Image: Nazi emblems of the Azov brigade of the Ukraine National Guard which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior

We bring to the attention of Global Research Readers a video on the atrocities committed in Eastern Ukraine including the indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians. This video was put together by the communities in Eastern Ukraine which are the object of  the attacks.

The mainstream media is silent on the issue. These videos are the object of censorship.

As described in the video,  Ukraine’s National Guard which is supported and financed by the West is controlled by Neo-Nazis with Nazi emblems. 

Documented in the video, war crimes are being committed by both the Ukrainian Army and the Ukrainian National Guard.

In the media’s coverage of unfolding atrocities directed against civilians in Eastern Ukraine, the words Nazi, Fascist or Neo-Nazi are a taboo. They have been eliminated from the anthology of investigative reporting.

The mainstream media by denying the very existence of these crimes against humanity committed by Neo-Nazi military and paramilitary formations on the orders of the Kiev government is complicit under the Nuremberg Principles of “crimes against peace”

Spread the word far and wide. In solidarity with the people of  Eastern Ukraine.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, July 5, 2014

*     *     *

Mainstream media channels won’t show you any of this footage. This is a war they don’t want you to see:.

Kiev’s warmongers and fascists on the ground keep on killing innocent civilians.

90% of the footage shown here was filmed by the locals and is readily available on YouTube. The blood that’s being spilled over by the Kiev regime will never be washed away.

If you want to see pictures of July 2nd airstrike on Staraya Kondrashovka, here they are (WARNING, GRAPHIC): https://vk.com/album-69838054_198072706

The Ukrainian mainstream media immediately blamed the incident on the rebels who don’t even have an aircraft.

On the 3rd of July, a deputy commander of the Public Relations of the Azov Battalion admitted that the cause of fire was pilot “error”.

All of the war crimes committed by Ukrainian government and their punitive battalions are blamed on the rebels.

The rebels wouldn’t kill their own parents, wives, and children since over 90% of the rebels are made up of local citizens.

Facts speak otherwise and images don’t lie.

Ukrainian propaganda machine is really on it. Disgusting.

President Poroshenko Uses RAND Corporation “Action Plan” for Eastern Ukraine including Ground Assaults and Air Strikes By Global Research News, July 04, 2014

Some 120 American soldiers are on the ground inside Somalia, a deployment that has been ongoing since 2007 but was never publicly announced, US officials admitted this week in statements to Reuters news agency.

The Pentagon had publicized a small deployment of advisers to Somalia in October of 2013, but the presence of the larger force—there since 2007—was still being kept secret. In January 2014, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) admitted the presence of US troops in the country but claimed the number was lower than five. BBC international correspondent Mark Doyle wrote in an article this week that he personally saw heavily armed and “clearly operational” US troops during a recent visit to Somalia.

Reuters made the US presence public, not as the result of investigative journalism or a leak from someone critical of the secret, illegal US military deployment, but in the wake of a speech by a US government official, Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs. She publicly declared that a “small contingent of US military personnel” including special operations forces had been present in parts of Somalia for several years. The news agency then contacted other US officials to get the actual number of troops involved.

The episode sheds light on the role of the American media. None of the television networks have reported the direct involvement of US forces in Somalia. Newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have repeatedly sent correspondents to Somalia over the past seven years without ever reporting the presence of a significance force of US military personnel. The Post actually published an extensive profile of US military operations in Africa, largely involving Special Forces, that made no mention of the Somalia force.

The deployment of a significant number of “trainers” and “advisers,” that is, of Special Forces soldiers, for years on end and without any form of public disclosure, raises ominous questions. What other secret deployments has Washington ordered during the past decade? How many new secret wars will the president and his top appointees decide to launch during the next year?

Bourgeois democracy in the US is being supplanted by an emerging totalitarianism based on unlimited executive power. Deployments are made in secret and revealed to the public years after the fact. The executive branch claims for itself and exercises the right to deploy military and intelligence forces anywhere on the planet, admitting no check on this authority.

Statements make clear that Washington is preparing to deepen its military engagement in Somalia, using the pretext of combating the “terrorist” group al Shabaab, a militia that developed out of the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and commands an estimated 4,000-7,000 fighters. In October, US Special Forces mounted a raid against the al Shabaab stronghold city of Barawe.

Speaking to Reuters, the US officials said the American military is preparing for increased engagement with the Somali National Army (SNA), which has already benefited from at least $170 million in US military aid. “What you’ll see with this upcoming fiscal year is the beginning of engagement with the SNA proper,” according to an unnamed US defense official. US forces are already involved in training and equipping armies from Uganda and Burundi affiliated with AMISOM, the African Union’s military mission in Somalia.

US imperialism is determined to politically dominate Somalia, a strategically crucial country in the Horn of Africa, as part of its drive to return the entire continent to a state of naked colonial submission before the Western powers. Somalia sits adjacent to some of the most critical sea-lanes on the planet, with huge quantities of oil sailing past everyday.

The US has established a new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in the capital, Mogadishu, according to reports. The US has also announced it will appoint an ambassador to Somalia for the first time since 1993, though for security reasons he will not reside inside Somali boarders.

Forces from the European Union (EU) are also currently present in Somalia and involved in training local armies.

While the imperialist powers blame al Shabaab for the catastrophic situation in Somalia, the US and its regional allies have reduced the country to rubble over a protracted period of interventions. Al Shabaab’s parent organization, the ICU, came to power amidst the social chaos that developed after the 1991 US withdrawal of its support for the Siad Barre regime, which it had backed since the 1970s.

In 1993, the US deployed 30,000 troops to Somalia on the pretext of delivering food assistance, killing hundreds of Somalis before withdrawing after the disastrous Battle of Mogadishu. Then, in 2006, the US backed an Ethiopian-led invasion of the country, producing a war between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the ICU that killed at least 16,700 civilians and displaced 1.9 million more.

The Militarization of American Public Schools

July 5th, 2014 by Steve Filips

This fall, Syracuse, New York will join the still small but growing list of public schools dedicated to the training of students for military service in the United States Armed Forces.

This past April, the Syracuse Central School District (SCSD) approved the closure of Fowler High School in the city’s impoverished Westside section and its transformation into the Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA), which will focus on training students for military service, to work in the Department of Homeland Security, or as police officers and firefighters.

There are 18 military academies as part of the public school system in the United States. Six are located in Chicago. All of these schools are associated with the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), whose goals include indoctrinating students with “patriotism,” “responsiveness to all authority” and an increasing “respect for the role of the US Armed Forces in support of national objectives.”

Most of these schools are located in working class and low-income communities and rely upon the lack of job and college options available to students to push them into the military.

The Westside section of Syracuse is one such area. It is a poverty-stricken area of the city that has been struggling with increasing inequality in the Obama “economic recovery,” and staggering levels of poverty, particularly among children. Childhood poverty approaches 50 percent and for those in the 18-24 year age bracket—those just out of high school—the rate approaches two thirds. (See: “Syracuse, New York housing in shambles” and “Deindustrialization and unemployment in Syracuse, New York”)

Employment opportunities for vulnerable students are slim and decent jobs are rarer still, thus leaving them as targets for poverty conscription to the military and police forces. In addition, the new Public Service Leadership Academy will also grant recruiters earlier access to students, allowing them to get their foot in the door to recruit among this young and captive audience.

Abandoned factory adjacent to Fowler High

PSLA will be comprised of four career academies. In addition to the Military Science Academy are the Homeland Security Academy, First Responders Academy and Entrepreneurial Academy. The academies will be phased in over four years, beginning this September with ninth graders and adding a grade each year.

The Military Science Academy begins this September. This program will consist of the Navy’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC), which relies on partial funding from the Syracuse school district. Those enrolled will “gain a foundation in maritime heritage, the significance of sea power, the fundamentals of naval operations, seamanship, navigation and meteorology.”

The Homeland Security Academy will feature computer forensics, cyber security and geospatial intelligence. The First Responders Academy will focus on training students to be police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, while the Entrepreneurial Academy will give students training in cosmetology and barbering as well as in the electrical trades.

In addition, students enrolled in the First Responder Academy, Homeland Security Academy and the Military Science Academy will also take four years of Arabic, American Sign Language or Spanish. Not being bashful about these languages being needed as US imperialism engages in more wars, the SCSD web site states, “The intelligence community has been open about the need for interpreters, engineers, scientists and other professionals who speak these languages, which are essential for emergency/disaster management.”

The JROTC was part of the legislation of the National Defense Act of 1916 to bolster recruitment efforts as the United States was expanding its military to participate in World War I, concurrent with growing public opposition to the war effort.

The act authorizes the military to seek and have contact with students 17 and older, but there is a program geared to establish early contact with students as young as 11 for the Middle School Cadet Corp. For many decades the JROTC functioned as clubs in public high schools. What is new is that entire high schools are now being transformed into military training centers.

The closing of Fowler High School and its replacement with the PSLA is part of a plan by the SCSD to close three public schools in Syracuse. In addition to the high school, the school district will close Delaware Elementary, also in the Westside section, and Hughes Elementary in the city’s Southside.

Photo from the Syracuse City School District web site promoting the Military Science Academy

The increased scrutiny and threats for reorganization of the school began in 2009 by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and culminated with a recent review, which cited the continued poor performance of Fowler High and the necessity of a drastic intervention. The NYSED based their decision on insufficient academic improvement when taking into consideration what the state describes as their “significant financial investment at Fowler.”

The flow of money administered by the state for Fowler has amounted to only $5.6 million overall since 2010. During this period other budget cuts still allowed teacher levels to drop and class sizes to increase, with the accompanying frustration of teachers, students and parents. Without any doubt, the main factor negatively affecting student achievement is rarely mentioned when reforms are discussed: Poverty and inequality are marginalized as the primary causes of the decaying educational system.

Lindsay Gordon and her fiancé Joe Buske spoke with WSWS reporters. When asked her thoughts on the lack of resources for education, she responded indignantly, “Instead of spending money on other things I think they should be defending our children’s education.”

She was unaware of the statistic that 85 of the world’s richest individuals have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people. “It’s a shame,” she exclaimed, “They do nothing for our future; our children are our future—the next generation.”

She added, “Money needs to be spent for having a brighter future; children are not going to have the appropriate education and the appropriate help they need because of the budget cuts. Our children are not getting a fair chance to a fair and equal education.”

Lindsay described how she worries about her own child’s future. “I have a two-year-old daughter,” she said. “She goes to school in three years, and I’m going to make sure that she receives that education. I don’t think it’s fair. Children [remaining] in these areas are [always] getting budget cuts … so it is absolutely unfair, it’s unethical.”

Joe Buske and Lindsay Gordon

Joe Buske commented on the militarization plans for Fowler High, saying, “We’ve spent money on wars, which I believe could have been better spent on needs at home. We were sold a story to send troops there to bring ‘democracy’ and I think that is something that should be left up to people there to decide on.”

He added, “No one asked for our opinion before going to war.” He said he is currently working for a hospital earning $15 an hour and knew of many who were struggling with unemployment, food stamp cuts and lack of health insurance.

A number of young people who asked to remain anonymous felt strongly about social conditions in the area. One young person said, “I would say that my experience having gone to Fowler High two years ago was that class sizes are larger and the amount of what we were learning was not equal to the time I had spent in a high school in the suburbs.”

A senior-year student who had just finished his final exams that afternoon said that in his experience over four years at Fowler High, there was a noticeable lowering of the quality of education. He said his future plans were for higher education, but that nearly two out of three students at Fowler would not graduate their senior year.

The lack of opportunities for work leads to the preying on young people to join the military. The transformation of public high schools into institutions such as the Public Service Leadership Academy in Syracuse is a continuation of the political establishment’s militarization of society, to support US military policy and to utilize police state measures to impose even deeper levels of social inequality.

The Human Cost of the FIFA World Cup

July 5th, 2014 by T. J. Petrowski

As the world watches the 2014 FIFA World Cup, people are protesting the cost and the human rights violations being committed by police and security forces to protect this corporate investment.

Working people in Brazil are understandably frustrated with the public cost of the World Cup, an estimated $14 billion. When compared to spending on social services, the cost of the World Cup is the equivalent of 61% of funding for education, or 30% of the funding for healthcare. Private companies, including those in the services and construction industries, will be the main beneficiaries of this public money. Adding to this cost is the forced evictions of the poor living in the favelas (slums) and the dispossession of indigenous people from their lands to build stadiums and parking lots. [1]

Over one million people in Brazil have protested the cost of the World Cup, the cutbacks and increased costs of social services, forced evictions, and other human rights violations.

The state security services have cracked down viciously on all anti‑FIFA demonstrations across the country. At least a dozen or more people have been killed and hundreds have been arrested. On the first day of the World Cup, 47 people were arrested, and police shot rubber bullets at medics helping the wounded. The state security services have been accused of killing of the poor and homeless, including children, to “clean up” the favelas prior to the start of the World Cup. To justify this violent response, the federal government has pushed to pass legislation that would criminalize all anti‑FIFA protests as “terrorism”, with 12 to 30 year prison sentences for those convicted. [2]

The state has deployed more than 200,000 troops, armed with such weapons as Israeli drones, German anti‑aircraft tanks, and rooftop missile defense systems, to protect the World Cup from protestors. The infamous American mercenary company, Blackwater, known for its role in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, is allegedly in Brazil helping with security for the World Cup.

The financial and social cost of events like the World Cup and the Olympics to working people are enormous.

During the London 2012 Olympics, 10,000 police officers and 13,000 troops, more than all British forces in Afghanistan, along with ships in the Thames, fighter jets, and surface‑to‑air missile defense systems, were deployed to protect the $11 billion event. At a time when 2 million are unemployed, 27% of children live in poverty, and austerity budgets are being forced on working people, $11 billion came at a significant cost to working people. [3]

The Sochi Winter Olympics cost a staggering $51 billion, even though 18 million Russians live in poverty and migrant workers were paid less than $2/hour to build the necessary infrastructure.

In 2022 Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup, and already hundreds of migrant workers have died working on the World Cup infrastructure. Over 400 Nepalese and 700 Indian workers have been have are already among the casualties. The conditions migrant workers are forced to work in have been compared to slavery. Robert Booth for the Guardian explains: “Workers described forced labour in 50C (122F) heat, employers who retain salaries for several months and passports making it impossible for them to leave and being denied free drinking water. The investigation found sickness is endemic among workers living in overcrowded and insanitary conditions and hunger has been reported. Thirty Nepalese construction workers took refuge in the their country’s embassy and subsequently left the country, after they claimed they received no pay.” The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 12 workers will die each week and around 4,000 will have died before the event starts. [4]

The social and financial cost of these international corporate events should be fought by working people around the world at a time where millions are being forced into unemployment and are denied their basic needs, democracy is being eroded, the environment is being destroyed, and the threat of war is increasing.

Note

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2014/06/11/bringing-fifa-to-brazil-equal-to-roughly-61-of-education-budget/

[2] http://revolution-news.com/the-story-of-resistance-to-fifas-war-on-brazilian-people-video-blog/

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/mar/12/london-olympics-security-lockdown-london

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/26/qatar-world-cup-migrant-workers-dead

Similar to NSA’s Spying On U.S. News Media to See What They Knew About NSA Spying

The German Parliament is holding hearings into NSA spying on Germany. (Senior NSA veterans Bill Binney and Thomas Drake provided testimony).

A German intelligence officer from the BND has been arrested for spying on the Parliamentary hearings … or and on behalf of the U.S. government.

An employee of Germany’s intelligence service has been arrested on suspicion of spying for the US, reports say.

The man is said to have been trying to gather details about a German parliamentary committee that is investigating claims of US espionage.

German authorities have asked the US ambassador for “swift clarification”.

The US National Security Agency (NSA) was last year accused of bugging the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of a huge surveillance programme.

The scale of the agency’s global spy programme was revealed in documents leaked last year by a former intelligence contractor, Edward Snowden.

Glenn Greenwald tweets:

That’d be the ultimate irony: US Govt spied on German parliamentary investigation into US Govt spying on Germans

This is similar to the NSA’s spying on American news organizations starting in 2002 to see what they knew – and planning to report – about NSA’s mass surveillance program against Americans.

Not even we anticipated this particular “unintended consequence” as a result of the US multi-billion dollar fine on BNP (which France took very much to heart). Moments ago, in a lengthy interview given to French magazine Investir, none other than the governor of the French National Bank Christian Noyer and member of the ECB’s governing board, said this stunner at the very end, via Bloomberg:

  • NOYER: BNP CASE WILL ENCOURAGE ‘DIVERSIFICATION’ FROM DOLLAR

Q. Doesn’t the role of the dollar as an international currency create systemic risk?

Noyer: Beyond [the BNP] case, increased legal risks from the application of U.S. rules to all dollar transactions around the world will encourage a diversification from the dollar. BNP Paribas was the occasion for many observers to remember that there has been a number of sanctions and that there would certainly be others in the future. A movement to diversify the currencies used in international trade is inevitable. Trade between Europe and China does not need to use the dollar and may be read and fully paid in euros or renminbi. Walking towards a multipolar world is the natural monetary policy, since there are several major economic and monetary powerful ensembles. China has decided to develop the renminbi as a settlement currency. The Bank of France was behind the popular ECB-PBOC swap and we have just concluded a memorandum on the creation of a system of offshore renminbi clearing in Paris. We have very strong cooperation with the PBOC in this field. But these changes take time. We must not forget that it took decades after the United States became the world’s largest economy for the dollar to replace the British pound as the first international currency. But the phenomenon of U.S. rules expanding to all USD-denominated transactions around the world can have an accelerating effect.

In other words, the head of the French central bank, and ECB member, Christian Noyer, just issued a direct threat to the world’s reserve currency (for now), the US Dollar.

Putting this whole episode in context: in an attempt to punish France for proceeding with the delivery of the Mistral amphibious warship to Russia, the US “punishes” BNP with a failed attempt at blackmail (recall that as Putin revealed, the BNP penalty was a used as a carrot to disincenticize France from concluding the Mistral transaction: had Hollande scrapped the deal, BNP would likely be slammed with a far lower fine, if any). Said blackmail attempt backfires horribly when as a result, the head of the French central bank makes it clear that not only is the US Dollar’s reserve currency status not sacrosanct, but “the world” will now actively seek to avoid USD-transactions in order to escape the tentacle of global “pax Americana.”

And, the biggest irony of all is that in “punishing” France for dealing with Russia, that core country of the Eurasian alliance of Russia and China, the US merely accelerated the gravitation of France (and all of Europe) precisely toward Eurasia, toward a multi-polar (sorry fanatic believers in a one world SDR-based currency) and away from the greenback.

Or shown visually (as we have ever since 20120).

Meanwhile, somewhere Putin is still laughing.

Israel’s former Defence Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer called for the Israeli government to immediately assassinate Hamas leaders, an Israeli news site has reported.

Ben-Eliezer is reported to have said:

“The government must immediately return to the assassination policy, and let Hamas leaders understand that there is no security for them day and night and that there is no difference between political and army wing leaders.”

Benjamin Ben-Eliezer

He said: “Hamas political leadership incites and inflames the atmosphere [against Israel] and encourages terrorism.”

Ben-Eliezer called on the Israeli government to strengthen Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and to pressure him to remove Hamas from government and then work on the resumption of the peace process.

Brazil will host the leaders of Russia, India, China, and South Africa for the 2014 BRICS Summit on July 15-17, 2014. This BRICS summit is expected to launch the $100 billion Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) and further details on soon to be established BRICS Development Bank will be unveiled.

 In June 2012, Brazil had proposed the establishment of a BRICS contingent reserve pool and bilateral swap arrangement which could ease short-term liquidity pressures and strengthen financial stability in the event of a balance of payments or currency crisis. It was at the Durban Summit (2013), the BRICS Leaders decided to create a US$ 100 billion CRA to tackle any potential financial crisis.

 Currently, the central banks of BRICS are working on the modalities and operational aspects of the CRA. Unlike the BRICS Bank, the self-managed CRA could come into operation soon once BRICS Leaders reach on a final agreement in Fortaleza (Brazil).

It is important to note that the CRA will only come into operation when a member-country faces an imminent financial crisis. In normal times, each member-country of BRICS will keep the funds’ reserve in its forex reserves kitty.  Currently BRICS countries hold $4.4 trillion in foreign-currency reserves.

 The establishment of Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) of $100 billion looks very promising as we are living in a post-crisis world full of financial risks and shocks. It offers a rare opportunity to reshape the global financial architecture by providing concrete financial mechanism of $100 billion to BRICS (possibly to other poor and developing countries as well) which may suddenly face a balance of payments or liquidity crisis. The proposed CRA could potentially sow the seeds of an alternative financial architecture if it could expand its mandate and reserve pool.

 Few can dispute the fact that such an alternative arrangement was badly needed as poor and developing countries had no option but to accept the misdiagnoses and harsh conditionalities of the IMF which provoked huge public outcry and bitter resentment in the 1980s and 90s.

 The relevance of CRA becomes even more important in the present financial landscape dominated by Western institutions and banks. Thus, the potential of CRA (and BRICS Bank) in altering the present unequal power relations in the financial world cannot be denied. However, it is important to emphasize that whether these instruments can really fulfill potential roles would be primarily judged by their official mandate, policy framework, governance and the operational aspects.

 At the same time, one cannot ignore the fact that reserve arrangements similar to the BRICS CRA currently exist, are inoperative and have not challenged the hegemony of the IMF. In the aftermath of Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, Asian countries (ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea) launched the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) to develop a self-managed reserve pooling arrangement and a regional financial safety net which could provide immediate liquidity support to member-countries in the event of a balance of payments or liquidity crisis. The CMI was the first regional currency swap arrangement launched with much fanfare in 2000.

 However, it is surprising to note that not a single member-country facing an impending financial crisis of one sort or another has, so far, opted for this regional financial safety net. This is despite the fact that the size of reserve pool of the CMI has been substantially expanded over the years (currently at $240 billion) and new facilities on crisis prevention and resolution have been added. Many of its member-countries (for example, Indonesia and Philippines) are more vulnerable to liquidity shocks at present than in the past.

 Therefore, the recent unappealing experience of CMI raises several pertinent questions which BRICS leaders cannot choose to ignore.

 Kavaljit Singh works with Madhyam, a policy research institute based in New Delhi (www.madhyam.org.in).

Venezuela: Questions about Democracy and a Free Press

July 5th, 2014 by James D. Cockcroft

First question: Why?

If Venezuela’s government is a dictatorship, why have there been 18 elections in 15 years under the late president Hugo Chávez Frías (d. 2013) and his democratically elected successor Nicolás Maduro?  Why is it that according to many international observers Venezuela’s democratic elections are, in the words of ex-president Jimmy Carter, “the best in the world”?

If the government violates constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, then why does it permit the 80% of the mass media controlled by wealthy capitalists to call for its violent overthrow?  Why does it allow the same media to use photographs from other countries of police clubbing demonstrators in order to allege a “repression of peaceful protests” in Venezuela?

Why does the Maduro administration put up with the media’s duplicitous claim that the protests of the mid-February to early May period of 2014 are carried out by a majority of Venezuela’s students when only a tiny minority of the nation’s 2.6 million university students take part — their main leaders paid or coached by foreigners from the US Embassy, the US Agency for International Development (AID), and the U.S.-funded nongovernmental organization National Endowment for Democracy (NED)?  Why is so little attention paid to the media’s assertions that the demands of this minority of pro-private education Venezuelan students are the same as those of the far larger numbers of non-violent students calling for democracy and free universal public education in Chile, Mexico, or Quebec?  Why do the media not report that, in early May 2014, students accounted for only 7% of the 180 persons still under arrest for acts of violence in Venezuela, many of the rest being paramilitaries, snipers (francotiradores), mercenaries, private military contractors, street thugs, and drug traffickers?

Why, above all, do the mass media describe the protests as nationwide, multi-racial, and multi-class, when in fact they take place in only 5% of the municipalities and in largely white, affluent neighborhoods?  Why do they never report that Venezuela is not a white nation but a heavily mestizo one with a distinguished African and indigenous heritage?  Could that possibly be a reason behind the political opposition’s attacks on the dark-skinned Chávez and Maduro?

Why do the mass media champion the two leaders of the protests — Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado — and not report how they have repeatedly instructed their supporters to “forget elections” and “set the streets on fire” in order to drive Maduro from office?  Why do they not report how in the mid-February to end-April period of 2014 the “democratic opposition” was responsible for 20,000 acts of violence, almost all the 41 deaths, and more than 500 wounded?  Why are there no reports about how the government’s opponents poisoned the city of Merida’s water supply and burned or destroyed public health and dental clinics, election offices, university premises, government offices, metro stations, buses, automobiles, a daycare center, public schools, community radio and TV stations, state-funded low-cost markets, electrical installations, and forests?

Why don’t the media point out that most of Venezuela’s inflation and shortages — of basic consumer goods — are caused by the capitalists’ hoarding and intentional reduction of production and by smuggling?  Why don’t they mention the following important news items?

  • the economy’s improvement in 2014
  • the past year’s increase in Venezuelans’ consumption of goods
  • a rapid loss of support for the opposition accompanied by a big increase in Maduro’s popularity during the protests
  • massive pro-government and pro-peace rallies like the May Day one of over a million people in Caracas
  • discovery of huge arsenals of high-powered weapons in opposition strongholds
  • new national police force community programs and prison reforms introduced to reduce crime
  • The Armed Forces’ declaration of support for the constitutional government and condemnation of the coup d’état attempt in late March 2014 by three Air Force generals.

NEWS FLASH #1: The mass media of disinformation serve as political agents in ongoing attempts at reversing Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

These attempts actually succeeded for 48 hours in 2002 when the leaders of a US-backed coup d’état removed all elected officials, killed or arrested countless revolutionary leaders, and took President Chávez prisoner.  The main opposition leaders of 2014 took part in that earlier coup.  (There is also a small, ineffective left-wing opposition.)

To be sure, the right-wing opposition is complex.  López does not attend the Dialogue peace talks initiated by President Maduro, whereas the twice-defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles does.  Nor does López accept the government’s National Peace Plan, Commission of Truth, or new Human Rights Council, yet Capriles does.  However, López and Capriles remain united on the ultimate goal: to topple the government and eradicate root and branch the Bolivarian Revolution.

NEWS FLASH #2: It’s a revolution!

The majority of Venezuelans are carrying out a very original revolution, one that is peaceful, democratic, participatory, anti-imperialist, and internationalist.  Theirs is an historic fight against neoliberalism and for peace and democracy.  This revolutionary process is by no means perfect, but it is real, and that is why the government is so demonized by counterrevolutionary voices.

The Bolivarian Revolution is an extremely complex one.  For example, there exist different tendencies inside the 7-million strong PSUV — United Socialist Party of Venezuela.  Moreover, some poor people and even some non-wealthy students oppose the government — mainly because of its problems of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies which Presidents Chávez and now Maduro so often have acknowledged.  But the Revolution’s 15-year trajectory, however uneven (sometimes with two steps forward and one step backward), continues to be, on balance, a deepening one toward social and world peace; dialogue; correction of problems; self-criticism; more revolutionary measures to benefit the masses; and international solidarity.

Actually, the extension of this deepening trajectory is spelled out in amazing detail in Chávez’s six-year “Plan de la Patria 2013-2019″ (at blog.chavez.org.ve/programa-patria-venezuela-2013-2019, the Spanish original being much more reliable than inadequate online English translations).  The ninety-page Plan, which President Maduro has promised to carry out and is beginning to implement, was developed in consultation with Venezuela’s social movements and even incorporated contributions from opposition sectors.  The Plan’s long-term goal is not to give capitalism a human face, but rather to replace capitalism with a participatory socialism specific to Venezuela, one based on the social movements, a communal state, and the nation’s expanding 40,000 communal councils that, despite occasional failures, do for the most part decide democratically on social programs and implement “participatory budgets.”  Envisioning not a centralized socialist state but a decentralized communal state (quite original this part), the six-year Plan lays out concrete steps to overcome corruption, bureaucratism, clientelism, and problems of economic production and distribution.  It includes measures to meet the needs of small businesses and implement the rights of social minorities, as well as ways to reduce the problems and distortions caused by an economy based on oil rent.  It calls for more workers’ control and social movements’ and poor peoples’ participation.  In addition, it discusses achieving an “eco-socialist culture”; world peace; and preservation of Mother Earth and humanity.  It concludes emphatically on a note of social activism and open-mindedness “to continue walking the path of Socialism, under the maxim left us in Antonio Machado’s poetry: Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”

Ironically, the Bolivarian Revolution has benefited some of the bourgeoisie — a few people even refer to a “Boliburguesía” (Bolivarian bourgeoisie, an oxymoron).  Venezuela’s big bourgeoisie still controls two thirds of the economy but it is politically weak in comparison with other social forces and economically weak in comparison with the powerful magnates of foreign capital upon whom it depends for its survival.  It is a “vendepatria” bourgeoisie quite willing to kill — the way Chile’s and Argentina’s and most of the Latin American and Caribbean bourgeoisies did in the 1970s and 1980s and Venezuela’s did in those “dirty war” years too — including the massacre of the massive uprising of the anti-neoliberal “Caracazo” in 1989, an uprising that Venezuela’s revolutionaries see as a triggering event of the current Bolivarian Revolution.

The Bolivarian Revolution’s ongoing reforms often violate capitalist norms, as in the introduction of controls over prices, profits, and costs of goods; the seizure of large landed estates and some key banks and corporations; the acceptance of takeovers of some workplaces by workers; the frequent hikes in the minimum wage; the use of oil revenues to benefit the masses; and the many laws and actions to improve health, education, social security and pensions, along with other measures to combat poverty, bourgeois privileges, and neo-liberalism’s privatization schemes.

Key accomplishments of the Bolivarian revolutionary process to date include:

  • a transformation of popular political culture — people feel like they finally have a say
  • the largest decline in poverty in Latin America, according to the World Bank
  • Latin America’s lowest social inequality index
  • radical extensions and increases in the minimum wage and pensions, including for workers in the informal economy
  • elimination of illiteracy and hunger (the UN’s FAO has named its world hunger eradication campaign “Hugo Chávez”)
  • free public health care for all, with the assistance of 30,000 Cuban doctors who have treated 11 million people and against whom protesters in February and March of 2014 carried out 162 attacks, almost burning two of them alive
  • free public education, with free computers for school children and many other students and with 1 of every 3 Venezuelans in a population of 30 million now enrolled from grade school through post-graduate university — the fifth highest percentage in the world
  • transformation of international relations and debates through actions building Latin American integration and economic relations based on human solidarity
  • Venezuela is unique in that it has reached almost all the goals of the millennium.

News Flash #3: The US and Canada are backing a counterrevolution.

With an eye on the world’s biggest oil reserves in Venezuela, US Secretary of State John Kerry has called Latin America “our backyard,” apparently unaware of the “change of epoch” taking place just outside his back door.  The US has funded Venezuela’s rightist opposition with $14 million in the past year and $100 million in the last 8 years.  US intervention in Venezuela includes the use of known terrorists from the Cuban mafia in Miami and Colombia’s paramilitaries (while the US imprisoned the anti-terrorist Cuban Five for long terms –see www.thecuban5.org).  The US continues to threaten Venezuela with economic sanctions.

Canada has followed the US lead, supporting the ultra-right, neo-fascist forces in Venezuela.  Canada’s 3 major political parties in Parliament voted a resolution for “peace” that held President Maduro responsible for the violence.  Air Canada suspended flights to Venezuela.  As Edward Snowden has revealed, Canada cooperates with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in electronic espionage to disrupt Venezuela and Cuba and monitor Canadian and US protesters.  Canada’s new ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Roswell, is an expert on digital communication who served previously in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Egypt.

The US and Canada are increasingly isolated in their claim that Venezuela is not a democracy.  All the members of the Organization of American States (OAS), except for the US, Canada, and Panama, and all the members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), have voted to defend Venezuela’s existing democracy against foreign intervention and the attempts to break the constitutional order.

Final question: What can we in the North do?

We can intensify our campaign against US and Canadian intervention and ask the US and Canadian governments to stand publicly with Venezuela’s people and their elected government and to express dismay at the repeated use of violence by some members of the Venezuelan opposition to obtain what was denied them at the ballot box.  We can build on the last fifteen years’ international protests against the North’s interventionism, including the tear-gassed marches at the presidential summit of the Americas in Quebec 2001 and Chávez’s role there as a solitary presidential voice against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as Chávez’s and Fidel Castro’s leading roles in the FTAA’s defeat four years later and in the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Spanish acronym CELAC) that excludes the US and Canada; Petrocaribe; UNASUR; and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (Spanish acronym ALBA-TCP).  But acts of human solidarity and for peace — domestically and internationally — must be ones of critical, not unqualified, support; ones to build unity; and above all, ones to listen and learn from one another, or to paraphrase the poet Machado, paths are made by walking and talking together.

Jim Cockcroft, a frequent public speaker on Venezuela and Latin America, is an award-winning author of 50 books whose latest book for Monthly Review Press is Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now.  An Honorary Editor of Latin American Perspectives, he is also a poet, a member of various international tribunals of civil society, and a founder of the Collectif des mouvements sociaux québécois amis de la CELAC y de ALBA-TCP.  This article is based on his talk at an educational on Venezuela and Ukraine conducted May 3, 2014, at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

In 2011, Earth Open Source said that official approval of glyphosate (the main ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup) had been rash, problematic and deeply flawed [1]. Its comprehensive review of existing data suggested that industry regulators in Europe had known for years that glyphosate causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals. The review raised questions about the role of the powerful agro-industry in rigging data pertaining to product safety and its undue influence on regulatory bodies.

 Despite its widespread use, there is currently little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. Last year, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and GM Freeze commissioned a study based on urine samples from volunteers in 18 countries across Europe [2]. It found that on average 44 percent of samples contained glyphosate. The proportion of positive samples varied between countries, with Malta, Germany, the UK and Poland having the most positive tests, and lower levels detected in Macedonia and Switzerland. All the volunteers who provided samples lived in cities, and none had handled or used glyphosate products in the run-up to the tests. The study was the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in human bodies.  

 According to a peer-reviewed report, published last year in the scientific journal Entropy [3], residues of glyphosate have also been found in food. These residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report’s authors, Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and science consultant Anthony Samsel. The study says that negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.

In Mississippi, 75 percent of air and rain sample contained levels of glyphosate that could have serious physiological consequences for humans [4]. Even if you are careful about what you eat, there is no escaping this poison. Sayer Ji from GreenMedInfo:

“The reality is that the environment is becoming so saturated with the ‘fall out’ from the ever-expanding GM agricultural/agrichemical farming grid that even if you somehow find a way to avoid eating contaminated food, you will be forced to have to deal with its adverse health effects, as long as you need air to breath and water to drink.” [5]

In 2010, the provincial government of Chaco province in Argentina issued a report on health statistics from the town La Leonesa. The report showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region (and the use of glyphosate), the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province [6].

As in Chaco, the introduction of Roundup Ready crops in the US has resulted in an increase of glyphosate use. Using official US government data, Dr Charles Benbrook, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, states that since 1996 the glyphosate rate of application per crop year has tripled on cotton farms, doubled in the case of soybeans and risen 39 percent on corn. The average annual increase in the pounds of glyphosate applied to cotton, soybeans, and corn has been 18.2 percent, 9.8 percent, and 4.3 percent, respectively, since herbicide tolerant crops were introduced [7].

Glyphosate was approved for EU-wide use in 2002. Yet there is a mounting body of evidence that links glyphosate with a range of serious health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, birth defects, autism, infertility and cancers [8]. If regulatory bodies had done their job properly, we would not now be in this situation.

 FoE argues that the European regulatory agencies did not carry out their own safety testing, relying instead on data provided by the manufacturers. Of course, it has for some time been noted that regulatory agencies in Europe, the US and Canada have shown a dereliction of duty by prioritising the needs of big food and agro-industry concerns and their products over any notion of public safety or the public interest. We know that outright corruption and serious conflicts of interest have been major factors in this respect [9,10,11,12].

