Image: Boys from the Palestinian Bakr family who survived an Israeli attack walk on the beach in Gaza (AFP)

Palestinian solidarity groups have taken to social media to step up the pressure on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include Israel for the first time on a “shame list” of serious violators of children’s rights.

The campaign, which culminates in the submission of an online petition to Ban’s office on 7 May, was launched after indications that Israel is exerting enormous pressure on UN officials to avoid being named.

Ban’s office is due to make the list public in the coming weeks.

A senior UN source, who wished to remain anonymous because of the diplomatically sensitive nature of any announcement, told Middle East Eye that Ban’s chief advisers had recommended that the Israeli army be identified as a serious violator of children’s rights.

That would place it, for the first time, alongside groups like Islamic State, the Taliban and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, pushing Israel further towards international isolation.

Israel has found ever fewer supporters in the international community as it has tried to prevent Palestinian moves both to win recognition at the UN for statehood and to be accepted at international bodies such as the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Relations with the White House have recently hit an unprecedented low.

The decision, the source said, had become all but inevitable after the recent findings of a UN inquiry into Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer known as Operation Protective Edge which killed more than 500 Palestinian children and injured at least 3,300 others.

The investigation concluded that the Israeli army had targeted six UN schools where civilians, including many children, were sheltering, even though it had been notified of the sites and their GPS coordinates in advance.

Ban described the attacks – which killed 44 Palestinians and injured 227 more – as “a matter of the utmost gravity”.

Large-scale killing and maiming of children, and attacks on schools, are among the “triggers” for inclusion on the list in a UN monitoring process of children’s right in conflicts around the world introduced a decade ago.

Intimidation of staff

However, there are concerns in the UN and among children’s rights experts that, despite the evidence against Israel, political pressure from Israel and the US could ensure that the Israeli army remains off the list.

In a sign of Israel’s concern, its officials protested strenuously in February when local UN staff in Jerusalem were due to ratify a recommendation to UN headquarters that Israel be included. At the last minute, the meeting was cancelled.

One of Ban’s officials privately complained to Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, over the intimidation of agency staff in Jerusalem, according to a report in Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Despite Israel’s intervention, said the UN source, agency officials in Jerusalem and Ban’s advisers in New York had decided the evidence against Israel was compelling.

If Ban had received such a recommendation, the pressures on him would be intense, said Gerard Horton, a lawyer specialising in Israel’s treatment of children. “Once things move to New York, they become highly political,” he told MEE.

“After all, the US pays a large slice of the UN’s budget, so UN officials cannot afford to ignore the administration’s wishes. If UN officials want to help children in Africa and Iraq, they have to ask themselves whether it is worth risking it all for a fight over Israel.”

Activists on social media have established a new group, 4Palkids, to try to bring grassroots pressure to bear on Ban.

Ariyana Love, one of the organisers, said: “Our hope is that, if Israel is put on the list, it will begin a process of bringing sanctions to bear against Israel from the international community.”

UN credibility at stake

The UN source said it would be unprecedented if Ban vetoed the advice of his team in New York dealing with children and armed conflict, headed by Leila Zerrougui.

“The Secretary General has never before vetoed a recommendation for inclusion on this list and it will be hard for him to do so now and maintain the UN’s credibility in the Middle East,” said the source.

A spokeswoman in Jerusalem for UNICEF, which leads the local monitoring process, referred all questions to New York, saying the matter was “confidential”.

Ban’s office said the report would be published in June but would not comment on which countries were to be listed or whether Israel had lobbied the Secretary-General.

Off the record, UN officials have noted that Ban will have to take account of the fact that the UN’s Human Rights Council is due to submit its report into Operation Protective Edge in the coming months. The report is expected to be harshly critical of Israel’s 50-day operation and the resulting high number of casualties of Palestinian civilians.

Israel is regularly condemned by UN human rights commissions, most recently in a resolution by the Commission on the Status of Women. But Israel and the US usually dismiss such findings as partisan, given that the commissions represent national governments, including Arab and Muslim states.

A listing of Israel by Ban – with the implicit backing of the Security Council, which originally set up the monitoring of children’s rights in conflict zones – will carry much more weight.

Horton, a founder of Military Court Watch, an organisation monitoring Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, said western states’ current displeasure with Israel might give Ban the diplomatic room he needs to punish it.

“There is a lot of anger in Europe and the US towards the Israeli government, especially after [Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu publicly declared during the recent election campaign that he would not allow the creation of a Palestinian state,”

he said.

“Placing Israel on the list might be a way to send a shot across the bows. It would be a major embarrassment for Israel, but it would draw a lot less blood than the US vetoing a resolution in the Security Council against, say, Israel’s settlements.”

‘List of shame’

Since 2005, UN agencies have been charged with monitoring 23 conflicts, including the one between Israel and the Palestinians, for serious violations of children’s rights.

Six grave violations have been identified that qualify a party to a conflict for inclusion on the list. They are: killing and maiming children, abductions, sexual attacks, attacks on schools and hospitals, the denial of humanitarian access, and the recruitment of children as soldiers.

The UN Secretary General’s office publishes detailed annual reports into all the conflicts, highlighting major violations of children’s rights. However, the Israeli army has so far avoided inclusion in an annex that has come to be known as the “list of shame”.

In last year’s report, 52 parties were named for the gravest violations against children in states such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Several government armed forces were included.

Although the Israeli army was not identified in that report as one of the most serious abusers, it was criticised for violations against Palestinian children that included: actions that led to deaths and injuries; night-time arrests; cruel and degrading treatment during interrogations; threats of sexual violence; transfers to Israeli prisons, in violation of the Geneva Conventions; attacks on school; and the denial for patients in Gaza of the required hospital treatment.

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, has noted that inclusion on the list has proved successful in curbing states’ worst abuses of children’s rights.

“The ‘list of shame’ has been a remarkably effective tool in getting governments to improve their children’s rights records,” Bede Sheppard, the deputy director of the children’s rights division at HRW, noted earlier this year.

Issam Yunis, director of Al-Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza, told MEE that listing Israel was vital to increasing protections for Palestinians under occupation.

“At the moment, Israel is totally unaccountable, especially in Gaza, where it has a green light to do what it likes. Gaza is a society of children [figures show 44 per cent of the population are under 14] so it is inevitable that they pay the heaviest price for Israeli impunity.”

Breakthrough meeting

In the case of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, violations have been documented and monitored since 2007 by a working group led by the UN children’s agency, UNICEF. The group includes other major UN agencies, international aid organisations and Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations.

Until this year, Palestinian children’s rights experts noted, Israel had not only been excluded from the final list publicised by the UN Secretary General’s office, but had not even been discussed for inclusion.

“This year, there was a breakthrough in that the local report included a proposal for the first time to consider whether Israel should be on the list,” said Ayed Abed Eqtaish, a lawyer with the Palestine branch of Defence for Children International.

He said that was why Israel had sought to prevent the meeting in February.

He added: “Things are getting noticeably harder for Israel. The pressure is growing year by year.”

The Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council, a coalition of 12 Palestinian groups, sent a letter to Ban in February urging him to be “impartial” and include Israel on the list.

They wrote:

“Repeated Israeli military offensives, prolonged military occupation, and recurrent military violence combined with complete disregard for international law has hindered any meaningful efforts toward implementing comprehensive protections for children living [under occupation].”

