The following video from Gary Franchi of NextNewsNetwork reveals the shocking admission by the CDC that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t work.

From the video:

For the first time we can remember, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are going on the record, saying the flu vaccine won’t work this year. The warning comes just before the busiest part of flu season, in January and February. Unfortunately, there won’t be any refund for any of the patients or insurance companies who spent money on flu shots earlier this fall.

But don’t worry. Just when you thought perhaps the CDC could boost their credibility, they found a way to put a sales pitch on the end of their warning. The CDC says if you do come down with the flu, there’s a cure. It’s just going to cost more money. Money that will end up profiting pharmaceutical giants, GlaxoSmithKline and Roche. CDC officials are urging doctors to prescribe two specific antiviral medications for any patients who come in with flu symptoms.

Just last week, the CDC issued a warning, prompting Americans to take the flu vaccine if they haven’t already. Health officials said they had 160 million flu shots on the shelves and ready to go. But just earlier this week, Italy launched an official investigation after about a dozen people died within 48 hours of getting the flu shot. Their national health agency issued an immediate warning, saying DON’T take the vaccine. Here in America, the CDC isn’t going that far. In fact, they found a way of turning this failed vaccine into a promotion for yet another big pharma drug.

Here’s the news report viewo:

And here’s an original laboratory research report from Natural News earlier this year. I personally conducted the ICP-MS heavy metals analysis of these flu vaccines and have the raw count data to prove it. Mercury particle counts at atomic masses 200, 201 and 202 were through the roof on these laboratory tests.

Don’t you find it astonishing that it takes a private ICP-MS laboratory with no ties to government funding, universities or the FDA to finally test flu vaccines and report the truth? (To my knowledge, Natural News is the only news organization in the world that owns a cutting-edge private mass spectrometry instrument and uses it for scientific research in the public interest…)

Flashback: Flu vaccines laboratory confirmed to contain crazy high concentrations of mercury

Mercury tests conducted on vaccines at the Natural News Forensic Food Lab have revealed a shockingly high level of toxic mercury in an influenza vaccine (flu shot) made by GlaxoSmithKline (lot #9H2GX). Tests conducted via ICP-MS document mercury in the Flulaval vaccine at a shocking 51 parts per million, or over 25,000 times higher than the maximum contaminant level of inorganic mercury in drinking water set by the EPA.(1)

The tests were conducted via ICP-MS using a 4-point mercury calibration curve for accuracy. Even then, the extremely high level of mercury found in this flu shot was higher than anything we’ve ever tested, including tuna and ocean fish which are known for high mercury contamination.

In fact, the concentration of mercury found in this GSK flu shot was 100 times higher than the highest level of mercury we’ve ever tested in contaminated fish. And yet vaccines are injected directly into the body, making them many times more toxic than anything ingested orally. As my previous research into foods has already documented, mercury consumed orally is easily blocked by eating common foods like strawberries or peanut butter, both of which bind with and capture about 90% of dietary mercury.

Here are the actual results of what we found in the influenza vaccine from GSK (lot #9H2GX):

Aluminum: 0.4 ppm
Arsenic: zero
Cadmium: zero
Lead: zero
Mercury: 51 ppm

All tests were conducted via calibrated, high-end ICP-MS instrumentation as shown in these lab videos.

Doctors, pharmacists and mainstream media continue to lie about mercury in vaccines

As you take in the scientifically-validated fact that mercury exists at very high concentrations in flu vaccines, keep in mind that most doctors, pharmacists and members of the mainstream media continue to stage an elaborate lie that claims mercury has “already been removed from vaccines.”

Never mind the fact that the use of mercury is admitted right on the package containing the vaccine vial. And now, Natural News has scientifically confirmed the mercury content of flu vaccines using high-end laboratory instrumentation. The existence of high mercury in flu shots is irrefutable.

Anyone who claims mercury has been removed from all vaccines is either wildly ignorant or willfully lying. And anyone who would knowingly allow themselves to be injected with mercury is probably already a victim of the kind of brain damage well known to be caused by mercury.

Insert admits “no controlled trials”

Shockingly, the package insert for this flu shot readily admits the vaccine has never been subjected to scientific clinical trials:

“There have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Flulaval,” the package insert claims in tiny text (that no one reads).

This is printed right on the insert, yet no one in the mainstream media will ever report this astonishing admission. This statement, all by itself, is a confession that flu shot marketing is a fraud.

Across the board, flu shots are heavily propagandized and promoted with the implication that they have zero risks while offering 100% protection. No one in the mainstream media ever questions this claim even though the package insert openly admits the claim is complete hokum and has never been subjected to scientific scrutiny.

No evidence of safety or effectiveness in pregnant women

But that’s not all the insert admits. It also says:

“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children.”

And yet everywhere you go in America, there’s a Walgreens, CVS or Wal-Mart pharmacy promoting flu shots for pregnant women. Never mind the fact that flu shot safety has never been established in pregnant women, and never mind the obvious fact that you should never inject a pregnant women with mercury in the first place!

Who needs scientific proof when you’ve got the full propaganda of the media and the government to back you up? Anyone who dares question the scientific validity of flu shot safety for pregnant women is immediately attacked as being an opponent of all vaccines.

Apparently, the only requirement to be accepted by the vaccine community is to believe in medical fairy tales while abandoning all critical thinking and scientific skepticism. In the vaccine industry, genuine science is simply not allowed. No wonder two former Merck virologists filed a False Claims Act with the federal government, accusing the company of knowingly fabricating its vaccine efficacy data to trick the FDA.

Never proven safe or effective in children, either

Flu shots are heavily promoted for children, right alongside mumps and measles vaccines. But it turns out flu shots are never scientifically tested for safety or efficacy in children.

Check out what the insert for this vaccine directly admits:

“Safety and effectiveness of Flulaval in pediatric patients have not been established.”

It’s right there in black and white… an open admission. Yet flu shots are aggressively marketed to parents and children as if they were Tic-Tacs. The real beauty of the entire vaccine industry scam is that no scientific evidence is required! You don’t have to have any proof, all you have to do is believe in vaccines as a matter of faith.

Never tested for cancer risk

Do flu shots cause cancer? The honest, scientific answer is that these shots are never tested for that. As the insert readily admits:

“Flulaval has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.”

Believe it or not, the Flulaval vaccine also warns that no one should be given this shot if they’ve already received another flu shot at some previous time:

“Do not administer Flulaval to anyone… following previous administration of any influenza vaccine.”

And yet, amazingly, people are encouraged to get flu shots year after year, even though the package insert directly warns against anyone taking a series of influenza vaccines.

Admission that flu shots contain formaldehyde and sodium deoxycholate

The same insert that admits this vaccine has never been proven safe in children or pregnant women also openly admits that it contains neurotoxic chemicals.

Per the insert, each dose of Flulaval contains up to 25 mcg of formaldehyde (a neurotoxin) and up to 50 mcg of sodium deoxycholate.

This is on top of the 25 mcg of mercury you’ll get in every dose. And remember, this is mercury that’s injected directly into your body, so you absorb 100% of this mercury (unlike mercury you eat, where most of it sticks to food fibers and is transported out of your body).

Total admission that flu shots cause seizures, convulsions and Guillian-Barre syndrome

Ever wonder what all these toxic chemicals and heavy metals cause in humans? Flu shots vaccines, it turns out, are already known to cause a huge number of devastating health effects.

Predictably, there is a massive disinfo campaign across the mainstream media, Wikipedia, medical journals and government propaganda agencies (CDC, FDA, etc.) to pretend that flu shots have no risks whatsoever. Yet the insert that comes with the vaccine openly admits the flu shot has been linked with a long, frightening list of serious adverse effects. As this Flulaval insert says (see photo below):

“In addition to reports in clinical trials, the following adverse events have been identified during postapproval use of Flulaval…

vomiting
chest pain
allergic edema of the mouth
anaphylaxis
laryngitis
cullulitis
muscle weakness
arthritis
dizziness
paresthesia
tremor
somnolence
Guillian-Barre syndrome
convulsions / seizures
facial or cranial nerve paralysis
encephalopathy
limb paralysis
insomnia
dyspnea
sweating”

Here’s a photo of this section of the package insert, complete with the GlaxoSmithKline toll-free phone number:

If you take flu shots, you are being poisoned by quacks

The upshot of all this is that flu shots utterly lack any scientific evidence of safety of efficacy. We don’t know if they work at all, in other words, and neither does the vaccine manufacturer. Neither do the doctors or medical staff who administer them. Flu vaccines are injected into people purely as a matter of blind faith in the very same companies that have already been convicted of felony crimes.

GlaxoSmithKline, for example, not only manufacturers this Flulaval vaccine… the company also committed multiple felony crimes and got caught bribing doctors, ultimately agreeing to pay a multi-billion-dollar criminal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Trusting a flu shot made by a corporation of felons is a lot like trusting the purity of heroin you buy from a street dealer. Both flu shots and street heroin have at least one thing in common, by the way: neither has ever been tested for safety.

We also know that flu shots contain neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals in alarming concentrations. This is irrefutable scientific fact. We also know that there is no “safe” form of mercury just like there is no safe form of heroin — all forms of mercury are highly toxic when injected into the body (ethyl, methyl, organic, inorganic).

Share this story, spread the truth

Share this story with everyone who needs to know the truth about flu vaccines. This message needs to get out. Every fact stated in this article is 100% true and verified. The quotes from the Flulaval package insert are on-the-record statements from GlaxoSmithKline.

And for the record, I am not an opponent of the theory of vaccination. What I’m against is the continued use of toxic heavy metals and chemicals in vaccines. I’m also opposed to the wildly fraudulent marketing of vaccines. If any other product were marketed with the same lies and deceptions as vaccines, they would be immediately charged with fraud and misrepresentation by the FTC.

But somehow when the vaccine industry commits routine fraud, everybody pretends it isn’t happening.

Even with all the marketing fraud taking place, if the vaccine manufacturers would stop poisoning the population with vaccine additives (by removing mercury, formaldehyde and other chemicals from their products), nearly all opposition to vaccines would rapidly disappear.

Sources for this story include:
(1) http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basi…
(2) http://vaccines.naturalnews.com

Democratic Congressmen admitted to not reading the National Defense Authorization Act before voting to pass it yesterday, once again underscoring how mammoth pieces of legislation are being green lighted with little oversight whatsoever.

The $585 billion dollar defense bill passed by a vote of 300-119 and now heads to the Senate for approval next week, but judging by the reaction of representatives when asked by CNS News if they had actually read the legislation, the 1,648-page bill may contain a few surprises that Congress hadn’t bargained for.

When asked if he had read the legislation, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) responded: “Of course not. Are you kidding?,” before adding that he did not plan to read the bill before voting on it because “I trust the leadership.”

Moran was unable to guarantee that House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had read the bill, while asserting that their staff had read the text.

When asked if he had read the bill, Boehner didn’t give a straight answer, responding, “I’ve been through almost every part of that bill, as it was being put together. So, trust me, I am well aware of what’s in that bill.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was more direct in his answer. When asked if he had read the bill, Hoyer said “no,” adding that “the committees have gone over it” and he had seen an “outline” of the legislation.

Given the scope of the bill and its huge price tag, is it really too much to expect elected representatives to actually read the legislation they are voting on?

During the 2010 elections, the Republicans vowed to “Ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.”

However, the NDAA was only published online late Tuesday night and voted on 36 hours later.

According to the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, nothing exemplified “government overreach and arrogance” for Republicans more than Nancy Pelosi’s infamous quote about Obamacare in 2010 when she stated, “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Nothing has changed in the four years since Pelosi made that contemptuous comment.

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

Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/paul.j.watson.71
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By Ryukyu Shimpo, Ota Masahide, Mark Ealey and Alastair McLauchlan

Foreword

The Battle of Okinawa

The last engagement between the armies of Japan and the United States, the Battle of Okinawa, was fought in the final stages of the Pacific War, predominantly on the main island of Okinawa, but also on other small islands in the vicinity.

The battle is generally defined as beginning on 1 April 1945 and ending nearly three months later on 23 June. While most American sources and textbooks used at schools in Japan frame the period of the battle this way, this is incorrect for two reasons. The first is that while 1 April is the date on which the main body of US forces landed on the main island of Okinawa, on 26 March U.S troops landed on the Kerama Islands just off Okinawa but within the prefecture. The awful tragedy that occurred there in which more than 700 local residents were either directly or indirectly driven by the Japanese military to take their own lives is a compelling reason why we should neither exclude nor place less emphasis on the landing and battle in the Keramas. Not only did the events that occurred there serve as a prelude to the devastation that the people of Okinawa would experience in the next three to four months of 1945, but they undeniably marked the first military action of the Okinawa campaign.

Another good reason is that on that same day, as soon as the US forces landed on Akashima in the Keramas, Adm. Chester W. Nimitzthe Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, issued US Naval Military Government Directive No. 1, by which the United States suspended Japanese sovereignty and assumed administrative control as an occupying power of all Japanese territory located on or south of latitude 30 degrees north.


Map of Okinawa and the Ryukyus

Likewise, 23 June cannot be seen as the date when the Battle of Okinawa ended because this is the date when the Commander in Chief of the 32nd Army, Lt. Gen. Ushijima Mitsuru, and Chief of Staff Cho Isamu committed suicide on 22 June, the fact becoming known on the 232rd, but that was not the date when organized hostilities came to an end. As it happens, when General Joseph Stilwell, the Commander of the US 10th Army, the main force to land on Okinawa, was instructed by Field Marshal Douglas McArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, to receive the surrender of the Japanese forces in the Nansei Islands, among the Japanese representatives who presented themselves at Gen. Stilwell’s US 10th Army headquarters in Kadena on 7 September 1945 to sign the six documents that made up the instrument of surrender were Lt. Gen. Noumi Toshiro, the Commander of the 28th Division stationed on Miyako-jima, Maj. Gen. Takada Toshisada and Vice-Adm. Kato Tadao from Amami Oshima. The date of the signing was 7 September 1945 so it is only logical to see as the date when the Battle of Okinawa formally ended. By judging 23 June to represent the end of the battle, the terrible events that became known as the Kume-jima Incident, in which the Japanese military massacred local residents, therefore fall outside of the official historical parameters of the battle. It is also worth noting that American forces landed on Kume-jima on 26 June. In the Kume-jima Incident, after US forces landed on the island, the Japanese garrison killed 20 local residents who had supposedly engaged in “spying” for the enemy. This hideous occurrence represents one of the ugliest aspects of the Battle of Okinawa, and as such inclusion of this massacre is essential for the battle to be considered in its historical entirety. Therefore, we should date the end of the battle as 7 September rather than 23 June.

The Battle of Okinawa was distinct from all other battles in the Pacific War in that it was fought in one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, with the majority of the resident civilian population still present. While Iwo-jima, the island that served as a stepping-stone to Okinawa for US forces, was also Japanese territory, its residents had been forcibly evacuated months before, so the only people on the island when the US forces landed in February 1945 were the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). The fighting in the Battle of Saipan in the middle of the previous year saw many Japanese settlers (mostly Okinawans) caught in the crossfire, but the Mariana Islands were not inherently Japanese territory. The islands had been controlled by Germany until World War 1 and in 1922 were entrusted by the League of Nations to Japan as mandate territories. While the people living in urban centers on the main islands of Japan were of course victims of merciless incendiary bombing in the latter stages of the war, Okinawa was the only prefecture to experience combat on the ground.

The scale of Operation Iceberg and the disparity in the size of the respective forces is noteworthy. The United States mobilized approximately 1500 naval vessels carrying 548,000 men to launch the invasion of the small islands of Okinawa. In 1945 the population of the prefecture of Okinawa was less than 450,000 people so the total US forces actually outnumbered the residents of Okinawa. In contrast to the huge numbers of US troops available, if we include the locally recruited and poorly trained Home Guard and Student Corps child soldiers, the Japanese forces deployed on Okinawa numbered 110,000, just one-fifth of the American strength.

The horrifying extent of civilian casualties is a key feature of the battle. Over 140,000 people, or about one third of the population, died in the course of the battle and its immediate aftermath. As documented in the articles that make up this book, hundreds of families were completed wiped out. Needless to say, most families in the prefecture will have the name of at least one deceased relative engraved on the Cornerstone of Peace, the marble tablets in Mabuni that bear the names of the more than 240,000 combatants and non-combatants of all nationalities who died in the battle. Among the civilian casualties were members of the Home Guard, as well as teenage soldiers recruited without any basis in law into the Blood and Iron Student Corps and young girls co-opted into nurse’s aide units. Among the civilian deaths was the significant loss of life of Korean young men and women press-ganged into serving as laborers or comfort women.

Another characteristic of the Battle of Okinawa was the incidence of group suicide and parricide among civilians terrified at the prospect of being captured by an enemy portrayed by Japanese soldiers as monsters. This had also occurred in Saipan the previous year, and the Japanese media, by extolling those who took their lives in this way, helped to set the scene for it to occur in Okinawa. While the extent to which Japanese soldiers were involved in encouraging or even compelling locals to take their own lives or kill loved ones has been the subject of heated debate in recent years, including court cases initiated by relatives of Imperial Japanese Army commanders suing for libel. This work covers some of these tragedies.

The use of “special-attack units” (kamikaze) is also a well-known aspect of the battle. Over 3,000 young men lost their lives carrying out suicide attacks on ships of the U.S fleet sitting off the coast of Okinawa and 4,900 US sailors were killed as a result. In an era when suicide bombers are painted as religious fanatics, it is important to understand that by and large the pilots who flew on the one-way missions to the seas off Okinawa were relatively well-educated young men driven to contribute to saving their country from what they believed would be obliteration. After all, in the months before the Battle of Okinawa Japan’s urban centers, and tens of thousands of their residents, were being incinerated at a pace that seemed to give credence to the call that only a Divine Wind (kamikaze) could save the nation from destruction. Japanese military leaders, and the Emperor, believed that one last furious roll of the dice would see the United States and its allies accept peace terms that allowed Japan’s national polity (its national essence with the emperor at the head) to remain in place. As it happens of course, rather than helping to bring the war to an end on acceptable terms, the ferocity of these kamikaze attacks resulted in pressure being brought to bear by the US Navy on the commander of the ground forces on Okinawa, Lt. Gen. Buckner, to bring the land campaign to an end as quickly as possible. This, it is argued, may have seen him opt for a costly, blunt-instrument approach rather than a slower but less costly second landing.

If we look at losses suffered by both sides in the Battle of Okinawa, while the US forces lost more than 12,000 men killed (with a total of 72,000 either wounded or victims of combat fatigue), the Japanese military lost over 70,000 men with more than 140,000 Okinawans being killed. In addition 10,000 Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner. When describing the battle, Hanson W. Baldwin of the New York Times wrote: “Never before had there been, probably never again will there be, such a vicious sprawling struggle.” In every sense of the word, the battle was vicious in the extreme. That the commanders of both sides died in the battle is testimony to the all-encompassing reach of the casualties.

The horrific death toll and the fanatical resistance by Japanese forces affected the thinking of US leaders and was a significant factor leading to the decision to drop atomic bombs on mainland Japan.

Another feature of the battle was that Okinawa was a “sute-ishi” (sacrificial stone in the Japanese board game of go) cast away in a desperate attempt to save the main islands of Japan. The Japanese Imperial Army’s objective was not to protect the local Okinawans, but instead to engage in combat for the longest time possible, and to inflict the maximum casualties on the Americans in order to earn time for further defensive preparations on the home islands. Rather than putting efforts into evacuation or the creation of a safe zone for civilians, the Okinawan people were used as a source of labor to build shelters, tunnels and other emplacements, to supplement combat units and to tend to wounded soldiers in circumstances aptly described by the title of this book. With the Imperial Japanese Army supplying itself in the field, having civilians close at hand suited them until the US forces landed, when the common view among the commanders of the 32nd Army changed to civilians being potential spies or merely bodies taking up space in caves and shelters.

The Japanese Army’s heartless approach to ejecting local civilians from caves was matched by their killing hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of their own soldiers who were too badly wounded to retreat southwards from hospital shelters.

Through the Battle of Okinawa the people of the prefecture learned a valuable lesson. They came to understand that the military was motivated solely by its own organizational imperatives, existing to protect abstract concepts of national polity and the imperial system, and that in no sense did it serve the function of protecting the lives of non-combatants, that is, the Okinawan people. The fact that that lesson was learned at the expense of well over 140,000 Okinawan lives means that even now, nearly 70 years after Japan was defeated in WW2, the people of Okinawa still value that lesson and sincerely strive to create a peaceful world.

It is important for English speaking readers who read Descent into Hell to understand that the origin of all current affairs is to be found in past history. Those who look at the situation that prevails in Okinawa now and sense a growing antagonism among the prefecture’s residents towards the presence of US military bases need to be reminded that it was not always like this. Today’s situation can be traced back firstly to the Battle of Okinawa and then to subsequent agreements between the governments of Japan and the United States.

We should remember that from even before the end of the battle, while the residual elements of the Japanese 32nd Army were forcing Okinawans out from caves into the relentless bombardment in southern Okinawa, specially organized units of the United States military were already providing food, clothing and shelter to displaced residents in areas that it had secured. The US forces had planned ahead and prepared for this contingency and their kindness in this respect no doubt saved tens of thousands of Okinawans from death by starvation. The years immediately following the surrender of Japan were marked by strong of feelings of gratitude among Okinawans towards the United States for its efforts to avoid a humanitarian disaster. These feelings continued until the governments of Japan and the United States colluded to concentrate an unfair proportion of the US military presence in Okinawa, including nuclear weapons, and highly toxic defoliants for use in the Vietnam War. The current situation in Okinawa may give the impression that ill feeling has prevailed for much longer than is actually the case. I encourage all who have an interest in Okinawan affairs to equip themselves with a knowledge of the civilian experience in the battle for these islands fought almost seven decades ago.

Evacuation

With the fall of Saipan imminent, on 7 July 1944, an emergency meeting of the Japanese cabinet ratified the request from Lt. Gen. Cho Isamu, Chief of Staff of the 32nd Army that the elderly, as well as women and children, should be evacuated from Okinawa, Miyako-jima and Ishigaki-jima.1 In the course of the following week instructions were issued by the Japanese government to evacuate 80,000 people from the main island of Okinawa to Kyushu, and a further 20,000 from Miyako-jima and the Yaeyama Islands to Taiwan.2 It has been suggested that the figure 100,000 was chosen because that is the number of soldiers who had been deployed to Okinawa, so acquiring food supplies for them meant that the same number of locals needed to be removed.3 That was particularly pressing given that most livestock on the island had been slaughtered and eaten.4 Also, the military decided that in an island prefecture as small as Okinawa, that the number of civilians who could not assist Japanese forces to conduct the battle should be reduced.

For several reasons the evacuation did not go smoothly. First and foremost, was that the military saw the civilian population only in terms of what food resources they could supply (or consume) or what tasks they could carry out to aid the defense of the island in construction or combat roles.5 Regardless of any plan for evacuation, civilians were kept working as long as possible building airfields then digging tunnels and fortifications.6 By March 1945 the military and able-bodied civilians had assumed one integrated purpose (gunmin-ittaika) and evacuation to safety did not fit in with this philosophy.7 Statements in the early months of 1945 by Lt. Gen. Cho were blunt and to the point – those who were not capable of contributing to the military effort were expected to remove themselves from locations where they might hinder military operations, and those who remained were expected to give their lives for the cause. At an address in Shuri on 10 January 1945, he is reported to have said, “To the people of Okinawa, as Japanese citizens you are expected to come forward to do your utmost to defend your homeland. … The young and the old are to cooperate by evacuating so that they do not interfere in the fighting.”8

However, soldiers often discouraged people from evacuating by denigrating the act of relocation to Kyushu, where food was already in short supply, as cowardice.9 Third, because the IJA talked only in terms of certain victory over the American forces, the civilian population did not sense the need to evacuate.10 Fourth, the main premise upon which evacuation was carried out was that the people going to Kyushu had relatives or friends upon whom they could rely for support.11

In the background to this was the sinking of the Tsushima-Maru by the submarine USS Bowfin on 21 August, 1944 with the loss of 1,375 lives, including 777 children, highlighting just how dangerous the waters between Okinawa and the main islands of Japan had become by mid-1944, which of course discouraged parents from sending family members away as information about the disaster leaked out.12 While not widely known in Okinawa, less than a month before the Tsushima-Maru met its fate, the Toyama-Maru carrying the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade to reinforce the 32nd Army was also torpedoed and sunk in the same seas between Okinawa and the main islands of Japan. Over 5,000 troops were lost on the Toyama-Maru in one of the world’s worst maritime disasters.13 The Japanese authorities’ ability to hide information on the sinking of merchant vessels is illustrated by the fact that the tragedy of 577 Okinawans (mostly young volunteers set to join the Yokaren Naval Aviator Preparatory Course, but also including 61 civilians) who were killed when the Konan-Maru was sunk by a US submarine in December 1943 on its way from Naha to the main islands of Japan, was not revealed until mid-1982.14

Approximately 4,500 Okinawans lost their lives on vessels moving between Japan and its outer islands or occupied territories. As with the Tsushima-Maru bringing soldiers of the 62nd Division to Naha from Shanghai, when we consider that the same vessel transporting soldiers and munitions on one leg of its journey would on the next leg carry civilians seeking the relative safety of the main islands of Japan, it was extremely difficult for US submarine commanders to differentiate one from the other.15 Other vessels carrying evacuees were attacked by US warplanes. For example, the Senkaku Islands Shipwreck Incident, which is covered in detail in this work, was caused by an attack by US warplanes on the No. 1 Chihaya-Maru and the No. 5 Chihaya-Maru on their way to Taiwan in early July 1945.

Only after the large-scale air raids of 10 October 1944, which destroyed 90 percent of Naha, were many Okinawan families prepared to risk removing family members from harm’s way.16 A total of 60,000 people (including some 6,000 children) were evacuated to Kumamoto, Oita and Miyazaki Prefectures in Kyushu and a further 20,000 to Taiwan. 17

The military also encouraged civilians to relocate to the northern region of the main island of Okinawa, which was not expected to be the scene of fighting, but the logistical reality of moving north and the lateness of the start of this evacuation (March 1945) meant that when US forces quickly cut the island in two by seizing control of the Ishikawa Isthmus, many of the civilians who had started to head north were forced to retrace their steps southwards.18One reason for the late start to the evacuation proper was that the governor of Okinawa, Izumi Shuki, abandoned his post and fled to mainland Japan in December 1944. The month of total inaction that followed until Shimada Akira was appointed as Izumi’s successor was a factor in leaving so many Okinawan civilians in areas where fighting would occur.19

Life for those who did reach Kyushu was particularly harsh over the winter of 1944 – 1945. Three things that surviving Okinawans say when reflecting on those times in Kumamoto, Oita and Miyazaki are that they always felt cold, hungry and lonely.20 For these people, after the war ended they changed from having fled from the fighting, to waiting months in repatriation camps for the situation in the devastated homeland of Okinawa to recover to the extent that they could return home.21

As Hayashi states: “Even during wartime in those days, designating and announcing a specific area as safe-zone for non-combatants to avoid such people becoming caught up in combat was recognized as an option under international law. However, taking such a course of action did not occur to the Imperial Japanese Army or the Japanese government. Whether it was in Okinawa, or on the main islands of Japan, the IJA had no intention of protecting the lives or ensuring the safety of civilians.”22

Compulsory mass suicide

Incidents of “mass suicide” represent the most tragic example of civilians succumbing to the horrific pressures brought to bear on them during the Battle of Okinawa.23 Apart from the many who took their own lives individually, there were approximately thirty cases of multiple suicides and family members killing loved ones, with the tragic escalation of panic and fear on Zamami-jima and Tokashiki-jima in late March claiming the lives of 234 and 329 people respectively.24 The majority of mass suicides occurred early in the battle and either involved direct coercion by the Imperial Japanese Army or their functionaries to prevent civilians being taken captive by the Americans, or indirectly by the fear of capture that had been instilled in civilians through contact with the Army. Many of the Japanese soldiers who had fought in China had told locals of the terrible excesses they had committed during the fighting there and suggested that American troops would behave the same way towards any Okinawan civilians whom they captured. Fear of execution as “spies” by the Japanese forces also served to heighten the sense of despair among the civilians who, having failed to escape northwards, had been caught up in the merciless US naval bombardment.25 To most Okinawans being pushed southwards by the American advance, death must have seemed an inevitable outcome. In many cases, hand-grenades distributed by the military or Home Guard provided the means to commit suicide or kill loved ones, but in addition, poison, razors, farm tools, knives, pieces of wood were used and in some cases bedding was set alight to cause asphyxiation.

At a deeper level, since the Meiji period Okinawans had been educated to show total devotion to the Emperor, and therefore to the nation, so their desire to obey military orders as though they had been given by the Emperor himself meant that any form of coercive message from the Imperial Japanese Army carried a weight far stronger than can be imagined in modern times. By April 1945, Okinawans had been so inculcated with the need to serve the Emperor that for many death at their own hands was preferred to surrender. The acceptance of gunmin-ittaika (that the military and civilians had a shared purpose and destiny) meant that it was only natural that civilians in close contact with the IJA would accept death at a time and manner decided by the military.

The most famous cases of mass suicide occurred on Tokashiki and Zamami and in Chibichiri-gama in Yomitan. Comment from a survivor of the tragedy at Chibichiri-gama is covered within this work.

The cases at Chibichiri-gama and the nearby Shimuku-gama in Yomitan that occurred in the first few days of April 1945, directly after the landing by U.S forces, provide a clear contrast in terms of how panic and fear could lead to mass suicide or be mollified to avoid a tragedy.26 At Chibichiri-gama, the worst-case scenario occurred, with 83 people of 140 in the cave committing suicide or being killed by panic-stricken family members.27 However, at Shimuku-gama, a huge cave located less than one kilometer away from Chibichiri-gama, the lives of over 1,000 people were saved because two local men who had returned to Okinawa after living in Hawaii persuaded the terrified locals that the Americans would not commit atrocities against them.28

The degree of compulsion from the Japanese military on local people who either took their own lives or killed family members became an issue of national significance when in 2007 the Ministry of Education ordered the amendment of passages in several history textbooks stating that coercion by the military was behind the mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa. The references to the IJA driving civilians to commit suicide were subsequently reinstated, but with some using less forthright terms. This will no doubt be an ongoing issue.29

It is important to understand the background of the widely used Japanese expression shudan-jiketsu, which was originally used to imply that the acts of suicide were self-initiated and spontaneous.30 From 1953, the Relief Law, officially known as The Relief Law for Individuals and Survivors of Individuals Killed or Wounded at War, came to be applied to grant pensions to Okinawan civilians judged to have been killed or wounded while either cooperating or participating in some way in the combat activities of the Imperial Japanese Army. People who had been infants when their parents died during the battle became eligible to apply for bereaved family pensions, so the tone of the Relief Law encouraged a perception that defining war deaths as having occurred for the sake of the nation matched the logic of the law. It is suggested that this in turn helped lend momentum to the use of the expression shudan-jiketsu, and contributed to perverting understanding of the civilian experience of the battle.

Compulsory Mass Suicide in the Kerama Islands

In the Battle of Okinawa the Kerama Islands became known as the “islands of tragedy” and people who witnessed the shudan jiketsu or compulsory mass suicide there have been reluctant to talk about what happened. It is estimated that between 600 and 700 civilians took their own lives, and the memories of that living hell remain vivid in the minds of the survivors.

Kinjo Shigeaki, a professor at Okinawa Christian Junior College explained, “It took me more than 20 years before I felt able to talk about it.” He was there when his own mother, younger sister and brother were among those who took their own lives on Tokashiki-jima.

On the 23 March 1945, in contrast to what the IJA had expected to happen, American forces commenced their attack on the Kerama Islands. Three days later, on the 27th, they landed on Tokashiki. Stationed on the island at that time were 104 men of Japan’s 3rd Special Boat Battalion, under the command of Capt. Akamatsu Yoshitsugu. The unit was equipped with 100 special attack speedboats, known as Maru-re. Each craft was manned by one person, weighed one ton and carried a 250kg depth charge at the stern. But none of these special craft ever put to sea on an actual mission.

Kinjo had just turned 16. His family comprised his parents, an elder brother aged 19, a sister aged ten and a younger brother aged six. His eldest brother was away working somewhere far south of Okinawa. On 27 March, the date of the US landing on Tokashiki, Kinjo’s family and the other civilians in the Aharen Ward were ordered to move to Tokashiki Ward. “By this stage, the civilian population was beginning to feel that their fate was intrinsically linked with that of the soldiers,” Kinjo commented.

“As far as we civilians were concerned, we thought that we had the soldiers to protect us, and if worst came to worst, we were prepared to share their fate. From the army’s point of view, if the civilians were scattered all over the place, they thought that we might end up cooperating with the enemy. As a result, they kept us all together in one place.”

They headed off at night and were caught in a torrential rainstorm. Lashed by the rain, they were constantly on the alert for enemy soldiers. Even now Kinjo remembers the flashing red trail of American tracer rounds as they zipped across the dark sky. Some of the group slipped on the muddy mountain track and fell down to the valley floor, their pitiful calls ringing out as they rolled down the slopes. It was a night of anxiety. Kinjo explained, “We saw the grim reaper in our mind’s eye and believed that death was the only possible outcome for us.” As dawn broke, civilians all over the valley were herded into a single area. A terrible chapter of history of the Kerama Islands was about to unfold.

Everybody was resigned to the fact they were going to die. But even so, Kinjo clearly remembers that the women did their hair and tidied themselves up. On the morning of the 28th, civilians from every corner of the valley were gathered together. It is thought that there were between 700 and 1,000 of them there. That was when the order for mass suicide came. The Home Guard soldiers had about 30 hand grenades. As soon as the order for the mass suicide was given, the sound of grenades exploding one after the other from within groups of people gathered in circles could be heard. However, not only were there not enough grenades available for all the people gathered there to kill themselves, many of the grenades were duds. This led to an even greater tragedy.

Probably because they were startled by the explosions of the grenades, the American attack began immediately and the pandemonium escalated to total chaos. Kinjo was all but knocked out by the shockwave of a grenade which just missed him. Stunned by the blast, he pinched himself to see if he was still alive. Then, as he gradually regained consciousness, he was aware of something bizarre taking place before his very eyes. The man who had once been chairman of Aharen Ward was frantically tearing a branch off a tree. His eyes still not focussing properly, Kinjo was astounded by what happened next. The man used the branch as a murder weapon to bash his own wife and child to death. “That bizarre, suicidal environment had turned him into a madman.”

Those who had not been able to take their own lives with grenades were worried about being left alive. They had to find other ways to kill themselves, and the former ward chairman’s behaviour had set the example. Some used scythes and razor blades to slash themselves, while others strangled themselves with lengths of rope. As the mayhem unfolded, they found all sorts of ways to kill, some bashing others to death with rocks and sticks. Men bashed their wives and parents bashed their children, young people killed the elderly and the strong killed the weak. What they felt in common was the belief that they were doing this out of love and compassion. Before they knew it, Kinjo’s father became separated from the rest of the family. They never learned where he died.

Kinjo and his elder brother also had to fulfil their role. Everything that was happening around them made them understand that they had to carry out their duty as well. Kinjo said, “I think it was our mother that we hit first.” As he and his brother began bashing her in the head, Kinjo screamed out until she became a blur through the tears flowing from his eyes. For the first time in his life he wept uncontrollably. “I have never wailed like that since,” Kinjo explained.

The brothers used sticks to rain blow after blow on their mother. Watching her from behind as their pounding sent her step by step towards death is still a vivid image in Kinjo’s mind. However, he has no recollection of what he did to his sister and brother after that. After killing his entire family, one distant relative tried to take his own life by hanging himself from a tree. He failed, however, and just wandered around aimlessly for quite some time as though sleepwalking. Eventually, he was shot and killed by US soldiers at the bottom of the hill.

The place where those people who lost their lives in so many ghastly ways was filled with corpses. Blood ran into the stream below, staining the water red. Although they knew they were about to die, the thought that they were sharing their fate with the military drove them to take their own lives.

The insane mass suicide was almost over but they could still hear the groans of those who were not quite dead. They heard one person who could barely manage to call out his last request of, “Finish me off.” Kinjo was both afraid and worried about being the last one left alive. “Who was now going to kill whom?” His mother, sister and brother were already dead and he and his elder brother had to decide which of them would be next. As they were discussing it, two people from the same year at elementary school on Maejima stepped between them and said, “Look, if we’re going to die, let’s die attacking the Americans.”

They thought that to go out and launch a suicidal attack against the Americans would be the best way to die. “We thought that, as the last living citizens of the Empire, we each had to take an enemy soldier with us when we died. With that, we agreed on an infiltration attack, challenging ourselves to an even more frightening death. For whatever reason, two sixth grade elementary school girls joined them. Five others aged between 12 and 19 also found themselves included in the infiltration squad, armed only with sticks. As he wandered aimlessly about, Kinjo was stunned to see that the first living person he came across was a Japanese soldier.

Kinjo said, “I just couldn’t believe it. We’d chosen to take our own lives because we thought they were all dead. That was when our sense of solidarity with the military came crashing down around us.” Then the soldier added insult to injury when he said, “You civilians go over there.” Kinjo explained, “Group suicide was the ultimate display of our solidarity with the military and our sense of unity with the people of the Empire of Japan.” Kinjo’s shock was even worse as he realized that his sense of solidarity and national unity had been mere illusion. Thereafter, he and the others lived in the hills until they became prisoners of war, but not once did he ever feel glad to have survived. “All I did was stay alive in preparation for dying. All hope that any members of my family might still be alive was gone. In that atmosphere of total despondency, we just looked after ourselves as best we could.”

After the war, Kinjo suffered horribly from feelings of guilt. His anguishis Hi grew ever deeper once he was freed from the abnormal psyche of war and rediscovered the person he had once been. “I was the biggest victim of those policies designed to make people subservient to the Emperor and what he stood for. Growing up as a naïve boy of 16, I never questioned what was going on.” While discovering Christianity finally set his soul free, it was still more than 20 years before he was able to talk with anyone about his horrific experiences. Kinjo gave three reasons for the mass suicide: the ideology of obedience to the Emperor, the presence of the Imperial Japanese Army, and being on an island some distance from the mainland with no way of escape. “Back in those days of 100 million Japanese citizens supposedly being prepared to fight to the very last man, everybody was prepared for death. The doctrine of total obedience to the Emperor emphasized death and made light of life. The willingness to die for the Emperor on a faraway island resulted in a whole new sense of identity.”

Three hundred and twenty nine people are believed to have died in the compulsory mass suicide on Tokashiki-jima. According to the Defense Agency’s archives section, 21 of the 104 men stationed on the island as part of the 3rd Special Boat Battalion died, as did 38 of the 161 men of 3rd Battalion’s base unit. Furthermore, the only official record of the men press ganged in Korea and brought to join the Marine Labor Corps is listed as “fate unknown.” In Okinawa, civilians were executed by the military on suspicion of spying for the enemy and there were also incidents of massacres of Korean military laborers. Kinjo commented, “War turns human beings into savages.”

The Landings


US Marine landing April 1, 1945 (Aerial view)

Early in the morning of 1 April 1945, a fleet of 1,300 vessels landed US forces on the beaches at Chatan and Yomitan either side of the mouth of the Hija River on the west side of central Okinawa. It was the start of fierce fighting that would last three months.

The IJA unit that faced them was known as the Gaya Detachment, named after its commanding officer, Lt. Col. Gaya Kokichi. It was deployed ahead of the main defenses to fight in isolation. By 6 April, when it was deemed to have completed its mission, it had lost six officers and 232 soldiers.

A youth unit comprising local children under 18 years of age was assisting the Gaya Detachment. “We were attached to the Murakami Unit and the duty for the boys was to carry ammunition, while the girls were to help the nurses,” said Yagi Seiei, who was then 17 years old. The 14 or 15 people in this youth unit had been thrown together one day after an order was suddenly given for them to assemble.


Marine landing April 1, 1945 (ground view)

“Cpl. Murakami was in charge of the unit. He was a wild character, to say the least. It was a light machine-gun squad made up of about 20 men.” Before the youth unit was organized, Yagi had been drafted into an agricultural unit and sent to the Ginowan Agricultural School. From there, he went to work for a family that was struggling to complete all the work on the farm because they had a son fighting at the front. “There was a Japanese flag flying from a pole in the middle of the fields. Maybe for about two months… our job was to carry ammunition from a shelter about 200 or 300 meters from an emplacement set up on a highland. Normally we spent time in the local civilian shelter before going out at night to do our shift carrying the ammunition.” At that stage, in Kiyuna where they were, each family had dug its own shelter and for a while Yagi spent time in one of them. However, when the air raids increased in intensity they decided that the family-made shelters were not safe enough, so they moved to the five caves in the area. The sea in front of Chatan was full of warships from about four or five days before the US landings, so Yagi was close enough to sense that the landings could happen any day. The shelter where the gun emplacement was located is in what is now Camp Zukeran, and has a panoramic view of the Chatan coastline. “On the evening of 31 March, I’d just gone on duty,” said Yagi. Early the next morning, the vessels out at sea started to move towards the beaches. “Cpl. Murakami watched this through his binoculars and after checking his watch shouted ‘Landing commences at 6:48am.’”

According to various books on the Battle of Okinawa, the US forces landed at 8:30am, but Yagi says, “There is no mistaking the fact that it was 6:48am. The corporal checked his own watch and then shouted out for someone to check the time. The position of the sun in the sky also meant that it couldn’t have been after 8:00am,” insists Yagi.

He describes the landings as follows. “In those days there were railway tracks running between the coastline at Chatan and the prefectural road [now Route 58]. The unmanned Chatan Railway Station was located centrally between the two. There were smaller roads branching off from the railway station, one going along the prefectural road and the other connecting the prefectural road with the coast. The landings started with three amphibious tanks in the vanguard and behind them waves of troops came ashore from the warships sitting off the coast. The three tanks took the narrow road towards the main prefectural road, where one turned towards Naha, one towards Nago and one headed for Zukeran.

When the US troops first came ashore they expected to come under fire so they immediately took cover, but they relaxed and started to walk around when they realized that no one was shooting at them. “They marched along the nearby riverside, just like the Imperial Army used to do,” said Yagi. That day, when Cpl. Murakami heard that US forces had entered the settlement of Aniya, he flew into a rage and said that the unit would launch an infiltration raid on the enemy.

On the night of 1 April, after having waited in a shelter with ammunition ready to carry, Yagi was ordered to go to a fortified shelter. Just when he got to the area below the plateau where the position was, the ground was shaken by the force of a direct hit on the very position he was heading for. He scrambled up to the emplacement but there was nothing left, just bloodied shreds of uniform on the remaining wooden supports of what had been the shelter. “The guys who had been killed were a lance corporal and a first year recruit. I’m pretty sure that I’d heard that the young soldier was from Shikiya in Chinen,” said Yagi. The lance corporal had been firing his machine gun and the recruit beside him had been feeding the ammunition belt.

Yagi hurried back to the shelter where he’d been waiting before he went out to carry the ammunition and when his shift ended for the day he returned to the shelter for local civilians.

In the evening of 2 April, when Arakaki Masahiro, another member of the youth unit was on his way to the cave where they used to wait for orders to carry ammunition, he quickly hid when he heard a noise from the field nearby. A few moments later he heard people talking. It sounded like there were two people there, one speaking in a loud voice and the other in much quieter tones. He listened hard to pick up what they were saying and could tell that they were speaking in the Okinawan dialect, talking about a noise that they had heard from the field. Yagi joined in, saying that it was probably the enemy that they had just heard. “I’d say that the enemy heard them talking,” said Yagi, because in just a short time, bullets rained in on them as they scurried back to the local civilians’ shelter.

“The American soldiers had dug a hole in the field and were hiding there,” said Arakaki. The boys in the youth unit were divided into two sections with Yagi and Arakaki in separate groups. On the evening of 2 April, the day after the US forces landed, Arakaki went to the civilian shelter to await orders. It was there that he was wounded in his left thigh. “We were standing in a line, one behind the other, a young recruit called Teruya at the front, then LCpl. Sakuma, and me when a shell landed right in front of us. Teruya and Sakuma were killed instantly and I was hit in the left thigh.” Just moments before that, another young soldier called Shimabukuro had been killed when a piece of shrapnel hit him in the chest.

Dragging his wounded leg, Arakaki headed for the shelter at Nodake. On 4 April, he was taken prisoner and put into a camp at Chatan. “The camp was within what used to be the Hamby Airfield, but many of the people there died, so they dug large pits with caterpillar tractors and buried them.

Yagi said that at around noon on 3 April, a second generation Japanese American came to the shelter where local people had sought refuge and persuaded Yagi to surrender together with some 250 other civilians.

The cave that the Murakami Unit operated from, and the civilian shelter at Kiyuna, are now inside Camp Zukeran. Yagi and Arakaki guided me to where I could see them through the barbed wire. There is a tomb across from the base and the road. Yagi said, “I remember some American soldiers cooking food where that tomb is.” The tomb was only a very short distance from where we were standing.

“The young recruits Teruya and Shimabukuro who were killed right in front of me, all I know is their surnames so there’s nothing I can really do to link to anyone with just that. The families are probably searching for information about them too…. In those days new recruits in their first year of service were treated just like any other soldier. They were older than me and I was afraid of them, so I never had a chance to ask their first names. I of course wish that I had…”

Yagi, who witnessed the US forces landing said, “The US fleet out there was just huge. The scale of their flotilla meant that the result of battle was never in doubt.”

On 1 April, the US forces landed with no losses and before the end of that day had occupied the northern (Yomitan) and central airfields (Kadena), and issued Proclamation No. 1 (The Nimitz Proclamation) to set up the US Military Government in Yomitan.

How strategic decisions in the Battle of Okinawa affected civilians

With the fall of Saipan and the other Mariana Islands in mid-1944, the Absolute National Defense Zone created by Imperial Japanese Headquarters (IGHQ) for the defense of the main islands and the continuation of the war was compromised.

As the situation in Japan’s Pacific defense perimeter rapidly deteriorated, in February 1945 the Emperor rejected Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro’s advice to end the war immediately, insisting instead that Japan fight on in the hope of achieving one last military success. His hope was that this would force the United States and its allies to offer peace terms that would allow Japan to maintain the status and institution of the Emperor.31 Had the Emperor heeded Konoe’s advice and surrendered, it is possible that there might never have been a Battle of Okinawa, or atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

However, the Emperor’s belief in the need for one last victory and military hardliners’ intransigence meant that Okinawa would be sacrificed in an attempt to save the main islands of Japan from the disaster that invasion would visit upon the imperial hierarchy.32 The decision to engage in a battle specifically designed to be drawn-out to cause maximum losses to the enemy and the approach that demanded that civilians also be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice doomed the people of Okinawa to a level of suffering that was of little concern to the Japanese authorities.33

Airfields on Saipan, Guam and Tinian allowed US B29 bombers to attack key targets in the main islands of Japan. The next step was to invade either Taiwan or Okinawa, but the lack of sufficient troop numbers to be confident about subduing the Japanese defense force on Taiwan meant that Okinawa loomed as the better option of the two.34 Its location south of Japan also meant that its airfields and anchorages needed to be secured by US forces before the planned invasion of Japan was launched. In response to the loss of the Marianas, as part of Operation Sho-Go II, the Japanese also recognized the significance of projecting airpower from Okinawa, but from the unrealistic standpoint that the American invasion fleet could be destroyed at sea by Japanese air and naval forces, and that the 32nd Army would then repel any US forces that did manage to land.35 In late 1944, work to complete 15 airfields in Okinawa went ahead at a frantic pace.36 However, in the end, because Japanese air-power had been dramatically reduced in the battles off the Philippines, the Japanese destroyed the airfields with their own hands before the American landings.37

In November 1944, after reinforcing Okinawa with powerful army units, in response to US forces having landed in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines the previous month, the 32nd Army’s best division, the 9th, which represented one third of the 32nd Army’s infantry strength, was redeployed to Taiwan.38 39 The elite 9th Division, with its large numbers of Okinawan recruits, was not replaced. By this stage of the war, movement of troopships on the seas south of Japan was a perilous operation as evidenced by the sinking of the Toyama-Maru on 29 June 1944 in which the 44th Independent Mixed Brigade, bound for Okinawa, lost over 5,000 men. In addition, the increasing fixation on strengthening homeland defenses saw Okinawa effectively left to its own designs within a new plan, Operation Ten-Go that focused heavily on so-called “Special Attack Units” including the kamikaze offensives of early April and the suicide mission of the battleship Yamato.40 In mid-February, six weeks before the US landings on the main island of Okinawa, when Lt General Ushijima announced the battle slogan of the defense force as “One Plane for One Warship, One Boat for One Ship, One Man for Ten of the Enemy or One Tank,” it was clear that all were expected to give their lives in order to cause maximum damage to the enemy.41

The redeployment of the 9th Division and the subsequent cancellation in late January 1945 of the dispatch of the 84th Division to Okinawa required the 32nd Army to review its approach to the defense of Okinawa.42 Rather than spread its depleted resources all over the main island, it decided to concentrate them in the southern region in order to fight a strategic delaying action from static defensive positions.43 The lack of a replacement unit for the 9th Division meant that locals were required to fill the gap so that after two rounds of conscription, by February 1945, 110,000 Okinawans, almost one quarter of the prefecture’s population, had been called up either drafted into the military or in service as the youth corps, nurses or laborers.44 This irrevocably linked the fate of local people to that of the 32nd Army, which had by that stage had effectively been abandoned by Tokyo as it focused its attention on preparation for the coming decisive battle on the Japanese main islands.45

After the failed offensive of 4-5 May, the commanders of the 32nd Army weighed their options on 22 May and decided that they could earn time and inflict heavier losses on the Americans by withdrawing southwards rather than committing their forces to a fight to the death at Shuri.46 Helped by days of torrential rain, by the end of May the remnants of the 32nd Army slipped away from the noose closing in on Shuri and retreated towards Cape Kyan in the southwest corner of Okinawa. That the 32nd Army commanders chose to prolong the battle for as long as possible by its 30,000 survivors retreating to an area where 100,000 civilians had already converged led ineluctably to 80 percent of the civilian deaths in the Battle of Okinawa.47 The US artillery and naval bombardment was so intense following the withdrawal from Shuri that key crossroads and bridges flooded with fleeing civilians and soldiers became targets for concentrated enemy fire. Bridges south of the Shuri Line at Madanbashi, Ichinichibashi and Yamakawa became known as the “Bridges of Death,” and the Haebaru Junction as the “Crossroads of Death.”48

While the Japanese Army decision to not to make a last stand at Shuri and instead to withdraw towards Cape Kyan ultimately led to the terrible civilian casualties of mid to late June, it should be noted that U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner has also been criticized for his conservative strategy and costly approach in the deployment of his forces.49 Had he been able to bring the battle to a conclusion earlier, the civilian death toll would not have been as high as it was.

After Lt. Gen. Ushijima’s refusal to respond to Buckner’s plea for a Japanese surrender on 17 June, and then Buckner’s death in action at Maehira the next day, the ferocity of the US forces’ “mopping-up” operations intensified.50

US bombing during the battle

As the carnage continued, in the Headquarters cave at Mabuni on 18 June Ushijima issued his last order, “The battlefield is now in such chaos that all communications have ceased. It is impossible for me to command you. Every man in these fortifications will follow his superior officer’s orders and fight to the end for the sake of the motherland. This is my final order. Farewell.” To this, his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Cho added: “Do not suffer the shame of being taken prisoner. You will live for eternity.”51 After urging their troops to “fight to the end,” within four days, both the commanders of the 32nd Army, Ushijima and Cho, had taken their own lives, thereby removing the opportunity for the remaining Japanese troops to carry out an organized surrender which would have helped to avoid the final “mopping-up” operations that claimed so many civilian victims.52

Kyosei-renko: forced migration of Korean workers to help Japan’s war effort

As the protracted fighting in China and the Pacific resulted in a labor shortage for Japan’s war effort, in October 1939 the process of kyosei-renko (forced migration) began by which tens of thousands of men and women from Korea, which had been annexed by Japan in 1910, were sent to Japan. Between 1939 and 1945 a total of 670000 young Koreans men were sent to the main islands of Japan as laborers53 and, while precise numbers are unknown, it is thought that between 600 and 800 women, plus as many as 10,000 or more men were54sent to Okinawa.

Some of the men were drafted into the Japanese army55 and actually fought in battle, although most served as military laborers (gunpu) building shelters and military facilities.56 As the fighting reached Okinawa, gunpu were allocated the most dangerous tasks of transporting ammunition, guarding army shelters and hunting for food while exposed to enemy fire. Often banned from taking refuge in the shelters themselves, they worked long hours, suffered discrimination (including from local Okinawans), brutal beatings and some of the highest mortality rates of the battle.57 Weakened from malnutrition, those caught stealing food would be shot by Japanese soldiers,58 as were any who were caught trying to escape or surrender.59 Three of the most notorious incidents involving gunpu occurred on the Kerama Islands of Tokashiki and Aka where substantial numbers of Korean laborers were stationed. Some were shot for supposedly spying and stealing food, while on Aka fifty were accused of trying to escape. They were forced to dig a cave and were then herded into it after which thirteen were executed “as an example to the others.” On Tokashiki-jima, eight gunpu were accused of trying to assist the enemy and were summarily beheaded.60

The plight of the ianfu (comfort women) was no less appalling. They were forced to provide sexual services to Japanese troops.61 The women lived and worked in what were euphemistically called “comfort stations” (ianjo), the first of Okinawa’s ianjo having been established on Ie-Jima off the west coast of Okinawa in June 1944.62 About 130 stations were set up in all regions of Okinawa prefecture,63 and private houses were frequently commandeered for this purpose, often with nothing more than a blanket as the dividing wall between women.64 Almost all of the ianfu were Koreans (a small number were Okinawan women), including young girls and mothers, tricked or kidnapped directly from Korea.65 Ordered to serve dozens of men a day in unsanitary conditions, many also suffered abuse and violence. After the battle ended, US troops used several existing comfort stations, although within a few weeks these were closed down by the US military authorities. However, the Americans also established new stations and drafted captured Korean comfort women to work there.66 Often simply recorded as “military goods,” many ianfuwere killed in the fighting, while others subsequently took their own lives. At the end of the war, fewer than 3,000 Korean survivors (men and women) were in American custody,67 meaning that as many as 8,000 may have been killed in the Battle of Okinawa.

Excesses committed by the Imperial Japanese Army

In the last year of World War II, 66 years after Okinawa’s 1879 incorporation as a prefecture of Japan, Japanese interpreted the cultural differences they found on Okinawa as a reason to look down on the locals as second-class citizens. By and large, Okinawans were judged to be unconcerned about the fate of the nation and unable to be trusted to contribute to the protection of the Empire in its time of greatest need.

Their innate prejudice against any form of ethnic difference, fanned by the strain of knowing that the battle could only have one outcome for the defending force, produced a mindset among Japanese soldiers that led to a range of excesses against Okinawan civilians.

In the early stages of the campaign there were instances of locals being killed for “impeding the war-effort” by failing to cooperate in a satisfactory manner with the military.68 As the situation steadily worsened, many civilians were murdered by the army on the pretext of being “spies.”69 Anyone who had been in contact with the American forces or held a flier giving instructions to civilians on how to surrender ran the risk of summary execution. On Kume-jima in the last two months of the war, the killing of civilians continued after the main island of Okinawa was secured by US forces, with the last murders of locals on Kume-jima occurring in August, after Japan had surrendered.70

By 1945, the combat units of the IJA were made up to an ever-increasing extent by older conscripts including men who just a few years previously would not have passed the physical tests for entry to the military.71 Following the withdrawal southwards from Shuri, discipline within the 32nd Army deteriorated rapidly and there were many instances of theft of food from civilians and rape of local women. There were occasions when infants sheltering in caves with their mothers were killed by soldiers who feared that the child’s crying might give away their location. Civilians were also killed for refusing to go out into the maelstrom on what were effectively suicide missions to collect water or carry boxes of ammunition.

In the final stages of the battle, Japanese soldiers often ejected civilians from caves, effectively sending them to their deaths in the US bombardment. In the final two or three weeks of the battle, literally thousands of Okinawans were killed in the “Typhoon of Steel” directed at the remnants of the 32nd Army following the withdrawal towards Cape Kyan and Mabuni, with over 10,000 children under the age of 14 dying in this manner.72

Execution of a “spy”

“There is something that I haven’t been able to talk about since the war. It’s about Uehara Tomi, a young woman from Tomigusuku.” The face of lawyer Kawasaki Masanori, who had been a member of the Blood and Iron Student Corps, assumed a pained expression as he readied himself to tell the story. He had had to wait almost 50 years before he could talk about what had happened.

One day in May 1945, Kawasaki remembers that the sun was going down and it was starting to get dark. Some Kempeitai (military police) dragged a woman out of the 32nd Army’s No. 6 Tunnel. Her name was Uehara Tomi and she was about 30 years old. She wore an army issue short-sleeved jacket and shorts and her hair had been shaved very short. The name uttered by one of the Kempeitai men etched itself in Kawasaki’s mind. “All spies will receive the same punishment as Uehara Tomi.”

The Kempeitai man said, “We will now execute a spy.” Uehara Tomi was in a kneeling position, tied to a power pole some 20 meters from the tunnel entrance. Four or five Korean comfort women from the tunnel complex were standing in front of her, each wearing hachimaki headbands emblazoned with the rising sun and each holding a 40-cm long bayonet.

As the Kempeitai man controlled the timing by barking out orders of “next,” “next,” the comfort women took turns stabbing the kneeling woman. The Kempeitai man then cut the rope tying Uehara to the pole and forced her into a sitting position. Kawasaki said, “He was either a first or second lieutenant. I remember that, as he held out his officer’s sword, he said that he wasn’t very skilled in swordsmanship.” The officer stood behind Uehara and swung the sword down on her from above. He severed her head with the second blow. At that moment, some soldiers or young members of the Blood and Iron Student Corps who had been watching came running over, picking up clods of soil or stones to throw at Uehara’s now decapitated body – human beings ceasing to be human. Caught up in the maelstrom of war, those young people who had lost classmates took their feelings out on Uehara’s body.

