light to attack our peacekeepers in South Ossetia. The Americans have financed the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and blame me for the anxiety this caused among Crimeans who on their own volition fled Ukraine and returned to Russia from whence they came.  Even Gorbachev said that Khrushchev should never have put Crimea into Ukraine. Solzhenitsyn said that Lenin should not have put Russian provinces into eastern and southern Ukraine.  Now I have these Russian provinces agitating to return to Russia, and the Americans are blaming me for the consequences of their own reckless and irresponsible actions.

The Americans say I want to rebuild the Soviet Empire. Yet, the Americans witnessed me depart from Georgia when I had this former Russian province in my hands, thanks to the short-lived war instigated by the Americans.

There is no end to the American lies.  I have done everything possible to respond to provocations in a low-key reasonable manner, offering to work things out diplomatically, as has my Foreign Minister Lavrov. But the Americans continue to provoke and to hide their provocations behind lies.  The Americans brazenly bring to me a strategic threat in Ukraine. They intend to put Ukraine in NATO, the purpose of which expired with the Soviet collapse. They intend to put more missile bases on Russia’s borders, and they intended to evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base, its warm water port

Americans have no intention of working anything out. They intend to subjugate Russia. Washington wants Russia powerless, surrounded with ABM bases that degrade our strategic deterrent to uselessness.  These Americans will not work with me.  They will not listen to me or to Russia’s Foreign Minister.  They only hear their own call for American hegemony over the world.  My only alternative is to prepare for war. 

The government of China, having read Washington’s war plans for war against China and being fully away of Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” in which the “indispensable nation” announced its “safe-guarding of peace” by surrounding China with naval and air bases, understands that it has the same Washington enemy as does Russia. 

What the entire world faces, every country, every individual regardless of their political orientation, is a Washington-engineered confrontation with Russia and China. This confrontation is enabled by Washington’s bought-and-paid-for European and UK puppet states. Without the cover provided by Europe, Washington’s acts of aggression would result in war crimes charges against the government in Washington.  The world would not be able to enforce these charges without war, but Washington would be isolated.

The European, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and UK governments have betrayed  not only their own peoples but also the peoples of the entire world by lending the support of Western Civilization to Washington’s lawlessness.

The propaganda that the West represents the hope of the world is a great lie. 

Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean.

It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, but now under US Control under lease from UK. 

The American military base on the island of Diego Garcia is one of the most strategically important and secretive U.S. military installations outside the United States.

 

Located near the remote center of the Indian Ocean and accessible only by military transport, the base was a little-known launch pad for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and may house a top-secret CIA prison where terror suspects are interrogated and tortured..

Is it possible for MH 370 not tracked by USA’s most sophisticated technologies on earth in Diego Garcia if in fact MH 370 was flying to the Indian ocean?

by Richard Byrne Reilly

The future of Silicon Valley’s technological prowess may well lie in the war-scarred mountains and salt flats of Western Afghanistan.

United States Geological Survey teams discovered one of the world’s largest untapped reserves of lithium there six years ago. The USGS was scouting the volatile country at the behest of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations. Lithium is a soft metal used to make the lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries essential for powering desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. And increasingly, electric cars like Tesla’s.

The future of Silicon Valley may lie in the mountains of Afghanistan

Above: An Italian helicopter flies over western Afghanistan during an international operation. Lithium reserves have been found in the western part of that country.

Image Credit: ISAF Media

The vast discovery could very well propel Afghanistan — a war-ravaged land with a population of 31 million largely uneducated Pashtuns and Tajiks, and whose primary exports today are opium, hashish, and marijuana — into becoming the world’s next “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” according to an internal Pentagon memo cited by the New York Times.

That was the conclusion of a USGS survey report on Afghanistan that detailed the findings. In addition to lithium, the survey also found huge deposits of iron ore, gold, cobalt, copper, and potash, among many other valuable minerals.

“The mineral wealth there is astonishing,” said professor Michel Chossudovsky of the Montreal-based Center for Research and Globalization, who has written extensively on Afghanistan.

A conservative estimate of the riches is $1 trillion. In some circles, it’s as high as $5 trillion.

A typical lithium "button" cell found in many small electronic devices.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, tech companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony, and Tesla rely on continual, and uninterrupted, access to lithium, as lithium-based batteries are the primary power storage devices in their mobile hardware.

Without these batteries, MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, Nooks, Galaxy IIIs, Chromebooks, and, yes, Tesla Model S cars would be largely worthless. If forced to use older, nonlithium batteries, their battery lives would certainly be much shorter.

The world’s current lithium heavyweight is Bolivia, the biggest exporter of the element. There, in the swamps and marshlands of the southern region of the country near where the borders of Chile and Argentina meet, are the biggest deposits.

Canada, China, Australia, and Serbia also have varying amounts of lithium, but not as much as Bolivia.

Or apparently, Afghanistan.

Enough to last a lifetime

Depending on who you talk to, the current lithium global reserves are adequate for at least another generation of lithium-ion battery manufacturers to produce them.

But not everybody thinks so, and some say the light metal compound may someday run dry. That could in turn spell trouble for any company whose business depends on light and portable mobile electronics — unless someone comes up with an alternative to lithium batteries before then.

The experts VentureBeat interviewed pointed to sharp year-on-year increases in the demand for lithium. That’s putting heavy pressure on existing stockpiles.

According to Lithium Americas, a Canadian lithium-mining company with significant business interests in Argentina, lithium demand will more than double in the next 10 years, while lithium prices have nearly quadrupled during the same timeframe.

Tesla, for its part, is in the process of investing up to $5 billion to build its own lithium-ion Gigafactory in Texas, a plant capable of churning out 500,000 expensive battery packs a year by 2020 for its line of zero-emission, all-electric cars.

Tesla predicts that its "Gigafactory" will produce more lithium batteries (by capacity) in 2020 than the entire global production of such batteries in 2013.

A Tesla spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

As a potential source to feed that demand, enter Afghanistan.

“At some point, if present trends continue, demand [for lithium] will outstrip the supply. And again, at some point, the market for lithium-ion could get so big that it actually affects the supply chain,” said Donald R. Sadoway, a professor of the Materials Chemistry Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.

Looking at Afghanistan, Sadoway says the war-ravaged nation, which has no effective mining infrastructure in place, may well be attractive to the world’s mining outfits.

“In this regard,” Sadoway, one of the world’s foremost experts on energy sources, says, “the deposits in Afghanistan could be important.”

Andrew Chung, a venture capitalist with Khosla Ventures in Silicon Valley who has invested in multiple startups producing alternative batteries, says lithium-ion batteries are limited in their lifetime cycles, scalability, and cost. Despite this, Chung says, he can understand how the untapped reserves of Afghan lithium are now an increasing focus.

“It is an issue of the supply chain, whether it’s Afghanistan or other [countries]. There is a finite supply, and lithium-ion will continue to be the [power] choice for the next decade,” Chung said.

Some of the Valley’s biggest and most powerful tech companies either declined to comment for this story or never returned calls. But they didn’t deny the importance of lithium-ion batteries.

For instance, an Apple spokesperson declined to comment for this story but provided VentureBeat with a 2014 “Suppliers List” of the 200-plus vendors it uses to produce its products. A related post made the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s commitment to lithium batteries clear, at least in the short term.

“Rechargeable, lithium-based technology currently provides the best performance for your Apple notebook computer, iPod, iPhone, or iPad,” the Apple post says.

Sony Energy Devices Corp. invented the lithium-ion battery in 1994. It was hailed as a breakthrough, providing longer battery life and without the “memory effect” that gradually reduced the effective capacity of previous types of batteries.

Since then, companies have gradually refined lithium battery technology but have not succeeded in moving beyond it. Indeed, early Tesla cars are actually powered by large packs of industry-standard lithium-ion battery cells — the same type of cells found in many laptop batteries.

And here is where it gets interesting.

Sharply increasing demand

The custom battery pack Tesla uses for its Tesla Model S. Inside are hundreds of lithium cells.

If electric car manufacturers begin ramping up production of lithium-ion battery-powered cars, the global demand for lithium will skyrocket. This could potentially come about at the same time for increasing demand for handheld consumer goods like tablets and laptops, Chung said, thus creating a perfect storm.

“So you want to start looking at other sources producing it with current supplies being called into question, if we move more toward production of electric cars,” Chung said.

Which is why, increasingly, eyes are turning to Afghanistan and its new purported lithium reserves, a country long referred to as the “graveyard of empires.” The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and according to iCasualties, 2,315 American servicemen and women have been killed there.

Analyst Jay Jacobs of Global X Funds in New York, which has interests in lithium mining, said demand for the compound is growing, and that “there are two regions that have been revealed to contain huge lithium reserves: Afghanistan and Bolivia.”

William Tahil, a respected lithium expert who lives in France and is the general director for Material International Research, argues that lithium deposits in Bolivia will at some point be depleted.

Jacobs was sanguine about safely extracting lithium from Afghanistan. He said political risks there were considerable.

“With that being said, should there be a substantial and sustained increase in demand for lithium, lithium miners may become increasingly interested in the country as it has an abundance of the resource,” Jacobs said.

It was the Soviets who first discovered the country’s deposits when they invaded in 1979. Soviet geologists began mapping Afghanistan’s lithium, gold, and potash fields but abandoned their efforts after the former communist superpower pulled out of the country in 1989.

But with a weak and corruption-plagued “central government,” Afghanistan is now ripe for the picking, Chossudovsky said. Indeed, the country is still very much divided into fiefdoms, with the Muslim fundamentalist Taliban, warlords, and drug traffickers controlling large swaths of the country — and using violence to advance their interests.

“There’s no question the mining companies will go in there. No question. There’s no real functioning government there to reap the foreign investment of the mineral deposits. This makes it all the more enticing to the mining companies because nobody in the government of [President] Hamid Karzai will be regulating the bonanza of lithium, so they can do what they want,” he said.

Jockeying for position

A lithium processing plant in Chile. Lithium is typically refined from vast piles of salts.

For its part, the U.S. government, which helped locate the lithium deposits using flyovers with a sensor-filled Lockheed P-3 Orion and teams of geologists fielding soil samples, knows a potential gold rush when it sees one. And it has no intention of being left on the sidelines. Especially since the Chinese are now — and quickly — making deals with Afghan pols for mineral rights to copper deposits.

The USGS did return multiple calls seeking comment. Nor did the Pentagon.

Despite what some say are the shortcomings of lithium-ion batteries, venture capitalists and investors continue pouring money into them. Amprius, a lithium battery maker based in Sunnyvale, Calif., snared a $30 million infusion round of investor cash in January.

Over at the Afghan embassy in Washington, D.C., the Afghans are licking their lips at the potential lithium and mineral windfall despite the country’s continued conflict with a resurgent Taliban. What this may portend for the impoverished and war-torn nation is anybody’s guess. But the Afghans are playing up the finds — or they were, until recently.

“In recent years, headlines from the Afghan mineral sector have competed to outdo each other in scale: from the landmark $3 billion Chinese investment in the Aynak copper concession to the astounding survey work of the U.S., Afghan, and British Geological Services estimating anywhere between $1 trillion and $3 trillion in mineral potential, to the historic $11 billion deal now being finalized with an Indian consortium for the Hajigak iron ore concession,” said a posting on the Afghani Washington DC website.

The post has since been removed.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Eklil Hakimi, presided over a press conference at the Afghan embassy in Washington, D.C., on March 10, where he talked about the untapped deposits, along with reps from the USGS and other U.S. politicians.

But Hakimi, through a spokesman, told me he simply didn’t have the time to talk.

Copyright  Richard Byrne Reilly Venture Beat 2014

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Anistia Internacional, Venezuela e direitos humanos

March 25th, 2014 by Salim Lamrani

Desde fevereiro de 2014, manifestações violentas, limitadas aos bairros ricos de algumas cidades, entre elas Caracas, sacodem a Venezuela. O setor golpista da oposição — que acaba de sofrer quatro derrotas eleitorais em um ano e perdeu 18 de 19 eleições desde 1998 — em escrutínios elogiados por todas as instituições mundiais, desde a OEA (Organização dos Estados Americanos) até a União Europeia —orquestrou esses atos, que custaram a vida de mais de 30 pessoas, entre elas vários membros das forças da ordem. 1

Incapaz de chegar ao poder pela via legal e democrática, a oposição decidiu voltar aos métodos violentos que usou em 2002 e que desembocaram em um golpe de Estado contra o presidente legitimamente eleito Hugo Chávez. A comunidade internacional condenou esses novas ataques contra a ordem constitucional e deu seu apoio ao governo de Nicolás Maduro.

Efe (16/03/2014)

Opositores lançam pedras contra forças de segurança venezuelanas em enfrentamento em Caracas

Assim, a OEA expressou, por unanimidade de seus 35 membros, menos 3 (Estados Unidos, Canadá e Panamá) seu “apoio total [...] [ao] governo democraticamente eleito da Venezuela” 2. Da mesma forma, os 12 países da Unasul (União de Nações Sul-americanas) declararam de forma unânime sua “solidariedade” ao “governo democraticamente eleito dessa nação” e condenaram “os recentes atos de violência” da oposição. 3

A Anistia Internacional é uma organização que defende os direitos humanos, a democracia e o Estado de direito no mundo. Seria natural e lógico que denunciasse os atentados contra a democracia venezuelana orquestrados pela extrema direita do país e que desse seu apoio às autoridades legítimas da nação. Não foi o caso.

Pior ainda, no dia 12 de março de 2015, a Anistia Internacional publicou um comunicado sobre a Venezuela em que pede ao governo e à oposição que “garantam o respeito aos direitos humanos 4”. Situou, assim, em um mesmo plano, as autoridades legítimas, que sofrem violência e que tentam restaurar a ordem dentro da lei, e a extrema direita golpista, cujos atos causaram a morte de 31 pessoas e danos materiais de várias dezenas de milhões de dólares (lojas de alimentos destinadas às classes populares incendiadas, escritórios do canal de televisão pública VTV saqueados, sedes ministeriais atacadas etc.) 5

Para ilustrar seu comunicado, a Anistia Internacional publicou uma foto de um jovem estudante preso pela Guarda Nacional. A organização poderia ter eleito publicar também uma das numerosas fotos que mostram esses mesmos estudantes, com bombas incendiárias em mãos, destruindo edifícios públicos ou armados com pistolas e desfilando encapuzados pelas ruas, semeando o terror entre os moradores, com a finalidade de dar uma imagem equilibrada da situação na Venezuela. Não foi o caso, e essa escolha partidária lança sombra sobre a imparcialidade da Anistia Internacional, e, por conseguinte, sobre sua credibilidade. 6

A Anistia Internacional, por meio de Guadalupe Marengo, diretora-adjunta do programa Américas, foi inclusive mais longe. Denunciou “as proclamações cada vez mais violentas das autoridades”, as quais “ameaçam acabar com o respeito aos direitos humanos e com o Estado de direito”. Em nenhum momento a Anistia Internacional citou as palavras mencionadas nem nomeou essas autoridades. Há uma razão para isso: a realidade é oposta à imagem que a organização de defesa dos direitos humanos apresenta. 7
Na verdade, todos os dirigente venezuelanos, sem qualquer exceção, desde o presidente Nicolás Maduro, até os ministros e parlamentários, lançaram chamados ao diálogo e à calma e convidaram a oposição a expressar seus desacordos pela via democrática. Assim, Maduro multiplicou os pedidos por harmonia e expressou sua objeção à todas as formas de vioência. “Nossa vitória será a paz e consolidaremos a justiça. Devemos nos manter unidos e vencer com a paz”. 8

A OEA não cometeu erro semelhante e expressou, ao contrário da Anistia Internacional, seu “total apoio e alento às iniciativas e esforços do governo democraticamente eleito da Venezuela [...] para que continue [...] avançando no processo de diálogo nacional”. 9 A Unasul, por sua vez, expressou seu apoio e decidiu “apoiar os esforços do governo da República Bolivariana da Venezuela em promover o diálogo”. 10

Efe (21/03/2014)

Maria Corina Machado, deputada opositora, cumprimenta simpatizantes em frente à sede da OEA, em Washington

A Anistia Internacional decidiu ignorar todas as declarações do governo legítimo a favor do diálogo e do respeito às instituições e exigiu “das autoridades que indicassem de maneira absolutamente clara que sua prioridade é o respeito aos direitos humanos e ao Estado de direito” 11 , trocando os papéis entre os autores dos atos de violência e o presidente Maduro, que tenta restabelecer a ordem dentro da lei, cumprindo assim seu dever executivo. No entanto, além de clamar pela resolução pacífica das diferenças políticas, o governo bolivariano repetiu várias vezes — desde o começo das manifestações — que a Constituição prevaleceria. “Nada nos afastará do caminho da Pátria e da via da democracia”, disse Nicolás Maduro. 12  A Anistia Internacional decidiu ocultar deliberadamente essas declarações.

O comunicado da Anistia Internacional dedica uma frase à oposição com um tom diplomático que contrasta com a virulência usada em relação às autoridades legítimas: “Exortamos, por outro lado, os dirigentes da oposição à lançar um chamado a seus partidários para recomendar-lhes que não usem violência, particularmente contra as pessoas cujas opiniões políticas diferem das suas”. Em nenhum momento, a Anistia Internacional mencionou ou condenou as declarações dos principais dirigentes dessa mesma oposição que, publicamente, fizeram um chamado ao rompimento da ordem constitucional. 13

A organização de defesa dos direitos humanos poderia ter citado as palavras de Leopoldo López, líder do partido Vontade Popular, que participou do golpe de Estado de abril de 2002, e que convocou a insurreição em janeiro de 2014. “Queremos lançar um chamado aos venezuelanos [...] que nos levantemos. Convocamos o povo venezuelano a dizer ‘já basta’ [...]. Com uma meta a ser discutida: ‘a saída”. Qual é a saída para esse desastre? 14. Enquanto os atos de violência causaram a morte de 31 pessoas, no dia 19 de março de 2014, López voltou a encorajar seus partidários a cometerem mais violência. “Faço um chamado a todo o país a manter e aumentar a pressão até quebrar a ditadura” 15. A Anistia Internacional poderia ter condenado essa convocação pública a derrubar um governo democraticamente eleito. Não foi o caso.

A Anistia Internacional poderia ter mencionado as declarações da deputada da oposição Maria Corina Machado, que pediu ao venezuelanos que se revoltassem: “O povo da Venezuela tem uma resposta: ‘rebeldia, rebeldia’. Alguns dizem que devemos esperar eleições em alguns anos. Podem esperar os que não conseguem alimentos para seus filhos? Podem esperar os empregados públicos, os camponeses, os comerciantes, de quem tiram o direito ao trabalho e à propriedade? A Venezuela não pode esperar mais”. 16 Por acaso a Anistia condenou essas declarações? De maneira alguma.

Ao apoiar a oposição golpista venezuelana, ao silenciar os crimes cometidos pela extrema direita, ao manipular a realidade factual, ao se pronunciar abertamente contra o governo legítimo de Nicolás Maduro, contra a democracia venezuelana e contra a vontade majoritária do povo venezuelano expressada nas urnas, a Anistia Internacional ridiculariza seus princípios e sua razão de ser, ou seja, a luta pelos direitos humanos. A organização internacional engana deliberadamente a opinião pública e trai os valores aos quais milhares de militantes da emancipação humana de todo o mundo aderiram.

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos, Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, com prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página no Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

1. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Fallece otro efectivo de la GNB por violencia fascista en Táchira”, 19 de março de 2014.
2. Organisation des Etats américains, “Consejo permanente aprobó declaración sobre la situación en Venezuela”, 7 de marzo de 2014. http://www.oas.org/es/centro_noticias/comunicado_prensa.asp?sCodigo=C-084/14 (site consultado no dia 18 de março de 2014).
3. Union des nations sud-américaines, “Resolución”, 12 de marzo de 2014. http://cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/RESOLUCI%C3%93N-UNASUR-MARZO-2014.pdf (site consultado no dia 19 de março de 2014).
4. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela : le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, 12 de março de 2014. http://www.amnesty.fr/AI-en-action/Violences/Armes-et-conflits-armes/Actualites/Venezuela-les-droits-humains-etouffes-11151 (site consultado em 18 de marzo de 2014).
5. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Grupo fascista encapuchado atacó sede del Ministerio del Ambiente en Táchira”, 20 de março de 2014.
6. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela : le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
7. Ibid.
8. Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, “Maduro: Nuestra victoria será la paz”, 19 de março de 2014.
9. Organisation des Etats américains, “Consejo permanente aprobó declaración sobre la situación en Venezuela”, op. cit.
10. Union des nations sud-américaines, “Resolución”, op. cit.
11. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela: le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
12. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela“, Opera Mundi, 23 de fevereiro de 2014.
13. Amnesty International, “Climat de violence au Venezuela: le gouvernement et l’opposition doivent garantir le respect des droits humains”, op. cit.
14. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela”, Opera Mundi, op. cit.
15. EFE, “Opositor Leopoldo López pide a venezolanos aumentar presión ‘hasta quebrar la dictadura’”, 19 de março de 2014.
16. Salim Lamrani, “25 verdades sobre as manifestações na Venezuela”, Opera Mundi, op. cit.

Twelve years ago, March 24th 1999, marks the commencement of NATO’s  aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. The bombings which lasted for almost three months, were followed by the military invasion (under a bogus UN mandate) and illegal occupation of  the province of Kosovo.

In the course of the last week, the so-called international community, backed by the UN Security Council has called for the bombing of Libya, a sovereign country, allegedly to protect the lives of civilians under the logo of “Responsibility to Protect”.

The covert operations, the military strategies applied in Libya not to mention the process of media disformation bear a canny resemblance to Yugoslavia in 1999.

The Libyan “humanitarian bombing” campaign is an integral part of a military strategy which consists in destroying the country’s civilian infrastructure. It is a “copy and paste” of previous “humanitarian bombing” endeavors including the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia and the 2003 military campaign and occupation of Iraq.

The military technology applied today against Libya is far more sophisticated and precise.

In 1999, when Belgrade was bombed, the children’s hospital was the object of air attacks. It had been singled out by military planners as a strategic target.

NATO acknowledged that that had done it, but to “save the lives” of the newly borne, they did not target the section of the hospital where the babies were residing, instead they targeted the building which housed the power generator, which meant no more power for the incubators, which meant the entire hospital was for all sakes and purposes destroyed and many of the children died.

I visited that hospital, one year after the bombing in June 2000 and saw with my own eyes how they did it with utmost accuracy. These are war crimes using the most advanced military technology using NATO’s  so-called smart bombs.

In Yugoslavia, the civilian economy was the target: hospitals, airports, government buildings, manufacturing, infrastructure, not to mention 17th century churches and the country’s historical and cultural heritage.

The following article focussing on the KLA, written and published in April 1999, documents the KLA’s links to organized crime and Al Qaeda.

While the nature of the opposition in Libya remains to be analysed, Western media reports have confirmed that it is integrated by members of the Libyan Islamic Fighter Group (LIFG), a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda.

Michel Chossudovsky, March 24, 2011

Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO’s ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.

Following a pattern set during the War in Bosnia, public opinion has been carefully misled. The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade has played a crucial role in “financing the conflict” in Kosovo in accordance with Western economic, strategic and military objectives. Amply documented by European police files, acknowledged by numerous studies, the links of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to criminal syndicates in Albania, Turkey and the European Union have been known to Western governments and intelligence agencies since the mid-1990s.

“…The financing of the Kosovo guerilla war poses critical questions and it sorely test claims of an “ethical” foreign policy. Should the West back a guerilla army that appears to partly financed by organised crime.” 1

While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in the Hague) was “preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs.”2 In the meantime, the rebel army has been skilfully heralded by the global media (in the months preceding the NATO bombings) as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

With KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year “freedom fighter”) appointed as chief negotiator at Rambouillet, the KLA has become the de facto helmsman of the peace process on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority and this despite its links to the drug trade. The West was relying on its KLA puppets to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under Western Administration.

Ironically Robert Gelbard, America’s special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year as “terrorists”. Christopher Hill, America’s chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement “has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs.”3 Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:

“…the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, … KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]… [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are “ready to flee.” 4

While backing a “freedom movement” with links to the drug trade, the West seems also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who has called for an end to the bombings and expressed his desire to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Yugoslav authorities.5 It is worth recalling that a few days before his March 31st Press Conference, Rugova had been reported by the KLA (alongside three other leaders including Fehmi Agani) to have been killed by the Serbs.

Covert Financing of “Freedom Fighters”

Remember Oliver North and the Contras? The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, Haiti and Afghanistan where “freedom fighters” were financed through the laundering of drug money. Since the onslaught of the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies have developed a complex relationship to the illegal narcotics trade. In case after case, drug money laundered in the international banking system has financed covert operations.

According to author Alfred McCoy, the pattern of covert financing was established in the Indochina war. In the 1960s, the Meo army in Laos was funded by the narcotics trade as part of Washington’s military strategy against the combined forces of the neutralist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao.6

The pattern of drug politics set in Indochina has since been replicated in Central America and the Caribbean. “The rising curve of cocaine imports to the US”, wrote journalist John Dinges “followed almost exactly the flow of US arms and military advisers to Central America”.7

The military in Guatemala and Haiti, to which the CIA provided covert support, were known to be involved in the trade of narcotics into Southern Florida. And as revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) scandals, there was strong evidence that covert operations were funded through the laundering of drug money. “Dirty money” recycled through the banking system–often through an anonymous shell company– became “covert money,” used to finance various rebel groups and guerilla movements including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:

“Because the US wanted to supply the mujehadeen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer.8

America and Germany join Hands

Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavour between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia).9 The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”.10 According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.11

The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favoured (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.12 According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mitteleuropa.”13

Islamic Fundamentalism in Support of the KLA

Bonn and Washington’s “hidden agenda” consisted in triggering nationalist liberation movements in Bosnia and Kosovo with the ultimate purpose of destabilising Yugoslavia. The latter objective was also carried out “by turning a blind eye” to the influx of mercenaries and financial support from Islamic fundamentalist organisations.14

Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Koweit had been fighting in Bosnia.15 And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics.16

According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede.17 “Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year [1997], is presently [1998] being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations.”18

The supply route for arming KLA “freedom fighters” are the rugged mountainous borders of Albania with Kosovo and Macedonia. Albania is also a key point of transit of the Balkans drug route which supplies Western Europe with grade four heroin. 75% of the heroin entering Western Europe is from Turkey. And a large part of drug shipments originating in Turkey transits through the Balkans. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “it is estimated that 4-6 metric tons of heroin leave each month from Turkey having [through the Balkans] as destination Western Europe.”19 A recent intelligence report by Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency suggests that: “Ethnic Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin in Western consumer countries.”20

The Laundering of Dirty Money

In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans “cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties” including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo.21 In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.

The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.

The Albanian Connection

Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.

Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF’s lethal “economic medicine” imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).

Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths “barely out of their Teens” from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA…22

In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of State institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997).23 These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.

Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”24

The application of “strong economic medicine” under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes rivetted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum… The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests. 25

Berisha’s Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany’s Preussag (handing over control over Albania’s chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).26

Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of State assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the “free market”. In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue “families” linked to the Democratic Party.

Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania’s largest financial “pyramid” VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue “families” of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.27

According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the Presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:

(…) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania’s ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (…). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (…) Drugs barons from Kosovo (…) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (…). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports.28

The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): “Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian `brothers’ in Kosovo”.29

The Northern tribal clans or “fares” had also developed links with Italy’s crime syndicates.30 In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.

The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and antiarmor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA “funnelled through a so-called “Government of Kosovo” based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn–notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government”.31

The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to “concentrate on heavy weapons training – rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control”. (According to Yugoslav government sources.32

These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a “deafening silence” of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch: “the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (…) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears”…33

The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome “marriage of convenience” with the mafia. “Freedom fighters” were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to “finance the Kosovo conflict” with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.

NOTES

1. Roger Boyes and Eske Wright, Drugs Money Linked to the Kosovo Rebels The Times, London, Monday, March 24, 1999.

2. Ibid.

3. Philip Smucker and Tim Butcher, “Shifting stance over KLA has betrayed’ Albanians”, Daily Telegraph, London, 6 April 1999

4. KDOM Daily Report, released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, December 21, 1998; Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, December 21, 1998.

5. “Rugova, sous protection serbe appelle a l’arret des raides”, Le Devoir, Montreal, 1 April 1999.

6. See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Harper and Row, New York, 1972.

7. See John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega, Times Books, New York, 1991.

8. “The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.

9. Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999; see also Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997.

10. Quoted in Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999).

11. Ibid.

12. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4

13. Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93).

14. See Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993.

15. For further details see Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997, p. 288.

16. Truth in Media, Kosovo in Crisis, Phoenix, 2 April 1999.

17. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 13, 1998.

18. Ibid.

19. Daily News, Ankara, 5 March 1997.

20. Quoted in Boyes and Wright, op cit.

21. ANA, Athens, 28 January 1997, see also Turkish Daily News, 29 January 1997.

22. Brian Murphy, KLA Volunteers Lack Experience, The Associated Press, 5 April 1999.

23. See Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3, see also Barry James, In Balkans, Arms for Drugs, The International Herald Tribune Paris, June 6, 1994.

24. The Guardian, 25 March 1997.

25. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, La crisi albanese, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 1998.

26. Ibid.

27. Andrew Gumbel, The Gangster Regime We Fund, The Independent, February 14, 1997, p. 15.

28. Ibid.

29. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3.

30. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 66, p. 4.

31. Quoted in Workers’ World, May 7, 1998.

32. See Government of Yugoslavia at http://www.gov.yu/terrorism/terroristcamps.html.

33. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4

Ucrânia : A autópsia de um golpe de estado

March 25th, 2014 by Ahmed Bensaada

O movimento de protesto  (batizado « Euromaïdan ») recentemente vivido pela Ucrânia, é interessante de várias maneiras. Ele mostra como um golpe de estado civil, contra um governo democráticamente eleito, pode ter sucesso através de um apoio estrangeiro, e sem intervenção militar. Ele revela a flagrante parcialidade e a falta de integridade das principais mídias ocidentais que, com uma argumentação falsa, apoiam cegamente o intervencionismo ocidental e, com uma visão dictômica da situação, qualifica então uns de bons e outros de máus. Ainda mais grave, esse movimento de protesto redesenha os contornos, até os fazerem evaporar, numa renascença da guerra fria que se acreditava enterrada com o desmoronar do muro de Berlim. Finalmente, ele também nos oferece uma provável imagem da situação dos paises árabes « primaverís ». Ness medida a Ucraina também teve a sua « primavera » em 2004, primavera essa que ficou conhecida como a « Revolução cor de laranja  ».

Para se compreender a situação ucraniana atual é necessário que se passe em revista alguns dados importantes, assim como os nomes dos maiores actores da política ucraniana depois da era soviética.

1991 A Ucrânia se separa da USRS
1991-1994 Leonid Kravtchouk (ex dirigente da época soviética) é o presidente da Ucrânia.
1991 YuliaTimochenko cria a « Companhia de petróleo ucraniano »
1992-1993 Leonid Koutchma (pro-russo) é Primeiro ministro na presidência Kravtchouk. Ele se demissiona en 1993 para se candidatar as eleições presidencias do ano seguinte.
1994-1999 Leonid Koutchma é o 2o presidente da Ukraina.
1995 Yulia Timochenko reorganiza sua sociedade para fundar, com a ajuda de Pavlo Lazarenko, a companhia de distribuição de hydrocarbon « Sistemas Energéticos Unidoss da Ukraina » (SEUU).
1995 Pavlo Lazarenko é  nomeado vice-Primeiro Ministro encarregado da energia.
1996 A SEUU faz 10 bilhões de dolares em negócios e declara 4 bilhões em lucros.
1996-1997 Pavlo Lazarenko é Primeiro ministro na presidência Koutchma.
1997 Pavlo Lazarenko é demissionado pelo presidente Koutchma.
1998 Lazarenko é detido pela policia suiça na fronteira franco-helvética e acusado pelas autoridades de Berne de lavagem de dinheiro.
1999 Lazarenko é detido no aeroporto JFK de New-York. Ele é condenado en 2004 por lavagem de dinheiro (114 bilhões de dolares), corrupção e fraude.
1999-2005 Leonid Koutchma é presidente da Ucraina depois da  sua reeleição.
1999-2001 Viktor Iouchtchenko é Primeiro ministro na presidência Koutchma.
Júlia Timochenko é vice-Primeira Ministra encarregada da energia (posto que ja tinha sido ocupado por Lazarenko).
2001 Yulia Timochenko é demissionada pelo presidente  Koutchma em janeiro de 2001. Ela é acusada de « contrabando e de falsificação de documentos », por ter fraudulentamente importado gás russo em 1996, de quando presidente da SEUU.
Timochenko foi detida e fará 41 dias de prisão. A justiça investiga sua atividade no sector da energia durante os anos 1990 e sobre sua ligação com Lazarenko.
2002-2005 Dauphin de Koutchma, Viktor Ianoukovytch (pro-russo) e Primeiro ministro na sua presidência.
2004 A eleição presidencial tem-se entre o Primeiro Ministro em posto, Viktor Ianoukovytch e o ex-Primeiro Ministro e líder da oposição Viktor Iouchtchenko (pro-ocidente). O 2o turno é vencido por Ianoukovytch (49,46 contre 46,61) %. O resultado é contestado porque, de acordo com a oposição, as eleições teriam sido fraudulentas.
Revolução Laranja : Movimento de protesto popular pro-ocidental largamente sustentado por organismos ocidentais de « exportação » da democracia, particularmente as americanas. Yulia Timochenko é considerada como a musa desse movimento. Principal resultado dessa  « revolução » : anulação do segundo turno das presidenciais.
Um terceiro turno das eleições presidenciais é organizado : Iouchtchenko é  eleito (51,99 contre 44,19%)
2005-2010 Viktor Iouchtchenko é o 3o presidente da Ucrânia.
2005 (7 mois) Júlia Timochenko é Primeira Ministra na presidência Iouchtchenko
2006-2007 Viktor Ianoukovytch é Primeiro Ministro na  presidencia Iouchtchenko.
2007-2010 YuliaTimochenko é uma segunda vez Primeira Ministra na presidência Iouchtchenko.
2010 Eleições presidenciais. Resultados do primeiero turno : 1o - Ianoukovytch (35,32%); 2o - Timochenko (25,05%) et 5o -Iouchtchenko (5,45%).Segundo turno : Ianoukovytch vence Timochenko (48,95% contra 45,47%).
2010-2014 Viktor Ianoukovytch é o 4o presidente da Ukraina.
2011 Yulia Timochenko é condenada a sete anos de prisão por abuso de poder no cenário de contratos de gás assinados entre a Ucrânia e a Russia em 2009.

 

 

Leonid Kravtchouk Leonid Koutchma
Viktor Iouchtchenko Yulia Timochenko
Pavlo Lazarenko Viktor Ianoukovytch

 

Um golpe de estado apoiado pela grande maioria do mundo ocidental

O que se passou na Ucrânia nesses últimos dias foi um verdadeiro Golpe de Estado. Em efeito, o presidente Viktor Ianoukovytch tinha sido democraticamente eleito, em 7 de fevereiro de 2010, tendo vencido Yulia Timochenko no segundo turno das eleições presidenciais (48,95 % des voix contre 45,47 %).

Evidentemente, Timochenko não aceitou imediatamente o veredicto das urnas [1]. Deveria certamente de haver qualquer fraude, em qualquer parte, já que ela era, de quando das eleições, a Primeira Ministra en exercício e Viktor Iouchtchenko era então o presidente do país. As duas figuras emblemáticas da Revolução orange, muito amplamente sustentadas  pelos países ocidentais, eram as supostas de  levar a Ucrânia a uma era nova, a uma era da democracia e de prosperidade, mas a eleição tinha sido vencida, com grande margem, por um candidato pro-russo. E que candidato! Ianoukovytch! Ele que tinha sido « buado » pelos ativistas da onda orange de 2004. Em menos de seis anos então, os ucranianos tinham compreendido que essa « Revolução» colorida não era uma revolução de verdade.

Em 8 de fevereiro de  2010, João Soares, o presidente da Assembléia parlamentar da Organização para Segurança e Cooperação na Europe (OSCE) declarava : « A eleição ofereceu uma demonstração impressionante de democracia. Essa, na Ucrânia, é uma vitória para todo o mundo. Já está na hora dos dirigentes políticos escutarem o veredicto do povo e deixar o poder de maneira que uma transição democrática seja pacífica e construtiva » [2].

Sem muita convicção, mas colocada frente a evidência do veredicto dos observadores internacionais, Timochenko acabou por retirar seus recursos na justiça, os quais tentavam invalidar os resultados da eleição [3].

Os « revoltosos » da praça  Maïdan reprovavam  Ianoukovytch de ter decidido suspender um acordo entre seu país e a União Européia (UE). Aqui uma questão fundamental se apresenta : numa democracia, e dentro do quadro de suas prerrogativas, na sua função como presidente em exercício, teria ele  o direito de assinar os acordos que julgasse mais benéficos para seu país? A resposta é sim, ainda mais porque muitos especialistas avaliavam que esse acordo seria nefasto para a economia da Ucrânia.

Segundo David Teurtrie, pesquisador do Instituto Nacional de Línguas e Civilizações Orientais (INALCO, Paris) tem-se que: « A proposta feita à Ucrânia era, como eu gostaria de dizer, uma estratégia perda-perda. Porque? O acordo corresponderia a colocação de uma zona livre de comércio entre a UE e a Ucrânia. Mas essa zona de livre-comércio seria muito desfavorável para a Ucrânia, porque ela abria completamente o mercado ucraniano aos produtos europeus, enquanto só entreabrindo o mercado europeu aos produtos ucranianos, que não seriam, na sua maior parte, reais concorrentes no mercado ocidental. Nós vemos portanto que as vantagens não eram muito razoáveis  para a Ucrânia. Para simplificar, a Ucrânia teria todas as desvantagens dessa liberalização de comércio com a UE, não recebendo em princípio nenhuma vantagem » [4].

O economista russo Sergueï Glaziev é também da mesma opinião : « Todas as estimações, incluindo as dos analistas europeus, prevêem uma diminuição inevitável na produção de bens ucranianos nos primeiros anos depois da assinatura do acordo de associação, porque eles são condenados a uma perda de competitividade, em relação aos produtos europeus » [5].

Não obstante a inclinação pro-russa de Ianoukovytch, está claro que a proposta russa era muito mais interessante para a Ucrânia do que aquela avançada pelos europeus.  « A UE não promete a lua aos manifestantes… só e justamente a Grécia » intitulou ironicamente o jornal l’Humanité [6].

Depois das desordens sangrentas de Kiev, numerosos países ocidentais tiveram curiosamente muita pressa em declarar que eles estavam prontos a apoiar  « um novo governo » na Ucrânia [7], isso quer dizer, de reconhecer implicitamente um golpe de estado. Não é verdade que em vez de atiçar a violência, e de financiar barricadas, esses países deveriam mais era oferecer seus serviços para acalmar os espíritos, para que as pessoas pudessem esperar as próximas eleições, como prescrito pelos fundamentos da democracia, que eles tentam exportar à Ucrânia e  para todo o mundo?

Pequenas especificações sobre a « Revolução » Laranja

A « Revolução » Laranja faz parte de uma série de revoltas batizadas como « revoluções coloridas », que se desenrolaram nos países do Leste, e principalmente então, nas ex-Republicas soviéticas durante os anos 2000. Essas desembocaram numa mudança de governo. Tem-se aqui então a Serbia (2000), a Geórgia (2003), a Ucrânia (2004) e Quirguistão (2005).

Num artigo extensivo e muito detalhado sobre o papel dos Estados-Unidos nas  revoluções coloridas, G. Sussman e S. Krader, da Portland State University, mencionou-se no sumário: « Entre 2000 e 2005, os governos aliados da Russia na Serbia, Geórgia, Ucrânia e Quirguistão foram revertidos por revoltas sem derramamento de sangue. Se bem que a imprensa ocidental de maneira geral pretendesse que essas erupções fossem espontâneas, indígenas, e populares (poder do povo), as  « revoluções coloridas » são em facto o  resultado de uma ampla planificação. Os Estados-Unidos, especialmente, e seus aliados, exerceram sobre os países post-comunistas um impressionante número de pressões, tendo utilizado  financiamentos e technologias em serviço de ajuda à  democracia » [8].

Uma dissecação das técnicas utilizadas de quando dessas « revoluções » mostra que elas todas tem o mesmo tipo de modus operandi (maneira de agir). Vários movimentos  foram introduzidos para conduzir essas revoltas: Otpor (« Resistência ») na Serbia, Kmara (« Basta! ») na Geórgia, Pora (« Está na hora ») na Ucrânia, e KelKel (« Renascença ») no Quirguistão. A primeira entre essas, Otpor, foi a que  causou a queda do regime de Slobodan Milosevic, na Iugoslávia. Depois desse sucesso, o movimento Otpor ajudou, aconselhou e formou, todos os outros movimentos através do intermédio de uma organização especialmente concebida para essa tarefa, o Centro para Estratégia e Ação Aplicada Não-Violenta (CANVAS), que está localizado na capital da Serbia. CANVAS forma os dissidentes através do mundo, para  que esses possam aplicar a resistência individual, não violenta, que é uma ideologia concebida pelo filósofo e politólogo americano Gene Sharp, em sua obra « From Dictatorship to Democracy » (Da dictadura a democracia) a qual esteve na base de todas as revoluções coloridas.

Manifestantes da “Revolução” Laranja

 

Assim como CANVAS, outros movimentos dissidentes também se beneficiaram da ajuda de numerosas organizações americanas de « exportação » da democracia, como a United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a National Endowment for Democracy (NED), o International Republican Institute (IRI), o National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a Freedom House (FH), a Albert Einstein Institution, e o Open Society Institute (OSI). Esses organismos são financiados pelo orçamento americano, ou pelo capital particular americano. Por exemplo, a NED é financiada através de um orçamento  votado pelo Congresso e os fundos administrados por um conselho de administração, onde estão representados o Partido Republicano, o Partido Democrata, a Câmara do Comércio dos Estados-Unidos e o sindicato American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO). Tem-se aqui então que a OSI faz parte da Fundação Soros, a qual tomou o  nome de seu fundador, George Soros, o bilionário americano, o conhecido especulante financeiro. É também interessante notar que o Conselho de Administração da IRI é presidido pelo senador John McCain, o candidato derrotado nas presidenciais americanas de 2008.  A implicação de McCain nas revoluções coloridas foi claramente estabelecida num excelente documentário que a reporter francesa Manon Loizeau  consagrou as revoluções coloridas [9].  Comprende-se então facilmente porque o senador recentemente se precipitou a  Kiev para apoiar aos amotinados ucranianos. Comprende-se também, porque a Russia tomou uma atitude mais dura a respeito das ONG [organizações não governamentais] estrangeiras, presentes no país, assim também como a razão que então motivou a expulsão da USAID do território russo [10].

A relação entre o movimento ucraniano « Pora » [Está na Hora!] e as organizações americanas foi apresentada explicitamente por Ian Traynor num remarcável artigo publicado pelo The Guardian em novembro de 2004 [11].

« Oficialmente, o governo americano despendeu, durante um ano, 41 milhões de dolares para a organização e o financiamento da operação que permitiu o se desfazer de Milosevic […]. Na Ucrânia, a cifra correspondente deverá ficar por volta  de 14 milhões de dólares », explicou ele.

Yulia Timochenko e Viktor Iouchtchenko são considerados como as figuras de proa da revolução orange, na Ucrânia. Apoiado  pelo ocidente, esse movimento obteu a anulação do segundo turno da eleição presidencial de 2004, inicialmente vencida por Viktor Ianoukovytch contra Viktor Iouchtchenko. O « terceiro » turno dá finalmente a vitória a Iouchtchenko que vem a ser então o 3o presidente da Ucraina, para grande alegria dos americanos, e dos europeus.

Orgulhoso de seus êxitos « revolucionários » coloridos, o belicoso senador McCain  disse que ele iria propor a candidatura de Viktor Iouchtchenko e de seu homólogo georgiano pro-ocidental Mikhail Saakashvili  para o prêmio Nobel da Paz  [12]. Ele foi então a Kiev em fevereiro 2005 [13] para felicitar seu « filhote » e talvez também para lhe mostrar que ele teria qualquer coisa a ver com essa sua eleição.

Logo que nominado presidente, Iouchtchenko apressou-se a nomear Timochenko ao posto de Primeira Ministra, mas a « lua de mel » entre os companheiros da  revolução não manteu o fogo por muito tempo. Ainda que incensados pelo ocidente, a dupla Iouchtchenko-Timochenko não vingou, e os resultados foram muito decepcionantes.

Justin Raimondo descreveu a balança do mandato Iouchtchenko (2005-2010) da seguinte maneira: «  Presentemente o brilho cor de laranja dessa revolução já está desbotado, mas isso já vem de a muito tempo, seu regime se mostra hoje tão incompetente e fazendo tanto uso de cartuchões como seus predecessores corruptos e interesseiros. Uma grande parte da ” ajuda ” monetária ocidental desapareceu […]. Ainda por cima, a economia ficou paralizada pela imposição de controles de preços,  corrupção, e por um tráfico descarado de influência. Abaixo do acorde de divisão de poder entre o Sr. Iouchtchenko e a volátil Yulia Timochenko, a «  princesa do gaz » e oligarca amazonas, o país foi desintegrado, não só economicamente como também socialmente […]. A radical baixa da economia, e os escândalos provenientes de acontecimentos quotidianos, durante a  administração do Sr. Iouchtchenko, conduziram a completa marginalização da venerada revolução orange: no primeiro turno da eleição presidencial [2010], ele obteve um humilhante 5% dos votos. Descartado, e sem ter mais necessidade de fingir, o Sr. Iouchtchenko lançou uma veritábel bomba na arena política através de honrar Stepan Bandera, o nacionalista ucraniano, colaborador dos nazistas, como um ” Herói da Ucrânia “ » [14].

Note-se enfim que as organizações americanas de « exportação » da democracia estiveram muito implicadas no que se denomina a « primavera » árabe. Os jovens ativistas árabes foram formados à la resistência individual, não-violenta através da CANVAS,  e à la ciber-dissidência por orgãos americanos, como a Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) [Aliança Movimento Jovem] ela mesma financiada pelo Departemento do Estado, assim como pelos gigantes americanos de novas tecnologias, como Google, Facebook ou Twitter [15].

Os « gentís » amotinados da praça Maïdan

Apesar da grande diversidade da  « fauna » revolucionária que ocupou a praça Maïdan em Kiev, os observadores concordam em reconhecer que a dissidência estava composta  de quatro diferentes grupos posicionados num espectro político indo da direita à extrema-direita.

Em primeiro lugar, tem-se  « Batkivshina » ou União pan-ucraniana « Pátria » que é um partido político liderado por Júlia Timochenko, tendo como vice Olexandre Tourtchinov, um amigo de longa data, considerado como seu « fiel escudeiro  » [16].  Foi ele que recentemente foi nomeado presidente interim da Ukraina, depois da saída de Ianoukovytch.

 

Olexandre Tourtchinov e Yulia Timochenko

Fundado em 1999, Batkivshina é um partido liberal pro-europeu. Ele é um membro observador do (PPE), semelhante aos principais partidos de direita europeus como o CDU (Union Cristã-Democrata da Alemanha) da chancelière alemã Angela Merkel. Note-se que a Fundação Konrado Adenauer (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung), grupo de discussões do CDU, é também afiliado ao PPE. De outra parte, o PPE tem relações estreitas com o International Republican Institute (IRI). Wilfried Martens, o presidente do PPE da época, foi um apoiante de John McCain de quando da eleição presidencial americana de 2008 [17].  Naturalmente, como apontado anteriormente, John McCain é também, e principalmente, presidente do CA e  do IRI.

Segundo um dos responsáveis do « Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People », movimento associado ao partido « Pátria », IRI é activo na Ucrânia a mais de 10 anos, isso quer dizer que ele nunca saiu do território ucraniano depois da revolução orange [18].

Arseni Iatseniouk, um ator de primeiro plano pro-ocidente da vida política ucraniana, é considerado como um   « líder- estrela dos protestos na Ucraina » [19].  Como produto da Revolução Laranja (ele ocupou postos ministeriais na presidência de Iouchtchenko), ele primeiro criou seu próprio partido (Frente para Mudança) antes de reunir-se as alas do Batkivshina e de se aproximar de Timochenko. Iatseniouk, que foi designado primeiro ministro, foi o escolhido pelos amotinados da praça Maïdan. A sua missão era a de dirigir um governo de união national antes da eleição presidencial antecipada, prevista então para 25 de maio de 2014 [20].

