Image: Church burned in Tiberias (image by ‘Palestinian Christians’ Facebook group)

The fire was set at about 3 am in the early hours of Thursday morning, severely damaging church offices and storage rooms. The entire church was saturated with smoke damage.

In addition, Hebrew graffiti was spraypainted all over the front entrance to the church reading “Pagans” in red paint.

The Church of the Multiplication is believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus’s miracle of multiplying two fish and five loaves to feed 5,000 people.

Several church volunteers suffered from smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish the fire before the firefighters arrived on the scene. The fire was put out several hours after it began.

The church, which is run by the Catholic Benedictine Order, is best known for its fifth-century mosaics, including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of loaves.

Christian churches have been targeted by right-wing Jewish Israeli attacks hundreds of times in recent years.

In May 2014, the Romanian Orthodox Church on Hahoma Hashlishit Street in Jerusalem was defaced in a suspected hate attack. That incident saw the words “price tag”, “Jesus is garbage” and “King David for the Jews” spray-painted on the site’s walls.

Two weeks earlier, ahead of a visit to the country by Pope Francis, suspected Jewish extremists daubed hate graffiti on Vatican-owned offices in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew-language graffiti, reading “Death to Arabs and Christians and those who hate Israel,” was sprayed on the walls of the offices of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame center, a complex just outside the Old City, the Roman Catholic Church said.

Dmitry Diliani, a member of the Fateh revolutionary council, as well as the Secretary-General of the national Christian Assembly in Palestine, issued a statement that the attack on the church represents a practical application of the stances taken by the Israeli government, which funds fanatic groups.

He noted that some of the leaders of those fanatic groups hold political positions in spite of their incitement. By refusing to list those groups as terrorist organizations, Diliani argued, the Israeli Knesset is effectively providing them with legal protection, and is not taking seriously the ongoing, multiple attacks by right-wing Israelis against Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Knesset Member Dr. Basil Khattas was quoted as saying,

“Those terrorist groups attack both Christian and Muslim holy sites with impunity. The Israeli government must open a serious investigation into this and other incidents of violence against holy sites.”

Israeli authorities say they are investigating to see if the fire was an accident or was intentional. But Christians who live in the area say that the Israeli police are not taking the investigation seriously – adding that this was obviously an anti-Christian hate crime, given the graffiti that was written on the site of the fire.

No arrests have been made in connection with the arson.

Church burned in Tiberias (image by 'Palestinian Christians'  Facebook group)

Church burned in Tiberias (image by ‘Palestinian Christians’ Facebook group)

Church burned in Tiberias (image by 'Palestinian Christians'  Facebook group)

Church burned in Tiberias (image by ‘Palestinian Christians’ Facebook group)

Graffiti on front entrance of church in Tiberias (image by 'Palestinian Christians'  Facebook group)

Graffiti on front entrance of church in Tiberias (image by ‘Palestinian Christians’ Facebook group)

If the existing structures of governance and social organization cannot provide justice for Black people, then those structures must be pushed aside – or there will be no civil peace.”

The current campaign against police oppression in Black America is widely dubbed the Black Lives Matter movement, derived from a hashtag created in the wake of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman, in 2013. Young activists in Ferguson, Missouri, originally rallied around placards and chants of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” to emphasize Michael Brown’s stance when the 18 year-old was extrajudicially executed by Officer Darren Wilson, in August of last year. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was limited by the particular circumstances of Brown’s death and, more importantly, widely considered too passive a slogan on which to build a militant movement. “Black Lives Matter” expresses a general sentiment and aspiration, but embodies no substantial political content or direction. Moreover, the slogan is the political property of a particular organization with numerous chapters in the U.S. and abroad, whose positions and priorities are not necessarily representative of the emerging “movement’s” various political tendencies.

In a previous era, neither the SCLC, SNCC, CORE, nor the NAACP or the Urban League could lay claim to the “civil rights” movement, nor was any organization synonymous with “Black Power” or “Black Liberation.” “Black Lives Matter” is even less definitive than the Sixties umbrella terminology, conveying no substantive political objective other than affirming, or achieving, the sanctity of Black lives. It is a vessel waiting to be filled and set on course.

The amorphousness of “Black Lives Matter” is to be expected, given both the incipient movement’s youth – the prospect of a sustained, national campaign against police oppression did not seriously arise until the awakening in Ferguson – and the two-generation-long gap in mass movement experience in Black America. The slogan speaks to the now-generalized Black outrage at police behavior in Black communities, and serves as a banner under which diverse forces have begun to coalesce. It has been a useful umbrella, which is why the term “Black Lives Matter Movement” has served as a catch-all for a broad range of anti-criminal justice protest, including in these pages. However, history will demand more of the new movement than “Black Lives Matter” can provide. Sustained, militant practice informed by increased political clarity will eventually arm the Black awakening with a name that is worthy of a mass “movement.”

The slogan speaks to the now-generalized Black outrage at police behavior in Black communities, and serves as a banner under which diverse forces have begun to coalesce.”

The logic of the emerging movement is Black self-determination – the principle that Black people have the inherent human right to determine their own destiny – which, in the immediate sense, means control over how they should be policed, and by whom. The venerable slogan “No Justice – No Peace” has served as a workhorse of the current protest, and would be an ideal organizing principle if the implications of the slogan were fully understood, rather than simply mouthed. The slogan takes the political position that the price that Power must pay for continued injustice against Black people is the loss of civil peace. It is a vow by the movement to transform the crisis that is inflicted on Black people into a generalized crisis for the larger society, and for those who currently rule.

“No Justice – No Peace” is consistent with the direct action philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – although not limited by his personal prohibitions against violence. Malcolm’s “by any means necessary” fits just as well.

More than just a threat against Power, the slogan brings clarity of purpose to the participants in the movement. If the existing structures of governance and social organization cannot possibly provide justice for Black people, then those structures must be pushed aside – or there will be no civil peace. The strategies and tactics of the movement must unfold, accordingly.

Recent developments in the Tamir Rice case prove, once again, the impossibility of achieving any semblance of justice from the criminal justice system as configured in the United States. Community leaders in Cleveland availed themselves of a little-used Ohio law that allows citizens to appeal directly to a judge to initiate prosecution of wrongdoers, bypassing the county prosecutor’s office. The law was specifically enacted to prevent the political establishment from protecting its own, as when prosecutors protect the police. A Black municipal judge viewed the damning video of a cop gunning down 12 year-old Tamir from seven feet away only two seconds after exiting his police cruiser – while the vehicle was, in fact, still in motion. Judge Ronald Adrine, who said he was “thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly,”found probable cause to charge the cop with “murder, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty,” and to charge his partner with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty for not giving the child immediate medical attention.

However, the Ohio law turned out have no legal effect whatsoever. Judge Adrine said he could not himself bring the charges against the policeman; that decision remained in the hands of the county prosecutor, who promptly announced that he would send the case to a grand jury, as usual, with the usual probable results. The legal system is a dead letter for Black people, despite the Ohio law that was designed to remedy prosecutorial collaboration with police and other government agents, and despite the involvement of a sympathetic Black judge.

The federal government provides no recourse for Black people. Cleveland is now under its second U.S. Justice Department consent decree in little over a decade, and remains a killing zone for Blacks, where cops enjoy complete impunity even when they fire dozens of bullets intounarmed Black motorists. Federal consent decrees are designed to get Black people’s consent to a continued reign of terror by local police.

The legal system is a dead letter for Black people.”

The electoral process has definitively failed to prevent the exponential growth of the Black Mass Incarceration State, in all its murderous aspects. Cleveland was the first major U.S. city to elect a Black mayor, Carl Stokes, in 1967. One of Stokes’ first acts was to put Black former Air Force general Benjamin O. Davis in charge of the police. Davis promptly OK’d the use of dum-dum bullets and took the side of his officers in every dispute over the use of excessive force. In the intervening nearly half-century, the nation’s elected Black leadership has collaborated at every stage of the construction of a criminal justice regime so hostile to the very presence of Black people, that one of out every eight prison inmates on the planet is an African American.

The U.S. legal system does not work for Black people, and the political system that makes the laws of the nation will not change the legal system, except under the most intense, extra-legal duress. Effectively, Black people are outside the law, beyond its protections, and will not get meaningful concessions from Power unless we create a crisis for the system of governance, itself – “by any means necessary,” in Malcolm’s words.

The movement that presently goes under the heading “Black Lives Matter” can find its way to the logic of Black self-determination through the organizing principle of “No Justice – No Peace.” It is a slogan that leads to a place where Black people have the power to decide for themselves if Black lives matter, or not.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has invited former British PM Tony Blair to “share his experience of public administration” on an international council of European public figures advising Kiev on government reforms.

After meeting with Poroshenko in Kiev, the former UK leader told reporters that Ukraine faced “great challenges” from “Russian aggression” and “corruption.” Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, also called on Ukrainian leaders to follow “not self-interest but values” such as “freedom, democracy and a desire to serve the people.”

 

Poroshenko boasted that “despite the war, we are carrying out reforms,” and said that Blair asked him “exactly what help was needed from the international community.”

“This is the approach of a true friend of Ukraine,” said Poroshenko, who was elected in June 2014 in a controversial poll boycotted by rebellious regions in Eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s International Advisory Council for Reforms started working last month. Leading it is former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has since been appointed governor of the Odessa Region, in the south of the country. In Georgia, Saakashvili is wanted for crimes related to embezzlement during his time in office.

Other members of the body, which has no executive or legislative powers, include former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Slovak reformer Mikulas Dzurinda and economist Anders Aslund. US Senator John McCain, a prominent supporter of the 2014 Maidan coup that deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, said he was forced to decline a seat on the council, due to US Congress regulations.

Blair did not comment on whether he would accept Poroshenko’s offer.

Blair’s decade in office is mostly remembered internationally for his joint effort with then-US President George W Bush to invade Iraq in 2003. The justification for the invasion trumpeted up by the two governments – alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction – proved to be false, and the evidence for it greatly exaggerated.

Since his resignation in 2007, Blair has built a lucrative international business empire, advising numerous governments and corporations around the world as well as giving lectures, allegedly receiving as much as £6,000 pounds per minute in fees.

Until May this year, he also served as the UN Middle East Quartet’s special envoy tasked with tackling the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Critics say his achievements were negligible, with alleged conflicts of interests and his close ties to the Israeli government hampering his performance.

As Daesh/ISIS has taken over parts of Iraq, they’ve displaced a lot of citizens along the way. One estimate says that more than 100,000 people have left the capital of Ramadi alone to avoid the terrorist takeover.

It’s a problem that really bothers Christian evangelist and Repent America director Michael Marcavage:

Perhaps you’ve wondered how you can help make a difference in Iraq for such a dark time as this. How can you care for the oppressed and hurting? Most importantly, how can you make an eternal difference in the lives of the Iraqi people?

Yes, Michael, how can we help?!

Give us the answer!

Our project, Bibles for Iraq, will focus on bringing the Scriptures to as many refugees as possible — many of whom cannot read or write and have NEVER had access as much as they do now. In America, Bibles are easily accessible, but not so much in Iraq, and especially not when you live as a refugee. And as most refugees are illiterate, imagine the compounded difficulty in ever being able to receive the Scriptures.

 

 

The last thing people these people need is a Bible. They are struggling to survive. They need shelter. Replacing their religion with another kind of fiction won’t do anything to improve their situation.

(Unless Marcavage is giving them paper to make fire with, in which case I guess he’s doing them a favor… but that’s clearly not what he has in mind.)

But leave it to Marcavage to solve the real problem here: illiteracy.

… we have an opportunity to purchase special solar-powered audio Bible devices that can reach illiterate Iraqis by bringing the people the Scriptures at the touch of a button. These audio Bibles will be uploaded with both the Old and New Testaments, programmed for dual languages — Arabic and Kurdish — and will provide many Iraqis who may never otherwise hear the gospel the opportunity to receive the power of God unto salvation.

Oh good. I was worried for a while that the Bibles might be useless.

Amazingly, Marcavage has raised more than $15,000 toward his goal of $30,000… all for items that will help nobody.

 

There’s a group called Action Against Hunger that’s providing these refugees with food and water. In other words, things to help the refugees in this life instead of the nextone. If you’re looking to make a donation, consider giving to them.

(via Sean McGuire. Top image via Paskee / Shutterstock.com)

Mass Shooting, Mass Hysteria, Mass Propaganda

June 19th, 2015 by Anthony Cartalucci

Nine lives were ended in a tragic mass shooting at a historic church in Charleston South Carolina, perpetrated by a deranged, apparently brainwashed 21 year old man whose motivations appear to be centered around extreme racism.  

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a familiar, shameful charade of exploitation unfolded yet again, seeking to reassert  the “gun control” agenda amid both national public opinion and across America’s legislative bodies.

Yet the engineered, concerted, deceitful propaganda campaign launched by the corporate media and America’s political circles fail to put into perspective the recent shooting and the greater “gun control” debate.

Instead, a mad rush has ensued to exploit anger, sorrow, and fear to once again attempt to snatch from responsible Americans their right to bear arms based on the criminal actions of a single individual.

Drunk Driving Kills 20 Times More Per Year Than Mass Shootings Have in 30 Years 

The Washington Post, along with other mainstays of Western propaganda, have repeatedly summed up the history of mass shootings and gun violence in articles following in the wake of violent episodes. Usually, these statistics are presented in a vacuum without reference intentionally to deceive the reader.

In their most recent article, “11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States,” they claim that in the past 30+ years, 574 people have been killed in mass shootings. While in their article they attempt to make this number sound enormous, to put it into perspective, the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in the year 2013 alone, 10,076 were killed by drunk drivers. That is about 20 times more people killed in a single year due to drunk driving than in the past 30 years due to mass shootings (mass shootings being defined as 3 people or more killed in a single spree).

The Post amid its disingenuous spin, claims:

In this post, adapted from previous versions* that we released after mass killings in the past, we explore America’s unique role among advanced countries as a place where support for guns is widespread — and violence involving firearms is equally widespread. There are some perhaps surprising findings — gun ownership in the United States is declining overall, for instance. But despite mass killings — which have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years — support for gun rights is still resolute in America.

Essentially, the Washington Post argues throughout its article that gun ownership is increasingly unpopular, the primary cause of higher levels of violence than other industrialized nations, and that mass shootings are a major problem. Yet clearly when placed alongside other senseless causes of death, mass shootings while clearly better at grabbing headlines, are also clearly not our greatest challenge.

Violence in America is Caused by Socioeconomic Factors, Not Guns 

America has guns. America is a violent country. Guns cause violence. This is perhaps the most elementarily absurd argument imaginable, yet it is in fact the cornerstone of the gun control agenda. Yet when we examine violence and access to legally acquired weaponry, there is little correlation.

UN’s 2011 Homicide Study - .pdf available here.

When comparing two nations, the United Kingdom and Japan, whose populations are for all intents and purposes “disarmed,” we still find immense, seemingly inexplicable disparity in the number of homicides. Despite both nations being disarmed and having almost no “gun-related homicides,” according to UN statistics, Japan and the UK still have an astronomical gap in homicide rates. Why?

A visit to either country reveals an entirely different culture, education system, infrastructure, and socioeconomic paradigm. This is why despite Japan having a much larger population, even total homicides are lower than the comparatively more violent but less populated United Kingdom – with homicide rates in the UK nearly 3 times higher than those in Japan.

According to the UN’s study, which includes the most recent annual data available, Japan, with a population of roughly 130 million, had a mere 506 homicides over the stretch of a single year. Conversely, the UK, with less than half of Japan’s population (53 million) had 722 homicides. The rates per 100,000 people for Japan and the UK are 0.4 and 1.2 respectively. The UK, despite being an unarmed population, and having virtually no gun violence, still has 3 times the murder rate than the nation of Japan. Those that are murdered in the UK or Japan, are just as dead as any human being murdered by a gun in the United States. And clearly, this indicates that the presence of guns, or their banning, is not a significant factor driving homicides and violence.

The United States suffers from more poverty, more disparity in income, more blight and stagnation across its economy and education system – particularly in the inner city and the south – than even the UK. This is why the United States is more violent than other industrialized nations, not because of the availability of weapons. And despite the fact that the United States has both more guns and more violence than other industrialized nations, it is still a relatively less violent nation than many others in the developing world, including nations that have far fewer guns per capita.

Gun Control is About Dominating Lives, Not Saving Them 

The inconvenient reality regarding the true nature of violence and its relationship with guns is entirely sidestepped by the gun control agenda, primarily because the gun control agenda is about disarming the American public thus removing an obstacle toward totalitarianism, not to preserve innocent lives. This fact is highlighted best by incessant calls to ban semi-automatic rifles termed “assault rifles” by the media.

Yet despite their vilification, “assault rifles” account for the least number of deaths per year due to gun violence. In fact, according to the FBI’s own statistics, rifles of any kind (including “assault rifles”) account for fewer deaths per year than murders involving bare hands and feet. Clubs also are used more frequently in homicides in the United States than rifles of any kind, including “assault rifles.” The obsession with banning the least dangerous of all firearms, but also firearms best suited for defense during civil disorder as well as a check against tyrannical government, exposes the gun control agenda for precisely what it is.

The tragedy in Charleston is a tragedy indeed. Gun violence, along with all other forms of violence and irresponsible behavior are problems society must deal with, but not at the expense of the rights of responsible, free citizens. This includes drunk driving, by far a more pressing issue than mass shootings, yet it too must be solved without infringing on the rights of grown adults who are capable of responsibly consuming alcohol.

Those who take up social crusades by preying on people’s emotions and hovering over tragedy like carrion-eating vultures in an attempt to collectively punish the rest of society for the ill will and deeds of a single individual represent a much greater threat to our way of life than any deranged shooter. This is because such people distract our collective attention away from solving the socioeconomic and cultural factors that will continue to drive violence with or without the presence of firearms in society, depriving us of our rights and liberty, all while inviting future tragedies to unfold.

Racists will still devise ways to kill people they deem as “undesirable.” To defeat racism, we must deal with it directly, not attempt to deprive it of every possible avenue toward violence.

At the end of the day, killing another human being with a firearm is already quite illegal. To prevent people intent on doing so regardless of the law, we must target the root cause of their homicidal intent. Those who understand this best also so happen to be those who stand the most from exploiting continued violence and using it as a pretext to further diminish the rights and power of the American people. It is up to gun owners to both act as ambassadors for responsible firearm ownership, as well as serve as the vanguards in their local communities against the root causes of violence used as a pretext to strip Americans of their rights.

by  Syria News

US Regime mouthpiece John Kerry reopens the old books to dig out something to bargain with after his thugs failed strategically all over Syria accusing the Syrian government of using Chlorine against own people. Who will buy this BS? We are as much ‘absolutely certain’ that nobody will weigh his claims for several reasons.

One of the reasons would be a logical one: Why would a government regular army resort to a weapon that can be used against them and turn their achievements on the ground to the cause of losing public and international support in their fight against terror? No reason at all.

John Kerry Colin Powell redo

John Kerry Colin Powell redo

Another logical reason: Why would a regular government army troops defending their own families from attacks by imported mercenary thugs from all over the world, use any weapons against their own families?

One more logical reason then we turn to US logic: Who has the benefit of destroying Syria? Its own army or the invading armies of terrorists and their sponsors?

Now the US logic used consumed elsewhere as well says: The president and his over quarter a million armed forces are killing their own people and presenting sacrifices in thousands of martyrs and injured so he can remain in power. It is the ‘logic’ used by the US regime to invade and destroy Libya.

Some might suggest the US officials won’t lie to further their goals, whatever their or their operators goals are. Now this sounds logical except for a small fact that US officials never spoke the truth about any subject that matters for the past so many decades, who would believe them after all of this?

Let’s remember that al-Qaeda was the creation of the US regime’s ‘charity foundation’ aka CIA. And let’s not forget that al-Qaeda in Syria is called Nusra Front, which forms the backbone of the‘Moderate Rebels’ the US regime keeps aiding, of course listed as a terrorist organization when the need was there to find an alternative due to the horrific record of crimes against humanity these ‘Moderate Rebels’ had on their hands and thus the creation of ISIS. But pausing for a moment, when terrorist groups comprised in its vast majority of foreigners have a certain goal of weakening a targeted state on the US regime target list, it does sound very much logical they’d resort to any kind of crime and any type of weapons and tools to achieve their target as long as their operators can use them in any political bargaining.

The only thing that John Kerry represents is a ‘Colin Powell’s moment’ and the only thing he has to present is another dumb lie to continue destroying Syria and the simple and naive US citizens will always at the end pay the price for it, cash and in postdated payments. But at least Mr. John Kerry, change the person who wrote the speech for the liar Colin Powell in his infamous presentation at the UNSC.
A typical western family following mainstream media

A typical western family following mainstream media

Copyright Syria News, 2015

Image: Donald Trump Sr. at Citizens United Freedom Summit in Greenville South Carolina May 2015 by Michael Vadon

Donald Trump’s big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop.

New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump’s event.

“We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement,” reads the June 12 email, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.” (Read the full email at the bottom of the post.)

The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work. According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential extras in partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, a New York-Based political consulting group that has worked with Trump in the past. Gotham GR had no comment. Questions as to whether the Trump campaign had hired extras were first raised Wednesday byanti-Trump activist Angelo Carusone, who came across an Instagram photo showing a man he recognized as a background actor posing at the Trump event. Carusone screengrabbed the photo of the actor, Domenico Del Giacco, and published it in a blog post. The photo shows Del Giacco with a woman, identified in the now-deleted Instagram post as actress Courtney Klotz. (Del Giacco has since deleted his entire Instagram account.)

 

 

 

When reached for comment about the Trump casting call, a person who answered the phone at Extra Mile said, “We don’t know anything about that.” When pressed about whether this response was a denial of the story, the person said she couldn’t comment further and hung up. Additional calls to Extra Mile went unanswered. Asked if Trump paid anyone to attend the event, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said “no,” and that he had never heard of Extra Mile or Gotham GR. “Mr. Trump draws record crowds at almost every venue at which he is a featured speaker,” Lewandowski told The Hollywood Reporter. “The crowds are large, often record-setting and enthusiastic, often with standing ovations. Mr. Trump’s message is, ‘Make America great again.’ ” Del Giacco and Klotz did not respond to a request for comment. In politics, “astroturfing” is when people are hired to attend a rally or event in order to lend the appearance of grassroots support. They are typically contracted out to political consulting firms, much like Gotham GR. The practice is unsurprisingly considered bad form.

 

 

Here’s the full email from Extra Mile, with contact information redacted. Hi there— We are working helping one of are [sic] associates out at Gotham GR - http://gothamgr.com/ with a big event happening on TUESDAY 6/16/15.

This is an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making at this event. This event is called “People for a Stronger America.” The entire group is a pro-small business group that is dedicated to encouraging Donald Trump and his latest ventures. This event will be televised. We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement. We understand this is not a traditional “background job,” but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought. This event is happening LIVE and will be from 8:45AM-11:30AM. LESS THAN 3 HOURS This will take place inside / interior. The rate for this is: $50 CASH at the end of the event. We would love to book you if you are interested and still available. Please let us know and we will get back to you with confirmation.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work expounded upon the US’ military strategy in Eurasia during a speech at the Army War College Strategy Conference on 8 April, revealing critical insight into the Pentagon’s formal approach to forthcoming conflicts. Work’s words should be read in full by any strategist endeavoring to understand the imperatives that guide the world’s most armed forces. He elaborates on the theoretical foundations of American military might, including how the Pentagon plans to counter the three types of wars supposedly being waged by Iran, Russia, and China.

The main strategic innovation being presented is something called the “Third Offset Strategy”, which in practice amounts to electromagnetic anti-missile rail guns and seamless combat integration between man and machine. These two pronouncements mark startling military developments that will assuredly initiate a news arms race between the West and the Resistant & Defiant states most actively opposed to its domination, as the only realistic alternative is eventual submission or all-out pre-emptive war.

Part I analyzes the theory and nature of 21st-century wars, using Work’s speech as a guiding instrument, and then addresses the Pentagon’s overall plans against China. Part II continues off of this trajectory and details the Third Offset and all that it frighteningly entails, before ending with a brief conclusion that ties everything together.

Theoretical Foundations

There are three main ideas that Work references as underpinning the US military’s overall strategy, and they are as follows:

The Two Pillars:

1282020

Highly skilled individuals and technological superiority constitute the two primary pillars from which the rest of America’s strategy is built. To quote the man himself:

Since World War II, American military strategy and our entire national defense strategy has been built upon an assumption of technological superiority, and the better-trained individual — individuals, men and women, organized to employ these technologies in an innovative way… I assume and I am confident in my assumption that we have an enduring advantage in our people…But I’m telling you right now our technological superiority is slipping.

While the striking rate of suicide in the US Armed Forces calls into question the endurance and quality of training that American servicemen receive, the main aspect to focus on in the abovementioned citation is Work’s belief that the US military’s technological superiority is in decline. His view is entirely subjective because there are no reliable quantitative measurements available to back it up, but it importantly conveys a sense of urgency and infers that some type of action must immediately be taken to halt and/or reverse this process. Surprisingly, he’s not asking for more money to stop the US’ relative decline in military spending (despite thinking that trend is “stupid”), instead pleading that:

It doesn’t matter how much money we have.  This problem requires thinking.  And we need to tackle it together, and not worry so much about the resources as the intellectual capital that we need to put in the bank to allow our joint force to be so successful in the future.

Work’s preference for brainpower over budgetary politics is logical when one considers the second motivator of US military strategy.

The Velocity of Instability:

Early on in his speech, Work references Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno’s definition of the “velocity of instability” as being the pace of strategic change, which becomes one of the most influential current imperatives of the US military when it combines with the pace of technological innovation. What this simply means is that non-Western actors are creating new technologies and crafting adaptive strategies that are creating complications for the US’ application of full-spectrum dominance, the former of which will be discussed in detail during the next main section. In response to such rapidly changing circumstances, the US feels entitled in bullying others by never picking on an equally matched adversary.

No Fair Fight:

A remotely piloted aircraft system (drone) getting launched from the aircraft carrier George H.W.

A remotely piloted aircraft system (drone) getting launched from the aircraft carrier George H.W.

According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, whom Work also cites during his speech, “we never, ever want to send our troops into a fair fight”, confirming what many had already suspected about militant bullying being an integral part of the US’ foreign policy toolkit. The US never picks a fight with anyone who can give it a legitimate run for its money, so to speak, choosing instead to conventionally attack smaller and weaker states like Iraq and Libya whose militaries represent a negligible challenge. When it comes to more evenly matched rivals such as Russia and China or those which can inflict unacceptable collateral damage like Iran, the US understands that it must keep its destabilization just short of the conventional threshold, opting instead for asymmetrical aggression in the form of economic subversion, Color Revolutions, and Unconventional Wars.

21st-Century Wars

Keeping the concept of “no fair fight” at the forefront of one’s thoughts, it’s now time to look at the three types of wars that Work accuses Iran, Russia, and China of waging, before describing the radical means he proposes for countering them and thus giving the US the first-strike capability in any conflict.

Hybrid War:

In his parade of prominent US military strategists, Work speaks about Frank Hoffman and his definition of hybrid warfare, which he defines as:

“Combat operations characterized by the simultaneous and adaptive employment of a complex combination of conventional weapons, irregular warfare, terrorism and criminal behavior to achieve political objectives.”

The above perfectly describes the US and its proxies’ onslaught on Syria, but Work instead attributes this strategy to Hezbollah (commonly believed in American military circles as being a de-facto extension of the Iranian military) in its legendary 2006 defense against Israel’s invasion of Southern Lebanon:

Hezbollah fighters were armed with advanced anti-tank missiles, thousands of long-range rockets, Chinese-made Silkworm anti-ship missiles, advanced man-portable anti-air missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  They had very simplistic, but very effective battle networks to employ them.  They practiced irregular warfare, but at the same time maneuvered effectively against Israeli armored columns, proved proficient in indirect fire, and they used swarms of heavy anti-tank missiles to great effect.

Again, this sounds exactly like how the US is behaving in Syria, specifically with its anti-tank and anti-air armament supply to terrorist groups active in the country, but nonetheless, the Pentagon representative insists that “in the future, without question, hybrid adversaries will pose a qualitative and quantitative challenge” to the US. It’s not clear if he’s foreshadowing that US troops will soon be fighting against the same proxy agents they helped arm and train for hybrid war, but it’s unmistakable that he’s identifying this type of fighting with the Mideast theater, where thus far it’s been most popularly practiced.

Non-Linear Warfare:

Euromaidan is the classic example of a legitimate public protest turning violent through  the hybrid warfare technics.

Euromaidan is the classic example of a legitimate public protest turning violent through the hybrid warfare technics.

Work continues linking various novel warfighting innovations with certain geographic zones and actors through his description Russia’s application of non-linear warfare in Eastern Europe, which he reports as:

Evolve[ing] from covert actions by special operations forces, to sustained unconventional combat waged under an umbrella of denial.  And then ultimately escalating to high-end force-on-force proxy warfare with the state actively involved in combat operations .

One could be forgiven for mistaking this with Washington’s strategy of Color Revolution 2.0, otherwise known in practice as the “Arab Spring” or EuroMaidan, seeing as how both instances perfectly correlate with Work’s definition. He even manages to express the exasperation that the embittered Syrian and Ukrainian authorities felt when he says that:

“Non-linear adversaries make those avenues (of approach) harder to detect, using agents, paramilitaries, deception, infiltration, and persistent denial to make those avenues of approach very hard to detect, operating in what some people have called “the gray zone.”

One can now begin to see a pattern of ironic rhetoric emerge; the US is accusing its primary Eurasian rivals (Iran, Russia, and next to be seen, China) of engaging in the exact same type of warfare that Washington itself has perfected, and which has been used as its calling card in the victimized states that it recently attacked (be it directly or indirectly). The American ideology of Exceptionalism means that it would never openly recognize this fact and will instead always try to assign such strategies to its adversaries, but this doesn’t take away from the reality that the US has become the most apt practitioner of these concepts.

“Informationalized” Warfare:

The third military innovation that Work outlines as posing a challenge for the US is what he says the Chinese call “informationalized” warfare, which he considers being:

“The combination of cyber, electronic warfare, information ops, deception and denial to disrupt our command and control to give the enemy an advantage in the decision cycle.”

It’s curious why he attaches this strategy to China, since Beijing hasn’t fought a war since its 1979 one against Vietnam before the advent of cyber warfare, but be that as it may, once more, it’s the US that’s actually the prime practitioner of this misattributed art (or least came close to it). The reader should recall the 2011 NATO War on Libya when the US seriously considered that very same plan before deciding to more easily use Tomahawk missiles to destroy Gaddafi’s command and control centers. While it’s obvious that this so-called “informationalized” warfare can realistically be =exercised by any Great Power in the world today, so far US-controlled NATO appears to be the most capable actor in doing so due to its multi-national (UK/Poland/Italy/Baltic States) deployment of “strategic communication centers”, which will predictably augment its capability in carrying out the “information ops, deception and denial” components of this strategy.

Clashing With China

USS Fort Worth, based in Singapore, is closely monitoring Chinese activities near Spratly Islands

USS Fort Worth, based in Singapore, is closely monitoring Chinese activities near Spratly Islands

The Deputy Secretary of Defense not-so-subtly refers to China as a prospective target of the Pentagon’s warfighting machine when he speaks about the challenge posed by A2/AD (anti-area, area-denial) strategies, which Beijing has previously been highlighted by the US military for partaking in. Work lists three steps by which the US plans on countering this concept:

 

  1.  “Take the first salvo” (likely inferring a provocation or false-flag scenario) using raid-breaking technology (to be elaborated upon shortly)
  2.  “Break into (the) theater”
  3.  “Think about Air Land Battle 2.0”, predicted to be “against enemies which have lots of guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles, and are using informationalized warfare to completely disrupt our heavily netted force”, but which “the Army needs to figure…out” because it has yet to be witnessed in battle.

It’s anticipated that the “first salvo” will be when the enemy “throw[s] guided munition salvos as dense as our own and sometimes over long range” (essentially making it “AirLand Battle 2.0” before the US breaks through the theater and gets close enough to physically respond), meaning that “the competitor who can demonstrate the ability to defeat the guided munitions salvo competition is going to have a unique advantage at the operational level of war.” The US seeks to acquire this said advantage through its implementation of the Third Offset Strategy, which is also envisioned with providing it the ability to defeat both human and robotic military units during the theater break-in and subsequent Air Land Battle 2.0.

To be continued…

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

 

As the globalists’ vision for a one world totalitarian government unfolds in rapid sequence of their long plotted New World Order, a parallel process is also quietly unfurling in the covert formation of a globalized international military fighting force. The US Joint Special Operations Command Forces have built a notorious reputation as death squads known for conducting middle of the night raids, murdering entire families in the process along with detaining targeted suspects in both Iraq and Afghanistan and now all over the world.

Because Special Forces by their very nature are highly secretive and virtually unaccountable to everyone, including our own government, we never hear much about this global elite killer machine. The only exceptions are the contradictory renditions of how the Navy Seals took out Osama bin Laden, or glossy film renditions glorifying Special Forces exploits as recruitment propaganda commercials, now all closely monitored, controlled and censored by the US military. In fact, the FBI, the CIA and Pentagon all have liaison handlers assigned to Hollywood just to make sure the shady truth about them never gets to the big screen audience. Sadly the film industry has degenerated into joining the lowly ranks of mainstream media as mere gov.whore-corp propagandists. Truth is now the enemy.

Though more often covered only by alternative media, the big story headlines today involve the buildup of NATO forces and heavy arms shipments in Ukraine and all along the Russian border for what could turn out to be a World War III deployment.

Joint NATO-US exercises are busily prepping for future faceoff against the Russian military vying for glacier-free Arctic oil reserves while the US Navy conducts unprecedented drills this month wreaking ecosystem havoc along the Alaskan coastline. Similarly in the South China Sea a growing US naval presence is ratcheting to heat up regional tensions with China in the Pacific theatre of Cold War II. And then of course June 15th marked the US Special Forces kickoff of yet the most unprecedented military exercise of them all with the controversial Jade Helm 15 operation conducted over the next three months as the largest military operation on US soil since America’s deadliest first Civil War.

Underneath the sabre rattling surface of all this worldwide martial activity and bypassing detection from even independent media’s radar focusing exclusively these days on Jade Helm is a one world military elite fighting machine being developed largely in secret led by US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) in conjunction with the United Nations. Perhaps more than any other journalist Nick Turse has forged a highly reputable investigative career attempting to uncover this top secret, hidden world of US SOCOM. Over this last decade black ops deployment around the globe has increased exponentially.

In January this year Turse reported that as of the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, 2014, Special Operations Forces (SOF) engaged in strategic operations in 133 countries on the planet covering over 70% of the earth’s nations. And that high number is likely a lowball assessment of where the SOCOM public affairs officer is willing to admit US Special Forces may actually be operating. The latest tally is up to 150 countries. Just to demonstrate how Special Forces missions are in such increasingly high demand, barely two months into the new fiscal year last December after the second botched rescue raid resulting in American photojournalist Luke Somers and scheduled to be released the next day South African teacher Pierre Korkie’s deaths, SOCOM already was actively engaged in at least 105 nations, in two months already 80% of the previous year’s total number.

Washington war makers learned but one lesson from Vietnam – to conceal the brutality and sheer insanity of war from the American public’s eyes and consciousness after the first and last televised war had rapidly turned the nation against that debacle. So several decades later in Iraq and Afghanistan US wartime atrocities were deliberately hidden in collusion with MSM pressitute, “in-bed,” inbred journalism, where gov.corp war became sanitized, blood and gore spotless, completely absent of body bags for an “out of sight, out of mind” America whose volunteer army comprised less than 1% of its total population.

Leave it to courageous whistleblower Private Manning presently serving his 35-year prison sentence and Wikileaks to boldly expose a myopic glimpse of the always ongoing US war crimes against humanity. By concealment design this sterilized version of two history-making, decade-long wars could simultaneously rage on year after year, minus any tangible antiwar movement, while bleeding the middle class dry in a stagnant, recession-racked economy, sending combat fatigued troops back into harm’s way a fourth and fifth time for another elitist blood-for-oil motherlode bonanza exclusively set up for filthy rich criminal war profiteers to get only filthier richer. But despite these sinister “out of sight, out of mind” machinations and the continental divide between civilians and military, the American populace eventually grew war-weary.

So the elite had to come up with yet a new and improved enemy threat called ISIS along with their new and improved kind of war. After two costly war defeats – six trillion dollars squandered and still rising, a half dozen MENA failed states, nearly 7000 dead American soldiers and millions of murdered Iraqis, Afghanis and other hapless Muslims – arose the bright idea of a new way to wage war in the 21st century using elite Special Forces in a personnel-downsized armed services waging dozens of dirty little secret wars in every corner of the globe.

The rationale for this new, low intensity form of modern warfare consisting of countless undeclared wars around the world all at once proved cost effective and no one but family relatives of dead victims’ corpses strewn about on far-off foreign soil would ever be aware of the murderous worldwide scale of these dirty little secret operations. With absolutely no accountability or oversight even from US Congress, these deadly imperialistic wars nobody knows about are assured to continue unabated for decades to come. After all, the feds’ fake “war on terror” must go on.

A Department of Defense news article two years ago featured then Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven’s SOF 2020 vision calling “for a globally networked force of special operations forces, interagency representatives, allies and partners, with aligned structures, processes and authorities to enable its operations.” This is the blueprint for a globalized international black ops killing machine readily able to engage in strategic and tactical covert operations around the globe acting at the behest of a one world government as the globalist elite’s private security force.

The extensive plan for multiple nations’ black ops forces coming together to train regularly in joint exercises and deployments is facilitating lightning strike assaults and tactical missions of highly unconventional warfare to typically take out enemy command and control centers as well as extraction and assassination of targeted enemy combatants. In recent years this global elite force is designed to provide ready made to act on intelligence (far more effective than the CIA) as well as engage in asymmetrical warfare tactics of guerilla-type activity in rapid deployment missions anywhere on the planet as critical pre-step strategy to launching larger scale military campaigns involving conventional force invasions and occupations against targeted hostile nations and forces.

The forever war on terror in the Middle East and Africa as well as Europe and Asia fortified by a massive global infrastructure supporting over a thousand US military posts around the world guarantees black ops deployment everywhere on the planet. And that next targeted hostile nation could very well be America under martial law once Jade Helm goes live this summer.

The scenario just outlined above fits the Jade Helm itinerary perfectly with massive military armaments and equipment movement and stockpiling along with an influx of state National Guard units deployed in multiple “civil unrest” training exercises seen nationwide all year long, extraction drills observed on March 27th in Fort Lauderdale, large scale movement of troops from Fort Carson now deployed in staging exercises in southern Colorado, a plan for deployment of the 82nd Airborne Division as part of Jade Helm operation and plans announced three months ago by the JH15 designer-PR man Thomas Meade that the Navy Seals will be deployed in Louisiana and Mississippi (supposed non-designated JH states) as part of Jade Helm along with the 1200 Special Forces maneuvering throughout “hostile territories” Texas, Utah and drug cartel dominated borderland of Southern California along with the other Jade Helm border states New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

Combine all this torrid activity with multi-federal agency involvement that includes local law enforcement operating over such a widespread area of the US working hand-in-hand with all the intel forces from the FBI and CIA to the DEA, Border Patrol and Homeland Security and this summer into fall is shaping up into not just a simple military exercise for practicing skills to be utilized later on foreign soil as the PR propagandists have claimed… not when an Obama forced into retirement general anonymously revealed that Obama back in 2012 ordered the Pentagon to determine how much of the US armed forces would be willing to kill their fellow Americans and warned us of coming false flag attacks and a prolonged bloody US civil war. Or a retired Homeland Security employee disclosing that in recent years the department’s been planning a likely cyber-attack on the banking infrastructure along with other emergency false flag scenarios leading to martial law.

Or the militarization of police forces across the nation now looking identical to armed military forces acting with complete impunity killing American citizens (over 500 already this year) as a bona fide police state. Or the dozens of non-military, non-law enforcement federal agencies like the US Postal Service, Department of Game and Wildlife, IRS, FDA, EPA all buying up two and a half billion hollow point bullets. Take all of these very real, undeniable dots and connect them together and it appears more than probable that planned crises will become the ready-made excuse for Jade Helm to go live and martial law declared.

The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) whose architects include all the Bush inside job 9/11 neocons called for a transformation of the US military this century. As part of that transformation a popular current military tactical modality has employed the Human Terrain System. It was heavily pushed by General David Petraeus in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is still widely deployed today despite its proven failures. The Human Terrain System employs personnel teams comprised of social scientists primarily trained and educated in anthropology and psychology. Their purpose is to gather key information as a means to learn about and understand the enemy, utilizing that data to win over, manipulate and influence targeted adversarial populations through PSYOPS methods using propaganda and brainwashing techniques through pamphlets, MSM and internet social media disinformation.