“I’ll never forgive myself for that,” Kawasaki said, still tortured by his conscience. Fourteen or 15 years after the war’s end, Kawasaki visited the spot where it had happened. “As one of the people who witnessed her last moments, I am obliged to say something. With circumstances as they were in Okinawa at that time, there was no way that people would act as ‘spies.’” For more than twenty years, Kawasaki had thought of writing about the fate of Uehara Tomi, but he was never able to bring himself to put pen to paper.

This year, in the days before Irei no Hi (June 23, Okinawa Memorial Day) Kawasaki again visited the place in Kinjo, just south of Shuri, where Uehara Tomi is believed to have been buried. He prayed for her soul to be at peace, but in his heart the turmoil of the Battle of Okinawa continues unabated.

US excesses

American troops on Okinawa did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned. In fact, the official policy was to take prisoners where possible and to protect civilians.73However, while many US soldiers performed acts of humanity far beyond the Geneva Conventions’ requirements, and while civilian prisoners were generally well treated,74 American troops were not infrequently involved in rape, killing soldiers and civilians attempting to surrender and mistreating prisoners.

Civilian rape was “… one of the most widely ignored crimes of the war… most Okinawans over the age 65 either know or have heard of a woman who was raped.”75 Even in POW camps, the rape of civilian women was common, including in broad daylight, as Americans conducted “girl hunts” through the rows of tents.76 Also, while numerous reports testify to the fairness by Americans inside POW camps, in direct contravention of the Hague Conventions, many Okinawans were forced to donate blood, construct military facilities and transport ammunition.77 Refusing to accept surrender or killing Japanese soldiers who had already surrendered was “widespread in some areas.”78American troops frequently “… shot groups of Japanese soldiers who emerged after being promised safe capture,”79 including enticing them from their caves with chocolate and tobacco.80

A separate, but related, category of the excesses mentioned above was the often tragic contact between US forces and civilians trying to relocate at night, hiding in caves or killed by US military action. For example, Joe Drago of I Company 3rd Bn 22nd Marines Sixth Marine Division, recounted his experience of seeing Okinawan civilians killed as they approached the US perimeter at night, probably around 4 or 5 April as the Sixth Marines advanced northwards towards Motobu Peninsula. Understandably nervous about night-time infiltration raids, US forces had dropped leaflets telling civilians not to move at night, but such information of course did not reach every group of desperate locals. Drago recalls, “When dawn came [we] left our foxholes, observed the carnage strewed about the road … untold numbers … women, old men, children. My guesstimate, in the hundreds.”81

Another tragic and more common occurrence was the death of civilians in caves in the area of southern Okinawa after the remnants of the Japanese 32nd Army had retreated from Shuri. US troops often appealed to civilians through interpreters, or in broken Japanese, to come out and surrender. However, the presence in a cave or dug-out shelter of just a few IJA soldiers prepared to fight to the death, or the inability to react quickly enough to the appeal to surrender, often proved fatal. One shot fired from inside the cave by a single Japanese soldier would invite a reaction that might involve a satchel charge or white phosphorus grenades being thrown in, a blast from a flamethrower, TNT being inserted into a hole drilled above the cave and detonated to collapse the ceiling onto the people in the space inside, or even gasoline being poured in and lit. The tragedy of the attack on the No. 3 Surgery Cave in Ihara on 19 June 1945 is typical in this respect.82

A third aspect involved Okinawan civilians falling victim to US pursuit of “military objectives.” There are two notable examples of this: the bombing and strafing of Naha City on 10 October 1944, and the furious bombardment targeting the roads in the southern area of Itoman in mid-June.

The air raids of 10 October involved five waves of attack over a period of nine hours on targets throughout the prefecture. the fourth and fifth raids focused on the city of Naha. Almost half of the 1,300 killed or wounded were civilians, and 90 percent of the city was burned to the ground.83 This was a preview of US indiscriminate bombing that would destroy much of urban Japan in 1945.84

While civilians were caught in the crossfire throughout the Battle of Okinawa, it is important to note that more than 80 percent of the civilian deaths occurred from June onwards after the battered remnants of the Japanese army withdrew southwards to the area where as many as 100,000 civilians had fled. After the last tenuous defensive line between Yaezu-dake and Yoza-dake collapsed on 9 June, the Americans commenced “mopping up” operations. Some commentators suggest that the slaughter of Japanese soldiers and civilians that occurred in the area north of Mabuni was an act of revenge for the death of Lt. Gen. Buckner at Maezato on 18 June.85

This article has been adapted from Descent Into Hell – Civilian Memories of the Battle of Okinawa, which is based upon the Senka o Horu series of articles published by the Ryukyu Shimpo from 1983-85. The English translation was published in 2014 http://merwinasia.com/books/2014/Descent_into_Hell.php

Ota Masahide is an Okinawan academic and politician who served as governor of the prefecture from 1990 to 1998. He has written many books on Okinawa, of which the best known is his account of the Battle of Okinawa as he saw it as a high school student member of the Blood and Iron Student Corps. Ota had a distinguished record as governor, defending the interests of the Okinawan people against both the United States military establishment in the prefecture and the Japanese central government.

About the translators

Mark Ealey is a freelance translator who specializes in modern Japanese history and has focused on Okinawan issues in recent years. Previous translations of non-fiction are Phoney Alliance – Anglo-Soviet Diplomacy in 1941 by Akino Yutaka, Japan of the East, Japan of the West by Ogura Kazuo, The Kurillian Knot – A History of Russo-Japanese Border Negotiations, by Kimura Hiroshi and of historical fiction are Shipwrecks, One Man’s Justice and Typhoon of Steel, all by Yoshimura Akira.

Alastair McLauchlan was a French/Japanese translator and author who published widely in a range of international journals. He published two major English translations, namely Where are the Sunflowers by Kurihara Miwako andThe Buraku Issue: Questions and Answers by Kitaguchi Suehiro, and two original books based on his own research, The Negative L2 Climate: understanding attrition among second language students (Palmerston North: Sasakawa, 2007) and Prejudice and Discrimination in Japan: The Buraku Issue (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003). Alastair passed away just weeks before Descent into Hell was published.Recommended citation:

Recommended citation: Ryukyu Shimpo, Ota Masahide, Mark Ealey and Alastair McLaughlan, Descent into Hell: The Battle of Okinawa. The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 47, No. 4, December 1, 2014.

References

Aniya, Masaaki. Okinawasen no shudan-jiketsu (Kyosei shudan-shi) (Mass suicide in the Battle of Okinawa (Compulsory group suicides) Tokyo: Gunshuku mondai shiryo (Disarmament Review)December 2007.

Arasaki, Moriteru et al. Kanko Kosu de wa nai Okinawa (The Okinawa that is not in the Sightseeing Map) Tokyo: Kobunken, 2002.

Dower, John. War without Mercy: Race and power in the Pacific War. New York Pantheon, 1986.

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II London: Penguin Press, 1999.

Feifer, George. Tennozan. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992.

Foster, Simon. Okinawa 1945. London: Cassell, 1994.

Gama – Okinawa no senseki Bukku (Cave – Okinawa battle sites guidebook), Naha: Okinawa Jiji Shuppan, 2009.

Hallas, James H. Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill. Annapolis, Naval Institute Press. 2007.

Hanson, Victor Davis. Ripples of Battle: How Wars Fought Long Ago Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think, New York: Anchor Books, 2003.

Hayashi, Hirofumi. Okinawasen to Minshu, (The Battle of Okinawa and Okinawans). Tokyo: Otsuki shoten, 2001.

Hayashi, Hirofumi. Okinawasen ga tou mono, (What the Battle of Okinawa tells us). Tokyo: Otsuki shoten, 2010.

Huber, Thomas M. Japan’s Battle of Okinawa (Leavenworth Papers series No.18),

U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute, 1990.

Ienaga, Saburo. The Pacific War 1931-1945. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.

Kunimori, Yasuhiro. Okinawasen no Nihonhei, (The Japanese Soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2010.

Lacey, Laura. Stay Off the Skyline, the Sixth Marine Division in Okinawa. Washington: Potomac Books, 2007.

McCormack, Gavan & Norimatsu Satoko. Resistant Islands: Okinawa confronts Japan and the United States. Lanham Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.

Okinawa Heiwa Network. Aruku, Miru, Kangaeru Okinawa (Walk, See, Think Okinawa). Naha: Okinawa Jiji Shuppan, 2008.

Okinawasen Shimbun, (Ryukyu Shimpo Battle of Okinawa Newspaper) 2005.

Oshiro, Masayasu. Okinawasen no shinjitsu to waikyoku (The Battle of Okinawa – Truth and Distortion). Tokyo: Kobunken, 2007.

Ota, Masahide. The Battle of Okinawa. Kume Publishing, 1988.

Ota Peace Research Institute, Okinawa kanren shiryo – Okinawa sen oyobi kichi mondai (Okinawa-related materials – Battle of Okinawa and the Bases Issue) Naha: Ota Peace Research Institute, 2010)

Saki, Ryuzo. Okinawa Jumin Gyakusatsu (Excesses Committed Against the People of Okinawa). Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1982.

Senkaku-shoto senji-sonan-shibotsusha Irei-no-hi Kensetsu-jigyo Kiseikai. Chinmoku no Sakebi, (Scream into Silence) Ishigaki: Nanzansha, 2006.

Sloan, Bill. The Ultimate Battle, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Tobe, Ryoichi, Yoshiya Teramoto, Shin’ichi Kamata, Yoshio Suginoo, Tomohide Murai and Ikujiro Nonaka. Shippai no Honshitsu, (The Essence of Failure) Tokyo: Chuko Bunko, 1984.

Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum Official Guidebook, 2010.

Urasaki, Jun. Kieta Okinawa-ken, (The Okinawa that Disappeared) Naha: Okinawa Jiji Shuppan, 1965.

Yahara, Hiromichi. The Battle for Okinawa, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1995.

Yomiuri Shimbun War Responsibility Reexamination Committee. Carnage in Okinawa, Japan Echo, Volume 36, Number 5, 2009.

Yoshihama, Shinobu; Kazuki Oshiro, Yoshifumi Ikeda; Katsuya Uechi; Noriko Koga. Okinawa Rikugun Byoin Haebaru-Go (Okinawa Haebaru Army Hospital Shelter) Tokyo: Kobunken, 2010.

Notes

1 Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum Official Guidebook. 2010: 8

2 Hayashi, H. 2010: 59

3 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 30

4 Feifer, G. 1992: 92

5 Oshiro, M. 2007: 78.

6 Oshiro, M. 2007:183

7 Kunimori, Y. 2010: 4

8 Okinawasen Shimbun. 2005: 16

9 Urasaki, J. 1965: 46

10 Hayashi, H. 2001: 103

11 Hayashi, H. 2001. 104

12 Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum Official Guidebook. 2010: 8

13 Feifer, G. 1992: 81

14 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 32

15 Tsushima-maru Memorial Museum Official Guidebook. 2010: 10.

16 Senkaku-shoto senji-sonanshibotsusha Irei-no-hi Kensetsu-jigyo Kiseikai. 2006: 160

17Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 30

18 Hayashi, H. 2010: 61

19 Yomiuri Shimbun War Responsibility Reexamination Committee. 2009: 66

20 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008:31

21 Dower, J. 1999: 55

22 Hayashi, H. 2010: 63

23 Ota Peace Research Institute. 2010: 3-4

24 Ienaga, S. 1978: 185

25 Aniya, M. 2007: 3

26 Hayashi, H. 2001: 158

27 Gama – Okinawa-senseki Bukku. 2009: 31-32

28 Okinawa no senso iseki. 2008: 15

29 McCormack, G., & Norimatsu, S. 2012: 31-32

30 Aniya, M. 2007:7

31 Hayashi, H. 2010: 212

32 Hastings, M. 2008: 483

33 Hayashi, H. 2010: 214

34 Sloan, B. 2007: 12

35 Huber, T. 1980:2

36 Kunimori, Y. 2010: 4

37 Oshiro, M. 2007: 193

38 Oshiro, M. 2007: 190

39 Foster, S. 1994: 26

40 Feifer, G. 1992: 18

41 Hallas, J. 2007: 6

42 Tobe, R. et al. 1984: 236

43 Huber, T. 1980: 9

44 Oshiro, M. 2007: 193

45 Ota, M. 1988: 120

46 Arasaki, M. et al. 2002: 143

47 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 14

48 Yoshihama, S. et al. 2010: 35

49 Hanson, V. 2003: 28-29

50 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 14

51 Yahara, H. 1995: 134

52 Hayashi, H. 2010: 212

53 Dower, J. 1986: 47

54 Hayashi, H. 2010: 76-7

55 Hayashi, H. 2010: 76

56 Hayashi, H. 2010: 76-7

57 Oshiro, M. 2008: 183

58 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 38

59 Hayashi, H. 2001: 317

60 Oshiro, M. 2008: 181-2

61 Hayashi, H. 2010: 46

62 Hayashi, H. 2001: 62

63 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 39

64 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 38

65 Hayashi, H. 2010: 76

66 Hayashi, H. 2001: 363

67 Oshiro, M. 2008: 181

68 Oshiro, M. 2007: 104-107

69 Saki, R. 1982: 32-33

70 Hayashi, H. 2001: 179

71 Hayashi, H. 2010: 41-42

72 Ota Peace Research Institute. 2010: 8

73 Hayashi, H. 2001: 356

74 Hayashi, H. 2001: 356

75 Weber, M. 2000: 25

76 Oshiro, M. 2007: 145-173

77 Oshiro, M. 2007: 173

78 Feifer, G. 1992: 485-498

79Hayashi, H. 2001: 488 and 494

80Hayashi, H. 2001: 344

81 Lacey, L. 2007: 73-75 Also email communication with Joe Drago.

82 Himeyuri Peace Museum. 2002: 42

83 Okinawasen Shimbun. 2005: Issue 3; 15

84 Hayashi, H. 2010: 227-228

85 Okinawa Heiwa Network. 2008: 14-15

Columbia Pike: Raw Deal for Black Freedom Trail

December 5th, 2014 by Robert Parry

When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, thousands of African-Americans began trudging north escaping the slaveholding Confederacy, finally reaching Union defenses in Arlington, Virginia. Many came via Columbia Pike, then the principal roadway to Washington DC and what became their freedom trail.

Some of these former slaves joined the U.S. Colored Troops training at nearby Camp Casey and went on to fight to eradicate slavery once and for all. Considered “contraband” – or runaway slaves – by the Confederates, the Colored Troops were sometimes subjected to summary executions if captured in battle. By the end of the war, they represented ten percent of the Union Army. Some 2,751 perished as combat casualties during the last two years of the war.

Meanwhile, many African-American families were settled along Columbia Pike in what had been Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plantation before he deserted the U.S. Army and became commander of Confederate forces. In 1863, as the flow of former slaves became a flood, U.S. Congress created Freedman’s Village as a semi-permanent refugee camp on land that now includes the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery and the Air Force Memorial.

Freedman’s Village survived until the end of the Nineteenth Century when it was disbanded with many of its residents moving into the historic black neighborhoods of South Arlington. However, by then, the white power structure had reasserted itself across the Old South. Segregation was the law of Virginia, enforced by lynching and other abuses while the federal government did little to intervene.

By the early Twentieth Century, there was also a fetish about honoring Confederate leaders. To drive home the point of who was in charge, the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1920 had the state government name a portion of Route One, which skirted South Arlington’s black neighborhoods, in honor of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist who had favored keeping African-Americans in chains forever.

This history is relevant again because it is the fact that South Arlington has remained the most racially diverse part of the county – now with many Latinos and Asians as well as blacks and whites – that has contributed to its perennial neglect. That was how things were during segregation and it is how they still are. Indeed, since the end of segregation in the 1960s, the divergence between predominantly white North Arlington and racially mixed South Arlington has widened, not narrowed.

Billions upon billions of taxpayers’ dollars have been invested in North Arlington, especially with the state-of-the-art Metro, both the Orange Line, which gives easy access to Washington, and the new Silver Line, which will reach Dulles Airport. This modern transportation system has spurred private development and has produced a financial windfall for residents lucky enough to have owned property in North Arlington.

There has also been pressure on the County Board to provide amenities suitable for the higher-income white professionals who live near the Orange Line, such as a $2 million “dog park renovation” near the Clarendon stop. By contrast, one of the biggest public works projects for South Arlington was an expanded sewage treatment plant to handle the increased sewage flow from North Arlington.

Bypassing the Pike

It’s not that there weren’t plans for some improvements along depressed and shabby Columbia Pike, where you’ll find check-cashing services and down-in-the-mouth strip malls. Initially, there was supposed to be a Metro line, but that was scrapped for financial reasons.

Then, early last decade, a series of neighborhood meetings were held to discuss how to improve the Columbia Pike corridor. It was at one of those meetings that an elderly black man rose to voice a longstanding complaint, that the historic black cemetery on Columbia Pike had been dug up to make room for a hotel.

A consensus emerged that it was important to retain the area’s ethnic diversity and its affordable housing while simultaneously making it less of a congested commuter pass-through. At the center of the plan was what amounted to a consolation prize for losing out on the Metro, a much cheaper light-rail Streetcar.

Though the County Board embraced the community’s plan, actual spending on South Arlington remained at the bottom of the to-do list. When it came to rebuilding the County’s three high schools, the two North Arlington schools came first and South Arlington’s came last. The two North Arlington schools now rank as the second and third best in Virginia. South Arlington’s school is in the forties.

Finally, the County Board got around to the Columbia Pike Streetcar, though over the intervening decade the projected price tag had risen substantially. Some opportunistic politicians and the local newspaper, the Sun-Gazette, which doesn’t even bother to distribute in much of South Arlington with its less desirable demographics, saw a useful wedge issue: why should money be “wasted” on South Arlington.

It turns out that one of the easiest political sells in the Old Confederacy is still to get white people to resent spending money on the black and brown parts of town – even though possibly as much as half of the Streetcar budget (or around $150 million) was coming from the state (with much of the rest coming from a business transportation tax and nothing from homeowners).

So, when Republican John Vihstadt, who was running as an Independent on what amounted to a Tea Party anti-government platform, made killing the Columbia Pike Streetcar the centerpiece of his County Board campaign, the outcome had the feel of inevitability. Money poured in to Vihstadt’s campaign, so much so that he was able to put on television commercials in prime time.

Though unable to compete financially, Vihstadt’s Democratic opponent, Alan Howze, managed to hold his own in South Arlington. But Vihstadt ran up huge margins in North Arlington and won in a landslide.

The shaken Democrats were soon ready to run up the white flag, though they still held a three-to-two majority on the County Board. Abruptly, two North Arlington Democrats, Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes, switched sides on the Columbia Pike Streetcar, leaving only Walter Tejada, the County’s top Hispanic leader, favoring going forward.

But almost no one in Arlington wants to talk about the issue of race or the historical reasons why Columbia Pike and South Arlington are the way they are. The white people of North Arlington seethe over any suggestion that the continuing neglect of South Arlington has any racial aspect to it at all. They see themselves as living in a post-racial world with enlightened attitudes about non-white people.

However, everyone knows that it remains common practice in Arlington for realtors to steer young white professionals away from South Arlington because of “the schools,” which amounts to a code word for the area’s racial diversity. My disgust with this sly appeal to racism was why I bought a house in South Arlington in 1978 and sent all four of my children to “the schools.”

What I didn’t anticipate was that Arlington County would blithely continue to favor white North Arlington and do so little for racially diverse South Arlington, essentially maintaining the discriminatory pattern of public investments that were the rule during segregation.

So, when it comes to investing public money in Columbia Pike, the road that became the pathway to freedom for thousands of African-Americans escaping slavery, it has been decided that those people along the Pike don’t deserve anything approaching a modern, fast-moving and neighborhood-friendly system — even if that decision means turning back $150 million to the state for spending in other parts of Virginia.

While many of the upwardly mobile people of North Arlington now can operate almost car-free – by using the Metro augmented by Zip cars and Uber taxis – the people of South Arlington are told to make do with buses – and the assurance that race has nothing to do with the disparity.

And, in case you’re wondering, the stretch of Route One through South Arlington is still called Jefferson Davis Highway. When I tried to make this outrage a county issue, I was told by a senior Arlington Democrat that any effort to rename it would simply be too divisive.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Shameful History of Jeff Davis Highway” and “Is Arlington County, VA, Racist?”]

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

The Full Paris Match interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granted in Damascus on November 28th. 

HIGHLIGHT

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

TRANSCRIPT 

Paris Match: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?

Bashar el Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Paris Match: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?

Bashar el Assad : When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.

Paris Match: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians.

Paris Match: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?

Bashar el Assad : No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.

Paris Match: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?

President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically.

Paris Match: But they haven’t lost yet, since half your territories are out of your control.

Bashar el Assad : The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region. But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter. This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That’s why it’s going to be a long and difficult war.

Paris Match: Many people say that the solution lies in your departure. Do you believe that your departure is the solution?

Bashar el Assad :  The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well. No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy? The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.

Paris Match: This means that the captain is prepared to die. You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?

Bashar el Assad : A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.

Paris Match: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

Bashar el Assad : In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

Paris Match: The Syrians we meet in Damascus talk about sleeping Jihadi cells in the West more than they talk about the war against ISIS. Isn’t that strange?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.

Paris Match: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?
Bashar el Assad : First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism. It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.

Paris Match: According to Agence France Presse, your air forces made at least 2,000 sorties in 40 days, and this is a huge number. When your aircraft cross the alliance’s aircraft, for instance on their way to shell Raqqa, do you coordinate or do you have a non-aggression agreement?

Bashar el Assad : There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing. You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance. There’s no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic.

Paris Match: But these airstrikes are helping you, and one reason why U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel resigned is that he believed that they support your government and your positions.

Bashar el Assad : Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS’s enemies.

Paris Match: I said that some people say, sometimes, that you have supported ISIS to divide the opposition.

Bashar el Assad : And I didn’t mean “you” by my remark, I meant “those” people.

assad.jpe

Bashar al-Assad and Paris Match reporter Régis Le Sommier© Paris Match

Paris Match: Since one result of the alliance’s airstrikes, from an American perspective, was Chuck Hagel’s resignation, do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?

Bashar el Assad : Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.

Paris Match: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. How do you feel about that?

Bashar el Assad : The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent.

Paris Match: Francois Hollande still considers you an opponent. Do you believe that you can revive relations with him some time in the future?

Bashar el Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people. As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.

Paris Match: Are there chemical weapons in Syria today, yes or no?
Bashar el Assad : No. When we announced this, it was a clear announcement, and when we decided to abandon chemical weapons, our decision was final.

Paris Match: But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses you of violating the agreement because you used chlorine. Is that true?

Bashar el Assad : You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it. But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it. We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?

Paris Match: Have you used chemical weapons?

Bashar el Assad : We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live.

Paris Match: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?

Bashar el Assad : Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region, for more intellectual openness. We used to believe that France, with its cultural heritage, is the country which is most capable of playing this role with Syria in the Middle East.

Paris Match: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?

Bashar el Assad : Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years. It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Paris Match: People describe you as being very close to your children. How do you explain to them what is happening to your country when you return home in the evening?

Bashar el Assad : Of course, this discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis. There are two basic questions asked, not only in our family but in many families. The first question: how can people who believe or say they are defending God and Islam kill and murder? This is a case which is not easy to explain, and children ask whether these people know that they are wrong. And the answer here is that there are those who know but make use of religion for private purposes, and there are ignorant people who do not know that religion is good. They think, instead, that religion means killing.

The second question: why does the West launch an aggression against us, and why does it support terrorists and destruction? Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain. Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them? We also explain to them that people are something, and states are something else.

The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday approved the formation of a new cabinet which includes political veterans, new faces and several foreign technocrats who were recently granted Ukrainian citizenship.

The 20-member cabinet, approved with 288 votes in favor, will be led by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, a 40-year-old pro-West politician who has served as prime minister since February.

Yatsenyuk, who resigned with his cabinet last month following the Oct. 26 parliamentary election, was later re-appointed prime minister by Poroshenko, and his premiership was approved by the parliament on Nov. 27.

Many of the ministers in the cabinet retain posts they have held for several months, including Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorakt.

Several foreign technocrats, who were granted Ukrainian citizenship by a presidential decree earlier in the day, were given senior cabinet positions.

Natalia Yaresko, a former U.S. citizen of Ukrainian descent, become the finance minister, and Aivaras Abromavicius, a former Lithuanian national, took charge of the ministry of economic development and trade. Alexander Kvitashvili, a former Georgian citizen, became the health minister.

The lawmakers also approved the formation of the ministry of information policy, which was led by former journalist Yury Stets.

The previous Ukrainian cabinet resigned last month following the Oct. 26 parliamentary election. Facing a separatist movement in the country’s east, the new government is tasked with reviving an economy burdened with a free fall in its currency and the soaring borrowing costs.

Why the Genocides Continue

December 5th, 2014 by J. B. Gerald

“…they are taking measures to kill us all…” – Bertrand Russell, Philip Berrigan

I start with a summary of updates concerning areas currently at risk of genocide, because similarities and patterns emerge which help understand contemporary genocides. In some cases a program of genocide isn’t limited to the country where it’s recognized. And the list isn’t all-inclusive.

Ukraine: a genocide warning for Jews is extended to ethnic Russians as well. While large numbers of ethnic Russians have taken refuge in Russia, reports indicate the Ukraine army and its militias have attempted to decrease civilian ethnic Russians in areas which might vote for separation from the Ukraine. NATO’s “blindness” to the fascism of the Ukraine’s government and policies suggests NATO’s desire to use the Ukraine to its own advantage in aggressive actions against Russia. Russia has declared substantial evidence of genocide against Russian ethnic peoples in the Ukraine but without support from NATO countries. The rise of fascist parties and right wing populism throughout European Union countries serve NATO’s tactical interest in Russia’s natural wealth, and fear of its economic, moral and military resources.

France: the European Union’s efforts to dissuade France from another(1) ethnic cleansing of Roms, have failed. The bulldozing of Roma camps continues. French Justice, individual mayors, priests, and human rights organizations present some resistance to a campaign which leads toward the eradication of the entire ethnic/ racial group. The anti-Rom campaigns seem to have begun in Italy under Berlusconi, releasing right wing populists rising to power through increased persecution of Roma, under Sarkhozy in France, in Hungary, in the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and throughout Europe, finding alliance with the rise in Islamophobia, anti-Burka laws, discrimination against immigrants, and anti-Semitism.

Chhattisgarh state, India: the government’s program against Naxalite guerillas has extended to assassination of villagers and mass sterilizations of the poor. The target of 125 Chhattisgarh surgeons for 2014-15 is 175,000 sterilizations, as it was in 2013-2014.(2) Persecution of Christians continues to be a problem and sporadic actions against Christian churches are extending under Bharatiya Janata Party rule. The issue of genocide remains suppressed with the national silence concerning the genocide of Sikh peoples in 1984, which has not been officially recognized by India’s government. Efforts to make the American people aware by “Sikhs for Justice” include an appeal in California (with its large population of Sikh peoples) to Governor Jerry Brown to support a campaign for the US government to recognize the 1984 massacres in India, as genocide.

Kenya: in a statement released November 11th, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association found the HCG antigen (it causes miscarriages) in a tetanus vaccine being used to innoculate 2.3 million women and girls under a World Health Organization / UNICEF program sponsored by Kenya’s government. The program is being applied only to women of child bearing age. Despite government denials the allegations are supported by Kenya’s Catholic Bishops.(3)

Peru: On January 24th, 2014 the Public Prosecutor announced he wouldn’t prosecute 26 officials of the Fujimori regime for their part in the sterilization without consent of over 2000 aboriginal and peasant women, because he didn’t find a crime against humanity committed…. On October 29th the investigation was reopened. The government operation was carried out under the under the rule of President Alberto Fujimori, during the 1990′s. While it was called a “family planning program” supported by the UN and the US, it is historically part of the government’s war on terrorism, destruction of The Shining Path, and those under its protection.(4) The legal system’s impunity has increased the risk of genocide for native peoples.

Guatemala: NATO countries have withheld serious support for legal challenges to the genocide of 1982 to 1983 in Guatemala. Without it, the conviction on charges of genocide against the former US supported ruler Rios Monte was spuriously overturned. A re-trial is scheduled for January 2015, and the witnesses and prosecutors will risk their lives again for truth and justice. Their opposition remains Guatemala’s oligarchy created by and supported by US policy, military and international corporations.(5) The judiciary’s impunity has increased the risk of genocide for Mayan peoples.

Mexico: 43 students training as teachers for rural areas, were disappeared by the police Sept. 26, 2014 and are presumed dead. They attended a school with a long history of social activism. Police tactics in Mexico, supported by U.S. law enforcement programs, are increasingly those of terminal fascism. A social movement challenging the corruption of all the politicians is alive and demanding a return of the students. Historical note:(6) former President Echeverria was charged with genocide for the massacre of university students in 1968, as part of a plan to murder political dissidents. The U.S. embassy’s involvement (under Winston Scott) was subsequently proven. Charges against Echeverria were blocked by legal manoeuvring (“statute of limitations”), uncontested by foreign states signatory to the Convention on Genocide, which has allowed the subsequent impunity.

Ferguson, Missouri: Officer Darren Wilson, the police killer of an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, has not been indicted by the grand jury. The people’s response in Ferguson is restrained, while forces of law and the military are prepared to kill other Americans to defend this murder cradled in a history of killing unarmed Black people across the United States. Police programs have been clarified in Chicago, St. Louis, New York, which severely devalue the lives of the people. Every Grand Jury that excuses another murder of an unarmed Black, Hispanic, native, or White (and the specific target groups of these killings are the poor) contributes to the devaluation of their victims’ lives. This is intrinsically part of every genocide program.

Louisiana: former Black Panther Albert Woodfox (of the Angola 3) remains in prison despite the Federal court’s overturning of his conviction for the third time. On November 20th, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order for his release but Woodfox continues what have been over 40 years so far in solitary confinement.(7)

The U.S. and Canada: with the administration of international justice firmly in the hands of NATO powers, application of punishment as required by the Convention on Genocide is selective. Notably missing are legal actions under the Convention, against Canada for current Aboriginal policies, against the U.S. and Canada for sheltering corporate destruction of resource’s necessary to native peoples in many countries, against various NATO countries for aggressive military actions resulting in genocide in Yugoslavia, Iraq. Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. UN offices concerned with genocide seem helpless in applying the Convention to corporate destruction of both First People’s and everyone’s resources for survival, throughout the Americas and Africa. Government cooperation with resource interests is so thorough and so frequently the cause of military aggressions that the Convention on Genocide is currently rendered inoperable.

Myanmar: a genocide warning continues for the Rakhine Muslim population, those referred to as “Rohingya” throughout the country. Preferring the term “Rohingya” not to exist, the government currently refers to this Muslim group as Bengalis. During the last few months, as in 2008, thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to the water seeking haven in other countries. According to their relatives thousands appear to have disappeared. Boats along the coast of Thailand have been encouraged to find haven in other lands. The Myanmar Parliament has condemned the UN’s Ban Ki Moon for using the word “Rohingya” and noting their lack of human rights. On November 14th, US President Obama called for an end to ‘discrimination’ in Myanmar while standing beside Myanmar politician and nobelist Suu Kyi who has yet to risk her political career in defence of the Rohingya’s human rights. Rather than “discrimination”, Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya Muslims suggests the conscious intention to destroy a people.(8)

Palestine: some European governments are attempting to counter a genocide of Palestinians by recognizing Palestine as a State, with rights under international law. Sweden recognizes the state of Palestine. Spain’s lawmakers have passed a motion asking the government to recognize the State of Palestine. Similar requests by the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland have been refused. A similar motion and non-binding resolution is underway in France and in Denmark. With the exception of countries mentioned and the U.S., Canada, Japan, Columbia, Mexico, Panama, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, most other countries in the world have already recognized Palestinian statehood. A study by the World Zionist Organization finds a worldwide increase of anti-Semitic acts by 383% over the same period last year, during Israel’s waging of Operation Protective Edge against Gaza. The percentage rises to 100% in Canada, 435% in Europe and 1200% in South America.(9)

Among regions currently endangered by genocide the nightslantern.ca web pages of “Genocide Warnings & Updates” include extensive references and documentation of genocides progressing in Iraq and Israel.(10)

Anyone attempting to draw conclusions or say true things about the crime of genocide and its prevention, becomes at risk within his/her own society.(11)

Because recognition of a Genocide affects government policies, in NATO countries by 2014 genocide awareness is controlled by government agencies and the corporate media. Strength of perception-management programs and media spin provides such a strong current of public opinion that objective assessments of situations where genocide occurs, have become awkward or considered dissident. Deviations from the official line become marginalized or ignored. Unbiased reporting of a genocide becomes unavailable, until too late, except where it suits national policy.

Well funded NGO’s devoted to the prevention of genocide peacefully thrive in countries participating in if not engineering genocides. Most contemporary genocides can be traced to efforts by major powers to destabilize regions for corporate resource acquisition.

There is a correlation between programs of powerful countries that encourage genocide in foreign countries, and programs which encourage genocides at home. European and North American governments expand their influence through aggressive policies against “un-cooperative”, often “non-white” or simply vulnerable (ie. the Republic of Yugoslavia or Afghanistan) victim states, while controlling domestically victim immigrant/refugee groups as well as previously oppressed groups which have historically provided resistance to genocide.

NATO’s wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, coincide with increased oppression within Europe of Arabs and Muslim groups. The crimes are inter-reliant.

Persecution and threat against Black Americans swells and subsides from one generation to another but consistently manages the community into greater adversity, as noted in current incarceration rates of Blacks as well as Hispanics. In the Sixties, the US Defence Department’s and FBI’s fear of ‘Black revolution’ within the States was more an adjunct of the Pentagon’s war on Vietnam than any threat from Martin Luther King Jr, or the Black Panthers’ in their attempts to build and protect communities; these resistance movements were contained by assassination and illegal tactics of law enforcement. Currently the U.S. embarks on a foreign war against ISIS (without Congressional approval) while increasing the provocation and military controls of oppressed groups at home (ie. Ferguson Missouri).

In Canada statistics of tuberculosis rates among First Peoples, as one example among many,(12) suggest there is a policy of denying First People’s chances for survival in an ongoing incremental genocide while pursuing foreign policies against international law. Canada can partake in wars of aggression against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, etc. because it can. By crippling historical sources of resistance within Canada, criminal actions abroad proceed.

The North American advancement of policies responsible for genocides in other countries is accompanied by terminal policies against historically resistant groups at home. Refusals to recognize the genocides at home, ease the public into accepting new genocides against foreign groups.

Many countries with evolved concepts of human rights and advanced human rights programs have in fact engaged in genocide and turned their backs on the Convention. A clear pattern emerges of genocide resulting from the destabilization of victim countries, and leading to the acquisition of their resources by more powerful countries. The crime becomes necessary to the continuation of corporate, war based economies, acquiring resources through aggressions with the resulting destruction of one national group after another.

The principle impediment to genocide is a just society where the human rights of each person and all peoples are honoured within the home society. However corporate capitalism proves itself the enemy of social justice. Liberalism has allowed the education of the people about what genocide is and how it develops. And it allows economic boycott, a valuable tool, but only at the early stages of preventing genocide. Since genocides develop from intentional programs of acquisition the cost in human life isn’t allowed media recognition until underway.

Within unjust societies we have the following means of genocide prevention: the law, people’s resistance, revolution, and general strike. To say more about each of these:

The Law

If one turns to the law within one’s own country the Convention on Genocide is out of reach, subverted to political uses, and at the mercy of perception management by a media. Under pressure from arms makers and national policies, the recognition of genocide is promoted when it offers a chance for armed intervention under the “Right to Protect” (R2P). In fact, by 2014 the dynamics of genocide should be clear: there is no genocide which can’t be stopped by preventive means if the crime is realized and addressed early enough. The crime isn’t addressed and prevented, to allow armed sales, armed intervention, the assertion of military power, and acquisition. If one turns to the International Criminal Court, the Court refuses to investigate or prosecute allegations of genocide by NATO country leaders.

Resistance

If one calls on a higher law, beyond what the legal system is able to provide, then one moves from a normal life to resistance. Massive political protest to one’s own country’s involvement in genocide is rare. The acts of genocide appear to be something other than genocide, such as ‘defence of the homeland’ or defending ‘our way of life’. Massive political protest and resistance to a foreign occupier’s program of genocide in one’s country is less rare. Colonialism’s foreign override of native culture buys off a ruling class. The destruction of a culture, of a people, or both, will appear to be a struggle between two sides and some form of war for liberation. The principle cause for resistance actions is the prevention of genocide.(13) I find almost no exceptions to this. Enduring resistance actions are sometimes called civil wars by the oppressors though conflict rises naturally from the oppression that threatens a victim group’s survival. Genocide resistance is recognized as “war” (or “unrest”) when the victim group protects itself, but the word “war” is better applied to the use of force in acquisition by an aggressor. The aggressor’s motivation is greed. There is no sign of war if the acquisition isn’t resisted. Acquirers disguise mechanisms of taking possession, with laws, and economic systems. A wealthier economy can buy the houses and lands of those within an impoverished economy. This is a facet of capitalism. It’s also a tactic of rule, where government shifts assets of the peoples at large to a preferred group. This is happening in the West with alarming rapidity; we are told financial assets are becoming centered in a small elite. The transfer of wealth is accomplished with minimal force, provoking minimal resistance, in a process of gradually eradicating the poor.

In France’s extinguishment of Rom camps(14) we’ve seen a government program (amid charges of unsanitary living conditions, un-gainful employment, lack of integration into what it means to be “French”) enforce the poverty of a group through employment practices, then attempts to `sanitize` an area by bulldozing Rom lodging camps. These actions rely on traditions of genocide against Roma as well as against Jews, and the persecution of immigrants from former colonies. The genocide against Roms proceeds under colour of law while the law provides some resistance through occasional application of re-lodging requirements. Despite the awareness of the left, the machinery of fascism is working almost perfectly under the employ of socialist or conservative government. There is scattered protest but no armed resistance.

Revolution

There are severe difficulties with revolution as a way to prevent or counter genocide. The powerful rarely commit genocide unless they have the means to suppress their opposition and escape the application of international justice. Revolutions are factored in to the game plans of the powerful. It’s likely everything universities now teach of revolution is mistaken in order to protect things as they are.

The French psychiatrist Franz Fanon pointed out with effect in the 1960′s, that most revolutions are simply replacements of one urban elite by another. Even when the new group is broadly based, populist, an elite develops to maintain its power.

If revolution is more than simply a change in rulers or method of rule, it risks a blank page, the freedom to create anything, a liberating or terrifying mindset. Natural disasters, wars, false-flag operations, depressions, don’t create blank pages, but instead populations in need, vulnerable to manipulation by whoever can answer the needs of survival. Most disasters including wars are counter-revolutionary, increasing the people’s reliance on the existing system for survival.

In militaristic societies revolution requires winning over of portions of the military. Revolution may become instead, civil war. Militaries and law enforcement at the service of society’s vulnerable, should seek ways to stand as neutral forces during periods of revolutionary change. But the military rarely stands down and violent revolution is an occupational hazard for those who seek the people’s betterment – they’re like a cook, when the oil catches fire in the frying pan. When revolutions occur it may be more due to the stupidity of the power group, or those who seek change, than necessity. But because necessity then becomes ruler, the boss, the definer of what happens, logic and rational thought are secondary, useful afterward to understand what happened.

To clarify difficulties of revolution as a way to stop extreme crimes of State: 1. it can provoke or at least allow what becomes a genocide against the people uprising; 2. requiring the ingredient of irrationality, a revolution finds those willing to die for their freedom a mass vulnerable to mind control, misinformation, misdirection by their enemies; 3. Fanon’s understanding remains right: how can one avoid simply replacing one set of morally deficient politicians with another? 4. Communications and electronically based economies are increasingly fragile and vulnerable to violence. As the mind control and manipulation of the people by government becomes more advanced, violent revolution will be less of an option for change, but more surprising and extreme if it occurs, possibly in the form of instantaneous mass action by many, precluding the State’s ability to retaliate.

General Strike

General Strike remains the most effective, non-violent and immediate way for citizens to stop a genocide by their own government. It is an intensely political tool, which so far has some effect in countries with strong labour unions. Organized labour is attacked and undermined whenever a government sets a course against the best interests of its people, such as aggressive war or genocide. While Union organizing can be blocked, the people can’t when acting with a single purpose. For this reason in capitalist economies people are continually divided and set against each other to impede consensus and mass action.

To understand our Euro-American histories within a perspective of the Convention on Genocide, the conquest of North America and treatment of native peoples formed our reality, indelibly asserting the lack of value of people by our rulers. WWI and WWII were mass genocides of the participants, whether aggressive country or victim. In WWII over 20 million Russians were killed, over 7 million Germans, among millions throughout Europe, North Africa, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. The phenomenon of the Third Reich’s concentration camps with the Holocaust of 6 million Jews among other minorities, was a microcosm for the larger event. Millions with the expectation of and sure right to normal lives were manipulated into death by the uses of capitalism and war profits for a few. The history of Western civilization hinges on these periodic genocides, attempts to conquer or destroy another national, racial, ethnic or religious group. The mechanism remains the same as victim groups change.

Currently the Convention is presenting little impediment to genocide because major Western powers, are controlling its application by courts, and by media its perception. Genocide awareness promoted by campaigns is expensive and becomes a tool of the elites used for political advancement rather than a victim group’s survival.

Logically, the prevention of genocide requires dismantling the powerful corporations from within capitalism, to fragment the world economy into people-based economic cooperatives. Policies by one’s own government which encourage genocide should be met by legal actions. When legal protest is made impossible, then to remain innocent before historical law is to maintain civilization. To survive when justice returns, the people have their consciences to rely on and must ask what the real law is and how to assure its survival.

Notes

1. During the Nazi German occupation of France Romany peoples as one group among many, were interned and sent to the death camps.

2. “India sterilization abuse: genocide by other means,” Bill Weinberg, Nov. 14, 2014, World War 4 report.

3. “‘A Mass Sterilization Exercise’: Kenyan Doctors Find Anti-Fertility Agent in UN Tetanus Vaccine,” Nov. 11, 2014, the sleuthjournal.

4. Background ; “A note on Peru,” J.B.Gerald, May 16, 2009, nightslantern.ca. “Peru to reopen investigation into forced sterilizations of women,” Oct. 31, 2014, Amnesty International. “Peruvian women intent on bringing state to book over forced sterilisations,” Dan Collyns, March 14, 2014, theguardian.

5. “Genocide Warnings: Guatemala,” current, nightslantern.ca.

6. “2013 Suppressed News,” Feb. 2, 2013, nightslantern.ca.

7. See “Political Prisoners Updates: Angola 3,” nightslantern.ca.

8. “Myanmar parliament rails at UN’s Ban Ki-moon over Rohingya comments,” AFP, Nov. 14, 2014, Yahoo News; “Obama calls on Myanmar to protect Rohingya; Suu Kyi urges harmony,” Jared Ferrie, Nov. 14, 2014, Reuters. Night’s Lantern posted its first genocide warning for the Rohingya in 2012.

9. “Study Finds Disturbing Rise in Anti-Semitic Incidents,” Uzi Baruch and Elad Benari,” Aug. 11, 2014, Arutz Sheva 7; “Anti-Semitism up 400% in UK, Double in France,” AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff, Sept. 12, 2014, Arutz Sheva 7.

10. A more complete listing of contemporary genocide warnings and updates is available at “Genocide Warnings & Updates,” nightslantern.ca.

11. Awareness of “genocide” as a crime has increased in geometric proportions since Gerald and Maas published the UN’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide with supporting documents when it fell of print at the UN (The Crime of Genocide & Bill of Human Rights, Moody Maine 1989). A Canadian edition with basic supplementary UN treaties protecting refugees, appeared in 1995, and remains online with updates and genocide warnings. Currently a Google search for the word “genocide” yields 34,300,000 results.

12. “Genocide Warnings & Updates: Canada,” nightslantern.ca.

13. The Shining Path of Peru, a Maoist resistance group particularly effective in the 1980′s is still listed by the U.S. Canada and European Union as a terrorist group. Within a perspective of genocide prevention, it provided some impediment to the genocide applied by Alberto Fujimori in the programs sterilizing Peruvian Indian women.

14. See “Genocide Warnings & Updates: France,” nightslantern.ca.

 John Bart Gerald, Drawing by Julie Maas

Killer Cops in America

December 5th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Cops in America kill with impunity. On average over once a day. FBI data showed 461 so-called “justifiable homicides” last year. 

A euphemism most often for cold-blooded murder. A likely way undercount. Based on voluntary police reports.

No separate federal database exists. No interest in compiling one. No way to check local reports for accuracy.

Including how often white cops kill people of color. Usually unarmed/nonthreatening Black or Latino youths.

Protests against Ferguson, MO injustice still echo. Justifiable anger resonates. In late November, Cleveland police killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

In a park. With his sister and friend. Playing with a harmless toy pistol. What kids often do. Including this writer as a young boy.

Expect no indictment to follow. Let alone conviction of murder. Big Lies justify police killings. Claims about being threatened ring hollow.

On July 17, Statin Island, New York policeman Daniel Pantaleo killed 43-year-old African American Eric Garner.

Father of six. Called by friends a “neighborhood peacemaker.” A generous, congenial person. In 2013, Pantaleo faced two civil rights lawsuits.

Involving false arrests and abuse. In one case, he and other officers ordered two Black males to strip naked in public.

To be searched. With no authorizing court-ordered warrant. Or other justifiable reason.

On July 17, plainclothes policeman Justin Damico approached Garner. In Statin Island’s Tompkinsville neighborhood.

Without just cause. Garner protested justifiably. Verbally. Nonviolently. “Please leave me alone,” he reportedly said.

“Don’t touch me, please.” From behind, officer Pantaleo put him in a headlock. Then a chokehold. Garner saying he couldn’t breathe.

Repeating it several times. It didn’t matter. Other officers helped Pantaleo subdue him. Bring him down.

Handcuff him. Cellphone video evidence showed Pantaleo pushing his head into the sidewalk. Choking him to death.

At Richmond University Medical Center, he was pronounced dead. Clear video evidence showed officers waited seven minutes before giving Garner cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In 1993, New York police authorities banned use of chokeholds. Autopsy findings showed Garner had no drugs or alcohol in his system at time of death. No head trauma.

New York’s Medical Examiner pronounced death by neck and body compression. Contributing factors included prone positioning. Asthma. Heart disease. Obesity.

Medical Examiner spokeswoman, Julie Bolcer, called Garner’s death homicide. A grand jury investigation followed.

On December 3, absolving Pantaleo of murder. Despite clear video evidence showing otherwise. Seen nationwide. Worldwide.

Plus witness testimonies. Jurors claimed insufficient evidence to indict. Days after Ferguson, MO’s officer Darren Wilson got off scot-free.

Despite killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in cold blood. It bears repeating. Cops kill with impunity.

Not just in Ferguson, Cleveland or Statin Island. Nationwide. A national epidemic. A blight on the national conscience.

Targeting mainly Black and Latino male youths. Most often nonthreatening. Unarmed. Having committed no crime.

Courts consider this type behavior legal. Earlier Supreme Court rulings provided wiggle room. Authorizing deadly force. In “objectively reasonable” circumstances.

Impossible to differentiate from unjustifiable homicide. Courts defer to police judgments. Claims of being threatened are accepted. True or false.

Making it virtually impossible to indict cops. It’s their word against witnesses. Forensic or other evidence. Objective assessments of what happens.

According to UC Irvine Law School dean Erwin Chemerinsky, recent Supreme Court rulings prevent justice.

Last August, Chemerinsky headlined a New York Times op-ed “How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops.”

“(Making) it very difficult, and often impossible, to hold police officers and the governments that employ them accountable for civil rights violations,” he said. This undermines the ability to deter illegal police behavior and leaves victims without compensation. When the police kill or injure innocent people, the victims rarely have recourse. The court has also weakened accountability by ruling that a local government can be held liable only if it is proved that the city’s or county’s own policy violated the Constitution. In almost every other area of law, an employer can be held liable if its employees, in the scope of their duties, injure others, even negligently. This encourages employers to control the conduct of their employees and ensures that those injured will be compensated.”

Courts protecting killer cops deny justice. “How many more deaths and how many more riots will it take before the Supreme Court changes course,” Chemerisky asked?

His new book is titled “The Case Against the Supreme Court.” Discussing over 200 years of High Court injustice.

previous article explained how prosecutors manipulate grand juries. Gaming the system. Getting verdicts they want. Denying justice.

Outrage followed Pantaleo’s acquittal. Hundreds protested peacefully. Dozens of arrests followed.

Garner’s father asked “(w)ho can control the police department? We had a damn video tape.” Clear evidence of cold-blooded murder.

Not enough to indict. Not when cops are charged. More dangerous than ever. Militarized with combat weapons. Recklessly used.

Mostly in minority communities. Against defenseless victims. Unarmed. Nonthreatening. Guilty of being Black or Latino. In the wrong place at the wrong time.

America’s so-called war on terror is state terror writ large. At home like abroad. Operating lawlessly. Unaccountably.

Free to kill with impunity. Targeting America’s most disadvantaged. Blacks. Latinos. Muslims. Immigrants of color. Activists for justice.

With full support and encouragement from Washington. Obama demagoguery rings hollow. Saying one thing. Backing another. Consistently on the wrong side of justice.

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero commented on Pantaleo’s acquittal, saying:

“I can’t breathe!” Eric Garner screamed repeatedly before he died. This was captured in a viral video of his arrest, which showed NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo with his arm wrapped around Garner’s neck.”

“Why was Eric Garner strangled? Chokeholds are dangerous. They can be lethal. And they’re prohibited by the NYPD for good reason. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide on July 17th. There needs to be a shift in the culture of policing in America. A good start would be for our national leaders to come out strongly against excessive force and racial profiling. Urge the Department of Justice to ban racial profiling by law enforcement officers and require racial bias training against the use of force. Four months after Garner’s death, the grand jury in Staten Island decided not to indict Officer Pantaleo. This decision follows an appalling national pattern where police officers use excessive and sometimes fatal force against people of color and are frequently not held responsible. Eric Garner’s story is sadly all too common. Police officers disproportionately stop people because of their race or engage in aggressive enforcement of nonviolent infractions in communities of color. We cannot ignore the systemic use of excessive force and discriminatory policing. Law enforcement often does not treat communities of color as equal partners in a shared, collaborative effort to ensure public safety. It’s become ‘us’ versus ‘them’ where communities of color are often treated like the enemy. Trust between communities and law enforcement is deeply eroded. Police can no longer cast a broad blanket of suspicion over entire communities under the guise of preventing crime. We need greater accountability – where police are held responsible for their actions by the community. And we need police forces that truly protect and serve all communities.”

What’s entirely absent in America. Cops serving monied interests. Targeting people of color. Brutalizing them.

Killing with impunity. Hundreds of times annually. Nationwide. Justice systematically denied.

Revolutionary activism needed to change things. Impossible any other way. For sure not from cops or politicians.

Complicit against ordinary people. Especially America’s most disadvantaged. Targeted like enemies of the state. Lawlessly. Ruthlessly.

Center for Constitutional Rights executive director Vincent Warren issued the following statement. Following Pantaleo’s acquittal. Asking:

“How can anyone in the community have faith in the system now? First Ferguson, now Staten Island. The Grand Jury’s failure to indict sends the clear message that Black lives don’t matter. But they do. It’s bad enough that broken windows policing over something as harmless as selling untaxed cigarettes led to this tragic killing; it’s even worse when the officer responsible – who was caught on tape using a prohibited choke hold, no less – is not held accountable. The problem isn’t one officer, though: it’s systemic. We need real reform of discredited broken windows policing and of the NYPD more than ever. With the court-ordered joint reform process in our class action stop-and-frisk case Floyd v. City of New York finally getting underway, we have that opportunity.”

Sweeping reform across the board is needed nationwide. Not as long as monied interests control thing. Complicit with bipartisan criminality.

At federal, state and local levels. Protecting America’s privileged from beneficial social change.

The only solution is nonviolent revolution. Total change. Scattered reforms won’t work. America’s system is too corrupted to fix.

Replacing it with an entirely new one is needed. More than ever now.

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

Oil Prices and Energy Wars: The US Empire of “Frack” versus Russia

December 5th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Energy prices started to move downward in late-2014, when Saudi oil began to flood energy markets. Variations of two main schools of thought about this emerged. One school explained things purely on the basis of business interests whereas the other school viewed the drop in oil prices geopolitically.

Some analysts viewed the Saudi move as a means of pushing out competitors in a saturated market with falling demands that have been caused by economic stagnation. Within this group of analysts, there were also those that viewed this as an attack on the growing shale industry in the US. According to RusEnergy analysts Mikhail Krutikhin, Saudi Arabia is trying to push US shale production out from the market by making extraction unprofitable and ultimately expanding its share of the market at the expense of US producers. [1] The decline in oil prices will hurt production in areas not controlled by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC) and this may be a means of preventing the oil market from transforming from a «seller’s marker» into a «buyer’s market». [2] Others, like Lukoil’s Leonid Fedun, maintained that the US shale industry risked becoming the victim of its own success. [3]

On the other end of the spectrum, there were analysts that viewed things from a geopolitical prism. It was posited by this group of analysts that the Saudi move was made to pressure Ecuador, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela by Washington and its allies over issues like the Iranian nuclear program and the crises in Ukraine and Syria. In other words, petro-politics was at play and the market was not acting «freely» or «on its own» in bringing down the price of oil; it was a US strategy of economic warfare and coercive diplomacy.

The price drop should not be viewed in either a strictly business sense or a strictly geopolitical sense. In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin raised important questions about it during a press conference held in Milan on October 17, 2014. After separate talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on the sidelines of the Tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, President Putin pointed out that the price drop would also hurt US companies. He pointed out that lower oil prices would knock down the profitability of shale production, from so-called tight oil, and US-controlled hydraulic fracturing operations in North America and around the world.

Speaking in terms of US dollars, Putin told a TASS news agency reporter, which had brought up the issue, that he did not believe that any energy producers wanted major price drops. This included the US, which has steadily been positioning itself to become a major global energy exporter through hydraulic fracturing or fracking. According to Putin, the production cost of US shale-based hydrocarbons—tight oil and shale gas—break even at a rate of eighty dollars; he pointed out that the «the price drop on the world markets will deal a very heavy blow to this type of activity in the United States as well.» [4]

Putin’s key point was this: «As for conspiracy theories, conspiracies are always possible. However, in this case they hit the conspirators the hardest, if they do exist. I have already mentioned that the budgets in the main oil producing countries are also based on oil prices, around $85-90 a barrel, I believe».[5]

Petro-Politics: Clash of Pipelineistans

The European Union and Ukraine are dependent on Russian energy supplies. A key concern of Germany and the EU has been maintaining the continuation of the flow of Russian energy. This is why Milan’s ASEM Summit was used to prepare the basis for a Russian-Ukrainian winter gas deal. This was prepared through multilateral talks between the EU, Moscow, and Kiev.

The Milan talks would lead to a trilateral agreement where the European Commission would lend Kiev the money to pay sixty-two percent of its five billion US dollar gas debts to Gazprom by the end of 2014. In return for getting repaid over three billion US dollars in unpaid bills by Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz, Gazprom would resume sending Ukraine natural gas until March 31, 2014.

Shortly after the ASEM Summit, on November 1, 2014, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree to sell Russian natural gas to Ukraine with a one hundred US dollar discount if the price for 1,000 cubic metres of gas supplied to Ukraine stands at just above three hundred and thirty-three US dollars or more. If the price drops below this, then the Russian discount would form thirty percent of the price.

While this was happening and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was working to restart the flow of Russian gas, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordered the work for the creation of a new gas pipeline with Poland to begin. His objective is to de-link Ukraine from Russia and to import gas from Poland by 2016. «This means that we would be able to buy all of the gas we need from the European Union member-states,» Yatesnyuk explained. [6]

While Yatsenyuk casually made it appear like the plan was to buy gas from the European Union, this was stretching the truth. While it is true that the natural gas would be shipped through the territory of EU members or even extracted from some of them, particularly Poland, what Yatsenyuk failed to disclose was that the gas would be coming from the US and that the shale gas extracted in Poland would be owned by US companies. The US energy companies Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Marathon Oil all have huge stakes in exploring and developing Poland’s shale reserves.

In parallel, Washington has taken steps to entrench its control over Canadian natural gas and oil reserves, which are among the largest in the world. The Canadian energy sector is being integrated deeper into Washington’s energy infrastructure and assets. Ultimately, the US plans to begin large-scale exportation of shale-based energy from North America in 2015 and 2016.

When people like Yury Bereza, the Ukrainian nationalist militia leader-turned-parliamentarian, publicly announce on television that they plan on starting espionage campaigns inside Russian territory and attacking Russian infrastructure, one has to ask if they plan on attacking energy infrastructure. Who will benefit from this? It would not be the EU, Russia, or Ukraine.

Washington has encouraged a deterioration of relations between Kiev and Moscow and between the EU and Moscow. It has done everything it can to get Kiev to cut energy ties with Russia, knowing the negative effect the supply disruptions would have on the EU. Washington’s goals include preventing Eurasian energy integration in preference to a Euro-Atlantic energy network controlled by US companies.

Think the free market is genuinely free? Think again. The US cannot compete fairly against the Russian energy sector. US shale-based energy products are much more expensive than Russian energy supplies, because they need to be fracked, liquefied in the case of shale gas, and transported to Eurasia at much higher costs than Russian energy. This is why Washington has been fanning the flames of instability, creating tensions in Europe against Russia, and pushing for sanctions against Russian energy.

It is in the context of upsetting Russian energy ties with the EU and Ukraine that Washington has been instigating the breakdown of the Minsk Accords, the peace agreement between Kiev and East Ukraine’s breakaway republics. Wishfully, the US wants to disrupt the flow of energy to the EU and create economic problems for Gazprom. The US objective is to economically weaken both Washington’s Russian rivals and its own EU allies.