Arseni Iatseniouk

O segundo partido implicado no violento protesto ucraniano foi o UDAR (Aliança Democrática Ucraniana para a Reforma). Esse partido, liberal e pro-europeu também, foi criado em 2010 para a fusão de dois partidos, onde um é o partido Pora, surgido do movimento dos jovens que estiveram na vanguarda da revolução laranja o qual já foi discutido aqui anteriormente. UDAR (que significa « soco/golpe/murro » na Ucrânia) é dirigido pelo boxeador e ex-campeão do mundo em peso-pesado, Vitali Klitschko. Nascido no Kirguizistão, Klitschko é ucraniano mas viveu em Hamburgo e Los Angeles, durante vários anos, tendo seus três filhos nascidos nos Estados Unidos, sendo então de nacionalidade americana.  [21].

 

Vitali Klitschko

Uma rápida navegação no  site do partido permite que se entenda que UDAR conta entre seus sócios estrangeiros com : IRI (de McCain), o NDI (presidido por Madeleine K. Albright, ex secretária de Estado dos Estados Unidos) assim como CDU (de Merkel). Note-se aqui que o IRI e o NDI são duas das quatro organizações satélites da NED.

 

Os parceiros do UDAR (Foto da página publicada no site oficial do partido)

Num relatório do German Foreign Policy intitulado « Nosso Homem em Kiev » datado de dezembro de 2013, se pode ler a respeito de Klitschko e de seu partido : « Segundo os relatórios da imprensa, o governo alemão gostaria que o campeão de boxe Vitali Klitschko aspirasse a presidência para levá-lo ao poder na Ucraina. Ele deseja melhorar a popularidade da política da oposição organizando, por exemplo,  aparições públicas conjuntas com o ministro alemão dos negócios estrangeiros. Nesse sentido, uma reunião também está igualmente prevista para Klitschko com a chancelière Merkel, de quando do próximo summit da UE  nos meados de dezembro. A Fundação Konrado Adenauer esteve, para esse efeito, não só apoiando massivamente Klitschko, e seu partido UDAR, mas segundo um político da CDU, o partido UDAR tinha sido fundado em 2010 por ordens diretas da fundação do CDU. Os relatórios sobre as atividades da Fundação para o desenvolvimento do partido de Klitschko dá uma indicação da maneira através da qual os alemães influenciam os negócios internos da Ucraina via UDAR » [22]. Assim, UDAR seria uma criação do CDU, o que explicaria a forte implicação da diplomacia alemã no « atoladeiro » ucraniano, atolando-se então alí. Essa informação é confirmada por numerosos outros artigos [23].

Um terceiro movimento participou na insurreição ucraniana pro-ocidental. Trata-se de « Svoboda » (liberdade em ucraniano) o qual é um partido de extrema-direita ultra-nacionalista dirigido por Oleh Tyahnybok. Svoboda fez rolar muita tinta na imprensa por causa de sua posição xenófoba, anti-semita, homofóbica, antirussa e anticommunista [24]. Esse partido, que está aberto só para ucranianos « pura lã », glorifica personagens históricas ucranianas abertamente fascistas, e pro-nazistas como o tristemente célebre Stepan Bandera. Durante a segunda guerra mundial, Stepan Bandeira combateu os soviéticos sempre em ligação com a Alemanha nazista de então [25]. Ajunte-se a isso que Svoboda está estreitamente ligada a uma organização paramilitar,  os « Patriotas da Ucrânia » [26]. Considerado como néo-nazi, ela esteve muito ativa durante os recentes acontecimentos que ensanguentaram as ruas de Kiev.

Oleh Tyahnybok

Os tres partidos citados então acima formaram uma aliança denominada « Grupo de Ação para a Resistência National » para levar a destabilização ao governo Ianoukovytch. Depois mostrou-se que uma nova coalizão tinha sido criada no parlamento ucraniano post-Ianoukovytch. Denominada “Escolha Européia ”, ela reúne 250 deputados de diferentes grupos parlamentares e entre esses então Batkivtchina, UDAR et Svoboda [27].

Os líderes do “Grupo de ação para a resistência nacional” Klitschko, Tyahnubok, Iatseniouk

E para completar a força do novo poder sobre as instituições ucranianas, Oleg Mahnitsky foi nomeado Procurador Geral da Ucrânia, posto de importância capital nesse  período de sobressaltos « revolucionários » e de evidentes regulamentos  « democráticos ». Pequena especificação: Mahnitsky é membro do partido Svoboda [28]. O chantilly sobre a calda? No novo governo post-Euromaïdan, muito dominado pelo partido Batkivshina de Timochenko, três pastas ministeriais foram dadas a membros do Svoboda : Oleksandr Sych, vice-Primeiro ministro; Andriy Mokhnyk, Ministro do Meio-Ambiente e Oleksandr Myrnyi, Ministro da Agricultura [29].

Oleg Mahnitsky

 

Oleksandr Sych Andriy Mokhnyk Oleksandr Myrnyi

Uma outra nomeação não passou desapercebida nesse governo : foi a de Pavel Sheremeta que, de 1995 à 1997, foi diretor de programa na Open Society Institute de Budapest [30].

 

Pavel Sheremeta

O quarto grupo da revolta oposicional presente na praça Maïdan era provavelmente o mais violento de todos. Conhecido pelo nome « Pravy Sektor » (Sector de Direita), ele representa a coalizão de uma multidão de grupúsculos de extrema-direita, radicais, e fascistas, que consideram que Svoboda é « muito liberal » (sic) [31]. Criado em novembro 2013 [32], essa organização tem como líder Dmitro, o chefe de uma organização de extrema-direita denominada « Trizub » (Tridente) que tem uma reputação de ser o núcleo duro da brutal dissidência [33].  Além do Trizub, também lá se encontram, especialmente, os « Patriotas da Ucrânia », a « Ukrainska Natsionalna Asambleya – Ukrainska Narodna Sambooborunu – UNA-UNSO » (Assembléia National Ucraniana – Autodefesa National Ucraniana), Bilyi Molot (Martelo Branco) assim como a ala radical do Svoboda [Liberdade][34].

 

Dmitro Yarosh

Numa entrevista para o magazine TIME, publicada em 4 de fevereiro de 2014, Yarosh declarou que « seus grupos antigovernamentais em Kiev estariam prontos à luta armada » [35].  « Nós não somos políticos, nós somos soldados da revolução nacional  », ele ajuntou. É aqui necessário dizer que o líder do Pravy Sektor  passou alguns anos no exército soviético e que, por ele, a « “revolução nacional” é impossível sem violência, e que ela deveria conduzir a um estado “puramente ucraniano” com a capital em Kiev » [36].  Ele também revelou nessa sua entrevista que a sua coalizão tinha providenciado um arsenal de armas letais. E para precisar melhor : « Justamente para defender a Ucrânia dos ocupantes internos [ou seja, os membros do governo] ».

Em efeito, inúmeras fotos e vídeos mostram os militantes do Pravy Sektor en uniformes paramilitaires a caminho de treinar publicamente na praça Maïdan [37], assim como envolvidos em confrontações de extrema violência com as forças da ordem constituida, ou utilizando armas de fogo contra os « Berkut » (policia antimotim) [38].

Actions illégales des manifestants “pacifiques” à Kiev

 

Numa reportagem vindo de Kiev, o journalista britânico David Blair nos apresenta o seu ponto de vista sobre a organização do Pravy Sektor: « O que fica claro, é que eles são muito organizados. Um provisão de máscaras de gaz vindo regularmente, assim como também de alimentação e de excedentes de camuflagem do exército, chegam também regularmente aos voluntários nas barricadas. Ex-soldados oferecem aqui uma formação  de combate, a mão desarmada, fora da tenda que serve como uma pequena base do Pravy Sektor na praça da Independência em Kiev. Os voluntários descreveram um sistema de comando com vários dirigentes os quais comandam esse grupo de luta heteróclito nas barricadas principais da rua Grushevskogo em Kiev. A questão que vem a mente de muitas pessoas é o que um grupo desse tipo, energético e cheio de potência, fora do controle dos meios da política tradicional, irá fazer se a revolução suceder em derrubar o governo » [39].

Milices d’autodéfense montées par le groupe d’extrême-droite Pravy Sektor (Source: Le Monde)

 

Um manifestante com arma na mão durante uma confrontação com a polícia, praça da Independência, à Kiev, em 22 de janeiro (Fonte: Libération)

 

Ninguém pode dizer se a revolução venceu, e nem mesmo se essa insurreição pode em princípio ser considerada como uma revolução. Mas do que se pode estar certo, é que o governo foi realmente derrubado, e que Dmitro Yarosh foi denominado como adjunto do presidente do Conselho de Segurança e da Defesa Nacional da Ucrânia [40], organismo consultativo do estado encarregado da segurança nacional que depende do presidente do país. E quem é o presidente desse conselho? Nenhum outro do  que Andriy Parubiy, « o commndante da Maïdan » [41], « o chefe do estado-maior da revolução ucraniana » [42] que, no tempo da  « revolução », guardous seus ternos de deputado do partido Batkivshchyna para vestir aquela de « generalissimo » do « exército » dos revoltosos da Euromaïdan. Mas, o mais interessante seria saber  que Parubiy pertencia primeiramente ao partido Svoboda. En efeito, ele é, com Oleh Tyahnybok, co-fundador em 1991 do Partido Social-Nationalista da Ukraine (SNPU), rebaptizado Svoboda en 2004 [43]. Como se percebe as barricadas, os motins, a desobediência civíl, a violência e o fascismo  podem levar ao topo na Ucrânia.

 Andriy Parubiy

 

Tem que se reconhecer que os acontecimentos de Kiev fizeram salivar um grande amante de guerras « sem as amar ». Assim, como um tubarão atraido pelo sangue, Bernard-Henri Levy (BHL), o famoso « rouxinol dos ossários», foi a Kiev rencontrar os revoltosos. Com toda a humilhação de ser buado depois do fiasco líbio e mentindo pelos dentes, ele exclama : « Eu não vi nenhum néo-nazista, eu não percebi nada que fosse antisemita » [44].

BHL em Kiev: ”Eu não vi néo-nazis, eu não percebi nada de antisemitismo”

Para contradizer o « dandy » de camisas brancas aberta ao peito, veja-se o que diz a ucraniana Natalia Vitrenko, presidente do Partido socialista progressista da Ucrânia : « No começo, [os amutinados] eram os deputados da oposição Iatseniouk, Klitschko et Tyahnybok. Essas três pessoas dirigiam o Maïdan. Mas, logo, foi o Pravy Sektor que teve a mão na direção. Depois, nos meados de dezembro, a política do Maïdan foi ditada pelo Pravy Sektor, que é uma aliança de diferentes partidos e movimentos néo-nazis. Esses são grupos paramilitares de terroristas muito bem treinados » [45].

BHL fazendo uma pose em Kiev

Caricatura  ”do acontecimento”

 

Mas a melhor resposta, a que corresponde melhor ao nível da declaração de BHL, veio da journalist Irina Lebedeva : « Ele [BHL] tem sorte, os militantes do Svoboda e do Pravy Sector, organizações que exigem a pureza racial, certamente que receberam claras instruções de nem tocar no assunto» [46].

Timochenko: loira ou morena?

A figura política ucraniana mais medializada pelos órgãos da imprensa ocidental é incontestavelmente Júlia Timochenko. Tratada como uma personagem histórica, maior que a natureza, ela beneficia de denominações elogiosas, mas sobretudo pomposas : a « Mariana em tranças », a « Princesa da gás », a « Joana d’Arc ucraniana » ou a « Dama de ferro ». Mas caso se observa bem uma estatueta de Joana d’Arc ou as memórias de Margaret Thatcher [47], compreende-se que a sua trajetória está longe de ser virtuosa. Em fato, sua prática política tem mais a ver com romances e novelas de escândalos político-financeiros  (ou talvez até mafiosos) do que com a abnegação pela pátria e o povo ucraniano. Julgue por si mesmo.

A respeito de romances, comecemos por Olexandre Tourtchinov que é, assim parece, um verdadeiro romancista especializado no genro ciência de ficção « science-fiction ». Sim, é ele mesmo que atualmente é o presidente da Ucrânia, o mesmo que foi qualificado como « escudeiro fiel » de Timochenko e o qual nasceu, como ela também, em Dnipropetrovsk.

 

Timochenko morena

 

En 1994, Tourtchinov criou com Pavlo Lazarenko, um notável de Dnipropetrovsk, o partido Hromada do qual Timochenko viria a ser a presidenta em 1997. Um ano mais tarde, em 1995 , a « Mariana de tranças » que tinha humidelmente começado sua carreira de chefe de empresa com um empréstimo de 5000$, reorganizou sua modesta « Companhia de Petróleo Ucraniano » (criada em 1991) para fundar, com a ajuda de Lazarenko, a companhia de distribuição de hydrocarbonos « Sistemas Energéticos Unidos daUcraina » (SEUU). Nesse mesm ano, Lazarenko foi nominado vice-Primeiro Ministro encarregado da energia. Certamente muito favorizada pelas alavancas políticas inerentes ao posto de Lazarenko, os resultados da SEUU explodiram: 10 bilhões de dólares do total dos negócios, e 4 bilhões de lucros para o ano 1996! E tudo isso graças a contratos muito lucrativos ligados a venda na Ucraina do gás natural russo [48]. Os anos gordos continuaram com a promoção de Lazarenko ao posto de Primeiro Ministro em maio de 1996, se bem que ele tenha escapado de um atentado com uma bomba apenas 2 meses mais tarde [49]. No começo do ano 1997,  a SEUU controlava já diversos bancos, tinha participação em dezenas de empresas de metalurgia, e de construção mecânica, era co-proprietária da terceira maior companhia aérea da Ucraina, e de seu segundo maior aeroporto, o de Dnipropetrovsk, além da participação no desenvolvimento de gasoductos turcos e bolivianos, assim como que o controle de diversos journais locais e nacionais [50].

 

Lazarenko e Timochenko

 

Como o enriquecimento « exponencial » é muitas vezes sinônimo de negócios suspeitos, as suspeitas começaram a pesar sobre Lazarenko  e a SEUU. En abril de 1997, o New York Times escrevia que Lazarenko possuia parte nessa companhia. Outros negócios vieram a tona e, em julho do mesmo ano, o presidente Koutchma caçou o mandato de Lazarenko. A continuação é rocambolesca. Em 1998, Lazarenko foi detido pela polícia suiça na fronteira franco-helvética e acusado pelas autoridades de Berne de lavagem de dinheiro, mas ele foi liberado depois de pagar uma alta multa. Num artigo publicado en 2000 e  intitulado « As contas fantasticas do Sr.Lazarenko », Gilles Gaetner fala de um desvio de dinheiro público ucraniano na ordem de 800 milhões de dólares, « sem dúvida um negócio de maior importância quanto a lavagem de dinheiro no após-guerra» [51]. Lazarenko foi então aos Estados Unidos onde tentou obter asilo político, mas foi detido em 1999.

Ainda que tenham sido eleitos como membros do Hromada, Timochenko e Tourtchinov saem desse partido em 1999, depois dos acontecimentos com Lazarenko para então criar, juntos, o partido Batkivshina [52].

Depois de ser julgado pela justiça americana, Lazarenko foi condenado em 2006  a nove anos de prisão por extorsão de fundos, lavagem de dinheiro por bancos americanos, e fraudes [53]. Um relatório de 2004 da « Transparency International Global Corruption » classifica Lazarenko entre os 10 líderes políticos mais corruptos do mundo [54]. A justiça ucraniana entretanto procura Lazarenko pelo assassinato do deputado Evguen  Scherban, e de sua mulher, em 1996. Segundo a acusação, o grupo de Scherban era concorrente da SEUU, e acanhava suas atividades.

Evguen  Scherban

 

Lazarenko foi libertado em novembro de 2013, mas foi colocado num centro de detenção para migrantes por causa da expiração de seu visto [55].

A prisão de Lazarenko não diminuiu em nada o oportunismo político de Timochenko. De quando Viktor Iouchtchenko acede ao posto de Primeiro Ministro em 1999, ela foi nomeada vice-Primeira Ministra encarregada da energia, posto ocupado por Lazarenko, alguns anos antes. Finalmente ela foi afetada pelas sobras do escândalo Lazarenko e acusada em 2001 de « contrabando e falsificação de documentos », por ter fraudulentamente importado gás russo, em 1996, de quando ela era presidente da SEUU [56]. Timochenko foi detida e esteve algumas semanas na  prisão [57]. Em 2002, ela foi vítima de um grave acidente de automóvel o que a ela lhe pareceu como uma tentativa de assassinato [58].

Timochenko blonde, mas sem tranças.

 

É nesse período que ela muda de estilo. De morena, ela se transforma em loira. « Júlia troca o estilo de mulher de negócios sexy, com cabelos soltos, e tailleurs colantes por um estilo mais recatado, de parlamentária, com aspecto colegial, usando blusas soltas, muitas vezes com babados. Ela adopta o seu penteado atual, as famosas tranças loiras colocadas como um diadema sobre sua cabeça» [59].

 

Timochenko e seu estilo atual

 

En 2004,  a « Revolução » Laranja brilha e Timochenko torna-se em sua musa. Iouchtchenko acede a magistratura suprema em 2005 com ela no posto de Primeira Ministra, por duas vezes. Todas as acusações são, como por mágica, esquecidas.

 

A dupla Iouchtchenko – Timochenko

Divulgado por Wikileaks, um relatório do congresso americano, datado de 2005, descreve  assim a « princesa do gás » : « Timochenko é uma líder enérgica e carismática com um estilo político as vezes combativo, tendo feita uma campanha eficiente para o Sr. Iouchtchenko. Ao mesmo tempo ela é uma personagem controversal por causa de suas ligações, nos meados dos anos 1990, com elites oligarquias, onde o ex- Primeiro Ministro Pavlo Lazarenko, que cumpre atualmente uma pena numa prisão americana por fraude, lavagem de dinheiro e extorção, era uma parte. Timochenko exerceu os postos de chefe de uma empresa de gás e de vice-Primeira Ministra no governo notoriamente corrompido de Lazarenko. Diz-se que ela é extremamente rica […]. Ela depois foi objeto de uma investigação por corrupção e lavagem de dinheiro, e esteve então brevemente presa. Todas as acusações foram oficialmente abandonadas depois da eleição de Viktor Iouchtchenko. A Rússia também igualmente tirou as acusações de corrupção contra ela, pouco tempo antes da campanha eleitoral » [60].

O aceso ao poder da dupla Iouchtchenko – Timochenko (graças a onda laranja), permitiu também a Tourtchinov de ocupar o posto de chefe dos Serviços Secretos ucranianos (SBU) em fevereiro de 2005. Mas, em 2006, tanto ela como seu adjunto são objetos de uma investigação. Ele foi acusado de ter destruído o fichário de um perigoso padrinho do crime organizado ucraniano, Semyon Mogilevich [61]. Esse mafioso é suspeito de dirigir um vasto criminoso império e ele foi descrito pelo FBI, em 1998, como « o gangster mais perigoso do mundo » [62]. As acusações foram surpreendentemente abandonadas alguns meses mais tarde. Ele até obteve uma excelente promoção. Em efeito, em seu segundo mandato como Primeira Ministra (2007), Timochenko lhe outorgou o posto de vice-Primeiro Ministro, função que ele ocupou até 2010, data na qual ela perde as eleições presidenciais contra Ianoukovytch.

As relações conflituosas da dupla Iouchtchenko – Timochenko dá um golpe de graça as miragens da « revolução » laranja. Timochenko é acusada de ter traido o interesse nacional para preservar suas ambições pessoais [63].

A entrada de Ianoukovytch ao poder põe fim a impunidade da candidata derrotada pelas urnas, e seu fichário judicial é tirado das prateleiras com seus novos e velhos  « casos ». Timochenko se vê envolvida em numerosos processos judiciais: má utilização de fundos obtidos em 2009  pela venda de quotas de emissão de CO2,  abuso de poder de quando da assinatura em 2009 de contratos sobre gás com a Rússia – considerados desfavoráveis a seu país, fraude fiscal, e desvio de fundos relativos ao caso Lazarenko e sua responsabilidade de quando da gerência da SEUU [64].

Ainda mais grave, ela foi acusada de cumplicidade em morte (com Lazarenko) no caso Scherban (1996). Segundo o procurador geral adjunto, «  a vítima estava em conflito com a Sra.Timochenko, que se ocupava então da distribuição do gás russo na Ucraina e tentava obrigar as empresas da região industrial de Donetsk (Leste) a comprar essa matéria prima de sua sociedade, Sistemas Energéticos Unidos da Ucraina (SEUU), graças ao apoio do Primeiro Ministro da época, Pavlo Lazarenko »; « Evguen Chtcherban, um homem forte da região, do qual o seu grupo era um concorrente da sociedade da Sra.Timochenko, opos-se publicamente a expansão da SEUU, o que ele pagou com a sua vida » [65]. Ele ajunta a isso « que ele tinha testemunhos que ela e o ex- Primeiro Ministro Pavlo Lazarenko teriam pago pelos assassinatos ». Essas acusações são sustentadas por Ruslan, o filho do Sr. Shcherban, que sobreviveu ao assassinato de seus pais. Numa conferênccia de imprensa, ele declarou ter remitido uns documentos ao serviço do procurador geral os quais implicavam os dois ex-primeiros ministros (Lazarenko et Timochenko) nos assassinatos [66].

A repartição do procurador geral da Ucraina publicou um documento explicativo do papel de Timochenko no assassinato de M. Shcherban.- Click aqui abaixo para a ler. Information on the homicide of people’s deputy of Ukraine Y. Shcherban and the financing of this crime

 

 

Alexander Momot      Vadym Hetman

 

A cumplicidade de Timochenko é também suspeitada em dois outros assassinatos: do homem de negócios Alexander Momot (assassinado em 1996, alguns meses antes de Shcherban) e do ex governador do Banco Nacional da Ucraina, Vadym Hetman (assassinado em 1998) [67].

 

Timochenko foi condenada a sete anos de prisão, em otubro de 2011, e emprisionada por seu envolvimento nos casos dos contratos de gás [68].

“o apogeu e a queda de Júlia Timoshenko”

 

Os acontecimentos inesperados do Euromaïdan vieram a tirar « a princesa do gás » de sua gaiola. E de que maneira! No sábado em 22 de fevereiro de 2014, as 12h08, Tourtchinov, o braço direito de Timochenko, foi eleito presidente do Parlemento ucraniano. Trinta minutos mais tarde, como se tratasse de um caso da maior urgência a regular, num país em plena insurreição, o parlemento vota para a libertação  « imediata » de Timochenko. Em comparação, não foi antes das 16h19 que esse mesmo parlamento votou para a destituição de Ianoukovytch [69].

Com a nominação do militante de extrema-direita Oleg Mahnitsky como procurador geral, assim como as nomeações de um muito grande número de membros do partido Batkivshina a postos-chaves no seio do aparelho do estado, se pode fácilmente predizer que Timochenko não precisará mais, pelo menos durante um certo tempo, de se inquietar por seus problemas judiciais. Tem que ser reconhecido que em duas reprises Timochenko foi arrancada das mãos da justiça graças a amotinações populares de grande amplitude : a « revolução » laranja em 2004 e, agora, o Euromaïdan. Além do seu talento como romancista, parece que o presidente Tourtchinov é também pastor evangélico. Seria nesse título que ele teria « salvo » sua amiga de sempre?

Mas « Kiev vale bem uma missa », não vale?

 

O desavergonhado envolvimento ocidental

A Euromaïdan pode ser considerada como uma « revolução » colorida, revista e corrigida ao molho  « primavera » árabe, com aroma sírio. En efeito, ainda que numerosas semelhanças possam ser encontradas entre a « revolução » laranja e a Euromaïdan, duas diferenças fundamentais podem ser notadas. A primeira, já foi discutida anteriormente, essa se relata a violência dos revoltosos que essencialmente se deve a omnipresença de manifestantes da extrema-direita, fascista e neo-nazista. Por comparação, a « revolução » laranja estava baseada em teorias não-violentas de Gene Sharp. A segunda diferença releva a insolente presença física de personalidades ocidentais, políticas e civís, na praça Maïdan, fazendo discursos incendiários para as massas, e incitando a desobediência civil, em completa contradição com os princípios fundamentais de não-envolvimento nos negócios internos de um país soberano onde os dirigentes foram democraticamente eleitos.

Comecemos por John McCain, presidente do conselho da administration do IRI que, em Kiev, estava em terreno conhecido. Efetivamente, depois (e não durante) a « revolução » laranja, ele já tinha estado na Ucraina (em fevereiro de 2005) para se encontrar com os seus « filhotes » os quais ele tinha generosamente financiado.

 

Iouchtchenko e McCain (fevereiro de 2005)

 

O senador americano também esteve nos países árabes « em primavera » : Tunísia (21 de fevereiro de 2011), Egito (27 de fevereiro de 2011), Líbia (22 de abril de 2011) e Síria (27 de maio de 2013). Quando das duas primeiras viagens, os governos já tinham sido derrubados. Nas duas últimas, a batalha estava no auge (isso ele o fez também na Síria).

Em Kiev, McCain se dirigiu aos revoltosos de Maïdan em 4 de dezembro de 2013. « Nós estamos aqui para apoiar essa sua causa justa, o direito soberano da Ucrânia de escolher seu próprio destino, livre e independentemente. E o destino que vocês desejam, esse se encontra na Europa », trombeteou ele [70].

Ele se reencontra com o « triunvirato do Maïdan », ou seja, com Iatseniouk,  Klitschko e Tyahnybok. Ele não se embaraçou de se deixar fotografar com Tyahnybok, apesar de que esse tinha sido interditado, o ano anterior, de entrar nos Estados-Unidos por causa de seus discursos anti-semitas [71]. Não, nada o constrangiu quanto a se relacionar com o líder do Svoboda [liberdade], um partido abertamente ultra-nacionaliste xenófobo, e predicante de valores neo-nazistas, assim como também nada o tinha detido de quando de seu apoio a terroristas sanguinários na Líbia ou na Síria. Para ele os fins justificam os meios: o que importava era tirar a  Ucrânia do lado da Rússia.

 

 

McCain rencontra Klitschko, Iatseniouk e Tyahnybok (dezembro de 2013)

 

O envolvimento americano é ilustrado pelo « escândalo Nyland » que mostrava que o vocabulário diplomático utilizado por alguns altos funcionários americanos não tinha nada a ficar devendo aos brutalizados, a beira cais  « Fuck the UE! », era o que ela exclamava. Isso diz muito a respeito da luta para a influência que opõe os Estados Unidos ao velho continente.

E como é que Victoria Nyland, a sub-secretária do Estado para a Europe e a Eurasia, chama os líderes do Euromaïdan? « Yats » et « Klitsch » [72]? Isso seria como « Jon » e « Ponch » da popular série americana « CHiPs »? Utilizar uma linguagem assim familiar supõe uma evidente proximidade e uma incontestável conivência entre os membros do triunvirato e a administração americana, e isso é o mínimo que se pode dizer.

 

Tyahnybok, Victoria Nulan, Klitschko, e Iatseniouk

 

Ainda mais, o IRI, e a NED também se apresentaram em Kiev. Para que se entenda não é necessário mais do que acompanhar as apresentações de Nadia Diuk que escrevia de Kiev tendo seus artigos sido publicados em « Kiyv Post » e outros  jornais famosos. Os títulos de seus artigos são idílicos : « A revolução auto-organizada da Ucraina » [73], « As visões do futuro da Ucrânia » [74], etc. Já de quando em 2004, em plena « revolução » laranja, ela escrevia « Na Ucrânia, uma liberdade indígena » [75] para provar que a « revolução » era espontânea, o que contradiz todos os estudo (ocidentais) que foram publicados subsequentemente. É necessário aqui aceitar as evidências de que o teor desses artigos não mudaram com o tempo. E note-se bem, Mme Diuk é a vice-presidente da NED, encarregada dos programas para a Europa, a Eurasia, a Africa, a América Latina e o Caribe [76].

Os relatórios anuais da NED mostram que, justamente para 2012, os montantes destinados a umas sessenta organizações ucranianas se elevam a mais de 3,4 milhões de dólares [77]. Nesses relatórios, indica-se que o IRI de McCain e a NDI de Albright teriam respectivemente beneficido de 380 000 e 345 000 $  para suas atividades na Ucrânia.

Esse evidente envolvimento americano na Ucrânia foi notado por Sergueï Glaziev que declarou que « os americanos despenderam 20 milhões de dólares por semana para financiar a oposição, e os rebeldes, assim como para os armar » [78].

O segundo país ocidental muito implicado no Euromaïdan é a Alemanha. Uns dez dias antes de McCain, Guido Westerwelle, o chefe da diplomacia alemã, se deu um banho de massas entre os manifestantes da praça Maïdan em companhia de seus « protegidos » « Yats » e « Klitsch » ou, mais polidamente, Iatseniouk e Klitschko. Depois de ter se encontrado com eles, atrás de portas fechadas então, ele declarou que: « Nós não estamos aqui para apoiar um partido, mas para apoiar os valores europeus. E quando nós nos engajamos para esses valores europeus, é naturalmente agradável de saber que uma grande maioria dos ucranianos partilham esses valores, desejando os partilhar assim como seguir a vida européia » [79]. De quando falando de maiorias, Westerwelle certamente que não tinha ainda consultado as recentes sondagens que mostravam que só 37% da população ucraniana seria favorável a uma adesão de seu país a União Européia [80]. Do outro lado, os cidadãos europeus o seriam? Que não se esteja tão certo. Por exemplo, uma sondagem muito recente mostrava que 65% dos franceses se opunham a idéia de uma ajuda financeira da França e da União Européia a Ucrânia, e que 67% seriam contra uma entrada dela na UE [81].

 

Klitschko, Guido Westerwelle e Iatseniouk

Pelo outro lado, a chancelière alemã, também como seu ministro, recebeu Iatseniouk e Klitschko em 17 de fevereiro em Berlim. O candidado no qual Merkel, CDU e seu grupo de discussões a Fundação Konrad Adenauer apostam, é Klitschko [82]. Também não menos, o partido de Timochenko é considerado como um aliado do PPE e da CDU, assim como o confirmou o Sr.Martens num discurso do Clube da Fundação Konrado Adenauer em 2011 : « Júlia Timochenko é uma amiga de confiança e seu partido é um importante membro da nossa família política». Nesse mesmo discurso, ele depois declarou que sua posição era similar aquela de McCain quanto ao apoiar a Timochenko (para sua libertação de quando ela ainda estava na prisão) [83].

 

Klitschko, Merkel e Iatseniouk

Ressalta-se que essa convergência de pontos de vista entre o IRI e a Fundação Konrado Adenauer não seria por acaso, ou recente. Na realidade, ela vem desde a criação da NED como nos explicou  Philip Agee, ex-agente da CIA que deixou a agência para ir viver em Cuba [84]. Para começar deve ser compreendido que a NED foi criada para se encarregar de certas tarefas que originalmente eram feitas pela CIA, de quando da sua gestão de programas secretos de financiamento de sociedades civís estrangeiras. Depois de ter consultado um vasto número de organizações nacionais e estrangeiras, as autoridades americanas ficaram interessadas pelas fundações dos principais partidos da Alemanha do Oeste, que eram financiadas pelo governo alemão : a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, dos social-democratas, e a Konrado Adenauer Stiftung, dos democrata-cristãos. Nós encontramos atualmente uma estrutura análoga no cenário politico americano. A IRI e o NDI, os dois satélites da NED, são respectivamente alinhados ao partido republicano e democrata americanos e, como  seus homólogos alemães, são financiados por fundos públicos. Como a CIA colaborava com essas fundações « Stiftungs » alemãs para financiar movimentos  através do mundo bem antes da criação da NED, pelo presidente Reagan en 1983, essas relações se mantiveram sólidas até nossos dias.

Se bem que mais discreto que os dois precedentes, aqui acima comentados, o terceiro país implicado nos acontecimentos na Ucrânia é o Canadá. Esse interesse seria provavelmente porque o Canada abriga a maior diáspora ucraniana no mundo, depois da Rússia. Mais de 1,2 millions de canadenses são de origem ucraniana [85].

John Baird, o ministro dos negócios estrangeiros canadenses encontrou-se com o triunvirato ucraniano em 4 de dezembro de 2013 em Kiev e, como os outros, fez uma « peregrinação » a praça Maïdan. O chefe da diplomacia canadense voltou a Kiev em 28 de fevereiro de 2014 para encontrar as novas autoridades : o presidente Tourtchinov, o Primeiro ministro Iatseniouk e a « Jeanne d’Arc ucraniana ». Questionado sobre seu apoio « incondicional » a Ucraina e as consequências desse sobre as suas relações com a Rússia, ele respondeu : « Nós certamente que não iremos nos desculpar por ter apoiado o povo ucraniano nessa sua luta pela sua própria liberdade » [86]. Note-se que Paul Grod, o presidente do Congresso Ucranianos-Canadenses (UCC) acompanhou Baird nessas suas duas viagens. Suas posições tem ressonância nas da diplomacia canadense.

 

Tyahnybok, Iatseniouk, Baird, Klitschko e Grod

 

As posições e as reações de todos esses políticos nos deixam perplexos. Absolutamente certo é que a perda de vidas nesse conflito ensanguentado é deplorável. O que teriam esses líderes ocidentais feito se manifestantes violentos pertencendo a grupo de extremistas tivessem ocupado o centro de suas capitais, matado numerosos oficiais encarregados da ordem pública, sequestrado dezenas de policias, ocupado locais e organizações oficiais, e tornado impossível a ordem pública durante meses? Não tiveram esses líderes ocidentais parte da responsabilidade no aumento do número de vítimas de quando vindo jogar benzina no fogo do Maïdan?

Na França, por exemplo, o ministro do Intérieur Manuel Valls se levantou contra uma recente manifestação do Bloco Negro « Black Bloc » que tinha injuriado seis policiais, em 22 de fevereiro de 2014. Esses foram seus comentários: « Essa violência vem da extrema esquerda, desse Black Bloc, que são originários de nosso país mas também de países estrangeiros, isso é inadmissível e isso continuará a trazer uma resposta particularmente determinada por parte do Estado ». Depois de ter rendido homenagem «ao prefeito da Loire Atlantique, as forças da ordem, policiais e gendarmes, que com muito sangue frio e profissionalismo tinham contido essa manifestação », ele disse ainda: « Ninguém pode aceitar tais exaltações » [87].

E os ucranianos, deverão eles aceitá-las? E como teria reagido a classe política francesa e ocidental se esses « Blocos Negros » tivesse sido financiados, formados, e ou apoiados por organizações, e políticos estrangeiros russos, chineses, ou iranianos, vindos à França para os apoiar?

Je vous laisse le soin d’y répondre. – Deixo aos senhores de o responder.

Definitivamente, é necessário render-se a evidência que o Euromaïdan, assim como a  « revolução » laranja, é um movimento amplamente apoiado pelos poderes ocidentais. Entretanto essa conclusão não deverá eclipsar a real corrupção de toda a classe política ucraniana. Querer nos apresentar, como o faz a imprensa ocidental, os « bons » com Timochenko e os « maus » com Ianoukovytch, representa uma visão distorcida da realidade. O governo Ianoukovytch foi democraticamente eleito. Os recentes acontecimentos são inequivocamente um Golpe de Estado.

Esse golpe de estado permitiu aos militantes da extrema-direita ucraniana, ultra-nacionalista, fascista e neo-nazista, de fazer parte do novo governo ucraniano. Essa presença, abertamente apoiada pelos governos ocidentais, é nefasta para o futuro e para a estabilidade do país. A apressada, controversial e incompreensível derrocada da lei « sobre as bases da política linguistica do Estado » é um exemplo patente [88].

Além disso, uma aproximação « forçada » da Ucrânia com a União Européia coroando-se com o afastamento desse país da  Rússia, não é proveitoso para o povo ucraniano. Segundo especialistas ocidentais, e também não-ocidentais, a proposta russa era de longe mais interessante que, mesmo conjuntamente, a da União Européia e dos Estados Unidos, que não davam outra alternativa que a oferta da  « medicina FMI » ao país [89].

Contrariamente as piedosas promessas de Timochenko, declamadas ao Maïdan, seria utópico pensar que a Ucrânia venha a fazer parte da União « num futuro próximo » [90], em vista da situação desastrosa de certos países europeus, como a Grécia, por exemplo. A « Mariana de tranças » provavelmente não entendeu o ministro francês de Negócios Europeus, Thierry Repentin. « Em todas as negociações para oferecer a Ucrânia um acordo de associação, nós fizemos o possível para retirar toda alusão a uma adesão a UE. Não há questão de se mudar de opinião » ele declarou num artigo publicado no 3 de fevereiro desse ano [91].

Se a Ucrânia não pode pretender a uma adesão a União Européia, e os defensores ocidentais dessa « revolução » não metem as mãos nos bolsos, tudo parece indicar que esse país não seria no caso mais do que um « cavalo de Tróia » para incomodar a Rússia, que está adquirindo muita influência na cena internacional, como de quando do seu papel no conflito siriano. Essa é uma maneira de se abrir uma nova guerra fria. Os problemas na Criméia e as ameaças de exclusão da Rússia do G8 [92] serão só o começo.

Os ucranianos deveriam saber que eles são condenados a viver em boa vizinhança com a Rússia, com a qual eles tem uma fronteira comum, assim como ligações históricas, comerciais, culturais e linguísticas.

Aqui uma coisa é no entanto certa: o acordar « post-revolucionario » será doloroso para os ucranianos.

Ahmed Bensaada

 

Artigo original em francês :

manif_masqueUkraine: autopsie d’un coup d’état, 08 de Março de 2014

Traduzido por Anna Malm para Mondialisation.ca 

Referências

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  4. David Teutrie, « L’accord d’association de l’UE avec l’Ukraine est une stratégie perdant-perdant », Institut de la Démocratie et de la Coopération, 4 février 2014, http://www.idc-europe.org/fr/-Accord-d-Association-avec-l-Ukraine-est-une-strategie-perdant-perdant-
  5. Sergeï Glaziev, « L’Union économique eurasiatique n’aspire pas à devenir un Empire comme l’UE », Solidarité et Progrès, 18 janvier 2014, http://m.solidariteetprogres.org/actualites-001/article/sergei-glaziev-l-union-economique-eurasiatique-n.html
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  35. Voir référence 31
  36. Ibid.
  37. Le Parisien, « La tortue du Pravy Sektor 25/01/2014 Kiev Ukraine », 28 janvier 2014, http://who-when-where-photo.blog.leparisien.fr/archive/2014/01/27/le-secteur-droit-sur-la-place-maidan-25-01-2014-kiev-ukraine-14727.html
  38. RT, « Acciones ilegales de ‘manifestantes pacíficos’ en Kiev », 18 février 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byAi0vMSSHs#t=34
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  40. Alexei Korolyov, « ‘Commander’ of Ukraine protests: Let parliament lead », USA TODAY, 27 février 2014,http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/27/ukraine-opposition-parubiy/5844437/
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  42. Roman Olearchyk, « Arseniy Yatseniuk poised to become Ukraine prime minister », Financial Times, 26 février 2014, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/88987cf8-9f12-11e3-8663-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=intl#axzz2ufydXR5l
  43. Liga, « Andriy Parubiy », 28 février 2014, http://file.liga.net/person/866-andrei-parybii.html
  44. Euronews, « Ukraine : Bernard-Henri Levy parmi les opposants au Maïdan », 10 février 2014,http://fr.euronews.com/2014/02/10/ukraine-bernard-henri-levy-parmi-les-opposants-au-maidan
  45. Natalia Vitrenko, « Ukraine: un putsch néonazi poussé par l’OTAN », Dailymotion, 25 février 2014,http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1di876_ukraine-un-putsch-neonazi-pousse-par-l-otan_news
  46. Irina Lebedeva, « Bernard-Henri Lévy: Harangues of Ignorant Buffoon », Strategic Culture Foundation, 15 février 2014, http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/02/15/bernard-henri-levy-harangues-of-ignorant-buffoon.html
  47. AFP, « Timochenko: dame de fer et “princesse du gaz” », La Libre, 22 février 2014,http://www.lalibre.be/actu/international/timochenko-dame-de-fer-et-princesse-du-gaz-5308d0f335709867e404dc0b
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  49. Marta Kolomayets, « Lazarenko escapes assassination attempt », The Ukrainian Weekly, 21 juillet 1996,http://www.ukrweekly.com/old/archive/1996/299601.shtml
  50. Voir référence 47
  51. Gilles Gaetner, « Les comptes fantastiques de M. Lazarenko », L’Express, 1er juin 2000,http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/europe/les-comptes-fantastiques-de-m-lazarenko_491978.html
  52. Voir référence 16
  53. BBC, « Former Ukraine PM is jailed in US », 25 août 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5287870.stm
  54. Transparency International Global Corruption Report 2004, « World’s Ten Most Corrupt Leaders »,http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0921295.html
  55. Arielle Thedrel, « Ukraine : Ioulia Timochenko accusée de meurtre », Le Figaro, 22 janvier 2013,http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2013/01/22/01003-20130122ARTFIG00336-ukraine-ioulia-timochenko-accusee-de-meurtre.php
  56. Libération, « La vice-Première ministre ukrainienne limogée », 20 janvier 2001,http://www.liberation.fr/monde/2001/01/20/la-vice-premiere-ministre-ukrainienne-limogee_351716
  57. BBC, « Ukraine: opposition leader injured », 29 janvier 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1788924.stm
  58. Marie Jégo, « Ioulia Timochenko, la “marianne à la tresse” », Le Monde, 24 février 2014,http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2005/09/09/ioulia-timochenko-la-marianne-a-la-tresse_687380_3214.html
  59. Ibid.
  60. Wikileaks, « CRS: Ukraines Political Crisis and U.S. Policy Issues », 1er février 2005,http://wikileaks.org/wiki/CRS:_Ukraines_Political_Crisis_and_U.S._Policy_Issues,_February_1,_2005
  61. Voir référence 16
  62. Robert I. Friedman, « The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World », The Village Voice, 26 mai 1998,http://www.villagevoice.com/1998-05-26/news/the-most-dangerous-mobster-in-the-world/
  63. Reuters, « Crise au sommet en Ukraine, menace d’élections anticipées », Le Point, 3 septembre 2008,http://www.lepoint.fr/actualites-monde/2008-09-03/crise-au-sommet-en-ukraine-menace-d-elections-anticipees/924/0/271036
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Washington, DC, March 24, 2014 – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has won the infamous Rosemary Award for worst open government performance in 2013, according to the citation published today by the National Security Archive at www.nsarchive.org. Despite heavy competition, Clapper’s “No, sir” lie to Senator Ron Wyden’s question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” sealed his receipt of the dubious achievement award, which cites the vastly excessive secrecy of the entire U.S. surveillance establishment.

The Rosemary Award citation leads with what Clapper later called the “least untruthful” answer possible to congressional questions about the secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone call data. It further cites other Clapper claims later proved false, such as his 2012 statement that “we don’t hold data on U.S. citizens.” But the Award also recognizes Clapper’s fellow secrecy fetishists and enablers, including:

Director of the NSA General Keith Alexander who submitted multiple entries for the Rosemary Award. (Photo credit: National Security Agency)

    • Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, for multiple Rose Mary Woods-type stretches, such as (1) claiming that the secret bulk collection prevented 54 terrorist plots against the U.S. when the actual number, according to the congressionally-established Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) investigation (pp. 145-153), is zero; (2) his 2009 declaration to the wiretap court that multiple NSA violations of the court’s orders arose from differences over “terminology,” an explanation which the chief judge said “strains credulity;”and (3) public statements by the NSA about its programs that had to be taken down from its website for inaccuracies (see Documents 78, 85, 87 in The Snowden Affair), along with public statements by other top NSA officials now known to be untrue (see “Remarks of Rajesh De,” NSA General Counsel, Document 53 in The Snowden Affair).
    • Robert Mueller, former FBI director, for suggesting (as have Gen. Alexander and many others) that the secret bulk collection program might have been able to prevent the 9/11 attacks, when the 9/11 Commission found explicitly the problem was not lack of data points, but failing to connect the many dots the intelligence community already had about the would-be hijackers living in San Diego.
    • The National Security Division lawyers at the Justice Department, for misleading their own Solicitor General (Donald Verrilli) who then misled (inadvertently) the U.S. Supreme Court over whether Justice let defendants know that bulk collection had contributed to their prosecutions.
    • The same National Security Division lawyers who swore under oath in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for a key wiretap court opinion that the entire text of the opinion was appropriately classified Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (release of which would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to U.S. national security). Only after the Edward Snowden leaks and the embarrassed governmental declassification of the opinion did we find that one key part of the opinion’s text simply reproduced the actual language of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the only “grave damage” was to the government’s false claims.

Charlie Rose and President Obama. (Photo credit: Charlie Rose)

  • President Obama for his repeated misrepresentations about the bulk collection program (calling the wiretap court “transparent” and saying “all of Congress” knew “exactly how this program works”) while in effect acknowledging the public value of the Edward Snowden leaks by ordering the long-overdue declassification of key documents about the NSA’s activities, and investigations both by a special panel and by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

The PCLOB directly contradicted the President, pointing out that “when the only means through which legislators can try to understand a prior interpretation of the law is to read a short description of an operational program, prepared by executive branch officials, made available only at certain times and locations, which cannot be discussed with others except in classified briefings conducted by those same executive branch officials, legislators are denied a meaningful opportunity to gauge the legitimacy and implications of the legal interpretation in question. Under such circumstances, it is not a legitimate method of statutory construction to presume that these legislators, when reenacting the statute, intended to adopt a prior interpretation that they had no fair means of evaluating.” (p. 101)


Solicitor General Donald Verrilli who misled the Supreme Court after his own National Security Division lawyers misled him. (Photo credit: Department of Justice)

The Emmy and George Polk Award-winning National Security Archive, based at the George Washington University, has carried out thirteen government-wide audits of FOIA performance, filed more than 50,000 Freedom of Information Act requests over the past 28 years, opened historic government secrets ranging from the CIA’s “Family Jewels” to documents about the testing of stealth aircraft at Area 51, and won a series of historic lawsuits that saved hundreds of millionsof White House e-mails from the Reagan through Obama presidencies, among many other achievements.

The Archive established the not-so-coveted Rosemary Award in 2005, named after President Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who testified she had erased 18-and-a-half minutes of a crucial Watergate tape — stretching, as she showed photographers, to answer the phone with her foot still on the transcription pedal. Bestowed annually to highlight the lowlights of government secrecy, the Rosemary Award has recognized a rogue’s gallery of open government scofflaws, including the CIA, the Treasury Department, the Air Force, the FBI, the Federal Chief Information Officers’ Council, and the career Rosemary leader — the Justice Department — for the last two years.

Rosemary-winner James Clapper has offered several explanations for his untruthful disavowal of the National Security Agency’s phone metadata dragnet. After his lie was exposed by the Edward Snowden revelations, Clapper first complained to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the question about the NSA’s surveillance of Americans was unfair, a — in his words — “When are you going to stop beating your wife kind of question.” So, he responded “in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no.’”

After continuing criticism for his lie, Clapper wrote a letter to Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein, now explaining that he misunderstood Wyden’s question and thought it was about the PRISM program (under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) rather than the telephone metadata collection program (under Section 215 of the Patriot Act). Clapper wrote that his staff “acknowledged the error” to Senator Wyden soon after — yet he chose to reject Wyden’s offer to amend his answer.

Former NSA senior counsel Joel Brenner blamed Congress for even asking the question, claiming that Wyden “sandbagged” Clapper by the “vicious tactic” of asking “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Meanwhile, Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists countered that “it is of course wrong for officials to make false statements, as DNI Clapper did,” and that in fact the Senate Intelligence Committee “became complicit in public deception” for failing to rebut or correct Clapper’s statement, which they knew to be untruthful.

Clapper described his unclassified testimony as a game of “stump the chump.” But when it came to oversight of the National Security Agency, it appears that senators and representatives were the chumps being stumped. According to Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich), the House Intelligence Committee “decided it wasn’t worthwhile to share this information” about telephone metadata surveillance with other members of Congress. Classified briefings open to the whole House were a “farce,” Amash contended, often consisting of information found in newspapers and public statutes.

Even an author of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), was broadsided by the revelation of the telephone metadata dragnet. After learning of the extent of spying on Americans that his Act unleashed, he wrote that the National Security Agency “ignored restrictions painstakingly crafted by lawmakers and assumed plenary authority never imagined by Congress” by cloaking its actions behind the “thick cloud of secrecy” that even our elected representatives could not breech.