Transformation of America was promised by Obama as he only continued the neocon PNAC blueprint to change how America would fight its wars. Last September the United States Army Special Forces Command published the Cognitive Joint Force Entry White Paper. “The decline of the regulated nation state order and the increased prominence of Violent Extremist Organizations (VEO’s)” present the newly deemed asymmetrical enemy that are the so called “terrorists.” This document outlines how asymmetrical warfare both currently and in the future will be fought. SOCOM Admiral McRaven in March 2014 described the Human Domain:

Our SOF engagement takes place in the Human Domain – the totality of the physical, cultural, and social environments that influence human behavior in a population-centric conflict. The Domain is about developing an understanding of, and nurturing influence among, critical populaces. SOF is uniquely suited for operations that win population-centric conflicts, oftentimes, and preferably, before they start.

Cognitive Joint Force Entry now brings an exclusive focus on fighting a thinking man’s war, getting inside the enemy’s head to the thinking processes, hence cognitive depth, cognitive strategy and cognitive resilience become operative keyword buzzwords.

The shift to defeating the enemy psychologically before a shot is even fired takes its cue from the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu’s Art of War: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Shaping prewar interventions has become the Special Operations trademark. Its buzzword is Phase Zero referring to an unending propaganda blitz to shape public opinion. Peacetime becomes just another phase in the forever state of war that the Pentagon and the Bush-Obama regime has incessantly been conditioning Americans to ultimately accept.

The demonization of Putin during this last year over Ukraine is but one recent example. Enemies range from “aggressors” like Putin who defends his nation against US Empire-NATO agenda to offensively surround and isolate the Russian Federation. Of course US created al Qaeda/ISIS are the twenty-first century public enemy number one on the one hand as the 9/11 scapegoats and perpetual war on terror opponents, and on the other hand the neocon proxy war mercenary ally wreaking havoc and terror wherever US-Israeli-Saudi axis of evil unleashes them. The Orwellian double speak of lies never ends.

Announcing the Jade Helm operation to the US public a full four months in advance is a PSYOPS to get inside the head of the domestic enemy – Americans who criticize the federal government for its increasing tyranny. The JH15 Special Operations exercise includes participants acting in the role as infiltrators to “blend in” wearing civilian clothes driving civilian vehicles in local civilian communities. They will be acting as spies who will encourage people to turn in their fellow citizens for subversive, anti-government activities, reminiscent of the civilian national security force that Obama as a 2008 presidential candidate touted just like Hitler’s prewar Nazi Germany youth groups.

Department of Homeland Security and state and municipal fusion centers work closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies and the US domestic intelligence community to ostensibly ferret out dissidents deemed enemies of the state, enemy combatants or belligerents, otherwise labeled homegrown terrorists. That said, for all their collective efforts they have absolutely nothing to show for themselves to even justify their existence much less the tax dollars wasted, not uncovering or finding even one domestic terrorist plot. Jade Helm is practicing asymmetrical warfare against American citizens who have become the enemy to the diabolical oppressors who as traitors are the true enemy of the entire world for what’s happening here in the US is happening throughout Western nations.

DOD 3025.18 is a document directive dated December 2010 about Defense Support of Civilian Authorities. Essentially this federal directive authorizes lethal military force by both active duty personnel as well as state National Guard units and reservist forces in support of police to be used against US citizens in civil matters involving emergencies and civil unrest, in effect overturning the Posse Comitatus law of 1878 that expressly prohibits use of US military in civil matters. Obama’s 2012 NDAA also violates Comitatus law.

To further cause concern, the proliferation of the United Nations security “peacekeeping” forces in recent years and President Obama signing a series of secret contractual agreements authorizing militarized UN forces, Homeland Security, and FEMA along with both US and foreign troops for active deployment on US soil against American citizens during times of civil unrest facilitating martial law conditions is also documented on public record.

On September 25th, 2013 Obama signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) along with 121 other nations that went into effect on Christmas Eve that year banning private citizens from owning guns, obviously in direct violation of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Though Congress never ratified ATT knowing it would cause an uproar amongst the voting public, it hasn’t stopped dictatorial Obama from repeatedly violating rule of law by signing 23 executive orders on gun control as further attempt to undermine and usurp constitutional rights.

There exists a long, well documented history of human rights violations that accompany nations’ efforts to outlaw and confiscate guns from private citizens. Especially where police state totalitarianism prevails, where both law enforcement agencies and government forces are the violent perpetrators, enforcing bans on gun ownership precipitates justifiable and predictable counter-resistance from citizens that in effect cause civil unrest and violence. With police murdering so many Americans nowadays, seemingly intentionally provoking widespread civil protest and unrest in cities across the US, it’s a logical deduction to conclude that such an extreme show of force as Jade Helm to potentially incite violence is more than probable.

A 2008 study examined UN supported gun confiscation programs in alliance with governments in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa and the subsequent levels of increased violence, death and severe human rights abuses associated with enforced gun control bans. The stage may be set for the same disastrous outcome to be triggered here in the US with Jade Helm this summer, especially if its mission includes private gun confiscation.

Further evidence illustrating the devastating consequences that ruthlessly violent government regimes have inflicted on humans comes from democide statistics. For years scholar RJ Rummel has been meticulously studying and compiling numbers of victims murdered by their own governments through history, concluding from his findings that, “Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.” He determined that in the last century alone 262 million people were brutally murdered by their own governments, six times more than those killed directly by war.

Moreover, in all nine of the worst cases of genocide committed during the 20th century, a systematic effort by the guilty despots in power disarmed their victims prior to their murderous onslaught exterminating them. These facts alone offer dire warnings to citizens around the world compelling them to actively resist the UN and the 122 nations that comprise most countries on earth that signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty. The globalist objective of a one world government is predicated on disarming the global population in order to minimize opposition to both their tyranny as well as their murderous final solution eugenics. A militarized multi-agency global task force consisting of the UN “war” keepers and black ops will be the globalists’ personal army to enforce their draconian New World Order laws, executing those unwilling to accept their demonic lethal reign of terror. But in the end, they will fail.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site at http://empireexposed. blogspot. com/He is also a regular contributor to Global Research and a syndicated columnist at Veterans Today.

Three local citizens were injured in an overnight shelling of Donetsk carried out by the Ukrainian troops, the head of the city’s Petrovsky district Maksim Zhukovsky said on Tuesday. Two victims received shrapnel wounds, and another man was hospitalized and diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury.

The Security Service of Ukraine has banned public passenger transport from crossing the disengagement line in Donbas. Prohibiting of crossing the disengagement line by public passenger transport is one more evidence of humanitarian and transport blockade of DPR and LPR by Kiev regime.

After 13 years of NATO-led combat operations, the Taliban insurgency continues to endure in Afghanistan as ISIL attempts to expand its footprint, the US Defense Department said in a report. “The Taliban-led insurgency remains resilient,” the report, released on Tuesday, stated. “ISIL will likely continue to try to expand its presence in Afghanistan during the upcoming year.” The insurgency in Afghanistan has already demonstrated that it intends to mount a significant challenge to Afghan security forces during the fighting season, which the Taliban launched on April 24, 2015, the report said.

Former Interior Minister of Afghanistan Ali Jalali states that ISIL is becoming a security concern in Afghanistan because escalating tribal feuds could trigger some tribes to seek support from the terrorist group. US officials and Afghan leaders have turned to the country’s tribes in the past to fight the Taliban. However, the results of US-led presence in the country are destructive.

 A lawsuit against members of the Bush administration for their role in the invasion of Iraq recently received noteworthy support from an internationally prominent group of lawyers—including a former U.S. attorney general. The group is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the class action suit on grounds that the U.S.-led war was an illegal act of aggression in violation of international guidelines as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II.

Iraqi mother Sundus Saleh filed the lawsuit on May 27 against former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, stating they “broke the law in conspiring and committing the crime of aggression against the people of Iraq.” Her complaint filed to the court reads:

Defendants planned the war against Iraq as early as 1998; manipulated the United States public to support the war by scaring them with images of ‘mushroom clouds’ and conflating the Hussein regime with al-Qaeda; and broke international law by commencing the invasion without proper legal authorization. More than sixty years ago, American prosecutors in Nuremberg, Germany convicted Nazi leaders of the crimes of conspiring and waging wars of aggression. They found the Nazis guilty of planning and waging wars that had no basis in law and which killed millions of innocents.[emphasis added]

It should be noted as well that the Nuremberg Tribunal’s findings were specifically quoted in the suit, which has been undertaken as a pro bonocase by Comar Law, based in San Francisco:

[These] are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences […] affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”[emphasis added in the lawsuit]

Saleh’s previous attempt to sue the Bush administration in the California court system was met with resistance from the government—including Obama administration lawyers—and was ultimately dismissed using the terms of the Westfall Act, which grants immunity to federal employees who act “within the scope of their employment.”

But the amicus brief submitted on Saleh’s behalf by the group of attorneys—including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the former president of the National Lawyers Guild, a founding board member of the International Commission for Labor Rights, and the co-chair of the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, among others—states that the previous court was “forbidden” to use Westfall protections to dismiss the charges because the Nuremberg Tribunal established “norms” that prohibit “the use of domestic laws as shields to allegations of aggression […] National leaders, even American leaders, do not have the authority to commit aggression and cannot be immune from allegations they have done so.” [emphasis added]

A second amicus brief was also filed by the nonprofit Planethood Foundation—a compelling action in itself, considering the organization was established in 1996 by the sole surviving Nuremberg chief prosecutor, Benjamin Ferencz. This brief cautions that “those in positions of power” should not be allowed to subvert their influence to escape responsibility for their crimes. This brief cites the U.N. statement given after Nuremberg proceedings that, “planning, initiating, or waging a war of aggression is a crime against humanity for which individuals as well as states shall be tried before the bar of international justice.” [emphasis added]

The significance of these briefs cannot be overstated amidst increasing international attention on the case. Calls to charge the Bush administration for war crimes have grown intense as recent reports estimate well over one million people have died as a result of the Iraq war.

Hopefully, there will be an appropriate answer from the federal appeals court for Saleh’s lawsuit; because, as  Inder Comar told Truthout,

“This is a horror that continues to play itself out, daily, in Iraq; the architects of such chaos have yet to be meaningfully questioned as to their role in this unmitigated tragedy.”

Inder Comar is the Attorney of Sundus Saleh.

Hellenic Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee Report

June 18th, 2015 by Global Research News

In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroad of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programmes began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until now no authority, Greek or international, has sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in whose name nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.

There is an immediate need and social responsibility to address a range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration. In response, the Hellenic Parliament established the Truth Committee on Public Debt in April 2015, mandating the investigation into the creation and growth of public debt, the way and reasons for which debt was contracted, and the impact that the conditionalities attached to the loans have had on the economy and the population. The Truth Committee has a mandate to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Greek debt, both domestically and internationally, and to formulate arguments and options concerning the cancellation of the debt.

The research of the Committee presented in this preliminary report sheds light on the fact that the entire adjustment programme, to which Greece has been subjugated, was and remains a politically orientated programme. The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and debt projections, figures directly relating to people’s lives and livelihoods, has enabled discussions around the debt to remain at a technical level mainly revolving around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve its capacity to pay the debt back. The facts presented in this report challenge this argument.

All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.

It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.

Bailout funds provided in both programmes of 2010 and 2012 have been externally managed through complicated schemes, preventing any fiscal autonomy. The use of the bailout money is strictly dictated by the creditors, and so, it is revealing that less than 10% of these funds have been destined to the government’s current expenditure.

This preliminary report presents a primary mapping out of the key problems and issues associated with the public debt, and notes key legal violations associated with the contracting of the debt; it also traces out the legal foundations, on which unilateral suspension of the debt payments can be based. The findings are presented in nine chapters structured as follows:

Chapter 1, Debt before the Troika, analyses the growth of the Greek public debt since the 1980s. It concludes that the increase in debt was not due to excessive public spending, which in fact remained lower than the public spending of other Eurozone countries, but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors, excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows, state recapitalization of private banks, and the international imbalances created via the flaws in the design of the Monetary Union itself.

Adopting the euro led to a drastic increase of private debt in Greece to which major European private banks as well as the Greek banks were exposed. A growing banking crisis contributed to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. George Papandreou’s government helped to present the elements of a banking crisis as a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 by emphasizing and boosting the public deficit and debt.

Chapter 2, Evolution of Greek public debt during 2010-2015, concludes that the first loan agreement of 2010, aimed primarily to rescue the Greek and other European private banks, and to allow the banks to reduce their exposure to Greek government bonds.

Chapter 3, Greek public debt by creditor in 2015, presents the contentious nature of Greece’s current debt, delineating the loans’ key characteristics, which are further analysed in Chapter 8.

Chapter 4, Debt System Mechanism in Greece reveals the mechanisms devised by the agreements that were implemented since May 2010. They created a substantial amount of new debt to bilateral creditors and the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), whilst generating abusive costs thus deepening the crisis further. The mechanisms disclose how the majority of borrowed funds were transferred directly to financial institutions. Rather than benefitting Greece, they have accelerated the privatization process, through the use of financial instruments.

Chapter 5, Conditionalities against sustainability, presents how the creditors imposed intrusive conditionalities attached to the loan agreements, which led directly to the economic unviability and unsustainability of debt. These conditionalities, on which the creditors still insist, have not only contributed to lower GDP as well as higher public borrowing, hence a higher public debt/GDP making Greece’s debt more unsustainable, but also engineered dramatic changes in the society, and caused a humanitarian crisis. The Greek public debt can be considered as totally unsustainable at present.

Chapter 6, Impact of the “bailout programmes” on human rights, concludes that the measures implemented under the “bailout programmes” have directly affected living conditions of the people and violated human rights, which Greece and its partners are obliged to respect, protect and promote under domestic, regional and international law. The drastic adjustments, imposed on the Greek economy and society as a whole, have brought about a rapid deterioration of living standards, and remain incompatible with social justice, social cohesion, democracy and human rights.

Chapter 7, Legal issues surrounding the MOU and Loan Agreements, argues there has been a breach of human rights obligations on the part of Greece itself and the lenders, that is the Euro Area (Lender) Member States, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and theInternational Monetary Fund, who imposed these measures on Greece. All these actors failed to assess the human rights violations as an outcome of the policies they obliged Greece to pursue, and also directly violated the Greek constitution by effectively stripping Greece of most of its sovereign rights. The agreements contain abusive clauses, effectively coercing Greece to surrender significant aspects of its sovereignty. This is imprinted in the choice of the English law as governing law for those agreements, which facilitated the circumvention of the Greek Constitution and international human rights obligations. Conflicts with human rights and customary obligations, several indications of contracting parties acting in bad faith, which together with the unconscionable character of the agreements, render these agreements invalid.

Chapter 8, Assessment of the Debts as regards illegtimacy, odiousness, illegality, and unsustainability, provides an assessment of the Greek public debt according to the definitions regarding illegitimate, odious, illegal, and unsustainable debt adopted by the Committee.
Chapter 8 concludes that the Greek public debt as of June 2015 is unsustainable, since Greece is currently unable to service its debt without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations. Furthermore, for each creditor, the report provides evidence of indicative cases of illegal, illegitimate and odious debts.

Debt to the IMF should be considered illegal since its concession breached the IMF’s own statutes, and its conditions breached the Greek Constitution, international customary law, and treaties to which Greece is a party. It is also illegitimate, since conditions included policy prescriptions that infringed human rights obligations. Finally, it is odious since the IMF knew that the imposed measures were undemocratic, ineffective, and would lead to serious violations of socio-economic rights.

Debts to the ECB should be considered illegal since the ECB over-stepped its mandate by imposing the application of macroeconomic adjustment programs (e.g. labour market deregulation) via its participation in the Troïka. Debts to the ECB are also illegitimate and odious, since the principal raison d’etre of the Securities Market Programme (SMP) was to serve the interests of the financial institutions, allowing the major European and Greek private banks to dispose of their Greek bonds.

The EFSF engages in cash-less loans which should be considered illegal because Article 122(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) was violated, and further they breach several socio-economic rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the EFSF Framework Agreement 2010 and the Master Financial Assistance Agreement of 2012 contain several abusive clauses revealing clear misconduct on the part of the lender. The EFSF also acts against democratic principles, rendering these particular debts illegitimate and odious.

The bilateral loans should be considered illegal since they violate the procedure provided by the Greek constitution. The loans involved clear misconduct by the lenders, and had conditions that contravened law or public policy. Both EU law and international law were breached in order to sideline human rights in the design of the macroeconomic programmes. The bilateral loans are furthermore illegitimate, since they were not used for the benefit of the population, but merely enabled the private creditors of Greece to be bailed out. Finally, the bilateral loans are odious since the lender states and the European Commission knew of potential violations, but in 2010 and 2012 avoided to assess the human rights impacts of the macroeconomic adjustment and fiscal consolidation that were the conditions for the loans.

The debt to private creditors should be considered illegal because private banks conducted themselves irresponsibly before the Troika came into being, failing to observe due diligence, while some private creditors such as hedge funds also acted in bad faith. Parts of the debts to private banks and hedge funds are illegitimate for the same reasons that they are illegal; furthermore, Greek banks were illegitimately recapitalized by tax-payers. Debts to private banks and hedge funds are odious, since major private creditors were aware that these debts were not incurred in the best interests of the population but rather for their own benefit.

The report comes to a close with some practical considerations. Chapter 9, Legal foundations for repudiation and suspension of the Greek sovereign debt, presents the options concerning the cancellation of debt, and especially the conditions under which a sovereign state can exercise the right to unilateral act of repudiation or suspension of the payment of debt under international law.

Several legal arguments permit a State to unilaterally repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt. In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors , which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights. As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that augment the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselves unilaterally insolvent where the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.

People’s dignity is worth more than illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable debt
Having concluded a preliminary investigation, the Committee considers that Greece has been and still is the victim of an attack premeditated and organized by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. This violent, illegal, and immoral mission aimed exclusively at shifting private debt onto the public sector.

Making this preliminary report available to the Greek authorities and the Greek people, the Committee considers to have fulfilled the first part of its mission as defined in the decision of the President of Parliament of 4 April 2015. The Committee hopes that the report will be a useful tool for those who want to exit the destructive logic of austerity and stand up for what is endangered today: human rights, democracy, peoples’ dignity, and the future of generations to come.

In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, in the speech from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War).

Syria’s Kurdish forces have taken control of the strategic northern border town of Tal Abyad in Raqqa province from Islamic State militants UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported on Monday. Some 40 terrorists were killed as they fled the town after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units advanced into the city, the monitoring group added.

Fighter jets of the US-led coalition once again struck the Iraqi forces in the Western province of Anbar on Saturday. The US-led coalition warplanes hit a position of the Iraqi army in Anbar province. We remember, in early June, the US-led coalition warplanes hit the bases of Iraqi army’s Hezbollah battalions in Fallujah in Anbar province, killing 6 soldiers and injuring 8 others. Indeed, The US has constantly struck the popular forces’ positions in different parts of Iraq. Meanwhile, Head of Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition’s planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.

Alexei Miroshnichenko and Yuri Miroshnichenko, the former stating that he had worked in the Foreign Intelligence Service and the latter that he had worked in Ukraine’s embassy in France, declared their unwillingness to continue working for Kiev, saying that they could no longer tolerate what was happening to their country. “We can no longer put up with what is happening in Ukraine. Traitors, fascists, various intelligence agents have taken up the reins of the country, and are leading it to ruin.” the brothers stated at press conference on Monday. The brothers added that most part of Ukrainian Special Services and politician are controlled by US Special Services.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Armed Forces is presently consolidating their positions, preparing for an offensive, and deliberately provoking Lugansk and Donetsk militia to return fire, in order to blame them for violating the truce. Only according to reports from DPR the Ukrainian Armed Forces have violated the ceasefire regime 191 times over the past 24 hours.

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A delegation of 7 members of European Parliament has just concluded its two-day trip to Iran, which was arranged at the invitation of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Majlis (Iran’s parliament).

The EU parliamentary group, traveling to Iran from June 6-7, was headed by Elmar Brok, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and included MEPs from different political factions such as the European People’s Party, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

The relations between Iran and the European Union have significantly improved in the past two years since President Hassan Rouhani came to power in June 14, 2013, and promised that he would work for the normalization of Iran’s relations with the West and endeavor to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff, the main impediment on the path of a durable reconciliation with the EU and the United States.

Since then, several EU foreign ministers, including the foreign ministers of Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden made their first trips to Iran in more than a decade, and new openings emerged for the fostering of Iran’s financial and economic relations with the European Union. There have also been many parliamentary exchanges between Majlis and the legislative groups of the EU member states.

Mr. Eldar Mamedov, a Latvian politician and the political advisor of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament has been monitoring the developments surrounding Iran-EU relations closely. He takes care of the delegation for inter-parliamentary relations between the European Parliament and Iran.

He refers to Iranians as educated and civilized people who have favorable views towards Europe. He told Iran Review that with the chances of a comprehensive agreement between Iran and the six world powers over the nuclear standoff in sight, the European firms have already got prepared for resuming their business with Iran. He also believes that with a unanimous decision of the Council of the European Union, which can be adopted without any hurdles, the EU will be delivering its part of final nuclear agreement with Iran, that is the termination of economic sanctions.

Eldar Mamedov he has worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and served as a diplomat in Latvian embassies in Washington D.C. and Madrid.

In an interview with Iran Review, Mr. Mamedov shared his viewpoints about the future opportunities for the expansion of the relations between Iran and the European Union and the importance of inter-parliamentary interaction between the two sides. Eldar Mamedov mentioned to us that his remarks simply reflect his personal opinions and not necessarily those of the European Parliament or the S&D party.

Q: The recent trip made by the 7-strong European Parliament delegation to Iran, including two members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, was the latest development in the course of Iran-EU relations that have been remarkably on the rise following the election of President Rouhani. Do you think the European Parliament can contribute to the narrowing of differences between Iran and the West, especially on the nuclear standoff?

A: Inter-parliamentary diplomacy is an integral part of international relations these days. Parliamentarians, unlike the executive branch, have a broader leeway in discussing various issues. This creates certain amount of mutual understanding of the narratives and political realities that drive elites on both sides, without necessarily agreeing with them. As a humble witness of a number of recent inter-parliamentary exchanges, I can say that since the delegation of the Socialists & Democrats led by its then president Hannes Swoboda visited Tehran in October 2013, first such visit in seven years, the atmosphere has changed notably for the better. So, I would say these exchanges already have played a positive role, also in discussing issues where we have disagreements, and there is definitely a potential for more.

Q: The European Union is a negotiating partner in the nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers. Part of the Lausanne framework deal requires that the European Union terminates the application of all nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran, including the energy and banking sanctions. Does the EU have the legislative and administrative capacity and political will to start terminating the sanctions simultaneously with the implementation of Iran’s nuclear commitments?

A: The joint statement of the EU High Representative for foreign policy Federica Mogherini and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says that the EU will terminate the implementation of all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of its key nuclear commitments. Additionally, the US will cease the application of all nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions, i.e. those applied to the third countries having relations with Iran. This is the only valid document that was agreed upon in Lausanne, all the “fact sheets” released afterwards notwithstanding. Unlike in the US, in the EU the process of terminating the sanctions is pretty straight-forward. It takes a decision of the Council of the EU, a body representing all 28 member states, to terminate sanctions. I am pretty confident that the EU will stand by its commitments and implement them faithfully.

Q: One of the missions of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iran established in 2004 is to foster dialog between the Parliament and Iran’s Majlis on such issues as drug trafficking, terrorism, trade and business ties, climate change and human rights. Have there been meaningful and constructive negotiations between the two sides on these areas? In this light, what’s your analysis of the recent two-day trip by the parliamentary delegation to Iran?

A: With each new exchange, more items are being discussed. In the recent past, we mostly discussed nuclear issue and human rights – areas where we have disagreements. But developments in the region have confronted us with a new reality. We both face a ruthless enemy that stops at nothing in implementing its barbarian vision – extremist groups with roots in Wahhabi ideology, such as Daesh, Al-Nusra and others. Iran plays a major role in fighting these groups, and it is obvious that, whatever our differences on other issues, such as the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, fighting these groups should be a top priority. Daesh and Al-Qaeda are a scourge for the humanity. It is in the interests of neither Europe nor Iran to allow these groups to consolidate their territorial gains in the Middle East and become not just a terrorist, but also a strategic threat to all states in the region and beyond.

As to other areas, there are tentative discussions on possible cooperation. Iran has the world’s largest gas reserves. Europe needs to diversify its energy supplies. Iran, as a stable country in a turbulent region, can offer advantages as both source and transit country for Central Asian gas. Iran is also hugely interesting as a potential business partner for European firms. It’s a big country, with skilful and educated population, located strategically as a gate to South Asia. Already now, expectations in the European business community are quite high regarding Iran. But obviously, first we need to achieve the final deal which would lead to the lifting of sanctions. That would be a green light signal to the European business community. It would also clear the way for cooperation in other areas, because officials on both sides will be able to focus on practical, concrete projects in such areas as environment, water management, fighting drug trafficking, etc.

Q: So let me ask you, as a final question, what’s your prediction for the future of Iran-EU relations? Can the European Parliament expedite the process of the normalization of mutual relations and play a role in bringing Iran and the EU member states closer together in all political, economic, financial and cultural areas?

A: In the long run, I am optimistic about the development of European-Iranian relations. There is a long history of bilateral ties. I’ve also noted a strong cultural affinity Iranians feel toward Europe. We also have common interests, like, as I said, fighting terrorist organizations, among others. This is the basis on which to build a mutually beneficial and respectful relationship. The role of the parliaments in this endeavor is very important: they provide a channel of direct communication between sides and cover the whole political spectrum – conservatives, reformists, centrists, right, left, etc. After, hopefully, the deal is reached, the European Parliament might consider drafting a new report on relations with Iran, which would need to reflect the new situation and outline new horizons for relations. And already now, the European Parliament calls for an opening of a EU delegation in Tehran – so far, there are embassies of 22 individual member states, but not of a EU as a whole. We believe that opening such EU office would be a further step towards normalization of EU-Iran relations.

Some 20 Israeli officers and 63 Saudi military men and officials were killed and many others taken captive in a special military operation of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement in Amir Khalid airbase in Southern Saudi Arabia, a top security official announced on Wednesday.

“The Ansarullah fighters backed by the Yemeni army hit Amir Khalid airbase in Khamees al-Mushait region in Southern Saudi Arabia with a scud missile and several Najm al-Saqeb (Striking Star) missiles last week, killing over 20 senior Israeli officers and 63 Saudi military men and capturing 35 others,” Mehdi Nasser al-Bashi told FNA on Wednesday.

He mentioned that the Israeli officers were agents of the Mossad spy agency and were in the region to help the Saudi army, and said, “At the time of the attack the Israeli officers were working on a plan to attack some regions of Yemen with prohibited Israeli-made weapons.”

The Yemeni army targeted Amir Khalid military base in Khamees al-Mushait region by Scud missiles last week.

The Saudi army claimed that it had intercepted the Scud by two Patriot missiles, but the Arabic-language Al-Mayadeen news channel showed footage of the missile attack, reporting that it had hit the target.

Following the attack the Saudi army evacuated the passenger terminals of two airports in nearby areas.

Later reports revealed that Saudi Arabia’s Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad bin Ahmed al-Shaalan had been killed in the missile attack.

Earlier today, a senior commander of Ansarullah confirmed that the Yemeni popular forces and the army had killed the Saudi Air Force Commander in the missile attack.

“Shaalan was killed 5 days ago in the Yemeni army’s special operations against Amir Khalid airbase in Khamees al-Mushait border area in Saudi Arabia,” Colonel Salih Mohammad told FNA on Wednesday.

“The attack against Khalid airbase was waged by missiles and weapons systems that were not very special; the operation was planned by Ansarullah and the Yemeni army conducted it after Ansarullah provided it with the information about Muhammed Shaalan’s presence at Khalid airbase in Khamees al-Mushait,” he added.

Colonel Mohammad, meantime, said that the Yemeni army has also come in possession of advanced US-made weapons systems after capturing the Saudis’ Khalid airbase following the initial missile attack.

Last Wednesday, the official Saudi Press Agency quoting the Ministry of Defense declared the death of Lieutenant General Muhammad bin Ahmed al-Shaalan, but asserted that the commander had died of a heart attack during a work trip outside the kingdom.

Only a few hours later, informed sources in New York challenged the Saudi news agency’s report, and said the General had been killed in Yemen’s missile attacks.

An informed Yemeni source who called for anonymity said in New York last Wednesday that “Shaalan was killed in the Yemeni army’s missile attacks against Saudi Arabia’s Khamees al-Mushait region five days earlier”.

Then later on Wednesday, another well-known Saudi source rejected the reports that Shaalan had died of a heart attack, and disclosed that his body was charred showing that he has been killed in an enemy attack.

Jamal Bean wrote on his Tweeter page that Shaalan and his accompanying team have been killed in the Yemeni army’s missile attack since their corpses were scorched by the fire of a blast.

Increasing tension in the Asia-Pacific between China and nations surrounding its territory, appears to be an unstoppable and inevitable lead-up to regional conflict and perhaps even global war.

In reality, for those who have studied history, this is a familiar rerun. Change the characters and place current events in the context of the early 1900’s and we see the lead up to World War II and more specifically, the events that set the stage for the fighting in the Pacific.

Some may believe this is a rerun of when Japan was the sole aggressor in the region, expanding beyond its means before finally meeting its match. Predicated on this misconception, these same people would believe that China has now traded places with Imperial Japan, and is expanding recklessly at the expense of regional and global peace and stability.

However, this is indeed a misconception.

World War II: Setting the Record Straight

To make this clear, we must consider the words of a contemporary of the period before World War II and the words of warning he offered regarding the true nature of tensions at that time. He was United States Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor, and a man who fought America’s wars on multiple continents throughout his entire adult life and part of his childhood – he lied about his age to enlist in the Marine Corps early.

In his seminal writing “War is a Racket,” he speaks specifically of tensions in the Asia-Pacific at the time and offered advice on how to avoid what would be a catastrophic war (emphasis added):

At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals of Washington (and there are always a lot of them) are very adroit lobbyists. And they are smart. They don’t shout that “We need a lot of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.” Oh no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only.

Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline on the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the United States fleet so close to Nippon’s shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.


The ships of our navy, it can be seen, should be specifically limited, by law, to within 200 miles of our coastline. Had that been the law in 1898 the Maine would never have gone to Havana Harbor. She never would have been blown up. There would have been no war with Spain with its attendant loss of life. Two hundred miles is ample, in the opinion of experts, for defense purposes. Our nation cannot start an offensive war if its ships can’t go further than 200 miles from the coastline. Planes might be permitted to go as far as 500 miles from the coast for purposes of reconnaissance. And the army should never leave the territorial limits of our nation.

General Butler alludes to the fact that America’s posture in Asia-Pacific would inevitably provoke war. To answer why precisely the United States was conducting naval maneuvers off Japan’s shores before the outbreak of World War II, one must consider America’s openly imperialist “Manifest Destiny” which saw the seizure and occupation of islands across the Pacific, up to and including the Philippines which still to this day suffers the effects of constant US military, political, and economic meddling – but at the time the island nation was literally occupied as a conquered territory by the US.

The Pacific theater of World War II was then, not a battle between good and evil nor between democracy and empire – it was a battle between two empires who sought to impose their will upon lands beyond their borders.

One could argue though, that Japan’s actions may have been driven more by a need to counterbalance long-standing Western hegemony in the Pacific, rather than a desire to conquer the planet. While certainly the Japanese sought empire, much of what precipitated World War II was an attempt by the Japanese to push out Western imperialism that surrounded Japan and openly sought to eventually impose its rule upon Japan itself.

China Today

We can see something similar today in Asia Pacific. The stated goal of US foreign policy, particularly the “Pivot to Asia” is to reestablish American preeminence in the Pacific region, thousands of miles from American shores. There exists policy papers drafted from corporate-financier funded think tanks that openly call for the encirclement and isolation of China to thwart its rise as a regional economic and military power.

This is not because the United States fears Chinese troops storming the beaches of California, but because they fear China challenging and displacing American influence where it shouldn’t be in the first place.

The term “String of Pearls,” taken from the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute’s report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral,” refers to a “string” of geopolitically important ports, pipelines, and other installations China is building stretching from the Middle East and North Arfica (MENA), past Pakistan, India, and Myanmar, and all the way back to China’s shores in the South China Sea.

The SSI report openly lays out plans to disrupt Chinese interests along this “string,” a strategy in 2006 that would tangibly manifest itself beginning with the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011which saw extremists eventually pushed Chinese interests out of the MENA region, to various conflicts today regarding destabilization in Myanmar and Pakistan, as well as “island disputes” in the South China Sea.

In virtually every point along the “string” the SSI report covered, we now see concerted violence and political chaos whose source stems from US State Department-funded nongovernmental organizations and movements everywhere from the Middle East, to Baluchistan, Pakistan, to Myanmar, and of course to the governments of Japan and the Philippines, subservient to US interests since the end of the Second World War.

The SSI report would conclude by stating the following carefully coded wording:

The United States, through its diplomacy, economic policies, and military strategy has an unprecedented opportunity to shape and influence China’s future direction. Overcoming the potential challenges posed by the “String of Pearls” and the successful integration of China as a responsible stakeholder in the international system are necessary for the future prosperity and security of states in the region and across the globe.

Of course, by “international system,” SSI means that which Wall Street, Washington, London, and Brussels created, controls, and are the sole benefactors of. To ensure clarity on this point, an earlier paper written in 1997 by US policymaker Robert Kagan titled “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment,” on the same subject of “integrating China” into the existing “international order” states (emphasis added):

The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad. Chinese leaders chafe at the constraints on them and worry that they must change the rules of the international system before the international system changes them.

New Tensions Same as the Old Tensions 

It’s very clear then that tensions in Asia Pacific, amid which the US attempts to pose as an indispensable mediator of, are in fact the intentional, premeditated consequences of long-standing, well-documented US foreign policy. It is clear that a rising China was not the cause of the last World War, nor will it be the cause of the next. The cause is rather the same tiresome special interests which have driven all of the World Wars – those centered in the West unable to accept regional influence and a multi-polar world, and those interests who will only settle for global hegemony.With the true perpetrators of rising tensions in the Pacific identified, and the consequences well-studied of when last these perpetrators stoked such tensions, those nations faced with the choice of playing proxies for Wall Street and Washington or readjusting and even profiting from the rise of China, have one last chance amid a closing window of opportunity to ensure history does not tragically repeat itself, yet again.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/06/18/who-s-behind-asia-pacific-s-growing-tensions/

The latest release from WikiLeaks on parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement dealing with medical insurance and medical systems goes some way in affirming the destructive potential the agreement has.[1] Forged in the corridors of unaccountable secrecy, officials have been undermining their own sovereign systems at stages, even as they claim it to be in their country’s interest.

The draft chapters released by WikiLeaks have already revealed the extent corporations will be privileged with an assortment of investment protections, while broader environmental protections will be undermined.  The entire agreement reads like a catastrophic abdication of sovereignty and state responsibility.  The boardroom triumphs over the parliamentary chamber.

In an analysis of the Annex on transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products by Jane Kelsey of the Law Faculty at Auckland University, we are told that the document “seeks to erode the processes and decisions of agencies that decide which medicines and medical devices to subsidise with public money and by how much.”[2]

Provinces where the state should stand guard will be subject to a shadow occupation.  The TPP acts as an ultimate ground clearance, a form of scorched earth policy on traditional protections.  One such area is that of state-run medical schemes.  Investor-state disputes have the potential of cutting deep there, where the investors (corporations, for the most part) will have a legitimate expectation to be treated fairly and equitably.  This may arise in cases where subsiding medicines or medical devices could be challenged as negatively affecting investments.

For that reason, Australia, in the leaked investment chapter of January 2015, specified that its own Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Scheme, and Therapeutic Goods Administration and Office of the Gene Technology Regulation would be exempt from such investor state dispute settlement.

The analysis on the potential effect of the agreement on New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (Pharmac) is telling.  It also reveals the persistent doublespeak of diplomats who are proclaiming one reality for citizens, and another for the strategic, US-led fold.

US Trade officials and members of the pharmaceutical industry have made it clear that Pharmac is the bogey to their vision of free trade. Established in 1993, its aim was “to secure for eligible people in need of pharmaceuticals the best health outcomes that are reasonably achievable from pharmaceutical treatment and from within the amount of funding provided” (Disability Act 2000, s. 47).

Its role is singular and expansive, covering the negotiation of prices of medical products with the pharmaceutical companies and levels of reimbursement.  It is also a dream for those concerned about skyrocketing costs in the medical sector.  The US pharmaceutical industry has expressed a different view, seeing it as the grand obstacle, “an egregious example” of a model that pushes down prices of medicines and medical devices at the expense of profit.

The submission to the US government by the industry in 2011 regarding the TPPA specifically made that point, further noting the sanctity of intellectual property, which was being violated by this perceived lack of transparency.  The powerful were feeling slighted.

The US annual report on Special 301 (2015) by Michael Froman, covering intellectual property issues, notes “serious concern about the policies and operation of New Zealand’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC), including, among other things, the lack of transparency, fairness and predictability of the PHARMAC pricing and reimbursement scheme, as well as the negative aspects of the overall climate for innovative medicines in New Zealand.”

The discussion about fairness and transparency has little to do with accrued benefits for citizens. The trade scheme on the table has everything to do with the corporate wallet and its anticipated depth.  Fair treatment towards citizens, which would entail keeping medical costs down and make health care accessible, is less significant than pharmaceutical profit margins.  But just to remind us about how the US negotiating position on this has been shaped, we need only see that it deems its own state run schemes to be exempt from the free trade bonanza.

The schemes of other countries are to be targeted, while domestic interests are satisfied.  This strategy was exactly the same one pursued in making the free trade agreement with Australia.  “USTR has worked closely with all relevant US agencies to ensure the FTA does not require any changes to US health care programs.”  The US trade lobby pilfers, while the smaller state run schemes suffer.

There are signs that the free trade ideology may not be receiving the same purchase on the Hill it once did.  Last Friday, the House of Representatives voted down the Trade Promotion Authority to “fast track” the TPPA negotiations.[3]  While this is far from suggesting that the members have gone cold on regional trade agreements, it suggests that providing the executive vast powers to push supposedly “free” trade deals is a source of concern. Greater scrutiny is required.

Outside the various parliaments involved, resistance to the TPPA has reinvigorated the anti-globalisation movement, finding form in a grass roots resistance that is gradually breaking through the manufactured consensus on free trade.  Free trade is the age’s great oxymoron, and deserves banishment from the lexicon of political engagement.

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

Notes:

[1] https://wikileaks.org/tpp/healthcare/

[2] https://wikileaks.org/tpp/healthcare/Professor-Jane-Kelsey-Analysis-on-TPP-Transparency-for-Healthcare-Annex.pdf

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-16/berg-tpp-not-the-bogey-treaty-that-we-think-it-is/6547242

 

 

What Greece’s Creditors Should Know

June 18th, 2015 by Vassilis K. Fouskas

In his recent article in Le Monde (31 May 2015), Greece’s PM, Alexis Tsipras, said that if Greece were to implement the (failed) austerity policy of technocrats and bankers, then there would be no need to have elections in Greece, and indeed in any country following austerity programmes. He outlines two competing strategies that tend to shape current European politics: one that promotes unification and solidarity across the continent, and another that fights for division and separation.

Here, we take his thoughts a step further by suggesting what Greece’s creditors should know in case the technocrats prevail in the current negotiations. Syriza’s Greece cannot and will not default on its people by stopping paying wages and pensions. If matters come to a head, it will default on its creditors because this is a matter of democracy and democratic principles are not negotiable.

Greece managed to make a recent payment of €750-million to the IMF by way of drawing down a special account Greece held at the fund. But early in June, a further payment of €300-million to the IMF is required, although the fund said that this can be met at the end of the month, allowing negotiators to strike a deal. It is almost impossible for Greece to meet further obligations to her creditors, given the fact that the most recent payments became possible after Greece’s central government forced local authorities and public organizations to commit their reserves to servicing the country’s debt.

Redemptions of €6.7-billion, which are held by the ECB and which have to be met in July and August are impossible to be paid. Since last October, the decline in bank deposits has been steady and the banking system kept operating thanks to emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) provided by the ECB via Greece’s central bank. This is approved on a weekly basis by the ECB’s governing council on the basis of a two-third majority and it can be cut-off at any point. Total bank deposits in Greece fell from €145-billion in March to €139.4-billion in April. Business and household deposits shrank by 3.5% to €133.6-billion. Growth shrank by 0.5% in the last quarter of 2014 and a further 0.2% in the first quarter of 2015.

The European Commission had forecast growth of 2.9% in November. Just before the Troika (ECB, IMF and the EU, now euphemistically called “institutions”) imposed the first bail-out deal in 2010-11, the debt/GDP ratio stood at 118%. Today, after five years of untold austerity measures it stands at 174%. The same goes for official unemployment. In 2010 unemployment stood at 9%. Today it is as high as 26%, with youth unemployment at 57%. This all speaks volumes of the failure of Brussels and Berlin to bridge the gap between centre and periphery in Europe via austerity programmes and fiscal discipline, which are recipes that the previous centre-right cabinets slavishly implemented in Greece from 2010 onwards.