Economic instability, energy price drops, and insecurity in the flow of energy are meant to support Washington’s trade agenda too. The US has aggravated relations in Eurasia to assist it in the creation of two trade blocs that exclude Russia and China. In Europe it has fomented friction between the EU and Kremlin to promote and accelerate the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. In the Middle East it has tried to disrupt Irano-Turkish and Russo-Turkish trade and energy ties. In the Asia-Pacific it has systemically ratcheted-up tensions between China and other regional countries as a means of helping Washington in promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Empire of Frack and Shale Deposits of Ukraine and Argentina

It is no coincidence that the US Department of State has been heavily promoting the export of US shale and fracking for the last half decade. Nor is it a mere coincidence that major US energy corporations have been involved in intense negotiations to control shale reserves around the world. In the European landscape, this project has particularly concentrated on the Balkans, Poland, and Ukraine.

The US wants the government in Kiev to regain control over the breakaway republics in East Ukraine and to regain control of Crimea for multiple reasons. Aside from strategic factors, petro-politics are also involved. Excluding Russian reserves, Poland and Ukraine have the first and third largest deposits of recoverable shale gas in Europe. East Ukraine has energy reserves that the US has its eyes on. This is why Washington has been a strong supporter of Kiev’s attempts to regain control over East Ukraine, where much of the shale gas concessions that US conglomerates were awarded are located. As for the Crimea, not only is it of strategic importance for dominating the Black Sea, it also has energy reserves off its coast that Washington wants.

In 2012, Viktor Yanukovych’s Ukrainian government awarded a gas contract off the Crimean coast to a consortium led by ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to develop the Skifska gas field. The next year, Yanukovych signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell to explore and drill for natural gas in East Ukraine in January 2013 with zero taxes and major corporate benefits for the Anglo-Dutch energy giant. Another agreement was signed in November 2013 between US energy giant Chevron and Kiev to explore and develop the energy reserves in Ukraine’s western areas, facing Poland’s shale reserves.

A similar scenario is at play in Argentina, which has the second largest exploitable reserves of shale gas in the world. Buenos Aires intends on becoming an energy exporter in the future. This is why the Argentine government took back control of its national energy company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF), from the Spaniard oil conglomerate Repsol through legislation passed on March 3, 2012.

Argentina has been in the cross-hairs for economic destabilization via a group of hedge funds—called the vulture funds—that have tried to disrupt its debt repayment agreements. This has been done with the help of the US judicial system. This is why the Argentine government has championed the concept of fighting «economic terrorists.»

It just so happens that YPF and Gazprom signed a partnership agreement in 2014 to develop and extract Argentina’s energy reserves. It appears that Argentina’s bid to develop its energy resources and its cooperation with Russia are the reasons why the vulture funds have intensified the pressure on Argentina. [7] This is why Argentine President Cristina Kirchner has said that the vulture funds are the «eagles» of Washington’s empire.

Where the vulture funds did not succeed, the decline in market prices may. The extraction of oil or gas reserves from shale deposits becomes unprofitable with low prices. Argentina may effectively be neutralized by the drop in oil prices.

The Manipulation of Energy Prices as a Weapon

Historically, the Arab petro-sheikhdoms have manipulated energy prices in coordination with the US. Moreover, even if the shale industry collapses or freezes its operations, this does not mean that in the future when the world’s finite energy supplies are lower (and costs are higher) that exports and fracking would not be resumed.

Saudi Arabia was reinvesting capital back into the US economy during the 1968 Arab Oil Embargo and even Henry Kissinger admits that Washington used the rise in oil prices to strengthen its economic influence over the Western European and Japanese economies through the petro-dollar. [8] In this regard, the rise in energy prices was also used to weaken and swallow other economies, including in the Eastern Bloc.

The Iraq-Iran War helped further tightened Wall Street’s grip on the global economy. After the US goaded the Soviets into invading Afghanistan and unveiled the 1980 Carter Doctrine, which declared that the Pentagon reserved the right to use military force within the Persian Gulf to defend its interests, Washington instigated Iraq into invading Iran. [9] In this way the US kept the Soviets out and manipulated Iraq, a Soviet ally, into fighting Iran, Washington’s newest adversary.

It is worth visiting a 2007 text by this author: «The price of Soviet petroleum also increased because of the Iraq-Iran War, but to no real benefit to the Soviets. The Soviet economy was affected largely because of the war in Afghanistan, a US snare that ensured that the Soviet economy would not benefit from the rise in petroleum prices. The rise in petroleum prices during the Iraq-Iran War also created a state of economic shock in Eastern Europe. The economic disturbances in Eastern Europe also had a negative toll on the Soviet economy. The Eastern Bloc also opened the door to Western banks for financial aid to cope with the economic shock that was created by the rise in petroleum prices. This would be a lethal mistake.» [10]

In collaboration with the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Washington would then make oil prices fall after the Iraq-Iran War by flooding the markets. This would destabilize Eurasia further and hurt Iraq, Iran, and the Soviets. Saddam Hussein is known for complaining that the Arab petro-sheikhdoms were continuously violating the OPEC quotas by flooding the market. Baghdad and Tehran both saw this as acts of aggression and destabilization.

The above analysis of what took place during the Iraq-Iran War has been corroborated as recently as October 2014 by Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian National Security Council. Patrushev has explained that Washington, in collaboration with the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, manipulated the price of oil in the 1980s to hurt the Soviet economy while the Soviets were stuck in Afghanistan and spending more in Eastern Europe to sustain their allies and counter protests. [11]

There are clear parallels between the 2014 oil price drops and the Cold War ones. Even US attempts to drag Russia into a conflict in Ukraine parallel the US objective of dragging the Soviets into Afghanistan. There are several US adversaries that will be affected by the 2014 oil price drops: Ecuador, Iran, Venezuela, and Russia. Russia, however, may be the main target just like the USSR was the main one during the Cold War even though Iraq and Iran were targeted too.

There is also one final point. The sanctions regime against Russia, added to the one against Iran, has economically hurt the EU and other actors. This has had global implications for slowing down economic activity and lowered energy demands. In part, this is probably why Putin announced on December 1, 2014 that the South Stream was put on hold when he visited Turkey.

Washington is responsible for the price drops in one way or another. Whether intentional or not, what should not be forgotten is that the last time prices fell dramatically was a few months before the global economic meltdown in 2007. Inadvertently or not, Washington’s push for sanctions could be leading to another international economic crisis.

NOTES
[1] Милена Бахвалова [Milena Bahvalova], Николай Дзись-Войнаровский [Nikolai Dzis-Voynarovsky], and Амалия Затари [Amalia Zatarilis], «Основной пострадавший — Россия» [«The Main Victim: Russia»], Русская планета [Russkaya Planeta/Russian Planet], November 27, 2014.
[2] Ирина Тумакова [Irina Tumakova], «После заседания ОПЕК нефть и доллар готовятся к встрече» [«After the OPEC Meeting, Oil and the Dollar Prepare to Meet»],Фонтанка [Fontanka], November 28, 2014.
[3] Will Kennedy and Jillian Ward, «OPEC Policy Ensures U.S. Shale Crash, Russian Tycoon Says,» Bloomberg, November 27, 2014.
[4-5] Kremlin version of the transcribed translation of the Milan press conference — titled «Answers to journalists’ questions following visit to Italy»— has been used in quoting Vladimir Putin.
[6] «’Ukraine’s Prime Minister Orders to Plan Construction of Gas Pipeline With Poland: Cabinet,» RIA Novosti, October 31, 2014.
[7] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «Are Vulture Funds A US Tool Against Argentina In An Energy War With Russia?» Mint Press News, October 24, 2014; Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «Eagles of Empire and economic terrorism: Are vulture funds instruments of US policy?» RT, October 24, 2014.
[8-10] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «America’s ‘Long War’: The Legacy of the Iraq-Iran and Soviet-Afghan Wars,» Global Research, July 5, 2007.
[11] Nikolai P. Patrushev, «Вторая ‘холодная’» [«Second ‘Cold’»], interview with Ivan Igorov, Российской газеты [Rossiyskaya Gazeta], October 15, 2014.

Police Killings in America: The Class Issues

December 5th, 2014 by Joseph Kishore

Once again, a police officer has been let off without charges after killing an unarmed man on the streets of an American city.

The decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo for choking Eric Garner to death in July is another judicial travesty, coming only two weeks after a similar failure to indict the Ferguson, Missouri cop who shot Michael Brown.

In some ways, the exoneration of Pantaleo is even more egregious than the non-indictment of Darren Wilson. Garner was accosted for selling loose cigarettes. He was tackled to the ground for no reason, strangled with a chokehold long banned by the police department and pinned to the ground as he cried out repeatedly that he could not breathe. After he passed out, cops stood around for seven minutes before administering first aid.

The entire incident was captured on video, seen by millions of people around the world. The city’s medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Yet there is to be no trial, no opportunity for the facts of the case to be considered by a jury and punishment meted out according to the law. Instead, as in Ferguson, a grand jury, in secret proceedings, guided by a prosecutor with close ties to the police, has decided not to indict.

The grand jury decision in the Garner case has produced a wave of outrage throughout the country. Thousands have poured into the streets in angry spontaneous protests that have blocked highways and filled streets in New York City, Chicago and other US cities.

Millions of people are asking themselves: If a police officer can strangle an unarmed man to death, with the entire incident recorded on tape, and still get off without even being charged for a crime, what is not permitted? The anger is entirely justified. It must be guided, however, by a clear and informed political understanding.

It is impossible to talk seriously about police brutality without talking about capitalism, without recognizing the connection between the violence of the state and the massive social inequality that is the defining feature of American life. It is this basic fact that the ruling class and its various spokesmen seek above all to obscure.

The response of the political and media establishment to the Garner non-indictment betrays a nervousness over its implications. Politicians of varied stripes, Democrat and Republican, have rushed to call for further inquiries, for a federal “civil rights” investigation, for various measures aimed at restoring “public trust.” There is a general understanding within the ruling class that the “civic fabric of the United States” (a phrase used by the New York Times after the non-indictment of Wilson) is frayed to the point of breaking.

These maneuvers have been led by President Barack Obama, who met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday to work out a common political strategy in response to the protests over Garner’s killing. According to White House press secretary Josh Earnest, “the two pledged to work together to help strengthen the trust and bond between law enforcement and the local communities that they serve.”

These measures are to consist of various palliatives, such as proposed funding for police body cameras (irrelevant in the Garner case, since the entire incident was filmed anyway) and more police “training.”

Following the meeting, Obama declared that “too many Americans feel a deep unfairness when it comes to the gap between our professed ideals and how laws are applied on a day-to-day basis.” Beyond the discrediting of the police and legal system, Obama said, there was “a larger question of restoring a sense of common purpose.”

What Obama cannot acknowledge, however, is that the absence of a “sense of common purpose” is not a question of perception or failure to communicate, but rather an objective reality. There is no “common purpose” between the corporate and financial aristocracy, determined to pursue a policy of endless war abroad and social counterrevolution at home, and the millions of workers and young people who confront a relentless attack on jobs, wages, social programs and democratic rights.

Amidst this social divide, the state, including the police, is not a neutral body, but an instrument of class rule. Obama himself has encouraged and augmented the powers of the state at every turn, from the building up of a massive and unconstitutional spying apparatus; to the declaration of his right to assassinate anyone, including US citizens, without due process; to the militarization of domestic police through the provision of billions of dollars in armored vehicles, weapons and other equipment—a policy that the president endorsed again this week.

In its attempt to cover up the basic class issues at stake, the Democratic Party has deployed its various auxiliary groups and media organs, along with proponents of identity politics like Al Sharpton, to insist that the fundamental issue involved in police violence is race and “race relations.” The corollary to this claim is that Obama, the first African American president, will be “serious” about addressing police brutality.

While racism plays an undeniable role in the criminal operations of the police, it is entirely subordinate to the fundamental class divide. Indeed, central to the political crisis facing the ruling class is the fact that the political mechanisms it has deployed in the effort to undermine class consciousness—including racial and identity politics—are themselves deeply discredited, due in no small part to the experiences of the Obama administration itself.

The aim of police violence is not racial, but class oppression. Not only are workers of all races the victims of police brutality, but the instruments of repression built up systematically and consciously by the ruling class are being readied for use against strikes, protests, demonstrations and other forms of social and political opposition to the dictates of the banks and corporations.

Opposition to police brutality and the erection of police-state forms of rule in the United States must be rooted in a political movement of the working class, mobilized as an independent force, in opposition to the capitalist system and the state apparatus that serves as the enforcer of social inequality.

Economic Depression in the European Union

December 5th, 2014 by Nick Beams

Forecasts of euro zone growth rates and inflation provided by the European Central Bank (ECB) at its monthly governing council meeting in Frankfurt yesterday indicate the accelerating downturn in the region’s economy.

The ECB predicted that growth in 2015 would be just 1 percent, compared to its forecast of 1.6 percent made only three months ago. Inflation will be 0.7 percent next year, compared to the previous forecast of 1.1 percent, issued in September. Even these figures may turn out to be too high, with risks being characterised as on the “downside.”

The annual inflation rate in the euro zone was just 0.3 percent last month and is expected to fall again this month and into 2015 because of a drop in oil prices. The ECB is officially committed to lifting inflation to 2 percent but there is no sign of that target being reached. Falling inflation has a significant impact on the region’s economy because it increases the real level of debt and interest payments, despite the reduction in official rates to near zero.

While the euro zone has not entered a recession, it is on the verge of one. According to the latest purchasing managers’ index compiled by the data firm Markit, which is a fairly accurate indicator of future trends, economic activity in the euro zone was at its lowest level for a year and a half, with the index falling to 51.1 from 52.1 in October.

The most significant feature of the latest Markit data is that the downturn is concentrated in the so-called core economies, with Germany experiencing its worst result for 17 months and France its lowest level of economic activity for nine months.

The main focus of financial markets was whether the ECB meeting would soon begin a full-scale program of quantitative easing, involving the purchase of government bonds.

At present the ECB only buys asset-based securities and covered bonds, not sovereign debt. This is largely because of opposition from German representatives in the governing council, which again surfaced at yesterday’s meeting.

Setting out the central bank’s monetary policy, ECB president Mario Draghi said it “intends” to expand its balance sheet by around €1 trillion, back to the level it reached in 2012, rather than that it “expects” to reach this objective. However, even this slight change in wording produced divisions in the governing council, with opposition coming from German officials and possibly others.

In his press conference, Draghi spoke of “major decisions” where there was no unanimity. Firing a shot across the bow of his opponents, who maintain that the purchase of sovereign debt is beyond the powers of the ECB and could be challenged in the courts, Draghi said policymakers were not politicians and had to stick to their mandate of keeping inflation on track. “Not to pursue our mandate would be illegal,” he added.

Draghi indicated that all measures were discussed, including the purchase of sovereign debt. But he refused to specify when a decision might be taken, saying only that it would be some time “early” next year, following an assessment of the impact of the recent fall in oil prices. He was at pains to make clear that “early” did not necessarily mean the next meeting of the governing council, scheduled for January 22.

Financial markets are growing somewhat impatient with the ECB’s prevarication.

“At some point, they will lose credibility,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics told the New York Times. “They still have time, but time is running out,” he said. The euro zone was “flat on its back and flirting with recession.” It might avoid outright deflation, but it was “close.”

The newspaper also cited Nicholas Spiro, the managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, who said: “Draghi’s ability to buoy financial markets through his words (and his words alone) is diminishing with each passing day.”

Spiro warned: “The ECB’s inability to take meaningful action to avert the threat of deflation could become the trigger for a much more pronounced deterioration in market sentiment towards the euro zone.”

In other words, unless financial markets get their way and more ultra-cheap cash is pumped into the system, they could provoke a crisis.

The program of quantitative easing has nothing to do with boosting the real economy but is purely directed toward funding speculation on stock exchanges and other financial markets. This was made clear by figures provided in Draghi’s remarks following the meeting.

He said the annual rate of change to loans to non-financial corporations—money that is used in financing real economic activity—was down by 1.6 percent in October, following a decline of 1.8 percent in September.

The divisions among euro zone members, reflected in the disagreements on the ECB governing council, are indicative of increasing tensions globally. The talk of global cooperation and collaboration, which filled the air in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, has well and truly gone by the board amid the downturn in the world economy.

These tensions were exacerbated by last week’s decision of the OPEC oil cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, not to cut production in order to stabilise global oil prices, which have fallen by around 40 percent since June.

The decision threatens a financial crisis in a number of countries, including Nigeria, Algeria, Iran, Venezuela and, most significantly, Russia.

The impact of the deepening economic downturn on global politics was underscored in a speech delivered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

With the rouble now down almost 40 percent against the US dollar since the start of the year, Putin said the government would crack down on speculators and fight attempts by Russia’s enemies to bring it to its knees.

Fearing that the oligarchs upon whom he rests could withdraw their support, Putin’s speech was aimed at mobilising Russian nationalism against efforts by Western powers to undermine the country.

“Hitler with his misanthropic ideas tried to destroy Russia and throw us back to the Urals. Just remember how that ended,” he said. If the Russian annexation of Crimea had not happened, some other excuse would have been found to hold Russia down.

Putin said Western powers intended to “run a Yugoslav scenario in Russia.”

The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, orchestrated by Germany and the US, was preceded by a financial crisis, created in large part by the actions of the International Monetary Fund.

Putin’s direct linkage of Russia’s worsening economic crisis to the events of World War II is indicative of the interconnection between the gathering world slump and geo-political tensions. Those tensions can only increase as a result of the worsening economic situation in Europe, which was revealed at the ECB meeting.

America is on a war footing.  While, a World War Three Scenario has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than ten years, military action against Russia is now contemplated at an “operational level”. Similarly, both the Senate and the House have introduced enabling legislation which provides legitimacy to the conduct of a war against Russia.

We are not dealing with a “Cold War”. None of the safeguards of the Cold War era prevail. 

There has been a breakdown in East-West diplomacy coupled with extensive war propaganda. In turn the United Nations has turned a blind eye to extensive war crimes committed by the Western military alliance.  

The adoption of a major piece of legislation by the US House of Representatives on December 4th (H. Res. 758)  would provide (pending a vote in the Senate) a de facto green light to the US president and commander in chief to initiate –without congressional approval– a process of military confrontation with Russia.  

Global security is at stake. This historic vote –which potentially could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people Worldwide– has received virtually no media coverage. A total media blackout prevails.   

The World is at a dangerous crossroads. Moscow has responded to US-NATO threats. Its borders are threatened. 

On December 3, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation announced the inauguration of a new military-political entity which would take over in the case of war. 

Russia is launching a new national defense facility, which is meant to monitor threats to national security in peacetime, but would take control of the entire country in case of war. (RT, December 3, 2014)

Timeline of War Preparations

In May 2014, the  Russian Aggression Prevention Act (RAPA) was  introduced in the US Senate (S 2277), calling for the militarization of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States and the stationing of US and NATO troops on Russia’s doorstep:

S.2277 – Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014

Directs the President to: (1) implement a plan for increasing U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, and other NATO member-states; and (2) direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO to seek consideration for permanently basing NATO forces in such countries.

Directs the President to submit a plan to Congress for accelerating NATO and European missile defense efforts.

While The S 2277 resolution was sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for review, its essential premises are already in the process of being implemented.  In mid-July, NATO’s Europe commander General Philip Breedlove in consultation with the Pentagon and Britain’s Ministry of Defence, called for:

 “stockpiling a base in Poland with enough weapons, ammunition and other supplies to support a rapid deployment of thousands of troops against Russia”.(RT, July 24, 2014).

NATO Summit Wales 2014According to General Breedlove, NATO needs “pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces”:

“He plans to recommend placing supplies — weapons, ammunition and ration packs — at the headquarters to enable a sudden influx of thousands of Nato troops” (Times, August 22, 2014, emphasis added)

Breedlove’s “Blitzkrieg scenario” –which could potentially lead to military escalation– was reaffirmed at the September NATO Summit in Wales.  A so-called NATO action plan directed against the Russian Federation was decided upon.  The Wales Summit had given the “green light”.

Barely a month later, in October,  US-NATO military drills were held in the Baltic States. In early November, a second round of drills was held in both the Baltic States and Eastern Europe.

As part of this broader endeavour, NATO’s Iron Sword 2014 military exercises –involving the participation of nine member countries of the Atlantic Alliance– were launched in Lithuania in early November:

 ”US tanks rolled in to Lithuania earlier this month is a show of force to Russia that it’s not welcome in the region.”

The military exercises were explicitly directed against Russia. According to Moscow, they consisted in “increasing operation readiness” as well the transfer of NATO “military infrastructure to the Russian borders”.

In response to NATO deployments on Russia’s borders,  the Russian Federation also conducted in early November extensive  war games in the sea of Barent.  The Russian drills consisted in testing “its entire nuclear triad consisting of strategic bombers; submarines” and the “silo-based Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile  launched from Plesetsk in Arkhangelsk Oblast” on November 1st.

The US House of Representatives H.Res. 758 Resolution

On 18 November,  a major resolution H. Res. 758 was introduced in the House of Representatives. Its main thrust consists in portraying Russia as an “Aggressor Nation”, which has invaded Ukraine and calling for military action directed against Russia:

You can watch Rep. Kinzinger’s floor speech on the legislation 

H.RES.758 — Whereas upon entering office in 2009, President Barack Obama announced his intention to `reset’ relations with the Russian Federation, which was described by former United States Ambassador… (Introduced in House – IH)

HRES 758 IH

113th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 758

Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.

(The full text of H. RES. 758 is contained in annex to this article)

H. Res. 758 not only accuses Russia of having invaded Ukraine, it also invokes article 5 of the Washington Treaty, namely NATO’s  doctrine of collective security.

An attack on one member of the Atlantic alliance is an attack on all members of the Alliance.

The underlying narrative is supported by a string of baseless accusations directed against the Russian Federation. It accuses Russia of having invaded Ukraine. It states without evidence that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17,  it accuses Russia of military aggression.

Ironically, it also accuses the Russian Federation of having imposed economic sanctions not only on Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova but also on several unnamed member states of the European Union.  The resolution accuses the Russian Federation of having used “the supply of energy for political and economic coercion.”

In essence, House Resolution 758 were it to become law would provide a de facto green light to the President  of the United States to declare war on the Russian Federation, without the formal permission of the US Congress.

In this regard, it could be interpreted as “mildly unconstitutional” in that it contravenes the substance of Article 1, Section 8, of the US Constitution which  vests in the Congress “the Power to declare war…”

The resolution urges the President of the United States in consultation with the US Congress to:

“conduct a review of the force posture, readiness, and responsibilities of the United States Armed Forces and the forces of other members of NATO to determine if the contributions and actions of each is sufficient to meet the obligations of collective self defence under article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and to specify the measures needed to remedy any deficiencies” .

What the above paragraph suggests is that the US is contemplating the use of NATO’s collective security doctrine under article 5 with a views to triggering a process of military confrontation with the Russian Federation.

The structure of military alliances is of crucial significance. Washington’s intent is to isolate Russia. Article 5 is a convenient mechanism imposed by the US on Western Europe. It forces NATO member states, most of which are members of the European Union, to act wage war on Washington’s behalf.

Moreover, a referendum on Ukraine’s membership in NATO is contemplated.  In case Ukraine becomes a member of NATO and/or redefines its security agreement with NATO, article 5 could be invoked as a justification to wage a NATO sponsored war on Russia.

“Fast Legislation”

Click image below to order Michel Chossudovsky’s book

The speed at which this legislation was adopted is unusual in US Congressional history.   originalHouse resolution 758 was introduced on November 18th, it was rushed off to the Foreign Affairs Committee and rushed back to the plenary of the House for debate and adoption.

Two weeks (16 days) after it was first introduced by Rep. Kinzinger (Illinois) on November 18, it was adopted by 411-10 in an almost unanimous vote on the morning of December 4th.

Members of Congress are puppets. Their vote is controlled by Washington’s lobby groups. For the defence contractors, Wall Street and the Texas oil giants, “war is good for business”.

In the words of Dennis Kucinich in an open letter published on December 2:

The resolution demands Russia to be isolated …  In other words, ‘let’s get ready for war with Russia.’

This is exactly the type of sabre rattling which led to the initiation and escalation of the Cold War. It is time we demanded that the US employ diplomacy, not more military expenditures, in the quest for international order.

Media Blackout

One would expect that this historic decision would has been the object of extensive news coverage.

In fact what happened was a total news blackout.

The nation’s media failed to provide coverage of the debate in House of Representatives and the adoption of H Res 758 on December 4.

The mainstream media had been instructed not to cover the Congressional decision.

Nobody dared to raise its dramatic implications.  its impacts on “global security”.  ”World War III is not front page news.”

And without mainstream news concerning US-NATO war preparations, the broader public remains unaware of the importance of the Congressional decision. .

Spread the word. Reverse the tide of war.

Break the mainstream media blackout. 


  Click to order Michel Chossudovsky’s Book directly from Global Research

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Google News Feed  7pm ET, December 4, 2014. Last 24 hours.

The Vote in the House of Representatives took place in the morning of December 4th, ET.

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  • BBC News

    U.S. House Vote Could Lead to War with Russia, Warns Physicians …

    PR Newswire (press release)-59 minutes ago
    H. Res 758, “Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under … countries aimed at political and economic domination,” is credited to Rep.
  • the Nightly Whip: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    Newsroom America-17 hours ago
    H.R. 5759 – “Executive Amnesty Prevention Act of 2014” (Rep. … H.Res. 758 – Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under Vladimir Putin, …
    Stay up to date on results for H. Rep. 758

 


 

Bill Text

113th Congress (2013-2014)

H.RES.758.IH

 

H.RES.758 — Whereas upon entering office in 2009, President Barack Obama announced his intention to `reset’ relations with the Russian Federation, which was described by former United States Ambassador… (Introduced in House – IH)
 

HRES 758 IH

113th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. RES. 758
Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
November 18, 2014
Mr. KINZINGER of Illinois submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


RESOLUTION
Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.

Whereas upon entering office in 2009, President Barack Obama announced his intention to `reset’ relations with the Russian Federation, which was described by former United States Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul as a policy to `engage with Russia to seek agreement on common interests’, which included the negotiation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) in which the United States agreed to major reductions in its nuclear forces;

Whereas the Russian Federation has responded to this policy with openly anti-American rhetoric and actions and with armed aggression against United States allies and partner countries, including Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia;

Whereas the Russian Federation has subjected Ukraine to a campaign of political, economic, and military aggression for the purpose of establishing its domination over the country and progressively erasing its independence;

Whereas the Russian Federation’s invasion of, and military operations on, Ukrainian territory represent gross violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and a violation of international law, including the Russian Federation’s obligations under the United Nations Charter;

Whereas the Russian Federation’s forcible occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea and its continuing support for separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine are violations of its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, in which it pledged to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine;

Whereas the Russian Federation has provided military equipment, training, and other assistance to separatist and paramilitary forces in eastern Ukraine that has resulted in over 4,000 civilian deaths, hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees, and widespread destruction;

Whereas the Ukrainian military remains at a significant disadvantage compared to the armed forces of the Russian Federation in terms of size and technological sophistication;

Whereas the United States strongly supports efforts to assist Ukraine to defend its territory and sovereignty against military aggression by the Russian Federation and by separatist forces;

Whereas the terms of the ceasefire specified in the Minsk Protocol that was signed on September 5, 2014, by representatives of the Government of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Russian-backed separatists in the eastern area of the Ukraine have been repeatedly violated by the Russian Federation and the separatist forces it supports;

Whereas separatist forces in areas they controlled in eastern Ukraine prevented the holding of elections on May 25, 2014, for a new President of Ukraine and on October 26, 2014, for a new Rada, thereby preventing the people of eastern Ukraine from exercising their democratic right to select their candidates for office in free and fair elections;

Whereas, on November 2, 2014, separatist forces in eastern Ukraine held fraudulent and illegal elections in areas they controlled for the supposed purpose of choosing leaders of the illegitimate local political entities they have declared;

Whereas the Russian Federation has recognized the results of the illegal elections and continues to provide the military, political, and economic support without which the separatist forces could not continue to maintain their areas of control;

Whereas the reestablishment of peace and security in Ukraine requires the full withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, the resumption of the government’s control over all of the country’s international borders, the disarming of the separatist and paramilitary forces in the east, an end to Russia’s use of its energy exports and trade barriers to apply economic and political pressure, and an end to Russian interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs;

Whereas Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a civilian airliner, was destroyed by a Russian-made missile provided by the Russian Federation to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the loss of 298 innocent lives;

Whereas the Russian Federation has used and is continuing to use coercive economic measures, including the manipulation of energy prices and supplies, as well as trade restrictions, to place political and economic pressure on Ukraine;

Whereas military forces of the Russian Federation and of the separatists it controls have repeatedly violated the terms of the ceasefire agreement announced on September 5, 2014;

Whereas the Russian Federation invaded the Republic of Georgia in August 2008, continues to station military forces in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and is implementing measures intended to progressively integrate these regions into the Russian Federation;

Whereas the Russian Federation continues to subject the Republic of Georgia to political and military intimidation, economic coercion, and other forms of aggression in an effort to establish its control of the country and to prevent Georgia from establishing closer relations with the European Union and the United States;

Whereas the Russian Federation continues to station military forces in the Transniestria region of Moldova;

Whereas the Russian Federation continues to provide support to the illegal separatist regime in the Transniestria region of Moldova;

Whereas the Russian Federation continues to subject Moldova to political and military intimidation, economic coercion, and other forms of aggression in an effort to establish its control of the countries and to prevent efforts by Moldova to establish closer relations with the European Union and the United States;

Whereas under the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a flight-test or deployment of any INF-banned weapon delivery vehicle by the Russian Federation constitutes a violation of the INF Treaty;

Whereas, on July 29, 2014, the United States Department of State released its report on the Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, as required by Section 403 of the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, for calendar year 2013, which found that, `[t]he United States has determined that the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles’;

Whereas according to reports, the Government of the Russian Federation has repeatedly engaged in the infiltration of, and attacks on, computer networks of the United States Government, as well as individuals and private entities, for the purpose of illicitly acquiring information and disrupting operations, including by supporting Russian individuals and entities engaged in these actions;

Whereas the political, military, and economic aggression against Ukraine and other countries by the Russian Federation underscores the enduring importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as the cornerstone of collective Euro-Atlantic defense;

Whereas the United States reaffirms its obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty, especially Article 5 which states that `an armed attack against one or more’ of the treaty signatories `shall be considered an attack against them all’;

Whereas the Russian Federation is continuing to use its supply of energy as a means of political and economic coercion against Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other European countries;

Whereas the United States strongly supports energy diversification initiatives in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other European countries to reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use its supply of energy for political and economic coercion, including the development of domestic sources of energy, increased efficiency, and substituting Russian energy resources with imports from other countries;

Whereas the Russian Federation continues to conduct an aggressive propaganda effort in Ukraine in which false information is used to subvert the authority of the legitimate national government, undermine stability, promote ethnic dissension, and incite violence;

Whereas the Russian Federation has expanded the presence of its state-sponsored media in national languages across central and western Europe with the intent of using news and information to distort public opinion and obscure Russian political and economic influence in Europe;

Whereas expanded efforts by United States international broadcasting across all media in the Russian and Ukrainian languages are needed to counter Russian propaganda and to provide the people of Ukraine and the surrounding regions with access to credible and balanced information;

Whereas the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Incorporated continue to represent a minority market share in Ukraine and other regional states with significant ethno-linguistic Russian populations who increasingly obtain their local and international news from Russian state-sponsored media outlets;

Whereas the United States International Programming to Ukraine and Neighboring Regions Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-96) requires the Voice of America and RFE/RL, Incorporated to provide programming content to target populations in Ukraine and Moldova 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including at least 8 weekly hours of total original video and television content and 14 weekly hours of total audio content while expanding cooperation with local media outlets and deploying greater content through multimedia platforms and mobile devices; and

Whereas Vladimir Putin has established an increasingly authoritarian regime in the Russian Federation through fraudulent elections, the persecution and jailing of political opponents, the elimination of independent media, the seizure of key sectors of the economy and enabling supporters to enrich themselves through widespread corruption, and implementing a strident propaganda campaign to justify Russian aggression against other countries and repression in Russia, among other actions: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved,

    That the House of Representatives–
      (1) strongly supports the efforts by President Poroshenko and the people of Ukraine to establish a lasting peace in their country that includes the full withdrawal of Russian forces from its territory, full control of its international borders, the disarming of separatist and paramilitary forces eastern Ukraine, the adoption of policies to reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use energy exports and trade barriers as weapons to apply economic and political pressure, and an end to interference by the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of Ukraine;
      (2) affirms the right of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and all countries to exercise their sovereign rights within their internationally recognized borders free from outside intervention and to conduct their foreign policy in accordance with their determination of the best interests of their peoples;
      (3) condemns the continuing political, economic, and military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova and the continuing violation of their sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity;
      (4) states that the military intervention by the Russian Federation in Ukraine–
        (A) is in breach of its obligations under the United Nations Charter;
        (B) is in violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in which it pledged to respect the independence, sovereignty, and existing borders of Ukraine and to refrain from the threat of the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine; and
        (C) poses a threat to international peace and security;
      (5) calls on the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, to end its support of the separatist forces in Crimea, and to remove its military forces from that region other than those operating in strict accordance with its 1997 agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet Stationing on the Territory of Ukraine;
      (6) calls on the President to cooperate with United States allies and partners in Europe and other countries around the world to refuse to recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation;
      (7) calls on the Russian Federation to remove its military forces and military equipment from the territory of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, and to end its political, military, and economic support of separatist forces;
      (8) calls on the Russian Federation and the separatist forces it controls in Ukraine to end their violations of the ceasefire announced in Minsk on September 5, 2014;
      (9) calls on the President to cooperate with United States allies and partners in Europe and other countries around the world to impose visa bans, targeted asset freezes, sectoral sanctions, and other measures on the Russian Federation and its leadership with the goal of compelling it to end its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to remove its military forces and equipment from Ukrainian territory, and to end its support of separatist and paramilitary forces;
      (10) calls on the President to provide the Government of Ukraine with defense articles, services, and training required to effectively defend its territory and sovereignty;
      (11) calls on the President to provide the Government of Ukraine with appropriate intelligence and other relevant information to assist the Government of Ukraine to defend its territory and sovereignty;
      (12) calls on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and United States partners in Europe and other nations around the world to suspend all military cooperation with Russia, including prohibiting the sale to the Russian Government of lethal and non-lethal military equipment;
      (13) reaffirms the commitment of the United States to its obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty, especially Article 5, and calls on all Alliance member states to provide their full share of the resources needed to ensure their collective defense;
      (14) urges the President, in consultation with Congress, to conduct a review of the force posture, readiness, and responsibilities of United States Armed Forces and the forces of other members of NATO to determine if the contributions and actions of each are sufficient to meet the obligations of collective self-defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and to specify the measures needed to remedy any deficiencies;
      (15) urges the President to hold the Russian Federation accountable for violations of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to take action to bring the Russian Federation back into compliance with the Treaty;
      (16) urges the President to conduct a review of the utility of the INF Treaty in securing United States interests and the consequences for the United States of withdrawing from the Treaty if the Russian Federation does not return to compliance with its provisions;
      (17) calls on Ukraine, the European Union, and other countries in Europe to support energy diversification initiatives to reduce the ability of the Russian Federation to use its supply of energy as a means of applying political and economic pressure on other countries, including by promoting increased natural gas and other energy exports from the United States and other countries;
      (18) urges the President to expedite the United States Department of Energy’s approval of liquefied natural gas exports to Ukraine and other European countries;
      (19) calls on the President and the United States Department of State to develop a strategy for multilateral coordination to produce or otherwise procure and distribute news and information in the Russian language to countries with significant Russian-speaking populations which maximizes the use of existing platforms for content delivery such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Incorporated, leverages indigenous public-private partnerships for content production, and seeks in-kind contributions from regional state governments;
        (20) calls on the United States Department of State to identify positions at key diplomatic posts in Europe to evaluate the political, economic, and cultural influence of Russia and Russian state-sponsored media and to coordinate with host governments on appropriate responses;
        (21) calls upon the Russian Federation to seek a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States that is based on respect for the independence and sovereignty of all countries and their right to freely determine their future, including their relationship with other nations and international organizations, without interference, intimidation, or coercion by other countries; and

(22) calls for the reestablishment of a close and cooperative relationship between the people of the United States and the Russian people based on the shared pursuit of democracy, human rights, and peace among all nations.-

https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-resolution/758

To download the text of the Resolution Click: H Res 748

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a document which strongly condemns Moscow’s actions against its neighbors, calling them a policy of aggression.

Passed with 411-10 votes, the resolution slams Russia’s “continuing political, economic, and military aggression” against Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova and the “continuing violation of their sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

The US, Europe and our allies must aggressively keep the pressure on Mr. Putin to encourage him to change his behavior,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the resolution’s sponsor, said.

The resolution calls for Russia to stop supporting local militias in eastern Ukraine and for the cancellation of Crimea’s decision to join Russia. In addition, it calls on Moscow to withdraw its troops which the US claims are in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

The House calls on President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with defense equipment and training.

Ukraine is clearly in need of urgent military assistance,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said as quoted by The Hill.

Previously Obama declined Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s plea for lethal military aid. During his visit to Washington in September, Poroshenko addressed Congress calling to provide Kiev with “more military equipment, lethal and non-lethal” drawing applause from the audience.

 

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses a joint session of the US Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 18, 2014. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses a joint session of the US Congress at the Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 18, 2014. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Thursday’s  resolution also urges NATO members and US allies to suspend military cooperation with Russia. Addressing Obama, the House urged him to review the readiness of US and NATO armed forces under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE).

The lawmakers agreed that the president and State Department should also find a way to “distribute news and information” in Russian to countries with Russian-speaking populations.

The lawmakers specified that the resolution was targeting Putin and his policy, but not all Russian people.

The resolution follows Putin’s speech to Federal Assembly made on Thursday, where he criticized the “deterrence policy” conducted against Russia by other states.

The deterrence policy was not invented yesterday, it has been always conducted towards our country, for decades, if not centuries,” Putin noted. “Every time somebody considers Russia is becoming too powerful and independent, such instruments are turned on immediately.

He mentioned that the US has been manipulating foreign relations of Russia’s neighbors, adding that “sometimes you don’t even know to whom it is better to talk to: the governments of certain countries or directly with their American patrons.

READ MORE: ‘House of Representatives’ resolution declares Cold War’

The relations between the two states have got colder in the past decade and will deteriorate even more following the adoption of the H. Res. 758, warns former Republican Dennis Kucinich.

NATO encirclement, the US-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border, a US nuclear first-strike policy, are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy,” he said as quoted by Truthdig.

READ MORE: ‘NATO’s disastrous expansion at the core of the Ukraine conflict’

Kucinich explained that Russia had only responded to an appeal by the local population in Ukraine to protect them from the violence when Moscow agreed to Crimea joining the Russian Federation. It was “a reaffirmation of an historic relationship,” Kucinich said.

“The Western press begins its narrative on the Crimea situation with the annexation, but completely ignores the provocations by the West and other causal factors… This distortion of reality is artificially creating an hysteria about Russian aggressiveness,” he said, adding that the US Congress “is responding to the distortions, not to the reality.”

Kucinich also criticized US rhetoric, calling it “saber-rattling, which led to the initiation and escalation of the Cold War” and urged Washington to “employ diplomacy, not more military expenditures, in the quest for international order.”

Bloodshed continues as militarized Haiti police kill 3 month old baby with tear gas, wounds four protestors

Ezili Dantò Note: On Command Meeting Requested by US Ambassador Pamela White with 6 opposition parties, Dec 2, 2014

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeHaitiMovement/permalink/10154843975235394/

Fanmi Lavalas and Kontra Pep La did not attend the meeting with US ambassador Pamela White. The four others (MOPOD, Fusion, Ayisyen Pou Ayiti, INITE) met with the ambassador at Fusion headquarters. Reports indicate large protest crowds in front of Fusion headquarters made it difficult for the US ambassador and her convoy to easily past without facing and hearing the demands of the people to take Martelly back to the US with her. Other extraordinary demands by the streets were in the signs which begged Russia for help against the US occupation. There are reports of signs: “Vladimir Putin please help us, Haiti.” A sign where Vladimir is boxing with Obama read: “Vladimir Putin help us with Obama’s regime in Haiti!” These signs were waved at the US Ambassador.

Many in the crowd were protesting the four political parties, who agreed to meet with the US Ambassador, calling them collaborators with the big powers and denouncing any agreement these political parties might take to retain the Martelly-Lamothe regime. They said the “Conzes meeting with the imperialist forces will not be negotiating on the back of the people on the streets.” The militants on the streets said the people won’t easily be ignored or betrayed by the political parties who accepted to meet with US Ambassador Pamela White. The spokespeople on the streets denounced any negotiations of all the four political parties who attended the meeting.

* * *

The people on the streets indicated to the four parties that no matter what they say, the people DO NOT trust them not to work over their heads with the imperial powers.(Photos http://on.fb.me/1vMyiWZ http://on.fb.me/1CDLsMr)

Nonetheless, here are the points, so far, made by the head of MOPOD, representing to the public what happened at the meeting between the four parties and the US highest representative in Haiti.

According to the MOPOD spokesperson, the four parties who attended the meeting said these points were made to Pamela White, The US ambassador’s purpose for this futile meeting was to try to negotiate for Martelly/Lamothe. The US has no moral authority whatsoever with the people of Haiti even though it’s reported that Ambassador White’s posture at the meeting was under the guise that the United States asked for this meeting to find out, from the opposition, exactly what their concerns were. The spokesperson for the four parties who attended the meeting, the MOPOD executive said that the four parties detailed four points to Pamela White:

1. Since 1986 the people of Haiti are fighting to restore democracy in Haiti

2.They insisted that if this is a Haiti crisis, they insist there must be a Haitian answer with no foreign meddling – There can be no solution without the participation of the people of Haiti.

3.They reported that the attending political parties told the US they can’t consult with foreign powers without negotiation an agenda, and a method for determining quantifying a Haiti resolution

4. The four political parties said they advised the US Ambassador Pamela White that they cannot negotiate an end to the crisis without the participation of the people of Haiti…. The population protesting in the streets, the population in prison, the population participation.

What is clear is that the political parties are concerned about losing ground by attending a meeting with a foreign power that has installed the Martelly-Lamothe regime. Also, attorney Andre Michel confirmed what’s been clear to everyone which is that not all in the 6-political parties are standing for the end of the Martelly-Lamothe government and that no one in their right minds trusts Pamela White based on her past unconditional support of the Martelly-Lamothe government in face of their blatant corruption, affiliations with drug dealers and known criminals.

(Statement by Haiti Counselors, Andre Michel and Newton Juste at http://on.fb.me/1AehGst)

Elsewhere in Haiti, in the Northeast, a 3-month old baby died in his house from inhaling militarized police tear gas thrown at the people, four people were wounded by police bullets shot at crowds protesting deplorable living standards under Martelly-Lamothe and demanding that the power plant servicing foreigners at Caracol share their electricity with the people at Ouanaminthe and Fort Liberte

Ezili Dantò,
December 2, 2014
(More HLLN updates to follow. Join the Free Haiti Movement -
https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeHaitiMovement/ . Check our website
ezilidanto.com)

Additional references:

Photo of Dec 2, protest at Fusion headquarters
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=901935843164986&set=a.901880629837174.1073741895.100000457357288&type=1&theater

US Ambassador Pamela Whites Letter to 6-opposition political parties
requesting command meeting - http://bit.ly/1HXRYNW

The colonial narrative regarding:
Haiti opposition meets with US ambassador
http://news.yahoo.com/haiti-opposition-meets-us-ambassador-023343019.html

For more critical Haiti commentary on the current situation in Haiti, count on
the Ezili Network/Free Haiti Movement -
https://www.facebook.com/groups/FreeHaitiMovement/permalink/10154843975235394/

“The White People Problem” in America

December 4th, 2014 by Daniel Patrick Welch

White Americans have essentially never internalized the Kenner Report. Assembled by Lyndon Johnson to address what was laughably referred to as the Negro Problem, the panel very quickly saw that this was a joke. There is no Negro Problem in the US, but rather a white people problem. FIFTY years ago (let that sink in), it opined, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white—separate and unequal…Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American.” The report explained that the race riots were rooted in segregation, inadequate housing, poor access to quality education, systematic police violence, and labor market exclusion. For these factors, the report concluded, “White racism is essentially responsible.”

TWO GENERATIONS later (another pause for sinking in) and white Americans are still, in large part, hard pressed to see it, scratching their heads to see just what black people are so darn angry about. The pursuit of White Supremacy, both domestically and globally, is the singular unifying engine driving the west’s ongoing hegemony around the world. Reduced to the old canard of ‘race relations’–whatever that is supposed to mean, it can be encapsulated in Rodney King’s much maligned plaint, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ The answer, firmly, is no. Certainly not amid the flood of feigned perplexion, mock incredulity and the toxic ‘both sides’ rhetoric that still spews forth from the mouths of whites (and not a small number of non-whites) at every level of society, media, and social interaction. Not unless and until white people change, and begin to see the structural and institutional evil that white supremacy injects into every facet of American life. Basically, that is, until whites are collectively ready to go at least as far as the Kenner report did FIFTY YEARS ago (time’s up folks. It should have sunk in long ago).

This is not a demand or an expectation I take lightly; nor do I assert it without burdening myself with the same task. I have had to change–and massively so–from what I always thought was a forward-thinking, anti-racist, commie thinker in my early formative years. It’s just not enough. Granted, I have the best tutor I could ever hope for. And I chose to take the full immersion course. And I’m sure I have a lot of changing yet to do, and it will never quite be the same as seeing the world as if I was born black. But my ongoing education is as humbling as it is obvious to millions (billions, actually). You just see things differently when your own children are targeted by police, by other white people, by institutions. Wissen geht durch den Magen, as a famous German once said. When you bail family out of jail for something they didn’t do, for example. Wisdom comes through the gut.

When you lie awake at night worrying whether the kids have internalized the hatred  you try to protect them from every day, you are halfway there. When you walk into a store together with your wife, and she is followed by a store detective while some old white lady comes up to you and asks if she can put such and such on layaway, you learn that maybe your eyes aren’t as open as they should be (and a bit more open than you wish they had to be). When you are pulled out of a car and treated like a criminal because racist cops assume that your wife of ten years is a whore and you her drunken john… you wake up with the quickness. When cops investigating a fire separate you from your wife, trying to force her to admit that she smokes when she doesn’t–come on, you smoke. You can tell us. Fuck you. And as you wake up, you start to see things. You see that you go to the same grocery store and pay with the same blue school check at least once a week–often twice a week–for ten years. No problem. But the one time you bring your seven-year old Haitian godson because he’s having a bad day, the clerk takes the check and leans over the counter, asking “Is that WIC?” No, hon… that’s WACK. And on and on, through literally thousands of examples, situations, interactions that become so commonplace that you become almost immune–but that are also part of your awakening. And ultimately you realize–you fear, you feel, you *know*–that Tamir and Trayvon and Aiyana and hundreds (yes, hundreds) of others–could just as easily be Johnny or Marcus or Hector or Herby or Funmi or Sammy–the family and circle who are my everything, and without whom I am lost on this earth.

In the weeks since the unrest in Ferguson it has been painful to endure a barrage of idiocy from white people, some despite good intentions, some ignorant, and some just downright racist, most of whom probably wouldn’t know that my family is black. It is as if nothing has changed–except for the worse. Racism is so deeply entrenched–and ossified, it seems–that there is no longer even a veneer of understanding, and white people who would have prided themselves in 1968 to side with the oppressed, now feel themselves not only empowered but almost *compelled* to judge, moralize and hold forth about an experience from which they are completely divorced. It is as if the whole country has been transformed into the old Dave Chappelle sketch, and they “just know black people.”

As one who has made and is making that journey, I see it as the duty of white people–at the very least–to avoid these pitfalls. Listen. Open your eyes. Learn and know supremacy for what it is, and understand it and expose it. The black girl who made fun of you in middle school may have been racist; but she probably doesn’t have the power to take your job, or your home…or to kill your child with impunity. The difference is what defines supremacy. And when our eyes are open, we can see the nuances that make the system what it is. We can and should speak out as long and as loudly and forcefully to other white people in whatever forum and from whatever platform we can access until the very second the mic is wrenched from our hands against a supremacist system from which we benefit unequally… after all, we are mistakenly seen as the store manager, and not the thief.

And when you know, you can’t un-know. You can’t be assuaged by half measures that support the system rather than change it fundamentally. More body cameras for cops? Are they serious?  What a crock of shit. Tamir was shot on video. Eric Garner was choked to death in front of a dozen witnesses. Rodney was beaten half to death on camera, and a white jury still couldn’t see it. And on and on and on. Just another bullshit chapter in the hopeless neoliberal delusion that technological advancement–tweaking the numbers–can solve problems that require systemic change. Cowardly, righteous, and deliberately obtuse–and giving *more* resources to police who are already militarized and armed to the teeth.

Don’t be drawn into the tired and corrosive Good Negro/Bad Negro paradigm that supremacist logic has used derail attempts to expose white supremacy for what it is. Dr. King was wise and calm, Malcom X was crazy and violent, conveniently ignoring and distorting the radical legacy that both men left us. After all it was Martin, not Malcolm, who said “riots are the language of the unheard. And it was Martin, not Malcolm, who was quick to expose the hypocrisy of condemning his own people as violent savages amid the slaughter of nonwhite people in Vietnam: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today–my own government.” Martin today would understand the rioters–not shame them.

Sadly, the Groundhog Day time bounce that governs these things replays the loop without the slightest hint of irony: white people tut-tutting about looting and violence while undoubtedly saluting the flag and sporting support our troops paraphernalia. The King of Drones blathers on about how ‘violence is unacceptable’ while raining death on nonwhite children and wedding collaterals the world around. Par for the course for the Supremacist-in-chief. The office really is colorblind, as it turns out, and this portfolio must be filled at all costs. This is what accounts for the  radical difference between the Obomber’s rhetoric and that of say, another Black elected official, Deval Patrick.

Especially at the national level, there is no escape from The American Nether, that perverse intersection of race and class. I would, however, caution those who try beyond reason to make it first about class in a misguided attempt to promote a false ‘unity’ or to blunt their own complicity. In our own example, Julia is just as likely to be followed by the store cop whether she is in a do-rag or prepped up. We are both educated professionals, and play the part quite well. It didn’t save us–my wife was knitting (KNITTING!!) in the front seat when I was pulled from the car and mistaken for her john.

Is it all about race? Maybe not. Is it only about race? Hardly. But it is, was, and shall be *always* about race. Falling isn’t only or all about gravity either, but only the very stupid would discount it–and at their own peril. It is the not-so-well disguised secret that defines This American Life, the reality that has defined our experience since the arrival of Europeans, and the fuel that fires the twin engines that guide the separate systems about which Kenner and company warned when I was three years old. This is America. It is 2014. Wake up.

The forced resignation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and the continued prorogation of talks with Iran in Geneva might not seem to be connected but they are both major triumphs for the confrontational neoconservative foreign policy that continues to prevail in Washington in spite of repeated failures overseas. And, of course, they are both at least in part about Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his delight at learning that the negotiations with Iran have again failed to produce an agreement. It also pleased Senator John McCain who then called for “increased sanctions and requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval.” Per McCain, only the legislature can provide the necessary wisdom to avoid a bad deal with the Mullahs.

Hagel’s resignation is being packaged as response to excessive micromanaging from President Barack Obama’s White House regarding appropriate measures to be taken to “destroy” ISIS, deal with Syria and aid Iraq. In truth, Chuck Hagel was reflecting informed opinion among the Pentagon’s top ranking military personnel in confronting National Security Adviser Susan Rice over the chaotic and constantly shifting series of responses to a growing Middle Eastern crisis. Generals and Admirals may be pompous self-serving asses but they are not stupid.

Unlike Hagel, Obama’s inner circle national security team consisting of Samantha Power, Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett are all cut from the same cloth as the president. They are academics who come from privileged backgrounds and have, as the expression goes, no skin in the game. Their children will not be dying in some hell hole and for them it is a self-serving complete abstraction to use American power to “fix things” and undertake “humanitarian interventions” overseas.

Chuck Hagel by contrast experienced Vietnam as a grunt and saw considerable combat, for which he was decorated. Even though he has most often gone along to get along while a Senator and even more so as Secretary of Defense, his life experience has nevertheless made him reluctant to view war as a first option and he was widely seen as a peace candidate when he briefly considered a presidential run in 2008. There were high hopes that when he joined the Obama team he would serve as a voice for reason and moderation.

Hagel is also partly a victim of Israel first policies. He was guilty of a mortal sin by saying when he was a Senator that “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people on Capitol Hill” and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.” Since that transgression he has never been trusted by the Lobby, which was unsuccessful in blocking his nomination after pulling out all the stops during his confirmation hearings two years ago. As the approval of Hagel by the Senate was at that time widely viewed as a major defeat for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Robert Cohen, its current president, is probably smiling as he observes smugly that revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

So now Hagel is going, going gone, likely to be replaced by someone with whom both the neocons and the liberal interventionists will be more comfortable. That will almost certainly be an accommodating personality willing to uncritically join what Colonel Pat Lang has rightly described as the White House’s “children’s crusade.”

The fall of Hagel combined with the probability of a Congressionally-driven new, harder line from Obama sits well with some constituencies. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard puts it succinctlyfrom his viewpoint of what is important, “America has the misfortune to have an anti-Israel president for two more years. America has the good fortune to have a pro-Israel Congress for that same period of time. It should be a priority for that Congress, through speech and deed, to signal unequivocally to Israel and its enemies that terror and pressure against Israel will not succeed, and that America stands with Israel in our common fight against terror and barbarism.”

The incoming Republican majority also appears to be wonderful news for the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which held its annual bash in New York City on November 23rd. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was the featured speaker, asserting that “threats to Israel have never been greater” while basking in repeated chants from the attendees of “Go Ted Go!” ZOA President Mort Klein labeled Hamas as a “Nazi like terrorist group whose charter calls for the murder of every Jew” before taking several jabs at Obama, describing the American president as “A Chamberlain in the White House.” Neville, that is. For Klein and other neocons it is always 1938 and we are always in Munich. Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel went one better, calling Obama the “most anti-Semitic president ever.”

And then there is Iran, whose alleged “interference” in Iraq apparently thwarted American plans to turn Baghdad into Stockholm. It is also reliably the perpetual “threat” used to justify any and all of Israel’s misbehavior. Given the gathering storm being summoned up by Israel’s friends, the Obama administration would have been well served by closing the deal with Tehran, but it failed to do so. The prolonging of the timetable for the talks in Geneva is not necessarily a death sentence, but it does give both time and the organizational advantage to Congress, which, with its new Republican majority, will almost certainly move to block or torpedo any agreement. If the friends of Israel can muster up the 67 Senate votes needed to be veto proof they will undoubtedly punish Iran yet again with sanctions, a move that will undoubtedly end any chance for a compromise. And even though the Republicans do not themselves control all the needed votes there are plenty of Democrats who love Israel inordinately and will likely vote with the GOP. Senator Elizabeth Warren, reliably progressive except when it comes to Palestine, has just had her first meeting with Netanyahu, an important ticket punch on her career trajectory if she wants to become president. She is not alone in doing her obeisance but will have to out-Israel Hillary Clinton, something that may not be possible.

But at the end of the day, the greatest neocon triumph is its continued grip over policy with Russia, which is the sole power in the world that can attack and destroy much of the United States. The confrontation with Moscow makes no sense as the only United States vital interest at stake is to maintain a good working relationship, but the tension continues to mount. State Department Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, who was the enabler of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year, recently showed up in Riga Latvia where she pledged that American soldiers and their European counterparts are “ready to give our lives for the security of these countries.” She was referring to the Baltic States, raising the rather serious question whether or not Americans should be prepared to die for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Nuland’s allusion to giving “our lives” should surely be regarded as poetic license on her part as the only way a neocon could possibly die tragically would be if he or she were to choke on a piece of foie gras. She surely understands but chooses to ignore the fact that Latvia is only part of NATO due to the unwise expansion of what was originally a defensive alliance after the fall of the Soviet Union. The expansion was itself a violation of the understanding between Moscow and Washington that the West would not take advantage of the situation to extend its sphere of influence into Eastern Europe. Latvia’s defense is in no way important to the security of the United States unlike the actual threat posed by the Warsaw Pact up until 1991. Indeed, Latvia was part of the Warsaw Pact back then. Protecting Latvia as a policy is all too reminiscent of the lead ups to both the first and second World Wars. In 1914, a series of mutual defense agreements led to armed confrontation after an Austrian Archduke was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. In 1939, Britain and France were drawn into a war with Germany after giving security guarantees to Poland even though they had no critical interests at stake. Sixteen million died in 1914-8 followed by an additional 60 million in 1939-45.

That the White House has fired a voice for restraint and moderation at the Pentagon is perhaps inevitable. That it is simultaneously increasing its combatant role in an unwinnable confrontation in Iraq and Syria which it helped create, is again taking on the Taliban in Afghanistan, has backed away from cutting a deal with Iran that would have eased tensions in a key part of the world, and is needlessly provoking Moscow for reasons that must be inscrutable to any observer is a bit difficult to grasp. And, of course, the package includes standing beside Israel right or wrong. But that is what being a neocon is all about, apart from never having to say you’re sorry. Or wrong. We’ve got that fine expensive military just sitting around and by God we are going to use it. And someday the whole world will look and behave just like Peoria.

Challenging Israel’s House Demolition Policy

December 4th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Lawless by any standard. Ruthlessness writ large. Targeting Palestinians. Not Jews. Imagine the following.

Israel accuses a Palestinian family member or apartment building resident of violent criminality. With or without corroborating evidence.

It doesn’t matter. The alleged offender automatically called a “terrorist.” House demolition follows.

Collectively punishing everyone in it. Including the alleged offender. Even if innocent.

In 2005, Israel ceased punitive house demolitions. Deeming them counterproductive. Not achieving their claimed purpose – “deterrence.” Creating justifiable hatred and hostility.

In June, Israel about-faced. Reinstating its punitive house demolition policy. Targeting state-designated “terrorists.”