Inclusion on the list would add significantly to the mounting criticism of Israel’s conduct during last year’s Operation Protective Edge. Reports from human rights groups have already accused Israel of carrying out war crimes.

Soldiers’ testimonies

This week, a group of former Israeli soldiers, Breaking the Silence, published testimonies from soldiers who served in Gaza. Many said they had received similar orders from their commanders: to shoot any Palestinian, whether armed or not, in areas Israel considered combat zones.

A staff sergeant was quoted saying:

“The instructions are to shoot right away. Whoever you spot – be they armed or unarmed, no matter what. The instructions are very clear. Any person you run into, that you see with your eyes – shoot to kill. It’s an explicit instruction.”

Breaking the Silence concluded that Israel was “at best indifferent about casualties among the Palestinian population”.

Although criticism in the UN of Israel has focused on the killing and maiming of children in last year’s attack on Gaza, Yunis of Al-Mezan said Israel should have been listed long before for the grave violation of “denying humanitarian access”.

“The siege of Gaza has been going on for nearly a decade and meets the criteria of a grave violation,” he said. “If Israel is listed this year, it’s important that it stays there until it ends such violations.”

As the Bureau revealed recently, the accidental killing of American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giorgio Lo Porto by the CIA in January now means at least 38 Westerners have been killed by covert US drones in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Yet, as a major analysis of the nationalities killed by such strikes shows, this figure is just 1.6% of the total dead who the Bureau has established their country or region of origin.

There have now been 515 US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2002, killing at least 2,887 people. Of those, the Bureau has been able to determine where 2,353 came from. They include Moroccans, Kenyans and Syrians – drawn from 34 countries in all.

The majority however came from the country they died in. More than 60% of those killed in Pakistan were reportedly from Pakistan. More than 80% of those killed in Yemen were reportedly Yemenis. For Somalia, information about the dead is more limited, but where the Bureau has been able to find details, 45% of those killed were Somali.

This data is not in itself surprising – experts have told the Bureau the majority of armed groups in these countries are made up of local people.

But the how much the local populations have been in the drones’ firing line had hitherto not been quantified. The Bureau compiled this data in conjunction with Chris Woods for his new book Sudden Justice: America’s Secret Drone War.

This demonstrates the extent to which Pakistan the US has been hitting the insurgents who have used the country’s tribal areas as a safe-haven from which to launch attacks on US and allied troops in Afghanistan. In Yemen, the US has been fighting with the government on one side of a complicated civil war.

Pakistan

Pakistan

Yemen

Yemen 

The civilian toll from all CIA strikes in Pakistan also falls on the local population. Of the minimum 423 civilians reported killed, three have been clearly identified as coming from outside the Central Asian region. Lo Porto and Weinstein were Westerners, and Umm al Shaymah was the Egyptian wife of al Qaeda terrorist Mustafa Abu Yazid. Al Shaymah’s three daughters were also killed in the attack though it is not clear if they were born in Egypt or Pakistan.

Details on many of the dead is difficult to come by. For example, the Bureau’s Naming the Dead project has over two years painstakingly pieced together information on the dead in Pakistan – but it has only named 721 of at least 2,449 people killed.

The CIA itself also has an incomplete understanding of who has been killed in its strikes. Leaked Agency records of its attacks in Pakistan show nearly one in four strikes killed “other militants” whom the CIA could not identify either by name or group affiliation. The data also shows the CIA records estimates of casualties in ranges, reflecting uncertainty in the total number of people killed, not just the identity.

The gaps in the CIA’s data could stem from its use of tactics like signature strikes.

Signature strikes kill people not based on their identity but on a pattern of life analysis – an intelligence assessment built up over prolonged surveillance. There is considerable scope for error in these kinds of attacks. The January 15 attack that killed Lo Porto and Weinstein was a signature strike. After days of surveillance of the house they were held in, the CIA determined four unidentified al Qaeda members were inside. The CIA knew it had made a mistake when six bodies were removed from the structure.

Controversial Tactics

The high proportion of Pakistanis among the drone dead could be a consequence of other controversial CIA tactics.

The CIA’s targeting policies have taken their toll on the Pakistani population of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), even when the drones were not aiming at a local target. On October 30 2006 drones destroyed a madrassa in Bajaur agency. The target was reportedly Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama Bin Laden’s Egyptian deputy. The strike missed him but killed at least 79 Pakistani civilians, most of them children.

The high number of Pakistanis and people from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan reportedly killed by drones could also demonstrate how the US has expanded its range of drone targets in the country. The early strikes were intended for two groups: al Qaeda terrorists the CIA was gunning for, and Pakistani terrorists who Islamabad wanted dead.

According to the New York Times, Pakistan and the CIA came to an agreement before the drone campaign began. The US could take out its al Qaeda targets if it also killed Pakistan’s enemies.

Since 2004, the strikes appear to have taken their toll on the traditionally Arab membership of al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bureau has recorded at least 107 people killed by drones in Pakistan who reportedly came from Middle Eastern, or north and east African countries such as Egypt, Libya and Sudan. A further 116 people were simply described as “Arabs”.

The first drone strike in June 2004 killed Nek Mohammed, a Pakistani militant who defied the Pakistani military and forced the army into a humiliating ceasefire two months before his death. The second strike, in May 2005, took out Haitham al Yemeni – an al Qaeda explosives expert from Yemen.

Documents reviewed by McClatchy news agency confirmed a secret deal between US and Pakistani officialsensured the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart the ISI worked together to kill both countries’ enemies.

The rate of strikes increased during the Obama administration as did the number of casualties and the number of Arabs among them. With the number of veteran al Qaeda fighters dwindling, a “deep bench” of terrorists from Pakistani and Central Asian terrorist groups stepped up to replace them, an unnamed US intelligence official told the Long War Journal in 2012.

Total killed, and their country or region of origin, from US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia
Pakistan 1,370
US 10
China 4
Morocco 2
Yemen 175
Libya 8
Jordan 4
Tunisia 1
Uzbekistan 138 UK 8
Syria 4
Sudan 1
“Pashtun” 136
Germany 7
“Africa” 3
Belgium or Swiss 1
“Arab” 119
Turkey 6
Tajikistan 3
Palestine 1
Afghanistan 90
Kuwait 6
Algeria 3
Lebanon 1
“Foreign” 86
Iraq 6
Australia 3
Russia (Chechen) 1
“Central Asia” 73
Somalia 6
Spain 2
Bahrain 1
Egypt 29 Kenya 5 Iran 2 Italy 1
Saudi Arabia 28 “Western” 4 Canada 2 - -

The number of Arab fighters fell “dramatically” after around 2009 when US drone strikes and Pakistani military offensives took their toll on al Qaeda’s ranks, Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist and expert on armed groups in the Fata, told the Bureau

There was a significant population of Arabs in the Fata, Yusufzai continued. “But numbers have gone down drastically… I don’t think that there would be more than 200.”

Fewer young Arab men are following the traditional path to Pakistan to fight in Afghanistan, he said. “It is not easy [to] come here and stay here. There is better security, better controls at the airport [and] on the borders.”