Technocrats and Fiscal Obedience

Policy-making teams and analysts are good in maths and econometrics and know how to deal with financial complexities, every-day risk management and the bureaucratic detail. Power lies in Berlin and this makes Germany’s technocrats in Brussels very powerful. Greece, the technocrats argue, has borrowed large amounts of money and it is now time to pay (although they forget to add that the lenders knew that Greece would not be in a position to pay back at the moment when they kept lending money to her for decades – but that is another story). Thus, in terms of policy, the technocrats/lenders can force ‘solutions’ on weak periphery actors. Moreover, technocrats are great in designing policy models and making (unashamedly wrong) predictions.

But those technocrats and policy-makers are not independent agents. They are influenced by power-politics and the interests of the strongest power in the EU – Germany. They are indeed entrapped in a German-led anti-inflation, export-led monetarist bias, according to which the European economy is, or should be, a system of interlocking markets in a timeless equilibrium alongside fiscal discipline and fixed exchange rates regimes. And in the unlikely event that a crisis creeps in, then more fiscal discipline and austerity is asked to rectify imbalances. Fiscal disobedience is punishable and any injection of demand-led Keynesian economics is not permissible.

As a response to the financial crisis and the Euro-zone crisis, Berlin, via Brussels, has now adopted the so-called “European Semester” policy in which the national budgets of the Euro-zone are closely monitored before they are authorized by the Commission to go for approval by the respective parliaments. This policy has effectively been imposed on candidate states as well, such as the non-EU Western Balkan states, most of which have their currencies pegged to the Euro. Formal national sovereignty in the EU and beyond is a thing of the past.

Uneven Development Across the Euro-Zone

These are very worrying signals. As a plethora of writers has shown, including Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, the Euro-zone crisis is not a fiscal crisis. As such it does not, primarily, require budgetary discipline and the European Semester policy is bound to fail, creating more poverty and hardship across the continent and not just in the periphery. The Euro-zone crisis is first and foremost a balance of payments crisis structured alongside the current account of EU member-states, and especially those states which are members of the Euro-zone.

This is the result of the unevenness across the Euro-zone in terms of the degree of industrial development, innovation and financial power that each European country can amass. Basically, it tells us that Germany and Greece cannot have the same currency, unless the former functions as an empire and the latter as a colony. It also tells us that another fixed exchange rates regime is destined to fail, the same way as all previous systems failed in modern history, beginning with the Gold Standard of the nineteenth century to the collapse of Bretton Woods in 1971 and beyond.

Things in Europe might have been different if Berlin was Washington DC and the EU was United States of Europe. It could have then been possible to somewhat balance out market and developmental disequilibria via a unified European fiscal system, recycling social surpluses from the centre to the periphery without the mediation of the banking system and usurious interest rates requiring unusual austerity policies.

Still, however, the problem of the periphery could remain unresolved, the same way as the problem of the Italian south is unresolved after more than 160 years of Italian unification. Uneven development is a structural feature of capitalism that cannot be cured with fiscal transfers from the core to the periphery. Uneven development can be transcended only by a new social system in which extraction of profit and state power do not constitute the raison d’être of that system but an expiring, secondary and socially intolerant function of it.

This is what democratic socialism is all about. Europe – the birthplace of socialism as Eric Hobsbawm and Donald Sassoon have so eloquently argued – is not yet ready for that. With the monetarist forces in charge across the continent, it seems that the most feasible perspective is not the unification of the peoples of Europe in view of attaining democratic socialism, but the separation of peoples of Europe in order to unite them in a new European, socialist perspective. This is neither a dream nor a nationalist platform. In fact, this is perhaps the only way today to defeat the rising xenophobia and right-wing authoritarianism in Europe, which is the direct result of rampant monetarism and free market fundamentalism, failing to generate wage growth and social prosperity.

The tendency of “separating the Europeans in order to unite them” is real and emanates from the current Euro-zone crisis. The process of European integration created insuperable financial disequilibria, boosting structurally such disintegrative tendencies that are impossible to be cured politically at the European level, especially if the prevailing forces in Europe are pro-monetarist.

The experiment of Syriza in negotiating its moderate Keynesian programme with Greece’s creditors in order to achieve better bail-out terms speaks volumes about the structural rigidity of the monetary union, which makes it impossible to be reformed from within. What, then, should Greece’s creditors know?

A Matter of Democracy

On 25 January 2015, Syriza came to power with a clear mandate and on the basis of a moderate left platform that many Keynesians, let alone Marxists, had fiercely criticized. There is nothing radical or extreme in Syriza’s pre-election programme announced in Salonica in September 2014. Even calls to “disengage from NATO” were dropped. Andreas Papandreou’s PASOK in the 1980s, not to speak of its super-radical period in the 1970s, were far more dangerous for capitalism than Syriza are today.

What is the problem and why can Euro-zone officials not accept Syriza’s moderate reform proposals, especially with regards to pension, wages and elementary protection of labour markets?

The problem, as insinuated earlier, is the rigidity of the European Monetary System which is governed by a set of monetarist rules, such as the anti-inflation bias and the budgetary discipline that should prevail across the Euro-zone. Any form of wage growth is prohibited and social programmes should be dismantled.

Therefore, it is clear, as the article of the Greek PM has perceptively shown that the clash between Greece and Europe is a matter of democracy. The Greek government entered negotiations on the basis of a clear popular mandate (currently its negotiating efforts are supported by 70 per cent of the Greek people), whereas European officials and negotiators are the mouthpieces of unelected bankers and technocrats bound by set monetarist principles. They know that if they succumb to the democratic will of the Greek people, then a new road opens for European politics and economics, that of social solidarity, social programmes and wage growth.

But it is unlikely that they will succumb. In this case, they should know that Syriza’s Greece cannot default on its people by stopping the payment of wages and pensions; it will not default on them because this is a matter of democracy and the democratic principle is not negotiable.

It should also be noted that such a perspective will inflict far more serious damages to European and global capitalism than one is eager, or possible, to discern and recognize today. Hic Rhodus, hic salta! •

Vassilis K. Fouskas is the Director of the Centre for the Study of States, Markets and People (STAMP) at the Royal Docks Business School, University of East London, the founding Editor of the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies (Routledge, quarterly since 1998) and the author (with Constantine Dimoulas) of Greece, Financialization and the EU. The Political Economy of Debt and Destruction (Palgrave, 2013).

This article first published on the Open Democracy website.

Germany has printed stamps depicting Naji al-Ali’s Handala, the cartoon of an orphan who became the iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and resistance back in early 1970s.

In an attempt to raise awareness about the deplorable conditions of Palestinians, Germany’s main post office (Deutsche post) is printing Ali’s work on a series of its stamps and plans to donate the revenue to equip a hospital in the Palestinian city of Beit Sahour, Palestinian television networkPaltoday.tv reported on Tuesday.

Handala is a 10-year-old boy who usually has his back turned to readers while clasping hands, conveying a symbolic message of rejecting the Israeli atrocities on Palestine.

Stamps printed by Germany’s Deutsche post, depicting Handala, the caricature of an orphan by famous Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali

Stamps printed by Germany’s Deutsche post, depicting Handala, the caricature of an orphan by famous Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali

“Handala will still be 10, and then he will start growing up. The laws of nature do not apply to him. He is unique. Things will become normal again when the homeland returns,” reads a statement by Ali on the official Handala website. Handala is usually dressed in worn-out clothes and is barefoot to show solidarity with underprivileged Palestinian child refugees.

Handala graffiti in the West Bank village of Bil'in

Handala graffiti in the West Bank village of Bil’in

Deutsche post decided to print the stamp after a delegation from a German medical charity visited Ahmad Maslamani hospital, the severely under-equipped medical center of Beit Sahour.

A graffiti of Naji al-Ali's Handala on the West Bank separation wall

A graffiti of Naji al-Ali’s Handala on the West Bank separation wall

During the visit, Ali’s works, showcased on the walls of the hospital, caught the delegation’s attention. And after returning to their country, they managed to make Germany’s postal service carry out the awareness-raising measure.

One of the administrators of the hospital lauded Germany’s move and said that the hospital is still in dire need of medical supplies and equipment.

Ali, a severe critic of Israel and Saudi Arabia, was assassinated in 1987 in London.

It is utterly disgraceful that the first democratically elected president of Egypt has become the first Egyptian president in history to be sentenced to death by the highest judicial and religious authorities in his country.

Dr. Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June 2012 in an election that was judged “free and fair” by a number of domestic and foreign observers. He secured 52% of the popular vote. Morsi also initiated a referendum on a new national constitution that was endorsed by 64% of those who voted.

The Egyptian Court that upheld an earlier death sentence against Morsi for allegedly plotting a jail break and attacks on the police during the January 2011 popular uprising against President Hosni Mubarak based its decision on what appears to be fabricated evidence challenged by lawyers from within and without the Arab world. This 16 June 2015 verdict was accompanied by another travesty of justice — the imposition of life imprisonment upon Morsi for purportedly spying for foreign elements, namely, the Palestinian Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran. In another trial in April this year, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years jail on charges of inciting violence against protesters in 2012 when he was president.

All Morsi’s sentences culminating in the re-affirmation of the death penalty two days ago, endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, have been politically motivated. Not one of the sentences meets the minimum requirements of justice as spelt out in Egyptian domestic law or in international law. They certainly violate the exacting canons of justice embodied in Islamic jurisprudence.

It is not just the persecution of Morsi through the abuse of the law that concerns defenders of justice in many parts of the world. The world is appalled by the hundreds of death sentences meted out to leaders and activists associated directly or indirectly with the Ikhwanul- Muslimin (the Muslim Brotherhood) — of which Mohamed Morsi is also a leader — through speedy mass trials. The Mursyidul Am (the principal guide) of the Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and one of its prominent leaders, Khairat el-Shater, have also been sentenced to death. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, the Brotherhood’s spiritual adviser, has been handed down the death penalty in absentia.   The United Nations has described this multitude of death penalties as “unprecedented in recent history.”

These death sentences are part of a much larger drive on the part of the government of Abdul Fattah al- Sisi to crush the Brotherhood. According to some human rights groups, hundreds of Brotherhood activists have already been killed while over 40,000 have been jailed. The Brotherhood itself was classified as a “terrorist group” in December 2013. The antagonism between the Brotherhood and the dominant force in Egyptian politics which al- Sisi represents, namely, the armed forces, has a long history behind it, going back to the fifties. Since al-Sisi ousted Morsi through a military coup that had a significant degree of popular support in July 2013, eliminating the Brotherhood’s apparatus of power has become the former’s primary preoccupation. In a sense, he is attempting to get rid of all dissent, including those groups that are not linked to the Brotherhood or other Islamic actors. This is why al-Sisi has also banned the democratically oriented April 6 Movement that played a major role in the uprising against Mubarak.

But he is not succeeding. Since he usurped power two years ago, Egypt has become even more unstable. Bloody incidents have become more frequent. The divisions in Egyptian society are getting deeper. Foreign hands that continue to manipulate Egyptian politics and the economy — Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia — have only exacerbated the situation.

This is not to suggest that Morsi and the Brotherhood did not contribute to the mess Egypt is in today. Their religious exclusiveness and their inability to deal with some of the political and economic challenges of the day with greater strategic astuteness undermined their own interests. Nonetheless, al-Sisi’s brutal suppression of dissent in the last two years remains the fundamental cause of the current malaise in Egypt. His suppression has diminished the worth and value of some of his economic programmes which have generated some employment and brought a glimmer of hope to the disadvantaged such as the new Suez venture.

The world should demand that al-Sisi stops the suppression of dissent immediately. All death sentences should be annulled. Political prisoners should be released. The judiciary should be restructured to make it truly independent and credible. The rule of law should be established and implemented to the fullest. The ban on the Ikhwanul Muslimin and other political and social actors should be lifted. Meaningful economic and social reforms aimed at eradicating poverty, reducing the gap between the rich and poor, providing jobs and houses to the needy, ensuring a steady supply of energy and water to the people, and most of all, rooting out endemic corruption and kleptomania, should become al-Sisi’s central mission.

In a nutshell, the world should intensify its scrutiny and censure of al-Sisi. It should not close its eyes to the crisis that is engulfing the Arab world’s most important and most populous nation.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

Kiev: Chestnuts Blossom Again

June 18th, 2015 by Israel Shamir

I had to whip up my courage to go to the Ukraine. There was a recent spate of political killings in the unhappy and lovely land, and the perpetrators never apprehended; among those killed was Oles Buzina, a renowned writer and a dear friend.

Two years ago, well before the troubles, we had a drink under a chestnut tree in a riverside café. Buzina was in his forties, rather tall and slim, had a narrow sarcastic face of Mephistopheles, a bald head, a hint of moustache and a bad temper. He was a Thersites among the warlike nationalists of Kiev, laughing at their sacred myths of eternal Ukraine Above All. He called their beloved nationalist poet, the first one to write in the local dialect, “a vampire” for his predilection to bloody scenes. Buzina wrote in Russian, the language educated writers of the Ukraine preferred and perfected since Gogol, and he rejected the parochial narrative of the recent coup d’état.

He was shot at high noon, in a street near his home in central Kiev, and the killers just vanished in thin April air. He was not alone: opposition journalists were killed, shot like Buzina and Suchobok, parliament members, governors and officers of law were defenestrated like Chechetov, MP in the “epidemics of suicides”. Were they killed by local extremists freely operating in the land, or did they become victims of Seals Team Six, the feared American assassins who kill enemies of the Empire by their thousands from Afghanistan to Ukraine to Venezuela? Who knows. Many more independent journalists and writers escaped by the skin of their teeth – to Russia like Alexander Chalenko or to Europe like Anatol Shary.

I’ve met them in Kiev before the troubles, I’ve met them in their exile, and they told me of threats, of gangs of armed football fans and neo-Nazis roaming the land. I was scared, as in my advanced age I did not fancy a sojourn in a torture cellar, but curiosity, desire to see with my own eyes and judge for myself, and above all, the attraction of chestnuts in full tender bloom defeated the fear, and I took a rare Moscow-Kiev train. Always full in normal days, it was half empty. Other travellers were also worried: the Ukrainian border guards were known to arrest people on slightest suspicion or to ban entry after a few hours in a police cooler.

The border guard that checked my Israeli passport was a huge man in a military camouflage with large strip displaying his blood type in bold Latin numerals: IV Rhesus -. Still, he let me in after checking with his computer and asking a few questions. I was to see many soldiers and officers in battle dress all over Ukraine, as many as in Israel, perhaps. Kiev government obviously took a leaf from Israel’s cookbook: schmaltzy advertising for military is ubiquitous, including calls to join the army, to support soldiers, to feed soldiers, to entertain soldiers, as if these soldiers of theirs are defending homeland from barbarians. In reality, they are shelling and looting the breakaway provinces, like the Yankees in the Gone with the Wind.

The looting made the war quite popular for a while with an average Ukrainian. That is, until coffins began to arrive from two major defeats of the Kiev army, under Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo. Pictures of young men who died fighting to regain Donbass are displayed in prominent places in Ukrainian cities – there are too many of these martyrs for a small victorious war. The stream of volunteers dried up, and the regime began drafting able-bodied men. A number of draftees chose to flee to Russia or went into hiding, but the army is being beefed up all the same – by the mercenaries of Western private companies as well.

Minsk agreements quelled the war, though shooting and shelling goes on. The renewal of full-scale hostilities is still very possible: the US wants a proxy war against Russia. The regime may choose war  for economic reasons as things go from bad to worse. Standards of living dropped sharply: hryvna, the currency, went down, prices went up, while salaries and pensions remained as they were.

Do people complain, do they regret the February 2014 coup? Not really. They blame Russia’s Putin in all their misfortunes and refer to him by an obscene nickname. “Putin is envious of us for we shall join the EU”, a burly internet café owner in camouflage told me, though at that very time, in Riga, the EU leaders made it clear that in no way Ukraine will become a full member of EU. Rather, an associated one, like Turkey or North Africa. Militarist propaganda (“stand by our boys”) made an impact. As does the nationalist one. Many Ukrainians speak with palpable hatred of Russia, though with surprising ease they go to work and live in Russia if and when an opportunity arises.

Russians believe that deprivations will sober the people of Ukraine, but it seems unlikely. The Ukrainians, like all Russians (and that’s what they are, for Ukraine is the south-western part of historical Russia, and as Russian as any place) are hardy, stubborn, patient, frugal and able to survive in most adverse conditions. A reverse could be possible: in 2004, the first Maidan coup (also sponsored by the West) installed a pro-Western president, but he earned universal scorn and failed to get re-elected. The second Maidan coup could suffer a similar fate, but this time the regime decided to ban the opposition parties. The Communist Party is banned, and the previously ruling Regions Party was dismantled and its members are forbidden to participate in elections. The Kiev regime does not need an appearance of democracy, as they have the West’s support.

I do not want to exaggerate: Kiev is not hell on earth; it is still a comfortable city. People are reluctant to express their views in public, and some do not want to be seen with a man from Moscow, but their fear is not overwhelming. Communists and pro-Russian people in general are more likely to lose their job than their life. And a lot of Ukrainians look at Russia with love and sorrow, and express it. These are the Communists, who suffer daily threats; these are the Orthodox Christians, for the regime favours the Uniate Catholic Church of Eastern Rite and strong-arms the Orthodox from their churches; these are Russian-language writers and intellectuals who had their newspapers closed down and books removed; last but not least,  there are industrial workers employed in still-surviving industries, for the Ukraine was the most industrialised part of Russia.

In the South-East of Ukraine, they fight with weapons; elsewhere, a slow-going war of words and ideas goes on. What do they fight for? The Russian version of the story – ethnic Ukrainian Neo-Nazi followers of Bandera persecute Russians of Ukraine – is a great over-simplification. So is the Ukrainian version of Ukraine choosing Europe against Russia pulling it back into its unwanted embrace. The reality is quite different. You understand that when you encounter pro-Ukrainian Russians of Russia. They are numerous, influential, prominently placed in Moscow, as opposed to numerous but disenfranchised pro-Russian Ukrainians of Kiev. The civil war goes in Ukraine and Russia, and it is not an ethnic strife, as both sides often pretend.

This is the ongoing struggle between comprador bourgeoisie and its enemies: the industrialists, workers, military. This struggle goes on since 1985, for 30 years. In 1991, the Empire won. The Soviet Union was undone. Industry and armed forces were dismantled. Science was eliminated. Workers lost their jobs. The state (in both Russia and Ukraine) became subservient to the Empire. This was a tragedy for ordinary people, but an opportunity for collaborationists.

Many people prospered at dismantling of the Soviet Union. Not only the oligarchs – a whole class of people who could get a piece at privatisation. The Western companies bought a lot of industries and dismantled them. The agricultural complex was destroyed. Russia and Ukraine were hooked to the global imperial economy: they bought manufactured goods and food from the West, or from China for the US dollars. The only produce of Russia has been its oil and gas.

There were two failed attempts to reverse the tide in Russia. Yeltsin blocked both with tanks. Worn and hated, he appointed Putin to succeed him. Putin was chosen and supported by oligarchs and by the West to rule Russia with an iron fist in a velvet glove and to keep it hooked and subservient. Very slowly he began to shift ground to independence. Putin’s Russia is still far away from full independence; it is far from clear Putin even wants that. Putin is not a communist, he does not want to restore the Soviet Union; he is loyal to Russia’s rich, he sticks to the monetarist school of thought, he trades in dollars through Western banks, he did not nationalise so many industries and lands taken over by the crooks.

Still Putin’s became the third attempt to reverse the tide. He did much more than it was permitted by the Empire. He crossed red lines in his internal policies by banning Western companies from buying Russian resources; he crossed the red line in his foreign policy while protecting Syria and securing Crimea. He began to re-industrialise Russia, produce wheat and buy Chinese goods bypassing dollar. He limited power of oligarchs.

But Yeltsin’s people, the Reaganite compradors, retained their positions of power in Moscow. They control the most prestigious universities and the High School of Economics, they run the magazines and newspapers, they have financial support of the oligarchs and of foreign funds, they are represented in the government, they have the mind of Russian intelligentsia, they miss Yeltsin’s days and they do love America and support the Kiev regime for they correctly see it as direct continuation of Yeltsin’s.

Yes, there is a big difference: Yeltsin was an enemy of nationalists, while Kiev uses nationalism as the means to consolidate its hold. Kiev is also much more militarised than Moscow ever was. The common ground is their hatred of Soviet past, of communism and socialism. Kiev decided to destroy all monuments of the Soviet era and rename all the streets bearing Soviet names. Moscow anti-communists loudly supported this move and called to emulate it in Russia. Gorbachev’s intellectual elite, elderly but still going strong, also supported Kiev’s resolute anticommunism.

Putin hardly moved these people out of power. He cherishes his ties with Anatoly Chubays, an arch-thief of Yeltsin’s days, and with Kudrin, the Friedmanite economist. Recently he began to deal with their supply lines: Western NGOs and funds have to register, their transactions made visible and revealed huge financial injections from abroad into their media. Still, people identified as pro-Putin are a minority in Moscow establishment. So much for his “ruthless dictator” image!

This duality of Russian power structure influences Russian policy towards Ukraine. A minority that is “more pro-Putin than Putin”, calls for war and liberation of the eastern provinces of the Ukraine. They see confrontation with the West as unavoidable. The powerful comprador group calls to abandon Donbass and to make peace with Kiev and with New York. They want Russia to follow in the footsteps of Kiev, minus its nationalism. Putin rejects both extremes and treads the middle ground, annoying both groups.

The Kiev regime could use this reluctance of Putin and broker a good stable peace. But their sponsors want war.  The breakaway Donbass was the power engine of all the Ukraine. The new regime is keen to de-industrialise the land: industrial workers and engineers speak Russian and relate to the Soviet Union and to Russia its heir, while Ukrainian-speakers and supporters of the regime are mainly small farmers or shopkeepers. This is a standard fare of ex-USSR: de-industrialisation is the weapon of choice for pro-Western regimes from Tajikistan to Latvia. Of Russia, too: the first thing carried out by pro-Western reformers in Gorbachev and Yeltsin’s days was de-industrialisation. It is said that Obama’s Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) will de-industrialise Germany and France. Thus industrial Donbass has good reasons resisting its inclusion in the Ukraine, unless this will be a federated state leaving much of its authority to the provinces. Kiev prefers war depopulating the region.

So in Ukraine I found a follow-up to dramatic events of 1990s. Who will win: the next generation of Gorbachev’s reformers in the nationalist folkish dress – or the industrial workers? Perhaps Putin could answer this question, but he is not in haste. In the second article we shall look at Moscow and its recent moves.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

Wednesday afternoon, by a vote of 288-139 with one voting “present” and five not voting (roll call of who voted which way is here) the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a resolution (H.Con.Res.55) that would have required the President to . . .

remove United States Armed Forces deployed to Iraq or Syria on or after August 7, 2014, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq and Syria. (1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or (2) if the President determines that it is not safe to remove such United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2015, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed Forces can safely be removed.

While some number of the 139 yes votes were apparently cast by Congress members wanting a chance to vote yes on more war during the next 30 days or the next 6.5 months, most were presumably cast by Congress members actually favoring withdrawal or wanting to go on record as favoring withdrawal in a vote that stood little chance of succeeding. Almost two years ago now, Congress was compelled by public pressure to indicate its intention to vote no on missile strikes into Syria. Since that time it has refused to vote wars up or down, while allowing them to be launched and waged and escalated.

Of course, votes for wars have a history of pleasing campaign funders and displeasing voters. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, in Wednesday’s debate, made clear that she wanted to have the war continue but maintain the right to denounce it as completely ill-conceived. That’s why a vote needed to be forced, to put Congress members on record one way or the other, to not let them have it both ways. There are now 288 of them who should be removed from office at the earliest opportunity and, like Hillary Clinton in 2008 and hopefully in the future, blocked in the pursuit of higher office.

Of course, President Barack Obama has made clear that he will wage war with or without Congress, but a vote by Congress to withdraw, and (if needed) perhaps a further vote to cut off funding, and (if needed) perhaps a further vote to impeach, would at the very least be interesting.

The resolution was brought by Reps. Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, and Walter Jones under the War Powers Resolution, which allows any Congress member to force a debate and vote on any war that a president has launched without legal authorization. Congressman McGovern chose, however, not to use the debate he had forced in the manner in which then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich used to use it, namely as a debate on ending a war. Instead, McGovern framed this as a debate on whether to have a debate.

So, for two hours on Wednesday, proponents of war advocated at length with great passion and fear mongering for more war, while proponents of having a debate advocated procedurally for the proper use of Constitutional war powers and for having a debate. But of course they knew the resolution was very likely to fail, meaning that their debate on whether to have a debate would be all there was in the way of debating.

McGovern also chose to frame the debate defensively, arguing against opponents’ assertions that his resolution required withdrawal in 30 days, claiming on the contrary that the resolution gave the President until the end of the year “if he chooses.” But, of course, the resolution, quoted above, didn’t say “if he chooses” — rather “if the President determines that it is not safe to remove.” McGovern seemed to be admitting that that was nonsense. It’s dangerous to leave troops in a war; it’s always safe to remove them, but McGovern was prepared to allow Obama to pretend the opposite “if he chooses.”

A number of opponents of the resolution, in fact, pretended the opposite on Wednesday, arguing for more war “to protect the troops.” Meanwhile another opponent of the resolution, Brad Sherman, argued that the resolution would indeed pull troops out in 30 days because they were in no danger.

The highlights of the debate came when four Congress members spoke against war, and one in particular did so with passion and wisdom. His name was John Lewis. He said that people are “sick and tired of war” and that war only makes matters worse, “Terrorism is not stopped by weapons. Bombs don’t end hate.” I’ve asked his office to send me his written remarks and am also hoping they post them here.

The others who spoke against war were Barbara Lee, very briefly, Rick Nolan, also briefly, and Charlie Rangel who pushed myths about the inherent violence of the Middle East and the goodness of past Good Wars, but who also said there was no reason for U.S. troops to be over there, and that ISIS wasn’t invading our jobless communities. Rangel was the first to bring war opposition into Wednesday’s “debate.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey had on Wednesday in a committee hearing pushed the idea that religious sectarianism had created the disaster that in fact U.S. war-making has created in Iraq. Dempsey also said that there was no military solution, so instead he would use both the U.S. military and arming and training of Iraqis. So now you know what “no military solution” means — a phrase that has apparently maintained the same relationship to its dictionary definition as “imminent” or “combatant.”

Speaking in favor of war on Wednesday were Reps. Ed Royce, Eliot Engel (a believer in well-vetted moderate rebels and possibly the tooth fairy), Vicky Hartzler, Gerald Connolly, Joe Wilson (who seems to think Congress should take orders from military), Brendan Boyle, Lee Zeldin, Ted Poe, George Holding, David Cicilline, Adam Kinzinger (who wants Assad overthrown), Brad Sherman, and Michael McCaul.

Rep. Thomas Massie spoke for Constitutional war powers, but not for or against war. So did Walter Jones and Jim McGovern for that matter. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee wants a war debate, but paints war as philanthropy for its foreign victims, and restraint as greedy self-interest. Rep. Jerrold Nadler says he doesn’t know if war should go on but that he and his colleagues should decide if war should go on. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton wants a vote for DC for or against war, but speaks only in praise of war. Rep. Mark Sanford wants a war debate, mentions war’s financial cost, but never quite says yes or no to more war.

Royce gave a long pro-war closing after McGovern’s quick procedural wishy-washy closing that never actually opposed war.

Royce claimed there was no third option beyond war or doing nothing. Here are some of those missing options.

To email Congress your opinion, click here.

Obama in the Middle East: From Bad to Worse

June 18th, 2015 by Jack A. Smith

President Obama’s post-election promise of a “new dawn of American leadership” began in earnest five months into his first term with an important speech in Cairo June 4, 2009, appropriately titled, “A New Beginning.” He started his oration by remarking “We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world…. I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”

The packed audience at Cairo University, including many students, was mesmerized by Obama’s rhetoric and the renewal of hope for a better future. They were not told that his “new beginning” was based on the geopolitical intention to continue and tighten U.S. hegemony the Middle East. At the time Washington was supporting authoritarian regimes throughout the region, just as it does today. Further, Obama today is fighting or supporting more wars in the vicinity than when he assumed office.

The wreckage of that “new beginning” is strewn throughout the Middle East in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere.

President Obama inherited and approved of former President George W. Bush’s stalemated Afghan war, now in its 14th year.  He expanded the war in quest of victory but failed.  He declared it was over, but 10,000 troops remain. It is probable this losing Bush-Obama venture will continue for many more years. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai is now telling all who will listen, including the leaders of India, Russia and China, that the U.S. and its NATO allies plan to remain in Afghan military bases and listening posts for many years because of its geopolitical proximity to China, Central Asia, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and India.

Obama disapproved of Bush’s unjust, unnecessary 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, which largely secured his nomination and election in November 2008. The U.S. pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011 with nothing to show for this nine-year misadventure but a million dead Iraqis and trillions in taxpayer war debts. Two years later the remnant of al-Qaeda in Iraq began transforming into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now the Islamic State (IS), without seeming to alarm the Oval Office. Suddenly, in June last year, IS defeated and occupied Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — in a matter of hours. By August the U.S. was once again at war in Iraq, but this time it was confined to an air campaign and retraining dispirited and poorly led Iraqi troops.

The U.S. campaign to defeat the religio-fascist Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria is a failure so far. Despite 10 months of American bombing IS remains strong. It has experienced a couple of big defeats, but has had several more major victories. Aside from the U.S. and a few allies, Washington’s vaunted 60-country coalition exists in name only.

The U.S. war against IS — the end product so far of earlier American interventions beginning in the late 1970s — may last many years. Currently there are 3,050 U.S. troops in Iraq. Most are “supporting Iraqi security forces.” About 450 are “training Iraqi troops,” and 200 are in “advising and assisting roles.” On June 10 the White House announced it was sending another 450 troops to train members of Sunni Tribes. The Pentagon thinks these numbers are far too low. It seems inevitable that U.S. ground troops eventually will be deployed in large number, perhaps sooner than later.

McClatchy News reported June 12 that after 10 months of war “the White House has failed to give

Congress and the public a comprehensive written analysis setting out the legal powers that President Obama is using to put U.S. personnel in harm’s way in Iraq and Syria…. The only document the White House has provided to a few key lawmakers comprises four pages of what are essentially talking points, described by those who’ve read them as shallow and based on disputed assertions of presidential authority.”

Antiwar critic Phyllis Bennis wrote June 12:

“Almost nine months after President Obama admitted that ‘we don’t have a strategy yet’ to challenge the Islamic State – and just days after he said he still has ‘no complete Iraq strategy’ – the non-strategy suddenly has a name: escalation…. The Obama administration has so far been unable or unwilling to act on its own oft-repeated understanding that ‘there is no military solution’ to the so-called IS crisis. Instead, the U.S. strategy has relied almost solely on military action.”

While fighting the Islamic State, a contradictory Obama objective is the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, which at this stage would require the defeat of the Syrian army and a victory for the Islamic State, al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s powerful franchise in Syria) and various other Sunni jihadist fighting groups who lately have been getting close to al-Nusra. These two organizations are blood rivals that could end up in a vicious war or merge into the most dangerous jihadi group of all.

Obama’s desire to bring about regime change in Syria has nothing to do with democracy, although that was Washington’s original justification three years ago. Syria under Assad is a very close ally to Iran and is supported by Russia. Breaking the alliance with Iran by replacing Assad with a leader acceptable to the U.S. would weaken the influence of both Iran and Russia — a feather not only in America’s cap but those of Saudi Arabia, Israel and many Sunni states in the region.

The natural allies of Iran (a Shi’ite majority state) are Iraq (Shi’ite majority), and Syria (Alawite, Shi’ite derived and governed in a 60% Sunni population). All three have a major stake in defeating IS, al-Nusra and other Sunni jihadist groups that consider the Shia minority to be heathens. The Shi’ites are an often-despised minority within Islam, and amount to about 10-13% of the Muslim world.

Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia share the objective of disrupting the contiguous 1,200-mile East to West Iran-Iraq-Syria coalition that refuses to succumb to American hegemony and imperialism.

The opposition to Shia influence in the Middle East is led by the Saudi monarchy, the principal exponent of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi Islam — a faith that has been embraced by a number of Sunni extremist groups. Saudi Arabia has been under U.S. protection for almost 70 years because of its enormous oil resources.  Most Sunni states in the region appear allied with Riyadh (the Saudi capital) in its desire to limit the regional influence of Shiism.

The reason Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen (with U.S. backing) for nearly three months is to defeat the Houthi insurgency, mainly because this group adheres to the Zaidi sect of the Shia religion. (Yemen is 50-55% Sunni and 42%-47% Shi’ite.) In addition, the Houthis in power would be unlikely to take orders from its neighboring monarchy. So far the Saudi air force has killed about 2,500 civilians, largely Shia. The UN says the Saudi attacks have created a humanitarian disaster for about 80% of the Yemeni population, some 20 million people. So far at least eight regional Sunni states have sent jets to join the Saudi onslaught.

Saudi Arabia launched its air war and blockade on March 23 near the end of peace talks between the Houthis and various other Yemeni factions that seemed to be heading toward a positive resolution. The attacks ended the talks and the Houthi rebellion is continuing. On June 14 the rebels seized Hazm, a provincial capital in the northwest. The New York Times reported that the capture of Hazm “appeared to give the Houthis another bargaining chip in United Nations-sponsored peace talks that begin June 15 in Geneva.” It has been reported that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), headquartered in Yemen, has become stronger as a result of the Saudi war, acquiring more territory and obtaining backing from some local Sunni groups.

Much bigger news about AQAP was released June 15 when it confirmed the death of its leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. This raises an odd question:  Wuhayshi was also second in command to al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced Osama bin-Laden four years ago. Washington has been seeking to assassinate Zawahiri for years, but there may be a reason to change plans, according to Barak Mendelsohn three months ago in a March 9 article in Foreign Affairs titled “Accepting al-Qaeda.” He wrote:

If and when Washington succeeds in killing Zawahiri, the leaders of al-Qaeda’s branches would have the opportunity to reassess whether to remain with al-Qaeda or join Baghdadi’s caliphate. [The reference is to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State's Caliph.] It is possible that Zawahiri’s successor will be able to hold al-Qaeda together, particularly if it is Nasir al-Wuhayshi, al-Qaeda’s so-called general manager and the head of its Yemeni branch. But it is more likely that in Zawahiri’s absence, al Qaeda would drift into IS’ camp, offering it manpower, resources, and access to arenas such as Algeria and Yemen where al-Qaeda’s dominance has so far hindered IS’ expansion.

Time will tell.

The struggle against IS would be considerably more difficult were it not for the fighting by the non-Arab Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Shia militias, the latter usually led by Iranian officers. Baghdad’s demoralized, poorly led army is being retrained and is not ready take the field, except for a few special units. The U.S. supplies the Kurds but has not provided support to the militias and Iranians.

In addition to the Iraqi fighters, the Syrian army is a strong ground force willing to fight the Islamic State — and is actually doing so defensively to prevent the Baghdad government from being crushed. So far the White House extends its air war support to Syrian Kurds in the north of the country, but refuses to back the besieged Syrian army by extending its bombing campaign to the jihadi forces battling their way toward Damascus in the south.

The U.S. has reduced its public effusions of support for the Syrian rebels —the largely jihadist forces that seek to overthrow the Assad government — but it remains involved in trying to destroy the Damascus regime. Stratfor wrote June 5:

Washington can see the battlefield momentum lies with an array of radical Islamists who will demonize the United States along with the Syrian government. Though the United States is working more closely with regional players Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in selectively sponsoring Syrian rebel factions, it cannot effectively channel the direction of the fight against the Islamic State when that goal is competing with the aim of toppling Iran’s ally in Damascus and strangling Hezbollah in Lebanon — a tantalizing prospect for the Sunni powers of the region.

As such, the Obama Administration is in effect subverting the war against the Islamic State. It offers nothing but malice and subversion to the Damascus government and the Syrian army. Were Obama more interested in eliminating jihadist violence against Syria and Iraq than in protecting its geopolitical interests and pandering to powerful anti-Iranian and anti-Syrian political interests in the U.S. and Middle East, he would aid and support the Syrian army’s battle against invading jihadists.

The Islamic State has made some stunning advances in Syria since the beginning of this year, culminating with the capture of the ancient city of Palmyra. The IS now controls half of Syrian territory and is moving toward the strategic city of Aleppo and a handful of other core territories leading to the gates of Damascus.

Simultaneously, Al-Nusra has proven itself to be nearly as brutal as the Islamic State. Writing in The Independent (UK) June 14, Patrick Cockburn revealed: “Last week fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, entered a village in Idlib province in the north-west of the country and shot dead at least 20 villagers from the Druze community. They had earlier forcibly converted hundreds of Druze to their fundamentalist variant of Sunni Islam.

“The incident happened in the Druze village of Qalb Lawzeh in the Jabal al-Summaq region, a place where al-Nusra fighters have dug up historic graves and destroyed shrines in recent months, according to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It says Nusra first tried to confiscate the house of a Druze government official and shot one villager dead. Another villager then seized a fighter’s weapon and killed him. Nusra then sent reinforcements into the village and they opened fire….

A reason why Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, another hard-line jihadi group, were able to break the military stalemate is the greater support they are getting from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Since succeeding to the throne in January, Saudi King Salman, along with other Sunni leaders, has pursued a more aggressive policy in backing extreme jihadi rebels in Syria.

It is clear that Nusra is now functioning as the leader of the non-IS fighters in Syria who are receiving the bulk of support from America’s closest regional allies while the Obama Administration keeps silent. In effect, U.S. allies, and by extension Washington itself, are subsidizing al-Qaeda.

One has to wonder what in the world the White House is up to in the Middle East — unless this, unbelievably, is Obama’s missing strategy.

Meanwhile, Syria and Iran’s biggest foreign backer, Russia, is working toward a diplomatic solution if one is possible. It has been doing so for at least two years but the situation in Syria is so desperate there may be grounds for a settlement.

Stratfor also noted June 5:

Just as Russia swooped in with an exit strategy for the United States in 2013 when it presented a plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, it is now trying to draw the United States into a political settlement on Syria that will preserve an Alawite-heavy government, even if Assad does not lead it. To that end, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who owns the Syria file in the Kremlin, has been trying to organize a Geneva conference that would include both Sunni regional players and Iran to work toward a power-sharing agreement.

It was in April when we got a stark reminder of a post we first penned in April of 2011, describing Odious Debt, and why we thought sooner or later this legal term would become applicable for Greece, because two months ago Greek Zoi Konstantopoulou, speaker of the Greek parliament and a SYRIZA member, said she had established a new “Truth Committee on Public Debt” whose purposes was to “investigate how much of the debt is “illegal” with a view to writing it off.”

Moments ago, this committee released its preliminary findings, and here is the conclusion from the full report presented below:

All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.

As we predicted over four years ago, Greece has effectively just declared that it will no longer have to default on its IMF (or any other debt – note that the dreaded “Troika” word finally makes an appearance after it was officially banned) simply because that debt was not legal to begin with, i.e. it was “odious.”

If so, this has just thrown a very unique wrench in the spokes of not only the Greek debt negotiations, but all other peripheral European nations’ Greek negotiations, who will promptly demand that their debt be, likewise, declared odious, and made null and void, thus washing their hands of servicing it again.

And another question: when Greece says the debt was illegal and it no longer has to make the June 30 payment, what will be the Troika’s response: confiscate Greek assets a la Argentina, declare involutnary default, sue it in the Hague?

Good luck.

From the full just released report by the Hellenic Parliament commission:

Hellenic Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee Preliminary Findings – Executive Summary of the report

In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroad of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programmes began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until now no authority, Greek or international, has sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in whose name nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.

There is an immediate need and social responsibility to address a range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration. In response, the Hellenic Parliament established the Truth Committee on Public Debt in April 2015, mandating the investigation into the creation and growth of public debt, the way and reasons for which debt was contracted, and the impact that the conditionalities attached to the loans have had on the economy and the population. The Truth Committee has a mandate to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Greek debt, both domestically and internationally, and to formulate arguments and options concerning the cancellation of the debt.

The research of the Committee presented in this preliminary report sheds light on the fact that the entire adjustment programme, to which Greece has been subjugated, was and remains a politically orientated programme. The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and debt projections, figures directly relating to people’s lives and livelihoods, has enabled discussions around the debt to remain at a technical level mainly revolving around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve its capacity to pay the debt back. The facts presented in this report challenge this argument.

All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.

It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.

Bailout funds provided in both programmes of 2010 and 2012 have been externally managed through complicated schemes, preventing any fiscal autonomy. The use of the bailout money is strictly dictated by the creditors, and so, it is revealing that less than 10% of these funds have been destined to the government’s current expenditure.