Something to hide

Regulators have much to answer for. But they are silent. Claire Robinson from GM Watch notes that earlier this year a group of Chinese food safety volunteers submitted a request to China’s Ministry of Agriculture to disclose the study that justified issuing the safety certificate for the import into China of Monsanto’s Roundup. Writing on the GM Watch website, she says:

“The Ministry replied that Roundup was registered in China in 1988 based on a toxicology test report issued by a testing company called Younger Laboratories in St Louis, Missouri. The test was an acute exposure toxicity test (such tests last a maximum of a few days), with Roundup being given to rats by mouth and applied to the skin of rabbits. It claimed to find no effect on the eyes or skin, and no allergy. The volunteers asked the Ministry to release the study, and the Ministry in turn asked Monsanto. Monsanto replied that the study constituted its own commercial secret, adding that the company had never disclosed the study anywhere in the world and did not agree to disclose it now. The volunteers are appealing against the decision.” [13]

In Europe, Tony Tweedale, a Brussels-based advisor to NGOs on toxicity and risk assessment issues, asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to disclose the two key chronic toxicity studies on glyphosate that the German regulatory agencies relied upon to set the Acceptable Daily Intake of the chemical.

Robinson notes that both the German government regulatory agencies (their decisions form the basis for the widespread use of glyphosate) and EFSA have refused Tweedale’s requests to release the studies, on the grounds that they are commercially confidential information. Pesticide Action Network Europe previously asked the German regulatory agencies to release the full range of long-term toxicity studies on glyphosate. They refused, again for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

According to Robinson, such official stonewalling raises the question of what could be in these industry studies that that public is not allowed to see. The assumption is that the industry – and regulators – have something to hide.

The Earth Open Source review mentioned at the start of this article found that the biotech industry’s own studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s showed that glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals. While the industry studies themselves are held by the German government and remain secret, the Earth Open Source authors examined Germany’s summary report on the studies, which is in the public domain. This report was submitted to the EU Commission and led to glyphosate’s European approval in 2002.

The Earth Open Source authors found that the German regulator consistently dismissed evidence of birth defects using unscientific reasoning.

Claire Robinson says:

“… if the German government or EFSA were to release the industry studies, independent academic scientists could reanalyze the data (and methodology) and form their own conclusions about the safety of glyphosate. Given the past failures of risk assessment, these could well be at odds with the conclusions of the German regulator.”

In his recent book, ‘Poison Spring’ (Bloomsbury), former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worker Evaggelos Vallianatos quotes the EPA scientist Adrian Gross as saying that his colleagues, EPA toxicologists, “go straight to the company’s summary and lift it word for word and give it as their own evaluation of those studies.”

In a similar vein to the claims by Valliantos, former Monsanto boss in India during the eighties has said that the company faked data and so-called regulators just accepted such data at face value [14].

And here lies the crux of the matter: proper, independent analyses of risks being sidelined and ‘regulation’ amounting to little more than blindly accepting dubious industry claims or studies that merely say its products are safe. And yet, this is an industry that tried to rubbish the now republished the Seralini team’s study into GMOs and glyphosate. While the Seralini team’s two-year study has now undergone three rounds of peer-review, the industry keeps its own inadequate three-day or three-month studies secret by hiding behind the all too convenient notion of ‘commercial confidentiality’ and restricts, controls and censors independent research concerning its products [15]; if that fails, it sets out to smear, intimidate, bully and discredit researchers whose findings are not to their liking [16,17].

If the Serlani-led study and the rest of the evidence alluded to in this article show one thing, it is that regulators ought to do what they are supposed to and go back and properly reassess the products which they have allowed agribusiness to contaminate and poison us with. However, based on initial reactions to the Seralini-led study, the EFSA may have already made up its mind. William Engdahl states:

“A spokesman for the EFSA announced just a few weeks after the publication of Seralini’s bombshell study and without proof, “EFSA’s analysis has shown that deficiencies in the Séralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment. We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue…. Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” No mention of what the “serious defects” nor of why that would not call for repeating the two-year tests with other independent scientific groups around the EU to determine whether or not Seralini’s results were accurate… “Case closed, ladies and gentlemen and don’t ask us for more on this…” The mainstream media in Germany and across the EU dutifully swallowed that nonsense as the end of the discussion. Monsanto maize and Monsanto Roundup herbicide were “safe.”” [18]

If someone was standing in front of you threatening your health or the lives or health of your children, wouldn’t you take action? There’s little difference between that situation and what powerful corporations, with their politicians and bureaucrats in tow [19,20], are doing to our food. Our health is being sacrificed for the commercial interests of a few powerful corporations.

At the very least, the public would like regulators to regulate, not product promote.

Notes

[1] http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/17-roundup-and-birth-defects-is-the-public-being-kept-in-the-dark

[2] http://www.foeeurope.org/weed-killer-glyphosate-found-human-urine-across-Europe-130613

[3] http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416

[4] http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/27/monsantos-roundup-found-in-75-of-air-and-rain-samples/

[5] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/roundup-weedkiller-found-75-air-and-rain-samples-gov-study-finds?page=2

[6] http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-147561-2010-06-14.html

[7] http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/elpais/1-147561-2010-06-14.html

[8] http://www.gmoevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Glyphosate-Destructor-of-Human-Health-and-Biodiversity.pdf

[9] http://www.globalresearch.ca/stench-of-eu-corruption-in-monsanto-gmo-whitewash/5316294

[10] http://rense.com/general33/fd.htm

[11] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/14/dr-shiv-chopra-on-corrupt-to-the-core.aspx

[12] http://corporateeurope.org/pressreleases/2014/04/european-parliament-demands-stricter-regulation-conflicts-interest-eus-food

[13] http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2014/15519-the-glyphosate-toxicity-studies-you-re-not-allowed-to-see

[14]http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Monsanto+’faked’+data+for+approvals+claims+its+ex-chief/1/83093.html

[15] http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-scandal-the-long-term-effects-of-genetically-modified-food-on-humans/14570

[16] http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12715-seralini-vs-fellous-a-gmo-libel-case-over-independent-expertise-and-science

[17] http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-researchers-attacked-evidence-denied-and-a-population-at-risk/5305324

[18] http://www.gmfreecymru.org/documents/engdahl.html

[19] http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-syngenta-and-bayer-cropscience-the-gmo-biotech-sector-cant-win-the-scientific-debate-the-options-are-co-option-deception-and-collusion/5381725

[20] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Filmmaker-Mahesh-Bhatt-calls-Veerappa-Moily-a-corporate-mole/articleshow/31215130.cms

 

The following GRTV documentary looks at the crisis in Iraq. This short documentary examines the support that the US and Israel are providing to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which use to call itself Al-Qaeda in Iraq and more recently calls itself the Islamic State, and its self-declared “caliphate.”

Audiences are presented with past analyses from the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya and Michel Chossudovsky, that connects the dots between the two crises in Iraq and Syria and the long war of the US that is ultimately aimed at controlling Eurasia.

The division of Iraq and the Middle East is part of a longstanding push into Eurasia by the US, Israel, and their allies that has consistently involved a set of pretexts and lies. Sectarian hatred between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims and between Kurds and Arabs is now falsely being presented as the basis for the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

The US military cannot go into any country that it desires for regime change. This is why Washington has applied other techniques for regime change. In 2006, with the failure of the US to break the Resistance Bloc or Axis of Resistance in the Middle East, the US began its “redirection” policy and opted to use insurgencies, sectarianism, colour revolutions, and intensified covert operations.

One of the people that set the stage for the division of Iraq is Joseph Biden, the current vice-president of the United States. When Biden was a US senator in the US Congress, he presented the Biden Plan to divide Iraq into three sectarian entities in 2008. In part, the Biden Plan created one of the blueprints for the political face of the current crisis in Iraq.

The US also wants the federal government in Iraq to be replaced, because it refused to help the US and its allies in the war against Syria, its alliance with Iran, Iraq’s growing trade and purchases of military hardware from the Russian Federation, and Iraqi oil sales to China. Because of Washington’s desires for regime change in Baghdad and its plans to divide Iraq, the US government has been delaying aid to the Iraqi government. Russia and Belarus, on the other hand, have stepped in to militarily help Baghdad, alongside Iran and Syria.

While the US is covertly supporting the division of Iraq, Israel is overtly been supporting this as outlined by the Yinon Plan. After the ISIL’s 2014 offensive inside Iraq began, Iraqi officials reported that the Israelis were present in Iraqi Kurdistan and also involved in assisting the ISIL fighters inside Iraq’s borders. Tel Aviv has even openly told Washington to let the different groups in Iraq kill one another, just like Iran and Iraq were doing during the Iraq-Iran War. While Israel refuses to allow or recognize Palestinian independence, Israeli officials have called for the international community to recognize the dismemberment of Iraq by recognizing Iraqi Kurdistan as a separate republic. This is because Israel plans on using the Kurdish people as pawns and Iraqi Kurdistan as a regional outpost.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has used the ISIL’s 2014 offensive as an opportunity to takeover the multi-ethnic and oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk and to announce that it plans to declare independence from Iraq. In part, petro-politics and control over energy is tied to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s plans of secession and its armed takeover of Kirkuk, which it has claimed as its historic capital. The Turkish government has already been making illegal energy deals with the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government for Iraqi oil. Reports are also surfacing that Israel will buy Iraqi oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government via Turkey.

With the takeover of Kirkuk, Iraqi oil will be sent to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, which is the Eastern Mediterranean export terminal for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline. This not only gives Israel access to Iraqi oil, but also endangers Eurasian energy integration and the
Banyias-Kirkuk Pipeline running from Iraq to Syria.

The Iraqi and Syrian people must stand united in the face of the project to divide their ancient societies and countries.

 

Global Research Editor’s Note: This report remains to be confirmed.

The operation has taken place from 1 am to 5 am. on July 4th, local time

With fake attacks, Syrian army jets flew over Raqqa at low altitude, in waves, repeatedly breaking the sound barrier, and creating a real panic situation, forcing the terrorists into underground shelters.

At 2 am the first attack occurs at ISIS headquarters, 25 km east of Raqqa, destroying anti-aircraft batteries and heavy machine guns locations.

The real surprise takes place via three transport helicopters that landed, silently, entire Special Units under the command of several Syrian senior officers

mi-35

July 4, 2014 ~ Sensational details about the attacks and Special Operations by the Syrian Armed Forces against ISIL mercenary gangs on the area of Raqqa last night.

Sources of the military intelligence services knew that an important meeting of ISIL-ISIS commanders, at highest level, took place in ISIS headquarters.

The special units of the SAA approached the ISIL HQ silently, covered by the roar of the jet, circling the field and attacking with great surprise the terrorists.

Other units, in the meantime, take up position along the road leading to the camp of the terrorists, with the support of aviation and helicopters, incinerating any car and vehicle of the ISIL mercenaries.

The breakthrough is lightning-fast, with the following results:

* The entire terrorist group inside, more than 300 gunmen, are eliminated
* 4 regional commanders of ISIS, including Iraq, neutralized
* Commanders and figures at the highest level of ISIS-ISIL are taken prisoner: maximum restraint on their identity, but make sure that their catch will cause drastic changes in the entire region.
* Only one soldier of the special units wounded, mildly is assured.

The unity of the Syrian Arab Army, with its precious booty of mysterious prisoners, embarks on the transport helicopters and walks away.

The other ‘air unit support’ in the meantime continue to work with low-altitude attacks, breaking the sound barrier, for another hour.

 

A legenda da Al Qaeda e a ameaça de um “Inimigo Exterior” está sendo mantido através de uma extensiva propaganda da mídia e do governo

Depois da era do 9/11 a ameaça terrorista vinda da Al Qaeda tem constituido o bloco básico da doutrina militar US-OTAN. Essa justifica – abaixo de um mandato humanitário – a condução de operações contra-terrorismo por todo o mundo.

Sabido e documnetado, Al Qaeda afiliadas entidades foram usadas pela dupla US-OTAN em inúmeros conflitos, como trunfos “activos da inteligência”, desde os dias de apogeu da guerra União Soviética-Afeganistão. Na Síria os rebeldes da Al Nusrah and ISIS, os soldados rasos da aliança militar ocidental, o qual então por seu turno superintende, e controla o recrutamento e o treinamento de forças paramilitares.

Enquanto o Departamento do Estado dos Estados Unidos está acusando vários países de estarem “abrigando terroristas”, a América se apresenta como o “Estado Patrocinador do Terrorismo” Nr.1 : O Estado Islâmico do Iraque e al-Sham (ISIS) – que opera tanto na Síria como no Iraque – é encobertamente apoiado e financiado pelos Estados Unidos e seus aliados, incluindo-se aqui a Turquia, a Arábia Saudita e Catar. Ainda mais, o projeto de califado sunita do Estado Islâmico do Iraque e al-Sham, coincide com uma agenda dos Estados Unidos vindo já de muitos anos, para dividir tanto o Iraque como a Síria em diversos territórios : Um Califado Islâmico Sunita, Uma República Árabe Xiita, e a República do Curdistão, entre outras.

A Guerra Global Contra o Terrorismo (GWOT) dos Estados Unidos, constitue a pedra fundamental da doutrina militar dos mesmos. “Perseguir terroristas islâmicos” é uma parte e uma parcela da guerra não-convencional. O subjacente objetivo é o de justificar a condução de operações contra-terroristas através do mundo inteiro, o que também possibilita aos Estados Unidos o intervir em negócios internos de países soberanos.

Muitos escritores progressistas, incluindo-se aqui a mídia alternativa, de quando focalizando o desenrolar dos acontecimentos no Iraque, não conseguem entender a lógica subjacente a “Guerra Global Contra o Terrorismo”. O Estado Islâmico do Iraque e Al Cham (ISIS) é muitas vezes considerado como uma “entidade independente” em vez de como um instrumento da aliança militar ocidental. Ainda mais, muitos ativistas entregues ao trabalho e atividades anti-guerra, e que se opõem os dogmas da agenda militar US-OTAN, irão de qualquer maneira endossar a agenda de contra-terrorismo de Washington dirigida contra a Al Qaeda:. A global ameaça do terrorismo é considerada como verdadeira ou “real”: “Nós somos contra a guerra, mas apoiamos a Guerra Global Contra o Terrorismo.”

O Projeto do Califado e o Relatório do Conselho Nacional de Inteligência dos EUA

Um novo jorro propagandista foi posto em movimentação. O líder da já defunta organização do Estado Islâmico do Iraque e Al Cham (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi anunciou em 29 de junho de 2014,  a criação de um Estado Islâmico:

Combatentes loiais ao grupo proclamado como “Califa Ibrahim ibn Awwad”, ou Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi como ele era conhecido até a declaração de domingo, 1 de julho, foram inspirados pelo Califado Rashidun, que sucedeu o Profeta Mohammad no século VII, e que é venerado pela maioria dos muçulmanos.” (Daily Telegraph, 30 de junho de 2014)

Numa amarga ironia, o projeto do califado como um instrumento de propaganda tem estado na mesa de projetos dos serviços de inteligência dos Estados Unidos a mais de dez anos. Em dezembro de 2004, na administração de Bush, o Conselho Nacional de Inteligência (NIC) fez um prognóstico de que em 2020 um Novo Califado extendendo-se do Oeste do Mediterrâneo até a Ásia Central e Sudeste da Ásia iria emergir, ameaçando a democracia e os valores ocidentais.

Os “resultados do inquérito” do Conselho Nacional de Inteligência foram publicados num relatório não-classificado de 123 páginas intitulado “Mapping the Global Future”. – Delineando o Mapa do Futuro numa perspectiva Global.

“Um Novo Califado dá um exemplo de como um movimento global propalado por identidades político-religiosas radicais poderia constituir um desafio as normas e valores ocidentais como o fundamento de um sistema global” (ênfases acrescentadas)

Esse relatório da NIC de 2004 está perto de ser ridículo; ele não reflete algo inteligente, muito menos é esse um relatório de análise histórica e ou geopolítica. É uma falsa narrativa do califado, no entanto, ela se apresenta como astuta e prudente´, assim como se semelhança muito com o muito publicado PR da proclamação da criação do califado pelo líder da ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi.

O relatório da NIC apresenta um chamado “cenário ficticio. Trata-se de uma carta vindo de um fictíco neto de Bin Laden para um parente também imaginário, em 2020.” Seria  baseado nesse processo imaginário que as predições para 2020 foram feitas. O relatório baseia-se num inventado neto de Bin Laden, escrevendo uma narrativa numa carta. Isso em vez de se basear em inteligência e em análises empíricas. De qualquer forma aqui a comunidade dos serviços de inteligência concluem que o califado constitui um real perigo para o mundo e a civilização ocidental.

De um ponto de vista propagandístico, o objetivo subjacente ao projeto do Califado – como descrito pelo NIC – é o de demonizar os muçulmanos tendo em vista a justificação de uma cruzada militar:

 “O fictício cenário apresentado abaixo dá um exemplo de como um movimento global propalado por uma identidade religiosa radical poderia emergir”.

Nesse cenário um novo Califado é proclamado e consegue apresentar uma poderosa contra-ideologia com uma capacidade de atração muito abrangente.

Ele é representado na forma de uma hipotética carta from um imaginado neto de Bin Laden para um parente em 2020.

Nessa carta o imaginado neto de Bin Lado contaria em pormenores as lutas do Califa em tentando tirar o controle de regimes tradicionais, e o conflito e confusão que seguiria tanto no mundo muçulmano, assim como fora dele. O conflito seria então entre muçulmanos, os Estados Unidos, a Europa, a Rússia e a China. Enquanto o sucesso do Califa quanto a mobilizar apoio varia nessa narrativa, lugares muito longe do centro muçulmano no Oriente Médio-na África e na Ásia- ficariam em convulsão como resultado da atração que o Califa e ou o califado exercia.

“O cenário descrito termina antes que o Califa consiga estabelecer uma tanto espiritual como temporal autoridade sobre um território – o que historicamente foi o caso com os Califados anteriores. No final do cenário, nós identificamos lições a serem tiradas.” (“Mapping the Global Future”.  p. 83)

página 90 do relatório

Esse “autoritativo” – “Mapping the Global Future” – relatório da NIC, relata não só o que foi apresentado na Casa Branca, no Congresso e no Pentágono. Ele foi também mandado para os aliados dos Estados Unidos. A “ameaça emanando do Mundo Muçulmano” referido no relatório do NIC (incluindo a secção do projeto do califado) está firmemente entrincheirada na doutrina militar US-OTAN.

Tinha-se em vista que o documento do NIC seria lido por oficiais de alto escalão. Falando de uma maneira geral ele faz parte do “Top official” (TOPOFF) campanha de propaganda que tem em vista senior-representantes da política exterior, e militares em altas posições, já para nem se mencionar aqui acadêmicos, pesquisadores e “ativistas” das Organizações Não Governamentais, ONGs. O objetivo é o de garantir que “oficiais de altos escalões” continuem a acreditar que terroristas islâmicos estão ameaçando a segurança do Mundo Ocidental.

O fortalecimento dessa construção do cenário do califado é a idéia do “Clash of Civilizations” -Confrontação das Civilizações, a qual dá a justificação, aos olhos da opinião pública dos Estados Unidos, para que venham a intervir pelo mundo todo, como parte de uma agenda contra-terrorista.

De um ponto de vista geopolítical e geográfico, o califado constitue uma grande área na qual os Estados Unidos procuram extender a sua influência econômica e estratégica. Nas Palavras de Dick Cheney pertencendo ao relatório NIC de 2004:  

“Eles falam como desejando re-estabelecer o que poderia ser referido como o Califado do Século VII. Esse era o mundo como organizado nos anos D.C. 1200 – 1300, em efeito, quando o Islão ou o povo islâmico controlava tudo de Portugal a Espanha no oeste; através do Mediterrâneo à África do Norte; todo o norte da África; o Médio Oriente; até os Balcãs; as repúblicas da Ásia Central; a ponta sul da Rússia; um bom pedaço da Índia; e por volta da contemporânea Indonésia. Num sentido então de Bali e Jakarta por um lado, e Madrid do outro.” Dick Cheney (ênfases acrescentadas)

O que Dick Cheney está descrevendo no contexto de hoje em dia é uma grande região estendendo-se do Mediterrâneo a Ásia Central e Sudeste Ásia , uma região na qual os Estados Unidos e seus aliados estão envolvidos em várias operações militares e de inteligência.

O declarado objetivo do relatório do NIC era o “de preparar a próxima administração de Bush para os desafios que viriam mais a frente, através de projetar atuais tendências que poderiam ameaçar os interesses dos Estados Unidos”.

O documento de inteligência do NIC foi baseado, caso nos tenhamos esquecido, numa carta hipotética vinda de um imaginado neto de Bin Laden para um [fictício] parente no [ano] 2020 ”. “As lições aprendidas como delineadas no “autoritativo” NIC documento de inteligência foram as seguintes;

O documento refere-se a atração do califado para os muçulmanos e conclude que:

  • o projeto do califado “constitue um sério desafio a ordem internacional”.
  • “A revolução IT, técnica de informação, provavelmente irá aumentar a colisão entre o mundo ocidental e o muçulmano…”

“a proclamação do Califado provavelmente não iria diminuir a probabilidade do terrorismo e da provocação de novos conflitos”. [sic]

A análise do NIC sugere que a proclamação do califado irá gerar uma nova onda de terrorismo emanando de países muçulmanos, e portanto justificando uma escalação da “Guerra Global Contra o Terrorismo (GWOT):

Depois tem-se que a proclamação do Califado… poderia propalar uma nova geração de terroristas tendo em vista o atacar aqueles opostos ao califado, dentro ou fora do Mundo Muçulmano.” (ênfases acrescentadas)

O que o relatório do NIC não sucedeu em mencionar foi que o serviço de inteligência dos Estados Unidos em ligação com os serviços de inteligência, ou secretos, do MI6 britânico e do Mossad de Israel, estavam encobertamente envolvidos em apoiar tanto os terroristas, como o projeto do califado.

Por seu turno a mídia embarcou numa nova onda de mentiras e fabricações, focando numa “nova ameaça terrorista” emanando não só do Mundo Muçulmano, mas de “terroristas islamitas domésticos” na Europa e nos Estados Unidos, ou seja, de jovens muçulmanos tendo vivido toda a sua vida na Europa, e nos Estados Unidos.

Michel Chossudovsky

 Artigo original em inglês :

isis-caliphatemapO Estado Islâmico, o “Projeto do Califado” e a “Guerra Global ao Terrorismopublicado o 4 de julho de 2014.

Traduzido por Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.com, para Mondialisation.ca

“Os Estados Unidos da América não são os responsáveis pelo que está acontecendo na Líbia, assim como não são os responsáveis pelo que está acontecendo no Iraque hoje em dia,” declarou o Secretário do Estado John Kerry, na conferência de imprensa em Cairo a qual teve lugar no meio do seu giro na região, devido as mais recentes crises no Oriente Médio. Enquanto Kerry falava, o Estado Islâmico do Iraque e Síria (ISIS), e uma insurgência sunita em crescendo, estavam consolidando o seu apossar do norte e do oeste do Iraque, incluindo-se aqui as fronteiras com a Síria e a Jordânia. Mais do que um milhão de iraquianos foram deslocados por causa dos combates se desenvolvendo, enquanto milhares foram mortos durante o aumentar das carnificinas sectárias.

A Líbia está num estado de completo colapso, com contínuos combates entre milícias rivais, com um governo que só existe no papel, com a produção do petróleo tendo sido abaixada de pelo menos 80% , e com mais de um milhão de pessoas terem sido obrigadas a fugir da violência no país. Muitos milhares de pessoas também foram encarceradas numa rede de prisões dirigidas por grupos armados que praticam o uso sistemático da tortura.

A declaração de Kerry simplesmente fez oficial o contínuo trombetar dos dirigentes políticos, e da mídia, desde que a situação no Iraque se tornou num completo debacle:  “A responsabilidade não é dos Estados Unidos.”

O comentário do colunista do New York Times Nicholas Kristof foi típico. Ele é um  dos imperialistas dos “direitos humanos” o qual foi um eloquente proponente da invasão do Iraque pelos Estados Unidos em 2003. Ele escreveu então que: “O debacle no Irã não é culpa do Presidente Obama. Esse debacle não é culpa dos Republicanos… Esse debacle é esmagadoramente culpa do primeiro ministro do Iraque, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.”

Maliki, o bode expiatório, colocado no poder e lá mantido pela ocupação dos Estados Unidos no Iraque, é acusado como sendo o culpado absoluto.

Thomas Friedman, colunista do Times para negócios estrangeiros, escreveu no domingo que Maliki era um “arsonista” e que “no minuto em que América tinha saído do Iraque,” ele deliberadamente tinha iniciado desquartejamentos e mutilações de pessoas. Esse é o mesmo Friedman que em 2003 tinha declarado que os Estados Unidos tinham invadido o Iraque “porque nós podíamos” falando, com orgulho, que as tropas americanas iam de casa em casa, dando ordens aos iraquianos tais como “chupem isso aqui,” e declarando então também, que ele “não tinha problemas com uma guerra pelo petróleo.”

Ouvindo o coro das declarações insistindo que os Estados Unidos não tem responsabilidade quanto o aprofundamento da tragédia infligida ao povo do Iraque e da Líbia, não há nada que chegue a mente tanto quanto os nazistas criminosos em Nuremberg, indo de Göring e descendo na hierarquia, com cada um deles se levantando frente ao tribunal para declarar a si mesmos como “ não culpados.”

Quais são os crimes para os quais Kerry, e tantos outros da classe dirigente em Washington, insistem quanto a não terem responsabilidades em relação aos mesmos?

A expressão que eles usaram para descrever suas próprias ações na ocasião foi a de “chocar e aterrorizar”. Isso sendo então o deslanchar de uma colossal força destrutiva sobre uma sociedade já destroçada por décadas de sadísticas sanções dos Estados Unidos, além das mortes e assassinatos de centenas de milhares de pessoas, e de milhões de deslocados e refugiados. A ocupação dos Estados Unidos destruiu toda e cada uma das instituições da sociedade iraquiana, enquanto Washington deliberadamente provocava divisões sectárias como meio de vencer o nacionalismo iraquiano. O deposto representante do governo, Saddam Hussein, foi julgado numa corte marcial, e executado sem cerimônias.

Tudo isso foi justificado através de avisos e prevenções a respeito de uma iminente ameaça de “armas de destruição maciça”, WMD, assim como relações entre Bagdá e Al Qaeda. Como todo o mundo hoje em dia já sabe, tudo isso era pura mentira.

Lá não havia nenhum WMD, da mesma maneira que lá hão havia nenhuma significante Al Qaeda até que o imperialismo dos Estados Unidos tivesse derrubado o governo do país, e rasgado em pedaços o tecido da sua sociedade. Em verdade, na região não havia absolutamente nenhuma Al Qaeda antes de Washington ter incitado um sangrenta guerra através de extremistas  islâmicos, da ala de direita, no Afeganistão, nos anos oitenta.

Na Líbia e agora na Síria, a administração de Obama abandonou o pretexto da “guerra ao terrorismo” por um outro igualmente cínico e fraudulento como justificação para derrubada de governos : “direitos humanos.” Na Líbia, os Estados Unidos e a OTAN bombardearam o país de maneira pesada e excessiva, enquanto ao mesmo tempo organizando e armando milícias dirigidas por islamistas numa guerra sectária que destruiu todas as existentes estruturas sociais e governamentais do país. Como no Iraque eles, os Estados Unidos e a OTAN, acabaram a sua guerra com o brutal assassinato do secular líder do país, no caso da Líbia então, Moamar Kaddafi.

Washington está agora de maneira similar mantendo uma guerra para a derrubada do governo da Síria, dando apoio aos islamistas sunitas, e as milícias sectárias que são dirigidas pelo ISIS, a mesma força que invadiu grande parte do Iraque. Os Estados Unidos provavelmente esperam terminar essa guerra com o assassinato de um terceiro chefe de estado secular, Bashar al-Assad.

Justamente na semana passada Obama propôs o encaminhar de $ 500 milhões de dólares em armas para os “rebeldes” – armamentos que todo o mundo sabe irão acabar nas mãos do ISIS, organização essa a qual os Estados Unidos supostamente estaria tentando derrotar no Iraque.

Enquanto as ações deceptivas, e as contradições, da política de Washington tornam-se cada vez mais notórias, os oficiais dos Estados Unidos simplesmente agem como se o povo americano nada pudesse perceber, ou que iriam acreditar em tudo o que lhes fosse dito. Tem-se como fato que muito provavelmente eles não iriam ver ou fazer uma ligação entre os fatos, percebendo que $ 500 milhões de dólares podem ser imediatamente levantados para que se pague uma guerra criminosa, enquanto os dirigentes continuam a lhes dizer que aqui “não há dinheiro” para a saúde, educação, habitação, ou trabalho.

A destruição que os oligarcas dos Estados Unidos levaram ao Oriente Médio, com todas as suas terríveis consequências humanas, é uma manifestação externa do papel destrutivo dela dentro do próprio Estados Unidos, onde ela despedaçou a base produtiva da manufatura tornando a economia num casino para parasitas financeiros enquanto destruindo empregos e o nível de vida para milhões de pessoas. Sem respostas para o desenvolvimento da crise nacional eles se voltam para a violência no estrangeiro, só aumentando a catástrofe que já tinham lá criado.

Os “não responsáveis” e “não culpados” indo de Kerry, Friedman e os outros defensores e apologistas para a agressão militar americana, não vão conseguir limpar a sujeira. O imperialismo americano é o responsável por esses e outros terríveis crimes contra a humanidade.

Entretanto, ninguém nos Estados Unidos foi colocado a prestar contas. Não aqueles em Washington – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powel, e outros, que conspiraram para deslanchar uma guerra de agressão. Ninguém na actual administração, indo de Obama até o final da linha hierárquica, os quais conspiraram para proteger seus predecessores e continuar as políticas predatórias dos mesmos foi perguntado quanto a sua responsabilidade. Também nenhum militar implementando a guerra foi colocado aqui a prestar contas, e nem tão pouco os empreiteiros particulares que se enriqueceram pela mesma. Finalmente tem-se nessa lista os acadêmicos, conformistas e covardes, que a justificaram e aceitaram.

Conjuntamente eles são todos responsáveis pelas catástrofes que infligiram e continuam infligindo o povo do Iraque, da Líbia, assim também como da Síria,

 Bill Van Auken

Artigo original, WSWS, em 30 de junho de 2014

Traduzido por Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.com, para Mondialisation.ca

James Risen of The New York Times, using recently disclosed State Department documents, has written a bombshell-of-a-story chronicling how Blackwater’s top manager threatened to kill the U.S. government’s chief investigator in 2007, thus thwarting an investigation into Blackwater’s operations just weeks before the company’s guards massacred 17 Iraqi civilians.

The story is characteristic Risen: unflinchingly and thoroughly reported. However, Risen may not be able to write such stories in a matter of months. Instead, he may be sitting in a jail cell as a result of a case being prosecuted against him by the Obama administration.

The case against Risen began in 2008. This is when his book, State of War, was published, which contained information on a secret, botched CIA operation in Iran. The Bush administration, furious at the revelations, subpoenaed Risen and demanded that he reveal his confidential source. Risen has steadfastly refused, and if the Obama administration proceeds this summer to prosecute Risen, the NYT journalist may soon be behind bars.

Here’s Jonathan Mahler of the Times on the Risen case:

After more than six years of legal wrangling, the case – the most serious confrontation between the government and the press in recent history – will reach a head in the coming weeks. Mr. Risen has steadfastly refused to testify. But he is now out of challenges. Early this month, the Supreme Court declined to review his case, a decision that allows prosecutors to compel his testimony. If Mr. Risen resists, he could go to prison.

Though the court’s decision looked like a major victory for the government, it has forced the Obama administration to confront a hard choice. Should it demand Mr. Risen’s testimony and be responsible for a reporter’s being sent to jail? Or reverse course and stand down, losing credibility with an intelligence community that has pushed for the aggressive prosecution of leaks?

The dilemma comes at a critical moment for an administration that has struggled to find a balance between aggressively enforcing laws against leaking and demonstrating concern for civil liberties and government transparency. Whatever the Justice Department chooses to do will send a powerful message about how far it is willing to go to protect classified information in the digital age. And journalists and press freedom activists are watching closely for the precedent the decision will most likely set.

The DOJ’s case, inherited from the Bush administration and pursued with equal determination, is a monumental one for both Risen and for press freedoms in our country. At a time in which whistleblowers are being prosecuted at record rates, Risen represents a metaphorical watershed: will such prosecutions spill over onto the journalistic landscape, or will the DOJ decide not to prosecute journalists for simply doing their jobs?

Eric Holder hinted recently that the DOJ might not prosecute Risen, expressing before a group of reporters exactly this sentiment, saying, “As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.”

However, the DOJ’s case is continuing, which makes one wonder if journalists who use anonymous sources who reveal confidential information – considered law-breaking whistleblowers by the Obama administration – will be treated as whistleblowers themselves.

Risen stated recently that he has two choices, “Give up everything I believe in – or go to jail.”

David Pozen, a Columbia University law professor who specializes in leak cases, believes that what the Obama administration decides to do with Risen will establish how such cases will be handled in the future, stating, “If they let Risen go, it would suggest that however else they try to bring these criminal-leak cases going forward, journalists will largely be shielded.”

However, with the Wikileaks and Snowden cases in the background, there’s reason to believe that the Obama administration would be wary to set such a precedent, particularly with Wikileaks functioning as a journalistic outlet.

Holder has hinted that the Obama administration won’t keep journalists from doing their jobs. In order for his words to be true, in order for U.S. journalists to enjoy those press freedoms necessary for the press to truly form a Fourth Estate, the Obama administration must end its prosecution of Risen.

For if Risen is not shielded, the result will likely be the prosecution of more journalists, and the silencing of many who make it their job to report precisely on those things those in power wish to remain secret.

In many ways, the functioning of our democracy in an ideal sense, in which an informed electorate can make choices based upon the actions of those in power, hangs in the balance.

David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.

What does America’s national celebration mean to those under the heel of “Manifest Destiny,” at home and abroad? “For the victims of US imperialism, the 4th of July is indeed a ‘hollow mockery’ and ‘mere bombast, fraud, and deception’ as Frederick Douglass so eloquently put it in his famous speech.”

The Declaration of Independence implicitly legalized the enslavement of Black people and the genocide of Native people within the context of the developing American capitalist nation-state.”

July 4th is once again approaching and principled left forces need to use the day as a teaching moment. In a speech given on July 4th, 1852, Frederick Douglas spoke before a packed Rochester Hall and did just that, highlighting the hypocrisy that stains the July 4th celebration of the American Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence, as Douglass emphasized, held no worth to the millions of Black people in the United States whose existence was subjected to the racism and exploitation of chattel bondage. Over a century and a half later, the celebration of July 4th remains not only a practice of hypocrisy, but also a blatant co-sign US imperialist plunder all over the planet.

Liberty, independence, and equality are abstract ideas. Their presence in the Declaration of Independence must be placed in proper political-historical context. White capitalists, many of them slave-owners, wrote the Declaration of Independence. Independence from the British Crown for the American, slave-owning colonial bourgeoisie meant the ability to develop a settler colonial-capitalist order free from the British Empire’s restrictive policies. Most notably, the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were concerned about a British mandate to abolish chattel slavery in its colonies, a policy that had the potential to severely weaken the colonial bourgeoisie and prevent further expansion of the capitalist system in North America. The Declaration of Independence implicitly legalized the enslavement of Black people and the genocide of Native people within the context of the developing American capitalist nation-state.

The likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were concerned about a British mandate to abolish chattel slavery in its colonies.”

This is the type of  ”liberty” that is celebrated annually every 4th of July. Douglass addressed the antagonisms brought forth by the July 4th ”holiday” when he asked:

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; y our national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Douglass’s indictment of the American way of life remains true. Despite the relentless misinformation war waged by the US imperialist corporate media and education system, the conditions of oppressed people are far worse now than they were at the date of Douglass’s speech. Black America and Native peoples reside in the US in a state of neo-slavery. As indigenous nations battle against President Obama’s pipe-line incursions for survival under genocidal exclusion in forced residence on reservations, Black America’s masses live with the daily colonial realities of police-state terror, mass imprisonment, and economic and social death. Undocumented immigrants, many of whom are indigenous Chicanos, are super exploited for their labor and have been deported in record numbers by Obama Administration. The internal landscape of US imperialism is by definition the highest stage of Anglo-American settler colonialism, the founding social system that inspired Douglass’s July 4th analysis.