In response to the abduction of three Israeli youths. At the time, a suspect’s home was targeted for demolition. So were dozens of others in the West Bank. Unrelated to the incident.

In July, HaMoked petitioned Israel’s defense minister, attorney general and West Bank military commander. Arguing against resumed demolitions.

Weeks later a response came, saying:

“The security establishment is well aware of the ramifications of the exercise of the power granted (under British Mandate period law) to demolish the houses of terrorists, and therefore said power is exercise very prudently.”

Israeli policy contradicts rhetoric. House demolitions are punitive. Targeting Palestinians alone. Not Jews.

Israel claims a lawless failed policy works. Effectively fighting terrorism. Preventing future attacks. Despite no evidence proving it. Plenty showing otherwise.

The HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual and seven other human rights groups petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ).

Challenging punitive house demolitions. Wanting them stopped. Urging Israel’s HCJ to rule accordingly. Against an illegal policy.

A fundamental notion that no one should be punished for acts of others. Fourth Geneva’s Article 53 states:

“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Under Article 33, “”no protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.”

“Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited…Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) director Jeff Halper calls Israel’s policy “atavistic revenge.”

A flagrant Fourth Geneva violation. Halper saying:

“Not only do punitive demolitions violate the basic principle of due process of law, the home in question belonging only to a suspect, but the targeting and punishing of a suspect’s family members innocent of any crime through the demolition of their home constitutes (illegal) collective punishment…”

In response to numerous appeals, Israel’s HCJ consistently supported the policy. With rare exceptions.

Israel’s legal system “disconnect(s) law from justice,” says Halper. Letting the state violate international law with impunity.

“(T)urning itself into an instrument of oppression.” State terror. According to an anonymous international law expert:

“International law is the language of the world and it’s more or less the yardstick by which we measure ourselves today.”

“It’s the lingua franca of international organizations. So you have to play the game if you want to be a member of the world community.”

“And the game works like this. As long as you claim you are working within international law and you come up with a reasonable argument as to why what you are doing is within the context of international law, you’re fine. That’s how it goes.”

“This is a very cynical view of how the world works. So, even if you’re being inventive, or even if you’re being a bit radical, as long as you can explain it in that context, most countries will not say you’re a war criminal.”

Even if clear evidence shows otherwise. Israel has two legal systems. One for Jews. The other for Palestinian Arabs.

Homes of Jews committing violent crimes aren’t destroyed. Palestinians are treated otherwise.

Declared guilty by accusation. No matter the alleged crime. Even if innocent.

Denied due process. Losing their homes at the same time. Collectively punishing everyone in them.

Israeli justice for accused Palestinians is none at all. It bears repeating. Its convoluted legal system reflects pure “atavistic revenge.”

An ICAHD press release accuses Israel of “sow(ing) despair and senseless violence.” Israel denies Palestinians self-determination.

Despite international law calling it a universal right. Palestinians are virtually imprisoned in ghettoized cantons. Victimized unfairly.

Persecuted. Denied all fundamental rights. Impoverished. Dispossessed. Even their only place of refuge is targeted.

Leaving them no safe haven. Defenseless. Vulnerable to all forms of Israeli viciousness. With no way to stop it.

No help from Western leaders able to make a difference. Turning a blind eye to Israeli lawlessness. The grossest of gross injustice.

Including ruthlessness writ large. Genocidal mass murder and destruction. Torture. Land theft. Settlements. House demolitions.

Institutionalized racism. Brutalizing Palestinians for not being Jews. Treating them like subhumans. Like yesterday’s garbage.

Like vermin to be discarded. Eliminated. Destroyed. Including demolishing their homes.

Their most precious possession. HaMoked et al contends Israel’s policy violates core international law.

Saying “over the years there have been significant developments in international law, including international criminal law, but the Supreme Court of Israel has not addressed these developments in its expansive jurisprudence on house demolitions and should do so now.”

Expert legal opinion supports HaMoked’s petition. Including top Israeli jurists. International, constitutional, military law experts.

Saying house demolitions constitute a grave international humanitarian and human rights law violation.

Contradicting Israeli law. Prohibiting punishing anyone except offenders. According to HaMoked:

“The(ir) opinion stresses that the house demolition policy could amount to a war crime in certain circumstances and that it may put all those involved in its implementation at risk.”

“HaMoked believes that a situation in which the judiciary and the relevant academic community are so divided on such a pivotal, fundamental legal issue, at the very least calls for renewed deliberations on the issues of principle.”

Israel responded to HaMoked et al’s petition. Ignoring legal and moral principles. According to international human rights lawyer Michael Sfard:

“The State in its response requests the court not to discuss the substantial and general arguments of the organizations and attempts, once again, to avoid discussing the morality and legality of the punitive house demolition policy.”

“The petitioners point to the fact that the Supreme Court has never actually discussed the argument raised by all international law experts both in Israel and worldwide, that this policy constitutes a brazen violation of the prohibitions established by international law.”

“The State in its response fails to point at even one judgment which refutes said argument.”

On December 3, Israel’s HCJ heard arguments for and against home demolitions. HaMoked et al wants a clearly illegal policy stopped.

Other human rights groups involved include Yesh Din, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Public Committee Against Torture, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Represented by Michael Sfard, Noa Amrami and Roni Pell. Israel represented by state prosecution attorney Aner Hellman. Claiming Israel’s policy is “deterrence.” Not punishment.

With no need to “deter” potential Jewish community perpetrators. So no point in demolishing their homes.

Petitioners call demolitions “collective punishment.” Flagrantly violating international law. Punishing Palestinians alone shows racist discrimination.

Israeli settlers abducted Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Doused him with petrol. Burned him alive. A revenge attack for killing three West Bank Israeli Jews he had nothing to do with.

Israel didn’t demolish homes of suspected killers. Despite the nature of their crime. Horrendous by any standard.

Sfard said “harming innocent (Palestinians) raises serious (legal and) moral issues.”

“We believe that after 36 or 29 years, this issue should be examined, especially since so many changes have occurred in international law since the 1980′s…”

“Anyone who teaches international law teaches that that clause is illegal. Jewish law also forbids collective punishment.”

Hellman ludicrously claimed Israel uses its authority sparingly. “Where the Israeli and international law clash, Israeli law takes precedence,” he said.

Sfard maintained that “(i)f this clause (permitting demolitions) were enacted today, (Israel’s HCJ) would revoke it, because it contradicts the vital core of (Israeli) Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.”

Saying in part:

“The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

“There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.”

“There shall be no violation of the property of a person.”

“All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity.”

“There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise.”

“All persons have the right to privacy and to intimacy. There shall be no entry into the private premises of a person who has not consented thereto.”

“No search shall be conducted on the private premises of a person, nor in the body or personal effects.”

“All governmental authorities are bound to respect the rights under this Basic Law.”

“This Basic Law cannot be varied, suspended or made subject to conditions by emergency regulations.”

Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Esther Hayut and Noam Sohlberg heard specific petitions against demolishing family homes of two Palestinians involved in Har Nof synagogue killings.

Family lawyer Andre Rosenthal said doing so has no deterrent effect. “There’s no evidence of this,” he said.

“The result is the opposite. It leaves the hatred and the possibility that the remaining family relatives will avenge the demolition of their home.”

No evidence shows their involvement in what happened. “Their only ties to it are blood ties,” said Rosenthal.

“Are these the values Israel is advancing, demolishing the home of an uninvolved family because maybe it will serve as deterrence?”

“How do we know demolitions deter? They’ve been practiced for decades. Have the terror attacks ceased because of them?”

It remains to be seen how HCJ rules. If past is prologue, expect injustice.

Rarely ever does Israel’s High Court uphold Palestinian rights. Expect nothing different this time.

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

March 2014 was a bad month for women in the armed forces. The bill sponsored by female Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill went down in defeat by five votes that would have transferred jurisdiction of all military assault cases away from the good ol’ boys club of the male commander to civilian court. On the same day the Senate was voting to leave sexual assault under military control, across the Potomac River the Pentagon was forced to make public the Army’s top officer in charge of reducing the sexual epidemic in its ranks himself being investigated for sexual misconduct. Then in that same month of March the highest profile rape case in Naval Academy history resulted in acquittal of a former Navy football player. That same day the highest profile case of rape in US Army history against a general also resulted in a mere slap of the hand. 

After the entire preceding year near daily headlines of rape in the military drawing continuous unwanted attention to the out of control sex crimes running rampant throughout both the services and the service academies, with over 26,000 reported assault cases in 2012 alone, these demoralizing March events cast a foreboding dark shadow on women in uniform’s future safety and protection. The subsequent harassment and humiliation that the one in ten rape survivors who do come forth and report sex crimes are subjected to amounts to double punishment, being re-traumatized and re-victimized by a military system that fails to convict and imprison 99% of military rapists. Adding the turn of events from March madness to the already dismal record and the prospect that women would be any better protected in the future seems bleak to impossible.

The top military brass that have not won a war in seven decades were resoundingly victorious in their yearlong PR campaign at damage control, convincing Congress that long overdue improvements were actually being made. Those shocking headlines earlier this year spelled business as usual for young American women both in and out of uniform. At the same time rape on college campuses across America was also spiking out of control with headlines indicating that up to one in four females attending college in the US are also victims of sexual assault. And the cherished, most honorable military institutions of West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy that brag that cadets are our nation’s best and brightest and so called cream of the crop turn out to be the worst offenders of all.

As a graduate of West Point and former Army officer, I have always believed that the truth has a way of setting us free. In the end, justice in the form of the truth eventually surfaces despite whatever diabolical forces have been in place to kill the truth from ever becoming known. This week marks a full year after President Obama’s assessment demanding that progress be made. On the eve before the Pentagon releases the latest annual statistics on sexual assault in the military, two developments this week give hope that truth and justice may actually prevail after all. Raping women and continuing to get away with it in the armed forces and specifically at the service academies may become more difficult in the future.

At a Tuesday news conference this week flanked by five Republican Senators and three other Democratic Senators, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand threatened to hold up Obama’s next nominee Asthton Carter for Secretary of Defense unless drastic changes are demonstrated. She said she would offer an amendment to a defense bill that is expected to pass prior to the upcoming holiday recess shifting adjudication of assault cases to an independent civilian prosecutor and if that fails, she plans to reinitiate another bill to change the status quo.

On the very same day that the Senators were holding their press conference, the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office announced that it will investigate the Air Force Academy’s handling of recent sexual assault cases involving three dismissed football players. The Academy subsequently kicked out a fourth cadet teammate that provided the incriminating evidence resulting in the three star players’ separation as retaliation. Despite the female Academy Superintendent General Michelle Johnson’s flat denial that cadet Eric Thomas’ “disenrollment” six weeks prior to his graduation had anything to do with his damaging testimony to the star athletes, Cadet Thomas suddenly ended up with too many demerits as retaliatory punishment for bring the rapists to justice. The case against Eric Thomas is much like my own at West Point. His due process was clearly violated in that he was never allowed to challenge the demerits against him while on duty with the Office of Special Investigations. We both were ousted on excessive demerits due to command conspiracy. Back in my day as a cadet in 1972 due process as our constitutional right still meant something in this country. But now this fundamental rule of law is no longer upheld, honored or practiced in this nation of current police state tyranny.

Since last month ESPN has been running an in-depth segment exposing the Air Force Academy’s unfair punishment toward Thomas as the momentum of negative publicity continues piling up against the service academy’s gross injustice. And now the Pentagon’s top investigative office will be closely scrutinizing the Academy’s malicious mishandling of the Thomas case. Instead of supporting and lauding Eric Thomas and allowing him to graduate in 2013, it went out of its way to break him down by abruptly ending his education just before graduating and denying him his officer’s commission while sending an all too obvious message to the rest of the Corps of Cadets to not come forth and report rape.

The Department of Defense is merely responding to the increasing political pressure being brought to bear mainly by Eric Thomas’s South Dakota Senator John Thune and again Senator Gillibrand to relook at this over-the-top travesty of justice. Clear-cut evidence exists that the Academy superintendent at the time, General Michael Gould, himself a former AFA football player, attempted to squelch Thomas from ever testifying against his teammates. The general went so far as to refuse to even allow OSI to interview the Air Force football coaching staff during the rape investigation. For damage control purposes, three months after Thomas was unjustifiably terminated from the Air Force Academy, General Gould was retiring. The former superintendent was suddenly being replaced for the first time by a female in General Johnson who earlier this year called for the Air Force Inspector General to investigate the Thomas case and Academy football program. No surprise that it delivered a whitewashed report of the ongoing scandal giving the AFA Athletic Department a clean bill of health for its handling of the assault cases and former cadet Thomas.

Another scandal within the scandal is presently taking place at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). For two years Cadet Thomas was used by OSI to act as an informant to uncover not only assault cases but drug offenses at the Academy as well. Thomas was told that he must keep his involvement with OSI totally secret from everyone else at the Academy. Though he had been assured by OSI investigators that should his OSI assignments get him into trouble, the Office of Special Investigations would surely have his back. Yet when he was being harassed and railroaded out of the Academy after the three star football players were terminated, the OSI agents he had been working with were nowhere to be found. That was because they too were not allowed to intervene on Thomas’ behalf. Former OSI Agent Brandon Enos claims that after the incident he also was unfairly targeted and retaliated against by his OSI commander as well. Having resigned recently from the Air Force, Enos has gone public with damning evidence of how both Cadet Thomas and he were duly punished by Air Force high command.

Had the three rapists been any other Air Force Academy cadets and not top football players, Eric Thomas would never have been kicked out. The payback against Thomas for doing the righteous and honorable thing in stopping rapists from raping again shows the criminal lengths that those in power will abusively go to protect their own self-interests, in this case, the Academy’s reputation and specifically its struggling football program desperate to maintain its status as a viable contender within NCAA Division I football.

The final week in October leading up to the Air Force Academy’s football victory over rival Army, reporter Tom Roeder from the Colorado Springs Gazette was at it again exposing yet another scandal at a service academy, this time at my alma mater. From an anonymous tip he uncovered the outing of a lifetime that apparently occurred back in January 2014. Seventeen current West Point football players used as “good time Charlie” peer recruiters treated some fourteen high school athletes as potential future Military Academy players to a mighty fine time.

Traveling in style by chartered bus without supervision other than the police escort in tow at taxpayer expense, the underage high school recruits were treated to booze, cash, girls, and a party like there’s no tomorrow as an enticement to attend and play football at the prestigious and honorable Military Academy. Army is pulling out all the stops facing so much pressure to improve its losing football seasonal record as a perennial Division I bottom dweller. So the Academy sends its starting quarterback and 16 of his teammates out to party down with 14 targeted high school athletes to show them that just because West Point’s a military school, it doesn’t mean they don’t know how to have fun. Sex, booze and rock and roll on the highway to heaven sounds more like a flashback to the hedonistic 70’s. But apparently the annual trip’s become a tradition over the last ten years at West Point, started under the tutelage of former head football coach Bobby Ross (though he was quick to respond that no alcohol or women were supplied back in his day).

Apparently the rules grew more lax over the years. At this year’s latest romp, despite two coaches and two officers involved in the organizing and planning of the outing, none were present. One of the officers, Director of Football Operations Lt. Col. Chad Davis, went so far as to recruit female cadets from the basketball, volleyball and cheerleading squads just to ensure that “recruits see that there are pretty girls that go here,” and “there are not just masculine women that attend West Point.” According to the NCAA, cadets and recruits were reported to drink as many as seven alcoholic beverages in 90 minutes before boarding the bus ride home that included loud music, strobe lights and cheerleaders making out. Pandering to all the same common denominator tactics that the big time football programs have been offering forever (under the table of course) is just one more piece of evidence of how the standards at all the major service academies have sunk to new, unprecedented lows.

Both responses from the Academy administration as well as the NCAA officials for the recruiting violations have been extremely lenient. The Academy reported the incident to the NCAA and according to that report, two football players were suspended from activities for all of one week. Though West Point Superintendent Lt. General Caslen, an ex-footballer himself from the Class of 1976, was quick to point out that the cadets and officers involved were all harshly reprimanded, no cadet was dismissed nor any officer given a court martial. The superintendent claimed that even though weeks passed before the incident was reported, there was never a cover-up. He also denied his own school’s internal investigation findings that specify the faculty representative kept it hidden until a complaint was registered after attempts to recruit female cadet escorts as dinner dates in a similar later incident forced disclosure of the earlier bus outing.

The Superintendent just can’t admit West Point has resorted to pimping off its own female cadets to lure horny young athletes to join their team. Aside from information issued by the NCAA, the Academy has been highly secretive to avoid specifying just exactly what “harsh” punishments were given. An Academy spokeswoman stated West Point preferred to “handle it administratively,” meaning to keep the entire affair under wraps in efforts to protect its squeaky clean yet very false image and reputation, especially in the wake of the series of scandals rocking all the academy athletic departments.

The explicitly proven lowering of standards both academically and ethically that all the academies continue feebly lying about to this day indicate just how desperate and hypocritical they are rigidly holding onto clean-cut images that have long been shattered. There is no more honor left, and these fools who continue lying to pretend there is, are only tainting their hallowed institutions even further. Again, the M.O. from America’s leaders, both political and military, is to simply deny, deny, deny, so much so, that they are only fooling themselves hoping the problem eventually goes away. But as long as the top leaders continue trying to live the lie, so will their cadets be more than willing to prove them wrong. Deceptive and untrustworthy leaders do grave disservice to both our nation’s future leaders as well as our nation.

It isn’t even so much what the young people did that is so scandalous or reprehensible. At 17, 18, 19 or 20 years of age, to spend a weekend drinking beer and hanging out with attractive young women at the local bowling alley is actually normalized and to a great extent age acceptable behavior. No one was drunk getting behind the wheel to drive intoxicated. The police were there to keep in check any raucous behavior that got too loud or lewd. Though some of the participants were underage, high school and college kids, especially jocks, typically drink alcohol while partying with girls. As a former jock and cadet, I’m not advocating but simply pointing out the obvious.

What violates limits of acceptability here is that all the service academies are still propagating an elitist myth, insisting on pretending that their cadets are the cream of the crop, the best and brightest, so morally and ethically superior in character and honor, pushing pristine fake images that no longer apply over the last half century. The academy officials are still living in a dream world, refusing to wake up and admit their phony, self-righteous hypocrisy, desperately selling lies and deceit at every turn, churning out inferior products deluded with an elitist superiority, is all a scam that no one but them and others like them too dishonest to handle the truth cannot bear. They need to wake up to the real world of the twenty-first century and finally get real. Also, beyond the lowest common normative denominator, having academy officials endorse pimping off their female students, using sex, alcohol and cash to lure athletic talent is a sleazy operation, exploiting their so called cream of the crop and future cream of the crop in a prurient way. It reflects how low and desperate the academies are resorting to just to be able to compete with the big boys on the big money gridiron stage of NCAA football. This behavior coming from our most honored institutions is anything but honorable.

These so called scandals corroborate what longtime Annapolis Professor Bruce Fleming’s been saying for nearly a decade. The fact that service academy administrations are all in denial claiming they have not lowered their standards is a complete joke. To try and compete at Division I level, they have made it easier for gifted athletes to gain acceptance and stay at the academy playing football. Lying through their teeth about it yet expecting cadets to uphold their so called sacred honor code is just more of the same hypocritical “do as I say, not as I do.” If the service academies want cadets to demonstrate strong moral character, then it starts with their own top leaders who as poor role models for decades have failed miserably to measure up, constantly pushing a double standard of lies and moral depravity.

Over and over again all three major service academies have been proven blatantly guilty of resorting to shady immoral depths to attract and keep talented football players playing at their schools at all cost. The top brass lies, immoral conduct and hypocrisies are karmically once again coming back on them. It appears those demoralizingly dark developments earlier in 2014 are reversing themselves now as the uncovered truth is finally reaching the light of day. And their day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Netanyahu turned Israel into a ghetto. – Tzipi Livni, Ynet News, Dec 4, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed law which establishes Israel as a Jewish nation-state has been deemed everything from gratuitous to dangerous. The scope, and the punch, is what counts here.  As Bernard Avishai notes in The New Yorker (Dec 2), this is not just another law on the books.[1] It constitutes a basic law, a grundnorm that grants it constitutional heft.  For that reason, it is “so charged, so offensive not only to the Arab citizens of Israel but even to some members of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, that it is likely to collapse that fragile alliance and result in new elections.”

Israeli press outlets Haaretz and Ynet have noted various clashes within an already seething coalition rife with skirmishes.  Former President Shimon Peres has expressed the direct view that the proposed bill would “destroy Israel’s democratic status at home and abroad.”

The feeling by some is that Israel’s leader has lost the plot.  The leader of Hatnua, Tzipi Livni, has had more freedom to speak on the subject of the Prime Minister’s behaviour lately, having been fired from the government.  (We can always speak about the corrosive nature of complicity, but the comments have a grim freshness to them.)  “The public needs to understand that it has been brainwashed.  We have become a paranoid country” (Ynet, Dec 4).[2]

But what form is the bill going to take?  In its raw, unvarnished form, we see the voted on version, passed 14-7 in cabinet, drafted by Ze’ev Elkin, the ultra-right coalition partner of Netanyahu’s grouping.  In the bill, Israel is affirmed as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

By itself, a law protecting culture and national identity is hardly unique, something human rights commentators term “third generation” collective rights.  They have the rather unfortunate tendency of admitting that a particular group, or custom, might be endangered.  Netanyahu gives the impression that the law will merely inspire the necessity for a rigorous Jewish curriculum, instructing children about culture and mores.  However, it goes much further than that, degrading the status of Arabic, asserting the primacy of Judaism in the system.

In its effects, it assumes the gravity of other racial, linguistic laws that isolate and diminish the scope of citizens of various other nationalities within the borders of states.  It is a perverse form of elite ghettoisation which simultaneously cages privileged citizens, even if the cage be golden, while excluding those who are not. The policy preamble here should read: we are all members of a ghetto now.

The fangs of the bill are also directed at a key government institution. In its application, it will politicise the judiciary, forcing them to, in the Prime Minister’s own words, “recognise that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.”  Unfortunately, such specific readings of law, adding the gloss of ethnicity and colour that should, by their very definition, be free of specific application, undermines the function of open judicial deliberation.

There has also been a stark inconsistency between the attitude towards the proposed law from conservative groups, notably the large Jewish following in the United States, and the problems facing Palestinians more broadly speaking.   Prejudice can fracture into various types, distinct for its selectiveness.

The Anti-Defamation League is worried that, in the words of its national director, Abraham H. Foxman, “the foundational principle of Israel and a Jewish and democratic state” is being challenged (ADL, Nov 24).[3]  He notes that the equality principle, irrespective of religion, is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and various legal statutes.

Such a position on equality is hard to reconcile with policies that insist on intrusive checkpoints, the separation barrier, and the legality of the settlements under international law.  The justification of self-defence is constantly evoked by the ADL hierarchy.  “The closures and checkpoints are instituted by the Israeli government to protect its citizens.”[4]

Such mechanisms are the only ones supposedly available to the government against aspiring suicide bombers. Similar views have been expressed by the Conservative/Masorti movement.  In a sense, the extreme bill seems a rather smooth continuation of an already repressive regime, simply granting legal conformity to the legal order as it stands.

Peter Beinart, writing for Haaretz, noted with some pleasure that otherwise conservative groups found the bill dangerous and unjust, seeking in effect to marginalise Arab rights within the state.[5]  But surely, such reservations were inconsistent with the broader treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank.

For Beinart, there is no noticeable outrage about Israeli policy in the West Bank from Jewish-American groups, where millions of Palestinians continue to remain without citizenship.  In other words, the Jewish-American battle for Israeli democracy has its limits – it “stops at the Green Line.”

The most glaring inconsistency between the legal order that supposedly reflects Israel’s diverse and democratic character, and the actual application of rules to the Palestinian populace, is the existing of an acutely policed parallel system.  Palestinians in the West Bank have no rights to due process, freedom of mobility, and rights to vote. They “live under a military law so draconian that it forbids ten or more of them from assembling for a political purpose – even in a private home – without prior government permission.”

The one partial exception to this inconsistent outrage seems to have come from the Reform movement.  President Rabbi Rick Jacobs has kept the position clear against Israeli settlements, while still noting “existential threats” to Israeli citizens (Jun 19, 2014).[6]  But in truth, there is disturbing evenness to the proposed nation state bill, one that internalises the emergency practices exercised against those in the West Bank.  Repressive legacies do have a habit of coming home to roost.

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

Over the past 30 years, wealth has grown exponentially and has become increasingly concentrated foremost in the upper .01%, then the .1%, followed by the 1% and the upper 10% – 20%.

The large scale, long-term concentration of wealth has continued through booms and busts of the real economy, the financial and IT crises.  Wealth grew despite long-term economic recessions and stagnation, because the so-called recovery programs imposed austerity on  80% of the households while transferring public revenues to the rich.

The so-called ‘crises of capitalism’ has neither reversed nor prevented the emergence of an international class of billionaires who acquire, merge and invest in each other’s activities. The growth of wealth has been accompanied by the pillage of accumulated profits from productive sectors which are stored as wealth not investment capital.

The dispossession of capital and its conversion to private wealth subsequently led to the rapid expansion of the financial and real estate sector.  Capital accumulation of profits has been the source of private accumulation of wealth at the expense of wages, salaries, public welfare, and state revenues.

The growth of private wealth at the expense of productive investments is a world-wide phenomenon which has been facilitated by an international network of banks, political leaders and ‘regulators’ centered in the United States and England.

The single most important aspect of private wealth accumulation on a world-scale is criminal behavior by the elites in multiple locations and involves the violation of multiple laws and regulations.

The Chain of Illegality:  From Exploitation of Labor to the Pillage of the Nation

The original source of private wealth is the exploitation of labor by capital,of which a small percentage of the profits are reinvested in expanding production in the ‘home market’ or overseas.  The bulk of the profits are transferred into financial networks which in turn illicitly channel the funds into overseas accounts.

The movements of profits ‘overseas’ takes multiple forms (transfer pricing, phony invoices, etc.) and  they are primarily converted to private wealth.  These ‘international movements’ of profits are largely composed of mega-thievery or plunder by political and business leaders from ‘developing countries’. According to the Financial Times (17/11/14, p2).  “Up to $1 trillion (dollars) is being taken out of developing countries every year through a web of corrupt activities involving anonymous shell companies that typically hide the identity of their true owners”. (my emphasis)

The $1 trillion of stolen profits and revenues from the ‘developing countries’ (Africa, Asia, South America) are part of a “corruption chain” which is organized, managed and facilitated by the major financial institutions in the US and UK.  According to a World Bank report in 2011 “70 percent of the biggest corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous shell companies.  The US and UK were among the jurisdictions most frequently used to incorporate legal entities that held proceeds of corruption” (Financial Times, 17/11/14, p2.).

This process of “taking out” or pillage of developing countries feeds into rent seeking, conspicuous consumption and other non-productive activity in the ‘developed countries’ or more accurately the imperialist states.  The principle beneficiaries of the pillage of ‘developing countries’ by the local elites are their counterparts in the top 1% of the imperial countries, who control, direct and manage the financial, real estate and luxury sectors of their economies.

The very same financial institutions in the imperial countries (and their related accountancy, legal and consultancy arms) facilitate the pillage of trillions from the ‘developed’ countries to offshore sites, via massive tax evasion operations, hoarding wealth instead of investing profits or paying taxes to the public treasury.

Long-term, large scale pillage and tax evasion depends on the central role, at both ends of the world economy, of the financial sector. This results in the ‘imbalance of the economy’ – predominance of finance capital as the final arbiter on how ‘profits’ are disposed.

The extremely narrow membership in the dominant financial sectors means that its growth will result in greater inequalities between classes.  A disproportionate share of wealth will accrue to those whopillage the revenues and profits of the productive sector.  As a result so-called ‘productive capitalists’ hasten to join and lay claims to membership in the financial sector.

The links between ‘productive’ and ‘fictitious’ capital or financial swindle capital, defy any attempt to find a progressive sector within the dominant classes.  But the effort to enter the charmed circle of the dominant financial 1% is fraught with dangers and risks . . . because the financial sector has a very dynamic and super-active capacity for swindles.

The entire process of de-capitalizing the economy is underwritten in the US by the financial elite’s controls over the executive branch of government, especially the ‘regulatory’and enforcement agencies -Security Exchange Commission, the Treasury and Justice Departments.

Financial institutions facilitate the inflow of trillions of dollars from the kleptocrats in the developing countries as well as the outflow of trillions of dollars by multi-nationals to off-shore tax havens.  In both instances the banks are key instruments in the process of dis-accumulation of capital by dispossessing nations and treasuries of revenues and productive investments.

The ‘hoarding’ of MNC profits in offshore shell companies does not in any way prevent speculative activity and large scale swindles in the for-ex, equity and real estate markets.  On the contrary, the boom in high-end real estate in London, New York and Paris, and the high growth of luxury goods sales, reflects the concentration of wealth in the top .01%, .1% and 1%.  They are the beneficiaries of ‘no risk’pillage of wealth in developing countries, receiving lucrative commissions and fees in laundering the illicit inflows of wealth and outflows by tax dodging multi-nationals.

The Inverted Pyramid of Wealth

A small army of accountants, political fixers, corporate lawyers, publicists, financial scribblers, consultants and real estate promoters make-up the next 15% of the beneficiaries of the pillage economies.  Below them are the 30% upper and lower middle classes who experience tenuous affluence subject to the economic shocks, ‘market volatility and risks of downward mobility.  Below them, the majority of wage, salaried and small business classes experience declining incomes, downward mobility, rising risks of mortgage foreclosure,  job-loss and destitution among the bottom 30%.

Despite wide variations in the class structure between ‘developing’ neo-colonial and developed imperial states, the top 1% across national boundaries has forged economic, personal, educational, and social ties.  They attend the same elite schools, own multiple private residences in similar high end neighborhoods, and share private bankers, money launderers and financial advisors.  Each elite group has their own national police and military security systems, as well as political influentials who also co-operate and collaborate to ensure  impunity and to  defend the illegal financial flows for a cut of the wealth….

The investigatory authorities of each developed country tend to specialize in prosecuting rival financial institutions and banks, occasionally levying fines – never imprisonment – for the most egregious swindles that threatens the ‘confidence’ of the defrauded investors.

Yet the basic structure of the pillage economy, continues unaffected – in fact thrives – because the ‘show’ of ‘oversight’ and judicial ‘charges’ neutralizes public indignation and outrage.

The Decisive Role of Dis-Accumulation in the World Economy

While orthodox economists elaborate mathematical models that have no relationship to the operations, agencies and performance of the economy and ignore the real elite actors which operate the economy, Leftist economists similarly operate with theoretical premises about capital and labor, profits and capital accumulation, crises and stagnation, which ignore the centrality of pillage, dis-accumulation, and the dynamic growth of wealth by the international 1%.

The research center, the Capital Financial Integrity Group provides a vast array of data documenting the trillion dollar illicit financial flows which now dominate the world economy.

US MNCs have ‘hoarded’ over $1.5 trillion dollars in overseas shell companies, ‘dead capital’, to avoid taxes and to speculate in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Mexico’s ruling elite organizes massive illicit financial flows, mostly laundered by US banks, ranging from $91 billion in 2007 to $68.5 billion in 2010. The massive increase in illicit financial flows is greatly facilitated by the de-regulation of the economy resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  Contrary to most leftist critics the main beneficiaries of NAFTA are not Canadian mine owners or US agro-business or auto manufacturers- it is the US and Canadian financial and real estate money launderers.

From 1960 to 2010 the Brazilian 1% pillaged over $400 billion dollars.  These illicit financial flows are laundered in New York, Miami, London, Switzerland and Montevideo. In recent years the rate of pillage has accelerate:  between 2000 -2012 illicit financial flows averaged $14.7 billion a year.  And under the self-styled ‘Worker’s Party” (PT) regime of Lula DaSilva and Dilma Rousseff, $33.7 billion in illicit outflows were laundered annually – 1.5% of the GDP.  Much of the pillage is carried out by private and public “entrepreneurs” in the so-called “dynamic” economic sectors of agro-minerals, energy and manufacturing via ‘trade mispricing’, import overpricing and export underpricing invoices.

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, (10/15/12), China’s elite’s illicit financial flows top $225 billion a year – 3% of national economic output.  China’s 1%, the business-political elite, finance their children’s overseas private education, providing them with half million dollar condos.  Illicit flows allow Chinese ‘investors’ to dominate the luxury real estate markets in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and London.  They hoard funds in overseas shell companies.  The Chinese corporate kleptocrats are the leaders in the drive to deregulate China’s financial markets – to legalize the outflows.

The scale and scope of China’s elite pillage has provoked popular outrage that threatens the entire capitalist structure – provoking a major anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by China’s President Xi Jinping.  Thousands of millionaire officials and business people have been jailed, causing a sharp decline in the sales of the world’s luxury manufacturers.

India’s capitalists- as kleptocrats – have long played a major role in de-capitalizing the economy.  According to the Financial Times (11/24/14, p3) the Indian elite’s illicit financial flows totaled $343 billion dollars from 2002 to 2011.  The Indian Finance Ministry immediately threw up a smoke screen on behalf of the 1%, claiming the Indian elite had only $1.46 billion in Swiss accounts.  Most of India’s wealthy have taken up with holing their illicit wealth to  Dubai, Singapore, the Cayman and Virgin Islands as well as London

India’s neo-liberal policies eased the illegal outflows.  Massive corruption accompanied the privatization of public firms and the allocation of multi-billion dollar assets such as mobile phones, coal fields and energy.

Indonesia, - percentage-wise is the leader in the outflow of illicit flows – fully 23% of annual output.  The 1% elite of foreign and domestic capitalists, plunders natural resources, timber, metals, agriculture and dis-accumulates.  Profits flow to foreign accounts in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.

Ethiopia, with per-capita income of $365 dollars, is the site of vast pillage by its ruling elite.  From 2000 to 2009, over $11.7 billion dollars in illicit financial flow was laundered mostly by US banks.  These outflows enriched the Ethiopian and the US 1% and provoked famine for Ethiopia’s 90%.

Conclusion

The illicit financial flows surpass the capital invested in productive activity.  The process of dis-accumulation of capital through relocation is channeled to overseas shell corporations and private bank accounts and beyond into financial holdings and real estate.  The accumulation of private wealth exceeds the sums invested in productive activity generating investments and wages.  Massive perpetual tax evasion means higher regressive taxes on consumers (VAT) and wage and salaried workers, reductions in social services, and austerity budgets targeting food, family and fuel subsidies

The past thirty years of deregulated capitalism and financial liberalization, is a product of the financial takeover of state regulatory agencies.  The signing of free trade agreements has provided the framework for large scale long-term illicit financial flows.

While illicit financial flows have financed some productive activities, the bulk has vastly expanded the financial sector.  The absorption of illicit flows by the financial elite has led to greater inequalities of wealth between the 1% – 10% and the rest of the labor force.

Illicit earnings via mega swindles among the largest and most respected US and EU banks, has curtailed the amount of capital which is available for production, profits, wages and taxes.  The circuits of illicit capital flows militate against any form of long-term economic development – outside of the wealth absorbing elites which control both the financial and political centers of decision-making.

The growth and ascendancy of financial elites which pillage public treasuries, resources and productive activity, is the result of an eminently political process.  The origins of de-regulation, free trade and the promotion of illicit flows are all made possible by state authorities.

First and foremost, finance capital conquered state power – with the cooperation of “productive capital”.  The peaceful transition reflected the interlocking directorates between banks and industry, aided and abetted by public officials rotating between government and investment houses.

The entire African continent was pillaged by billionaire rulers, many former nationalist politicians (South Africa), ex-guerilla and ‘liberation leaders’ (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau), in collaboration with US, EU, Chinese, Russian and Israeli oligarchs.  Trillions of dollars were laundered by bankers in London, New York, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Paris.  Growth of the commodity sector bolstered Africa’s decade long expanding GDP – and the mega-outflows of illicit earnings.

World-wide, billionaires multiplied profits ‘received’, but wages, salaries, pensions and health coverage declined!  Swindles multiplied as outflows accelerated in both directions.  The higher the growth in China, India, Indonesia and South Korea the bigger and more pervasive the corruption and outflows of wealth-led by “Communist” neo-liberals in China, Indian “free marketers” and Russian “economic reformers”.

The World Bank’s and IMF’s proposed “economic reforms”  ‘freed’ the incipient political kleptocrats of controls and unleashed two-sided illicit financial flows – laundering funds from abroad and establishing trillion dollar offshore tax dodging citadels.

Illicit swindles dwarfed earnings from ‘capital accumulation’.  The relations between capital and labor were framed by the organization and policies dictated by the directors and operators of the trillion-dollar financial networks based on the pillage of treasuries and the wealth of nations.

The center of China’s growth is shifting from manufacturing and the exploitation of labor, to real estate and “financial services”, as worker’s demand and secure double-digit increases in wages. The exploiters of labor turned predators of the national treasury.  Under the pretext of “stimulating” the construction sector, real estate speculators in tow with Communist Party officials, absconded with over a trillion dollars from 2009 to 2014.  According to Jonathan Anderson of the Emerging Advisors Group “over a trillion dollars” has gone missing in China in the past five years (Financial Times, 28/11/14, p 1.).

Factories still produce, agro-business still exports, the paper value of high tech companies has risen into the high billions, but the ruling 1% of the system stands or falls with the illicit financial flows drawn from the pillage of treasuries.  To replenish pillaged treasuries, regimes insist on perpetual ‘austerity’ for the 90%:  greater pillage for the 1%, less public revenues for health care which results in more epidemics.  Less funds for pensions means later retirement– work til you die.

The plunder of the economy is accompanied by unending wars – because war contracts are a major source of illicit financial flows. Plunder oligarchs share with militarists a deep and abiding belief inpillage of countries and destruction of productive resources.  The one reinforces the other in an eternal embrace – defied only by insurgents who embrace a moral economy and who proclaim the need for a totalchange – a new civilization.

I hadn’t written a single piece on the U.S.-Ukraine-Russia quagmire for the entirety of 2014, until Monday when I published: Tensions Between the U.S. and Russia Are Worse Than You Realize – Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Now I can hardly think of anything else.

The reason the geopolitical hot zone has so captured my attention is because I think we are much closer to a serious escalation than most people want to admit. I hope I’m wrong, but when I take a step back and look at what is being said and done under the surface, an incredibly dangerous tinderbox is now firmly in place and ready to be lit. We know from history that relatively minor catalysts can lead to unimaginable horrors. I fear the stage is set for some real nastiness, and hope cooler heads can prevail on both sides.

Claims that the new government in Ukraine is nothing more than a Western puppet Parliament have been swirling around consistently since February. Nevertheless, I think it’s very significant that the takeover is now overt, undeniable and completely out in the open. Nothing proves this fact more clearly than the recent and sudden granting of citizenship to three foreigners so that they can take top posts in the government.

At the top of the list is American, Natalie Jaresko, who runs private equity fund Horizon Capital. She will now be Ukraine’s Finance Minister, and I highly doubt she will be forced to pay the IRS Expatriation Tax (one set of laws for the rich and powerful, another set of laws for the peasants). For Economy Minister, a Lithuanian investment banker, Aivaras Abromavicius, will take the reigns. Health Minister will be Alexander Kvitashvili of Georgia.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ukraine’s parliament appointed a new, pro-Western government that includes a U.S.-born finance minister to take on the job of staving off financial collapse, overhauling the shrinking economy and ending the armed conflict in the country’s east.

The new cabinet includes Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, the chief executive of a private-equity fund and a former U.S. diplomat, as well as two other nonnatives: Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius, a former investment banker from Lithuania; and Health Minister Alexander Kvitashvili, who held a similar post in Georgia.

Ukraine is dependent on the International Monetary Fund for financing, and officials and analysts say it will need more than the current $17-billion program from the lender.

Two senior EU officials said Tuesday that the IMF has in recent days shared a rough estimate of $15 billion in financing needs for Ukraine through the first quarter of 2016, although that could be revised as fund officials negotiate with the new government.

Shortly before the voting in Kiev, President Poroshenko signed a decree granting Ukrainian citizenship to the three foreign-born candidates. He said the dire economic situation meant Ukraine had to look for people outside the country with experience of dealing with “systemic crises.”

Valeriy Voshchevskiy, deputy prime minister for infrastructure and ecology, said he wanted to privatize state holdings such as the railway and road-building monopolies.

This is where American financial oligarchs will get paid. It’s all about looting at the end of the day, as always.

Some analysts praised the inclusion of outsiders in the government as a way to tap foreign experience, insulate against corruption and help push through unpopular economic overhauls. But opposition lawmakers slammed the decision.

“We don’t understand why from 300 coalition members and 40 million people [in the country], 10 minister candidates couldn’t be found who’d be Ukrainian citizens or at least ethnic Ukrainians,” said Yuriy Boiko, head of the Opposition Bloc and a former energy minister.

In a sign of early discontent, some lawmakers from the ruling coalition questioned the creation of a new Information Ministry, dubbed the “Ministry of Truth” by some journalists amid concerns that it could create another expensive layer of bureaucrats.

The newly appointed minister said earlier that it will be needed to counter Russian propaganda.

I don’t know much, but I know that people don’t like being ruled by foreigners. Ever.

Bearing that in mind, a bill known as H.Res.758 was recently introduced in the U.S. Congress. Here’s the full title: H.Res.758 – Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.

Here’s how a summary of the bill starts off (click on the image for the full summary):

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.21.22 AM

 

This isn’t well intentioned diplomacy, these are demands. The last bullet point is particularly laughable. The U.S. government admonishes Russia for interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs (a nation directly on its border), when Ukraine just granted an American private equity manager citizenship so that she can be Finance Minister. The hypocrisy will not be lost on Putin, or anyone else for that matter.

The danger of this bill was highlighted by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Here are some excerpts via TruthDig:

U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated severely in the past decade and they are about to get worse, if the House passes H. Res. 758.

NATO encirclement, the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border, a U.S. nuclear first-strike policy, are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy.

The Western press begins its narrative on the Crimea situation with the annexation, but completely ignores the provocations by the West and other causal factors which resulted in the annexation. This distortion of reality is artificially creating an hysteria about Russian aggressiveness, another distortion which could pose an exceptionally dangerous situation for the world, if acted upon by other nations. The U.S. Congress is responding to the distortions, not to the reality. 

Tensions between Russia and the U.S. are being fueled every day by players who would benefit financially from a resumption of the Cold War which, from 1948 to 1991 cost U.S. taxpayers $20 TRILLION dollars (in 2014 dollars), an amount exceeding our $18 trillion National Debt.

Based on all I have read and observed, I’d have to say I generally agree with the conclusions of Mr. Kucinich.

Finally, I want to end the post with some very important words from Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. They were published in the article, Crumbling Oil Makes Putin More Dangerous:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is being pushed “further into a corner” by falling oil prices, leaving him little option but to continue his aggression toward Ukraine and confrontation with the West, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer told CNBC on Tuesday. Putin has “gone all-in on an anti-U.S., must-keep-Ukraine nationalist engagement,” Bremmer said on “Squawk Box .” He said it’s “completely inconceivable” for Putin to back down. “This is what is behind all his approval ratings. It’s behind who he now is as a leader,” Bremmer said, adding that capitulation would “erode a lot of his power.” Russia’s currency and economy are crumbling along with oil prices, the country’s main export and revenue source. On Monday, the ruble suffered its worst one-day decline since 1998, and it looks like Russia’s economy will tip into recession next year. As the ruble tumbles, what will Putin do next? “I think that lower oil prices simply squeeze him harder, pushes him further into a corner. He feels he has to fight as a consequence.

This echoes sentiments I expressed in my piece Monday. I wrote:

Lavrov also describes the negative impact that this behavior has had on the Russian psyche generally. He expresses dismay that the U.S. status quo sees the world as unipolar, and attempts to tackle every problem from the perspective that might is right. In no uncertain terms, Lavrov makes it clear that Russia will not stand for this. I don’t think the Russians are bluffing, so this is a very dangerous situation.

The U.S. establishment is used to bullying around anyone it wants and getting its way. This will not happen with Putin. It appears that the U.S. is attempting to put so much pressure on Putin that he does something reckless and loses all support on the world stage. I can’t stress enough how important, and dangerous, the current situation is.

Some police officers responded to the grand jury decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo for the choking death of Eric Garner by celebrating the fact that they would now be given free reign to “kick some thug ass,” seemingly ignorant of the fact that Garner’s crime was nothing more than selling untaxed cigarettes.

Comments collected from the PoliceOne.com website in response to the verdict by The Free Thought Project’s Matt Agorist provide a shocking insight into the attitude of cops to the very real problem of police brutality.

The website’s comment policy demands that respondents “must be a verified law enforcement professional,” meaning that most if not all of the remarks were made by actual police officers.

The comments express the view that Garner was resisting arrest and did not “submit” quickly enough, that he died of a pre-existing condition (despite The New York City Medical Examiner’s office stating otherwise), and that the decision now means police are free to “kick some thug ass,” despite the fact that Garner’s crime was merely to flout New York’s draconian cigarette tax law.

Another respondent remarks that Garner’s death pales in comparison to a cop’s “right to protect ourselves” and “serve the people”. Quite how Pantaleo was protecting himself while choking Garner is unexplained. Whether enforcing cigarette taxes via summary execution really ‘serves the people’ in any way is also up for debate.

“With cops dehumanizing people in this manner, is it any wonder that they resort to deadly force so quickly?” asks Agorist.

“What none of these law enforcement officers seem to grasp is the fact that they can apply a certain level of discretion. You do not have to immediately escalate an otherwise completely peaceful situation into a violent one. Was the state’s missing revenue from a man selling cigarettes worth more than the life of another human being?”

The comments by these police officers once again serve to highlight the fact that police brutality has become normalized within many police departments across the country.

Instead of focusing on de-escalating situations, officers are being trained to immediately resort to violence. The fact that the vast majority of cops are then not indicted or acquitted after a trial, such as in the horrific beating death of Kelly Thomas, gives police officers the confidence that they can treat the general public like animals and in some cases literally get away with murder.

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

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National Guard PFC monitors one of dozens of cameras on the border with Mexico at the Border Patrol’s Communications Center in Arizona (U.S. Army / Creative Commons)

During this summer’s child migrant crisis and the accompanying frenzy around “security” along the U.S.-Mexico boundary, a spotlight was shone on Mexico’s role in protecting the U.S. “homeland.” It helped illuminate what Washington considers the United States’ territorial boundaries: those of the countries associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In other words, the territories of Canada and Mexico are part of the U.S. policing regime, under a regional security framework we might call “NAFTA-land Security.”

Evidence of this emerged in July when a Congressional hearing featured a discussion on, as Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) put it, “what Mexico is actually doing to help us” regarding the unauthorized movement of Central American children. Some lawmakers and officials hinted that insufficient efforts by Mexican authorities made possible the unwanted migrants’ northward movement through Mexico.

In response, administration officials pointed to Mexican President Peña Nieto’s new southern border strategy, one that, as Todd Miller has written, involves the exportation of the U.S. border policing model to Mexico.

The current focus on Mexico’s border with Guatemala and Belize is at once a long-developing story and part of a much larger policy agenda. Partly in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, partly the result of security compunctions deepened through the advancement of economic interests by way of North American economic integration, the United States has sought to improve the Mexican state’s policing capacities. In doing so, Washington aims to shape those capacities toward U.S. concerns in order to ensure Mexico’s political economic stability, to better protect the U.S. homeland through “layered defense,” and, in turn, to insulate the highly integrated and strategically crucial North American economic space from internal and external threats.

As Laura Carlsen and I have argued, this aim has underpinned the over $2 billion provided to Mexico under the Mérida Initiative. Ostensibly a counternarcotics aid package, Mérida has in fact been a vehicle for an expansive regional security effort, with roots in the now-defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and other plans for augmenting U.S. and North American security emerging out of 9/11.

Amongst varied goals within the Initiative (a central one being the mitigation of destabilizing drug violence), exporting Homeland Security concepts and approaches to Mexico remains key. This includes increasing the Mexican state’s capacity and willingness to interdict “illicit traffic” at its southern border and to be better able to track and trace movements throughout its territory.

While drugs and terrorists are supposed to be Mérida’s primary targets, the emerging strategy has enveloped ordinary people escaping drug-related violence and/or seeking economic opportunity. As a recent Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) report attested, it has also had manifest effects at Mexico’s southern border and throughout its territory via a build-up of security forces dedicated to apprehension, and the continued threat of abuse of migrants by those forces. In the wake of this past summer’s crisis, Mexico has cracked down on those moving through its territory to the United States, increasing deportations and pulling people from trains, buses, and hotels.

The southern border of Mexico has long been a site of U.S. interest, not least during the wars in Central America in the 1980s when refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador headed to the United States through Mexico. Cables accessed by the whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and released by the WikiLeaks organization show that it has taken on a new significance in the post 9/11 era. In December 2004, a cable discussed U.S. Congressional research into a new “North American security architecture,” and the relevance therefore of the unwanted “openness of Mexico’s southern border.”

In the cable Guatemala is described as a potential “buffer” between Central and South America and the “NAFTA space,” a position that would allow it to help improve U.S. security. Large numbers of cables from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico refer to the “porosity” of the southern border and contendthat “securing this border is of vital importance to U.S. security.” A regional, NAFTA-based security framework that would treat this border as a perimeter for North America was the underlying aim of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). It was into this wider context that the Mérida Initiative emerged in 2007. The Initiative in fact puts into practice many of the priorities of the SPP.

U.S. officials themselves have explained clearly these overall goals represented within Mérida. One of the “four pillars” of the Initiative under Obama is the creation of “21st Century borders.” The aim is to facilitate the movement of the good stuff (trade in legal items) while keeping out the bad (drugs, guns, illicit cash, terrorists, and, it would seem, desperate people). The 21st Century border is not just envisioned between the United States and Mexico (and the United States and Canada), but at NAFTA’s perimeter.

The exportation of Homeland Security concepts, and the projection of U.S. security in line with the 9/11’s Commission’s claims that the “American homeland is the planet,” is a manifestation of a wider trope in U.S. foreign policy. However, within North America, distinct, deeper logics of security integration exist. The Department of Defense (DoD), through its Operational Command USNORTHCOM, states that its major “Prioritized Strategic End State” is one whereby “allies and partners actively contribute to the cooperative defense of North America.” In this regard, the DoD continues, “USNORTHCOM’s Top Theater Security Cooperation Priority is Mexico.”

Moreover, as NORTHCOM strategist Biff Baker stated in a journal article in 2007, “From a bilateral perspective the North American economy and related critical infrastructure is a shared center of gravity that must be defended to preserve our ways of life.” In practical terms this has meant both using the issue of drugs to open Mexican security forces to U.S. influence, and encouraging the Mexican government to take “the gloves off” with regard to Mexico’s cartels.

It has also meant treating NAFTA’s borders as the security perimeter of a distinct political economic space. In a clear indication of this thinking, Allan Bersin, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief international advisor, asserted in 2012 that “the Guatemalan border with Chiapas, Mexico, is now our southern border.” As the WOLA report makes clear, this wider focus is now visible at the southern border zone.

This reflects a binational, multi-agency approach. The Pentagon reports that it has aided Mexican marines (outside of Mérida funding channels) who are now positioned on the Mexican side of NAFTA’s buffer zone. U.S. officials have also asserted that, as part of the Mérida Initiative, Blackhawk helicopters are available to assist the Mexican navy’s border mission.

This is where things become complicated and troubling. The Mexican military is not legally mandated to apprehend migrants (the DoD states that the Mexican navy’s mission at the border is to intercept “transnational criminal organizations,” the preferred officialese for cartels), but WOLA found that it was in fact engaging migrants and that abuses were occurring.

More broadly though, the entire NAFTA-land Security project and attendant spread of the U.S. Homeland Security model is deeply militarized in its approach. In terms of human security, it is palpably failing. Not only are Mexican citizens dying in the tens of thousands in the continued drug war—which involves corrupt state institutions allied with the cartels—but life for people on the move into and through Mexico—in large part to escape worse drug violence and economic stagnation in their own Central American countries­—is staggeringly brutish.

The persistent criminalization of migrants has helped create a situation in which they are vulnerable to abuse by both agents of the state and criminal gangs (often one and the same). NAFTA-land Security, it seems, does not extend to the ordinary person within its perimeters.

Paul Ashby is a PhD candidate in International Relations at the University of Kent in the UK. His research focuses on the Mérida Initiative, Mexico’s security crisis, and U.S. attempts to further integrate North America’s political economy and security apparatus. He has taught courses on ethics and international relations (IR), IR theory, and the UN system. Follow him on Twitter at@pash84.

Israel’s Secret

December 4th, 2014 by David Swanson

Here in Virginia, U.S.A., I’m aware that the native people were murdered, driven out, and moved westward. But my personal connection to that crime is weak, and frankly I’m too busy trying to rein in my government’s current abuses to focus on the distant past. Pocahontas is a cartoon, the Redskins a football team, and remaining Native Americans almost invisible. Protests of the European occupation of Virginia are virtually unheard of.

But what if it had just happened a moment ago, historically speaking? What if my parents had been children or teenagers? What if my grandparents and their generation had conceived and executed the genocide? What if a large population of survivors and refugees were still here and just outside? What if they were protesting, nonviolently and violently — including with suicide bombings and homemade rockets launched out of West Virginia? What if they marked the Fourth of July as the Great Catastrophe and made it a day of mourning? What if they were organizing nations and institutions all over the world to boycott, divest, and sanction the United States and seek its prosecution in court? What if, before being driven out, the Native Americans had built hundreds of towns with buildings of masonry, hard to make simply disappear?

In that case, it would be more difficult for those unwilling to face the injustice not to notice. We would have to notice, but tell ourselves something comforting, if we refused to deal with the truth. The lies we tell ourselves would need to be much stronger than they are. A rich mythology would be necessary. Everyone would have to be taught from childhood onward that the native people didn’t exist, left voluntarily, attempted vicious crimes justifying their punishment, and were not really people at all but irrational killers still trying to kill us for no reason. I’m aware that some of those excuses conflict with others, but propaganda generally works better with multiple claims, even when they can’t all be true at the same time. Our government might even have to make questioning the official story of the creation of the United States an act of treason.

Israel is that imagined United States, just formed in our grandparents’ day, two-thirds of the people driven out or killed, one-third remaining but treated as sub-human. Israel is that place that must tell forceful lies to erase a past that is never really past. Kids grow up in Israel not knowing. We in the United States, whose government gives Israel billions of dollars worth of free weapons every year with which to continue the killing (weapons with names like Apache and Black Hawk), grow up not knowing. We all look at the “peace process,” this endless charade of decades, and deem it inscrutable, because we’ve been educated to be incapable of knowing what the Palestinians want even as they shout it and sing it and chant it: they want to return to their homes.

But the people who did the deed are, in many cases, still alive. Men and women who, in 1948, massacred and evicted Palestinians from their villages can be put on camera recounting what they did. Photographs of what was done and accounts of what life was like before the Nakba (the Catastrophe) exist in great volume. Towns that were taken over still stand. Families know that they live in stolen houses. Palestinians still have keys to those houses. Villages that were destroyed still remain visible in outline on Google Earth, the trees still standing, the stones of demolished houses still nearby.

Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Canadian journalist who covers Israel and Palestine for the Real News Network. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, the Soviet Union. When she was a child, her family moved to a settlement in the West Bank, part of the ongoing continuation of the process begun in 1948. She had a good childhood with a real sense of community in that “settlement,” or what we would call a housing subdivision built on native farm land in violation of a treaty made with savages. She grew up not knowing. People pretended nothing had been there before. Then she found out. Then she made a movie to tell the world.

The film is called On the Side of the Road and it tells the story of the founding of Israel in 1948 through the memories of those who killed and expelled the people of Palestine, through the memories of survivors, and through the perspectives of those who have grown up since. 1948 was a 1984 year, a year of doublespeak. Israel was created in blood. Two-thirds of the people of that land were made refugees. Most of them and their descendants are refugees still. Those who remained in Israel were made second-class citizens and forbidden to mourn the dead. But the crime is referred to as liberation and independence. Israel celebrates its Independence Day while Palestinians mourn the Nakba.

The film takes us to the sites of vanished villages destroyed in 1948 and in 1967. In some cases, villages have been replaced with woods and made into national parks. The imagery is suggestive of what the earth might do if humanity departed. But this is the work of part of humanity attempting to erase another human group. If you put up a sign commemorating the village, the government removes it quickly.

The film shows us those who participated in the Nakba. They recall shooting the people they called Arabs and whom they’d been told were primitive and worthless, but who they knew had a modern literate society with some 20 newspapers in Jaffa, with feminist groups, with everything then thought of as modern. “Go to Gaza!” they told the people whose homes and land they were stealing and destroying. One man recalling what he did begins with an attitude almost bordering on the carefree heartlessness one sees in former killers in the Indonesian film The Act of Killing, but eventually he’s explaining that what he’s done has been eating away at him for decades.

In On the Side of the Road we meet a young Palestinian man from a permanent refugee camp who calls a place his home although he’s never been there, and who says that his children and grandchildren will do likewise. We see him obtain a 12-hour pass to visit the place his grandparents lived. He spends half the 12 hours getting through check points. The place he visits is a National Park. He sits and talks about what he wants. He wants nothing related to revenge. He wants no harm done to Jews. He wants no people evicted from anywhere. He says that, according to his grandparents, Jews and Muslims lived together amicably before 1948. That, he says, is what he wants — that and to return home.

Israelis concerned by their nation’s open secret take some inspiration in the film from an art project in Berlin. There people posted signs with images on one side and words on the other. For example: a cat on one side, and this on the other: “Jews are no longer allowed to own pets.” So, in Israel, they made signs of a similar nature. For example: a man with a key on one side, and on the other, in German: “It is forbidden to mourn on the Day of Independence.” The signs are greeted by vandalism and angry, racist threats. The police accuse those who posted the signs of “disturbing law and order,” and forbid them in the future.