This preliminary report presents a primary mapping out of the key problems and issues associated with the public debt, and notes key legal violations associated with the contracting of the debt; it also traces out the legal foundations, on which unilateral suspension of the debt payments can be based. The findings are presented in nine chapters structured as follows:

Chapter 1, Debt before the Troika, analyses the growth of the Greek public debt since the 1980s. It concludes that the increase in debt was not due to excessive public spending, which in fact remained lower than the public spending of other Eurozone countries, but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors, excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows, state recapitalization of private banks, and the international imbalances created via the flaws in the design of the Monetary Union itself.

Adopting the euro led to a drastic increase of private debt in Greece to which major European private banks as well as the Greek banks were exposed. A growing banking crisis contributed to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. George Papandreou’s government helped to present the elements of a banking crisis as a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 by emphasizing and boosting the public deficit and debt.

Chapter 2, Evolution of Greek public debt during 2010-2015, concludes that the first loan agreement of 2010, aimed primarily to rescue the Greek and other European private banks, and to allow the banks to reduce their exposure to Greek government bonds.

Chapter 3, Greek public debt by creditor in 2015, presents the contentious nature of Greece’s current debt, delineating the loans’ key characteristics, which are further analysed in Chapter 8.

Chapter 4, Debt System Mechanism in Greece reveals the mechanisms devised by the agreements that were implemented since May 2010. They created a substantial amount of new debt to bilateral creditors and the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), whilst generating abusive costs thus deepening the crisis further. The mechanisms disclose how the majority of borrowed funds were transferred directly to financial institutions. Rather than benefitting Greece, they have accelerated the privatization process, through the use of financial instruments.

Chapter 5, Conditionalities against sustainability, presents how the creditors imposed intrusive conditionalities attached to the loan agreements, which led directly to the economic unviability and unsustainability of debt. These conditionalities, on which the creditors still insist, have not only contributed to lower GDP as well as higher public borrowing, hence a higher public debt/GDP making Greece’s debt more unsustainable, but also engineered dramatic changes in the society, and caused a humanitarian crisis. The Greek public debt can be considered as totally unsustainable at present.

Chapter 6, Impact of the “bailout programmes” on human rights, concludes that the measures implemented under the “bailout programmes” have directly affected living conditions of the people and violated human rights, which Greece and its partners are obliged to respect, protect and promote under domestic, regional and international law. The drastic adjustments, imposed on the Greek economy and society as a whole, have brought about a rapid deterioration of living standards, and remain incompatible with social justice, social cohesion, democracy and human rights.

Chapter 7, Legal issues surrounding the MOU and Loan Agreements, argues there has been a breach of human rights obligations on the part of Greece itself and the lenders, that is the Euro Area (Lender) Member States, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and theInternational Monetary Fund, who imposed these measures on Greece. All these actors failed to assess the human rights violations as an outcome of the policies they obliged Greece to pursue, and also directly violated the Greek constitution by effectively stripping Greece of most of its sovereign rights. The agreements contain abusive clauses, effectively coercing Greece to surrender significant aspects of its sovereignty. This is imprinted in the choice of the English law as governing law for those agreements, which facilitated the circumvention of the Greek Constitution and international human rights obligations. Conflicts with human rights and customary obligations, several indications of contracting parties acting in bad faith, which together with the unconscionable character of the agreements, render these agreements invalid.

Chapter 8, Assessment of the Debts as regards illegtimacy, odiousness, illegality, and unsustainability, provides an assessment of the Greek public debt according to the definitions regarding illegitimate, odious, illegal, and unsustainable debt adopted by the Committee.

Chapter 8 concludes that the Greek public debt as of June 2015 is unsustainable, since Greece is currently unable to service its debt without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations. Furthermore, for each creditor, the report provides evidence of indicative cases of illegal, illegitimate and odious debts.

Debt to the IMF should be considered illegal since its concession breached the IMF’s own statutes, and its conditions breached the Greek Constitution, international customary law, and treaties to which Greece is a party. It is also illegitimate, since conditions included policy prescriptions that infringed human rights obligations. Finally, it is odious since the IMF knew that the imposed measures were undemocratic, ineffective, and would lead to serious violations of socio-economic rights.

Debts to the ECB should be considered illegal since the ECB over-stepped its mandate by imposing the application of macroeconomic adjustment programs (e.g. labour market deregulation) via its participation in the Troïka. Debts to the ECB are also illegitimate and odious, since the principal raison d’etre of the Securities Market Programme (SMP) was to serve the interests of the financial institutions, allowing the major European and Greek private banks to dispose of their Greek bonds.

The EFSF engages in cash-less loans which should be considered illegal because Article 122(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) was violated, and further they breach several socio-economic rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the EFSF Framework Agreement 2010 and the Master Financial Assistance Agreement of 2012 contain several abusive clauses revealing clear misconduct on the part of the lender. The EFSF also acts against democratic principles, rendering these particular debts illegitimate and odious.

The bilateral loans should be considered illegal since they violate the procedure provided by the Greek constitution. The loans involved clear misconduct by the lenders, and had conditions that contravened law or public policy. Both EU law and international law were breached in order to sideline human rights in the design of the macroeconomic programmes. The bilateral loans are furthermore illegitimate, since they were not used for the benefit of the population, but merely enabled the private creditors of Greece to be bailed out. Finally, the bilateral loans are odious since the lender states and the European Commission knew of potential violations, but in 2010 and 2012 avoided to assess the human rights impacts of the macroeconomic adjustment and fiscal consolidation that were the conditions for the loans.

The debt to private creditors should be considered illegal because private banks conducted themselves irresponsibly before the Troika came into being, failing to observe due diligence, while some private creditors such as hedge funds also acted in bad faith. Parts of the debts to private banks and hedge funds are illegitimate for the same reasons that they are illegal; furthermore, Greek banks were illegitimately recapitalized by tax-payers. Debts to private banks and hedge funds are odious, since major private creditors were aware that these debts were not incurred in the best interests of the population but rather for their own benefit.

The report comes to a close with some practical considerations. Chapter 9, Legal foundations for repudiation and suspension of the Greek sovereign debt, presents the options concerning the cancellation of debt, and especially the conditions under which a sovereign state can exercise the right to unilateral act of repudiation or suspension of the payment of debt under international law.

Several legal arguments permit a State to unilaterally repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt. In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors , which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights. As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that augment the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselves unilaterally insolvent where the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.

People’s dignity is worth more than illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable debt

Having concluded a preliminary investigation, the Committee considers that Greece has been and still is the victim of an attack premeditated and organized by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. This violent, illegal, and immoral mission aimed exclusively at shifting private debt onto the public sector.

Making this preliminary report available to the Greek authorities and the Greek people, the Committee considers to have fulfilled the first part of its mission as defined in the decision of the President of Parliament of 4 April 2015. The Committee hopes that the report will be a useful tool for those who want to exit the destructive logic of austerity and stand up for what is endangered today: human rights, democracy, peoples’ dignity, and the future of generations to come.

In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, in the speech from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War).

Beekeepers on collision course with GMO cultivation opt-out law

German beekeepers have called for a nationwide ban on cultivating GM plants, reports the German NGO keine-gentechnik.de.

The call by the German Beekeepers Association (DIB), which represents almost 100,000 beekeepers, comes after Europe adopted controversial legislation enabling member states to opt-out of the cultivation of GMOs that have been approved at the EU level.

Under the law, a member state can ban a GMO in part or all of its territory. But the law has come under heavy criticism for failing to provide a solid basis for such bans.

The beekeepers are urging Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) to implement a Germany-wide ban on cultivation. The Minister pleads, however, for letting each state decide individually.

The beekeepers counter that a piecemeal approach will not work. Bees fly up to eight kilometres in search of food, the DIB said, so a juxtaposition of GM crop cultivation zones and GMO-free zones within Germany would be “environmentally and agriculturally unacceptable”.

“Bees know no borders,” the DIB added.

The beekeepers’ demand for a nationwide ban could bring them into direct conflict with the new opt-out law, as experts warn that such bans may not be legally solid.

National GMO cultivation bans will be tough to uphold

At a conference on the new European legislation hosted by the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture in Budapest, Hungary, in April 2015, Dr H.-Christoph von Heydebrand of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture warned that a nationwide ban on GMO cultivation would be much harder to justify under the new law than a regional or local ban.

A lawyer from the EU Council, Matthew Moore, speaking at the same conference in a personal capacity, agreed that it would be far easier under the law to defend national measures that “do not extend to the whole territory”.

Mr Moore gave an example of the type of challenge that would-be opting-out countries will be faced with. If they argue that GMOs threaten small-scale and agroecological farmers in their nation, they could be asked: “Is the entirety of your agricultural sector really composed of small farmers whose domination by a large agro-industrial company and its single pesticide motivated you to act?”

Mr Moore explained that the principle of proportionality is written into the new law, as well as being a general principle of EU law.

This means that the ECJ will be more inclined to accept GMO cultivation opt-outs “in relation to a defined region than in relation to the entirety of the territory of a country the size of Hungary”. Any measure taken by an opting-out country to ban or restrict the cultivation of GMOs must not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the stated aim.

Mr Moore made clear that if opt-outs were challenged, for example, by the GMO industry, the case would end up in the European Court of Justice. And the ECJ has a presumption in favour of the EU single market.

In simple terms, that means the ECJ could take a lot of convincing to allow a country or even a region to opt out of cultivating a GMO that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asserts is safe. Such an opt-out, if allowed to stand, could create divisions in the European single market and might bring the member state into conflict with the ECJ.

The current situation in Germany, with beekeepers ranged against government officials and pro-GMO farmers, also suggests that the new opt-out law will create internal divisions within a country.

The GMO industry may go down in history as having broken apart the European Union and set one sector of the food and agriculture industry against another.

For patients facing a diagnosis of life-threatening cancer, the recommended treatment can often be as potentially harmful to health as the disease itself. But for many of these patients, scientific research shows a natural treatment using grape seed extract may hold the key to slowing the growth of cancer cells without the dangerous and deadly side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

In fact, some of the very traits that allow certain cancer cells to resist traditional therapies may make them particularly susceptible to treatment using natural grape seed extract. In fact, findings suggest that the benefits grow with more advanced stages of cancer.

Conventional ‘treatments’ will never cure cancer

This is not wishful thinking: grape seed extract benefits hold clinical significance.  Unfortunately, cancer patients are often pushed to begin radical and invasive procedures – including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy – immediately following a diagnosis of cancer. And, sadly, fear tactics are often used to rush people into risky (ineffective) procedures – which are known to cause secondary cancers later in life.

To be perfectly clear, although a majority of healthcare providers tout the “importance” of conventional care, there is little evidence that undergoing these harmful procedures can actually halt or even slow the progression of cancer cells.

In fact, a study published back in 2003 showed that chemotherapy was ineffective a startling 97 percent of the time. Later studies found that chemotherapy caused critical damage to the DNA of healthy cells and that some cancer-treatment drugs actually caused cancer tumors to grow, sometimes at an alarming rate. Despite the growing mountain of evidence, the mainstream medical community continues to push chemotherapy and radiation as the only hope for cancer patients.

Let’s face the truth: There is substantial evidence that cancer patients suffer greatly when undergoing these treatments, including increased incidence of organ damage, premature aging, sexual dysfunction, neuropathy, cancer recurrence and secondary cancers, dental problems, diabetes, endocrine changes, fatigue, hypothyroidism, memory loss and incontinence, among other conditions.

By contrast, there is no evidence of harmful side effects from the use of grape seed extract.  Of course, the obvious must be said, grape seed extract should never be considered the ‘only way’ to treat cancer.  To successfully overcome a cancer diagnosis – one must develop a comprehensive approach to remove unwanted toxins, nourish the body with high-quality nutrients and, of course, address any other physical, mental or emotional issues such as dental problems, systemic infections or chronic issues of anger.

Great news for cancer patients: Natural, lifesaving alternatives are available today

In the journal Cancer Letters, a December 2012 article uncovered that grape seed extract was effective against colorectal cancer in experiments using cultured cancer cells. It also noted that grape seed extract benefits increased with the higher stages of cancer.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aurora, tested the impact of grape seed extract in colorectal cancer cell lines at several stages of the disease. They noted an increase in a number of the anticancer mechanisms found within grape seed extract with increasing cancer stages. In contrast, chemotherapy has been found to be of diminishing effectiveness with advanced stages of cancer.

It has been known for some time that the bioactive compounds found in grape seed extract have the ability to selectively target certain types of cancer cells. The 2012 study showed that many of the same mutations enabling colorectal cancer cells to metastasize and resist conventional therapies are the very facets that make them sensitive to treatment with grape seed extract.

A similar study published earlier in the journal Carcinogenesis found that in both cell lines and mouse models, grape seed extract killed head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells, without harming nearby healthy cells. In that published paper, the authors noted that grape seed extract created an environment unfavorable to cancer cell growth.

A study published later, in January 2013, in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, found that grape seed extract was also effective in treating prostate cancers, while a January 2014 published study showed grape seed extract to be effective against certain types of lung cancer.

Conventional oncology will never admit the truth about natural cancer therapies

Positive effects, using grape seed extract, have been shown to multiply with increasing stages of cancer. Naturally, many people would wonder, ‘why don’t conventionally-trained physicians share this information with their cancer patients?’  Because it would threaten their livelihood and, even if they did say something, they could lose their medical license for suggesting a non-conventional approach.

The study, mentioned earlier in this article – focusing on colorectal cancer, showed that less than half the concentration of grape seed extract was needed to kill 50 percent of stage IV cells as was necessary to realize similar results at stage II cancer.

It is believed that, unlike chemotherapy – which traditionally targets only a specific mutation – grape seed extract is able to target multiple mutations.  In fact, the more mutations found in a case of cancer, the more effective grape seed extract can be in treating the cancerous cells.

It is not unusual, for example, to find that a colorectal cancer cell exhibits upwards of 11,000 genetic mutations. Because of this, cancer can quickly become resistant to conventional treatments able to target only a very limited number of mutations.

The findings provide new hope for cancer patients, many of which will not be diagnosed until an advanced stage of the disease when chemotherapy is least effective. Unlike the harmful effects documented with conventional treatments, the researchers did not see any harmful effects using grape seed extract.

Jonathan Landsman is the host of NaturalHealth365.com, the NaturalNews Talk Hour – a free, weekly health show and the NaturalHealth365 INNER CIRCLE – a monthly subscription to the brightest minds in natural health and healing.

Reaching hundreds of thousands of people, worldwide, as a personal health consultant, writer and radio talk show host – Jonathan has been educating the public on the health benefits of an organic (non-GMO) diet along with high-quality supplementation and healthy lifestyle habits including exercise and meditation.

References:

http://www.lifeextension.com//Newsletter/2013/1/Grape-Seed-Extract-Goes-After-Aggressive-Cancer/Page-01

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120127140939.htm

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269775.php

http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/11/1869.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859370

War is a Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. – From Major General Smedley Butler’s War is a Rackett

This is one of the most important articles I will write all year. The statists are coming for your kids, and the conditioning has already begun.

Last night, I came across one of the most horrifying articles I have ever read, which is saying a lot. Before I get into it, take a look at the title and the tagline:

If you think the title is bad, wait until you read the article. What becomes evident is that this grotesque concept of forced “national service” is being actively discussed at the highest levels of government. What Ron Fournier is doing in his National Journal article is conditioning the public to accept something that is completely unacceptable.

Before we get to that, who is Ron Fournier? National Journal provides a bio:

Ron Fournier is the Senior Political Columnist and Editorial Director of National Journal. Prior to joining NJ, he worked at the Associated Press for 20 years, most recently as Washington Bureau Chief. A Detroit native, Fournier began his career in Arkansas, first with the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record and then with the Arkansas Democrat and the AP, where he covered the state legislature and Gov. Bill Clinton. In January 1993, Fournier moved to Washington, where he covered the White House and presidential campaigns for the AP.

So basically, this guy covered Bill Clinton in Arkansas, moved to the District of Criminals after he was elected President, and now wants to convince you to subject your innocent children into mandatory service to a nation provably run by corrupt criminals and oligarchs.

It sure is some twisted notion of “shared sacrifice,” when those who had nothing to do with the disastrous choices made by the oligarchy are the ones who have to suffer the consequences.

Let’s now take this piece of Nazi-esque propaganda apart piece by piece. From the National Journal:

I know a better way to fight ISIS. It starts with an idea that should appeal the better angels of both hawks and doves: National service for all 18- to 28-year-olds.

Require virtually every young American—the civic-minded millennial generation—to complete a year of service through programs such as Teach for America, AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or the U.S. military, and two things will happen:

First of all, he confidently proclaims that this scheme will appeal to both hawks and doves. Based on what evidence? Let me provide some evidence against his argument based on a recent Rasmussen poll that 45% of U.S. Voters Concerned Government Will Use Military Training Exercises for Power Grab. Here’s an excerpt from the findings:

Just 20% of voters now consider the federal government a protector of individual liberty. Sixty percent (60%) see the government as a threat to individual liberty instead.  Only 19% trust the federal government to do the right thing all or most of the time.

So the American public has no confidence in government, but somehow they are going to gladly line up to serve the corrupt oligarchy? Of course not, which is why people like Ron Fornier want to make it mandatory. Now back to the piece…

1. Virtually every American family will become intimately invested in the nation’s biggest challenges, including poverty, education, income inequality, and America’s place in a world afire.

2. Military recruiting will rise to meet threats posed by ISIS and other terrorist networks, giving more people skin in a very dangerous game.

This may seem like a radical plan until you compare it with two alternatives: the status quo, which clearly isn’t working, or a military draft, which might be the boldest and fairest way to wage the long war against Islamic extremists.

Notice how he offers us only three options, as if that is all the imaginative well of humanity is capable of coming up with. Forced national service, the status quo or a draft. Nowhere does he offer the logical alternative of say: stop preemptively invading and destroying countries for no reason (Iraq, Libya to name a few). Perhaps then idiotic foreign policy decisions won’t create ISIS in the first place.

This is an important lesson in how statists operate. They only offer you statist choices. Kind of like being forced to choose between a Clinton and a Bush for President.

The Draft Act is highly unlikely to be law, given the nation’s post-Vietnam resistance to the mandatory military service and the relative success of an all-volunteer armed forces. Which leads me to the year-of-service plan: It stops far short of a draft while drawing on the ethos of communal sacrifice.

Notice how he cleverly started the piece by mentioning the Peace Corps, Teach for America, etc, and only listed the military at the end? Pure smoke and mirrors. His entire point is to push for mandatory military service. No one wants to fight any more unnecessary wars to boost corporate profits, and any statist worth his or her salt knows full well mandatory conscription will be necessary in order to maintain the power position and wealth of the status quo going forward.

Finally, just in case you think this is merely some hack journalist mouthing off, Mr. Fournier makes it clear that this is being discussed at the highest levels of government.

I spoke about the concept with retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commanded forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and now chairs the Franklin Projectpart of the Aspen Institute that is trying to position a year of full-time national service—a service year—as a “cultural expectation, a common opportunity, and a civic rite of passage for every young American.” His logic tracks with mine.

Second, if this president or his successor gets serious about ISIS, McChrystal said the effort would require an international coalition and more U.S. troops. “Even if we didn’t need a draft” to drum up the required troops, McChrystal said, “I would argue we need a draft, because it forces national commitment.”

Forced national commitment to a government nobody believes in. Can’t wait to see how that works out.

“A problem in America is we’ve let the concept of citizenship diminish into a series of gripes,” McChrystal told me. “One of the ways we can rebuild that sense of ownership, sense of shared ownership, is through experience, and so I believe that every young person deserves—I don’t think this is an onerous thing—deserves the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves.”

No General McChrystal, we have let the concept of democracy diminish into a corrupt, thieving oligarchy. In case you need proof: New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy.

Furthermore, you don’t “rebuild ownership” by forcing citizens to serve an oligarchy they hate, you “rebuild ownership” by dismantling the oligarchy.

Bowing to political realities in risk-averse Washington, the Franklin Project aims to make a service year a social expectation rather than a legal requirement. I would mandate it. So would McChrystal—if he had his way.

Statists gonna state.

While ISIS and other terrorist groups are having no trouble recruiting suicide bombers, McChrystal said, Americans are struggling to redefine their national identity for the 21st century. “A year of service for young Americans would be a step,” he said. “Not a panacea, a step.”

This paragraph unintentionally says a lot. You want to fight an army of radical volunteers created by your own foreign policy crimes by forcing people who have no trust in their government to join the military? It’s an idea so stupid and destructive, only a rabid statist could conceive it.

Before concluding, I want to emphasize how dangerous this line of thinking is. It is precisely because I see these sorts of things coming down the road, that I do what I do with this website. The only way to stop statist plans like these is to win the war of ideas before they have a chance to dazzle you with their next bit of propaganda.

Stay vigilant and keep fighting.

Israel Exonerates its Armed Forces of War Crimes

June 18th, 2015 by Jean Shaoul

Israel’s own investigation into last year’s murderous assault on Gaza has predictably concluded that the Israel Defence Force (IDF) had not broken Israeli or international law. No criminal charges or disciplinary action will be taken against those who led air strikes targeting civilians that attracted worldwide condemnation.

The 250-page report published by Israel’s Foreign Ministry argues that Israel’s hands were clean, and that it was Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza, which was responsible for many of the civilian casualties, because its combatants were embedded in Palestinian homes, schools, mosques or United Nations buildings.

The Foreign Office also issued a report, the first by the IDF, showing a breakdown of the number of Palestinians killed during the 50-day war. It claims that 2,125 Palestinians were killed, 761 (36 percent) of whom were civilians, including 369 children and 284 women. This is much lower than estimates by the UN and other credible sources that put the number of civilians killed at 1,483 out of a total of 2,205, including 521 children and 283 women. Last February, Hamas told Associated Press that 400 of its fighters had been killed, a far lower figure than the IDF’s.

The reports stem from a number of investigations carried out by Israel in order to exonerate itself and challenge enquiries by the International Criminal Court or UN into possible war crimes, as they will not investigate if Israel carries out its own criminal investigations. The Military Police, under instructions from the Military Advocate General’s Office, launched 13 criminal investigations, closing nine after claiming there was no evidence of wrongdoing. The military also opened inquiries into 85 complaints about “exceptional incidents.”

The timing of the report, claiming that the IDF had fought a moral, defensive war in accordance with international law and exonerating it of all responsibility for civilian casualties, is not accidental. It comes just days before the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHCR) is due to publish the findings of its inquiry, with which Israel refused to cooperate, that will in turn form the basis of any investigation into possible war crimes by the ICC currently being sought by the Palestinians.

Crucially, insofar as Israel considers the practice of targeting civilian homes, buildings, and infrastructure and the resultant carnage to be entirely legitimate, it signifies that this will be become the modus operandi for its wars against the Palestinians and across the region. The tacit consent of US imperialism and its European allies to such barbarism signifies that their wars too will also target civilian infrastructure, leading to the wholesale slaughter of defenceless peoples.

Last week, Israel’s Military Advocate General published another report clearing the IDF of blame for one of the most egregious killings of the Gaza war: a missile attack that killed four children and injured a number of others playing on the beach in Gaza. His office said that it was just a “tragic accident” that had targeted a Hamas compound. This was contradicted by eyewitnesses, including international journalists, who described the targeted building as a small and dilapidated fisherman’s hut, with no militants present.

The Military Advocate General ordered a criminal investigation some five months after the incident, saying, “There is a reasonable foundation to suspect that the attack was conducted not in accordance with the rules that bind IDF forces.”

Evidently, the murder of small children is entirely in accordance with IDF rules.

Israel and its backers are going to great lengths to counter all criticism of its conduct towards the Palestinians. Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon succumbed to pressure and dropped Israel off a blacklist of state armed forces accused of serious violations of children’s rights. According to UN officials, Leila Zerrougui, the UN’s special envoy for children in armed conflict, had recommended that both Israel and Hamas be placed on its annual “name and shame” list of state and non-state parties that recruit, use, kill, maim or commit acts of sexual violence against children, citing the Gaza war as particular cause for concern.

Had Israel been included, it would have joined non-state forces such as Islamic State, Boko Haram and the Taliban as serious violators of children’s rights.

Another report entitled Fragmented Lives by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revealed that Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than at any time since the 1967 War: 2,314 Palestinians were killed and 17,125 injured in 2014, up from 39 deaths and 3,964 injuries in 2013. While most occurred during the Gaza War, there was also a sharp increase in fatalities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where 58 Palestinians were killed and 6,028 injured. This was the highest number of deaths since 2007 and the highest number of injuries since 2005.

Israel’s security forces increasingly resort to the use of live ammunition, which accounted for almost all the fatalities and 18 percent of the injuries. The report noted that the incidents of settler violence causing Palestinian casualties and injuries had also increased. Israeli authorities were holding up to 24 percent more Palestinians in administrative detention in 2014 than in 2013.

The attempts of the ruling establishment to whitewash its crimes are in sharp contrast to reports by some of its own soldiers and human rights groups. In May, Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli soldiers, published a report showing how Israel’s lax rules of engagement combined with indiscriminate artillery fire were a major factor in the large number of civilian casualties and the mass destruction in last summer’s war on Gaza.

The human rights group B’Tselem had earlier published a report into 70 air strikes by Israel on homes in Gaza that killed 606 people, including 93 children under five. It accused Israel of breaching international humanitarian law, focusing on ministers, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who authorised the policy of attacking homes.

Last April, following a UN investigation led by a retired British general, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held Israel responsible for the bombing of seven United Nations sites, including five schools, used as civilian shelters during the war in which 44 Palestinians died and 227 others were injured. He condemned the attacks “as a matter of the utmost gravity” and insisted that UN locations were “inviolable.” Acceding to heavy pressure from Tel Aviv and Washington, however, the UN agreed to delay publication until after Israel had completed its own inquiries.

Ahead of today’s meeting of the euro zone’s finance ministers, the Bank of Greece warned that the country faces imminent economic collapse.

Months of talks between the Syriza-led government and its international creditors, the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), over the terms of an austerity programme broke down acrimoniously at the weekend. The talks, ongoing since February, centred on whether Greece would receive €7.2 billion from the institutions, if Syriza agreed to impose further cuts. On June 30, the existing programme expires, with Athens due to make a payment of €1.6 billion to the IMF.

Athens could be forced into default in weeks since. On Wednesday, Syriza’s top negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos bluntly stated, “At the moment we haven’t got the money,” as Syriza has already repaid more than €13 billion since coming to power. However, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his government would not table any new proposals at today’s Eurogroup meeting.

Greece’s Central Bank bluntly warned in its regular monthly statement that, “Failure to reach an agreement would… mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country’s exit from the euro area and, most likely, from the European Union.”

In stark language, the statement warned that without an agreement, a “manageable debt crisis… would snowball into an uncontrollable crisis, with great risks for the banking system and financial stability. An exit from the euro would only compound the already adverse environment, as the ensuing acute exchange rate crisis would send inflation soaring.”

The bank continued, “All this would imply deep recession, a dramatic decline in income levels, an exponential rise in unemployment and a collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership. From its position as a core member of Europe, Greece would see itself relegated to the rank of a poor country in the European South.”

The Financial Times noted that this statement was “the first time any Greek authority has publicly broached the possibility the country could face ejection of the 28-country club that Athens joined shortly after its return to democracy in 1981.”

The central bank’s intervention was politically directed against Syriza, whose leader, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, is demanding a loosening of certain austerity measures demanded by the EU before imposing them on the working class. It points to the support that exists in powerful sections of the Greek capitalist class for a policy of capitulating to the most extreme demands of the EU.

Bank of Greece President Yannis Stournaras led the enforcement of deep austerity as the finance minister (from 2012 to 2014) in the conservative New Democracy (ND) government. He is also a member of the IMF’s Board of Governors.

Syriza issued a statement denouncing Stournaras who “not only exceeded the boundaries of his institutional role, he is attempting to contribute to the creation of an asphyxiating framework in the moves and negotiating abilities of the Greek government.”

Fuelled by intensifying fears over a “Grexit” (Greek exit from the euro zone), the Athens stock market again fell sharply. By closing, it was down 3.15 percent, a 17.3 percent drop just in the last four sessions. Greece’s banks, cut off from international money markets months ago by the ECB and haemorrhaging deposits, fell a further 1.38 percent. Their overall value has plummeted by 27 percent in the last week.

Leaders of Syriza’s Left Platform, an amalgam of pseudo-left outfits who fear that Syriza will lose all credibility if it signs on to the institutions demands, called nationwide demonstrations against the troika Wednesday evening. Speaking to the Guardian, Stathis Kouvelakis, a Left Platform member of Syriza’s Central Committee, said, “Either Tsipras commits political suicide and accepts these measures, or he says the big ‘no’.”

Thousands of people heeded Syriza’s call and came out to demonstrate in front of the Greek parliament in Athens. This is only a pale reflection, however, of the opposition to further EU austerity measures that exists in the Greek working class, and that led to the voting out of the previous ND government and the collapse of Greece’s long-standing social democratic party, Pasok.

Earlier another Left Platform leader, Stathis Leoutsakos, raised the possibility of the armed forces being mobilised to enforce the edicts of the EU, saying, “The proposals made by lenders can only be passed with tanks and if the lenders want to pass them they have to find the tanks.” He backtracked immediately, adding, “I don’t mean tanks in the classic sense of the word. Today tanks have been replaced by a communications game that they play in great skill in the euro zone.”

As Greece nears default, with the threat of economic chaos across the continent, divisions within the European ruling elite on how to manage an all-encompassing crisis are surfacing.

Greek Prime Minister and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras received a visit from Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann yesterday. Faymann speaks for those within ruling circles who want to finalise an austerity agreement by giving Tsipras a few minor concessions, which he could then attempt to sell to the population—even though it elected him based on promises to end all austerity measures.

Faymann trailed his visit by stating he wanted to “avoid a catastrophe.” Of the EU, ECB, IMF demands of Greece, he said, “I know there were a number of proposals, also from the institutions, that I also don’t find in order.”

The institutions are calling for no let up in brutal cuts, but in Greece there is “high joblessness, 30-40 percent (with) no health insurance and then raising VAT on medicines. People in this difficult situation cannot understand that.”

In Athens, he called for a continuation of negotiations stressing, “For Europe to be stronger, it must show solidarity and support to any country which needs it.”

The Guardian described Faymann’s intervention as “a last-ditch attempt to end the standoff with international creditors” before the euro group meeting.

Writing in the Financial Times, columnist Martin Wolf warned, “Neither Greeks nor their partners should imagine a clean break if they leave the euro.” Citing the economic breakdown and resulting mass unemployment in Greece in the last five years, he stated, “Such a brutal adjustment would have shredded the politics of any country. Europeans are now dealing with Syriza because of this calamity.”

A deal being reached “now seems ever more unlikely,” Wolf cautioned, adding, “That would not be the end of the story, however. Europeans will be unable to walk away. Whether Greece stays inside the euro or leaves, much the same challenges will arise. The Europeans would still have to admit that they would not get much of their money back; and they would still have to help avoid a Greek collapse.”

Faymann, Wolf, et al. are at odds with other sections of the Europe ruling elite that are demanding a humiliating total capitulation of Syriza, whose most powerful spokesmen are elements within the German ruling elite.

Andreas Scheuer, secretary-general of the German Christian Social Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party, said, “The Greek government apparently hasn’t realised the seriousness of the situation yet. They are behaving like clowns sitting in the back of the classroom, although they have received explicit warnings from all sides that they might fail to pass to the next grade.”

Last week it emerged that European leaders began discussion on scenarios involving a Greek exit from the euro.

With no agreement expected from today’s meeting, plans are being mooted for another summit of euro zone heads of government on Sunday. According to the FT, citing EU officials, preparations for this “were almost finalised,” with these “included laying the groundwork for capital controls to prevent a meltdown of Greece’s financial sector.”

French Environment and Energy Minister Ségolène Royal is sending a clear message to Monsanto – biotech maker responsible for Round Up chemicals, and the target of a class action lawsuit in California, soon to be the taken to the US Federal Court.

Royal made the pronouncement this past Sunday that the weed killer Round Up should not be sold in garden shops since it is potentially harmful to human beings.

She told France 3 television:

France must be offensive on stopping pesticides.”

She did not articulate how she plans on enforcing the ban.

Matthew Phillips, the lawyer who is bringing Monsanto to trial, may soon have lawful evidence of France’s misgivings. He stated recently:

“‘If you get in a debate with these Monsanto trolls online, they’ll say glyphosate is safer than table salt, it’s safer than caffeine,’ he said. ‘It’s misdirection. It’s sleight of hand. It’s intended to distract and deceive, and take advantage of the feeble minded.

They are looking at the acute toxicity. What they’re talking about is how much would it take to commit a murder—a one time poisoning event. They should be looking at chronic toxicity–the long-term exposure. That is what is happening with glyphosate. We’re eating it at every single meal.’”

The minister’s concern is mirrored by individuals and organizations around the world as Monsanto’s Round Up and glyphosate experience massive bans and restrictions. Recently, two Swiss supermarket chains announced that they are ditching the biotech chemicals due to health concerns. Coop and Migros have each announced that they will no longer sell products that contain glyphosate and will be exploring non-toxic weed killing alternatives.

In another recent case, Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, has announced that the import of Monsanto’s favorite killing-tool, glyphosate, will no longer be allowed in the country.

At least in France they won’t be eating glyphosate, if Royal gets her way. The US MSM has refused to take note of this serious issue, but fortunately, the French are not betrothed to one of the most hated companies in the world.

Additional Sources:

Featured image sourced from: The Epoch Times

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The New York Times sums up opposition to fast track in one image: AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. (Photo: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

Corporate media have a storyline ready to explain the defeat (for the time being, anyway) of the Trans Pacific Partnership : Big Labor is to blame.

This was set up well in advance of progressive Democrats outmaneuvering the Obama administration in Congress to thwart the passage of fast track authority—expedited rules for approving trade pacts that are seen as necessary to pass TPP, a vast commercial agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. A Wall Street Journal editorial (4/16/15) laid it out in April:

In the US, Democrats have tried to prevent giving the president trade promotion authority precisely because it will extend trade across both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. For their friends in Big Labor, this is anathema.

USA Today editorialized in May (5/7/15FAIR Blog5/5/15):

The pan-Pacific deal…would help the US retain a key role in the region, while promoting competition that would give consumers more choices and lower costs.

Democrats, however, are wedded to unions who blame trade, and trade agreements, for the decline in manufacturing jobs.

As the vote loomed, USA Today (6/8/15) returned to the theme:

House Democrats are fighting the deal for a simple, but not very good, reason. Labor has pulled out all the stops to persuade, cajole and pressure them into killing it.

The paper warned: “An overwhelming vote to block the trade deal…would be widely interpreted as the Democrats putting the interests of unions first.”

Sure enough, after the vote, that was the interpretation—in corporate media, at least. “Labor’s Might Seen in Failure of Trade Deal” was the New York Times‘ front-page headline (6/14/15). “Trade Defeat Is Huge Win for Labor,” Politico(6/12/15) declared. “A Big Win for Big Labor,” The Atlantic (6/12/15) called it.

The broad coalition against TPP was seldom acknowledged in corporate media. (cc photo: Neil Ballantyne/Wikimedia)

Such pieces downplayed or ignored the broad progressive coalition that opposes fast track. A letter circulated by the Citizens Trade Campaign illustrates how widely the resistance to corporate-friendly trade deals has spread: Among its 2,000 co-signers are many union groups, to be sure, but also some of the biggest names in environmental activism, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Defenders of Wildlife, 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, whocharge that TPP would allow corporations to overturn environmental policies.

Numerous consumer groups joined in, like Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumers League,  concerned about TPP’s impact on consumer protection. Numerous groups representing family farmers also signed on, seeing TPP as aimed at helping agribusiness crowd them out. Likewise groups concerned about the pact’s potential to make life-saving drugs unaffordable, and to expand copyrights to the benefit of corporate media (who, it should be remembered, are reporting on a fight they very much have a dog in).

For these and other reasons, the declaration of opposition to fast track was joined by numerous general grassroots progressive organizations, like MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, Americans for Democratic Action and Common Cause, and by a wide spectrum of liberal religious institutions, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, American Friends Service Committee, the American Jewish World Service and Catholics United. Civil rights groups like the NAACP and women’s rights groups like Feminist Majority also took the anti-fast track side.

“It’s preposterous to think that the labor movement could browbeat a majority of House Democrats if most Democrats in Congress were not already sick of being strong-armed by corporate elites and Democratic presidents in thrall to them,” wrote American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner (Huffington Post6/14/15) in a post-mortem on the fast track vote. More to the point, it’s impossible to imagine that labor alone could have swayed a majority of Democrats–and overcome the 9-to-1 advantage pro-fast track groups had in campaign contributions—if virtually every organized Democratic constituency hadn’t made it clear that defeating fast track was a top priority.

Yet all these movements tended to drop out of establishment media accounts of the fast track fight, leaving labor as the lone opponent. Nine-tenths of the way through, that “Labor’s Might” New York Times piece acknowledges that “the hostility of the industrial unions toward trade deals has spread to a growing roster of liberal activists”—but gives no clue as to who those activists might be.

Think how different the impact of these stories would be if, instead of limiting fast track opposition to organized labor, which now represents just 11 percent of US workers, media reported that pretty much every environmental group you’ve ever heard of thinks TPP will be bad for the planet, consumer groups warn that it will be bad for consumers, and maybe the church you attend on Sunday is against it too.

Interestingly, the openly right-wing press is more willing to acknowledge environmental opposition, perhaps assuming that for their audience treehuggers are as much a bogeyman as labor: The New York Post (4/28/15) says that “Obama’s problem” is “fellow Democrats — pandering to unions and greens,” while the Wall Street Journal (4/16/15) says that “on the Democratic left the opposition includes an array of unions, environmentalists and anti-business activists.” Such admissions are seldom to be seen in news outlets whose audiences actually care what environmental groups think.

One corporate outlet that did a notably better job was Newsweek (6/12/15), whose explainer, headlined “What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Why Are Critics Upset by It?,” actually attempted to answer that question. Reporter Taylor Wofford notes that “internet privacy advocates like those at the Electronic Frontier Foundation say that regulations in the leaked chapter on intellectual property go too far” and that “environmentalists were upset at what they saw in the leaked chapter on environmental regulations.”

In the last paragraph, Newsweek notes that “other groups have shown concern too”—like “the AFL-CIO, a federation of unions,” for instance.

Jim Naureckas is the editor of FAIR.org

“Typically, the primary purpose for a corporation to set up subsidiaries in tax havens where it has little to no business operations and few, if any, employees is to pay little, if any, taxes and to maintain financial secrecy.” (Photo: Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

Walmart has built a vast, undisclosed network of overseas tax havens—accounting for more than $76 billion of assets—that allows the multinational corporation to shirk public disclosure laws as well as its fair share of both foreign and U.S. taxes, according to a groundbreaking report published Wednesday by Americans for Tax Fairness.

All told, the retail behemoth has established at least 78 subsidiaries in 15 offshore tax havens, none of them publicly reported before. The stunning revelations are based on research conducted by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, using publicly available documents filed in various countries by Walmart and its subsidiaries.

“Most people know that Walmart is the world’s largest corporation,” the report begins.“Virtually no one knows that Walmart has an extensive and secretive web of subsidiaries located in countries widely known as tax havens.

The analysis, titled The Walmart Web: How the World’s Biggest Corporation Uses Tax Havens to Dodge Taxes (pdf), shows that Walmart has no fewer than 22 shell companies in Luxembourg—20 established since 2009 and five in 2015 alone. According to the study, Walmart has transferred ownership of more than $45 billion in assets to those subsidiaries since 2011, but reported paying less than 1 percent in tax to Luxembourg on $1.3 billion in profits from 2010 through 2013.

Luxembourg, the report authors are quick to note, has been referred to as a “magical fairyland” of tax avoidance.

Bloomberg explains:

Wal-Mart employs a popular legal strategy in that country called a hybrid loan. It permits companies’ offshore units to take tax deductions for interest paid—typically on paper only—to their parents in the U.S. The parent, however, doesn’t include that interest as taxable income in the U.S.

The [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] has called for an end to the tax benefits of such loans. Luxembourg generated headlines last year after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed its role in cutting the tax bills of hundreds of multinationals.

“Companies use tax havens to dodge taxes,” stated Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “It appears that’s the secret game Walmart is playing.”

He continued: “We are calling on Congress, federal agencies and international organizations to determine if Walmart is skirting the law when it comes to reporting its use of tax havens, using various schemes to dodge taxes, and getting a sweetheart deal from Luxembourg that is the equivalent of illegal state aid. Average Americans and small businesses have to make up the difference when Walmart doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes.”

Indeed, a 2014 Americans for Tax Fairness study showed that public nutrition, health care, and housing assistance provided to Walmart workers cost U.S. taxpayers at least $6.2 billion a year.

The report authors admit that “it is impossible to determine from publicly available financial statements the extent to which this tax-haven expansion has already affected the company’s bottom line—and reduced the tax revenues of governments around the world.”

And so it will continue to be, Americans for Tax Fairness declares: “In the absence of reforms to the international tax system, including the stricter disclosure requirements proposed in this report, the scope and scale of Walmart’s tax avoidance will continue to evade precise calculation.”