This leaves the veterans “who are living here for years, who can’t go back, who are most wanted. So they are here moving back and forth across the border between [Afghanistan and Pakistan].”

According to US administration officials from President Obama down, Washington uses its drones to hunt “al Qaeda and associated forces”.

This vague phrasing is believed to include the various factions. These include those Pakistan as a haven while fighting with the insurgency in Afghanistan, such as the Haqqani Network and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and groups set against the Pakistani state, including the Pakistan Taliban and Lashkar e Jangvi.

The CIA’s own data demonstrates it has targeted a wider array of armed groups than just al Qaeda.

In 2013, the McClatchy news agency published a leaked section of the CIA’s internal drone strike record of attacks and casualties in a 12-month period leading up to September 2011. It shows that nearly half the strikes in that period “hit groups other than al Qaeda, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taliban factions.” It also shows “the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups.”

These organisations comprise Pakistanis, Afghans and Uzbeks. They are the largest groupings of fighters by nationality, according to Yousufzai, and it is unsurprising there are so many of them listed in the Bureau’s data.

Pakistanis make up nearly two-thirds of those people killed by drones in Pakistan, according to Bureau research. This figure rises to 72% when people from the wider region – those described as Uzbeks, Central Asian or Pashtun – are included.

The lower frequency of strikes in the early years of the drone war demonstrates some constraint on the campaign. However in 2008 President Bush gave the CIA greater freedom in its strikes in Pakistan – including giving them permission to specifically target westerners, as revealed by Woods.

A Surge in CIA Strikes

This leeway from the White House precipitated a surge in CIA strikes in the second half of 2008. This continued in 2009 before the CIA stepped up the intensity again in 2010.

In December 2009 the Pakistan Taliban and al Qaeda sent a suicide bomber to Camp Chapman, a CIA base in Khost province, Afghanistan. The attack left seven CIA personnel dead. After the bombing, the CIA’s “shackles were unleashed” according to an unnamed intelligence official. “The CIA went to war,” another official said, adding: “The White House stood back.”

The US carried out 128 drone strikes in Pakistan that year, 23 in September alone, the peak of the drone war. At least 755 people were killed, 89 of them reportedly civilians. At least 510 of the dead were said to be from Pakistan or elsewhere in Central Asia – at least 72 of them civilians.

In Yemen the US has hit proportionally more local people than in Pakistan. The Bureau however has only managed to determine place of origin for 179 of the minimum 436 people killed by drones there. This partial picture shows more than four fifths of them were Yemeni which fits with the established understanding of the make-up of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

It was formed in 2007 from an amalgamation of veterans from al Qaeda groups based in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It has largely retained this composition, Yemen expert and Buzzfeed’s writer-at-large Gregory Johnsen told the Bureau. “They have an international aspect but certainly the vast majority of the organisation continues to be Yemeni and then Saudi.”

Who exactly is a member of AQAP has always been hard to determine in Yemen, not least because AQAP has formed alliances of convenience with various Yemeni tribes. In the past, the tribes would side with al Qaeda in their fight against the central government in Sanaa. Now, the tribes have united with fellow Sunnis in AQAP against the Shia Houthi rebels who have swept through Yemen in the past six months, ousting the president into exile.

“Membership in this group, and particularly now given the fluid situation on the ground in Yemen, is really really hard to determine,” says Johnsen.

“It is hard to determine who are fighters who are local fighters in Yemen who are joining and affiliating with al Qaeda only as a way to, say, combat the Houthis, and who are members who are joining with the organisation in a way that accepts wholeheartedly their ideology both the national and what al Qaeda would call the transnational Jihad.”

Throughout all, the US has supported the government in Sanaa which has strongly supported Washington’s counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen. As one US official said in April 2012, this has led the US into a complicated conflict: “I think there is the potential that we would be perceived as taking sides in a civil war.”

This was echoed by a former senior US Department of Defence official who told Woods: “I am not convinced that what we are doing in Yemen makes sense either politically or even that we’re striking the right people… You get more of a sense that we may be involved in a local conflict more than a global conflict.”

The US took sides in a civil war in Somalia when it backed an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, ostensibly aimed at crushing al Shabaab. The group had become the dominant force in the country. Since 2007 the US has provided air strikes and intelligence support to various African countries that have sent troops to the Horn of Africa to support the government in Mogadishu.

The Bureau’s data on drone strikes in Somalia is limited because of the difficulties in obtaining information in a country racked by decades of conflict. The Bureau has the nationality of 12 of at least 23 people killed with drones in Somalia.

Eight are from Somalia or Kenya which is generally consistent with the structure of the group, according to Dr Stig Jarle Hansen, associate professor of international relations at the Norwegian University of Life Science.

It is now 13 years since the US started its covert drone wars and it is clear its targets have expanded beyond al Qaeda. It is also clear that the local men who make up these other targeted entities have been hit more than anyone. The US still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and AQAP looks set to exploit the calamitous situation in Yemen. With CIA director John Brennan warning an audience in Washington the war on terror could continue indefinitely it is inevitable the death toll among local communities will rise.

Data for this investigation came in part from the Bureau’s Naming the Dead project which is supported by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Visualisation by Krystina Shveda

Follow Jack Serle on Twitter. Sign up for monthly updates from the Bureau’s Covert War project, subscribe to our podcast Drone News, and follow Drone Reads on Twitter to see what our team is reading.

Pro-Kiev forces have destroyed a gas pipeline and a cafe building in Donetsk with artillery shelling. “After an explosive object hit, roof and floor were destroyed on an area of 2,500 meters in the Dilyara cafe on Marshal Zhukov Street.

A shell also damaged a gas pipeline on Signalnaya Street,” the press service Donetsk city administration said on Wednesday.

The DPR emergencies ministry has confirmed information about shellings. According to its reports around 300 explosive objects were found near Lisichanskaya, including 105 artillery shells of 152mm, 14 of 125mm and 20 mines for a 120mm mortar. Explosive objects were also found near Khartsyzsk, Debaltsevo and Gorlovka.

The Ukrainian authorities have failed to implement the agreements reached in Minsk, head of the Donetsk Peoples Republic Alexander Zakharchenko told a press briefing on Wednesday.

“The economic blockade has not been lifted, the banking system has not been restored, pensions and social payments are not paid,” he said. Furthermore, there is no constitutional reform, even though Ukraine says that something is being done.Zakharchenko noted that the Package of Measures adopted on February 12 envisages that all issues relating to local elections must be coordinated with representatives of DPR and LPR. “But no one coordinates anything with us. The Minsk agreements are thus violated. They remain on paper 100%,” the head of the republic claimed.

Representatives of the DPR in the sub-group on refugees, internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance should urge Kiev to lift its blockade on delivering medicaments to Donbas at recent Contact Group meeting, chief physician at Donetsk central hospital Valentina Podolyaka said on Wednesday.We receive humanitarian aid from Russia which helps us to keep afloat, but this is not enough, she said. Donetsk doctors now need antibiotics, heart medications and medicine for newborn children.

Twenty seven presidents and prime ministers have confirmed their participation in the Moscow celebrations of the 70th Victory Day anniversary on May 8-10, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov stated.