Clapper recently conceded to the Daily Beast, “I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this [phone metadata collection] from the outset … we wouldn’t have had the problem we had.” The NSA’s former deputy director, John “Chris” Inglis, said the same when NPR asked him if he thought the metadata dragnet should have been disclosed before Snowden. “In hindsight, yes. In hindsight, yes.” Speaking about potential (relatively minimal) changes to the National Security Agency even the president acknowledged, “And all too often new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate,” and “Given the unique power of the state, it is not enough for leaders to say: Trust us. We won’t abuse the data we collect. For history has too many examples when that trust has been breached.” (Exhibit A, of course, is the NSA “watchlist” in the 1960′s and 1970′s that targeted not only antiwar and civil rights activists, but also journalists and even members of Congress.)

Director Clapper joins an undistinguished list of previous Rosemary Award winners:

ALSO-RANS

The Rosemary Award competition in 2013 was fierce, with a host of government contenders threatening to surpass the Clapper “least untruthful” standard. These secrecy over-achievers included the following FOI delinquents:

Admiral William McRaven memo from May 13, 2011, ordering the destruction of evidence relating to the Osama bin Laden raid. (From Judicial Watch)
  1. Admiral William McRaven, head of the Special Operations Command for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, who purged his command’s computers and file cabinets of all records on the raid, sent any remaining copies over to CIA where they would be effectively immune from the FOIA, and then masterminded a “no records” response to the Associated Press when the AP reporters filed FOIA requests for raid-related materials and photos. If not for a one-sentence mention in a leaked draft inspector general report — which the IG deleted for the final version — no one would have been the wiser about McRaven’s shell game. Subsequently, a FOIA lawsuit by Judicial Watch uncovered the sole remaining e-mail from McRaven ordering the evidence destruction, in apparent violation of federal records laws, a felony for which the Admiral seems to have paid no price.
  2. Department of Defense classification reviewers who censored from a 1962 document on the Cuban Missile Crisis direct quotes from public statements by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The quotes referred to the U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey that would ultimately (and secretly) be pulled out in exchange for Soviet withdrawal of its missiles in Cuba. The denials even occurred after an appeal by the National Security Archive, which provided as supporting material the text of the Khrushchev statements and multiple other officially declassified documents (and photographs!) describing the Jupiters in Turkey. Such absurd classification decisions call into question all of the standards used by the Pentagon and the National Declassification Center to review historical documents.
  3. The Department of Justice Office of Information Policy, which continues to misrepresent to Congress the government’s FOIA performance, while enabling dramatic increases in the number of times government agencies invoke the purely discretionary “deliberative process” exemption. Five years after President Obama declared a “presumption of openness” for FOIA requests, Justice lawyers still cannot show a single case of FOIA litigation in which the purported new standards (including orders from their own boss, Attorney General Eric Holder) have caused the Department to change its position in favor of disclosure.

 

On March 20, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of South Africa ordered Monsanto to immediately withdraw an unsubstantiated radio ad that touted the benefits of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), according to AllAfrica.

Protests have sprung up across South Africa that question the safety of GMO foods. Photo credit: March Against Monsanto South Africa Facebook Page.

The African Centre for Biosafety lodged a complaint with the ASA following an advertisement on Radio 702 that claimed genetically engineered crops “enable [Monsanto] to produce more food sustainably whilst using fewer resources; provide a healthier environment by saving on pesticides; decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase crop yields substantially.”

The ASA gave Monsanto an opportunity to substantiate its claims, but all the oversight organization received were links to documents on the agriculture giant’s website. Since Monsanto didn’t provide independent and credible data—which is required by South African law—the order was given to pull the ad from airing in the country’s heavily populated Guateng Province where Johannesburg is located.

“We are elated with this decision,” said Mariam Mayet, executive director of the African Centre for Biosafety. ”Monsanto has already been warned by the ASA as far back as 2007, that it needs to substantiate its claims from an independent and credible expert … regarding its claims of the so-called benefits of [GMO] crops. However, it appears Monsanto does not have much regard for South African law as it is hell bent on disseminating false information to the South African public.”

The ASA also told Monsanto to “ensure that it holds proper substantiation for its advertising claims” or risk attracting further sanctions.

Last week’s news from the ASA follows a pair of other high-profile international Monsanto bans in France and Sri Lanka.

Earlier this month, France’s agriculture ministry temporarily banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically engineered (GE) corn—the only variety that has been authorized in the European Union (EU).

Then, in an abrupt and surprising turn, Sri Lanka ordered a ban on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide Roundup, due to concerns the chemical may be linked to a mysterious kidney disease that has killed scores of agricultural workers.

The Fourteen Year Recession

March 25th, 2014 by JimQ

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”– Napoleon Bonaparte

“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men … [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.”Woodrow Wilson

When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. You understand why the government created Common Core curriculum teaches children that 3 x 4 = 13, as long as you feel good about your answer. George Carlin was right. The owners of this country (bankers, billionaires, corporate titans, politicians) want more for themselves and less for everyone else. They want an educational system that creates ignorant, obedient, vacuous, obese dullards who question nothing, consume mass quantities of corporate processed fast food, gaze at iGadgets, are easily susceptible to media propaganda and compliant to government regulations and directives. They don’t want highly educated, critical thinking, civil minded, well informed, questioning citizens understanding how badly they have been screwed over the last century. I’m sorry to say, your owners are winning in a landslide.

The government controlled public education system has flourished beyond all expectations of your owners. We’ve become a nation of techno-narcissistic, math challenged, reality TV distracted, welfare entitled, materialistic, gluttonous, indebted consumers of Chinese slave labor produced crap. There are more Americans who know the name of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s bastard child (North West) than know the name of our Secretary of State (Ketchup Kerry). Americans can generate a text or tweet with blinding speed but couldn’t give you change from a dollar bill if their life depended upon it. They are whizzes at buying crap on Amazon or Ebay with a credit card, but have never balanced their checkbook or figured out the concept of deferred gratification and saving for the future. While the ignorant masses are worked into a frenzy by the media propaganda machine over gay marriage, diversity, abortion, climate change, and never ending wars on poverty, drugs and terror, our owners use their complete capture of the financial, regulatory, political, judicial and economic systems to pillage the remaining national wealth they haven’t already extracted.

The financial illiteracy of the uneducated lower classes and the willful ignorance of the supposedly highly educated classes has never been more evident than when examining the concept of Federal Reserve created currency debasement – also known as inflation. The insidious central banker created monetary inflation is the cause of all the ills in our warped, deformed, rigged financialized economic system. The outright manipulation and falsity of government reported economic data is designed to obscure the truth and keep the populace unaware of the deception being executed by the owners of this country. They have utilized deceit, falsification, propaganda and outright lies to mislead the public about the true picture of the disastrous financial condition in this country. Since most people are already trapped in the mental state of normalcy bias, it is easy for those in control to reinforce that normalcy bias by manipulating economic data to appear normal and using their media mouthpieces to perpetuate the false storyline of recovery and a return to normalcy.

This is how feckless politicians and government apparatchiks are able to add $2.8 billion per day to the national debt; a central bank owned by Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks has been able to create $3.3 trillion out of thin air and pump it into the veins of its owners; and government controlled agencies report a declining unemployment rate, no inflation and a growing economy, without creating an iota of dissent or skepticism from the public. Americans want to be lied to because it allows them to continue living lives of delusion, where spending more than you make, consuming rather than saving, and believing stock market speculation and home price appreciation will make them rich are viable life strategies. Even though 90% of the population owns virtually no stocks, they are convinced record stock market highs are somehow beneficial to their lives. They actually believe Bernanke/Yellen when they bloviate about the dangers of deflation. Who would want to pay less for gasoline, food, rent, or tuition?

Unless you are beholden to the oligarchs, that sense of stress, discomfort, feeling that all in not well, and disturbing everyday visual observations is part of the cognitive dissonance engulfing the nation. Anyone who opens their eyes and honestly assesses their own financial condition, along with the obvious deterioration of our suburban sprawl retail paradise infrastructure, is confronted with information that is inconsistent with what they hear from their bought off politician leaders, highly compensated Ivy League trained economists, and millionaire talking heads in the corporate legacy media. Most people resolve this inconsistency by ignoring the facts, rejecting the obvious and refusing to use their common sense. To acknowledge the truth would require confronting your own part in this Ponzi debt charade disguised as an economic system. It is easier to believe a big lie than think critically and face up to decades of irrational behavior and reckless conduct.

What’s In Your GDP

“The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the broader measures of economic activity and is the most widely followed business indicator reported by the U.S. government. Upward growth biases built into GDP modeling since the early 1980s, however, have rendered this important series nearly worthless as an indicator of economic activity. The popularly followed number in each release is the seasonally adjusted, annualized quarterly growth rate of real (inflation-adjusted) GDP, where the current-dollar number is deflated by the BEA’s estimates of appropriate price changes. It is important to keep in mind that the lower the inflation rate used in the deflation process, the higher will be the resulting inflation-adjusted GDP growth.” – John Williams –Shadowstats

GDP is the economic statistic bankers, politicians and media pundits use to convince the masses the economy is growing and their lives are improving. Therefore, it is the statistic most likely to be manipulated, twisted and engineered in order to portray the storyline required by the oligarchs. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth usually marks a recession. Those in power do not like to report recessions, so data “massaging” has been required over the last few decades to generate the required result. Prior to 1991 the government reported the broader GNP, which includes the GDP plus the balance of international flows of interest and dividend payments. Once we became a debtor nation, with massive interest payments to foreigners, reporting GNP became inconvenient. It is not reported because it is approximately $900 billion lower than GDP. The creativity of our keepers knows no bounds. In July of 2013 the government decided they had found a more “accurate” method for measuring GDP and simply retroactively increased GDP by $500 billion out of thin air. It’s amazing how every “more accurate” accounting adjustment improves the reported data. The economic growth didn’t change, but GDP was boosted by 3%. These adjustments pale in comparison to the decades long under-reporting of inflation baked into the GDP calculation.

As John Williams pointed out, GDP is adjusted for inflation. The higher inflation factored into the calculation, the lower reported GDP. The deflator used by the BEA in their GDP calculation is even lower than the already bastardized CPI. According to the BEA, there has only been 32% inflation since the year 2000. They have only found 1.4% inflation in the last year and only 7.1% in the last five years. You’d have to be a zombie from the Walking Dead or an Ivy League economist to believe those lies. Anyone living in the real world knows their cost of living has risen at a far greater rate. According to the government, and unquestioningly reported by the compliant co-conspirators in the the corporate media, GDP has grown from $10 trillion in 2000 to $17 trillion today. Even using the ridiculously low inflation BEA adjustment yields an increase from $12.4 trillion to only $15.9 trillion in real terms. That pitiful 28% growth over the last fourteen years is dramatically overstated, as revealed in the graph below. Using a true rate of inflation exposes the grand fraud being committed by those in power. The country has been in a never ending recession since 2000.

Your normalcy bias is telling you this is impossible. Your government tells you we have only experienced a recession from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009. So despite experiencing two stock market crashes, the greatest housing crash in history, and a worldwide financial system implosion the authorities insist we’ve had a growing economy 93% of the time over the last fourteen years. That mental anguish you are feeling is the cognitive dissonance of wanting to believe your government, but knowing they are lying. It is a known fact the government, in conspiracy with Greenspan, Congress and academia, have systematically reduced the reported CPI based upon hedonistic quality adjustments, geometric weighting alterations, substitution modifications, and the creation of incomprehensible owner’s equivalent rent calculations. Since the 1700s consumer inflation had been estimated by measuring price changes in a fixed-weight basket of goods, effectively measuring the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living. This began to change in the early 1980s with the Greenspan Commission to “save” Social Security and came to a head with the Boskin Commission in 1995.

Simply stated, the Greenspan/Boskin Commissions’ task was to reduce future Social Security payments to senior citizens by deceitfully reducing CPI and allowing politicians the easy way out. Politicians would lose votes if they ever had to directly address the unsustainability of Social Security. Therefore, they allowed academics to work their magic by understating the CPI and stealing $700 billion from retirees in the ten years ending in 2006. With 10,000 baby boomers per day turning 65 for the next eighteen years, understating CPI will rob them of trillions in payments. This is a cowardly dishonest method of extending the life of Social Security.

If CPI was calculated exactly as it was computed prior to 1983, it would have averaged between 5% and 10% over the last fourteen years. Even computing it based on the 1990 calculation prior to the Boskin Commission adjustments, would have produced annual inflation of 4% to 7%. A glance at an inflation chart from 1872 through today reveals the complete and utter failure of the Federal Reserve in achieving their stated mandate of price stability. They have managed to reduce the purchasing power of your dollar by 95% over the last 100 years. You may also notice the net deflation from 1872 until 1913, when the American economy was growing rapidly. It is almost as if the Federal Reserve’s true mandate has been to create inflation, finance wars, perpetuate the proliferation of debt, artificially create booms and busts, enrich their Wall Street owners, and impoverish the masses. Happy Birthday Federal Reserve!!!

When you connect the dots you realize the under-reporting of inflation benefits the corporate fascist surveillance state. If the government was reporting the true rate of inflation, mega-corporations would be forced to pay their workers higher wages, reducing profits, reducing corporate bonuses, and sticking a pin in their stock prices. The toady economists at the Federal Reserve would be unable to sustain their ludicrous ZIRP and absurd QEfinity stock market levitation policies. Reporting a true rate of inflation would force long-term interest rates higher. These higher rates, along with higher COLA increases to government entitlements, would blow a hole in the deficit and force our spineless politicians to address our unsustainable economic system. There would be no stock market or debt bubble. If the clueless dupes watching CNBC bimbos and shills on a daily basis were told the economy has been in fourteen year downturn, they might just wake up and demand accountability from their leaders and an overhaul of this corrupt system.

Mother Should I Trust the Government?

We know the BEA has deflated GDP by only 32% since 2000. We know the BLS reports the CPI has only risen by 37% since 2000. Should I trust the government or trust the facts and my own eyes? The data is available to see if the government figures pass the smell test. If you are reading this, you can remember your life in 2000. Americans know what it cost for food, energy, shelter, healthcare, transportation and entertainment in 2000, but they unquestioningly accept the falsified inflation figures produced by the propaganda machine known as our government. The chart below is a fairly comprehensive list of items most people might need to live in this world. A critical thinking individual might wonder how the government can proclaim inflation of 32% to 37% over the last fourteen years, when the true cost of living has grown by 50% to 100% for most daily living expenses. The huge increases in property taxes, sales taxes, government fees, tolls and income taxes aren’t even factored in the chart. It seems gold has smelled out the currency debasement and the lies of our leaders. This explains the concerted effort by the powers that be to suppress the price of gold by any means necessary.

Living Expense

Jan-00

Mar-14

% Increase

Gallon of gas

$1.27

$3.51

176.4%

Barrel of oil

$24.11

$100.00

314.8%

Fuel oil per gallon

$1.19

$4.07

242.0%

Electricity per Kwh

$0.084

$0.134

59.5%

Gas per therm

$0.712

$1.078

51.4%

Dozen eggs

$0.97

$2.00

106.2%

Coffee per lb

$3.40

$5.20

52.9%

Ground Beef per lb.

$1.90

$3.73

96.3%

Postage stamp

$0.33

$0.49

48.5%

Movie ticket

$5.25

$10.25

95.2%

New car

$20,300.00

$31,500.00

55.2%

Annual healthcare spending per capita

$4,550.00

$9,300.00

104.4%

Average private college tuition

$22,000.00

$37,000.00

68.2%

Avg home price (Case Shiller)

$161,000.00

$242,000.00

50.3%

Avg monthly rent (Case Shiller)

$635.00

$890.00

40.2%

Ounce of gold

$279.00

$1,334.00

378.1%

Mother, you should not trust the government. There is no doubt they have systematically under-reported inflation based on any impartial assessment of the facts. The reality that we remain stuck in a fourteen year recession is borne out by the continued decline in vehicle miles driven (at 1995 levels) due to declining commercial activity, the millions of shuttered small businesses, and the proliferation of Space Available signs in strip malls and office parks across the land. The fact there are only 8 million more people employed today than were employed in 2000, despite the working age population growing by 35 million, might be a clue that we remain in recession. If that isn’t enough proof for you, than maybe a glimpse at real median household income, retail sales and housing will put the final nail in the coffin of your cognitive dissonance.

The government and their media mouthpieces expect the ignorant masses to believe they have advanced their standard of living, with median household income growing from $40,800 to $52,500 since 2000. But, even using the badly flawed CPI to adjust these figures into real terms reveals real median household income to be 7.3% below the level of 2000. Using a true inflation figure would cause a CNBC talking head to have an epileptic seizure.

The picture is even bleaker when broken down into the age of households, with younger households suffering devastating real declines in household income since 2000. I guess all those retail clerk, cashier, waitress, waiter, food prep, and housekeeper jobs created over the last few years aren’t cutting the mustard. Maybe that explains the 30 million increase (175% increase) in food stamp recipients since 2000, encompassing 19% of all households in the U.S. Luckily the banking oligarchs were able to convince the pliable masses to increase their credit card, auto and student loan debt from $1.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion over the fourteen year descent into delusion.

When you get your head around this unprecedented decline in household income over the last fourteen years, along with the 50% to 100% rise in costs to live in the real world, as opposed to the theoretical world of the Federal Reserve and BLS, you will understand the long term decline in retail sales reflected in the following chart. When you adjust monthly retail sales for gasoline (an additional tax), inflation (understated), and population growth, you understand why retailers are closing thousands of stores and hurdling towards inevitable bankruptcy. Retail sales are 6.9% below the June 2005 peak and 4% below levels reached in 2000. And this is with millions of retail square feet added over this time frame. We know the dramatic surge from the 2009 lows was not prompted by an increase in household income. So how did the 11% proliferation of spending happen?

The up swell in retail spending began to accelerate in late 2010. Considering credit card debt outstanding is at exactly where it was in October 2010, it seems consumers playing with their own money turned off the spigot of speculation. It has been non-revolving debt that has skyrocketed from $1.63 trillion in February 2010 to $2.26 trillion today. This unprecedented 39% rise in four years has been engineered by the government, using your tax dollars and the tax dollars of unborn generations. The Federal government has complete control of the student loan market and with their 85% ownership of Ally Financial, the largest auto financing company, a dominant position in the auto loan market. The peddling of $400 billion of subprime student loan debt and $200 billion of subprime auto loan debt has created the illusion of a retail recovery. The student loan debt has been utilized by University of Phoenix MBA wannabes to buy iGadgets, the latest PS3 version of Grand Theft Auto and the latest glazed donut breakfast sandwich on the market. It’s nothing but another debt financed bubble that will end in tears for the American taxpayer, as hundreds of billions will be written off.

The fake retail recovery pales in comparison to the wolves of Wall Street produced housing recovery sham. They deserve an Academy Award for best fantasy production. The Federal Reserve fed Wall Street hedge fund purchase of millions of foreclosed shanties across the nation has produced media proclaimed home price increases of 10% to 30% in cities across the country. Withholding foreclosures from the market and creating artificial demand with free money provided by the Federal Reserve has temporarily added $4 trillion of housing net worth and reduced the number of underwater mortgages on the books of the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks. The percentage of investor purchases and cash purchases is at all-time highs, while the percentage of first time buyers is at all-time lows. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can look at the long-term chart of mortgage applications and realize we are still in a recession. Applications are 35% below levels at the depths of the 2008/2009 recession. Applications are 65% below levels at the housing market peak in 2005. They are even 35% below 2000 levels. There is no real housing recovery, despite the propaganda peddled by the NAR, CNBC, and Wall Street. It’s a fraud.

It is the pinnacle of arrogance and hubris that a few Ivy League educated economists sitting in the Marriner Eccles Building in the swamps of Washington D.C., who have never worked a day in their lives at a real job, think they can create wealth and pull the levers of money creation to control the American and global financial systems. All they have done is perfect the art of bubble finance in order to enrich their owners at the expense of the rest of us. Their policies have induced unwarranted hope and speculation on a grand scale. Greenspan and Bernanke have provoked multiple bouts of extreme speculation in stocks and housing over the last 15 years, with the subsequent inevitable collapses. Fed encouraged gambling does not create wealth it just redistributes it from the peasants to the aristocracy. The Fed has again produced an epic bubble in stock and bond valuations which will result in another collapse. Normalcy bias keeps the majority from seeing the cliff straight ahead. Federal Reserve monetary policies have distorted financial markets, created extreme imbalances, encouraged excessive risk taking, and ruined the lives of working class people. Take a long hard look at the chart below and answer one question. Was QE designed to benefit Main Street or Wall Street?

The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” –Ludwig von Mises

Twin Cities Anti-War Committee Exposes U.S. War on Colombia

March 25th, 2014 by Global Research News

Minneapolis, MN – The Twin Cities-based Anti-War Committee (AWC) held a program called “The War Next Door: U.S. Role in Colombia’s Civil War,” March 22 here at May Day Bookstore. Speakers included Eden Yosief, of SEIU Healthcare, who recently traveled to Colombia, along with AWC organizers Jess Sundin and Meredith Aby-Keirstead.

After explaining how the U.S. backs its puppet government in Colombia, Jess Sundin of the Anti-War Committee stated, “The U.S. government has also taken a very hands-on role by criminalizing Colombia’s insurgency, as well as leaders of its social movements, and those who work in solidarity with them here in the U.S.”

“In particular, we know that the U.S. has imprisoned two Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members. The most well known is Ricardo Palmera, AKA ‘Simon Trinidad.’ He was one of the peace negotiators when I was in Colombia. In 2004, he was captured by the CIA while he was in Ecuador to meet with UN representatives. Palmera is held in solitary confinement in a high security federal prison, not allowed to receive letters or communicate freely with his lawyer,” said Sundin.

Sundin continued, “Another FARC member Anayibe Rojas Valderama, known as ‘Sonia’, was extradited to the U.S., then, in 2007, sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison here. And of course, there is our own case with the Anti-War Committee. The FBI investigation of us included ‘Daniela,’ an undercover agent who claimed to be of Colombian descent, and who took a special interest in our work in solidarity with Colombia. This work included organizing protests against U.S. military aid, hosting speakers from Colombian trade unionists and participating in solidarity delegations to witness firsthand the civil war fueled by our tax dollars. Though we only hosted speakers granted visas by the U.S. State Department, the government treats some of these union leaders as criminal terrorists, and we were investigated because our hosting them was seen as the crime of aiding terrorists.”

NATO’s Rape of Yugoslavia

March 25th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

March 24, 1999 will go down in history as a day of infamy. US-led NATO raped Yugoslavia. Doing so was its second major combat operation.

It was lawless aggression. No Security Council resolution authorized it. NATO’s Operation Allied Force lasted 78 days.

Washington called it Operation Noble Anvil. Evil best describes it. On June 10, operations ended.

From March 1991 through mid-June 1999, Balkan wars raged. Yugoslavia “balkanized” into seven countries. They include Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.

Enormous human suffering was inflicted. Washington bears most responsibility.

Diana Johnstone’s book titled “Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions” is a definitive account of what happened.

Claims about Milosevic’s “Greater Serbia” ambitions were false. Washington-led wars wanted Yugoslavia balkanized. Germany was very much involved.

Both countries encouraged cessation. They provoked conflict. After ravaging and destroying Yugoslavia, they took credit for ending it.

Milosevic wanted Yugoslavia’s disintegration prevented. He wanted minority Serbs protected. Johnstone said Washington’s aims included:

  • preventing a European-backed settlement;
  • “assert(ing) its dominance over European allies in the arbitration of European conflicts;”
  • expanding NATO through a new “out of area” humanitarian mission (aka US dominated colonization); and
  • “gain(ing) influence in the Muslim world by championing the Bosnian Muslims.”

She called “government by international bureaucracy (a) new trend in the New World Order.”

After the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Dayton Accords), “Bosnia-Herzegovina (was) ruled by…a complicated set of local authorities under the strict supervision of a ‘High Representative’ (a contemporary Proconsul or Viceroy) who can, and does, annul laws adopted by the local democratic institutions or dismiss democratically chosen officials” not supportive of US imperial aims, said Johnstone.

In other words, democracy was verboten. It prevented from emerging. Washington rules were instituted. Colonization ended Yugoslavia’s market socialism experiment.

Predatory free-market harshness replaced it. Complete with IMF-imposed financial terrorism. In October 1998, a NATO air verification mission was agreed to for Kosovo.

In November, Milosevic agreed to a framework political settlement. A second Verification Mission was established to assure compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 and 1199.

The former banned arms sales to Serbia. It imposed economic sanctions. The latter ordered both sides in Kosovo to end hostilities and observe a ceasefire.

The so-called February 1999 Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo (the Rambouillet Agreement) was prelude for war.

It was an ultimatum Milosevic couldn’t accept. It was designed for rejection. It was a take-it-or-leave-it demand.

It ordered Milosevic to surrender Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) sovereignty to a NATO occupation force.

It demanded unimpeded access to its land, airspace and territorial waters, as well as any area or facility therein.

It required the FRY to let NATO freely operate outside federal law. Demanding it was outrageous. Milosevic’s justifiable refusal became pretext for war.

It followed mercilessly. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter denounced what happened.

He called US-led bombing and dismemberment of Yugoslavia “barbaric (and despicable), another blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe.”

For 78 days, around 600 aircraft flew about 3,000 sorties. Thousands of tons of ordnance were dropped, as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles. Up to then, its ferocity was unprecedented.

Nearly everything was struck. Massive destruction and disruption followed. Known or suspected military sites were targeted.

So were civilian sites and infrastructure unrelated to military operations. They included:

  • power plants;
  • factories;
  • civilian transportation;
  • telecommunications facilities;
  • roads, bridges and rail lines;
  • fuel depots;
  • schools;
  • a TV station;
  • China’s Belgrade embassy willfully on a false pretext (claiming a mistake didn’t wash);
  • hospitals;
  • government offices;
  • churches;
  • historic landmarks; and more.

Cities, villages and other areas were struck throughout the country. NATO began running out of targets. It didn’t matter. Bombing continued relentlessly.

It was willful, lawless aggression. Horrendous war crimes were committed unaccountably. Humanitarian disaster followed.

Outrageous claims about humanitarian intervention were fraudulent. Washington claimed another imperial trophy. The former Yugoslavia no longer exists.

An estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. Environmental contamination was extensive.

Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods. Many their homes and communities. Most their futures.

Serbia’s sovereign Kosovo territory was lost. It’s now US/NATO occupied territory. It’s home to Camp Bondsteel. It’s one of America’s largest military bases.

Kosovo is run by Hashim Thaci. He’s a former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright protege.

In 2000, she ordered then chief Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte to exclude his name from a list of suspected war criminals.

He’s a street thug posing as prime minister. He’s nicknamed “The Snake” for good reason.

Former Clinton Balkans envoy Robert Gelbard called him and likeminded figures “terrorists.”

Former US DEA official Michael Levine said:

He has known organized crimes ties. “The KLA (he formerly headed) is tied in with every known Middle and Far Eastern drug cartel.”

“Interpol, Europol, and nearly every European intelligence and counter-narcotics agency have files open on drug syndicates that lead right to the KLA…”

He remains unindicted. Washington, EU nations and UN officials elevated him to power.

He’s a former Kosovo Liberation Army  (KLA) commander. Post-war, he usurped power. He took control of many municipalities.

It doesn’t matter. He’s Washington’s man in Kosovo. He runs it like a crime family. Friends in high places support him.

Washington and complicit EU partners opened an avenue to Eurasia. A permanent US military presence was established where it previously didn’t exist. It serves America’s broader imperial agenda.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria followed. So does slow-motion genocide in Palestine. Iran’s turn awaits.

Washington’s dirty hands want Venezuela’s democratically elected government ousted. Obama’s war on humanity continues.

Russia is in the eye of the storm. Global war is threatened. Neocons infest Washington. They influence administration and congressional policy.

What’s ongoing bears erie resemblance to events preceding WW I. Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” explained its beginning and early weeks.

One thing led to others. Events spun out-of-control. Deadly consequences followed. Before it ended, over 20 million died. Many more were wounded and/or maimed. An entire generation of youth was lost.

Weapons used then were toys compared to now. A possible armageddon end times scenario looms. Irresponsible leaders risk it. Mainstream media support what demand opposition.

History has a disturbing way of repeating. George Santayana famous dictum is forgotten. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” he said.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”

Damn fools run things now like before. Today’s super-weapons make earlier ones seem like toys.

Crazies act like nuclear missiles and bombs are king-sized hand grenades. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

Will Ukraine become a flashpoint for East/West confrontation. Will something erupt making Yugoslavia’s destruction look insignificant by comparison?

Will Washington neocon extremists challenge Russia belligerently? Will mainstream media support them? Will public outrage fail to materialize?

Will potential armageddon be risked? Will never again really happen this time? Einstein once said he didn’t know what WW III weapons would be used.

“…WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones,” he said. Betrand Russell was an Einstein contemporary.

“Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war,” he asked? It’s the only way to live in peace. The alternative risks annihilation.

The choice is clear. The wrong one assures potential disaster. America heads humanity dangerously toward it. Either we end wars or they’ll end us. There’s no in between.

A Final Comment

The late Michael Mandel (1948 – 2013) was among a group of law professors wanting justice. They filed war crimes charges against numerous Western officials and complicit allies.

They did so at International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Notable US ones charged included Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen and General Wesley Clark.

European ones included Tony Blair, Robin Cook, George Robertson, Javia Solana, Jamie Shea, and numerous others – 68 in all.

On February 22, 2000, in testimony before Canada’s House of Commons, Mandel explained he “specialize(d) in criminal law and comparative law with an emphasis on domestic and foreign tribunals.”

He got involved because of the outrageous “killing and maiming of innocent people for what…were purely self-interested motives.”

He called it “the farthest thing from humanitarianism.” NATO’s war was illegal, he stressed. Force is justified only in self-defense or when Security Council authorized.

He explained relevant UN Charter provisions. They leave no ambiguity. They were systematically violated. So was the NATO Treaty and Canadian law.

The NATO Treaty Preamble states:

“The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.”

“Article 1: The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

“Article 7: This treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The Canada Defense Act states:

  • “31. (1) the Governor in Council may place the Canadian forces or any component, unit or other element thereof on active service anywhere in or beyond Canada at any time when it appears advisable to do so.
  • (a) by reason of an emergency, for the defence of Canada; or
  • (b) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic treaty or any other similar instrument for collective defence that may be entered into by Canada.”

Mandel was unequivocal saying:

“The illegality of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia is not disputed by any legal scholar of repute, even those who had some sympathy for the war…”

“NATO has no humanitarian lessons to teach the world,” he stressed.

“Much more plausible than the humanitarian thesis is the one that the United States deliberately provoked this war, that it deliberately exploited and exacerbated another country’s tragedy…for purely selfish (political) and economic” reasons.

It ravaged and destroyed a country for power and profit. War crimes charges against culpable officials are warranted.

Grave international law breaches were committed. No Western or complicit official was held accountable. Justice remains denied.

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

By: Burgess Everett

The Senate Intelligence Committee is poised to send a long-awaited report on the CIA’s interrogation practices to President Barack Obama’s desk for his approval — or redaction.

Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says she has the votes on the narrowly divided panel to publicly reveal the executive summary and key conclusions of a 6,300-page report on Bush-era interrogation tactics, a move sure to fuel the Senate’s intense dispute with the CIA over how the panel pieced together the study. That vote is likely to happen sometime this week.

But rather than a strong bipartisan signal from Congress, a vote to unveil the study appears set to divide along party lines because of that dispute.

All of the committee’s Democrats, except Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said in interviews or through aides that they will bless the public release of the document. Warner has not publicly indicated how he will vote, but he supported approving the final classified report on the same subject in December 2012. The committee has been bickering with the CIA ever since over the report’s accuracy, as well as Feinstein’s insistence that the study’s key findings be released publicly.

The panel’s swing vote could be freshman Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, who has taken a measured approach to revelations over NSA data-mining and the flare-up with the CIA.

“I’m inclined to vote to support [release]. But I still want to think about it,” said King, who caucuses with the Democrats. “I’m going to review the CIA’s response once more. I want to be sure the report is accurate.”

A vote to release the report is not the end of the committee’s work, according to sources familiar with the process and committee rules. The full Senate doesn’t have to approve the report before it hits Obama’s desk for him to review the conclusions. But it’s Obama who will ultimately decide whether the document needs to be further redacted, as the CIA will likely recommend.

Obama says he is “absolutely committed” to releasing the Senate report and has urged the committee to proceed — and Senate Democrats aren’t letting up until details of the CIA’s use of secret prisons and interrogation techniques are in the hands of the public.

“The American people deserve a proper and and accurate accounting of the history, management, operation, and effectiveness of this program,” Intelligence Committee member Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote in a letter to Obama on Thursday. “We can finally correct the record, move past this dark chapter in our history and become a stronger nation for confronting our mistakes.”

Democrats, led by Feinstein, are engaged in a war of words with the CIA over their five-year effort to assemble a comprehensive look at the interrogation of terrorist suspects. Feinstein has leveled explosive charges that the CIA interfered in the panel’s investigation by removing access to an internal review of CIA interrogation techniques, which is believed to contain myriad criticisms of CIA procedure.

The CIA asserts that committee staffers committed wrongdoing by removing that internal review from a CIA facility and storing it on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has instructed the Senate sergeant-at-arms to unilaterally investigate and strongly backed Feinstein last week, telling CIA Director John Brennan in a letter it was “absurd” to conclude that Senate staffers could hack into a classified network to acquire the internal document.

Feinstein has described her committee’s report as containing “startling” and “brutal” revelations about the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques — which when released publicly are sure to embarrass the CIA and Director John Brennan, who served in the top rungs of U.S. intelligence during the first half of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Meanwhile, Feinstein is barreling toward a vote on releasing the key findings of a report that top committee Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia refuses to comment on and has previously said contains significant errors. While most Democrats are eager to reveal the 300-page executive summary this month, most Republicans want to resolve the panel’s problems with the CIA before voting to release documents that have the potential to further damage public opinion about the U.S. intelligence apparatus.

These tensions could lead to a straight party-line vote when the panel’s roll call is held sometime in the next week during a secret session in a secure, nondescript Capitol Hill office. A party-line vote to release the report would very likely precipitate extended arguing over the accuracy of the report, rather than a Senate-wide repudiation of the CIA’s tactics as desired by the committee’s Democrats.

“It may well be,” Feinstein said of a possible partisan split. “It conceivably would not be. But a vote is a vote.”

Most committee Democrats are overwhelmingly supportive of releasing the report’s key conclusions to the public, particularly the panel’s civil-liberties wing of Udall, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

“I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with it, and I’m very much convinced that it’s consistent with national security and with further redactions is very much in the public interest,” Wyden said. “I think the CIA is very fearful of this report.”

And Intelligence Committee Republicans? Well, they aren’t saying much.

“I need to give some more thought to it, there’s certain implications to doing so,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, referring to the timing of the vote and the ongoing investigation. “There’s competing interests involved there.”

Rubio’s remarks are the most expansive of the committee’s seven Republicans, nearly all of whom declined comment and would not say whether they will approve release of the study.

“Still undergoing this internal effort here. With all that’s going on, I can’t comment anymore,” said Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana.

The panel voted to finalize the document in December 2012. Retired Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine was the lone Republican to join with Democrats in the vote — a sharp contrast to the overwhelming 14-1 committee vote to begin the investigation back in 2009.

Another potential swing vote is Maine Republican Susan Collins, though a spokesman said it would be “premature” to reveal her stance. Most familiar with the committee’s politics believe the remaining Republicans lean against release of the report given ongoing tensions with the CIA.

As the US and EU apply sanctions on Russia over its annexation’ of Crimea, JP Sottile reveals the corporate annexation of Ukraine. For Cargill, Chevron, Monsanto, there’s a gold mine of profits to be made from agri-business and energy exploitation.

The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … production here could double … Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.

On 12th January 2014, a reported 50,000 “pro-Western” Ukrainians descended upon Kiev’s Independence Square to protest against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Stoked in part by an attack on opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, the protest marked the beginning of the end of Yanukovych’s four year-long government.

That same day, the Financial Times reported a major deal for US agribusiness titan Cargill.

Business confidence never faltered

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming.

According to the Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly ample basket.

On 13th December 2013, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea grain terminal at Novorossiysk on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

The port – to the east of Russia’s strategically and historically important Crimean naval base – gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill has been in Ukraine for over two decades, investing in grain elevators and acquiring a major Ukrainian animal feed company in 2011. And, based on its investment in UkrLandFarming, Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

It’s a stark juxtaposition to the alarm bells ringing out from the US media, bellicose politicians on Capitol Hill and perplexed policymakers in the White House.

Instability – what instablility?

It’s even starker when compared to the anxiety expressed by Morgan Williams, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council - which, according to its website, has been “Promoting US-Ukraine business relations since 1995.”

Williams was interviewed by the International Business Times on March 13 and, despite Cargill’s demonstrated willingness to spend, he said, “The instability has forced businesses to just go about their daily business and not make future plans for investment, expansion and hiring more employees.”

In fact, Williams, who does double-duty as Director of Government Affairs at the private equity firm SigmaBleyzer, claimed, “Business plans have been at a standstill.”

Apparently, he wasn’t aware of Cargill’s investment, which is odd given the fact that he could’ve simply called Van A. Yeutter, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Cargill, and asked him about his company’s quite active business plan.

There is little doubt Williams has the phone number because Mr. Yuetter serves on the Executive Committee of the selfsame US-Ukraine Business Council. It’s quite a cozy investment club, too.

According to his SigmaBleyzer profile, Williams “started his work regarding Ukraine in 1992″ and has since advised American agribusinesses “investing in the former Soviet Union.” As an experienced fixer for Big Ag, he must be fairly friendly with the folks on the Executive Committee.

Big Ag luminaries – Monsanto, Eli Lilly, Dupont, John Deere …

And what a committee it is – it’s a veritable who’s who of Big Ag. Among the luminaries working tirelessly and no doubt selflessly for a better, freer Ukraine are:

  • Melissa Agustin, Director, International Government Affairs & Trade for Monsanto
  • Brigitte Dias Ferreira, Counsel, International Affairs for John Deere
  • Steven Nadherny, Director, Institutional Relations for agriculture equipment-maker CNH Industrial
  • Jeff Rowe, Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer
  • John F. Steele, Director, International Affairs for Eli Lilly & Company

And, of course, Cargill’s Van A. Yeutter. But Cargill isn’t alone in their warm feelings toward Ukraine. As Reuters reported in May 2013, Monsanto – the largest seed company in the world – plans to build a $140 million “non-GM (genetically modified) corn seed plant in Ukraine.”

And right after the decision on the EU trade deal, Jesus Madrazo, Monsanto’s Vice President for Corporate Engagement, reaffirmed his company’s “commitment to Ukraine” and “the importance of creating a favorable environment that encourages innovation and fosters the continued development of agriculture.”

Monsanto’s strategy includes a little “hearts and minds” public relations, too. On the heels of Mr. Madrazo’s reaffirmation, Monsanto announced ”a social development program titled ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ to help rural villagers in the country improve their quality of life.”

The initiative will dole out grants of up to $25,000 to develop programs providing “educational opportunities, community empowerment, or small business development.”

Immense economic importance

The well-crafted moniker ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ is telling because, once upon a time, Ukraine was known as ‘the breadbasket’ of the Soviet Union. The CIA ranks Soviet-era Ukraine second only to Mother Russia as the “most economically important component of the former Soviet Union.”

In many ways, the farmland of Ukraine was the backbone of the USSR. Its fertile black soil generated over a quarter of the USSR’s agriculture. It exported substantial quantities of food to other republics and its farms generated four times the output of the next-ranking republic.

Although Ukraine’s agricultural output plummeted in the first decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the farming sector has been growing spectacularly in recent years.

While Europe struggled to shake-off the Great Recession, Ukraine’s agriculture sector grew 13.7% in 2013.

Ukraine’s agriculture economy is hot. Russia’s is not. Hampered by the effects of climate change and 25 million hectares of uncultivated agricultural land, Russia lags behind its former breadbasket.

According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, Ukraine’s agricultural exports rose from $4.3 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2012 and, harkening the heyday of the USSR, farming currently accounts for 25% of its total exports. Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat and of corn. And corn is not just food. It is also ethanol.

Feeding Europe

But people gotta eat – particularly in Europe. As Frank Holmes of US Global Investors assessed in 2011, Ukraine is poised to become Europe’s butcher. Meat is difficult to ship, but Ukraine is perfectly located to satiate Europe’s hunger.

Just two days after Cargill bought into UkrLandFarming, Global Meat News reported a huge forecasted spike in “all kinds” of Ukrainian meat exports, with an increase of  8.1% overall and staggering 71.4% spike in pork exports.

No wonder Eli Lilly is represented on the US-Ukraine Business Council’s Executive Committee. Its Elanco Animal Health unit is a major manufacturer of feed supplements.

And it is also notable that Monsanto’s planned seed plant is non-GMO, perhaps anticipating an emerging GMO-unfriendly European market and Europe’s growing appetite for organic foods. When it comes to Big Ag’s profitable future in Europe, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A long string of Russian losses

For Russia and its hampered farming economy, it’s another in a long string of losses to US encroachment – from NATO expansion into Eastern Europe to US military presence to its south and onto a major shale gas development deal recently signed by Chevron in Ukraine.

So, why was Big Ag so bullish on Ukraine, even in the face of so much uncertainty and the predictable reaction by Russia?

The answer is that the seeds of Ukraine’s turn from Russia have been sown for the last two decades by the persistent Cold War alliance between corporations and foreign policy. It’s a version of the ‘Deep State‘ that is usually associated with the oil and defense industries, but also exists in America’s other heavily subsidized industry – agriculture.

Morgan Williams is at the nexus of Big Ag’s alliance with US foreign policy. To wit, SigmaBleyzer touts Mr. Williams’ work with ”various agencies of the US government, members of Congress, congressional committees, the Embassy of Ukraine to the US, international financial institutions, think tanks and other organizations on US-Ukraine business, trade, investment and economic development issues.”

Freedom – for US business

As President of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Williams has access to Council cohort – David Kramer, President of Freedom House. Officially a non-governmental organization, it has been linked with overt and covert ‘democracy’ efforts in places where the door isn’t open to American interests – aka US corporations.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the US Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.

Nuland’s $5 billion for Ukrainian ‘democracy’

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the US-Ukrainian Foundation last 13th December, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

Nuland also told the group that the United States had invested more than $5 billion in support of Ukraine’s “European aspirations” – meaning pulling Ukraine away from Russia. She made her remarks on a dais featuring a backdrop emblazoned with a Chevron logo.

Also, her colleague and phone call buddy US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt helped Chevron cook up their 50-year shale gas deal right in Russia’s kitchen.

Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Raytheon

Although Chevron sponsored that event, it is not listed as a supporter of the Foundation. But the Foundation does list the Coca-Cola Company, ExxonMobil and Raytheon as major sponsors. And, to close the circle of influence, the US-Ukraine Business Council is also listed as a supporter.

Which brings the story back to Big Ag’s fixer – Morgan Williams.

Although he was glum about the current state of investment in Ukraine, he’s gotta wear shades when he looks into the future. He told the International Business Times:

“The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … production here could double.  The world needs the food Ukraine could produce in the future. Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.”

Of course, his priority is to ensure that the bread of well-connected businesses gets lavishly buttered in Russia’s former breadbasket. And there is no better connected group of Ukraine-interested corporations than American agribusiness.

Given the extent of US official involvement in Ukrainian politics – including the interesting fact that Ambassador Pyatt pledged US assistance to the new government in investigating and rooting-out corruption – Cargill’s seemingly risky investment strategy probably wasn’t that risky, after all.

J P Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs at Newsvandal.com.

 

 

 

The downing of a Syrian jet by Turkey was not an isolated incident but part of a major offensive by Al Qaeda affiliated groups Jabhat Al Nusra (designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department) and Ahrar Al Sham against a northwestern Syrian-Turkish border crossing.  Turkey has been supporting Al Qaeda’s attack on the Kassab border crossing, the only crossing that was still held by the Syrian military. While the AFP did report that the group involved in the attack was the AlQaeda faction Jabhat Al Nusra , this fact has not made it to any mainstream media headline.

turkey backing alqaeda Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive
Image: Excerpt from AFP reporting Al Qaeda forces involved in the Kassab cross-border assault.
Jabhat Al Nusra, are also actively being given safe haven by Turkey. The  map below shows the Al Qaeda Camp within the Turkish border from which the attack on the Kassab border crossing came. AlQaeda militants also brazenly videotaped themselves walking right through the Turkish Kassab border gate into Syria without any harassment from Turkish guards.
kassab border crossing1 Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive

Another Al Qaeda offshoot fighting along side Jabhat Al Nusra in the offensive is ‘Ahrar Al Sham’. While the rebel group is not yet designated Al Qaeda by the US State Department, the group was founded by Abu Khaled as-Suri, Al Zawahiri’s ambassador to Syria.  Ahrar Al Sham was described as ‘Al Qaeda worth befriending’ by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Washington’s premier think tank.  Charles Lister, a fellow at of the Brookings Institution, tweets video of Ahrar Al Sha’am taking part in the attack on Latakia.

1920339 10152030215563519 1104190417 n Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive
Image: Al Qaeda rockets fall on Latakia province, killing 7 and injuring 30.

It was reported that Turkey had begun shelling inside Syrian soil to back the offensive on the border point. Turkish artillery and tanks targeted Syrian positions, and Turkish special forces have been observed in the region. A Lebanon based satelite channel Al Mayadeen TV reported that the Syrian Army launched a counterattack on the border point Nabie Al Murr with Turkey , along with dense artillery cover. In response to the Syrian defensive measures against the AlQaeda attack, Turkey downed a Syrian jet that was firing on the Al Qaeda militants from Syrian airspace. Turkey’s claims that the Syrian jet violated Turkish airspace is contradicted by the fact the plane crashed over Syrian territory as shown in a video posted by Al Qaeda in the area. The pilot managed to safely eject and was picked up in Syria, and was even interviewed by Syrian state TV.

The Al Qaeda attack and takeover of the Kassab border crossing has caused up to 2000 to 6000 Armenian Syrians to flee the area. Mass looting and destruction of religious sites was reported by residents (similar to criminal acts carried out in the recently liberated city of Yabroud).

Armenians are once again refugees due to the Turkish government like their ancestors who fled the Armenian Holocaust decades ago.

There has been no mention on the BBC of NATO’s open support for Al Qaeda groups. The attack comes in the backdrop of mass rallies against Turkish President Erdogan, who recently banned Twitter.

The battles in Latakia are ongoing, with the Syrian military inflicting heavy losses on Al Qaeda militants.

Syrian activist and blogger Mimi Al Laham can be followed at: 

www.youtube.com/Syriangirlpartisan,www.facebook.com/partisangirl, &  www.twitter.com/partisangirl

The municipal elections in France have laid bare the political crisis in France and Europe as a whole and the dangers facing the working class.

The political beneficiaries of the discrediting of the bourgeois “left,” represented in France by the Socialist Party (PS) of despised President François Hollande, are neo-fascist parties such as France’s National Front (FN).

Amid a record abstention rate of 38.5 percent, the FN advanced to next Sunday’s run-off elections in 229 of the 600 cities where it ran slates. The FN’s Steeve Briois won outright in the first round in Hénin-Beaumont, located in the former coal basin in northern France, which was devastated by PS mine closures in the 1980s.

The FN also came in first in 17 cities of over 10,000 people. These include Forbach, where its list got 36 percent of the vote, Fréjus (40 percent), Béziers (45 percent), Perpignan (34 percent), and Avignon (30 percent).

The FN came in second in Marseille, France’s second largest city, behind incumbent Jean-Claude Gaudin of the right-wing Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). The FN doubled its vote in Paris, where temp workers protesting poor working conditions attacked the headquarters of PS mayoral candidate Anne Hidalgo.

In a move with far-reaching consequences, sections of the French ruling class are reacting to the collapse of popular support for the PS by pushing to fully integrate the FN into official politics. FN leader Marine Le Pen predicted “the end of the two-party system” of the PS and the Gaullists and the rise of the FN. “The French people have liberated themselves from the false choice between the right and the left,” she said.

The pro-PS daily Le Monde wrote: “If Marine Le Pen is correct, it is a political earthquake: the two-party system is dead, here comes the three-party system of the PS, UMP and the National Front … To support her view, the FN leader has plenty of arguments.”