Furthermore, the findings have implications beyond just one greedy corporation. In addition to casting light on Walmart’s secretive tax avoidance schemes, “the discovery that Walmart has built an extensive web of tax-haven subsidiaries suggests that a range of exotic international tax avoidance strategies are being adapted in new sectors of the economy,” the report warns, given that big corporate players in the tax-haven game have historically been high-tech firms, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street banks.

The revelations come as U.S. lawmakers consider ways to ensure corporations pay their fair share.

As the report states: ”It is our hope that this case study about Walmart’s secretive and extensive use of tax havens causes members of Congress to rethink their approach on how to tax these offshore profits and international tax issues in general.”

For a more detailed look at Walmart’s overseas shell companies, see the diagram from Americans for Tax Fairness below:

(Credit: Americans for Tax Fairness)

All U.S./NATO commands and bases are in full swing to prepare the “Trident Juncture 2015” (TJ15), “the biggest NATO exercise by the end of the Cold War.”

It will take place in Italy, Spain and Portugal from September 28 to November 6, with land, air and naval and special forces units of 33 countries (28 NATO plus five allies): More than 35,000 troops, 200 aircraft, and 50 warships. The military industries of 15 countries will also participate to assess what other weapons NATO needs.

The purpose of this “high visibility and credibility” exercise is to test the “Response Force” (30,00 troops), especially its “Point Force’s” operational readiness (5,000 troops).

On the southern flank, starting mainly from Italy, NATO is preparing other wars in North Africa and the Middle East. This was confirmed by the attack carried out in Libya, on June 14 by the U.S. F-15E fighters that probably took off from Aviano in northern Italy, that have dropped numerous bombs ostensibly to kill a suspected terrorist.

The Italian Air Force is preparing for similar actions to ensure “the ability of its assets as part of a force of high readiness for deployment.” During TJ15 it will use the Trapani airport (not the airport in Decimomannu where “serenity” is lacking because of the protests there against military servitude), “for reasons eminently logistical, operational and for the distances to be covered and the previous experience gained in the course of other operations conducted by the base,” that is, the bombing of Libya in 2011. At Trapani-Birgi about 80 aircraft and 5,000 soldiers, who (despite the assurances of the Air Force) will put at risk the viability and safety of civilian flights.

NATO’s Joint Forces Command Naples, with headquarters in Lago Patria, Naples, will play a central role in the exercise under Admiral Use Ferguson, who is also commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and the Africa Command: Alternating annually with Brunssum (Netherlands), the JFC Naples plays the role of operational command of NATO’s “Response Force,” whose general command answers to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (always a U.S. general appointed by the president). The projection of forces to the south goes far beyond North Africa: Supreme Commander Gen. Breedlove clarified this by announcing that “the members of NATO will play a big role in North Africa, the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa.”

On its eastern flank, NATO continues to increase its military pressure on Russia. According to information provided to the New York Times (June 13) by U.S. and allied officials, the Pentagon intends to “pre-position” heavy weapons (tanks, guns, etc.), sufficient to arm 5,000 soldiers in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

And while Washington has made it known that it does not exclude deploying ground-based nuclear missiles in Europe, Kiev has announced that U.S./NATO missile interceptors could be installed in Ukraine, similar to those in Poland and Romania. This ignores the fact that Moscow, as it has already warned, will take countermeasures because the launch pads for the interceptors can also be used to launch nuclear missiles.

In such a scenario “Trident Juncture 2015,” an expression of a strategy of all-out war, is taking place. This is confirmed by the participation of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last week in Austria in the secret meeting of the Bilderberg group, the same one that the Italian magistrate Ferdinando Imposimato denounced in January 2013 as “one of the leaders of the strategy of tension.”

Il Manifesto, 16 June 2015

http://ilmanifesto.info/la-nato-lancia-il-tridente/

Translation: John Catalinotto

European Union (EU): After Greece Exit, Israel Entry?

June 18th, 2015 by Anthony Bellchambers

Will Netanyahu now Apply to Join the European Union – (in lieu of Greece) – together with its 5 million Dispossessed Palestinians, 400 Nuclear Warheads, 500,000 Illegal Settlers, 1.8m Civilians still under Blockade in Gaza plus its annual shipment of $3bn of guns, missiles and bombs from the powerful U.S. Congress – or would the EU Commission consider such an application from a Middle East state to be somewhat less than advantageous to its 27 members and their incredibly important, European single market?

*     *     *

GREECE – Hellenic Republic, established 1830.

Full Member State of European Union

Location: Mediterranean

Capital: Athens

Population: 10,993,000

Surface Area: 131,960 km2

Currency: Euro

 

ISRAEL – UDI declared 1948

Location: Middle East (borders disputed)

Technically in a state of war with: Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iran.

Concluded (tenuous) peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan

Capital: Jerusalem (disputed)

Population: 8,212,000

Surface Area: 22,070 km2 (disputed)

Currency: Israeli Shekel

 

Government

  Greece   Israel
GDP

2014

238,023 M.$

303,771 M.$

2014

GDP per capita

2014

21,653$

36,991$

2014

Debt

2014

421,259 M.$

196,474 M.$

2013
Debt (%GDP)

2014

177.10%

67.62%

2013
Debt Per Capita

2014

38,348$

24,389$

2013
Deficit 2013

-6,815 M.$

-11,884 M.$

2013

Deficit (%GDP)

2014

-3.50%

-4.09%

2013

Expenditure (M.$)

2014

117,400.9

119,760.0

2013
Expenditure (%GDP) 2014

49.30%

41.22%

2013

 

Trade

  Greece   Israel
Exports 2014 35,966.6 M.$ 68,120.3 M.$ 2014
Exports % GDP 2014 15.13% 22.44% 2014
Imports 2014 63,399.1 M.$ 75,338.1 M.$ 2014
Imports % GDP 2014 26.67% 24.81% 2014
Trade balance 2014 -27,432.5 M.$ -7,217.8 M.$ 2014
Trade balance % GDP 2014 -11.53% -2.38% 2014
Retail Sales YoY March 2015 1.2%

 

Socio-Demography

 

Greece Israel
Population 2014 10,993,000 8,212,000 2014
Density 2014 83 372 2014

 

Source: http://countryeconomy.com/countries/compare/greece/israel

 

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Testifying Before Congress

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research (OFR), the body created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation to make sure another 2008 epic crash never happened again, quietly released a report last week which not only suggests another 2008-style crash is possible but that regulators will likely be blindsided again.

The report, written by Jill Cetina, John McDonough, and Sriram Rajan, reveals that the big Wall Street banks are ginning up their capital measures by engaging in opaque and potentially dangerous “capital relief trades.”

To illustrate how dangerous this kind of capital relief arbitrage can be, the report says that JPMorgan’s London Whale trades (which blew a $6.2 billion hole in the insured bank) was a capital relief trade.

Here’s the precise language from the report:

“JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s losses in the 2012 London Whale case were the result of CDS [Credit Default Swap] usage which was undertaken to obtain regulatory capital relief on positions in the trading book.”

That analysis stands in stark contrast to Jamie Dimon’s testimony on the London Whale before the Senate Banking Committee on June 13, 2012. Dimon told the Committee that the London Whale trades were to “hedge the company against a systemic event, like the financial crisis or Eurozone situation. Among the largest risks we have as a bank are the potential credit losses we could incur from the loans we make.”

While few people actually believed Dimon’s version of what was going on, it was more widely believed that this was simply high-risk proprietary trading that JPMorgan did not want to admit to because it was occurring in its insured bank rather than its investment bank using its own capital.

Read more

In the wake of the greatest crime of the twenty-first century, the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, you might have thought that the days of passing off unattributed government and intelligence pronouncements as ‘journalism’ would be over. Apparently not. On June 14, the Sunday Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, published what has already become a classic of the genre (behind a paywall; full text here).

The prominent front-page story was titled: ‘British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese; Missions aborted to prevent spies being killed’. It sounded like an exciting plot for a James Bond film. And the first line was suitably dramatic:

‘Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.‘ (our emphasis)

What followed was a series of assertions from faceless sources, backed by zero evidence and outright falsehoods.

Western intelligence agencies – famously trustworthy and free of any hidden agenda – said they had ‘been forced into the rescue operations after Moscow gained access to more than 1m classified files held by the former American security contractor, who fled to seek protection from Vladimir Putin’. Anyone seeking ‘protection’ from one of the world’s ‘Bad Guys’ is, of course, immediately deemed suspect.

‘Senior government sources’ claimed that ‘China had also cracked the encrypted documents’, endangering British and American spies. One senior Home Office official accused Snowden of having ‘blood on his hands’, although Downing Street said there was ‘no evidence of anyone being harmed’. The journalists appeared unperturbed by the discrepancy and ploughed on.

More anonymous sources popped up: ‘David Cameron’s aides confirmed’, ‘A senior Downing Street source said’, ‘said a senior Home Office source’, ‘a British intelligence source said’, ‘A US intelligence source said’. The only named source in the whole piece was Sir David Omand, the former director of GCHQ, the secretive agency that conducts mass surveillance for the British intelligence services.

Taking as undisputed fact that Russia and China had access to Snowden’s material, Omand said that this:

‘was a “huge strategic setback” that was “harming” to Britain, America and their Nato allies.’

No other views were reported by the Sunday Times. This was stenography, not journalism.

The article appeared under the bylines of Tom Harper (the paper’s home affairs correspondent), Richard Kerbaj (security correspondent) and Tim Shipman (political editor). But it was clearly prepared with major input from intelligence and government sources with their own particular agendas. All of this was, no doubt, given the all-clear by the paper’s editor, Martin Ivens.

BBC News echoed the Sunday Times article, with an online piece containing ‘analysis’ by BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera. This supposed expert commentary was based on ‘my understanding from conversations over an extended period’ and performed his usual function of providing a conduit for the government view. Some mild scepticism – ‘a pinch of salt’ – did filter through to later versions of the BBC article as it was updated. But it was shunted to the bottom of the piece, with no mention in the introduction.

In summary, the Sunday Times article contained no evidence for its anonymous claims, no challenges to the assertions made, and no journalistic balance. It was almost inevitable, then, that it would quickly fall apart under scrutiny.

The Opposite Of Journalism

Craig Murray, the former British diplomat, responded promptly with a blog piece titled, ‘Five Reasons the MI6 Story is a Lie’. One of these reasons, Murray notes, is:

‘The argument that MI6 officers are at danger of being killed by the Russians or Chinese is a nonsense. No MI6 officer has been killed by the Russians or Chinese for 50 years. The worst that could happen is they would be sent home.’

Another reason is the convenient timing, aimed at providing a propaganda service for the alleged need for mass surveillance by the intelligence services:

‘This anti Snowden non-story … is timed precisely to coincide with the government’s new Snooper’s Charter act, enabling the security services to access all our internet activity.’

Ewen MacAskill, the Guardian’s defence and intelligence correspondent, raised a sceptical eyebrow, listing ‘five questions for UK government’. Of course, the Guardian, including MacAskill himself, has a history of channeling government propaganda – not least during the great propaganda campaigns pushing for the invasions of Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. (Archive of Media Lens media alertspassim).

One of the most notorious examples of Sunday Times-style state stenography occurred in 2007 when Pentagon propaganda occupied the Guardian’s front page under the title, ‘Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq’. As we noted then, the piece by Simon Tisdall, a Guardian foreign affairs specialist, was based almost entirely on unsupported assertions by anonymous US officials. Indeed 22 of the 23 paragraphs in the story relayed official US claims: over 95 per cent of the article. It went like this:

‘US officials say’; ‘a senior US official in Baghdad warned’; ‘The official said’; ‘the official said’; ‘the official said’; ‘US officials now say’; ‘the senior official in Baghdad said’; ‘he [the senior official in Baghdad] added’; ‘the official said’; ‘the official said’; ‘he [the official] indicated’…

No less than 26 references to official pronouncements formed the basis for a Guardian story presented with no scrutiny, no balance, no counter-evidence; nothing. Remove the verbiage described above and the Guardian front page news report was essentially a Pentagon press release. (For other examples, see also: ‘Real Men Go To Tehran’ and ‘An Existential Threat – the US, Israel and Iran’.)

The ‘pushback’ from Guardian journalists to the Sunday Times article, then, has to be seen in the wider context of: (a) Guardian complicity and journalistic cowardice in the face of Western government propaganda over many years; (b) an opportunity for liberal journalists to attack the corporate competition in the form of a Murdoch newspaper and make themselves look good.

Returning to the Sunday Times piece, journalist Ryan Gallagher, who writes for The Interceptnotes:

‘the Sunday Times story raises more questions than it answers, and more importantly it contains some pretty dubious claims, contradictions, and inaccuracies. The most astonishing thing about it is the total lack of scepticism it shows for these grand government assertions, made behind a veil of anonymity. This sort of credulous regurgitation of government statements is antithetical to good journalism.’

But perhaps the most comprehensive demolition came from Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who met Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, and who was primarily responsible for bringing Snowden’s whistleblowing to public attention. Greenwald writes:

‘the entire report is a self-negating joke. It reads like a parody I might quickly whip up in order to illustrate the core sickness of western journalism.’

This ‘sickness’ is summed up by:

‘the formula that shapes their brains: anonymous self-serving government assertions = Truth.’

This is raw submission to power with the result that:

‘government officials know they can propagandize the public at any time because subservient journalists will give them anonymity to do so and will uncritically disseminate and accept their claims.’

As Greenwald observes, there is a long history of anonymous government accusations and smears being laundered through the media whenever damaging information is revealed by whistleblowers. Much the same happened in the Nixon era to Daniel Ellsberg when he published the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War. The US government tried to smear Ellsberg by asserting that he had shared information with the Soviet Union. This was a lie.

Greenwald adds that there is ‘a coordinated smear campaign in Washington to malign Snowden’. The British government and intelligence agencies are no doubt well aware of this, and happy to be part of it. The Sunday Times smear job fits the pattern.

Greenwald then exposes what he calls an ‘utter lie’. The paper had stated:

‘David Miranda, the boyfriend (sic – spousal partner) of the Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was seized at Heathrow in 2013 in possession of 58,000 “highly classified” intelligence documents after visiting Snowden in Moscow.’

In fact, as Greenwald points out:

‘David did not visit Snowden in Moscow before being detained. As of the time he was detained in Heathrow, David had never been to Moscow and had never met Snowden. The only city David visited on that trip before being detained was Berlin, where he stayed in the apartment of [filmmaker] Laura Poitras.’

The day after the Sunday Times piece was published, observes Greenwald, the paper ‘quietly deleted’ the offending paragraph:

‘they just removed it from their story without any indication or note to their readers that they’ve done so (though it remains in the print edition and thus requires a retraction). That’s indicative of the standard of “journalism” for the article itself. Multiple other falsehoods, and all sorts of shoddy journalistic practices, remain thus far unchanged.’

The Sunday Times was clearly stung by Greenwald’s piece. The very next day, Murdoch’s company News UK sent a letter to First Look, the publisher of The Intercept where Greenwald’s piece had appeared, demanding that an image of the Sunday Times front page be removed from the critical article. Greenwald replied:

‘No, @TheSundayTimes, we are not going to remove the image of your humiliating headline from our story about it https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2101948-news-uk-dmca-notification-first-look-productions.html

‘We Just Don’t Know’ – Four Minutes Of Farcical Fumbling

Tom Harper, the lead reporter of the Sunday Times article, appeared in a laugh-out-loud, four-minute interview on CNN that should be shown to journalism students from now until the end of eternity.

George Howell, the CNN interviewer, tried to find out from Harper what his article was about, and what evidence he had for the claims being made. Howell is no radical; but he didn’t need to be. By asking basic questions about the Sunday Times ‘story’, he revealed the utter paucity of anything that could count as journalism. Among a blizzard of ‘ums’ and ‘ers’, Harper could offer little more than:

‘Well, uh, I don’t know, to be honest with you, George’.

‘All we know is that this is effectively the official position of the British government’.

‘Well, again, sorry to just repeat myself, George, but we don’t know’.

‘Again, I’m afraid to disappoint you, we just don’t know’.

Adam Weinster of Gawker has helpfully provided a complete transcript of the calamity interview here. He adds ironically:

‘it ended up being perhaps the clearest vindication of Snowden’s work to date.’

Journalist Ryan Gallagher neatly sums up the CNN interview:

‘How were the files breached? “I don’t know.” Were the files hacked or did Snowden hand them over? “We don’t know.” Were MI6 agents directly under threat? “We don’t know.” How did the government know what was in the files? “That’s not something we’re clear on.” Can you substantiate the claims? “No.”‘

Gallagher adds:

‘The interview is quite extraordinary because it makes absolutely clear that not only was this entire dubious story based solely on claims made anonymously by government officials, the reporters who regurgitated the claims did not even seek to question the veracity of the information. They just credulously accepted the allegations and then printed them unquestioningly. That really is the definition of stenography journalism — it’s shameful.’

The Sunday Times approach was best encapsulated when Harper made the mistake of admitting blankly in the CNN interview:

‘We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government’.

That epitaph may as well be engraved on the tomb of British ‘mainstream’ journalism.

The ‘Moral Equivalence’ Argument Gets Another Airing

As noted earlier, the natural stance of BBC News was to take the Sunday Times propaganda piece at face value, with a smattering of cautious scepticism added later to the mix to simulate ‘balanced’ journalism. Andrew Marr declared on his Sunday morning BBC show: ‘It has a certain plausibility about it, however’. Of course, Marr has a long history in finding ‘a certain plausibility’ in crass state propaganda, as was seen when he was the BBC’s political editor during the invasion of Iraq.

On the flagship Radio 4 Today programme, the BBC’s structural bias was exposed yet again when Justin Webb made the mistake of interviewing Glenn Greenwald, who knows what he’s talking about. (Today link; expires 20 June 2015. Also archived on YouTube.)

Webb presented the standard, propaganda-friendly version of Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing:

JW: ‘A lot of people [are] saying, whatever you think of Edward Snowden, he has drawn people’s attention to something that needed to have its attention drawn to it. But the other side of that ledger – it would be reasonable to assume, wouldn’t it? – is that he has given away secrets that have been useful to people who want to do harm to other perfectly innocent people. I just wonder if you accept that those are the two sides of it, and that’s what we’ve all got to live with?’

GG: ‘No, I think you just made that up, what you just said [JW laughs in shock]. Edward Snowden has not given any documents or any information to anybody, except for journalists with major media organisations. So if the New York Times or the Guardian or the Washington Post has published a story that you think shouldn’t have been published, your quarrel is with them. Edward Snowden didn’t disclose any documents. He went to journalists and gave the documents to journalists and said, “I want you to work in order to find the ones in the public interest that the public ought to know.”‘

In the interview, Webb also asked Greenwald:

‘I mean you are not suggesting that President Putin’s government is on a par in its support of democracy and human rights with the United States or Britain, or are you?’

Greenwald responded:

‘I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t Russia that invaded and destroyed a country of 26 million people called Iraq, or set up a worldwide torture regime around the world to torture people in secret, or put people in indefinite detention camps in the middle of the ocean called Guantanamo. So I think it would be incredibly naïve for some Westerner to say: “My side is really good. It’s Vladimir Putin’s side that’s the bad side.”‘

This was classic BBC propaganda fare. Webb’s framing of Putin as the ‘Bad Guy’, and the United States and Britain as the ‘Good Guys’, underpins the delusional ‘moral equivalence’ argument that corporate journalists habitually deploy.

We recall the BBC’s Michael Buerk commenting in disbelief to Denis Halliday, the former senior UN diplomat who had resigned in protest at the genocidal sanctions imposed on Iraq by the West:

‘You can’t… you can’t possibly draw a moral equivalence between Saddam Hussein and George Bush Senior, can you?’ (BBC radio interview, 2001)

And the BBC’s incredulous Jeremy Paxman to Noam Chomsky in a 2004 interview on Newsnight:

‘You seem to be suggesting or implying, perhaps I’m being unfair to you, but you seem to be implying there is some moral equivalence between democratically elected heads of state like George Bush or Prime Ministers like Tony Blair and regimes in places like Iraq.’

Chomsky demolished this specious ‘argument’:

‘The term moral equivalence is an interesting one. It was invented, I think, by Jeane Kirkpatrick [former US ambassador to the UN] as a method of trying to prevent criticism of foreign policy and state decisions. It is a meaningless notion. There is no moral equivalence whatsoever.’

Investigative journalist Peter Oborne, who resigned from the Telegraph in February in protest at the paper’s perpetration of a ‘fraud on its readers’ in its failure to report scandals involving HSBC, recently commented:

‘The men and women who advocated the Iraq invasion remain dominant in British public life. Those who opposed it remain marginal and despised.’

This ought to be deeply shocking and very disturbing. Unsurprisingly, the journalistic practices that made the Iraq crime possible also remain dominant with honest practices relegated to the margins and despised.

And so we find that major news organisations continue to act as mindless conduits for anonymous state propaganda, somehow unable to learn the blindingly obvious lessons of past deceptions. Given the scale of the Iraq and Libyan catastrophes, this is powerful testimony indeed to the sheer depth of the structural corruption of the corporate media system. Not even Iraq, not even the deaths of one million Iraqis, not even the devastation of a country of 26 million people, are enough to deter journalists who are driven by ruthless political and economic forces, apparently immune to public pressure – so far.

In truth, those destructive forces have grown stronger in the years since the 2003 invasion. Media performance is indicative of a sharp and dangerous deterioration in Western democracy.

DC & DE

La Nato lancia il Tridente

June 17th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Tutti i comandi e le basi Usa/Nato sono in piena atti­vità per pre­pa­rare la «Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015» (TJ15), «la più grande eser­ci­ta­zione Nato dalla fine della guerra fredda». Si svol­gerà in Ita­lia, Spa­gna e Por­to­gallo dal 28 set­tem­bre al 6 novem­bre, con unità ter­re­stri, aeree e navali e con forze spe­ciali di 33 paesi (28 Nato più 5 alleati): oltre 35mila uomini, 200 aerei, 50 navi da guerra. Vi par­te­ci­pe­ranno anche le indu­strie mili­tari di 15 paesi per valu­tare di quali altre armi ha biso­gno la Nato.

Scopo di que­sta eser­ci­ta­zione «ad alta visi­bi­lità e cre­di­bi­lità» è testare la «Forza di rispo­sta» (30mila effet­tivi), soprat­tutto la sua «Forza di punta» ad altis­sima pron­tezza ope­ra­tiva (5mila effet­tivi). Sul fianco meri­dio­nale, par­tendo soprat­tutto dall’Italia, la Nato pre­para altre guerre in Nor­da­frica e Medio­riente. Lo con­ferma l’attacco effet­tuato in Libia, dome­nica scorsa, da cac­cia Usa F-15E che, decol­lati pro­ba­bil­mente da Aviano, hanno sgan­ciato nume­rose bombe uffi­cial­mente per ucci­dere un pre­sunto terrorista.

Ad azioni simili si pre­para l’Aeronautica ita­liana che, per veri­fi­care «le capa­cità dei suoi assetti nell’ambito di una forza ad ele­vata pron­tezza d’impiego», userà nella TJ15 l’aeroporto di Tra­pani (non quello di Deci­mo­mannu dove manca la «sere­nità» per le pro­te­ste con­tro le ser­vitù mili­tari), «per motivi emi­nen­te­mente logi­stici, ope­ra­tivi e di distanze per­cor­ri­bili e per la pre­gressa espe­rienza matu­rata nel corso di altre ope­ra­zioni con­dotte dalla base», ossia il bom­bar­da­mento della Libia nel 2011.

A Trapani-Birgi ope­re­ranno circa 80 aerei e 5mila mili­tari, che (nono­stante le ras­si­cu­ra­zioni dell’Aeronautica) met­te­ranno a rischio l’agibilità e la sicu­rezza dei voli civili.

Svol­gerà un ruolo cen­trale nell’esercitazione il Jfc Naples, comando Nato (con quar­tier gene­rale a Lago Patria, Napoli) agli ordini dell’ammiraglio Usa Fer­gu­son, che è anche coman­dante delle Forze navali Usa in Europa e delle Forze navali del Comando Africa: alter­nan­dosi annual­mente con Bruns­sum (Olanda), il Jfc Naples svolge il ruolo di comando ope­ra­tivo della «Forza di rispo­sta» Nato, il cui comando gene­rale appar­tiene al Coman­dante supremo alleato in Europa (sem­pre un gene­rale Usa nomi­nato dal Pre­si­dente). La pro­ie­zione di forze a sud va ben oltre il Nor­da­frica: lo chia­ri­sce lo stesso Coman­dante supremo, il gen. Breed­love, annun­ciando che «i mem­bri della Nato svol­ge­ranno un grande ruolo in Nor­da­frica, Sahel e Africa subsahariana».

Sul fianco orien­tale, la Nato con­ti­nua ad accre­scere la sua pres­sione mili­tare sulla Rus­sia. Secondo noti­zie for­nite al «New York Times» (13 giu­gno) da fun­zio­nari sta­tu­ni­tensi e alleati, il Pen­ta­gono intende «pre­po­si­zio­nare» arma­menti pesanti (car­rar­mati, can­noni, ecc.), suf­fi­cienti a 5mila sol­dati, in Litua­nia, Let­to­nia, Esto­nia, Polo­nia, Roma­nia, Bul­ga­ria e Unghe­ria. E men­tre Washing­ton fa sapere che non esclude di instal­lare in Europa mis­sili nucleari con base a terra, Kiev annun­cia che potreb­bero essere instal­lati in Ucraina mis­sili inter­cet­tori Usa/Nato, ana­lo­ghi a quelli in Polo­nia e Romania.

Igno­rando che Mosca, come ha già avver­tito, pren­derà con­tro­mi­sure poi­ché le loro rampe di lan­cio pos­sono essere usate anche per lan­ciare mis­sili a testata nucleare.

In tale sce­na­rio si inse­ri­sce la «Tri­dent Junc­ture 2015», espres­sione di una stra­te­gia di guerra a tutto campo. Lo con­ferma la par­te­ci­pa­zione del segre­ta­rio gene­rale della Nato Stol­ten­berg, la scorsa set­ti­mana in Austria, alla riu­nione segreta del gruppo Bil­der­berg: quello che il magi­strato Fer­di­nando Impo­si­mato denun­cia come «uno dei respon­sa­bili della stra­te­gia della tensione».

Manlio Dinucci

16.06.2015

In my four decades in national journalism – I started at the Associated Press in 1974 – I have grown increasingly concerned about how Americans respond to information, or put differently, how propagandists package their messaging to elicit the desired response. In an age of cynicism, the trick is to get the “big ha-ha!” – convincing you to laugh at the target whether deserved or not.

The way the process works is to first generate hatred or contempt toward a person or group and then produce “themes” that make the target a subject of ridicule and derision, demonized to such an extent that pretty much anything goes. Some of this behavior might seem relatively harmless but it can lead to serious unfairness, injustice, even war.

In 2000, I took heat from some colleagues for objecting to the “big ha-ha!” being directed at Vice President Al Gore. It had reached the point where the mainstream media even made up fictional quotes to put in Gore’s mouth – like “I invented the Internet” – so he could be mocked in favor of the much cooler George W. Bush, who rewarded favored journalists with pet nicknames.

This media hazing of wonky Al Gore carried over to the election in which Gore not only won the national popular vote but if all legal ballots in Florida had been counted, he would have carried that swing state and thus won the White House. But the mainstream U.S. media acted as if the idea of counting the votes and thus denying Bush the presidency was somehow dirty pool.

Journalist Robert Parry

Very quickly, the conventional wisdom solidified behind the idea that Gore was a “sore loser” who should just get out of the way. That prevailing attitude created political space for five Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the counting of votes in Florida, giving the state and the White House to George W. Bush. The conventional wisdom quickly morphed into the conviction that the media had to protect Bush’s “legitimacy.”

The consequences of that shoddy and biased journalism are hard to quantify. History might have gone off in a much less bloody direction if the U.S. media big shots had stuck up for the basic idea that the American voters should decide who becomes president. But it was so much easier for everyone to go with the flow. Al Gore was such a stiff. Ha-ha! [For details, see Neck Deep.]

Reagan’s World

By 2000, I had already seen this pattern take shape and take control of American journalism. President Ronald Reagan and his skilled team of propagandists were masters at shaping the narrative and, via the media, convincing Americans that impoverished peasants in Central America were a grave threat to the United States and thus needed to be repressed.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega became “the dictator in designer glasses” and Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua was “a totalitarian dungeon.” Conversely, U.S. allies – no matter how corrupt and cruel – were placed on a pedestal. The cocaine-tainted Nicaraguan Contras were the “moral equal of the Founding Fathers.” The blood-soaked dictator of Guatemala Efrain Rios Montt was a good Christian getting “a bum rap.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Victory of Perception Management.”]

As the years went by, each international crisis became a replay. Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein was “worse than Hitler.” His troops pulled new-born infants out of incubators and smashed them to the floor. Today, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin riding shirtless. What a macho jerk! Ha-ha!

So, when “white papers” or other government reports detail the offenses of these reviled leaders, who inside the mainstream U.S. media would risk his or her career by checking out the facts and challenging the accusations?

Indeed, you could build your career by going along, maybe becoming the “star reporter” who gets the latest approved “leak” from the U.S. intelligence community “confirming” how terrible the designated villain is. Or you could portray yourself as a “citizen journalist” and use Internet research to vindicate exactly what the U.S. government was claiming. Maybe a mainstream job or a U.S. AID grant awaits.

But I opted out of that game. For many years, I battled inside mainstream news organizations – the AP, Newsweek and PBS Frontline – trying to get reluctant, hostile or frightened editors to challenge the U.S. government’s propaganda as well as the media’s conventional wisdom. Eventually, I turned to the Internet and founded a Web site, which became Consortiumnews.com.

My job as I saw it was to do what I thought journalism was always supposed to do, i.e., look skeptically at whatever any government or powerful institution claimed to be true. I felt this was particularly important during international crises that carried the potential of war or – in the current case of Ukraine – the possibility of exterminating all life on the planet.

That doesn’t mean that governments and powerful institutions always lie. But it should mean that journalists demand hard facts and evidence before accepting what they’re told. Sadly, that attitude has become rare as the years have gone by.

It’s now almost expected that the New York Times and Washington Post will march in lockstep with the U.S. government on foreign policy, except perhaps when they bait a leader who shows some geopolitical restraint and doesn’t swagger aggressively into an international conflict. It also goes without saying that mainstream journalists are virtually immune from accountability if they run with the pack and later turn out to be wrong – even if a catastrophic war is the result.

Yet, despite the depths that journalism has reached in the United States and across the Western world, I still believe in its principles. Indeed, the only ism that I do believe in is journalism, which you might define as the assembling of facts within a framework of common sense and presented in a way that the average person can understand.

But I especially don’t like the piling-on “ha-ha” tendencies of today’s media. Whenever someone gets demonized and that demonization influences how information is handled, that’s where the worst violations of journalistic principles usually occur.

Recently, I’ve applied that skepticism in evaluating claims about Russian guilt in the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from British blogger Eliot Higgins and Australia’s “60 Minutes” or in assessing the extravagant accusations about the Ukraine crisis from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

But the same journalistic principles apply in more mundane matters like the NFL’s harsh punishment of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the overblown “Deflategate” case. Many Americans hate Brady and the Patriots, creating an atmosphere in which accusations are readily accepted even if the evidence is weak or manipulated.

While I would argue that my journalism is consistent in this way, I know it tends to offend people who have reached contrary conclusions and don’t want to rethink them – or others who have a stake in the conventional wisdom. Then, I usually get accused of being someone’s apologist – a “Sandinista apologist”; an “Al Gore apologist”; a “Saddam apologist”; a “Putin apologist”; or a “Brady apologist.”

But it’s really that I just don’t like the “big ha-ha!”

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). 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.

“Since its founding, the United States has consistently pursued a grand strategy focused on acquiring and maintaining preeminent power over various rivals, first on the North American continent, then in the Western hemisphere, and finally globally.”

-Robert D. Blackwill and Ashley J.Tellis, Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China, The Council on Foreign Relations Special Report, March 2015

“It is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia.” -Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China

The United States will do whatever is necessary to maintain its dominant position in the world. Less than two years ago, no one thought that Washington would topple a regime on Moscow’s doorstep, insert a US-backed stooge in Kiev, arm and train neo-Nazi extremists in the Ukrainian Army, instigate and oversee a vicious war of aggression in the East, threaten to deploy NATO to within five hundred miles of the Russian capital, reassemble the Iron Curtain by building up forces, weaponry and missile systems in E. Europe and the Balkans, and repeatedly provoke a nuclear-armed adversary (Russia) by launching asymmetrical attacks on its economy, its financial system and its currency.

The reason Washington pursued such a risky strategy is because EU-Russian economic integration posed a direct threat to US global hegemony, so steps had to be taken to thwart the project. The US used all the tools at its disposal to drive a wedge between Brussels and Moscow, to sabotage the plan to create a free trade zone from “Lisbon to Vladivostok”, and to prevent the emergence of a new rival. Washington powerbrokers did what they felt they had to do to preserve their lofty position in the current world order. Now their focus has shifted to the Asia-Pacific where they intend to take similar action against another potential rival, China.

According to the Economist, China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will surpass that of the United States by 2021. In other words, if present trends persist, China will become the world’s biggest economy in less than a decade. But what are the chances that present trends will continue if Beijing is embroiled in a conflagration with the US; a conflagration where the US turns China’s trading partners against Beijing like it did with Moscow, a conflagration in which more of China’s resources are devoted to national defense rather than economic growth, a conflagration in which oil shipments from the Middle East are interrupted or cut off completely?

If any of these things were to happen, China would probably slip into recession dashing its chances of becoming the world’s biggest economy. The point here is that China’s rise is not inevitable as many people seem to think. It depends on things that China cannot completely control, like Washington’s provocations in the Spratly Islands which are designed to slow China’s growth by isolating Beijing and drawing it into a confrontation that saps its energy and depletes its resources.

There was an interesting article on the US Naval Institute’s website titled “Asymmetric Warfare, American Style” that explains in part what the Pentagon may be trying to achieve by harassing Beijing over its harmless land reclamation activities in the Spratlys. Here’s a clip from the article:

“In the nuclear age, guarding the homeland from an unlimited counterstroke is about more than merely preventing invasion. Forestalling nuclear escalation means keeping the scope and duration of combat operations low enough—and thus unprovocative enough—that Beijing would not countenance using doomsday weapons to get its way. It is important, then, for Washington to limit its efforts through the type and amount of force deployed, staying below the nuclear threshold. American strategists’ goal should be to design operations that insert “disposal” forces….to support allies while making life difficult for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” (Asymmetric Warfare, American Style, Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes, US Naval Institute)

This, I imagine, is the objective of the current policy; to inflict maximum punishment on China without actually triggering a nuclear war. It’s a tightrope act that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter feels he can manage judging by the way he has gradually increased the pressure on China and then watched to see what the reaction is. And there are indications that the Carter method is working too. On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry announced that it planned to complete land reclamation projects within days. While the announcement is a clear stand-down on Beijing’s part, it did include one face-saving proviso that “China would follow up by building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.” The carefully-worded statement will be taken by Washington as a sign that Beijing is looking for a way to end the crisis without appearing like it’s caving in. China’s reaction is likely to convince Carter that his approach is working, that China can be bullied into making concessions in its own backyard, and that more pressure can be applied without risking a nuclear war. Thus, rather than ending the dispute, the Foreign Ministry’s announcement has paved the way for an escalation of hostilities.

Carter’s approach to China is not particularly unique, in fact, it has a lot in common with the Soviet containment strategy propounded by the late George F. Kennan who said: The U.S.

“has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.”

While it’s clear that US policy relies heavily on coercion, the US is being far more reckless in its dealings with China than it was with the Soviet Union. Sec-Def Carter made his demands on China (to end all land reclamation activities) without ever seeking a settlement through normal diplomatic channels. This suggests that the US doesn’t really want peace, but wants to use the Spratly’s for some other purpose, as a pretext for ratcheting up the tensions, for demonizing China in the media, for cobbling together an anti-China coalition in the region, and for encircling China to the West.

Keep in mind, that the so called pivot to Asia –which President Obama referred to as the United States “top priority”– is, at its heart, a plan for economic supremacy. The foofaraw in the Spratlys is just the military component of the broader “Grand Strategy” which is aimed at dominating the prosperous Asian markets for the next century. Carter admitted as much in a speech he gave at the McCain Institute earlier in the year where he said the rebalance was about “access to growing markets” ..”to help boost our exports and our economy”…”and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world.” These are Carter’s own words, and they help to explain why the US is hectoring China. Washington needs an excuse for intensifying hostilities in the South China Sea so it can use its military to achieve its political and economic goals. At the same time, any retaliation on China’s part will be used as a justification for upping the ante; for deploying more troops to the region, for enlisting proxies to challenge Beijing in its own territorial waters, and for tightening the naval cordon to the West.

The Obama administration is fully committed to the new policy, in fact, there was an interesting report in last week’s Washington Times about the sacking of high-ranking government officials who were insufficiently hostile towards China. Here’s a clip from the article:

“The Obama administration appears to be in the early phase of a policy shift on China. Tougher rhetoric and policies, most recently demonstrated by remarks in Asia from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, coincide with the departures of two key officials long known for advocating more conciliatory policies toward Beijing…

Paul Heer, who for years held the influential post of national intelligence officer for East Asia….was known for a steadfast bias that sought to play down the various threats posed by China in favor of more conciliatory views (while) A second major personnel change was the departure last week of the White House’s senior China specialist, Evan Medeiros, who ….was regarded by critics as among the most pro-China policymakers in the White House’s highly centralized foreign policy and national security power structure.” (Ashton Carter’s remarks suggest an Obama policy shift on China, Washington Times)

This is what’s going on behind the scenes. The doves are getting their pink slips while the hawks are sharpening their knives. If it looks like the uber-confident Carter is setting policy, it’s because he is. Obama seems to have been sidelined while the Pentagon is calling the shots. Does the name “Seven Days in May” ring a bell?

So what can we expect now that foreign policy is in the hands of a hawkish neocon who believes that the US must preserve its dominant position in the world by quashing all potential rivals?

What we can expect is more military adventurism, more needlessly provocative displays of force which increase the probability of another world war. Carter’s belief that the military can be used to achieve political objectives suggests that he would not be opposed to implementing a risky plan to lure China into a conflict that would exhaust its resources while “tying down significant portions of its war-fighting capacity”. Authors Yoshihara and Holmes describe this very scenario in the piece sited above. Check it out:

“Landing forces in China is a clear nonstarter, but introducing ground troops at select points along Asia’s offshore island chain or in continental Southeast Asia would help fulfill Washington’s modest goals. A limited maritime campaign would afflict China with a nagging “ulcer,” much as the Duke of Wellington’s 1807–14 campaign in Portugal and Spain…inflicted on France what Napoleon termed a “Spanish ulcer.”…

Consider one scenario–The Ryukyu Islands, a chain stretching from Japan’s Kyushu Island to Taiwan, stand out as a prime candidate for waging war by contingent. The islands straddle critical sea lines of communication connecting the Yellow and East China seas to the open waters of the Pacific…..the archipelago’s strategic location offers the United States and Japan a chance to turn the tables on China. By deploying anti-access and area-denial units of their own on the islands, American and Japanese defenders would slam shut an important outlet for Chinese surface, submarine, and air forces into the Pacific high seas. Effective blocking operations would tempt PLA commanders to nullify these allied disposal forces. Such exertions, however, would tie down significant portions of China’s war-fighting capacity while depleting manpower and matériel…

Abundant, survivable, inexpensive weaponry such as the Type 88, then, could coax China into exhausting expensive and scarce offensive weapons for meager territorial gain and uncertain prospects of a breakthrough into Pacific waters. Relatively modest investments in disposal forces could spread Chinese forces thin—helping the allies reclaim command of the commons as envisioned by AirSea Battle…

In the best case from Washington’s standpoint, Beijing might desist from ever attempting to upend the U.S.-led order in the region…

The allies’ capacity to foreclose Chinese military options—and give China a debilitating ulcer—offers perhaps the surest way of deterring Chinese aggression before it happens…

Would a puffed-up neocon like Carter be willing to initiate a plan that would weaken China militarily while forcing it to “desist from ever attempting to upend the U.S.-led order in the region” again?

You bet he would.

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

As his career continues to free fall into total irrelevance, pop star “Bono” of the rock group U2 has announced his support for a U.S.-backed plan to pillage Africa by stealing its land and agricultural systems and replacing them with corporate-owned GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) and chemicals.

At the recent G8 Summit held at Camp David in Maryland, the Obama regime met with private industry leaders to announce the launch of the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition,” a thinly-veiled Green Revolution 2.0 that aims to uproot autonomous family farming systems throughout Africa and replace them with toxic monoculture systems controlled by multinational corporations like Monsanto.

The deceptively titled scheme, which investigative journalist Rady Ananda describes as “a euphemism for monocultured, genetically modified crops and toxic agrochemicals aimed at making poor farmers debt slaves to corporations, while destroying the ecosphere for profit,” follows the usual script — all those poor African people need American corporations to take control of their lives so they can be healthy and prosperous.