“This means 27 heads of state and governments. Moreover, heads of a number of international organizations, in particular UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, will participate,” he said.In addition to aforementioned leaders, honorary guests who will be sent by relevant heads of states will attend the celebrations. For instance, Winston Churchill’s grandson who is a British MP will come from the United Kingdom. Foreign ministers of France, Italy and Monaco, as well as some other countries, and defense ministers of several countries are expected to come.

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Rwandan and Ugandan troops have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the past two weeks, but reporting is scant and neither the U.S., the U.N. Security Council nor any other members of the international community have spoken to this, the latest Rwandan and Ugandan violation of Congo’s sovereignty. The international community has instead been focused on the constitutional crisis in Congo’s neighbor, Burundi.

Transcript

KPFA Evening News Anchor: Unrest and political oppression in the African Great Lakes Region continue to cause fears of a regional war. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government accuses both Uganda and Rwanda of sending troops across the borders they share in Congo’s resource rich east.

M23 commander Sultani Makenga, during M23’s occupation of the eastern Congolese city of Goma in 2013

M23 commander Sultani Makenga, during M23’s occupation of the eastern Congolese city of Goma in 2013

At the same time, Burundi’s constitutional crisis threatens to engage its neighbors, Rwanda and Congo. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to international criminal defense attorney and former law professor Peter Erlinder about the U.N. Security Council’s response.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Peter Erlinder, the U.N. Security Council has not responded to credible reports of Ugandan and Rwandan troops in DR Congo, even though this is a clear violation of the U.N.’s founding principle, the equal sovereignty of member states.

Peter Erlinder: Yes, of course it is, but there’s been a long history of that. We know that as early as 1997, Uganda and Rwanda invaded the Congo and set up their own puppet government and have repeatedly invaded and occupied large portions of the Congo because of the desire to control the wealth in the eastern part of the Congo. That is the goal of Rwandan and Ugandan elites, if not the governments themselves.

KPFA: OK, the U.N. Force Intervention Brigade drove Rwanda and Uganda’s M23 proxy militia back into Rwanda and Uganda in 2013. Isn’t the UNSC legally or theoretically obliged to respond to these cross border incursions again?

Peter Erlinder: Well, it would seem logically that the U.N. Security Council would be obligated to follow through on the obligation that they took up to remove M23. But M23 was, as you know, essentially under the control of the Rwandan government, and the United States and the United Kingdom support Rwanda and Uganda, so it remains to be seen whether the U.S. and U.K. will have the Security Council follow out on that mandate.

Unrest and political oppression in the African Great Lakes Region continue to cause fears of a regional war.

KPFA: On Friday, Russia and China blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution to censure Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza for seeking a third term, which his supporters claim he’s constitutionally entitled to do. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, “It’s not the business of the Security Council and the U.N. Charter to get involved in constitutional matters of sovereign states.” Could you comment on that?

Peter Erlinder

Peter Erlinder

Peter Erlinder: Yeah, this is one of the things that the Security Council has had to contend with, now that Russia and China have begun to actively use the veto again, which they weren’t able to do for about 20 years. The U.N. Security Council should not involve itself in the internal affairs of a sovereign country. At least at this point, the question of whether the Burundian president can properly run for a third term or not is an internal question for the Burundians.

That’s different than the situation of the M23 proxy militia in the Congo, because that of course is an invading force that was in Congo, and the U.N. was there to help drive them out. So Russia and China are quite correct.

KPFA: Today Burundi’s defense minister suggested that he might intervene in Burundi’s constitutional crisis. That would no doubt violate Burundi’s Constitution, but it would still be Burundi’s issue, wouldn’t it?

Peter Erlinder: Well, it might lead to some sort of a conflict within Burundi, but whether it violates Burundi’s Constitution more or less than the decision to run for a third term again gets us back to this being a Burundian question and a struggle for the Burundian people to resolve. This isn’t an international question unless, of course, someone decides to make it so.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters, “It’s not the business of the Security Council and the U.N. Charter to get involved in constitutional matters of sovereign states.”

KPFA: OK, the US hasn’t remarked on the Rwandan and Ugandan troops in Congo, but it has called on Burundi’s Nkurunziza to step down and not seek a third term – and sent a special envoy rushing off to Bujumbura. Legalities aside, what do you think the USA’s primary interests are?

Peter Erlinder: Well, what we can see since 1990, when the Ugandan military, made up of Rwandan troops, invaded Rwanda, is that the U.S. has played a major role, through proxies, in influencing the politics and the reality of life in Central Africa. Whether that role has been one that’s been approved by the Security Council or not has varied from time to time, whether it’s been legal or not has varied from time to time, but the U.S. has been constant in attempting to influence affairs in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and certainly in the Congo.

So I think U.S. primary interests are to remain a player in influencing the outcome of who controls power in all of the Great Lakes states. I think this is consistent with that.

KPFA: OK, Peter Erlinder, thank you for speaking to KPFA.

Peter Erlinder: OK, thanks Ann.

KPFA: For PacificaKPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, CounterpunchColored Opinions and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at [email protected]. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.

So fell spin doctor par excellence Alastair Campbell on the BBC’s commentary regarding the exit poll from the broadcaster.  The temperature in various party rooms wasn’t quite right either. According to the Beeb’s prediction, the Tories would be increasing their numbers to 316 seats, with Labour getting a reduced 239 when all the results would be in.  Another prediction then followed: the conservatives would be able to govern in their own right, heaving past the majority line.  Others suggested that the exit poll was “incredible” and “unbelievable”, a sort of forecast from distant Narnia.  Treat it with “caution”, claimed the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

The attempt to “splinter” the conservative bloc from the UK Independence Party side did not materialise.  Having ridden a wave of anti-European and anti-immigration protest, the conservative attempt to chew some of that fat from the reactionary side of politics may have neutralised what seemed to be an ominous threat. Poundland Powellism may not have yielded Nigel Farage the numbers he wants, but UKIP has left a large, and very persistent stain of suspicion on the landscape.[1]

The splintering did take place, though it assumed the form of a withering devastation for Labour in Scotland at the hands of the lady deemed the “Tartan Terror”.  Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander was butchered in the vote, as was Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader.  Sturgeon will be thrilled, with the Scottish nationalists posed to become the third largest power bloc at Westminster.

The Liberal Democrats, the ill-fated coalition partners of the Tory party, were given a predictable mauling by an unforgiving electorate, with an outcome that will probably yield it eight seats.  It had held 57.  Its former leader, Charles Kennedy, lost his seat to the SNP in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.  Business secretary Vince Cable lost Twickenham, a seat he has held since 1997.  Lynne Featherstone was defeated in Honsey and Wood Green.  Party veteran Paddy Ashdown, having promised to eat his hat at the exit poll result, will have to do just that.