The FN can appeal to social discontent only due to the reactionary role of the pro-business PS and petty-bourgeois pseudo-left groups such as the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), which work to suppress all political opposition in the working class. The FN is increasingly seen as a “normal” party, particularly since Hollande’s election in 2012, because parties such as the PS and NPA are themselves rapidly shifting towards far-right policies.

While imposing wave after wave of social cuts and tax breaks for business, the PS has turned to fascistic appeals. Last year, as the PS government carried out military interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic and pushed for war in Syria, PS officials admitted that one calculation was the hope that a quick, victorious war would boost Hollande’s poll ratings. Interior Minister Manuel Valls, meanwhile, ominously called for the entire Roma people to be removed from France.

The NPA, which called for a vote for Hollande in 2012 while cynically acknowledging that he would adopt reactionary policies, has not sought in any way to develop opposition to the PS. Deeply integrated into the bourgeois media, the trade union bureaucracy and sections of academia close to the PS, this organization and similar pseudo-left groups are not seen by workers as fighting for power, let alone for socialism—which, indeed, they are not—but as integral components of a discredited political establishment.

These are not left-wing parties seeking to rally working class opposition to the PS or FN. They are right-wing organizations that can barely distinguish themselves from Hollande and the Socialist Party. They speak for well-off sections of the middle class that seek to preserve their privileges by blocking the eruption of class struggles that would undermine the PS.

One demonstration of the hypocrisy of the NPA’s criticisms—increasingly tepid—of the FN is the fact that it is hailing as a democratic revolution last month’s putsch led by the FN’s ally in Ukraine—the neo-fascist Svoboda party.

The critical issue in the fight against fascism is the unification and mobilization of the working class in France and internationally in revolutionary struggle against capitalism. While there is deep hostility to fascism in the working class, this opposition can be rallied only if the advanced workers are armed with a socialist perspective. This requires a ruthless struggle to reveal the class gulf separating the struggle for socialism based on the political heritage of Trotskyism from the reactionary, bourgeois politics of the pseudo-left.

These forces have for decades proceeded from the bankrupt perspective of the “Union of the Left,” on which basis the French Internationalist Communist Organization (OCI) broke with the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)—the world Trotskyist movement—in 1971, three years after the 1968 French general strike. The OCI sought to work with all of the “left” parties, ostensibly to push the newly-formed PS and the Stalinist Communist Party (PCF) to the left.

In the process, the OCI became an instrument of the PS—itself an electoral vehicle for François Mitterrand, a former official of the World War II Nazi collaborationist Vichy regime.

After his election in 1981, achieved in alliance with the PCF, Mitterrand reacted to rising budget deficits and capital flight organized by the banks by abandoning his limited reform program. He mounted an “austerity turn,” slashing social spending and dismantling uncompetitive industries that had been bastions of working class radicalism after 1968.

In a move whose reactionary implications are becoming ever more clear, Mitterrand held onto power in the 1980s and 1990s despite rising social anger by boosting the FN’s media profile and using it to divide the right-wing vote.

Nonetheless, the OCI and other pseudo-left forces continued to support the PS social democrats. After the 1997-2002 PS-led “Plural Left” government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had discredited itself with its austerity policies, Jospin was eliminated from the second round of the 2002 presidential election by UMP incumbent Jacques Chirac and then-FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. This left the working class with a “choice” in the second round of voting between the right-wing Chirac and the ultra-right Le Pen.

Though they had received a combined 11 percent of the vote in the first round of the election, the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR)—the predecessor of the NPA—Workers Struggle (LO), and the Workers Party (formerly the OCI) did not seek to mobilize the working class against an election that was widely seen as illegitimate. Instead, they lined up behind calls to elect Chirac, claiming this would halt the rise of fascism in France.

They rejected the ICFI’s call for an active boycott of the presidential election as the basis for developing an independent political movement of the working class against the social attacks and wars that were certain to come under a reelected Chirac. Events in the ensuing decade totally vindicated the policy advanced by the ICFI. The lineup of the pseudo-left parties behind a right-wing president proved to be a turning point in their further evolution to the right and into the camp of bourgeois politics.

The central question in France and throughout Europe is the construction of revolutionary parties as sections of the ICFI. This is the key to preventing the pseudo-left forces from subordinating the working class to the bourgeoisie, paving the way for greater social defeats and attacks on democratic rights, either directly at the hands of FN or through the adoption by the entire political establishment of its policies.

The unprecedented sentencing of over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members to death in Egypt for their role in the attack, torture, and murder of an Egyptian policeman, is the culmination of a lighting fast, all encompassing security crackdown across the pivotal North African Arab nation. The move has created a chilling effect that has left the otherwise violent mobs of the Muslim Brotherhood silent and the streets they generally sow their chaos in, peaceful and empty.

The New York Times reported in its article, “Hundreds of Egyptians Sentenced to Death in Killing of a Police Officer,” that:

A crowd gathered outside a courthouse in the town of Matay erupted in wailing and rage on Monday when a judge sentenced 529 defendants to death in just the second session of their trial, convicting them of murdering a police officer in anger at the ouster of the Islamist president. Here in the provincial capital just a few miles away, schools shut down early, and many stayed indoors fearing a riot, residents said.

But the crowds went home, and soon the streets were quiet.

The move by the Egyptian courts has attracted the predictable condemnation of the US State Department. The Washington Post’s article, “Egyptian court sentences 529 people to death,” stated:

The United States was “deeply concerned, and I would say actually pretty shocked,” about the mass death sentences, said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman. “It defies logic” and “certainly does not seem possible that a fair review of evidence and testimony, consistent with international standards,” could have been conducted over a two-day period, she said.

While the US continues to feign support for the government in Cairo, it was fully behind the Muslim Brotherhood-led regime of Mohamed Morsi, its mobs in the streets, and the networks of NGOs inside Egypt supporting and defending their activities.

The most recent of these NGOs on display is the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) cited by the above mentioned New York Times article which claimed:

“We have never heard of anything of this magnitude before — inside or outside of Egypt — that was within a judicial system as opposed to a mass execution,” said Karim Medhat Ennarah, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights who specializes in criminal justice.

“It is quite ridiculous,” he said, arguing that it would be impossible to prove that 500 people each played a meaningful role in the killing of a single police officer, especially after just one or two short sessions of the trial. “Clearly this is an attempt to intimidate and terrorize the opposition, and specifically the Islamist opposition, but why would the judge get so deeply involved in politics up to this point?”

EIPR is funded by among others, the Australian Embassy in Cairo, and carries out the same familiar role that other Western-funded NGOs did during the “Arab Spring” in 2011 – the covering up of the opposition’s violence and atrocities, and the leveraging of “human rights” to condemn the subsequent security crackdowns carried out in return by the state.

How Egypt Got Here 

Egypt’s current turmoil is a direct result of the 2011 so-called “Arab Spring.” While nations like Libya lie in ruins with the “revolution” a “success” and the Libyan people now subjugated by pro-Western proxies, and Syria as continues to fight on in a costly 3 year conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives, Egypt has taken a different path.


When violent mobs began inching Egypt toward violence of Libyan and Syrian proportions, the Egyptian military, who has been the primary brokers of power in Egypt for decades, bent with the winds of change. Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power and the military tolerated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood itself into power. However, before they did so, they laid the groundwork for its eventual undoing.

The military leadership bid its time patiently, waiting for the right moment to unseat the Brotherhood and swiftly shatter its networks politically and militarily. It was a masterstroke that has so far saved Egypt from the same fate suffered by other nations still burning in the chaos unleashed by the “Arab Spring.”

Egypt’s Internal Crisis is Driven by External Meddling and Interests 

Image: Protests in Egypt.

In January of 2011, we were told that “spontaneous,” “indigenous”uprising had begun sweeping North Africa and the Middle East in what was called the “Arab Spring.” It would be months before the West’s media would admit that the US had been behind the uprisings and that they were anything but “spontaneous,” or “indigenous.” In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” it was stated:

“A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.”

The article would also add, regarding the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED):

“The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department. “

Far from simply capitalizing or “co-opting” genuine unrest, preparations for the “Arab Spring” began as early as 2008. Egyptian activists from the now infamous April 6 movement were in New York City for the inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements (AYM) summit, also known as Movements.org.

There, they received training, networking opportunities, and support from AYM’s various corporate and US governmental sponsors, including the US State Department itself. The AYM 2008 summit report (page 3 of .pdf) states that the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, James Glassman attended, as did Jared Cohen who sits on the policy planning staff of the Office of the Secretary of State. Six other State Department staff members and advisers would also attend the summit along with an immense list of corporate, media, and institutional representatives.

Shortly afterward, April 6 would travel to Serbia to train under US-funded CANVAS, formally the US-funded NGO “Otpor” who helped overthrow the government of Serbia in 2000. Otpor, the New York Times would report, was a “well-oiled movement backed by several million dollars from the United States.” After its success it would change its name to CANVAS and begin training activists to be used in other US-backed regime change operations.

The April 6 Movement, after training with CANVAS, would return to Egypt in 2010, along with UN IAEA Chief Mohammed ElBaradei. April 6 members would even be arrested while awaiting for ElBaradei’s arrival at Cairo’s airport in mid-February. Already, ElBaradei, as early as 2010, announced his intentions of running for president in the 2011 elections. Together with April 6, Wael Ghonim of Google, and a coalition of other opposition parties, ElBaradei assembled his “National Front for Change” and began preparing for the coming “Arab Spring.”

Clearly then, the “Arab Spring” was long planned – and planned from abroad – with activists from Tunisia and Egypt on record receiving training and support from the West so that they could return home and sow unrest in a region-wide coordinated campaign.

An April 2011 AFP report would confirm this, when US State Department’s Michael Posner would admit that tens of millions of dollars had been allocated to equip and train activists 2 years ahead of the “Arab Spring.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s role was hidden in plain site. While the Western media focused on the more presentable “pro-democracy” leaders it had trained and put at the head of the mobs in Tahrir Square, it was the Muslim Brotherhood’s large membership that filled the rest of the square. They were also responsible for launching armed attacks across Egypt leading to the “revolution’s” 800+ death toll.

Image: Mohamed Morsi – hardly a “hardline extremists” himself, he is the embodiment of the absolute fraud that is the Muslim Brotherhood – a leadership of Western-educated, Western-serving technocrats posing as “pious Muslims” attempting to cultivate a base of fanatical extremists prepared to intimidate through violence the Brotherhood’s opposition. Failing that, they are prepared to use (and have used) extreme violence to achieve their political agenda. 

Egyptians quickly became distrustful of the protest’s leadership, particularly ElBaradei who’s ties to Western interests were uncovered and led to his swift fall from influence. The protest movement lacked the political machinery to actually fill the void their movement had created. Once again, the West turned to the Muslim Brotherhood – and the Western-educated Mohamed Morsi for results.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Resurrection

The Muslim Brotherhood is a faux-theocratic sectarian extremist movement – a regional movement that transcends national borders. It is guilty sowing decades of violent discord not only in Egypt, but across the Arab World and it has remained a serious threat to secular, nationalist states from Algeria to Syria and back again.

Image: Backlash against the Brotherhood. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s political success, it represents a violent, loud, minority that is quietly opposed by the vast majority of not only Egyptians, but Arabs across North Africa and the Middle East. Its high level of organization, immense funding provided by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and even the West, including Israel, allows it to perpetuate itself in spite of its unpopularity, while its violent tactics allow it to challenge dissent.

Today, the Western press decries Egyptian and Syrian efforts to curb these sectarian extremists, particularly in Syria where the government was accused of having “massacred” armed Brotherhood militants in Hama in 1982. The constitutions of secular Arab nations across Northern Africa and the Middle East, including the rewritten Syrian Constitution, have attempted to exclude sectarian political parties, especially those with “regional” affiliations to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda affiliated political movements from ever coming into power.

And while specter of sectarian extremists taking power in Egypt or Syria may seem like an imminent threat to Western (including Israeli) interests – it in reality is a tremendous boon.

Morsi himself is by no means an “extremists” or an “Islamist.” He is a US-educated technocrat who merely posed as “hardline” in order to cultivate the fanatical support of the Brotherhood’s rank and file. Several of Morsi’s children are even US citizens.

Despite a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israeli propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood had joined US, European, and Israeli calls for “international” intervention in Syria. Egypt had also broken off diplomatic relations with Syria which were only restored after Morsi was finally ousted from power.

The Syrian Connection

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliates have been funneling weapons, cash, and foreign fighters into Syria to fight Wall Street, London, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aviv’s proxy war.

In Reuters ‘May 6, 2012 article titled, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes,” it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before the latest unrest, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.

The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.
Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.””

It was warned that such backing would benefit the Brotherhood as a whole, not just in Syria, and could effect public opinion even as far as in Egypt where a long battle against the hardliners was fought in order to keep Egyptian governance secular. Clearly the Brotherhood did not spontaneously rise back to power in Syria, it was resurrected by US, Israeli, and Saudi cash, weapons and directives. It was similarly resurrected in Egypt as well.

Syria’s Chaos is a Warning of Egypt’s Possible Future

Even as the world begins to reap what was sown in Syria through the intentional resurrection of the Muslim Brotherhood by the West and the extremist factions that the Brotherhood has on record facilitated, it appears that there has been no collective lesson learned by the general public, including many claiming to be “geopolitical experts.”

The same destabilization, step-by-step, is being carried out in Egypt once again through the Muslim Brotherhood. Legions of terrorists are waiting in Egypt’s Sinai region for the Brotherhood to sufficiently lay the groundwork in Egypt’s population centers so that they can be destroyed, just as has been done in Syria.  And behind it all is the West, desperately trying to dislodge the Egyptian military from power with a combination of unpalatable carrots and broken sticks.

US corporate-funded policy think tanks like the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, have expressed America’s desire to see the Egyptian military cut down to size, and removed entirely as a political power broker, just as has been done in Turkey. In fact, the West is so proud of what has been accomplished in Turkey, it refers to the removal of any independent military institution around the world and its replacement by an easily manipulated proxy regime, the “Turkish model.”

The Endowment’s post titled, “Egypt Can’t Replicate the Turkish Model: But It Can Learn From It,” best articulates this desire by stating:

In Egypt, a number of younger and more moderate Islamists have pointed to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a source of inspiration, citing legal reform, successful economic management, and electoral victories as models to be emulated. In some policy quarters, Turkey has even been presented as an overall model for the Arab world—a characterization which derives largely from its seemingly unique ability to couple secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim society.

And that (emphasis added):

The party has not only increased its support in secular businesses and the middle classes, but also rendered the idea of a powerful state—which commands the economy as well as the lives of Muslims through Islamic principles—an obsolete one. For the most part, the AKP has maintained the basic constitutional and institutional structure of the Turkish state, but has enacted constitutional amendments for EU harmonization and curtailed the power of the military. In other words, Islam and democracy have become compatible in Turkey under neoliberalism.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Monitor, a clearinghouse for Western political spin, states clearly in its article, “Egypt’s Second Revolution a Blow to Turkey,” that (emphasis added):

The Egyptian army considers Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to be a political rival and an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the Egyptian military establishment views the Turkish model of limiting the power of Turkey’s military establishment by means of an alliance with Washington as a model that threatens the presence and interests of the Egyptian army.

Another US corporate-funded think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), cites another, older “Turkish model,” the one where the Turkish military was wielding power before being reduced in size and influence – and blames it for the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In his post, “In Egypt, the Military Adopts Turkish Model to Check Morsi,” Stephen Cook of the CFR wrote:

Shortly after the fall of Mubarak, Field Marshal Tantawi asked for a translation of Turkey’s 1982 constitution, which both endows Turkish officers with wide-ranging powers to police the political arena and curtails the power of civilian leaders.  In the June 17 decree, the military hedged against a Morsi victory by approximating the tutelary role the Turkish military enjoyed until recently.

US foreign policy think tanks and editorial columns are awash with comparisons between Egypt and Turkey and how Egypt can be transformed through the elimination of its politically influential military into a proxy state more like Turkey – a NATO member permanently bent to the will of Wall Street, London, and the European Union.

How far the West is willing and able to go in Egypt to achieve this reordering and along what path they will do it is still difficult to tell. How far they are willing to go in general can be seen in the rubble strewn streets of Syria’s smoldering, decimated cities. With the addition of the Muslim Brotherhood to the formula, and considering their role in Syria’s continued destruction, Egypt’s military-led government may be accused of using excessive force – but with Egypt many times larger than Syria in terms of population and land area, and considering the devastation and loss of life that has occurred in Syria, the alternative – appeasement, temporary accommodation, denial, or inaction – is utterly unacceptable.

Image: While the Western media attempts to portray the military coup as an antiquated feature of failed states, it has been and always will be an essential “check and balance” of last resort. In Egypt, the military initially bent with the force of foreign-funded political destabilization as part of the “Arab Spring,” bid its time, and when the moment was right, overthrew the West’s proxy-regime of Mohamed Morsi. It did so with decisive and unyielding security operations to permanently uproot the regime’s power, and stem any attempts of triggering armed conflict backed by the West to reclaim power. The “Egyptian Model” may prove instructive for Thailand’s current political crisis.

 

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Ukrainian prime minister and leading backer of the new regime installed by last month’s coup, has called for Ukrainians to take up arms against Russians and for the Western powers to reduce Russia to ashes.

In a phone call leaked online, Tymoshenko urged the murder of Russians and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It’s about time we grab our guns and kill those katsaps [a derogatory Ukrainian word] together with their leader,” she said. (Available from the original source here and with RT’s English translation here).

Tymoshenko also advocated the nuclear slaughter of the eight million Russians who remain on Ukrainian territory. She confirmed the authenticity of the conversation on Twitter, while claiming her call for the use of nuclear weapons was edited.

The phone conversation with Nestor Shufrych, former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, was uploaded on YouTube on Monday by user Sergiy Vechirko. Shufrych had denied its veracity.

The leaked tape is a damning exposure of the lies constructed by the US and its allies that the crisis over Ukraine and Crimea was triggered by Russian aggression. It reveals the real face of the regime installed with the support of fascistic forces in Ukraine.

The phone call took place on March 18, hours after the Crimea accession treaty was signed in the Kremlin, following the Crimean referendum vote to join Russia.

Enraged by the referendum, Tymoshenko declared that she were in charge “there would be no f***ing way that they would get Crimea.” Tymoshenko, who plans to run in Ukraine’s presidential election, insisted that she would have found “a way to kill those a*****es.”

Indicating her support in Western ruling circles, the ex-PM vowed: “I hope I will be able to get all my connections involved. And I will use all of my means to make the entire world rise up, so that there wouldn’t be even a scorched field left in Russia.”

Tymoshenko, who was released from jail on embezzlement charges immediately after the Kiev coup, typifies the layer of oligarchs and extreme right-wing nationalists who, with the backing of the US and European Union, orchestrated the removal of President Viktor Yanukovich’s government after he rejected an EU treaty that would have imposed brutal austerity and free-market measures.

Tymoshenko rose to power in the pro-US and EU “Orange Revolution” in 2004, becoming prime minister from 2007 to 2010. Before her political career, she was a gas industry tycoon—by some estimates one of the richest people in the country. In 2005, she placed third in the Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s most powerful women.

She was charged with corruption during criminal investigations in 2010, and sentenced to seven years in prison for misspending about $US500 million and embezzling $120,000. She was released on February 22, following a revision of the Ukrainian criminal code that effectively decriminalised the actions for which she was imprisoned.

This is not the first such revealing telephone leak in the Ukraine crisis. In February, a tape recorded US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, declaring “F**k the EU” as she discussed installing the future Ukrainian government with the US ambassador to the country, Geoffrey Pyatt.

Another recent incident further highlighted the character of the forces unleashed in Ukraine. Passengers travelling from Russia to Moldova via Ukraine’s territory were robbed by an ultranationalist gang.

“To the horror of passengers…people dressed in the uniform of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) got into carriages and began a ‘document check,’” the Russian Foreign Ministry reported yesterday. “People who showed Russian passports were then made to hand over their money and golden jewelry.”

A similar fate befell passengers travelling from the Ukrainian city of Krivoy Rog to the Russian capital, the NTV channel reported, except that Ukrainian border officers were involved, grabbing passports from Russian citizens and demanding cash.

Last week, a video on YouTube pointed to the work of pro-regime fascist thugs in Kiev. Led by Igor Miroshnichenko, a Svoboda party MP notorious for his anti-Semitism, a gang broke into the offices of Ukraine’s state television, NTU, and forced its president to sign a resignation letter (see “Svoboda thugs attack head of Ukrainian national television”).

What prompted me to write the present article is because some central bankers have been spewing nonsense, and because if many out there don’t use common sense, they will suffer enormous financial losses.

Anyone who agrees that there can be no sovereign defaults has a fickle memory or no memory at all. Additionally, they have also forgotten the economic dogmas spread by Nobel Laureates, central bankers, financial advisers etc. which alas turned out to be fairy tales.  And it was only just five years ago.

People do have short memories.

Before we get to the bottom of the impossibility of sovereign defaults, let’s examine some other “impossibilities” often touted by the so-called economic experts, those that have the “magical” alphabets behind their names – PhD, especially from Ivy League universities. I prefer to call these so-called experts “Phony Donkeys”. No doubt there are exceptions, but not many.

Home Mortgages – safest kind of lending

It is often said that home mortgages have minimum risks in that defaults are so miniscule that they count for nothing. This is indeed true in the good old days of “old fashion banking”. Let’s take the statistics from America since whatever happens in America impacts globally.

In the period from 1991 to 2004, banks suffered losses amounting to only 0.15 per cent on home mortgages. Do the maths. For every US$1 Million, the bank lost US$1,500. Therefore, it is very safe to finance home mortgages. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2004, it went as low as 0.08 per cent (Source: Federal Reserve).

Fast forward to 2009 – If you are applying for a mortgage loan, you would be strip-searched and examined with a magnifying glass by a banker to determine whether you are in fact credit worthy.

What changed? The banks were churning out “Frankenstein Financial Products” to be traded as “CDOs”, “Synthetic CDOs” etc. Some of these products were derived from mortgages called “Liars’ Loans”. Mortgages were packaged into “sophisticated financial products” which in turn were sliced and diced into other financial products. They called it “securitisation”! People forgot that the mortgages were not originated in the manner as before in the good old days of conservative banking. Such good “old fashion banking” was boring. So, the new generation of bankers decided to inject some excitement – innovations to the financial sector. In essence, it was just a slight variation to the good old Ponzi schemes of yesteryears.

This was the “new reality” created by the financial sector. Everything was hunky-dory. But, it was a grand illusion.

Today we called the resulting fiasco that shocked the world as the “Subprime crisis”. It brought the banks, the global banks to its knees and triggered the global financial tsunami. Governments have to bail out the financial sector via their central banks and took over the toxic assets.

Central banks are now carrying the toxic assets in their balance sheets.

The lesson to be taken from the above is that what may be true in one era may be false in another, a fairy tale in fact. Everything should be examined in context.

Sovereign Risks

Only an idiot would assert that there can be no sovereign risk of default, especially in the case of countries that can print their own currencies (digitally or otherwise) such as the USA.

The economic theory touted is that because a country can print its own currency, it can never be bankrupt and therefore cannot default. Q.E.D.

It is contended that central banks can keep printing monies to bail out the banks and pay government debts without any repercussions. One need not be a rocket scientist with a string of PhDs to figure out the flaw in this economic theory. Common sense is enough to expose this economic mumbo jumbo. The principal practitioners of this heresy are the current central bankers. This is Voodoo economics!

The Flaw

Common sense tells me that if a country can print money to pay its debts, then why in the first place was there the necessity to borrow?

The central bank could just print and print money to finance all manner of development projects and operating expenditures. There is no necessity to have any income tax, as we are told that income tax is levied to enable the government to pay its expenses and when in deficit, to pay for the debts it has incurred to finance the deficit. And if printing was such an easy solution, the world would not have experienced hyperinflation, when money had to be carried by the wheel-barrow to trade and cigarettes were more valuable than the currency in the country suffering from hyperinflation.

The Myth

It is therefore a myth to say that the US treasury bonds are the safest assets as there are no risks of default. Uncle Sam will always honour its debts. It will never default. This blind faith was nurtured over the years, especially post World War II when the US became a superpower and was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union and China.

The experience of the US in itself demolishes the argument that a country can print all the monies it needs to get out of debt and to avoid a default. The monetary policies of the FED especially Quantitative Easing (QE) exposes the fallacy of the “Printing Money Theory”. Otherwise, why have the drama of “to taper or not to taper”? If printing toilet paper money is not a problem, why stop QE? Why taper in December of 2013?

Kinds of Default

There are essentially two types of defaults.

 Don’t pay the debt – tell the creditors to “piss off”; or
 Inflation – printing money (digitally or otherwise).

The example of the first kind of default is when Argentina refused to pay its debts. A more recent example is when Iceland told its foreign bankers to piss off and prosecuted the bankers for fraud!

The US is the leading example of the second kind of default.

However, we must not forget that the US had defaulted before but in another way. It used to be that the US Dollar was backed by gold and anyone holding a US Dollar could demand that it be exchanged for gold at the agreed rate of US$35 per oz of gold.

Immediately after World War II, America was the creditor to the world, but after the ruinous wars in Korea and Vietnam, the US became the biggest and baddest debtor in the world to the extent that it had insufficient gold to support the US Dollar. The default was triggered by President De Gaulle of  France who on realising that there were insufficient gold in Fort Knox to back all the US$ in circulation demanded gold in exchange for the US$ France held in reserves. Initially, the gold was given to France, but President Nixon realised soon enough that should other nations follow suit, the value of the US$ would collapse as there were insufficient gold for exchange / redemption purposes.

And so in 1971, Nixon declared that US$ would no longer be redeemable in gold. From that day onwards, the US$ became a pure fiat currency. The rest of world followed the Pied Piper. Gold was referred to as the “Barbaric Relic”.

 

But, for the fact that the US being a nuclear superpower was able to compel subservience to the Dollar Emperor, the value of the dollar would have plummeted to zero or near zero! This in itself exposes the inherent flaw in the “Printing Money Theory”. It was military might that compelled countries to accept the US$ as the global reserve currency.

The End Game

The US$ confidence game was supported by two other pillars besides nuclear weapons.

The second was the “Petro-dollar”. The US was able to impose, with the connivance of OPEC led by slavish Saudis, that oil must be traded in US$ in exchange for military protection against coups. I have in the past written exhaustively on this issue and will not repeat myself in this article.

The third was the US treasury bonds. It was touted as risk free and the best asset to own in the world. Because of the propaganda that the US can never default on its bonds, holders of US$ were seduced to participate in the financial con game. The psychology behind this gambit is simple. It preys on the human nature of greed and the misperception of “easy money”.

The tag-line was and still is “Just invest in US$ to earn safe and easy returns”.

Today the world is drowning in a cesspool of US$100 trillion of debt. US$ toilet paper is floating and circulating everywhere and soon enough, it will only take someone and or a country to declare that the US Emperor has no clothes to trigger the collapse of the US$ financial system.

When that happens, and it will be soon, no amount of US$ bills printed in whatever denomination would be accepted as payment for goods and services and in settlement of debts! The threat of nuclear wars by the US
and Israel ring hollow. If Iran is not intimidated what more Russia and China who themselves are nuclear powers.

The beginning of the end of the present system is already taking place as several countries have begun to trade in currencies other than the US$. The tide will turn when oil is no longer traded in US$. It is as simple as that!

The “Printing Money Theory” would be buried for good. I am not sure whether it would Rest in Peace (RIP) or Rest in Shame (RIS).

 

The Austin-American Statesman reports that LaRouche Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate Kesha Rogers of Texas is calling for the impeachment of Democratic President Barack Obama. She summarises the chargeson her website. One charge is:

Violation of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

President Barack Obama has violated this provision of the Constitution flagrantly, with the avowed assassination of at least four American citizens, Anwar Al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son, Samir Khan, and Jude Mohammed, without benefit of due process of law. Indeed, the death warrants against these individuals were effectively signed in secret, in a committee which is overseen directly by the President.

  • The killing of non-combatant civilians, including children, through use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” by this administration is categorized as a “crime against humanity” by Principle VI(c) of the Nuremberg Code.
  • The killing of medical first responders after a drone strike, is categorized as a “war crime” by Principle VI(b) of the Nuremberg Code. Such practices have been condemned as war crimes and/or crimes against humanity by former President Jimmy Carter, Christof Heyns, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Amnesty International.
  • The legal justification of drone warfare, under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force is not clear.

She concludes that any member of Congress who does not fulfill his or her responsibilities under the Constitution to remove such a President, is guilty by allowing such atrocities, and likely new ones, to occur.

“When I was young I had not courage, but now I have courage.”  Asra, a 12 year-old Afghan girl who lived in a refugee camp in Pakistan until she was 9

Afghanistan has been called ‘the worst place in the world to be a woman,’1 because not only is the poverty pervasive and the lifespan short, but while they are alive many women live like serfs. Afghan students at the private school for girls where I work in Kabul recently produced a series of essays in which they describe the social norms for women in their country. One wrote, ‘A girl in my culture marries at eleven or twelve years of age.  Some parents make their daughters marry when they are very young so they can get money for their daughter and the family can be rich. When a girl is married, she accepts her husband’s orders; she must never tell people if she is being treated badly.’ Another of the girls was more blunt: ‘When sisters sit together, they always praise their brothers; when brothers sit together, they sell their sisters to others.’2

Human Rights Watch said in a recent report that the situation for women in Afghanistan is ‘dismal in every area,’ with violence against them ‘endemic’ and a government that fails to protect them from crimes such as rape and murder.3 The report cites cases where rapists have been pardoned by the government, girls and women have been imprisoned for running away from home, rape victims have been charged with adultery and where women in public life have been murdered. Afghan women’s rights activist Malalai Joya writes that, ‘The U. S. presence in Afghanistan is doing nothing to protect Afghan women. The level of self-immolation among women was never as high as it is now. There is no justice for women.’4 She contends that the overall situation for women has in some ways gotten worse during the 13 year U.S. occupation because the U.S. financed the Islamic fundamentalist mujahideen during the war with the Russians and allowed them to control the Afghan government after the fall of the Taliban.  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the executive director of UN Women, says attacks against women and girls have increased at a frightening pace. In 2012, female casualties increased by 20 percent over the previous year, and then by 61 percent in 2013.5

As disturbing as this news is, the oppression of and violence towards women in Afghanistan is in no way unique. While researching their book Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn discovered what they called a ‘pandemic’ of abuse of females by men around the world. To begin with, in China, India and elsewhere female fetuses are regularly aborted in favor of male babies; demographers say that more than 100 million females are ‘missing’ from the world due to what they call ‘gendercide.’ Once born, the British medical journal The Lancelet estimates that among the very poor of the world 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and the total number of prostituted children could be as high as 10 million.  130 million women alive today have endured genital mutilation, the cutting out of portions of their reproductive system, in order to destroy any sexuality.6

The United States is certainly not immune to gender abuse; one study found that over 22 million women in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, and somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds. An estimated 17,500 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or forced labor.7

The most relevant question that can be asked is, ‘Why is this happening?’  From a historical perspective this perverse dynamic beween the sexes has distant roots.  In Ancient Greece, Athenian women were given no education and were married at puberty to grown men. They remained forever the property of their fathers, who could divorce them and make them marry another. They lived in segregation and could not leave the house without a chaperone. They could not buy or sell land. If one were raped her husband had either to divorce her or lose his citizenship.8

The Bible and the Koran both reflect the mores at the time of their writing, and perpetuate male dominance into the present through their social paradigms.  In the Old Testament, Genesis 3:16 instructs women that, ‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,’ and Ephesians 5:22 commands, ‘Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.’  Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: ‘The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.’9

Similar passages are found in the Koran, such as 4:34: ‘Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other. Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.’10

The Catholic Pope Innocent issued a Papal Bull in 1484 on the problem of demons in which he initiated the systematic accusation, torture and execution of countless ‘witches’ all over Europe, all of the females.  Innocent commissioned a document called Hammer of Witches which basically said that if you were accused of witchcraft, you were a witch.  Torture was an unfailing means to demonstrate the validity of the accusation. The most fantastic testimony was readily accepted—that tens of thousands of witches had gathered for a Sabbath in public squares in France, or that 12,000 of them darkened the skies as they flew to Newfoundland. The Bible had counseled, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’; so legions of women were burned to death.11

There were strong erotic and misogynistic elements, as might be expected in a sexually repressed, male-dominated society with inquisitors drawn from the class of nominally celibate priests.  The trials paid close attention to the quality and quantity of orgasm in the supposed copulations of defendants with demons or the Devil. No one knows how many women were killed altogether—perhaps hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. 12

A best-selling book titled Advice to a Daughter published in London in the early 1700s, and widely read in the American colonies, gives the flavor of a woman’s station in that time. ‘There is Inequality in Sexes, and that for the better Economy of the World; the Men, who were to be the Law-givers, had the larger share of Reason bestow’d upon them; by which means your Sex is the better prepar’d for the Compliance that is necessary for the performance of those Dudes which seem’d to be most properly assign’d to it.’13

On one level we can attribute the abuse of women to a long tradition of males viewing females as weaker and inferior members of the human family.  There are deeper psychological currents as well.  Since the advent of large urban and agricultural civilizations, humans have demonstrated an extreme antipathy for the natural cycles of life on earth.  Not only do rivers flood and rains fail, threatening society, but death itself menaces each individual.  The rich and powerful could attempt to escape death by building religious monuments that rose away from the earth to reach the sky—ziggarats and pyramids—but their efficacy against the inevitability of death was minimal. 

Women on the other hand are wedded to the earth’s cycles, and are therefore problematic because they are evidently more earth-bound by nature. Not only can they create new life inside their bodies, which no male is capable of, but they also exude body fluids back to the earth monthly (menstruate) and they produce milk to nurture life.  Male discomfort with this arrangement is illustrated in the Bible, where it is written, ‘If a woman has born a man child, then she shall be unclean seven days. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks.’ (Leviticus 12:5). The Koran offers supporting arguments: ‘Keep aloof from women during their menstrual periods and do not approach them until they are clean again.’ (2:222)  The message is that when women menstruate they are earthy, dirty, untouchable. Many of those burned at the stake in the Middle Ages as witches were midwives and herbalists—women who were knowledgable about nature. And some of them had orgasms; a sure sign of devil-worship.

In our time males are still engaged in a war against the Earth and against the painful reality of death. While we do not think of it as such, modern warfare has in fact become a war against the Earth itself. Ecologist Wendell Barry writes, ‘We’re living, it seems, in the culmination of a long warfare—warfare against human beings, other creatures and the Earth itself.’  In steadfast pursuit of this war, the United States has dropped 20 million tons of high explosives on the Earth in the last 70 years along with a million tons of napalm and 22 million gallons of toxic herbicides in an effort to eradicate imaginary evil (usually in the form of impoverished rice farmers in Asia) and thus gain a sense of heroic purpose. And, killing others offers a brief feeling of immortality. The profound sham and transience of the experience of war and killing others is a major reason that currently 22 war veterans commit suicide every day; they can no longer live the lie that they were enticed into.14

A 2002 report titled ‘War on the Earth’ details how nearly thirty years after the end of the U.S. war in Southeast Asia, many of the affected ecosystems have still not recovered, according to the Environmental Conference on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Ten percent of southern Vietnam’s forests (including one third of the coastal mangroves, which play a vital role in the coastal ecosystem and fish habitats) were destroyed by the 20 million gallons of herbicide the U.S. military dropped during the Vietnam War era. Arsenic and dioxin in the herbicides are expected to pose a health threat long into the future. Since 1975, 50,000 civilians have been killed by the landmines and other weapons the U.S. military left behind. The U.S.’s vast bombing campaign also left millions of large bomb craters. This war in Southeast Asia is is just one of innumerable examples of the American the assault on the Earth.15

In addition, the United States maintains by far the most potent arsenal of nuclear weapons on the planet, which if used would destroy most of the biosphere and signal a final victory for man over his apparent arch enemy, the Earth which gives him life.

In the insightful book The Denial of Death author Ernest Becker observes that the terror of death is so overwhelming we do everything in our power to remain unconscious of it.  We are defended by a fortress of self-identity that feels immortal, even though it is not, and a social hero system that allows us to believe that we transcend death by participating in something larger than ourselves. The root of human evil according to Becker is our need to deny our mortality by gaining a sense of permanent selfhood.

Another facet of this assault on women and the biosphere is the human proclivity to seek an external authority to tell us who we are and how to act. Not only are we faced with the humiliation and horror of death, but we are confused as to our purpose while alive.  ‘We are,’ wrote cosmologist Carl Sagan, ‘like a newborn baby left on a doorstep, with no note explaining who it is, where it came from.’  So we turn en masse to individuals who purport to have answers.  ‘Why in the world,’ asked French philosopher Etienne De La Boetie, ‘do people consent to their own enslavement?  The mystery of civil obedience: why do people, in all times and places, obey the commands of government, which  always constitutes a small minority of the society? If we led our lives according to the ways intended by nature and the lessons taught by her, we should be intuitively obedient to our parents; later we should adopt reason as our guide and become slaves to nobody.’ De la Boetie penned these lines in the year 1552 in his treatise, The Politics of Obedience.

There is an alternative to the mass destruction of ecosystems and of half the human race, and that is for every adult human being to reject external authority and take responsibility for their own lives.  After all, as John Lennon pointed out, ‘Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. We’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends.’ People in the United Sates seem to fear their government as if it were some kind of god, even though the American government is ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,’ according to Martin Luther King, and it is clearly the greatest source of human suffering and death and of ecosystem destruction on the planet.  If you as a unique, sovereign living being of the Earth do not want to see the biosphere destroyed by nuclear weapons, why have you spent your life paying for them? The answer can only be fear; your fear of your so-called government has to date overwhelmed your desire to live a sane and ethical life.

Ernest Becker writes in The Denial of Death, ‘There are signs that some individuals are awakening from the long, dark night of tribalism and nationalism and developing a moral conscience, an ethic that is universal rather than ethnic. Our task for the future is exploring what it means for each individual to be a member of earth’s household, a commonwealth of kindred beings. Whether we will use our freedom to encapsulate ourselves in narrow, tribal paranoid personalities and create more bloody Utopias or to form compassionate communities is still to be decided.’

It is a simple task to see in retrospect the journey that humanity has been on, with personal identity and consciousness transitioning from the family to the clan, and through tribe, village, and city-state to the nation-state. It is up to every individual who cares about the Earth and the creatures upon it to continue the journey and become a life-enhancing member of the Earth household.

Dana Visalli is an ecologist and organic farmer living in Washington state, email is [email protected]

An illustrated version of this essay is available at http://www.methownaturalist.com/21-Afghanistan%202014.pdf

 Notes

1. Reuters Foundation: Afghanistan worst place in world to be a woman: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/15/worst-place-women-afghanistan-india

UNICEF: Afghanistan worst place in the world to be pregnant: www.unicef.org/newsline/02pr59afghanmm.htm

Save the Children: Afghanistan the worst place in the world to be a mother or child: http://www.ips.org/mdg3/afghanistan-the-worst-place-to-be-a-mother-or-a-child/

2. Testimonials available at http://tinyurl.com/nr62scq

3. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091206/wl_nm/us_afghanistan_women

4. http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/141165/why_is_a_leading_feminist_organization _lending_its_name_to_support_escalation_in_afghanistan/?page=entire

5. http://www.dw.de/un-violence-against-women-in-afghanistan-pandemic/a-17171157

6. From Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide  by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn

7. http://www.feminist.com/antiviolence/facts.html

8. http://www.historyofwomen.org/oppression.html

9. Ibid

10. Koran quote: http://freethoughtnation.com/what-does-the-koran-say-about-women/

11. Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan, 1995

12. Ibid

13. http://www.historyofwomen.org/oppression.html

14.  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/01/16811249-22-veterans-commit-suicide-each-day-va-report?lite

15. War on the Earth by Bob Feldman http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2003/0303maps.pdf

by  Mimi Al Laham

The downing of a Syrian jet by Turkey was not an isolated incident but part of a major offensive by Al Qaeda affiliated groups Jabhat Al Nusra (designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department) and Ahrar Al Sham against a northwestern Syrian-Turkish border crossing.  Turkey has been supporting Al Qaeda’s attack on the Kassab border crossing, the only crossing that was still held by the Syrian military. While the AFP did report that the group involved in the attack was the AlQaeda faction Jabhat Al Nusra , this fact has not made it to any mainstream media headline.
turkey backing alqaeda Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive
Image: Excerpt from AFP reporting Al Qaeda forces involved in the Kassab cross-border assault.
Jabhat Al Nusra, are also actively being given safe haven by Turkey. The  map below shows the Al Qaeda Camp within the Turkish border from which the attack on the Kassab border crossing came. AlQaeda militants also brazenly videotaped themselves walking right through the Turkish Kassab border gate into Syria without any harassment from Turkish guards.
kassab border crossing1 Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive

Another Al Qaeda offshoot fighting along side Jabhat Al Nusra in the offensive is ‘Ahrar Al Sham’. While the rebel group is not yet designated Al Qaeda by the US State Department, the group was founded by Abu Khaled as-Suri, Al Zawahiri’s ambassador to Syria.  Ahrar Al Sham was described as ‘Al Qaeda worth befriending’ by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Washington’s premier think tank.  Charles Lister, a fellow at of the Brookings Institution, tweets video of Ahrar Al Sha’am taking part in the attack on Latakia.

1920339 10152030215563519 1104190417 n Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Jet to Support AlQaeda Offensive
Image: Al Qaeda rockets fall on Latakia province, killing 7 and injuring 30.
It was reported that Turkey had begun shelling inside Syrian soil to back the offensive on the border point. Turkish artillery and tanks targeted Syrian positions, and Turkish special forces have been observed in the region. A Lebanon based satelite channel Al Mayadeen TV reported that the Syrian Army launched a counterattack on the border point Nabie Al Murr with Turkey , along with dense artillery cover. In response to the Syrian defensive measures against the AlQaeda attack, Turkey downed a Syrian jet that was firing on the Al Qaeda militants from Syrian airspace. Turkey’s claims that the Syrian jet violated Turkish airspace is contradicted by the fact the plane crashed over Syrian territory as shown in a video posted by Al Qaeda in the area. The pilot managed to safely eject and was picked up in Syria, and was even interviewedby Syrian state TV.The Al Qaeda attack and takeover of the Kassab border crossing has caused up to 2000 to 6000 Armenian Syrians to flee the area. Mass looting and destruction of religious sites was reported by residents (similar to criminal acts carried out in the recently liberated city of Yabroud). Armenians are once again refugees due to the Turkish government like their ancestors who fled the Armenian Holocaust decades ago. 

There has been no mention on the BBC of NATO’s open support for Al Qaeda groups. The attack comes in the backdrop of mass rallies against Turkish President Erdogan, who recently banned Twitter.

The battles in Latakia are ongoing, with the Syrian military inflicting heavy losses on Al Qaeda militants.

Syrian activist and blogger Mimi Al Laham can be followed at www.youtube.com/Syriangirlpartisan, www.facebook.com/partisangirl,www.twitter.com/partisangirl

Spain takes first step to right historical wrong, but Jews are not the only ones who suffered.

The Spanish government’s offer of the “right of return” to the descendants of Jews expelled in 1492 is a “bit late, but nevertheless worthy of praise” says Rabbi Pinchas Godlschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis.   The Rabbi was responding to Spain’s new law – approved by the cabinet on Feb. 7th — granting citizenship to all those who can prove their Sephardic origin.    The law amends a previous version announced in 2012, which granted citizenship only to qualified Sephardic Jews and did not allow them to retain other citizenships. The old law also did not extend to the descendants of those coerced to convert to Catholicism, known as Marranos (swine in Spanish).

The current version of the law – still to be ratified by the Parliament — is seen as a way to “correct a historical wrong” for the expulsion of Jews from Spain.   What of the unknown number of Muslims and their descendants expelled?

The Edict of Expulsion (also known as the Alhambra Decree) issued on March 31, 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon) ordered Jews to convert or to leave the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon.   This was just after the fall of Muslim Grenada in January 1492.  A decade or so after the fall and the Alhambra Decree, Muslims were also forced to convert or leave.  In fact, between 1609 (Valencia) and 1614 (Castile), even those Muslims who had converted to Christianity and their descendants (the Moriscos) were forcibly thrown out.  Between 275,000 and 350,000 people left and mostly settled in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said the law has a deep historic meaning but that it also “reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society.”   An openness that apparently does not extend to Muslims.  In 2006 a left-wing party in the Andalusian parliament sought to introduce a bill granting Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Moriscos.  The bill failed.  The double standard is not lost on many Muslims and descendants of Moriscos particularly those in Spain and North Africa.

Representatives of the Moriscos in Morocco and Algeria have already written to Spanish Authorities. Najib Loubaris, the president of L’Association pour la Mémoire des Andalous, a group representing Moroccan Moriscos strongly chastised the Spanish government.  The government “should grant the same rights to all those who were expelled”, Loubaris is quoted in the Guardian. “Otherwise the decision is selective, not to mention racist.” The call is echoed by Spain’s leading Islamic group the Junta Islámica.

While many of the descendants of the Jews may return, consulates in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have reportedly already been flooded with requests; the situation with Muslims may be different.     It is not known exactly how many Muslims stayed underground and how many left.  Moreover, it will be difficult for most Muslim descendants to trace their ancestry because they melted away in Spain or wherever they ended up unlike the Jews who kept to themselves out of fear of further persecution.  Moreover, according to University of Cordoba law Professor, Antonio Manuel Rodríguez Ramos, it is unlikely that the government will encourage the investigation into Muslim descendants.  He argues though hundreds of thousands left, the majority did not leave but rather stayed back and “created a culture that can be described as most authentic and most Hispanic.”   He suggests digging too deep into Muslim descendants would simply highlight a truth that most Spaniards would like to ignore. “The danger is that we will have to recognize that the majority of the Spanish population is of Muslim descent,” says the Professor. “It’s an effort to hide our history, to hide our memory.”

With respect to the Jews expelled and their descendants, Rabbi Goldschmidt argued that in addition to this right of return, they need an official apology and that all Jewish monuments now being used as museums and churches be re-assigned again for Jewish use and control to “amend the historical mistakes.”

Whatever the truth of the matter with respect to Muslims, echoing the Rabbi, Spain must apologize to Muslims and their descendants and restore their monuments.  

Though merely symbolic, such a move would go a long way to close out a dark chapter in Spanish history and give due regard to peoples whose legacies contribute immensely to the cultural heritage and tourist coffers of the nation to this day.  

Faisal Kutty is an assistant professor of law at Valparaiso University Law School and an adjunct professor of law Osgoode Hall Law of York University in Toronto. Follow him at Twitter@FaisalKutty.

The strategy and tactics of the Venezuelan opposition is a replay of events that took place leading up to the coup against Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002 and is similar (although in some ways quite different) from the script that has been used in the Ukraine and elsewhere. The blatant distortions and in some cases lies of the media (CNN in Spanish playing a lead role) represent an essential element in the strategy.

There are two main groups that the opposition has mobilized and from all appearances the two act in coordination even though their style, and even social background, differs from one another. One group is non-violent and the other engages in acts of aggression in some cases endangering lives.

On the one hand, students and other young people carry out protests which the media and the opposition deceptively call “peaceful.” These mobilizations involve to a disproportionate extent students from private universities and operate almost exclusively in wealthy areas whose mayors (and in some cases governors) belong to the opposition. The protests are not legal, even though many of the protesters are convinced (or have been convinced by their leaders) that they are exercising the constitutional right of dissent. However, nearly all of these protests take over main avenues and highways in urban areas, typically forcing traffic to a halt and then having to pass through just one lane. It often takes hours for cars to pass through these points. In most cases the protesters consist of between 15 and 80 people, and in a few cases over one hundred.

The second group sets up barricades using garbage bags, trees, boulders and barbed wire. In addition, they have dispersed oil on roads in some cases causing fatal accidents. For an excellent description of these actions in the city of Merida near the Colombian border where the violence has been most intense, see the article by Miguel Tinker Salas, who resided there over the last month: “What is happening in Venezuela?

Peaceful and Violent Protests

All efforts by security forces to get both situations under control have been portrayed in the private media as fierce acts of repression carried out by police, National Guardsmen and motorcyclists and other Chavistas organized as “collectives.” While the media generally recognizes that some of the protesters have engaged in violence, attention is focused on the so-called “peaceful protesters” with little acknowledgment of the chaos that they cause. Furthermore, these reports fail to point out that a large number of the victims including the fatal ones are Chávez supporters including security forces. In most violent urban protests throughout the world, the ratio of protesters to security forces who are wounded and killed ranges from 25 to one or 500 to one. Here the ratio may be in the single-digit range (a similar situation occurred in the Ukraine). Claims in the social media that the violent actions are provoked by “infiltrators” (the implication being that the infiltrators are Chavistas) are sometimes reflected in the media.