At Tel Aviv University we see students, Palestinian and Jewish, hold an event to read out the names of villages that were destroyed. Nationalists waving flags come to try to shout them down. These properly educated Israelis describe cities as having been “liberated.” They advocate expelling all Arabs. A member of the Israeli parliament tells the camera that Arabs want to exterminate Jews and rape their daughters, that the Arabs threaten a “holocaust.”

The filmmaker asks an angry Israeli woman, “If you were an Arab, would you celebrate the state of Israel?” She refuses to allow the possibility of seeing things from someone else’s point of view to enter her head. She replies, “I’m not an Arab, thank God!”

A Palestinian challenges a nationalist very politely and civilly, asking him to explain his views, and he swiftly walks away. I was reminded of a talk I gave last month at a university in New York at which I criticized the Israeli government, and a professor angrily walked out — a professor who’d been eager to debate other topics on which we disagreed.

A woman who participated in the Nakba says in the film, in an effort to excuse her past actions, “We didn’t know it was a society.” She clearly believes that killing and evicting people who seem “modern” or “civilized” is unacceptable. Then she goes on to explain that pre-1948 Palestine was just what she says mustn’t be destroyed. “But you lived here,” says the filmmaker. “How could you not know?” The woman replies simply, “We knew. We knew.”

A man who took part in killing Palestinians in 1948 excuses himself as having been only 19. And “there will always be new 19-year-olds,” he says. Of course there are also 50-year-olds who will follow evil orders. Happily, there are also 19-year-olds who will not.

Screenings

Nov 28, 2013 | Israel Premiere | Cinematheque Tel Aviv
Jan 21, 2014 | Israel | Jaffa | Anna Lou Lou
Jan 28, 2014 | Israel | Be’er Sheva | Multaqa Center
Feb 08, 2014 | Georgia | EU Peace Conference
March  04, 2014 | Palestine | Ramallah
April 02, 2014 | Belgium | Eye on Palestine Festival 
May 22, 2014 | Israel | Tel Aviv University 
May 22, 2014 | Israel | Amnesty International (staff)
July 24, 2014 | Israel | Herzeliya (private)
Sept 28, 2014 | Canada | One World Festival, Ottawa
Oct 04, 2014 | Israel | Jaffa (private)
Oct 07, 2014 | Palestine | Beit Sahour
Oct 27, 2014 | Canada | Victoria, BC
Oct 28, 2014 | Canada | Courtaney, BC
Oct 29, 2014 | Canada | UBC, Vancouver, BC
Oct 29, 2014 | Canada | Peretz Center,Vancouver, BC
Oct 30, 2014 | USA | Social Justice Film Fest, Seattle
Oct 31, 2014 | USA | Kitsap Country, WA
Nov 1, 2014 | USA | Portland, Oregon 
Nov 3, 2014 | USA | Berkeley, California
Nov 4, 2014 | USA | Walnut Creek, California
Nov 5, 2014 | USA | Laventine Center, LA, California
Nov 7, 2014 | USA | Los Angeles, California
Nov 8, 2014 | USA | Orange County, California
Nov 10, 2014 | USA | New York, NY
Nov 12, 2014 | USA | Santa Barbara, California
Nov 15, 2014 | Palestine | East Jerusalem
Nov 17, 2014 | USA | Rochester, NY
Nov 18, 2014 | USA | Boston, MA
Nov 19, 2014 | USA | Brandeis, Boston, MA
Nov 20, 2014 | USA | New York, NY
Nov 22, 2014 | USA | New York, NY
Dec 1, 2014 | USA | Princeton, NJ
Dec 3, 2014 | USA | NYU, NY
Dec 4, 2014 | USA | Philadelphia, PA
Dec 5, 2014 | USA | Baltimore, MD
Dec 7, 2014 | USA | Baltimore, MD
Dec 9, 2014 | USA | Washington DC 
Dec 10, 2014 | USA | Washington DC
Dec 10, 2014 | USA | American University 
Dec 13, 2014 | USA | Washington DC
Dec 15, 2014 | USA | Washington DC

America’s $63 Billion Slush Fund for Illegal Wars

December 4th, 2014 by Global Research News

Congresswoman Barbara Lee released this statement regarding the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference bill:

“While I am pleased to see bicameral and bipartisan cooperation and certainly support several elements of the bill, I have grave concerns about the conference report.

This bill authorizes $63.7 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. OCO funds are an accounting gimmick that allows the Pentagon to fight wars for which we have not paid.  I strongly oppose OCO and will continue to call for a debate and vote on the war in Iraq and Syria that is funded by this slush fund.

I hope my colleagues will join the bipartisan effort to ensure the audit-readiness of the Pentagon more than 20 years after Congress mandated it by supporting my Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014 (H.R. 5126). It is time to get serious about accountability, transparency and oversight.”

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

Workers and youth reacted with outrage to the news that a grand jury in the New York City borough of Staten Island had decided not to indict New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

The killing of Garner, which happened in July, was captured on a cellphone video seen by millions of people around the world.

This is the second failure to indict a cop for a high-profile killing of an unarmed African-American man in less than two weeks. On November 24, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that there would be no charges against Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Image: Crowds protesting in New York City

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of protesters in New York City assembled in Union Square and Times Square in Manhattan and marched to Rockefeller Center. Dozens of people were arrested.

The grand jury proceedings in Staten Island were highly manipulated to produce the desired result. Richmond County (Staten Island) District Attorney Daniel Donovan impaneled the 23-person grand jury on August 19, and the deliberations were dragged out for many weeks. Donovan, like McCulloch in Missouri, allowed the killer cop to give his side of the story without any cross-examination of the sort that he would face at trial.

 Image: Marching hands up out of Times Square

Grand juries almost always return indictments sought by prosecutors. As in the case of Brown’s killer, the prosecutor who brought the case has close ties to the police and worked to ensure that no charges would be filed.

The decision not to indict Pantaleo—even on the lesser charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment—is another declaration by the ruling class that the police can and will act with impunity, and that they can kill without consequence.

There will be no trial in the killing of Garner despite clear evidence that a crime was committed. Garner was harassed by police on the afternoon of July 17 in Tompkinsville, a largely African-American neighborhood in Staten Island, for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

As seen on the video, police then wrestled Garner to the ground while Pantaleo applied an illegal chokehold. Garner can be heard on the video telling the cops repeatedly that he cannot breathe.

Yesterday evening Jonathan Moore, the Garner family’s attorney, told the media that he was “astonished” by the decision not to indict. Esaw Garner, Garner’s wife said, “The grand jury kept interviewing witnesses, but you didn’t need witnesses. You can be a witness for yourself.”

Ben Garner, the victim’s father, told the Staten Island Advance, “Who can control the Police Department? We had a damn video tape.”

The anger over the decision to exonerate Pantaleo is connected to the long history of abuse and outright murder by New York City police.

One only has to recount the names of Amadou Diallo (shot 41 times after reaching for his wallet on February 4, 1999), Sean Bell (shot on his wedding night November 25, 2006), and Ramarley Graham (shot in his apartment on February 2, 2012). Abner Louima was beaten and sodomized by cops on August 9, 1997. Last month, unarmed Akai Gurley was shot by an officer in the unlit stairway of a Brooklyn housing project. Of these, only the assailants of Louima received any punishment.

The decision in Staten Island makes clear that both police violence and the determination of the ruling class to prevent any accountability for this violence are not confined to Ferguson, Missouri. Throughout the country, the police, increasingly armed with advanced military equipment, treat the population as a hostile force.

Democratic Party politicians moved quickly on Wednesday in an attempt to contain popular anger with empty phrases, while covering up their own culpability for the outcome. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared at a press conference on Staten Island, “Our history requires us to say that black lives matter.” He added that his son, who is black, could be the object of police violence.

De Blasio went on to praise New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “The department will act aggressively to ensure that any officer who is not meant to be in this work no longer is.”

De Blasio’s assurances mean nothing. He promised to supply body cameras for New York’s police officers, but failed to explain how this would make any difference, when even graphic video evidence of the role of the police in the death of Eric Garner was not enough to secure an indictment.

On Wednesday evening, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would convene a federal civil rights inquiry into Garner’s death.

In a statement, President Barack Obama declared, with consummate hypocrisy, “When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem.” He added that he hoped a recently appointed national task force would help ensure that “everybody has confidence in the system.”

The real attitude of the Obama administration, however, was made clear earlier this week, when the president gave his full backing to programs that transfer of military equipment to police forces. A White House review of these programs concluded that that “have been valuable and have provided state and local law enforcement with needed assistance as they carry out their critical missions in helping to keep the American people safe.”

As police killing follows police killing, the true nature of the “critical missions” alluded to by Obama become more and more clear. The massive police apparatus, expanded under the Obama administration and increasingly integrated with the military, is seen as a critical force for repression of growing popular anger. The “war on terror” is aimed ever more directly at the population within the United States.

Confident of the backing of the US and its allies, the Egyptian military regime presided over the sentencing of almost 200 people to death in a single mass trial on Tuesday.

This is the third mass sentencing since April, ostensibly for the killing of a few police officers in riots. It comes amidst mounting repression by the junta headed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi designed to intimidate and terrorise the Egyptian working class. As a result of these three show trials alone, 1,397 people have been sentenced to death.

The verdict was another declaration by Egyptian authorities of their intent to crush all resistance to the military dictatorship. They are reprising the methods employed by ex-President Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, whose courts sentenced an estimated 709 people to death between 1981 and 2000, of whom at least 248 were executed.

A judge handed down the 185 death sentences just days after a Cairo court on Saturday cited a procedural technicality to dismiss charges against Mubarak. The former US-supported dictator was accused of overseeing the killing of 846 unarmed demonstrators and the wounding of 6,000 by police snipers and thugs during the first stage of the Egyptian revolution in early 2011.

The timing of the two verdicts underscored the regime’s use of the courts to prosecute its agenda. The latest trial, like the two previous large-scale sentencings, was another mockery of justice.

In all, 188 prisoners were charged with being supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and accused of killing 11 police officers during an attack on a police station in the town of Kardasa in August 2013. Two of the defendants died during their imprisonment, and one was ineligible for the death penalty because he is a minor, a defence lawyer told the New York Times.

According to the same report, there was no effort to prove that individual defendants personally killed any of the officers. More than 100 of the accused were not allowed to have lawyers. Scores of defence witnesses were excluded from the courtroom. About 50 of the defendants were not even present—they were convicted in absentia.

In addition to the previous large-scale trials in April—one involving 529 prisoners, the other 683—the regime’s courts have handed down many death penalties to smaller groups of MB supporters around Egypt.

Tuesday’s ruling arose out of riots and attacks on police stations after the regime’s security forces, on August 14, 2013, massacred almost 1,000 people camped out in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Those murdered by security forces were supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the elected president ousted by the military’s July 2013 coup.

The New York Times reported that appeals are continuing in the previous death sentence cases, and claimed, “It is unlikely that any of the death sentences for political violence last year have been carried out or will be anytime soon.”

Such assurances are false. Anti-death penalty groups report that at least nine people have been hanged in Egypt since June—the first capital punishments to be carried out since October 2011. Although none of these executions was reportedly a political case, they set a clear precedent.

Since the army deposed Morsi last year, at least 1,400 of his supporters and others already have been killed in crackdowns on protests against the military takeover. Some 22,000 people have been arrested, including most of the MB’s top leaders. Thousands remain imprisoned without charge for political reasons, many of them held in clandestine torture centres.

While this repression is directed, in the first instance, against the MB, it has a wider target—the Egyptian working class, which has risen up twice since 2011, first against Mubarak and then against Morsi. In order to suppress coverage of the regime’s police-state methods, the media has also been targeted.

The same judge who handed down the latest death penalties, Mohammed Nagi Shehata, recently sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to at least seven years imprisonment for allegedly conspiring with the MB to broadcast false news and destabilise Egypt. This was despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever that they collaborated with the MB or made misleading reports.

Just as Washington backed Mubarak’s repression from 1981 to 2011 so the latest court decisions could not have occurred without the support of the Obama administration. The White House made no statement on the latest death sentences, and the US State Department refused to comment on Mubarak’s acquittal, instead referring journalists to the Egyptian government itself.

As al-Sisi’s junta has become ever-more brutal, the Obama administration has increasingly embraced it. After initially referring to the possibility of cutting off aid to Egypt after the military coup, as required by US law, the White House ensured the continuation of the $1.5 billion annual flow, most of it in military aid.

This April, following the previous mass death sentences, US Secretary of State John Kerry, welcomed his Egyptian counterpart, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, to Washington. Kerry stated that Egypt is “a very important strategic partner” of the US and praised the regime for its “positive steps” toward democracy.

Following meetings in September between al-Sisi and Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ex-US president and secretary of state, and then former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, President Barack Obama himself held talks with the dictator, declaring that “the US-Egyptian relationship has been an important cornerstone of our security policy and our policy in the Middle East for a very long time.”

Buoyed by these endorsements, al-Sisi went further. He issued decrees to consolidate the military’s power, including by restoring military trials for anyone accused of attacking key public facilities, such as power stations, the electricity distribution network, pipelines, oil and gas installations and the transport network, which are now all under army guard.

Throughout every phase of the Egyptian revolution that toppled Mubarak in February 2011, the US-backed military has focused its fire on stifling dissent and preventing a politically independent uprising by the working class. Having initially acceded to Mubarak’s ouster to head off the working class, the generals worked closely with the MB after Morsi took office in June 2012 to contain the revolution.

The liberal and pseudo-left organisations then channelled the mass workers’ strikes and protests against Morsi and the MB back behind the army, claiming that its July 2013 coup was part of a “second revolution.” As the death penalties handed out Tuesday once again confirm, the rise of al-Sisi has marked the return of all the brutal methods of the Mubarak dictatorship.

“Remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people.”

Over the past four months, the world has come to know the name of Ferguson and rendered its own verdict on the U.S. criminal justice system. In addition to protests in nearly two hundred American cities since the non-indictment of the cop that killed Michael Brown, demonstrations were staged in solidarity with U.S. Blacks in at least eight cities in Canada as well as Japan, England, Scotland and Norway. Last week, a United Nations committee registered its objections to U.S. treatment of Blacks. The UN Committee Against Torture’s latest report largely focused on the Obama administration’s failure to punish the torture of detainees in places like Guantanamo Bay and CIA interrogation sites around the world, but it also warned Washington that its policing policies in Black America are not in compliance with international treaties against torture.

The committee’s findings are a great embarrassment to the planet’s sole superpower, which justifies its military adventures around the world by virtue of its claims to moral exceptionalism. Based on two days of testimony by U.S. human rights activists, last month, in Geneva, Switzerland, the committee concluded that solitary confinement, as practiced in the United States, constitutes torture, that some conditions in U.S. prisons also fit the definition of torture, and that when police target African Americans on the street for abuse, beatings, tasering and death by gunfire, they are guilty of torture.

Moreover, if the United States does not provide remedies and compensation for the victims of torture at the hands of its cops and prison guards, then the nation is in violation of its international treaty obligations – which is legally the same thing as violating U.S. law. Not only does the U.S. fail to provide either remedies or compensation for those it tortures, U.S. law does not even define what torture is, or set any standard to measure it. Which shows conclusively that no American government has ever seriously considered doing away with torture – certainly, not torture of Black people.

“Root and Branch”

The UN Committee was clearly quite impressed with the delegation of young activists from Chicago who testified under the banner, We Charge Genocide. The Committee included much of the group’s requests in its report, including investigation of police torture by outside institutions, prosecution of police who torture, and reparations for those who survive police torture in Chicago.

The UN Committee is most concerned that countries establish remedies to torture, in all its deadly forms. But remedies are precisely what the United States refuses to offer to Black people. No punishment for the cops, no compensation for their millions of victims, and no fundamental change in a system born in slavery and genocide. Under those circumstances, there is only one remedy: the overthrow of the system, itself, and the destruction – root and branch – of the Mass Black Incarceration State, which must be the goal of this new movement-in-the-making that still has no name, other than “Ferguson.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

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

Introduction

A well-known American talking head and ardent advocate for the unregulated free market, Rush Limbaugh once famously observed that, “Nobody has the right to good health.”[1] According to media scholar Robert McChesney, “In the view of ‘free market’ conservatives, the market (i.e. business) should rule and the political system should logically deal with how best to protect private property and not much else.”[2] Limbaugh’s assertion seems apparently easy to make in a public discourse loosely controlled by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) infiltrated over the decades by corporate interests. His ideas also appear to be a clear reflection of the kind of economic beliefs that neoliberals everywhere maintain, where the “operation of a market, or market-like structure, is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs.”[3] This ethic, of course, extends to Limbaugh’s conception of the way in which societies ought to manage healthcare for their people.

In Okinawa today, if the local neoliberal social architects have their way for new geographic and economic spaces cleared by Futenma’s eventual return to local control, Limbaugh’s ideas may well find their way into practice. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the terms of which Japan’s membership are still in negotiation but which it still aspires to join,[4] promises great economic benefits for the national economy, but the greatest beneficiaries would appear to be a handful of multinational corporations — notably the pharmaceutical giants who now command much respect in the halls of power in Washington, DC. The contemporary American portrait of managed healthcare, largely sketched out by big pharmaceutical interests, is in stark contrast to that of Japan’s (and Okinawa’s) healthcare model.

During the reconstruction years after World War II, Japan embarked on an impressively egalitarian path toward social healthcare coverage. The history of the present system has its roots in the 1948 Health Insurance Reformation (医療制度改革), among the finest achievements of the U.S. military occupation.[5] The Japanese government worked hard in the decade that followed to introduce a universal healthcare system that went into effect in 1961 and provides equal healthcare and financial risk protection to all members of society. Many other countries such as the former Soviet Union, New Zealand, and Scandinavian countries, as well, developed healthcare systems that respect Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by all nations in 1948. Article 25 declares that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”[6] Despite the apparent altruism in this declaration, it has hardly been put into practice in most nations around the world — a reason all the more to protect Japan’s present system.

The way of providing Universal Health Care differs across national boundaries, but according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), Japan manages to do so by employing the Compulsory National Health Care System, which is administrated by municipal governments and which enables all citizens to receive fundamental healthcare with an extremely low financial burden on the individual. Up to 90% of medical payments are covered by the national budget, i.e. taxes, in order to reduce the economic risks for families and individuals and to achieve overall positive outcomes for the health and well-being of every citizen (and even legal resident). According to Dr. Hitoshi Kono, a physician with a 20-year practice in Tokyo, the system serves, “Anyone, anywhere, anytime.”[7] A direct result, then, of the philosophy that explicitly informs Japanese healthcare practices, the people continue to enjoy some of the world’s highest longevity rates.

The flier, pictured herein,[8] had appeared routinely in recent weeks in the daily newspapers Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times. It was published by a local citizens’ group which is headed by the wealthiest citizen in Okinawa, who also happens to be the head of the largest construction company, Kokuba Group (國場組). It is worth noting that the particular name of this citizens’ group — Prefectural Citizens’ Group for the Rapid Realization of Okinawa’s 21st Century Vision (沖縄21世紀ビジョンの早期実現を求める県民の会) — is actually a clever euphemism for a private association of individuals whose primary expressed concern lies in building more U.S. military bases. The name of the group also contains Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s famous slogan, “21st Century Vision” (a.k.a. “Nakaima vision”), which he has attempted to use (with little effect) to point the electorate toward a future more developed in terms of both militarism in the North and, as we shall explain, corporatism in the South. Indeed, his views are a near mirror reflection of 1996 Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO)[9] Final Report, which had called for the return of Futenma and a consolidation of bases south of Kadena — if Okinawans could surrender to the Marine Corps’ plan for Henoko, known then as “the heliport” and “sea-based facility” (SBF).[10] Specifically, while the Committee’s agreement in 1996 included not a single Okinawan voice concerning the future of Henoko,[11] the results of the recent election, despite the widespread propaganda, exemplify a small victory for direct democratic action. The win also seems to shed light on an electorate that was largely well engaged in understanding both the history of the 1996 SACO decision and how this vote would shape the future. During the heated gubernatorial campaign leading to election night, the slogan, incessantly repeated in the streets through loudspeakers and in fliers distributed by the group, seemed to resonate with some voters, despite the Governor’s inability to draw on ideas outside of the 1996 agreement. In American parlance, this “citizens’” group would equate to a Political Action Committee (PAC), which takes on the work of gathering funds and supporting their particular candidate for public office.

After implementation of the 1994 Political Funds Control Law (政治資金規正法), corporations were restricted from directly supporting candidates for public office. To circumvent those restrictions, corporations employed an unsophisticated, but nonetheless practical, approach to political funding by teaming up with other like-minded corporate entities, raising funds, organising support, and having their CEOs present gifts of money to the chosen candidates. Though this practice wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was ethically questionable, as corporations, in effect, sent their emissaries disguised as private citizens, but with much louder voices than individuals, to curry future political favor. Nevertheless, thanks to fairly recent changes in the Law, announced on June 13, 2014,[12] corporations now have sweeping discretion in the funds they allot to candidates.

The recent election for Okinawa’s governorship saw the effects of this new law played out during the campaign when eleven citizen associations and private businesses,[13] the largest of which were Ryuseki (りゅうせき商事), Kokuba Group (國場組), and Okinawa Electric (沖縄電力株式会社), supported Governor Nakaima’s re-election bid. It is certainly interesting that these three most powerful corporate entities in Okinawa (with economic interests in the U.S. military presence) are in the petroleum trade, in construction, and in electricity, respectively, and were all in league with the Nakaima regime and Tokyo’s plans for Henoko. While these companies and associations used the full weight of their economic power to support the LDP and benefit in varying degrees from the military-industrial status quo, it is quite telling that Nakaima still failed to secure a re-election victory. Though Onaga’s election appears at present to be a solid victory for the power of the popular vote, it remains to be seen how powerful democracy will be in the weeks to come when Tokyo, goaded by Washington, will feel some pressure to move forward on the Henoko military “development” project.

As regards the election itself, perhaps one possible and compelling parallel exists between the recent change in Japanese campaign law and a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United (a conservative lobby) vs. the Federal Election Commission (FEC). In that closely contested decision (5-4), the Court, “ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections.” The decision, observed Noam Chomsky, “…heralds even further corporate takeover of the U.S. political system.”[14] The results of the local election in Okinawa raise interesting questions. Is free speech enacted by powerful corporate persons as powerful as Chomsky suggests it is? In light of the sustained advance of neoliberal economic policies on governments across the globe, as seen in Nakaima’s direct support from huge corporations, a more in-depth analysis of the changes in election law in Japan might illuminate the actual power of neoliberalism to undermine democracy.

Turning again to the propaganda in the flier included above, the headline calls immediate attention to Nakaima’s so-called 21st century vision. The message in the Nakaima name itself presents a simple black-and-white decision for citizens to make. Vote for him, and the Futenma base will disappear, replaced by Tokyo’s special vision of a new corporate health care colossus whose details are elaborated throughout the flier. Vote for Onaga (or any other candidate), and receive no future economic benefits. This is the underlying message of neoliberal rationalization — an effort to destroy logic and replace it with rules written by long traditions. Over the past 69 years, Okinawa has traditionally been the place to base the major bulk of U.S. garrisons, a place to rationalize the destruction of towns, of geographic spaces, and ecosystems and to ignore the logic of preserving basic human rights to live in peace. Futenma MCAS is one of many local symbols of that rationalization, a location despised for its ongoing dangers to the public and the military tradition of displacing people and their livelihoods that stand in the way. Okinawa is the place where the powerful elites in Washington and Tokyo can work in concert to rationalize the limitations of the important public debate where the U.S. Marine Corps should next take up residence.

The rationalization is also communicated in a carefully chosen color. Directly below the headline is the flier’s subtitle in bold green, declaring “Okinawa medical island design,” symbols that call up positive images of well-laid plans. The gradations of green color in the kanji characters blend nicely with the cultivated self-image that local people have of themselves and their gorgeous sub-tropical island where warmth and life remain highly valued.

Reinforcing these positive notions are well-placed catchphrases just below the subtitle: a) “Life is a treasure” (命どぅ宝) — a commonly understood metaphor rooted in the deep past when Shuri ruled the Ryukyus; and b) “A bridge to many nations” (万国津梁) — another metaphor that recalls Okinawa’s past kingdom as a hub for trade among many other neighboring nations. It is worth noting, too, that these phrases are cast in a variety of Uchinaguchi — a collection of indigenous languages long suppressed by the forces of colonialism, but a feature of the culture nonetheless that calls forth positive images of Okinawan self-determination and identity. To those who see below the surface of the propaganda, this use of the Okinawan language is especially offensive since the language itself is used in a way that masks a deeply vexing reality in which outside interests manipulate local aspirations for control over the land, air, and sea.

The descriptions that follow “life is a treasure” aim to play on the enduring myth that Okinawans still enjoy the world’s highest longevity rates, despite their marked declines since the end of WWII, when the insatiable appetite for fast food cultivated under American and then Japanese rule began influencing local cuisine and local eating habits. Once the holder of the highest longevity rates on earth, Okinawa has slipped considerably (according to the most recent government statistics) to 30th for men and 3rd for women out of Japan’s 47 prefectures.[15] This translates to 79.4 years for men and 87.2 for women. Despite the slip for Okinawa, the nation of Japan still ranks third highest in the world in terms of longevity.[16]

The descriptions that follow “A bridge to many nations” recall ancient times when Okinawa saw visitors joining in the great culture of trade among nations. For Nakaima, though, trade is now a part of the global empire of western medicine funded by corporations profiting from highly complex and expensive treatments for the chronically ill. The description in the flier lays out the goals to see western physicians and researchers teaming up with local researchers seeking new and improved treatments for disease within the western paradigm. Ironically, the traditional East-Asian practice of living life in Okinawa to its fullest included a diet rich in organic foods produced locally that sustained life and maintained health — a culture that has largely been crippled by the weight of the western diet and subsumed by the great network of food globalisation. Another related statistic that the propaganda in this flier glosses over is Okinawa’s other dubious distinction in overall health, the highest rate of citizens suffering from obesity of any other Japanese prefecture — a likely effect of the combination of the local car culture and fast food industry working in congress on waistlines. Besides the unmistakable presence of the bases of American empire, remnants of the occupation still remain and are maintained by an ongoing tourist fascination with A&W and Blue Seal Ice Cream — now local symbols of 1950s Americana.

The Nakaima proposal also features details about the cooperation envisioned for the 21st century where big pharmaceutical companies, the University of the Ryukyus’ Department of Medicine and the Hospital itself, the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), and the United States Naval Hospital collaborate in the interest of developing new therapies and medicines for the international marketplace. It is worth reminding readers at this point that OIST comes out of Tokyo’s official efforts in 2009 to internationalize Okinawa, to build a bigger bridge of trust, so to speak, between Tokyo and Naha. Officially, OIST was conceived in order to (a) “establish an international hub for scientific research and education;” (b) to develop “jobs in scientific and technological industries;” (c) to “nurture human interest in science and technology;” and (d) to “nurture an environment of international curiosity around the campus and transform Okinawa’s industrial base.”[17] It also exists, though, in the minds of local people as an expensive enticement where Tokyo continues to dump millions of Yen into this experiment — precisely because the U.S. military continues existing in Okinawa. OIST is, in effect, a very well endowed quid pro quo for Okinawa’s long burden of bearing the imposition of foreign bases. As a symbol of strong central planning in Tokyo, the OIST project presents opportunities for potentially fascinating studies of the power of the political “sweetener,” an enterprise in Okinawa where local citizens themselves are largely on the fringe of this important work, assuming positions as clerical support while mainland Japanese and international scientists dominate both the teaching posts and administration.[18] Though OIST has also become a source of great pride for local people, anecdotal observations suggest that scarcely anyone in the broader populace understands or experiences its tangible benefits, let alone knows of its existence.

The final significant image in this flier features the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Nakaima’s vision includes the construction of Japan’s first national research institute modeled directly on the NIH and which is intended to take up residency on land occupied by the former U.S. Marine Corps Air Station. It promises to be a base of medical research controlled by the nation’s top social and scientific planners in Tokyo. Although the plan, purported to be another benefit to Okinawa, isn’t necessarily militarism in the direct sense, this space (should the plan proceed) will be remade and re-occupied by an endeavor shared by the Tokyo government and the new U.S. Naval Hospital, presently finalizing construction on Camp Foster in close proximity to MCAS Futenma. According to an unnamed official with the Okinawa Medical Association of doctors (沖縄県医師会), a co-sponsor of the Citizens’ Group propaganda, the plan was conceived by Shigeru Ishiba, Head of the LDP in Tokyo, and presented in 2012 to the local LDP committee in Okinawa as a codified direction (like the plan for Henoko) which is to be followed without question.[19]

Premised upon the plan is the common understanding that Okinawan people highly covet the position of number one, in terms of longevity. To effectively persuade local people that the national plan is beneficial, the details are wrapped in language that appeals to the deep emotional connections that people have toward living a long and fruitful life. The propaganda supporting the international medical hub purports to profit the local people by returning them to first place in longevity. Most interesting about the process of propagandizing, though, is the template used by the LDP, which seems to mirror the one they had designed for Henoko. The Tokyo LDP instructs the Okinawa LDP to gather the necessary experts in a particular area of business (in this case medicine) so as to generate propaganda to present to the larger populace in the right symbols and language that will stimulate their compliance with Tokyo’s plans. On the surface, the LDP’s plan appears to be superb in every sense of the word, especially in the area of medicine and medical research, but the plan also speaks of Tokyo’s continued uses of power, pressure, and control over local issues. The development of Henoko, for example, initially challenged by Naha, is now cast as a Naha LDP project.

The power of the central government subsumes local wishes to chart new paths of development beyond the rationalizing explanations for sustained military occupation offered up consistently over the years. The research that must have gone into the proposed medical hub itself and the resulting propaganda is quite methodical, as the connection between the U.S. Marine Corps and the National Institutes of Health extends back to 1798 when President John Adams, “… signed an act for the relief of sick and disabled seamen.”[20] Positive images of the current “medical bridge” (医療津梁) flood the minds of citizens who see the kanji symbols in the propaganda but who can’t quite envision the military bridge upon which the plan is built.

Conclusion

We noted in the introduction that Rush Limbaugh is a staunch advocate for free speech, especially if it benefits the bottom line of his legion of corporate sponsors. Governor Nakaima’s sponsors, who remain committed despite his recent reelection loss, are just as keen to continue supporting plans that further the massive business interests working to generate the pro-Henoko propaganda and to clear the way for the eventual corporate takeover of Futenma. These interests appear to include uncritical acceptance of the terms of the TPP that allows big multinational business firms to sue the governments of foreign nations that resist plans for the ongoing development of business ventures.[21]

In secret negotiations among TPP signatories over “Patents and Patentable Subject Matter” (November 13, 2013), leaked documents reveal that long-held protections regarding equal “access to affordable medicines worldwide”[22] have been consistently opposed by the United States Trade Representative (USTR). As of this writing, it is unclear from these leaks whether Japan, a co-proposer, has since moved beyond merely “considering this provision”[23] in 2013 to formally endorsing it. What appears clear enough is the United States’ eagerness to help nurture a pharmaceutical hegemony that would

… expand pharmaceutical patenting and create new drug monopolies, by lowering patentability standards;[24] eliminate safeguards against patent abuse, including among others the right of third parties to challenge patent applications (pre-grant opposition);[25] risk facilitating patent abuse by requiring countries to condition marketing approval on patent status (patent linkage);[26] and expand exclusive control over clinical trial data including through an extra three years of data exclusivity for new uses of known products.[27]

In contemporary Japan, with its new Constitutional provisions for an expansive military added to the nation’s growing interest in the TPP, the Nakaima plan for Okinawa is a societal disaster in the making. The propaganda foretells a future where the U.S. military continues its decades-long imposition and where multinational pharmaceutical companies are free to work within the terms of the agreement to remodel Japan’s superb public healthcare system into some private corporate venture. To exemplify the current resistance, nine nations oppose the U.S. and Japanese proposal to “impose patents for new uses … of old medicines, [which] can facilitate ‘evergreening’ — a form of abuse leading to long drug monopolies.”[28] The proposal stands in contrast to India’s famous rule, “which has helped protect access to affordable medicine worldwide,”[29] much to the dismay of the big multinational pharmaceuticals. The American and Japanese position, it’s also worth mentioning, is not unlike Chomsky’s earlier characterization of the sort of damage that NAFTA has done under the tutelage of the WTO: “The outrageous patent principles, for example, designed to grant monopoly-pricing privileges to immense private tyrannies, far in the future, and to stifle innovation and development, in their interests.”[30] These sorts of corporate efforts in ultimately monopolizing market share, masked as they are with the clever euphemisms of “free trade” and “smaller government,” are typical of what John Feffer sees in neoliberalism:

… all barriers to the flow of capital and goods must fall, governments must withdraw from the economy, and labor must become more ‘flexible.’ In other words, East Asian economies should remake themselves in the image of the U.S. or British economies.[31]

Beyond the monopoly of military power the U.S. has maintained over the decades in Okinawa, the issue of pharmaceutical monopolies now appears on the horizon for Japan and its citizens. This will invariably drive up healthcare costs. Today, the out-of-pocket price of a simple aspirin, presently at 4 cents[32] per tablet in Japanese hospitals across the nation, could rise to 21 dollars[33] and beyond, which is the average cost to patients in American hospitals. This stark disparity in costs for such a simple medication seems, at first glance, to be absurd and implausible, but the world today shows no shortage of cases where so-called free trade agreements have “elevate[d] companies to the same level as sovereign governments, [and] effectively enable[d] them to circumvent domestic laws and courts”[34] to get their way.

As of this writing, the recent gubernatorial election certainly produced a clear political winner for the governor’s seat in Naha, but Tokyo and Washington’s plan for Henoko began creeping forward again just one day after the champagne bottles were emptied. According Suga Yoshihide, the Chief Cabinet Secretary in charge of overseeing U.S. base issues, observed somberly that despite Nakaima’s loss, the government will nonetheless move forward, albeit surreptitiously, with plans for the development in accordance with the signed contract.[35] It is interesting, though, how an impending general election, called by Abe just last week, can move even the most powerful politicians to delay their most important plans. Perhaps Okinawa, during this present reprieve, can lobby to have that contract renegotiated.

Maki Sunagawa is a first-year researcher in the Graduate School of Intercultural Communication at Okinawa Christian University where she is taking up studies in social semiotics and the signs for development that prevail in public relations literature. She is presently working towards a graduate qualification focused on the McDonaldization of Okinawan culture influenced by long-standing conditions of foreign occupation.

Daniel Broudy is Professor of Rhetoric and Applied Linguistics at Okinawa Christian University. He has taught in the United States, Korea, and Japan. His research includes the critical analysis of media discourse, signs, and symbols. He is co-author of Rhetorical Rape: The Verbal Violations of the Punditocracy (2010), serves as a managing editor for Synaesthesia communications journal, and writes about current discourse practices that shape the public mind. He is the co-editor to Under Occupation: Resistance and Struggle in a Militarised Asia-Pacific.

Notes

[1] For further details, visit http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2009/08/28/dems_demonize_the_middle_man7

[2] McChesney, Robert Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy (New York: Seven Stories Press), 15-16.

[3] For further details, visit http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/neoliberalism.html

[4] According to the The Nikkei Asian Review (日本経済新聞), “Japan and America will cooperate further in negotiations in order to realize an agreement on the terms of the TPP” (November 16,  2014). Original text follows: 早期妥結に向けていっそうの努力をしていくことを確認した。

[5] Sugita, Yoneyuki. “Universal Health Insurance.” In Democracy in Occupied Japan: The U.S. Occupation and Japanese Politics and Society, edited by Mark Caprio and Yoneyuki Sugita, 160-1. Oxford: Routledge, 2007.

[6] For further details, visit http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a25

[7] For further details, visit http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89626309

[8] Access to the digital copy can be located here: http://www.okinawavision.net/vision1.pdf

[9] Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was formed, partly, as a response to the 1995 rape of an elementary school girl by three American servicemen. The committee, which included not a single Okinawan voice, laid out designs for the future force structure of the American military on Okinawa and to reduce the “footprint.” These designs included the development of Henoko in the North as a suitable replacement for MCAS Futenma in Ginowan City.

[10] For further details, visit http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/security/96saco2.html

[11] Broudy, Daniel et al. 2013. “Introduction.” In Under Occupation: Resistance and Struggle in a Militarised Asia-Pacific, edited by Daniel Broudy, Peter Simpson, and Makoto Arakaki, 4. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

[12] (最終改正:平成二六年六月一三日法律第六九号) For further details, visit: http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S23/S23HO194.html

[13] Ryukyu Shimpo (print version) 琉球新報9月2日りゅうせき11社仲井真氏を推薦。りゅうせきグループ11社で構成する、りゅうせきネットワーク会議の金城克也議長は1日、11月16日の知事選に出馬を表明している仲井真弘多知事に推薦状を手渡した。仲井真氏には既に国和会(国場組グループ)、百添会(沖縄電力グループ)、沖縄偕生会ネットワーク、日本保育推進連盟県支部、県情報通信関連産業団体連合会、太名嘉組などの企業グループが推薦を決めている。金城氏は「地方人口が減る中、沖縄が増えているのは策を講じてきたからだ」と仲井真氏の実績を評価した。※県情報通信関連産業団体連合会=219社で構成

[14] Chomsky, Noam. “The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy,” In These Times, February 3, 2010

[15] For further details, visit http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/life/tdfk10/dl/02.pdf

[16] Central Intelligence Agency “The World Fact Book”

[17] For further regarding origins and aims of OIST, see page 69 at http://www.sangiin.go.jp/japanese/annai/chousa/rippou_chousa/backnumber/2009pdf/20090501064.pdf

[18] For further details regarding OIST demographics, visit http://www.oist.jp/oist-nutshell

[19] Anonymous spokesperson, telephone interview with author, November 27, 2014

[20] For further details, visit http://www.nih.gov/about/almanac/historical/chronology_of_events.htm#eighteenhundred

[21] Further details regarding the power of corporations to attack nations can be found at http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=5411

[22] Further details regarding recent USTR proposals can be found at http://www.citizen.org/Page.aspx?pid=5325&frcrld=1

[23] Public Citizen, “What’s New in the Wikileaks TPP Text” (2013), 1.

[24] Kılıç Burcu, Kim Mi Kyoeng, and Maybarduk Peter, “Challenges for Health and Innovation Policy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP): Comparative Analysis of the United States’ Intellectual Property Proposal and Japanese Law” Public Citizen (2014), 7.

[25] Kılıç et al., Ibid, 16.

[26] Kılıç et al., Ibid, 8.

[27] Kılıç et al., Ibid, 11.

[28] Further details regarding TPP and patent right, including medicines, can found at: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Whats%20New%20in%20the%20WikiLeaks%20TPP%20Text-1.pdf

[29] Public Citizen, Ibid.

[30] Chomsky, Noam “Resistance to Neoliberal Globalization” Zblogs (2005, Jul. 23) Retrieved from https://zcomm.org/zblogs/resistance-to-neo-liberal-globalization-by-noam-chomsky/

[31] Feffer, John. “Gunboat Globalization: The Intersection of Economics and Security in East Asia” Social Justice. (27)4. (2000), 53-4.

[32] Further details regarding relative costs can be found at: http://www.qlife.jp/meds/rx36314.html

[33] Further details regarding relative costs can be found at: http://www.dailynews.com/opinion/20140325/putting-an-end-to-the-21-aspirin-guest-commentary

[34] Silverman, Ed. “Eli Lilly vs. Canada: The Patent War Moves to Washington,” The Wall Street Journal (April 14, 2014)

[35] Original text follows: 菅義偉官房長官は17日午前の記者会見で、沖縄県知事選 で米軍普天間飛行場(同県宜野湾市)の名護市辺野古への移設に反対する翁長雄志前那覇市長が当選したことについて「米軍の抑止力維持と普天間の危険除去を合わせた中で、辺野古移設が唯一の解決策だということで政府は一貫している。辺野古移設を粛々と進めたい」と述べ、移設方針に変更がないことを改めて強調した。【木下訓明】

He may go down as one of the more invisible Defence Secretaries in recent times.  Indeed, the very term Secretary of Defence seems out of step with Washington’s attitude of global policing and moral correction.  Chuck Hagel, being confused about what role he seemed to be fulfilling from the start, had the appearance of someone playing the diplomacy of catch-up and fumble.

It has now surfaced that Hagel did not wish to play along with the rules of resignation as dictated by the White House, even if the official, and spurious line, was that both the secretary and president had agreed that he had to go.  The November 24 date was not what President Barack Obama had in mind.  Hagel, by way of contrast, had no interest in being a seat warmer for his replacement, manning the firm while head hunters did their job. While unnamed sources quoted on CNN (Dec 2) are hardly probative of anything, the excited news outlet did claim how Hagel “wanted to control his departure”.

Result: there is no nominee for the position.  Nor are some touted figures keen to rush to it.  Both Democratic Senators Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Carl Levin of Michigan have made their refusals very clear.  The less than luminary Ash Carter is in line, and even then, the steering committee is still scouring for options.  A true vote of confidence.

Hagel was not helped by the strategy of the Obama administration, which has made it something of a speciality to wander in a meditative gaze into conflict zones, stutter while doing so, and play the imperial game involving a mixture of amateurish concern and ruthless indifference.

At a point, it was very clear that Hagel was not doing the job of selling war well, even if he had been parachuted into it.  He proved a good friend of the gaffe, beginning poorly at the Senate confirmation hearings. He was awkward, though those close to him never took this to be sign of weakness.  Not being in the league of the outrageous Donald Rumsfeld, a mendacious fantasist who had few problems cloaking his policy descriptions with dissimulation and old school deception, Hagel fell between the stools, even if these had been placed before his time.

One of those stools was the near constipated management of his own portfolio within the administration by outside forces.  According to GOP Senator John McCain, Hagel, “was frustrated with aspects of the administration’s national security policy and decision making process” (CNN, Dec 2).  Micro-management seemed to have been the unshakable problem, a form of paralysis endemic to the bureaucrat’s world view.

Observers such as Elizabeth Drew in the New York Review of Books (Nov 25), with the keen clarity of hindsight, claimed to always wonder whether a person presiding over an average staff size of 34 as a Senator could “make the leap” to governing the monster that is the Pentagon, with its 26,000 onsite personnel, plus a half-million overseas employees, and 1.5 million active military members.

As to whether he even had freedom of movement within the administration, Drew’s sense was that he was hamstrung by events, even more so than the man in the White House, or the culture of cabinet indecisiveness.

Another of those stools was a mixed product, broadly grouped under the administration’s policy towards the international strong men – brutes, for want of a better word.  The first was Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose frequency simply isn’t wired to the lines of cant in Washington.  On that front, Hagel was hoping in his September letter that a firmer stance be taken, and European allies reassured that Russian boots were not going to find homes from the Baltic States to Prague.

The rebuke on Syria came by way of a two-page memorandum addressed to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  Attacking Rice was tantamount to going on the offensive against Obama, with whom she has become something of a policy appendage.

Hagel’s issue was one of fostering clarity – what, exactly, is Washington’s position regarding Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad? It is a good question, and almost as fumbled as the administration’s stance towards Islamic fundamentalism. (In the argot of Washington’s foreign policy, the goodness of an Islamic fundamentalist seems to vary depending on what geographical locality – and which opponent – you are fighting.)

In the case of Syria, Assad serves a useful purpose, waging war against the very Islamic State forces that are the object of “degrading” Obama has been so insistent upon.  But this is the same individual Washington, along with its allies, would like to see deposed, hung and quartered. To that end, funding is provided to a range of confused, and confusing groups, whose only common tie is a hatred of Assad. That common currency, however, tends to fluctuate in value depending on the mutual hatred between the various insurgents.

For Hagel, the taking of such an ambiguous position undermined efforts on the part of the Obama administration to deal with ISIS.  It could not be seen to be shoring up Assad. And it did not seem to be a hallmark of good advertising for US policy in the Middle East for Sunni Arab populations within the orbit of ISIS rule.

There are a few meek nods in Hagel’s direction, one coming from Michael E. O’Hanlon at Brookings.  The former secretary “was a fairly low-key but still effective promoter of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, making the mechanics of the new basing and operational patterns work out smoothly and visiting a number of allied nations, as well as China, along the way” (Up Front, Brookings, Nov 24).

In one rather obvious way, Hagel seemed to be going back to the position that has long discomforted policy makers.  The latest Iraqi-Syria crisis, in what is bound to be a generational one, does not so much have a solution as a temporary patch-up.  US administrations have been rather good and breaking the machinery of states.  They have proven rather inept in repairing them.  In attempting to articulate his own version of repairing the broken machine of Middle Eastern politics, Hagel metaphorically lost his head.

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

Nationwide Uprising Gains Strength in Haiti

December 4th, 2014 by Kim Ives

A nationwide uprising against the regime of business partners President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe continued to gain steam this week with massive demonstrations in several major cities, including Port-au-Prince, Léogane, Petit Goâve, Cap-Haïtien, Fort-Liberté, Ouanaminthe, and Aux Cayes.

Feeling the protests’ heat, Martelly made a short televised national address on Nov. 28 to announce his formation of an “advisory commission” made up of 11 people whom he called “credible, honest, and trusted by society” to provide him “in eight days” with “a recommendation” on what path to take out of Haiti’s political imbroglio, saying that “the nation is divided, the problems are many, the problems are complicated.”

Martelly outlined five categories of recommendation which he had gleaned from “two months” of “consultations” with Haiti’s political actors: 1) remove Lamothe as Prime Minister; 2) dissolve Parliament on Jan. 12, 2015 when the terms of most senators and deputies expire; 3) change the composition of the Electoral Council; 4) form a Constituent Assembly to overhaul Haiti’s 1987 Constitution; and 5) extend Parliament’s life or put in place a council to function in place of Parliament.

Tellingly, Martelly did not include, or even mention in his address, the principal demand of the nationwide protests: that he and his prime minister immediately resign, ceding power to a State Council and Supreme Court judge, as happened when demonstration-beset-dictator Gen. Prosper Avril resigned in March 1990. The ensuing Dec. 16, 1990 election, carried out without the supervision of any occupying force like the current UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), was among the fairest in Haitian history.

Many demonstrators are also calling for the remaining 6,600 soldiers of MINUSTAH to immediately leave Haiti.

Ironically, the “trusted” commission is made up of disgraced and discredited political figures, including Gérard Gourgue, the former “president” of a “parallel government” the opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide concocted in 2001; Evans Paul, the archetypal scheming Haitian politician who was a leader in the 2004 coup; and Réginald Boulos, a leading political strongman championing the interests of Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie.

With typical humor, the Haitian people immediately dubbed Martelly’s proposal the “Baygon Commission,” referring to a popular insecticide in Haiti for killing cockroaches. In early November, Martelly’s Communications Minister, Rudy Hériveaux, a former leader in Aristide’s Lavalas Family party (FL), issued an editorial in which he wrote: “Carried away in a kind of destructive frenzy, these cockroaches are agitated into a disgusting folkloric display in the streets to try to attack the government.” He was referring to the tens of thousands now demonstrating and to the Haitian opposition generally.

Such venomous comments and meaningless maneuvers by government officials have only stoked the flames of “Operation Burkina Faso,” as the movement is called, inspired by the October uprising that unseated President Blaise Compaoré in Ouagadougou. “Here are the cockroaches,” thousands of demonstrators now chant.

Following the giant demonstration on Nov. 25, equally large demonstrations swept the capital on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, two dates with historic symbolism.

On Nov. 28, 1980, the Duvalier dictatorship brutally cracked down on its political opponents and the press following the election in the U.S. of right-wing President Ronald Reagan. In the reign of terror that followed, many anti-Duvalierist journalists, politicians, and activists were murdered, imprisoned, tortured, or exiled. Then on Nov. 28,1985 in Gonaïves, Duvalier’s soldiers and Tonton Macoutes gunned down three students: Mackenson Michel, Daniel Israel, and Jean Robert Cius. Outrage at these killings sparked the nationwide uprising that led to the fall of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier on Feb. 7, 1986.

On Nov. 29, 1987, a neo-Duvalierist military junta, composed of Gens. Henry Namphy, and Williams Régala, backed by paramilitary chieftains like Claude Raymond, carried out an election day massacre, killing dozens of would-be voters, most bloodily and infamously at the Argentine School on Ruelle Vaillant in the capital.

Nov. 29, 1803 is also the day at Fort Dauphin in Haiti’s North that Haiti’s founding fathers first proclaimed independence, declaring at the time that “we have secured our rights, and we swear to yield to no power on earth.”

Inspired by their ancestors, on Nov. 29, 2013, thousands of demonstrators had tried to march on the U.S. Embassy in Tabarre, an action which was characterized as “Dessalines visits Uncle Sam.” But Haitian police brutally dispersed the protest with tear-gas before it reached the embassy.

The same thing happened this year. Haitian police met the chanting multitude with tear-gas, batons, and gunfire at the Fleuriot intersection, just a stone’s throw from the home were Aristide remains under virtual house arrest.

Nonetheless, a few hundred protestors managed to break through police lines and get to the embassy where Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, the principal leader of the anti-Martelly and anti-occupation demonstrations, delivered a scathing speech.

“We were determined to demonstrate outside the embassy, and here we are,” he said. “We must fight, and through our determination, we have shown our ability to save our country from its current terrible situation.” Sen. Moïse was joined by other uprising leaders such as outspoken lawyer André Michel.

Meanwhile, in the northeastern cities of Fort Liberté and Ouanaminthe near the border with the Dominican Republic, police wounded about 15 people with tear-gas and gunfire during a week of demonstrations. There were four deaths reported, including a three-month old infant and a 16-year-old boy. The people of the Northeast department are protesting against blackouts, while they claim that more than 12 megawatts of electricity remains unused at the Caracol Industrial Park, home to assembly factories. The residents of Fort-Liberté and Ouanaminthe want their electrical grids connected to Caracol’s power plant.

In Ouanaminthe, demonstrations are demanding the dismissal of customs officials who harass with overcharges and blockages small merchants crossing over the border’s Massacre River into Dajabon. The demonstrations prevented 10 containers from getting to the Caracol Industrial Park. A contingent of 30 heavily armed policemen from the Brigade of Motorized Intervention (BIM) was dispatched to shepherd the containers in.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 1, the townspeople of Cabaret, about 20 miles north of Port-au-Prince, blocked National Highway # 1 to demand electricity, drinking water, and a police outpost. Schools, banks, and markets were closed by the protest.

An official vehicle, determined to pass through the blockade, apparently fired on the crowd, reportedly killing two: a man known only as “Macintosh” and a woman who sold soda known as “Mabi.

As mayhem ensued, the police anti-riot unit, the Company for Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) arrived to suppress the crowd with tear-gas and water cannons.

“Water is life, electricity is development,” the crowd chanted. “We don’t want to continue to drink dirty water. If the police fire on us, the situation will deteriorate. Down with Martelly!”

Christel Thélusma, spokesman for the local organization MADIBA, condemned the government’s repression of peaceful demonstrations for basic needs.

“We do not want street lights, we want electricity in our homes so that our children can study their lessons,” he said. “We will not yield to the pressures of the police. Our demands are fair and justified. Martelly and Lamothe steal funds intended for development of the country, while we have no electricity, we have no drinking water. MINUSTAH’s cholera is killing us. This is our third demonstration, yet the authorities have never come to talk with the people.”

Similar demonstrations demanding electricity, drinking water, and Martelly’s resignation blocked National Highway #2 in Léogâne and Petit Goâve.

Opposition leaders have called for “Operation Burkina Faso” to continue with mass mobilizations on Dec. 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 18.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to visit Haiti on Dec. 12. In preparation for that meeting, U.S. Embassy officials invited six opposition leaders to a meeting on Dec. 2 at the headquarters of Fusion, Haiti’s principal social-democratic party.

According to highly placed sources in the opposition, the plan of the U.S. Embassy and the Martelly regime is to have Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resign. This would kill two birds with one stone. First, it would make Martelly appear to have bowed to one of the opposition’s demands (although it is only the Lavalas Family which officially limits its demand to Lamothe’s resignation). Secondly, it would distance Lamothe, the U.S. Embassy’s darling, from Martelly, who is the focus of popular ire and has skeletons possibly about to spill out of his closet, including corruption, drug-trafficking, passport fraud, and maybe even murder.

Lamothe would then be free to concentrate on his presidential campaign for the end of 2015. According to the sources, former Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, or possibly his predecessor Michèle Pierre-Louis, would be brought in to “sell” a political deal to some opposition parties and most of the six senators resisting ratification of Martelly’s electoral law and electoral council, thereby isolating Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles.

However, Haiti is slippery ground, as the Kreyòl proverb says, and already things have not gone as planned. The Lavalas Family, perhaps the most important opposition party that needs to be part of any U.S. Embassy solution, did not attend the Dec. 2 meeting, outside of which several dozen demonstrators protested with signs like “USA=Bluff, Long live a Haiti without bluff!” (Kontra Pèp La also shunned sitting down with U.S. Ambassador Pamela White.)

In the days ahead, the U.S. and Haitian governments will keep trying to co-opt, divide, undermine, and threaten the Haitian opposition, as well as the larger social movement behind it, in an effort to keep Martelly and MINUSTAH in place. The challenge is for Martelly’s opposition to remain united and for the mass movement to sustain its mobilization until it has the same momentum as those which drove dictators from power in 1986 and 1990.

The Israeli government is holding closed-door meetings about receiving some 6,000 Jewish citizens who have been displaced due to the Ukrainian civil war, reports the Israeli Maariv newspaper. Meanwhile, western support for overtly National Socialist and Ultra Nationalist parties and militants in Ukraine continues. 

The cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly plans on the construction of “refugee camps” to receive the “6,000 displaced” Ukrainian Jews, reports Maariv. The construction of refugee camps to receive the 6,000 Ukrainians is reportedly being planned under the supervision of Israel’s Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett. Maariv didn’t specify where these 6,000 Ukrainians should be settled.

The news comes as the death toll of a recent attack on a Jewish Synagogue in Jerusalem has risen to five and a row between the Netayahu government and the Palestinian government under President Mahmoud Abbas. While Netanyahu blames Fatah and Hamas for terrorism and for the attack, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded, blaming Israel’s occupation of Palestine for causing conflict and driving people into terrorism.

The rapid spread of ultra nationalism, overtly Nazi Parties and militia, and their rapid rise to power during the Western-backed “Euro-Maidan” protests in Kiev has resulted in pogroms and threats against Jews and Jewish communities throughout Ukraine with the exception of the areas in the rebelling Donbass region which are firmly under the control of the rebelling regional governments, as well as with the exception of Crimea, which acceded into the Russian Federation after a referendum in  Crimea on March 16, 2014.

Ukranian M.P. for Svoboda, Oleg Tyahnbok, here after his reelection as Svoboda "Leader".

Ukranian M.P. for Svoboda, Oleg Tyahnbok, here after his reelection as Svoboda “Leader”.

Ukraine risks becoming a failed state after the pogroms, wrote contributing editor of Route magazine and nsnbc contributor Igor Alexeev as early as December 2013. Alexeev forecast the detrimental effects of the developments on Ukraine’s economy which has ground to a halt. Alexeev also warned about the rise of Ukraine’s Svoboda party to power.In his December 2013 article Alexeev warned:

Originally known as the Social-National Party, Svoboda is rooted in Nazi collaboration. Svoboda also honors “Ukrainian veterans” who fought with the Nazis against the Soviet Union during the Second World War in the Waffen SS-Galicia and the party is fighting against a threat which they describe as “Jew Communism.” The issue has been described in an article by Michael Goldfarb in the Global Post, titled “Ukraine’s nationalist party embraces Nazi ideology“.

The also overtly National Socialist paramilitary UNA-UNSO, associated to Ukraine’s Pravy (Right) Sector, has since morphed into the so-called “special military units” or ADS corps which are operating semi autonomously, and are associated to command structured within Pravy Sector, the Interior Ministry, the Defense Ministry as well as foreign and NATO intelligence. The UNA-UNSO has been linked to NATO’s so-called stay-behind a.k.a. “Gladio” network.

McCain_Yatzeniuk_Tyahnbok_Ukraine_USA

Senator John McCain (r) here with Svoboda leader Oleg Tyahnbok (m) and current Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatzenyuk (l).

The U.S. and other western governments have consistently passed their “partners” in Ukraine off as “moderates and rejected allegations about cooperation with Ukrainian parties and organizations with Nazi ideology.

In May 2014, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, however, admitted during a two-hour hearing before the House of Representatives, that the U.S. Administration cooperates with Ukrainian Nazis.

The cooperation with Ukrainian Nazis was, however, not limited to official members of the Obama administration. Among those directly involved in cooperating with e.g. Svoboda “leader” Tyahnbok was U.S. Senator John McCain, who is also known for making “deals” with ISIS “Caliph Ibrahim“, a.k.a. al-Badri or al-Baghdadi.

Delta, the nom de guerre of the Jewish commander of a Ukrainian street-fighting unit, is pictured in Kiev. (Courtesy of ‘Delta’)

Delta, the nom de guerre of the Jewish commander of a Ukrainian street-fighting unit, is pictured in Kiev. (Courtesy of ‘Delta’)

Israeli military units were reportedly also involved in the coup d’état in Ukraine that lead to the rise of Nazi ideologists and the threat against Jewish citizens and communities in Ukraine.

In an article from march 14, 2014, the director of the Canada-based Centre for Research on Globalisation, Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, noted that the Jewish News Agency JTA reported about the presence of units associated to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Ukraine. JTA quotes “Delta”, a member of the IDF’s Givati Infantry Brigade as confirming the presence of Israeli forces during the coup d’état.

The Givati Infantry Brigade was, among others, involved in Israel’s 2009 “Operation Cast Lead” against Palestine’s Gaza Strip as well as in massacres in Tel El-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza, reports Chossudovsky.

While the threat against members of Ukraine’s Jewish community is real, the situation poses the question whether the Netanyahu administration participated in creating the threat with the purpose to create potential new Israeli immigrants and citizens. Over the last two years, Israel experienced a marked increase of Israeli citizens who are leaving Israel for Germany, the USA, and other western countries. 6,000 new Ukrainian Jews could help the Netanyahu administration with maintaining Israel’s policy of aggressive settlement expansion in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

December 4th, 2014 by Ryan Gallagher

In March 2011, two weeks before the Western intervention in Libya, a secret message was delivered to the National Security Agency. An intelligence unit within the U.S. military’s Africa Command needed help to hack into Libya’s cellphone networks and monitor text messages.