Cleaning out was taking place in other quarters.  The headline grabbing George Galloway, the leader of Respect, who had been reported to the police for sending out information on an exit poll before the vote was concluded, lost his Bradford West seat to Labour.[2]

The election did have its fair share of observations before counting.  There was the usual British wonder at queues.  A note on the Guardian blog observed: “Democracy in action. Twitter users have posted pictures of long queues outside polling stations up and down the country – a sign of decent turnout or just bad organisation?  Here’s hoping it’s the former.”[3]

Well, it was a form of democracy, even if was hollowed out and qualified.  “Face it my beloved Britons,” claimed Pablo Guimón, UK correspondent for El País, “you’ve got a weird electoral system.  You might think it’s normal that the Greens could get 10% of the vote and just one seat, while the SNP might end up with 4% of the vote and 50 seats.  But it’s not.  Even if it does stop Ukip.”[4]

What, then, did this election signify?  In the optimistic analysis from Josh Allen in Jacobin Magazine, it proved that there was, in fact, a generative response to austerity and conservatism in Britain.  “The coalition government’s austerity agenda has fertilized an entire ecosystem of activism that is focused on providing a sustained challenge to neoliberalism, market fundamentalism, and ultimately, capital itself.”  That challenge will evidently have to continue.

There were the usual eccentric entries posing with variously serious agendas, though these only registered as mild tremors on what was a gradual return to British traditionalism.  The “Give Me Back Elmo” Party ambushed Prime Minister David Cameron at a polling station in Oxfordshire with little effect.  The party’s platform speaks of every child’s “right to a Father” and halting “the discrimination against Fathers in the secretive, gender bias family courts and end the emotional child abuse.”[5]

A notable fact through this entire campaign was the political inking out of Labour’s Miliband, a sort of erasure from history, be it by slander or good old satire.  He was bullied into rubbery confusion by presenter Jeremy Paxman, who treated him as part git and part geek.  He was excoriated at every turn.  Each public relations exercise looked like an attempt to attain tenure in clumsiness and moronic hilarity.  The press proved unforgiving.

The response from British media outlets to Miliband’s Chatham House speech on foreign policy was a near zero.  This suggested much, if only because Miliband expressed no room, let alone interest, in holding a referendum on Europe and Britain’s links.  “The threat of an in/out referendum on an arbitrary year timetable, no clear goals for [the Tories’] proposed European renegotiation, no strategy for achieving it… poses a serious risk to Britain’s position in the world.”  Such sensibility will get you punished.

One premise, followed with stubborn sleep-walking conviction, has been an insistence that a succeeding coalition government would be impossible.  Coalitions are the venereal disease of the establishment – a result of ill-thought through comingling that produces strange offspring.  Neither Labour nor the Tories were countenancing that – a distressing unnatural form of government for the traditionalists, because it seems to the political sages that voters do get it wrong.  For the Tories, this has paid off.  For Labour, it has been fatal.  After this election, the fans of coalitions and opponents of rampant majority politics will have to wait for another time.

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

 Notes

Image: Guanyem initiative in Barcelona. [Photo by David Samaranch and Cristina Mañas.]

Even if one almost always goes wrong with such prognoses, the fact is that the Spanish state is facing the biggest rupture since the end of the Franco dictatorship. In several large cities, the left radical-democratic lists of the Guanyem / Ganemos Initiatives have real chances of winning the mayoral elections in May. In recent months in Catalonia, millions were on the street calling for the democratic right to self-determination, to which Madrid could only answer with new prohibitions. But it is above all the left party Podemos(We Can) that is dominating Spain’s political landscape. According to some current polls, Podemos, though founded only in January 2014, is the strongest party today with an almost 28 per cent voter approval, one year before the parliamentary elections.

What is more remarkable about Podemos than the poll results, which can merely be volatile snapshots of the moment, is the social mobilization that the organization set in motion. 900 Podemos base groups, so called circles, have formed throughout the whole country. Almost 10,000 people took part in the party’s founding congress in October. And in municipal district assemblies hundreds of neighbours discuss the crisis, capitalism, and ‘real democracy’ – and in this case ‘neighbours’ means literally neighbours. Podemos has left the subcultural milieus behind.

The level of debate is astounding, determined as it is, on the one hand, by a pragmatism directed at the 2015 elections and, on the other, by sharp criticism of neoliberalism and bourgeois political routine.

Crisis of Representation

Podemos is the expression of a crisis of representation that has gripped many countries with a neoliberal regime since the 1990s. That is, Podemos is not the product of a gradual process of growth but appears to have emerged out of a political vacuum and is expanding in an explosive manner. No existing political structures (such as trade unions, the larger NGOs or the media) have supported the project; the party activists – most of them under 35 – belong to the generation characterized as apolitical, and its immense popularity among the population is not easily explained. In the Spanish mainstream, left positions were decidedly marginal until 2011.

Despite this, Podemos naturally did not come out of nowhere. Its bases are the new anti-institutional protest movements that have repeatedly filled public squares and streets in the Iberian peninsula. That Podemos is more than a fleeting protest party like the Pirates in Germany has mainly to do with the 15M Movement and the Mareas.

The 15M Movement (public square occupations with the demand for ‘real democracy now’), which many on the left at first regarded with suspicion and at the very least was seen to be naïve and tending to apoliticism, has brought forth a new generation of activists and new forms of politics and made possible a tremendous repoliticization – both internally and externally.

The crucial factor in the 15M Movement is its intuitive linking of criticism of capitalism with democratic demands. Starting with the concrete European experience, in which there is no longer a distinction between the economic and social policy of socialists and conservatives, the movement has problematized the systemic limits to democracy in the bourgeois state: i) The democratic process ends where the interests of big capital, that is especially the banks, begins. Before the outbreak of the crisis, Spain’s debt ratio was 40 per cent under the German level. Only when Madrid was forced by the EU to bail out private Spanish banks (and thus also German investors), did the state deficit explode. The cuts in healthcare and social services already made by the PSOE governments showed that in an emergency government executives have the function of carrying out underlying power interests. ii) However, political parties also seem to be increasingly standing in the way of democracy. With the ‘political class’, distinguished by professional politics and closed decision-making circuits, a specific social group has emerged with its own strategies of power and self-enrichment. In Spain, the political apparatuses are strongly shaped by the real estate boom of recent decades. The awarding of building permits and construction contracts, as well as state oversight of public savings banks (which have flourished in conjunction with the construction industry) guaranteed the ‘political class’ lucrative (mostly illegal) sources of income.

In contrast to what media reports suggest, the 15M Movement has in no way dissolved itself after the ebbing of the 2011 street protests but has spread throughout society. Thus we have seen the emergence, among other things, of the so-called mareas, protest movement for the defence of the public education and healthcare systems, in which public service employees come together through patients’ initiatives and patient and refugee groups, or the movement against forced evictions – the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH), a coalition of base groups, which connect direct action, solidarity and case-oriented self-help in a remarkable way. There is also a revival of labour organizations: In Andalusia, for example, activists of the base trade union SAT organized the non-violent redistribution of food purloined from supermarkets. The mareas in the healthcare and education sectors are supported by local groups of various smaller and larger trade unions. And, finally, the Marchas de la Dignidad, nationwide protest marches on Madrid, mobilized a million people in 2014 once again.

These movements made it clear that there is a social majority beyond the political apparatuses. But it also became clear – and this in turn led to thinking processes among the anti-institutional left – that the neoliberal regime has no difficulty in sitting out social protests (as Germany’s red-green government did with the Hartz IV protest at the beginning of the 2000s). Since the use of force is no longer an option, as it was for the labour movement of the twentieth century, a central means of pressure in adversarial politics is missing. ‘Citizens’ protests’, which duly request permits from the authorities and do not disturb capitalist business as usual, do not affect the neoliberal regime. It is not prohibited to have a different opinion because in the end it has no practical consequences.