The script’s end game consists of a large “peaceful” protest that heads to the center of Caracas with a “vanguard” that creates violence and provokes shootings, resulting in deaths on all sides (protesters, Chavista civilians and security forces), thus forcing the government to resign or setting off a military coup. This scenario was exactly what occurred on April 11, 2002. On that occasion, the media and the opposition deceptively claimed that the government’s contingency plan known as “Plan Avila” consisted of widespread brutal repression. The opposition and media also falsely claimed that armed Chavista groups known as the Bolivarian Circles were poised to violently attack peaceful opposition concentrations and that these groups even had tanks at their disposal. The 20-some odd deaths on that day (consisting of both Chavistas and opposition) was the excuse to carry out a military coup, which the government of George W. Bush (which as documents demonstrate knew perfectly well who was behind the killings) used to justify its support for the de facto government headed by Pedro Carmona.

The Chavista government has learnt from the experience of April 11. President Nicolás Maduro and the mayor of Caracas’ “Libertador” municipality where the popular sectors are concentrated have adamantly refused to allow the demonstrators to go from the wealthy eastern part of Caracas to the downtown area. Time and time again the protestors organize marches designed to reach the city’s center even though they have not been given permits. CNN and the media in general harp on the government’s failure to issue a marching permit as an example of the restriction on democratic liberty, without mentioning that the government has good reason to prevent marches from reaching the downtown area.

The phony issue of government repression raised by the opposition and the private media is an essential part of the script. Without the issue there is really no justification for the opposition’s sole demand for regime change embodied in the slogan “salida” (exit). Certainly there are pressing problems in Venezuela including shortages of basic (and some non-basic) commodities, inflation and delinquency. But these problems do not justify the overthrow of the government. If these were the issues, people in general would say “wait until the next elections and vote the Chavistas out of office.” Obviously, the opposition’s strategy is either create conditions that may set off a coup (which is highly unlikely given the military’s well demonstrated loyalty) or (much more likely) bring about a wearing out process in which in the next electoral cycle the average voter supports opposition candidates who distance themselves from the violence allegedly coming from both sides. •

Professor Steve Ellner has taught at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, since 1977. He is the author of many books on Venezuelan politics, including his latest Latin America’s Radical Left. This article first appeared on the Venezuelanalysis.com website.

In November 2013, the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bolstered by United Nations forces, claimed to have defeated M-23, the most powerful supposedly rebel militia in the Eastern Congo. This was the first time that the army (known by the French acronym FARDC) was thought to have scored a major victory over a significant “rebel” group.

But in fact M-23 is not a rebel organization. It is composed of Rwandan government soldiers, and its military activities have been funded by Rwanda and Uganda, the DRC’s neighbours. M-23 members were warned in advance of the FARDC/UN offensive, and managed to escape to Rwanda and Uganda, where they are now regrouping.  

About 40 other such militias remain in the Eastern Congo, making the achievement of peace there unlikely any time soon.  

The United States instigated the invasion of the DRC by its proxies Rwanda and Uganda in 1996 and 1998, and the subsequent slaughter of 6.9 million Congolese has devastated the country.  Washington’s goal was to plunder the enormous mineral riches of the Congo through the proxy use of Rwanda’s and Uganda’s troops.  These two states formally withdrew their forces from the Congo in 2003, but continued looting its minerals through their puppet militias, including the M-23 

“The U.S. has financed and given overall direction to the worst genocide since World War II,” says Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report, the leading website on U.S. policy towards Africa. “Since 1996, Washington has drenched Congo’s eastern provinces in the blood of over six million people. The governments of Rwanda and Uganda, the direct perpetrators of this holocaust, are in every sense of the word agents of U.S. foreign policy, who operate with impunity under the imperial umbrella.

“For 18 years, Uganda and Rwanda have done the bidding of their pay-masters and arms suppliers, the American and British governments. If the Nuremburg rules of international justice were in force today, the highest officials in Washington and London would face death by hanging for their monstrous crimes – and only later would Presidents Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni of Uganda take their walk with the executioner.” 

 

The Congo War is considered the deadliest and one of the most prolonged conflicts since the Second World War, and the massive looting of its mineral resources that has accompanied the warfare has converted the DRC into the second poorest country in the world (after Niger). This is appalling, given that the Congo is probably the richest country in the world in terms of mineral resources. 

 

Congo’s simultaneous wealth and poverty, according to Jeffrey Gettleman writing in National Geographic, “doesn’t make any sense, until you understand that militia-controlled mines in Eastern Congo have been feeding raw materials into the world’s biggest electronics and jewellery companies… Turns out your laptop — or camera or gaming system or gold necklace — may have a smidgen of Congo’s pain somewhere in it.”

 

 The Rwandan/Ugandan invasion has opened up the DRC’s wealth to unlimited plunder by Western mining companies, including Canada’s Banro Corporation. Canadian mining investment in the Congo is estimated to be as much as $3 billion. A 2002 UN report accused eight Canadian mining companies, including Banro, of “pillaging the Congo.” As reported in Le Monde Diplomatique, Banro and Barrick Gold (the biggest Canadian mining company) have been accused of “funding military operations in exchange for lucrative contracts” in the Congo.

 According to Maurice Carney, co-director of the NGO “Friends of the Congo” which is based in Washington D.C., “Banro has a sweetheart deal under which it got 100% ownership of gold concessions in the east of the country, complete with a 10-year tax holiday. Banro’s concession is estimated to be worth over $10 billion.”  

“Multinational corporations operating in Eastern Congo,” says Congo expert Keith Harmon Snow, “are soaked in Congolese blood. They include Banro Gold, Casa Mining, Randgold, Mwana Africa, Loncor, Anglo-Gold Ashanti, Kilo Gold, and Moku Gold. These are U.S., Canadian, Australian, and European mining corporations. They all have deep ties to the criminal extortion, money-laundering, racketeering and theft behind the plunder and depopulation in the Great Lakes countries [the region], and ties to Kagame and Museveni and their agents.”

Anvil Mining, which was a Canadian company until 2011, with operations in the Congo, has been sued by Congolese plaintiffs in a Quebec court for contributing to the massacre of 70 civilians in the DRC by the country’s army.

The DRC is located in the heart of Africa and is the continent’s second biggest country, about the size of Western Europe.  The Congo possesses an astounding $24 trillion in mineral reserves, including gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, tungsten, zinc, manganese, magnesium, uranium, niobium, gold, diamonds, and silver.  These minerals are needed to make jet engines, cars, missiles, computers, cell-phones, electronic components, iron and steel, as well as required in fibre optics and in other military and high-tech production. The DRC also has a “potentially vast oil industry” and large stands of timber.  This enormous wealth is equal to the GDPs of the U.S. and Western Europe combined. Eastern Congo contains most of the country’s mineral riches.

In the east, armed militias compete for control of mines and the routes for mineral transportation. According to Giunta Carrie, writing in Pambazuka News, the most prominent website for African political affairs,

“Minerals are channeled through the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda by violent rebel groups and then bought by multinational companies. The Washington Post reports Congolese minerals are smuggled into Rwanda to the tune of $6 million a day.”

In addition to the millions of Congolese killed, the Western looting of the country’s resources has resulted in 400,000 women being raped, 2.6 million people being displaced, and 7,000 children being forced to become soldiers. Rape has been used on a horrifying scale as a weapon of war. According to Carol Mann, president of the NGO FEMAID,

“The DRC’s mineral economy is fuelling the violence against the country’s women.  Blood-gold, blood copper, blood-coltan (the all-precious material that goes into your mobile phones and computers) are at the heart of the violence.”

Giunta Carrie explains that

“the largely femicidal war in Congo is tied to the huge appetite of the West for strategic minerals essential to the electronics and military industries . . . [as] criminal regimes in Uganda and Rwanda sponsor proxy militias whose violence facilitates the smuggling of these minerals through the two African nations.”

As Carol Mann puts it, behind the militias’

“activities [are] global market interests. Companies do not have private armies and depend on local militias to access mines and even organize their exploitation. In this context, mass rape has been used increasingly as a form of terror in mining zones, employed in ways to facilitate armed militias gaining access to and maintaining control over priceless resources. Indeed, prevalence of rape seems to be correlated to the presence of mines.” 

“Rape is the most economical form of violence against a community,” says Venantie Bisimwa, a women’s rights activist from Bukavu city in Eastern Congo. “Families are instantaneously destroyed.”

  Adds Congolese activist Bodia Bavuidi, a specialist in women and gender studies:

“The rapes are aimed at the systematic destruction of the Congolese people. They terrorize a whole nation and entire generations. The women are raped in front of their fathers, they make the father rape his daughter, even three-month old babies have been raped. Five-year-old boys are made to watch all this, and this generation of boys, when they grow up, what will they become after they see this happening to their family members? What will we become as a people? And all this incredible suffering is inflicted on Congolese women and children so that Westerners can live comfortably and give video games as Christmas gifts to their children.”

 Giunta Carrie asks:

“Considering that violence and brutality in the DRC is proportionate to the demand for the eastern regions of the country’s rich mineral deposits, the question is: what is creating a heightened demand for conflict minerals?” Her answer: “The rush for [the mineral] coltan engenders the violence in the DRC. Spearheading that demand is tantalum, a key ingredient in new military technologies. The U.S. obsession with remote-controlled warfare, especially drones, is sharpening the appetite for tantalum.”

The Eastern Congo is the largest source of the world’s coltan, containing 80% of it. Coltan is a mineral crucial for the manufacture of cell-phones, computers, smart phones, and the latest military weaponry such as drones. Coltan is an amalgam of the two metals columbine and tantalum. According to Carrie, competition for such minerals “has a direct effect on the relentless violence in the region… As stockpiles run low, it is most likely a tantalum shortage could intensify violence again… Today the price of tantalum is up again, and the rise in price corresponds to the violent situation on the ground.     

 “Tantalum derived from coltan is essential in powering a new trend of military applications made by the U.S. Yet the U.S. has no domestic source of coltan… and its tantalum stocks have been depleted in recent years. In order to sustain a continued flow of coltan, the U.S. depends entirely on imports. Tantalum capacitors are important for aerospace and military technologies, which rely on them for running applications that reach very high temperatures. 

“This extends to smart bombs, on-board navigation in drones and robots, and a variety of weapons systems, such as the capacitors in anti-tank systems. If it were not for tantalum’s amazing heat-resistant properties, these systems would otherwise overheat. Tantalum capacitors can tolerate operating environments of up to 200°C.”   

Carrie points out that advocates of conflict-free minerals usually focus on consumer electronics such as smart-phones and laptops, and “make the mistake of overlooking the links between minerals and the weapons manufacturing industry. It is doubtful that defence companies will be seeking out conflict-free mineral sources any time soon. A conflict-free weapon is an oxymoron. 

“At the current rate, the weapons industry could exceed smart-phone and tablet makers in coltan consumption, if it has not already. The extended use of drones in the past decade means the U.S. needs tantalum because the basic circuitry in drones is built with tantalum from refined coltan. This connection to weapons manufacturing gives new meaning to the term ‘blood coltan’.”

Along with his army, Joseph Kabila, the current President of the DRC, is also involved in looting the country’s resources.  He “won” fraudulent elections in 2011 and is very corrupt. Says Maurice Carney,

“Kabila has definitely sold out to U.S. imperialism. He serves as a toll-gate for Western corporate interests. He sells off Congo’s riches for pennies on the dollar, especially to his Israeli billionaire friend Dan Gertler, who has made over $2 billion from deals in the Congo.  In the latest transaction, Gertler obtained a Congo oil block for $500,000 and sold it back to the Congolese government for $150 million without having done anything to develop the concession. According to British MP Eric Joyce, the Congo has lost over $5.5 billion in opaque deals and corruption.”

 Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent. He is author of the radio documentary “The Ravaging of Africa” which Black Agenda Report called “ground-breaking”.  The documentary is based on his award-winning article of the same title and has been aired on 28 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada reaching an audience of 30 million people. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.  

“Greenpeace used to be on the front lines of those demanding a clean, green environment and truly open, transparent and democratic governments. Yet you seem NOT to be taking up the main issues of the day: chemtrails, X-based radar, over the horizon radar, HAARP, WOODPECKER and all such ionospheric heaters; lying promotion of nuclear power as a ‘cure’ for climate change, while omitting all the co2 emitted in mining, milling, transportation and unending waste management!

Meanwhile the warriors in our midst are practicing and actually carrying on “weather wars”, military exercises above our heads polluting our earth and food web, and trying to get civil society to bless geoengineering!

 Have you become passive? Can you hear the cries of those who want to truly save the planet and not try to use its suffering to cover for their own hidden agenda? Based on what I have been told about Greenpeace in Germany, I am hoping for you to wake up and help! (Rosalie Bertell, Message to Greenpeace, October 2011)

Original of the last major interview with the late Dr. Rosalie Bertell, recorded in 2010 at the “30 Years of Right Livelihood Award”, Bonn, Germany

Bertell: Ok, so when they had these nuclear bombs they were afraid of retaliation and they wanted to know everything it could do. And what they did is they tried it in every possible place. They tried it under the water, on level of the ground, they tried airbursts at different heights and this was, this brought you into the early fifty’s when sputnik went up and then the US tried to send their first rockets up – that’s when they discovered the Van Allen Belts. So we never set off a bomb up there and they set it off up in the Van Allen Belts. I think it was part of that program to try it everywhere and see what it did. And so they … it’s incredible to think anybody would do this.

Interviewer: Do you see these weather manipulation experiments only so far in an almost theoretical or coincidental way so that for example last winter was very cold and very snowy – maybe related to this cloud – or is this already a longer strategic thing? I have heard about experiments of heavy rains and floods in England, and there are some other ideas and hints that other big hurricanes or weather changes are related to that. Can you give any other examples of that?

Bertell:  Yes, we’ve got sixty years of experimentation and what we are seeing are individual acts of using the ability to manipulate weather for a particular purpose. So not everybody’s hurricane is manipulated, but some are. And it`s very difficult to tell the difference. So not every earthquake is manipulated, but some are. The one that is most famous for being manipulated is the Chinese (hurricane – flaw) earthquake where thousands of people died. I don’t think I can put the date on it, but it was in the 1980ths. It was a horrible event but there was a “plasma” over it before.

 Another one that was likely deliberately caused was the San Francisco earthquake, because there were events measured ahead a time that something was going to happen and it was coming from the – what we called, what the US called the Woodpecker. This is an instrument they have, we call the Russian one the Woodpecker, the US one is called HAARP. HAARP -High Active Auroral Research Project.

  These are Projects of multi synchronized towers – projection towers. And when you got enough of them in one place acting at the same time, you can do pulsed energy directed at the earth, and you can cause vibration of the earth and you can cause earthquakes. So the Woodpecker is called that because you detect the sound and it’s periodic – it’s pulsed. And it sounds like a woodpecker but HAARP does the same thing.

  There is one in Tromsoe / Norway , there is three of them now in Russia, the US has three I think, one in Colorado and there are two in Alaska, there is one in Puerto Rico. I suspect there is one in the Antarctic, because then they coordinate between these instruments and they can do things like directed Jet-current. So you know that night in your news report, you see where the Jet-Stream is. And people above are cold and the people below are warm, or something like that. But anyway, by moving the Jet-Stream, you can change people’s weather.

 There are also five big rivers in the (atmosphere of the) northern hemisphere and five in the southern hemisphere – that are vapor- rivers and they bring the waters from the tropics up to the middle latitudes. And like there is one right over the Atlantic Ocean, just off the east coast of the US. They did an experiment where they moved it on to the continent and we had the terrible Mississippi flood. The whole center of the country was flooded. So these are things they can do. They can cause a drought by moving the river away and they can cause a flood by moving the river towards the place.

 Interviewer: Still – for I mean – it’s always possible to hear about this theories that HAARP could provoke earthquakes, or what I have heard was that HAARP could create with focused electromagnetic fields also a change in human consciousness – but this maybe we talk about this later – but this seems in a way also – well how to say it- in Germany we say “conspiracy theory” which is a theory of a power which does things which are terrible and which are to control earth. And it’s a little bit like a fairy tale atmosphere because you never know really what it is about. How clear are proofs that for example there are military experiments with provoking earthquakes…?

  Bertell:  Well, ah to provoke an earthquake you really have to use the molten core inside the earth, and you have to send pulsed electromagnetic waves there and cause it to turbulence. Turbulence can be measured. So we have very real reports of turbulence of the magnetic core of the earth followed by earthquakes, so you know that’s not a myth.. I think if we actually go and see these instruments.

  I went up to Gakona, Alaska – and I saw the HAARP facility. At the time I went, which was around maybe a little before 2000, they had 48 transmission towers in a 6 by 8 grid perfectly formed, perfectly synchronized. They now have a 150 towers in the same place and they are planning on as many as 700. Now you start sending energy, that is totally synchronized from even the 48 you(r) causing effect (in) the ionosphere is measurable that it was lifted up when this energy hit it. So it’s lifted up above the earth, you can actually measure that. They can actually produce lenses in the ionosphere and they can use it for a directed energy shoot. I think the purpose of that is wherever the military locates they can provide it with all the energy it needs without having to carry big deposits of oil or something – you don’t need all those oil carriers to make all your electricity work.

 The other thing that they can do, they get most of their money outside of the black-box money – the money from congress – goes for deep earth tomography. And deep earth tomography is when they have a synchronized electromagnetic wave, it hits the ionosphere and the back ray is at low (LF) and extra low frequency (ELF) and that goes right through the planet. So what they (have) been doing is mapping the whole inside of the planet earth. They can find the oil and gas deposits, they can find underground bunkers, they can find all kind of things inside the earth with these – this is like a cat-scan of the earth, and that’s what goes right through the people. Now they use the low range of electromagnetic energy and the human body reacts to energy between – like one to teen hertz. That’s the extra low frequency. So yes they go right through the human body and they do affect it – the thing is they don’t do it all the time.

Now HAARP is only allowed to operate four times a year. It’s not – unless some emergency is declared, but normally they are only allowed to operate four times a year. So there are lots of things you can do if you – you know, you look at what’s happening around the world and you look and see if HAARP is operating. I mean there are ways to track these things down. You are never really sure. But because it looks like a normal event, but when it occurs totally out of season or when it’s extremely violent – when, you know you – these are the ones you can be suspicious about.

 Interviewer: So you say about HAARP that it has almost three functions: that you can pulse frequencies into the earth making the core of earth getting into turbulence, it could be transmitting energy from one point to the other, and it can be used to change magnetic fields in certain areas of the earth. What would be the reason for doing that for example, changing magnetic fields in different parts of the earth – and what happens if the magnetic field is artificially changed?

Bertell: It’s what the military called the positing energy, which is like bombs, it’s like bombs. But it – they can set fire, too, in a whole area. You cause a drought in an area, and then you send in a lot of ultraviolet waves, you can cause a fire. And you know, there are so many things you can do. They also use the HAARP to communicate with submarines when they submerged in water. So it’s got a few functions – there is other things the military has done that people know nothing about.

For one thing they decided to eliminate the static that you get sometimes when you try bounce your radio of the ionosphere. And so they put over a trillion copper needles up there and they thought that would get rid of the static. And it didn’t – it was a mess. And they left them all up there and of course they come down. These things eventually come down to the earth. Copper needles, yes they just dumped them up in the ionosphere – you know they tried these things and we have no idea what this does to the – to the dynamics of the protective layers of the earth.

 They have sent – they decided to use barium as a tracer – barium and lithium and they send rockets up to – you know to dump barium into the upper atmosphere to see what happens to it – where it went. What kind of – you know what kind of dynamics are taking place at each level up above the earth, and so they have done all kinds of alterations of the basic earth system. This is what in many ways has impacted on our weather and climate and that we are calling climate change and we are blaming everything on carbondioxid.

Interviewer:  So you would say that military experiments not only provoke weather changes but also are a major part of climate change?

 Bertell:  Very definitely and they are certainly not the only – I mean I don’t think carbondioxid pollution does any good for our earth. So I am not saying don’t do that, but I am saying you could stop all that carbondioxid today and it’s not going to be weather like you remember. Because deep changes and damage has been done to the earth system. And you can’t cover it up by just calling it carbondioxid.

  Interviewer: Would you also then say that most of the epidemics related to environmental changes are related to military experiments? I mean there are epidemics in the last years like AIDS, like several fever, illnesses, tracked in monkeys in ducks, in birds, in sheep, in cows – is this from your perspective as an epidemic researcher also related, or can be related to those experiments?

 Bertell: What we are looking at now in medicine is that those who are talking at the level of quantum chemistry, quantum mechanics – so right know the medical profession considers the atom like the base. And then all of our healing is done with chemistry, different chemicals, pills and waxing. So – in other words – they consider that the atom isn’t gone change. However inside of the atom we have the quarks and inside of the quarks there are actually full turns – so we have a very active electrical system, it’s not a chemical system, but an electrical system inside of the atom. Now if you have change the atomic structure or the atomic dynamics inside of the atom (through radioactivity, electromagnetic waves, or what?) that atom is giving of different message then a normal one, so you have a normal medicine and an abnormal atom and they don’t communicate. And that’s what we call – these are all the infectious diseases that no longer respond to our medicine. So we have done something to change the communication system between the diseased atoms and the normal medicine.

  So we are in a different era, we are in an era where we have to deal with electromagnetic medicine to restore normality to the atoms so that the atoms can be affected by our body’s immune system and by the normal medicines. So it’s complicated…and AIDS, it’s almost different, because the immune system itself is affected and becomes abnormal and therefore doesn’t deal with infections – and so that like the opposite effect. So you are going to have to use more of EM-medicine and medicine in the microwave range, but it has to be done very carefully and you have to know what you are doing – or you can cause more damage, because these things potentially are also harmful.

 Interviewer:  If – I maybe first ask the other question again. Is there also any hints that these HAARP constructions, that they do change human consciousness in changing electromagnetic fields. I mean can you – there where some rumors about Bagdad when it was taken by the US army, that almost nobody there fought back. And it was hard to believe that this battle which was expected did not happen at all because nobody showed up on the streets. And that people from Bagdad said that it was almost well an absurd atmosphere in the town on these days. And there were some rumors that it might have to do with HAARP? What is about these things – did you research such – well – influences on our ability to think and to act and to perceive?

  Bertell: I can only give you a professional opinion on that one. I doubt that it was HAARP, but I do say they had an electronic battle field and they had it coming from many different sources. So many sources that they couldn’t interprete it – so it was an electronic battlefield, and so they did have very many facts that were in interference with the normal electricity in the body, and the normal responses of people. But I think it was local – I don’t think it came from HAARP.

Interviewer: In a way, this what you describe here makes atomic bombs into a terrible but relatively primitive huge toy – military toy – because that what they build up now seems to be almost unseen, unsmellable, unlistenable, so it seems to be a weapon of which we don’t know that it exists, and we don’t know when it is in action.

Bertell: That’s right I think for practical purposes the military has abandoned nuclear bombs. I think they are unusable, and they keep them as a threat and they also keep them to keep a very large part of the population busy trying to write books, and why they shouldn’t have them and how you could manage.. – You know- cero nuclear weapons and all this sort of things. And so it keeps a lot of people busy that are not looking at the other things that they are really doing. But this isn’t unusual because if you look at World War One where they used gas – they never used that again in a war. It went into the pesticides, herbicides and defoliants) of the Vietnam war, and so if you look at the technology of a war it changes by the next war so you really shouldn’t be back here fighting the one that they used the last time, you should be trying to figure out what they are going to use in the next one. And I believe there will be weather wars. And I believe they will be horrible. I wrote a petition out there I hope people will sign, but I think it should be a crime against humanity and against the earth to either cause or enhance any of these things, like a hurricane, a monsoon, a tsunami, an earthquake, a mount slide, a volcano eruption, that should be declared very clearly as a crime against humanity and the earth.

Interviewer: Does this what you told me know, does this relate to this term of geo-engineering? 

 Bertell:  Well it’s very interesting – it’s (Edward) Teller – the father of the hydrogen bomb that’s proposing geo-engineering. They have been doing this for sixty years and they now (are) coming out of their glasses and offering to do these great things to stop the climate change. So it’s a crazy idea. I think they are gaining very boil about the whole thing. Now they are going to be heroes and … don’t let them touch the earth – keep their hands off of it. I know – this is not going to solve anything they have tried has failed. They did try putting some kind of plankton around in the ocean and that didn’t work. They want to paint the clouds white, they want to – they want to ruin everybody’s solar energy by putting all kinds of metals up in the air so that they reflect the sun away from the earth. It is especially awful considering they’ve had a breakthrough in solar energy in South Africa which they are very proud of, that makes it cheaper and much more efficient. So – you know – this is not sensible and anyway when you look at who is telling you when it’s the military telling you to do this to the planet – I mean I think you are crazy if you do – if you pay any attention…

Interviewer:  What’s about the rumors of the big tsunami which went through South East Asia, that these also might have been provoked by this turbulences in the inner earth?

Bertell:  That one was very suspicious. There was an American ship off of Indonesia that was – trying to tap for where were good places for oil or – under the water, they were doing under the water research. Now whether they set off something – I don’t know – I know they were there. They were working there. So there were a couple of other things around that that were suspicious. But I have no idea, you (don’t) know really practically who did it and why they did it or whether it was an accident, whether they were doing something else and that was a side effect. It was very suspicious and very unusual

Interviewer:  What is the strategic consequences of such weapons? I mean you don’t even have to move your armys out of your country if you are going with such weapons. What do you think is the aim, they follow, what is the ethics of warfare if there is any, which they are going for, what is the worldview behind it which is ignoring so much natural balances?

Bertell:  It has to be pure dominance! Be able to get everything you want and you need and the hack with everybody else! I mean there is no other, there is no land, you are not gaining land, its pure dominance. Pure greed. I don’t see any kind of rational.

Interviewer:  So you think that we have to – at the same time trying to find ways to lessen the impact of CO2 we also have to find ways to lessen the impact of military experiments

Bertell:  Well the way I would deal with the military is – cut their money! And we know enough about how every country spends for military and how much is international trade in military – so if you froze it. At the twenty ten level and then next you made 20% of what the country spends on military make them buy UN currency which can be only used for education, social work, you know, health, only civilian things, and then that reduces them by 20%, and then the next year take another 20% , next year take another 20%, you do two things: you reduce the military budget and their research budget and you would also increase a UN currency that couldn’t be used for military and you would get rid of a lot of the currency wars and you would also be – you know – nicely bringing down everybody’s military. Then I think you could take the younger recruits and have some kind of an environmental rescue squats, under the UN or something like that. But they wouldn’t be military. But they would be necessary for an emergency at any place in the world. You could do this. And we know enough, we have enough monitoring to know exactly how much is spent in the military. Everybody’s budget is pretty public. So we could do this – but you have to make up your mind to do it.

Interviewer: Maybe a last question: you are coming – you have been a nun. You are still a nun. so would you say that you are also acting out of a kind of, well, a spiritual attitude or with a religious background and that there is something like – I don’t know – … an unethical impulse in the world which has to be changed by a different perspective of seeing the whole or seeing the holiness?

Bertell : Well I think the earth is a gift! I mean creation is a gift, it’s something beautiful and this planet was designed to live on. I don’t see any plus in destroying it – or distorting it – or hoarding it. And there is more than enough for everybody if we can share. And we can live nicely without having all the stuff we have. But we don’t have to go back to the cave either. We are intelligent creatures, and I think we can go to a new level of consciousness and where we live differently. I hope we will be so shocked by these weapons that we will just decide war is crazy and there is no purpose to it. And I think – I hope we learn to live together – love diversity – enjoy the earth – love the air – love the water – share things and enjoy this planet.

 

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Kiev for six hours Saturday to demonstrate the Canadian elite’s strong support for the fascist-spearheaded coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected president.

At a joint press conference with Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the interim prime minister installed as a result of last month’s coup, Harper repeatedly denounced and threatened Russia.

He hypocritically painted Russia as an aggressor, when it was the US and Germany that engineered the overthrow of Ukraine’s president, and he lauded those now wielding state power in the Ukraine for their “restraint.” In fact, Ukraine’s new government has mounted one provocation after another, including declaring the country to be at war and creating a new National Guard so as to give official sanction to the fascist militia that spearheaded the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Harper vowed that the western imperialist powers will not restore normal relations with Russia until it withdraws from Crimea—a strategic peninsula that was historically part of Russia and whose majority Russian-speaking population recently voted overwhelming to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

“I think it is important,” declared Harper, “that we in the free world not accept the occupation of Crimea … that there be no return to business as usual with the Putin regime until such time as the occupation of Crimea ends.”

Harper also made it clear that he will argue at an emergency meeting of the major western powers to be held in the Hague today for Russia’s expulsion from the G-8. His aides have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that at the conclusion of last June’s G-8 meeting—where sharp differences had emerged over the US’s use of al-Qaeda and other Islamicists as its proxies in a war for regime change in Syria—Harper had vehemently denounced Moscow, declaring the meeting as the “G-7 plus Russia.”

In response to a direct question about Russia’s continued participation in the G-8, Harper said, “I don’t think it takes much imagination to figure out what my view is, but I will certainly listen to what our partners in the G7 have to say before we arrive at final decisions.”

In lockstep with Washington, Canada has already imposed sanctions against senior Russian government officials and businessmen and the Bank Rossiya.

Canadian officials have put out that Harper will be working alongside US President Barack Obama at the Hague meeting to pressure the European powers to take even more provocative measures against Russia. These likely include both additional economic sanctions and the authorization of further military exercises and deployments in NATO countries bordering Russia.

In the past Canada has lobbied for NATO to offer Ukraine membership.

Aides to Canada’s Conservative prime minister and Canada’s corporate media have emphasized that Harper is the first leader of a G-7 country to visit Ukraine since last month’s coup. He was joined by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

In addition to Prime Minster Yatsenyuk, Harper met with the new president, Oleksandr Turcchynov.

Press reports do not indicate whether Harper or either of his two ministers met with any of the half-dozen leaders of Svoboda, a neo-fascist party, who have top positions in Ukraine’s new government, including the deputy prime ministership.

Led by the oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko, Yatsenyuk’s party, the right-wing nationalist Fatherland Party, openly worked alongside Svoboda and the fascist Right Sector militia to topple Yanukovych and has now formed an alliance with Svoboda to jointly contest the next election.

The smallest of the G-8 countries, Canada has nevertheless played a not insignificant role in the US- German drive to detach Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence and subjugate it to the domination of western capital and NATO, so as to further cripple Russia and transform the Ukraine into a source of cheap labor and agricultural produce and other natural resources for German big business.

Under Liberal and Conservative governments alike, Ottawa has leveraged an extensive network of right-wing Ukrainian Canadian organizations, many of them with roots in the Cold War, to help organize and finance pro-western parties and “civil society” groups.

Whilst in Ukraine, Harper with consummate cynicism tried to pass himself and Canadian imperialism off as votaries of international law and democracy.

He denounced Russia for wanting to return the world to the “law of the jungle.” This under conditions where Canada unfailing supports Washington’s relentless pursuit of its predatory interests and systematic violations of international law–whether it be drone strikes, the outright invasion of countries, or spying on people in very corner of the world.

A neo-conservative ideologue, Harper was an enthusiast for the illegal pre-emptive war the US mounted against Iraq beginning in 2003—a war that killed as many as a million people and that was justified on fabricated charges of “weapons of mass destruction.”

Under his government, Canada extended its participation in the neo-colonial counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan. This included supporting the Canadian military in violating the Geneva Convention by turning over alleged insurgents—most of them poor Afghan peasants—for torture by Afghan security forces. Harper was also a strong advocate of Canada’s leading role in NATO’s 2011 regime change war in Libya, a war that he claimed was legal on the basis of a transparent, willful manipulation of a UN resolution authorizing a no-fly zone on “humanitarian” grounds.

Harper’s government prides itself on being the “staunchest” supporter of Israel, which with US support acts with impunity in the Middle East to bomb its neighbours and dispossess the Palestinian people. Harper’s government has strongly supported the punitive economic sanctions the US and European Union have imposed on Iran and made it clear that should the US attack Iran it will have Canada’s backing, including military support.

Harper’s claims to be a champion of democracy are no less Orwellian. His government has baldly asserted the state’s “right” to spy on Canadians’ electronic communications, sanctioned the national-security apparatuses’ use of information acquired through torture, routinely illegalizes worker job action, and staged its own parliamentary coup in 2008, shutting down parliament to avoid being defeated by the opposition.

According to a recent article in the National Post, the Harper government has launched a fundamental rethink of Canada’s military-geo-political strategy in response to the confrontation between the West and Russia over Ukraine. “There is a growing consensus the Harper government’s hard line over events in Ukraine is going to require a radical new defence doctrine, prepared for the contingency of an expansionist Russia,” reported the Post ’s John Ivison in a March 17 article.

Ivison says the government is considering accelerating the militarization of the Arctic, including possibly welcoming a major NATO role, and also wants to revisit the Martin Liberal government’s decision that Canada should not participate in the US’s highly destabilizing plan to deploy an anti-ballistic missile shield.

In other words, the Harper government is plotting to exploit the Ukraine crisis to overcome popular opposition to the ruling class’ plans to militarize Canadian society and further tighten Canada’s strategic embrace with Washington.

The opposition parties have strongly supported the Harper government in backing the US-German orchestrated coup in Ukraine and stoking a confrontation with Russia that could escalate into a military confrontation with incalculable consequences for the world. Indeed, the trade union-supported NDP has repeatedly commended the Conservative government for its Ukraine policy and party leader Thomas Mulcair is regularly having private consultations with Harper to discuss Canada’s role in the crisis.

 It’s a MYTH that We Need Fossil Fuel Or Nuclear

The big oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies claim that we need those energy sources in order to power America.

Good news: it’s a myth.

Mark Diesendorf – Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW at the University of New South Wales – notes:

The deniers and scoffers repeatedly utter the simplistic myth that renewable energy is intermittent and therefore cannot generate base-load (that is, 24-hour) power.

Detailed computer simulations, backed up with actual experience with wind power overseas, show that the scoffers are wrong. Several countries, including Australia with its huge renewable energy resources, could make the necessary transition to an electricity generation system comprising 100 per cent renewable energy over a few decades.

***

Feasibility has been established by computer simulations of electricity generation systems by several research groups around the world, including my own …

Diesendorf gave an update earlier this month:

Ben Elliston, Iain MacGill and I have performed thousands of computer simulations of 100% renewable electricity in the National Electricity Market(NEM), using actual hourly data on electricity demand, wind and solar power for 2010.

Our latest research, available here and reported here, finds that generating systems comprising a mix of different commercially available renewable energy technologies, located on geographically dispersed sites, do not need base load power stations to achieve the same reliability as fossil-fuelled systems.

The old myth was based on the incorrect assumption that base load demand can only be supplied by base load power stations; for example, coal in Australia and nuclear in France. However, the mix of renewable energy technologies in our computer model, which has no base load power stations, easily supplies base load demand.

Similarly, Dr. Mark Jacobson – the head of Stanford University’s Atmosphere and Energy Program, who has written numerous books and hundreds of scientific papers on climate and energy, and testified before Congress numerous times on those issues – has run a series of computer simulations based on actual historical energy usage data.

Jacobson found that the U.S. can meet all of its energy needs with a mix of wind, solar and hydropower.

The difference between a failed alternative energy pipe dream and a viable alternative energy strategy is in having the right mix … and that takes sophisticated computer simulations using historical data. Jacobson’s study started several years ago by matching California’s historical power demand with available wind, solar and other renewable energy sources:

Jacobson has now developed specific plans for each of the 50 states on how to do it. Click on a state to see the specific energy mix which Dr. Jacobson’s team has found would provide 100% sustainable energy.

Watch this must-see 25-minute talk by Jacobson:

Jacobson also shows that the wind-water-sun combination would actually reduce electrical consumption (because it is more efficient than fossil fuels or nuclear):

And he shows that the wind-water-solar combination is superior to nuclear, “clean” coal, natural gas and biofuels. As one example, Jacobson notes that it takes at least 11 years to permit and build a nuclear plant, whereas it takes less than half that time to fire up a wind or solar farm. Between the application for a nuclear plant and flipping the switch, power is provided by conventional energy sources … currently 55-65% coal. Nuclear also puts out much more pollution (including much more CO2) than windpower, and 1.5% of all the nuclear plants built have melted down. More information here, here and here.

A banker for one of the world’s biggest banks also notes that switching to alternative energy provides certainty in energy pricing … and is usually a less expensive source of energy when long-term costs are factored in.

So why haven’t we switched? As David Letterman noted when interviewing Jacobson, the main hurdle to switching from fossil fuels and nuclear is simply that the big fossil fuel and nuclear companies would lose a lot of money, so they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo.

Read our recent interview with Dr. Jacobson on a related topic.

And note that decentralizing power supplies is arguably key to protecting against terrorism, fascism and destruction of our health, environment and economy.

A significant strike impacting the universities and colleges throughout the East African state of Kenya has been settled. Representatives of the Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) and the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) told their members to return to work on March 20 after an agreement had been reached with management.

Workers were seeking the payment of a cash settlement agreed upon during a previous labor struggle in 2012 which resulted in a collective bargaining agreement. The government had sought legal action to prevent the strike but the union told their members to disregard the order and leave work that they had a constitutional right to strike.

Charles Mukhwaya, Secretary General of KUSU, told the Kenyan press that “We are happy to announce that the strike has been called off following fruitful talks with the Vice Chancellors. We have reached an amicable solution after a deal was struck that all the monies owed to us will be paid to all our members. We would like to ask our workers to go back to work at 8am tomorrow (Thursday, March 20).” (Capital FM, Kenya, March 20)

He continued by saying “Yes, it is true that we have reached a deal. All our members will be paid what is owed to them and measures should be put in place to ensure that this incident never repeats itself again. We have advised our lecturers to go back to class and continue teaching.”

Earlier in March Kenya had been hit with a transport drivers’ strike which jammed traffic for miles in and around the capital of Nairobi. Costs associated with driving buses and taxis, known as “Matatus,” have tripled since 2013.

An agreement between the Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) and the government to lower costs by 65 percent has not been implemented, according to Dickson Mbugua the national chairman of the MWA. The strike on March 4 was not officially organized by the MWA but an informal group designed to shut down public transport.

Kenya is a close ally of the United States and often participates in military operations initiated by the Pentagon in East Africa. At present Nairobi has deployed at least 2,000 troops to neighboring Somalia aimed at preventing the Al-Shabaab Islamic organization from increasing its bases inside the country.

Although the current administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta was not supported by the U.S. when it was elected during 2013, efforts to prosecute both Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto before the International Criminal Court (ICC) have not been opposed by the Obama administration.

Tunisia and Egypt Workers Demand Jobs, Pay Increases In Tunisia, the birthplace of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East in 2010-2011, university graduates have formed a union and are demanding jobs. A demonstration of the Union of Unemployed Graduates (UDC) took place on March 17 in downtown Tunis. High unemployment and poverty was a key element in the rebellions which swept the country beginning in December 2010. Since the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011, the three subsequent governments in Tunis have not been able to stabilize the political and economic situation inside the country. With the collapse of the previous government of Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and the installation of a more “technocratic” cabinet under Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, a freeze has been placed on hiring in the public sector during the so-called transition period.

“Our demands are not political. We are protesting for jobs. We are asking for bread, bread and bread,” said Halima, an unemployed graduate protester. (Press TV, March 17)

“This austerity budget will result in higher unemployment rates,” said Wafa Ben Slimane, the UDC spokesperson. Even though the dictatorial regime of Ben Ali was removed, Tunisia remains firmly in the world capitalist system where high unemployment, austerity and rising poverty characterize the current period.

In Egypt where an uprising against the National Democratic Party (NDP) of ousted President Hosni Mubarak erupted after Tunisia on January 25, 2011, strikes and other forms of unrest among workers has continued. Since the beginning of 2014, union and independent workers’ actions have taken place partially causing a shake-up in the interim military-backed regime that was installed after the coup against former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.

The resignation of interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi, a leader in the Social Democratic Party of Egypt, and the replacement by Ibrahim Mehleb, represented sharp disagreements over how to respond to the current political crisis. Thousands of members and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied political party the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) have been killed, wounded and detained since July 3.

Political repression has continued in Egypt with the March 24 mass sentencing to death of 529 members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Demonstrations by students and workers have been banned since October with those arrested facing harsh prison sentences. Simultaneously workers are demanding better wages and conditions of employment in both the private and public sectors. Constant disruptions in services and production are reflection of the disenchantment with the present dispensation.

In a report published by Al-Monitor, “Meanwhile, protests have spread outward from Mahalla, the spiritual home of the Egyptian workers’ movement, to the very heart of Cairo. Workers at Mahalla’s state-owned Misr Spinning and Weaving Company walked out on Feb. 10, demanding the removal of holding company Chairman Fouad Abdel-Alim and the application of the minimum wage. Workers at this factory first demanded a minimum wage in 2006.” (Feb. 26)

This same article goes on to note that “After a wave of solidarity strikes and sit-ins at textile operations around Egypt, more public sector workers have walked out. Strikes are currently being staged by around 100,000 postal workers, bus drivers, government notary employees, street cleaners, field surveyors and medical professionals, according to Mada Masr.”

The impact of the workers’ actions on the transport sector are immense as Al-Monitor reports that “An ongoing public transportation strike has halted buses in all 28 of the Greater Cairo Authority’s garages, costing the city an estimated 800,000 Egyptian pounds ($115,000) a day, according to Cairo Gov. Galal al-Saeed.” The Egyptian military has attempted to appeal to patriotism in efforts to persuade employees to return to work.

Nonetheless, these appeals have not taken root with the workers and are nothing new in the ideological arsenal of the neo-colonial state. According to Josh Stacer, a political scientist and analyst on Egyptian affairs, “This is the same discourse used after the initial 18 days [of the January 25 Revolution] by [former Field Marshal Mohamed] Tantawi and company. It’s about demobilizing workers.” (Al-Monitor, Feb. 26)

South African Platinum Strike Continues Amid Election Campaigning There is no end in sight to the two month-old strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) taking place in the North West province in the Republic of South Africa. AMCU is a breakaway union from the parent National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) which is affiliated with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a close ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Members of AMCU marched on the headquarters of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Johannesburg on March 18 to deliver a list of demands. As of March 24 there had been no response from the bosses.

AMCU is striking during the period of the election campaigning for the upcoming May 7 national poll. Although AMCU has taken a position hostile to the ANC, the ruling party appears to be heading for another huge margin of victory.

In a survey published by the Sunday Times, the ANC would win 66.1 percent of the vote, up from the 65.9 percent it gained during the 2009 national elections. With no electoral strategy AMCU has no effective means of pressuring the government to end the strike. An investigative commission looking into the upgrading of President Jacob Zuma’s home has issued its report saying that irregularities took place in regard to cost allocations. The ANC was quick to respond to the report and says that it will take the findings seriously. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which has the next largest bloc within the National Assembly, approximately 17 percent, has called for the impeachment of President Zuma. The so-called Nkandla Report is not an indictment and its real impact may take some time to assess.

NATO’s War against Yugoslavia was based on Lies

March 24th, 2014 by Blokhin Timur

Germany joined the war against Yugoslavia under the pretense of fabricated facts. Sensational confession of German policeman Henning Hentz who served in the OSCE in Kosovo in the 90s confirmed that.

The reason here is that photographs taken by Hentz in late January 1999 were used by then German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping to justify the immediate interference of NATO in the Kosovo conflict. He presented the photographs of the militants killed in Rugovo as photos of innocent Albanian victims.

What did really happen in Kosovo in late January of 1999, several months before NATO launched its operation against Yugoslavia?

According to Serbian sources, more than two dozen of Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists were killed in Rugovo, while the Western mass media insisted that at least nine of them were civilians. Particularly, the New York Times wrote with the reference to a local field commander that there were only four KLA militants in the village and he knew nothing about other people. January 29, on that day OSCE mission representative Henning Hentz was in Rugovo. He shared his impression of the visit with the Voice of Russia correspondent Iovanna Vukotic who gives a real picture of what happened. He said that this had nothing to do with the killing of Albanian civilians.

“We discovered 25 bodies, including 11 in a bus and some others near the vehicle. Several other bodies were laying in a barn which was used as a garage. The territory around the barn was covered with snow but there were no traces. I thought that the bodies were brought there from another location, and most likely, a day before the clash between Serb police and KLA militants,” Henning Hentz said.

At the time, German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping showed only some of the photos taken by Henning Hentz and for some reason said those were taken by a German officer. He deliberately ignored the photos that clearly showed the dead bodies of KLA militants. So, Scharping managed to convince the public that “bad guys” or Serbs were again killing innocent Albanians and provoked a wave of refugees, says Hentz.

“For Germans, this meant that they would be involved in a military operation for the first time after the Second World War. My impression is that the situation in Kosovo at the time was exaggerated. When I visited Kosovo, there was no necessity for Albanians to leave their homes en mass. A real exodus started with the beginning of bombing. A major part of the report on the Kosovo situation was exaggerated and was always against Serbs,” Henning Hentz added.

Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was used as a pretext for bombing Yugoslavia. And the incident in the village of Rugovo shows once again that the PR campaign against Belgrade was organized using obvious forgeries. Reportedly, NATO started thinking about an invasion after the killing of 40 civilian Albanians in Rachak. However, experts who studied the forensic reports concluded that there was no evidence proving that the killed were civilians, and that they were killed by Serbian servicemen.

This technology is being used even now. For example, the photos taken in Iraq in 2003 are used in news broadcasts to show the deaths of Syrian civilians. The dramatic effect is achieves by using photo editing programmes. For example, a Syrian family walking in the streets of an ordinary city, photo is shown on a background of ruined buildings. Ultimately, they achieve the necessary effect. In the 19th century, a prominent Russian gnomic poet Kozma Prutkov said: If you read the world buffalo on a cell of an elephant, please, do not believe it. Truly, in the 19th century, there was no high-tech to make a fly from an elephant as well as genocide from contract killing.

Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia-Herzegovina

March 24th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

The World is commemorating the 15th anniversary of NATO’s war on Yugoslavia. March 23, 1999.

This article was first published in 1996. The introductory section on US-NATO war crimes was published in 2002. The main text pertaining to the impacts of IMF World reforms was published in Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of of Poverty and the New World Order, Second Edition, 2003.

Introduction and Update

NATO and US Government War Crimes in Yugoslavia

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is currently on trial in The Hague [2002] in a  legal procedure directly controlled by the Western military alliance and the US Administration. 

The CRG will be publishing a series of background articles on Yugoslavia with a view to establishing the record of NATO and US Government War Crimes in the Balkans. 

In a bitter irony, the so-called International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague is controlled by the War Criminals. It was not President Milosevic but NATO who started the war in Yugoslavia. “And according to the judges at Nuremberg, the primordial war crime was to start a war in the first place. All other war crimes flowed from this.” (John Laughland, This is not Justice), 

According to William Rockler, former prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal: 

“The [1999] bombing war violates and shreds the basic provisions of the United Nations Charter and other conventions and treaties; the attack on Yugoslavia constitutes the most brazen international aggression since the Nazis attacked Poland to prevent “Polish atrocities” against Germans. The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok.” 

According to Nuremberg jurisprudence, NATO heads of State and heads of government are responsible for the supreme crime: “the crime against peace.” 

Consistent with the Nuremberg definition of “crimes against the peace”,  this article (first published in 1996, with a short update pertaining to Kosovo) focusses on how Yugoslavia’s economy and institutions were destroyed by “free markets reforms” imposed by the IMF in close coordination with NATO military interventions: 

 ”Administered in several doses since the 1980s, NATO-backed neo-liberal economic medicine has helped destroy Yugoslavia. Yet, the global media has carefully overlooked or denied its central role. Instead, they have joined the chorus singing praises of the “free market” as the basis for rebuilding a war shattered economy. The social and political impact of economic restructuring in Yugoslavia has been carefully erased from our collective understanding. Opinion-makers instead dogmatically present cultural, ethnic, and religious divisions as the sole cause of war and devastation. In reality, they are the consequence of a much deeper process of economic and political fracturing.

Such false consciousness not only masks the truth, it also prevents us from acknowledging precise historical occurrences. Ultimately, it distorts the true sources of social conflict. When applied to the former Yugoslavia, it obscures the historical foundations of South Slavic unity, solidarity and identity in what constituted a multiethnic society.