The US settler state is now an imperialist one that ensures the exploitation and misery of billions of people around the globe. The US has nearly 1000 military bases all over the world and spends trillions per year in overt and covert military operations. Recent corporate media focus has been on the re-invasion of Iraq to “protect” the Iraqi state from terrorist insurgents. This ignores the 1.6 million Iraqi people that died during the decade-long US occupation alone. Imperialist rhetoric of bringing “stability” to Iraq flies in the face of the fact that the US military-intelligence apparatus sponsors ISIS and other terror groups all over the Middle East and North Africa inside the allied nations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the GCC and NATO alliances. US imperialism is scorching the earth, either by militarizing neo-colonial allies or conducting “humanitarian intervention” to justify overt invasion, as was the case in Libya and now again in Iraq. For the victims of US imperialism forced to live under imperialist political instability and economic dependence, the 4th of July is indeed a “hallow mockery” and “mere bombast, fraud, and deception” as Douglass eloquently put it in his speech.

Black America’s masses live with the daily colonial realities of police-state terror, mass imprisonment, and economic and social death.”

In the era of Obama, US imperialism has been very vocal in its disregard for humanity. In 2010, President Obama joked that he would “predator drone” the Jonas Brothers band, making a mockery out the thousands of people his Administration has murdered by drone strike. The Obama Administration’s left-flank imperial politics has branded imperialism and corporate exploitation with anti-Black racism (see Obama’s 2013 Morehouse graduation speech) and fascist nationalism (see Obama’s 2014 West Point Commencement speech).  Additionally, Hilary Clinton is making quite a name for herself in mainstream political discourse after stating on CNN that  “Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.” This answer came after the question of immigration was raised in relation to the thousands of children that have been crossing the border of Mexico from Central America. The architects of imperialism are exposing their own illegitimate system, and by extension, the sham that July 4th represents.  The ruling class’s vocal and visible ruthlessness is both a signal of decay in the US imperialist system and of the political crisis among left forces in the US that allow such brutality to be carried out with impunity.

In the spirit of Frederick Douglass, this July 4th should be a moment not of celebration, but of deep reflection for left political forces. What does “American Independence” really mean? Does it mean the freedom for US imperialism to destabilize nations, murder millions, and force the world into its political and economic sphere of influence? Does it mean the independence for US imperialism to imprison the largest number of (mostly Black) people in the world? Is “liberty” defined by the US imperialist system’s centuries-long colonization of Native and Black America, now taking form in the privatization of entire cities like Black Detroit?  The answer is yes to all of the above. The masters of deceit can’t and won’t end the imperialist system the July 4th holiday represents. Only we can do that. Instead of going out to celebrate this farcical holiday, let’s organize our communities and people in the direction of liberation from the US imperialist system.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]

When Israel attacked Palestinian targets following the discovery that three kidnapped Israeli teenagers had been murdered, the way TV outlets characterized the Israel actions on their July 1 newscasts was instructive.

ABC World News and NBC Nightly News adopted the same language:

 

strikingback

Framing Israel’s actions as a form of retaliation is problematic, since the airstrikes, arrests and house raids are directed at people who had nothing to do with the murders. Israel has named two suspects in the crime, Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha. As the New York Times (7/1/14) and other outlets have reported, these two West Bank residents may not have a significant connection with Hamas, despite the official Israeli insistence that the Hamas government in Gaza should be held responsible for the killings.

It should go without saying that the killings of the Israeli youths do not justify the killing of innocent Palestinians, any more than the six Palestinian children killed by the Israeli military so far this year legitimize the murder of the Israeli teens.

But the US networks nonetheless framed Israel’s attacks as retaliation. “The response by Israel was quick and powerful,” NBC anchor Brian Williams declared, saying the series of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip were “in apparent retaliation.”

An ABC World News report (7/1/14) by correspondent Alex Marquardt began with this: “Striking back. Israel hitting hard overnight with 34 precision airstrikes on a Hamas compound.”

As FAIR has noted in the past (Action Alert, 4/4/02), the US media tends to overwhelmingly prefer a narrative of Palestinian attacks and Israeli retaliation. As FAIR noted:

This disparity is meaningful. The term “retaliation” suggests a defensive stance undertaken in response to someone else’s aggression. It also lays responsibility for the cycle of violence at the doorstep of the party being “retaliated” against, since they presumably initiated the conflict.

In this case, the brunt of the Israeli “reaction” is being borne by Palestinians who had nothing to do with the crimes that were committed.

Dirty Wars and Football: The Ghost of General Videla

July 4th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

I think the 1978 World Cup is one of the deep wounds of Argentine society.

– Norberto Liwski, former political prisoner, ESPN, Jun 9, 2014

As the elimination phase of the Football World Cup unfolds in Brazil, the political slant on such events is hard to resist. Sporting events on such a scale are political promotions and projections. Brazil’s own government was thrilled about obtaining the tournament, so much so that it ran up the bills, raised the cost of transportation, and imposed a series of near draconian measures for population control.

The return of the World Cup to South America has a wafting smell of regret and denial to it. When it was staged in 1978 in Argentina, the country was being bled and controlled by the military junta of General Jorge Rafael Videla. All in the name of order; all in the name of pride.

The local boys did not disappoint the general. The remarkable Mario Kempes, along with the mercurial midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles and such figures as Ricardo Villa, won the tournament. The football could at stages be beautiful; Kempes, a part gangling creature of beauty who proved lethal with his golden boot; Ardiles controlling play with mesmerising potency.

For all their efforts, they could not help but be marionettes of the military junta, the playthings of a brutal regime which expended an exorbitant amount on hosting the tournament. The amount, by one estimate, was eighteen times more than that of West Germany in 1974. Nothing would be spared.

Kempes, along with his team mates, denied knowledge about the sanguinary antics of the military regime. The captain of the side, Daniel Passarella, who received the trophy from General Videla himself, now claims that, had he known about the gross human rights violations, a refusal to participate in the World Cup would have been made.

Just a thousand metres from the famed River Plate stadium lay one of the largest torture and detention centres of the dictatorship, so busy it saw some four thousand inmates processed by the torture machine. The military regime had many such centres – some 340 in operation during its time in power. While football was being played on the pitch, torture was being practised off it. Indeed, prisoners at the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) could hear both screams of pleasure in the Stadium and pain of torture being inflicted in the complex.

Such is the perversion of tribal ritual than Argentina’s victory over The Netherlands could even divide political prisoners. The home side had been used as a weapon, and everyone was feeling it, both as toxic revelation and terrible deception.

Between 1976 and 1983, the systematic campaign of forced disappearances and brutality waged against union members, members of the left, and political opponents of the regime left between 15,000 to 30,000 dead. 1978 served as a centrepiece of apologia and promotion – a regime that could not be all that bad if it was enthusiastic about a game Argentineans played rather well. Such a point was sufficiently noted when the revered football magazine, El Gráfico, ran an interview with Videla suggesting that the junta leader, not Kempes, had been the instrumental figure in winning the World Cup (Play the Game, Jun 28, 2003).

It was not merely the Argentine side playing in a simulated darkness of denial, a desperate illusion where football could transcend the moment as an act of possession over and above politics. The Dutch, who reached the 1978 finals and lost 3-1 to the hosts, were hardly squeaky in their political cleanliness. The Netherlands proved to be an investor of some worth during the Dirty War era. The Dutch ambassador Van den Brandeler went so far as to claim that General Videla was a man of honour. How far had countries fallen to court the military regime.

The history of the two countries continue to mingle – the father of Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Jorge Zorreguieta, was one of the longest serving civilian ministers in Argentina’s military dictatorship. In 1976, when the military coup was initiated, Zorreguieta led the Rural Society, a conservative organisation representing landowning interests. He proceeded to head up the agricultural portfolio in the ministry.

Such links did lead the Dutch Parliament to commission historian Michiel Baud to examine possible links to human rights violations. Lawyers also got busy. What were the sins of that father? While the investigation did not unearth any direct link, Baud did suggest that, as “director of ‘Sociedad Rural’, [Zorreguieta] was part of the group of people that at least stimulated the coup, and its significant that he stayed with the dictatorship for a whole five years, until Videla himself left the government” (News OK, Feb 3, 2013). Hard to get off an accelerating train once you are on it.

For such reasons, the 1986 Argentine World Cup victory in Mexico, spearheaded by Diego Maradona, remains lionised and mythologised. The efforts of Kempes and his team are inconspicuous footnotes, suggesting a form of forgetting in the face of pain. The resurfacing of some of these dark habits in Brazil prior to and during the tournament, though the poorest of imitations relative to Videla, suggest that the police state, with its stifling tentacles, remains more than mere history. Football remains both game and code, a crude weapon, and an intoxicant.

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: [email protected].

Celebrations will be coming up to “celebrate” the Fourth of July across the USA the fourth day of this month with bands playing, militarism glorified and implicitly the imperialism never mentioned at such parades. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything!

The Fourth of July marks the presentation and signing of the Declaration of Independence to pressing for the creation of this new country out of the 13 British colonies along the Eastern seaboard of North America with same document inveighing against the monarch on the throne in London for making “military power superior to civil power” as well as not allowing for the “consent of the governed” by abolishing legislatures and moving others thwarting the will of those in those colonies depriving them of rights that they had as British nationals through Habeas corpus of the middle of the 17th Century and that provided in Magna Carta of the 13th Century limiting the monarch’s power thus allowing more rights for the monarch’s subjects. The war for independence or war of national liberation was most assuredly a fight against militarism and imperialism of the most power of the imperialist states of the time. Thus the upcoming celebrations will celebrate the reverse of what the 13 colonies were fighting for and put more than an ironic touch on such celebrations. The fight against militarism and imperialism was the zeitgeist of the time, a spirit which should be celebrated rather than its opposite as is currently happening in an insult to those who gave their blood and lives tocreate this new country and have on other occasions been true to that spirit of 1776. Thus we could see if this were put to music it would come out something like this.

What has happened to the “democratic republic” as Martin Luther King Jr referred to it in his book, The Trumpet of Conscience? It as Dr King got itself on “The wrong side of a world revolution” as Dr King put it back in 1967.

In the War of 1812 Uncle Sam fought for “freedom of the seas” and against the militarism and imperialism of that empire based in London with its press ganging of US seaman of unarmed ships and into the British navy to fight for that empire against France in the Napoleaonic Wars. Uncle Sam stood resolutely firm against such infringement on the national sovereignty of the new country and its citizens.

Same in the First World War! The Kaiser’s German navy submarines were sinking unarmed US ships killing people without regard to age or gender from 1915 and going right up to 1917 when the USA officially entered that war in response to what would have been dozens of 9/11s by the German empire of that time.

The US Civil War was another case of those fighting for Uncle Sam fighting to keep civil power superior to military power in the form of a artillery blast from the Confederate Army of the time on Ft Sumter.

Then the Second World War was the most dramatic example of those fighting for Uncle Sam fighting against militarism and imperialism of the worst kind especially in the form of the Third Reich and thus firmly planted in Zeitgeist of 1776.

 

A.D. Hemming, has been an activist for progressive causes since the early 1960s, has been a researcher, poet, journalist, historian and got his feet wet as a progressive in the civil rights movement in US South as a teenager.

Bati Ahmed with a PhD in Public Health and has been active in health care work with UNICEP in the Middle East and Africa in the field for years as well as at top level with UNICEF in London for seven years. Read other articles by A.D. Hemming and Bati Ahmed.

Evidence that came to light after Israel removed its gag order on information regarding the June 12 kidnapping and murder of three Jewish Israeli students suggests that it could have been an Israeli government operation that was intentionally used to punish Hamas and break up the new Palestinian unity government.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had immediately accused Hamas of the kidnapping — without presenting any evidence — and proceeded to “conduct a search” throughout the entirety of the West Bank until the bodies were reportedly found on June 30th.

The “search” entailed arresting and beating up about 600 Hamas members (including legislators) and trashing about 2100 homes; Israeli forces killed at least 7 Palestinians. Israel also heightened its daily air strikes on the Gaza Strip, which has been under the Israeli blockade since Sept. 2006. The Gaza government appealed to the UN for relief, which responded by condemning the kidnappings rather than the massive abuse of the Palestinian population. And then urging “all parties” to show restraint.

On July 1, Israel removed a gag order on information about the kidnapping that revealed shocking facts:

  • The Israeli government had informed members of the press around June 15th that it was aware that the students had been killed (1) but placed a gag order on that information: the government must thus have known where the bodies were.  The brutal “search” was merely cover for punishment of members of Hamas, the democratically-elected party of Palestinians throughout the occupied territories. The Israeli media played along with the pretext for the abuse.
  • The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were only called in 8-9 hours after the first call to report the kidnapping. One of the students placed a call to the police emergency hotline 10 minutes after they accepted a hitchhiking ride home, with the message that he was being kidnapped. The statement was followed by what sounded like several gunshots, groans and silence; the call lasted for 49 seconds. Police ignored the call. The teen’s father called police 5 hours later, at 3:30 am, to report his son missing. “Several hours” after that, after an exchange of 54 phone calls, the IDF and Shin Bet finally became involved. (2)
  • Despite possession of all of the evidence of the kidnappings and murders, the Israeli government has offered no evidence that indicates responsibility for the acts. Those with any direct connection to the phone calls or the finding of the bodies have remained unidentified. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu has used this event for huge political gain:

  • to create divisions within the new “unity government” of Fatah and Hamas,
  • to physically punish Hamas members and the cause of Palestinian resistance,
  • to get legislation passed through the Knesset to block the return of East Jerusalem to Palestinians (1),
  • to try to foment a third intifada to legitimate further attacks on Palestinians (1) and
  • to whip up such hatred of Palestinians that it has become dangerous for them to be seen on Israeli streets.

The Israeli government is continuing to harass and attack Palestinians until it supposedly finds the killers. The two young Hebron men named as the accused have been missing since June 12th.

The uncovering of this deception should arouse world condemnation.

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer.

Notes

1. Lia Tarachansky. Israeli Government and Press Knew Teenagers Were Dead for Weeks. The Real News Network (TRNN). July 1, 2014. Accessed on July 1, 2014: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=767&Itemid=74&jumival=12063

2. Amos Harel. Tapes reveal pleas of kidnapped boy’s father met with call center apathy. Ha’aretz. July 2, 2014. Accessed July 2, 2014 at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.602537

Terror in the Skies. The Downing of Iran Air Flight 655

July 4th, 2014 by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

On July 3, 1988, in an unprovoked move, US carrier USS Vincennes fired two missiles at an Iranian passenger plane, Iran Air flight 655 which was on route to Dubai. All 290 innocent civilians were killed. The Untied States did not apologize or admit to wrongdoing. Washington has always maintained that the shooting down of the passenger plane was an accident.

But was it? The Vincennes’ crew, without visual confirmation, fired at the Iranian passenger airliner ‘believing’ it to be an F14 jet fighter descending towards it. The plane was not descending; it was fast ascending. Furthermore, a jet fighter is two-thirds smaller than a passenger plane.

This ‘accident’ came on the heels of another incident in 1987 when a U.S. ship fired its machine guns at a fishing boat from the United Arab Emirates, killing one and injuring three. The fishing boat had been ‘mistaken’ for an Iranian speedboat with ‘hostile’ intent![i]

Addressing the Iran Air flight, David R. Carlson, commander of another U.S. ship in the region (Persian Gulf) stated that the conduct of Iranian military forces in the month preceding the incident was pointedly non-threatening,” and the actions of the Vincennes “appeared to be consistently aggressive”. The Vicennes inclination to kill ruthlessly earned it the nickname “Robo Cruiser”[ii]

Not only was there no apology forthcoming, but also the incident would be the start of a string of sky-murders carried out by the United States against Iranian citizens. Thomas Whalen from the aviation law practice of Washington firm Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellot had argued that sanctions on Iranian carriers are detrimental to airline safety and violate the commitment to airline safety made by the USA, Iran and most nations of the world in 1944 when the Chicago Convention was forged.

Immoral and blind to laws, Robo Cruiser” gave way to Robo Sanctions. 17 planes crashed killing some 1,500 people.  Terrorism in the skies had become another tool in Washington’s arsenal.

Encouraged, two experts, Michael B. Kraft, a counterterrorism consultant and Brett Wallace, research coordinator at the International Center for Terrorism Studies, actually endorsed acts of terrorism against Iranians. Writing for the Washington Times in 2007, they argued:

“Most of the current sanctions, however, are relatively invisible except to bankers or the would-be exporter or importer. By contrast, suspending Iran Air’s landing rights and cutting off spare parts and maintenance services would be a very visible and dramatic step to both the Iranian public and the mullahs.”

A UN Panel on March 17, 2005 describes Terrorism as “any act “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act.”

Washington listened. Spare parts were denied. More crashes, more dead civilians.

Today, as Iranians commemorate the downing of Iran Air Flight 655 and mourn the death of 290 civilians, the world must be cognizant of the fact that the United States continues its policy of terrorism. When it comes to mass murder, for Washington, sky is the limit.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups in influencing US foreign policy.

Notes

[i] Ronald O’Rourke, “The Tanker War,” Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, May 1988, p33

[ii] Commander David R. Carlson, “The Vicennes Incident,” letter, Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, Sept. 1989, pp. 87-88.

Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath

July 4th, 2014 by Robert Parry

On July Fourth, the people of the United States extravagantly celebrate the high-blown expressions on human rights that Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence – especially the noble phrase “all men are created equal.” But Jefferson really didn’t believe that or much else that he said and wrote during his lifetime. He was, in reality, a skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite.

Yet, rather than subject Jefferson to a rigorous examination for his multiple hypocrisies, many Americans insist on protecting Jefferson’s reputation. From the Left, there is a desire to shield the lofty principles contained in the Declaration. From the Right, there is value in pretending that Jefferson’s revisionist concept of the Constitution – one favoring states’ rights over the federal government – was the “originalist” view of that founding document.

So, Jefferson – perhaps more than any figure in U.S. history – gets a pass for what he really was: a self-absorbed aristocrat who had one set of principles for himself and another for everybody else. Beyond the glaring contradiction between his “all men are created equal” pronouncement and his racist views on African-American slaves, he also lectured others about the need for frugality and the avoidance of debt while he lived a life of personal extravagance and was constantly in arrears to creditors.Jefferson also wrote provocatively that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” That is one of Jefferson’s famous quotes repeated endlessly these days by both the right-wing Tea Party and would-be leftist revolutionaries.

But Jefferson’s bravado was more a rhetorical flourish than a principle that he was ready to live or die by. In 1781, when he had a chance to put his own blood where his mouth was – when a Loyalist force led by the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold advanced on Richmond, Virginia, then-Gov. Jefferson fled for his life on the fastest horse he could find.

Jefferson hopped on the horse and fled again when a British cavalry force under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton approached Charlottesville and Monticello. Gov. Jefferson abandoned his neighbors in Charlottesville and left his slaves behind at Monticello to deal with the notoriously brutal Tarleton.

In other words, Jefferson may have been America’s original “chicken hawk,” talking cavalierly about other people’s blood as the “manure” of liberty but finding his own too precious to risk. Nevertheless, Jefferson later built his political career by questioning the revolutionary commitment of Alexander Hamilton and even George Washington, who repeatedly did risk their lives in fighting for American liberty.

But what Jefferson’s many apologists have most desperately tried to obscure was his wretched record on race. Some pro-Jefferson scholars still talk about his rhapsodic depictions of the natural beauty of Virginia in his Notes on the State of Virginia, but they skirt the book’s sickening racism, including his pseudo-science of measuring the skulls of African-Americans to prove that all men were not created equal.

Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States.(in a 1788 portrait by John Trumbull, credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation)

Image: Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States (in a 1788 portrait by John Trumbull, credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation).

A Question of Rape

For generations, these apologists also have challenged slave Sally Hemings’s late-in-life remembrance to one of her sons, Madison Hemings, describing how Jefferson had imposed himself on her sexually in Paris after she arrived in 1787 as a teen-age slave girl attending one of his daughters.

According to Madison Hemings’s account, his mother “became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine [in Paris]. And when he was called back home she was enciente [pregnant] by him.” Jefferson was insistent that Sally Hemings return with him, but her awareness of the absence of slavery in France gave her the leverage to insist on a transactional trade-off; she would continue to provide sex to Jefferson in exchange for his promise of good treatment and the freedom of her children when they turned 21, Madison Hemings said.

The traditional defense of Jefferson was to portray Sally Hemings as a promiscuous vixen who lied about her relationship with the Great Man to enhance her humble standing. After all, whose word would you believe, that of the estimable Jefferson who publicly decried race mixing or a lowly African-American slave girl?

For decades, the defenders stuck to that dismissive response despite the curious coincidence that Hemings tended to give birth nine months after one of Jefferson’s visits to Monticello – and the discovery of male Jefferson DNA in Hemings’s descendants.

Still, the Jefferson apologists raised finicky demands for conclusive proof of the liaison, as if it were absurd to envision that a relatively young man – then in his mid-40s, a widower since his wife died in 1782 – would have initiated a sexual relationship with an African-American female, even an attractive light-skinned mulatto like Hemings (who was the illegitimate daughter of Jefferson’s father-in-law and thus Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister)..

Though it’s true that unequivocal evidence does not exist – Hemings did not save a semen-stained blue dress so it could later be subjected to DNA analysis – historians have increasingly come to accept the reality of Jefferson’s sexual relationship with his young slave girl who was only 14 when she moved into Jefferson’s residence in Paris.

So, with this ground shifting under Jefferson’s defensive lines, his apologists retreated to a new position, that the relationship was a true love affair. Hemings was transformed into a kind of modern-day independent woman making her own choices about matters of the heart. However, given her age and her status – as Jefferson’s property – the relationship could be more accurately described as serial rape.

But the reality may be even worse. Recent historical examinations of records at Jefferson’s Monticello plantation have provided support for contemporaneous accounts of Jefferson having sexual relations with at least one other slave girl beside Hemings and possibly more.

Fathering of Slaves

Some scholars, such as historian Henry Wiencek in his 2012 book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, give credence to old reports about Jefferson having a direct role in populating Monticello by fathering his own dark-skinned lookalikes.

“In ways that no one completely understands, Monticello became populated by a number of mixed-race people who looked astonishingly like Thomas Jefferson,” wrote Wiencek.

“We know this not from what Jefferson’s detractors have claimed but from what his grandson Jeff Randolph openly admitted. According to him, not only Sally Hemings but another Hemings woman as well ‘had children which resembled Mr. Jefferson so closely that it was plain that they had his blood in their veins.’

“Resemblance meant kinship; there was no other explanation. Since Mr. Jefferson’s blood was Jeff’s blood, Jeff knew that he was somehow kin to these people of a parallel world. Jeff said the resemblance of one Hemings to Thomas Jefferson was ‘so close, that at some distance or in the dusk the slave, dressed in the same way, might be mistaken for Mr. Jefferson.’”

During a dinner at Monticello, Jeff Randolph recounted a scene in which a Thomas Jefferson lookalike was a servant tending to the table where Thomas Jefferson was seated. Randolph recalled the reaction of one guest: “In one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.”

In the 1850s, Jeff Randolph told a visiting author that his grandfather did not hide the slaves who bore these close resemblances, since Sally Hemings “was a house servant and her children were brought up house servants – so that the likeness between master and slave was blazoned to all the multitudes who visited this political Mecca” – and indeed a number of visitors did make note of this troubling reality.

Even Jefferson admirer Jon Meacham accepted the truth of the Hemings liaison in Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Meacham cited a quote from Elijah Fletcher, a visitor from Vermont:

“The story of Black Sal is no farce – That he cohabits with her and has a number of children by her is a sacred truth – and the worst of it is, he keeps the same children slaves – an unnatural crime which is very common in these parts – This conduct may receive a little palliation when we consider that such proceedings are so common that they cease here to be disgraceful.”

Meacham observed that Jefferson

“was apparently able to consign his children with Sally Hemings to a separate sphere of life in his mind even as they grew up in his midst. …

“It was, to say the least, an odd way to live, but Jefferson was a creature of his culture. ‘The enjoyment of a negro or mulatto woman is spoken of as quite a common thing: no reluctance, delicacy or shame is made about the matter,’ Josiah Quincy Jr. of Massachusetts wrote after a visit to the Carolinas. This was daily reality at Monticello.”

This “daily reality” was also a troubling concern among Jefferson’s white family though the Great Man would never confirm or deny his parentage of a number of Monticello’s slaves.

“Frigid indifference forms a useful shield for a public character against his political enemies, but Jefferson deployed it against his own daughter Martha, who was deeply upset by the sexual allegations against her father and wanted a straight answer – Yes or no? – an answer he would not deign to give,”

wrote Wiencek.

Before his death, Jefferson did free several of Sally Hemings’s children or let them run away – presumably fulfilling the commitment made in Paris before Hemings agreed to return to Monticello to remain his slave concubine. “Jefferson went to his grave without giving his family any denial of the Hemings charges,” Wiencek wrote.

The historical record increasingly makes Jefferson out to be a serial rapist, exploiting at least one and possibly more girls who were trapped on his property, who indeed were his property, and thus had little choice but to tolerate his sexual advances.

Whipping the Children

The evidence of Jefferson’s sexual predations must also be viewed in the context of his overall treatment of his slaves at Monticello. Though Jefferson’s apologists pretend that he was a kind master distressed over the inequities of a slave system that he could somehow neither correct nor escape, the latest evidence – much of it concealed for generations to protect Jefferson’s image – reveal him to be a cruel slave-owner who carefully calculated the net worth that his human chattel provided him and having boys as young as 10 whipped.

Some of Jefferson’s mistreatment of his slaves derived from another of his hypocrisies, his views about simplicity and solvency. As historian John Chester Miller wrote in his 1977 book, The Wolf by the Ears,

“To Jefferson, the abandon with which Americans … rushed into debt and squandered borrowed money upon British ‘gew-gaws’ and ‘trumpery’ vitiated the blessings of peace. …

“From Paris – an unlikely podium from which to sermonize – Jefferson preached frugality, temperance, and the simple life of the American farmer. Buy nothing whatever on credit, he exhorted his countrymen, and buy only what was essential. ‘The maxim of buying nothing without money in our pocket to pay for it,’ he averred, ‘would make of our country (Virginia) one of the happiest upon earth.’ …

“As Jefferson saw it, the most pernicious aspect of the postwar preoccupation with pleasure, luxury, and the ostentatious display of wealth was the irremediable damage it did to ‘republican virtue.’”

But Jefferson himself amassed huge debts and lived the life of a bon vivant, spending way beyond his means. In Paris, he bought fancy clothes, collected fine wines, and acquired expensive books, furniture and artwork. It was, however, his slaves back at Monticello who paid the price for his excesses.

“Living in a style befitting a French nobleman, his small salary often in arrears, and burdened by debts to British merchants which he saw no way of paying, Jefferson was driven to financial shifts, some of which were made at the expense of his slaves. In 1787, for example, he decided to hire out some of his slaves – a practice he had hitherto avoided because of the hardship it wreaked upon the slaves themselves,”

Miller wrote.

Upon returning to the United States, Jefferson reinvented himself as a more modestly attired republican, but his tastes for the grandiose did not abate. He ordered elaborate renovations to Monticello, which deepened his debt and compelled his slaves to undertake strenuous labor to implement Jefferson’s ambitious architectural designs.

Needing to squeeze more value from his slaves, Jefferson was an aggressive master, not the gentle patrician that his apologists have long depicted.

According to historian Wiencek, Jefferson

“directed his manager, Nicholas Lewis, to extract ‘extraordinary exertions’ of labor from the slaves to stay current with his debt payments. Some slaves had endured years of harsh treatment at the hands of strangers, for to raise cash, Jefferson had also instructed Lewis to hire out slaves. He demanded extraordinary exertions from the elderly: ‘The negroes too old to be hired, could they not make a good profit by cultivating cotton?’”

Jefferson was callous as well toward his young slaves. Reviewing long-neglected records at Monticello, Wiencek noted that one plantation report to Jefferson recounted that the nail factory was doing well because “the small ones” – ages 10, 11 and 12 – were being whipped by overseer, Gabriel Lilly, “for truancy.”

His plantation records also show that he viewed fertile female slaves as exceptionally valuable because their offspring would increase his assets and thus enable him to incur more debt. He ordered his plantation manager to take special care of these “breeding” women.

“A child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man,” Jefferson wrote. “[I]n this, as in all other cases, providence has made our duties and our interests coincide perfectly.”

According to Wiencek,

“The enslaved people were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, ‘I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.’ His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.”

To justify this profiting off slavery, Jefferson claimed that he was merely acting in accordance with “Providence,” which in Jefferson’s peculiar view of religion always happened to endorse whatever action Jefferson wanted to take.

Twisting the Founding Narrative

Yet, while Jefferson’s rationalizations for slavery were repugnant, his twisting of the Founding Narrative may have been even more significant and long-lasting, setting the nation on course for the Civil War, then a near century of segregation and carrying forward to the present day with the Tea Party’s claims that states are “sovereign” and that actions by the federal government to promote the general welfare are “unconstitutional.”

The reason the Tea Partiers get away with presenting themselves as “conservative constitutionalists” is that Thomas Jefferson engineered a revisionist interpretation of the Founding document, which – as written by the Federalists and ratified by the states – created a federal government that could do almost anything that Congress and the President agreed was necessary for the good of the country.

That was the constitutional interpretation of both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, who mounted a fierce though unsuccessful campaign to defeat the Constitution’s ratification because they recognized how powerful the Constitution’s federal government was. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-up ‘Constitution.’”]

Southern Anti-Federalists, such as Patrick Henry and George Mason, argued that the Constitution, though it implicitly accepted slavery, would eventually be used by the North to free the slaves. Or, as Patrick Henry colorfully told Virginia’s ratifying convention in 1788, “they’ll free your niggers!”

Though the Constitution eked through to passage, the fear of Southern plantation owners that they would lose their huge investment in human chattel did not disappear. Indeed, their trepidation intensified as it became clear that many leading Federalists, including the new government’s chief architect Alexander Hamilton, were ardent abolitionists. Hamilton had grown up poor in the West Indies and witnessed first-hand the depravity of slavery.

By contrast, Jefferson had grown up the pampered son of a major Virginia slave-owner, but he developed his own critical view of the evils of slavery. As a young politician, Jefferson had cautiously – and unsuccessfully – backed some reforms to ameliorate the injustices. In a deleted section of his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had denounced slavery, citing it as one of King George III’s crimes.

However, after the Revolution, Jefferson recognized that any anti-slavery position would destroy his political viability among his fellow plantation owners in the South. While in Paris as the U.S. representative, Jefferson rebuffed offers to join the abolitionist Amis des Noirs because by associating with abolitionists he would impair his ability to do “good” in Virginia, historian John Chester Miller noted, adding:

“Jefferson’s political instinct proved sound: as a member of the Amis des Noirs he would have been a marked man in the Old Dominion.”

Self-Interest Over Principle

With his personal financial and political interests aligned with the perpetuation of slavery, Jefferson emerged as the most important leader of the slave South, seeking to reinterpret the Constitution to blunt the potential that the federal government might eventually outlaw slavery.

So, in the 1790s, as Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists worked to create the new government that the Constitution had authorized, Jefferson’s counter-movement emerged to reassert states’ rights as defined by the earlier Articles of Confederation, which the Constitution had obliterated.

Jefferson skillfully reframed the Constitution’s powers not by asserting an explicit defense of slavery but by voicing resistance to a strong central government and reasserting the primacy of the states. Though Jefferson had played no role in drafting the Constitution or the Bill of Rights – he was in Paris at the time – he simply interpreted the Constitution as he wished, similar to his frequent invocation of Providence as always favoring whatever he wanted.

Most significantly, Jefferson developed the concept of “strict construction,” insisting that the federal government could only perform functions specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, such as coining money, setting up post offices, etc. Though Jefferson’s concept was silly because the Framers understood that the young country would face unanticipated opportunities and challenges that the government would have to address, Jefferson built a potent political party to make his idea stick.

Jefferson’s strategy was to simply ignore the Constitution’s clear language, particularly its mandate in Article I, Section 8 that Congress “provide for … the general Welfare of the United States” and its grant to Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.”

Jefferson simply insisted that the Framers hadn’t meant what the Framers had written. Jefferson went even further and reaffirmed the concept of state sovereignty and independence that George Washington, James Madison and other Framers had despised and intentionally expunged when they threw out the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution had shifted national sovereignty away from the states to “We the People of the United States.”

Despite the Constitution’s explicit reference to making federal law “the supreme law of the land,” Jefferson exploited the lingering resentments over ratification to reassert the states’ supremacy over the federal government. Often working behind the scenes – even while serving as Vice President under President John Adams – Jefferson promoted each state’s right to nullify federal law and even to secede from the Union.

Aiding Jefferson’s cause was the shifting allegiances of James Madison, an early Federalist who had been tapped by Washington to be the principal architect of the Constitution. However, like Jefferson, Madison was a major Virginian slave-holder who recognized that both his political future and his personal fortune were dependent on the continuation of slavery.

So, Madison sold out his earlier Federalist allies and shifted his allegiance to his neighbor, Jefferson. Madison’s break with Washington and Hamilton gave Jefferson’s revisionist take on the Constitution a patina of legitimacy given Madison’s key role as one of the Framers.

Jefferson spelled out this political reality in a 1795 letter to Madison in which Jefferson cited what he called “the Southern interest,” because, as author Jon Meacham observed, “the South was his personal home and his political base.” It was the same for Madison. [For more on Madison’s role, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison.”]

Warring with the Federalists

In his rise to power, Jefferson waged a nasty propaganda war against the Federalists as they struggled to form a new government and endeavored to stay out of a renewed conflict between Great Britain and France. Jefferson secretly funded newspaper editors who spread damaging personal rumors about key Federalists, particularly Hamilton who as Treasury Secretary was spearheading the new government’s formation.

Jefferson’s governmental actions almost always dovetailed with the interests of slaveholders and his own personal finances. For instance, as Secretary of State during Washington’s first term, Jefferson protested the Federalists’ disinterest in pursuing compensation from Great Britain for slaves freed during the Revolutionary War, a high priority for Jefferson and his plantation-owning allies. Jefferson correctly perceived that Hamilton and John Jay, two staunch opponents of slavery, had chosen not to make compensation a high priority.

Also Jefferson’s interest in siding with France against Great Britain was partly colored by his large financial debts owed to London lenders, debts that might be voided or postponed if the United States went to war against Great Britain.

Then, in the latter 1790s with French agents aggressively intervening in U.S. politics to push President John Adams into that war against Great Britain, the Federalist-controlled Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which Jefferson’s political movement deftly exploited to rally opposition to the overreaching Federalists.

By the election of 1800, Jefferson had merged his political base in the slave-economy South with an anti-Federalist faction in New York to defeat Adams for reelection. The three-fifths clause, a concession by the Constitutional Convention to the South allowing slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of representation, proved crucial to Jefferson’s victory.

As President, Jefferson took more actions that advanced the cause of his slaveholding constituency, largely by solidifying his “states’ rights” interpretation of the Constitution. But Jefferson and his revisionist views faced a formidable opponent in Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, a fellow Virginian though one who considered slavery the likely ruin of the South.

As historian Miller wrote:

“While Jefferson could account for Hamilton – a West Indian ‘adventurer’ goaded by ambition, unscrupulous in attaining his ends, and wholly devoid of state loyalties – he could not understand how John Marshall, a Virginian who, under happier circumstances, Jefferson might have called ‘cousin John,’ could cast off all feeling for his ‘country’ (i.e. Virginia) and go over to the ‘enemy’…

“As Marshall saw it, Jefferson was trying to turn the clock back to the Articles of Confederation – a regression that would totally paralyze the federal government. ‘The government of the whole will be prostrated at the feet of the members [the states],’ Marshall predicted, ‘and the grand effort of wisdom, virtue, and patriotism, which produced it, will be totally defeated.’

“The question of slavery never bulked larger on Jefferson’s horizon than when John Marshall, from the eminence of the Supreme Court, struck down acts of the state legislatures and aggrandized the powers of the federal government. For slavery could not be divorced from the conflict between the states and the general government: as the Supreme Court went, so might slavery itself go.

“States’ rights were the first line of defense of slavery against antislavery sentiment in Congress, and Jefferson had no intention of standing by idly while this vital perimeter was breached by a troop of black-robed jurists.”

Selling Out the Haitians

Jefferson also reversed the Federalists’ support for the slave rebellion in St. Domingue (now Haiti), which had overthrown a ruthlessly efficient French plantation system that had literally worked the slaves to death. The violence of that revolution – on both sides – shocked Jefferson and many of his fellow slaveholders who feared that the rebellion might inspire American blacks to rise up next.

Alexander Hamilton, who despised slavery from his experience growing up in the West Indies, assisted the black slave leader, the self-taught and relatively moderate Toussaint L’Ouverture, in drafting a constitution, and the Adams administration sold weapons to the former slaves.