For the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.

According to documents contained in the archive of material provided toThe Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.

The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers.

Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks.

One high-profile surveillance target is the GSM Association, an influential U.K.-headquartered trade group that works closely with large U.S.-based firms including Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, and Cisco, and is currently being funded by the U.S. government to develop privacy-enhancing technologies.

Karsten Nohl, a leading cellphone security expert and cryptographer who was consulted by The Intercept about details contained in the AURORAGOLD documents, said that the broad scope of information swept up in the operation appears aimed at ensuring virtually every cellphone network in the world is NSA accessible.

THE OPERATION APPEARS AIMED AT ENSURING VIRTUALLY EVERY CELLPHONE NETWORK IN THE WORLD IS NSA ACCESSIBLE.

“Collecting an inventory [like this] on world networks has big ramifications,” Nohl said, because it allows the NSA to track and circumvent upgrades in encryption technology used by cellphone companies to shield calls and texts from eavesdropping. Evidence that the agency has deliberately plotted to weaken the security of communication infrastructure, he added, was particularly alarming.

“Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities,” Nohl said, “because once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.”

NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines told The Intercept in a statement that the agency “works to identify and report on the communications of valid foreign targets” to anticipate threats to the United States and its allies.

Vines said: “NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements—regardless of the technical means used by foreign targets, or the means by which those targets attempt to hide their communications.”

Network coverage

The AURORAGOLD operation is carried out by specialist NSA surveillance units whose existence has not been publicly disclosed: the Wireless Portfolio Management Office, which defines and carries out the NSA’s strategy for exploiting wireless communications, and the Target Technology Trends Center, which monitors the development of new communication technology to ensure that the NSA isn’t blindsided by innovations that could evade its surveillance reach. The center’s logo is a picture of the Earth overshadowed by a large telescope; its motto is “Predict – Plan – Prevent.”

The NSA documents reveal that, as of May 2012, the agency had collected technical information on about 70 percent of cellphone networks worldwide—701 of an estimated 985—and was maintaining a list of 1,201 email “selectors” used to intercept internal company details from employees. (“Selector” is an agency term for a unique identifier like an email address or phone number.) From November 2011 to April 2012, between 363 and 1,354 selectors were “tasked” by the NSA for surveillance each month as part of AURORAGOLD, according to the documents. The secret operation appears to have been active since at least 2010.The information collected from the companies is passed onto NSA “signals development” teams that focus on infiltrating communication networks. It is also shared with other U.S. Intelligence Community agencies and with the NSA’s counterparts in countries that are part of the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Aside from mentions of a handful of operators in Libya, China, and Iran, names of the targeted companies are not disclosed in the NSA’s documents. However, a top-secret world map featured in a June 2012 presentation on AURORAGOLD suggests that the NSA has some degree of “network coverage” in almost all countries on every continent, including in the United States and in closely allied countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and France.

map

One of the prime targets monitored under the AURORAGOLD program is the London-headquartered trade group, the GSM Association, or the GSMA, which represents the interests of more than 800 major cellphone, software, and internet companies from 220 countries.

The GSMA’s members include U.S.-based companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle, as well as large international firms including Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, and Vodafone.

The trade organization brings together its members for regular meetings at which new technologies and policies are discussed among various “working groups.” The Snowden files reveal that the NSA specifically targeted the GSMA’s working groups for surveillance.

Claire Cranton, a spokeswoman for the GSMA, said that the group would not respond to details uncovered by The Intercept until its lawyers had studied the documents related to the spying.

“If there is something there that is illegal then they will take it up with the police,” Cranton said.

By covertly monitoring GSMA working groups in a bid to identify and exploit security vulnerabilities, the NSA has placed itself into direct conflict with the mission of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, or NIST, the U.S. government agency responsible for recommending cybersecurity standards in the United States. NIST recently handed out a grant of more than $800,000 to GSMA so that the organization could research ways to address “security and privacy challenges” faced by users of mobile devices.

The revelation that the trade group has been targeted for surveillance may reignite deep-seated tensions between NIST and NSA that came to the fore following earlier Snowden disclosures. Last year, NIST was forced to urge people not to use an encryption standard it had previously approved after it emerged NSA had apparently covertly worked to deliberately weaken it.

Jennifer Huergo, a NIST spokewoman, told The Intercept that the agency was “not aware of any activities by NSA related to the GSMA.” Huergo said that NIST would continue to work towards “bringing industry together with privacy and consumer advocates to jointly create a robust marketplace of more secure, easy-to-use, privacy-enhancing solutions.”

gstreetview2

 GSMA headquarters in London (above)

 Encryption attack

The NSA focuses on intercepting obscure but important technical documents circulated among the GSMA’s members known as “IR.21s.”

Most cellphone network operators share IR.21 documents among each other as part of agreements that allow their customers to connect to foreign networks when they are “roaming” overseas on a vacation or a business trip. An IR.21, according to the NSA documents, contains information “necessary for targeting and exploitation.”

The details in the IR.21s serve as a “warning mechanism” that flag new technology used by network operators, the NSA’s documents state. This allows the agency to identify security vulnerabilities in the latest communication systems that can be exploited, and helps efforts to introduce new vulnerabilities “where they do not yet exist.”

The IR.21s also contain details about the encryption used by cellphone companies to protect the privacy of their customers’ communications as they are transmitted across networks. These details are highly sought after by the NSA, as they can aid its efforts to crack the encryption and eavesdrop on conversations.

Last year, the Washington Post reported that the NSA had already managed to break the most commonly used cellphone encryption algorithm in the world, known as A5/1. But the information collected under AURORAGOLD allows the agency to focus on circumventing newer and stronger versions of A5 cellphone encryption, such as A5/3.

The documents note that the agency intercepts information from cellphone operators about “the type of A5 cipher algorithm version” they use, and monitors the development of new algorithms in order to find ways to bypass the encryption.

In 2009, the British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters conducted a similar effort to subvert phone encryption under a project called OPULANT PUP, using powerful computers to perform a “crypt attack” to penetrate the A5/3 algorithm, secret memos reveal. By 2011, GCHQ was collaborating with the NSA on another operation, calledWOLFRAMITE, to attack A5/3 encryption. (GCHQ declined to comment for this story, other than to say that it operates within legal parameters.)

The extensive attempts to attack cellphone encryption have been replicated across the Five Eyes surveillance alliance. Australia’s top spy agency, for instance, infiltrated an Indonesian cellphone company and stole nearly 1.8 million encryption keys used to protect communications, the New York Times reported in February.

The NSA’s documents show that it focuses on collecting details about virtually all technical standards used by cellphone operators, and the agency’s efforts to stay ahead of the technology curve occasionally yield significant results. In early 2010, for instance, its operatives had alreadyfound ways to penetrate a variant of the newest “fourth generation” smartphone-era technology for surveillance, years before it became widely adopted by millions of people in dozens of countries.

The NSA says that its efforts are targeted at terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other foreign targets, not “ordinary people.” But the methods used by the agency and its partners to gain access to cellphone communications risk significant blowback.

According to Mikko Hypponen, a security expert at Finland-based F-Secure, criminal hackers and foreign government adversaries could be among the inadvertent beneficiaries of any security vulnerabilities or encryption weaknesses inserted by the NSA into communication systems using data collected by the AURORAGOLD project.

“If there are vulnerabilities on those systems known to the NSA that are not being patched on purpose, it’s quite likely they are being misused by completely other kinds of attackers,” said Hypponen. “When they start to introduce new vulnerabilities, it affects everybody who uses that technology; it makes all of us less secure.”

“IT AFFECTS EVERYBODY WHO USES THAT TECHNOLOGY; IT MAKES ALL OF US LESS SECURE.”

In December, a surveillance review panel convened by President Obama concluded that the NSA should not “in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial software.” The panel also recommended that the NSA should notify companies if it discovers previously unknown security vulnerabilities in their software or systems—known as “zero days” because developers have been given zero days to fix them—except in rare cases involving “high priority intelligence collection.”

In April, White House officials confirmed that Obama had ordered NSA to disclose vulnerabilities it finds, though qualified that with a loophole allowing the flaws to be secretly exploited so long as there is deemed to be “a clear national security or law enforcement” use.

Vines, the NSA spokeswoman, told The Intercept that the agency was committed to ensuring an “open, interoperable, and secure global internet.”

“NSA deeply values these principles and takes great care to honor them in the performance of its lawful foreign-intelligence mission,” Vines said.

She declined to discuss the tactics used as part of AURORAGOLD, or comment on whether the operation remains active.

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Documents published with this article:

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Photo: Cell tower: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; GSMA headquarters: Google Maps

South Stream has turned into “Turk Stream.” Moscow has decided not to sidestep Ukraine and supply gas to the whining American satellites from Southern Europe, but will instead turn its attentions to its project in Turkey. It’s no terrible fate to get the chance to provide fuel to a rapidly growing economy with a GDP of $1.2 trillion instead of to countries like Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, and Slovenia that are languishing in an economic depression. On the heels of the joint Russian-Chinese Power of Siberia pipeline project, the deal with Turkey has become yet another demonstration of Russia’s willingness to reorient its trade potential to encompass new partners.

The EU has insulted Ankara by feeding her with nothing but promises for many decades. This strong and self-sufficient country has been a candidate to join the EU since 2000, but has no real hope of ever being granted membership. Despite many cultural differences, Turkey is a far more valuable asset than all of the Baltic countries, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslavia put together. The Turks are not a millstone around anyone’s neck – they are able to maintain a battle-ready army and can solve their own problems in the Middle East without dragging in the West. And let no one forget that they have become a bargaining chip in the Caribbean crisis. But Ankara has no illusions about the current government of the US or the EU. Given this status quo, Turkey allows herself to ignore the sectoral sanctions against Russia and is signing major deals of unprecedented size with Vladimir Putin.

Iranian President Rouhani meeting with Vladimir Putin on September 12, 2014

Recently, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a similar meeting with the Russian leader. (image right)

This Persian “trump card” will be useful to Russia in the event of a sharper confrontation with the West. Tehran could prove to be a more willing partner, prepared to pay for a whole spectrum of military and civilian products under arrangements that are advantageous to Moscow. Iran has an economy with potential GDP around $1 trillion, but is being suffocated by sectoral economic sanctions and cannot fully develop without access to modern technology. The most modest list of the barest necessities Iran would need in order to feel secure in the hostile environment of the Middle East would include 100 Su-30 fighter jets needed by the local air-defense forces, six divisions of S-400 missiles, and over 500 T-90S tanks. In total, that would cost at least $15 billion. And the two countries could calculate their payments in either rials or rubles, which would help to weaken the hegemony of dollars and euros on foreign markets.

Tehran longs to build modern oil refineries and plants to produce liquefied natural gas, in addition to getting some new nuclear power plants up and running, which it is already accomplishing to a certain extent with the Kremlin’s help, but Iran would like to be doing much more. All of this would cost a huge amount of money, and Moscow could provide everything, but Russia continues to stand behind its “gentleman’s agreement” to keep Iran isolated. Thus, as she has in the past, Russia is voluntarily declining to take advantage of what would be a financially lucrative situation. This is despite the fact that recent bilateral meetings indicate that Rouhani is much more in favor of close contacts with the Kremlin than in normalizing relations with the West. The Azerbaijani political commentator Tofiq Abbasov believes that Moscow is now the dominant figure in the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and that Russia is using this status to derive the maximum benefits for herself.

And the Russian position will become even more monolithic if Syria and Iraq are able, in their current configuration, to withstand the onslaught of 200,000 ISIS troops. The government in Damascus, as represented by Bashar al-Assad, is clinging to the Kremlin as its last hope. Other than Moscow, no one is prepared to offer loans to that devastated country. Baghdad is also really pondering whether to henceforth even engage with the West, after receiving ground-attack aircraft from the strategic reserves of the Russian Defense Ministry when it was unable to continue waiting on a shipment of American F-16s. Nor is Syria necessarily averse to turning its attention toward the north and Egypt as it did 50 years ago. General al-Sisi has upset Washington’s applecart by toppling the weak government cobbled together by the Muslim Brotherhood. Who knows if he will express a desire to seek out international protection from Putin?

In this manner a well-defined configuration is emerging of a Middle East coalition in which Russia is enlisting the help of “third-world” countries that are free of any strongly pro-Western bias. Obviously there is no reason to see the fate of South Stream as any sort of “diplomatic defeat” for Russia.

Power of Siberia pipeline map

Power of Siberia pipeline map

Map of the Killed Hopes

Bayer’s Liberty Link GMO crops made to withstand glufosinate ammonium (GLA) herbicide are linked directly to autism-like symptoms, according to a new study. Even in low doses, both pre and post-natal exposure to GLA caused symptoms in laboratory mice.

Published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, the study outlines how GLA, one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture is harming neurological health.

Pointing to the findings of previous research linking herbicides and autism, as well as with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the study explains that pesticide and herbicide exposure weakens the basic structure of the brain.

The developmental impact of GLA was examined by exposing female mice to low dose GLA during both pre- and postnatal periods and analyzed potential developmental and behavioral changes of the offspring during infancy and adulthood.

A host of neurobehavioral tests revealed some unsettling results:

“. . .significant effects of GLA maternal exposure on early reflex development, pup communication, affiliative behaviors, and preference for social olfactory cues, but emotional reactivity and emotional memory remained unaltered. These behavioral alterations showed a striking resemblance to changes seen in animal models of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. At the brain level, GLA maternal exposure caused some increase in relative brain weight of the offspring. In addition, reduced expression of Pten and Peg3 – two genes implicated in autism-like deficits – was observed in the brain of GLA-exposed pups at postnatal day 15.

Our work thus provides new data on the link between pre- and postnatal exposure to the herbicide GLA and the onset of autism-like symptoms later in life. It also raises fundamental concerns about the ability of current safety testing to assess risks of pesticide exposure during critical developmental periods.”

Bayer Crop Science will tell you:

“High-performance LibertyLink traits are widely available across crops – canola, cotton, corn and soybeans – including leading brands such as FiberMax® and Stoneville® cotton, InVigor®canola and more than 100 brands of corn and soybeans, including HBK soybeans.”

Related: Cannabis Shows Promise in Treating Autism

This means that GLA is in use on thousands of acres of crops across the United States and in Canada.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has stated that:

“Twice the number of chickens died when fed Liberty Link corn. The death rate for chickens fed Chardon LL GM corn for 42 days was 7%, compared to 3.5% for controls. GM-fed chickens also had more erratic body weight and food intake, and less weight gain overall. But these results were dismissed without follow-up.”

Were the results of this study ignored like so many other GMO tests because the makers were already well aware that GLA was toxic and deathly?

Bayer is working to defeat GMO labeling as well.

How convenient for Bayer, since it makes pharmaceuticals which also ‘treat’ neurological impairment like Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also convenient for Titan pharmaceuticals, which makes drugs to treat Parkinson’s. A new appointee to the board at Titan includes one former Bayer executive. And of course, Bayer makes drugs like selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that ‘treat’ autism as well.

It’s a tangled web.

Additional Sources:

Eco Watch

The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully. 

In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe’s great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” – a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.

It never happened that way. Though the Russian oil industry was privatised it mostly remained in Russian hands. After Putin came to power in 2000 the trend towards privatisation in the oil industry was reversed. One of the major reasons for western anger at the arrest of Khodorkovsky and the closure of Yukos and the transfer of its assets to the state oil company Rosneft was precisely because is reversed this trend of privatisation in the oil industry.

In the gas industry the process of privatisation never really got started. Gas export continued to be controlled by Gazprom, maintaining its position as a state owned monopoly gas exporter. Since Putin came to power Gazprom’s position as a state owned Russian monopoly has been made fully secure.

Much of the anger that exists in the west towards Putin can be explained by European and western resentment at his refusal and that of the Russian government to the break up of Russia’s energy monopolies and to the “opening up” (as it is euphemistically called) of the Russian energy industry to the advantage of western companies. Many of the allegations of corruption that are routinely made against Putin personally are intended to insinuate that he opposes the “opening up” of the Russian energy industry and the break up and privatisation of Gazprom and Rosneft because he has a personal stake in them (in the case of Gazprom, that he is actually its owner). If one examines in detail the specific allegations of corruption made against Putin (as I have done) this quickly becomes obvious.

His agenda of forcing Russia to privatise and break up its energy monopolies has never gone away. This is why Gazprom, despite the vital and reliable service it provides to its European customers, comes in for so much criticism. When Europeans complain about Europe’s energy dependence upon Russia, they express their resentment at having to buy gas from a single Russian state owned company (Gazprom) as opposed to their own western companies operating in Russia.

This resentment exists simultaneously with a belief, very entrenched in Europe, that Russia is somehow dependent upon Europe as a customer for its gas and as a supplier of finance and technology.

This combination of resentment and overconfidence is what lies behind the repeated European attempts to legislate in Europe on energy questions in a way that is intended to force Russia to “open up” its the energy industry there.

The first attempt was the so-called Energy Charter, which Russia signed but ultimately refused to ratify. The latest attempt is the EU’s so-called Third Energy Package.

This is presented as a development of EU anti-competition and anti-monopoly law. In reality, as everyone knows, it is targeted at Gazprom, which is a monopoly, though obviously not a European one.

This is the background to the conflict over South Stream. The EU authorities have insisted that South Stream must comply with the Third Energy Package even though the Third Energy Package came into existence only after the outline agreements for South Stream had been already reached.

Compliance with the Third Energy Package would have meant that though Gazprom supplied the gas it could not own or control the pipeline through which gas was supplied.

Were Gazprom to agree to this, it would acknowledge the EU’s authority over its operations. It would in that case undoubtedly face down the line more demands for more changes to its operating methods. Ultimately this would lead to demands for changes in the structure of the energy industry in Russia itself.

What has just happened is that the Russians have said no. Rather than proceed with the project by submitting to European demands, which is what the Europeans expected, the Russians have to everyone’s astonishment instead pulled out of the whole project.

This decision was completely unexpected. As I write this, the air is of full of angry complaints from south-eastern Europe that they were not consulted or informed of this decision in advance. Several politicians in south-eastern Europe (Bulgaria especially) are desperately clinging to the idea that the Russian announcement is a bluff (it isn’t) and that the project can still be saved. Since the Europeans cling to the belief that the Russians have no alternative to them as a customer, they were unable to anticipate and cannot now explain this decision.

Here it is important to explain why South Stream is important to the countries of south-eastern Europe and to the European economy as a whole.

All the south eastern European economies are in bad shape. For these countries South Stream was a vital investment and infrastructure project, securing their energy future. Moreover the transit fees that it promised would have been a major foreign currency earner.

For the EU, the essential point is that it depends on Russian gas. There has been a vast amount of talk in Europe about seeking alternative supplies. Progress in that direction had been to put it mildly small. Quite simply alternative supplies do not exist in anything like the quantity needed to replace the gas Europe gets from Russia.

There has been some brave talk of supplies of US liquefied natural gas replacing gas supplied by pipeline from Russia. Not only is such US gas inherently more expensive than Russian pipeline gas, hitting European consumers hard and hurting European competitiveness. It is unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Quite apart from the probable dampening effects of the recent oil price fall on the US shale industry, on past record the US as a voracious consumer of energy will consume most or all of the energy from shales it produces. It is unlikely to be in a position to export much to Europe. The facilities to do this anyway do not exist, and are unlikely to exist for some time if ever.

Other possible sources of gas are problematic to say the least. Production of North Sea gas is falling. Imports of gas from north Africa and the Arabian Gulf are unlikely to be available in anything like the necessary quantity. Gas from Iran is not available for political reasons. Whilst that might eventually change, the probability is when it does that the Iranians (like the Russians) will decide to direct their energy flow eastwards, towards India and China, rather than to Europe.

For obvious reasons of geography Russia is the logical and most economic source of Europe’s gas. All alternatives come with economic and political costs that make them in the end unattractive.

The EU’s difficulties in finding alternative sources of gas were cruelly exposed by the debacle of the so-called another Nabucco pipeline project to bring Europe gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia. Though talked about for years in the end it never got off the ground because it never made economic sense.

Meanwhile, whilst Europe talks about diversifying its supplies, it is Russia which is actually cutting the deals.

Russia has sealed a key deal with Iran to swap Iranian oil for Russian industrial goods. Russia has also agreed to invest heavily in the Iranian nuclear industry. If and when sanctions on Iran are lifted the Europeans will find the Russians already there. Russia has just agreed a massive deal to supply gas to Turkey (about which more below). Overshadowing these deals are the two huge deals Russia has made this year to supply gas to China.

Russia’s energy resources are enormous but they are not infinite. The second deal done with China and the deal just done with Turkey redirect to these two countries gas that had previously been earmarked for Europe. The gas volumes involved in the Turkish deal almost exactly match those previously intended for South Stream. The Turkish deal replaces South Stream.

These deals show that Russia had made a strategic decision this year to redirect its energy flow away from Europe. Though it will take time for the full effect to become clear, the consequences of that for Europe are grim. Europe is looking at a serious energy shortfall, which it will only be able to make up by buying energy at a much higher price.

These Russian deals with China and Turkey have been criticised or even ridiculed for providing Russia with a lower price for its gas than that paid by Europe.

The actual difference in price is not as great as some allege. Such criticism anyway overlooks the fact that price is only one part in a business relationship.

By redirecting gas to China, Russia cements economic links with the country that it now considers its key strategic ally and which has (or which soon will have) the world’s biggest and fastest growing economy. By redirecting gas to Turkey, Russia consolidates a burgeoning relationship with Turkey of which it is now the biggest trading partner.

Turkey is a key potential ally for Russia, consolidating Russia’s position in the Caucasus and the Black Sea. It is also a country of 76 million people with a $1.5 trillion rapidly growing economy, which over the last two decades has become increasingly alienated and distanced from the EU and the West.

By redirecting gas away from Europe, Russia by contrast leaves behind a market for its gas which is economically stagnant and which (as the events of this year have shown) is irremediably hostile. No one should be surprised that Russia has given up on a relationship from which it gets from its erstwhile partner an endless stream of threats and abuse, combined with moralising lectures, political meddling and now sanctions. No relationship, business or otherwise, can work that way and the one between Russia and Europe is no exception.

I have said nothing about the Ukraine since in my opinion this has little bearing on this issue.

South Stream was first conceived because of the Ukraine’s continuous abuse of its position as a transit state – something which is likely to continue. It is important to say that this fact was acknowledged in Europe as much as in Russia. It was because the Ukraine perennially abuses its position as a transit state that the South Stream project had the grudging formal endorsement of the EU. Basically, the EU needs to circumvent the Ukraine to secure its energy supplies every bit as much as Russia wanted a route around the Ukraine to avoid it.

The Ukraine’s friends in Washington and Brussels have never been happy about this, and have constantly lobbied against South Stream.

The point is it was Russia which pulled the plug on South Stream when it had the option of going ahead with it by accepting the Europeans’ conditions. In other words the Russians consider the problems posed by the Ukraine as a transit state to be a lesser evil than the conditions the EU was attaching to South Stream .

South Stream would take years to build and its cancellation therefore has no bearing on the current Ukrainian crisis. The Russians decided they could afford to cancel it is because they have decided Russia’s future is in selling its energy to China and Turkey and other states in Asia (more gas deals are pending with Korea and Japan and possibly also with Pakistan and India) than to Europe. Given that this is so, for Russia South Stream has lost its point. That is why in their characteristically direct way, rather than accept the Europeans’ conditions, the Russians pulled the plug on it.

In doing so the Russians have called the Europeans’ bluff. So far from Russia being dependent on Europe as its energy customer, it is Europe which has antagonised, probably irreparably, its key economic partner and energy supplier.

Before finishing I would however first say something about those who have come out worst of all from this affair. These are the corrupt and incompetent political pygmies who pretend to be the government of Bulgaria. Had these people had a modicum of dignity and self respect they would have told the EU Commission when it brought up the Third Energy Package to take a running jump. If Bulgaria had made clear its intention to press ahead with the South Stream project, there is no doubt it would have been built. There would of course have been an almighty row within the EU as Bulgaria openly flouted the Third Energy Package, but Bulgaria would have been acting in its national interests and would have had within the EU no shortage of friends. In the end it would have won through.

Instead, under pressure from individuals like Senator John McCain, the Bulgarian leadership behaved like the provincial politicians they are, and tried to run at the same time with both the EU hare and the Russian hounds. The result of this imbecile policy is to offend Russia, Bulgaria’s historic ally, whilst ensuring that the Russian gas which might have flown to Bulgaria and transformed the country, will instead flow to Turkey, Bulgaria’s historic enemy.

The Bulgarians are not the only ones to have acted in this craven fashion. All the EU countries, even those with historic ties to Russia, have supported the EU’s various sanctions packages against Russia notwithstanding the doubts they have expressed about the policy. Last year Greece, another country with strong ties to Russia, pulled out of a deal to sell its natural gas company to Gazprom because the EU disapproved of it, even though it was Gazprom that offered the best price.

This points to a larger moral. Whenever the Russians act in the way they have just done, the Europeans respond bafflement and anger, of which there is plenty around at the moment. The EU politicians who make the decisions that provoke these Russian actions seem to have this strange assumption that whilst it is fine for the EU to sanction Russia as much as it wishes, Russia will never do the same to the EU. When Russia does, there is astonishment, accompanied always by a flood of mendacious commentary about how Russia is behaving “aggressively” or “contrary to its interests” or has “suffered a defeat”. None of this is true as the rage and recriminations currently sweeping through the EU’s corridors (of which I am well informed) bear witness.

In July the EU sought to cripple Russia’s oil industry by sanctioning the export of oil drilling technology to Russia. That attempt will certainly fail as Russia and the countries it trades with (including China and South Korea) are certainly capable of producing this technology themselves.

By contrast through the deals it has made this year with China, Turkey and Iran, Russia has dealt a devastating blow to the energy future of the EU. A few years down the line Europeans will start to discover that moralising and bluff comes with a price. Regardless, by cancelling South Stream, Russia has imposed upon Europe the most effective of the sanctions we have seen this year.

War Is Bad for the Economy

December 3rd, 2014 by Washington's Blog

Debunking the Stubborn Myth that War Is Good for the Economy

About.com notes:

One of the more enduring myths in Western society is that wars are somehow good for the economy.

It is vital for policy-makers, economists and the public to have access to a definitive analysis to determine once and for all whether war is good or bad for the economy.

That analysis is below.

Top Economists Say War Is Bad for the Economy

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman notes:

If you’re a modern, wealthy nation, however, war — even easy, victorious war — doesn’t pay. And this has been true for a long time. In his famous 1910 book “The Great Illusion,” the British journalist Norman Angell argued that “military power is socially and economically futile.” As he pointed out, in an interdependent world (which already existed in the age of steamships, railroads, and the telegraph), war would necessarily inflict severe economic harm even on the victor. Furthermore, it’s very hard to extract golden eggs from sophisticated economies without killing the goose in the process.

We might add that modern war is very, very expensive. For example, by any estimate the eventual costs (including things like veterans’ care) of the Iraq war will end up being well over $1 trillion, that is, many times Iraq’s entire G.D.P.

So the thesis of “The Great Illusion” was right: Modern nations can’t enrich themselves by waging war.

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz agrees that war is bad for the economy:

Stiglitz wrote in 2003:

War is widely thought to be linked to economic good times. The second world war is often said to have brought the world out of depression, and war has since enhanced its reputation as a spur to economic growth. Some even suggest that capitalism needs wars, that without them, recession would always lurk on the horizon. Today, we know that this is nonsense. The 1990s boom showed that peace is economically far better than war. The Gulf war of 1991 demonstrated that wars can actually be bad for an economy.

Stiglitz has also said that this decade’s Iraq war has been very bad for the economy. See this, this and this.

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan also said in that war is bad for the economy. In 1991, Greenspan said that a prolonged conflict in the Middle East would hurt the economy. And he made this point again in 1999:

Societies need to buy as much military insurance as they need, but to spend more than that is to squander money that could go toward improving the productivity of the economy as a whole: with more efficient transportation systems, a better educated citizenry, and so on. This is the point that retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) learned back in 1999 in a House Banking Committee hearing with then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Frank asked what factors were producing our then-strong economic performance. On Greenspan’s list: “The freeing up of resources previously employed to produce military products that was brought about by the end of the Cold War.” Are you saying, Frank asked, “that dollar for dollar, military products are there as insurance … and to the extent you could put those dollars into other areas, maybe education and job trainings, maybe into transportation … that is going to have a good economic effect?” Greenspan agreed.

Economist Dean Baker notes:

It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.

Professor Emeritus of International Relations at the American University Joshua Goldstein notes:

Recurring war has drained wealth, disrupted markets, and depressed economic growth.

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War generally impedes economic development and undermines prosperity.

And David R. Henderson – associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and previously a senior economist with President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers – writes:

Is military conflict really good for the economy of the country that engages in it? Basic economics answers a resounding “no.”

The Proof Is In the Pudding

Mike Lofgren notes:

Military spending may at one time have been a genuine job creator when weapons were compatible with converted civilian production lines, but the days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone. [Indeed, WWII was different from current wars in many ways, and so its economic effects are not comparable to those of today's wars.] Most weapons projects now require relatively little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned into high-cost R&D (from which the civilian economy benefits little), exorbitant management expenditures, high overhead, and out-and-out padding, including money that flows back into political campaigns. A dollar appropriated for highway construction, health care, or education will likely create more jobs than a dollar for Pentagon weapons procurement.

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During the decade of the 2000s, DOD budgets, including funds spent on the war, doubled in our nation’s longest sustained post-World War II defense increase. Yet during the same decade, jobs were created at the slowest rate since the Hoover administration. If defense helped the economy, it is not evident. And just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan added over $1.4 trillion to deficits, according to the Congressional Research Service. Whether the wars were “worth it” or merely stirred up a hornet’s nest abroad is a policy discussion for another time; what is clear is that whether you are a Keynesian or a deficit hawk, war and associated military spending are no economic panacea.

The Washington Post noted in 2008:

A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that countries with high military expenditures during World War II showed strong economic growth following the war, but says this growth can be credited more to population growth than war spending. The paper finds that war spending had only minimal effects on per-capita economic activity.

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A historical survey of the U.S. economy from the U.S. State Department reports the Vietnam War had a mixed economic impact. The first Gulf War typically meets criticism for having pushed the United States toward a 1991 recession.

The Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) shows that any boost from war is temporary at best. For example, while WWII provided a temporary bump in GDP, GDP then fell back to the baseline trend. After the Korean War, GDP fell below the baseline trend:

IEP notes:

By examining the state of the economy at each of the major conflict periods since World War II, it can be seen that the positive effects of increased military spending were outweighed by longer term unintended negative macroeconomic consequences. While the stimulatory effect of military outlays is evidently associated with boosts in economic growth, adverse effects show up either immediately or soon after, through higher inflation, budget deficits, high taxes and reductions in consumption or investment. Rectifying these effects has required subsequent painful adjustments which are neither efficient nor desirable. When an economy has excess capacity and unemployment, it is possible that increasing military spending can provide an important stimulus. However, if there are budget constraints, as there are in the U.S. currently, then excessive military spending can displace more productive non-military outlays in other areas such as investments in high-tech industries, education, or infrastructure. The crowding-out effects of disproportionate government spending on military functions can affect service delivery or infrastructure development, ultimately affecting long-term growth rates.

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Analysis of the macroeconomic components of GDP during World War II and in subsequent conflicts show heightened military spending had several adverse macroeconomic effects. These occurred as a direct consequence of the funding requirements of increased military spending. The U.S. has paid for its wars either through debt (World War II, Cold War, Afghanistan/Iraq), taxation (Korean War) or inflation (Vietnam). In each case, taxpayers have been burdened, and private sector consumption and investment have been constrained as a result. Other negative effects include larger budget deficits, higher taxes, and growth above trend leading to inflation pressure. These effects can run concurrent with major conflict or via lagging effects into the future. Regardless of the way a war is financed, the overall macroeconomic effect on the economy tends to be negative. For each of the periods after World War II, we need to ask, what would have happened in economic terms if these wars did not happen? On the specific evidence provided, it can be reasonably said, it is likely taxes would have been lower, inflation would have been lower, there would have been higher consumption and investment and certainly lower budget deficits. Some wars are necessary to fight and the negative effects of not fighting these wars can far outweigh the costs of fighting. However if there are other options, then it is prudent to exhaust them first as once wars do start, the outcome, duration and economic consequences are difficult to predict.

We noted in 2011:

This is a no-brainer, if you think about it. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost twice as long as World War II. We’ve been in Iraq for years longer than WWII. We’ve been involved in 7 or 8 wars in the last decade. And yet [the economy is still unstable]. If wars really helped the economy, don’t you think things would have improved by now? Indeed, the Iraq war alone could end up costing more than World War II. And given the other wars we’ve been involved in this decade, I believe that the total price tag for the so-called “War on Terror” will definitely support that of the “Greatest War”.

Let’s look at the adverse effects of war in more detail …

War Spending Diverts Stimulus Away from the Real Civilian Economy

IEP notes that – even though the government spending soared – consumption and investment were flat during the Vietnam war:

The New Republic noted in 2009:

Conservative Harvard economist Robert Barro has argued that increased military spending during WWII actually depressed other parts of the economy.

(New Republic also points out that conservative economist Robert Higgs and liberal economists Larry Summers and Brad Delong have all shown that any stimulation to the economy from World War II has been greatly exaggerated.)

How could war actually hurt the economy, when so many say that it stimulates the economy?

Because of what economists call the “broken window fallacy”.

Specifically, if a window in a store is broken, it means that the window-maker gets paid to make a new window, and he, in turn, has money to pay others. However, economists long ago showed that – if the window hadn’t been broken – the shop-owner would have spent that money on other things, such as food, clothing, health care, consumer electronics or recreation, which would have helped the economy as much or more.

If the shop-owner hadn’t had to replace his window, he might have taken his family out to dinner, which would have circulated more money to the restaurant, and from there to other sectors of the economy. Similarly, the money spent on the war effort is money that cannot be spent on other sectors of the economy. Indeed, all of the military spending has just created military jobs, at the expense of the civilian economy.

Professor Henderson writes:

Money not spent on the military could be spent elsewhere.This also applies to human resources. The more than 200,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan could be doing something valuable at home.

Why is this hard to understand? The first reason is a point 19th-century French economic journalist Frederic Bastiat made in his essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” Everyone can see that soldiers are employed. But we cannot see the jobs and the other creative pursuits they could be engaged in were they not in the military.

The second reason is that when economic times are tough and unemployment is high, it’s easy to assume that other jobs could not exist. But they can. This gets to an argument Bastiat made in discussing demobilization of French soldiers after Napoleon’s downfall. He pointed out that when government cuts the size of the military, it frees up not only manpower but also money. The money that would have gone to pay soldiers can instead be used to hire them as civilian workers. That can happen in three ways, either individually or in combination: (1) a tax cut; (2) a reduction in the deficit; or (3) an increase in other government spending.

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Most people still believe that World War II ended the Great Depression …. But look deeper.

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The government-spending component of GNP went for guns, trucks, airplanes, tanks, gasoline, ships, uniforms, parachutes, and labor. What do these things have in common? Almost all of them were destroyed. Not just these goods but also the military’s billions of labor hours were used up without creating value to consumers. Much of the capital and labor used to make the hundreds of thousands of trucks and jeeps and the tens of thousands of tanks and airplanes would otherwise have been producing cars and trucks for the domestic economy. The assembly lines in Detroit, which had churned out 3.6 million cars in 1941, were retooled to produce the vehicles of war. From late 1942 to 1945, production of civilian cars was essentially shut down.

And that’s just one example. Women went without nylon stockings so that factories could produce parachutes. Civilians faced tight rationing of gasoline so that U.S. bombers could fly over Germany. People went without meat so that U.S. soldiers could be fed. And so on.

These resources helped win the war—no small issue. But the war was not a stimulus program, either in its intentions or in its effects, and it was not necessary for pulling the U.S. out of the Great Depression. Had World War II never taken place, millions of cars would have been produced; people would have been able to travel much more widely; and there would have been no rationing. In short, by the standard measures, Americans would have been much more prosperous.

Today, the vast majority of us are richer than even the most affluent people back then. But despite this prosperity, one thing has not changed: war is bad for our economy. The $150 billion that the government spends annually on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and, increasingly, Pakistan) could instead be used to cut taxes or cut the deficit. By ending its ongoing warsthe U.S. governmentwould be developing a more prosperous economy.

Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises points:

That is the essence of so-called war prosperity; it enriches some by what it takes from others. It is not rising wealth but a shifting of wealth and income.

We noted in 2010:

You know about America’s unemployment problem. You may have even heard that the U.S. may very well have suffered a permanent destruction of jobs.

But did you know that the defense employment sector is booming?

[P]ublic sector spending – and mainly defense spending – has accounted for virtually all of the new job creation in the past 10 years:

The U.S. has largely been financing job creation for ten years. Specifically, as the chief economist for BusinessWeek, Michael Mandel, points out, public spending has accounted for virtually all new job creation in the past 1o years:

Private sector job growth was almost non-existent over the past ten years. Take a look at this horrifying chart:

Between May 1999 and May 2009, employment in the private sector sector only rose by 1.1%, by far the lowest 10-year increase in the post-depression period.

It’s impossible to overstate how bad this is. Basically speaking, the private sector job machine has almost completely stalled over the past ten years. Take a look at this chart:

Over the past 10 years, the private sector has generated roughly 1.1 million additional jobs, or about 100K per year. The public sector created about 2.4 million jobs.

But even that gives the private sector too much credit. Remember that the private sector includes health care, social assistance, and education, all areas which receive a lot of government support.

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Most of the industries which had positive job growth over the past ten years were in the HealthEdGov sector. In fact, financial job growth was nearly nonexistent once we take out the health insurers.

Let me finish with a final chart.

Without a decade of growing government support from rising health and education spending and soaring budget deficits, the labor market would have been flat on its back. [120]

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So most of the job creation has been by the public sector. But because the job creation has been financed with loans from China and private banks, trillions in unnecessary interest charges have been incurred by the U.S.

And this shows military versus non-military durable goods shipments: 

[Click here to view full image.]

So we’re running up our debt (which will eventually decrease economic growth), but the only jobs we’re creating are military and other public sector jobs.

Economist Dean Baker points out that America’s massive military spending on unnecessary and unpopular wars lowers economic growth and increases unemployment:

Defense spending means that the government is pulling away resources from the uses determined by the market and instead using them to buy weapons and supplies and to pay for soldiers and other military personnel. In standard economic models, defense spending is a direct drain on the economy, reducing efficiency, slowing growth and costing jobs.

A few years ago, the Center for Economic and Policy Research commissioned Global Insight, one of the leading economic modeling firms, to project the impact of a sustained increase in defense spending equal to 1.0 percentage point of GDP. This was roughly equal to the cost of the Iraq War.

Global Insight’s model projected that after 20 years the economy would be about 0.6 percentage points smaller as a result of the additional defense spending. Slower growth would imply a loss of almost 700,000 jobs compared to a situation in which defense spending had not been increased. Construction and manufacturing were especially big job losers in the projections, losing 210,000 and 90,000 jobs, respectively.

The scenario we asked Global Insight [recognized as the most consistently accurate forecasting company in the world] to model turned out to have vastly underestimated the increase in defense spending associated with current policy. In the most recent quarter, defense spending was equal to 5.6 percent of GDP. By comparison, before the September 11th attacks, the Congressional Budget Office projected that defense spending in 2009 would be equal to just 2.4 percent of GDP. Our post-September 11th build-up was equal to 3.2 percentage points of GDP compared to the pre-attack baseline. This means that the Global Insight projections of job loss are far too low…

The projected job loss from this increase in defense spending would be close to 2 million. In other words, the standard economic models that project job loss from efforts to stem global warming also project that the increase in defense spending since 2000 will cost the economy close to 2 million jobs in the long run.

The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has also shown that non-military spending creates more jobs than military spending.

High Military Spending Drains Innovation, Investment and Manufacturing Strength from the Civilian Economy

Chalmers Johnson notes that high military spending diverts innovation and manufacturing capacity from the economy:

By the 1960s it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation’s largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E Woods Jr observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all US research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.

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Woods writes: “According to the US Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion… The amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock”.

The fact that we did not modernise or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the 21st century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools, an industry on which Melman was an authority, are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed “that 64% of the metalworking machine tools used in US industry were 10 years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States’ machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end of the second world war. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry.”

Economist Robert Higgs makes the same point about World War II:

Yes, officially measured GDP soared during the war. Examination of that increased output shows, however, that it consisted entirely of military goods and services. Real civilian consumption and private investment both fell after 1941, and they did not recover fully until 1946. The privately owned capital stock actually shrank during the war. Some prosperity. (My article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Economic History, March 1992, presents many of the relevant details.)

It is high time that we come to appreciate the distinction between the government spending, especially the war spending, that bulks up official GDP figures and the kinds of production that create genuine economic prosperity. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in the aftermath of World War I, “war prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.”

War Causes Austerity

Economic historian Julian Adorney argues:

Hitler’s rearmament program was military Keynesianism on a vast scale. Hermann Goering, Hitler’s economic administrator, poured every available resource into making planes, tanks, and guns. In 1933 German military spending was 750 million Reichsmarks. By 1938 it had risen to 17 billion with 21 percent of GDP was taken up by military spending. Government spending all told was 35 percent of Germany’s GDP.

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No-one could say that Hitler’s rearmament program was too small. Economists expected it to create a multiplier effect and jump-start a flagging economy. Instead, it produced military wealth while private citizens starved.

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The people routinely suffered shortages. Civilian wood and iron were rationed. Small businesses, from artisans to carpenters to cobblers, went under. Citizens could barely buy pork, and buying fat to make a luxury like a cake was impossible. Rationing and long lines at the central supply depots the Nazis installed became the norm.

Nazi Germany proves that curing unemployment should not be an end in itself.

War Causes Inflation … Which Keynes and Bernanke Admit Taxes Consumers

As we noted in 2010, war causes inflation … which hurts consumers:

Liberal economist James Galbraith wrote in 2004:

Inflation applies the law of the jungle to war finance. Prices and profits rise, wages and their purchasing power fall. Thugs, profiteers and the well connected get rich. Working people and the poor make out as they can. Savings erode, through the unseen mechanism of the “inflation tax” — meaning that the government runs a big deficit in nominal terms, but a smaller one when inflation is factored in.

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There is profiteering. Firms with monopoly power usually keep some in reserve. In wartime, if the climate is permissive, they bring it out and use it. Gas prices can go up when refining capacity becomes short — due partly to too many mergers. More generally, when sales to consumers are slow, businesses ought to cut prices — but many of them don’t. Instead, they raise prices to meet their income targets and hope that the market won’t collapse.

Ron Paul agreed in 2007:

Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank have a cozy, unspoken arrangement that makes war easier to finance. Congress has an insatiable appetite for new spending, but raising taxes is politically unpopular. The Federal Reserve, however, is happy to accommodate deficit spending by creating new money through the Treasury Department. In exchange, Congress leaves the Fed alone to operate free of pesky oversight and free of political scrutiny. Monetary policy is utterly ignored in Washington, even though the Federal Reserve system is a creation of Congress.

The result of this arrangement is inflation. And inflation finances war.

Blanchard Economic Research pointed out in 2001:

War has a profound effect on the economy, our government and its fiscal and monetary policies. These effects have consistently led to high inflation.

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David Hackett Fischer is a Professor of History and Economic History at Brandeis. [H]is book, The Great Wave, Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History … finds that … periods of high inflation are caused by, and cause, a breakdown in order and a loss of faith in political institutions. He also finds that war is a triggering influence on inflation, political disorder, social conflict and economic disruption.

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Other economists agree with Professor Fischer’s link between inflation and war.

James Grant, the respected editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, supplies us with the most timely perspective on the effect of war on inflation in the September 14 issue of his newsletter:

“War is inflationary. It is always wasteful no matter how just the cause. It is cost without income, destruction financed (more often than not) by credit creation. It is the essence of inflation.”

Libertarian economics writer Lew Rockwell noted in 2008:

You can line up 100 professional war historians and political scientists to talk about the 20th century, and not one is likely to mention the role of the Fed in funding US militarism. And yet it is true: the Fed is the institution that has created the money to fund the wars. In this role, it has solved a major problem that the state has confronted for all of human history. A state without money or a state that must tax its citizens to raise money for its wars is necessarily limited in its imperial ambitions. Keep in mind that this is only a problem for the state. It is not a problem for the people. The inability of the state to fund its unlimited ambitions is worth more for the people than every kind of legal check and balance. It is more valuable than all the constitutions every devised.

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Reflecting on the calamity of this war, Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1919

One can say without exaggeration that inflation is an indispensable means of militarism. Without it, the repercussions of war on welfare become obvious much more quickly and penetratingly; war weariness would set in much earlier.***

In the entire run-up to war, George Bush just assumed as a matter of policy that it was his decision alone whether to invade Iraq. The objections by Ron Paul and some other members of Congress and vast numbers of the American population were reduced to little more than white noise in the background. Imagine if he had to raise the money for the war through taxes. It never would have happened. But he didn’t have to. He knew the money would be there. So despite a $200 billion deficit, a $9 trillion debt, $5 trillion in outstanding debt instruments held by the public, a federal budget of $3 trillion, and falling tax receipts in 2001, Bush contemplated a war that has cost $525 billion dollars — or $4,681 per household. Imagine if he had gone to the American people to request that. What would have happened? I think we know the answer to that question. And those are government figures; the actual cost of this war will be far higher — perhaps $20,000 per household.

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If the state has the power and is asked to choose between doing good and waging war, what will it choose? Certainly in the American context, the choice has always been for war.

And progressive economics writer Chris Martenson explains as part of his “Crash Course” on economics:

If we look at the entire sweep of history, we can make an utterly obvious claim: All wars are inflationary. Period. No exceptions.

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So if anybody tries to tell you that you haven’t sacrificed for the war, let them know you sacrificed a large portion of your savings and your paycheck to the effort, thank you very much.

The bottom line is that war always causes inflation, at least when it is funded through money-printing instead of a pay-as-you-go system of taxes and/or bonds. It might be great for a handful of defense contractors, but war is bad for Main Street, stealing wealth from people by making their dollars worth less.

Given that John Maynard Keynes and former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke both say that inflation is a tax on the American people, war-induced inflation is a theft of our wealth.

IEP gives a graphic example – the Vietnam war helping to push inflation through the roof:

War Causes Runaway Debt

We noted in 2010:

All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up.

The U.S. is adding trillions to its debt burden to finance its multiple wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc.

Indeed, IEP – commenting on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq – notes:

This was also the first time in U.S. history where taxes were cut during a war which then resulted in both wars completely financed by deficit spending. A loose monetary policy was also implemented while interest rates were kept low and banking regulations were relaxed to stimulate the economy. All of these factors have contributed to the U.S. having severe unsustainable structural imbalances in its government finances.

We also pointed out in 2010:

It is ironic that America’s huge military spending is what made us an empire … but our huge military is what is bankrupting us … thus destroying our status as an empire.

Economist Michel Chossudovsky told Washington’s Blog:

War always causes recession. Well, if it is a very short war, then it may stimulate the economy in the short-run. But if there is not a quick victory and it drags on, then wars always put the nation waging war into a recession and hurt its economy.

Indeed, we’ve known for 2,500 years that prolonged war bankrupts an economy (and remember Greenspan’s comment.)

It’s not just civilians saying this …

The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Admiral Mullen – agrees:

The Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.

“We’re going to have to do that if it’s going to survive at all,” Mullen said, “and do it in a way that is predictable.”

Indeed, Mullen said:

For industry and adequate defense funding to survive … the two must work together. Otherwise, he added, “this wave of debt” will carry over from year to year, and eventually, the defense budget will be cut just to facilitate the debt.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agrees as well. As David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post in 2010:

After a decade of war and financial crisis, America has run up debts that pose a national security problem, not just an economic one.

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One of the strongest voices arguing for fiscal responsibility as a national security issue has been Defense Secretary Bob Gates. He gave a landmark speech in Kansas on May 8, invoking President Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the dangers of an imbalanced military-industrial state.

“Eisenhower was wary of seeing his beloved republic turn into a muscle-bound, garrison state — militarily strong, but economically stagnant and strategically insolvent,” Gates said. He warned that America was in a “parlous fiscal condition” and that the “gusher” of military spending that followed Sept. 11, 2001, must be capped. “We can’t have a strong military if we have a weak economy,” Gates told reporters who covered the Kansas speech.

On Thursday the defense secretary reiterated his pitch that Congress must stop shoveling money at the military, telling Pentagon reporters: “The defense budget process should no longer be characterized by ‘business as usual’ within this building — or outside of it.”

While war might make a handful in the military-industrial complex and big banks rich, America’s top military leaders and economists say that would be a very bad idea for the American people.

Indeed, military strategists have known for 2,500 years that prolonged wars are disastrous for the nation.

War Increases Inequality … And Inequality Hurts the Economy

Mainstream economists now admit that runaway inequality destroys the economy.

War is great for the super-rich, but horrible for everyone else.  Defense contractors, Congress members and bankers love war, because they make huge profits from financing war.

Pulitzer prize winning New York Times reporter James Risen notes that the so-called war on terror has caused “one of the largest transfers of wealth from public to private hands in American history,” and created a new class of war profiteers which Risen calls “the oligarchs of 9/11.”

War Increases Terrorism … And Terrorism Hurts the Economy

Security experts – conservative hawks and liberal doves alike – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

Terrorism – in turn – terrorism is bad for the economy. Specifically, a study by Harvard and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) points out:

From an economic standpoint, terrorism has been described to have four main effects (see, e.g., US Congress, Joint Economic Committee, 2002). First, the capital stock (human and physical) of a country is reduced as a result of terrorist attacks. Second, the terrorist threat induces higher levels of uncertainty. Third, terrorism promotes increases in counter-terrorism expenditures, drawing resources from productive sectors for use in security. Fourth, terrorism is known to affect negatively specific industries such as tourism.

The Harvard/NBER concludes:

In accordance with the predictions of the model, higher levels of terrorist risks are associated with lower levels of net foreign direct investment positions, even after controlling for other types of country risks. On average, a standard deviation increase in the terrorist risk is associated with a fall in the net foreign direct investment position of about 5 percent of GDP.

So the more unnecessary wars American launches and the more innocent civilians we kill, the less foreign investment in America, the more destruction to our capital stock, the higher the level of uncertainty, the more counter-terrorism expenditures and the less expenditures in more productive sectors, and the greater the hit to tourism and some other industries. Moreover:

Terrorism has contributed to a decline in the global economy (for example, European Commission, 2001).

So military adventurism increases terrorism which hurts the world economy. And see this.

Attacking a country which controls the flow of oil also has special impacts on the economy. For example, well-known economist Nouriel Roubini says that attacking Iran would lead to global recession. The IMF says that Iran cutting off oil supplies could raise crude prices 30%.

War Causes Us to Lose Friends … And Influence

While World War II – the last “good war” – may have gained us friends, launching military aggression is now losing America friends, influence and prosperity.

For example, the U.S. has launched Cold War 2.0 – casting Russia and China as evil empires – and threatening them in numerous way. For example, the U.S. broke its promise not to encircle Russia, and is using Ukraine to threaten Russia; and the U.S. is backing Japan in a hot dispute over remote islands, and backing Vietnam in its confrontations with China.

And U.S. statements that any country that challenge U.S. military – or even economic – hegemony will be attacked are extremely provocative.

This is causing Russia to launch a policy of “de-dollarization”, which China is joining in. This could lead to the collapse of the petrodollar.

In a blatant and massive market intervention, the price of gold was smashed on Friday. Right after the Comex opened on Friday morning 7,008 paper gold contracts representing 20 tonnes of gold were dumped in the New York Comex futures market at 8:50 a.m. EST. At 12:35 a.m. EST 10,324 contracts representing 30 tonnes of gold were dropped on the Comex futures market:

Screen shot 2014-12-01 at 3.15.28 PM

No relevant news or events occurred that would have triggered this sudden sell-off in gold. Furthermore, none of the other markets experienced any unusual movement (stocks, bonds, currencies).

The intervention in the gold market occurred on the Friday after the U.S. had observed its Thanksgiving Day holiday. It is one of the lowest volume trading days of the year on the Comex.

A rational person who wants to short gold because he believes the price will fall wants to obtain the highest price for the contracts he sells in order to maximize his profits when he settles the contracts. If his sale of contracts drives down the price of gold, he reduces the spread between the amount he receives for his contracts and the price at settlement, thus minimizing his profits, or if the price goes against him maximizing his losses. A bona fide seller speculating on the direction of the gold price would choose a more liquid market period and dribble out his contract sales so as not to cause a significant impact on the price.

As you can see from the price-action on the graph, massive sales concentrated within a few minutes minimize sales proceeds and are at odds with profit maximization. A rational seller would not behave in this way. What we are witnessing in the bullion futures market are short sales designed to drive down the price of bullion. This is price manipulation.

Here is the Security and Exchange Commission’s definition of manipulation:

Manipulation is intentional conduct designed to deceive investors by controlling or artificially affecting the market for a security…[this includes] rigging quotes, prices or trades to create a false or deceptive picture of the demand for a security. Those who engage in manipulation are subject to various civil and criminal sanctions.

Why is manipulation of the price of gold in the futures market not investigated and prosecuted?
The manipulation has been blatant and repetitious since 2011.

The answer to the question is that suppressing the price of gold helps to protect the U.S. dollar’s value from the excessive debt and money creation of the past six years. The attacks on gold also enable the bullion banks to purchase large blocks of shares in the GLD gold trust that can be redeemed in gold with which to supply Asian purchasers. Whether or not the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury are instigators of the price manipulation, government authorities tolerate it as it supports the dollar’s value in the face of an enormous creation of new dollars and new federal debt.

In other words, the illegal rigging of the price of gold in the futures market is deemed by the US government to be essential to the success of its economic policy, just as illegal torture, illegal military invasions and attacks on sovereign countries, unconstitutional violation of habeas corpus, unconstitutional spying on U.S. citizens, and illegal and unconstitutional murder of U.S. citizens by the executive branch are essential to the U.S. government’s “war on terror.”

The U.S. government resorts to massive illegality across the board in order to protect its failed policies. The rule of law and accountable government have been sacrificed to failed policies.

Gold and silver have now had three “outside reversal” days to the upside within the last three weeks.  Those who follow the precious metals were absolutely shocked (after being shell shocked) to see this type of action the first time in many a moon…not to mention a “three’fer”! 

For those of you who don’t know what an “outside reversal day” is, let me briefly explain.  It is the “outside” part which is important and without it, the “reversal” part is much less meaningful.  For this to occur, trading for the day must be both lower and higher than any trades performed the previous day.  In other words, the “bar” on the chart must totally engulf the action of the previous day and then close in the opposite direction of the previous momentum.  Outside reversal days are very rare in any market.  One of these may only occur once in a year’s time or even longer.  The important thing to understand is when you do see a reversal day and accompanied by big volume, the “trend” is probably changing!

That said, “charts” in today’s marketplace are not what they once were.  There was a time when charts were very reliable, this changed many years ago.  I say “changed” because if you go back to 1988, President Reagan by executive order created the “working group on financial markets” as a result of the ’87 crash…otherwise known as the “plunge protection team” to prevent stock market crashes.  Initially, this may have been a good idea with “good intentions”.  The problem is this, the “PPT” has morphed into something out of the old USSR which tries to “manage” everything, everywhere, ALWAYS!  This obviously changes the value of charts, if they can be “painted” (they are), then they don’t show a true picture, rather, they show a picture those doing the painting want you to see.

Yes, I am sure some will call me a conspiratorial nut job for saying that all markets are manipulated all the time, they are!  I don’t even have anything to prove, the banks and brokers have already done this for you by paying fines for “rigging” in nearly every market.  Why would they pay these fines if they were innocent?  Please don’t tell me because of the “nuisance factor”, $30 billion+ in fines is a little more than a “nuisance”!  In my opinion, these fines have been paid for two reasons, one more important than the other.  First, these firms do not want to admit guilt.  If they actually did admit guilt they could be shut out of various markets as admission of guilt in many cases by law requires them to cease and desist on various exchanges.

This a very important factor …but not THE important factor.  THE important factor is the process called “discovery” where the firm (or firms) in question must open their books or pull their pants down so to speak and allow outside attorneys to see nearly everything.  “Discovery” allows outside lawyers to see the books, ALL the books, of the firm that a judge allows.  In other words, much, if not ALL of the dirt becomes visible!  You do see the problems this may raise?  The process of “discovery” means you can see what firm A was doing …AND “who” they were doing it with!  Confidence in our “free and fair” markets would evaporate and the game we call everyday life would end.  Can you imagine what would have happened were Enron’s records not destroyed one day in 2001?  In any case, if you do not believe markets are manipulated every day by now, then please stop reading because there is nothing I can say to enlighten you.

Now, back to the precious metals.  We have now had three outside reversal days within three weeks and on VERY HIGH VOLUME!  Normally just one outside day would suffice but we have had three.  Normally the outside day would be a very good signal that the trend has changed, I do not doubt this is the case now.  What I do doubt is the reasoning behind what has happened.  I believe the outside days have occurred because of “front running”.  Gold and silver “prices” have been forced to levels where it is not profitable to mine in many cases.  These low prices have also created far more demand than normally would be for the other side of the equation.  Gold and silver have been in a supply demand deficit for years which has been exacerbated by the price suppression.  In other words, “price” was not allowed to rise to ration demand and entice new supply.  There is a giant problem though, it’s called “mathematics”.  If there has been a supply/demand deficit then where has the deficit been funded from?  Yes, you got it, Western central bank vaults.

I believe we have seen these outside day reversals because someone, somewhere, “knows something” or at least think they do.   Someone (the Chinese and others) have done the math and can “smell” the bottom of the barrel.  Maybe this bottom of the barrel is being exposed by the hugely negative GOFO rates or backwardation?  Maybe someone has tried to make a big purchase and can’t do it …or cannot do it without a big premium?