Transforming Political Power

Against this background, the social movements in Spain faced the question of how these constant mobilizations could be transformed into real power from below, into poder popular. The Podemos and Guanyem inititiatives – and this distinguishes these phenomena from other organizations of the European left – aim not simply at the founding of a new party but at the redefinition of political space. What is at issue is thus not simply new parliamentary political majorities but a transformation of the institutional framework.

The danger of accommodation to the institutions (as in the case of the German Greens, who in the end transformed themselves more than they did politics) has up to now been held at bay through the sheer speed of the movement’s growth. The anti-institutional resistance is permeating the institutions with such vehemence that the institutions cannot hedge and absorb the dissidence – at least this is the project’s manifest hope.

In this Podemos can certainly be accused of being itself a result of ‘alienated‘ politics. The comparison with the Guanyem initiative in Barcelona makes it clear what this means: The latter is committed – completely within the logic of grassroots movements – to local processes of change from below. Guanyem Barcelona, which will very likely present ex-squatter Ada Colau as a candidate for the mayoral elections there, arose from the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH). The declared goal of Guanyem is to set into motion a municipal grassroots movement via municipal district assemblies, which will work out a platform for an alternative city government. It is thus expressly not aiming at welding together left groups through negotiations to form a coalition but to circumvent the existing (fragmented) left and at the same time incorporate them through the emergence of a grassroots movement. In terms of method, a path is being consciously taken here which is an alternative to the extant forms of representation.

Podemos is proceeding completely differently in this respect and has had great success – although in so doing it is in conflict with the radical-democratic postulates of 15M: Podemos’ founding group – Pablo Iglesias, Juan Carlos Monedero, Carolina Bescansa, Luís Alegre, and Íñigo Errejón – are Madrid political scientists, most of whom have worked for extended periods in Venezuela or in Bolivia. Its central figure is the 36-year-old Pablo Iglesias, who has made a name for himself on radio and television talk shows as a critic of the neoliberal regime.

The rise of Podemos thus does not completely conform to the grassroots criteria of the 15M Movement. The initiative is carried by a small group, which to be sure intends to subject itself to democratic contestation processes but at the same time has formulated a clear claim to leadership. And it is doubtless also a product of the mass media; without television Podemos would probably be a marginal phenomenon. The grassroots participatory process unfolding with Podemos was thus originally set in motion in a more vertical way.

Podemos’ founding group is pursuing a strategy overtly based on Latin American experiences. The central objective is to transform the general social discontent into an alternative political hegemony and thus launch a mobilization that in turn will open up perspectives going beyond a classic reform policy. In this context we should remember that the political change in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia was neither the simple result of electoral victories nor the result of revolutions but emerged from the combination of radical rupture, continuity, and transformation. The anti-neoliberal revolts and mass uprising have blocked the neoliberal regime in these countries for almost a decade, but the regime change took place within the existing political system. The opening up of larger transformational perspectives after this was in the last analysis due to the constitutional processes that gave form to the underlying constituent processes (the emergence of alternative popular power). These constitutional processes resulted from the fact that in these countries there was broad popular participation in the discussion of a new social contract. Podemos appears to be pursuing a similar project; it is formulating, at least implicitly, the problem of a democratic revolution that bursts the existing institutions.

Two Elements of Discourse

To open up this possibility Podemos’ discourse is based principally on two elements. 1. Relative Indeterminacy: Even if its critique of neoliberalism is unequivocal the consequences drawn from it are indefinite. Podemos’ whole presence appears shaped by this ambivalence. Although its founding circle comes out of the Communist Youth, was active in the milieu of the Izquierda Unida (IU – United Left) or the more left Izquierda Anticapitalista, or positively refers to Chavism in Venezuela, Podemos tries to position itself outside of left-right schemes. Time and again, Podemos stresses that it represents ‘the new’, which cannot be described by concepts linked to ‘the old’. Accordingly, social conflicts are not dealt with as class questions but as a conflict between los de abajo, those ‘at the bottom’ (to which then the ominous ‘middle strata’ explicitly belong, which are becoming increasingly scarce in Spain), and the ‘political caste’. All problems which could damage the ‘Podemos brand’ – in the marketing newspeak that the founders themselves use in describing the party – are dealt with in a similarly ambiguous way. For example, Iglesias positively approaches the concept of patriotism, a concept heavily tainted in Spain, and re-signifies it: “Being a patriot means extending the democratic right to self-determination to all spheres and defending the public services.” At the same time, however, he defends the right of Catalans and the Basque to decide whether they want to belong to Spain, even though he regards independence as not a sensible solution.

2. Momentum: Podemos assumes that the weakness of left politics is not due to faulty analysis but to the lack of a promising counter-project, and as a consequence is committed to targeted political mobilization. The entire political energy is to be concentrated on overthrowing the two-party system, that is, ‘the caste’, in the 2015 elections. This purpose is expressed with a conviction that at times sounds bizarre – now the party is even striving for an absolute majority ‘because there is no alternative to it’.

Against this background it becomes clear why it does not make sense to acuse Podemos of the ambiguity we have described. Podemos has kept its discourse open in a completely conscious way. They are openly building here on the experiences of the constituent processes in Latin America. In the 1990s and 2000s, Latin America’s neo-left, especially Venezuelan Chavism, developed discourse figures capable of achieving hegemony (without working through them on the level of theory), which Ernesto Laclau later called “empty signifiers.” Laclau claims that hegemonic politics necessarily implies vagueness because social relations are heterogeneous and projects capable of majority support must accordingly reflect this heterogeneity through ambiguity. Moreover, the relative indeterminacy of a project opens up, to ‘the many’, participatory and democratic space for shaping reality. In the end, a social transformation is only truly open if the result is not predetermined at the outset. Podemos seems to have internalized these considerations. The project’s main objective is to open a political space to the social majorities excluded from the real decision-making processes. Just as Chavism, which first attacked the corrupt ‘Fourth Republic’ as enemies and then the ‘escuálidos’, that is, the U.S.-oriented elites, Podemos has similarly chosen a clearly defined, rhetorically easy to handle opponent that unites the heterogeneous popular camp through exclusion: ‘the caste’.

The dangers of this radical political experiment are obvious. That the indeterminacy of the project has up to now not found expression in turf wars is also due to the fact that all efforts are being concentrated on overthrowing the two-party system. As soon as this goal is achieved or setbacks are suffered along the way, this openness can lead to a crisis at any moment. At least Podemos’ base is more heterogeneous than that of Germany’s Pirates: The European Parliament deputy Pablo Echenique, who proposed an alternative, more collective organizational structure at Podemos’ founding congress, recently admitted, with admirable self-criticism, that just a few years ago he had been a supporter of the neoliberal party Ciutadans and had been in favour of the Iraq War. Other Podemos components had been apolitical, internet activists or were active in the Communist Youth.

The danger is also very real that the founding group will become an elitist leadership circle. The new organizational statute, which was discussed in October in the Asamblea di Ciudadanos and then approved in a rank-and-file decision, strongly reduces the party’s structure to the leader, Pablo Iglesias. The alternative draft, “Sumando Podemos,” submitted by the European Parliament deputies Pablo Echenique and Teresa Rodríguez, proposed a three-person collective leadership. It makes sense that the overwhelming majority were for Iglesias’ concept; precisely because Podemos is so heterogeneous the organization needs a strong symbolic identity. Furthermore, in recent years Iglesias has acted coherently and with ethical integrity – and he is therefore capable of integrating diverse currents.