At stake in the Balkans are the lives of millions of people. Macroeconomic reform combined with military conquest and UN “peace keeping” has destroyed livelihoods and made a joke of the right to work. It has put basic needs such as food and shelter beyond the reach of many. It has degraded culture and national identity. In the name of global capital, borders have been redrawn, legal codes rewritten, industries destroyed, financial and banking systems dismantled, social programs eliminated. No alternative to global capital, be it Yugoslav “market socialism” or “national capitalism”, will be allowed to exist.”

Michel Chossudovsky. February 2002


 

Economic War Crimes:

Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia-Herzegovina

by Michel Chossudovsky

Covert Action Quarterly,  Spring 1996 

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  19  February 2002

As heavily-armed US and NATO troops enforced the peace in Bosnia, the press and politicians alike portrayed Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia as a noble, if agonizingly belated, response to an outbreak of ethnic massacres and human rights violations. In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton peace accords, the West was eager to touch up its self-portrait as savior of the Southern Slavs and get on with “the work of rebuilding” the newly “sovereign states.”

But following a pattern set early on, Western public opinion had been skillfully misled. The conventional wisdom exemplified by the writings of former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmermann, held that the plight of the Balkans was the outcome of an “aggressive nationalism”, the inevitable result of deep-seated ethnic and religious tensions rooted in history.1 Likewise, much was made of the “Balkans power-play” and the clash of political personalities: “Tudjman and Milosevic are tearing Bosnia-Herzegovina to pieces”.2

Lost in the barrage of images and self-serving analyses are the economic and social causes of the conflict. The deep-seated economic crisis which preceded the civil war had long been forgotten. The strategic interests of Germany and the US in laying the groundwork for the disintegration of Yugoslavia go unmentioned, as does the role of external creditors and international financial institutions. In the eyes of the global media, Western powers bear no responsibility for the impoverishment and destruction of a nation of 24 million people.

But through their domination of the global financial system, the Western powers, in pursuit of national and collective strategic interests, helped bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees and stirred its simmering ethnic and social conflicts. Now it is the turn of Yugoslavia’s war-ravaged successor states to feel the tender mercies of the international financial community.

As the world focused on troop movements and cease-fires, the international financial institutions were busily collecting former Yugoslavia’s external debt from its remnant states, while transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise. With a Bosnian peace settlement holding under NATO guns, the West had in late 1995 unveiled a “reconstruction” program that stripped that brutalized country of sovereignty to a degree not seen in Europe since the end of World War II. It consisted largely of making Bosnia a divided territory under NATO military occupation and Western administration.

Neocolonial Bosnia

Resting on the Dayton accords, which created a Bosnian “Constitution,” the US and its European allies had installed a full-fledged colonial administration in Bosnia. At its head was their appointed High Representative, Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister and European Union representative in the Bosnian peace negotiations.3 Bildt was given full executive powers in all civilian matters, with the right to overrule the governments of both the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska (Serbian Bosnia). To make the point crystal clear, the Accords spelled out that “the High Representative is the final authority in theater regarding interpretation of the agreements.”4 He is to work with the multinational military implementation force (IFOR) Military High Command as well as with creditors and donors.

The UN Security Council had also appointed a “Commissioner” under the High Representative to run an international civilian police force.5 Irish police official Peter Fitzgerald, with UN policing experience in Namibia, El Salvador, and Cambodia , was to preside over some 1,700 police from 15 countries. Following the signing of the Dayton Accords in November 1995, the international police force was dispatched to Bosnia after a five-day training program in Zagreb 6.

The new “Constitution” included as an Appendix to the Dayton Accords handed the reins of economic policy over to the Bretton Woods institutions and the London based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The IMF was empowered to appoint the first governor of the Bosnian Central Bank, who, like the High Representative, “shall not be a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina or a neighboring State.”7

Under the IMF regency, the Central Bank is not allowed to function as a Central Bank: “For the first six years … it may not extend credit by creating money, operating in this respect as a currency board.”8 Neither was Bosnia to be allowed to have its own currency (issuing paper money only when there is full foreign exchange backing), nor permitted to mobilize its internal resources. Its ability to self-finance its reconstruction through an independent monetary policy was blunted from the outset.

While the Central Bank was in IMF custody, the EBRD heads the Commission on Public Corporations, which supervises since 1996, operations of all public sector enterprises in Bosnia, including energy, water, postal services, telecommunications, and transportation. The EBRD president appoints the commission chair and is in charge of public sector restructuring, i.e., the sell-off of state- and socially-owned assets and the procurement of long-term investment funds.9 Western creditors explicitly created the EBRD “to give a distinctively political dimension to lending.” 10.

As the West proclaimed its support for democracy, actual political power rests in the hands of a parallel Bosnian “state” whose executive positions are held by non-citizens. Western creditors have embedded their interests in a constitution hastily written on their behalf. They have done so without a constitutional assembly and without consultations with Bosnian citizens’ organizations. Their plans to rebuild Bosnia appear more suited to sating creditors than satisfying even the elementary needs of Bosnians. The neocolonization of Bosnia was a logical step of Western efforts to undo Yugoslavia’s experiment in “market socialism” and workers’ self-management and to impose the dictate of the “free market”.

Historical background

Multiethnic, socialist Yugoslavia was once a regional industrial power and economic success. In the two decades before 1980, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 6.1 percent, medical care was free, the rate of literacy was 91 percent, and life expectancy was 72 years.11. But after a decade of Western economic ministrations and a decade of disintegration, war, boycott, and embargo, the economies of the former Yugoslavia were prostrate, their industrial sectors dismantled.

Yugoslavia’s implosion was partially due to US machinations. Despite Belgrade’s non-alignment and its extensive trading relations with the European Community and the US, the Reagan administration had targeted the Yugoslav economy in a “Secret Sensitive” 1984 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 133) entitled “US Policy towards Yugoslavia.” A censored version declassified in 1990 elaborated on NSDD 64 on Eastern Europe, issued in 1982. The latter advocated “expanded efforts to promote a ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties,” while reintegrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market-oriented economy. 12

The US had earlier joined Belgrade’s other international creditors in imposing a first round of macroeconomics reform in 1980, shortly before the death of Marshall Tito. That initial round of restructuring set the pattern.

Secessionist tendencies feeding on social and ethnic divisions, gained impetus precisely during a period of brutal impoverishment of the Yugoslav population. The economic reforms “wreaked economic and political havoc… Slower growth, the accumulation of foreign debt and especially the cost of servicing it as well as devaluation led to a fall in the standard of living of the average Yugoslav… The economic crisis threatened political stability … it also threatened to aggravate simmering ethnic tensions”.13

These reforms accompanied by the signing of debt restructuring agreements with the official and commercial creditors also served to weaken the institutions of the federal State creating political divisions between Belgrade and the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces. “The [Federal] Prime Minister Milka Planinc, who was supposed to carry out the program, had to promise the IMF an immediate increase of the discount rates and much more for the Reaganomics arsenal of measures…”14 And throughout the 1980s, the IMF and World Bank periodically prescribed further doses of their bitter economic medicine as the Yugoslav economy slowly lapsed into a coma.

From the outset, successive IMF sponsored programs hastened the disintegration of the Yugoslav industrial sector. Following the initial phase of macro-economic reform in 1980, industrial growth plummeted to 2.8 percent in the 1980-87 period, plunging to zero in 1987-88 and to a negative 10 percent growth rate by 1990.15 This process was accompanied by the piecemeal dismantling of the Yugoslav welfare state, with all the predictable social consequences. Debt restructuring agreements, meanwhile, increased foreign debt, and a mandated currency devaluation also hit hard at Yugoslavs’ standard of living.

Mr. Markovic goes to Washington

In Autumn 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Yugoslav federal Premier Ante Markovic met in Washington with President George Bush to cap negotiations for a new financial aid package. In return for assistance, Yugoslavia agreed to even more sweeping economic reforms, including a new devalued currency, another wage freeze, sharp cuts in government spending, and the elimination of socially owned, worker- managed companies .16

The Belgrade nomenclature, with the assistance of Western advisers, had laid the groundwork for Markovic’s mission by implementing beforehand many of the required reforms, including a major liberalization of foreign investment legislation.

“Shock therapy” began in January 1990. Although inflation had eaten away at earnings, the IMF ordered that wages be frozen at their mid November 1989 levels. Prices continued to rise unabated, and real wages collapsed by 41 percent in the first six months of 1990 .17

The IMF also effectively controlled the Yugoslav central bank. Its tight money policy further crippled the country’s ability to finance its economic and social programs. State revenues that should have gone as transfer payments to the republics went instead to service Belgrade’s debt with the Paris and London clubs. The republics were largely left to their own devices. The economic package was launched in January 1990 under an IMF Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) and a World Bank Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL II). The budget cuts requiring the redirection of federal revenues towards debt servicing, were conducive to the suspension of transfer payments by Belgrade to the governments of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces.

In one fell swoop, the reformers had engineered the final collapse of Yugoslavia’s federal fiscal structure and mortally wounded its federal political institutions. By cutting the financial arteries between Belgrade and the republics, the reforms fueled secessionist tendencies that fed on economic factors as well as ethnic divisions, virtually ensuring the de facto secession of the republics. The IMF-induced budgetary crisis created an economic fait accompli that paved the way for Croatia’s and Slovenia’s formal secession in June 1991.

Crushed by the Invisible Hand

The reforms demanded by Belgrade’s creditors also struck at the heart of Yugoslavia’s system of socially-owned and worker-managed enterprises. As one observer noted, ‘the objective was to subject the Yugoslav economy to massive privatization and the dismantling of the public sector. “The Communist Party bureaucracy, most notably its military and intelligence sector, was canvassed specifically and offered political and economic backing on the condition that wholesale scuttling of social protections for Yugoslavia’s workforce was imposed.” 18 It was an offer that a desperate Yugoslavia could not refuse. By 1990, the annual rate of growth of GDP had collapsed to -7.5 percent. In 1991, GDP declined by a further 15 percent, industrial output collapsed by 21 percent.19

The restructuring program demanded by Belgrade’s creditors was intended to abrogate the system of socially owned enterprises. The Enterprise Law of 1989 required abolishing the “Basic Organizations of Associated Labor (BAOL)”. The latter were socially-owned productive units under self-management with the Workers’ Council constituting the main decision making body. The 1989 Enterprise Law required the transformation of the BOALs into private capitalist enterprises with the Worker’s Council replaced by a so-called “Social Board” under the control of the enterprise’s owners including its creditors.20

Overhauling The Legal Framework

Advised by Western lawyers and consultants, a number of supporting pieces of legislation were put in place in a hurry. The Financial Operations Act of 1989 was to play a crucial role in engineering the collapse of Yugoslavia’s industrial sector, it was to provide for an “equitable” and so-called “transparent trigger mechanism” which would steer so-called “insolvent” enterprises in bankruptcy or liquidation. A related act entitled the Law on Compulsory Settlement, Bankruptcy and Liquidation was to safeguard “the rights of the creditors”. The latter could call for the initiation of bankruptcy procedures enabling them to take over and/or liquidate the assets of debtor enterprises.21

The earlier 1988 Foreign Investment Law had allowed for unrestricted entry of foreign capital not only into industry but also into the banking, insurance and services’ sectors. Prior to the enactment of the law, foreign investment was limited to joint ventures with the socially- owned enterprises.22 In turn, the 1989 Law on the Circulation and Management of Social Capital and the 1990 Social Capital Law allowed for the divestiture of the socially-owned enterprises including their sale to foreign capital. The Social Capital Law also provided for the creation of “Restructuring and Recapitalisation Agencies” with a mandate to organize the “valuation” of enterprise assets prior to privatization. As in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, however, the valuation of assets was based on the recorded “book-value” expressed in local currency. This book-value tended to be unduly low thereby securing the sale of socially-owned assets at rock-bottom prices. Slovenia and Croatia had by 1990 already established their own draft privatization laws.23

The assault on the socialist economy also included a new banking law designed to trigger the liquidation of the socially-owned Associated Banks. Within two years, more than half the country’s banks had vanished, to be replaced by newly-formed “independent profit-oriented institutions.” 24 By 1990, the entire “three-tier banking system” consisting of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, the national banks of the eight Republics and autonomous provinces and the commercial banks had been dismantled under the guidance of the World Bank. A Federal Agency for Insurance and Bank Rehabilitation was established in June 1990 with a mandate to restructure and “reprivatize” restructured banks under World Bank supervision.25 This process was to be undertaken over a five- year period. The development of non-banking financial intermediaries including brokerage firms, investment management firms and insurance companies was also to be promoted.

The Bankruptcy Program

Industrial enterprises had been carefully categorized. Under the IMF-World Bank sponsored reforms, credit to the industrial sector had been frozen with a view to speeding up the bankruptcy process. So-called “exit mechanisms” had been established under the provisions of the 1989 Financial Operations Act.26. Under the new law, if a business was unable to pay its bills for 30 days running, or for 30 days within a 45-day period, the government would launch bankruptcy proceedings within the next 15 days.19 This mechanism allowed creditors (including national and foreign banks) to routinely convert their loans into a controlling equity in the insolvent enterprise. Under the Act, the government was not authorized to intervene. In case a settlement was not reached, bankruptcy procedures would be initiated in which case workers would not normally receive severance payments.27

In 1989, according to official sources, 248 firms were steered into bankruptcy or were liquidated and 89,400 workers had been laid off.28 During the first nine months of 1990 directly following the adoption of the IMF program, another 889 enterprises with a combined work-force of 525,000 workers were subjected to bankruptcy procedures.29 In other words, in less than two years the World Bank’s so-called “trigger mechanism” (under the Financial Operations Act) had led to the lay off of 614,000 (out of a total industrial workforce of the order of 2.7 million). The largest concentrations of bankrupt firms and lay-offs were in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo.30

Many socially owned enterprises attempted to avoid bankruptcy through the non payment of wages. Half a million workers representing some 20 percent of the industrial labor force were not paid during the early months of 1990, in order to meet the demands of creditors under the “settlement” procedures stipulated in the Law on Financial Organizations. Real earnings were in a free fall, social programs had collapsed, with the bankruptcies of industrial enterprises, unemployment had become rampant, creating within the population an atmosphere of social despair and hopelessness.

The January 1990 IMF sponsored package contributed to increasing enterprise losses while precipitating many of the large electric, petroleum refinery, machinery, engineering and chemical enterprises into bankruptcy. Moreover, with the deregulation of the trade regime, a flood of imported commodities contributed to further destabilizing domestic production. These imports were financed with borrowed money granted under the IMF package (i.e. the various “quick disbursing loans” granted by the IMF, the World Bank and bilateral donors in support of the economic reforms). While the import bonanza was fuelling the build-up of Yugoslavia’s external debt, the abrupt hikes in interest rates and input prices imposed on national enterprises had expedited the displacement and exclusion of domestic producers from their own national market.

 ”Shedding Surplus Workers”

The situation prevailing in the months preceding the Secession of Croatia and Slovenia (mid 1991) (confirmed by the 1989-90 bankruptcy figures) points to the sheer magnitude and brutality of the process of industrial dismantling. The figures, however, provide but a partial picture, depicting the situation at the outset of the “bankruptcy program” which continued unabated in Yugoslavia’s successor States in the years following the Dayton accords.

The World Bank had estimated that there were still in September 1990, 2,435 “loss-making” enterprises out of a remaining total of 7,531.31 In other words, these 2,435 firms with a combined work-force of more than 1,3 million workers had been categorized as “insolvent” under the provisions of the Financial Operations Act, requiring the immediate implementation of bankruptcy procedures. Bearing in mind that 600,000 workers had already been laid off by bankrupt firms prior to September 1990, these figures suggest that some 1.9 million workers (out of a total of 2.7 million) had been classified as “redundant”. The “insolvent” firms concentrated in the Energy, Heavy Industry, Metal processing, Forestry and Textiles sectors were among the largest industrial enterprises in the country representing (in September 1990) 49.7 percent of the total (remaining and employed) industrial work-force.32

As 1991 dawned, real wages were in free fall, social programs had collapsed, and unemployment ran rampant. The dismantling of the industrial economy was breathtaking in its magnitude and brutality. Its social and political impact, while not as easily quantified, was tremendous. Yugoslav President Borisav Jovic warned that the reforms were “having a markedly unfavorable impact on the overall situation in society…. Citizens have lost faith in the state and its institutions…. The further deepening of the economic crisis and the growth of social tensions has had a vital impact on the deterioration of the political-security situation.”33

The Political Economy of Disintegration

Some Yugoslavs joined together in a doomed battle to prevent the destruction of their economy and polity. As one observer found, “worker resistance crossed ethnic lines, as Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenians mobilized … shoulder to shoulder with their fellow workers.”34 But the economic struggle also heightened already tense relations among the republics and between the republics and Belgrade.

Serbia rejected the austerity plan outright, and some 650,000 Serbian workers struck against the federal government to force wage hikes.35 The other republics followed different and sometimes self-contradictory paths.

In relatively wealthy Slovenia, for instance, secessionist leaders such as Social Democratic party chair Joze Pucnik supported the reforms: “From an economic standpoint, I can only agree with socially harmful measures in our society, such as rising unemployment or cutting workers’ rights, because they are necessary to advance the economic reform process.”36

But at the same time, Slovenia joined other republics in challenging the federal government’s efforts to restrict their economic autonomy. Both Croatian leader Franjo Tudjman and Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic joined Slovene leaders in railing against Belgrade’s attempts to impose harsh reforms on behalf of the IMF.37

In the multiparty elections in 1990, economic policy was at the center of the political debate as separatist coalitions ousted the Communists in Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia. Just as economic collapse spurred the drift toward separation, separation in turn exacerbated the economic crisis. Cooperation among the republics virtually ceased. And with the republics at one another’s’ throats, both the economy and the nation itself embarked on a vicious downward spiral.

The process sped along as the republican leadership, deliberately fostered social and economic divisions to strengthen their own hands: “The republican oligarchies, who all had visions of a ‘national renaissance’ of their own, instead of choosing between a genuine Yugoslav market and hyperinflation, opted for war which would disguise the real causes of the economic catastrophe .”38

The simultaneous appearance of militias loyal to secessionist leaders only hastened the descent into chaos. These militias (covertly financed by the US and Germany), with their escalating atrocities, not only split the population along ethnic lines, they also fragmented the workers’ movement.39

“Western Help”

The austerity measures had laid the basis for the recolonization of the Balkans. Whether that required the breakup of Yugoslavia was subject to debate among the Western powers, with Germany leading the push for secession and the US, fearful of opening a nationalist Pandora’s box, originally arguing for Yugoslavia’s preservation.

Following Franjo Tudjman’s and the rightist Democratic Union’s decisive victory in Croatia in May 1990, German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in almost daily contact with his counterpart in Zagreb, gave his go-ahead for Croatian secession.40 Germany did not passively support secession; it “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. Germany sought a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mittel Europa.”41

Washington, on the other hand, “favored a loose unity while encouraging democratic development … [Secretary of State] Baker told Tudjman and [Slovenia's President] Milan Kucan that the United States would not encourage or support unilateral secession … but if they had to leave, he urged them to leave by a negotiated agreement.”42 In the meantime, the US Congress had passed the 1991 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act which curtailed all financial assistance Yugoslavia. The provisions of the Act had been casually referred to by the CIA as “a signed death warrant” for Yugoslavia. 43 The CIA had correctly predicted that “a bloody civil war would ensue”.44 The law also demanded the IMF and the World Bank to freeze credit to Belgrade. And the US State Department had insisted that the Yugoslav republics (considered as de facto political entities) “uphold separate election procedures and returns before any further aid could be resumed to the individual republics”. 45

Post War Reconstruction and the Free Market

In the wake of the November 1995 Dayton Accords, Western creditors turned their attention to Yugoslavia’s “successor states”. Yugoslavia’s foreign debt had been carefully divided and allocated to the successor republics, which were strangled in separate debt rescheduling and structural adjustment agreements. 46

The consensus among donors and international agencies was that past IMF macroeconomics reforms inflicted on federal Yugoslavia had not quite met their goal and further shock therapy was required to restore “economic health” to Yugoslavia’s successor states. Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia had agreed to loan packages to pay off their shares of the Yugoslav debt that required a consolidation of the process begun under Ante Markovic’s bankruptcy program. The all too familiar pattern of plant closings, induced bank failures, and impoverishment has continued unabated since 1996. And who was to carry out IMF diktats? The leaders of the newly sovereign states have fully collaborated with the creditors.

In Croatia, the government of President Franjo Tudjman was obliged to sign already in 1993 at the height of the civil war, an agreement with the IMF. In return for fresh loans largely intended to service Zagreb’s external debt, the government of President Franjo Tudjman agreed to implementing further plant closures and bankruptcies, driving wages to abysmally low levels. The official unemployment rate increased from 15.5 percent in 1991 to 19.1 percent in 1994.47

Zagreb had also instituted a far more stringent bankruptcy law, together with procedures for “the dismemberment” of large state-owned public utility companies. According to its “Letter of Intent” to the Bretton Woods institutions, the Croatian government had promised to restructure and fully privatize the banking sector with the assistance of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank. The latter had also demanded a Croatian capital market structured to heighten the penetration of Western institutional investors and brokerage firms.

Under the agreement signed in 1993 with the IMF, the Zagreb government was not permitted to mobilize its own productive resources through fiscal and monetary policy. The latter were firmly under the control of its external creditors. The massive budget cuts demanded under the agreement had also forestalled the possibility of post-war reconstruction. The latter could only be carried out through the granting of fresh foreign loans, a process which has contributed to fuelling Croatia’s external debt well into the 21st Century.

Macedonia had also followed a similar economic path to that of Croatia. In December 1993, the Skopje government agreed to compress real wages and freeze credit in order to obtain a loan under the IMF’s Systemic Transformation Facility (STF). In an unusual twist, multi-billionaire business tycoon George Soros participated in the International Support Group composed of the government of the Netherlands and the Basel-based Bank of International Settlements. The money provided by the Support Group, however, was not intended for “reconstruction” but rather to enable Skopje to pay back debt arrears owed the World Bank..48

Moreover, in return for debt rescheduling, the government of Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski had to agree to the liquidation of remaining “insolvent” enterprises and the lay off of “redundant” workers –which included the employees of half the industrial enterprises in the country. As Deputy Finance Minister Hari Kostov soberly noted, with interest rates at astronomical levels because of donor-sponsored banking reforms, “it was literally impossible to find a company in the country which would be able to (…) to cover [its] costs (…).49

Overall, the IMF economic therapy for Macedonia was a continuation of the “bankruptcy program” launched in 1989-90 under federal Yugoslavia. The most profitable assets were put on sale on the Macedonian stock market, but this auction of socially owned enterprises had led to industrial collapse and rampant unemployment.

And global capital applauds. Despite an emerging crisis in social welfare and the decimation of his economy, Macedonian Finance Minister Ljube Trpevski proudly informed the press in 1996 that “the World Bank and the IMF place Macedonia among the most successful countries in regard to current transition reforms”. 50

The head of the IMF mission to Macedonia, Paul Thomsen, agreed. He avowed that “the results of the stabilization program were impressive” and gave particular credit to “the efficient wages policy” adopted by the Skopje government. Still, his negotiators had insisted that despite these achievements, even more budget cutting was necessary. 51

Reconstruction Colonial Style

But Western intervention was making its most serious inroads on national sovereignty in Bosnia. The neocolonial administration imposed under the Dayton accords and supported by NATO’s firepower had ensured that Bosnia’s future would be determined in Washington, Bonn, and Brussels rather than in Sarajevo.

The Bosnian government had estimated in the wake of the Dayton Accords that reconstruction costs would reach $47 billion. Western donors had initially pledged $3 billion in reconstruction loans, of which only a part was actually granted. Moreover, a large chunk of the fresh money lent to Bosnia had been tagged to finance some of the local civilian costs of IFOR’s military deployment as well as repay international creditors. 52

Fresh loans will pay back old debt. The Central Bank of the Netherlands had generously provided “bridge financing’ of $37 million to allow Bosnia to pay its arrears with the IMF, without which the IMF will not lend it fresh money. But in a cruel and absurd paradox, the sought-after loans from the IMF’s newly created “Emergency Window” for “post-conflict countries” will not be used for post-war reconstruction. Instead, they will repay the Dutch Central Bank, which had coughed up the money to settle IMF arrears in the first place. 53

Debt piles up, and little new money goes for rebuilding Bosnia’s war torn economy.

While rebuilding is sacrificed on the altar of debt repayment, Western governments and corporations show greater interest in gaining access to strategic natural resources. With the discovery of energy reserves in the region, the partition of Bosnia between the Federation of Bosnia- Herzegovina and the Bosnian-Serb Republika Srpska under the Dayton Accords has taken on new strategic importance. Documents in the hands of Croatia and the Bosnian Serbs indicate that coal and oil deposits have been identified on the eastern slope of the Dinarides Thrust, retaken from Krajina Serbs by the US-backed Croatian army in the final offensives before the Dayton accords. Bosnian officials had reported that Chicago-based Amoco was among several foreign firms that subsequently initiated exploratory surveys in Bosnia.54

“Substantial” petroleum fields also lie “in the Serb-held part of Croatia” just across the Sava River from Tuzla, the headquarters for the US military zone.55 Exploration operations went on during the war, but the World Bank and the multinationals that conducted the operations kept local governments in the dark, presumably to prevent them from acting to grab potentially valuable areas. 56

With their attention devoted to debt repayment and potential energy bonanzas, both the US and Germany have devoted their efforts –with 70,000 NATO troops on hand to “enforce the peace”– to administering the partition of Bosnia in accordance with Western economic and strategic interests.

While local leaders and Western interests share the spoils of the former Yugoslav economy, they have entrenched socio-ethnic divisions in the very structure of partition. This permanent fragmentation of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines thwarts a united resistance of Yugoslavs of all ethnic origins against the recolonization of their homeland.

But what’s new? As one observer caustically noted, all of the leaders of Yugoslavia’s successor states have worked closely with the West: “All the current leaders of the former Yugoslav republics were Communist Party functionaries and each in turn vied to meet the demands of the World Bank and the IMF, the better to qualify for investment loans and substantial perks for the leadership.” 57

From Bosnia to Kosovo

 

Economic and political dislocation has been the pattern in the various stages of the Balkans war: from the initial military intervention of NATO in Bosnia in 1992 to the bombing of Yugoslavia on “humanitarian grounds” in 1999. Bosnia and Kosovo are stages in the recolonization of the Balkans. The pattern of intervention under NATO guns in Bosnia under the Dayton accords has been replicated in Kosovo under the formal mandate of United Nations “peace-keeping”.

In post-war Kosovo, State terror and the “free market” go hand in hand. In close consultation with NATO, the World Bank had carefully analyzed the consequences of an eventual military intervention leading to the occupation of Kosovo. Almost a year prior to onslaught of the war, the World Bank had conducted relevant “simulations” which “anticipated the possibility of an emergency scenario arising out of the tensions in Kosovo”. 58 This suggests that NATO had already briefed the World Bank at an early stage of military planning.

While the bombing was still ongoing, the World Bank and the European Commission had been granted a special mandate for “coordinating donors’ economic assistance in the Balkans”59 The underlying terms of reference did not exclude Yugoslavia from receiving donor support. It was, however, clearly stipulated that Belgrade would be eligible for reconstruction loans “once political conditions there change“.60.

In the wake of the bombings, “free market reforms” were imposed on Kosovo largely replicating the clauses of the Rambouillet agreement which in turn had in part been modeled on the Dayton Accords imposed on Bosnia. Article I (Chapter 4a) of the Rambouillet Agreement stipulated that: “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles”.

Along with NATO troops, an army of lawyers and consultants was sent into Kosovo under World Bank auspices. Their mandate: create an “enabling environment” for foreign capital and ensure Kosovo’s speedy transition to a “thriving, open and transparent market economy.” 61 In turn, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) provisional government had been called upon by the donor community to “establish transparent, effective and sustainable institutions” 62 The extensive links of the KLA to organized crime and the Balkans narcotics trade was not seen by the “international community” as an obstacle to the installation of “democracy” and “good governance”.

In occupied Kosovo under UN mandate, the management of State owned enterprises and public utilities was taken over by appointees of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The leaders of the Provisional Government of Kosovo (PGK) had become “the brokers” of multinational capital committed to handing over the Kosovar economy at bargain prices to foreign investors.

Meanwhile, Yugoslav State banks operating in Pristina had been closed down. The Deutschmark was adopted as legal tender and almost the entire banking system in Kosovo was handed over to Germany’s Commerzbank A.G which gained full control over commercial banking functions for the province including money transfers and foreign exchange transactions.63

Taking over Kosovo’s Mineral Wealth

Under Western military occupation, Kosovo’s extensive wealth in mineral resources and coal was slated to be auctioned off at bargain prices to foreign capital. Prior to the bombings, Western investors already had their eyes riveted on the massive Trepca mining complex which constitutes “the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, worth at least $5 billion.” 64 The Trepca complex not only includes copper and large reserves of zinc but also cadmium, gold, and silver. It has several smelting plants, 17 metal treatment sites, a power plant and Yugoslavia’s largest battery plant. Northern Kosovo also has estimated reserves of 17 billion tons of coal and lignite.

Barely a month after Kosovo’s military occupation under NATO guns, the head of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Bernard Kouchner issued a decree to the effect that: “UNMIK shall administer movable or immovable property, including monetary accounts, and other property of, or registered in the name of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or the Republic of Serbia or any of its organs, which is in the territory of Kosovo”.65.

 

No time was lost, a few months after the military occupation of Kosovo, the International Crisis Group (ICG) a think tank supported by Financier George Soros, issued a paper on “Trepca: Making Sense of the Labyrinth” which advised the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) “to take over the Trepca mining complex from the Serbs as quickly as possible and explained how this should be done”.66 And in August 2000, UNMIK Head Bernard Kouchner sent in heavily armed “peacekeepers” (“wearing surgical masks against toxic smoke”) to occupy the mine on the pretense that it was creating an environmental hazard through excessive air pollution.

Meanwhile, the United Nations had handed over the management of the entire Trepca complex to a Western consortium. With a stake in the Trepca deal was Morrison Knudsen International, now regrouped with Rayethon Engineering and Construction. The new conglomerate is the Washington Group, one of the World’s most powerful engineering and construction firms as well as a major Defense contractor in the US. Junior partners in the deal are TEC-Ingenierie of France and Sweden’s consulting outfit Boliden Contech.

The Installation of a Mafia State

 

While Financier George Soros was investing money in Kosovo’s reconstruction, the George Soros Foundation for an Open Society had opened a branch office in Pristina establishing the Kosovo Foundation for an Open Society (KFOS) as part of the Soros’ network of “non-profit foundations” in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Together with the World Bank’s Post Conflict Trust Fund, the Kosovo Open Society Foundation (KOSF) was providing “targeted support” for “the development of local governments to allow them to serve their communities in a transparent, fair, and accountable manner.”67 Since most of these local governments are in the hands of the KLA which has extensive links to organized crime, this program is unlikely to meet its declared objective.68

In turn, “strong economic medicine” imposed by external creditors has contribute to further boosting a criminal economy (already firmly implanted in Albania) which feeds on poverty and economic dislocation.

With Albania and Kosovo at the hub of Balkans drug trade, Kosovo was also slated to reimburse foreign creditors through the laundering of dirty money. Narco-dollars will be recycled towards servicing Kosovo’s debt as well as “financing” the costs of “reconstruction”. The lucrative flow of narco-dollars thus ensures that foreign investors involved in the “reconstruction” programme will be able reap substantial returns.

Neoliberalism, the Only Possible World?

Administered in several doses since the 1980s, NATO-backed neo-liberal economic medicine has helped destroy Yugoslavia. Yet, the global media has carefully overlooked or denied its central role. Instead, they have joined the chorus singing praises of the “free market” as the basis for rebuilding a war shattered economy. The social and political impact of economic restructuring in Yugoslavia has been carefully erased from our collective understanding. Opinion-makers instead dogmatically present cultural, ethnic, and religious divisions as the sole cause of war and devastation .In reality, they are the consequence of a much deeper process of economic and political fracturing.

Such false consciousness not only masks the truth, it also prevents us from acknowledging precise historical occurrences. Ultimately, it distorts the true sources of social conflict. When applied to the former Yugoslavia, it obscures the historical foundations of South Slavic unity, solidarity and identity in what constituted a multiethnic society.

At stake in the Balkans are the lives of millions of people. Macroeconomic reform combined with military conquest and UN “peace keeping” has destroyed livelihoods and made a joke of the right to work. It has put basic needs such as food and shelter beyond the reach of many. It has degraded culture and national identity. In the name of global capital, borders have been redrawn, legal codes rewritten, industries destroyed, financial and banking systems dismantled, social programs eliminated. No alternative to global capital, be it Yugoslav “market socialism” or “national capitalism”, will be allowed to exist.

Notes

1. See, e.g., former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmerman, ‘The Last Ambassador, A Memoir of the Collapse of Yugoslavia, Foreign Affairs, Vol 74,no. 2,1995.

2. For a critique, see Milos Vasic, et al., War Against Bosnia, Vreme News Digest Agency, Apr. 13, 1992.

3. Testimony of Richard C. Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Washington, 19 December 1995.

4. Dayton Peace Accords, Agreement on High Representative, Articles I and II, 16 December 1995.

5. Dayton Peace Accords, Agreement on Police Task Force. Article II.

6. According to a United Nations statement, United Nations, New York, 5 January 1996. See also Seattle Post Intelligencer, 16 January 1996, p. A5.

7. Dayton Peace Accords, Agreement on General Framework, Article VII

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid, Agreement on Public Corporations, Article I.10.

10. Stabilizing Europe, The Times (London), Nov 22, 1990.

11. World Bank, World Development Report 1991, Statistical Annex, Tables 1 and 2, Washington, 1991.

12. Sean Gervasi, ‘Germany, the US, and the Yugoslav Crisis, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93, p. 42.

13. Ibid.

14. Dimitrije Boarov, “A Brief Review of Anti-inflation Programs, the Curse of Dead Programs”, Vreme New Digest Agency, No. 29, 13 April 1992.

15 World Bank, Industrial Restructuring Study: Overview, Issues, and Strategy for Restructuring, Washington, D C, June 1991, pp. 10,14.

16. Gervasi, op. cit., p. 44.

17. World Bank, Industrial Restructuring Study, op. cit., p. viii.

18. Ralph Schoenman, Divide and Rule Schemes in the Balkans, The Organizer, San Francisco, Sept. 11,1995

19. Judit Kiss, Debt Management in Eastern Europe, Eastern European Economics, May June 1894, p 59

20. See Barbara Lee and John Nellis, Enterprise Reform and Privatization in Socialist Economies, The World Bank, Washington DC, 1990, pp. 20-21.

21. For further details see World Bank, Yugoslavia, Industrial Restructuring, p. 33.

22. World Bank, Yugoslavia, Industrial Restructuring, p. 29.

23. Ibid., p. 23.

24. Ibid., p. 38.

25. Ibid., p. 39.

26. Ibid., p. 33.

27. Ibid., p. 33.

28. Ibid., p. 34. Data of the Federal Secretariat for Industry and Energy. Of the total number of firms, 222 went bankrupt and 26 were liquidated.

29. Ibid., p. 33. These figures include bankruptcy and liquidation.

30. Ibid., p. 34.

31. Ibid., p. 13. Annex 1, p. 1.

32. “Surplus labor” in industry had been assessed by the World Bank mission to be of the order of 20 per cent of the total labor force of 8.9 million, – i.e. approximately 1.8 million. This figure is significantly below the actual number of redundant workers based on the categorization of “insolvent” enterprises. Solely in the industrial sector, there were 1.9 million workers (September 1990) out of 2.7 million employed in enterprises classified as insolvent by the World Bank. See World Bank, Yugoslavia, Industrial Restructuring, Annex 1.

33 British Broadcasting Service, Borisav Jovic Tells SFRY Assembly Situation Has Dramatically Deteriorated, 27 April 1991.

34. Schoenman, op. cit

35 Gervasi, op cit., p. 44.

36. Federico Nier Fischer, Eastern Europe: Social Crisis, Inter Press Service, 5 September 1990.

37 Klas Bergman, ‘Markovic Seeks to Keep Yugoslavia One Nation, Christian Science Monitor, July 11,1990, p.6.

38 Dimitrue Boarov, 3A Brief Review of Anti-Inflation Programs: the Curse of the Dead Programs, Vreme News Digest Agency, Apr. 13, 1992.

39 Ibid

40 Gervasi, op cit, p. 65.

41 Ibid, p 45

42 Zimmerman, op. cit.

43.Jim Burkholder, Humanitarian Intervention? Veterans For Peace, undated, www.veteransforpeace.org ).

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. In June 1995, the IMF, acting on behalf of creditor banks and Western governments, proposed to redistribute that debt as follows: Serbia and Montenegro, 36%, Croatia 28%, Slovenia 16%, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 16% and Macedonia 5%.

47. “Zagreb’s About Turn”, The Banker, January 1995, p. 38.

48. See World Bank, Macedonia Financial and Enterprise Sector, Public Information Department, 28 November 1995.

49. Statement of Macedonia’s Deputy Minister of Finance Mr. Hari Kostov, reported in MAK News, 18 April 1995.

50. Macedonian Information and Liaison Service, MILS News, 11 April 1995.

51 Ibid

52. According to the terms of the Dayton Accords (Annex1-A), “the government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall provide free of cost such facilities NATO needs for the preparation and execution of the Operation”.

53 IMF to Admit Bosnia on Wednesday, United Press International, 18 December 1995.

54. Frank Viviano and Kenneth Howe, “Bosnia Leaders Say Nation Sit Atop Oil Fields”, The San Francisco Chronicle, 28 August 1995. See also Scott Cooper, “Western Aims in Ex-Yugoslavia Unmasked”, The Organizer, 24 September

55 Ibid.

56 Ibid.

57 Schoenman, op. cit. 58. World Bank Development News, Washington, 27 April 1999.

59 World Bank Group Response to Post Conflict Reconstruction in Kosovo: General Framework For an Emergency Assistance Strategy, http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/kosovo/kosovo_st.htm undated).. 60. Ibid 61 World Bank, The World Bank’s Role in Reconstruction and Recovery in Kosovo, http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/pb/pbkosovo.htm, undated

62. Ibid

63. International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Consortium Backs Kosovo’s First Licensed Bank, http://www.ifc.org/ifc/pressroom/Archive/2000/00_90/00_90.html Press Release, Washington, 24 January 2000.

64. New York Times, July 8, 1998, report by Chris Hedges.

65. Quoted in Diana Johnstone, How it is done, Taking over the Trepca Mines: Plans and Propaganda, http://www.emperors-clothes.com/articles/Johnstone/howitis.htm Emperors Clothes, 28 February 2000.

66. See Johnston, op cit. For the ICG report see http://www.emperors-clothes.com/articles/Johnstone/icg.htm

67. World Bank, KOSF and World Bank, World Bank Launches First Kosovo Project, Washington, http://www.worldbank.org/html/extdr/extme/097.htm November 16, 1999 News Release No. 2000/097/ECA. 68 Out of the 20 million dollars budget for this program, only one million dollars was being provided by the World Bank.

Genetically Modified Foods Unsafe? GM Foods and Allergies

March 24th, 2014 by Jeffery M. Smith

Genetically modified (GM) foods are inherently unsafe, and current safety assessments are not competent to protect us from or even identify most dangers. Overwhelming evidence to support this conclusion is now compiled in the book Genetic Roulette: The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods, which presents an abundance of adverse findings and theoretical risks associated with GM foods.1

The book documents lab animals with damage to virtually every system studied; thousands of sick, sterile, or dead livestock; and people around the world who have traced toxic or allergic reactions to eating GM products, breathing GM pollen, or touching GM crops at harvest. It also exposes many incorrect assumptions that were used to support GM approvals. This article, excerpted from my book, summarizes some of the findings related to allergic and immune responses.

GM Soy and Allergies

Soy allergies jumped 50% in the U.K. just after GM soy was introduced.2 If GM soy was the cause, it may be due to several things. The GM protein that makes Roundup Ready Soy resistant to the herbicide does not have a history of safe use in humans and may be an allergen. In fact, sections of its amino acid sequence are identical to known allergens.3

A portion of the transgene from ingested GM soybeans, along with the promoter that switches it on, transfers into human gut bacteria during ingestion.4 The fact that the transformed bacteria survives applications of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, suggests that the transgene continues to produce the Roundup Ready protein. If true, then long after people stop eating GM soy they may be constantly exposed to its potentially allergenic protein, which is being created within their gut. (This protein may be made more allergenic due to misfolding, attached molecular chains, or rearrangement of unstable transgenes, but there is insufficient data to support or rule out these possibilities.1)

Studies suggest that the GM transformation process may have increased natural allergens in soybeans. The level of one known allergen, trypsin inhibitor, was 27% higher in raw GM soy varieties. More worrisome, it was as much as sevenfold higher in cooked GM soy compared to cooked non-GM soy.5 Not only is this higher amount potentially harmful, the finding also suggests that the trypsin inhibitor in GM soy might be more heat stable and, therefore, even more allergenic than the natural variety.6

It is also possible that changes in GM soy DNA may produce new allergens. Although there has never been an exhaustive analysis of the proteins or natural products in GM soy, unpredicted changes in the DNA were discovered. A mutated section of soy DNA was found near the transgene, which may contribute to some unpredicted effects. Moreover, between this scrambled DNA and the transgene is an extra transgene fragment, not discovered until years after soy was on the market.7 The RNA produced is completely unexpected. It combines material from all three sections: the full-length transgene, the transgene fragment, and the mutated DNA sequence. This RNA is then further processed into four different variations,8 which might lead to the production of some unknown allergen.

Another study verified that GM soybeans contain an IgE-binding allergenic protein not found in nonGM soy controls, and that one of eight subjects who showed a skin-prick allergic reaction to GM soy had no reaction to nonGM soy.9 Although the sample size is small, the implication that certain people react only to GM soy is huge.

The increased residue of Roundup herbicide in GM soy might contribute to increased allergies.10 In fact, the symptoms identified in the U.K. soy allergy study are among those related to glyphosate exposure. The allergy study identified irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, lethargy, and skin complaints including acne and eczema.2

Symptoms of glyphosate exposure include nausea, headaches, lethargy, skin rashes, and burning or itchy skin.11 It is also possible that glyphosate’s breakdown product, AMPA, which accumulates in GM soybeans,12,13 might contribute to allergies.

Finally, mice fed GM soy had reduced levels of pancreatic enzymes.14,15 When protein-digesting enzymes are suppressed, proteins may last longer in the gut, allowing more time for an allergic reaction to take place. Any reduction in protein digestion could therefore promote allergic reactions to a wide range of proteins, not just to the GM soy.

Bt Toxin Triggers Immune Response

Bt toxin is consistently associated with immune and allergic-type responses. Although the unpredicted consequences of the GM transformation process might also contribute to allergic reactions from Bt crops, evidence suggests that the Bt toxin itself is a major factor. The Bt proteins found in most currently registered Bt-corn varieties would not pass the allergy test protocol described in the 2001 FAO/WHO report,16 because they have amino acid sections identical with known allergens17 and are too stable in simulated digestive solutions.18,19

Furthermore, immune responses are triggered by both the natural Bt toxin in spray form and Bt crops. The concentration of Bt toxin in crops, however, can be thousands of times higher than in sprays;20 and changes in its protein structure make the crop version more likely to provoke reactions in humans.21,22

Additional evidence:

• When populations were exposed to Bt spray, hundreds complained of allergic reactions; exposed farm workers also exhibited antibody responses.23–27

• Indian farm workers exposed to Bt cotton developed moderate or severe allergic reactions.28

• Bt toxin fed to mice induced a significant immune response and an increased reactivity to other substances.29-31

• Male rats fed MON 863 Bt corn had a significant increase in three types of blood cells related to the immune system: basophils, lymphocytes, and total white cell counts.32

• Thousands of consumers complained to food manufacturers about possible reactions to StarLink corn,33 and an expert panel determined that its Bt protein had a “medium likelihood” of being a human allergen.34

The consistency between the reactions related to Bt sprays and those reported by Bt-cotton workers is astounding. The Bt spray was associated with sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, skin inflammation and irritation, rashes, itching and burning, swelling, red skin and eyes, exacerbations of asthma, facial swelling, and fever. Some people required hospitalization.23,24 Bt-cotton workers in India reported sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, skin eruptions, itching and burning, red skin and eyes, facial swelling, and fever. Some people required hospitalization.28 The two lists are nearly identical—only “exacerbations of asthma” was on the spray list and not the other.

Asthma and breathing difficulties were reported by Filipinos who inhaled Bt-corn pollen.35 They also described swollen faces, flu-like symptoms, fever, and sneezing. Some individuals in both India and the Philippines also reported long-term effects after exposure. The list of symptoms in the Philippines, however, did contain items not reported by the other two groups. These included coughs, headache, stomachache, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and numbness.36

Toxicity and Reproductive Problems

In addition, there is substantial evidence of toxicity and reproductive effects associated with GM foods. Sheep that grazed on Bt-cotton plants in India, for example, exhibited nasal discharge, reddish and erosive mouth lesions, cough, bloat, diarrhea, and occasional red-colored urine. Shepherds report that 25% of their herds died within 5–7 days. Post mortems on some of the estimated 10,000 dead sheep in the region indicated toxic reactions.37 Rats fed Bt corn showed toxicity in their livers and kidneys.38 And farmers link Bt corn with deaths among cows,39 water buffalo, horses, and chickens,36 as well as sterility in thousands of pigs or cows.1 Animal feeding studies with Roundup Ready soy indicated toxic livers,40 altered sperm cells,41 significant changes in embryo development,42 and a fivefold increase in infant mortality, among others.43

Our understanding of DNA has progressed rapidly since genetic engineering was applied to food crops, and many key safety assumptions have been proven wrong. Perhaps some day scientists will be able to safely and predictably alter food crops for the benefit of mankind and the environment.

Until then, it is not responsible to risk the health of the entire population with this infant science or to release these crops into the ecosystem where they may self-propagate for generations. An immediate ban of GM foods and crops is more than justified.

Notes

1. Smith, J.M. Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA, 2007).

2. Townsend, M. Why soya is a hidden destroyer. Daily Express, Mar 12, 1999.

3. Kleter, G.A. & Peijnenburg, A.A.C.M. Screening of transgenic proteins expressed in transgenic food crops for the presence of short amino acid sequences identical to potential, IgE-binding linear epitopes of allergens. BMC Struct. Biol. 2 (2002): 8–19.

4. Netherwood et al. Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract. Nature Biotech. 22 (2004): 2.

5. Padgette, S.R. et al. The composition of glyphosate-tolerant soybean seeds is equivalent to that of conventional soybeans. J. of Nutrition 126, no. 4 (1996).

6. Pusztai, A. & Bardocz, S. GMO in animal nutrition:

potential benefits and risks. Ch. 17, Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals (Elsevier, 2005).

7. Windels, P. et al. Characterisation of the roundup ready soybean insert. Eur. Food Res. Technol. 213 (2001): 107–112.

8. Rang, A. et al. Detection of RNA variants transcribed from the transgene in roundup ready soybean. Eur. Food Res. Technol. 220 (2005): 438–443.

9. Yum, H. et al. Genetically modified and wild soybeans: an immunologic comparison. Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May–Jun 2005): 210–216.

10. Benbrook, C. Genetically engineered crops and pesticide use in the United States: The First Nine Years. October 2004.

11. Cox, C. Herbicide fact sheet: glyphosate. J. of Pest. Reform 24, no. 4 (Winter 2004).

12. Duke, S.O. et al. Isoflavone, Glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid levels in seeds of glyphosate-treated, glyphosateresistant soybean. J. Agric. Food Chem. 51 (2003): 340–344.

13. Sandermann, H. Plant biotechnology: ecological case studies on herbicide resistance. Trends in Plant Sci. 11, no. 7 (Jul 2006): 324–328.

14. Malatesta, M. et al. Ultrastructural analysis of pancreatic acinar cells from mice fed on genetically modified

soybean. J. of Anat. 201, no. 5 (Nov 2002): 409.

15. Malatesta, M. et al. Fine structural analyses of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on GM soybean.

Eur. J. Histochem. 47 (2003): 385–388.

16. FAO/WHO. “Evaluation of allergenicity of genetically modified foods.” (FAO/WHO, Jan 22–25, 2001).

17. Gendel. The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods. Advan. in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998): 45–62.

18. Noteborn, H.P.J.M. Assessment of the stability to digestion and bioavailability of the LYS mutant Cry9C protein from Bacillus thuringiensis serovar tolworthi. Unpublished study to EPA (AgrEvo, EPA MRID No. 447343-05, 1998).