As I wrote a couple of days ago, “price” will affect both supply and demand.  I believe what this current change in trading activity points to is “price” has now affected supply and demand TOO MUCH!  I believe we will look back at these three reversal days as a very big inflection point.  The future action I now anticipate is an outright explosion upward in price as the physical market takes the pricing ability away from the paper markets.  Gold and silver are very different “animals” compared to stocks, bonds, other commodities and even other currencies.  Gold and silver are “money” and carry with them more “emotion” than any other asset class.  Hard money advocates are more passionate regarding the metals than anything else.  The naysayers are more dispassionate (hateful of) gold and silver than anything else.  Governments and central banks are obviously more disdainful of gold and silver than anything else because the metals are a direct (and real) competitor (understand THREAT) to their “product”.

I mention this “emotion” factor because this is at the heart of the argument.  Gold and silver cannot be allowed out of control …otherwise “confidence” in the status quo will be shaken to destruction.  One other “emotion” factor is that “man” always wants something he cannot have.  In fact, I would say that man will sometimes want something he cannot have even more than something he needs but this is arguable.  The game over these past years has been to depress gold and silver prices in order to display them as poor choices and plentiful in supply.  This has allowed interest rates to trade far lower than they otherwise would be.  Artificially low interest rates have aided the central banks in their numerous “reflation” exercises.  The problem now is supply in the physical market has become very tight and pressing prices lower are no longer scaring any more apples to fall from the tree.  In other words, those who would be scared out of their positions have mostly sold. Now, lower prices are only acting to bring more and more value investors into the market and increasing demand.  The “fulcrum” (price) must be moved to create a balance as it has been incorrectly placed for many years.  I believe the old saying “there is no fever like gold fever” is about to surface.  So I now wait patiently for the upside explosion as something has changed very drastically in the trading patterns.  Though Mother Nature can be mocked via leverage for a spell, her laws can be ignored for only so long because there is such a thing as the real world with a real supply and demand equation!

Regards,  Bill Holter,  Miles Franklin associate writer

Stop Talking about NATO Membership for Ukraine

December 3rd, 2014 by Christoph Schult

Just to be sure there is no misunderstanding: Vladimir Putin bears primarily responsibility for the new Cold War between the West and Russia. These days, you have to make that clear before criticizing Western policies so as not to be shoved into the pro-Putin camp.

When NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels today, the question of Ukraine’s possible future membership in the alliance is not on the agenda. It will, however, overshadow the meeting — and that is the fault of two politicians.

During an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday night, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would like to hold a referendum on NATO membership at some point in the future. And new NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg apparently had nothing better to do than to offer Poroshenko his verbal support and to reiterate the right of every sovereign nation in Europe to apply for NATO membership. As if that weren’t enough, Stoltenberg added in comments directed at Moscow that “no third country outside NATO can veto” its enlargement.

Playing with Fire

In the current tense environment, open speculation about possible Ukrainian membership in NATO is akin to playing with fire. German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed the former Norwegian prime minister as NATO chief because he is considered to be a far more level-headed politician than predecessor Anders Fogh Rasmussen. But since he took the helm, differences between the two have been difficult to identify. Hawkish statements made by NATO’s top military commander, Philip Breedlove, haven’t done much to ease the situation either.

Why is it even necessary for NATO officers to comment so frequently about Ukraine? Since the outbreak of the crisis, the alliance has expressed the opinion that the conflict cannot be resolved through military means. If that’s true, then wouldn’t it be better if Stoltenberg, Breedlove and company kept quiet?

Doing anything else is advantageous to Putin while at the same time sowing division in Europe. It makes it easy for the Russian president to blather about the supposed expansionist policies of the West. When it comes to the EU, of course, Putin is contradicting himself. He once said: “If the EU accepts Ukraine as a member, Russia, I think, would welcome this.” Last year, he suddenly and surprisingly changed course.

But Putin has always seen NATO membership for Ukraine as a red line. Even if NATO is focused on defense, it is still a military alliance. It can only be powerful, however, when all 28 member states share the same position. And herein lies the problem: Only a small minority — comprised primarily of the Baltic states and Poland — currently support Ukrainian accession to the alliance. All others adhere to the principle that each accession should not only be beneficial to the new member, but also to the community as a whole. It’s difficult to see at the moment how Ukraine might benefit NATO.

In that sense, there is only one right answer in response to Poroshenko’s musings. It’s the one formulated by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “I see a partner relationship between Ukraine and NATO, but not membership,” the foreign minister told SPIEGEL ONLINE last week.

Or, to put it more simply, the question of Ukrainian membership isn’t even on the agenda.

In the multilayered double standards of its international coverage, the New York Times demonstrates how propaganda works: Outrage is the only appropriate response when an adversary breaks a rule but a shrug is okay when it’s “our side.” Plus, there must be perfect evidence to accuse “our side” of an offense but anything goes when it’s an adversary.

Recent Times’ articles illustrate how this hypocrisy works. Take, for example, international law, especially prohibitions against aggression. When the topic is Ukraine and the alleged violator is Russia, no extreme is too extreme in denouncing Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. But the concern about international law simply disappears when discussing Syria and the desirability of U.S. President Barack Obama overthrowing the government there.

In Ukraine, despite the murky circumstances surrounding last February’s coup d’etat ousting the elected president and unleashing war in the ethnic Russian east, the Times refuses to see any merit in the Russian side of the argument. It’s all about the sacred principle of non-intervention; the mitigating circumstances don’t matter.

However, when it comes to demanding Obama dispatch the U.S. military to take out Syria’s government, the Times forgets international law; it’s all about the mitigating circumstances that justify the U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops and paving the way for a rebel victory.

Image: Amid the crisis over Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A good example of this is a Nov. 28 article by Times correspondent Anne Barnard that hammers Obama over the supposed inconsistencies in his policy of bombing Islamic State radicals inside Syria but not also turning the U.S. military loose against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Barnard writes that anti-Assad forces inside Syria “conclude, increasingly, that the Obama administration is siding with Mr. Assad, that by training United States firepower solely on the Islamic State it is aiding a president whose ouster is still, at least officially, an American goal.

“Their dismay reflects a broader sense on all sides that President Obama’s policies on Syria and the Islamic State remain contradictory, and the longer the fight goes on without the policies being resolved, the more damage is being done to America’s standing in the region.”

It may be a fair point that the U.S. military strikes inside Syria against Islamic State radicals, who have also seized territory in Iraq, is at least a technical violation of international law, but the Syrian government has acquiesced to these attacks since they are aimed at a rebel force that is widely regarded as terrorist. Thus, the bombings have some color of legitimacy.

However, attacking Syrian government forces is a horse of an entirely different color. That would be a clear-cut violation of international law. It would be a war of aggression deemed by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II to be the “supreme international crime” because it “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Yet, this important legal point is entirely missing from the Times article, which focuses instead on how Obama has offended Assad’s opponents by attacking the Islamic State, not Assad.

In effect, the Times is pushing the neoconservative line that the United States should first undertake “regime change” in Syria before it deals with the Islamic State. In making that case, the Times not only leaves out the question of international law but gives short-shrift to the danger that destroying Assad’s military might open the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State or al-Qaeda’s affiliate Nusra Front, the only two effective fighting forces among the Syrian rebels.

Addressing International Law

A more professional news article would have seriously addressed both the international law issue and the dangers inherent in a U.S.-driven Syrian “regime change,” including the very real possibility that a jihadist victory in the heart of the Middle East could force a full-scale U.S. military intervention, requiring hundreds of thousands of troops and costing hundreds of billions of dollars.

Indeed, the Times’ coverage of the Syrian crisis often looks like a replay of the newspaper’s gullible acceptance of the neocon-predicted “cakewalk” through Iraq in 2003. In the Iraq War, too, there was scant attention paid to the question of the United States violating international law and to the chance that the invasion might not go as smoothly as the neocons dreamt.

While ignoring the issue of U.S. aggression in a war on Syria, the Times presents the Ukraine crisis as a simple matter of Russian “aggression” by leaving out the context of a U.S.-backed coup on Feb. 22 that forced President Viktor Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives and prompting resistance to the new order from eastern and southern Ukraine which had been Yanukovych’s political base.

As former Rep. Dennis Kucinich has written, this important background – and the earlier expansion of NATO into eastern Europe – would put the Ukraine story in a very different light:

“NATO encirclement, the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, an attempt to use an agreement with the European Union to bring NATO into Ukraine at the Russian border, a U.S. nuclear first-strike policy, are all policies which attempt to substitute force for diplomacy.

“Russia’s response to the terror unleashed by western-backed neo-nazis in Crimea and Odessa came after the local population appealed to Russia to protect them from the violence. Russia then agreed to Crimea joining the Russian Federation, a reaffirmation of an historic relationship.

“The Western press begins its narrative on the Crimea situation with the annexation, but completely ignores the provocations by the West and other causal factors which resulted in the annexation. This distortion of reality is artificially creating an hysteria about Russian aggressiveness, another distortion which could pose an exceptionally dangerous situation for the world, if acted upon by other nations. The U.S. Congress is responding to the distortions, not to the reality.”

Propaganda Vehicle

Another way that the New York Times makes itself useful as a neocon propaganda vehicle is by applying two radically different standards for proof when an accusation is made. If, for instance, anyone notes that U.S.-funded “non-governmental organizations” played a behind-the-scenes role in instigating the Ukrainian coup – even though there is clear documentary evidence from the public reports of the National Endowment for Democracy and similar U.S.-funded entities – that is deemed a “conspiracy theory.”

However, if you want to accuse the Russians of secretly financing anti-fracking groups in Romania, you don’t need any evidence at all, just vague assertions. So, on Dec. 1, the Times published a lengthy article by Andrew Higgins promoting the Romanian government’s suspicions that local environmental groups which have blocked Chevron’s use of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas are fronts for Russia’s energy industry.

The article acknowledges that “this belief that Russia is fueling the protests, shared by officials in Lithuania, where Chevron also ran into a wave of unusually fervent protests and then decided to pull out, has not yet been backed up by any clear proof. And [Russia’s] Gazprom has denied accusations that it has bankrolled anti-fracking protests.

“But circumstantial evidence, plus large dollops of Cold War-style suspicion, have added to mounting alarm over covert Russian meddling to block threats to its energy stranglehold on Europe.”

It’s not exactly clear what the Times’ “circumstantial evidence” is either, but the article next turns to more unsubstantiated accusations aired in September by then-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who “pointed a finger at Russia” by citing its alleged support for NGOs, another hypocritical twist because many NGOs are actually funded by the U.S. government and are deployed to disrupt or destabilize adversaries around the world.

Ignoring this hypocrisy, Rasmussen declared: “Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.”

Again, the Times notes that Rasmussen presented no proof, saying that his judgment was based on what NATO allies had reported. Yet, despite this admitted lack of evidence, the Times still devotes portions of two pages to this Russian-hand-hidden-behind-the-anti-fracking-cause hypothesis. If such flimsy speculation were aimed at the United States, it would be laughed off as a paranoid conspiracy theory or labeled “disinformation.”

Also not noted in the Times article is Rasmussen’s record for getting facts wrong. As Danish prime minister in 2003, he supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and famously declared that

“Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think; it is something we know. Iraq has itself admitted that it has had mustard gas, nerve gas, anthrax, but Saddam won’t disclose. He won’t tell us where and how these weapons have been destroyed. We know this from the UN inspectors, so there is no doubt in my mind.”

Of course, pretty much everything that Rasmussen declared about Iraq’s WMD was wrong, but it succeeded in tricking the Danish parliament into voting to join Bush’s “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq. Rasmussen was later rewarded for his role in this aggressive war against Iraq by getting a plum job as NATO secretary general where he similarly has hyped alarms about Russia.

Yet, the New York Times ignores this history as this “newspaper of record” applies its endless double standards to ratchet up tensions in Syria and Ukraine.

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

Seeds of Destruction: Hijacking of the World’s Food System

December 3rd, 2014 by Global Research

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!

Russia is launching a new national defense facility, which is meant to monitor threats to national security in peacetime, but would take control of the entire country in case of war.

The new top-security, fortified facility in Moscow includes several large war rooms, a brand new supercomputer in the heart of a state-of-the-art data processing center, underground facilities, secret transport routes for emergency evacuation and a helicopter pad, which was deployed for the first time on Nov. 24 on the Moscow River. The Defense Ministry won’t disclose the price tag for the site, but it is estimated at the equivalent of several billion dollars.

The new National Defense Control Center (NDCC) is a major upgrade on what was previously called the Central Command of the General Staff, a unit tasked with round-the-clock monitoring of military threats against Russia, particularly ballistic missile launches, and deployment of strategic nuclear weapons. It was roughly a counterpart to the US National Military Command Center, the Pentagon’s principal command and control site.

Image by Defence Ministy

Image by Defence Ministry

The NDCC inherits all those functions, but also has plenty of extra roles as well. In peacetime, an additional task is to monitor all of Russia’s important military assets, from hardware being produced by defense contractors to the state of oil refineries, to weather conditions and their effect on transportation routes.

And if Russia does get into a war, the center would act as a major communication hub and a form of wartime government, delivering reports to the country’s military command and giving orders to all ministries, state-owned companies and other organizations, according to the needs of the armed forces.

“The creation of NDCC was one of the biggest military projects of the past few years. The closest analogy in the past in terms of functions and tasks was the Commander-in-Chief HQ in 1941-45, which centralized all controls of both the military machine and the economy of the nation in the interests of the war,” Lt. General Mikhail Mizintsev, the NDCC chief, told Lenta.ru in an interview.

Lt. General Michail Mizintsev. Image by Defence Ministy

Lt. General Michail Mizintsev. Image by Defence Ministry

The military says the upgrade has been long overdue. The national security situation may be very fluid in modern times, and instead of days the leadership may have only an hour to take crucial military decisions. The center’s job is to offer the Defense Minister and the President options in case of emergency, which would be based on facts, figures and accurate projections.

Potentially the biggest part of the upgrade was the creation of communication and data processing equipment that would give the military computer power and software needed to factor in hundreds of parameters in their mathematical models. The Defense Ministry had to use only domestically-produced hardware due to security considerations, which limited its options.

According to officials, the result is a very robust computer network with state-of-art data encryption and multiple backup sites spread throughout the country, which would keep the center functional even if its main facility in Moscow is damaged by an enemy attack or sabotage.

Image by Defence Ministry

Image by Defence Ministry 

The center employs over 1,000 officers working on a rotating watch system. Mizintsev said the armed forces selected their best officer for the posts, many of which are new for the Russian military and require skills not previously taught to officers on a regular basis until recently. They have been operating in trial mode since April.

A thoroughly military facility, the NDCC has an unexpected civilian component to it. Its location in Moscow is close to two major hospitals, including the Pirogov trauma center. Both hospitals are quite old and their original designs didn’t provide for dedicated helicopter pads.

The Defense Ministry said the medics can share NDCC’s new pad on the Moscow River for emergency patient transportation. The pad can accommodate helicopters weighing up to 15 tons, enough to land a Mil Mi-8, world’s most-produced transport helicopter, or a Mil Mi-38, its designated replacement.

A Topol-M ballistic missile (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

A Topol-M ballistic missile (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

Reports indicate Obama will nominate Carter as new defense secretary. Succeeding Chuck Hagel.

“(B)arring any last minute complications.” According to unnamed administration officials. He tops the short list.

The Pentagon’s Stars and Stripes publication said he’s the likely choice. An announcement may come this week.

He’ll be Obama’s 4th Pentagon chief if nominated and confirmed. Following Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.

The New York Times said his “formal nomination is expected in the next few days once the White House completes the vetting process.”

He’s the only top prospect “who did not take himself out of the running for the job.”

According to Center for Strategic and International Studies national security expert Anthony Cordesman,”(i)t’s how much grief you want.”

“There’s a confirmation process where anyone with the political profile which the White House wants would run into a buzz saw in the Senate.”

With Democrats in charge until January, Carter should be confirmed. A number of Republican senators support him.

Hawkish ones. Including James Inhofe (R. OK) and John McCain (R. AZ).

McCain praised Carter’s “insatiable intellectual curiosity.” He’s a Yale summa cum laude/Phi Beta Kappa graduate. A Rhodes Scholar.

An Oxford theoretical physics PhD. A former Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor.

From October 2011 – December 2013, he was Obama’s Deputy Defense Secretary. Its CEO. In charge of daily operations.

From April 2009 – October 2011, he was Obama’s Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Responsible for procuring technology, systems, services, supplies, bases, infrastructure, energy, and R&D.

In eight years of DOD service, he held two of its three top jobs. Even though he never saw active military service. If confirmed as defense secretary, it’ll be all three.

In prior service, he led two national security strategy reviews. Adopted by the White House and Pentagon.

Including Obama’s Asia/Pacific pivot and cyber warfare strategy.

He formulated DOD’s cyber/enterprise IT investment strategy. Its space initiative.

Manned and unmanned systems strategy. Others including intelligence and reconnaissance systems. Special forces. Counterterrorism.

Countering WMDs. Healthcare. Logistics and supply chain. Personnel.

All other aspects of operations, technology and R&D. Including DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and NSA.

He headed manufacturing and logistics programs. Including restructuring the Joint Strike Fighter program. The KC-X tanker. Obama’s 2010 Afghanistan surge.

Cancelled programs. Including the VH-71 presidential helicopter.

Carter is a former Global Technology Partners senior official. Involved in advising technology and defense investment firms.

He was a Goldman Sachs global affairs advisor. At Harvard, he chaired the Kennedy School’s International Relations, Science and Security department.

He currently or previously served on various corporate boards. Including MITRE Corp. Mitretek Systems. Draper Laboratory Corp. MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories.

He’s been a member of the Defense Policy Board. Defense Sciences Board. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board.

He’s a member of the President’s Management Council. National Council on Federal-Labor Management Relations.

He’s a Council on Foreign Relations member. An American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow. A right-wing Aspen Strategy Group member.

From 1993 – 1996, he was Clinton’s Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Policy.

Responsible for formulating former Soviet republics’ policy. Strategic affairs. Nuclear weapons policy.

Senate members previously confirmed him unanimously for DOD number two and three top jobs.

He wrote 11 books. Dozens of articles on physics, technology, national security and management.

In 2013, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey called him “an uber-wonk.” When he left DOD, Dempsey said:

“It’s lucky for us that you have worked without glamor or fame behind the scenes to make sure through good management and common sense and discipline that we are an organization that continues to adapt to the challenge that we find in front of us.”

“He did it all again without fanfare. In fact, I think he’s been called the most important, least known figure in Washington, or some language to that effect, and I agree with that.”

When he resigned, the Washington Post said he was “an uncomfortable understudy to Hagel, given his own ambitions to lead the Pentagon.”

On December 2, AP said he considered himself Hagel’s “alter ego.” As DOD chief, he’ll focus more on Asia/Pacific alliances, AP believes.

Cyber-defense. Countering WMD proliferation. In July 2013, he said DOD requires fresh thinking.

He’s hawkish on Iran. On the one hand supporting diplomacy. On the other, favoring a strike on its nuclear facilities as a possible option. More on this below.

In 2006, he argued for surgically bombing North Korea’s ballistic missile platform. Ahead of a planned test launch at the time.

Saying “(w)e won’t know whether North Korea’s ambitions can be blunted by anything short of the use of force unless and until the US takes the danger seriously and gets in the game.”

“(T)he risk of inaction will prove far greater. The Pyongyang regime will view its stockpile of missiles and nuclear material as tipping the regional balance in its favor and providing a shield behind which it can pursue its interests with impunity.”

“Worse, North Korea has a long history of selling its advanced weapons to countries in the Middle East, and it operates a black market in other forms of contraband.”

His Foreign Affairs article titled “Running the Pentagon Right” argued for “identifying threats as early as possible.”

“This does not mean war-gaming for five to ten years down the line – something the department currently does in its Quadrennial Defense Reviews.”

Rather, it means “determining what troops in the field need at any given moment.”

“Staff at the command or headquarters level are often slow to recognize when a new threat becomes truly dangerous.”

“During a war, the Pentagon must continuously scan the tactical environment and analyze how new dynamics impact the campaign.”

“The challenge for the Pentagon is to lock in gains and make sure the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq are not forgotten.”

“(W)hile the experiences are still fresh. Too many lives were lost in the early years of those wars because the Pentagon failed to keep up with a changing battlefield. Never again should it make the same mistake.”

Carter is unabashedly hawkish. Arguing for “intervening before mortal threats to US security can develop…” In other words, maintaining preemption as an option.

If confirmed, he’ll hit the ground running. Based on his lengthy DOD service. He helped shape policies now being implemented.

It’s unclear where he stands on others. Including possible greater US Iraq and Syria intervention.

Containing Iranian Middle East influence. Confronting Russia over Ukraine.

His reputation is hawkish. So watch out. Expect more war. Not less.

Former congressman Ron Paul thinks so, saying “Americans are told (the nation is involved in) ‘endless’ war.”

Global intervention is official US policy. Paul believes Carter will escalate ongoing wars. His appointment likely signals Obama’s intention to do so.

Hagel believed his job was ending ongoing conflicts. Carter appears polar opposite.

In 2004, he argued for prioritizing America’s intention to “stop adding to the world’s stock of fissile materials, by preventing additional governments, especially those hostile to the United States, from making plutonium or enriching uranium.”

“This will require establishing a clear US strategy – diplomatic at first, but coercive if necessary – for the complete and verifiable elimination of Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs.”

The United States should also seek agreement that no more fissile material for weapons purposes will be produced anywhere, including in India, Pakistan, and Israel.”

In 2008, he was involved in drafting a report titled “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development.”

It claimed Iran intends developing nuclear weapons. “Threatens US and global security, regional stability, and the international nonproliferation regime.” Despite no evidence proving it.

The report recommended “pre-positioning additional US and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers, emplacing other war material in the region, including additional missile defense batteries, upgrading both regional facilities and allied militaries, and expanding strategic partnerships with countries such as Azerbaijan and Georgia in order to maintain operational pressure from all directions.”

It urged suspending bilateral cooperation with Russia. On nuclear issues. Pressuring it to stop aiding Iran’s nuclear, missile and other weapons programs.

It wants Tehran’s uranium enrichment halted. Its entire nuclear program eliminated. Urges a pre-determined compliance deadline. Respond accordingly otherwise.

By “target(ing) not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response.”

“Military action must be viewed as a component of a comprehensive strategy rather than a stand-alone option for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.”

“(A) complete strategy (involves) integrating political, economic, and military elements and seeing the matter through to a defined and achievable end.”

“(M)ilitary action by itself will not finish the problem of Iran’s nuclear ambitions once and for all.”

US strategy should include “containment and punishment.”

“A variety of military measures – air assault, blockade, encirclement, and deterrence – could be elements of such a containment strategy.”

In other words, wage war on Iran. Risking regional conflict. Perhaps spreading globally. Including confronting Russia.

Carter heading DOD means more war. Not less. At a time multiple ongoing conflicts rage.

Previous articles said Obama favors more mass slaughter and destruction. Carter’s appointment appears heading things in this direction.

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

Image: Uriel López / Creative Commons

Mexico’s human rights crisis, triggered by the disappearence of 43 teachers-college students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, along with the extra-judicial killing of at least eight suspected kidnappers—already in custody—at the hands of the military in Tlatlaya, State of México, must be understood against a political and institutional background of delayed and incomplete democratization.

At the federal level the political system that emerged from the 2000 election can be catalogued, formally and in broad strokes, as a polyarchy; even if we take account important differences in dimensions like the electoral sphere and the internal life of the parties. Its principal actors frequently operate in an oligarchic manner. Its parties follow a parallel process of capturing and defining the national political agenda, restricting its demands and citizen participation, and of indifference to its political programs. The Pact for Mexico, the political instrument designed by the PRI on its return to the presidency in 2012 to carry out its initiatives of structural economic reforms, has relegated the PAN and the PRD, both weakened internally, to the role of subordinate partners.

We are seeing, at the federal level, not a classic authoritarianism—there is no ideology of the state here, no political police or total suspension of criticism and dissent—but rather a limited pluralism and a low-quality democracy. Nevertheless, if we shift our gaze to the national setting, we see political regimes that oscillate between delegative democracy—with all-powerful governors imposing the model of political life—and pure and hard expressions of authoritarianism, with its quota of repression and the use of violence, little different from the old order. Among many regional and local governing bodies, political alternation and civic modes of exercising power stand out for their absence.

The socioeconomic background of this political order is three decades of neoliberal policies and the withdrawal of the state from its social responsibilities, yielding a management of public policies that is neither efficient nor inclusionary. With a paltry annual growth rate that has averaged about 3% over the past three decades, a tax collection of barely 11% of GDP, public investment of under 6% of GDP, a workforce with low qualifications, weakened unions, massive informality taking in about 60% of all workers, and wages insufficient to cover basic necessities, Mexico is a country in which the very minimum of a welfare state—universal access to adequate social services and security—simply does not exist. It is a country where poverty and extended inequality have become the broth that cultivates violence and corruption.

According to a study of the Center for Private Sector Economics, in 2012 political corruption in Mexico implied private profits of about 74 billion U.S. dollars, to which must be added high criminal impunity and a criminalization of the very poorest. On top of all this, from 2006 until now, official figures register 80,000 people killed and 22,000 disappeared, which amount to a human rights crisis of major proportions.

This context acquires aggravated forms in the situation of conflict and crime that shakes certain areas of the country. In states like Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas, organized crime has broadened its universe of activities and strategies. It has expanded from drug trafficking to the clandestine extraction of hydrocarbons and kidnapping for ransom, arriving at the direct control of local police forces, treasuries, and databases. Business people, taxpayers, and citizens in general are helpless facing this form of lumpenpolitics. By way of bribery, extortion, and murder of rival candidates, inconvenient functionaries, and insubordinate social leaders—from 2009 through 2013, 1,200 such people were assassinated in various municipalities—organized crime has gained control of the local political dynamic, installing its own mayors in wide swaths of Mexican territory.

To achieve all this, it required a weak and terrorized society, so that in areas where traditions of social organization and mobilization existed—including the student movement and community police of Guerrero—its mission has been to weaken social organization and spread the message among the citizenry of the high costs of disobeying political/criminal power.

We now live under new expressions of state terrorism far from the traditional logic marked by the global conflict—political and ideological—of the Cold War. Today’s state terrorism doesn’t seek to defeat communist guerrillas or worker or campesino movements committed to revolution; rather, it seeks to impose the criminal privatization of the state, the monopoly market of illicit goods and services, and to impose social anomie as a mode of existence and behavior in an uncivil and disarticulated society.

In this violation of human rights, elements of organized crime have cooperated with police forces and organs of law enforcement at the local and regional level. In Guerrero in particular, this perverse marriage takes place within a long history of impunity and repression of the local political class, cemented during the epoch of PRIista hegemony that has survived up to the present. For its part, the State of Mexico, one of the entities of clear PRI dominance—along with Veracruz, Hidalgo and Coahuila—presents us with iconic cases of impunity linked to the political family of Mexico’s current president, the former governor of the state. This shows how the flagrant and massive violation of human rights under which Mexico is now living brings together, in a hellish marriage, historical factors—authoritarian political actors and methods of the old politics—with the emergent criminal lumpen politics, under the official myth of a progressive and modernizing country.

The crisis of institutional credibility generated by this conjuncture is profound and requires the urgent attention of the Mexican political class. It moved, during the presidency of Felipe Calderón, from the failed calls to confront the situation of the country’s insecurity by way of the militarization of the war on organized crime—calls debunked by the discourse of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity headed by Javier Sicilia and by the SOS of Alejandro Martí—to a direct signal that “it was the state” in the massacres of Tlatlaya and Iguala. It doesn’t matter that there are differences between the criminal takeover of local government, the complicity of state governments, and the willful omission of the federal order: for the victims—and their mourners—the political class appears, without distinguishing the political colors and institutional anchors, as responsible for the abuse.

In this scenario citizen mobilizations, headed by students, are growing in number, regularity and the intensity of its demands. León, Guanajuato; Cuernavaca, Morelos; and the Federal District itself are examples of cities where several organizations have mobilized, weaving together repudiation of the student disappearances with the broader crisis of insecurity. Responding to these mobilizations the country’s attorney general has characterized the cases of Tlatlaya and Ayotzinapa as isolated events, refusing to link them to the structures of power any higher than the lowest ranks of the military for the first case, and the municipal president of Iguala in the second. The cover-up speech of the governor of the State of Mexico following the events in Tlatlaya, and the slow and insufficient response of the governor of Guerrero following the first executions of opponents of Mayor José Luis Abarca, triggered the demands by the affected families, as well as national and international social organizations, for fuller responses and some indication that the state would take steps to repair the injustice and restore its legitimacy.

With the responses given by the authorities up to the present—seven soldiers arrested in the Tlatlaya case; 59 detained, including the former mayor of Iguala and his wife, María de los Angeles Pineda, in Iguala—the federal government has tried to manage the conflict and begin to prepare for the elections of 2015, in which all the seats in the lower chamber of Congress will be up for renewal. It wants to bring these episodes to a close as quickly as possible.

The governmental strategy is betting on a discourse that centers on effectiveness, with which it achieved the so-called structural reforms on which it campaigned for the presidency, and which it hopes will be seen as its principal weapon in overcoming the crisis of legitimacy. But the unfortunate “I’m tired of this,” expressed by Attorney General Murillo Karam in his press conference of November 7 —in which the probable deaths of the disappeared students was announced—has become a slogan of an exasperated citizenry on social media (#YaMeCansé) and in street mobilizations.

Sadly, the crisis is deep and prolonged, overtaking the responsibility of the traditional political actors. This time all have been implicated, whether for their actions or their omissions. They appear to repeat the warnings expressed in 1947 by Cosio Villegas, under an identical title as that which appears above these words; the country is adrift, losing precious time for the immediate egoism of its elites. There exists a challenge to repair a torn social fabric and to reconstruct democratic institutions and confidence. It is not only Tlatlaya and Iguala, but dozens of cases over the past eight years in which deaths and disappearances are yet to be resolved.

Mexican society continues to put little trust in its representatives and effectively lacks the institutional mechanisms and instruments to channel its discontent and demand its rights. The National Commission on Human Rights, like never before in its over two decades of existence, finds itself marked in its work by the vices of omission and partiality. Recently, several social organizations, experts and victims of human rights violations—like members of the June 5 Movement for Justice, composed of parents of the victims of the ABC Daycare Center killings—came together to petition Congress for a political judgment against the current ombudsman, Raúl Plascencia.

Civil society has to articulate its proposals and mobilizations around a common program that obligates the political class to recognize citizen demands. This is the sine qua non for the establishment of the foundations of a genuine—as yet nonexistent—state of laws. Among these lines of action, already identified by Mexican academics and activists, must be the end of politicians’ immunity from prosecution; the effective autonomy and professionalization of the judicial power; the deep reform of the country’s police forces—with a sole command and instances of monitoring by social organizations and academic specialists; and the end of the parties’ political colonization of the autonomous electoral institutes.

In the local realm—of Guerrero and other areas of conflict and criminal activity—civil organizations and human rights groups should advise and accompany aggrieved communities. Formulas created by the communities to confront crime, like community policing, should be inserted into a coherent inter-institutional and inter-sectorial strategy. The shameful debt of poverty and inequality must be fought not with client-based programs but with strategies that can structurally resolve the situation. Finally, more than one functionary, at all levels of the state, should resign out of simple decency.

The resolution of the current crisis does not lie, as a reformist sector of the elites believes, in a cosmetic redesign of institutions. Nor does it lie in a conspiratorial and sectarian vision of an old left and its spokespeople. It must be articulated within a new democratic movement, non-violent protest and political dialogue, demands on the state, and better organization and accompaniment of actual and potential victims.

Armando Chaguaceda and Alex Caldera are political scientists at the León Campus of the University of Guanajuato. The original Spanish-language article was published in the weekly Newsweek en Español. Translated by NACLA and reprinted with permission. 

After a four-year legislative battle, the European parliament has granted member states the ability to decide for themselves whether or not they want to allow crops of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their soil. Writing in The Parliament Magazine, Member of the European Parliament Marc Tarabella notes that the wishes of several pro-GMO lobbies, led by several multinationals and Britain, did not prevail [1].

A legal basis was obtained for allowing member states to ban the implementation of GMO crops and an extension of the list of motives for this. The goal to avoid contamination of traditional crops by GMO crops was also strengthened.

In 2010, a Eurostat study found that 59 per cent of Europeans think GMOs are dangerous [2]. It is the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority to therefore address such concerns and properly assess the dangers of GMOs. However, as Tarabella notes, the EFSA’s track record is worrying. Several former members of food-processing industry lobbies have been nominated as EFSA officials.

Between 1998 and 2010, out of the 125 import authorisation requests submitted to the commission, other than six applications that were withdrawn by manufacturers themselves, none were denied. Tarabella states that as the EFSA is responsible for the food safety of half a billion citizens, it is perfectly within our rights to expect it to be neutral, upright and trustworthy. The EFSA is though riddled with conflicts of interest [3].

He argues that studies on GMOs have been left in the hands of multinationals for too long and writes that these companies are merely motivated by greed and the promotion of single-crop farming, with a complete disregard for food safety and biodiversity.

What Europe needs is neutral and transparent research. The evidence shows we have anything but [4].

A new high level report on GMOs in India

On the back of India sanctioning the open-field trials of GM crops, similar concerns are being echoed there too. The biotech regulator, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, has approved field trials of 13 GM crops, including those of mustard, cotton, brinjal, rice and chickpea.

An Indian parliamentary committee and the technical committee of India’s Supreme Court has already stressed the need for caution and has recommended bans on GM field trials until stronger regulatory controls can be put in place. Now another high level committee chaired by T.S.R. Subramanian, a former cabinet secretary of India, has drawn similar conclusions [5].

T S R Subramanian has warned that the government should exercise caution and seek:

… greater assurance (given that the) potential for medium/long-term adverse affects through unprepared introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) food crops…. I am not against GM crops but we need to take appropriate caution. All I am saying is that don’t take chances that you cannot undo… Keep your eyes open and check carefully the possible consequences (of field trials) on our biodiversity. European countries are not allowing field trials and they are not idiots.”

The report states:

“The potential consequences of mindless use of science and technology could possibly be illustrated by referring to the potential for medium/long-term adverse effects through unprepared introduction of Genetically Modified food crops… the average Indian farm is of very small size (which could lead to severe adverse impact on biodiversity through gene-flow)… there are no independent expert agencies in the country.

Through a series of recommendations, the Committee seeks to improve rather than merely maintain the environmental standards and biological assets of the country.

The Committee’s report comes at an apt time given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pitching a Make in India campaign that wants to make India a potential investment destination for GM crops.

The Make in India campaign’s website states that India has the potential to become a major producer of transgenic rice and several genetically modified or engineered vegetables. As reported in Business Standard [6], the website also states GM food crops are an investment opportunity for foreign players as they will offer “new business opportunities” in the country. It states that “Hybrid seeds, including GM seeds, represent new business opportunities in India based on yield improvement.”

Business Standard notes that this is the first time the National Democratic Alliance government has made public its stance on allowing field trials for GM food crops.

It is revealing that Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar last week stated in parliament:

“The Union government is of the view that research in GM and confined field trials for generating bio-safety data with all due precautions should be allowed to continue in the national interest.”

The implication is that GMOs are in the ‘national interest’. They are clearly not. Quite the opposite in fact (see here and here).

Does this also mean that those who are legitimately resisting the introduction of GMO’s are thus working against the ‘national interest’? This is not merely implied by officialdom but has been stated (see here and here).

Before coming to power, certain commentators feared Modi would be beholden to foreign interests [7]. India can feed itself without GMOs but the Make in India campaign appears to include handing over food sovereignty to foreign corporations and is itself based on a fallacious and increasingly outdated notion of ‘development’ and ‘growth’ [8].

From India to Europe, there is a drive to push GMOs into countries at all (health, environmental and social) costs. This is in part being driven by profit-hungry agritech corporations. As with the big-dam, water intensive, oil-dependent, dollar boosting, debt-inducing, chemical-industrial model of agriculture we have seen over the last 50 years or so, the GM version is also a tool to further subjugate nations to the hegemonic needs of the US [9,10].

Notes
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tens of thousands of workers and youth marched in 60 Mexican cities on December 1 to protest the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa student teachers in the city of Iguala, in the southern State of Guerrero. The marchers are demanding that the 43 be returned alive and the resignation of Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto. The protest took place alongside student strikes in dozens of universities. December 1 also marked the second anniversary of Peña Nieto’s presidency.

In Mexico City the protest began at about 3 p.m. in the city’s historic central square, the Zocalo. On reaching the Angel of Independence monument on Paseo de la Reforma, two columns broke off, north and south along that very wide historic boulevard. At 9 p.m. groups were still arriving at the Angel of Independence monument.

Marchers carried signs in solidarity with the 43 disappeared students, many of them homemade. “I am marching today so I will not have to march for my children tomorrow!” said one sign. Others carried signs demanding the president’s resignation. “We are sick and tired of this government,” was a popular chant along the route of the march.

Heading the demonstration out of the Zocalo were parents of the disappeared students. At the rally at the Angel of Independence, many parents spoke movingly about their sadness and uncertainty, wondering if their children are even still alive. One of the speakers, Clemente Rodriguez, whose son Christian is among the missing, revealed that Guerrero’s governor, Ángel Aquirre (who recently resigned his post), had tried to buy his silence by offering him and his family a substantial sum of money that they refused.

Students from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), one of the largest public universities in Mexico, also spoke and read a statement calling not just for Peña’s resignation, but that of the entire government.

Observers from the UN and National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) monitored the march.

As the protest was ending, the CNDH observers aggressively intervened and formed a human chain to protect some 500 demonstrators across from the Congress building from hundreds of police and escort them to the Hidalgo subway (Metro) station that had been closed by the police and Metro officials. The CNDH negotiated with the police to reopen access to the station and help limit the police repression. Demonstrators entered the station in groups of 20 escorted by the CNDH.

The police operation was suspiciously similar to the police assault of demonstrators on November 20. On that day, a group of agents provocateurs had created an incident that gave the police an excuse to attack the demonstration, terrorizing and conducting random arrests.

While on Monday, a group of provocateurs did break store windows and pour red paint on ATMs, the protesters themselves chased many of these individuals away, calling them “fascists,” “porros” (strikebreakers), Peña thugs and provocateurs, while others chanted “no violence, no violence.”

The police had shuttered several of the downtown Metro stations, supposedly for passenger safety, effectively creating a corridor to herd fleeing demonstrators if the riot-equipped force of between 500 and 700 police had had its way.

In addition to the student youth, many workers joined the march, including contingents from the National Coordination Committee of Education Workers (CNTE), the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) and unions representing university workers from the National Autonomous University (UNAM), Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) and IPN. Thousands of workers participated in the protest, independent of their unions. The bulk of the trade union bureaucracy supports Peña Nieto and the ruling party, the Revolutionary Institutionalist Party (PRI).

The CNTE announced plans for a mass mobilization of education workers on December 6, for a symbolic takeover of Mexico City.

Thousands protested in others cities. In Guadalajara, the country’s third largest city, the day of protest coincided with the International Book Fair (FIL), a yearly event. Writers led the protest march, including Chilean author José Donoso, and Juan Viloro, from Mexico.

In Oaxaca, 1500 teachers and students blocked the road to the airport for four hours. Several flights were cancelled.

Marchers in Chilpancingo, Guerrero’s capital, also denounced the Peña government. “We no longer recognize Enrique Peña Nieto as president of Mexico because he has not addressed our central demand, that our children be returned alive,” said family member Felipe Cruz.

The loss of legitimacy for the Peña government is now widespread. A poll by the Mexican daily Reforma indicates plummeting popularity for the president. His approval rating is now 39 percent, down from 46 percent in August of this year, one of the lowest ratings for any president in Mexican history. Federal authorities have lost legitimacy in many areas, where military and drug cartels are in control. In a public appearance in Chiapas, Peña himself acknowledged as much: “What took place in Iguala represents a before and after … It demonstrates the weakness of the government to confront organized crime, which has more weapons and more fighting capacity than in the past,” he said.

The wave of protest marches, road barricades and mobilizations, both on November 20 and on December 1, represents an important qualitative change that poses the question of who is to rule Mexico.

For workers to repudiate the president, the PRI (or the entire political establishment for that matter) is insufficient. None of the political parties or pseudo-left currents, from the crisis-ridden PRI and PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party) to Andrés Lopez Obrador’s MORENA stands for the interests of the working class or youth. Whatever tactical differences they may have with each other, they are united on one strategy, that of preserving capitalism in Mexico.

Only one force, the working class, is capable of providing a way forward against the capitalist cabal of criminal syndicates, out and out corrupt institutions, and predatory foreign banks and investors.

The failure of key power infrastructure produced a large-scale electrical blackout throughout downtown and midtown Detroit Tuesday morning, forcing the closure of schools and other public facilities, while shutting off power to hospitals, 36 fire stations and an estimated 740 traffic signals throughout the city.

More than 900 Detroit locations on the city’s municipal power grid lost power in the morning, with more than two-thirds of outages continuing at least until the late afternoon, according to the Detroit Free Press. Detroit firefighters worked throughout the day to rescue numerous individuals trapped inside elevators in downtown buildings, the Free Press reported.

The Detroit Medical Center-Detroit Receiving Hospital was forced to reroute some patients to other medical centers, the newspaper reported. The lights inside the facility “flickered on and off” throughout the day, a DMC spokesperson acknowledged.

Legal proceedings at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice were suspended and the courts were completely evacuated, with prisoners being hustled back to their cells. Coleman Young Municipal Center, the Belle Isle Aquarium and Cobo Hall Convention Center both lost power and were evacuated, according to the Free Press. The People Mover transit system also ground to a halt.

When the outage struck the Detroit Institute of Arts, some 900 children visiting the museum were forced to leave immediately. Wayne State University, with nearly 30,000 undergrad and graduate students, cancelled classes for the day. Residents in five multi-unit apartment buildings also lost power.

According to the Detroit News, the outages were caused by a “major cable failure” at the city-owned Mistersky Power Generation Plant around 9:30 a.m. “During the Public Lighting Department’s efforts to reconnect customers through another circuit,” the News reported, “a breaker on the new circuit failed, triggering a system-wide shutdown around 10:30 a.m. that resulted in the loss of power to all customers on the city’s grid.”

Up until the last eight or nine years, the city-owned plant produced power for traffic and streetlights, public buildings and private customers on the city’s grid. The station, located along the riverfront on the city’s eastside, no longer generates power. Instead it functions as a “switching station” to connect lines from the city’s grid to cables carrying electricity from DTE Energy—the utility giant that sells electricity to Detroit.

As part of the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, the entire municipal power grid is being handed over to DTE Energy. Under the terms of the agreement, the company is supposed to be implementing a four-year $200 million modernization program, which was due to involve a full inspection of the grid’s infrastructure over the last 18 months. The cable that failed had not been inspected, according to reports.

“Today is another reminder of how much work we still have to do to rebuild this city, and a bankruptcy order doesn’t solve the decades of neglect in our infrastructure,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in an afternoon press conference on the blackout.

Seeking to deflect criticism from the energy company, Duggan said that DTE was still in the early stages of its investment program, according to an account published in the Detroit News. Although the company had not addressed the circuit that failed, the mayor said, “obviously it’ll become the focus of inspections right now.” The Democratic mayor added that inspecting circuits “will make an event like today far less likely to occur again.”

However, he added, “We will, for another few years, have some risk of this happening.”

The blackout of a major American city highlights the chronic neglect of the electrical and other essential infrastructure systems in the United States. A recent study by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) found that the country’s infrastructure was mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. “A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure,” the report concluded.

It also underscores the impact of the decades-long deindustrialization of the former Motor City, which has suffered from the loss of 90 percent of its manufacturing jobs over the last half century. Decades of federal, state and local budget cuts by Democrats and Republicans have starved essential services while billions in tax cuts have been showered on the auto companies and other major corporations.

This culminated in the bankruptcy restructuring of the city, overseen by an unelected emergency manager, which slashed the pensions and health care benefits of city workers, privatized many city services and handed over public assets, including the DIA art museum and the city lighting system, to private interests.

A large number of lives were placed in danger by the outage, including those riding in elevators, driving on crowded streets where stoplights suddenly stopped functioning, and hospital patients relying on electrically powered medical equipment. Though inevitably framed by the corporate media as an accidental and entirely contingent failure of infrastructure, such events always reflect deeper social and political processes.

The seven-hour-long Detroit blackout highlights the lethal dangers posed by the takeover of critical infrastructures by capitalist corporations, a process that is taking place internationally and for which Detroit is serving as a testing ground.

The systematic transfer of vital public infrastructures into the hands of predatory private firms, a process that found very concentrated expression in Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy process, can only produce a steady rise in such incidents.

Touted by the political establishment and the media as marking a new dawn for Detroit, the bankruptcy has enabled powerful corporate-financial interests to accelerate the privatization of essential city assets, including the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the handing over of large parts of the city’s electrical infrastructure to DTE Energy.

DTE, which has benefited handsomely from the parceling out of the choicest pieces of city property under the auspices of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and the bankruptcy court of Judge Steven Rhodes, has played a central role in the corporate restructuring of the city, including participation in the drafting of plans to discontinue water, electrical and other essential services to parts of the city deemed too poor and underpopulated for investment.

The installation of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was secured as part of a secret agreement between former Detroit Mayor David Bing, a member of DTE’s board of directors for more than a decade before becoming mayor in 2009, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. In exchange for Bing’s public endorsement of Orr’s installation, the Republican governor assured the Democratic mayor that Orr would use his dictatorial powers to expand DTE’s control over the city’s power grid.

The plan formulated by Orr made good on Snyder’s word, calling for the sale of nearly half of the city’s 80,000 streetlights and the liquidation of the Detroit Public Lighting Department (DPLD) into the corporate utility giant. Orr’s plan received a stamp of approval from the federal judiciary in December 2013, when federal bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes approved the sale of hundreds of millions worth of DPLD bonds.

Under the plan, DTE itself assumes “operation and maintenance” of the city’s entire streetlight system. The system was already in a catastrophic state of disrepair, as illustrated by the killing of a 14-year-old girl at a blacked-out intersection just days before Rhodes’s approval of the $210 million bond sale.

Such policies are creating conditions in which large-scale public infrastructure catastrophes such as Tuesday’s blackout, leading to countless similar tragedies, are unavoidable.

Last year, another 14-year old Detroit resident, Malik Shelton, was electrocuted by a downed DTE power line while walking near his public school. DTE trucks arrived to fix the damaged lines only after Shelton’s death was reported on the local news, despite numerous calls to the company placed by residents in the area during the previous night and early morning.

Controlled by executive committees of professional profiteers, capitalist firms such as DTE plan their operations based strictly on their own short-term financial interests, excluding completely from consideration their impact on the population as whole. Corporate leadership sees little reason to expand the resources necessary to repair and upgrade ailing infrastructure. From a purely profit-driven standpoint, the more rational policy is to wait for outages to occur, and then to make the bare minimum level of repairs necessary after the fact.

As a result, DTE-owned power lines across Michigan languish in various states of collapse, insuring that tens and hundreds of thousands of residents lose power, often for periods lasting days or longer, every time a significant storm system passes through the state of Michigan. Unmaintained DTE lines throughout the city are in contact with and entangled with flammable materials, creating conditions in which a windstorm can generate raging infernos that spread rapidly throughout the metropolitan area. In September 2010, 750 DTE power lines fell during high winds, producing large fires in numerous residential areas throughout the city.

Coal is known to be the biggest source of carbon pollution in the energy system. (Photo: Senor Codo/flickr/cc)

Close to $1 billion in funds meant to finance global climate-mitigation projects is going toward the construction of power plants fired by coal—the biggest human source of carbon pollution—according to an Associated Press investigation.

The findings underscore the lack of rules designed to steer the United Nations’ ‘climate finance’ initiative, through which rich countries funnel money to poor countries to help tackle global warming, Karl Ritter and Margie Mason wrote for the AP.

“The money for coal highlights one of the biggest problems in the UN-led effort to fight climate change: A lack of accountability,” they pointed out. “Climate finance is critical to any global climate deal, and rich countries have pledged billions of dollars toward it in UN climate talks, which resume Monday in Lima, Peru. Yet there is no watchdog agency that ensures the money is spent in the most effective way. There’s not even a common definition on what climate finance is.”

The news outlet reported Monday that Japan, a top contributor of so-called climate finance, gave $958 million to help build three coal-fired plants in Indonesia—plants they said burn coal more efficiently than older facilities.

“However, they still emit twice as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as plants running on natural gas,” the AP noted. “Villagers near the Cirebon plant in Indonesia also complain that stocks of shrimp, fish and green mussels have dwindled.

Japanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Takako Ito maintained that for countries “that cannot afford to have other methods than coal,” so-called ‘clean coal’ technology may be the best option.

But it’s not clear that they have institutional backing for that stance. The AP story continued:

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who was unaware that the Japanese-funded coal plants in Indonesia were labeled as climate finance, said “there is no argument” for supporting such projects with climate money.

“Unabated coal has no room in the future energy system,” she told AP. ”Over time, what we should be seeing is a very, very clear trend of investment into clean renewable energy.”

Even the newly launched Green Climate Fund, a key channel for climate finance in the future, still only has vague guidelines on how to spend the money. Board member Jan Cedergren said he didn’t believe the fund would support fossil fuels but acknowledged no decision has so far been made.

Earlier this year, when 24 members of the Board of the Green Climate Fund met at that body’s headquarters in Songdo, South Korea, a coalition of more than 300 international civil society organizations urged against including dirty energy in climate finance agreements.

“We’ve seen first hand how international financial institutions include fossil fuel and other harmful energy projects in their climate and energy finance under the flawed logic of ‘lower carbon’ energy and switching to ‘lower emissions’ fuels,” said Lidy Nacpil, director of Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development. “Financing any fossil fuels and harmful energy through the Green Climate Fund is unacceptable.”

Environmentalists are hopeful that this week’s climate talks in Lima will push governments to consider climate finance as a vehicle for a paradigm shift—rather than as merely a short-term solution.

“Climate finance is such a mess. It needs to get straightened out,” Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth told the AP. “It would be such a shame if those resources went to fossil fuel-based technologies. It would be counterproductive.”

The AP further explained: “Unlike Japan, the U.S. and many other rich countries have cut public funding for coal projects in developing countries. Germany still supports such projects, but doesn’t count them as climate finance.”

What’s Going On? Ferguson, Obama and American Democracy

December 3rd, 2014 by Arnold August

A few days after the killing of Michael Brown, which occurred on August 9, 2014, Obama stated that “there are going to be different accounts” and “differences in terms of what needs to happen,” but “that’s part of democracy.” In an ABC Television interview on November 23, after the grand jury non-indictment of Brown’s killer, Obama responded to a question about the actual improvements in race relations by indicating that “in a democracy, progress is incremental.” Obama’s praising of American democracy and its political and judicial systems in relation to race relations is nothing new. For example, in the wake of the July 2013 court decision to exonerate Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, the President congratulated the prosecution and the defence, concluding that “once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works.”

In his 2004 keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention, to become known as the “post-racial speech,” the then Senate candidate Obama proclaimed, “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

What was the purpose of this message? In the Bush years, the U.S. was facing a major credibility gap in both the international and domestic arenas. In the latter, the fear of revolt by the traditionally revolutionary and progressive blacks has always been, and continues to be, in the consciousness of the ruling circles. From the days of open slavery to date, the U.S. establishment has dreaded the nightmare of revolt by blacks not to mention the impact of their influence elsewhere, as demonstrated in the broad-based activities carried out this November on Thanksgiving weekend and in the walkouts in schools across the country on December 1. Obama’s statements, such as in his “post-racial” speech cited above, have indicated clearly to the economic power elites that he is the one who can create the necessary illusions to defend two interrelated issues. One is the credibility of democracy based on the two-party system and its ability to offer a real choice to the people. The second is the capacity to deal with the worsening situation of racial discrimination, accompanied by deepening economic deterioration, escalation of police violence and mass incarceration. The majority of the ruling circles thus backed Obama both in 2008 and again in 2012.

Obama continues to use the race card to further foster illusions that the two-party system has indeed brought about change for blacks. After the assassination of Trayvon Martin, the President said that the young black “could have been my son.” In the context of an interview touching on the Michael Brown killing, he said in relation to racial discrimination that “as an African-American male, there have been times where I experienced discrimination as a young man.” The day of the grand jury non-indictment, Obama stated, “We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades. I’ve witnessed that in my own life.” However, his personal rise to power as the “first African-American president” has taken place by anesthetizing much of the black population. The growing reluctance to rely on the two-party system as a hallmark of American democracy was to a certain extent pushed to the background with faith in it temporarily restored. After all, it was asserted, this would be the first African-American president in the White House.

Based on his faltering position as an instrument of “change” thanks to American democracy, after the grand jury decision, Obama repeatedly said that he favours “peaceful protest” to allow people’s “voices to be heard” and promotes the need to reform police forces, to work with other political instances to bring about “some real change.” The first African-American Attorney General, Eric Holder, indicated right after the August 9, 2014 shooting of Brown that the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ), of which the FBI is part, would investigate the shooting. This role of the DOJ was seconded by Obama the next day, when he also reiterated calls for “reflection and understanding.” However, can blacks have confidence in the DOJ and the FBI as part of the American democratic structure? Since 1919, police at all levels, the DOJ and the FBI have been active in suppressing progressive people by means of violence, including the murder of Black Panthers in 1969 and other black activists in 1985. In the St. Louis area of Missouri, from the beginning of 2014, the local police killed at least 16 people, majority black, before Brown was murdered in August of the same year. This is part of a nationwide problem, as indicated in a report in 2012, when, in that year alone, 313 blacks were assassinated in extrajudicial killings (i.e., police and racist vigilantes such as Zimmerman), which is one every 28 hours. The U.S. is at war against blacks.

What then is the role of the DOJ and FBI in Missouri? Attorney General Holder answered this question in the form of a statement on November 25, 2014: “I have instructed department officials to continue to make contact with leaders of the peaceful protesters and to seek their assistance in isolating those individuals who are inclined towards violence. We’ve had a good ongoing dialogue with peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson.” In other words, the FBI is to play the role for which it is best known, not only in the U.S., but globally: spying on the people’s movements and striving to find snitches and collaborators under the very broad banner of opposing those who are inclined – not committing or about to commit – but inclined toward violence. This can include, on an arbitrary basis, just about any militant demonstration or protest. When Obama and Holder speak of peaceful demonstrations only, what does that mean and what type of activity does it preclude?

Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History at University of California at Los Angeles and a prolific author, wrote on November 25 after the grand jury decision:

“The young organizers in Ferguson from Hands Up United, Lost Voices, Organization for Black Struggle, Don’t Shoot Coalition, Millennial Activists United, and the like, understand they are at war…. many other young Black activists in the St. Louis area have not been waiting around for an indictment. Nor are they waiting for the much vaunted Federal probe, for they have no illusions about a federal government that provides military hardware to local police, builds prisons, kills tens of thousands by manned and unmanned planes without due process, and arms Israel in its illegal wars and occupation. They have been organizing…. They remind us, not only that Black lives matter – that should be self-evident – but that resistance matters…. The young people of Ferguson continue to struggle with ferocity, not just to get justice for Mike Brown or to end police misconduct but to dismantle racism once and for all, to bring down the Empire, to ultimately end war.”

(“Resisting the War Against the Black and Brown Underclass: Why We Won’t Wait,” by Robin D. G. Kelley)

The spirit expressed so eloquently above is combined with the organizing of protests and demonstrations on a daily basis. This is inspired by the conviction that Michael Brown was assassinated as part of the daily police repression and brutality against blacks. What is Obama’s position? He would like to convert the grass-roots actions into a conversation on “different accounts” of the killing and how to “improve” and “reform” the criminal justice system. These discussions are supposed to be, as Obama is cited above, “part of democracy.” “Healing the community,” “police reform” and “improving relationships between police and communities” are increasingly becoming fashionable buzzwords from the administration on down, as well as from the liberal media. Obama also hopes to have people believe that advances against racial discrimination are part of a “democracy where progress is incremental.” People have to be patient, it is said. However, the refusal of the people in Ferguson and the surrounding area to capitulate and thus give up their demands for justice has brought about a new situation. The very legitimacy of the entire state apparatus (national, state and local) is being challenged by people’s defiance against the state and its appendages. It is with this outlook, combined with a resurgence of people organizing at the base (even spreading throughout the U.S.), that the Obama administration and the liberal media such as CNN and NBC had to propagate the time-worn adage of the “right of people to protest peacefully” in order “to have their voices heard.” This way, they can ease their liberal conscience while at the same time restrain the struggle to the confines of American democracy. By limiting the growing and persistent movement from the bottom to merely allow “voices to be heard” implies that the people are mere spectators and beggars for reforms, and cannot be protagonists in striving for their own political power. The picture vividly painted by Kelley indicates that people want to impose their voices on the system by resisting and looking for an alternative. This is what democracy looks like, from the bottom up: a participatory democracy that is not in collaboration with the elitist American democracy as we know it, but in opposition to it and its instrument, which is based on illusions surrounding the two-party system. Their audacious actions and defiant words challenge the authority not only of the local police forces, but of the entire police state, from Washington, D.C. to Missouri; the grass-roots’ persistent deeds and slogans defy the system itself. Thus, Obama and his supporters are attempting to squeeze the last ounce out of any deception remaining from the presidential elections as a vehicle of change for blacks and others.