After taking over the White House, however, President Jefferson reversed those Federalist policies. He conspired secretly with the new French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte on a French plan to retake St. Domingue with an expeditionary force that would re-enslave the blacks. Jefferson only learned later that Napoleon had a second phase of the plan, to move to New Orleans and build a new French colonial empire in the heart of North America.

Napoleon’s army succeeded in capturing L’Ouverture, who was taken to France and killed, but L’Ouverture’s more radical followers annihilated the French army and declared their independence as a new republic, Haiti.

The Haitians’ bloody victory had important consequences for the United States as well. Stopped from moving on to New Orleans, Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Territories to Jefferson, who thus stood to benefit from the Haitian freedom fighters whom Jefferson had sold out. Still fearing the spread of black revolution, Jefferson also organized a blockade of Haiti, which helped drive the war-torn country into a spiral of violence and poverty that it has never escaped.

However, Jefferson also faced a constitutional quandary, since he had espoused the ludicrous notion of “strict construction” and there was no specific constitutional language authorizing the purchase of new lands. The solution for Jefferson, the consummate hypocrite, was simply to violate his own principle and proceed with the Louisiana Purchase.

This vast new territory also opened up huge opportunities for Southern slaveholders, especially because the Constitution had called for the end of slave importation in 1808, meaning that the value of the domestic slave trade skyrocketed. That was especially important for established slave states like Virginia where the soil for farming was depleted.

Breeding slaves became a big business for the Commonwealth and enhanced Jefferson’s personal net worth, underscoring his notations about valuing female “breeder” slaves even above the strongest males.

Inviting the Civil War

But the danger to the nation was that spreading slavery to the Louisiana Territories and admitting a large number of slave states would worsen tensions between North and South.

As Miller wrote,

“Jefferson might have averted the struggle between the North and South, free and slave labor, for primacy in the national domain – the immediate, and probably the only truly irrepressible, cause of the Civil War. Instead, Jefferson raised no objections to the continued existence of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase.

“Had he the temerity to propose that Louisiana be excluded from the domestic slave trade he would have encountered a solid bloc of hostile votes from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Jefferson was fond of saying that he never tilted against windmills, especially those that seemed certain to unhorse him. … Jefferson neither took nor advocated any action that would weaken slavery among the tobacco and cotton producers in the United States.”

Indeed, keeping the new territories and states open to slavery became a major goal of Jefferson as President and after he left office.

Miller wrote,

“In the case of the federal government, he could easily imagine circumstances – perhaps they had already been produced by John Marshall – which justified [the South’s] secession: among them was the emergence of a central government so powerful that it could trample willfully upon the rights of the states and destroy any institution, including slavery, which it judged to be immoral, improper, or inimical to the national welfare as defined by Washington, D.C. …

“Confronted by such a concentration of power, Jefferson believed that the South would have no real option but to go its own way.”

Miller continued,

“As the spokesman of a section whose influence was dwindling steadily in the national counsels and which was threatened with the ‘tyranny’ of a consolidated government dominated by a section hostile to the institutions and interests of the South, Jefferson not only took the side of slavery, he demanded that the right of slavery to expand at will everywhere in the national domain be acknowledged by the Northern majority.”

In the last major political fight of his life, Jefferson battled Northern efforts to block the spread of slavery into Missouri. “With the alarm bell sounding in his ears, Jefferson buckled on the armor of Hector … and took up the shield of states’ rights,” wrote Miller.

“Jefferson, in short, assumed the accoutrements of an ardent and an uncompromising champion of Southern rights. Possessed by this martial spirit, Jefferson now asserted … that Congress had no power over slavery in the territories. …

“Now he was willing to accord Congress power only to protect slavery in the territories and he converted the doctrine of states’ rights into a protective shield for slavery against interference by a hostile federal government. He was no longer concerned primarily with civil liberties or with the equalization of the ownership of property but in insuring that slave-owners were protected in the full plentitude of their property rights.

“The Missouri dispute seemed to mark the strange death of Jeffersonian liberalism.”

Rationalizing Slavery

Jefferson’s fight to extend slavery into Missouri also influenced his last notable personal achievement, the founding of the University of Virginia. He saw the establishment of a first-rate educational institution in Charlottesville, Virginia, as an important antidote to elite Northern schools influencing the Southern aristocracy with ideas that could undermine what Jefferson dubbed “Missourism,” or the right of all states carved from the Louisiana Territories to practice slavery.

Jefferson complained that Southern men, who traveled North for their college education, were infused with “opinions and principles in discord with those of their own country,” by which he meant the South, Miller wrote, adding:

“Particularly if they attended Harvard University, they returned home imbued with ‘anti-Missourism,’ dazzled by the vision of ‘a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and moneyed corporations’ and utterly indifferent to or even contemptuous of the old-fashioned Southern patriots who still manned the defenses of freedom, equality, and democracy” — revealing again how words in Jefferson’s twisted world had lost all rational meaning. Slavery became “freedom, equality, and democracy.”

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 that barred slavery in new states north of the 36-degree-30 parallel “made the creation of such a center of learning imperative” to Jefferson, wrote Miller, thus driving his determination to make the University of Virginia a Southern school that would rival the great colleges of the North and would train young Southern minds to resist federal “consolidationism.”

Even the Jefferson-admiring Meacham noted the influence of the Missouri dispute in Jefferson’s zeal to launch his university in Charlottesville.

“The Missouri question made Jefferson even more eager to get on with the building of the University of Virginia for he believed the rising generation of leaders should be trained at home, in climes hospitable to his view of the world, rather than sent north,”

Meacham wrote.

In short, Jefferson had melded the twin concepts of slavery and states’ rights into a seamless ideology. As Miller concluded, “Jefferson began his career as a Virginian; he became an American; and in his old age he was in the process of becoming a Southern nationalist.”

When he died on July 4, 1826, a half century after the Declaration of Independence was first read to the American people, Jefferson had set the nation on course for the Civil War.

However, even to this day, Jefferson’s vision of “victimhood” for white Southerners – seeing themselves as persecuted by Northern power yet blinded to the racist cruelty that they inflict on blacks – remains a powerful motivation for white anger, now spreading beyond the South.

Today, we see Jefferson’s racist legacy in the nearly deranged hatred directed at the first African-American president and in the unbridled fury unleashed against the federal government that Barack Obama heads.

As unpleasant as it may be for Americans who prefer – especially on July Fourth – to ponder the pleasant image of Jefferson as the aristocratic republican with a taste for fine art and a fondness for free-thinking, it is well past time to look at the Declaration’s author as the person he really was, America’s founding sociopath.

 

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

BBC economics editor Robert Peston warns that Google’s implementation of the controversial “right to be forgotten” ruling is working to “suppress legitimate journalism” after one of his articles about Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal was scrubbed from the search engine.

A recent ruling in the European Court of Justice mandated that Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data when it receives a request to do so, which could open the floodgates for powerful individuals, corporations and institutions to hide past evidence of wrongdoing in a chilling throwback to George Orwell’s “memory hole.”

Peston complains about how Google notified the BBC that one of his 2007 articles about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal’s role in the financial collapse had been deleted from search results for Google users in Europe.

Peston questioned how the article represented “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information, stating,

“There is an argument that in removing the blog, Google is confirming the fears of many in the industry that the “right to be forgotten” will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.”

Peston later updated his piece to note that it could have been an individual in the comments section who flagged the article for deletion by Google, a prospect that threatens even more widespread ‘disappearing’ of news articles.

Google has already received over 50,000 requests to remove articles from its European search results in the few days since the ruling was implemented and has hired “an army of para legals” to deal with the influx.

The London Guardian was also informed that six of their articles had vanished down the memory hole, with the newspaper’s special projects editor James Ball warning , “there will likely be many more as the rich and powerful look to scrub up their online images, doubtless with the help of a new wave of “reputation management” firms.”

Ball says that editorial decisions belong with publishers, not Google, and that news outlets need to fight back against what represents a challenge to press freedom.

As we have previously highlighted, Google and its subsidiary YouTube routinely acquiesce to requests from authorities to remove information, including on the basis of dubious justifications such as if material contains “government criticism.”

One such example was You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to conduct a civil arrest of Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.

Government orders to remove content from Google have spiked over the last 18 months, with requests surging by 26% in the final months of 2012.

 

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

Much hope is placed on foreign direct investment to deliver development capital for African countries. Yet FDIs are part of the global financial capitalist system, which maintains and reproduces inequality and keeps African states dependent on Western countries and financial institutions.

Africa’s political leaders are under illusion to believe that foreign direct investments (FDIs) will get them out of their development crisis. This is not to dismiss FDIs but to provide a framework for an analytical and critical understanding of ‘capital’, how it is generated, and what its real function is.

Money and Capital

I am not breaking new ground in stating that capital is simply savings of the past used for production along with other factors of production such as land, labour and enterprise. It is not the same thing as money. Essentially, money is a system of credits and debts – two sides of an accountant’s ledger. You create debts as you create credit.

Capital, on the other hand, is money used to add value to production. Part of this added value goes to wages, part goes to restore wasted machinery and natural resources, but a good part goes to profit accumulation. In our times, Capitalism has reached a stage of what some call ‘financialised capitalism’ where finance is privileged over production, everything is collateralised and securitised, and local and national markets are destroyed to the benefit of a couple of hundred global corporations and banks.

The Social Political Cost of Financialised Capitalism

The world has become more unequal over the last 50 years than over the preceding one thousand. The 2011 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Divided we Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising revealed that globally the rich-poor gap has widened in the last decade. Between nations this is clearly evident. But even within advanced countries – including the ‘egalitarian’ states such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden – the rich-poor income and welfare gap is growing. What the study does not say is that there is no possibility of ‘distributive solution’ within the present system, which is structurally engineered to produce inequality.

The political and social forces, even in the West, are weakening in relation to the power of global corporations and a global bankocracy.

The Role of Aid and Investments

In this context, the role of the so-called ‘development aid’ is totally misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented. Aid is corruption. Why? Because it corrupts government policy. In return for ‘aid’ governments in Africa are obliged to surrender policy space to the ‘donors’ and the IMF. What can be more corrupt than that?

Aid does something else besides corrupting democratic good governance. It creates space for foreign direct investments (FDIs). FDIs are a package comprising generally of money-capital (or a credit line), production or marketing knowhow and technology. FDIs don’t just drop from the sky; you have to negotiate the terms with the owners of capital. They are usually big corporations, banks including the World Bank, who come to negotiate with you with a phalanx of financial and legal experts. Negotiations can take months, even years. A strong country with a huge domestic market, such as China, can use its market power to negotiate a useful FDI package. But Africa is nowhere near China in negotiating such deals. Most of them are hostages to the global corporate owners of capital and technology.

The challenges to unpackage FDIs are formidable. Global corporations do not act alone. They bring the power of their mega-states to back up their negotiations. Investments are generally made within the framework of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). It is now widely acknowledged, even in government circles, that BITs are an exercise in undermining the sovereignty of the capital-receiving countries. BITs invariably provide for extra-territorial rights for the owners of capital, including, typically, protection from expropriation; free transfer of exorbitant profits and royalties; and litigation under the jurisdiction of either the capital-exporting countries or international arbitration. At the time of writing, Uganda is being subjected to immense pressure by the U.S. government to sign a BIT. If signed, it will effectively undermine the sovereign rights of the people of Uganda.

What, then, is the Way Forward?

There are three possible ways out of this kleptocratic capitalist quagmire. One is at the global level; the second at the level of the relations between Africa and the rich developed countries; and the third at the local, grassroots level of ordinary people.

At the global level, it should be clear to all but the most dogmatic capitalist ideologue that the structural redistribution for global justice requires systemic transformation. Legal and institutional reform is insufficient, even misguided. Reform within the existing system can never achieve more than marginal redistribution, since structural and social (class) inequality is intrinsic to and necessary for the survival of the existing order. Hence the whole notion of investment needs to be redefined, away from the capitalist market logic.

There is a seriously flawed logic in the mainstream notion that Africa suffers from a ‘savings gap’, which must be filled by aid or investments from the West. The reality is that Africa does have massive savings. But there are various ways in which savings are drained away – among them, for example, transfer pricing by the multinationals, corruption by state and corporate officials, and other so-called illicit financial flows (IFF). These lead to little, or even negative, domestic saving in Africa. A deeper, real-life analysis should lead to the conclusion that instead of looking for aid and foreign capital, Africa should focus on plugging this hole in its savings bucket.

Finally, at the local or community level, ordinary people in the long run have to make a conscious effort to innovate ways and means of decoupling from the market-based iniquitous value system. Decoupling is not the same as autarchy. Autarchy is neither possible nor desirable. On the other hand, globalisation is also not inevitable or desirable. At the heart of the contemporary civilizational crisis is the reductionist logic that values everything in terms of money. Everything, including the dignity of the individual – especially vulnerable women and children – is subject to the ‘law of value’. Everything is commoditised.

However, in the interspaces of this globalised system there are heroic efforts by some communities to distance themselves from the system. These include innovative approaches, including production of goods and services based on exchanges without involving money. Also, where money is needed as a medium of exchange, communities have created ‘communal money’ (a kind of labour voucher system) that is delinked from national currencies, which are notorious, especially in our times, to fluctuations and speculations.

Conclusion: Where is the Problem?

The problem is at two levels – one at the structural level and the other at the level of political leadership. The first is primarily economic, the second is primarily political or to use the currently fashionable term at the ‘governance’ level.

At the structural level, the problem stems from the global deformation of the capitalist system. In some of the newly industrialising countries of the South – such as China, India, Brazil and Turkey – capitalism is still substantially productive and still in its early stages. They continue to depend on technology and knowhow protected in the West by intellectual property monopoly rights. But capitalism has no future in Africa. Despite bold efforts to ‘Africanise’ capitalism in some countries – such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – these efforts over the last fifty years have largely failed. Admittedly, there are a couple of hundred multi-millionaire African crypto-capitalists with substantial control over some productive enterprises that operate nationally, regionally and even globally. But the rest of the economies of Africa are dominated by global corporations – especially in the mining, commodities, finance and service sectors. The post-1980s liberalisation has decimated what little industrialisation took place in the preceding twenty years. The much vaunted ‘growth’ rates in Africa of 5-10 per cent is a conceptual and statistical trick played by global institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank and the ruling elites in Africa.

But if capitalism has no future, socialism is a distant goal. It is going to be a long march. Self-reliance and not aid or FDIs is the way forward. And here is where the question of democratic governance and correct political leadership becomes a critical factor. Some of Africa’s past leaders, such as Julius Nyerere, attempted to innovate original approaches to Socialism, but they have been vilified by the dogmatic ‘Marxist’ left, mainly in the West but also in Africa.

The leadership question therefore is critical.

 

Yash Tandon is a Ugandan academic, teacher, political thinker, rural development worker, civil society activist and institution builder. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles. www.yashtandon.com

GR Editor’s Note:  This report remains to be confirmed. So far we have not been able to corroborate this report from other news sources.

Confidential document on Ukraine by the RAND Corporation leaked. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko follows the action plan proposed by RAND analysts.

This Memorandum on the “advisable course of action” automatically means that the peace plan confirmed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is slated  to fail.

The document provides three stages for the conduct of a military operation in eastern Ukraine.

The first stage implies total isolation of the region considering that all local citizens are terrorists or sympathizers.

The Region should be encircled with troops and sealed off entirely from any flow of goods and persons. Broadcasting services, Internet connection, telephone and mobile communications in the region shall be shut down.

The second stage is named Mop-up.

Ground assaults shall be preceded by air strikes against the strategic facilities. The use of non-conventional arms is allowed.

The document also provides for internment camps outside the cleared settlements. People featuring traces of combat engagement shall be tried in court for terrorism.

During the third stage Back to Normal power supplies and communications shall be restored. The borders shall be strengthened to avoid possible provocations. All the refugees should be checked for possible support for separatists in internment camps.

Special focus shall be made on information security. All foreign media shall be blocked there.

Commentary by AboveTopSecret.com 2014

Read carefully the text of the 2 page Memorandum below

While the world’s attention has been fixated on the rapid advance and conquering of territory by ISIS/ISIL in Iraq, a clear shift has taken place in the rhetoric against, and analysis of, Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki and his government. Though he was praised up and down by Washington while US troops remained on Iraqi soil, in the nearly three years since their exit he has transmogrified into a brutal sectarian autocrat evoking the worst aspects of both Saddam’s regime and that of his Shia neighbors and allies in Iran. What could possibly account for such a dramatic about-face?

The question then becomes: Is it simply that the world has finally taken notice of Maliki’s dictatorship against the backdrop of the war against ISIS/ISIL? Or could it be that the narrative has changed because the US agenda and interests have changed, and thus, so too has the image of Maliki. From democratic representative of the religious/ethnic majority to vicious tyrant bent on the destruction of Sunni and Kurdish minorities, Maliki has undergone a shocking political makeover.

Indeed, Maliki is not the first, nor is he likely to be the last, leader propped up, armed, and supported politically and militarily by the US, only to then become the proverbial “greatest threat to peace and stability in the region.” Such was Saddam’s fate. So too was it the fate of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. And it seems now that Maliki, like countless other would-be US puppets who suddenly discovered their own national interests, has magically become the center of evil in Iraq and the region.

It should be noted that an examination of how the narrative on Maliki has shifted should not be taken as a de facto endorsement of all his actions or policies. Quite the contrary, such an analysis is rooted in an examination of the facts and material conditions, rather than an emotional appeal to “pick a side” and “support the people.” These and other hollow phrases have adorned the writing of many analysts on this issue in recent weeks without thoroughly examining the real forces at play. As such, the hollow phrases turn into shallow analysis which leads to the confusion about Iraq today.

Washington, Tehran, and Maliki’s “Sins”

It should come as no surprise to anyone who is even moderately aware of how US foreign policy and propaganda has historically operated, that the demonization of Maliki is directly linked to the inability of Washington to control him or, to put it another way, his refusal to accept US diktats. Consequently, he has been made into a villain, rather than a leader attempting to establish independent institutions in a country in which all institutions were created by the authority of a military occupation. So, the question then becomes, is Maliki simply trying to consolidate all power to himself? Or has Maliki been attempting to purge his government of US agents, clients, puppets, and other assorted front men? As is so often the case, the answer will lie somewhere in the middle.

To listen to the talking points of the State Department, news pundits, and “security experts,” you’d think that everyone in the Obama administration and the US political elite was in agreement that Maliki is an autocratic dictator. However, Obama himself revealed quite the opposite when the Iraqi Prime Minister came to the White House less than two and half years ago. On December 12, 2011, just weeks before the ultimate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, President Obama stood next to Maliki and made the following remarks:

Today, I’m proud to welcome Prime Minister Maliki — the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq… Iraq faces great challenges, but today reflects the impressive progress that Iraqis have made.  Millions have cast their ballots — some risking or giving their lives — to vote in free elections.  The Prime Minister leads Iraq’s most inclusive government yet.  Iraqis are working to build institutions that are efficient and independent and transparent.

In examining these and other comments made by Obama, and Bush before him, it becomes clear that a tectonic shift has occurred in how Maliki is viewed by Washington. Once seen as a pliable, compliant client regime, Maliki has now become the embodiment of corruption, sectarianism, and lust for power. What could possibly have motivated such a drastic change?

First and foremost are Maliki’s attitudes and policies towards the US occupation and the presence of military and non-military personnel. In fact, it was Maliki’s refusal to grant the US request to maintain US military bases in the country after the withdrawal which prompted the first round of attacks on him and his government. And it was then that the image of Maliki as Iranian puppet truly became popularized, at least in Western media. Indeed, as The Guardian noted at the time,

“The Pentagon had wanted the bases to help counter growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. Just a few years ago, the US had plans for leaving behind four large bases but, in the face of Iraqi resistance, this plan had to be scaled down this year to a force of 10,000. But even this proved too much for the Iraqis.”

Maliki also took the absolutely monumental step of closing down Camp Ashraf and killing or expelling its inhabitants. Far from being a camp for “Iranian political exiles” as Western media have attempted to portray, Ashraf was the base of the Iranian terrorist organization Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization supported wholeheartedly by neocons (as well as most “liberals”) in its continued terror war against Iran. Of course, because Maliki dared to cleanse Iraq of these US-sponsored terrorist thugs, he was immediately convicted in the court of US public opinion which described the operation as an assault on Iranian “freedom fighters.” We know all too well what the US means when it describes terrorists as freedom fighters.

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And so, by refusing basing rights, refusing to extend immunity and legal protections to US contractors operating in Iraq, and wiping out Camp Ashraf and MEK members, Maliki became a villain. More to the point, it was his refusal to allow Iraq to be used by the US and its allies as a military and political bulwark against Iran that earned him the West’s ire. Far from wanting a “sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq” as Obama eloquently proclaimed, Washington needed the country to remain a client state to be used as a weapon of US foreign policy in the region. By rejecting this, Maliki, almost overnight, became “a dictator.”

But the Maliki-as-dictator meme has become a powerful device for shaping the narrative about Iraq. One of the primary methods of this narrative-building is establishing, and constantly reiterating, that Maliki has consolidated all power to himself by purging his government of political rivals. While there is undoubtedly some truth in the fact that Maliki has sought to sideline certain political figures who were unwilling to “play ball” with his regime in Baghdad, this is only half the story, the only half western media wants you to hear.

The other side of that story is the fact that Maliki was left by the US with a government rife with factions and individuals who represented not Iraq, but Western political and financial interests. One of the patterns to which Maliki’s accusers point as an example of his dictatorship is his purging of key figures in major Iraqi institutions. However, these same accusers never mention exactly who was purged, and why.

One of the principal examples of such purging was Maliki’s sacking of two key figures in the banking establishment in Iraq. Specifically, Maliki dismissed Sinan al-Shabibi, Governor of Iraq’s Central Bank, and Hussein al-Uzri, former head of the state-owned Trade Bank. These dismissals were reported as a power grab. However, for the most part, they fail to mention the critical fact that these two very powerful individuals in Iraq’s financial establishment are very close friends and associates of Ahmed Chalabi. This name should ring a bell for those who have followed the Iraq tragedy for these last twelve years; Chalabi was the darling of Bush, Cheney, and the neocons. A close political ally, Chalabi was originally envisioned by Cheney and Co. as the leader of the new Iraq, an Iraq which would be amenable to US political and corporate interests in the country.

Though Chalabi was rejected by the Iraqi people, and was never able to establish political power for himself at the time, he and his neocon friends were able to embed their people in Iraq’s banking institutions, thereby giving the US effective control over credit in the country. As has always been known, power over finances is de facto political power and authority. So, was Maliki seeking to consolidate all power to himself? Or was he attempting to rid Iraq’s banks of corrupt agents of Western finance capital who had been undemocratically put in place by precisely those same forces who eagerly championed the destruction of Iraq?

Another of Maliki’s grave crimes was taking on Western oil companies looking to make massive profits off of Iraq’s vast energy deposits. Perhaps the most well known instance occurred in 2012 when ExxonMobil signed an oil exploration deal with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq. Maliki rejected the validity of the deal, noting that any oil contracts must be negotiated with the central government in Baghdad, rather than Barzani’s US-aligned government in Arbil. Maliki’s spokesman noted at the time that:

Maliki views these deals as representing a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars… [and] breaking up the unity of Iraq…Maliki is prepared to go to the highest levels for the sake of preserving the national wealth and the necessary transparency in investing the wealth of the Iraqis, especially oil… [He] sent a message to American President Barak [sic] Obama last week urging him to intervene to prevent ExxonMobil from going in this direction.

It is no secret that Maliki’s strong-willed resistance to this deal, in addition to his refusal to pay ExxonMobil upwards of $50 million to improve production at one major southern oil field, led directly to the oil company pulling out of the lucrative West Qurna-1 project. Essentially then, Maliki took on the very powerful oil corporations (BP is no friend of Maliki either), seeking to get a better deal for Iraq. It would be safe to assume that the endemic corruption in Iraq would have made it easier for Maliki and his associates to enrich themselves by skimming off the top and/or receiving payouts from other oil interests. However, this is secondary to the primary “crime” of challenging the hegemony of oil companies in Iraq. Doesn’t Maliki realize that the US fought a war in Iraq to protect and further the interests of oil companies, among others?

Undoubtedly, Maliki’s greatest sin in the eyes of US-NATO-Israel-GCC has been his steadfast support for Syria and Assad. Maliki refused to abandon Assad when the US-NATO war machine was gearing up to bomb Syria. He loudly proclaimed his support for Assad and his resistance to any attempts to coax and cajole Iraq into allying against him. In this way, Maliki affirmed the alliance of Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Hezbollah against the US-NATO-Israel-GCC axis of power, and in doing so put himself at the top of Washington’s enemies list.

In late 2013, Maliki, along with Assad and Iranian authorities, participated in continued negotiations over the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, which would bring Iranian and Iraqi gas to the Mediterranean via Syria, thereby giving those countries direct, overland access to the European market. Naturally, this was seen as a direct challenge to US ally Qatar and its dominance of the Middle Eastern gas trade to Europe. It should be noted that it is no mere coincidence that the eruption of the war in Syria coincided perfectly with the initial negotiations over the proposed pipeline.

So, rather than a leader defending national interests and attempting to engage in independent economic development outside the hegemony of Western political and corporate powers, Maliki has been portrayed as a corrupt and brutal tyrant bent on destroying Sunnis, Kurds, and anyone else who stands in his way. Might it not have something to do with Maliki not being a willing puppet for a war on Syria?

Almost as an afterthought are still other reasons why Maliki has been demonized. He has purchased significant military hardware from Russia, including attack helicopters, rather than being solely reliant on US military assistance. Maliki allowed Iraqi Vice President Hashemi, a politician known to be close with Qatar and the US, to be indicted and tried for running an assassination-for-hire operation. Maliki moved to reorganize Iraqi political life by breaking some of the deliberately dysfunctional political institutions created by the US occupiers after the initial war. He sought to use loans and credit to rebuild some of the destroyed infrastructure. He refused to allow Shia politics to be the sole territory of the Sadrists and others. These and countless other actions obviously demonstrated to the US and its allies that “Maliki must go,” as they are so fond of saying.

Is the US Really Supporting Maliki?

One of the more pernicious aspects of the coverage of the conflict in Iraq has been the propagandistic talking point from both mainstream and some non-mainstream outlets that the US is “supporting” and “propping up” Maliki. Dozens of articles and interviews have appeared in recent weeks in which experts espouse the notion that the Obama administration is trying to keep Maliki in power. Despite flying in the face of both logic and the facts, this narrative has taken root in many quarters, and has become the basis upon which many have provided de facto support to ISIS/ISIL and the Sunni insurgents allied, however tenuously, with them.

It would seem that those who argue that the US wants to preserve Maliki’s position in Iraq have not been paying attention. Indeed, headlines such as “US leaders want Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki to step down in return for US airstrikes on ISIS: Report” from the International Business Times, or “Iraq must form new government, Kerry warns in Baghdad” from the Financial Times, call into question that very assertion. In fact, it is not Maliki that the US is trying to preserve, it is its own influence in Iraq. This is the point that many so-called experts have utterly failed to grasp; Maliki is not doing what he’s told, so the US wants to put in his place someone who will. And they are using the ISIS/ISIL takeover as a convenient pretext for this sort of regime change.

And whose name keeps coming up in discussion about who the US might want to see replace Maliki? It’s none other than good old Ahmed Chalabi, the same puppet who Bush and Co. tried to install in the first place. Ayad Allawi, another Iraqi politician with close ties to the US, is also on the short list. So, two failed US political proxies are now being promoted as the “democratic” and “inclusive” future of Iraqi politics. It’s enough to make anyone laugh, or be sick.

It is also amusing to hear so-called experts discussing how the US has sent troops to Iraq to help Maliki. Such a superficial analysis reveals a complete lack of understanding of both military matters and the way in which the US operates abroad. The authorization for the deployment of 300 military personnel to Iraq is evidence not of an attempt to save Maliki, but to preserve certain key political, financial, and energy infrastructure for Western interests.

The US is not protecting Maliki, but protecting itself and its investments from Maliki, should he attempt to cling to power. Those troops have been protecting the US embassy, advising key figures in regards to securing the oil fields, and providing protection for foreign oil workers among others. This cannot be mistaken for military support for Maliki, unless of course it is the goal of those espousing this nonsense to convince the world that Maliki is the “US man in Iraq.”

Today Iraq is at war, and in danger of breaking apart. With Islamist militants and Sunni insurgents fighting a war against the government in Baghdad, the country is headed for total collapse and partition. But this war did not start with ISIS conquering Mosul. It did not start with Maliki consolidating power. It began before the last US troops ever left Iraq. It began when Maliki decided that he would not be cowed by US threats and diktats. It began the second Iraq tried to assert itself independently. And for this, Iraq is paying the ultimate price.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of StopImperialism.org and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

“Respected Andre, I am from Kharkov. Here is the video, showing how the Ukrainian air force is bombing the peaceful inhabitants of East Ukraine.

Please show this to the world;

Let the world see what ‘terrorists’ the Ukrainian authorities are targeting”:

http://www.odnoklassniki.ru/video/62695015219305-1

On the choppy video, frustrated people are talking one over the other.

Roads are dotted with craters.

“July 2nd, 2014”, declares a voice in Russian, with Ukrainian accent. “Luhanska Village… The plane flew over the city of Luhansk and then hit the village Luhanska. What was it aiming at is not clear… Here is a crater, here are private parking lots…”

The smoke is rising towards the sky. Houses are damaged, some totally destroyed.

Confused dialogue continues: “What were they aiming at? A train station?”

The Camera moves further, towards destroyed cars and more destroyed houses. Those who are filming appear to be shocked, constantly exclaiming, in disbelief: “F**k your mother!” a Russian phrase expressing bewilderment and distress.

As the cameraperson moves further down the road, it becomes clear that some houses are leveled with the ground. Fires are still burning. It is 11:37AM, tells the voice, but we never learn at what time exactly came the attack, although one of the voices says that what we see is taking place approximately half an hour after the bombing.

Big part of the village is thoroughly devastated. Craters, burning gas pipes, broken windows… Then, two corpses…

“Go film there!” Screams an outraged man. “Go, damn it! Show what the fascists did! People are torn to pieces.” There is a third corpse nearby, covered by blanket.

“Damn Nazi, that whore Poroshenko!” someone refers to the pro-Western President of Ukraine, and a head of chocolat confectionery empire.

Camera then shows one old beaten fire truck. It cannot clearly cope with the tragedy of this scope.

“How many people died?”

“Ten”, someone answered, “But there are more people dead inside the houses”. [The actual tally was put today at 181 by Russian news sources, and is said to be incomplete.—Eds]

“Damn! This is real aerial bombardment! This is real war.”

Cameraperson is abruptly intercepted and confronted by locals:

“Who are you?”

“A journalist.”

“Journalist from where?”

“Journalist from Russia. TNT from Saratov…”

“From Russia? So why the hell is Putin silent?”

“I feel shame,” mumbles the reporter… And then he keeps repeating: “So many people died… so many people.”

The footage ends when a man approaches journalists and screams: “Come, I will take you… where my mother is… her corpse… I will show you everything…”

A Ukrainian fighter flies above Lugansk during a battle between resistance fighters and the Ukrainian National Guard in June 2, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

Image: A Ukrainian fighter flies above Lugansk during a battle between resistance fighters and the Ukrainian National Guard in June 2, 2014 (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

Next day, the BBC reports, phlegmatically: “The new Ukrainian defence minister vows to hold “a victory parade” in Crimea as fighting continues against pro-Russian rebels in the east.”

Somewhere at the very bottom of report appear few lines:

“Rebels in Luhansk accused government forces of killing civilians in the village of Luhanska on Wednesday. District mayor Volodymyr Bilous told Ukrainian news agency UNN that warplanes had bombed the area, killing nine and injuring 11. Another report spoke of 12 deaths…”

Kremlin is uncharacteristically quiet, while Kiev is in overdrive, increasingly aggressive and bold, with both the US and EU right behind its soiled back.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Israel Bombs Gaza Strip, Masses Army on Border

July 4th, 2014 by Patrick Martin

Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip again on Thursday, hitting at least 15 targets in the blockaded Palestinian territory, causing extensive damage and wounding at least 10 people, including a pregnant woman and a 65-year-old man.

The Israel Defense Forces moved tanks and artillery units towards Gaza, positioning them in advance of any order from the cabinet to invade the densely populated enclave, with nearly two million people crammed into an area of less than 200 square miles. The IDF also called up an undisclosed number of reservists for duty.

The military mobilization was the largest on the border of Gaza since Israel’s last major attack on the Palestinian territory, eight days of bloody bomb and missile strikes in November 2012.

An Israeli military spokesman claimed the sites targeted by bombs and missiles were linked to Hamas, the Islamic party that has ruled Gaza since it won elections in 2006. The Israeli government has declared Hamas responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, although that territory is controlled by the secular Palestinian party Fatah, with Israeli support.

The killing of the three teenagers, whose bodies were found on June 30 outside Hebron, is being used as a pretext by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to escalate tensions with Hamas and threaten an invasion or re-occupation of the Gaza Strip. Israeli military forces and settlers were withdrawn from Gaza in 2005.

Thursday’s bombing was the latest in a series of tit-for-tat exchanges, with Israeli jets dropping bombs or firing missiles at targets in Gaza, while Palestinian militants launch primitive unguided rockets from Gaza at nearby Israeli towns, particularly the border town of Sderot.

The Israeli attacks, using high-tech weaponry, much of it supplied by the United States, are far more destructive and lethal. On Tuesday, Israeli air strikes hit 34 targets in Gaza, after attacks over the weekend.

Bombs and missiles in Gaza have been combined with brutal military-police operations on the West Bank, where 500 Palestinians were arrested, dozens injured, and six killed in the four weeks since the kidnappings on the West Bank.

Tensions on the West Bank exploded Wednesday after the killing of a Palestinian youth, 16-year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khudair, who was abducted from the street outside his home in East Jerusalem, apparently by ultra-right Jewish settlers vowing “revenge” for the killing of the three Israeli youth. Khudair’s body was found miles away, badly burned and bearing marks of violence.

Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets Wednesday in East Jerusalem in response to the news of Khudair’s murder, throwing rocks, bottles and firecrackers at police and setting up barricades. The neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina, where the violence was concentrated, were relatively quiet on Thursday, as the residents prepared for the funeral service, and Israeli troops sealed off access to that part of the city.

Late Thursday, the Khudair family said the funeral was postponed until Friday because of the delay in conducting an autopsy in Tel Aviv, where a Palestinian doctor was to observe the procedure.

Elsewhere in Jerusalem, protesters threw rocks and built barricades of burning tires. Israeli police fired stun grenades but otherwise did not directly engage the protesters.

Israeli police officials claimed that despite an intensive investigation, “the motive for the murder cannot be determined at present.” Eyewitnesses described the attackers as Jewish, however, and Palestinian officials have charged that the attackers were Israeli extremists.

While witnesses supplied police with the license plate number of the vehicle used by the kidnappers, the police have not publicly identified the killers.

The murdered youth’s family criticized police inaction. Hussein Abu Khudair, Muhammad’s father, declared: “If things were different, and an Arab kidnapped an Israeli, it would have been uncovered in moments.”

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey refused yesterday to rule out large numbers of American troops being returned to Iraq in defiance of mass opposition in the American working class and population as a whole. He told a press conference that while the Obama administration currently has no plans to increase the US military involvement in Iraq beyond 750 special forces advisors and additional embassy guards, the situation could rapidly change.

Dempsey stated:

“We may get to that point if our national interests drive us there, if it becomes such a threat to the homeland that the President of the United States, with our advice, decides that we have to take direct action. I am just suggesting to you that we are not there yet.”

In the context of what has unfolded in Iraq and the Middle East since June 10, when the Al Qaeda-derived, Sunni extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and sent forces south toward Baghdad, Dempsey’s comment is a clear indication that plans are being prepared for a full-scale intervention into what is a cauldron of conflicts and intrigues.

After a decade of US imperialist violence, Iraq and Syria are effectively disintegrating as nation-states. Every neighbouring state is being inexorably drawn into what threatens to become a full scale regional war.