19. Engel, K. et al. Genetically modified foods: safety

issues. American Chemical Society Symposium Series 605 (Washington DC, 1995): 134–47.

20. Mendelsohn, M. et al. Are Bt crops safe? Nature Biotech. 21, no. 9 (2003): 1003–1009.

21. Dutton, A. et al. Uptake of Bt-toxin by herbivores feeding on transgenic maize and consequences for the predator Chrysoperia carnea. Ecol. Entomology 27 (2002): 441–7.

22. Romeis, J., Dutton, A., & Bigler, F. Bacillus thuringiensis toxin (Cry1Ab) has no direct effect on larvae of the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae). J. of Insect Phys. 50, no. 2–3 (2004): 175–183.

23. Washington State Dept. of Health. “Report of health

surveillance activities: asian gypsy moth control program (Washington State Dept. of Health, Olympia, WA, 1993).

24. Green, M. et al. Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: an epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985–86. Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7 (1990): 848–852.

25. Noble, M.A., Riben, P.D., & Cook, G.J. Microbiological and epidemiological surveillance program to monitor the health effects of Foray 48B BTK spray (Ministry of Forests, Vancouver, B.C., Sept 30, 1992).

26. Swadener, C. Bacillus thuringiensis. J. of Pest. Reform 14, no. 3 (Fall 1994).

27. Samples, J.R. & Buettner, H. Ocular infection caused by a biological insecticide. J. Infectious Dis. 148, no. 3 (1983): 614.

28. Gupta, A. et al. “Impact of Bt cotton on farmers’ health (in Barwani and Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh)”

(Investigation Report, Oct–Dec 2005).

29. Vazquez et al. Intragastric and Intraperitoneal Administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice. Life Sci. 64, no. 21 (1999): 1897–1912.

30. Vazquez et al. Characterization of the mucosal and

systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice. Brazilian J. of Med. and Biol. Research 33 (2000): 147–155.

31. Vazquez et al. Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant. Scandanavian J. of Immunology 49 (1999): 578–584.

32. Burns, J.M. 13-week dietary subchronic comparison study with MON 863 corn in rats preceded by a 1-week baseline food consumption determination with PMI certified rodent diet #5002. (Monsanto Co. report, Dec 17, 2002).

33. Freese, B. The StarLink affair. Submission by Friends of the Earth to the FIFRA scientific advisory panel considering assessment of additional scientific information concerning StarLink corn (Jul 17–19, 2001).

34. Assessment of additional scientific information concerning StarLink corn (FIFRA scientific advisory panel report, No. 2001–09, Jul 2001).

35. Smith, J.M. Bt-maize (corn) during pollination, may

trigger disease in people living near the cornfield (Press release, Feb 2004).

36. Ho, M. GM ban long overdue, dozens ill & five deaths in the Philippines (ISIS press release, Jun 2, 2006).

37. Mortality in sheep flocks after grazing on Bt cotton fields—Warangal district (Andhra Pradesh report of the preliminary assessment, Apr 2006).

38. Seralini, G., Cellier, D., & Spiroux de Vendomois, J. New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. J. archives of Env. Contam. and Toxicology (Springer, New York).

39. Strodthoff, H. & Then, C. Is GM maize responsible for deaths of cows in Hesse? Greenpeace e.V. 22745

(Greenpeace, Hamburg, Germany, Dec 2003).

40. Malatesta, M. et al. Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Cell Struct. Funct. 27 (2002): 173–180.

41. Vecchio, L. et al. Ultrastructural analysis of testes

from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.

Eur. J. of Histochem. 48, no. 4 (Oct–Dec 2004):449–454.

42. Oliveri et al. Temporary depression of transcription in mouse pre-implantion embryos from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. (48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore, Italy, Sept 7–10, 2006).

43. Ermakova, I. Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies. Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4–9.

Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book was Seeds of Deception. His newest book, Genetic Roulette, was recently released by Yes! Books (www.geneticroulette.com). Smith is the producer of the video Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals and writes an internationally syndicated column Spilling the Beans. E-mail: [email protected].

 The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, the Serbian Host Society, the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia and Veterans Association of Serbia (SUBNOR), in coordination with the World Peace Council, on 22 and 23 March 2014 held the International Conference “Global Peace vs. Global Interventionism and Imperialism”.

The Conference was held on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of NATO’s armed aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The motto of the Conference was “Not to Forget”.

More than 500 scientists, experts and public persons from the areas of the international relations and security, from 50 countries of Europe and the world took part in the work of the Conference.

Participants of the Conference paid tribute to victims of the 78-day bombardment and laid wreaths on memorials. They honored all the victims of the illegal NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro and expressed their deep respect for former Yugoslav Popular Army, Federal Government, President Slobodan Milosevic and all heroic resistant fighters. We also must remember the victims of the NATO aggression subsequent to 1999, ongoing persecution of those political and military leaders who defended the country and who were sent to illegal Hague Tribunal including president Milosevic and others, who died there. Considering this Tribunal as illegal as a tool of NATO propaganda and political blackmailing, the participants demand its dissolution.

The debate unfolded in a constructive and tolerant dialogue regarding most important aspects and problems concerning the international peace and security. The presentations mainly focused on how to preserve global peace and find the ways to stop global interventionism, destabilization of certain countries and provoking the crises all over the world, which undermine the international legal and political world order and pushes the world to the edge of a major confrontation.

The participants analyzed the causes and consequences of NATO aggression in 1999, not only for Serbia and the Balkans but also its global consequences for peace and security in Europe and the world. Further to this, participants of the Conference have agreed as follows:

- NATO aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) of March 1999 was a war imposed against an independent, sovereign European state, in gross violation of the fundamental principles of the international law, most notably, the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. This was the aggression committed without consent the UN Security Council. Hence it is a crime against peace and humanity, and the turning point towards the global interventionism, the practice of gross violation of the international legal order, and the negation of role of the UN. Subsequently it has been used as the model of interventionism in a number of other cases such as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and others.

- The leading Western powers, the USA, the UK, France, Germany, followed by the rest of NATO Members, 19 in all, devised a whole new arsenal of euphemisms in a bid to attribute any possible shred of legitimacy to this crime against peace and humanity.  So-called “humanitarian intervention” was a cover for indiscriminate killings of civilians in Serbia including children, disabled and senior citizens, for the destruction of the economy, infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, passenger trains and houses. Use of missiles with depleted uranium has contaminated natural environment thus triggering grave and far-reaching consequences for the health of current and future generations.

- Since this is a crime against peace and humanity and a gross violation of the basic provisions of the international law, NATO Member States bear full legal responsibility for the aggression, including liability for the inflicted damage on the order of more than USD 100 billion, as well as responsibility for the use of weapons with depleted uranium and other illicit ordnances of mass destruction. Serbia has the right to initiate the proceedings before the competent international forums against NATO Alliance and all of its member states participating in the aggression, for the purpose of exercising the right to war damage compensation to Serbia and Montenegro as well as to individuals who suffered from aggression.

- Armed aggression has continued by employing other, non-military means. This was reflected in the violent change of power in the October 5, 2000 coup, which was initiated, funded and supported by NATO Member States; in all kind of blackmails and threats aimed at making Serbia denounce its state sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija as its historical, cultural and civilization heartland; in ignoring UN Security Council Resolution 1244 guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia. Eventually, this led to unlawful and unconstitutional unilateral separation of Kosovo and Metohija in 2008 which was followed by formal recognition by most NATO member countries. The 1999 US NATO aggression grossly violated the UN Charter, 1970 Declaration on principles of International law, Helsinki Final Act, Paris Charter for a New Europe, five Security Council resolutions in 1998-2008, including resolutions 1244 and 1785.

- Immediately after the end of the aggression, a large USA military base has been established in Kosovo and Metohija, “Camp Bondsteel”, the first and crucial ring in the chain of the new USA bases in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and other Easter European countries. NATO aggression against Yugoslavia actually accelerated the arms race and militarization of Europe and implementation of US/NATO/EU strategy of “Eastern expansion”.

- Aggression against Serbia and Montenegro (FRY) launched in March 1999 has been serving as a blueprint for global USA/NATO/EU interventionism. In practice, this translates the USA, NATO and the West discretion to intervene militarily or otherwise, as they choose to suite their economic or strategic interests. Toppling legally elected governments and replacing them by hand-picked, pawn regimes, has become part and parcel of so called “democratization process”.

-  NATO has always operated as an aggressive military alliance, serving expansion and of imperialistic and neo-colonial objectives of the leading Western powers. The entire experience so far indicates that NATO strategy of global interventionism leaves behind a chaos in international relations, gigantic human casualties, divisions, and long-lasting misery and anguish in all countries and regions which have become immediate victims of such policy.

- NATO is responsible for devastation of the international legal order, for the degradation of the UN, instigating a new arms race, militarization of Europe, destabilization and inducing crises in individual countries and regions all over the world. Therefore, NATO strategy goes against the goals of peace and security, contravenes the democratic and civilization values, and violates the fundamental human rights. Such an Alliance is not a place for peaceful countries who see their interests in compliance of the international law and the UN system. This is why participants of the Conference pleaded for the dissolution of NATO as a relic of the Cold War, for disengaging in policy of free interventionism, and for the respect of freedom, independence and equality of all countries and nations.

- Exporting democracy and dictating cultural and civilization patterns has become a common approach of all Western powers, primarily of the USA, in their aspiring to govern the world pursuant to their own standards and in line with their self-serving interests. The imposition of such cultural and civilization patterns is an act of violence against reality that almost invariably results in conflicts, internal disorders, and deeper fragmentations and divisions; over time, this is prone to undermine the peace in the world, and presents a perfect excuse for external military interference. This model has created the so-called “colored revolutions” in Georgia, Venezuela and Ukraine and high jacked “Arab Spring revolution”, which managed to devastate and turn the clock back for several decades, such as: Libya, Egypt and Syria.

- The strategy of interventionism involves several motives and purposes. These include the control over natural and developmental resources, reallocation of resources, and geopolitical reconfiguration of the world, against and at the expense of the predetermined key geopolitical adversary. This is how the USA/NATO/EU staged the crisis in Ukraine, whose end is still nowhere in sight. One can say that the Ukrainian crisis is the single most dangerous threat to the peace since the end of the Cold War. Instead of acknowledging Ukraine as a natural connection between Russia and Europe, the West chose to interfere, by artificially dislocating it from its natural cultural, civilization, and geopolitical environment and drawing it westwards. In doing so, the West paid no attention at all that the action could lead to internal conflict within Ukraine and that it would put at risk Russia’s vital interests.

This dangerous geopolitical game played by America, NATO and the EU against Russia, as a proxy war at the expense of Ukraine under a “fine” but fake excuse of being waged for the benefit of the Ukrainians and their democratic social structure, has completely disregarded the effects of such policy against the interests of Ukraine, its people, the peace, and security in Europe and the world. Participants of the Conference advocated for a peaceful political solution free of interference and external pressures, that is, a solution that will guarantee its peoples will, and respect its role of a bridge between the East and the West. Such solution implies abandonment of the pernicious “Eastern expansion” which has already produced destabilization in Europe. Participants expressed satisfaction that the people of Crimea have used their right of self-determination which resulted in reunification with Russia.

- Participants of the Conference expressed their full support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, including the resolution of the issue of Kosovo and Metohija in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1244. They supported the following requests: free, safe and dignified return of 250,000 expelled Serbs and other non-Albanians to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija; restitution of the usurped private, church, state and socially-owned property; reconstruction of 150 destroyed churches and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, of hundreds of desecrated and obliterated Serbian graveyards and thousands of burnt Serbian homes; conducting effective investigation of trafficking in human organs; determining the fate of all abducted and missing Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija; and identifying and bringing to justice the perpetrators of all other crimes committed against the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija for which, so far, nobody has been found responsible, let alone convicted.

- Participants of the Conference welcomed worthy initiative of the UN General Assembly which proclaimed 2014 to be the international year of solidarity with the people of Palestine. Finding that this initiative deserves strong support of the peaceful forces in the world, the Conference sent requests for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from all Palestinian territories, for the establishment of independent state of Palestine, within the borders of July 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, for the right for the return for the Palestine refugees, based on UN Resolution 194 and the release of all Palestinian prisoners from jail. Fulfillment of these requests is of vital interest for the Palestinian people and for the introduction of a just and durable peace in the Middle East.

- Participants have expressed solidarity with peoples of Latin America in their endeavors to safeguard freedom, independence and sovereignty from aggressive imperial USA strategy. They demanding closing of Guantanamo base and abolishing blockade against Cuba, as well as the release of the five Cuban political prisoners from American jails.

- By dismissing the policies and actions that endanger the peace and security, participants of the Conference denounced plans and actions aimed at destabilizing the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Coordinated violent actions in Caracas and other parts of Venezuela are parts of the strategy employed by the local oligarchs and external actors, intended to disable the functioning of the legitimately elected government and impose political changes of their choice but against the interests of the Venezuelan people, by sabotage, violent provocations and blackmails. In condemning those attempts, participants of the Conference expressed their solidarity with the Venezuelan people and the support for its courageous efforts to preserve the freedom, pride, and sovereignty of Venezuela, and to decide their own future.

- Participants have expressed concern over systematic organized revision of European history of the 20th century, particularly revision of outcome of the First and the Second World War. This may serve imperialist objectives for redrawing international borders causing unforeseen consequences. We condemn the western promoted rehabilitation of fascism and attempts to equate communism with Nazism.

- Participants of the Conference dedicated significant attention to the global economic capitalist crisis which has led not only to an unprecedented social stratification and impoverishment of the global population, but also to an artificially imposed debt crises in a number of formerly economically very prosperous countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus. The global crisis emerged predominantly in countries which had declared themselves to be the centers of global civilization and the most advanced social order, one that will see no need for serous social conflicts and clashes. The key indicators of this crisis include mass-scale unemployment, especially within the youth, high indebtedness of countries, decline in economic activities, etc. We support the genuine popular protests against the above.

- It is obvious that on Europe and the majority of the world were imposed the neo-liberal cultural, political and economical pattern, which does not function. In the search for the way out of this universal deadlock, the most powerful countries are trying to shift the burden of the crisis onto other countries and nations, ones they pejoratively call “the global periphery”, while in the meantime struggling to win the battle for the global prestige, and in the process stepping down onto the old civilizations and forcibly toppling the unsympathetic ruling regimes. All the above only add to the conflicting feature of the international arena, and makes it exceptionally prone to outbreaks of all types of conflicts, from internal and regional, to the global ones.

- Participants at the Conference noted with concern that there are still US forward-based infrastructures in Europe like missile defense, tactical nuclear weapons and conventional forces, that destabilize the regional and the global atmosphere.

- The global economic crisis cannot be resolved by the printing of ever new trillions of dollars and the makeshift mends of the existing system. This can be done by abandoning the neo-liberal concept and by developing a new, humane society of social justice, equality and the better life for all people and nations in the planet. The focus of the new system of social relations must be on people and their economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian needs, instead of the profits and self-serving interests of the so-called economical and political elites.

- A part this International Conference was the Youth Forum, which concluded that the global crisis, and globalization and interventionism primarily threaten the rights and perspectives of the young generations. In numerous countries, in Europe and the world, young people below 30 make up some 60% of the total number of unemployed. The youth requests urgent changes in the social relations and internationally, which will ensure active engagement of the young people into economic, political and societal trends, their assuming responsibility for their own future, at the national and international levels. The youth advocates the socially just society and universal human rights, such as the right to employment, free education, social security and health care. Young people advocate the democratization of international relations, the respect for the international law, and denounce the arms race, militarization and neocolonialism.

- Only a world free of dominance of imperialism and militarism will stand a chance to avoid a war cataclysm. The global economic crises and its consequences on popular strata underline the necessity to overcome the system which causes exploitation, wars and the misery. It is absolutely unacceptable and contrary to the international law to have the regional center of power, such as NATO and the European Union be established as a substitute to the United Nations Security Council.

- The only true international community is the United Nations, rather than any self-proclaimed members of any regional groups. We must struggle to ensure the universal character of the international law and to have it equally oblige big and small countries, developed and developing ones. We have to fight even more resolutely to preserve the civilization heritage such as the freedom, ethics and dignity, while determinedly rejecting all surrogates of the corporative capitalism and imperialism, planted by the military-industrial and finance capital.

Participants of the Conference emphasized that the accomplishment of these objectives required active engagement in mobilizing all peace-loving stakeholders, in order to counter and reject any military and conquest ambitions against any given country regardless of its leaders. In parallel, it is necessary to mobilize all forces in developing democratic international relations, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, the provisions of the international law, and the strict observance of the inviolability and independence of all states and their territorial integrity, and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs. Such a world would be measured by a human scale, and this grand utopia should be believed in, and persistently fighting for, and this is the key message from the Conference.

Participant in the Conference expressed sincere gratitude to the Serbian side for the excellent performance of the International Conference and for hospitality extended to all participants.

 Belgrade, 23 March 2014

For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage.

Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.

The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the stalled talks for another year. The US outline for peace is now likely to amount to little more than a set of vague, possibly unwritten principles that both sides can assent to.

The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.

The US political cycle means Obama’s Democratic party is heading this autumn into the Congressional mid-term elections. A humiliating failure in the peace process would add to perceptions of him as a weak leader in the Middle East, following what has been widely presented as his folding in confrontations with Syria and Iran.

Renewed clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in the international arena would also deepen US diplomatic troubles at a time when Washington needs to conserve its energies for continuing negotiations with Iran and dealing with the fallout from its conflict with Russia over Crimea.

Obama therefore seems committed to keeping the peace process show on the road for a while longer, however aware he is of the ultimate futility of the exercise.

In this regard, US interests overlap with those of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has been the chief beneficiary of the past eight months: diplomatic pressure has largely lifted; Israeli officials have announced an orgy of settlement building in return for releasing a few dozen Palestinian prisoners; and the White House has gradually shifted ground even further towards Israel’s hardline positions.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have nothing to show for their participation, and have lost much of the diplomatic momentum gained earlier by winning upgraded status at the United Nations. They have also had to put on hold moves to join dozens of international forums, as well as the threat to bring Israel up on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.

 Abbas is under mounting pressure at home to put an end to the charade, with four Palestinian factions warning last week that the Kerry plan would be the equivalent of national “suicide”. For this reason, the White House is now focused on preventing Abbas from quitting next month – and that requires a major concession from Israel.

The Palestinians are said to be pushing hard for Israel’s agreement to halt settlement building and free senior prisoners, most notably Marwan Barghouti, who looks the most likely successor to Abbas as Palestinian leader.

 Some kind of short-term settlement freeze – though deeply unpopular with Netanyahu’s supporters – may be possible, given the Israeli right’s triumph in advancing settlement-building of late. Abbas reportedly presented Obama with “a very ugly map” of more than 10,000 settler homes Israel has unveiled since the talks began.

Setting Barghouti free, as well as Ahmad Saadat, whose PLO faction assassinated the far-right tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in 2001, would be an even harder pill for the Israeli government to swallow. Cabinet ministers are already threatening a mutiny over the final round of prisoner releases, due at the end of the week. But Israeli reports on Sunday suggested Washington might consider releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, possibly in return for Israel freeing more Palestinians, to keep the talks going.

 Simmering tensions between the US and Israel, however, are suggestive of the intense pressure being exerted by the White House behind the scenes.
 Those strains exploded into view again last week when Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, used a speech to lambast Washington’s foreign policy as “feeble”. In a similar vein, he infuriated the White House in January by labelling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic” in pursuing the peace process. But unlike the earlier incident, Washington has refused to let the matter drop, angrily demanding an explicit apology.

The pressure from the White House, however, is not chiefly intended to force concessions from Israel on an agreement. After all, the Israeli parliament approved this month the so-called referendum bill, seen by the right as an insurance policy. It gives the Israeli public, raised on the idea of Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive and “eternal capital”, a vote on whether to share it with the Palestinians.

 Washington’s goal is more modest: a few more months of quiet. But even on this reckoning, given Netanyahu’s intransigence, the talks are going to implode sooner or later. What then?
 Obama and Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamouring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.
 An unexpected voice backing the one-state solution emerged last week when Tareq Abbas, the Palestinian president’s 48-year-old son, told the New York Times that a struggle for equal rights in a single  state would be the “easier, peaceful way”.

Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check for ever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.

That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.

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

 A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.

INCITE!, a radical organization by and for women of color, wrote a book entitled “The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.” This important text contains essays from radical scholars, activists, and organizers who assess the non-profit’s place inUS monopoly capitalism.  The book concludes that non-profits co-opt and corrupt grassroots social movements that seek to replace monopoly capitalism with a new and just social system. The following essay adds to this important work by covering the ways in which non-profits have changed in US capitalism’s neo-liberal stage of development.

Historical Context

Originally, the tax-exempt non-profit emerged as a response to the revolutionary elements of the Black freedom movement.  As Robert Allen explains in “Black Awakening in Capitalist America”, the Ford Foundation and similar “philanthropic” organizations were part of a larger strategy of US Empire to channel the resistance of Black America in the nation’s burning ghettos into forms of protest acceptable to the hegemony of racism and capitalism.  The Ford Foundation specifically did this by financing and thus sanitizing the ideological and political initiatives of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and other mainstream civil rights organizations. At the federal level, theUSgovernment’s ”War on Poverty” programs worked in conjunction with foundations and non-profits to stifle Black militancy on a larger scale.

“The War on Poverty” used non-profits as the material force of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. One such non-profit was the Community Action Agency (CAA).  The CAA received federal funds to advocate and organize the poor locally and administer concrete services like food, healthcare, and housing assistance. As theUSexited its period of leftist upheaval in the age of industrial capitalism and entered the age of neo-liberal austerity, the rulers of finance capital began retracting “War on Poverty” programs. CAA’s were forced to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of poor and homeless walking through their doors and do so with fewer resources.USgovernment enforced austerity additionally decimated funding for CAA’s, as theUSruling class pursued more profitable projects like gentrification, privatization, mass incarceration, surveillance, war, and bank bailouts.  The non-profit’s role was due for a makeover.

CAA’s and the NEW non-profit

CAA’s exemplify the original purpose of the non-profit as a mechanism to smooth over the roughest edges ofUScapitalism.  However, in the age of neo-liberal monopoly capitalism, existing programs that address the needs of the exploited are being rolled back to feed the bottom line of Finance capital.  Wall Street has transferred most of the world’s wealth into their dollar schemes. The ultimate goal of Wall Street is to privatize Medicaid, Social Security, public education, and the entire public sector to subsidize its losses and crashes.  Non-profits are being employed by finance capital to cement its privatization agenda, thus making the institution not only limiting in nature but thoroughly corrupting as well.

Teach for America (TFA) and LIFT are two non-profits currently serving the privatization agenda.  Financial corporations, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America and capitalists like the Walton and Gates families, fund both LIFT and TFA.

TFA demonizes public education teachers and directly aids the Obama Administration’s “Race to the Top” program. TFA replaces veteran teachers with a two-year scab labor force from the nation’s elitist colleges.  Most of the time, this is done to school districts residing in Black and brown communities.  ”Race to the Top” gives local districts the ultimatum of either closing their public schools, firing their teachers and administrators, turning their schools over to charter schools, or all of the above. Teach for America happily brands itself as a “movement” of “education reform”, one that accommodates Obama’s privatization of public education.

LIFT serves the same function, but in the social services sector. Elitist college students work as “advocates”, a euphemism for de-professionalized caseworkers and social workers.  LIFT employs mainly volunteers.  Non-administrative staff, the vast majority of employees, is subsidized through Americorps. And like TFA, LIFT demonizes whom they wish to replace: case workers and social workers.  Yet the agency strongly claims it provides a better model than the social services system despite having no concrete services of its own.  LIFT’s ultimate aim is to exist as a one-stop shop for referrals in a privatized social services system.

Conclusion

The Black liberation movement and left radicalism of the post-New Deal period sparked a strong response from the rulers of monopoly capitalism.  COINTELPRO conducted mass assassination, infiltration, and imprisonment campaigns on Black radicals.  The US government moved swiftly to end the Vietnam War, prop up a Black misleadership class, and conduct a minimal “War on Poverty” to stem the tide of revolutionary sentiment in the US. Non-profits have played a large role in channeling revolutionaries into comfortable careers that promote liberalism and collaboration with monopoly capital.  With no radical movement to co-opt, non-profits are now employed to complete the privatization agenda of finance capital. Teach For America and LIFT are concrete examples of this phenomena. However, Western NGO’s operating in neo-colonial countries should also be considered as being complicit in monopoly capital’s thievery on an international scale.

Liberal and progressives in the US all too often de-politicize the non-profit and separate the institution from its role in larger society.  Careerists approve of non-profits in their search for a comfortable salary in the midst of the mass immiseration of the world’s oppressed by neo-liberal capitalism.  For those of us whose futures depend on revolutionary change, the non-profit stands at the forefront of our struggle against privatization, austerity, and imperialist war. “Civil society” in this period is a weapon of inequality and plunder. We need to build a grassroots social movement where the people are the power and not the financing of the capitalist class.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]

Indian Oil and Environment Minister Veerappa Moily has added fuel to the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by approving field trials of 200 GM food crops on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Mahyco, Bayer and BASF. This is despite Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals until scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system are developed.

This will involve a deliberate release of GM organisms in the open environment and a potential contamination of non-GM crops, as has been the case in the US, with GM open field trials having contaminated parts of the wheat supply (1). Despite mounting evidence appearing in peer-reviewed journals that GM and glyphosate are adversely impacting human health, the nutritional value of food crops, plant immunity, soil fertility, biodiversity, the environment and yields (2 – 15), politicians seem hell-bent on facilitating the aims of the GM biotech sector.

It was a similar story with the ‘Green Revolution’. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations backed this chemical-laden revolution in agriculture and managed to co-opt strategically placed scientists, institutions and politicians in various areas of the globe (16). With their compliance, the result has been that over the past 50 to 60 years, thanks to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agriculture has changed more than it did during the previous 12,000 years.

We need look no further than Punjab to see the impact of the Green Revolution. Reports of water scarcities and contamination, increasing levels of cancer, farmer indebtedness and decreasing yields highlight the unsustainable and deleterious impacts of chemical-industrial agriculture (17). It all begs the question, what was wrong with agriculture in the first place that warranted this disastrous shift towards chemical agriculture and now GMOs? The answer to that is, by comparison, probably not a lot.

In 2013, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand concluded that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe (18). Led by Professor Jack Heinemann, the study’s findings were published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. The study found that Europe is decreasing chemical herbicide use and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the US has increased with GM seed. In effect, Europe has learned to grow more food per hectare and use fewer chemicals in the process.

Moreover, a September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) states that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduce the use of fertilisers and other inputs, provide greater support for small-scale farmers and move towards more locally focused production and consumption of food. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report (19).

The report states that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed, while causing mounting and unsustainable environmental damage. The system actually causes food poverty, not addresses it.

As for India, Arun Shrivastava notes that the world doesn’t need modern technology of poisonous pesticides, destructive fertilizers and patented GE seeds that can’t match 1890 or even 1760 AD yields in India (12). But even if we discard the debate over yields, Shrivastava (and others) asserts that modern technology has actually destroyed the nutrition in common foods and that, failing to set any yield or nutrition standard in any food crop, it is part of an insane industry that has muddled through.

So, how did we arrive at this stage, whereby 12,000 years of conventional farming were swept aside in favour of chemical/oil-based agriculture?

As William F Engdahl argues, the Green Revolution was a Rockefeller family plan to monopolize global agriculture as it had done with oil. It was aimed at removing traditional agriculture from farmers and placing it in the hands of corporate agribusiness. As a result, large multinational seed companies were able to control seed supplies. Moreover, the introduction of modern US agricultural technology, chemical fertilizers and commercial seeds made local farmers in developing countries dependent on US agribusiness.

Developing nations could not pay for the huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This new form of agriculture was also water intensive and required large irrigation projects. Nations would therefore get credit courtesy of the World Bank and special loans made large US banks to construct huge dams and flood previously fertile farmland. The loans went mostly to the large landowners. For the smaller peasants the situation worked differently. Small peasant farmers could not afford the chemical and other modern inputs and had to borrow money at higher rates of interest from elsewhere.

Engdahl notes that super-wheat produced greater yields only by saturating the soil with huge amounts of fertilizer per acre, the fertilizer being the product of nitrates and petroleum, commodities controlled by the Rockefeller-dominated major oil companies.

After two generations of the green revolution, is it any surprise that agriculture in India is in the grip of a combined social, financial and environmental crisis (20)?

Ordinary people, if they are not to be what Vandana Shiva calls ‘ignorant links in a malicious corporate-controlled food chain, therefore need to question why governments have kowtowed to a US-driven agenda of chemical and now GMO agriculture. Africa is now targeted for more of the same as the Gates Foundation spearheads the GMO onslaught in that continent (21).

12,000 years of traditional agriculture and biodiversity are being swept aside along with ordinary farmers by vested interests in the US whose geopolitical aim has to been to monopolize markets and ultimately use food as a weapon to control nations and people by destroying national food sovereignty and potentially using food as a means to depopulate (22,23).

“If you control the oil you control the country; if you control food, you control the population.” – Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (12)

Wider ‘corporate America’ is already setting the broad political, ‘development’ and economic agenda in India:

“And something Americans don’t know much about, the nuclear deal with India has a twin agreement, and that twin agreement is on agriculture. It’s called the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, and on the board of this agreement are Monsanto, ADM and Wal-Mart. So a grab of the seed sector by Monsanto, of the trade sector by the giant agribusiness, and the retail sector, which is 400 million people in India, by Wal-Mart. These are issues that are preoccupying us regarding democracy in India right now.” Vandana Shiva (24).

It’s not just ‘American’ that don’t know about this, but most ordinary Indians too!

But even with the upcoming national elections, no one should expect self-proclaimed Hindu-nationalist party BJP to protect the country from the foreign jackals if it gains power. BJP candidate for PM Narendra Modi is fully backed by Wall Street (25).

What future Indian agriculture?

What future India?

600 million booted off the land and the further hollowing out of Indian agriculture and society at the behest of Wall Street (26)?

Notes

1) http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/30/us-wheat-asia-idUSL3N0EB1JC20130530

2) http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/10/argentina-cancer-cluster-pesticide

3) http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416

4) http://nhrighttoknowgmo.org/BreakingNews/Glyphosate_II_Samsel-Seneff.pdf

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-and-morgellons-disease/8464

6) http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks

 7) http://covvha.net/glyphosate-gmo-chemicals-101-scientific-studies/#.Uww6cuNdWSr

8) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#tabModule

9) http://www.i-sis.org.uk/BtCottonKillsSoilandFarmers.php

10) http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/06/02/2013/137518/us-farmers-may-stop-planting-gms-after-poor-global-yields.htm

 11) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/329309/of-falling-bt-yield-disastrous.html

12) http://www.globalresearch.ca/india-genetically-modified-seeds-agricultural-productivity-and-political-fraud/5328227

13) http://www.i-sis.org.uk/BtCottonKillsSoilandFarmers.php

14) http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/dramatic-increase-kidney-disease-us-and-abroad-linked-roundup-glyphosate

15) http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14164-glyphosate-and-gmos-impact-on-crops-soils-animals-and-man-dr-don-huber

16) http://truththeory.com/2013/06/12/doomsday-seed-vault-in-the-arctic/

17) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/309654/punjab-transformation-food-bowl-cancer.html

18) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-genetically-engineered-agriculture-is-outclassed-by-europes-non-gm-approach/5341518

 

19) http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4789-yet-another-un-report-calls-for-support-to-peasant-farming-and-agroecology-it-s-time-for-action

 20) http://agrariancrisis.in/2007/01/09/wsf-2007-green-revolution-a-warning-from-india-with-dr-vandana-shiva/

 21) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-holt-gimenez/monsanto-in-gates-clothin_b_696182.html

22) http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Glyphosate_Roundup_and_Human_Male_Infertility.php

23) http://www.globalresearch.ca/genetic-engineering-eugenics-and-the-ideology-of-the-rich/5329025

 24) http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/13/vandana_shiva_on_farmer_suicides_the

25) http://www.globalresearch.ca/general-elections-in-india-the-choice-is-globalization-or-more-globalization-the-role-of-the-wall-street-lobby/5357992

 26) http://www.globalresearch.ca/mass-poverty-and-social-inequality-in-india-the-devastating-impacts-of-the-neoliberal-economic-development-model/5356153

 

 

América Latina en la transición hegemónica

March 24th, 2014 by Raúl Zibechi

Es probable que estemos ingresando en el núcleo duro de la transición hegemónica, tanto a escala global como en la región latinoamericana. Los sucesos de Venezuela y Ucrania, sumados a los de Siria y Sudán, a los que cada mes se sumarán otros, parecen indicar que la transición hacia un mundo post estadunidense se acelera dejando una estela de crisis económicas, sociales y humanitarias. Una transición hegemónica no puede producirse sin crisis y guerras, nos agrade o no esa perspectiva. No es fácil explicar las razones por las cuales en este momento la estrategia de Estados Unidos se endureció buscando la caída de gobiernos como el de Nicolás Maduro.

Es cierto que el simple paso del tiempo juega en contra de los intereses de Washington. ¿O puede haber influido el anuncio del ministro de Defensa de Rusia, Serguei Shoigu, de que está negociando instalar bases militares en Cuba, Venezuela y Nicaragua, algo que el Pentágono debe saber desde tiempo atrás? (Russia Today, 26/2/14) Es cierto que los supuestos anfitriones de las bases rusas negaron en los días posteriores al anuncio esa eventualidad, pero ¿qué otra cosa podían decir? Sería la evolución razonable de los importantes vínculos políticos y militares que esos tres países mantienen desde hace años con Moscú. Al parecer la Casa Blanca está probando las respuestas de sus aliados. Esa es al menos la lectura que hace el Laboratorio Europeo de Anticipación Política en su boletín mensual, donde señala que la crisis en torno a Ucrania es el modo de evitar una alianza Rusia-Unión Europea con la que Alemania parecía sintonizar. La torpe actitud estadunidense y de Bruselas de apoyo a los neonazis ucranios forma parte de una estrategia consistente en “reconstruir la cortina de hierro en 2014 y aislar a Europa de todas las actuales dinámicas de los países emergentes que nos unen a Rusia, como Ucrania nos unía a Rusia” (Geab No. 83, 15/3/14). La crisis europea actual es el segundo capítulo del ataque que sufrió el euro desde 2010, continuado por el proyecto TTIP (Asociación Trasatlántica para el Comercio y las Inversiones) con el objetivo de neutralizar la construcción de una Unión Europea autónoma y, según el citado think tank, “obligarnos a comprar el gas de esquisto estadunidense”, que no puede ser vendido sin ese acuerdo, lo que cerraría el círculo de la “anexión de Europa a la zona del dólar”.

En América Latina estamos viviendo la tercera transición hegemónica. Para tener alguna idea de los caminos que puede tomar la actual transición, no contamos con manuales sino con la rica experiencia histórica de nuestros pueblos, jalonada tanto de potentes protagonismos populares, indios y negros como de traiciones, masacres y genocidios. Una vez más, el resplandor del pasado nos ilumina. Recapitulemos: la primera transición sucedió entre 1810 y 1850, aproximadamente, y selló la suerte del dominio español y portugués y entronizó la hegemonía británica. Donde hubo virreinatos de la corona española, nacieron repúblicas dominadas por oligarquías criollas asentadas en haciendas agroexportadoras y el libre comercio. Esta transición aplastó las revoluciones de abajo: las revueltas de Túpac Amaru y Túpac Katari en Cusco y la actual Bolivia (1780-1781), la revolución haitiana (1804) y las luchas independentistas más radicales como las encabezadas por José Artigas en el sur y Miguel Hidalgo y José María Morelos en el norte, entre muchas otras. La segunda transición hegemónica, del dominio británico al estadunidense, entre el comienzo de la Primera Guerra Mundial (1914) y el fin de la Segunda (1945) fue precedida por la Revolución Mexicana (1910), tuvo jalones como la revolución boliviana (1952), la insurrección del proletariado argentino (17 de octubre de 1945) y el asesinato de Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, que inauguró La Violencia colombiana (1948-1958). En este periodo nacen nuevas instituciones, partidos de izquierda y sindicatos en particular, donde se organizan trabajadores y campesinos devenidos en las fuerzas motrices del cambio social, ocupando el lugar de las anteriores montoneras de las guerras por la independencia. Pese a sus victorias, los de abajo se vieron nuevamente desplazados, ya no por los criollos desgajados del colonizador sino por la alianza entre la burguesía industrial y el Estado nación, con variaciones en los diversos países, que se apoyaron en cierto desarrollo fabril destinado a sustituir importaciones.

Es probable que la actual transición haya comenzado, en un sentido laxo, con el caracazo de 1989, al que sin rubor podemos vincular, en cuanto a su trascendencia histórica, con la revuelta de Túpac Katari. El encadenamiento de levantamientos y revueltas es bien conocido; entre el primero de enero de 1994 y la marcha en defensa del TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Sécure) en Bolivia (2011) se registraron dos decenas de marejadas populares que modificaron la relación de fuerzas en la región. No tengo la menor duda de que los de abajo están en condiciones de derrotar a los de arriba, aunque éstos le den la mano al imperio. Los últimos embates en Venezuela muestran dos novedades: un alto nivel de violencia y el involucramiento paramilitar desde Colombia en apoyo de una derecha que cuenta con el respaldo de las clases medias, en particular profesionales y técnicos cuyo modo de vida es cada vez más cercano al de la burguesía. El principal problema que se puede otear en el horizonte es que se repita la secuencia de las dos transiciones anteriores: que el derroche de vidas y los triunfos de los de abajo en el campo de batalla sean apropiados y utilizados por un arriba reconfigurado para perpetuar la dominación. Para evitarlo, lo primero es preguntarnos quiénes son los criollos y los burgueses de hoy, aquellos que, agazapados en las marejadas populares, surfeando sobre el oleaje de los de abajo, están en condiciones de convertirse en una nueva clase dominante.

Raúl Zibechi

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/archivo_opinion/autor/front/16#sthash.EPLOwJ1Z.dpuf

9/11 Truth in 2014: Is a Breakthrough Possible?

March 24th, 2014 by Richard Gage

“…and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.”

-Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X

In fact, visual stimuli, transduced by the rods and cones in the eyes, and sent by electro-chemical signals to the central nerous system via the optic nerves does not go directly to the occipetal cortex which is the primary region responsible for processing information. Instead, it first goes to the lateral geniculate nucleus of the Thalamus, another region of the brain that is a part of the lymbic system and important to emotional arousal.

To put this in simpler terms, this means that you can experience an emotional reaction to something before you are consciously aware that you have even seen it.”

-Laurie Manwell, University of Guelph (emphasis added)

 

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This website, among others have articulated the major problems with the official explanation of 9/11 since the day after they happened.

These attacks have directly led to an agenda of increased military spending, surveillance, at least two wars of aggression (Afghanistan and Iraq) and a period of curtailed civil liberties in the name of protection from radical Islamic terrorists.

Amply documented, there are major problems with this narrative. The following humourous video encapsulates many of these anomalies.

 (Video courtesy of James Corbett)

A more detailed analysis is available through Global Research’s 9/11 Reader.

There has been a clear resistance to abandoning this core narrative. Take, for example, the refusal of Canadian Member of Parliament Paul Dewar to table a petition  in the House of Commons calling for a Canadian parliamentary review of the omissions and inconsistencies in the 9/11 Commission report and of available forensic evidence. Mr. Dewar says he doesn’t agree with the petition. That is not considered an acceptable rationale for not tabling a petition to Parliament. More background can be found on this webpage:

http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/732-the-canadian-911-justice-petition-initiative-continuing-the-pursuit-of-a-real-investigation.html

There is more to this kind of resistance than a lack of facts. Laurie Manwell is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Guelph and has published articles on psychological resistance to embracing alternative explanations of 9/11 and other so-called State Crimes Against Democracy. Her article, In Denial of Democracy: Social Psychological Implications for Public Discourse on State Crimes Against Democracy Post-9/11 appeared in the February 2010 edition of American Behavioural Scientist. Her thesis was the basis of her outstanding presentation at the Toronto Hearings on 9/11. An excerpt of this presentation airs in the first half hour of this week’s Global Research News Hour, courtesy of Press For Truth.

Architect and high profile 9/11 speaker Richard Gage, AIA joins us in the second half hour. He talks with guest interviewer Jon Wilson about his tour across Canada, and his view about the prospects of 9/11 making a powerful political breakthrough in this country.

Richard Gage will be visiting the following cities this spring. Please visit rethink911.ca for more details and updates.

Mar 13, 2014 – Prince George, BC – View Location
Mar 14, 2014 – Vancouver, Delta Burnaby – View Location
Mar 15, 2014 – Victoria, BC – View Location
Mar 16, 2014 – Edmonton, Alberta – View Location
Mar 17, 2014 – Calgary, Alberta
Mar 18, 2014 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Mar 19, 2014 – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Mar 20, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario
Mar 23, 2014 – London, Ontario
Mar 24, 2014 – Ottawa Public Library – View Location
Mar 26, 2014 – Montreal, QC, McGill University -View Location
Mar 28, 2014 – Fredericton, NB, Wu Center -View Location
Mar 29, 2014 – Saint John, New Brunswick
Mar 30, 2014 – Moncton, New Brunswick
Mar 31, 2014 – Halifax, Nova Scotia
Apr 01, 2014 – St. John’s, Newfoundland

 

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

 

March 20, 2014

Mark Udall, a strong advocate for independent oversight of intelligence agencies, urged the president today to remain steadfast in his commitment to declassifying the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s exhaustive review of the CIA’s brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program. Udall said recent revelations of CIA misconduct and attempts to evade congressional oversight should only steel the White House’s resolve to help the public understand the CIA’s past mistakes.

“These recent events point to the need to declassify as soon as possible the committee’s study on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. …

The American people deserve a proper and accurate accounting of the history, management, operation, and effectiveness of this program,” Udall wrote in his letter to the president. “In light of your recent commitment to making public the facts regarding the CIA’s program, I have full confidence that we can finally correct the record, move past this dark chapter in our history and become a stronger nation for confronting our mistakes.”

Udall’s letter builds on his recent work to bring new leadership to the CIA and to ensure intelligence agencies have strong, independent oversight.

Udall has been the leading voice in Congress for the White House and CIA to come clean about the agency’s deeply flawed detention and interrogation program. Earlier this month, he pressed the White House to publicly commit to declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark study on the CIA’s misguided program.

To read Udall’s letter, click HERE or scroll below:

at http://www.markudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=4119

or READ BELOW:

Containing Russia

March 24th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

It’s longstanding US policy. In his March 18 address on Crimea, Putin was right saying:

“(W)e have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today.”

Western nations are “constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it, and because we call things like they are and do not engage in hypocrisy.”

“Everything has its limits,” he added. “(I)n Ukraine, our Western partners crossed the red line.” They “act(ed) irresponsibly and unprofessionally.”

Putin had the courage to say what needs to be heard publicly. Containing Russia is longstanding US policy. It reflects US hegemonic ambitions. It risks a potential belligerent East/West confrontation.

As early as 1917, Washington and Britain wanted the new Soviet state destroyed. Three months before WW I ended, Britain led a multi-nation force.

At the time, Lloyd George was Prime Minister. Churchill was UK Minister of War and Air. Woodrow Wilson was US president.

Thousands of US marines were involved. They invaded Russia. They intervened against Bolshevik forces. They remained until April 1920.

So-called “preventive war” failed. At the same time, “Red Scare” propaganda was intense.

Political scientist Murray Levin called it “a nation-wide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent – a revolution that would change church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life.”

Newspapers hyped fear. Xenophobia raged. Industrial Workers of the World (IWW Wobblies) were demonized.

Latter-day mainstream media called them “radical threats to American society” inspired by “left-wing, foreign agent provocateurs.”

Labor strikes they led were called “crimes against society,” conspiracies against the government,” and “plots to establish communism.”

Dozens of Wobbly members were arrested. They were convicted. They got long prison terms. The IWW was never the same again.

The infamous 1917 Espionage Act and 1918 anti-anarchist Sedition Act were enacted. Law Professor David Cole said Wilson “targeted alien radicals.”

“(He) deported them for their speech or associations. (He) ma(de) little effort to distinguish true threats from ideological dissidents.”

In 1918, the abusive Palmer raids followed. They continued into 1921. Wilson’s Attorney General Mitchell Palmer ordered them. He targeted Wobbly members and other left-wing groups.

He launched J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI career. It began in the Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation’s newly created General Intelligence Division. In 1935, it became the FBI.

A year earlier, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities was established. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) succeeded it.

From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, Hoover’s infamous COINTELPRO (counterintelligence) program targeted political dissidents, alleged communists, anti-war, human and civil rights activists, American Indian Movement members, and Black Panther Party ones, among others.

In their book, “Agents of Repression,” Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall said:

“(T)he term came to signify the whole context of clandestine (usually illegal) political repression activities…”

They included “a massive surveillance (program via) wiretaps, surreptitious entries and burglaries, electronic devices, live ‘tails’ and bogus mail.”

It was done to induce paranoia and “foster ‘splits’ within or between organizations.”

Other tactics included:

  • “black propaganda” through leaflets or other publications; it was “designed to discredit organizations and foster internal tensions;”
  • “disinformation or ‘gray propaganda’ ” for the same purpose;
  • “bad-jacketing” to “creat(e) suspicion – through the spread of rumors, manufacture of evidence, etc.” to turn some members against others violently;
  • “harassment arrests (on bogus) charges;” and
  • “assassinations (of) selected political leaders.”

This writer vividly remembers December 4, 1969. Chicago police murdered Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark while they slept. They did so in cold blood.

In November 1968, J. Edgar Hoover ordered FBI agents “to exploit all avenues of creating….dissension within the ranks of the BPP (using) imaginative hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling” the organization.

He targeted independent voices challenging America’s imperial agenda. Soviet Russia supporters were prime targets.

Post-WW II, containing Russia became official US policy. US diplomat/ambassador to Soviet Russia/presidential advisor George Kennan (1904 – 2005) was “the father of containment.”

He was a core member of so-called foreign policy “Wise Men.” His advice inspired the Truman Doctrine. More on it below.

His 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow and 1947 “Sources of Soviet Conduct” claimed its government was inherently expansionist.

Containing its influence in strategic areas vitally important to America had to be prioritized, he argued. Cold War policies followed. Kennan was instrumentally involved.

In February 1948, his ”Memo PPS23” said:

“(W)e have 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. (It makes us) the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships (to let us) maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national society.”

“To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives.”

“We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction….”

“We should dispense with the aspiration to ‘be liked’ or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism.”

“We should (stop talking about) unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization.”

“The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans (ideas and practices), the better.”

In July 1947, his so-called “X” article headlined ”The Sources of Soviet Conduct.”

He urged “counter(ing) it “effectively.” He stressed “containment, saying:

“The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.”

He quoted Lenin saying:

“Unevenness of economic and political development is the inflexible law of capitalism. It follows from this that the victory of Socialism may come originally in a few capitalist countries or even in a single capitalist country.”

“The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and having organized Socialist production at home, would rise against the remaining capitalist world, drawing to itself in the process the oppressed classes of other countries.”

He said Soviet power reflects “innate antagonism between capitalism and socialism.”

“We have seen how deeply that concept has become imbedded in foundations of Soviet power. It has profound implications for Russia’s conduct as a member of international society.”

“It means that there can never be on Moscow’s side a sincere assumption of a community of aims between the Soviet Union and powers which are regarded as capitalist.”

“It must inevitably be assumed in Moscow that the aims of the capitalist world are antagonistic to the Soviet regime, and therefore to the interests of the peoples it controls.”

Antagonism remains, said Kennan. “And from it flow many of the phenomena which we find disturbing in the Kremlin’s conduct of foreign policy: the secretiveness, the lack of frankness, the duplicity, the wary suspiciousness, and the basic unfriendliness of purpose.”

Russians will be “difficult to deal with” for a long time, he stressed. In November 1948, NSC 4 outlined “US Objectives with Respect to the USSR to Counter Soviet Threats to US Security.”

NSC 7 followed. It covered “The Position of the United States With Respect to Soviet Dominated World Communism.” It said:

“(A) defensive policy cannot be considered an effective means of checking the momentum of Soviet expansion.”

“Defeat(ing)” communism was considered “vital to the security of the United States.” It argued Washington should organize and lead a “counter-offensive” aimed at undermining Soviet strength.

It should “develop, and at the appropriate time carry out, a coordinated program to support underground resistance movements in countries behind the iron curtain, including the USSR.”

Kennan’s 1948 “Inauguration of Political Warfare” explained his ideas on how to conduct it. He discussed covert and overt strategies.