It is a tired mantra that, upon closer look, is easily exposed as a complete sham to both exploit the vulnerable for obscene profits and seize control over the food supply. And this overtly evil agenda is one that Bono apparently believes is good, at least for the American interests that are slithering their way into Africa under the guise of helping the poor.

“They’re future consumers for the United States,” stated Bono during a 2012 interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, referring to the people of Africa who have yet to be assimilated into the beast system. “The president is talking business. This is good. It’s a whole new development paradigm today. The old donor/recipient relationship… it’s over.”

A video clip of Bono speaking on these issues (2012):

KennySideshow.Blogspot.com.

Africa says NO to agricultural genocide being foisted by US

Africa has long been a target of perverse American exploitation, with its rich diversity of minerals, gems and precious metals, a.k.a. lots of dollar signs for greedy mega-corporations. It is only natural, then, that this insatiable lust for filthy lucre extend to food and agriculture as well, much like it already has in the U.S. where GMOs and corporate monoculture rule the day.

Never mind that the African people are vehemently opposed to having their agricultural heritage stolen from them by U.S. interests. The African Civil Society Organizations recently had this to say about the so-called “public private partnerships” being established to eliminate African sovereignty over its own food supply:

“We request that: — governments, FAO, the G8, the World Bank and the GAFSP [Global Agriculture and Food Security Program] reconsider their promotion of Public/Private Partnerships which, as they are now conceived, are not suitable instruments to support the family farms which are the very basis of African food security and sovereignty.”

There’s really no other way to interpret this than Africa telling the U.S. and its corporate masters across the globe to shove it and stay out of their land. The first Green Revolution was an absolute failure, and this second proposed one will be even worse. Nothing about the plan benefits ordinary farmers or citizens of Africa — it is all about enriching multinational corporations under the guise of humanitarian aid.

All these systems are extremely tenuous, vulnerable, not robust, not resilient,” explains a report by Volatility about the nature of corporate agriculture. “They’re all guaranteed to collapse. Hermetic monoculture, and industrial agriculture as such, is one big hothouse flower which requires perfect conditions to survive.

Sources:

http://foodfreedomgroup.com

https://willyloman.wordpress.com

http://kennysideshow.blogspot.com

https://attempter.wordpress.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Make no mistake. America is an aggressor nation threatening world peace, stability and security. It’s increasing hostility toward Russia and China may launch WW III. Lunatics in Washington wanted Russia nuked since early Cold War days.

General Curtis LeMay (1906 – 1990) argued for doing it even at the cost of a few US cities. So did General Lyman Lemnitzer (1899 – 1988).

They believed nuclear war was inevitable so better sooner than later while America had a clear advantage. They weren’t alone from their time to now.

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin said Russia will act appropriately to US-dominated NATO’s encroachment on its borders.

He responded to Washington’s intent to position heavy weapons and thousands of US combat forces in Eastern European countries along with its planned (offensive) missile defense targeting Russia – provocations at a time no threats exist except invented ones.

If someone threatens our territories, it means that we will have to aim our armed forces accordingly at the territories from where the threat is coming,” Putin said.

How else could it be? It is (US-dominated) NATO approaching our borders. It’s not like we are moving anywhere.

I’d refrain from whipping up emotions. Of course, we will analyze everything but so far I see nothing that might prompt us to (take responsive measures).

What worries us more is the anti-missile defense system that is being deployed – that is a significant thing of strategic importance.

Among other measures, Putin announced plans for “40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to our nuclear force…capable of overcoming even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.”

Russia will have no other choice but to boost its military potential along its western borders,” Defense Ministry General Yury Yakubov explained. He called building up military forces in Eastern European countries “the most aggressive step since the Cold War.

Russia (will have to) bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations,” – including installing Iskander tactical missiles in Kaliningrad and boosting its military presence in Belarus, he explained.

Putin, Yakubov and other Russian officials stress Russia will act appropriately to protect its security against increasingly hostile US-dominated NATO actions.

In response, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of “saber-rattling.  (It’s) destabilizing and dangerous,” he said.

Putin’s “statement…confirm(s) the pattern and behavior of Russia over quite a period of time.”

“This is something which we are addressing, and it’s also one of the reasons we are now increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces…(NATO will protect) all (our) allies against the enemy.”

He ludicrously called NATO actions “proportionate (and) defensive…respond(ing) in the face of a more assertive Russia.”

Truth is polar opposite. Stoltenberg ignored longstanding US-dominated NATO provocations – ongoing since Washington broke its pledge to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand NATO east.

Today is the most perilous time in world history. US-dominated NATO’s killing machine is an out-of-control monster. Madness defines its policy. World peace is threatened. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance. The price of imperial arrogance is potential nuclear armageddon.

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 1PMCentral time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Over the last few years the killing of unarmed African Americans including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray by agents of the state have generated massive protests against a political system that almost never punishes police violence. Activist groups like Black Lives Matter have emerged as voices on the front lines from Ferguson to Baltimore. Their message is simple: American society and the political system it has created do not value black lives the same as white lives.

They draw powerful connections between the state-sanctioned use of force, a discriminatory criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and economic inequality for racial minorities. But their indictment of the system is predictably met with hostility by conservatives in denial that white supremacy exists, much less dominates American politics.

Right-wing authoritarians believe the real problem is liberals blowing a small number of sensationalist incidents out of proportion. They claim liberals take isolated cases of blacks being killed during police encounters and misconstrue them as discrimination, or liberals argue that unemployed or incarcerated blacks created their own fate through their personal choices.

Most conservatives cling defensively to the notion that the system is fair, and people who claim otherwise are guilty of selection bias. They see authorities as noble and worthy of respect. Any evidence to the contrary can be written off as a few cases of bad apples.

In reality, there is overwhelming empirical evidence that white supremacy plays a dominant role in American society. Mark Twain had a point when he said, “there’s three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Taken individually, you could cherry-pick any piece of data to make a point. But when you analyze the picture holistically, the result is an unequivocal pattern.

Multiple indicators – police shootings, incarceration rates, public health indicators, wealth indeces and drug use rates – demonstrate that African Americans are disadvantaged in the United States. And not just disadvantaged narrowly. The numbers confirm what any reasonable person should be able to ascertain themselves through anecdotal evidence if they have a television and an internet connection.Numerous studies have found that blacks are killed by police at a highly disproportionate rate relative to their percentage of the population. A Vox analysis of FBI Data from 2012 determined black people represented 31% of police shooting victims, while representing just 13% of the population as a whole. That is to say, African Americans were killed 2.5 times more frequently than they would be if police killings occurred equally across racial lines. Whites accounted for 52% of victims shot dead by police, while representing 63% of the entire population.

ProPublica analysis found that statistics were even more stark for teenagers. Black teens were 21 times more likely to be killed than white teens from 2010-2012. The authors determined that more than 1 white teen would have to have been killed by police per week over that three-year period for both groups to have an equal likelihood.

Guardian analysis of data accumulated for the first five months of 2015 was nearly identical to the Vox analysis. The Guardian found 29% of those killed by police were black, versus 50% who were white.

Additionally, the Guardian found that twice as many blacks as whites killed by the police were likely to be unarmed (32% to 15%). The paper quoted the executive director of human rights organization Amnesty International USA, Steven Hawkins, as calling the statistics “startling .. the disparity speaks to something that needs to be examined, to get to the bottom of why you’re twice as likely to be shot if you’re an unarmed black male.”

As a whole, the United States incarcerates more of its population than anywhere else in the world. While the U.S. represents only 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s prison population. There are more Americans are in jail or under corrections supervision than were in Stalin’s gulags. But these numbers alone don’t convey the racial discrimination of the American prison state.

Pew Research Center analysis reported that black men are six times more likely than white men to be imprisoned. The study demonstrates that the incarceration rate for blacks has worsened since before Civil Rights legislation was enacted in 1964. “In 1960, the white male incarceration rate was 262 per 100,000 white U.S. residents, and the black male rate was 1,313, meaning that black men were five times as likely as white men to be incarcerated,” according to the Pew analysis.

There is no other country on the planet that locks up a racial minority group at remotely near the rate the United States does with African Americans. Even under the notorious racism of the apartheid regime in South Africa, blacks were not imprisoned nearly as much as in the United States.

The incarceration rate was nearly six times higher for black males in the United States than for black males in South Africa during apartheid (4,848 per 100,000 in 2001 vs. 851 per 100,000 in 1993), according to a study published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

The driver behind what has popularly become known as mass incarceration is the hyper-criminalization of drug use, This has been exposed by Michelle Alexander, in her landmark book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness as a vast system of social control and institutional discrimination, which has evolved from the Jim Crow South to accomplish many of the same oppressive ends under the guise of legal justice.

Jamie Fellner, Senior Counsel with the U.S. Program at Human Rights Watch, wrote in her report Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States that the “costs and benefits of this national ‘war on drugs’ remain debated. What is not debatable, however, is that this ostensibly race-neutral effort has been waged primarily against black Americans” who are “disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated on drug charges” relative to their percentage of the population. Fellner called into question U.S. compliance with the International Covention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty which the U.S. has ratified.

While Americans hold wide prejudices that African Americans take and sell drugs more often than whites, the data have consistently shown this is simply not true. Studies demonstrate that blacks are less likely to use and abuse drugs than whites, and that they are less likely to deal drugs than whites.

Marijuana arrests account for a huge portion of the arrests carried out as part of the war on drugs that has led to the explosion in the prison population. When you isolate marijuana use by race, there are no statistically significant differences between whites and blacks. Both groups use them roughly at the same rate. The same is true among youths.  But the rate of arrests is unmistakably unequal across the nation.

“Racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests are widespread and exist in every region in the country,” the ACLU wrote in their report The War on Marijuana in Black and White. They noted that in more than one-third of states, the rate of arrests of blacks was more than four times higher than that of whites for marijuana possession.

Life expectancy is one of the most important indicators of public health. The life expectancy of blacks (74.5 years) is more than four years less than that of whites (78.8 years), according to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention study published last year. This is actually a “historically record-low level” of difference in life expectancy, although it is still outrageously high for a developed nation with the wealth of the United States.

The numbers for wealth inequality are just as stark. The gap between median white net worth ($141,900) is 13 times greater than that of black net worth ($11,000), according to the Pew Research Center. They report that in the wake of the “Great Recession” that began in 2008 the difference has been exacerbated.

Every other significant economic indicator - income, home ownership, unemployment – confirms the enormous chasm between whites and blacks.

No amount of conservative denial can erase these facts. Of course, if you remove the context and look at individual stories in a vacuum you can distort the extent of the oppression. There are more than 40 million African Americans in the U.S. and so far this year there have been somewhere between 100 and 200 killings of blacks by police.

Naturally, not every black person is being killed. But the rate people are being killed is much too high compared to other ethnic groups inside the country and to other countries overall. This is not a problem the media has created, or that progressives have blown out of proportion. Any honest contextual analysis would have to acknowledge the inequality and discrimination that manifests itself in the actions of police, the courts, the economy and the health system. It points to one undeniable conclusion: blacks in the U.S. are oppressed. This is a direct result of deliberate policies formulated and carried out through the institutions of the state, not through the free market or personal choice.

The most important accomplishment of Black Lives Matter has been to make these issues visible to so many people across the country. Unfortunately, many who benefit from white supremacy are determined to keep it invisible. As the national conversation shifts to confront systemic racism and discrimination, conservative confirmation bias is difficult to overcome. But in the end the facts speak for themselves. The more they lead to real social change, the stronger the conservative backlash will be at those who bear the message. Fortunately, the movements that have developed have shown every indication they are up for the challenge and are in the struggle for the long haul.

“Well, I think there’s a lot of skepticism about the role of the United States in dealing with ISIS, because the support they initially provided for ISIS in Syria strengthened this group at that time, and then also other reasons to believe this is not a genuine group, it somehow instigated or created by, I don’t know, a certain intelligence agency,” Ebtekar said when asked about IS during an interview conducted by ABC News.

In October the former Iranian minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, was more direct. He said ISIS was created by “the triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA.”

Moslehi said that “dollars from Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf countries” are responsible for funding the terrorist army.

“The coalition certainly does not want to destroy IS because it needs to use IS for most of its Satanic goals,” he added.

His remarks followed those of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who said ISIS and al-Qaeda are the work of “the wicked government of Britain.”

In June it was revealed that the U.S. military had trained ISIS members at a secret base in Jordan.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was reported a number of the purported hijackers were “trained in strategy and tactics” at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, and the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama, according to Newsweek.

The U.S. had admitted its allies fund IS. In September the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, told the Senate Armed Services Committee: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.”

In January said to be a Pakistani commander of IS, Yousaf al Salafi, confessed to law enforcement agencies in Pakistan to getting funds via the United States.

The US has been condemning the IS activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US. The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organization in Iraq but not in Syria,” a source told the Urdu-language Daily Express.

For a detailed explanation of the strategy at work in the Middle East, see our ISIS and the Plan to Balkanize the Middle East.

The ABC interview attempted to delegitimize Masoumeh Ebtekar’s remarks on ISIS by noting her association with the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line who took hostages and occupied the US Embassy in 1979.

ABC did not mention the fact the CIA used the embassy as a base of operations in Iran.

As Bruce Schneier and others have noted, the CIA routinely uses diplomatic cover to conduct operations in foreign countries.

“Like the intelligence services of most other countries, the CIA has been unwilling to set up foreign offices under its own name. So American embassies — and, less frequently military bases — provide the needed cover,” Schneier writes.

CIA operatives “recruit local officials as CIA agents to supply secret intelligence and, especially in the Third World, to help in the Agency’s manipulation of a country’s internal affairs.”

“Conspiracy Theories”: The Public Trust Skepticism Factor

June 17th, 2015 by Dr. Katherine Smith

“Conspiracy” is a real word for a real event that has existed in human societies in all cultures throughout human history. [Appendix A]

The assassination of the President of the United States on national television by a “lone” assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who himself is assassinated the next day by another “lone” assassin—would cause even the most rational skeptic, or critical thinker, to question the institutional narrative of the events. [1]

In other words, the institutional narrative, or official explanation, of a lone assassin, who was in turn assassinated the very next day by another lone assassin, is as epistemically dubious, and as equally “silly and without merit,” as any of the conspiracy theories surrounding the JFK assassination.

The human species has evolved as pattern-seeking, cause-inferring animals. As such, our nature drives us to find meaningful relationships to understand the world. Conspiracy theories are offered as alternate explanation to an important social, political or economic event (henceforward, “The Event”) when the institutional narrative is confusing or unsatisfactory. Conspiracy, originally a neutral term, has acquired a somewhat derogatory meaning since the mid sixties, for it implies a paranoid tendency to see the influence of some malign covert agency in certain events. Conspiracy theorizing has become commonplace in the mass media and emerged as a cultural phenomenon in the United States following the public assassination of JFK.

Noam Chomsky, linguist and scholar, contrasts conspiracy theory as, more or less, the opposite of institutional analysis. The latter focuses mostly on explanations based on the information found in official records of publicly known institutions, whereas the former offers explanations based on information derived from coalitions of individuals.

Most academics, or the rational community, find the conspiracy theories of popular culture to be silly and without merit, and automatically dismiss such alternative explanations as ridiculous, misconceived, unfounded, outlandish and the result of irrational thinking by paranoid schizophrenics. Some academics even contend that conspiracy theories “undermine human social and civic decency in society.” [2]

However, on closer examination, academics can see, and are forced to admit, that there is no systemic flaw to the concept of the conspiracy theory per se, because 1) there have been at least 33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True and 2) it is in the nature of many conspiracy theories that they cannot be falsified; that is, proven to be false.

In Of Conspiracy Theories, Brian Keeley acknowledges this important point but then argues that it’s not the theory that is the problem, but rather the theorist. The theorists, we are told, display a “particular absence or deformities of critical thinking skills when they refuse to accept the institutional explanation of The Event.” He further wonders whether the problem lies in our teaching methods. [3]

Keeley refers to the numerous historically verified conspiracy theories as Warranted Conspiracy Theories (WCTs), as opposed to theories that have not, or cannot, be verified and are thus, according to Keeley, Unwarranted Conspiracy Theories, (UCTs). When all the academic terminology, doublespeak and jargon are stripped away, a UCT is simply an alternative explanation of The Event that hasn’t been verified by independent sources. [4]

Keeley admits that he and the academic community have no justification to systematically and unilaterally dismiss conspiracy theories as silly and without merit when he writes:

There is no criterion or set of criteria that provide a priori grounds for distinguishing WCTs from UCTs. One might perhaps like to insist here that UCTs ought to be false, and this is why we are not warranted in believing them, but it is in the nature of many conspiracy theories that they cannot be falsified. The best we may do is show why the warrant for believing them is so poor.

And the best he can show as to “why the warrant for believing them is so poor” is public trust skepticism.

It is this pervasive skepticism of people and public institutions entailed by some mature conspiracy theories which ultimately provides us with the grounds with which to identify them as unwarranted.

It is not their lack of falsifiability per se, but a belief in an increasingly massive conspiracy theory that undermines the grounds for believing in anything. Accepting the UCT explanation requires one to question too many of the various institutions that have been set up to generate reliable data and evidence in our world.

At some point, according to Keeley, we shall be forced to recognize the unwarranted nature of the conspiracy if we are to be left with any warranted explanations and beliefs at all.

And finally, as the theory grows to include more and more people and institutions and yet remains unverified, the less plausible the conspiracy becomes; because, it stands to reason that, at some point, someone would have come forward with the missing and necessary data.

Notice the words, “we shall be forced to recognize;” rather than, “we have proof” that the theory is false. Keeley admits that academics are entitled to dismiss a conspiracy theory if a belief in that alternative explanation undermines the grounds for believing in anything. Furthermore, we are entitled to dismiss a mature conspiracy if it involves too many people. Keeley’s take on the JFK assassination mature conspiracy might read as follows:

Even if the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Police Departments and Coroners offices in two cities, were part of a large conspiracy to cover up their incompetence in the public assassination of JFK, “it is impossible to believe that not a single member of the any of the agencies involved would be moved by guilt, self interest, or some other motivation to reveal the agency’s role in the tragedy, if not to the press, then to a lover or family member. Governmental agencies, even those as regulate and controlled as the military and intelligence agencies, are plagued with leaks and rumors. To propose that an explosive secret could be closeted for any length of time simply reveals a lack of understanding of the nature of modern bureaucracies. Like the world itself, they are made up of too many people with too many different agendas to be easily controlled.”

Keeley asserts that, “we do live in an open world, but only because to think otherwise would lead to disastrous skepticism.” For Keeley, the theorists lack critical thinking skills because they don’t recognize that a belief in a UCT invalidates every other social belief they need to function in society.

In his attempt to prove the theorists are guilty of too much skepticism, Keeley overlooks the implications of the nature, logistics and institutional narrative of The Event. Everything that can be shown to be true about the mature conspiracy theory—unfalsiabiality, skepticism, epistemically dubious—applies to the narrative of The Event.

A close look at the JFK assassination mature conspiracy will illustrate my point.

The JFK Assassination: A mature conspiracy theory case study

Is the institutional narrative of the Oswald lone assassin theory, any more epistemically dubious, or any less “silly and without merit,” as the JFK tin-foil hat conspiracies?

The CIA killed JFK; the Mob killed JFK; the CIA and the Mob working together killed JFK; last but not least, Fidel Castro contracted with the KGB to have JFK killed.

Neither the institutional nor the conspiratorial explanation of the event is a warranted belief and should be dismissed on epistemic grounds. That is, there is sufficient reason to believe that the institutional view, just like the conspiratorial view, of the JFK assassination is false, yet neither view can be falsified.

A conspiratorial explanation of the nature and logistics of The Event is really no more or less rational and logical as the institutional narrative. Thus, Keeley should have written:

There is no criterion or set of criteria that provide a priori grounds for distinguishing warranted conspiracy theories (WCTs) from UCTs or the Institutional View.’ One might perhaps like to insist here that warranted conspiracy theories, UCTs and the Institutional View ought to be false, and this is why we are not warranted in believing in any of them, but it is in the nature of many historical events that they cannot be falsified. The best we may do is show why the warrant for believing in either the conspiracy or the institutional explanation is so poor.

Errant Data and The conspiracy Theory Paradox

No discussion of conspiracy theories would be complete without a discussion of errant data. Anomalies and discrepancies surface immediately upon the announcement of The Event and increase as the conspiracy matures. Errant data, or data that cannot be reconciled with the official explanation of the event, is the chief tool of the conspiracy theorist.

Again, the JFK Assassination illustrates my point. The rational community ignores the details of the rifle, the bullet and the witnesses who heard other shots from other directions (errant data) on the grounds that there is no reliable way to gather social data, as opposed to scientific, data about the human world. [5]

Furthermore, when pressed, people will be ready to admit that the anomalies and inconsistencies (errant data) in the institutional view could never be chance occurrences. They escape the obvious improbability question by correctly pointing out that the errant data, even if true, does not constitute proof of anything, especially that the event was a conspiracy.

Related to errant data is what we shall refer to as the Conspiracy Theory Paradox.

Why would the conspirators, with the ability to plan and manage a conspiracy involving the CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Police Departments and Coroners offices in two cities (e.g., the JFK assassination), come up with such a convoluted senseless plan riddled with so many mistakes, anomalies and discrepancies (errant data)?  And then, inexplicably, that same errant data is ubiquitously exposed in the media for everyone to question. [6]

  • Neither the rational nor the conspiracy community have an explanation for why the conspirators would come up with such a convoluted senseless plan when a much simpler plan would accomplish the same goal. Why not have a rogue agent, in the CIA, FBI or Secret Service shoot the president in the middle of the night?
  • Neither the rational nor the conspiracy community have an explanation for why the conspirators would allow the mistakes, anomalies, discrepancies and the holes in the “official story” (errant data) to find it’s way into the official institutional record and then allow that same data to be aired on national television for all to question. [7]
  • Neither the rational nor the conspiracy community have an explanation for how trivial it would have been for the conspirators to change or falsify the alleged discrepancy or anomaly and avoid the stupid “mistakes.”  Consider how easy it would for the master criminals to just keep the Errant Data from being aired on national television compared to the magnitude of the criminal acts they are alleged to have committed.

Although the existence of a Paradox or Errant Data could never be offered as proof that the Event was a conspiracy, they are none the less consistent, though not proof, with a conspiracy to make you believe the event was a conspiracy. [8]

The Critical Thinking Trap

The Theorists, believing themselves to be truth seekers in assessing the nature, logistics and the institutional explanation of The Event classified as a UCT, are forced into a contradictory belief, or “critical thinking trap.”

Unwilling to abandon what they know to be the truth; that is, that the institutional view is false, [9] theorists are forced into a degenerative research program. A degenerative research program is one where the auxiliary hypotheses and initial conditions are continually modified in light of new evidence in order to protect the original theory from apparent disconfirmation. [10]

Why doesn’t everyone fall into the “critical thinking trap?”

The majority of people exposed to “The Event classified as a UCT,” are apathetic, indifferent and feel powerless because of a belief that the power elite control the world. [11]

The rational community, or anyone who is not a theorists or indifferent, consciously or unconsciously realizes the institutional view cannot be true; but at the same time, again consciously or unconsciously, realize that any alternate explanation or theory would require they question the very foundations of their beliefs about the society they live in. [12]

In “Of Conspiracy Theories” Keeley begins with the premise that the theorists are the problem but ends with the admission that until a third option is presented, the theorists are really only guilty of hyper-skepticism (inherent in supposing dissimulation on a truly massive scale) because the theorists are unable to see that distrusting the claims of our institutions leads to “the absurdism of an irrational and essentially meaningless world.” [13]

When the rational community resort to ad hominem attacks, i.e., conspiracy theories are “silly, without merit” or the result of irrational thinking by paranoid schizophrenics, they reveal how large a role trust—in both institutions and individuals, mechanisms and people —plays in their thinking and beliefs about UCTs.

What can we say about the institutional narrative, the Conspiracy Theory Paradox and the Errant Data? The Theorists are really only guilty of not recognizing the institutional narrative, the Conspiracy Theory Paradox and the Errant Data are consistent with, but not necessarily proof, of a Conspiracy to make you believe the event was a Conspiracy. [14]

Notes

[1] The assassination of the President of the United States on national television by a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, who according to authorities used an obsolete bolt-action WWI rifle that was not capable of firing bullets fast enough to wound, let alone kill, John F. Kennedy, who himself is assassinated the next day by another lone assassin—would cause even the most rational skeptic, or critical thinker, to question the institutional narrative of the events.

Is there any justification for a belief that the Warren Commission properly investigated the assassination of JFK when they concluded Oswald acted alone when he used a heavily oiled cheap rifle with a distorted sight, hidden in a paper sack later discovered on the sixth floor without a trace of oil, to for his miraculous feat of marksmanship with extraordinary accuracy at a moving target in minimal time?

The Warren Commission when faced with the impossibility of the shooting came up with the single bullet theory:

The Warren Commission reported that a single bullet hit Kennedy in the back of the neck and exited from the throat just below the Adam’s apple, and that same bullet entered Connally’s back, exited from his chest, went completely through his right wrist, and lodged in his left thigh.

Or is there any justification for a belief the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) properly investigated the assassination of JFK when they concluded concluded in 1978 that “the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed and that there were at least four shots fired and only three of which could be linked to Oswald. The report concluded that the “CIA, the Soviet Union, organized crime, and several other groups were not involved,” but “they could not rule out the involvement of individual members of those groups.”

[2] Stephen Jay Gould, the evolutionary Theorist at Harvard University considers conspiracy theorizing “garbage” and believes they must be “discredited [/debunked] in order for society to lead “a safe and sane life.” Gould believes we are vulnerable “thinking reeds,” as opposed to rational creatures, and that unless “we rigorously use human reason, we will lose out to frightening forces of irrationality, romanticism, uncompromising “true” belief which will result in the inevitability of mob action.

[3] An article, “Of Conspiracy Theories,” written by Brian Keeley and published in the Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 96, No. 3. (Mar., 1999) attempts to explain why so many people refuse to accept the institutional view he wonders if “our approach to teaching thinking/reason skills” is the problem that cause so many members of society (The Irrational Thinkers) to believe in them.”

Keeley writes:

“It is incumbent upon philosophers to provide analysis of the errors involved with common delusions, if that is indeed what they are. If a kind of academic snobbishness underlies our previous refusal to get involved here, there may be another reason. Conspiracy theorising, in political philosophy at least, has been identified with irrationality of the worst sort—here the locus classicus may be some dismissive remarks made by Karl Popper in The Open Society and its Enemies (Popper 1996, Vol.2: 94-9). Pigden (1993) shows convincingly that Popper’s remarks cannot be taken to support a rational presumption against conspiracy theories in history and politics. (summary: Keeley rejects Popper, and this causes a change.)

[4] Unwarranted Conspiracy Theories  (UCTs) and Warranted Conspiracy Theories (WCTs)

Characteristics of Unwarranted Conspiracy Theories (UCTs)

  1. A UCT is an explanation that runs counter to some received, official, or “obvious” account’ (116-7). In many instances there exists the presence of a “cover story” that is perceived as the most damning piece of evidence for the given historical event under consideration.
  2. UCTs typically seek to tie together seemingly unrelated events and because Conspiracy Theorists rarely if ever have a coherent beginning-to-end narrative of what they think happened, many of their theories wind up laying the blame on some other force; e.g., the Illuminati.
  3. ‘The chief tool of the Conspiracy Theorist is errant data, or anomalies and discrepancies in information. Keeley defines errant data as data that cannot be reconciled with the official explanation of the event; or data, which true, would tend to contradict official explanations and support the cover story.

Characteristics of Unwarranted Conspiracy Theorists

  1. The Fundamental Attribution Error. Conspiracy Theorists have a tendency to focus on errant data and are prone to making what Keeley refers to as the  “fundamental attribution error.” The “fundamental attribution error” is the idea that all UCTs can be reduced to a supposed discrepancy or anomaly in one official record or another.
  2. The Degenerative Research Program. Conspiracy Theorists exhibit irrational behavior when their theories take on the appearance of forming the core of a degenerative research program.
  3. Dispositional versus Situational. Conspiracy Theorists severely overestimate the importance of dispositional factors while underestimating the importance of situational factors when attempting to explain the Conspiracy event.

[5] Errant Data, [anomalies and inconsistencies] which are unaccounted for by official [Institutional] explanations, which if true, would tend to contradict official explanations,  cannot be relied upon, because while it is appropriate to place great stress on explaining errant data in the natural sciences, it is inappropriate in the social sciences. [citation]

Errant data is only errant in relation to an accepted theory, and to discount errant data on grounds that apply to both errant and non-errant data would be to prejudice oneself in favor of data simply because it happens to be explained by the received theory.

[6] At bottom what we face here is what we might term Goodenough’s Paradox of Conspiracies: the larger or more powerful an alleged conspiracy, the less need they have for conspiring. A sufficiently large collection of members of the American political, intelligence and military establishment—the kind of conspiracy being alleged by Oliver Stone et al.—wouldn’t need to engage in such nefarious activity since they would have the kind of organisation, influence, access to information, etc. that could enable them to achieve their goal efficiently and legally.

Note the existence of the paradox while it favors the Rational community is not proof the institutional view is correct.  The fact that Theorists have no rational explanation of why the conspirators would make so many stupid mistakes reminds me of one of the central arguments of why nature does not imply design. Evolutionists dismiss the design (Intelligent Design) argument for nature because they question the design of the human eye.

[7] ‘The chief tool of the Conspiracy Theorist is errant data, or anomalies and discrepancies in information. Keeley defines errant data as data that cannot be reconciled with the official explanation of the event; or data, which true, would tend to contradict official explanations and support the cover story.

For example the JFK Assassination.

The rational community will knowingly ignore the details of the rifle, the bullet and the witnesses who heard other shots from other directions [errant data] and point out that while a Conspiracy Theory has epistemic value and does provide a unifying explanation of the event and the errant data, there is no reliable way to gather social data, as opposed to scientific, data about the human world.

  • Errant Data, [anomalies and inconsistencies] which are unaccounted for by official [Institutional] explanations, which if true, would tend to contradict official explanations,  cannot be relied upon, because while it is appropriate to place great stress on explaining errant data in the natural sciences, it is inappropriate in the social sciences. [citation]

Errant data is only errant in relation to an accepted theory, and to discount errant data on grounds that apply to both errant and non-errant data would be to prejudice oneself in favor of data simply because it happens to be explained by the received theory.

Furthermore, they will admit that the anomalies and inconsistencies [errant data] in the Institutional view could never be chance occurrences but at the same time they correctly point out the errant data does not constitute proof of anything, especially that the event was a conspiracy.

[8] Is there any doubt that “there is a conspiracy to make you believe in a conspiracy”?

The JFK Conspiracy Theory Paradox

[9] In 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime.

[10] A progressive research program is where “novel predictions and retrodictions are verified.

What I have demonstrated is that there is no justification for a belief in either the Institutional view or the Conspiratorial View of a UCT. Critical thinking skills on the part of the Theorists force them into a degenerative research program. Critical thinking skills on the part of the Rational Community are used to avoid a degenerative research program.

[11] Conspiracy and the Social Sciences

“There Are No Conspiracies” by G. William Domhoff in 2005 looks at Conspiracy Theories and the Power Elite from a social science perspective. [as opposed to the philosophical] G. William Domhoff, a Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz first coined the non-conspiracy acronym TPTB. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Miami and has been teaching at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since 1965. Four of his books are among the top 50 best sellers in sociology on the Power Elite Theory for the years 1950 to 1995: Who Rules America? (1967); The Higher Circles (1970); Who Rules America Now? (1983); and the non-“conspiracy” critique and theory of the U.S. power structure, The Powers That Be (TPTB) in 1979.

The Power Elite theory, despite a superficial resemblance to some right-wing conspiracy theories, has key differences from them. The latter take, as the primary motive force of history, that “America is ruled from behind the scenes by a select conspiratorial group with secret desires united around some esoteric or gratuitously evil ideology.

And while the concentration of political and economic power [in the control of small, interlocking elites], is indeed likely to result in sporadic conspiracies; such a conspiracy is not necessary to the working of the system–it 1) simply occurs as a secondary phenomenon, and 2) occasionally speeds up or intensifies processes that happen for the most part automatically.

[12] The confidence in authorities would be so eroded that they are no longer warranted in holding any beliefs that are socially produced and puts one in the position of no longer being able to trust any of the institutions that we rely on in to function in the world. (Keeley 1999, 121). Such epistemic endpoints appear to embody a degree of skepticism that is too high to be acceptable by anyone.” Brian Keeley

[13] The rejection of conspiracy thinking is not simply based on the belief that conspiracy theories are false as a matter of fact. The source of the problem goes much deeper. The world as we understand it today is made up of an extremely large number of interacting agents, each with it’s own imperfect view of the world and it’s own set of goals. Such a system cannot be controlled because there are simply too many agents to be handled by any small controlling group. There are too many independent degrees of freedom.  This is true of the economy, of the political electorate, and of the social, fact-gathering institutions upon which conspiracy theorists cast doubt.”

[14] The Transparent Conspiracy is a collection of essays by Michael Morrisey. Morrisey, who holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University, expands on the idea that the leaders (conspirators) “failed on purpose” and coined the phrase the “Mass Psychology of Partial Disclosure.” Morrisey makes a compelling argument that there exists a conspiracy that involves the controlled media disclosing a limited amount of information concerning the government’s culpability in atrocities such as the JFK, MLK and RFK assassinations.  Morrisey believes a shadow government orchestrates a well-managed conspiracy/cover-up in order to intimidate, demoralize and alienate the tuned-in segment of the population that fully comprehends the corrupt nature of our government institutions.

The government’s purpose, according to Morrisey, is keep the masses in a state of helplessness so they will be unable to upset the not-so-secret plans for what is referred to as for a New World Order. While his arguments are persuasive revisionist History contradicts any justification that the masses need to be kept in a state of helplessness. All of the Revolutions have shown to be the product of the elite and not the popular uprisings we were let to believe in our filtered history books.

Appendix A

A Short Course in “Conspiracy Science.”

“Conspiracy” is a REAL word for a REAL act that has existed in human societies in all cultures throughout human history. If conspiracies did not exist, we would not have a word for it. The problem that we face today is that the US Government has arrogated to itself a singular role as a political pontificate that believes that it and its agents in the Justice Department, alone, constitute the only “person” (corporate person) on this Earth who is allowed to use the word “conspiracy” as it employs the charge of “conspiracy” every week in trials to put both guilty and innocent people in jail while deriding and discrediting all others who employ the word as “conspiracy theorists.”

World-renowned author, investigator and philosopher, Paris Flammonde, has also completed a major work, “The Assassination of America,” a rebuttal to the lies and disinformation of the Warren Commission Report and the House Select Committee Investigation on Political Assassinations conducted during the Carter Administration

Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.

Owen Paterson stated the above earlier this year during a speech he gave in South Africa. Paterson is the former Environment Minister for the UK.

Now, a few months on, writing in the New York Post (‘How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor‘) he is mouthing similar claims and accusations, this time focusing on Neil Young’s recent anti-GMO/ Monsanto album.

Paterson writes:

“In reality, GMOs can save millions of lives. It’s the environmentalists who are doing real harm.”

He continues:

The best example of this is Golden Rice, a miracle grain enhanced with Vitamin A-producing beta-carotene. Developed 15 years ago, it was considered a breakthrough in bio-fortified technology… Each year, 500,000 people, mostly children, lose their sight; half of them will die within a year of becoming blind… Many of those lives could be saved if Golden Rice were in their diets. But the ongoing opposition of anti-GMO activist groups and their lavish scare campaign with its combined global war chest estimated to exceed $500 million a year have kept Golden Rice off the global market. Deploying highly sophisticated PR and unscientific scaremongering, Greenpeace has led that opposition.

If Paterson wants to start talking about ‘global war chests’ and political influence, he should consider the money the biotech industry has behind it (for example, consider Monsanto’s annual profits and its value as a company) and the massive influence it has over science, governments and policies (see thisthisthis and this) – not to mention the $100 million spent to prevent labeling GMOs in the US and the amount spent on lobbying, advertising and campaign donations (see this spending by Monsanto for the US alone). It makes Paterson’s claims appear ludicrous.

Critics of GMOs are merely fighting a rear guard action when faced with such enormous financial wealth and massive political clout. Moreover, they are very often ordinary people who may not belong to any group but whose concerns are nevertheless legitimate. The type of smear campaign campaign Paterson engages in is an attempt to side line all criticism of GMOs from wherever it comes.

Patterson then ludicrously talks about Greenpeace being put on trial for “crimes against humanity” and finishes by saying:

“Instead of bashing companies that are trying to save lives, Young ought to use his star power to convince the NGO community to do the right thing and support giving the developing world the GMO tools it needs to feed its growing, and tragically malnourished, populations.”

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet.

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see this).

His claims about GMOs have already been demolished and are erroneous, misleading and little more than emotive biotech sector inspired PR (see the twisted world of Mr Paterson and this). And his claims about Golden Rice are not only false or misleading (also see this and this) but seem to be a key part of a PR strategy he thinks should be used to weaken opposition to GMOs.

After attempting to smear and denigrate opponents, let’s take a brief look at Paterson himself. Back in 2010, his wealth was estimated to be £1.5 million (approx. $2.35 million). He was a member of David Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires. Some 23 members of that cabinet were estimated to be worth in total at least £63 million. Just 9% of the population have over £1 million in wealth. In order words, Paterson is a rich man.

He is a rich man who belongs to the right-wing Conservative Party, which is waging an ideological war on working people in the UK in an attempt to justify even more ‘austerity’ measures. And the outcome has been predictable.

See this about rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks in the UK. See this about the five richest families in Britain being worth more than the poorest 20%. See this about one third of Britain’s population being in poverty.

According to this report, almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions; 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities; one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter; and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at 63 to 64 million).

Welfare cuts have pushed hundreds of thousands below the poverty line since 2012, including more than 300,000 children.

Paterson’s pro-privatisation, deregulation, welfare-cutting, pro-big business, anti-union Conservative Party’ policies are driving the statistics mentioned above, which are predicted to get much worse. And it will get much worse because the economic agenda that his party introduced three decades back has been to drive down wages, automate the labour process or offshore it to cheap labour economies and now to impose ‘austerity’ on the millions who have become surplus to requirements and considered a drain.

But Paterson really feels the pain of the poor – in faraway lands that is. He will even travel around the world to attend conferences to shout about his concern for the poor.

His indifference to poverty in the UK is in marked contrast to his concern about the poor abroad. The indifference suddenly becomes transformed only when there is an opportunity to line the pockets of the global agritech companies.

Paterson is a man on a mission. He says GMOs can save the world from hunger.

The evidence is that they can’t: no amount of genetic engineering can address the structural aspects of poverty and the globalised system of food production and distribution. The evidence thus far is that GM agriculture has arguably increased food insecurity.

Paterson and other prominent pro-GMO mouthpieces like him rely on false claims, name calling and emotional blackmail. They wave an iron fist of neoliberal ideology wrapped in a velvet glove of bogus humanitarianism.

Prolific author and researcher David Swanson wrote today about how the US has always been a regular contributor to involuntary experimentation on humans, through various means.

Human experimentation, while a pretty poor representation of US public values or public values anywhere, is a good representation of US plutocratic values, and plutocratic values in many places, which is why it has been carried out repeatedly by US elites, against poor people around the world, over a period of many generations, continuing (and see Swanson) today under Obama.

Since the US human experimentation on poor Guatemalans (mentioned by Swanson) was only discovered, by mistake, in 2005, here is a quick overview of the unpunished crime:

The syphilis experiments in Guatemala were United States-led human experiments conducted in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948, during the administration of President Truman and President Juan José Arévalo with the cooperation of some Guatemalan health ministries and officials.[1] Doctors infected soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases, without the informed consent of the subjects, and treated most subjects with antibiotics. This resulted in at least 83 deaths.[2] In October 2010, the U.S. formally apologized to Guatemala for conducting these experiments.

The experiments [in part] involved young orphan girls sourced from a Catholic charity as victims. The nature of some experiments would have involved labial penetration of a child.[7] Details on one death from the experiments read:

US doctors infected a woman named Berta, a patient at the psychiatric hospital, with syphilis, but did not treat her for three months. Her health worsened, and within another three months Cutler reported that she seemed close to death. He re-infected Berta with syphilis, and inserted pus from someone with gonorrhoea into her eyes [recalling infamous treatment of experimentation subjects by Nazis around the same time], urethra and rectum. Over several days, pus developed in Berta’s eyes, she started bleeding from her urethra and then she died.

The experiments were funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the Pan American Sanitary Bureau and involved multiple Guatemalan government ministries.[1] A total of about 1500 study subjects were involved although the findings were never published.

The researchers paid prostitutes infected with syphilis to have sex with prisoners and some subjects were infected by directly inoculating them with the bacterium.

This study is related to US experimentation conducted on African Americans.

The Obama regime issued a formal apology for the experimentation on Guatemalans, and acknowledged that human experimentation is a “crime against humanity”.