At the beginning of the week, ISIS declared the formation of an “Islamic State” over the territory it holds. In eastern Syria, along the border with Iraq, growing numbers of Sunni rebels fighting as part of the US-backed civil war against the Iranian-backed government of Bashar al-Assad are declaring their allegiance to ISIS. On Thursday, ISIS fighters seized Syria’s largest oil field, al Omar. It now holds major border crossings between the two countries. From the territory it commands in Iraq’s western Anbar province, it is seeking to gain control of Iraq’s border crossings with Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Within Iraq, Maliki is directing a military counter-offensive against ISIS on the basis of sectarian appeals to Shiites. Offers by his government of an “amnesty” to Sunnis who ceased fighting fell on deaf ears, particularly under conditions in which some of the most extreme Shiite militias are fighting alongside Iraqi army units to crush the rebellion. Iranian military advisors are almost certainly embedded in Iraqi army units taking part in ferocious operations against ISIS and Sunni rebels to regain control of Baiji and the main oil refinery, a group of towns to the north of the city of Baqubah, and the city of Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The use of Su-25 ground attack jets, supplied by both Russia and Iran, in the assault on Tikrit has provoked intense speculation on whether they are being flown by Iranian or possibly even Russian pilots. No Iraqi has flown a Su-25 for well over a decade, and the small number of Iraqi air force pilots who would have been familiar with them are believed to have either fled the country or been killed during the occupation.

As Iran and Russia militarily and politically back Maliki against a Sunni rebellion, Saudi state media announced on Thursday that Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 troops, tanks and air support along its 800-kilometre border with Iraq. It alleged that Iraqi government forces on the other side “abandoned” their positions. The Jordanian monarchy has likewise mobilised its military to its 200-kilometre border with Iraq.

The mobilisations are being justified as necessary to prevent incursions into more countries by ISIS militants. In Iran and Baghdad, they will be viewed as preparations by Saudi Arabia for an invasion of the largely Sunni-populated western Iraq to assist the Sunni uprising. The Saudi monarchy has labelled the Iraqi government as a “stooge” of the Shiite fundamentalist regime in Tehran.

Adding further fuel to a highly combustible situation, the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, with the vocal support of Israel, ordered its officials yesterday to draw up plans for an independence referendum to establish a separate Kurdish state. Its territory would incorporate the city of Kirkuk and Iraq’s main northern oil fields, which Kurdish troops occupied as Iraqi forces fled the ISIS advance last month. Maliki declared the independence moves “unconstitutional.”

Attempts to convene the Iraqi parliament and form a “national unity” government collapsed earlier in the week, with Shiite and Kurdish politicians exchanging threats of civil war and Sunni representatives walking out.

General Dempsey’s statements pose the question: For what mission would the Obama administration send American forces to kill and be killed in Iraq? Is US “national interest” to be achieved by assisting to suppress a Sunni uprising to shore up Maliki’s government? Or is it to be achieved by forcing the Iraqi Shiite establishment to reconcile with Sunni extremists, who are backed by Saudi Arabia and other reactionary regimes, and seeking to overthrow both Maliki and Assad? What of the Kurds? Will the US military be sent to Kirkuk to force the Kurdish nationalists to hand the city back over to Baghdad’s control?

The only consistent element of US foreign policy in the Middle East is that the “national interest” of the American financial and corporate elite—one pursued ruthlessly for decades by successive administrations—is military and political domination over the region and its oil reserves. The lies of the American political establishment before the 2003 invasion that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” were the pretext to implement long-held, neo-colonial plans to completely reorganise the Middle East.

Eleven years later, US ambitions to subjugate the region lie in tatters. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is responsible for a catastrophe of fratricidal sectarian and ethnic conflicts. No scenario of US troops going back to the Middle East has any support in the American working class, or workers anywhere. Trillions of dollars have been squandered and thousands of lives thrown away over the past decade in a murderous pursuit of global power by the financial oligarchs of Wall Street and their political representatives. Whatever new military action is launched by Washington, it can only lead to greater catastrophes.

America’s Holy Crusade against the Muslim World

July 4th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This article first published by GR on August 10, 2010 is of particular relevance in addressing the announcement of the creation of a caliphate by the defunct Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

We have reached a decisive transition in the evolution of US military doctrine. The “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) directed against Al Qaeda launched in the wake of 9/11 is evolving towards a full-fledged “war of religion”, a “holy crusade” directed against the Muslim World.

US military dogma and war propaganda under the Bush administration were predicated on combating Islamic fundamentalism rather than targeting Muslims. “This is not a war between the West and Islam, but .. a war against terrorism.” So-called “Good Muslims” are to be distinguished from “Bad Muslims”:

“The dust from the collapse of the twin towers had hardly settled on 11 September 2001 when the febrile search began for “moderate Muslims”, people who would provide answers, who would distance themselves from this outrage and condemn the violent acts of “Muslim extremists”, “Islamic fundamentalists” and “Islamists”. Two distinct categories of Muslims rapidly emerged: the “good” and the “bad”; the “moderates”, “liberals” and “secularists” versus the “fundamentalists”, the “extremists” and the “Islamists”.” (Tariq Ramadan, Good Muslim, bad Muslim, New Statesman, February 12, 2010)

In the wake of 9/11, the Muslim community in most Western countries was markedly on the defensive.  The “Good Muslim” “Bad Muslim” divide was broadly accepted. The 9/11 terrorist attacks allegedly perpetrated by Muslims were not only condemned, Muslim communities also supported the US-NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, as part of a legitimate campaign directed against Islamic fundamentalism.

Washington’s objective was to instill a sentiment of guilt within the Muslim community.  The fact that the 9/11 attacks were not instigated by Muslims has rarely been acknowledged by the Muslim community. Al Qaeda’s ongoing relationship to the CIA, its role as a US sponsored “intelligence asset” going back to to the Soviet-Afghan war is not mentioned. (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”  Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

Since the early 1980s, Washington has covertly supported the most conservative and fundamentalist factions of Islam, largely with a view to weakening secular, nationalist and progressive movements in the Middle East and Central Asia. Known and documented, the fundamentalist Wahhabi and Salafi missions from Saudi Arabia, dispatched not only to Afghanistan but also to the Balkans and to the Muslim republics of the former Soviet republics were covertly supported by US intelligence. (Ibid) What is often referred to as “Political Islam” is in large part a creation of the US intelligence apparatus (with the support of Britain’s MI6 and Israel’s Mossad).

The Ground Zero Mosque

Recent developments suggest a breaking point, a transition from “the war on terrorism” to the outright demonization of Muslims. While underscoring the freedom of religion, the Obama administration is “beating the drums” of a broader war against Islam:

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country… This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.” (quoted in Obama Backs Ground Zero Mosque; Iranian Link Questioned, Israel National News, August 15, 2010)

Beneath the political smokescreen, the distinction between “Good Muslims” and “Bad Muslims” is being scrapped. The proposed Ground Zero mosque is allegedly being funding by “the radical rogue Islamic state of Iran … as the United States is stepping up sanctions on the regime in retaliation for its support of terrorism and what is feared to be an illegal nuclear-weapons development program.” ( Ground Zero mosque developers refuse to outright reject funding from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – NYPOST.com, August 19, 2010)

The rising tide of xenophobia, sparked by the proposed Ground Zero mosque and community center, has all the appearances of  a PSYOP (Psychological Operation) which contributes to fomenting hatred against Muslims throughout the Western World.

The objective is to instil fear, rouse and harness citizens’ unbending support for the next stage of America’s “long war”, which consists in waging “humanitarian” aerial attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran, portrayed by the media as endorsing the terrorists.

While “all Muslims are not terrorists”, all terrorist attacks (planned or realized) are reported by the media as being perpetrated by Muslims.

In America, the Muslim community as a whole is being targeted. Islam is described as a “religion of war”. The proposed mosque and community center are being heralded as “violating the sanctity of Ground Zero”.

“..opening a mosque at Ground Zero is offensive and disrespectful to the city and the people who died in the attacks. The project is “spitting in the face of everyone murdered on 9/11.” (Plan to build mosque at Ground Zero angers New Yorkers ,National Post, May 17, 2010)

“Homegrown Terrorists”

The arrests on trumped up charges, as well as the show trials of alleged “homegrown” “Islamic terrorists”, perform an important function. They sustain the illusion, in the inner consciousness of Americans, that “Islamic terrorists” not only constitute a real threat but that the Muslim community to which they belong is broadly supportive of their actions:

“[T]he threat increasingly comes not from strangers with rough English and dubious passports. Instead, it resides much closer to home: in urban townhouses, darkened basements — anywhere with an Internet connection. Homegrown terrorism is the latest incarnation of the al-Qaeda threat.” How terror came home to roost, Ottawa Citizen, August 27, 2010, report on an alleged homegrown terrorist attack in Canada)

From a process of selective targeting of Muslims with radical tendencies (or allegedly associated with “terrorist organizations”), what is now unfolding is a generalized process of demonization of an entire population group.

Muslims are increasingly the object of routine discrimination and ethnic profiling. They are considered a potential threat to national security. The threat is said to be “much closer to home”, “within your neighborhood”. In other words what is unfolding is an all out witch-hunt reminiscent of the Spanish inquisition.

In turn,  Al Qaeda is described as a powerful multinational terrorist organization (possessing WMDs) with subsidiaries (covertly supported by US and allied intelligence agencies) in a number of Muslim countries: Al Qaeda is present (with corresponding acronyms) in various geopolitical hotspots and war theaters:

-Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) (comprised of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Jihad of Yemen), Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia (Jamaah Islamiyah), Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen in Somalia, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, etc.

At no moment is the issue of atrocities committed against several million Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan considered a terrorist act by the occupation forces.

The American Inquisition

A “war of religion” is unfolding, with a view to justifying a global military crusade. In the inner consciousness of many Americans, the “holy crusade” against Muslims is justified. While President Obama may uphold freedom of religion, the US inquisitorial social order has institutionalized patterns of discrimination, prejudice and xenophobia directed against Muslims. Ethnic profiling applies to travel, the job market, access to education and social services and more generally to social status and mobility.

The American Inquisition as an ideological construct which is, in many regards, similar to the inquisitorial social order prevailing in France and Spain during the Middle Ages. The inquisition, which started in France in the 12th century, was used as a justification for conquest and military intervention. (See Michel Chossudovsky, 9/11 and the “American Inquisition”, Global Research, September 11, 2008).

The arrests, trials and sentences of so-called “homegrown” terrorists” (from within America’s Muslim community) on trumped up charges sustain the legitimacy of the Homeland Security State and its inquisitorial legal and law enforcement apparatus.

An inquisitorial doctrine turns realities upside down. It is a social order based on lies and fabrications. But because these lies emanate from the highest political authority and are part of a widely held “consensus”, they invariably remain unchallenged. And those who challenge the inquisitorial order or in any way oppose America’s military or national security agenda are themselves branded as “conspiracy theorists” or outright terrorists.

Beyond the process of inquisitorial arrests and prosecution, which outdwarfs the Spanish inquisition, an expedient extrajudicial assassination program sanctioned by the White House has been launched. This program allows US special forces to kill American citizens and suspected homegrown terrorists:: ”A shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing”? (See Chuck Norris, Obama’s US Assassination Program? “A Shortlist of U.S. Citizens specifically Targeted for Killing”?,. Global Research, August 26, 2010)

The objective is to sustain the illusion that “America is under attack” and that Muslims across the land are complicit and supportive of “Islamic terrorism”.

The demonization of Muslims sustains a global military agenda. Under the American inquisition, Washington has a self-proclaimed holy mandate to extirpate Islam and “spread democracy” throughout the world.

What we are dealing with is an outright and blind acceptance of the structures of power and political authority. America’s holy crusade against the Muslim World is an outright criminal act directed against millions of people. It is a war of economic conquest.

More than 60% of the World’s oil and natural gas reserves lie in Muslim lands. “The Battle for Oil” waged by the US NATO Israel military alliance requires the demonization of the inhabitants of those countries which possess these vast reserves of oil and natural gas. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Demonization of Muslims and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, January 4, 2007)

We have long discussed the erosion of civil liberties in the United States, including the attacks on privacy and other rights by the Obama Administration. It appears that we are not alone in those concerns. A new Gallup poll shows a record drop in the satisfaction of Americans over their freedoms. The massive drop is matched in such countries as Egypt, Pakistan, and Venezuela.

 Seventy-nine percent of US residents are satisfied with their level of freedom. That is down from 91 percent in 2006 — a 12 point drop. We were once the highest country in the world on such polls. We have now dropped to 36th place.220px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

That mirrors other studies showing the United States dropping to the same low levels on press freedoms, Internet speech, and other rights.

The White House has been adept in deflecting such criticism with a host of commentators and bloggers who deflect criticism with references to Republicans and the “red menace” or “things could be worse” spin or simply change the subject. However, the expansion of the internal security network in the United States and police powers is obviously having an impact on how Americans now view their rights. Years ago, I wrote a column entitled “10 Reasons Why The United States Is No Longer The Land of The Free.” Things have only grown worse since that column ran. The Obama Administration’s recent effort to strip citizens of privacy protections over their cellphones and records illustrates the extremism of some of these positions. That argument failed to secure a single vote on the Supreme Court for the Administration’s effort to blow a hole in American privacy protections.

The poll on the eve of the Fourth of July captures the dire condition of American civil liberties today. As I wrote years ago, Obama has been a disaster for the American civil liberties movement and the damage done under his tenure will be felt for decades. What is most distressing is that citizens see the decline but feel virtually powerless to do anything about it due to the duopoly of power in this country. Even with universal calls for change, the two parties are again recycling many of the same figures and same policies as prior years. Polls of this kind show a deep sense of dissatisfaction among Americans but also a complete lack of expression of those views through political channels. That is a dangerous situation for any political system when such widespread feelings are left unexpressed and unvented in politics. The political system seems to be operating in an increasingly unconnected and unresponsive fashion vis-a-vis the public at large. There is a sense among many that I speak to that there is a ruling elite and a vast body of the ruled — a modern equivalent to the helot class of ancient Sparta.

I am still amazed that we have come to this point of rapidly declining feelings of freedom and widespread dissociation with our political system. It is not the failure of our constitutional system and only partially the failure of our leaders. It is largely a failure in ourselves that we have become such grumbling drones — powerless, passive, and frankly a bit pathetic. Our government is openly trying to strip away core privacy protections and increase police powers at every level. Yet, we have fallen victim to the “blue state” and “red state” mentality — allowing politicians to constantly deflect criticism by referring to the other side as the greater evil. The result is predictable and, as with this poll, incredibly depressing. See csmonitor

The wheel of the calendar has turned again, and July 4th is upon us once again, a day for the consumption of 155 million pounds of  hot dogs, and fireworks—75% of the pyro technics industry’s revenues ignite in an average 1400 displays on the federal holiday marking the anniversary of American Independence.

Patriotric rituals r’ often us, although, never mind, that American celebrations only began after the war of 1812,  and that it took quite a while for London to even respond to our declaration.

Quiet as its kept, actual independence only arrived on September, 3, 1783 when Great Britain formally abandoned its claims to its colonies and signed the Treaty of Paris.

Recall also that one of the pledges in the document of documents was a “Decent Respect for The Opinions of Mankind,” a vow undercut somewhat by a ruling by an appointed intelligence advisory body this past week—based on who knows what legal foundation—that US Spying on mankind is now and forevermore “legal” under our constitution.

Record this fact, too,that July 4th only became a holiday on June 28, 1870, a decision promulgated in the aftermath of our bloody civil war to encourage some semblance of unity in a still divided nation.

Back in ‘76, the independence war has been on for a year before the often feuding anddisunited politicians of the day decided a declaration was needed. It followed from a resolution by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia that began: “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

Even as Tom Jefferson drafted the words for the document, there was discordant music in the background. In the end, of the 13 colonies, nine voted yes, two — Pennsylvania and South Carolina — voted No. Delaware was undecided and New York abstained.

And so, it was on this basis, that the “United” States decided proclaim itself.

Of all the oratory and debate that on “our” independence, nothing in the literature surpasses the speech by abolitionist, editor and former slave, Frederick Douglass, whose oration about July 4th deserves to be much better known.

His famous speech has the title, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” It was delivered on July 5, 1852, eight years before the eruption of the war against the Confederacy’s secession from the union.

Douglass began slowly:

“Who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning….

The papers and placards say, that I am to deliver a 4th [of] July oration. This certainly sounds large, and out of the common way…The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation, from which I escaped, is considerable — and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former, are by no means slight. That I am here to-day is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude. You will not, therefore, be surprised, if in what I have to say I evince no elaborate preparation, nor grace my speech with any high sounding exordium. With little experience and with less learning, I have been able to throw my thoughts hastily and imperfectly together; and trusting to your patient and generous indulgence, I will proceed to lay them before you.

This, for the purpose of this celebration, is the 4th of July. It is the birthday of your National Independence, and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God. It carries your minds back to the day, and to the act of your great deliverance; and to the signs, and to the wonders, associated with that act, and that day. This celebration also marks the beginning of another year of your national life; and reminds you that the Republic of America is now 76 years old. I am glad, fellow-citizens, that your nation is so young.”

He went on and on, praising the founders and sympathizing with their cause before dropping the bomb he had,no doubt, been invited to drop—a condemnation of slavery a “peculiar institution”—what a euphemism that was– that some say now was one prime reason for the revolt in the colonies,  based on the opposition to Britain’s decision to end its inhumanity, a choice many of the signatories to the Declaration opposed, no doubt, in part, because they, with whatever doubts or trepidations, held slaves themselves.

Douglass did not rush that day to get to his point, and the point, saying to all assembled, “Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mineYou may rejoice, I must mourn.”

Ba Boom! He did not mince words:

 “Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

So much, back then, for American “exceptionalism,” and,  so much for the deep debate that is still with us, when, in rare moments, our polity and media even recognizes the great gaps and inequalities that aredividing and impoverishing the nation.

Douglass ended his soaring declamation with hope, not despair, calling for a renewal of the values of the Declaration and arenewed commitment to justice. He quoted, the “fervent aspirations” of William Lloyd Garrison:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o’er


When from their galling chains set free,
Th’ oppress’d shall vilely bend the knee,

And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom’s reign,
To man his plundered fights again
Restore.

 Amen to that call to restore “plundered rights” on that July 4th and all that would follow.

Sadly, one promised set of holiday fireworks I was waiting for this year, seems to have been postponed or squashed, according to Op-ed News:

I am referring to the promised explosions by Glenn Greenwald who some see as a Douglass for our age. He had promised  aJuly 4 extravaganza, writing last month:

I think we will end the big stories in about three months or so [June or July 2014]. I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There’s a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I’m saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale, a big missing piece. Snowden knows about it and is excited about it.

Writes Donn Marten: “For now at least the fireworks show has been postponed, with the incessant fear-mongering that has now overtaken the USA!, USA!, USA! over the new Islamic caliphate and Obama sending more American troops back into Iraq it is probably better than even money that it will be cancelled altogether in the interests of national security.”

True? In the spirit of Frederick Douglass, this is not a time to surrender. There will be fireworks. Declare your independence.

 Newsdissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net and works on Mediachannel.org. His latest book is Madiba A-Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. (Madibabook.com) [email protected].

RT’s article, “Vaccines don’t cause autism, complications extremely rare – study,” states that:

There is no evidence that immunizing vaccinations cause autism while any complications arising from their administration to children are extremely rare, new analysis comprised of 67 research studies has discovered.

“There is strong evidence that MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine is not associated with autism,”the study’s results said.

RT cites a “Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” study titled, “Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review,” which claims:

We found evidence that some vaccines are associated with serious AEs [adverse effects]; however, these events are extremely rare and must be weighed against the protective benefits that vaccines provide.

The report’s conclusions are hardly convincing. But what’s more troubling, is the immense conflict of interest from which the report itself was written. The authors belong to the corporate-funded think tank, RAND Corporation.

While the report itself was funded by the US government, the RAND Corporation from which its authors were drawn is funded by the very corporations (.PDF page 70) that manufacture various vaccines, including the MMR vaccine which was the primary focus of the report. Big-pharma sponsors of RAND include GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Merck – that latter of which is listed by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) specifically as the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine.

Merck has also directly and openly funded other studies put out by RAND (here and here). RAND’s other big-pharma sponsor, GSK, has been recently exposed amid a global multi-billion dollar bribing scandal where it was paying off doctors to endorse and distribute their products.With Pediatrics’ report exposed as – at the very least – an irresponsible, unethical exercise in research, and at worst, corporate propaganda masquerading as a scientific paper, those considering whether or not to have vaccines manufactured by deceitful pharmaceutical monopolies injected into their bodies, have an added incentive to hold off and search for alternatives.

While the science of vaccinations may be sound, the corporations that have monopolized their manufacturing and distribution are often dishonest. The debate is not necessarily whether the process of vaccinating is good or bad, but why enterprises have monopolized that process and what can be done to stop them. As with everything else corporate monopolies do, there is a hidden agenda behind the drive to whitewash and promote big-pharma’s vaccines – an agenda that may transcend mere profits and demands additional scrutiny. If commentators want to assign blame upon anyone for creating public distrust in vaccines, it should be upon big-pharma itself.

A person might think that revulsion in “the world community” against Washington’s wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and many officials in their regimes.  But the vocal part of “the world community”–the West–has become inured to Washington’s crimes against humanity and doesn’t bother to protest.  Indeed, many of these governments are complicit in Washington’s crimes, and there could just as well be arrest warrants for members of European governments.

The one exception is Russia.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine.  Propagandized Americans think that all the violations in Ukraine are made

by Russians.  The White Book carefully and accurately documents reported violations that occurred in Ukraine for four months from December 2013 through March 2014.

 The White Book is available here

You will not hear much or anything about it from the presstitute US media, and it is unlikely to receive much coverage in Europe.  The facts are so greatly at odds with the West’s position that the White Book is a huge embarrassment to the West.

The slaughter of Ukrainians on Washington’s orders by Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has worsened considerably in the past three months, producing more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Russia for protection from strikes against civilian housing from the air, artillery, and tanks.

 Every effort by the Russian government to involve Washington, the European Union, and Kiev in negotiations to find a peaceful settlement has failed.

 Washington is not interested in a settlement.  Disturbed by its NATO vassals’ dependence on Russian energy and the growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe, Washington is at work through its Kiev proxy murdering citizens in eastern and southern parts of present-day Ukraine that once were part of Russia.

Washington has declared these civilians to be “terrorists” and is trying to force Russia to intervene militarily in order to protect them.  Russia’s protective intervention would then be denounced by

Washington as “invasion and annexation.”  Washington would use this propaganda, which would blare from the Western media, to pressure Europe to support Washington’s sanctions against Russia. The sanctions would effectively destroy the existing economic relationships between Russia and Europe.

 Washington has not had success in imposing sanctions, because, although Washington’s European vassals, such as Merkel, are willing, business interests in Germany, France, and Italy stand opposed.  Washington is hoping that by forcing Russia to act, Washington can sufficiently demonize Russia and silence the European business interests with propaganda.

 To counter Washington’s ploy, Putin had the Russian Duma rescind his authority to send Russian forces into Ukraine.  Unlike the American presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Putin does not claim the authority to use military forces without permission from the legislature.

Washington’s response to Putin’s stand down is to increase the slaughter of civilians, all the while denying that any such slaughter is occurring.  Washington is determined not to  acknowledge the existence of a slaughter for which it is responsible, although everyone knows that Kiev would not dare to take on Russia without Washington’s backing.

Putin’s bet is that European business interests will prevail over Washington’s European lap dogs.  This is a hopeful and optimistic bet, but Washington is already at work to threaten and to undermine the resistance of European business interests.  Using concocted charges, Washington has stolen $9 billion from France’s largest bank for doing business with countries disapproved by Washington. This was Washington’s warning to European business to comply with Washington’s sanctions. Washington even told France that  the fine would be rescinded or reduced if France broke its contract with Russia to supply two helicopter carriers.  Other such moves against European businesses are in the works. The purpose is to intimidate European businesses from opposing sanctions against Russia.

Washington’s arrogance that Washington can decide with whom a French bank can do business is astonishing.  It is even more astonishing that France and the bank would accept such arrogance and infringement of France’s sovereignty. France’s acceptance of Washington’s hegemony shows that one risk in Putin’s bet is that the bet assumes European business interests can prevail over Washington’s strategic interest.

Another risk in Putin’s bet is that by standing down and tolerating Washington’s slaughter of civilians, Putin is becoming complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity.  The longer the slaughter goes on, the more complicit the Russian government becomes.  Moreover, the passage of time allows Kiev to increase its forces and NATO to supply these forces with more deadly weapons.  A Russian intervention, which previously would have met with easy success, becomes more costly and more drawn out as Kiev’s forces increase.

 Washington’s puppet in Kiev has made it clear that he is not going to accommodate any Russian interests or any opposition of Ukrainian provinces to the radical anti-Russian policies of Washington’s stooge government.  As Washington acknowledges no responsibility whatsoever for the situation, how long can Putin wait for Merkel or Hollande to break ranks with Washington?

 Putin’s alternative is to come to the defense of the Ukrainians who are being attacked. Putin could accept the requests of the rebellious provinces to rejoin Russia as he did with Crimea,  declare  Washington’s stooge, Petro Poroshenko, to be a war criminal and issue a warrant for his arrest, and send in the Russian military to face down the forces sent by Kiev.

 Outside the West, this would establish Putin as a defender of human rights.  Inside the West it would make it completely clear to Washington’s European vassals that the consequence of their alignment with Washington is that they will be drawn into war with Russia and, likely, also with China.  Europeans have nothing to gain from these wars.

Sooner than later Putin needs to realize that his reasonableness is not reciprocated by Washington.  Washington is taking advantage of Putin’s reasonableness, and Washington is pushing Russia harder.

Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict.  Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did in Georgia and Crimea.

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July 3rd, 2014 by Global Research

2 июля украинские самолеты нанесли удар по посёлку Станица Луганская и селу Кондрашовка. Последствия военных действий

July 2nd 2014, Ukrainian air-force planes attacked the Stanytsa Luganskay Cossack village and the village of Kondrashovka.

Consequences of military action

Photos by Itar Tass

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Фото: Валерий Мельников / РИА Новости

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What has happened to America? A cautionary tale that in many ways epitomizes the onetime greatest country in the world’s fall from grace degenerating into the world’s greatest single threat to life on planet earth is told in the story of Detroit. Michigan’s Motor City was once the wealthiest city in all of the nation, a proud hallmark of “Yankee ingenuity” leading to America’s other hallmark of upwardly mobile working class affluence.

Though he neither invented the automobile nor the modern assembly line, industrialist Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company launched in 1903 and Model T created in 1908 became both America and Detroit’s world famous icon the American car, mass producing to make it available for America’s expanding middle class to afford. Indeed the rise of America, its cars and highway system mobility during the last century catapulted Detroit to industrial prominence and unparalleled prosperity as the largest US city adjacent Canada with a current metro area population of over five million people. From the end of World War II up to the war on poverty in 1964, America cut by half its number of citizens living in poverty.

However, Detroit in the twenty-first century has clearly fallen on very hard times, losing 25% of its population in just one decade from 2000 to 2010, falling from the tenth largest city in the nation to the eighteenth. The Motor City’s municipal population peaked at 1.8 million residents in postwar 1950 when America’s manufacturing base was at its glorious height. But just sixty years later the city’s size has plummeted to little more than 700,000 with a mass exodus of over 60% of the city’s population steadily leaving since 1950.

And now Detroit finds itself amidst a growing humanitarian crisis with 150,000 people currently living without any source of running water in their homes. And with upwards of 200-300,000 people possibly effected in the coming weeks and months, nearly half of Detroit residents could soon be without access to freshwater despite its front door on the Great Lakes being the largest freshwater system on earth. Since March this year the city’s water and sewerage company has made the coldhearted decision to simply start shutting off the water supply to any people in Detroit who cannot pay their water bill. At a rate of 3000 customers per week over the last several months, the city’s residents have been losing their source of running water in our nation’s poorest city with 42.3% of its inhabitants living under the poverty level.

A year ago last July Detroit became the first city of its size forced to file bankruptcy. The urban decline of the once greatness that was Detroit is also mirrored in America’s rural decline of the nearby Great Plains. But this lack of water issue for thousands of people carries implications of a serious human rights violation being committed in the richest nation on earth. This unfolding story is but yet another sad and disgraceful symptom of the country’s urban decay reflecting how rapid USA’s vapid freefall from greatness straight into Third World despair for America’s poor has actually become in 2014.

In 2010 the United Nations declared that water is a universal human right and that people denied access to lifesaving water clearly constitutes a serious human rights violation. Detroit families that have fallen on hard times, unable to keep up with two months of unpaid water bills as low as $150, for several months now have been forced to live without water. And now moving into the July heat of another long hot, global warming summer, the humanitarian crisis is about to boil over.

Try to imagine even for one day living your life without running water in your home. Attending the morning ritual of turning on the hot and cold water to take our daily warm shower is something that if we awake tomorrow and no water pours out of our faucet or shower head, it would be a shocking discovery and rudest of wake up calls to suddenly realize how much we Americans would be missing and taking our water for granted if our daily, seemingly endless supply of it was abruptly shut off and indefinitely gone.

In addition to our bathing, drinking, washing our hands, washing our produce clean, using water for preparing our meals, washing our dishes, doing our laundry, having water available to mop our floors and keep our house clean and even flush our toilets, all of these daily activities obviously require running water in our home. If one day we were suddenly forced to not have the convenience of our water with the turn of a knob available for all these must daily activities, our life would instantaneously be thrown into a virtual state of crisis. Feeling dirty, unshowered and unclean, most of us would not want to even leave the house or even face the day in that aversively uncomfortable state. Forced to eating dirty produce that increases health risks for potentially lethal bacterial infection, unable to prepare our regular meals, flush our wastes down the toilet, many of us would be in an instant panic and uproar suffering just one day without our constant, taken for granted need of our convenient running water supply.

Thousands of people in Detroit without water on tap are going very thirsty these days. Deprived of lifesaving water not only imposes unsanitary life conditions, less access to drinking water especially in hot weather can quickly become dangerously fatal with dehydration and heat stroke. Without water our daily lives would minimally be drastically inconvenienced in ways most of us have never even really known, imagined or experienced. Yet multitudes of our fellow Americans’ homes in Detroit along with places across America and even more so the world, unbeknownst to us who have taken water so much for granted all our lives, twenty-first century water has become the most precious and valuable natural resource on the entire planet.

Based on annual FBI database reports on violent crime, Forbes Magazine rated Detroit as the most dangerous US city(amongst populations of more than 200,000) for the fourth year in a row. The nearby smaller decimated city of Flint, also derailed by a downsized automated robotically operated auto industry, has the highest murder rate in the state. But with thousands upon thousands of abandoned homes left in ruin and chronically high unemployment rates – the highest among the largest US cities at 8.3% in May 2014, desperate impoverished Detroit citizens are vulnerably prone to gangs, drugs and crime.

What is happening in Detroit is happening in all of America’s cities. The war on poverty from the 1960’s has deteriorated into an all out war on the poor in twenty-first century America. The people of Detroit are metaphorically the canaries in the coal mine for the rest of us. The poor in this so called richest nation on earth have become the discard-able, disenfranchised class of Americans who are persona non grata in a country that appears to no longer care much about its less fortunate citizens when denied the human right of lifesaving water.

Privatization of such basic human rights as access to clean drinking water is rearing its ugly head all over the world, not just in far off lands like India and Equator or Africa. Pay or die has come home to roost here in America now too. The globalization and privatization of everything on earth has more and more of the world’s population sinking into highly impoverished, desperate lives where life is more than a daily struggle for survival.

In recent times the bottom has been falling out for many generations of middle class families that have become burdened paying a higher percentage of taxes per their income than the loop-holed upper class and especially the majority of the largest corporations that with offshore money laundering pay no income tax at all. The US federal government has forced middle class Americans against their will or choice to finance two very costly wars resulting in military defeats dragging on for more than a decade. Clearly also by design, the government’s priority to engage in perpetual Empire war around the world has been destroying America’s middle class. The manufactured false war on terror has bled them dry while straining and depleting an already shaky national economy still not recovering from the 2008 recession caused by greedy Wall Street and criminal banksters.

At the 2008 outset of the current recession, 53% of Americans still described themselves as middle class. In 2014 only 44% make that claim. Conversely, in 2008 only 25% of Americans considered themselves in the lower class while currently 40% now believe they are members of the lower class. What has been America’s traditional backbone, perennial strength and single greatest key to our nation’s success always rested squarely on the solid reliable shoulders of this country’s vibrant and robust middle class. But now it lies dead and dying, just like the beacon of light that America once was as the world’s greatest democracy.

Now America’s inner cities have become war zone ghettos where kids of color are killing other kids of color like there’s no tomorrow, because for too many of them, there literally is no tomorrow. Generations ago young residents from America’s poorest inner cities have been forced to give up on hope, forced to adapt to the gangland culture that offers the only way of getting ahead, even if it leads to only fleeting short lived success before a bullet in the head or a one way ticket to a lifelong prison sentence ends their lives. The lawlessness and desperate despair of such failed states created by American Empire in Libya is really no different from the US creation of the failed state that is right here in America’s urban war zones.

The war on poverty that began fifty years ago with President Lyndon Johnson’s state of the union address was lost before it ever got started. The economic deprivation created by the massive white flight movement to the suburbs starting back in the 1950’s has ever since left an empty vacuum in inner cities across urban America. And little to no concerted effort toward investment to restore economic prosperity in US cities has ever resulted. Instead, the federal government institutionalized a welfare state that has only widened the gap between the disenfranchised poor and the rest of America, only reactivating and reinforcing old racial stereotypes that unfairly and falsely believe African Americans are lazy and prefer to not seek gainful employment, a set-up whether intended or not for abysmal failure and racial re-polarization. If next to no jobs in inner cities were ever created due to lack of any actual job creation and business investment, and the created welfare system fostered inner city residents toward increased dependency in a no-win situation where opportunity toward financial independence is completely absent, the failed social engineering experiment went awry and only hurt America’s poor people far more than it ever helped.

LBJ stated his aim a half century ago, “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.” Though Johnson correctly identified the solution to the problem, like all US wars in the last fifty years, America lost its domestic war on poverty as well because it failed miserably in lifting the poor’s capacity to become independent. Without jobs and employment, there is no opportunity for progress in urban America.

US foreign policy has included criminal misappropriation and mismanagement of taxpayer revenue of six trillion dollars (and still rising) to finance imperialistic wars that have resulted in humiliating, costly US military defeats, US crimes against humanity, chaotic permanent failed states left in economic ruin, unspeakable tragic violence and human loss of life that still continue today with no end in sight. Strikingly similar, US domestic policy that has been the costly war on poverty squandering 20.7 trillion tax dollars has also been an enormous and disastrous failure in reducing poverty rates in America, which have remained unchanged at 15% since LBJ first launched his ambitiously doomed program a half century ago.

Another fifty year milestone this week is Johnson’s signing of the monumental Civil Rights Act. A number of courageous, mostly black Americans (though joined by white Americans as well) put their lives literally on the line protesting for racial equality during the 1950’s and early 60’s, culminating in legislation that outlawed discrimination ultimately aimed at equal protection of all groups, not only skin color but religion, age, gender and sexual persuasion as well. But let’s examine how African Americans have fared since legislation legally protecting them from unlawful prejudice and discrimination.

One potential barometer measuring African American progress since outlawing racial discrimination might be looking at the percentage of blacks currently living outside the legal system. And the fact that more young black men today are in prison than were slaves in 1850 speaks volumes, ushering in a new form of modern slavery in a new Jim Crowe era in America. Even way back in 1996, if you happen to be a 16-year old black male in America, you had a 30% chance of ending up dead or incarcerated. And that was nearly two decades ago. If conditions were that bad then, with nearly a one in three chance of death or imprisonment for every black 16-year old male, the war against both the poor and inner city black youth in particular in this nation has only escalated to unprecedented epidemic proportions in the last couple decades alone. As a young black man today, you are even far more of a marked man, tragically part of a dying breed of America’s men of color. Life as a young Hispanic male in America is not much better… or for that matter, anyone regardless of skin color who happens to be poor in America. Class warfare is very much alive and thriving in America today - of course all by calculated oligarch design.

Since nearly one in three African American males in his twenties is involved in the criminal justice system by way of incarceration, parole or probation, by that statistic alone little progress has been made, especially since back in 1960 just prior to the war on poverty and civil rights only 2.4% of black males between 16-35 were in prison. Back in 1960 blacks and Hispanics comprised just 38% of America’s prison population but by 2010 that number jumped up to 60% of the 2.3 million Americans in prison, by far the highest prison population in the world.