He included political alliances, economic policies, and encouraging underground resistance initiatives. He encouraged establishing “Liberation Committees” across Europe. He supported policies short of war.

“In the long run,” he said, “there can be only three possibilities for the future of western and central Europe. One is German domination. Another is Russian domination.”

“The third is a federated Europe, into which the parts of Germany are absorbed but in which the influence of the other countries is sufficient to hold Germany in her place.”

“If there is no real European federation and if Germany is restored as a strong and independent country, we must expect another attempt at German domination.”

“If there is no real European federation and if Germany is not restored as a strong and independent country, we invite Russian domination, for an unorganized Western Europe cannot indefinitely oppose an organized Eastern Europe.”

“The only reasonably hopeful possibility for avoiding one of these two evils is some form of federation in western and central Europe.”

In March 1946, Churchill spoke at Fulton, MO-based Westminster College. He delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech. He titled it “The Sinews of Peace.”

He helped change the way Western nations viewed communist Eastern ones. In pointed language, he said:

“Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are its limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies.”

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”

“Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.”

“Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.”

Many analysts consider his speech the beginning of the Cold War.

In March 1947, Truman’s Doctrine pledged “support (for) free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”

He aimed to keep Greece and Turkey from going communist. His policy applied globally. He initiated America’s National Security State strategy.

Establishing NATO followed. So did policy papers like Kennan wrote. Peace didn’t last long. Truman attacked North Korea. More on this below.

In April 1950, a Paul Nitze-supervised Joint State-Defense Department Committee National Security Memorandum No. 68 (NSC-68) was about containing Soviet Russia.

Inflammatory language called it an enemy “unlike previous aspirants to hegemony…animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own (wishing to) impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.”

It claimed it at a time America was the only global superpower. Soviet Russia was devastated by WW II. Many more years were needed to regain normality. It threatened no one.

IF Stone’s “Hidden History of the Korean War” explains a much different account than popularly believed.

In 1952, Monthly Review co-founders Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy wrote in the preface:

“This book…paints a very different picture of the Korean War – one, in fact, which is at variance with the official version at almost every point.”

Stone’s investigation into official discrepancies led him “to a full-scale reassessment of the whole” war.

Publisher Claude Bourdet wrote his own article titled “The Korean Mystery: Fight Against a Phantom,”? saying:

“If Stone’s thesis corresponds to reality, we are in the presence of the greatest swindle in the whole of military history.”

It’s “not a question of a harmless fraud but of a terrible maneuver in which deception is being consciously utilized to block peace at a time when it is possible.”

Stone called it international aggression. Huberman and Sweezy agreed. In August 1951, they said:

“(W)e have come to the conclusion that (South Korean president) Syngman Rhee deliberately provoked the North Koreans in the hope that they would retaliate by crossing the parallel in force.”

He did so at Truman’s behest. Multiple South Korean provocations gave him the war he wanted. Millions perished. Northern areas were turned to rubble. More wars followed.

“The northerners,” said Huberman and Sweezy, wanted Korea unified, not war. They “fell neatly into the trap.” Truman took full advantage. He instigated conflict.

Stone believed it saying:

“(W)e said we were going to Korea to go back to the status quo before the war, but when the American armies reached the 38th parallel they didn’t stop.”

“They kept going, so there must be something else. We must have another agenda here, and what might that agenda be?”

The same one he later learned initiated Washington’s Southeast Asian war and others. Permanent war is official US policy. Containing Russia continues today. More on this below.

Post-WW II, the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) had little to do with so-called “huge gestures of (US) benevolence.”

Economist Walt Rostow helped implement the plan. He called it one part of an “offensive to strengthen the area still outside Stalin’s grasp.”

In December 1947, then Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs William Clayton said if aid wasn’t provided, “the Iron Curtain would then move westward at least to the English Channel.”

While implementation was being discussed, he said America “hold(s) in (its) hands the powerful weapon of discontinuance of aid if contrary to our expectations any country fails to live up to our expectations.”

Economic Stabilization Bureau head Chester Bowles was candid, saying:

“The real argument for the Marshall Plan is a bolstering of the American system for future years.”

The plan was named for popular General George Marshall. Post-war, Truman’s popularity fell sharply.

Putting his name on it risked public anger enough perhaps to get congressional rejection.

Marshall played the game. He pitched the plan. He delivered canned speeches.

He disingenuously claimed it was to relieve “hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” It was about saving capitalism from communism and Stalinist influence.

Containing Russia remains official US policy. It’s back to the future. The Cold War never ended. It morphed into new form.

Putin is public enemy number one. He’s vilified more intensively than Soviet era leaders. In 2007, during his first term as president, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed containing Russia, saying:

“The very (notion) appeals to instincts of the past. It not so much attests to the lack of imagination, but rather that for some individuals almost nothing has changed since the end of the Cold War.”

“These people propose imposing the structure of international relations which took shape long ago in the Western alliance, to the present moment.”

“The motives that dictated this policy of containment are making themselves felt at this new historical stage, as well.”

“What kind of Russia should be contained,” he asked? “What can be the goal of ‘containing Russia’ today?”

“A Russia that has renounced an ideology of imperial and other ‘great plans’ in favor of pragmatism and common sense.”

“How can a nation, which has placed emphasis on its domestic development and is now progressing remarkably well, be contained?”

“Russia’s consolidation through creative work has naturally been translated into the strengthening of its international positions. Russia’s foreign policy is nothing more than the continuation of its domestic policy.”

“We have realistic and understandable aspirations, namely: the maintenance of international stability as a major condition for our further development together with the natural evolution of international relations with the goal of achieving freedom and democracy.”

Washington and Moscow are geopolitical opposites, he added. Therein lies what’s at issue. Russia’s peace and respect for national sovereignty priorities are at odds with America’s imperial agenda.

Heightened tensions risk an East/West confrontation. Irresponsible US policy risks possible global war. If initiated there’s no turning back. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

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

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

The Spanish-American War: Three Who Made A War

March 24th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The Spanish-American War was caused by three people:  Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst.  The war, which killed a number of Spaniards and Americans, including some prominent Harvard “Swells,” was based entirely on lies and machinations of these three men and served no purpose other than their personal needs. Princeton University historian Evan Thomas calls these three monsters The War Lovers.

Hearst needed a war to build his newspaper circulation.  Roosevelt needed a war to slate his blood-lust and desire for military glory.  Lodge needed a war to reinvigorate American manhood and to enlist American manhood in his “Large Policy” of American Empire. Between them, thanks to the ignorance and stupidity of the American people, they pulled it off.

Their adversary was Speaker of the House, Thomas Brackett Reed, “the Czar,” the most powerful politician in Washington. Reed, an honest and incorruptible politician, saw Lodge’s policy of “American exceptionalism” as naked imperialism that stood in total opposition and in great danger to American purposes.  Reed saw Roosevelt’s war lust as a diversion of national purpose from the reconstruction of an economy that increasingly served a shrinking minority at the expense of the American people. But Hearst, Roosevelt, and Lodge made “peace” an epithet. The American people, whose gullibility is never-ending, were captivated by war-lust.  Reed lost confidence in the American people whom he so well served. Reed could find no moral purpose in pushing the country toward war over nothing but fake news reports by “yellow journalism.”  

Only a few years previously, Reed had had to halt the Cleveland administration from going to war with Great Britain over a British boundary dispute with Venezuela concerning mineral-rich land claimed by British Guyana. Somehow this boundary dispute, which had no more to do with US security than Honduras, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Georgia, Ukraine, and the South China Sea have today, was seen as a “threat to US national security.”

Roosevelt and Lodge were ecstatic over the possibility of War with Great Britain. War was its own goal. Roosevelt wrote to Lodge: “I don’t care whether our sea coast cities are bombarded or not; we would take Canada.” Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, hard facts prevailed over American war lust. The American navy had 3 battleships. The British had 50. If only Washington had gone to war with Great Britain over a British boundary dispute with Venezuela. The total destruction of the American navy and coastal cities might have taught Americans a lesson and made the population less lustful for war and more suspicious of Washington’s war lies: the Gulf of Tonkin, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, Iranian nukes, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Russian invasion of Crimea, etc.

Roosevelt and Lodge searched for a weaker adversary than the British navy and settled on Spain.

But how to bring about a war with a declining and tired 400-year old empire far removed from American interests?

Hearst, desperate to sell newspapers, knew what to do.  He hired the artist, Frederic Remington, a painter and sculptor much worshipped by American conservatives today.

Remington provided a drawing, filling half of the front page of Hearst’s New York Journal, of a comely nude young woman surrounded by sinister Spaniards.

Hearst alleged that three lady passengers on the US mail steamer Olivette were strip-searched in the Harbor of Havana, Cuba, by leering Spanish males.

America had a rare moment of rational thought and philosophical reflection during the brief period of its Founding Fathers. Ever since America has been a country of pulp romances and court histories written as “chivalric derring-do.” Hearst asked where were the knightly American males who would rescue womankind from these indignities at the hands of cruel, wanton, Spaniards.

Hearst repeated the story with Evangelina Cisneros, “a beautiful young woman from the gentlest of families.” In Hearst’s story Evangelina went to the Island of Pines to beg for her elderly father’s release from the cruel Spaniards. As she resisted the sexual advances of the leering Spanish prison commander, she was thrown into a squalid prison for prostitutes.

Having created his heroine, Hearst rushed to rescue her. Hearst hired the son of a Confederate cavalry colonel, Karl Decker, to rescue the fair lady. Thousands of words were printed to describe Decker’s daring rescue, but what really happened is that Hearst bribed the Spanish guards to let her go from her comfortable hotel room. Having freed “one Cuban girl,” Hearst wanted to know “when shall we free Cuba.”

Teddy Roosevelt wanted to be the star of the event. Senator Lodge and the American newsman Richard Harding Davis made it so. Teddy charging up the hill, leading the Rough Riders, not urging from behind, defeated the Spanish all by himself and won the war.

What did it mean for the Cubans, a mixed and varied peoples, who had been fighting the Spanish for independence for years before self-righteous, self-serving Americans saw the opportunity to advance their interests and careers?

For Cubans, it meant swapping one master for another.

General William Shafter, the American in charge of the invasion force, declared: “Why these people [Cubans] are no more fit for self-government than gunpowder is for hell!”

Calixto Garcia, who had been fighting for thirty years for Cuba’s liberation from Spain, was not allowed to be present when Spain surrendered Cuba. It was purely an American show devoid of the revolutionaries in whose name the war had been fought.

Roosevelt wrote home that the Cubans had fought badly and were not responsible for their liberation from Spain. It was Teddy and his Rough Riders who brought freedom to Cuba. The Teller Amendment passed by Congress in 1898 guaranteeing independence to Cuba was superseded  by the Platt Amendment of 1901. The Platt Amendment gave Washington the right to intervene in Cuba whenever Washington pleased. 

It finally dawned on Cubans that “civilization,” a word used by Americans, meant “denying the darker races the power to govern.” In 1908 Cubans who had fought against Spain formed an independent political party.  They were massacred by the thousands by the Cuban government now more sensitive to pleasing Washington than to the voice of its own people.

The story of American intervention is the same everywhere.  American intervention has never benefited any peoples except those allied with Washington and American corporations. 

Hearst’s rival in yellow journalism was Joseph Pulitzer, whose name ended up on a prestigious journalism award. Today the entire US print and TV media engage in the yellow journalism of the Hearst/Pulitzer era. Yellow journalism has helped to keep America in wars as nonsensical as the Spanish-American war ever since the 21st century began. The neoconservatives have resurrected Lodge’s “Large Policy” of American imperialism justified by the doctrine of American exceptionalism.

If Americans were to read three history books, they could free themselves from their self-righteous delusions that endanger all life on earth.  Those books are: A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn, The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick, and The War Lovers by Evan Thomas.

No one who reads one of these books will ever again believe that the US government in Washington is the “light unto the world,” the “exceptional and indispensable” government that brings “freedom and democracy” to the conquered provinces of the American Empire.

Washington is the home of warmongering self-interested parties that have no concept of compassion or justice and serve only their own power and enrichment. Americans are as indifferent to the populations that their government bombs as Teddy Roosevelt was to the prospect of his own country’s coastal cities being bombarded. As Russia’s President Putin reminded the world on March 18, 2014, the US prefers the rule of the gun to international law.

Financialization results when leverage and information asymmetry replace innovation and productive investment as the source of wealth creation.

Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty are leading lights in the exploration of rising wealth inequality. Both are academic economists who have devoted considerable time and effort to assembling data that deepens our understanding of the issues.

For example, Saez’s recent essay Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States, provides an in-depth look at the widening gulf between the top 1% and the bottom 90% from 2009 to 2012.

Here is a chart of the top 10% share of income, based on their research: (the note in red marking the beginning of financialization in 1982 is my own)

What is the primary driver of this era’s widening wealth inequality? Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century provides an answer: financialization. While definitions vary, mine is:

Financialization is the mass commodification of debt and debt-based financial instruments collaterized by previously low-risk assets, a pyramiding of risk and speculative gains that is only possible in a massive expansion of low-cost credit and leverage.

Another way to describe the same dynamics is: financialization results when leverage and information asymmetry replace innovation and productive investment as the source of wealth creation.

When the profits from financializing collateral and leveraging those bets to the hilt far exceed generating wealth by creating products and services, the economy is soon hollowed out as the perverse incentives of financialization start driving every business decision and strategy.

Author David Cay Johnston recently wrote an insightful review of Piketty’s book, Trickle-Up economics:

Coming out of the Great Recession in 2009, inequality increased dramatically, the opposite of what happened when the Great Depression ended nearly eight decades earlier. Why? The short answer: When investment returns exceed economic growth, the rich get richer, increasing inequality.

When an economy grows at 1 percent annually but investment returns are 5 percent, the already wealthy need to reinvest only a fifth of their gains for their fortunes to grow at the same rate as the overall economy. The rest can be spent on a sumptuous lifestyle.

Since by definition the very rich do not need to consume 80 percent of their incomes — the portion by which investment returns exceed the growth of the economy in Piketty’s model — they can reinvest most of their annual gains in the market. Over time this accumulating capital will snowball.

The official American income numbers, crunched by Piketty and his sometime colleague Emmanuel Saez, show that in the 21st century wealth and income increases are almost all taking place among the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest and highest-earning.

The top 1 percent of Americans raked in 95 cents out of every dollar of increased income from 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended, through 2012. Almost a third of the entire national increase went to just 16,000 households, the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, Piketty and Saez’s analysis of IRS data shows.

The income changes for the vast majority are just as revealing. The bottom 90 percent saw their average incomes rise 8.8 percent in 1934 over the prior year, while in 2012 the same statistical group had to get by on 15.7 percent less than in 2009.

Piketty shows that whether capital is taxed or not, inequality will grow under current policies because savings from current wages and salaries cannot grow as much as returns to existing riches.

The process of accumulating “becomes more rapid and inegalitarian as the return on capital rises and the [overall economic] growth rate falls,” Piketty writes.

It’s important to note that capital is not monolithic, nor is all capital qualitatively equal. Capital that is invested in rigged financier games funded by the Federal Reserve (for example, carry trades and high-frequency trading) is entirely different from capital that is placed at risk in a start-up company.

Capital invested in building a house is quite different from capital invested in pyramiding the mortgage into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and exotic financial instruments based on the MBS.

Productively invested capital is at risk and generates additional production of goods and services. Financialized capital skims profits from leveraging debt: nothing of any real-world value is produced, it’s just a giant skimming operation based on information asymmetry (or outright fraud and misrepresentation) and leverage.

Fed-funded financialization creates a perverse set of incentives: talent and capital flow to unproductive skimming operations because that’s what generates the outsized profits, effectively starving the real economy of talent and capital.

The Fed makes essentially limitless funds available to banks and financiers at near-zero interest rates. Try borrowing $100,000 from the Fed at 0.1% interest; you can’t. That privilege is reserved for financial predators and parasites.

Financier skimming operations stripmine productive assets and labor. With the Fed providing free money to financiers and no limits on debt, leverage, information asymmetry and sleight-of-hand accounting, the only result possible is widening wealth inequality.

You want to fix wealth inequality? Abolish the Fed, eliminate the too-big-to-fail banks, tax speculative profits from high-frequency trading and other skimming operations at 90% and lower the corporate tax rate on productively invested capital to 5%. The only way to reduce wealth inequality is to change the incentives and disincentives to favor productive investments and innovation rather than financialization.

All in a recent Sunday morning television viewing I go from watching a  Senate hearing on C-SPAN of four-star Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford spinning a rosy picture that things couldn’t be going any better in Afghanistan as America winds down its war there, to suddenly being confronted with the totally opposite on-the-ground reality of unprecedented levels of corruption, waste and loss on HBO’s eye-opening documentary series Vice. First at C-SPAN hearing the lies of how we’re winning the war most Americans believe the US lost years ago, just like the lies told by Petraeus before him and Westmoreland in ’Nam before him, it all becomes agonizingly clear that this worn out scenario is simply a forever do-loop of nightmarish American Empire war ad nauseum.

We keep installing corrupt, weak puppet governments incapable of resisting the stronger insurgency forces that invariably prevail in the end once US imperialistic forces leave with its tail between its legs. Called the graveyard of Empires, be it the Soviet Empire in the 1980’s or the British Empire in the nineteenth century, no imperialistic power has won wars in Afghanistan. Yet US Empire wars have become a permanent revolving door of disgrace and defeat decade after decade, with top military brass periodically paraded before Congress always singing the praise that we’re winning the war or at least making significant progress, always propagating false claims feebly unable to convince a skeptical, war-weary public to stay the course in a series of lost causes at mind-boggling expense to both human life as well as criminal misuse of public tax revenue.

Dunford repeatedly fed the fawning, admiring Armed Services Committee senators exactly the delusions of grandeur they all came to hear, want and pretend to believe, that the transition to training the Afghan security forces to take over their country after our exited absence at the end of this year is going remarkably well and right on schedule. Like a mantra, each senator would repeat the positive affirmation that thanks to more than a dozen years of US occupation and US war, the Afghan people are so much better off for what our boys and girls in uniform have done for them.

Forget the hundreds of innocent civilians who continue to be cowardly obliterated and terrorized by remote controlled drones that have become the US government’s favorite killing machine in its Empire arsenal. Forget the total of more than 20,000 Afghan civilian lives lost thanks to America’s “noble” intervention (Costofwar.com plus 2013 UN total). Forget the UN report released last month that in 2013 civilian casualties actually went up by 14%, highest for women and children since 2009. Forget that the 200,000 man Afghan National Army the Americans are training has historically been plagued by abysmally low retention and out of control desertion rates. In a New York Times article from a little more than a year ago, it was reported that one third of the Army is annually lost while recruitment can barely keep up with the attrition. In June 2013 BBC news quoted concerned deputy coalition force commander British General Nick Carter calling the serious attrition rate “unsustainable.” And finally, forget the multi-billion dollar heroin export industry rising the last four years to a record poppy field harvest in 2013 according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) latest report. The US has been complicit in profiting from this booming drug trade after the Taliban in 2001 had nearly eliminated the Afghanistan heroin production.

These facts just do not match the glowing report delivered to Congress by the Afghanistan war commander. During the hearing the general and numerous senators with annoyed indignation would take turns making reference jabs toward outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign off on America’s “there-forever” (otherwise known as the bi-lateral security agreement) prior to his upcoming departure. Meanwhile, according to a Bloomburg News article last month, Michele Flournoy, a former top Pentagon policy official, emphatically stated that whichever one of the eleven leading candidates replaces Karzai will definitely sign to keep the US military presence in the country for years to come. The all too painfully reminiscent scene of another deceitful general reassuring America we have nothing to fear or worry about because the Afghanis have been more than up to the task of securing their homeland from the big bad Taliban wolf howling at their door, while nothing could be further from the truth.

General Dunford insisted that all the Afghans would need for a successful transition from weaning off the three wheeler “safety” vehicle of imperial occupation to riding a two wheeler on their own would be about “12,000 coalition troops” (8,000 of which will be American military personnel) and a “few more thousand” additional US troops (another estimated 4,000) to stay behind in 2015 to keep the enemy at bay beyond the scheduled December 31st departure date.

The current commander of US-coalition security forces in Afghanistan kept pontificating pious platitudes of how proud he was of the determined Afghanis stepping up to the task and meeting the challenge of taking back their country to keep safe and secure from the Taliban enemy, and how happy he has been since taking command in February 2013 witnessing the steady Afghan progress and pride in the war effort to build and democratize their nation, elevating the lives of Afghan women and vanquishing the repressive jihadi extremists from once again gaining an Al Qaeda foothold. Of course he made no mention of the recurring theme of US soldiers who have been killed in recent years by the very Afghan security forces the Americans are training. Nor did he mention how Afghan Army nationals historically jump ship for the Taliban cause.

Out of the near dozen senators asking questions of the general, only two inquired with any remote semblance of harder-edged queries that represent the genuine concerns of their constituents that need to be asked. Only Democratic senators from West Virginia Joe Manchin and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill failed to bring a blush to the crowned war hero in their presence. The rest were all gushing too much in awe busily stroking the general’s gun and war ribbons in a nauseous display of Capitol Hill sycophantism. It was far removed from the grim reality in Afghanistan that the rest of us on planet earth have long accepted. I became so disgusted with the circle jerk in DC that I changed the channel to escape from choking on the vomit of all their “pretend-world” lies being bandied about.

Then with the flick of a switch, I went from la-la land at the capitol dome and instantly was transported back to cold hard reality of yet more doom and gloom evidence that our latest Empire war is just another debacle, abruptly entering the real world of HBO’s Vice. Despite covering the exact same war in the exact same country, a jarringly harsh and completely different picture emerged in stark, 180-degree contrast to the frothy, sugarcoated, C-SPAN fantasyland, to the near trillion dollar tune at taxpayer expense of a thirteen year old war drum dragging the US into its longest running war in history. The standard American foreign policy of destroying another war torn nation only to spend ungodly amounts of money on its reconstruction is sheer madness. Yet presently in Afghanistan more taxpayer dollars – 100 billion and counting – have gone toward its shaky reconstruction, establishing the dubious world record as the most costly in human history, including postwar Germany. But unfortunately the senseless and insane US war policy of tearing down nation after nation only to rebuild at obscenely enormous expenditures has come to be how America typically loses all its twenty-first century wars, first in Iraq and still in Afghanistan.

Vice host Shane Smith opened the season with a tour of the huge empty Tarakhil Power Plant near Kabul, constructed by US private contractors at a cost of 300 million taxpayer dollars that is not even in operation, producing zero electricity for the country because it costs too much to operate. So it just sits emptily wasting away. Yet to power the power plant on costly diesel fuel another 20 million US dollars are wasted on a plant that furnishes no electricity at all. Afghanistan must import 100% of its electric power from neighboring Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan though it’s only enough to supply one in seven Afghan citizens with regular electricity. Then because of the lack of security with Taliban controlling most of Afghanistan beyond Kabul particularly in the south, Afghan bill collectors cannot even go out into the countryside and collect the electric bill. Instead any revenue generated from the electricity power grid is simply collected by the Taliban and used to finance its operations to fight against the US soldiers and Afghan nationals.

The next Vice location was near the historic Taliban stronghold and embattled city in southern Afghanistan Kandahar, to a helicopter graveyard bought and paid for with more US tax dollars that are sitting there wasting away also not being used. 700 million dollars have gone towards purchasing dozens of modern US and Russian built helicopters rusting motionless on the airfield do not have enough Afghan pilots to fly them, nor do they have the mechanics and parts to maintain them. Just another waste in a war of waste.

The final stop was a nearby scrap yard where piles and piles of new engines, tires, generators have been systematically severed from their original vehicles by US military contractors. They are then sold to local Afghani black market venders. Corrupt US contractors then use the invoices to justify ordering more in an endless supply from the Department of Defense. The corruption in Afghanistan rips off the hardworking American people whose taxes are funding this trillion dollar nightmare of a war.

Also a large display of IED’s (improvised explosive devices) were shown collected at a rate of 9000 every five or six months. The IED’s along with all these assorted parts are sold directly to the black market racketeers that transport the equipment across the Pakistan border into the hands of the Taliban enemy, and then brought back to Afghanistan to be used by the enemy to kill more Afghans and Americans. Another destructive do-loop of waste that Americans pay for with hard earned tax money that US and Afghan soldiers and civilians continue paying for with their lives. The thousands of culverts throughout the country are the favorite dumping grounds for Taliban planting the fresh supply of IED’s that are the number one killer in Afghanistan. Millions more of US dollars have funded a program called culvert denial system that welds bars across the culverts to prevent the IUD’s from being placed inside. However, the Taliban will simply cut the bars away, rendering this program so ineffective that the Afghan government stopped even bothering to replace them. So the Taliban regularly blows up US military vehicles driving on roads over the culverts and more Americans die from these IED’s than any other source in the war.

Intermittently interviewed back in Washington DC during all these obscene Afghan locations is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko who delivers his incisively biting commentary throughout, explaining the absurdity of US government waste and corruption being exposed 7000 miles away. As a tough former prosecuting attorney who put Mafia mobsters behind bars, John Sopko expressed outrage at such gross incompetence and malfeasance committed by Pentagon generals and high level Defense and State Department bureaucrats who he would like to also put behind bars. Sopko reasoned that “if any of us displayed this same level of incompetence, wasting 30, 40 or 100 millions dollars, we would customarily be fired on the spot.” But he lamented that these guilty individuals responsible for such unprecedented monumental waste of taxpayer dollars are instead systematically “promoted and rewarded” by the corrupt, morally bankrupt, thoroughly broken system. Despite the mind-blowing amounts of waste that have been uncovered and have become common knowledge, the US government has a plan in place to continue funding reconstruction at these same squandered rates through the year 2017.

The Afghanistan war presents a pathetic and seemingly hopeless situation where for years our enemy has clearly been winning, taking full advantage of every US blunder and, just like North Vietnam forty years earlier, waiting for us to leave in order to completely regain full control over the country again. The Afghanistan war exit plan strategy is designed to lend a superficial, face-saving appearance of “peace with honor” all over again, just like Vietnam…. anything but honestly calling it what it really is, another disastrous, humiliating and devastating US military war defeat and in its wake another virtually destroyed nation. As America phases down its operations this year, ultimately another full blown civil war is being fought between the Afghan National Army and the Taliban Army. And as in Vietnam, in all likelihood, the Taliban insurgent forces will overpower the weaker, corrupt US puppet government forces.

Just to prove this very point leading up to the April 5th presidential election, several Taliban members penetrated what was believed to be one of the most secured buildings in Kabul last Thursday and murdered with pistols nine people dining in a restaurant of a luxury hotel. The hotel was frequented by foreign press and Afghan officials. Four of the nine dead were foreigners. In Kandahar province several hours later a bomb wounded the deputy governor and his chief of staff in critical condition. To terrorize Afghani citizens into not voting in the coming election, Taliban has stepped up its level of violence throughout the nation. According to Reuters, just in this last week alone, seven or eight suicide bombers have killed at least eleven people in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Another eighteen died from a bomb planted in a marketplace in northern Afghanistan. The obvious message to both the US and Afghan governments including Afghan citizens is that the current government forces are too weak and incapable of protecting them from the Talaban’s ability to kill at will anywhere in the war ravaged country. All this of course is designed to sabotage the first so called democratic transfer of power in the nation’s history.

When imperialistic Empire occupiers reek so much havoc in each occupied Third World nation, inevitably it causes people in the occupied nation to view themselves as “freedom fighters” determined with more will and determination than any overextended Empire to rid their homeland of the imperialistic occupiers. Combine this internationally outlawed aggression with American house raids in the middle of the night killing innocent civilians believed to be enemy sympathizers along with frequent drone strike missiles obliterating more innocent victims attending weddings and funerals and the US continues creating a fresh supply of instant enemies. But fortunately for Afghanistan, they have gotten pretty skilled at ousting empires for centuries. Therefore, the American military should never be looked upon as the benevolent good guys only doing good will for the people of this Third World nation, not when the entire world (other than blindly manipulated Americans) realize that the Empire war machine is simply an extension of global corporatism and global hegemony and not in the interest of any nation or people on this planet.

Statements issued by White House and NATO officials over the weekend on the Ukrainian crisis, including allegations that Russia is poised to invade several of its neighbours, point to advanced preparations by US imperialism for a heightened military build-up across Eastern Europe.

US President Barack Obama today begins a four-day trip to Europe, beginning in The Hague, Holland. On the sidelines of a pre-scheduled Nuclear Security Summit there, Obama has convened a meeting on Ukraine involving the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan—the G8 minus Russia.

After working with Germany to orchestrate a regime-change operation in Ukraine, Washington’s aim is to diplomatically isolate Vladimir Putin’s administration and consider further damaging economic sanctions against Russia, while also developing trade and energy mechanisms that bring Ukraine and other Eastern European states under the strategic control of the US and EU. On Wednesday, Obama will meet in Brussels with European Union officials and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, yesterday issued a bellicose denunciation of Russia. He accused the Putin administration of building up its military forces on Russia’s western borders and of preparing to intervene into Transnistria, a part of the former Soviet republic of Moldova that has a significant ethnic Russian population and which attempted to become independent following the disintegration of the USSR. Breedlove also raised the spectre of Russian troops invading the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“The [Russian] force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready,” Breedlove declared at an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank. “There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transnistria if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome.”

After referring to the Russian annexation of Crimea, the NATO commander asked: “How do we change our deployment? How do we change our readiness? How do we change our force structure such that we can be ready in the future? We need to think about our allies, the positioning of our forces in the alliance and our readiness of our forces in the alliance, such that we can be there to defend against them if required, especially in the Baltics and other places.”

Breedlove added that Russia was now acting as “an adversary” of NATO—underscoring the active preparations of the US and its European allies to launch a war against Russia.

Obama’s deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, speaking on CNN yesterday, backed Breedlove’s statements, declaring that it was “deeply concerning to see the Russian troop build-up on the border.” Blinken added that “it’s possible that they’re preparing to move in [to Ukraine].”

Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak declared on Saturday that Washington “must increase its [military] presence in Europe, also in Poland.” During US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the country last week, Siemoniak explained, “There was a clear expectation from our side, and also from all NATO allies [in] Eastern Europe, that we expect a larger military presence of the US and that this eastern flank of NATO must be strengthened.”

Siemoniak added that it was “natural”, given developments in Ukraine, to discuss the prospect of a permanent, major US base in Poland.

These statements, which follow the US deployment of twelve F16 fighter jets and 300 troops to Poland earlier this month, underscore the brazen hypocrisy of the White House and its allies. Washington is now drumming up a war scare over alleged Russian troop movements within the country’s own borders, while at the same time the US armed forces are being deployed in a provocative effort to cordon off Russia from its neighbours.

The installed regime in Kiev is also ratcheting up the rhetoric. Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia yesterday appeared on US television and stated that the prospect of military conflict with Russia was “very high” and “growing.” He added: “We are ready to respond… It’s very difficult to keep people restrained, and they are patriots of their homeland … [It] would be difficult for them just simply sit or stay and look at Russia invading their country.”

Deshchytsia’s reference to “patriots of their homeland” is an allusion to the extreme right-wing and nationalist forces that formed the base of the Washington-European operation in Ukraine, have been brought into top government posts and are being integrated into the armed forces.

Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh, one of several senior government figures who are members of the fascistic Svoboda party, yesterday bemoaned the failure of Ukrainian forces in Crimea to attack Russian troops. Over the weekend, Russian forces secured control of the Belbek air base, one of the few remaining bases in Crimea still occupied by Ukrainian troops.

Speaking to journalists in Kiev, Tenyukh declared that “our commanders had the authorisation to use force.” However, he complained: “Unfortunately, the commanders made decisions on the spot. They chose not to use their weapons in order to avoid bloodshed.”

Having installed a regime in Ukraine that includes forces intent on triggering a war between the US and Russia, the White House is now preparing to build up its military capacities. Republican congressman Mike Rogers, chair of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, yesterday told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Obama’s rhetoric did not “match the reality on the ground.” He demanded military aid that the Ukrainian government “can use to really protect and defend themselves.”

Obama’s deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken responded by declaring that the prospect of directly arming Ukraine was currently being reviewed.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its biannual “Society at a Glance” report last week, documenting the staggering rise of poverty, hunger, unemployment and social distress in countries throughout the world in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash.

The report, which draws a balance sheet of the nearly six years since the 2008 financial crash, is a damning indictment of the capitalist system and the social policies pursued by governments throughout the world.

Particularly devastating are the figures relating to the United States, the center of world capitalism, the heart of the financial crisis and the “richest country in the world”—in which poverty, hunger and social inequality have grown more than nearly any other country surveyed.

The report also traces the disastrous impact of the crisis on countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland, where the social conditions of working people were savaged through austerity measures implemented under the dictates of the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

Some of the indices include:

Inequality: Income inequality has grown sharply in nearly all of the countries surveyed, but nowhere near as rapidly as the United States. In the US, the top 1 percent of the population earned 19.3 percent of all income in 2013, more than double its earnings in 1985.

In the United States, the top 0.1 percent receive a larger share of income than the top 1 percent received three decades ago, while the top one percent now receive the same share of income as the top 5 percent did at the time. The top one percent takes in a higher share of income in the United States than in any other OECD member.

Joblessness: The report notes that, since 2007, the number of unemployed people in the OECD member countries increased by a third, to 48 million. Of those, more than a third have been out of work for more than a year. It adds, “The number of people living in households without any income from work has doubled in Greece, Ireland and Spain, and risen by 20% or more in Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia and the United States.”

Poverty: Poverty rose significantly in most of the countries surveyed as a result of mass unemployment and falling wages. The report noted that, between 2007 and 2010, the poverty rate for children rose from 12.8 to 13.4 percent, while the poverty rate for those aged 18-25 rose from 12.2 to 13.8 percent. The United States had a poverty rate of 17.4 percent, significantly higher than the OECD average of 11.1 percent. The report noted that, among the surveyed countries, “only Chile, Israel, Mexico and Turkey have higher poverty rates than the U.S.”

Incomes: Among OECD member countries, average incomes stagnated between 2007 and 2010, while the incomes of the bottom ten percent fell at an annual rate of 2 percent.

Hunger: The United States had the fifth-highest number of people who said they could not afford food, following Mexico, Turkey, Hungary, Chile and Estonia. The percentage of people in the US who said they could not afford food for themselves and their family in the past twelve months increased from 13.4 percent in 2006 to 21.1 percent.

Youth: Conditions for young people are particularly dire. The report noted, “More than 20% of all youth aged 16-24 were unemployed or inactive, and neither in education nor in training in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey.”

Birth rates: As a result of worsening economic security, fertility rates have plummeted across the OECD, led by the United States, which had the most significant drop in fertility rates of any of the countries surveyed.

Perhaps most significantly, the report concludes that the trends of growing inequality and poverty have not been ameliorated in countries where economic output has supposedly begun to recover. “The economic recovery alone will not be enough to heal the social divisions and help the hardest hit bounce back,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

In fact, the so-called “recovery” is almost entirely in the realm of the super-rich—and at the expense of the vast majority of the population. The United States, primarily under the Obama administration, has led the way in the massive infusion of cash into the financial system, to the benefit of the very institutions that created the crisis.

The report, presented by an organization that is among the leading advocates of “structural reform” and attacks on social programs, includes a warning to the ruling class that the astronomical growth of poverty and inequality inevitably must result in enormous social upheavals.

“Deep economic crises can be expected to have profound knock-on effects on people’s…trust in others and in institutions. Understanding these is important not only for monitoring societal well-being, but also because social tensions and a shifting social fabric can trigger and drive fundamental social, cultural and political change.” The OECD concludes that “urgent action” is needed “to tackle rising inequality and social divisions.”

It is indeed true that the impact of the capitalist crisis is leading to major shifts in popular consciousness and a collapse in trust for the existing “institutions.” The ruling class and the capitalist system, however, have nothing to offer. Every social policy implemented in the response to the 2008 crash has been aimed at enriching the ruling elite at the expense of the population, with devastating social consequences.

In fact, the OECD report once more demonstrates that the capitalist system, organized on the basis of the private ownership of production, is obsolete, irrational, and incompatible with further social progress. The only way to ensure the right of all people to a to decent job, housing, healthcare, and education is through the socialist reorganization of world society on the basis of social need, not private profit.

Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk meets President Obama at White House, March 2014 (White House photo)

In the days following the Ukraine coup d’Etat of February 23, leading to the ousting of a duly elected president, Wall Street and the IMF–in liaison with the US Treasury and the European Commission in Brussels– had already set the stage for the outright takeover of Ukraine’s monetary system. The EuroMaidan protests leading up to “regime change” and the formation of an interim government were followed by purges within key ministries and government bodies.

The Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Ihor Sorkin was fired on February 25th and replaced by a new governor: Stepan Kubiv.[right]

Stepan Kubiv is a member of Parliament of the Rightist Batkivshchyna “Fatherland” faction in the Rada led by the acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk (founded by Yulia Tymoshenko in March 1999). He previously headed Kredbank, a Ukrainian financial institution largely owned by EU capital, with some 130 branches throughout Ukraine. Ukraine Central Bank Promises Liquidity To Local Banks, With One Condition, Zero Hedge, February 27, 2014).

Kubic is no ordinary bank executive. He was one of the first field “commandants” of the EuroMaidan riots alongside Andriy Parubiy co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) and Dimitry Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector Brown Shirts, which now has the status of a political party.  

Kubiv was in the Maidan square addressing protesters on February 18, at the very moment when armed Right Sector thugs under the helm of Dmitry Yarosh were raiding the parliament building.

A few days later, upon the establishment of the interim government, Stepan Kubiv was put in charge of negotiations with Wall Street and the IMF.

The new Minister of Finance Aleksandr Shlapak [left] is a political crony of Viktor Yushchenko –a long-time protegé of the IMF who was spearheaded into the presidency following the 2004 “Colored Revolution”. Shlapak held key positions in the office of the presidency under Yushchenko as well as at the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). In 2010, upon Yushchenko’s defeat, Aleksandr Shlapak joined a shadowy Bermuda based offshore financial outfit IMG International Ltd (IMG), holding the position of Vice President. Based in Hamilton, Bermuda, IMG specialises in “captive insurance management”, reinsurance and “risk transfer.”

Minister of Finance Aleksandr Shlapak  works in close liaison with Pavlo Sheremeto, the newly appointed Minister of Economic Development and Trade, who upon his appointment called for “deregulation, fully fledged and across the board”, requiring –as demanded in previous negotiations by the IMF– the outright elimination of subsidies on fuel, energy and basic food staples.

Another key appointment is that of Ihor Shvaika [right], a member of the Neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, to the position of Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food. Headed by an avowed follower of World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera [see image below], this ministry not only oversees the agricultural sector, it also decides on issues pertaining to subsidies and the prices of basic food staples.  

The new Cabinet has stated that the country is prepared for socially “painful” but necessary reforms. In December 2013, a 20 billion dollar deal with the IMF had already been contemplated alongside the controversial EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Yanukovych decided to turn it down.

One of the requirements of  the IMF was that “household subsidies for gas be reduced once again by 50%”.

“Other onerous IMF requirements included cuts to pensions, government employment, and the privatization (read: let western corporations purchase) of government assets and property. It is therefore likely that the most recent IMF deal currently in negotiation, will include once again major reductions in gas subsidies, cuts in pensions, immediate government job cuts, as well as other reductions in social spending programs in the Ukraine.” (voice of russia.com March 21, 2014)

Economic Surrender: Unconditional Acceptance of IMF Demands by Western Puppet Government

Shortly after his instatement, the interim (puppet) prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk casually dismissed the need to negotiate with the IMF. Prior to the conduct of negotiations pertaining to a draft agreement, Yatsenyuk had already called for an unconditional acceptance of the IMF package: “We have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer”.

[Neo Nazi Svoboda Party glorify World War II Nazi Collaborator Stepan Bandera]

Yatsenyk intimated that Ukraine will “accept whatever offer the IMF and the EU made” (voice of russia.com March 21, 2014)

In surrendering to the IMF, Yatsenyuk was fully aware that the proposed reforms would brutally impoverish millions of people, including those who protested in Maidan.

The actual timeframe for the implementation of the IMF’s “shock therapy” has not yet been firmly established. In all likelihood, the regime will attempt to delay the more ruthless social impacts of the macroeconomic reforms until after the May 25 presidential elections (assuming that these elections will take place).

The text of the IMF agreement is likely to be detailed and specific, particularly with regard to State assets earmarked for privatization.

Henry Kissinger and Condoleeza Rice, according to Bloomberg are among key individuals in the US who are acting (in a non-official capacity) in tandem with the IMF, the Kiev government, in consultation with the White House and  the US Congress.

The IMF Mission to Kiev

Immediately upon the instatement of the new Finance Minister and NBU governor, a request was submitted to the IMF’s Managing director. An IMF fact finding mission headed by the Director of the IMF’s European Department Rez Moghadam was rushed to Kiev:

“I am positively impressed with the authorities’ determination, sense of responsibility and commitment to an agenda of economic reform and transparency. The IMF stands ready to help the people of Ukraine and support the authorities’ economic program.” Press Release: Statement by IMF European Department Director Reza Moghadam on his Visit to Ukraine

A week later, on March 12, Christine Lagarde, met the interim Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk at IMF headquarters in Washington. Lagarde reaffirmed the IMF’s commitment:

“[to putting Ukraine back] on the path of sound economic governance and sustainable growth, while protecting the vulnerable in society. … We are keen to help Ukraine on its path to economic stability and prosperity.”(Press Release: Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Ukraine

The above statement is wrought with hypocrisy. In practice, the IMF does not wield “sound economic governance” nor does it protect the vulnerable. It impoverishes entire populations, while providing “prosperity” to a small corrupt and subservient political and economic elite.

IMF “economic medicine” while contributing to the enrichment of a social minority, invariably triggers economic instability and mass poverty, while providing a “social safety net” to the external creditors. To sell its reform package, the IMF relies on media propaganda as well as persistent statements by “economic experts” and financial analysts which provide authority to the IMF’s macroeconomic reforms.

The unspoken objective behind IMF interventionism is to destabilize sovereign governments and literally break up entire national economies. This is achieved through the manipulation of key macroeconomic policy instruments as well as the outright rigging of financial markets, including the foreign exchange market.

To reach its unspoken goals, the IMF-World Bank –often in consultation with the US Treasury and the State Department–, will exert control over key appointments including the Minister of Finance, the Central Bank governor as well as senior officials in charge of the country’s privatization program. These key appointments will require the (unofficial) approval of the “Washington Consensus” prior to the conduct of negotiations pertaining to a multibillion IMF bailout agreement.

Beneath the rhetoric, in the real World of money and credit, the IMF has several related operational objectives:

1) to facilitate the collection of debt servicing obligations, while ensuring that the country remains indebted and under the control of its external creditors.

2) to exert on behalf of the country’s external creditors full control over the country’s monetary policy, its fiscal and budgetary structures,

3) to revamp social programs, labor laws, minimum wage legislation, in accordance with the interests of Western capital

4) to deregulate foreign trade and investment policies, including financial services and intellectual property rights,

5) to implement the privatization of key sectors of the economy through the sale of public assets to foreign corporations.

6) to facilitate the takeover by foreign capital (including mergers and acquisitions) of selected privately owned Ukrainian corporations.

7) to ensure the deregulation of the foreign exchange market.

originalWhile the privatization program ensures the transfer of State assets into the hands of foreign investors, the IMF program also includes provisions geared towards the destabilization of the country’s privately owned business conglomerates. A concurrent “break up” plan entitled “spin-off” as well as a “bankruptcy program” are often implemented with a view to triggering the liquidation, closing down or restructuring of a large number of nationally owned private and public enterprises.

The “spin off” procedure –which was imposed on South Korea under the December 1997 IMF bailout agreement– required the break up of several of Korea’s powerful chaebols (business conglomerates) into smaller corporations, many of which were then taken over by US, EU and Japanese capital.. Sizeable banking interests as well highly profitable components of Korea’s high tech industrial base were transferred or sold off at rock bottom prices to Western capital. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, Global Research, Montreal, 2003, Chapter 22).

These staged bankruptcy programs ultimately seek to destroy national capitalism. In the case of Ukraine, they would selectively target the business interests of the oligarchs, opening the door for the takeover of a sizeable portion of Ukraine’s private sector by EU and US corporations. The conditionalities contained in the IMF agreement would be coordinated with those contained in the controversial EU-Ukraine Association agreement, which the Yanukovych government refused to sign.

Ukraine’s Spiraling External Debt

Ukraine’s external debt is of the order of $140 billion.

In consultations with the US Treasury and the EU, the IMF aid package is to be of the order of 15 billion dollars. Ukraine’s outstanding short-term debt is of the order of $65 billion, more than four times the amount promised by the IMF.

The Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves have literally dried up. In February, according to the NUB, Ukraine’s foreign-currency reserves were of the order of a meagre US$13.7 billion, its Special Drawing Rights with the IMF were of the order of US$16.1 million, its gold reserves US$1.81 billion. There were unconfirmed reports that Ukraine’s gold had been confiscated and airlifted to New York, for “safe-keeping” under the custody of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Under the bailout, the IMF –acting on behalf of Ukraine’s US and EU creditors– lends money to Ukraine which is already earmarked for debt repayment. The money is transferred to the creditors. The loan is “fictitious money”. Not one dollar of this money will enter Ukraine.

The package is not intended to support economic growth. Quite the opposite: Its main purpose is to collect the outstanding short term debt, while precipitating the destabilization of Ukraine’s economy and financial system.

The fundamental principle of usury is that the creditor comes to the rescue of the debtor: “I cannot pay my debts, No problem my son, I will lend you the money and with the money I lend you, you will pay me back”.

The rescue rope thrown to Kiev by the IMF and the European Union is in reality a ball and chain. Ukraine’s external debt, as documented by the World Bank, increased tenfold in ten years and exceeds 135 billion dollars. In interests alone, Ukraine must pay about 4.5 billion dollars a year. The new loans will only serve to increase the external debt thus obliging Kiev to “liberalize” its economy even more, by selling to corporations what remains to be privatized. Ukraine, IMF “Shock Treatment” and Economic Warfare By Manlio Dinucci, Global Research, March 21, 2014

Under the IMF loan agreement, the money will not enter the country, It will be used to trigger the repayment of outstanding debt servicing obligations to EU and US creditors. In this regard, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)”European banks have more than $23 billion in outstanding loans in Ukraine.” Ukraine Facing Financial Instability But IMF May Help Soon – Spiegel Online, February 28, 2014

What are the “benefits” of an IMF package to Ukraine?

According to IMF’s managing director Christine Lagarde the bailout is intended to address the issue of poverty and social inequality. In actuality what it does is to increase the levels of indebtedness, while essentially handing over the reins of macro-economic reform and monetary policy to the Bretton Woods Institutions, acting on behalf of Wall Street.

The bailout agreement will include the imposition of drastic austerity measures which in all likelihood will trigger further social chaos and economic dislocation. It’s called “policy based lending”, namely the granting of money earmarked to reimburse the creditors, in exchange for the IMF’s “bitter economic medicine” in the form of a menu of neoliberal policy reforms. “Short-term pain for long term gain” is the motto of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions.

Loan “conditionalities” will be imposed –including drastic austerity measures– -which will serve to impoverish the Ukrainian population beyond bounds in a country which has been under IMF ministrations for more than 20 years. While the Maidan movement was manipulated, tens of thousands of people protested they wanted a new life, because their standard of living had collapsed as a result of the neoliberal policies applied by successive governments, including that of president Yanukovych. Little did they realize that the protest movement supported by Wall Street, the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was meant to usher in a new phase of  economic and social destruction.

History of IMF Ministrations in Ukraine

In 1994 under the presidency of Leonid Kuchma, an IMF package was imposed on Ukraine. Viktor Yushchenko –who later became president following the 2004 Colored Revolution– had been appointed head of the newly-formed National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). Yushchenko was praised by the Western financial media as a “daring reformer”; he was among the main architects of the IMF’s 1994 reforms which served to destabilize Ukraine’s national economy. When he ran in the 2004 elections against Yanukovych, he was supported by various foundations including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He was Wall Street’s preferred candidate.

Ukraines’ 1994 IMF package was finalized behind closed doors at the Madrid 50 years anniversary Summit of the Bretton Woods institutions. It required the Ukrainian government to abandon State controls over the exchange rate leading to an massive collapse of the currency. Yushchenko played a key role in negotiating and implementing the 1994 agreement as well as creating a new Ukrainian national currency, which resulted in a dramatic plunge in real wages:.

Yushchenko as