On the other hand, in the process a personalistic leadership structure is being established, which – as can be observed in the last decade in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador – can, it is true, facilitate social mobilization but which then at its core contradicts longer-term democratization processes. Very strong leadership figures foster a culture of opportunism and claqueurs.

Long-term Transformation Project?

But the central question is a different one: Does Podemos actually have a transformation project that goes beyond the removal of the Partido Popular (PP) government? I think it does. For what would have to be done has been obvious after the mobilizations since 2011 and the ongoing conflicts with the other nations in the Spanish state:

  1. The notorious corruption has to be fought, for example by establishing mechanisms of the social control of public projects and administration, introducing salary limits for functionaries, and legally anchoring radical democratic forms of participation.
  2. The privatization of basic social services and the policy of forced evictions have to be stopped. No economic logic can justify the socialization of speculative losses and their being shifted onto the shoulders of the population.
  3. The repressive policy against social and independence movements has to be ended and the anti-democratic exceptional laws annulled.
  4. But most of all Spain needs a constitutional process similar to the process in Latin America. The 1978 constitution is (as is the monarchy established at the time) the result of an elite pact of Francoist, regionalist, social democratic and Eurocommunist party leaderships and thus the expression of a fundamental democratic deficit. It is true that this constitutional pact made possible an opening in Spain after forty years of dictatorship, but it impeded a real break with the power of Francoist elites in the state and economy. A constituent process – that is, not just a meeting of constitutional jurists and politicians but a fundamental social debate as the form of development of a new popular hegemony – could finally bring to a close the unfinished democratization process. In this the derecho a decidir (the right to decide), defended by both social as well as independence movements, could be given a key role as an instrument for the re-democratization of all social spheres.

Finally, there is the question of why IU (Izquierda Unida – the United Left) was not able to articulate these wishes for change, although it shares many of Podemos’ demands and in some cases formulates them more clearly. The answer seems obvious to me: IU could not articulate the revolt against the political system because it itself was an integral part of this system in many respects. The Communist Party (CP) – as the most important party of IU – actively backed the 1978 constitutional pact and also participated, via the trade union Comisiones Obreras, in the social partnership, established by the PSOE, with all its corporatist practices. IU, as a broad electoral alliance, has repeatedly formed coalition governments with the PSOE and in so doing also reproduced the usual corrupt practices. It participated – as, for example, in the case of the Caja Madrid savings bank – in the plundering of public financial institutions.

But even apart from the question of individual cases of corruption IU’s organizational structures stand in contradiction to the radical democratic ambitions emerging from society. The political practice of the CP and IU was always marked by the classical logic of representation in which priority is given to the strengthening of one’s own organization and its electoral successes over social (self-empowerment) processes. The means to this change – the political organization – has become an end in itself, so that IU, like almost all parties belonging to the Party of the European Left, has become a self-referential electoral alliance. Even if thousands of party members are active in movements, the institutional logic dominates. Radical attempts at reorganization come too late.

Podemos has – up to now – been different: The organization is presently the instrument of a social process that is progressing too rapidly for the party to turn around the relation between the democratic revolt and the institutional form.

This of course does not mean that everything that happened in IU or was done by it in the last thirty years was wrong. Podemos will probably soon be confronted by many of the problems that characterize IU today. For example, how can a balance be found between the emerging political tendencies without internal organizational considerations determining the politics of the organization. But this is probably the central insight of the political process in Spain today: The intervention of the organized left was not at all irrelevant; without the experience of left activists, the 15M Movement would have fallen apart sooner, the PAH never have emerged, and Podemos would probably have been a diffuse liberal internet party like Germany’s Pirates. However, a social process is sweeping aside even the organizational forms of the left. The revolutionary-democratic awakening, longed for by a part of Spanish society, cannot be articulated through the bureaucratic corset of the IU. How long Podemos remains the appropriate space for this is to be seen. However, today Podemos is one of the spaces of the democratic revolution in Spain and probably the most important one. •

Raul Zelik is a freelance writer and currently a Fellow at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. (Translation by Eric Canepa)

On May 3, Saudi-led coalition entered Yemen. According to reports about from 20 to 50 soldiers have landed in Yemen’s strategic port of Aden for a ‘reconnaissance’ mission and more troops are coming.

The deployment of Saudi-led forces seeks the goal to help forces loyal to US, Saudi proxy-President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi. Lately a spokesman from the Saudi-led coalition, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, has denied claims about a ground operation in the port.“There are no foreign forces in Aden but the coalition continues to help fight against the Houthi militia,” Asseri said in a statement.

Notwithstanding the denials regarding the ground operation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has started training hundreds of Yemeni tribesmen to fight the Houthis on the ground. The training received by the Yemeni tribesmen in Saudi Arabia allegedly includes light weapons and tactical training.

According to Reuters, the Kingdom plans to boost deployment of these units to fight the Houthis resistance.

Another source reports that some 300 fighters have already managed to return to Yemen after getting Saudi training. They were allegedly sent the Sirwah district in the central Marib province to battle Houthis in the area.The fighting is ongoing on a number of major fronts. In Aden, the Houthis are fighting tribesmen who are supported by the Saudi-led air campaign.

In Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, Houthis are fighting the Sunni Islamist fighters. The Houthis and their allies have been also fighting both Islamists and local tribesman in Marib and in Shabwa provinces,  which Saudi Arabia is training and arming with US intelligence and logistic support, Radical Islamists. Probably, the only forces that are gaining as a consequence of this conflict indeed are the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye confirmed on Monday that the West African nation would be sending a detachment of 2,100 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of an international coalition cobbled together by the kingdom in its war effort in Yemen.

The amazing fact is that Senegal declared its involvement in a war thousands of miles away from its borders, while dangerous West African terrorist group Boko Haram has declared allegiance to the Islamic State and has changed the name to Islamic State’s West Africa Province or ISWAP. Furthermore, Senegal isn’t engaged in the interstate coalition which opposes ISWAP in the region.

Human Rights Watch says it has credible evidence that the Saudi coalition has used cluster munitions supplied by the United States in its airstrikes against targets including those close to cities and villages. In recent weeks, the US-backed coalition has used cluster bombs in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, a region bordering Saudi Ararbia, which historically was controlled by the Houthis.

Cluster munitions pose long-term dangers and are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries. The World Health Organization said recently that at least 944 Yemenis have been killed and nearly 3,500 injured since the start of airstrikes campaign in Yemen. Now, we perceive the reason of these numbers.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the foiled attack on a controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest near Dallas, Texas that ended with both assailants being shot dead by a traffic cop. The announcement was made on the group’s radio station.

Mainstream US media doubts that ISIS was directly involved in planning and choosing the target of the attack. It’s the first time that the Islamic State has claimed it was behind an attack in US soil. However, it definitely isn’t the first mark of ISIS developing in the USA, therefore the group doesn’t focused entirely on Iraq and Syria how US officials want to believe. In order to get additional political revenue in the ongoing conflicts in Middle East,US has lost the moment, when so-called ‘moderate rebels groups’, often supported by US government, have arisen in America.