If a black in his twenties and early thirties does not have a high school diploma, he has a 40% chance of doing prison time, and a greater chance of prison than finding a job. Presently black Americans go to prison at a rate of six times the national average. Hispanic and African Americans are regularly stopped by police in traffic three times more often than are whites. Add to this disturbing mix a militarized police state engaging regularly in brutality toward the poor, and the odds of surviving life outside prison are made even more remote. All these alarming statistics perpetuate and cause poverty, and obviously it is only getting worse as time goes on.

It has been found that children raised in the growing number of single-parent homes that in recent decades have surpassed the number of nuclear family homes in the US are four times more likely to be living in poverty than children raised by married parents. When races are taken into account, African American families have the fewest number with fathers living in the home. For instance, in the nation’s capital Washington DC up to 84% of homes are minus a father.Over 70% of African Americans are born out of wedlock compared to only 41% of the general population. In contrast in 1963 only 6% of Americans were born to unmarried parents. Children who grow up without a father in the home are far more likely to suffer from a wide array of social and behavioral problems. In general 71% of all high school dropouts grow up in fatherless homes. The grave consequences persist throughout adulthood as well. Children raised by single parents are three times more likely to end up behind bars and 50% more likely to be poor as adults. Since 1980 25% of African Americans have grown up in a home where at least one of their parents was absent due to incarceration.

Since President Nixon declared his war on drugs, definitely another horrific US war lost, Americans arrested and serving in prison on drug charges has soared. Yet both drug use and abuse as well as drug availability in America has only increased many fold. And of course the US government has also been the biggest drug war profiteer. As of January 2013 over 50% of the nearly 200,000 inmates in federal prison are there because of drug offenses. Minor drug charges and nonviolent crimes have clogged and crowded both our courts and prisons beyond their capacity. Also nearly one in five federal inmates report committing their crimes in order to obtain money for drugs. Rather than excessive punitive punishment of drug addicts that clearly has not worked at all, drug treatment instead of prison is a no-brainer that would save billions in taxpayer dollars and be a far more effective and humane response. But of course the oligarch agenda is to fill up all the newly built and refurbished prisons in America. The war on the poor continues unabated.

Plus the war on drugs has been especially waged on the poor in the inner cities, thus largely the African American community. Though rates of drug addiction may not necessarily be higher, certainly drug availability and drug arrests are in America’s poorest economically disadvantaged cities. This only proves that the failed war on drugs seriously undermined, compounded and in effect doomed the so called war on poverty. Thousands of privatized prisons in America make large profits off the prison security complex. The profit motive has systematically sent increasing numbers of poor Americans from the decaying impoverished urban centers straight into the prison system, thus ensuring that today’s war on the poor will finally provide America a war it can win.

Because of this gross disparity in the justice system between races, access to such basic democratic rights as voting, fair housing and gainful employment have posed near insurmountable barriers that have branded and relegated a large percentage of Americans of color as second class, even sub-human citizens the rest of their lives targeted by legally sanctioned wholesale discrimination. Because they were born into a nation with such a longstanding history of institutionalized racism, economic and social inequality and gross injustice, all still widely practiced today despite the civil rights act and war on poverty, generation after generation become America’s fastest growing, invisible, disenfranchised underclass, supporting the cold hard reality – born in the ghetto, die in the ghetto. The utter lack of progress since 1964 proves unequivocally that people of color in America have only become casualties of their country’s war on poverty. And that is because the war on poverty since the 1970’s and 80’s became the war on drugs and now in the twenty-first century has morphed into an outright war on the nation’s poor.

The focus of this presentation has centered on a fiftieth anniversary of critical milestone legislation meant to “liberate” not just African Americans from being victimized by discrimination, but any group within the United States based on race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or socioeconomic class. The scope was necessarily limited to the here-and-now struggle of mostly African Americans in places like Detroit. But the thrust and purpose of this piece is to expose the truth surrounding the systematically executed war currently being waged on all poor people in not just the United States but in every nation on earth.

The oligarch NWO agenda behind every major news event in the world today, be it domestic or international, is a globalized full frontal assault on all humans everywhere currently inhabiting this planet. Oligarchs after all are equal opportunity murderers committing genocide against the entire human race. Their globalist agenda supersedes race, nationality, religion or culture. Eugenics is eugenics any way you slice it. Wholesale human slaughter – be it fast or slow – amounts to the same sinister motive and agenda, be it through Monsanto and GMO’s, chemtrails, fluoride, vaccines, war, famine, disease, civil and economic collapse, governmental tyranny and oppression simultaneously manifest through political destabilization, polarization, militarization, globalization and privatization. The particular strategic methodology implemented hardly matters when the diabolical objective and outcome are all the same.

 

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on hisunique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

Hacking Team Malware Targeted Saudi Arabia Protestors

July 3rd, 2014 by Pratap Chatterjee

Malicious software from Hacking Team of Italy that can be used to spy on cell phones has been found by Citizen Lab activists to have been used to target people in Saudi Arabia. The software was bundled into a fake phone application for Qatif Today, a local news site.

The discovery may shed light on a Wikileaks report that claimed Hacking Team sales people – notably a Lebanese citizen named Mostapha Maanna – made three trips to Saudi Arabia in 2012, soon aftermajor protests in the country.

Hacking Team, a company from Milan, is well known for selling technology to governments that can be used to create emails to target individuals by inviting them to click on a link or attachment which then installs a spy tool called Remote Control System (RCS) on the target’s computer. RCS (also known as DaVinci) can then copy the Web browsing history of its targets, turn on their computer microphone and webcam to eavesdrop on them, as well record their conversations on computer applications like Skype.

The new Hacking Team exploit that Citizen Lab researchers discovered was bundled into a fake Android phone app that purported to be from Qatif Today, a news web site in the eastern Saudi province that has a large Shia population.

The fake app was placed in a Dropbox account (since deleted) which visitors to a Twitter account were invited to download in March 2014. Once installed, the software was able to place itself in the heart of the phone where it could secretly make copies of phone activity to forward to two servers – one on Leaseweb in Germany and another on Linode in Japan.

“We found that the apps attempt to access the local files stored by popular social media, chat, and call apps including Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, LINE and QQ,” wrote the Citizen Lab researchers.

“In addition, the app accesses the locally stored mail files belonging to the compromised user’s mail account. We find a range of audio recording, camera, video, key logging, “live mic,” chat, device info etc. configuration settings relevant to the surveillance functionality of the implant. We also see what appear to be, location, screenshot-taking, and browsing activity modules.”

“With the internet we thought it was all going to be freedom and freedom of communication,” Morgan Marquis-Boire, a researcher at Citizen Lab, told Vice magazine. “But it’s giving governments the power to impose ancient ideologies with modern technology.”

Eric Rabe, a Hacking Team spokesman, did not deny the Citizen Lab allegations when asked for comment by the Associated Press. “We believe the software we provide is essential for law enforcement and for the safety of all in an age when terrorists, drug dealers and sex traffickers and other criminals routinely use the Internet and mobile communications to carry out their crimes,” Rabe said.

But Citizen Lab noted that the tool appeared to be aimed specifically at Shia dissidents in Saudi Arabia. Notably Qatif has a large Shia population which has long chafed under the Saudi monarchy and started to organize following the Arab Spring protests in 2011, using social media as a key way to distribute information.

Many of the Shia in Saudi Arabia have followed protests in neighboring Bahrain with great interest – not surprisingly where the link to the spy software was placed on a Twitter account with the handle @bh_pearl used by a human rights activist. (The name is a reference to the Pearl Roundabout in central Manama, Bahrain, where many anti-government protests take place)

There are 5,609 American schools within 200 feet of farm fields that may soon be blanketed with massive amounts of a toxic defoliant linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive and immune system problems.

That’s the finding of a new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis that shows that hundreds of thousands of children across the country will be at risk of increased exposure to the harmful chemical compound 2,4-D if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)approves a new weed killer mixture called “Enlist DuoTM” created by Dow AgroSciences (a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co.).

baby

That apparently doesn’t worry the EPA. But if these rural schools were full of plants rather than children, the agency would be concerned.

When it comes to dousing crops with noxious chemicals, the EPA focused on buffer zones for plants, not people—according to the agency’s recent risk analysis of Enlist Duo, which is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate. In its assessment, the EPA called for a 200-foot buffer zone to protect non-weed plants from the product but glosses over the health risks to children. (Read more about EWG’s analysis of how the EPA got it wrong.)

The agency is in the process of deciding whether to approve Enlist Duo for use on genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans designed to withstand blasts of 2,4-D and glyphosate. If the EPA gives the weed killer combo a thumbs-up, the amount of 2,4-D sprayed in the U.S. by 2020 would increase three-to-seven fold the amounts used today, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

EWG’s map (below) shows that more than 18,000 schools are situated within 1,000 feet of a corn or soybean field that could potentially be sprayed with 2.4-D. And nearly one-third of them (5,609 schools) are much closer—within 200 feet! Forty-seven states have at least one school within 1,000 feet of a field growing corn or soybeans—and 41 states have at least one school within 200 feet.

Click on the image to access the map that shows locations of schools that are within 1,000 feet of soy and cornfields.

In its assessment, the EPA doesn’t mention schools. But it does take care to assess the risk to plants other than the weeds Enlist Duo is designed to kill (so-called “non-target plants”) if the mixture were to drift off the fields where it’s sprayed. If you’re a plant, the EPA thinks you might be in danger even at a distance of 1,000 feet. But Dow scientists promised the EPA that Enlist Duo won’t drift that far. The EPA took them at their word and concluded that if you’re a plant, you can be safe as close as 202 feet from a sprayed field—assuming the farmer sprays Dow’s proprietary Enlist Duo formulation and not any other 2,4-D formulation (and follows all the instructions on the label.)

Even if 2,4-D doesn’t travel more than 200 feet from a field where it’s used, Enlist Duo would put thousands of rural school children at risk. That’s not a trivial matter. Human exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to a number of health risks, including thyroid, immune system and reproductive problems, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Parkinson’s disease.

The EPA’s assessment also doesn’t focus on the possibility of people inhaling 2,4-D, even though that’s one of the primary routes of exposure. Children in schools and daycare facilities closest to fields would be at increased risk whenever spraying takes place—both when school is in session and when children use the playgrounds or ball fields during summer break.

The 10 states with the most schools within 200 feet of cropland growing corn and soybeans are:

Note: The draft label for Enlist Duo includes proposed registration for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Dow AgroSciences says it is working with the EPA to expand the list of states.

Note: The draft label for Enlist Duo includes proposed registration for Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Dow AgroSciences says it is working with the EPA to expand the list of states.

The village of Kondrashovka in eastern Ukraine lies devastated after shelling by Kiev troops which killed seven people. Bodies torn to pieces are strewn across the settlement and those who survived are asking: why did Kiev kill their families?

Shells devastate entire streets in eastern Ukrainian town (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

At least five shells hit the settlement, destroying an entire street in the peaceful Lugansk region community, 25km from the city of Lugansk.

Dramatic RT footage shows the ravaged village, including a local resident’s backyard which was literally transformed into a grave.

“They killed my mother, and my father is injured. I took him to hospital,” Aleksandr Mironenko told RT’s Marina Finoshina, one of the few journalists to report from the scene.

Aleksandr was desperately going around the place, showing pieces of human flesh scattered all across the property. “Come here – can you see this? It’s a human body which has been torn to pieces. Let’s go and film some more, I’ll show you. Bodies everywhere, obviously all of them are terrorists!” he said sarcastically through tears. Just next door, Kondrashovka residents are telling a tragic story of their friend, who lost his 5-year-old son. “He celebrated his son’s fifth birthday yesterday, and today, the boy’s leg was cut off – I don’t know if he’s alive or not,” said Sergey, a neighbor. “No, no, he died, said another man. “He died? Yes. Then he died,” adds Sergey.  

The streets of Kondrashovka devastated by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

Image: The streets of Kondrashovka devastated by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

Few of the village residents were left unharmed by the shelling. One of ‘the lucky ones,’ Andrey, said his family was not home when the shelling started. However, his property was badly damaged. He showed RT the holes from the shells in the fence. “What do I think? ‘Thank you, Ukrainian Air Force’,” he said, adding that his family would have died had they been there when the attack hit. Stunned residents ask why the government is targeting their peaceful village. Kiev troops claimed they were killing ‘terrorists’, although here that term would include women, children and the elderly. “Why? There was nobody here – only peaceful civilians, poor people who worked from dawn till dusk,” says a local woman. “We are peaceful. We don’t mind Poroshenko being in office,” says Irina Stasyuk, a local resident, “But don’t kill us. There are 12 people here.”

Yury, a veteran military pilot, had his own opinion on why the troops targeted the village. He said the aircraft targeted a self-defense base, but either missed or intentionally fired on civilian dwellings.

“The first time the aircraft pilot got it right – there is a self-defense base 3km from here. He hit it,” said Yury. “But the second time, he pulled the trigger a few seconds late – either by mistake, or he received an order to target this village. I don’t know.”

The streets of Kondrashovka devastated by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

Image: The streets of Kondrashovka devastated by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

In the meantime, pro-Kiev Azov Battalion deputy commander admitted that the bombardment of Kondrashovka might have been the result of “pilot error.”

“I think there was both pilot error and shelling from outside,” Igor Mosyichuk told Ukraine’s 112 Channel, adding that Kondrashovka turned out to be “between a rock and a hard place” – people’s self-defense forces and Kiev troops.

Even after the attack, the rest of the village is not safe, as during the interviews the cannonade can be distinctly heard.

The village of Kondrashovka destroyed by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

Image: The village of Kondrashovka destroyed by Kiev troops (Still from RT video)

RT crew visited the local hospital where there was no water and electricity since the local power station was hit in another air raid.

“We received 13 people – four of them are already dead, including a five-year-old, a boy,” Maksim Pavlov from the central hospital told RT.

Among the injured is Ivan Mironenko, a father of Aleksandr, a local resident who earlier spoke to RT.

After Ivan lost his wife in the attack, he doesn’t want to live anymore, saying he sees no point.

“Why was she killed? Why not me? Why is God punishing me like this?” exclaims Ivan, sobbing.

Russian authorities strongly condemned the attacks of eastern Ukrainian civilians by Kiev forces.

Moscow demands that Ukrainian authorities stop shelling civilian objects in the country in order to save the lives of local people, said Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at a press conference with his Moroccan counterpart.

The Western countries should urge Kiev to follow the declaration approved in Berlin which calls for the formation of a special contact group aiming at establishing a truce in Ukraine,” he added.

A roadmap of measures that will point a way out of the Ukrainian crisis has been agreed during four-way talks between the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine on July 2.

The regions of eastern Ukraine have been continuously targeted by Kiev troops in recent months. On Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said that 279 people have died in the nearby Donetsk Region since the start of fighting this spring – 160 of them civilians. Figures for Lugansk Region have not been revealed.

Fearing a deepening of the crisis, scores of refugees have left the country. The number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has reached 110,000 people, the UN’s refugee department stated on June 27.

View video here

The New York Times in its article, “Obama Requests Money to Train ‘Appropriately Vetted’ Syrian Rebels,” stated:

President Obama requested $500 million from Congress on Thursday to train and equip what the White House is calling “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition, reflecting increased worry about the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq.

The reportage is a stunning entanglement of contradictions, claiming that the additional funding for terrorists fighting in Syria will somehow address “spillover” that is in fact a direct result of US, NATO, and their Persian Gulf collaborators’ creation, expansion, and perpetuation of the war in Syria in the first place.

The NYT also stated:

The training program would be a significant step for a president who has consistently resisted providing military aid to the rebels in the conflict in Syria, and has warned of the dangers of American intervention. But military and State Department officials indicated that there were not yet any specific programs to arm and train the rebels that the money would fund, nor could administration officials specify which moderate Syrian opposition members they intended to train and support, or where they would be trained.

Despite the NYT’s attempt to portray the US as having “consistently resisted providing military aid” to terrorists operating along and within Syria’s borders, the US, UK, NATO, and the Persian Gulf monarchies have provided terrorists hundreds of millions in aid, including weapons, equipment, and even vehicles. NATO-member Turkey has also provided air and artillery cover for terrorists during cross border operations including most recently in the northwest village of Kessab.

And despite assurances that these hundreds of millions in aid was going to similarly “vetted” “moderates,” terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have achieved uncontested primacy among militant groups fighting in Syria. If the US and its regional collaborators have provided “moderates” with hundreds of millions in aid, who has provided Al Qaeda with even more to explain their now state-sized holdings not only in Syria but now in northern Iraq?

The answer is simple. There never were any moderates to begin with. An Independent article titled, “‘I am not fighting against al-Qa’ida… it’s not our problem’, says West’s last hope in Syria,” claims:

Speaking from a safe house on the outskirts of the Turkish town of Antakya, Jamal Maarouf, the leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) told The Independent that the fight against al-Qa’ida was “not our problem” and admitted his fighters conduct joint operations with Jabhat al-Nusra – the official al-Qa’ida branch in Syria.

And even with the Independent quoting the would-be recipients of yet hundreds of millions more in Western aid, admitting they work in tandem with Al Qaeda which is now cutting a swatch of horror and mayhem across neighboring Iraq, the truth is from the very beginning, years in fact before the so-called “Arab Spring” even began, the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia conspired to overthrow Iran and its arch of influence, including the government of Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and surely the Iran-leaning government in Baghdad, by organizing, funding, and arming sectarian militants including Al Qaeda itself.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection” prophetically stated (emphasis added):

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

Throughout the rest of Hersh’s nine-page report, which came out 4 years before the so-called “Arab Spring” unfolded, is outlined in specific detail how the West and its regional allies including Israel and Saudi Arabia, were already funneling in cash and arraying armed sectarian extremists against Hezbollah inside of Lebanon and against the government of Syria. Hersh’s report even included a retired CIA agent who portended the sectarian nature of the impending, regional conflict.

There is no denying that this premeditated conspiracy described in 2007 has now been brought to full fruition in the form of a increasingly horrific sectarian conflict the West is now poised to further expand by injecting a half-billion dollars into terrorist operations in direct support of ISIS campaigns on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border. For the NYT to claim injecting more cash and weapons into efforts to topple governments currently fighting Al Qaeda’s various regional franchises is some sort of attempt to contain “spillover” is disingenuous at best, and at worst a poor attempt to cover up what is essentially Washington’s open state sponsorship of the largest terrorist force ever assembled in modern history.

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

Monsanto, the world’s largest genetically modified (GM/GMO) seed producer, has been at the centre of controversy for decades as evidence of the harmful effects on humans of GM foods continues to mount.  Joined with the likes of DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Syngenta, Monsanto and partners comprise the corporate nexus of Big-Agri, where the control over our food supply is increasingly transferred into the hands of private trans-national corporations as opposed to local farmers and governments.

A US peer-reviewed study conducted last year which was published in the scientific journal Entropy, linked Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup – which is the most popular weed killer in the world – to infertility, cancers and Parkinsons Disease amongst other ailments. The authors of the study were Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. and a former private environmental government contractor. The main ingredient in Roundup is the “insidious” glyphosate, which the study found to be a deeply harmful chemical:

“Glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body [...] Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease” (Samsel and Seneff, 2013).

The Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) Jeffrey M. Smith has discovered a link between gluten disorders and GM foods in a study he conducted last year. Gluten disorders have sharply risen over the past 2 decades, which correlates with GM foods being introduced into the food supply. Smith asserts that GM foods – including soy and corn – are the possible “environmental triggers” that have contributed to the rapid increase of gluten disorders that effect close to 20 million American’s today:

“Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders [...] If glyphosate activates retinoic acid, and retinoic acid activates gluten sensitivity, eating GMOs soaked with glyphosate may play a role in the onset of gluten-related disorders” (Smith, 2013).

One of the more damming studies on the safety of GM foods was led by biologist Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, which was the first study to examine the long term affects on rats that had consumed Monsanto’s GM corn and its Roundup herbicide. The study was conducted over a 2 year period – which is the average life-span of a rat – as opposed to Monsanto’s usual period of 90 days. The peer-reviewed study found horrifying effects on the rats health, with a 200% to 300% increase in large tumours, severe organ damage to the kidney and liver and 70% of female participant rats suffered premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4 to 7 months into the research, highlighting the need for longer trials.

Initially the study was published in the September issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology, but was then later retracted after the publisher felt the study was “inconclusive”, although there was no suspicion of fraud or intentional deceit. Dr. Seralini strongly protested the decision and believed “economic interests” were behind the decision as a former Monsanto employee had joined the journal. Monsanto is infamous for employing swaths oflobbyists to control the political, scientific and administrative decisions relating to the organisation, and this incident was a major whitewash by the GM producer to stop the barrage of negative media reports relating to the toxic effects of their products. The study led by Dr. Seralini was later published in a less well renowned journal, the Environmental Sciences Europe, which reignited the fears of GM foods safety.

France has recently implemented a ban on Monsanto produced maize (MON810) – a different variety of the Monsanto GM corn that was discussed in the study above (NK603) – citing environmental concerns as the reason for the ban. France joins a list of countries including Italy and Poland who have imposed bans on GM corn over the past few years. Additionally, Russian MPs have introduced a draft into parliament which could see GM producers punished as terrorists and criminally prosecuted if they are deemed to have harmed the environment or human health. In India, many of the GM seeds sold to Indian farmers under the pretext of greater harvests failed to deliver, which led to an estimated 200,000 Indian farmers committing suicide due to an inability to repay debts.

There is growing evidence to support the theory that bee colonies are collapsing due to GM crops being used in agriculture, with America seeing the largest fall in bee populations in recent years. Resistance to Monsanto and GM foods has been growing in recent years after the launch of the worldwide ‘March Against Monsanto’ in 2012, which organises global protests against the corporation and its toxic products within 52 countries. Monsanto was also voted the ‘most evil corporation’ of 2013 in a poll conducted by the website Natural News, beating the Federal Reserve and British Petroleum to take the top position.

Monsanto Produced and Supplied Toxic Agent Orange

Researching Monsanto’s past reveals a very dark history that has been well documented for years. During the Vietnam War, Monsanto was contracted to produce and supply the US government with a malevolent chemical for military application. Along with other chemical giants at the time such as Dow Chemical, Monsanto produced the military herbicide Agent Orange which contained high quantities of the deadly chemical Dioxin. Between 1961 and 1971, the US Army sprayed between 50 and 80 million litres of Agent Orange across Vietnamese jungles, forests and strategically advantageous positions. It was deployed in order to destroy forests and fertile lands which provided cover and food for the opposing troops. The fallout was devastating, with Vietnam estimating that 400,000 people died or were maimed due to Agent Orange, as well as 500,000 children born with birth defects and up to 2 million people suffer from cancer or other diseases. Millions of US veterans were also exposed and many have developed similar illnesses. The consequences are still felt and are thought to continue for a century as cancer, birth defects and other diseases are exponential due to them being passed down through generations.

Today, deep connections exist between Monsanto, the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ and the US Government which have to be documented to understand the nature of the corporation. On Monsanto’s Board of Directors sits the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the giant war contractor Lockheed Martin, Robert J. Stevens, who was also appointed in 2012 by Barack Obama to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. As well as epitomising the revolving door that exists between the US Government and private trans-national corporations, Stevens is a member of the parallel government in the US, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). A second board member at Monsanto is Gwendolyn S. King, who also sits on the board of Lockheed Martin where she chairs the Orwellian ‘Ethics and Sustainability Committee”. Individuals who are veterans of the corporate war industry should not be allowed control over any populations food supply! Additionally, Monsanto board member Dr. George H. Poste is a former member of the Defense Science Board and the Health Board of the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the CFR.

Bill Gates made headlines in 2010 when The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bought 500,000 Monsanto shares worth a total of $23 million, raising questions as to why his foundation would invest in such a malign corporation. William H. Gates Sr. – Bill’s father – is the former head of Planned Parenthood and a strong advocate of eugenics– the philosophy that there are superior and inferior types of human beings, with the inferior type often sterilised or culled under the pretext of being a plague on society. During his 2010 TED speech, Bill Gates reveals his desire to reduce the population of the planet by “10 or 15 percent” in the coming years through such technologies as “vaccines”:

“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really good job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent” (4.37 into the video).

In 2006, Monsanto acquired a company that has developed – in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture – what is popularly termed terminator seeds, a future major trend in the GM industry. Terminator Seeds or suicide seeds are engineered to become sterile after the first harvest, destroying the ancient practice of saving seeds for future crops. This means farmers are forced to buy new seeds every year from Big-Agri, which produces high debts and a form of servitude for the farmers.

Sources:

Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff (2013) – Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases†

Jeffrey M. Smith (2013) – Are Genetically Modified Foods a Gut-Wrenching Combination?

New research suggests that the chemical BPA changes how genes function in the mammary glands of rats exposed in their mother’s womb, leaving them more vulnerable to breast cancer later in life.

The mother rats were injected with amounts that “we would expect to find in humans,” said Dr. Ana Soto, a Tufts University professor and senior author of the study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study is the first to examine what impact fetal exposure to bisphenol A has on the DNA of mammary glands as they age. The researchers said their findings indicate that exposure to low amounts of the ubiquitous chemical, which mimics estrogen, might cause permanent changes in gene activity that lead to breast cancer.

“We saw the mammary glands start to develop in an erroneous way,” Soto said. “The glands later on had increased probability of getting cancer.”

Soto previously reported that female rats exposed to BPA while in the womb were more likely to have pre-cancerous lesions in their mammary glands. The new findings suggest that this is likely due to epigenetic changes, which are heritable changes in how genes are activated.

BPA is used to make polycarbonate plastics, as well as the liners of some canned foods and beverages, paper receipts and dental sealants. It is found in nearly all people tested.

The rat studies should be a red flag for humans, said Michael Skinner, a professor and researcher at Washington State University who specializes in epigenetics. Skinner was not involved in the study.

Image: About 230,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

“Biology is extremely conserved for all mammals. From rats to mice to humans to primates, we all have almost exactly the same organ system and very similar endocrinology,” Skinner said.

Breast cancer affects about one out of every eight U.S. women. An estimated 230,000 are diagnosed with the disease each year. Women are at higher risk as they age, or if they are heavy drinkers, obese or have “inherited genetic alterations,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

The new research doesn’t mean BPA causes cancer; rather it could increase their risk, Skinner said.

“The actual steps to getting breast cancer don’t change,” Skinner said. “But if you affect 500 or so genes in any cell, you’re going to have abnormal cell biology, therefore making it more susceptible to disease.”

Epigenetic changes do not alter “what’s written and etched in stone in DNA” but rather how the “genetic blueprint is transcribed into new copies,” said Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke, a professor at Duke University Medical Center who was not involved in the study.

BPA seems to change how genes express themselves – or turn on and off – in several different tissues. These changes are permanent, can manifest later in life and can be passed to future generations even if they are unexposed, Liedtke said.

Chemical industry representatives have said that BPA, used in plastics for half a century, is safe because people are exposed to low doses and it leaves the body quickly. They also take issue with the way that lab animals are exposed.

“Injection of BPA into laboratory animals is of limited relevance to human health,” Steven Hentges, a representative at the American Chemistry Council, said in a prepared statement.

Soto, however, disagreed. The exposure route is not what’s most important in these studies, rather the amount of BPA in the rodents that hasn’t been metabolized, she said. “We measured plasma levels in this study and found that the free or unmetabolized BPA level is a level that’s within those reported in humans,” Soto said.

It’s not the first time fetal BPA exposure has triggered changes in gene activity in lab animals. The chemical impaired genetic function of the prostates of male rats exposed to low doses as a fetus, according to one study. The changes left the male rats at higher risk for prostate cancer.

Previous studies have found other problems for female rodents exposed to BPA while still developing in the womb, including early onset of puberty, earlyvaginal opening, increased body weight, decreased hormone levels and reduced fertility.

Soto said the sum of all of these health problems should prompt alarm over BPA exposure.

“We should all be concerned,” she said. “BPA does so many things. The sheer amount of health effects we see means it’s affecting too many targets.”

Likud MK Miri Regev had a fairly successful career as a wordsmith back when she was the IDF Spokesperson — before becoming even better known for calling African asylum seekers “a cancer in Israel’s body.” She later apologized to cancer victims for the analogy.

On Wednesday, Regev made a new addition to the list of insane Israeli uses of language — by herself and countless other politicians and officials — by inventing new types of terrorism.

Put simply, most terrorism involves explosions or shooting. There are exceptions, of course, but generally they do not include at least five out of the six following types of terrorism invented by Israeli officials in recent years.

6. Diplomatic terrorism. When PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went to the UN to seek statehood for the Palestinians in 2012, Israel’s foreign minister was livid. In addition to calling Abbas a “a liar, a coward and a weakling,” Liberman described the PLO chairman’s UN bid as “diplomatic terrorism.” It only got stranger. “Between diplomatic terror and conventional terror,” Liberman told the entire Israeli diplomatic corps, “diplomatic terror is more serious.”

5. Economic terrorism. The BDS movement has been gaining momentum in recent years. So when the EU announced new settlement guidelines to ensure that it’s own money doesn’t end up in settlements, which it considers illegal, Israel got a little worked up. Before becoming Israel’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett served in two of Israel’s most elite reconnaissance and counter-terrorism units, so one might be tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows what terrorism is. At least until he called the EU settlement guidelines “economic terrorism.”

4. Legal terrorism. Israel is a small country and it can feel a little suffocating after a while, especially in August. So it’s no surprise that Israelis love to travel. Threatening the ability to travel of Israel’s closest thing to royalty, its army generals, would indeed be terrifying. So when seeking war crimes charges against top military officials came back en vogue following the deadly Mavi Marmara raid in 2009, it was only natural that the IDF described efforts to enforce international law as “legal terrorism.”

3. Gastrointestinal terrorism. Israel arrests a lot of Palestinians. Let’s face it, is it entirely Israel’s fault that in order to maintain an undemocratic military occupation over a foreign people for 47 years it has been forced to put 40 percent of the male Palestinian population in prison? So it’s no wonder that Israel has also been forced to deal with a hunger strike or two. MK Miri Regev (Likud), during discussions of how best to force-feed Palestinian prisoners, described hunger strikes as “terrorism in prison.” Yup, all you have to do to become a terrorist these days is stop eating.

2. Self-inflicted terrorism. The Shin Bet puts out a yearly report about “data and trends in Palestinian terrorism.” In its report on 2009, the year of Operation Cast Lead, there was one line of very confusing data. According to the Shin Bet, 15 people died in terrorist attacks in 2009, nine of them during Cast Lead. What types of attacks, you ask? According to page four of the Shin Bet report: “Five civilians and soldiers were killed by high-trajectory launchings and four soldiers were killed by friendly fire.” Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. At least according to official Israeli logic, the soldiers were killed in the fight against terror, and Israel has always described attacks against soldiers as terrorism — a separate yet hugely problematic implication in and of itself. But that doesn’t explain an even stranger classification that came a year later when the Defense Ministry classified as a “victim of terror” a Jewish settler rabbi who was mistakenly shot to death by an Israeli soldier who thought he was shooting at Palestinians.

1. Journalistic terrorism. When CBS’s “60 Minutes” did a feature on the plight of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land a few years ago, Israel went on a diplomatic and public relations offensive (or defensive, I suppose). Then Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren led the defensive, trying to place the blame for the Christian exodus from the Holy Land on the Palestinians instead of on Israel. The campaign went too far on-record. But it was an off-record comment by an Israeli official that takes the cake. Speaking to The Forwardthe official likened CBS’s documentary news program to “a strategic terror attack.” I’m not quite sure what that means, but its absurdity landed it the number-one spot on this list.

Those terrorists… what will they think of next!?

Document Casts Doubt over Accuracy of US Reports from Tehran — and Adds to Debate over Responsibility for the Coup

On August 16, 1953, the same day the Shah of Iran fled to Baghdad after a failed attempt to oust Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the agitated monarch spoke candidly about his unsettling experience to the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. In a highly classified cable to Washington, the ambassador reported: “I found Shah worn from three sleepless nights, puzzled by turn of events, but with no (repeat no) bitterness toward Americans who had urged and planned action. I suggested for his prestige in Iran he never indicate that any foreigner had had a part in recent events. He agreed.”

Despite the passage of more than six decades, fundamental questions persist about Mosaddeq’s overthrow, including who was responsible for this milestone event in Iranian history. The above cable, which was previously published but with these key passages excised for secrecy reasons, is one of several important pieces of evidence pointing to the United States role.

Nevertheless, the question of how important the U.S. and British were in the events of 1953 has recently come under intensified scrutiny. An article in the July/August 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs by noted Iran analyst Ray Takeyh is the latest in a series of analyses by respected scholars who conclude Iranians, not the CIA or British intelligence, were fundamentally responsible.

In the course of explaining “What Really Happened in Iran,” however, the piece spotlights some of the risks of writing about such sensitive historical events, particularly when they involve covert intelligence operations. In particular — how do you know when to trust your sources?

Today’s brief posting is by no means a full assessment or refutation of this argument. (In the interests of disclosure, the author believes the evidence shows that both the CIA — with British help — and Iranians themselves were critical in their own ways to the end result[1]). Instead, the posting mainly points out one of the peculiar challenges confronting historians of 1953, especially on the question of the U.S. and British roles.

Image: U.S. Ambassador to Tehran Loy W. Henderson (1951-1954). (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The challenge is simply that U.S. and British reporting about the coup cannot be taken strictly at face value. The main reason is secrecy. President Eisenhower underscored the need for confidentiality in a diary entry from the time. Dated October 8, 1953, but referring back to August 19, Eisenhower notes:

“Another recent development that we helped bring about was the restoration of the Shah to power in Iran and the elimination of Mossadegh. The things we did were ‘covert.’ If knowledge of them became public, we would not only be embarrassed in that region, but our chances to do anything of like nature in the future would almost totally disappear.” (See Document 1)

Because of that concern, even internal U.S. records (not just those aimed at public audiences, such as Kermit Roosevelt’s memoir, Countercoup) sometimes cast events in a particular light, exaggerated them, or omitted key facts for the sake of protecting the operation.

A case in point is U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson’s August 20 preliminary report to the State Department on the events surrounding the coup (Document 2), which the Foreign Affairs article cites. Henderson, initially opposed to the coup plan, was eventually read into the program in detail. Yet, he makes no mention whatsoever of the various CIA-planned activities, either in terms of their effectiveness or the lack thereof. Instead, he writes as if there had been no such activities at all.

Why? Because very few officials knew about the plans, including in the State Department, certain quarters of which were still innocently proposing approaches to Mosaddeq after the operation had been put into play. Henderson was not about to jeopardize operational security by divulging secrets in a reporting cable he knew would attract wide attention within the Department. Therefore, even if his expression of surprise at the size of the crowds on August 19 was genuine — and there is reason to believe it was overstated (see Document 2 description below) — it cannot be assumed he was telling the full story as he knew it, much less that he believed the covert operation had been immaterial.

Henderson’s follow-up cable (Document 3) to the Department the next day, August 21, makes this point even more starkly. In it, he coyly reports that “Unfortunately impression becoming rather widespread that in some way or other this Embassy or at least US Government has contributed with funds and technical assistance to overthrow Mosadeq and establish Zahedi Government.” Since he knew all about the plans, this could only have been a deliberate attempt to protect the operation from wider disclosure.

The British engaged in the same Orwellian exercise. An example is the British Foreign Office report to the Cabinet shortly after the coup (Document 4). It also makes no mention of the joint clandestine operation, the success or failure of which would have been of high interest to anyone with access to it.

Image: Ann K.S. Lambton, noted British Iran specialist and advocate of Mosaddeq’s ouster. (Photographer unknown)

For a better idea of how some British Iran watchers thought London should act during this period, see Document 5 from two years before the coup. In a conversation with a Foreign Office colleague, the venerable Ann Lambton brusquely spells out her preferences for how to deal with Mosaddeq — i.e. to “under-mine” him using “covert means” in order to “create the sort of climate in Tehran which is necessary to change the regime.”

The desire to keep information about the operation hidden has continued long after the fact. It is worth recalling that the single most important compilation of U.S. records about the overthrow — Foreign Relations of the United States, Volume X, “Iran,” 1951-1954 — became a symbol of historical manipulation when it was published in 1989 without a single reference to the American or British parts in the operation. (The State Department Historian’s Office expects to produce a “retrospective” volume in Summer 2014, which reportedly will contain CIA and other previously withheld documents that will shed new light on American thinking and activities during the coup period.)