However, Obama gives protection to Bush regime and other US perpetrators of the crime against humanity of human experimentation, and continues to commit it himself, negating his “apology” and revealing it to be propaganda, as is to be expected from such a figure.

Illustrating that this kind of propaganda is part of a long US tradition, The Guardian points out that ” the Guatemalan syphilis study was being carried out just as the ‘Doctors’ Trial’ was unfolding at Nuremberg”, where 23 German physicians were tried by the US for experimenting on prisoners.

Robert Barsocchini can be found on twitter @_DirtyTruths

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said BDS, the Palestinian led nonviolent global movement for justice in Palestine, resembled Nazi Germany. He said it during a meeting with Poland’s Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna today, in speaking of the “defamation” of the Jewish people in Poland when Nazis controlled the country.

“The attacks on the Jews were always preceded by the slander of the Jews. What was done to the Jewish people then is being done to the Jewish state now,” Netanyahu said.

“In those days we could do nothing. Today we can speak our mind, hold our ground. We’re going to do both.”

Last week Netanyahu told a Las Vegas conference on BDS that American supporters were the “front line” in a fight against BDS; and in a speech last year at an Israel lobby group, Netanyahu mentioned BDS 18 times in denouncing it. Last week, Netanyahu’s former minister of finance Yair Lapid said that the same people responsible for the 9/11 attacks were behind the BDS movement.

Obama, Republicans Join Forces to Salvage Trade Bill

June 17th, 2015 by Patrick Martin

The Republican majority in the US House of Representatives cemented its alliance with the Obama White House over trade legislation on Tuesday, voting to delay final action on a Trade Promotion Authority bill until the end of July. The purpose was to give the Obama administration and corporate lobbyists more time to pressure House Democrats into supporting the “fast-track” trade legislation, which is needed to push through the administration’s anti-Chinese Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will establish a “free trade” area involving the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and seven other countries in Asia and South America, but excluding China.

Tuesday’s action, applauded by the White House, came on a near-party-line vote, with Republicans backing the delay—and, by implication, endorsing Obama’s campaign for “fast-track” authority—by a margin of 233-6, while Democrats opposed the rule 189-3.

The coordinated campaign of the White House and congressional Republicans in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership shatters the conventional picture of official Washington, supposedly divided into intransigent partisan camps, with a huge political gulf separating the Democratic administration from the Republican-controlled Congress. Despite the political posturing, however, on issues deemed by the ruling class to be of vital importance, the two parties work together to serve the needs of Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus.

This was already demonstrated earlier this month in the bipartisan passage of the USA Freedom Act, which extends the power of the National Security Agency, first enacted in the post-9/11 Patriot Act, to spy on the telecommunications of every American.

Press coverage leading up to Tuesday’s vote underscored the significance of the Obama-Republican alliance on trade. The New York Times headlined its report “House Republicans and White House Try to Revive Trade Bill Stalled by Democrats.” The Wall Street Journal began its report, “The White House and House Republican leaders Monday worked to find a way to revive trade legislation that Democrats shot down last week.”

Trade Promotion Authority passed the Senate in late May, but the bill was temporarily blocked by House Democrats last Friday when they voted to defeat a component part of the Senate trade bill that extends Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to workers who lose their jobs due to imports.

Under the existing House rule, Republican Speaker John Boehner had the option to hold a reconsideration vote on the TAA measure Tuesday, but after consultations with the White House, the Republican leadership concluded there was little prospect of reversing the outcome of Friday’s vote on such short notice.

On Monday, there were further discussions, including phone conversations between Obama and Boehner to plan strategy, before the House Republican leadership decided Monday night to seek the six-week delay. On Tuesday, the House voted to approve the new rule allowing Boehner to hold a reconsideration vote on the trade bill any time before July 31.

The vote followed a closed-door session of the House Republican caucus, where Boehner berated members who had voted against the party leadership on a previous rule governing debate on the trade bill. He even announced the removal of three members of the House Republican leadership, Reps. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Steve Pearce of New Mexico and Trent Franks of Arizona, because they had broken party discipline on that vote.

The next six weeks will see a full-scale campaign by corporate lobbyists and representatives of the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies to insure passage of “fast-track” authority, which the Obama administration requires to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is the economic/trade component of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” an effort to mobilize US military, diplomatic and economic power against the rise of China, one of the highest priorities of American imperialism and both its parties.

Supporters of “fast-track” authority were quite open about the anti-China purpose of the TPP. Obama himself, in a message issued by the White House after the initial defeat of the trade bill Friday, said, “These kinds of agreements make sure that the global economy’s rules aren’t written by countries like China; they’re written by the United States of America.”

Boehner sounded the same theme, in almost the same words, declaring, “When America leads, the world is safer, for freedom and for free enterprise, and if we don’t lead, we’re allowing and essentially inviting China to go right on setting the rules of the world economy.”

The opponents of the fast-track legislation, including most House Democrats and the AFL-CIO, are no less mired in national chauvinism and anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment. Not one has criticized TPP because it creates a US-run trading bloc that is a prelude to economic, political and ultimately military conflict with China.

Instead, they demand even cruder protectionist measures, such as declaring China a “currency manipulator,” which could trigger a collapse in trans-Pacific trade and investment and worsen the global slump.

The Democrats claim to be defending the interests of working people. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared, “We want a better deal for America’s workers.” Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” Sunday, “We need to regroup and come up with a trade policy which demands that corporate America start investing in this country rather than in countries all over the world.”

Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, has tried to have it both ways. As secretary of state, she was involved in the early stages of negotiating the TPP and supported it. She refused to take a public position on the issue until Sunday, when she told an Iowa campaign audience, “The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi.”

The reality is that neither the AFL-CIO nor the Democratic Party has the slightest concern about the jobs and wages of workers, either in the US or anywhere else. This is demonstrated by countless struggles of the working class betrayed and sabotaged by the unions, and by the right-wing record of the Obama administration, which has bailed out the banks and overseen the growth of economic inequality to unprecedented levels.

UN observers have documented dozens of interactions between Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights and Syria opposition fighters crossing the boundary fence, as far back as 2012. (Atef Safadi/EPA)

During his 2014 address to the UN General Assembly, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “fighting militant Islam is indivisible.”

The Israeli prime minister’s crude attempts to conflate ISIS with Hamas should not be allowed to conceal an important truth: Israel aids the forces of “militant Islam” when it is considered opportune to do so.

The most egregious example of such aid in recent times has been Israel’s support for Jabhat al-Nusraal-Qaida’sfranchise in Syria, as witnessed by UN peacekeeping forces stationed in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel’s collusion with al-Qaida has been virtually ignored by the American media, with a few exceptions. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Israel has been treating wounded al-Nusra fighters and then sending them back into the Golan to battle Hizballah and the Syrian army.

Other media outlets have danced around the issue.

The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a frequent conduit for information from official sources,mentioned, in passing, last month that “Jordan and Israel have developed secret contacts with members of the Jabhat al-Nusra group along their borders.” But he failed to elaborate.

In a video report released by Vice News in December — in which Israeli soldiers are shown transferring wounded Syrian opposition fighters to an Israeli hospital — the narrator acknowledges that the fighters could be affiliated with al-Nusra.

Israeli media has been slightly more open about Israel’s embrace of al-Qaida. The news website Ynet has postedfootage of Israeli army medics treating wounded Syrian opposition fighters, noting, “It is likely that most if not all of these nationals are rebels from the rival jihadist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.”

This raises questions about the legality of sending members of one of the world’s most notorious and active armed extremist groups back into battle, especially since this particular group has been the primary target of a global war for more than a decade led by Israel’s greatest benefactor, the United States. (To be fair, though, the US is no stranger to backing al-Qaida and ISIS to undermine its adversaries.)

A US Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment for The Electronic Intifada about Israel’s apparent alliance with al-Qaida. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Material aid

As Israel’s neighbors absorbed millions of displaced Syrians fleeing a war that, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has killed more than 220,000 people, the Israeli government has painted its medical care for those wounded in Syria as altruistic. But only a third of the 1,500 treated by Israel have been women and children, according to the March report in The Wall Street Journal.

The rest have been fighters who Israeli officials admit are not screened and likely belong to al-Nusra.

Once it became undeniable, Israel confessed it was treating fighters, but claimed that they were moderates.

But after al-Nusra captured and ejected UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights last August, there was no longer any doubt that al-Nusra was the dominant force among opposition fighters in the area.

Since then, Ynet has resorted to whitewashing al-Nusra’s connections to al-Qaida. Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the publication claims that al-Nusra’s members are “simply local residents who joined the organization to benefit from the logistical and financial support it offers them.”

Retired Brigadier General Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff for Israel’s defense minister, told The Wall Street Journal that “Nusra is a unique version of al-Qaida. They manage to cooperate with non-Islamist and non-jihadi organizations in one coalition … They are totally focused on the war in Syria and aren’t focused on us. But when Hizballah and Iran and others are pushing south, they are very much focused on us.”

Israeli soldiers have also been seen providing Syrian opposition fighters dominated by al-Nusra with material aid.

Dozens of interactions between Israel and opposition fighters, as far back as 2012, have been documented by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the peacekeeping mission responsible for monitoring the 1974 ceasefire line between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.

The UN has good reason to observe these interactions closely.

In August last year, al-Nusra detained 43 UN peacekeepers and seized their equipment, prompting the UN to evacuate many of its soldiers to the Israeli-occupied side of the ceasefire line.

Quarterly UNDOF reports since the pullback reveal an ongoing pattern of Israeli coordination with those armed groups.

According to the December 2014 report, UNDOF observed two Israeli soldiers “opening the technical fence gate and letting two individuals pass from the [Syrian] to the [Israeli] side” on 27 October. Unlike most fighters seen entering the Israeli side, these individuals were not wounded and the purpose of their visit remains a mystery.

UNDOF “sporadically observed armed members of the opposition interacting” with the Israeli military across the ceasefire line, the report states.

The next UNDOF report, released in March, notes that UN forces witnessed Israeli soldiers delivering material aid to armed Syrian opposition groups.

“During the evening of 20 January, in the area north of observation post 54, UNDOF observed two trucks crossing from the [Syrian] side to the [Israeli] side, where they were received by IDF [Israeli military] personnel,” the report states. “The trucks were loaded with sacks before returning to the [Syrian] side.”

The coordination between Israel and armed opposition groups continued into May, according to the June UNDOF report.

Israel appears determined to keep the nature of these interactions as low key as possible, something Sidqi Maqt, a Druze resident of the Golan Heights, understands better than most.

In February, Maqt was arrested by Israeli intelligence for posting photos and videos to his Facebook page of Israeli army interactions with armed opposition groups. Maqt paid particular attention to documenting encounters he believed demonstrated the Israeli army’s alliance with al-Nusra.

Released in 2012 after serving 37 years in prison for engaging in armed resistance against Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, Maqt is once again behind bars. He has been charged with “espionage, assisting an enemy during wartime and contact with a foreign agent,” according to Al Jazeera.

On top of providing al-Nusra with material aid and punishing those who expose it, Israel has launched airstrikes almost exclusively against forces fighting al-Nusra.

On 18 January, for example, an Israeli air strike on a convoy near Quneitra killed six members of Hizballah and a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Days later, rockets landed in the Golan Heights, according to UNDOF. The Israeli army retaliated by shelling a location it said was the source of the fire.

A Syrian army official, however, told the UN that “terrorists” had fired the rockets and that the Syrian army planned to target their positions. The UN relayed this message to the Israeli army, which responded with airstrikes against two Syrian army artillery positions.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has said that some in Syria joke, “How can you say that al-Qaida doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force.”

While Assad’s policies, including the bombardments that have devastated cities and towns forcing millions to flee their homes, have contributed to the chaos and vacuum that has enabled extremist groups to flourish in some areas, Israel’s actions on behalf of those groups grant credence to his claim.

Cheering on ISIS

Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli general, has offered a candid explanation for Israel’s partnership with al-Nusra.

“There is no doubt that Hizballah and Iran are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists, who are also an enemy,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90 percent of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy — maybe it isn’t Israel,” he reasoned.

Hizballah, which is aligned with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has been fighting al-Nusra in the Golan Heights with Iranian support. Given Hizballah’s growing capacity and proven willingness to defend against Israeli aggression, Israel appears to favor al-Qaida on its northern front and to view the destruction of Syria as an opportunity to incapacitate Hizballah in southern Lebanon by draining its resources in Syria.

This does not mean Israel wants Assad to fall. On the contrary, Israel prefers a region fractured into small sectarian enclaves that are too busy fighting one another to unite against it. It is for this reason that Yair Golan, the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff, recently celebrated the conditions on Israel’s northern border as “better than ever.”

The Jerusalem Post’s security correspondent, Yossi Melman, has echoed Golan, depicting Syria’s descent into chaos and fragmentation as a strategic boost for Israel.

Gilad Sharon, son of late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, has gone even further by arguing that an ISIS takeover in Syria would offer an opening for Israel to acquire the Golan Heights permanently.

In the event of an ISIS takeover, Sharon wrote last month, “There would be no international pressure for Israel to give back the Golan Heights either — and that’s a very good thing. The Golan will remain an important part of Israel forever.” He added that Israel could rely on the West’s so-called anti-ISIS coalition to defeat a victorious ISIS next door, allowing Israel to bask in its newly annexed territory without lifting a finger.

Israel would not necessarily “welcome the presence of the Islamic State lunatics on our border,” Sharon wrote, “but it’s certainly no worse, and may even be better, than the presence there of Hizballah, which is the Lebanese proxy of the Iranian regime.”

Naftali Bennett, Israeli education minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist party Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), appears to be following Sharon’s advice.

Speaking at the Herzliya conference, a key event in Israel’s political calendar, this month, Bennett called on Israel to invoke the threat of ISIS expansion to compel governments around the world to legitimize its annexation of the Golan Heights.

“Who do they want us to give the Golan to? To Assad? Today, it’s clear that if we listened to the world we would give up the Golan and ISIS would be swimming in the Sea of Galilee. Enough with the hypocrisy,” said Bennett, agitating for expanding the number of Israeli settlers in the Golan from 20,000 to 100,000 in the next five years.

Support for al-Qaida in Syria, then, serves at least two purposes from Israel’s perspective: sapping the strength of the foe it fears most — Hizballah — and solidifying its occupation of the Golan Heights.

In addition to sowing chaos and bloodshed, Israel’s machiavellian schemes — as its decades of meddling in Lebanon show — have a poor record of achieving their goals.

President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday that his government would be compelled to direct its military forces at any country engaged in a military buildup against Russia. He was responding to the report last weekend of plans under consideration by the Obama administration to permanently position battle tanks and other heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe, enough to maintain a 5,000-strong force in the Baltic states and other Eastern European NATO members.

The Pentagon’s plan, if approved by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, would see the positioning of weapons and tanks in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. This would mark the first permanent deployment of US military equipment to NATO members that were once part of the Soviet Union.

The response of Putin and other Russian officials has made it clear that US plans for a significant military buildup in Eastern Europe have only pushed the two nuclear-armed powers even closer to the brink of war.

While US officials claim that the positioning of weapons is meant only to facilitate military training exercises, a logical interpretation of the deployment of arms to these countries is that the US and its NATO allies are preparing to launch a war against Russia. For its part, the Putin regime is responding accordingly, shoring up its military forces and making its own preparations for war by whipping up reactionary Russian nationalism.

There is nothing progressive about the response of the Putin administration to the aggression of the Western imperialists. Putin has combined saber-rattling and the buildup of Russia’s military forces with repeated appeals for some sort of deal with the US and Europe. Such a policy, sowing illusions in the possibility of accommodation with the rapacious Western imperialists while escalating military tensions, can only lead to disaster for the working class, not just in Russia, but throughout the world.

Speaking at joint press conference on Tuesday with the President of Finland, Pauli Niinistö, Putin told reporters, “We will be forced to aim our armed forces … at those territories from where the threat comes.”

Responding to repeated claims of Russian aggression, Putin pointed out that it was NATO which had expanded up to Russia’s borders. “It is NATO that is moving towards our border and we aren’t moving anywhere,” he stated. He also cited his opposition to longstanding NATO plans for the construction a missile defense system in Eastern Europe that would be directed at Russia.

In a speech earlier in the day Tuesday at the Army-2015 International Military-Technical Forum, Putin announced plans to expand Russia’s nuclear arsenal by the end of the year. “This year we will supply more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to our nuclear force,” he announced to those assembled at the newly inaugurated Patriot Park, an hour outside Moscow. He stated that the new ICBMs would “be capable of overcoming even the most technically advanced anti-missile defense systems.”

Putin announced the planned expansion of Russia’s nuclear arsenal a day after Russian military officials made clear they would respond with a military buildup along the country’s western border if the US proceeded with its plans.

Russian army Gen. Yury Yakubov told Interfax on Monday that his government would have no choice but to respond in kind to US plans with a massive build-up of troops, heavy military equipment and missile systems on its western border.

Yakubov stated that the positioning of heavy weaponry, tanks and other military vehicles in the Baltics would be seen as “the most aggressive step since the Cold War.” He made clear that any buildup of equipment or forces in Eastern Europe would result in a reinforcement of Russian troops all along the European border. “Russia won’t have anything else to do but bolster its forces and resources on the western strategic theater of operations.”

According to Yakubov, Russia would respond to US deployments by moving forward with plans to position a new Iskander tactical missile system in its Kaliningrad territory on the Baltic Sea, an enclave surrounded by Poland and Lithuania with no land connection to Russia. He also told reporters that Russia would move to bolster its military forces in Belarus, which borders Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine.

“Our hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps to strengthen our western frontiers,” Yakubov concluded.

Following Putin’s remarks on Tuesday NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, the former Prime Minister of Norway, denounced Russia for “nuclear saber-rattling.” He told reporters that Russia’s response to the plans to position military equipment in Eastern Europe was “destabilizing and it’s dangerous.”

Stoltenberg made clear that Russia’s proposed counter-measures would do nothing to deter NATO’s war plans.

“This is something which we are addressing, and it’s also one of the reasons we are now increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces. We are responding by making sure that NATO also in the future is an alliance which provides deterrence and protection for all allies against any threat.”

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 NATO has been working to build a solid military bloc on Russia’s western border. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined in 1999; the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania in 2004; and Albania and Croatia in 2009. The fascist-led coup in Ukraine last year, backed by the US and Germany, was aimed at pulling that country out of Russia’s sphere of influence and towards the West. The far-right puppet government has dropped Ukraine’s non-aligned status, adopted in 2010, and is moving towards NATO member status.

With the US in the lead, NATO is already engaging in provocative military exercises all along Russia’s western border from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. Numerous “near-miss” encounters between NATO naval vessels and aircraft and Russian aircraft have been reported in recent months. In February US armored personnel carriers were paraded in the Estonian city of Narva, just a few hundred yards from the Russian border.

With the growing buildup of US and NATO forces in Eastern Europe, one misstep by either side could spark a conflict between the two largest nuclear-armed powers on the planet, which would devastate the planet.

Image: ’Reykjavik’ by Bob Whitehead via Flickr (CC BY).

WHO’s official recognition of the health damage caused by glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is having ramifications around the world, writes Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji. National governments are moving to restrict the chemical, campaigns to ban it are intensifying, and now ‘Roundup Ready’ GMO crops are coming under the regulatory spotlight.

Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see [1] Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO AssessmentSiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.

Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public.

El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law [2], while the Netherlands last year banned private sales [3]. Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later).

People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see [4] Glyphosate and CancerSiS 62) and [5] EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate ToxicitySiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action.

Outright bans

Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council [6].

The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24,000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision [7].

Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the ‘war on drugs’ has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies.

Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands [8]. Colombia is not alone.

Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers [9]. The Minister said she believes the

action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment … Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument … I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation.” [10]

Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban. The decision follows the election of the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease [11]. The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity.

The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see [12] Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease EpidemicSiS 62).

This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.

Imminent bans, protests, and fresh calls for bans

Brazil is facing growing pressure to follow suit, with the country’s public state prosecutor writing to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) asking it to urgently re-evaluate their stance on glyphosate and also revoke authorisations on glyphosate-tolerant GM crops [13].

He has even gone as far as launching an investigation into whether regulatory authorisations are legal for the GM crops. ANVISA are stalling their decision however, until the full report by the WHO is published.

In Argentina, 30 000 health professionals belonging to the union of doctors and health professionals (FESPROSA) have come out in support of the WHO decision [14], claiming that glyphosate “not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” The statement continues:

“Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”

Similarly, the Society of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology (SAHOP) issued a statement calling for an immediate ban of glyphosate fumigation, signed by the President of the Paediatric society Pedro Zubizarreta. They objected to the massive use of toxic products being sprayed in ever increasing concentrations in combinations of both insecticides and herbicides, and being sold as ‘technological advancements’.

They also warned of storing the grains in plastic bags, which leaves grains teeming with aflatoxins, categorised by the WHO’s IARC as a known carcinogen since 1993 [15]. Glyphosate has already been previously linked to the growth of these fungi in scientific studies, along with many other crop diseases [16].

Successful protests in Argentina were also recently mobilised to prevent Dr Medardo Ávila Vázquez from losing his job after the agribusiness-funded university threatened to sanction him for conducting and disseminating studies showing the high levels of cancers affecting his region as a result of agrichemical spraying [17].

These protests are a tribute to his work in exposing the toxicity of glyphosate, as well as the groundswell of opposition to glyphosate spraying in the country despite support by the national government.

Local residents are gaining strength to voice their concerns following the WHO news as well as the recent decision by the Ministry of Production in the province of Santa Fe to ban aerial spraying of 2,4-D within 6 km of residents, confirming the health risks of the chemical agricultural system that leaves children covered in chemical and dust particles as they walk to school [18].

In Europe, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) (an influential body with member organizations in 27 countries) has written to officials at the EU parliament and Commission asking for an immediate ban of glyphosate herbicides and for insecticides also judged by the WHO to be carcinogens, without exceptions [19].

A member of the EU commission stated in the 2015 GMO-free conference 2015 in Berlin, Germany that they will include the WHO assessment in their re-evaluation procedures that is due to be completed later this year.

However the corrupt process of reassessment that was led by a consortium of chemical companies (see [20] Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in EuropeSiS 63) means that EU campaigners will have to push hard to force the EU to have some semblance of integrity in their final decision making.

Meanwhile, Germany‘s state consumer protection ministers are calling for an EU-wide ban on selling glyphosate for home use, for precautionary reasons [21], and the German retail giant REWE has decided to remove all glyphosate from its ‘toom Baumarkt DIY’ store shelves by September 2015 [22].

Swiss companies are following suite, with Coop supermarkets and Switzerland’s largest retail company, Migros declaring they will both no longer sell any products containing it [23].

In Denmark, the Danish Working Environment Authority has decided to follow the WHO decision and has now declared glyphosate a carcinogen, with the expected outcome being a switch to alternative, less toxic chemicals (see [24] Roundup Listed Carcinogen by Danish Authority, SiS 67).

The decision is backed by one of the world’s leading toxicologists, Philippe Grandjean, a professor at the University of Denmark where he is head of the Environmental Medicine Research Unit as well as being an adjunct professor at Harvard University.

Commenting on the decision he stated, “It is so common a substance – and our use of it is so extensive – that this WHO report must be taken seriously”, while encouraging people to rid the chemical from their homes.

With such a decision, it now seems unlikely that the post-harvest spraying of crops for desiccation will go ahead this year, which contributes to it being the most widely used herbicide in the country. This is big news in a country about to face an election, with the highly-respected Professor Grandjean’s media appearances drawing much public attention, leaving little room for industry to defend themselves.

US citizens file class action lawsuits against Monsanto for false safety claims

A group of citizens in Los Angeles County are taking court action against Monsanto for falsifying safety claims that Roundup® “targets an enzyme found in plants but not people and pets” in its labelling of the herbicide [25]. The lawsuit applies to residents of California who have purchased Roundup at any time during the last four years. This lawsuit, if successful can encourage similar actions elsewhere in the country.

The claim that glyphosate targets an enzyme (EPSP synthase) that does not physically exist in people ignores the fact that EPSP synthase is present in the bacteria that live inside people. Moreover, these microbes are intimately linked to many physiological functions in the body that are vital to human health, and their disruption is increasingly linked to illness.

The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that “… this claim is absolutely, positively false because glyphosate does indeed target an enzyme ‘found in people’ – in our gut bacteria”, making Monsanto’s claim “objectively false (and inherently misleading)”.

The class action further alleges that Monsanto,“cannot deny that Roundup targets an enzyme that is physically located inside of people … this fact lay beyond dispute.”

Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate targets a single enzyme is also a fallacy. It has been shown to disrupt the function of many enzymes at least in part due to its metal chelating activities, a property for which the chemical was originally patented in 1964. Metals act as co-factors for many enzymes which is why metals are key to any healthy diet.

Anyone wishing to support the suit filed by T. Mathew Phillips can visit the attorney’s website [26].

Chinese citizens sue government for hiding toxicity studies from public

Three Beijing residents, have filed a lawsuit against China’s Ministry of Health requesting full disclosure of the toxicology report submitted to the Chinese government for registration of the chemical almost three decades ago [27].

The case, a rare example of private citizens against the Chinese government comes after more than a year of the Ministry of Agriculture failing to meet the requests of the Beijing food volunteers after they submitted the first application of disclosure in February 2014. So far, the government has refused to disclose the report for privacy and business reasons, protecting Monsanto’s commercial interests.

The toxicology report was not performed independently by Chinese institutions, but was instead conducted by US-based Younger Laboratories and commissioned by Monsanto [28]. The tests were restricted to acute toxicity in rats and rabbits being exposed via the mouth and skin, hardly a comprehensive safety test that the Chinese people can have confidence in.

Further, while Monsanto filed the report for registration of the formulation product Roundup, the tests were performed on glyphosate alone. The case has not yet been heard, but the Ministry of agriculture has added Monsanto as a defendant [29].

The country is by far the largest producer of glyphosate, producing an estimated 70% of the world’s supply [30]. It is also the largest importer of GM foods.

Despite it being a centre of origin for soybean plants, China is now importing most of it from overseas, the majority of which is GM, making the country not only the leading producer, but also one of the leading consumers of glyphosate (see [31] ‘How Grain Self-Sufficiency, Massive GM Soybean Imports & Glyphosate Exports Led China to Devastate People & Planet‘, SiS 67).

If successful, the suit will only further expose the toxic effects of this herbicide, which go beyond its carcinogenic properties, with evidence of teratogenic and endocrine disrupting effects among others (see [32] Roundup of Roundup® Reveals Converging Pattern of Toxicity from Farm to ClinicSiS 65).

The beginning of the end for glyphosate?

The fight against glyphosate is gaining momentum, and where governments are not stepping up to enforce bans, citizens and private companies are taking it upon themselves with major successes.

A major campaign to stop local governments from spraying glyphosate has just been launched by a group of 81 scientists/medical professionals (Independent Scientists Manifesto on Glyphosate.).

In less than two days, the number of scientists who have signed the Manifesto has more than tripled, while over 300 non-scientists have endorsed the Manifesto. Add your name now.

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji is a scientist working on GMOs with ISIS

This article was originally published by ISIS, the Institute of Science in Society.

Notes:

1. Ho MW and Swanson N. Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO Assessment, Science in Society 66, 16-18

2. El Salvador Government Bans Roundup over Deadly Kidney Disease. Sustainablepulse.com, accessed 27th February 2014http://sustainablepulse.com/2013/09/19/el-salvador-government-bans-roundup-over-deadly-kidney-disease/#.Uw94kfl_uSo

3. “Dutch Parliament bans Roundup, France and Brazil to follow”, The Healthy Home Economist, 12 April 2014,http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/roundup-banned-netherlands-france-brazil-likely-soon-follow/

4. Ho M. W. Glyphosate and cancer.Science in Society 62, 12-14, 2014.

5. Sirinathsinghji E and Ho MW. EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity. Science in Society 51, 46-48, 2011

6. Colombia to ban coca spraying herbicide glyphosate, BBC.co.uk, accessed 18th May 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-32677411

7. AIDA celebrates historic decision to suspend fumigation with glyphosate in Colombia, aida-americas.org, accessed 19th May 2015.http://www.aida-americas.org/release/aida-celebrates-historic-decision-to-suspend-fumigation-with-glyphosate-in-colombia#sthash.eoMD5qCX.dpuf

8. Ineffective U.S. Fumigation Policy Adversely Affects Afro-Colombians. Wola.org, accessed 19th May 2015.http://www.wola.org/commentary/ineffective_us_fumigation_policy_adversely_affects_afro_colombians

9. Farmers back decision to ban Roundup spray. RoyalGazette.com, accessed 20th May 2015. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150511/NEWS/150519966

10. Bermuda Suspends Glyphosate-Ridden Roundup Indefinitely. Naturalsociety.com, accessed 19th May 2015.http://naturalsociety.com/bermuda-suspends-glyphosate-ridden-roundup-indefinitely/

11. Sri Lankan President orders to ban import of glyphosate with immediate effect,www.colombopage.com, accessed 26th May 2015.http://www.colombopage.com/archive_15B/May22_1432308620CH.php

12. Sirinathsinghji E. Sri Lanka partially bans glyphosate for deadly kidney disease epidemic. Science in Society 62, 2014.

13. Brazil’s Public Prosecutor Wants to Ban Monsanto’s Chemicals. Naturalsociety.com, accessed 20th May 2015. http://naturalsociety.com/brazils-public-prosecutor-wants-to-ban-monsantos-chemicals/#ixzz3agRIRGWh

14. 30,000 doctors and health professionals demand ban on glyphosate, GMWatch.org, accessed 18th May 2015.http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2015-articles/16084-argentina-30-000-doctors-and-health-professionals-demand-ban-on-glyphosate

15. Reclamos contra un pesticida. Página12.com.ar, accessed 20th May 2015.http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/sociedad/3-272409-2015-05-11.html

16. Barberis CL, Carranza CS, Chiacchiera SM, Magnoli CE. Influence of herbicide glyphosate on growth and aflatoxin B1 production by Aspergillus section Flavi strains isolated from soil on in vitro assay. J Environ Sci Health B 2013, 48, 1070-9. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2013.824223.

17. University drops action against cancer researcher in face of massive support for his work, GMWatch.org, accessed 18th May 2015.http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2015-articles/16136-university-drops-action-against-cancer-researcher-in-face-of-massive-support-for-his-work

18. Argentina: Chemical Warfare on Towns, upsidedownworld.org, accessed 20th May 2015.http://upsidedownworld.org/main/argentina-archives-32/5326-argentina-chemical-warfare-on-towns

19. International Doctors Demand Immediate Ban on Glyphosate Herbicides, isde.org, accessed 18th May 2015http://www.isde.org/Appeal_glyphosate_IARC.pdf

20. Swanson N and Ho MW. Scandal of glyphosate reassessment in Europe.Science in Society 63, 8-9, 2014

21. German states call for ban on household pesticide, euroactiv.com, accessed 18th May 2015.http://www.euractiv.com/sections/science-policymaking/german-states-call-ban-household-pesticide-314508

22. German Retail Giant REWE Removes Glyphosate from DIY Stores, sustainablepulse.com, accessed 18th May 2015.http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/05/12/german-retail-giant-rewe-removes-glyphosate-herbicides-from-diy-stores/#.VVnI5flVhBc

23. Swiss Supermarkets Stop Sales of Glyphosate over Health Concerns. SustainablePulse.com, accessed 3rd June 2015.http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/06/03/swiss-supermarkets-stop-sales-of-glyphosate-over-health-concerns/#.VXBD3M9VhBc

24. Ho MW. Roundup Listed Carcinogen by Danish Authority, Science in Society 67 (to appear) 2015.

25. Monsanto re/Roundup Class Action Lawsuit, accessed 18th May 2015.http://www.monsantoclassaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Monsanto-Glyphosate-Class-Action-4.20.2015.pdf

26. Monsanto Glyphosate Advertising Class Action. http://www.monsantoclassaction.org/

27. Chinese citizens sue government over transparency on Monsanto herbicide. Reuters.com, accessed 18th May 2015http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/us-china-monsanto-court-idUSKBN0MZ0UY20150408

28. Chen I-wan. Chinese People Fight Back on Monsanto Against Glyphosate-based Rounduphttp://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4bb17e9d0102edk0.html

29. Chen I-wan. Chinese Citizen Sues American GM Giant, Accuses It’s Herbicide Possible Carcinogen.http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4bb17e9d0102vget.html

30. An insight into glyphosate trend. Agropages.com, accessed 18th May 2015.http://news.agropages.com/News/NewsDetail—13358.htm

31. Ho MW. How Grain Self-Sufficiency, Massive GM Soybean Imports & Glyphosate Exports Led China to Devastate People & Planet,Science in Society 67, (to appear) 2015.

32. Sirinathsinghji E. A roundup of Roundup reveals converging patterns of toxicities from farm to clinic to laboratory studies. Science in Society 65, 26-31, 2015.

“In a culture of pervasive scare tactics and punishment, it can be easy to become paralyzed with fear, to accept the advocacy chill and give way to self-censorship.”(Photo: Jennifer Moo/flickr/cc)

From muzzling watchdog groups to persecuting whistleblowers, from devaluing Indigenous voices to undermining labor unions, from defunding environmental charities to criminalizing peaceful protests, the Canadian government made civil society organizations “Public Enemy #1.”

So charges a new report released Tuesday by Voices-Voix, a coalition of 200 organizations and 500 individuals who say Canada’s federal government has pursued a deliberate strategy to repress alternative views.

“Together, we feel neither secure nor valued,” the signatories write in Dismantling Democracy: Stifling Debate and Dissent in Canada (pdf). “In a culture of pervasive scare tactics and punishment, it can be easy to become paralyzed with fear, to accept the advocacy chill and give way to self-censorship.”

This “crude campaign to stifle dissent” has manifested in myriad ways, according to Voices-Voix, which includes Amnesty International Canada, Greenpeace Canada, and the Council of Canadians.

Such concerns have been raised several times before. But Voices-Voix’s analysis is perhaps the most comprehensive. Drawing heavily from more than 100 case studies, the report—which journalist Karl Nerenberg, writing at Rabble.ca, said “should be compulsory reading for all Canadian voters before the next election”—documents dozens of examples of such silencing tactics.

Organizations that disagree with the government’s positions have had their funding threatened, reduced, or discontinued, the coalition says. What’s more, it adds, individuals have been fired or intimidated after speaking out on human rights or being critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s administration.

And in a strongly worded Declaration that calls for transparency and civil liberties protections, Voices-Voix notes that “an unprecedented level of secrecy now shrouds a long list of government activities and decisions, making it increasingly difficult for the public to hold the government accountable across a range of fundamentally important issues.”

The report comes on the same day as the Canadian science advocacy group Evidence for Democracy launched its ‘Science Pledge’ campaign, asking Members of Parliament, candidates, organizations, and citizens to “pledge their support for science and evidence-based government decision-making.”

Specifically, Evidence for Democracy—which was behind last month’s call for language on “scientific integrity” to be included in public science workers’ next contract—is recommending the implementation of a new government-wide communications policy to ensure that government scientists can speak publicly about their research, and the creation of a new federal science office to advise decision makers.

“The trends we’ve seen in recent years—funding cuts to science, government scientists not being able to speak about their work, and decisions that appear to play fast and loose with scientific evidence—are deeply troubling to many in the scientific community,” said Dr. Scott Findlay, associate professor of biology at the University of Ottawa and Evidence for Democracy Board member. “Their concerns are, in turn, giving rise to more widespread public concerns, about the science necessary to ensure to healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy environments and healthy economies.”

An increasing number of United States military veterans are counseling United States military drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance/attack missions – the veterans are even helping sponsor prime time television commercials urging drone operators to “refuse to fly.”

In a letter released today by KnowDrones.com, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”

Among those signing the letter are retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from her State Department post in 2003 over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and former Marine Captain Matthew Hoh, who, in spite of pleadings by Obama Administration officials, resigned his State Department post in Afghanistan in 2009 in protest over U.S. strategic goals and policy there. Also signing are former U.S. Army Captain and CIA official Ray McGovern; former U.S. Navy Lt. Barry Ladendorf, president of Veterans for Peace; and former U.S. Army Sgts. Aaron Hughes and Maggie Martin, co-directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Speaking to the issue of disobeying military orders, the letter says: “Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance with Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950,” that states:

 “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

“The people signing this letter know that they are asking drone operators to take a heavy step,” said Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, “but we feel it is perfectly legitimate to advise military people to stop taking part in illegal activity that has killed thousands without due process, is terrorizing thousands more and is wracking their own ranks with moral injury and PTSD.”

To advance the “Refuse to Fly” initiative, KnowDrones.com has been airing 15-second television commercials on CNN, FoxNews, MNBC and other networks in areas near drone intelligence and control centers in the U.S. The paid spots, the cost of which has been partially covered by members of Veterans for Peace, show the human toll of drone attacks and urge drone operators to refuse to fly.

The ads have appeared in Las Vegas near Creech AFB and in northern California near Beale AFB. They are currently airing in upstate New York near Hancock Air National Guard base outside Syracuse and the Air Guard base near Niagara Falls; more showings will be scheduled soon elsewhere in the U.S.

Below is the letter:  

RETIRED AND FORMER U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL URGE DRONE OPERATORS TO REFUSE TO FLY MISSIONS

As retired and former members of the United States military, we urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.

At least 6,000 peoples’ lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria.  These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights, such as those enumerated in the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights, written in 1948 under the guidance of Eleanor Roosevelt with the blood of the atrocities of World War II freshly in mind.  The United States is a signatory to this declaration.

Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950:

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”

So, yes, you do have a choice – and liability under the law. Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one.

Signed:

Kenneth Ashe E3 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971

Wendy Barranco   SPC US Army 2003 – 2006

Barry Binks E5 US Army 1964-1967

Russell Brown CPL US Marine Corps 1966- 1968

Ben Chitty PO2 US Navy 1965 – 1969

Gerry Condon PVT US Army 1967 – 1969

Bill Distler E5 US Army 1966 – 1968

Arthur H. Dorland   YN3 US Navy 1964 – 1967

Kelly Dougherty   Sgt. – E-5 US Army National Guard   1996 – 2004

Jonathan Engle   SFC (E-7) US Army 2004 – 2013

Mike Ferner HM3 US Navy 1969 – 1973

Bruce Gagnon   SGT US Air Force   1971 – 1974

Bill J. Gilson   AE2   US Navy   1954 – 1958

Mike Hastie   E5 US Army 1969 – 1972

Michael Hearington   E1 US Army 171st Infantry 1970 – 1971

Dud Hendrick CAPT US Air Force 1963 – 1967

Herbert J. Hoffman   SPC3 US Army 1954 – 1956

Matthew Hoh   CPT US Marine Corps 1998 – 2008

Matt Howard   CPL US Marine Corps 2001 – 2006

Aaron Hughes   SGT (E-5) Illinois National Guard  2000 – 2006

Tarak Kauff   PVT   US Army Airborne Infantry   1959 – 1962

Barry Ladendorf   LT US Navy 1964 – 1969

Erik Lobo PO3 US Navy 1976 – 1982

Maggie Martin   SGT E-5 US Army 2001 – 2006

Kenneth E. Mayers   MAJ US Marine Corps Reserve 1958 – 1966 (active duty) 1967 – 1978 (Reserves)

Ray McGovern   CPT US Army   1962 – 1964

Nick Mottern     LTJG US Navy 1960 – 1963

Carroll Nast CAPT US Air Force 1969 – 1979

Tom Palumbo SGT US Army/US Army Reserve 1978 – 1992

Bill Perry   US Army 101st Airborne/Tet Offensive 1966 – 1968

Kyle Petlock   0-1 US Air Force 2000 – 2002

Charles R. Powell   E4 US Air Force   1961 – 1965

Doug Rawlings SPC4 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970

John C. Reiger   SPC5 US Army 1959 – 1962

Jovanni L. Reyes   SSG US Army 1994 – 2005 Active Duty. 2005 – 2007 Reserves

Hannah Roberts   LT (03) US Navy 2009 – 2014

Steven E. Saelzler   E1 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1970

Benjamin Schrader   E-4 US Army 2001 – 2005

Chuck Searcy   E5 US Army 1966 – 1969

Robert L. Stebbins   1stLT US Army 1956 – 1958

Will Thomas E3 US Navy 1961 – 1963

Cres Vellucci E-5 US Army Vietnam 1969 – 1971

Zachary Wigham   SSgt. Massachusetts Air National Guard 2006 -2012

Ann Wright Colonel US Army (Retired)

The Plight and Persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar

June 17th, 2015 by Asif Haroon Raja

Muslims in whole of Buddhist governed Southeast Asian Myanmar face persecution but the Rohingya minority community is suffering the most. The radical Buddhists of Arakan State that are in majority have been involved in enormous atrocities against the minority Rohingya Muslims ever since 2003. They have been brutally murdering Muslims, including women and children and are doing all this barbarity with the backing and support of the Myanmar regime, political and religious leadership and the law enforcement agencies.