A recent attempt to employ the still existing fantasy by some about Obama having emerged out of the two-party system as an instrument of change, especially with regard to his ability to overcome the serious racial contradictions in America, was his White House statement on November 30. It called for a meeting of civil rights leaders, politicians and law enforcement officials with the President at the White House. The statement said, “‘Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have shone a spotlight on the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect and serve.’” In that one sentence, Obama strives to promote the illusion that police “protect and serve the community,” in contradiction to the spreading movement across the country today that challenges not only the police, but the entire criminal justice system. Obama is also taking measures to involve people in their own oppression under the guise of “collaborative relationships” between police and the people. In another sentence in that statement, he expresses his concern about how the ongoing activities by the grass roots “‘undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.’” Here we have to acknowledge that Obama gets to the heart of the matter. He tries to recuperate the legitimacy of not only the police and the judicial systems but of the capitalist system itself – for, in reality, it is the system that the criminal justice structure is geared to “protecting and serving,” and not the “communities.” At the very centre of this objective is “keeping blacks in check,” as Malcolm X stated. Obama’s attempt is to suffocate the movement and win people over to his side to beg for minor reforms of, for example, the police forces, taking into account, as he says, that on the issue of race, “in a democracy, progress is incremental.” This is called “buying time.” Obama is continuing in his attempt to buy time. On December 1, he announced “police reform” measures taken with his collaborators, in response to what he referred to as a “‘simmering distrust’” between especially “minority communities” and police forces.

The objective of the ruling circles and those who create illusions in the two-party system of American democracy is to continuously delay people in taking destiny into their own hands. For example, in August 2014, after the Brown killing, in reference to the 2016 presidential elections and potential candidates for the Republicans and Democrats, Reverend Al Sharpton is quoted as having said, “‘Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, don’t get laryngitis on this issue.’ He then added, ‘Nobody can go to the White House unless they stop by our house and talk about policing.’” Hillary Clinton got the message and soon declared: “Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown, as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family.” We can see it coming through the two-party system of American democracy and its appendix, the “lesser of two evils”: from illusions about the first African-American president to the wishful thinking about the first woman president, who will supposedly have the magic touch to assuage the grieving mothers and families of all those blacks assassinated by the system.

However, is there a breakthrough, especially among blacks of all ages and a wide spectrum of youth, regarding the illusions about the American democracy of the elites? CNN’s Wolf Blitzer inadvertently let the cat out of the bag in a dialogue with a civil rights activist about the ongoing situation in Ferguson and its spreading to the rest of the U.S. Blitzer expressed the concern of the ruling circles, when, on November 26, 2014, he worriedly asked his guest, “And for six years, we have had an African-American president in the United States, and African-American attorney general and African-American secretary of homeland security, and this is not supposed to be going on like this right now, was it?”

No, this was not the ruling elite’s game plan. However, thanks to the courageous people of Ferguson, especially those who refuse to prostrate themselves and instead are organizing to take their destiny into their own hands, and thus inspire others across the U.S., it is in fact “going on like this right now.”

Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, and the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. The neighbours under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba. He can also be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

F-4 Phantom jets take part in a flyover in Tehran. Sightings of similar jets in airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq have sparked accusations and denials about Iran’s military activities and the level of coordination that may be quietly taking place between the U.S. and Tehran. (Atta Kenare / AFP/Getty Images)

Following news reports and statements from the Pentagon, Iranian officials on Wednesday denied accusations that its military have been involved in airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Iraq.

“Iran has never been involved in any air strikes against the Daesh (Islamic State) targets in Iraq. Any cooperation in such strikes with America is also out of question for Iran,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The counter-claim from Tehran followed reporting indicating Iranian fighter planes had conducted missions inside Iraq and subsequent comments from Pentagon chief spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby who said at a briefing on Tuesday that there were “indications” the Iranians “have flown these missions in recent days in eastern Iraq.”

Kirby who tried to make it clear that if such bombings have taken place, they were done so without coordination from U.S. forces.

“Nothing has changed about our policy of not coordinating military activity with the Iranians,” Kirby told reporters.

The Guardian reports:

In Tehran, the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Brigadier-General Massoud Jazayeri also denied any collaboration. Iran considered the US responsible for Iraq’s “unrest and problems”, he said, adding that the US would “definitely not have a place in the future of that country”.

Kirby’s comments followed reports that American-made F4 Phantom jets from the Iranian air force had been targeting Isis positions in Diyala. It had earlier been reported that Iran sent three Su-25 fighter jets to Iraq designed for close support of ground troops and that Iranian pilots flew Iraqi aircraft on combat missions.

Al-Jazeera adds:

The onslaught of ISIL in Iraq has forged an unlikely alignment between Iran and the US, which have been locked in a cold war for more than three decades.

The fight against the ISIL has come amid a US diplomatic drive to agree a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme, and officials acknowledge the two sides have discussed the war in Iraq on the margins of the nuclear talks.

However, the US and Iran remain deeply opposed over Syria, with Iran providing crucial military backing for President Bashar al-Assad while the US has pledged to train a moderate rebel force to eventually confront the Assad government.

While America Daydreams, Warmongers Ready For Assault On Syria

December 3rd, 2014 by Brandon Turbeville

When the Anglo-American powers are intent on the destruction of a target country – whether it is Iraq, Libya, Syria, or some other unfortunate nation that finds itself in the crosshairs of NATO – there is very little that will stand in the way of their goals. Such is the case with the possible “No-Fly Zone” being discussed in the public view both by Washington and Ankara.

Coming on the heels of what appeared to be a stall in the plans to implement a “No-Fly Zone” in Syria by the United States, a recent shake-up in the U.S. government resulting in the firing of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (one of the few officials who expressed at least some level of reservation to military intervention against Assad’s forces), NATO is back at it again.

That the United States and Turkey have suddenly reached an agreement as to the use of Turkey’s air base and the imposition of a ‘No-Fly Zone’ in Syria should come as no surprise. A “No-Fly Zone” or “Buffer Zone” has been the desire of NATO since the Western-initiated crisis began in 2010 as an effort to provide a deeper staging ground for terrorists and death squads operating inside Syria and in order to more easily overcome Assad’s forces. In addition, the implementation of the “No-Fly Zone” would essentially be a declaration of war against Assad’s military which would result in the bombing of Syrian Air Bases and other military installations. This military intervention would also greatly weaken the Syrian military and provide a much needed second wind for Western-backed terrorists both militarily and in terms of morale.

In other words, the implementation of a “No-Fly Zone” would be nothing more than the creation of Libya 2.0.

Yet the creation of a “No-Fly Zone” is exactly what the United States and Turkey are preparing. As Adam Entous of the Wall Street Journal wrote,

U.S. and Turkish officials have narrowed their differences over a joint military mission in Syria that would give the U.S. and its coalition partners permission to use Turkish air bases to launch strike operations against Islamic State targets across northern Syria, according to officials in both countries.

As part of the deal, U.S. and Turkish officials are discussing the creation of a protected zone along a portion of the Syrian border that would be off-limits to Assad regime aircraft and would provide sanctuary to Western-backed opposition forces and refugees.

U.S. and coalition aircraft would use Incirlik and other Turkish air bases to patrol the zone, ensuring that rebels crossing the border from Turkey don’t come under attack there, officials said.

Turkey had proposed a far more extensive no-fly zone across one-third of northern Syria, according to officials. That idea was, however, a nonstarter for the Obama administration, which told Ankara that something so invasive would constitute an act of war against the Assad regime.

Notably, only a few months ago when Turkey and the United States were discussing the possibility of the establishment of a “No-Fly Zone” over Syria, the term used was “Safe Zone.” In December, the new term for the “No-Fly Zone” is being referred to as an “Air-Exclusion Zone.” It seems these synonyms and semantic name changes will never end.

As Bloomberg notes,

The new proposal would be called an “air-exclusion zone,” a buffer area inside Syria along the Turkish border that would be manned by Turkish troops and protected by U.S. air power, according to three senior U.S. officials who have been briefed on the discussions. The goal would be to give some Syria rebels and civilians protection from both Islamic State and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Syria through the zone. The idea was last floated in 2012 by the French government, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reported to support it at that time.

Of course, the “air-exclusion zone” has nothing to do with providing humanitarian aid. Nor does it have to do with protecting civilians from the Islamic State or Bashar al-Assad, the latter of which is not targeting civilians to begin with. Quite simply, with the establishment of this “buffer zone,” a new staging ground will be opened that allows terrorists such as ISIS and other related terrorist organizations the ability to conduct attacks even deeper inside Syria.

Working together with its NATO/GCC allies as well as the ever-present provocateur Israel, the United States intends to create a buffer zone in the North and East of Syria while continuing to facilitate the opening of a “third front” on the Syrian border with Israel.

Such a strategy was discussed in 2012 by the Brookings Institution in its publication “Assessing Options For Regime Change,” where it stated

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

[...]

In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the U.S. airstrikes and its attempts to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria are nothing more than a farce. The death squads running amok in Syria are themselves entirely creatures of NATO and they remain under NATO’s command. The true enemy of ISIS, Khorasan, and the cannibals of the Levant has always been and continues to be Bashar al-Assad.

Notably, the plan is being coordinated by Obama’s ISIS Czar, disgraced General John Allen, who was allegedly fired for “thousands of ‘inappropriate communications’” with Florida socialite Jill Kelley, who was also tied to the Petraeus affair.

Some reputable researchers have suggested that Allen’s original ousting had more to do with infighting amongst members of the American ruling elite involving rabidly pro-war factions (i.e. Petraeus, Ham, Allen, etc.) versus more restrained (but by no means moral) members of the elite (Obama, Hagel, Dempsey etc.) than with allegations of impropriety and inappropriate communications.

Regardless, all of the relevant members of the ruling elite are now completely on board with the plan to launch a military assault on Syria if it were ever in question at all. Even the speed in which the assault should come seems no longer in question. Allen, formerly disgraced and removed from his position is back as ISIS Czar and, thus, so is the Petraeus connection. Hagel is gone. Dempsey has been “converted” from whatever hesitation he may have expressed early on. The boys are back in town and they are ready for war.

Make no mistake, while the plans to implement a no-fly zone may have lost some steam temporarily, NATO has not given up on its goal of turning Syria into Libya on much the same roadmap. Any palatable excuse will do and, in the absence of a proper excuse, the apathy of the general public will suffice.

Unfortunately, American apathy is at record highs while NATO and Western media are hard at work providing a number of excuses for the perceived necessity of American military invasion – from the terrorists that NATO itself created, directed, funded, armed, and control to the ever present ludicrous and bizarre fantasies that Assad is the next Hitler, replete with dubious and deceitful connections to actual members of Hitler’s military officers in his cabinet.

The NATO war machine is beating its drums even louder.

For those of us who wish to avoid another military confrontation and an even greater destruction of the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Syria, time is growing short.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

Another Ponzi Roll Over of US Treasury Debt

December 3rd, 2014 by James Hall

As the holiday season draws nearer, it is nice to know that a present for all Americans and future generations is building as the hordes of consumers’ storm the aisles of their favorite box store so that they can go further in debt. Much like maxing out your plastic limits and paying the monthly minimum, the U.S. Treasury just keeps rolling over their debt since their credit card has no ceiling. The banksters behind the Federal Reserve have no problem with monetizing the national debt, since the Treasury provides their stamp of guarantee. As the public sector continues their spending spree, few really know the extent and amount of their share of the obligation.

Terence P. Jeffrey writes in the CNS News article, Treasury Issues $1T in New Debt in 8 Weeks—To Pay Old Debt.

“The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.”

Like food addicts at a cornucopia dinner, the indigestion that follows will pass, or so it is hoped. However, the pain and bloating intensifies and at some point, stapling the stomach becomes a necessary option.

U.S. Government Debt Is THE Biggest Ponzi Scheme In History sums up accordingly,

“The reason this is a true Ponzi is because at every Treasury auction, held twice a month, the Government issues enough debt to repay the existing debt that is maturing and issues even more debt in order to fund Government overspending . . . In contrast, if the Chinese and Japanese decide they’d rather not keep putting an increasing amount of money into financing our Governmental spending juggernaut, the Fed can just print money under the orders of the President to keep the gerbil going on the wheel.”

So when the Treasury raises the national debt level and authorizes additional borrowing, in essence they are going to the Fed for a new loan. Think about this process and ponder at length the absurdity of going to shysters at a privately owned central bank for credit, which requires payment of interest.

This construct is not known or is dismissed by most of the public. Yet, it is the single most important element that explains the utter futility of establishing economic prosperity in the age of universal financial servitude.

Regular readers of BATR articles are well schooled in the prurient nature of debt bondage that tortures and rapes every taxpayer and consumer on the planet. The phenomenon of facilitating the enslavement of mankind has been uninterrupted since the passage of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act.

Illustrating this fact, Mr. Jeffrey continues with quoting current Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

“In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in October 2013, Lew explained why he wanted the Congress to agree to increase the federal debt limit—and why the Treasury has no choice but to constantly issue new debt.”

“Every week we roll over approximately $100 billion in U.S. bills,” Lew told the committee. “If U.S. bondholders decided that they wanted to be repaid rather than continuing to roll over their investments, we could unexpectedly dissipate our entire cash balance.”

It is incomprehensible to conceive a way out of this debt trap as long as the roll over practice continues. Moreover, the confession that Lew makes is actually an admission that the political will does not exist to scrap the interminable cycle of financial repression.

As long as the political establishment surrenders their professed legitimacy to the control of The Federal Reserve Cartel: The Eight Families, the entire system has no rightful authority to rule over the public. Researcher Dean Henderson documents:

“My queries to bank regulatory agencies regarding stock ownership in the top 25 US bank holding companies were given Freedom of Information Act status, before being denied on “national security” grounds. This is rather ironic, since many of the bank’s stockholders reside in Europe.

One important repository for the wealth of the global oligarchy that owns these bank holding companies is US Trust Corporation – founded in 1853 and now owned by Bank of America. A recent US Trust Corporate Director and Honorary Trustee was Walter Rothschild. Other directors included Daniel Davison of JP Morgan Chase, Richard Tucker of Exxon Mobil, Daniel Roberts of Citigroup and Marshall Schwartz of Morgan Stanley.”

Such disclosures come as no surprise to veteran observers of the financial oligarchy. Add the international dimension that William Dean A. Garner presents in the RBN account, Banks owned or controlled by the Rothschilds, which introduces the term The First Sphere of Influence. “The grand plan of The First Sphere of Influence is to create a global mononation which is one state with one government and one set of laws for all ordinary citizens, and no laws for the elite.”

When viewed within this context, can anyone give any credence to the Jacob Lew’s of the world who do the bidding for the Plutocrats?

Keeping the monitory Ponzi scheme going is the cardinal maxim in all of finance. While adding a trillion dollars of new debt in eight weeks may seem alarming to many, the fact that much of this liability goes to service old debt needs to be recognized as the hoax of all times.

Because these contrived obligations are phony claims against real assets and future earnings, each and every non elite is nothing but a chattel serf to the fraudulent political/monitory crime syndicate.

As long as apathy and ignorance permeates the public consciousness, the masters of the debt created money system will continue to rule over the political, social and economic environment.  A trillion here and another trillion there might someday add up to an unsustainable level, but it will never become real money.

 

 

A retired Philadelphia police captain, Ray Lewis, has told the truth about the role of law enforcement in America.

“It’s an oppressive organization now controlled by the one percent of corporate America. Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries,” Lewis said during a recent interview.

“In such divisive times it’s important for people to realize this isn’t a black vs. white issue, but a blue vs. everyone issue,” writes investigative journalist Jay Syrmopoulos. “When a former cop is willing to cross the ‘thin blue line’ in an attempt to help wake people up to the reality of the American police state, the least we can do is help him spread this important message by sharing his words of wisdom in hopes of awakening others.”

Mr. Lewis underscores the fact police have never served the public and are acting at the behest of fascist corporations and banks, the very institutions that have controlled the nation and ruled over its political system for decades.

“The American legal system is rooted in English common law, and the modern American policeman harkens back to English sheriffs, who were paid by and accountable to the government, not to the community,” writes Wendy McElroy. “The main purpose of the sheriff was to enforce what were called ‘government decisions.’ Maintaining public order was also a concern, but ‘order’ was defined by the government.”

Government decisions are now made by transnational corporations and banks. This was admitted in 2009 by an exasperated Dick Durbin, the Senior Democrat senator from Illinois, when he said banks “frankly own the place” and are “the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill.”

Banks used mercenary cops to wipe out a misguided and muddled Occupy movement when it went after Wall Street. Homeland Security, supposedly designed to combat an illusive terrorist threat, coordinated the government response that ultimately destroyed the movement. JP Morgan Chase, one of the largest bankster operations in the world, showed its gratitude when it donated $4.6 million to the New York police.

Ferguson Playing Into the Hands of the State

If the Ferguson movement sincerely wished to end mercenary cop violence and brutality it would expose this connection between the corporate state and the police.

As McElroy notes, the concept of an organized and tax payer funded police force was first introduced by the British in 1786 in Dublin for the explicit purpose of quashing what the state considered disorder. “In this as in other social measures, Ireland acted as a testing ground for what would later become policy in England,” McElroy writes.

“The modern policeman is, in fact, the antithesis of Marshal Dillon and an expression of the stereotypical British sheriff — a civil servant responsible only to government and governmental policy,” she adds.

The United States Constitution initially prevented the federal government from controlling state and local law enforcement, but this has changed over the last few decades as a centralized federal government has incrementally exercised its monetary influence over police, especially after 9/11.

Unwittingly or not, the activists and protesters in Ferguson are creating a situation that will ultimately result in a strengthening of mercenary police control over the citizenry. By engaging in criminal activity – much of it, such as looting, praised by white intellectuals – and promoting discord and violence along racial lines, the activists are forcing average Americans (who are denigrated as racists) into a position where they will ultimately demand police protection, although, as McElroy and others have noted, that protection is at best illusory.

Short of comprehending the true nature and role of mercenary cops – the protection of a corporate-fascist state and, most importantly, as a weapon against organized opposition – the Ferguson activists and their followers are playing right into the hands of the state.

Several authors have recently asked why Malaysia is not part of the MH17 joint investigation team and why is Ukraine, a suspect in this case, part of it? The questions we should first be asking are what exactly is the joint investigation team, in which legal framework is it operating and why was it established?

There are actually several investigations going on on the shootdown of MH17. We will,  however,  focus on two of them which people seem to get mixed up: the first official inquiry led by the Dutch Safety board (DSB), which published a preliminary report on September 9, 2014 and the joint investigation team inquiry, which was established August 7, 2014.

The first investigation, led by the DSB an independent organization, is ruled by the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, which was established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency.

In the event of a plane crash, the country on which soil the accident occurs is responsible for the investigation, according to the Annex 13 protocol.

At Ukraine’s request, the Netherlands is conducting the investigation through the Dutch Safety Board. This is not a breach of protocol, since the State of Occurrence, in this case Ukraine, “may delegate the whole or any part of the conducting of such investigation to another State by mutual arrangement and consent.” (Annex 13 To the Convention on International Civil Aviation, paragraph 5.1)

Article 26 of the Chicago Convention also says:

“The State in which the aircraft is registered [Malaysia] shall be given the opportunity to appoint observers to be present at the inquiry and the State holding the inquiry shall communicate the report and findings in the matter to that State.”

The states which participate in the Dutch Safety Board inquiry are Malaysia, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia. Apart from Ukraine, the United States and Russia, all other countries part of the investigation had nationals onboard MH17. The fact that other states take part in the investigation is also standard practice, so, for all we know, this investigation follows the international rules and recommendations of the Chicago Convention.

The “sole objective” of the Dutch Safety Board investigation “is the prevention of similar accidents and incidents” not “to apportion blame or liability in respect of any party.” In other words, this is not a criminal investigation. (Preliminary report, Dutch Safety Board, September 2014)

On the other hand, that is, as we will see, the specific objective of the joint investigation team (JIT): to conduct a criminal investigation and “apportion blame”. It is a European entity conducting a criminal investigation under a European legal framework and which, unlike the Dutch Safety Board, does not have to abide by the rules of the ICAO. The JIT can include anyone or any state, but most importantly, and contrary to the DSB investigation, it is under no obligation to include Malaysia.

What exactly is a  joint investigation team?

Under the auspices of Europol and Eurojust:

A joint investigation team (JIT) is a team consisting of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement authorities, established for a fixed period and a specific purpose by way of a written agreement between the States involved, to carry out criminal investigations in one or more of the involved States. (Joint Investigation Teams, Historical background, Eurojust)

The team will be led by a person from the State in which the JIT operates. Although the members of the team may originate from various jurisdictions they are to carry out their duties in accordance with the national law of the territory where the investigation is taking place. (General Legal Basis for JITs)

JITs can be set up with countries outside of the European Union as well, provided that a legal basis for the creation of such a JIT exists between the countries involved. The legal basis can take the form of an international legal instrument, a bi- or multilateral agreement or national legislation (e.g. respective Article(s) in the code of criminal procedure). (Ibid.)

Participants may come not only from EU bodies/agencies, e.g. Europol, Eurojust, OLAF, etc., but also from third States and their agencies, e.g. the FBI (Joint Investigation Teams Manual)

Ukraine has acceded to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and thus may set up a JIT. In Ukraine the authority “which decides on setting up a joint investigation team shall be the General Prosecutor’s Office in Ukraine”. The rules and regulations of JITs can be found in the Article 20 of the Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

As you can see, there are clearly two investigations, operating under different legal frameworks and with two different purposes. It is convenient to note that nowhere in the DSB preliminary report is the word “crime” mentioned.

Establishment of a JIT in the Hague: Who is Leading this Criminal Investigation?

The JIT was created in late July, when “public prosecutors and investigators from the 12 countries that are involved in the investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 met at Eurojust in The Hague to discuss their judicial cooperation strategy.” (Eurojust coordination meeting: investigations into Flight MH17, Eurojust, The Hague, July 28, 2014)

The Eurojust press release states further:

Today, public prosecutors and investigators from the 12 countries that are involved in the investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 met at Eurojust in The Hague to discuss their judicial cooperation strategy.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has started the coordination of international cooperation, and requested the assistance of Eurojust in arranging today’s coordination meeting. Eurojust is the EU’s judicial coordination and cooperation agency. Its mandate is to facilitate the coordination and cooperation of the Member States, and it can also invite countries from outside the European Union to participate in coordination meetings to plan strategies in fighting serious organised crime.

At today’s meeting, chaired by Mr Han Moraal, National Member for the Netherlands at Eurojust, representatives of the 11 countries whose citizens are victims – the Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, UK, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, Indonesia and the USA – in addition to Ukraine, Europol and Interpol, were present.

The goal of today’s meeting at Eurojust was to discuss cooperation and ways of broadening and accelerating the investigations, including the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). The JIT will focus first on the technical and forensic investigation in Ukraine, the location of the criminal offence. (Ibid.)

Unlike the DSB, an independent organization, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, which “started the coordination of international cooperation” is a governmental agency. The Eurojust press release states that the investigation, initiated by the Dutch, will take place in Ukraine. Is it being conducted under Ukrainian or Dutch national law? Remember, according to General Legal Basis for JITs, the “team will be led by a person from the State in which the JIT operates” and even though ”the members of the team may originate from various jurisdictions they are to carry out their duties in accordance with the national law of the territory where the investigation is taking place.” 

What the press release above does not mention is that the Ukrainian “Prosecutor General’s Office was one of those who initiated the formation of an international investigative group,” according to an article by Interfax.

Does it mean that, since the JIT investigation is taking place in Ukraine, it is ruled by Ukrainian law and that Ukraine, one of the suspects, is leading the investigation? If so, this JIT investigation has no credibility whatsoever and is absolutely not independent. It is a parody of justice.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema said:

“It is our priority or even our duty to the international community to hold a detailed inquiry into this tragedy and restore justice…”(Ukrainian Prosecutor General: Intl probe into MH17 flight crash to go on, Interfax, October 29, 2014)

The Interfax article stated further:

The Prosecutor General’s Office recalled that an agreement setting up the joint investigative group of the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Ukraine, Malaysia and Eurojust was signed on August 7, 2014.

That JIT agreement, initiated at The Hague on July 28, 2014, includes a non-disclosure agreement between all the countries except Malaysia, which was only granted a “participant” status:

In the framework of the 4-country agreement signed on 8 August between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia, information on the progress and results of the investigation of the disaster will remain classified.

This was confirmed at a briefing in Kiev under the auspices of the office of the Prosecutor General Yuri Boychenko. In his words, the results of the investigation will be published once completed only if a consensus agreement of all parties that have signed the agreement prevails.

Any one of the signatories has the right to veto the publication of the results of the investigation without explanation.

Following the signing of this agreement, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the agreement and allowed for the participation of Malaysian staff to participate in the investigation. (The Causes of the MH17 Crash are “Classified”. Ukraine, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium Signed a “Non-disclosure Agreement”, Live Journal, August 23, 2014)

So one of the major differences between the Dutch Safety Board investigation and the JIT investigation is that in the DSB investigation “The State in which the aircraft is registered [Malaysia] shall be given the opportunity to appoint observers to be present at the inquiry and the State holding the inquiry shall communicate the report and findings in the matter to that State.”

The JIT investigation, on the other hand, is under no obligation to “communicate the report and findings” to Malaysia.

On October 9, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans and Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert wrote the following in a letter to the President of the Dutch House of Representatives:

A meeting was held at Eurojust on 28 July 2014, laying the groundwork for a good working relationship between the police and justice authorities of the countries involved. One of the forms this has taken is the establishment of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), comprising representatives of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Ukraine and Malaysia [as a "participant"]. This team will pave the way for better international cooperation, facilitating the exchange of knowledge, expertise and evidence.

How is excluding Malaysia from the team and granting it an inferior status in the investigation paving “the way for better international cooperation, facilitating the exchange of knowledge, expertise and evidence?” It does exactly the opposite.

Malaysian officials have complained in late November that the were excluded from the JIT and are headed to the Netherlands on December 3 to discuss their status:

 Come Dec 3, Malaysia’s inspector-general of police (IGP) and the attorney-general (A-G) will head for the Netherlands to discuss among others, the role of the Malaysian team in the joint international investigations into the downing of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 in July…

At the moment, Malaysia is not in the joint investigation team. We are merely, a participant. We must be included in the joint investigation team,” he said…

Currently, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine and Australia are in the joint investigation team.

During his visit to Malaysia earlier this month, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte had agreed to Malaysia’s participation in the international investigation. (MH17: IGP, A-G Off To The Netherlands On Dec 3, Bernama, November 19, 2014)

Why is Belgium part of the JIT and not Malaysia? Four Belgians died on the plane compared to 43 Malaysians. But more importantly, it was a Malaysian plane which was attacked. How can Malaysia be excluded from this investigation? Some authors argue that it is due to Malaysia’s reluctance to put the blame on the Russians or the Donetsk separatists without irrefutable evidence.

Media Blackout on Ukraine’s Official Report blaming Russia and the “Pro-Russian Rebels” 

Ukraine did not hesitate to point the finger at the militants in the Donetsk region though. We may recall that the exact same day the JIT agreement was signed, on August 7, 2014, Ukraine’s Secret Service (SBU) published its own investigation report entitled Terrorists and Militants planned cynical terrorist attack at Aeroflot civil aircraft. This report, which blames “pro-Russian rebels”, went virtually unnoticed in the mainstream press.

According to the official SBU report entitled Terrorists and Militants planned cynical terrorist attack at Aeroflot civil aircraft, the Donetsk militia (with the support of Moscow) was aiming at a Russian Aeroflot passenger plane and shot down the Malaysian MH17 airliner by mistake. That’s the official Ukraine government story which has not been reported by the MSM.

Following the release of the SBU report, the Western mainstream media went silent. (Michel Chossudovsky, Desperate MH17 “Intelligence” Spin. Ukraine Secret Service Contends that “Pro-Russian Rebels had Targeted a Russian Passenger Plane”. “But Shot Down Flight MH17 by Mistake”, August 11, 2014)

Why did Ukraine issue a report blaming the separatists the same day it joined the  investigation team? And why didn’t the mainstream press talk about it? We can only speculate, but it is unusual that it was not a “breaking news”.

Western governments, particularly the U.S., were quick to place the blame on Russia and/or the militants in Eastern Ukraine, who had allegedly “shot the passenger plane” down with a missile, or so they said. Without a shred of evidence, that narrative was parroted by the western mainstream media and is still upheld today, even though the preliminary report published by the Dutch Safety Board last September does not even mention once the term “missile”. The very unusual term “high energy objects” was used to describe what had hit the plane and caused its demise.

Moreover, of significance, a major piece of legislation introduced into the US Congress H.Res. 758 refers to the downing of MH17 allegedly by Russia and pro-Russian separatists as a potential casus belli, which could be used to justify military action against the Russian Federation.

Whereas Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a civilian airliner, was destroyed by a Russian-made missile provided by the Russian Federation to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, resulting in the loss of 298 innocent lives;  (See full text of H.Res. 758, 113th Congress, November 14, 2014)

For Western governments and their subservient media, the preliminary report “proved” they were right: “high energy objects” confirmed it was a missile that brought the plane down. Why then was not the word “missile” used in the report?

Independent analysts as well as OSCE monitor Michael Bociurkiw have rather mentioned no signs of a missile could be found on the wreckage, only machine gun-like holes, evidence which corroborates the Spanish air trafic controler’s testimony who claimed Ukrainian fighter jets had shot MH17 down. Eyewitnesses on the ground have also told the BBC Russian service that they saw Ukrainian fighter jets next to MH17 before it crashed. The report was censored by the BBC. (You can view it and read the transcript in this article: Deleted BBC Report. “Ukrainian Fighter Jet Shot Down MHI7″, Donetsk Eyewitnesses)

It poses a serious problem that Ukraine is part of an investigation into an incident for which it is a suspect, when the main victim, Malaysia, is excluded. The investigation should either include all the suspects as well as the victims or none of them. But most importantly, Ukraine should not lead an investigation into a crime for which it is a suspect.

The Biggest Scandal in America Is Its Controlled Press

December 3rd, 2014 by Eric Zuesse

How many Americans know that the current regime in Ukraine was installed in a very bloody February 2014 coup d’etat, that was planned in the U.S. White House, and overseen by an Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, and run by the CIA, and carried out for the White House by one of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, whose founder and leader still controls Ukraine though not officially, even these many months after his coup, and which nazi party has been up to their elbows since then in a genocidal policy to exterminate the people in the region of Ukraine that had voted approximately 90% for the man whom Obama and those nazis overthrew in February? (Click onto that link, and to the more-detailed evidence that’s linked to there, in order to see the ultimate documentations of this entire horrific history, because it is history now, even though the American public were never informed about it while it was news — while and when it was happening, which it still is.)

And how many Americans know that one of the two main suspects in the bringing-down of the Malaysian MH17 airliner over Ukraine on July 17th has been given veto-power over the report that is to be issued from the official ‘investigation’ of the black boxes and other evidence in the case?

The ongoing hiding of all of this from the American public is perhaps even more stunning to the present writer than is the bloody American policy (including Obama’s personal role in it) itself.

Virtually all of the ‘news’ editors and producers — the ‘news’ executives, in America’s press — know, and have known all along, that these things are the case, because they’ve been receiving many news-submissions on them, with full and entirely credible documentation each time, ever since February, and have not made any of these facts public; they’ve not published this reality, when it was news, though they are supposed to be news-organizations.

I know this because I am one of the many independent investigative journalists who has been reporting in detail on these matters, throughout this time-period, and whose reports have been submitted to virtually all U.S. ‘news’ media — mainstream and alternative news, liberal and conservative news, Republican and Democratic news. And, with the exception of only about a half-dozen obscure but admirably authentic news-sites on the Internet (which is just a small fraction of the “alternative news” sites), all of this solidly documented information (just click on the links and you’ll see it documented there) has been intentionally withheld, from the American public, by virtually the entirety of the U.S. ‘news’ media.

Was the rigid control over a nation’s press more rigid and more universal in the Soviet Union, or in Nazi Germany, than is the case in today’s United States? One should not simply assume that it was, or that it wasn’t, but instead recognize how extremely far from being a democracy today’s United States has, in fact, become. This is the most shocking realization of all, because it’s the most suppressed news of all — news about the news-suppression by the ‘news’-media.

Regarding that charge of news-suppression in America: among the ‘news’ media to which these news-reports have been regularly submitted and yet never published, have also been specialized ones, such as fair.orgmediamatters.org, and Foreign Policy magazine; and yet even they refuse to report these realities about U.S. foreign policy and its cover-ups, and about the controlled U.S. ‘news’ media — in neither specialized field (neither press-reviews, nor international policy) is it being reported. And, of course, it’s not broadcast in any U.S. national media. That’s how dire the condition of what used to be American democracy has now become.

The biggest news-story of all is thus the one that is, and that will inevitably be, the most suppressed news-story of all: the news-suppression itself. It extends from the major ‘news’-media to the alternative and even to the specialized ‘news’-media.

Edward Snowden, the former CIA and NSA employee and then contractor who went public about the U.S. Government’s violating the 4th Amendment and other U.S. Constitutional provisions regarding Americans’ right to privacy and so forth, addressed on October 20th, a class at Harvard Law School, and he spoke about the impossibility of democracy to exist if there is not informed consent from the public of what the Government is doing, and of what the authentic aims of the Government are in what it is doing and intends to do. He necessarily had to speak from an undisclosed location, because the U.S. Government wants to imprison him (if not worse). He raised the extremely serious question as to whether, and the extent to which, a government can lie to its public and still be a democracy.

That’s the question. How can the public have a government representing informed consent, if the ‘news’ media are constantly, and systematically, lying about the most important things, and covering up that government’s worst, most heinous, crimes? Yet, this is what Americans have today.

The United States is thus no longer a model for any country except for a dictatorship. How likely is it that America’s press will let the American public know this now-established fact?

Something’s wrong — and it’s not people such as Edward Snowden.

For yet another of the many examples of U.S. news-suppression, click here. This interview, 13 years after the news-event, was relegated to C-Span, not aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, or cable-news channels.

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

On Nov. 24 the Grand Jury in Missouri delivered their decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the brutal killing of 18-year-old African American youth Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson. This decision speaks volumes about the current social status of African Americans in the United States.

Yet the militant response to this travesty of injustice has sparked widespread resistance around the country. Unrest in Ferguson and  surrounding communities has prompted a national movement from New York and Boston all the way to Los Angeles and Oakland.

Youth and workers are blockading streets and highways; shutting down shopping malls where corporations paying slave wages to their employees are reaping billions in profits every year.

In the city of Detroit and throughout Michigan we have been subjected to the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history; large-scale theft of retiree health and pension benefits; the expropriation of public assets including schools, parks, lighting and water systems; and the imposition of corporate agents who occupy the reigns of power in government in order to facilitate the exploitation and looting of the majority working class and African American populations.

Please join us this coming Mon., Dec. 8, at the weekly Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) meeting beginning at 7:00pm. We will discuss the current situation and plan future actions in this ongoing struggle against political repression and forced impoverishment.

Date: Mon. Dec. 8, 2014, 7:00-9:00pm

Location: 5920 Second Ave. at Antoinettee, Near WSU in Midtown
Contact: 313-671-3715 or 680-5508

Russia has abandoned the troubled South Stream project and will now be building its replacement with Turkey. This monumental decision signals that Ankara has made its choice to reject Euro-Atlanticsm and embrace Eurasian integration.

In what may possibly be the biggest move towards multipolarity thus far, the ultimate Eurasian pivot, Turkey, has done away with its former Euro-Atlantic ambitions. A year ago, none of this would have been foreseeable, but the absolute failure of the US’ Mideast policy and the EU’s energy one made this stunning reversal possible in under a year. Turkey is still anticipated to have some privileged relations with the West, but the entire nature of the relationship has forever changed as the country officially engages in pragmatic multipolarity.

Turkey’s leadership made a major move by sealing such a colossal deal with Russia in such a sensitive political environment, and the old friendship can never be restored (nor do the Turks want it to be). The reverberations are truly global.

Missing The Signs 

It’s amazing how much the West lost in such a short period of time and due to such major and totally unnecessary political miscalculations, and they owe their roots to the disastrous regime change operations in Syria and Ukraine.

The US In The Mideast:

Nearly four years ago, the US co-opted Turkey to ‘Lead From Behind’ in overthrowing the democratically elected Syrian government. However, things didn’t go as quite as planned and the Syrian people engaged in a fierce Patriotic War to defend the existence of their secular state. Turkey purposely sat out on the anti-ISIL coalition because it wanted solid guarantees of its reward in a regime-changed Syria, but none were forthcoming. Its leadership held firm, so the US started playing the ‘Kurdish Card’ of ethnic nationalism to bully them into submitting – which eventually backfired. The US crossed the line by arming and training the Kurds (some of whom are registered as terrorists by Turkey), and faced with such an existential threat to their state (that would either be unleashed wittingly or unwittingly with time), they knew they had to pivot, and fast.

Turkey is playing all sides to its advantage, so it will still retain a defense relationship with NATO and the US, but it will no longer behave as an absolute lackey.

The EU And Its Energy Policy:

Meanwhile, the EU totally fudged its energy policy with Russia. As a result of the Ukraine Crisis, it began exerting tremendous pressure (which was already building up) on the South Stream project, calling upon EU energy legislation clauses to state that its member states’ cooperation with Russia was illegal. Poorer countries like Bulgaria pleaded for the EU to allow the project, emphasizing how important it was for their national economies (which haven’t received much of Brussels’ largesse since joining), but to no avail, as the EU stonewalled the project. Russia had no choice but to find a replacement route and saw that the only viable stand-in was Turkey, which just so happened to be undergoing its most serious crisis ever with the US.

Ducks In A Row

Let’s look at how this geostrategic masterpiece was set into motion, as the past two months contain the main moves of this political waltz — and they’re all centered on Russian President Putin.

(1) Serbia:

Putin’s October visit to Serbia served to inform his counterpart about the plans to scrap South Stream, while still giving him strong assurances that the Russian-Serbian relationship will remain intact going forward, with or without the gas project.

(2) Syria and Sochi:

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem visited Sochi last week and personally met with Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. The meeting, held behind closed doors, was highlighted for the attention that the Russian leader gave to his guest. Putin could have told him to tell President Assad about his upcoming visit to Turkey in order to reassure his loyal and respected partner of his positive intentions and the bigger picture surrounding his motives.

(3) Turkey:

The final step was for Putin to go to Turkey and make the announcement after his meeting with Erdogan. Turkey understands that it has made a definitive move by joining the project and that there is no going back from this decision. It had been rejected by the EU for decades and it now realizes that its closest military ally, the US, had played it for a fool during the entire Syrian War.

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Worse still, the Kurdish Card has gotten out of control, and it seems inevitable that sooner or later the insurrection will be rekindled, and with bloody and destabilizing consequences. On a pragmatic note, global events are shifting from the West to the non-West (read: BRICS and G20), so in the national self-interests of the Turkish state, it’s seen as wise to join the new winner’s circle (after being rejected by Europe and betrayed by the US) and try to turn over a new leaf with new friends.

The Aftershocks

The announcement of the New South Stream has global implications, but here’s just a few of them as arranged by region:

Europe:

The EU will now have to pay for expensive LNG (on average 30% higher) that will likely be sold from the terminal at the Greek-Turkish border as well as remain energy dependent on risky Ukrainian routes. But there’s a catch – the poor Balkan South-Stream-300x160countries are able to get in on the deal by building relatively cheaper overland connecting lines and resurrect the project…but only if they leave the EU and its authoritative energy legislation. All that it takes is for Greece or Bulgaria to abandon Brussels (which doesn’t seem improbable), and the project can either go through Macedonia en route to Serbia or via Bulgaria as initially planned, then up to the Hungarian border. At this point, it’s certainly a tantalizing thought for the countries that have paid the most for their ‘integration’ and received scarcely anything in return. Expect the New South Stream to politically divide the EU like never before.

 

Mideast:

There is no way that Russia would have sold Syria out after so many years of friendship, especially after Putin’s high-profile meeting with Muallem. Thus, Turkey is not forecast to directly invade Syria (although it could continue training some anti-government fighters). It may, however, allow the US to use its airbases and airspace to carry out airstrikes on ISIL.

Since it’s now behaving in a multipolar fashion, Turkey is playing all sides to its advantage, so it will still retain a defense relationship with NATO and the US, but it will no longer behave as an absolute lackey. Taking things further, Turkey’s shift to the East might allow Iran to one day build pipelines through it to access the Western market, and it could also allow Turkmen gas to transit both countries en route to Europe.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

Eurasia:

Most significantly, Turkey has shown that it has the political grit to make historical decisions independent of NATO, showing that it is embracing its pivotal geography and combining it with a multipolar policy.The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (importantly encompassing Russia and China) just outlined the specific procedures for admitting new members a few months ago, although at the time analysts thought this was directed towards India and Pakistan.

Now, however, with Turkey already being a dialogue partner, it might make the rapid step to observer status and full-fledged membership just as quickly as it made its decisive pivot. There’s also been talk of the country entering into a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union, so it might incidentally find its EU replacement with Brussels’ eastern adversary, Moscow.

As Western decision makers are scratching their heads and wondering how it ever got to this point, they’d do well to remember that none of this would have happened had they just allowed the Syrian and Ukrainian people to live in peace with their democratically elected governments.

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

“Free trade” is often treated without question as an indisputable truth in contemporary economic courses. It is seen as an orthodox doctrine of the macroeconomic religion and to dispute its validity would warrant you the reputation of being a heretic filled with drivel and lunacy. But is free trade in reality the prosperity-boasting mechanism that it is advertised as being or is it asinister and pathological means of consolidating global wealth in the hands of an increasingly smaller privileged ruling elite while globalizing poverty and exploitation? When one peels back the ideological and political controls imposed upon society by the corporate-financier elite who drive world affairs, we see nothing less than a global heist that threatens the stability of the world order that has existed for centuries and the emergence of an increasingly “corporate world order” that even threatens the US’s own sovereignty and security.

Sir James Goldsmith-The Prophetic Capitalist

When taking a firm stance against a pervasive dogma like globalization and free trade, there is no better person to have on your side than Sir James Goldsmith, a renowned Anglo-French international financier and multi-billionaire tycoon who towards the end of his life would become a politician and MP of the European Parliament representing France. He was known for his astute insight such as forecasting the stock market crash of 1987 as well as predicting higher oil prices with the formation of OPEC.

Unlike many individuals among the “1%”, he ended up on the right side of history, arguing against GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) which set the precedent for increasing globalization and which would be replaced by the World Trade Organization in 1995. His book, “The Trap”, articulates his opposition to GATT and the danger it posed to national economies which was further elaborated on in his prophetic 1994 interview on Charlie Rose’s show which included a short debate with Laura Tyson, Chairwomen of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors who was among those responsible for pushing through GATT. Because of the significance of this interview, buried in the depths of the internet in six low-quality video clips and outnumbered by slick, corporate-paid propaganda that is characteristic in academia, my intention is to provide a thorough summation of this precious interview to increase accessibility and awareness of these timeless talking-points and connect it with current reality in hope of increasing public consciousness to the perils of increasing globalization, especially in light of the coming “Trans Pacific Partnership”(i.e. “NAFTA on steroids”).

The Prophetic Interview

The interview was set several months after NAFTA’s implementation on January 1, 1994 but before the passing of GATT-1994 and thus offered Goldsmith the opportunity to make multiple prophetic insights into the coming of the globalized world order. Charlie Rose asks Goldsmith on the difference between NAFTA and GATT, making the statement that the alleged “fears” Ross Perot had warned about with NAFTA did not come true. However, Goldsmith cautions viewers to distinguish between the sizes of GATT and NAFTA. GATT, he said, would unleash an unemployment which would attack the economies of the world because of the fact that it dealt with an area in east Asia with 4 billion people that suffered vast unemployment and who would work for almost nothing; it would take a corporation 47 persons in Vietnam to equal the wage cost of a single American worker. NAFTA, in contrast, dealt with 80 million people with relatively higher wages. An indeed, when we waited “5 years” for NAFTA, we found that:

[According to the] Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the number of U.S. jobs created by export expansion in relation to the number of U.S. jobs lost to the growth of foreign imports because of NAFTA in its first ten years resulted in a net loss of 879,280 jobs. (See “NAFTA – Related Job Losses Have Piled Up Since 1993” by Robert E. Scott.)

GATT has created a system where technology can be transported anywhere in the world, along with capital, facilitating the mobility of corporate interests in the global economy. In such a scenario, two companies with the same product and technology can make a product anywhere and sell it anywhere with the cost of labor being different. According to Goldsmith, this system results in booming economic growth which is severely undermined by an equally skyrocketing unemployment rate and the exclusion of vast sections of society from economic participation.

Some would argue that the question is not simply about labor cost but the huge purchasing power of emerging markets like India and China. According to Goldsmith, nations must learn to harness this purchasing power in a way that is not detrimental to society. One way is to go create a corporation in China, for example, building a factory and conquering part of the Chinese market by competing there fair and square as a corporate citizen. The problem is that with globalized free trade, corporations use it as a pretext to move offshore not so much to conquer parts of the market fairly but to exploit low wage labor and re-import goods back into the US (taking advantage of lower US tariff rates which GATT had reduced in the course of 8 rounds from 40% to 8.9% in 1994) to cut their costs and essentially kill off the labor force. Goldsmith notes that 25% of a corporation’s costs are in labor and globalized free trade facilitates corporate ambitions of cutting 20% of their cost and forces corporations that do not offshore to compete with foreign exploited labor. In the 20 years prior to 1994, salaries in the US had dropped by 19%.

Goldsmith also points out that when a product is manufactured from raw materials, it incurs a “value-added” that has historically been shared between capital and labor. With globalization, foreign exploited labor causes a shattering of the sharing of the value added and destabilizes society. He distinguishes this from standard arguments for protectionism by saying that he is supportive of free markets and enterprise, and even free trade between relatively homogeneous regions with similar labor costs but as long as they do not fundamentally destabilize society in the manner globalization does. Major corporations benefit because they are no longer tied to their respective nations and love the idea of unlimited, giveaway labor. “What is good for GM is no longer good for America.” At the time, Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) accounted for annual sales of $4.8 trillion with the top 100 alone accounting for 33% of foreign direct investment.

Another vital talking point he mentions is that in the three months prior to his interview, IBM, Boeing, and Advance Microsystems had all announced movement offshore of certain parts of their manufacturing noting that contrary to the claim made by some that only unskilled labor would be offshored, so would skilled labor. The first industries to take the hit, though, were the textile and shoe industries which lost millions of jobs. They would be followed by high-tech industries and even some service industries. Swiss Air had announced that it would be moving part of its back office into Bombay, India to communicate by satellites and reduce costs by 95%, a trend that has happened among multiple American industries.

In responding to a point made by Laura Tyson in the debate portion of the interview, he states that the claim of “lower prices” because of free trade is misleading because what corporations do after exploiting slave labor overseas is re-import products just below the level of the locally produced product to put the local out of business and solidify their domination over the market. This is best typified in the case of Wal-Mart; according to the excellent documentary “Wal Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices”, Wal-Mart essentially “invades” the local economy with slave-made junk, pushing domestic businesses out, destroying the dynamic economic ecosystem that exists in a community, and essentially forces those who lose their jobs to centralized retail to become “wage slaves” at either Wal Mart or places like McDonald’s with sub-par wages.

Thom Hartmann has pointed out before that prior to Reaganomics and America’s insane trade policy, the largest employer in the US was GM which paid an average of $50/hr. as compared with Wal Mart today which is the largest employer and pays an average of $10/hr. It is no wonder then that income inequality is increasing in America due to a deliberately flawed system that globalizes wealth in the hands of the few and not only hurts the working class but also the greater economy that is dependent on the working man having enough money to fuel an increasingly consumerist economy. Instead, capital is consolidated in the hands of a few and instead of wealth “trickling down”, the “wealth cup” merely gets bigger every time it becomes full, a problem exacerbated in the increasing problem of offshore tax havens. We are told that the “rising tide” of the rich “lifts all boats” but instead of a rising tide, we see a financial whirlpool.

Getting back to the Goldsmith interview, he proceeds to dismantle a common argument that was put forward by Laura Tyson that corporations are not moving offshore for cheap labor but to be closer to their consumer base and to circumvent foreign tariffs that prevent them from staying in the US and selling to the foreign market. This ignores the phenomenon of importation by the corporations and the fact that the purpose of GATT is to reduce trade barriers (mostly for the US) so that companies can now import back without a cost. What this essentially does is obliterate earnings and employment in the states and as he points out, the US has had, at the time, a 19.4% reduction in real earnings and a $150 billion trade deficit (now $700 billion). Goldsmith refers to an interview in the Wall Street Journal with a man responsible for moving parts of IBM’s production offshore who admitted that IBM was closing down certain parts of their production in the US but was not going to employ people overseas themselves. Rather, they would find an “Asian partner” because it was “easier to get rid of Asian workers” and keep going to the “lowest possible salary level.” Goldsmith also notes that every single industry has reduced the number of people they employ in all developed countries sharply, partly because of productivity, partly because of offshoring.

His final point in the interview focused on how the west was “worshiping the wrong god, the god of economic index” instead of having the economy subjected to the fundamental needs of society. His central thesis is that the “economy exists to serve the needs of society which are prosperity, stability, and contentment.” He points to the problem of GATT’s proposal to implement “efficient agriculture” globally in order to “produce the maximum amount of food for the least cost”. But what is cost? The cost is the social factor that comes when entire societies would be uprooted and chased out from the land by “big-Agri” into city slums with their families. There is a social cost that comes to a nation in such a scenario that is often omitted in one-dimensional outlooks such as “efficient agriculture” and that social cost translates itself into an economic cost that ripples through society. At the time, 3.1 billion people in the world lived in rural communities and according to studies, if GATT’s proposal of modern agriculture is implemented worldwide at Canada and Australia levels, 2 billion people would be uprooted from the land and chased to the towns.

The solution? Goldsmith says we should change our priorities. Instead of focusing on things like the one-dimensional cost of producing the maximum amount for the minimum cost, we should take into account other costs such as having the right amount, right quality for both human health and the environment, and employing enough people for social stability. Mass migration from rural areas because of reckless globalization and corporate largess would destroy towns; in Brazil, many of the slums did not exist prior to the “Green Revolution” of intensifying agriculture according to Goldsmith. This is a problem we still see today where western corporate interests, in collusion with corrupt client dictators in countries like Cambodia, sell out their nations to foreign multinationals. And then there is the problem of “The World According to Monsanto”, a must-watch documentary that demonstrates irrefutably how the infamous multinational company seeks to buy up large tracts of land in third world countries to monopolize the food supply as much as they can and push forward their patented GMO crops of dubious health quality. Thailand has been particularly resistant to Monsanto’s attempts to make inroads into the nation’s currently independent agricultural sector and patent their historically-prized fragrant jasmine rice crops.

Something must also be said about that buzzword of “economic inefficiency”. Who said that all “inefficiency” is necessarily bad? To a certain degree, inefficiency is essential and preserves stability in a society. Complete efficiency is impossible and “efficiency” does not even exist completely in the physics realm, let alone the economy. As Thom Hartmann points out, inefficiency is a buffer in society against the fragility that comes from the centralization of economic power. An example of such centralization is what happened in the Reagan era of “Mergers and Acquisitions” which not only destroys the diversity of a community’s economic ecosystem, thus making the system less resilient to crisis, but also the entire livelihoods of many families. It fuels the perpetuating of the globalization of poverty where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer because of lack of opportunity. Perhaps our consumerist minded, index-driven culture, should step back and realize that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Free Trade and the Corporate World Order in America Today

The problems brought forth by globalized free trade are evident today and even proponents of free trade, when pushed on the subject, would concede to critical problems which they seek to adjust for by means of “policy.” However, the inherent problems are ones that transcend mere policy making. Wages are at an all-time low and family income has just barely kept up and that is with 2 people working as opposed to 1 prior to Reaganomics where one family worker was sufficient for a family wage. Hartmann notes that hourly earnings peaked in 1972 at a $20/hr. average while the decline as of 2008 was at $18.25/hr. as an average. Keep in mind that this is an average that includes people making substantial amounts of money factored in but the decrease for the working and middle class would be substantially more relatively speaking. Tax free income for the 1% stands at 23.5% whereas prior to Reagan and the beginnings of globalized free trade, it stood at 8.9%; prior to the Great Depression, it was at 25%. Between 1917 and 1981, the bottom 90% of wage earners made 69% of all wages and the top 10% made 31% of wages. Now, the top 10% get 96% of all income gains and the bottom 90% gets 4% of all income gains. And contrary to what mainstream Republicans may tell you, the rich do not pay the most in taxes.

Inequality increases because globalization has been constructed to serve the needs of finance capital and corporatism and when corporations fail, the US experiences the phenomenon of “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor.” In a debate with Thom Hartmann, even Bryan Reilly of the Heritage Foundation was forced to admit that the US has done a terrible job creating new low-wage jobs for blue-collar workers who can work in manufacturing for 30 years, have a pension, and retire while living in a prosperous society as was typical in post-WWII America. Should the economy only be for people with PhDs, engineers, tech designers, and high wage laborers as well as for “retailers” and ambiguous and limited “service industries”?

Is there no role for low-age labor in America anymore, no room for the high-school graduate who wants to work on an assembly line for the rest of his life? People may laugh at this but in the same way that society is diverse, you need a diverse and dynamic nationally protected economy that caters to this diversity and prevents people from ending up on the street homeless because of outsourced opportunities (both high and low wage ) that were plentiful. Not everybody is going to become an engineer and when you have people working at wage slave jobs at Wal Mart and McDonalds in poverty, that increases a society’s social costs and crime which would not have been a major problem in America when prosperous “company towns” existed side-by-side with a thriving manufacturing base where blue-collar workers could work and raise their families in peace.

Hartmann notes that the ruins of this past in America can be seen in taking a train trip from New York to Washington DC. It is devastating to observe miles of deindustrialized land along the way and broken factories as well as the abandoned and once-prosperous neighborhoods of blue-collar workers and middle class schools. Being middle class is an increasingly difficult endeavor in America and by deliberate design. And as Hartmann notes, the insane trade policy continues today with the recent Korea Free Trade Agreement (KFTA) that was a part of the US’s geopolitical “pivot to Asia”. KFTA has overseen the loss of 46,000 good-paying factory jobs to Korea along with a loss of $385 million/month in exports to Korea according to Public Citizen (website at citizen.org). The trade deficit with Korea has mushroomed by 47% and US exports have been down (as of 2014) by 11% while Korea has increased imports from every other country except the US by 2%.

We have a need for investment in America yet some people choose to do it elsewhere for their own selfish gain. What we need is economic nationalism in the spirit of Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay. It was their policies, called the “American System” that brought America to be the economic power house it once was. We need to protect American industry to give the best return to the working and middle class and in turn the economy as a whole in a system of “bottom-up prosperity” as well as invest in infrastructure as the US government did historically with canals, railroads, the Federal Highway Act of 1956.  After all, strong consumers drive a strong economy. Globalization merely fuels global interdependency and exploitation, creating a fragile global system which by extension also compromises the sovereignty of nations geopolitically, specifically against the Anglo-American Corporate Empire.  It’s time to end our insane trade policy and empower the American people over the transnational corporations. Get inspiration from others, get involved, and get self-sufficient and start laying the foundations for a strong local and national economy that will serve your own interests today.


Environmental Resources Management (ERM Group), the consultancy selected by TransCanada to conduct the environmental review for Keystone XL‘s northern leg on behalf of the U.S. State Department, is no stranger to scandal.

Exhibit A: ERM once bribed a Chinese official to ram through major pieces of an industrial development project. ERM was tasked to push through the project in Hangzhou Bay, located near Shanghai.

Accepting the bribe landed Yan Shunjun, former deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, an 11-year prison sentence.

Yan “allegedly took bribes of 864,000 yuan (126,501 U.S. dollars), 20,000 U.S.dollars and 4,000 euros from seven contractors,” explained Xiuhuanet. “Yan was also accused of illegally setting up a channel to speed up environmental impact assessment processes, which are essential for companies wanting to build factories.”

BP, one of the companies standing to gain if Keystone XL North receives a presidential permit from the Obama administration as a major Alberta tar sands producer, was also mired in the Chinese ERM Group scandal.

“Two firms on ERM’s bluechip client list, BP and Sinopec, are big investors in a petrochemical complex on the site, but the Chinese authorities apparently saw no conflict of interest in awarding the environmental evaluation to ERM,”explained London’s Sunday Times.

In a sense, history has repeated itself.

Hopenhagen to Paris

Back in 2009 when news arose of ERM’s bribery and corruption, Chinese environmental campaigners worried the incident could portend a lack of commitment to tackling climate change in the months leading up to the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Now, five years later, with the Lima COP20 underway and the critical UNclimate summit in Paris looming, the recent climate deal signed between theU.S. and China has taken center stage.

But Keystone XL will soon be front and center once again in early 2015 in the halls of Congress and the White House.

Environmentalists fear that opening another route between Alberta and the U.S.Gulf Coast for tar sands crude would ensure the deal struck between the two carbon-emitting giants becomes a moot point, or worse.

Bribery as “Investment”

A commenter on People’s Daily, the state-owned newspaper in China, wrote that bribery was merely the cost of doing business and an “investment” of sorts.

“Foreign firms have quickly learnt the philosophy of guangxi [connections],”wrote the commenter. “Their rule has become, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’”

ERM, in turn, denied any wrongdoing on its end, even though it had doled out the payments landing Yan in jail to begin with.

“ERM Group had no advance warning of any of the alleged payments to the former deputy director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau,” ERMdeclared to the Sunday Times.

“To suggest otherwise is damagingly inaccurate. We are committed to: conducting our business with integrity, applying ethical principles to our relationships with clients.”

KXL, ERM: Institutionalized Corruption

In the U.S. context as it pertains to Keystone XL, ERM’s conduct has been far less ham-handed than it was in China.

By procedure and by law, the company applying for the permit gets to pick and pay for the contractor conducting the environmental review on behalf of the State Department. In this case, it meant TransCanada selected ERM Group to give it a rubber stamp of approval for KXL.

In other words, the State Department has legalized a de facto form of “institutionalized corruption” for handling environmental reviews for cross-border pipelines like Keystone XL’s northern leg. Sierra Club attorney Doug Hayes described it as a “built-in conflict of interest” in a 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek article.

ERM Group, with a track-record of rubber-stamping ecologically hazardous projects in places ranging from central Asia to Peru to Alaska to Delaware and China, has proven itself once again a key tentacle of the “carbon web” for Keystone XL.

The question remains, though: will the sordid episode in the city near Shanghai serve as a teachable moment as applied to the tar sands pipeline described as a “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet”?

We’ll find out, and likely soon.