The final document in this posting (Document 6) is an August 17, 1953, cable from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad reporting on the ambassador’s meeting with the Shah who had just fled Iran that day. Although it deals with events prior to the second coup attempt (which is the focal point for those arguing the case for Iranian responsibility), the cable makes it clear the Shah was fully aware of the importance of the U.S. in recent events (see description below). The document first appeared in the FRUS volume above, but the key portions mentioned here were excised. The unexpurgated document, obtained from files at the National Archives and Records Administration, is presented in this posting.

These examples do not presume to deal with all the arguments made in Foreign Affairs or elsewhere by others with a similar take on the subject. They also certainly do not represent every instance of questionable sourcing that exists on the overthrow. But the documents below do point up a major wrinkle that anyone interested in the 1953 coup must take into account.

The Documents

Document 1: Dwight Eisenhower, Diary entry, October 8, 1953, Secret

Source: Eisenhower Library

The section of this diary entry dealing with Iran sums up President Eisenhower’s understanding of events at the time. In a Weekly Standard piece in 2013 that closely parallels his Foreign Affairs article, Ray Takeyh implies that Eisenhower did not believe Kermit Roosevelt’s account, quoting the diary as saying the CIA agent’s report “seemed more like a dime novel than an historical fact.” However, the full passage makes clear the president accepted Roosevelt’s version without reservation, commenting on “exactly how courageous our agent was in staying right on the job [after the first attempt] and continuing to work until he reversed the entire situation.”

 

Document 2: Loy Henderson, Cable #416 to the State Department, August 20, 1953, noon. Confidential

Source: FRUS

This preliminary report on the events of recent days is suspect as a full and accurate record since it avoids any reference to U.S. involvement, even though that fact was well known to Henderson and others at the Embassy. That makes it more difficult to assess the rest of the detailed rundown of events it provides. The summary may well reflect the true beliefs or best information available to the Embassy, but without any sense of the sources used there is reason to be guarded. For one thing, the situation was by most accounts still highly fluid. Even the Americans and British were worried that the Tudeh might mount a serious counter-attack, and showed frustration that Zahedi had not been more effective in forestalling that possibility. Furthermore, it was entirely in line with the goals of the covert operation (regardless of one’s views about its efficacy) to present the events of 28 Mordad in as positive a light as possible, including portraying it as entirely spontaneous and far-reaching.

In that regard, a lingering question requiring further clarification — even after all these years — is what the true size of the crowds was. The scholar Ali Rahnema in a forthcoming book gives a detailed breakdown of the demonstrations on August 19.[2] Among other sources, he notes that even the pro-Zahedi press (Dad) came up with a crowd figure of 7,000. If accurate, that hardly compares to the numbers given for various Tudeh marches (e.g., in July 1952 and 1953), and would not by itself justify characterizing 28 Mordad as a major revolt.

 

Document 3: Loy Henderson, Cable #436 to the State Department, August 21, 1953, 2:00 p.m. Secret

Source: FRUS

Beyond the opening passage quoted above, this cable is interesting for the arguments it advances in the second paragraph in favor of keeping mum about the question of foreign involvement in the overthrow — even to the point of declining to deny the charge. Prophetically, the author notes that the current government, “like all governments of Iran eventually will become unpopular and at that time US might be blamed for its existence.”

 

Document 4: Foreign Office, Brief for the Cabinet, “Persia,” August 25, 1953. Secret

Source: British National Archives

It is hard to know whether the author(s) of this briefing knew about the joint U.S.-British operation. Clearly, the Cabinet was meant to be kept in the dark about it. Much of the analysis in the memo sounds perfectly reasonable in retrospect — a fact that does not at all imply that those in the loop believed their role had been insignificant.

 

Document 5: E. A. Berthoud, Minute, “Persia,” June 15, 1951. Confidential

Source: British National Archives

Ann K.S. (Nancy) Lambton was a renowned scholar of Persian history and culture, well-connected with the British government, and regularly consulted on Iranian politics, especially during the Mosaddeq period. She reportedly had as little respect for the Shah as she did for the prime minister, whom she bluntly advocated overthrowing. Lambton proposes sending a colleague, Robin Zaehner, to Iran to put in place the pieces she sees as necessary to removing Mosaddeq. (Foreign Secretary Herbert Morrison did in fact assign Zaehner to help put together a coup plan.) Lambton’s comment that Zaehner “was apparently extremely successful” at advancing British interests through propaganda during the 1945-46 Azerbaijan crisis says a great deal about British assumptions about their power to influence events in Iran.

 

Document 6: U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Cable #92 to the Under Secretary, August 17, 1953. Top Secret / No Distribution

Source: National Archives and Records Administration

This cable from U.S. Ambassador Burton Y. Berry in Baghdad was classified Top Secret and directed personally to the Under Secretary of State. Given its audience of one, the author feels freer than Henderson evidently did in the above reports to be forthright about such sensitive topics as the Shah’s state of mind and his admissions concerning the U.S. role in the coup to that point. Interestingly, the Shah made several statements to Berry that showed his dependence on the guidance of a person he refers to only as “an American.” The cable notes this was “not (repeat not) an official of the State Department,” leading to this author’s conclusion it was probably Kermit Roosevelt. The ambassador also makes clear the Shah intends to continue to get “advice from his American friend” before taking any further steps — a small indication that calls into further question the idea that the U.S. role can be entirely dismissed even after the initial failure of the CIA-British plan.

For more information contact: Malcolm Byrne 202/994-7043 or [email protected]

 

Notes

[1] For a comprehensive statement of this view, see the Conclusion of Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, edited by Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne (Syracuse, 2004). See also the various previous postings linked at the top of this page.

[2] Ali Rahnema, Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran: Thugs, Turn-Coats, Soldiers, Spies (Cambridge University Press: November 2014).

Predictive technology is exploding, in stealth, across the virtual landscape. The arrival of Big Data initiatives by government, as well as a massive industry of data brokers is not only putting privacy at risk, but is offering those with access to the information unprecedented ways to manage the lives of everyday citizens.

Until this point, it has been a very tech-heavy subject inclined to produce glazed eyes when addressed. However, the viral story of Facebook using their algorithms to go beyond surveillance and actually manipulate the emotions of users as a type of psychology experiment has thrust these practices into the mainstream.

Certainly this experiment being conducted without the knowledge or consent of those involved is a huge breach of privacy and ethics. However, when it comes to policing and health, things really are turning Orwellian as thought “crimes” are now detectable with predictive technology.

The emergence of predictive policing and predictive healthcare has a single benefit that the Facebook example does not: the PR push that their tools are making people safer. Thus, the notion of Minority Report-style pre-crime has become a reality in both Illinois and California with no where near the pushback that is being expressed toward Facebook.

Concurrently, the medical field is merging with an array of wearable gadgetry that is flooding the consumer marketplace with millions of sensors to track vital signs in real time. Through the promise of both personal health attainment and medical threat alerts, people are embracing this tech in droves.

However, if you thought you were only monitoring yourself to perhaps make better personal choices, think again. A Bloomberg headline states: “Your Doctor Knows You’re Killing Yourself. The Data Brokers Told Her.” The article details what the data already shows about how your consumer purchases might indicate your lifestyle health index.

You may soon get a call from your doctor if you’ve let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of picking up candy bars at the check-out counter or begin shopping at plus-sized stores.

That’s because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do. Information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions can reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke. The largest hospital chain in the Carolinas is plugging data for 2 million people into algorithms designed to identify high-risk patients, while Pennsylvania’s biggest system uses household and demographic data. (emphasis added)

Now imagine giving them real-time data about your vital signs on top of that.

As Jon Rappoport detailed, this type of information is irresistible to control systems that are ripe for corruption. Embedded in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), there lies disturbing verbiage indicating that the personal options arising from wearable gadgets and consumer behavior may become government mandated in the near future. He cites two key quotes from a Managed Care article,“More Data in Health Care Will Enable Predictive Modeling Advances.”

Predictive modeling (PM) has grown to be a linchpin of care management. Health plans, integrated delivery systems, and other health care organizations (HCOs) increasingly channel their patients to interventions based in part on what they deduce from predictive models that have traditionally been run against databases of administrative claims. In this arena, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) [Obamacare] is likely to exert a profound effect.

…a growing number of health care experts, including the Care Continuum Alliance, see predictive modeling as an opportunity to prevent [disease] complications, control [hospital] readmissions, generate more precise diagnoses and treatments, predict risk, and control costs for a more diverse array of population segments than previously attempted. (emphasis added)

Mental health, of course, would not be excluded. This is where the entire surveillance-security-health complex begins to merge. Rappoport envisions the following scenario:

Oh, yes, in USA population sector A-2ab, we can view the electronic health records of 10,000 patients who are single, under 30, live at home with their parents, have a history of ignoring medical advice, display symptoms of ADHD, graduated college with less than a 3.0 grade average, have taken prescription pain meds within the last five years…according to statistics, this group stands a better than 65% chance of developing clinical depression within the next 6.23 years. Therefore, we should prescribe them prophylactic antidepressants now, to save money on more expensive treatments later. If we utilize our algorithm and adjust code 4aQ1 and code 7B2Ex, we’ll be able to pinpoint which patients in this group need medication immediately…

A recent report by NBC made the above fiction plausible. In a stunning admission, NBC reveals that Arizona police have a “Mental Health Support Team” that is prepared to involuntarily lock up people who seem likely to snap and commit acts of violence. These mental health police units look to harvest everything from medical records to gun purchases to online posts.

Now armed with data brokers, artificial intelligence algorithms, health databases merged with police, and the political will to implement all of it, we arrive at the latest: “Smartphone App May Revolutionize Mental Health Treatment.” The app has been developed by Tel Aviv University in Israel. The full press release must be read to be believed, as it reveals the crux of where all of this is heading (emphasis and parentheses mine).

Mental illness accounts for 90 percent of all reported suicides and places the largest burden of any disease on social and economic infrastructures worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. There is a dire need for support services to assist clinicians in the evaluation and treatment of those suffering from mental illness.

New technology developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University is poised to transform the way in which patients with mental illnesses are monitored and treated by clinicians.

Dr. Uri Nevo, research team engineer Keren Sela, and scientists from TAU’s Faculty of Engineering and Sagol School of Neuroscience have developed a newsmartphone-based system that detects changes in patients’ behavioral patterns, and then transmits them to professionals (and/or police? – N.W.) in real time. It has the potential to greatly improve the response time and efficacy of clinical psychiatrists. By facilitating patient observation through smartphones, the technology also affords patients much-needed independence from hospitals, clinicians — and even family members.

Research on the application was presented in March at the Israel Society for Biological Psychiatry’s annual conference. The project won funding from the Israeli Ministry of Economy and was recently chosen as one of four finalist start-up initiatives featured at Israel’s leading Entrepreneurship and Innovation 8200 Accelerator Program. The team is currently in talks with other medical centers in Israel and overseas to expand clinical trials.

Using tools already “in the hand” 

“The diagnosis of mental health disease is based only on behavioral patterns,” said Dr. Nevo. “In some cases, a patient is discharged from the hospital into a vacuum, with no idea how to monitor his or her new state of mind. Because most people own smartphones today, we thought, ‘Why not harness the smartphone, a reservoir of daily activities, to monitor behavioral patterns?’

“Bipolar disorder, for example, starts with a manic episode,” said Dr. Nevo. “A patient who usually makes five or ten calls a day might suddenly start making dozens of calls a day. How much they talk, text, how many places they visit, when they go to bed and for how long — these are all indicators of mental health and provide important insights to clinicians who want to catch a disorder before it is full blown.”

Researchers conducted two Helsinki-approved clinical trials with the cooperation and direction of leading psychiatrists from Geha Mental Health Center and Be’er Ya’acov Mental Health Center. In the trials, the application was installed on the smartphones of 20 patients suffering from bipolar, unipolar/depressive, or schizo-affective disorders, as well as on the phones of 20 healthy participants. Over the course of six months,the app acquired data from patients’ phones and sent the information to distant computers, where advanced algorithms analyzed the data to detect changes in patients’ sleep, communication, mobility, and vocal patterns. The researchers further developed a visualization system that displayed the summarized information to psychiatrists, providing them with instant insight into the behavioral trends of their patients.

Preserving patient privacy 

According to Dr. Nevo, a patient using the app has full control over who has access to the behavioral patterns recorded and analyzed by it. “We take great care to protect the patient’s privacy,” said Dr. Nevo. “The content of calls and texts is completely ignored and never acquired or recorded, and any identifying parameters of the patient or of his contacts, are irreversibly masked and are obviously not used.”

Psychiatrists in the trials reported that the system has already positively affected their interaction with patients, offering a useful objective “window” into the patient’s daily routine. One patient who was involved in the clinical trial for only a brief period recently suffered a hospitalization. “If I had kept the app on my phone, you would have immediately noticed the unusual number of phone calls I was making, and this hospitalization could have been prevented,” he told his psychiatrist.

“We have a way to go until such a system will be proven effective and adopted by the psychiatric community,” said Dr. Nevo. ”However, psychiatrists, as well as U.S. federal policymakers in the field, agree that such tools are necessary to improve psychiatric practice.”

The concluding patient privacy statement is riddled with every falsehood that we already know about how digital data is used by anyone who wishes to gain access.

The communications gadgets that we have purchased already have opened the door to our personal lives. But social engineers know that for the final prison grid to be built they must have full access to our minds. Now that these new tools are coming on the market, the full scope of their applications are being revealed.

Was there a cover-up surrounding the Pentagon’s direct funding of Facebook’s notorious mass psychological study in order to conceal the fact that the experiment’s true purpose was part of preparations to manipulate public opinion in times of civil unrest?

It now appears as though information indicating that the Department of Defense bankrolled the experiment was scrubbed from an online press release by Cornell University in order to hide the connection.

Here’s what we know for a fact to be true. Facebook’s mass psychological study, which proved that altering a user’s timeline feed was a successful method of causing emotional “contagion” to spread through the social network, was conducted in part by Cornell University’s Jeffrey T. Hancock, who was listed as one of the study’s authors.

However, an even more creepy connection between the Facebook experiment and the Pentagon has emerged after it was revealed that the original press release from Cornell highlighting the study included a passage at the bottom which read, “The study was funded in part by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Army Research Office.”

According to the Army Research Office’s official website, “Basic research proposals from educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private industry are competitively selected and funded,” as part of the Pentagon’s mission of “combating terrorism and new emerging threats.”

However, the text indicating the Facebook study was bankrolled by the Pentagon was later scrubbed from the website, with Cornell claiming it had made a mistake, an explanation that Jay Rosen, Journalism Professor at NYU, finds highly dubious.

“Why do I call this strange? Any time my work has been featured in an NYU press release, the PR officers involved show me drafts and coordinate closely with me, for the simple reason that they don’t want to mischaracterize scholarly work,” writes Rosen.

“So now we have to believe that Cornell’s Professor of Communication and Information Science, Jeffrey Hancock, wasn’t shown or didn’t read the press release in which he is quoted about the study’s results (weird) or he did read it but somehow failed to notice that it said his study was funded by the Army when it actually wasn’t (weirder).”

“I think I would notice if my university was falsely telling the world that my research was partially funded by the Pentagon… but, hey, maybe there’s an innocent and boring explanation that I am overlooking.”

The Pentagon’s involvement with a Facebook study which would have given the DoD a revealing insight into how to manipulate public dissatisfaction via social media during potential civil unrest would not be a surprising move given the Army’s obsession with anticipating domestic disorder.

As we previously highlighted, a 2008 study by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Institute warned that the United States may experience massive civil unrest in the wake of a series of crises which it has termed “strategic shock.” The recent Minerva Initiative project to predict disorder and its link to Facebook researcher Jeffrey T. Hancock is also a tantalizing connection.

“So it seems that Facebook and the U.S. military are likely working together to study civil unrest and work on ways to manipulate the masses into apathy or misguided feelings of contentment in the face of continued banker and oligarch theft. This is extremely disturbing, but this whole affair is highly troubling in spite of this,”

writes Michael Krieger.

 

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

A showdown from the June 29 episode ABC’s This Week went viral, as Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel decided to confront ABC pundit and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol over his stance on the Iraq War:

And I have to say, sitting next to Bill Kristol, man…. I mean, the architects of catastrophe that have cost this country trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, there should be accountability.

We should not–if there are no regrets for the failed assumptions that have so grievously wounded this nation, I don’t know what happened to our politics and media accountability. But we need it, Bill, because this country should not go back to war.

We don’t need armchair warriors.

It’s clearly a good thing that someone like Kristol is being held accountable for his Iraq advocacy. In the late 1990s, he helped found the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a think tank that played a critical role in planning and selling the Iraq War. His magazine was similarly devoted to the cause (Extra!, 9/09), including making the claim that Iraq and Al-Qaeda were in cahoots (Extra!, 1/04).

So kudos to vanden Heuvel for confronting Kristol.

But the more fundamental question to ask: Why is Bill Kristol sitting there in the first place?

Bill Kristol (cc photo Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)

Image: Bill Kristol – Is there a law that requires him to appear on national television? (cc photo Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)

This is not to say that people with Kristol’s political views should be banished from television studios. But very few people are paid serious money to talk about politics on television. Kristol, despite exhibiting poor judgment about politics and world affairs over the course of his career, is one of them.  He was disastrously wrong about Iraq, has a poor record of making predictions about electoral politics (FAIR Blog, 10/20/08), once went on TV to praise a George W. Bush speech he helped write (P.U.-Litzers, 12/20/05), was a key early supporter of making Sarah Palin a vice presidential candidate (New Yorker, 10/27/08), and so on.

But he’s never been at a loss for work. He was an ABC pundit in the 1990s. Then he shifted over to Fox News Channel for about a decade. For a brief time, he was a columnist for the New York Times–a strange choice, given that he supported a Justice Department investigation into the paper’s journalism  (New York Times, 1/13/08). When he left Fox in 2013, Kristol seemed to be a free agent, until ABC decided in February of this year to make him a contributor (TVNewser, 2/3/14).

But why? This Week executive producer Jonathan Greenberger was quoted by TVNewser saying that ”Bill makes our outstanding team of contributors and analysts even stronger,” and that he is an “original thinker with a unique perspective.”

There are plenty of unique, original thinkers who would be willing to talk about politics. Instead of hiring any of them, ABC pays someone who has been wrong about many things when it mattered. Indeed, on Kristol’s first appearance back on ABC, he offered a totally misleading rant in defense of New York City’s stop-and-frisk police tactics (FAIR Blog, 8/20/13).

The issues Katrina vanden Heuvel raised about Kristol’s record should have been important to any news outlet considering hiring him. A reasonable assessment of his record would have led them to hire someone else.

The only other possibility is that ABC is being forced to comply with a law that requires Bill Kristol appear on national television. If that’s not the excuse, then what is?

The Re-emergence of Japanese Militarism

July 3rd, 2014 by Peter Symonds

The July 1st decision by the Japanese cabinet to endorse a statement “reinterpreting” the country’s constitution to authorise “collective self-defence” marks a sharp turning point in the revival of Japanese militarism. Under the pretext of coming to the aid of other nations, the statement is a major step toward ending constitutional restraints on the use of military force, allowing Japanese imperialism to forge new military ties and wage wars of aggression in concert with its allies.

No one should be deceived by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s claims that the vaguely worded statement will ensure that the Japanese military will be a force for peace. Successive Japanese governments have already reinterpreted the constitution’s so-called pacifist clause, which formally renounced war and declared that armed forces would never be maintained, to enable Japan to build one of the world’s most formidable militaries. Now Abe is free to pursue what he terms “pro-active pacifism,” which is nothing other than the prosecution of Tokyo’s strategic and economic interests through diplomatic provocations and military means.

The Japanese announcement takes place in the context of a deepening world economic crisis that is fuelling geo-political rivalries and tensions across the globe. The immediate effect of the Abe government’s decision will be to give the green light for even closer Japanese collaboration in the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” and its preparations for war against China. The Pentagon’s strategic planners regard the US military bases in Japan as an essential component of any war with China.

Obama’s “pivot” has already turned East Asia into a tinderbox. Over the past four years, with Washington’s encouragement, Tokyo has transformed the dispute with Beijing over the Senkuku/Diaoyu islets—uninhabited, rocky outcrops in the East China Sea—from a minor issue that has been simmering for four decades into a dangerous flashpoint. Japanese and Chinese ships and aircraft today routinely engage in risky manoeuvres at close quarters that raise the prospect of an accident or miscalculation precipitating open conflict.

While Japan is currently pursuing its own objectives under the umbrella of the US alliance, there is no guarantee that will continue. In actively urging Japan’s remilitarisation for its own shortsighted aims, Washington appears to have forgotten that the two imperialist powers—the US and Japan—fought a bloody war from 1941 to 1945 that claimed the lives of tens of millions, precisely for domination over China and the Asia Pacific region. The Obama administration has applauded the Abe government’s reinterpretation of the very constitution that was drawn up by the post-war American occupation in an attempt to curb Japanese militarism.

Amid the worsening global economic breakdown, the Japanese ruling class is acutely aware of its weakness and vulnerability after two decades of economic stagnation. From its beginnings in the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japanese imperialism has been compelled to resort to militarism to assert its interests against more powerful established rivals. Abe is rearming and strengthening ties throughout the region and internationally, primarily in order to further the aims of the Japanese ruling elite—whether that is in league with the US, independently or against it.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Abe likened the current situation in Asia to that in Europe before World War I. Drawing a false comparison between China today and German imperialism in 1914, Abe sought to brand Beijing as “aggressive” and “expansionist” in order to justify his government’s agenda of remilitarisation.

Nevertheless, the parallels to the world a century ago that are being made by many commentators do point to a basic truth. The fundamental contradictions of capitalism that erupted in two world wars during the 20th Century are again hurtling humanity inexorably toward a terrible conflagration. The remilitarisation of Japan is a warning to workers and young people everywhere that this drive to war is intensifying.

Like its counterparts around the world, the Abe government’s preparations for war go hand in hand with an ideological campaign to whitewash the horrific crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s. These historical falsifications are aimed at creating a social constituency for war. But the depredations of Japanese militarism and its police-state methods also left an indelible mark on the consciousness of the Japanese working class. That is why Abe resorted to the anti-democratic method of issuing a “reinterpretation.” Any attempt to formally amend the constitution would fail due to the overwhelming opposition of working people.

There is no doubt that the revival of Japanese militarism will greatly exacerbate tensions with China and throughout Asia. The Japanese armies carried out horrific atrocities, from Korea and China to Malaya, Indonesia and most of South East Asia. The Chinese and South Korean governments are exploiting these memories to whip up nationalism and chauvinism at home in a bid to shore up their own narrow bases of support and justify their own military build-ups. In the Philippines, the Aquino administration is seeking to bury the memories of the wartime Japanese occupation as it aligns itself with the war drive of Tokyo and Washington against Beijing. None of these regimes is capable of halting the slide to war. Rather their actions will accelerate it.

In Japan, China, the United States and around the world, there is broad popular opposition to the rising dangers of war and militarism, but those sentiments find no expression in the political establishment in any country. The only means for preventing a new world war is through the building of a unified movement of the working class in Japan, China, the US, throughout Asia and internationally to abolish capitalism and establish socialism globally.

Israeli deaths matter much more than Palestinian deaths. This has long been a distinguishing feature of Western news media reporting on the Middle East. The recent blanket coverage afforded to the brutal killing of three Israeli teenagers highlights this immutable fact.

Channel 4′s Alex Thomson offered a rare glimmer of dissent:

Major broadcasters, such as BBC News, devoted headlines and extended reports to the deaths, and included heart-rending interviews with grieving relatives in Israel. The Guardian ran live coverage of the funerals for more than nine hours. But when has this ever happened for Palestinian victims of Israeli terror? A reader challenged the Guardian journalist leading the live coverage:

Several nudges elicited the standard display of hand-washing:

An extensive list of news stories and video reports appeared on the BBC website describing how Israel is ‘united in grief’, alongside stories titled, ‘Netanyahu: “Wide and deep chasm” between Israel and enemies’, ‘Thousands gather for Israeli teenagers’ funerals’, ‘Grief and anger after Israel teenager deaths’, and ‘On road where teens vanished’.

These all strongly, and rightly, expressed the broadcaster’s empathy with the fact that something terrible had happened. But when has the BBC ever expressed this level of concern for the deaths of Palestinian teenagers? The question matters because consistent empathic bias has the effect of humanising Israelis for the public and dehumanising Palestinians. This is an extremely lethal form of media propaganda with real consequences for human suffering.

A Guardian editorial noted that the killings ‘had shocked [Israel] to the core’. Western leaders had also expressed solidarity – an outpouring of concern that contrasted with the reaction to Palestinian deaths, which ‘so often pass with barely a murmur’. But that was all the Guardian editors had to say.

The missing, ugly reality is that over the last 13 years, on average, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, 1,523 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel’s occupation forces. Over the same time period, 129 Israeli children have been killed. Thus, the ratio of Palestinian children to Israeli children killed is more than ten to one. You would be forgiven for not having the slightest inkling of this from Western media coverage. Even in the past few days, in reporting the massive Israeli operation to find the teenagers, only the briefest of nods has been given to the ‘five Palestinians, including a number of minors, [who were] killed’ in the process.

Following the tragic discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers, corporate journalism gave headline attention to President Obama’s condemnation of ‘this senseless act of terror against innocent youth’. Significant coverage was given to the shocked reaction of prime minister David Cameron who said:

‘This was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible.’

But when have Obama or Cameron ever condemned the killing of Palestinian youths or children by Israelis in this vehement way?

We can easily see the contrast in media treatment of Israeli and Palestinian deaths by observing the lack of coverage, and the silence of Western leaders, about two young Palestinians, Nadim Nuwara, 17, and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, 16, who were shot dead by Israeli security forces in May. The BBC did not entirely ignore the killings. But the deaths were presented as a murky event in which the truth was strongly disputed:

‘A human rights group has released a video it says shows two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest last week.’ (Our emphasis.)

The BBC report was quick to present the Israeli viewpoint upfront:

‘But the Israeli military said the video had been edited and did not document the “violent nature” of the incident.’It also questioned a claim that live ammunition had been fired at the boys.’

A few days later, the Israeli military ordered the removal of the CCTV cameras that had captured the killings. The security cameras belonged to Fakher Sayed who ran a nearby carpentry shop. And the interest in this from BBC News and the rest of the corporate media? Zero, as far as we can tell.

Every violent death is a tragedy. But the disproportionate coverage given to Israeli and Palestinian deaths is symptomatic of a deep-rooted, pro-Israel bias. Why is it so extreme? Because of the intense pressure brought to bear on the media by the powerful Israeli lobby, and by allied US-UK interests strongly favouring Israel. As one senior anonymous BBC editor once put it:

‘We wait in fear for the phone call from the Israelis.’

The report purports to give an overview of all the ways in which children were adversely affected – to put it mildly – in various conflict zones around the world in 2013.

The section on Israel/Occupied Palestine Territories makes for interesting reading, especially given the current furore around, and widespread condemnation of, the recent kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the Occupied West Bank.

From the report we learn that:

  • In 2013, eight Palestinian children were killed by Israelis, and no Israeli children were killed by Palestinians – p.17/50

  • In 2013, 1265 Palestinian children were injured by Israelis, and eight Israeli children were injured by Palestinians – p.17/50

  • 1004 Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli security forces, with 107 of them (including five children under the age of 12) reporting ‘cruel and degrading ill-treatment by the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli police, including painful restraint, blindfolding, strip-searching, verbal and physical abuse, solitary confinement and threats of violence’ – p.18/50

  • There were 58 education related incidents affecting over 11’000 Palestinian children, with 41 of them involving ‘Israeli security forces operations near or inside schools, forced entry without forewarning, the firing of tear gas canisters and sound bombs into school yards and, in some cases, structural damage to schools. In 15 of the incidents, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters into schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), some during class hours, without forewarning – p.19/50

As should be utterly uncontroversial, then – at least to anybody who reads mainstream human rights reports –  the vast majority of violence against children within the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is perpetrated by Israeli security forces and settlers against Palestinian children.

While there were also instances of Palestinian armed groups or protesters targeting Israeli children, these instances are – while still inexcusable – negligible in comparison.

But as the media analysts at Media Lens have suggested in their most recent Media Alert, you’d be forgiven for thinking things were actually the other way around, because of the way Establishment media widely reports Israeli deaths and injuries, while all but ignoring the far greater number of Palestinian ones.

Iraq will turn to Iran, Russia, and Syria for military support if the United States does not provide Baghdad with what it needs to face Takfiri militants, says Iraq’s ambassador in Washington.

Lukman Faily said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Tuesday that the Iraqi government has to take any aid available because of the threat from the al-Qaeda splinter Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“Time is not on our side,” Faily said, adding, “Further delay only benefits the terrorists.”

Washington has announced plans to deliver F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters.

Last week, Russia delivered 12 fighter jets to the crisis-hit country.

The crisis in Iraq escalated after the ISIL militants took control of Mosul, in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.

An estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced in Iraq so far this year, according to the United Nations.

The ISIL has vowed to continue its raid towards Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy”.

Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas.

Facebook conducted a psychological experiment on its users by manipulating their emotions without their knowledge, a new study reveals.

Researchers toyed with the feelings of 689,003 randomly selected English-speaking Facebook users by changing the contents of their news feed, according to a paper published in the June edition of the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists’ (PNAS).

During a week-long period in January 2012, researchers staged two parallel experiments, reducing the number of positive or negative updates in each user’s news feed.

“When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred. These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks,” said the authors of the paper, who include researchers from Facebook, Cornell University, and the University of California.

“We also observed a withdrawal effect: People who were exposed to fewer emotional posts (of either valence) in their News Feed were less expressive overall on the following days.”

The researchers indicated that the successful study is the first to find that moods expressed via social networks influence the emotions of others.

“These results suggest that the emotions expressed by friends, via online social networks, influence our own moods, constituting, to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence for massive-scale emotional contagion via social networks, and providing support for previously contested claims that emotions spread via contagion through a network.”

The Facebook users were not notified of the experiment. However, according to Facebook’s terms of service (to which every person agrees when they register on the social network), users’ data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

The researchers argue that their experiment was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy.

The paper also stated that the researchers never saw the content of the actual posts; instead, they relied on a computer which counted the occurrence of positive and negative words in more than three million status updates. Those posts contained a total of 122 million words; four million of those were positive (3.6%) and 1.8 million were negative (1.6%).

The significance of the research was reduced to a very small percentage, as the “emotional contagion” was estimated at only 0.1 percent. However, one can argue that with more than 1.3 billion Facebook users worldwide, that small percentage still includes a significant amount of people.

 

American military advisers have been operating secretly in Somalia since around 2007, a revelation that shows the United States has had a presence in the African country for years without acknowledging the situation publicly.

The latest details provided by a Reuters report reveals that the American presence in Somalia stretches all the way back to the administration of George W. Bush, with advisers now stationed in multiple locations throughout the country.

When the United States announced in January that it had sent some advisers to Somalia back in October 2013, it was widely recognized as the first time American troops had been sent to the country since the “Black Hawk Down” operation in 1993. It’s clear now, however, that military officials have been there for several years, and a State Department official told the news service they now believe acknowledging their presence would not endanger their lives.

“In the past, our assessment of the security situation in Somalia informed our decision to err on the side of force protection concerns and not divulge their presence,” the official said. “We do not currently believe that acknowledging the U.S. presence will increase the already high threat to our personnel and citizens operating in Somalia.”

Although one White House official said these advisers are not a part of combat operations, it was revealed that there are up to 120 people currently on the ground. They were previously working primarily with the African Union Mission in Somalia, but last year started working more directly with Somali forces. Ties with the Somali National Army (SNA) are expected to deepen in the next fiscal year (October), as the US mulls providing further assistance in order to combat the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab militant group operating in the country.

Somalia’s battle with Al Shabaab has been ongoing for the last seven years, with the conflict bleeding into neighboring Kenya as a result of that country’s contribution to the African Union forces operating in Somalia. As RT reported last month, at least 50 people were killed during a raid on a coastal Kenyan town in mid-June, which Al Shabaab took responsibility for.

As the bloodshed continues, US officials are looking to increase their presence and become more involved with the SNA itself.

“What you’ll see with this upcoming fiscal year is the beginning of engagement with the SNA proper,” a US defense official told Reuters.

As noted by the Washington Post in January, the US has directed more than $500 million towards the training of African Union forces. Another $170 million has been spent to strengthen the SNA, with mixed results.

So far, the military advisers have offered their expertise in multiple areas, including mission and tactical planning, communications efforts, medical care and human rights. If new funds are authorized, they would allow for “greater military engagement and new funds for training and assistance” for the SNA. The US is also planning to name an ambassador to Somalia for the first time since 1993.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a decision expelling Israel from the IFJ.

14 countries out of 17 voted in favor of the decision with 3 abstaining during the meeting of the IFJ which had taken place in Brussels on 28 and 29 of June.

The move is yet another gesture showing the international organizations’ rejection of the Israeli entity’s practices against the Palestinians and Arabs.

The IFJ in consensus decided also to refuse applications for membership submitted by Syrian self-proclaimed journalists under the name of the “The Syrian Opposition Journalists Federation”.

The IFJ was founded in 1926 and re-founded in 1946 and 1952. It represents more than 600,000 journalists working in 140 countries worldwide.

Alternative Media Spotlight

July 3rd, 2014 by Hugo Turner

While the corporate media has seemingly lost all shame in regards to lies, distortions, and omissions of becoming transparently imperialist propaganda, ordinary people are fighting back by attempting to provide accurate news and analysis. Last time in Alternative Media Spotlight  I mentioned Global Research (www.globalresearch.ca), Pepe Escobar (Asia Times, RT Op-Edge), Eric Draitser (www.stopimperialism.org),  and Andrew Gavin Marshall (www.bolifingfrogspost.com). Now here are some more great people and sites I rely on.

Libya 360°, Syria 360°, and Viva Libya ! 

Libya 360° was founded during the Libyan counter-revolution when NATO and its Al Qaeda  proxy force destroyed the independent government of Libya replacing it with a failed state, combining rule by traitors, technocrats, and various fanatical death squads with the real on the ground power. Since the war, the site has become international in focus with great articles on the situation in Ukraine, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Alexandra Valiente who runs the site is great at selecting the best articles and she does a great job of providing local perspectives: What are Venezuelans saying about Venezuela; what do the Russians think about the Ukraine Crisis. Thus, I highly recommend her sites for a more radical perspective on world events and I salute her tireless efforts to resist imperialism and support resistance.

Valiente also runs a great site focusing exclusively on Syria: Syria 360°.

She also has another one on Libya: Viva Libya !

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

In truth every thing I know about geopolitics I learned from Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. I first learned of his work when during the Libyan War he went to Libya to report on the war and might have died when he was stuck in the Libyan capital after the fall of Tripoli to the rebel forces. Thankfully he survived because he is the best geo-strategic analyst in the Alternative Media.

Recently with the Iraq civil war his work is finally getting the attention it deserves. Way back in 2006 he was explaining the plans to balkanize Southwestern Asia (the Middle East) Africa, and Eastern Europe. He is not just brilliant on geostrategy, but in explaining the way identity can be weaponized as we see in Iraq today and in Ukraine. The social construction of identities aimed at creating division and war is vital to understanding our world today.

He wrote a great book called The Globalization of NATO. It shows how the so-called North Atlantic Treaty Organization has exceeded its supposed original mandate of protecting Western Europe (actually it was formed before the Warsaw Pact, so its founding was an aggressive move not a defensive act). NATO is now expanding around the world, forming various regional alliances around the globe. All of it is aimed at encircling Russia and China, which has become rather obvious this year. Thus in my first post written well before the Ukraine Crisis had truly heated up I could prophetically declare that the Cold War never ended thanks to reading The Globalization of NATO by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. The book also acts as a sort of mini-encyclopedia of recent history, where Mahdi provides great accounts of, say, the war in Yugoslavia or the background to events in Somalia or Sudan. It is highly recommended.

After reading the book I was inspired to go back and read all of his old articles using the archive of his articles at Global Research. What an amazing education they provide. He combines first hand knowledge from his world travels, a brilliant sociological analysis with a brilliant insiders understanding of military affairs and geostrategic planning. He was in the Canadian military and it provided him with valuable insight into how the Empire thinks. He qoutes the plans made by men such as Halford J. Mackinder, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Oded Yinon, and Richard Perle that are still shaping our world today. Thus when ISIS invaded Iraq suddenly everyone was quoting Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who in 2006, before the Syrian war had begun, already was talking about the attempts to balkanize Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and eventually no doubt all of Eurasia. So if you want to get ahead of the curve, you absolutely must do an in-depth reading of Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. Also watch his great interviews and lectures on Youtube.