Leader of National League for Democratic movement Aung San Suu Kyi, who is Nobel peace prize winner, has so far failed to condemn the violence mainly because it is being carried out by the backbone of her own political network. 

The Myanmar government has annulled the citizenship of more than four lakh Muslims. Having lived there for 7 centuries, Rohingyas have suddenly become stateless with no identity and are marooned and forsaken by the world. Rohingyas are among the most persecuted minorities in the world. The cruel subjugation of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has crossed all the boundaries since 2012. The world and the UN are quietly watching the genocide and none is coming forward to stop the ethnic cleansing and provide succor to the 140,000 displaced Rohingyas.

History

Delving into the background history of Rohingyas, one finds that Muslim Arab traders had started arriving in Kingdom of Arakan (now called Rakhine) from the time of Caliph Haroon Rasheed in 8th century, thus initiating the spread of Islam. Arab, Turks, Persian and later Mughal traders used to visit this piece of land. Similarly Islam expanded in Indonesia and Malaysia because of the Muslim traders. Later, people belonging to various ethnicities came to the region which included Bengalis, Turks, Pathans and others. ‘Rohingya’ were developed from different stocks of people concentrated in one geographical location called State of Rakhine. Afterwards, many people in the north of Arakan province accepted Islam. In 1430 A.D. a Turk King Sultan Suleman Shah established his Sultanate and introduced his currency. Kalma Tayiba and names of the four Caliphs were written on the coins.

This region was ruled by the Muslim rulers till 1784, after which these lands were captured by the Burmese. The British after capturing Bengal in 1757 kept expanding their rule. They captured Arakan in 1825 and Burma in 1828, and placed the two regions under the Viceroy of Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of Bengalis flooded into Arakan in search of work. By 1941, one-third of population was from Bengal. This migration was resented by the locals. During the 2nd World War, the Japanese captured most of the areas of Burma and entire region became a war zone.

State of Rakhine (Arakan) has a very odd geo strategic location in Bay of Bengal. It is one of the poorest provinces of Myanmar. Among the 3 million Rakhines, there are about 1.3 million Rohingyas in Rakhine State who have been living there for centuries, and others are Buddhists who are in majority. In 1942, the Buddhists carried out massive genocide of Muslims and almost 150000 Muslims were massacred. During the military rule (1962-88) in Burma, Rohingyas were treated as foreigners and gradually their nationality was taken away. During that era, ethnic clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims intensified and as a result of suppression more than 200,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. Only 32600 were given formal protection as refugees.

In 1982 when Burma name was changed to Myanmar, they passed a new controversial law for citizenship and declared the people of Rohingya as Bengalis and they were denied citizenship. They claim that among the Rohingyas, over one million are Bengalis and are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Rohingyas lost the Myanmar’s citizenship since they were unable to prove their presence and settlement in the country before 1823. Fact of the matter is that all Rohingyas are not Bengalis. They have a rich history and they are a mixture of Turks, Arabs, Mughals and even Pathans and all speak Rohingya, which is different from Burmese language. Denial of their citizenship by Myanmar is the root cause of all the issues faced by them today. Previously they used to have some relief as they had camps in Bangladesh in the Cox’s Bazar region, but after Hasina Wajid came to power, this relief was also snatched from them. Her regime has refused to accept them.

Rohingya is a separate State and its people have separate entity. They have almost 4000 sq km area. A huge mountainous system separates them from Myanmar. They have 24 identified blocs where oil and gas are in abundance and exported to province of Hunan of China in the north. One of the reasons behind China’s silence is their strategic interests. Rohingyas can sustain their identity, as Arabic and Persian are taught in their schools. They have their own language, culture, beautiful geography and resources. They say that since Myanmar regime is not giving them the citizenship, then it has no right to rule them. They complain that the only crime committed by the Rohingya is that they are Muslims. They argue that 150000 people in East Timor were given independence just because they were Christians.

The Myanmar Government says that we have given citizenships to many illegal Bengali immigrants, but they keep on entering into Myanmar every year which is getting arduous for us to control. This argument is baseless because they should frame a proper channel to halt this immigration. The Government argues that 1.3 million Rohingya are not citizens, have no voting or basic rights and are Bengalis. There are restrictions on family size and access to jobs. State terrorism on such flimsy pretext is unjustified. Since 2012 about 140,000 Rohingyans have become refugees and are living in dilapidated camps. Rohingyas say that who has given the right to Myanmar junta to support and promote their persecution even if they are illegal immigrants.

This phenomenal human rights violation in Myanmar got no effectual denunciation from the West. U.S. Candidates like Senator Rand Paul are not even bothering to discuss and condemn the massive massacre of the Rohingyan Muslims in their 2016 Presidential campaigns. The UN role is also deplorable. Brad Adam, executive director of the Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division criticized the role of United Nations with respect to the ongoing onslaught in Myanmar. UN’s top official in Myanmar, Renata Dessallien senselessly issued a statement after seeing the plight of Rohingyas cramped in boats in high seas for months and many ‘floating coffins’ after they were refused entry by Muslim States. He stated, “The UN recognizes and appreciates the recent improvements in the conditions in Rakhine, including efforts to improve the situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Government has started to enable IDPs to return to their places of origin and is assisting with livelihood enhancement, health and education.” This statement was travesty of truth. One reason of West’s apathy is Islamophobia.

The underlying acts and human rights violations have left no justification for the international community to still remain immorally biased and mum. Muslim countries of ASEAN who turned away the boats of the starving refugees are equally guilty. Hundreds of mass graves have been discovered in Thailand and Malaysia. They probably died of hunger. While India is aspiring to become the policeman of South Asia, China is getting ready to become super power, but both have showed complete disinterest in this human tragedy.

The most shocking and appalling role is that of the Muslim World. Despite having the ability to exert pressure on to the Western countries to put sanctions over Myanmar to force it to stop human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims, up till now no move has been made.

Although OIC has appointed special envoy and a fact finding mission for Rohingyas and have also announced $200,000 for humanitarian aid, but it has not played any decisive role. It should devise a strategy to provide humanitarian relief to the refugees and those stranded in high seas and also exert pressure on the oppressors to grant citizenship to the Rohingya Muslims who have been living there since 14th century, or else grant them the status of a separate State. The UN should step forward to resolve this human tragedy speedily. If urgent steps are not taken, it will have dangerous implications about which I will write separately.

The writer is a war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/author of 5 books, Director Measac Research Centre, Directors Board of Governors TFP. [email protected] 

What’s Really Going on at Fukushima?

June 17th, 2015 by Robert Hunziker

Fukushima’s still radiating, self-perpetuating, immeasurable, and limitless, like a horrible incorrigible Doctor Who monster encounter in deep space.

Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe.

Part of this reluctance has to do with radiation’s symptoms. It is insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it (Caldicott). Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late.

Chernobyl’s Destruction Mirrors Fukushima’s Future

As an example of how media fails to deal with disaster blowback, here are some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout.

Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: “The home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions” (Source: Chernobyl Children’s Project-UK).

One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as “Death Valley.” It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent “dead zone.”

Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure.

Fukushima- The Real Story

In late 2014, Helen Caldicott, M.D. gave a speech about Fukushima at Seattle Town Hall (9/28/14). Pirate Television recorded her speech; here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qX-YU4nq-g

Dr. Helen Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she is author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, The New Press, September 2014. For over four decades Dr. Caldicott has been the embodiment of the anti-nuclear banner, and as such, many people around the world classify her as a “national treasure”. She’s truthful and honest and knowledgeable.

Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.” Imagine that!

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.” (Source: Nuclear Hotseat #194: Fukushima 4th Anniversary – Voices from Japan, March 10, 2015, http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/2468/)

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth.

According to Dr. Caldicott, “One hundred tons of terribly hot radioactive lava has already gone into the earth or somewhere within the container vessels, which are all cracked and broken.” Nobody really knows for sure where the hot radioactive lava resides. The scary unanswered question: Is it the China Syndrome?

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her.

According to Arnie Gundersen, an energy advisor with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, as reported in The Canadian on August 15, 2011: “The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.”

However, in stark contrast to the United States, in Europe Angela Merkel, PhD physics, University of Leipzig and current chancellor of Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima.

Maybe an advanced degree in physics makes the difference in how a leader approaches the nuclear power issue. It certainly looks that way when comparing/contrasting the two pantsuit-wearing leaders, Chancellor Merkel and former secretary of state Clinton.

After the Fukushima blow up, ambient levels of radiation in Washington State went up 40,000 times above normal, but according to Dr. Caldicott, the U.S. media does not cover the “ongoing Fukushima mess.” So, who would really know?

Dr. Caldicott ended her speech on Sept. 2014 by saying: “In Fukushima, it is not over. Everyday, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S. Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.”

Furthermore, according to Dr. Caldicott: “Rainwater washes over the nuclear cores into the Pacific. There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.”

Fukushima will never be solved because “men die” and “robots get fried.” By the sounds of it, Fukushima is a perpetual radiation meltdown scenario that literally sets on the edge of a bottomless doomsday pit, in waiting to be nudged over.

UN All-Clear Report

A UN (UNSCEAR) report on April 2, 2014 on health impacts of the Fukushima accident concluded that any radiation-induced effects would be too small to identify. People were well protected and received “low or very low” radiation doses. UNSCEAR gave an all-clear report.

Rebuttal of the UNSCEAR report by the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War d/d July 18, 2014 takes a defiant stance in opposition to the UN report, to wit: “The Fukushima nuclear disaster is far from over. Despite the declaration of ‘cold shutdown’ by the Japanese government in December 2011, the crippled reactors have not yet achieved a stable status and even UNSCEAR admits that emissions of radioisotopes are continuing unabated. 188 TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water, which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea. Large quantities of contaminated cooling water are accumulating at the site. Failures in the makeshift cooling systems are occurring repeatedly. The discharge of radioactive waste will most likely continue for a long time.”

“Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error. Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan… the UNSCEAR report represents a systematic underestimation and conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment.”

To read the full text of the rejoinder to the UN report, go to:https://japansafety.wordpress.com/tag/saitama/

Fukushima’s Radiation and the Future

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.”

“Although the Chernobyl accident was a terrible accident, it only involved one reactor. With Fukushima, we have the minimum [of] 3 reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation. The work involved to deal with this accident will take tens of years, hundreds of years,” Prof. Hiroaki Koide (retired), Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, April 25, 2015. “It could be that some of the fuel could actually have gone through the floor of the containment vessel as well… What I’ve just described is very, very logical for anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy,” which dreadfully spells-out: THE CHINA SYNDROME.

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster: The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.”

The Rose Garden of Fukushima features a collection of photos of an actual garden that existed in Fukushima, Japan. Boasting over 7500 bushes of roses and 50-thousand visitors a year, the Garden was rendered null and void in an instant due to the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown.

The forward to Maya’s book was written by John Roos, former US Ambassador to Japan 2009-13: “The incredible tale of Katz Okada and his Fukushima rose garden was told here by Maya Moore… gives you a small window into what the people of Tohoku faced.”

Roos’ “small window” could very well serve as a metaphor for a huge black hole smack dab in the heart of civilization. Similarly, Fukushima is a veritable destruction machine that consumes everything in its path, and beyond, and its path is likely to grow. For certain, it is not going away.

Thus, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is deeply involved in an asymmetric battle against enormously powerful unleashed out-of-control forces of E=mc2.

Clearly, TEPCO has its back to the wall. Furthermore, it’s doubtful TEPCO will “break the back of the beast.” In fact, it may be an impossible task.

Maybe, just maybe, Greater Tokyo’s 38 million residents will eventually be evacuated. Who knows for sure?

Only Godzilla knows!

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at [email protected]

U.K.– 51 million people are currently displaced across the world. The number of people applying for asylum in developed countries doubled in a single year and over 100,000 migrants were rescued at sea in Europe during the first half of 2015.

In the U.K., it is not our fault that we’re subjects of vague scaremongering that claims our tiny island is awash with asylum seekers. What’s clear is that people drowning off our shores is inhumane and horrifying, but what’s not clear is what our policies are.

Some of us are confused about who’s who. In other words, we don’t know our refugees from our illegal immigrants or our asylum seekers from our economic migrants. All we know is we are told they are “scroungers.”

I won’t insult the readership by explaining the differences, but in case any members of the 
“coming over ‘ere taking our jobs” brigade happen to be reading—or for those who are simply confused—you can read the differences here.

Just 0.24% of the total U.K. population are refugees

With immigration laws constantly changing, there are a few basics. If someone is at risk of suffering or has suffered persecution in their own country, they can apply for asylum in the U.K. If granted, the person is given permission to remain. While applying for permission, they’re legally known as an asylum seeker and when the status is granted, a refugee.

There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker

While some asylum seekers may enter the country illegally, once the application process begins, they are entitled to stay while they wait for a decision. Many will have fled unimaginable horrors, left entire lives behind, and undertaken perilous journeys to get to the U.K.

Applications are made through an immigration officer at a port, a screening unit, or the Home Office. Two interviews are attended where information is gathered, fingerprints are taken, and stories are checked for consistency. Proof of the inability to return to their country and the need for protection is required. A caseworker makes a decision and those granted refugee status have permission to remain for 5 years. Only then do they have the right to work and claim benefits.

Asylum seekers in the U.K. can’t claim benefits or work

A very small number who can’t return but don’t meet the definition of a refugee are given humanitarian protection for 5 years, after which they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Others are granted discretionary leave to remain for a limited time period while a certain type of protection is granted to unaccompanied children who can’t return to their own country.

Governments are obliged to provide protection to people who meet the criteria for asylum, and although they are notoriously tough on immigration, these laws are part of U.K. legislation. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can read the mind-boggling list of U.K. immigration rules here.

So who is on the boats and hiding in lorries?

It is impossible to say. They could be asylum seekers, economic migrants, or both.

In 2014, out of 29,914 applications for asylum in the U.K., 41% were granted, according to The Refugee Council. People who are refused have a right of appeal, although only a small number of appeals are heard. Despite media-generated myths, asylum seekers in the U.K. are unable to claim benefits or work and children under 18 are cared for by local authorities. Those over 18 can apply for a small amount of cash and accommodation support. People are generally relocated in undesirable areas where they have no connections. Many are destitute and forced to rely on charities.

People who have been refused are expected to return to their own country either voluntarily or face deportation. Immigration enforcement vans complete with disgraceful “Go Home” signs can now be spotted across the U.K.

Some are detained at the beginning of their application and held in detention centers with prison-like security. The U.K. detains 30,000 migrants a year and is one of a small number of E.U. states that practices indefinite detention. This policy of holding people with no time limit has been subject to widespread criticism and raised peremptory issues under international laws against torture.

Detainees are held in high-security detention centers run by multinationals such as Serco and G4S, both of which have a history of human rights abuses. Yarls Wood, a women’s detention center, was accused of state-sanctioned abuse of women when undercover filming by Channel 4 caught staff referring to inmates as ”animals,” ”beasties,” and ”bitches.”

Victims of torture, war, and rape in their own countries are treated as criminals in Britain. Reza, a womandetained for 13 months, states:

I expected more humanity. This is completely unfair, because once (we) claimed asylum in your country, and you know, it feels like your house is on fire, you’re running out of your house, and you go to another house, and you find that house is on fire as well.

Isn’t it ironic that asylum seekers entitled to protection from persecution are persecuted in institutions in a country that they came to for help?

The odd racist remark in Britain was once the domain of the fringe. As a result of politics and negative press, the stigmatizing of migrants as a toxic stain on British society is becoming institutional. If you find this hard to believe, buy a British newspaper.

“The history leading up to the so-called American ‘Revolution’ is riddled with US imperial deception.” The rebellion was actually a counter-revolution by slave owners and land pirates who feared the British Crown would not “allow their profitable white supremacist enterprise to continue.” The result was the creation of the world’s first genocidal, ever-expanding white settler republic.

Gerald Horne’s Counter Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America is a critical contribution in the struggle for clarity around one of the most misconceived periods of history. In schools, media outlets, and institutions of power across the US, the history leading up to the so-called “American Revolution” is riddled with US imperial deception. Most are taught that the revolting settlers were victims of London’s tyrannical rule, and even Marxists and avowed revolutionaries promote the idea that the formation of the US was a great step forward for humanity. Horne’s work provides the vast historical narrative that proves how this premise is false. He centers his analysis on the inherently counter-revolutionary nature of what led to the colonists desire for succession.

The central thesis argues that the revolt against British rule was an effort to maintain the institutions of white supremacy and the slave trade in opposition to London’s incipient trend toward abolition. Africans stolen from their homeland and enslaved in both the mainland colonies and the Caribbean were prone to insurrection. Spain and France took advantage of this by arming Africans and Indigenous people against London’s rule. This created a crisis of an internal enemy and an external foe that had the potential of sending London’s capitalist economy into a political and economic crisis. As London responded by arming Africans and seeking gradual abolition of chattel slavery in the mid to late 18th century, the ever fatter planter and merchant capitalist class of the mainland colonies began to see London as a threat to its existence. The “founding fathers” sought to eliminate this threat by creating a perfect “whiteness” in the form of a republican state. It would do this by granting rights and privileges to European migrants of all classes (now deemed “white”) to protect the slave owning class from the rapidly growing African population, which by the time of 1776 outnumbered white settlers in important colonies such as South Carolina.

Horne concludes that the development of white supremacy was a necessary response to the colonial bourgeoisie’s dependency on the African chattel slave trade. This dependency brought numerous contradictions to their peak as planter and merchant capitalists alike accumulated vast super profits from African bondage. The Stono Rebellion of 1739 among numerous others in North America and the Caribbean struck fear in the eyes of the settlers. To make matters worse for the settlers, whiteness was at this point a fragile and complicated system of social control. Recruiting the ranks of Irish, Scots, and assorted Europeans into whiteness when the Crown was partaking in the colonization and religious suppression of these nations made fostering alignment with the colonizer a difficult task. For example, in 1741, fires engulfed much of New York is what was thought to be sparked by poor European migrants and African slaves working in collusion with each other. The Crown feared losing global hegemony to its rivals, while the settlers on the mainland feared losing their lucrative trade of African bodies.

The threat of African rebellion was exacerbated by the rapid expansion of the chattel slave trade in the mainland colonies after the Crown deregulated the Royal African Company in 1688. Deregulation unleashed an independent slave trading class whose primary motivation was profit. This led to illegal colonial trade with the Crown’s enemies of France and Spain as well as lost domestic revenue in London. The rising merchant class paid little to nothing in taxes for defense systems in coastal West Africa the Crown built to protect traders from African resistance. This was made all the more complicated by the calculated move by London to invest more in the mainland as the colonies of Jamaica and Antigua became engulfed in African rebellion.

The combination of the danger Africans and the colonial powers presented to London and the settlers’ dishonest business and intransigence to fight for London to suppress Africans and European rivals in the Caribbean led the Crown to believe that gradual abolition would best preserve and expand British capitalism. The Crown’s response to the problem of the colonies was to levy taxes on sugar and other raw materials, which increased the price of imported African slaves. These policies sparked tensions between settlers and the Crown that ultimately caught fire when the Somerset case of 1772 ruled that chattel slavery was a breach in English Common Law. Three years later, Lord Dunmore of Virginia declared his intention to arm Africans against settlers disloyalty to the Crown. Colonists in the mainland believed that only independence from the Crown would allow their profitable white supremacist enterprise to continue.

Only a war to detach from London could unleash the full genocidal potential of the settler’s brand of capitalism and white supremacy we see today. London’s defeat by the settlers had devastating consequences for Black Americans in particular. Modern day slave patrols, the police, are daily stripping away the lives of Black people. The police are the guns behind the Mass Black Incarceration State, the slave masters’ weapon of choice in subduing Black America in their quest for continued Wall Street profit. Black Americans make up nearly half of the 2.3 million behind the walls in the world’s largest prison camp. Mass Black incarceration should be seen as a necessary form of statecraft to maintain the rule of the rich. The economic condition of the Black working class is worse than it was in 1964, when many were conscious of US imperialism’s apartheid conditions. Whatever Black wealth accumulated during the post-World War II period has deteriorated to the point where in the city of Boston, for example, Black wealth is so minuscule that it is rounded to zero.

White supremacy is the barrel of the gun that keeps this miserable condition intact. Whether the US ruling class is robbing the poor and working class or waging geopolitical warfare to secure profits, each and every policy of US imperialism is white supremacist in nature. The Trans Pacific Partnership, if pushed through by Obama in his last years, would give multi-national corporations (most of which are tied to Western imperial nations) the power to sue sovereign governments if such actions by these governments are deemed to violate trade terms and hurt “future profits.” Such a deal would shift an increasingly non-Western alignment in the global capitalist economy back to the US and West. In short, the TPP would strengthen imperialism’s ability to loot the non-Western world of its wealth, a process that has been justified for centuries by the idea that white ruled nations are superior and civilized to colonized nations.

Whether it’s the domestic surveillance of the War on Terror, or the misery and murder of US imperial interventions in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the same white supremacist ambitions that drove the settlers to revolt against the Crown dictate US imperial policy in the 21st century. Decades of struggle and crises have changed the form of the system, but not its foundation. US capitalism is in its terminal stage of monopoly and Wall Street has sent out all of its guns to wrestle the world back into its orbit during a period where “recovery” and reform are impossible. This has meant endless war and plunder backed by the forces of white supremacy.

When the Boston Bombing occurred in 2013, the corporate media made sure to work day and night to pump up public fear of the Muslim “terrorist” rather than question its own government’s involvement in Chechnya or the numerous reports of FBI contact with the alleged bombers years prior. This is just one example of how white supremacy’s primary function in this period is to erase and dehumanize the existence of Black, indigenous, and those who Fanon called the “Wretched of the Earth” in order to align white and collaborationist forces to the rule of Empire. The attachment to white supremacy and the belief that the US is superior to all other nations are large reasons why there was no collective questioning as to the true nature of the Boston Bombing incident and why most people in the US know nothing of the 6 million Congolese murdered since Washington backed Rwanda and Uganda’s proxy invasion in 1996. White supremacy has normalized Empire and the genocidal war, robbery, and repression it has wrought on the oppressed everywhere.

Horne’s analysis of the events leading up to the 1776 debacle provides clarity on what truly brought the US into fruition and why this history matters if we are to truly understand the current period. Without the paralyzing fear of Black rebellion to enslavement, which happened often during the period of 1712-1775, the white unity that helped the colonial bourgeoisie solidify conflict with the Crown would not have presented such a grave challenge to both the enslaved and their de facto liberators in the Crown. In this way, white supremacy can be said to have brought the United States of America to life through counter revolution.

Today, US imperialism remains a racist state. It utilizes White America’s alignment with imperialism to not only weaken the struggle for liberation against the impoverishing forces of monopoly capital and the murderous forces of the state, but also to create an irreconcilable class war between the privileged global white minority and the oppressed majority from Black America to Palestine. Horne’s scholarship on the first state born from white supremacy is a solid contribution to the struggle for social revolution in the US and should be used to counter the narrative parroted by those living in the US of all political orientations that 1776 was a step forward for humanity. There will be no second revolution in the US, just a first.

Danny Haiphong is an organizer for Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) in Boston. He is also a regular contributor to Black Agenda Report. Danny can be reached at [email protected] and FIST can be reached at [email protected].

U.S. May Position for a War Against Russia?

June 17th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

On Saturday, June 13th, The New York Times bannered, “U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe,” and Russia’s response to the announcement wasn’t long in coming.

The Russian equivalent of America’s Wall Street Journal and Britain’s Financial Times, which is Kommersant (or Businessperson), headlined on June 15th, “US may redeploy heavy weapons to the borders of the Russian Federation,” and reported that, “According to sources in the Russian Government, the implementation of this plan will force Moscow to post on the border with the Baltic countries Russia’s own offensive military capability that can destroy US facilities in the event of a hypothetical conflict.”

The report in the Times had noted that,

“The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence.”

The Soviet Union (and its communism, which the U.S. always said was the basis for the Cold War) ended in 1991. That was the same year when the Warsaw Pact — Russia’s equivalent of NATO — also ended. In Russia, the expectation was that that would be that — there would be no more hostility between the governments of the U.S.A. and Russia. Russian leaders had assumed this, but it turned out not to be the case. (Perhaps this explains part of the reason why it turned out not to be so: Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation in the 1990s estimated that Russia has enormous oil deposits.)

The U.S. has thus been expanding NATO right up to the very borders of Russia, after the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact ended in 1991. (Russia did no such thing to the United States; Russia hasn’t been trying to surround the U.S. with enemy nations.) The NATO expansion started in 1999, when U.S. President Bill Clinton brought into NATO the former Warsaw Pact member-nations of Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. Then, this threatening (if not aggressive) U.S. move, expanded even further in 2004, when U.S. President George W. Bush brought into NATO other former Warsaw Pact members: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Next, in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama brought into NATO two more former Warsaw Pact nations, Albania and Croatia.

Finally, President Obama, in a 2014 very bloody coup d’etat, overthrew the neutralist government of Ukraine, and replaced it with a government which is filled with politicians whose political heritage goes back to the pro-Hitler and rabidly anti-Russian political movements in Ukraine during World War II, and these fascist U.S.-client politicians have many times spoken of their aim being to join NATO and — with NATO’s help — to destroy Russia. America’s threat to Russia is very real.

Russian intelligence had, even earlier than Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision on 20 November 2013 to decline membership in the EU, gotten wind of the Obama Administration’s preparations ever since the Spring of 2013, to overthrow the neutralist Yanukovych and replace him with a racist-fascist anti-Russian regime in next-door Ukraine: a bunch of nazis who are Russian-hating fascists even more than they are Jew-hating fascists. They hate the Russian people. What nation wants a rabidly hostile regime like that on its doorstep? Consequently, within even less than a month after the American coup, Russia prevented America’s planned follow-on takeover of Russia’s main naval base, which is on the then-Ukrainian island of Crimea.

Nikita Khruschev had donated Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, though Crimea had always been part of Russia; and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided, immediately after the coup, Russian protection to Crimeans, so that they could hold their own vote on whether to rejoin with Russia. Even the hard-like anti-Russian Forbes magazine commentator, Kenneth Rapoza, headlined on 20 March 2015, “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea, Locals Prefer Moscow To Kiev,” and he reviewed several polls, some taken by U.S.-owned polling organizations, all showing almost 100% support among Crimeans for the switch back to being Russians again and no longer being subject to rule from Kiev — especially not this Russia-hating Kiev regime. Rapoza concluded simply, “At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.” But U.S. President Obama, and his followers within the European Union, still refuse to do that. The people of Scotland are allowed to vote on whether to secede from the UK, but the people of Crimea (who never self-identified as Ukrainians nearly to the extent they self-identified as Russians) cannot do likewise? That’s what the West’s hypocritical leaders are saying — and now a World War III could result from it.

So, Obama and the EU slapped economic sanctions on Russia (for what are actually the consequences of America’s coup); and, when the new Ukrainian Government started a bombing campaign to eliminate the inhabitants in the Donbass region of Ukraine, which had voted over 90% for Viktor Yanukovych (which is the only way to get Obama’s regime-change in Ukraine to survive future elections — i.e., to get rid of the voters there) the West then blamed Russia for assisting the residents in the Donbass region to defend themselves against the exterminationist invasion from Kiev. And President Obama still insists that Ukraine seize back both Donbass and Crimea.

And this brings us to today, and, perhaps, to the brink of a U.S.-Russian war.

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, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Digital Data and the Loss of Privacy

June 17th, 2015 by Global Research News

The tech culture would have you believe that the digital format has produced untold innovations and advancements for personal development, societal advancement and business innovations. Well, the glass is half full for the kool aide drinkers, but for the mere mortals, who seek out a meaningful life as opposed to a regimented existence, the curse of placing the most intimate data on untold hard drives and shuffled among unknown servers, a loss of simple privacy is the least of the problems.

The horror of keeping the door unlocked to the treasure chest of government and business secrets seems not to faze the computer gurus who pushed for decades that going digital was the holy grail of efficiency and productivity. Encryption was the answer to securing central databases of zeros and ones that store the most desirable information of national security.

When the mainstream USA Today warns, The hacking of OPM: Is it our cyber 9/11? – The cover-up of a vulnerability of unlimited sharing of data from security breaches should be a substantial alarm call.

Although the announcement of the hacking into the computers of the OPM and the stealing of personal data on more than four million present and former federal employees was made in late May, the data breach had been discovered a month earlier and had been going on undiscovered for more than a year.

An obvious question about this latest data breach is why were the hackers seeking this information and the answer at this time is that we do not know. This type of information could be used for purposes of identity theft for profit, for gathering information to be used by the Chinese government to enhance their spying capabilities or even as part of their ongoing worldwide corporate espionage efforts by which they steal corporate and military secrets, such as the theft of secret plans of our most advanced F-35 Stealth Fighter Jet which was accomplished by hacking into computers at the Pentagon and at Lockheed Martin, the builder of the plane. Evidence of the hacking of the F-35 was leaked to the public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In May of 2014, the Justice Department indicted five Chinese military personnel on charge of hacking into six American companies to steal corporate secrets, however this type of activity has gone on for years. According to security company Mandiant, Chinese hackers have stolen corporate secrets from 115 American companies since 2014 and it is not just the Chinese who do this type of corporate espionage. Russia has also been particularly active in corporate cybercrime. It was estimated by cybersecurity company CrowdStrike that the Russian government has hacked hundreds of companies around the world in order to steal trade secrets and corporate information they can exploit.

Now it should be self-evident that spying from friends or foes are normal occurrences in a hostile world. Citing the theft of design, confidential technological and engineering details, obviously should be of concern to all citizens. However, the pattern of hacking and easy access to such information just does not seem to rise to the highest national concern.

The question that is seldom asked is whether placing such sensitive secrets on networks that can be used by anyone, who can duplicate or pilfer the authorization credentials to login, is a core and systemic issue.

With all the billions spent on the computer spy game, one would reasonably wonder why keep in a digital format the most important information resources that seem to be the highest objective on the target list for foreign theft.

Espionage makes use of the most sophisticated methods for penetrating the barriers attempting to protect the information. Remember when the U.S. Embassy in the Soviet capital was penetrated with an eavesdropping device, the response was to communicate using an Etch-a-Sketch toy? Magic Slates don’t blow up, go fast or even scare the dickens out of the bad guys, but the erasable memo pads nonetheless came in handy for two congressional delegates trying to outsmart spies during a mission to Moscow.

While this example used voice recording, the permanent horde of computerized data is a far more significant gold mine of information. The miracle of the computer revolution has turned into the nightmare of espionage extraction.

Consider how implausible it would be for a human spy to use a Minox camera from the cold war era to photograph top secret documents that were instantly transferred from the Chinese hack. Back in the “good old days” of low tech, organizations and bureaucracies stored their records on magnate tape drives in-house. Those vast sharing networks in cyberspace did not exist and the only cloud known was the one that carried the rain.

Today, the storm from relying on some exotic algorithm formula that claims to safely encrypt and secure any database is like placing your faith into the iPhone culture of assured communication. Back doors are the true entry gateway of global digital dissimulation.

Surrendering safekeeping for the promise of easy sharing, misses the entire purpose of why secrets in any business or government are kept in the custody and stewardship of trustworthy persons, managing systems of formidable barriers that resist theft and broadcasting.

What lessons were learned from Edward Snowden? For all the scorn dumped on this whistleblower, what was the method of his disclosures? The digital format of the files begs for accessing the data, for whatever motive the expert exhibits.

Even harsh critics of Snowden do not make the case that he was a foreign agent plant. However, just imagine the kind of damage that could be accomplished if an undercover spy had access to the type of databases that a civilian contractor at the NSA was able to transmit.

Centralizing critical information under firewall barriers has little guarantees that networks are secure. Since the digital format is the new standard, just maybe, going against the grain is the prudent method to keep real secrets, confidential.

Submitting the most important and sensitive to paper and not on computers might well supply a much safer policy than depending on security clearances to protect top secret documents.

Abandoning the old fashion tax reporting filings for an electronic submission is a formula for opening financial records on all tax payers. Surely, companies should get nervous over certain details that may not be part of public disclosures. And government technocrats should be put on notice that their role in protecting the system may just require their own agencies to be put under the microscope.

If whistleblowers were the main source of hacks, the risk might be relatively minimal. Conversely, falling under the state sponsored hacking initiative certainly has every aspect of an act of war. Certainly, the prospect for a heated up confirmation is unlikely for no other reason that it is reasonable to conclude that the U.S. is well skilled in its own espionage operations.

Nonetheless, it should be recognized that transparency is not defined as direct access to every database, both public and private.

Digital files are well appreciated for library archives, news reports and political debate, but when foreigners attack information platforms that are intended to secure personal disclosures, the outrage should be more intense and the press needs to feature the problem.

Privacy has become a dirty word for the collectivists who want to dominate individual behavior. Yet, the stuck on stupid crowd continues to voluntarily provide the most intimate details on their lives on every government form or in surveys.

The databases, themselves are the issue. A society that rushes to send “selfies” on the internet, is hardly a culture based upon prudent and protective privacy.

Accepting the digitalization of all information guarantees that the only security available rests upon non participation in the electronic communication environment. Even dropping out of the computer revolution will not retake your former disclosures.

Files, yes digital format, are so prevalent that only the unborn do not yet have a dossier on file.

It is one thing for Google, Facebook and Amazon to assemble personal profiles and project future behavior. But it is much worse for governments to target citizens of other countries for accumulating background information of civilians.

Lesson learned. There is no security in cyberspace.

If the information you want to protect is important, maintain the details in a privately secure paper format. By this definition, banking, employment, medical and educational circumstances are almost impossible to keep private.

As for national security secrets, will you not agree that this is one area where the government should scale back on network access databases that are so vulnerable to foreign infiltration and spying?

Let the debate be about expanding public disclosure on government policies and programs and keep the personal background data, private. If you believe that Net Neutrality regulations will provide greater security, the opposite will happen.

 

Are HPV vaccines the number one cause of coincidence around the globe? Are we facing one of the worst epidemics of mass hysteria the world has ever seen?  Apparently, health authorities around the world would like us to believe one of these two scenarios.

Almost without exception, survivors of new medical conditions after the administration of Gardasil or Cervarix are told their problems are coincidental, psychosomatic, mass hysteria, conversion disorder, and so on…ad nauseam. The health authorities in one country (Colombia) even went so far as to attribute new medical conditions after Gardasil to the overuse of Ouija boards.

If all of the above fail, the next step is to try and blame the new symptoms on the parents with phrases like Munchausen by proxy, factitious disorder, fabricated or induced illness, attention seeking, simply out for money, and so on.

The first problem with all of these theories is they are usually put forth after little or no medical investigation. This leaves parents who believed their health authorities and had their daughters injected with the newest miracle vaccine feeling confused, abandoned and betrayed by the very people they trusted to protect their children’s health and well-being.

The second problem with all of these theories is they delay potentially life-saving treatments which could be provided if investigations took place, accurate diagnoses made and treatment protocols designed and implemented.

Read the following updates and ask yourself – What is wrong with this picture?

Colombia: First Reported Fatality after Gardasil

On May 22, 2015 16-year old Karen Durán-Cantor died after complications related to new onset autoimmune disorders believed to have been triggered by two injections of Gardasil, the human papillomavirus vaccine currently being given to school age girls throughout the country.

Karen received her first Gardasil shot at the end of 2013 and the second one a few months later in early 2014. According to her mother, Karen’s hands got swollen almost imediately. She began to experience joint and finger pain that was diagnosed as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Despite receiving medical therapy, her disease progressed forcing Karen to stop attending school due to the constant severe pain. Consequently, she was not able to graduate from high school with her classmates.

Karen and her family sought a second opinion in Bogotá’s Clinica Colsubsidio where she was also diagnosed with pleural effusion requiring drainage to help her breathe. By this time, Karen had lost the ability to walk. She could not go to the bathroom or take a shower by herself. She had nearly constant pain on the right side of her body (the side where the Gardasil injection was administered). Karen frequently complained she was short of breath and it was difficult for her to breathe.

Just prior to her death, Karen experienced difficulty breathing and required oxygen. She was referred to La Samaritana Hospital in Bogotá where she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where she developed fatal respiratory failure.

These are photos of Karen before and after her Gardasil injections. Please note this dramatic change occured between the end of 2013 and the middle of 2015 – approximately a year-and-a-half.

Karen before Gardasil

Karen after Gardasil

Despite her personal pain, Karen produced a video to warn others about the possible consequences of using Gardasil shortly before her death.

This is the first documented death after the development of autoimmune disorders following the administration of Gardasil in Colombia.

In addition to the pain and grief this family has already had to endure, they have a long journey ahead of them as they attempt to locate a forensic expert to determine the exact cause of their daughter’s death.

Karen’s family is not alone in Colombia. Hundreds of girls have developed new medical conditions that may have been triggered by Colombia’s recent mandatory HPV vaccination program. The Colombian National Institute of Health did carry out an investigation. The lead investigator was Dr. Fernando De La Hoz, a prominent epidemiologist, who resigned after concluding that the adverse events developed by the girls was a result of mass psychogenic disease.

What is wrong with this picture?

Mexico: Several schools cancel HPV vaccinations

Gardasil was introduced in Mexico in 2008, but only to 125 targeted municipalities with the ”lowest human development index” which were estimated to have the highest incidence of cervical cancer. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine was delivered to these communities via mobile health clinics to girls who were 12-16 years of age using the currently recommended dosing schedule of 0, 2, and 6-months.

In 2009, the program was expanded to include 182 municipalities, still with the ”lowest human development index,” but this time with the first two doses being delivered at 0 and 6 months and the third dose 60 months later (5 years) and the targeted girls being ages 9-12.

Considering the current Supreme Court Case in India, one has to wonder… Were these parents informed of the fact their daughters were participants in a clinical trial to determine appropriate dosing regimens?

Why did both programs target girls in so many locations with the lowest human development index? What was the rate of adverse events among the participants?

In 2011, Mexico’s National Immunization Council approved a nationwide expansion of its HPV vaccination program to include school-based HPV vaccination for all 9-year-old girls.

Two months before leaving office in 2012, Mexican President Felipe Calderon made HPV vaccination mandatory for all 11-12 year old girls.

According to Chapter 4 of the Comprehensive Cervical Cancer Control: A guide to essential practicepublished on February 11, 2013 by the World Health organization, Mexico is currently using alternative dosing schedule, which is not approved or recommended by WHO at this time. (verify on page 6)

May 2015, after only 500 doses of Gardasil were administered under this program, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) had to cancel the HPV immunization program at some schools because parents were refusing to allow their 9-year-old girls to receive the injections.

What is wrong with this picture?

Brazil: Uptake of HPV vaccine drops from 83% to 40%

In 2012, Gardasil sales in Japan generated $140 million. In 2013, the Japanese Health Ministry rescinded its recommendation for the use of HPV vaccines causing Merck to look for replacement markets.

By August of the same year, Brazil had agreed to set aside almost $160 million for the purchase of HPV vaccines for use in 2014.

But, 2014 would not be Brazilian girl’s first exposure to Gardasil. According to an article published in Elselvier’s Trials in Vaccinology in 2013, clinical trials using Gardasil were being conducted in the municipality of Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during 2010, 2011 and 2012.

According to the abstract, the objectives of these trials were:

Assess vaccination coverage in that municipality after adopting several strategies for active search and missed opportunities for vaccination against HPV. Evaluate acceptance for the vaccine and reasons for refusal the HPV vaccine. Evaluate the frequency and occurrence of adverse events to that vaccine. A survey of reduction of genital warts was also conducted.

The paper goes on to state that between September 2010 and December 2012, approximately 90,000 doses of Gardasil were used. This number of doses should have covered 30,000 recipients.

However, the ’evaluation of the frequency and occurrence of adverse events’ consisted of conducting a survey of 1,000 randomly selected teenagers to be followed up on 96 hours after vaccine administration to evaluate safety and tolerability.

The authors stated the results of this survey as follows:

There were observed a total of 430 local and systemic events in 360 subjects (36% of 1000 girls), stratified by each dose received. No serious adverse events or any hospitalization were reported;

96 hours; only four days? Are these people serious? How can the safety and tolerability of any vaccine be accurately assessed only 4 days after administration?

Nevertheless, the authors’ conclusion confidently stated:

According to our results, it seems evident that the good coverage achieved by vaccination against HPV in Campos dos Goytacazes, coupled with no serious adverse events to the vaccine reported throughout the study, point to the feasibility of this vaccination strategy, which can also be used in other municipalities. Taking into account not only the benefits but also the results with regard to the reduction of genital warts, amply demonstrated by international studies [18] and [19], we then seek to suggest the inclusion of HPV vaccination in the Brazilian calendar.

By the end of the same year this study was published, Brazilian health authorities had committed nearly $160 million precious healthcare dollars to the purchase of Gardasil for their 2014 national immunization program.

Between March and May of 2014, 83% of the targeted girls (ages 11-13) in Brazil had received their Gardasil injections. By the end of the year 100% of the targeted 4.9 million girls had been vaccinated.

During the same period (March through May) this year another 4.9 million girls (ages 9-11) were targeted, but only 40.2% of them took the vaccine. Could it be because of stories like these?

What is wrong with this picture?

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