Here is a great recent interview that describes the process of the balkanization of the Middle East: “What the MSM Won’t Tell You About ISIS, Greater Plan To Fragment ME.”

Mahdi’s oldest articles: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – Archive.

Mahdi’s most recent articles: Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – Archive.

Check out this forgotten gem and in-depth interview he did for a podcast: “The War on Mali: ‘The Fragmented Totality’ that characterizes the Imperialist System.

And get an in-depth introduction to geopolitics by watching this lecture he did: “Redrawing the Middle East: Syria in the Context of the ‘New Middle East.’”

And he has also started making documentaries. Here is a great one he did on Ukraine: Welcome to Nulandistan: Propaganda and the Crisis in Ukraine.

Porkins Policy Review

Porkins Policy Review is a wonderful site I recently discovered. Pearse Redmond has done some great podcasts and the show just gets better and better. For example, he did one of the best Keith Harmon Snow interviews of all time providing a great in-depth report on what really happened in Rwanda, which, far from being a simple tale of evil Hutus and their innocent Tutsi victims, involved a US backed covert invasion. It also went into the current war in the Congo where more people have died then in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria combined. So far 10 million have died.

That’s just one example. Redmond did a great interview with Danny Benavides on the surreal drug war in Mexico, which is even stranger in reality than it has been portrayed fictionally on say Breaking Bad. Not only does he do great interviews, but he is a great interview subject as well. In recent interviews on the Corbett Report, he laid out some of the complex events in Africa and also provided some great background on the war in Afghanistan.

He has done great research on the Westgate attacks in Kenya. At the time I knew I wasn’t getting the full story about Westgate, even in the Alternative Media, but I would have to wait until finding his site many months later to get some answers or rather more questions. He is one of the few in the Alternative Media who pay proper attention to Africa, which like Central Asia is one of those vitally important places that few pay enough attention to. He also does some great reports exposing figures like Matthew Van Dyke or Samantha Lewthwaite. Plus he has some more light hearted shows discussing films which provide a welcome recreation from studying the evils of Western imperialism. He’s got great taste. thanks to him I discovered such obscure gems as Wrong is Right, Four Lions, and Computer Chess. So for some great interviews with people like Eric Draitser, Christoph Germann, and James Corbett check out Porkins Policy Review.

Stop NATO

Stop NATO is the best site on the machinations of the sinister US-dominated NATO alliance. Rick Rozoff keeps track of the secret war of intimidation the US and its allies engage in around the world, the endless war games, and military exercises. He also tracks the endless expansion of NATO. In fact, he is one of Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s only rivals when it comes to understating geopolitics. His sites also provides some great pieces of anti-war literature from throughout time. Search for interviews with him online as he does some great appearances where he explains what is going on in the world. His site is an invaluable resource for understanding the tensions between the West and Russia and China. You should also sign up for his email list.

The Vineyard of the Saker

The Vineyard of the Saker is a great blog providing a unique perspective currently concentrating on the Ukraine Crisis. It provides the best analysis of what is going on in the Ukraine Crisis. It is a paradoxical mix of cool analysis and  passionate outrage over what is going on in the Ukraine. It provides great insight into things from both a Russian nationalist perspective and from a military perspective. It also has managed to attract a great community of people who help translate materials and provide guest essays. For example, there are the reports by Strelkov who commands a unit of anti-fascist forces and provides daily updates on the fighting and the growing humanitarian crisis which volunteers translate into English. In fact, the whole site has a French version run by volunteers. Plus there are great reports by Juan, an anti-fascist resistance fighter, and Mindfriedo, who does great daily updates summarizing the civil war in Iraq. It also has reports by Auslander who is attempting to help people escape the war zone. Plus daily video Anna news updates with English subtitles. The Vineyard of the Saker is definitely required reading for those interested in the wars in Ukraine and Iraq.

The New Great Game Round-Up 

The New Great Game Round-up is essential weekly reading. Christoph Germann keeps track of what no one else is paying proper attention to in the covert war in Central Asia. It has long been part of strategic doctrine that whoever controls Central Asia can control Eurasia and that whoever controls Eurasia can control the world. When Brzezinski speaks of his Arc of crisis across Eurasia he never mentions that this arc of crisis is the deliberate creation of Western intelligence. Every week Christoph Germann tracks the events of this covert war aimed at destabilizing Central Asian countries most people have never even heard of, like Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, as well as the covert war carried out within China and Russia. Thus, Christoph Germann provides an absolutely vital resource. Every week he sums up the most important events that no one is paying attention too. The endless series of terror attacks carried out with Western sponsorship, as well as the attempts to use NGOs to destabilize the region through future color revolutions. Make sure you check out the New Great Game Round-up every Sunday.

And you should probably check out these interviews with FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, who began the New Great Game Round-up, as she provides the vital background needed to understand the destabilization of Eurasia and indeed the farce of both the war on terror and the war on drugs: “Sibel Edmonds on Operation Gladio.”

Abiyome Azikwe’s Pan-African News Wire and Keith Harmon Snow

As I mentioned people don’t pay nearly enough attention to Africa. Thus, I’ll recommend two people who focus almost entirely on Africa.

For the latest news on Africa, check out Abiyome Azikwe’s site Pan-African News Wire. Abiyome writes some great articles on the current situation in Africa where there has been more and more US and European military action of late. He provides articles on Africa from the African and international press.

Abiyome Azikwe also has a podcast, Pan-African Journal, which starts with some great music. It plays everything from classic jazz, reggae, and R&B to Latin American and African music. It has news segment followed usually by a segment on black history or culture. Everything from now mostly forgotten revolutionaries, like Robert Williams, to speeches by the more famous Malcolm X or Kwame Nkrumah, as well as biographies of great musicians are covered. He also is active in battling the attempts in Michigan to rob people of their democratic rights in order to push through a pro-corporate agenda.

Keith Harmon Snow is one of the best investigative journalists that I’ve read. His sites are full of information on the corporate genocide in Central Africa. He names the names and has been threatened with lawsuits on numerous occasions. He has documented which corporations, media, NGOs, and intelligence agencies are involved in profiting from the 10 million that have been killed in the Congo and other parts of Africa. Even Hollywood celebrities like Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie are involved and no one is safe from the wrath of Keith Harmon Snow. He paints a terrifying picture of environmentalists involved in genocide and humanitarian agencies involved in genocide. Your iPad or PlayStation are involved in genocide. Canadian prime ministers, US presidents, and journalists are all involved too.

His reports could call your whole world into question, so beware. He documents everything he says. His detailed articles provide brilliant in-depth documentation of everything he says. He is also an electrifying public speaker; look for his talks on YouTube. I’ve re-watched his epic Profiteering from Genocide in Central Africa three times already, but the interview Pearse Redmond did on Porkins Policy Review is probably the best introduction to his work where he gives a great background on the topic going back to colonial days. The interview is “The Falsification of Genocide with Keith Harmon Snow.”

Keith Harmon Snow has two sites collecting his work:

His new site: Conscious Being Alliance.

And his old one: All Things Pass.

There are many more great sites I could mention, but you will have to wait for a future edition of  alternative media spotlight.

Edited by Global Research

David and Samantha Cameron arrive at the 2013 Conservative Summer Party (Alan Davidson/The Picture Library)

We do not go there to lobby ministers in any form … Apart from shaking a hand I don’t believe I have ever spoken to a minister at any of these events.’ – James Henderson, Bell Pottinger chief executive

Today, the Bureau can reveal the billionaires, lobbyists and foreign interests who attended one of the most important private Conservative party fundraising events.

We have obtained a series of internal Conservative party documents including a seating plan for its Summer Party last year. The documents show that supporters with a combined wealth in excess of £11bn paid up to £12,000 a table to dine with cabinet ministers including the prime minister, home secretary and defence secretary as well as the secretaries of state for health, transport, culture and justice.

As Conservative donors prepare to gather for this year’s event, which will take place on Wednesday at the Hurlingham Club, west London, the Bureau can reveal that at last year’s party there were six billionaires, 15 people with a personal wealth above £100m, 73 financiers and 47 retail and property tycoons among the 449 guests who dined at the private event held at Old Billingsgate Market.

Our investigation shows:

Howard Shore, an investment banker whose firm invests in shale gas and underground coal gasification, hosted tables featuring David and Samantha Cameron and the energy minister Michael Fallon.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin was seated with shipping and transport magnates.

David Burnside, a lobbyist with a number of well-known Russian clients, hosted a table that ncluded John Whittingdale MP, chair of the British-Ukraine All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

An adviser to the government of Bahrain was placed with both defence secretary Philip Hammond and chair of the APPG on Bahrain group, Conor Burns.

Ministerial disclosure rules do not extend to party fundraising events or conferences, so until now those attending the event has remained a secret. Press were banned from the event and helpers were ‘absolutely forbidden’ from leaking details to the media the internal documents show.

Although there is no suggestion that any of the guests discussed policy or commercial issues with politicians, supporters, leading fundraisers and other guests were able to mingle with the prime minister and other senior government figures in a convivial environment.

Tory summer party brochure‘Have a great evening, and let’s keep up the hard work’ – David Cameron’s welcome in the summer party brochure

The proximity of senior cabinet members to powerful business leaders and lobbyists has alarmed transparency campaigners leading to renewed calls for reform around the issues of disclosure.

‘There’s a real problem with big money in British politics,’ said Alexandra Runswick, Unlock Democracy director. ‘Whether it is party donors given seats in the House of Lords or people buying dinner with David Cameron, the public feels our politics is for sale – that politicians listen to donors and lobbyists but not voters.’

Tamasin Cave, director of lobbying campaign group, Spinwatch, said: ‘Buying a seat at a minister’s table provides these bankers, foreign businessmen and lobbyists with an opportunity to discuss their concerns, whether its taxes, regulation or policy. It’s a straight up case of cash-for-access.’

Labour has also been holding a series of business dinners. Last month a dinner hosted by shadow work and pension minister, Chris Bryant in the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, London, saw lobbyists and executives from security companies, private healthcare firms and the property industry mix with Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary, and Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister.

Labour’s big ticket fundraising dinner and auction this year takes place on July 9 at The Roundhouse in Camden, London. The £15,000 premier tables only includes a £7,000 donation meaning that under current rules, tickets to the event need not be disclosed.

Earlier this week, Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, confirmed the UK’s biggest union will heavily back Labour with cash in the forthcoming election campaign.

The Conservative summer party, titled, ‘40 [seats] to gain 40 to hold’, placed MPs in constituencies with slim majorities or prospective candidates on many tables.

Shore Capital

The event was sponsored by Shore Capital, an AIM-listed West End-based boutique investment bank run by Howard Shore. Shore and his company have donated £499,330 to the Conservatives since 2006.

Shore and his wife, the chair of the organising committee for the event, hosted David and Samantha Cameron on their table. Shore Capital also sponsored two further tables where energy minister Michael Fallon and home secretary Theresa May were seated. May shared a table with Lord De La Warr, non-executive director of Cluff Natural Resources which is exploring underground coal gasification in Warwickshire.

Asked why Shore Capital sponsored the party, the company said in a statement: ‘Shore Capital supported the event and made a financial contribution as they believe that the Conservative Party, led by the Prime Minister, are the best party to govern the country.’

Russian connection

Among the more surprising guests were a number of business men linked to Russia. These included Alexander Temerko and Andrei Borodin, who were sitting with London Mayor, Boris Johnson.

Also present was Vladimir Putin’s judo partner, Vasily Shestakov who was introduced to the Prime Minister. The Russian president’s key aide had been tasked with improving Russia’s reputation in the UK.

There were also 19 lobbyists and public relations specialists at the party representing Gulf states, fracking firms, oligarchs and banking giants.

Among these high profile PR specialists was Lord Clanwilliam whose firm represents the government of Bahrain. He headed one of the more prominent tables, hosting defence secretary Philip Hammond. Clanwilliam declined to comment on his attendance.

Also attending was James Henderson, chief executive of public affairs firm Bell Pottinger which represents fracking company Cuadrilla. He hosted a table for friends, while his colleague Patsy Baker joined a table with justice secretary Chris Grayling.

‘We do not go there to lobby ministers in any form,’ Henderson said. ‘We go there to support the party. Apart from shaking a hand I don’t believe I have ever spoken to a minister at any of these events.’

Henderson added that his colleague Baker was at the party ‘in a private capacity as the personal guest of her host. She didn’t raise any issues on behalf of Bell Pottinger or her clients.’

The finance sector formed the largest contingent at the event. In total, there were 73 hedge fund tycoons, private equity financiers and wealth managers. Among them were some of Mayfair and Belgravia’s most powerful hedge fund names led by heavyweight party donors Sir Michael Hintze of CQS and Andrew Law of Caxton — both former executives at Goldman Sachs.

Premier tables at last year’s party cost £1,000 per guest. Standard tables were charged at £400 per guest.

There is no precise way of knowing how much was raised from last year’s event. Political donations are only disclosed above a £7,500 threshold. But at fundraisers the value of the meal or prize is deducted. This means many donations may fall below the threshold and so will not be disclosed.

But in the week following the event, Electoral Commission data shows the Conservatives received £1.1m. This is over three times the Conservatives’ average weekly donor income.

Guests at the party and the companies they represent have donated a disclosed £21.9m to the Conservatives since Electoral Commission records began in 2001. This is 10 per cent of the £219.7m of disclosed donations to the party in the same period. (All donations above £500 have to be declared, and any above £7,500 are disclosed on a register kept by the Electoral Commission.)

Since the June 24 event, guests have donated a disclosed £5m to the Conservatives.

On one table was a representatives of the little-known Tory dining club, United and Cecil. Since 2008, its members have donated £909,095 to the party through the club, without being named.

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: ‘All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.’

Spinwatch’s Tamasin Cave, said: ‘Our government has promised to be ‘the most transparent in the world’, yet David Cameron won’t even publish the names of his guests at these events, which is just one of countless donor dinners.’

How we did it

The table plan, auction catalogue and briefing notes for last year’s Conservative Summer Party were passed to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The event is one of two major fundraising occasions held by the party.

We researched the 449 guests on the list to establish their jobs, industrial sectors and wealth. We also established the political donations they made both as individuals and also through the companies with which they are linked by using disclosures made on the Electoral Commission website.

This allowed us to provide a breakdown of the donations that have been made to the Conservative party by the summer party guests since the Electoral Commission started publishing data. Where we have identified a donor, the infographic included in our coverage shows the value of individual donations and the combined total for individual and corporate donations.

We used Companies House data to establish an individual’s directorships. We then fed their Companies House registration numbers into the Electoral Commission database.

If there was more than one director from the same company present at the Summer Party, we allocated donations to the individual with the most senior standing – for example, the chairman or chief executive – to avoid double counting.

We also included donations which individuals or companies made to ‘members associations’ of the Conservative Party. These are organisations linked to the party and overseen by the Electoral Commission. An example of this is the ‘Conservative Friends of India’, which was established to build links between the party, British Indians and India itself.

Some individuals in the room held senior positions in ‘unincorporated associations’. This includes dinner clubs such as the United & Cecil Club, a prominent Conservative donor. Where a senior member of these groups attended, the donations of these groups were included in ‘corporate donations’ linked to them.

It was not always possible to find information on the sectors in which people worked. In a small number of cases it was impossible to identify a named individual.

To assess wealth, the Bureau used three established datasets of wealthy individuals: the Sunday Times Rich List, Forbes Russia and Slovenia Times. This means our £11bn wealth figure is likely to be a low estimate of the wealth in the room.

The Bureau only published the names of attendees if there was a public interest in so doing.

The Bureau’s reporting team: Nick Mathiason, Melanie Newman, Tom Warren, Sid Ryan, Victoria Parsons, Lucinda Borrell and Gloria Schiavi.

As F. William Engdahl wrote in “Death of the Birds and the Bees Across America“:

Birds and bees are something most of us take for granted as part of nature. The expression “teaching about the birds and the bees” to explain the process of human reproduction to young people is not an accidental expression. Bees and birds contribute to the essence of life on our planet. A study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that “…perhaps one-third of our total diet is dependent, directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants.”[1]

The honey bee, Apis mellifera, is the most important pollinator of agricultural crops. Honey bees pollinate over 70 out of 100 crops that in turn provide 90% of the world’s food. They pollinate most fruits and vegetables — including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots.[2] But while managed honey bee populations have increased over the last 50 years, bee colony populations have decreased significantly in many European and North American nations. Simultaneously, crops that are dependent on insects for pollination have increased. The phenomenon has received the curious designation of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), implying it could be caused by any number of factors. Serious recent scientific studies however point to a major cause: use of new highly toxic systemic pesticides in agriculture since about 2004.

If governments in the EU, USA and other countries fail to impose a total ban on certain chemical insecticides, not only could bees become a thing of the past. The human species could face staggering new challenges merely to survive. The immediate threat comes from the widespread proliferation of commercial insecticides containing the highly-toxic chemical with the improbable name, neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. They act on the central nervous system of insects. But also on bees and  small song birds. Recent evidence suggests they could also affect human brain development in newborn.

Some five to six years back, reports began to circulate from around the world, especially out of the United States, and then increasingly from around the EU, especially in the UK, that entire bee colonies were disappearing. Since 2004 over a million beehives have died across the United States and beekeepers in 25 states report what is called Colony Collapse Disorder. In winter of 2009 an estimated one fifth of bee hives in the UK were lost, double the natural rate.[3] Government authorities claimed it was a mystery. Continue reading “Death of the Birds and the Bees Across America” by F. William Engdahl

Today more than ever, the world’s food resources are being hijacked by giant corporations that are turning farms into factories and replacing natural resources with genetically modified “food-like” substances.

F. William Engdahl is a leading researcher on the destruction of the planet’s food system and the profit-driven enterprises that are driving this devastating process.

To learn more, pick up your copy of “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation“, published by Global Research.

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
by F. William Engdahl

ISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2
Year: 2007
Pages: 341 pages with complete index

Global Research Price: US $18.00
(List price: US $25.95)
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This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

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

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
by F. William Engdahl

ISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2
Year: 2007
Pages: 341 pages with complete index

Global Research Price: US $18.00
(List price: US $25.95)
CLICK TO BUY

Ordering from Canada or the US? Find out about our special bulk offers for North American customers!
3 copies for $40.00
10 copies for $120.00

Place your order online by credit card, through PayPal, by mail or by fax!

It is now common knowledge that the U.S. economy has in recent years been experiencing extremely uneven developments. While the financial sector has been enjoying enormously high rates of growth, the real sector is mired in stagnation or dismal growth rates. Accordingly, while the financial oligarchy is reaping the lion’s share of this fantastic growth of asset-price inflation, the overwhelming majority of citizens are suffering from the systematically declining standards of living.

For example, a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank shows that while aggregate national wealth in the U.S. rose by $1.49 trillion during the first quarter of 2014, the real economy (as measured by GDP) actually contracted by 1 percent―according to the Department of Commerce, the decline in GDP was actually 2.9 (not 1) percent. In a similar report, the Financial Times recently noted that household wealth as a whole is up 43 percent since the depths of the economic slump in 2008, despite the slow or nonexistent recovery in the labor market and an actual decline in median household income, down 7.6 percent since 2008 [1].

This obvious and growing gap between the rise of financial wealth in the absence of real growth is, of course, explained by the fantastic asset-price inflation of the past several years―a financial bubble bigger than the one that burst in 2008. Of the $1.49 trillion increase in the national wealth in the first three months of 2014, some $361 billion were due to stock price appreciation while $758 billion were due to real estate inflation. Not only has the stock price bubble largely benefited the wealthy, who disproportionately own the major bulk of stocks, but also “the increased home values were concentrated in the mansions of the super-rich, not the modest homes of working people.” According to figures published by Redfin, a real estate group, from January through April 2014, “sales of the top 1 percent of US homes, those priced at $1.67 million or more, have risen 21 percent, while sales of the remaining 99 percent of homes have fallen 7.6 percent” [1].

The Financial Times, which published the Redfin figures, noted similar trends in consumer sales:

Sales by luxury retailers such as LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Bulgari) and Tiffany rose by 9 percent; sales by retailers with mainly working class customers declined. Walmart was down 5 percent, Sears’ sales fell by 6.8 percent. At the lower end, only cut-rate outlets where more and more Americans must shop to stretch their dollars saw increased sales. Dollar Tree, the largest such retailer, recorded a sales increase of 7.2 percent. . . . The newspaper observed, the gains show the effectiveness of policy in recreating the wealth lost in the recession, but its effect in boosting the economy is limited, because much of the benefit has gone to wealthy households that own stocks and large houses [1].

The simultaneous enrichment of the financial oligarchy, on the one hand, and the impoverishment of the masses of the people, on the other, is akin to the growth of a parasite in the body of a living organism at the expense of life-sustaining blood or nourishment of that organism. What is more, this parasitic transfer of economic blood from the bottom up is not simply the outcome of the workings of the invisible hand of market mechanism, or the blind forces of competition in a capitalist economy. Perhaps more importantly, the transfer is the logical outcome of insidious but carefully crafted economic policies that are designed to entrench neoliberal austerity economics.

Supply-Side Monetary Policy: Asset-Price Inflation as Economic Stimulus

Governments of the core capitalist countries have since the Great Depression of the 1930s applied two major types of economic stimuli: demand-side, or Keynesian, and supply-side, or neoliberal. Demand-side policies aim at boosting the purchasing power of workers and other masses of the people directly: injecting buying power into the economy through large scale investment in infrastructural projects and other employment-generating undertakings. Policy measures of this sort, which lasted from the immediate aftermath of the Great Depression and/or WW II until the late 1970s and early 1980s, served as the cornerstone of New Deal economics in the U.S. and Social-Democratic policies in other major capitalist economies.

Champions of supply-side economics also purport to offer stimulus measures to revive a stagnant economy. However, they do this in an indirect, roundabout or two-step process. The first step aims at further enriching the rich, either through fiscal policies of tax cuts for the wealthy or monetary policies of asset-price inflation, which also largely benefit the wealthy. The second step consists, essentially, of a hope or wish: it is hoped that, following the injection of additional resources into the coffers of the 1% in the first step, the 99% would then benefit from the ensuing trickle-down effects, thereby boosting aggregate demand and economic activity.

Formally, this policy was ushered in when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. Initially, the architects of supply-side economics focused on fiscal policy. After successfully carrying through their project of drastic tax breaks for the wealthy, which came to be known as Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts, they then directed their attention to monetary policy as the next major redistributive tool in favor of the 1%.

Starting with Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank to his successors Ben Bernanke and now Janet Yellen, this policy has essentially meant granting unlimited interest-free or nearly interest-free money to major banks and other Wall Street players. Although not discussed publicly, monetary policy makers of Wall Street at the head of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Treasury Department have come to view the bestowing of cheap money upon Wall Street as a monetary stimulus measure that would work through asset-price inflation and the subsequent trickle-down mechanism.

The official rationale for the injection of cheap money into the financial system is still justified, publicly, on the same grounds as the traditional Keynesian monetary stimulus: that such infusions of money into the financial sector would prompt enhanced lending to the real sector, thereby encouraging productive investment, employment and growth. This justification of unwarranted and excessively cheap money supply is, however, premised on three major conditions: that manufacturers face a tight and expensive capital/money market; that manufacturers face or envision a strong demand for what they produce, or would produce; and that there is something akin to a partition between real and financial sectors of the economy, as it was more or less the case when the Glass-Steagall Act was in force (from 1933 to 1998), which strictly stipulated the types and quantities of investments that banks and other financial intermediaries could undertake.

None of these conditions are, however, present in today’s U.S. economy. To begin with, there is no shortage of cash in the real sector; the sector seems to be, indeed, sitting on a mound of cash but not expanding production because of the austerity-generated weak demand.

While at least 25 million Americans are unemployed or working only part-time when they want and need full-time work, corporate America is sitting on a cash hoard of more than $2 trillion, refusing to invest in new production or hiring new workers, and instead engaging in speculation and stock buybacks that are more profitable for the corporate CEOs. Stock buybacks by non-financial corporations occurred at an annual pace of $427 billion in the first quarter, according to the Fed [1].

Secondly, since players in the financial sector are no longer constrained by regulatory restrictions on the types and quantities of their investment, why would they look or wait for borrowers from the real sector (who, as just mentioned, have plenty of cash of their own), instead of investing in the more lucrative field of speculation. Not surprisingly, as the regulatory constraints have been gradually removed in the past several decades, financial bubbles and bursts have become a recurring pattern.

Indeed, not only do Wall Street banks and other beneficiaries of monetary policy use the nearly interest-free money for speculative investment, but also increasingly real sector corporations divert more and more of their profits to speculation instead of production―they seem to have come to think: why bother with the messy business of production when higher returns can be garnered by simply buying and selling titles. lure of speculative profits, greatly facilitated by the extensive deregulation of the financial sector, is obviously strong enough to induce capital to abandon manufacturing in pursuit of higher returns in the financial sector. This steady transfer of money from the real to the financial sector is the exact opposite of what monetary policy-makers―and, indeed, the entire neoclassical/mainstream economic theory―claim or portray to happen: flow of money from financial to the real sector.

Capital flight from the real to the financial sector, and the divergence between corporate profitability and real investment were highlighted in an article by Robin Harding that was published in the Financial Timesof July 24, 2013. Headlined “Corporate Investment: A Mysterious Divergence,” the article revealed that, in the past three decades or so, a “disconnect” has developed between corporate profitability and real investment; indicating that, contrary to previous times, a significant portion of corporate profits is not reinvested for capacity building. It is diverted, instead, to financial investment in pursuit of higher returns to shareholders’ capital. Prior to 1980s, the two moved in tandem―both about 9% of GDP. Since then, and especially in the very recent years, whereas real investment has declined to about 4% of GDP, corporate profits have increased to about 12% of GDP! [2].

Financial big wigs at the helm of monetary policy in the U.S. and other major capitalist countries cannot be unaware of these facts: that most of the generous cash they inject into the financial sector is used for speculative transactions in this sector without any perceptible positive impact on the real sector. So, the question is: why, then, do they keep pumping more money into the financial sector? The answer, as mentioned earlier, is that in place of traditional Keynesian monetary policy, they seem to have now discovered a new (supply-side) monetary stimulus: trickle-down effects of asset-price inflation.

Portraying asset-price inflation as a monetary tool of economic stimulation, policymakers in the United States and other core capitalist countries are no longer averse to creating financial bubbles; as such bubbles are viewed and depicted as fueling the economy through demand enhancement effects of asset-price appreciation. Instead of regulating or containing the disruptive speculative activities of the financial sector, economic policy makers, spearheaded by the Federal Reserve Bank since the days of Alan Greenspan, have been actively promoting asset-price or financial bubbles―in effect, also further enriching the rich and exacerbating inequality.

Aside from issues such as social justice and economic security for the masses of people, the idea of creating asset-price bubbles as vehicles of economic stimulation is also unsustainable―indeed, destructive―in the long run: financial bubbles, no matter how long or how much they may expand, are ultimately bound by the amount of real values that are produced (by human labor) in an economy. Proxies of the financial oligarchy at the helm of economic policy making, however, do not seem to be bothered by this ominous prospect as they have apparently discovered something akin to an insurance protection scheme that would shield the market and major financial players against the risks of financial bubbles.

Insuring Financial Bubbles: Creating a New Bubble to Patch-up a Burst one

Champions of the policy of asset-price bubbles as economic stimuli do not seem to be worried about the destabilizing effects of the bubbles they help create, as they tend to believe (or hope) that the likely disturbances and losses from the potential bursting of one bubble could be offset by creating another bubble. In other words, they seem to believe that they have discovered an insurance policy for bubbles that burst by blowing new ones. Professor Peter Gowan of London Metropolitan University describes this rather perverse strategy in the following words:

Both the Washington regulators and Wall Street evidently believed that together they could manage bursts. This meant that there was no need to prevent such bubbles from occurring: on the contrary, it is patently obvious that both regulators and operators actively generated them, no doubt believing that one of the ways of managing bursts was to blow another dynamic bubble in another sector: after dot-com, the housing bubble; after that, an energy-price or emerging market bubble, and so on [3].

Randall W. Forsyth of Barron’s likewise points out, “always contended that monetary policymakers can . . . clean up the after-effects of the bust―which meant reflating a new bubble, he argued.” It is obvious that this policy of effectively insuring financial bubbles would make financial speculation a win-win proposition, a proposition that is aptly called “moral hazard,” as it encourages risk-taking at the expense of others―in this case of the 99%, since the costs of bailing out the “too-big-to-fail” gamblers are paid by austerity cuts. that “the Fed would bail out the markets after any bust, they went from one excess to another,” Forsyth further points out. “So, the Long-Term Capital Management collapse in 1998 begat the easy credit that led to the dot-com bubble and bust, which in turn led to the extreme ease and the housing bubble” [4].

The policy of protecting major financial speculators against bankruptcy shows, among other things, that the neoliberal financial architects of recent years have jettisoned not only the New Deal–Social Democratic policies of demand management but also the free-market policies of non-intervention, as advocated, for example, by the Austrian school of economics. They tend to be interventionists when the corporate-financial oligarchy needs help, but champions of laissez-faire economics when the working class and other grassroots need help. Prior to the rise of big finance and its control of economic policy, bubble implosions were let to run their course: reckless speculation and mal-investments would go bankrupt; the real economy would be cleansed of the deadweight of the unsustainable debt; and (after a painful but relatively short period of time) the market would reallocate the real capital to productive uses. In the era of big finance and powerful financiers, however, that process of creating a “clean slate” is blocked because the financial entities that play a critical role in the creation of bubbles and bursts also control policy.

 Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press 2012).

Notes

[1] As cited in Patrick Martin, “Wealth report shows deepening social polarization in US,” <http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/07/weal-j07.html>; see also Rob Uri, “Monetary Policy as Class Warfare, Revisited,” < http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/23/monetary-policy-as-class-warfare-revisited/>.

[2] Robin Harding, “Corporate investment: A mysterious divergence,” <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8177af34-eb21-11e2-bfdb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2dN45MG7r>.

[3] As cited in Ismael Hossein-zadeh, Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis(Routledge 2014), p. 16.

[4] Randall W. Forsyth, “Ignoring the Austrians Got Us in This Mess,” <http://online.barrons.com/article/SB123680667244600275.html>.

A report just published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee on food security in Britain supports Environment Secretary Owen Paterson’s plan to push ahead with growing genetically modified (GM) crops in England. However, it doesn’t mention which crops would actually be grown [1].

The Committee says that the Government should do more to inform the public about “potentially beneficial impacts” of GM crops under development, but, according to Genewatch UK, the report fails to inform the public that the commercial GM crops that would actually be grown commercially are tolerant to companies’ own-brand weedkillers, such as Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready crops.

The “potentially beneficial impacts” of GM crops just don’t stack up. For instance, non-GM farming in Europe has outperformed GM farming in the USA [2] and poisonous pesticides, destructive fertilisers and patented GE seeds can’t even match 1890 or even 1760 AD yields in India [3].

Director of GeneWatch UK, Dr Helen Wallace, says:

“RoundUp Ready GM crops are the crops which could be grown in England perhaps as early as next year. Blanket spraying of these crops with weedkiller would lead to massive loss of habitat for birds and butterflies and a plague of superweeds for farmers. The costs of segregating GM and non-GM would push up food prices for everyone, and non-GM farmers would lose out financially if their conventional or organic crops become contaminated”.

Monsanto’s or Syngenta’s RoundUp Ready GM maize (NK603 and GA21), which are blanket sprayed with the weedkiller glyphosate (brand name RoundUp), are in the commercial pipeline for EU cultivation approvals. Again, some of the “potentially beneficial impacts” of RoundUp Ready GM crops include the growth of herbicide-tolerant superweeds and the loss of habitat for birds and butterflies: leading, for example, to a crash in the population of the Monarch butterfly in the United States [4,5]. Aside from the environmental dangers, there are very strong links between glyphosate and a very wide range of serious human ailments and diseases [6].

In the UK, there are no national measures for co-existence of GM and non-GM crops and for liability for the costs of contamination incidents, which can cost conventional and organic farmers many millions of pounds in lost markets for their products [7]. Contamination seems of little concern to the global biotech sector, though. It has already recklessly contaminated the environment with its poison [8] and, as far as GMOs are concerned, it is more a case of the more contamination, the better [9].

The EU ‘opt out’ proposal adopted by EU ministers in June, which will now go to the European Parliament, could speed up GM crop approvals in England by loosening Europe-wide regulations that are currently in place. Countries opposed to growing would opt out by imposing regional bans on the cultivation of specific crops. Scotland and Wales will opt out from growing GM crops, but the Government wants England to press ahead. This ‘opt out’ proposal is regarded as constituting little more than part of a ‘Monsanto-friendly’ [10] strategy, which is being facilitated by Minister Owen Paterson, who has worked closely with the GMO industry on UK policy, including on a PR strategy which seeks to avoid discussion of RoundUp Ready crops and the multinational companies that sell them [11]. Paterson appears little more than a misinformed puppet of the GMO sector [12] and seems content to be a part of that sector’s multi-pronged political subterfuge to force GMO onto the British public [13]. Such a pity that Paterson and others are content to climb into bed with a company that has such a long history of duplicity and criminality [14].

One positive aspect of the Committee’s report is the recommendation that Government reduces dependence on imported soybean for animal feed, warning that increased demand for protein from emerging economies threatens current supply lines. Much of this imported soya is GM. The Committee also recommends that the UK takes steps to become more self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, supermarkets shorten their supply chains to support more local food; and better long-term weather prediction for farmers is developed.

In response to this, Helen Wallace states:

“It is a pity that these valuable recommendations on food security are likely to be drowned out by this Committee’s misleading claims on GM crops. Reducing dependency on imported GM soya, used to feed animals in Britain, would be a big step forward in making our food supply more sustainable and secure.”

‘Food security’ and ‘sustainability’ are nice sounding terms. However, acquiescing to big US biotech concerns does not guarantee either. It’s not meant to. Quite the opposite in fact [15,16].

 Notes

[1]    House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Food security. Second Report of Session 2014-15.

[2]  Heinemann et al. (2013) Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. Published online: 14 Jun 2013.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#.Ub9AU5zXryU

[3] http://www.globalresearch.ca/india-genetically-modified-seeds-agricultural-productivity-and-political-fraud/5328227

[4] For superweeds see: Benbrook CM (2012) Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. – the first sixteen years. Environmental Sciences Europe 24(1):24.http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24 ; BBC report 19th September 2012:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19585341 ; GM crops: Farmer to Farmer:http://gmcropsfarmertofarmer.com/ ; Greenpeace “Growing Doubt” video, October 2012:http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/agriculture/problem/genetic-engineering/Growing-Doubt/ ; more videos of superweeds on: http://www.gmfreeze.org/why-freeze/videos-and-clips/.

[5] For Monarch butterflies see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/18/tracking-causes-monarch-butterfly-decline ; Pleasants JM, Oberhauser KS (2013) Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population. Insect Conservation and Diversity 6(2):135-144. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1752-4598.2012.00196.x/abstract

[6] http://www.gmoevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Glyphosate-Destructor-of-Human-Health-and-Biodiversity.pdf

[7] GM Contamination Register: http://www.gmcontaminationregister.org/

[8] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/roundup-weedkiller-found-75-air-and-rain-samples-gov-study-finds

[9] http://www.globalresearch.ca/contamination-and-bio-pollution-the-criminality-of-the-gm-biotech-iindustry/5371517

[10] http://corporateeurope.org/food-and-agriculture/2014/05/biotech-lobbys-fingerprints-over-new-eu-proposal-allow-national-gmo

[11] GeneWatch UK PR: UK Government and GM industry collusion exposed. Tuesday 6th May 2014. http://www.genewatch.org/article.shtml?als[cid]=492860&als[itemid]=574495

[12] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-mp-says-progm-environment-secretary-owen-paterson-is-industry-puppet-8686133.html

[13] http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-syngenta-and-bayer-cropscience-the-gmo-biotech-sector-cant-win-the-scientific-debate-the-options-are-co-option-deception-and-collusion/5381725

[14] http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/06/20/complete-history-monsanto-worlds-evil-corporation/

[15] http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929-hungry-for-land-small-farmers-feed-the-world-with-less-than-a-quarter-of-all-farmland

[16]http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×3365735