Greece Debt Default: How Long Will it Take?

May 7th, 2015 by Bill Holter

I could have titled this piece “The Inevitable” or “It’s not a matter of if, but when” but I have another thought in mind and want to look at Greece from another angle.  Yes, either of those two titles would have sufficed because a Greek default is inevitable and only a matter of when.

My thoughts this morning are “how long will it take” to drag everything down with their default?  As mentioned yesterday, the ratings services, creditors and even “official” sectors are furiously trying to figure out how to not call a default a “default”.  This is of utmost importance because what is left of our global “rule of law” will destroy the derivatives markets from the inside out.  This needs little explanation because it is black and white, “grey” however is what the power structure is desperately hoping for.

If Greece is considered to have defaulted, rather than having some “splaining to do”, there will be billions worth of “paying to do”.  Greece has 350 billion euros of debt owed, this amount is surely “covered” by CDS (credit default swaps).  The reality is probably 10 times this amount but let’s assume it is only this 350 billion.  Liquidity has and is drying up ALL OVER THE WORLD, a 350 billion euro hit will bankrupt many entities, not to mention those who actually hedged and …don’t get paid.  You see, there are two sides here, the debt itself and at least an equal amount of CDS …so now we are talking an absolute minimum of 700 billion euros.

And remember, banks all throughout Europe (including the ECB itself) hold Greek bonds at par (100 cents on the dollar) because Greek debt, even though everyone knows its not worth the paper it is printed on is mandated as tier one capital.  “Tier One” meaning the “safest stuff” and worthy of bank portfolios “carefully safeguarding” depositor funds.  I hope you see the humor in this, sub-sub prime student loans are probably now safer than Greek debt.

Now to the title itself, how long will it take?  For what?  For a total meltdown, THAT’S WHAT!  Will we see some sort of slow burn where convulsions show up now and then, or the other extreme, a complete meltdown?  In my opinion we may see both for a couple of weeks or maybe even two months.  It is possible that those rendered insolvent get overnight injections and don’t admit to anything.  This may work for a short time but as always, insiders will know and start slipping out the back door.

Honestly, once a default is “recognized”, and trust me it will be sooner or later, I don’t believe the markets will stay open more than 48 hours before being closed by necessity.  I cannot imagine any scenario where Greece defaults (doesn’t pay) and the markets do not convulse into a death spiral in more than two week’s time.  There is a reason for me going through this exercise, some may believe they will be able to move and sidestep it.  Others have been trying to time the “perfect” entry or re-entry into precious metals and believe they will be delivered upon, I don’t believe this will practically be possible.

Forget about the “timing”, I do believe there will be some who time it perfectly …but just one problem.  So you are so smart and deft to sell out of the stock market at one minute before midnight, where does your capital go?  It takes three days to even “settle” a trade, then, does your broker send a check?  A wire?  Or do they put the settled funds into their “insured” money market?  Do you see the problem?  Your capital may be out of stocks (maybe not a great idea if we enter hyperinflation) …BUT it is STILL WITHIN THE SYSTEM!  Looking at the precious metal timer, let’s assume they are also “perfect” in their timing.  They get their order in and their broker confirms it, will there be time to transfer good funds?  Will the metal actually arrive in their hands?  Maybe?

Here is the problem as I see it, “emotions”.  When a Greek default is announced, stocks will probably fall and physical metals rise.  How many have the fortitude to sell into a weak stock market …and not sit tight “hoping” it comes back just one more time.  How many will be willing to ”pay up” for gold in what is believed to be an ongoing bear market?  And if the markets are open again the next day, these emotions are even more fierce to fight!

The point to this missive is just as simple as the answer to the title “How long will it take?”.  I cannot stress how important it is to be positioned where you want to be NOW!  Not next week or when your gut tells you to because no one knows the timing for sure and Greece is only one of potentially 100 or more flash points that can push the system into the same heap of disaster.  How long will it take?  Not much or not enough?  Either of these answers can and will affect your entire future.

Bill Holter writes for Miles Franklin

Image: Moshe Yaalon speaking at the 2015 Shurat HaDin conference.

Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon on Tuesday said Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Yaalon threatened that

“we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”

The Israeli official also appeared to threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, although he said “we are not there yet.”

In response to a question about Iran, Yaalon said that “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations” Israel might take “certain steps” such as the Americans did in “Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000.”

Relating a July 2013 meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Yaalon recalled promising Israel would bomb the entire Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

He showed Ban photos of villages in Lebanon and of “certain neighborhoods in Gaza, to include well-known Shujaiya, with many red spots” which he claimed were “terror assets in the densely populated urban area. And I said – July 2013 – we are going to hit it.”

Yaalon was true to his word. The Shujaiya massacre was among the most brutal examples of Israeli war crimes during last summer’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

Israel killed 2,257 Palestinians during the 51-day assault, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA. Of that number, OCHA says 70 percent were civilians, including 563 children (Defence for Children International–Palestine has documented 547 child deaths).

The 20 July 2014 attack on Shujaiya was the most bloody day of the war, when Israel bombed the entire neighborhood indiscriminately. Initial reports on the day said 60 bodies had been brought out of the rubble. Later reports suggested death tolls of 90 or 120.

Threat of BDS

The conference was titled “Towards a new law of war” and was intended to help Israel use “lawfare” to defend its crimes in courts around the world.

The other main theme of Yaalon’s speech, which closed the conference, was the “challenge” of BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions. The Palestinian-led global movement aims to hold Israel accountable for its crimes.

Yaalon sought to cast the grassroots activist movement as a kind of military front. He said that “delegitimization, BDS and lawfare” were just “another tool” in the war of Israel’s enemies.

He complained that he had been unable to visit European countries because of the possibility he could have been arrested for suspected war crimes under universal jurisdiction law: “I prefer not to go to [the] UK, to London for about 10 years, or to Spain for a while.”

“Collateral damage”

In 2011, under Israeli pressure, the UK government changed its laws to make it easier for Israeli war crimes suspects to visit the country. Although the changes have meant that several high-level Israeli politicians and military officers have been able to visit since, in 2013 retired Major-General Doron Almog canceled a visit to London because of an outstanding warrant for his arrest related to war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Yaalon lamented that Israeli soldiers now have to be taught that “we should be ready to give up a visit to London … but it’s not fair, it is not just.”

But, apparently referring to the law changes, he said they “found the common language to discuss these issues with our friends, with our allies.”

He also described criticism of Israel in international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council as a “war after the war” and advocated that “we should fight them back.”

He said there should be no investigations of Israeli soldiers just because of “collateral damage” – a euphemism for the killing of civilians.

“Lawfare” conference

The conference was organized by Shurat HaDin, a group of Israeli lawyers which is at the forefront of using courts around the world to defend Israeli war crimes, and attack Palestine solidarity groups.

In 2013, as I reported for The Electronic Intifada at the time, it was revealed that the group has extremely close ties to the Israeli security establishment, to the extent of acting as a proxy group for the Mossad, Israel’s deadly overseas spy agency.

Shurat HaDin’s leader Nitsana Darshan-Leitner introduced Yaalon to the conference.

During his speech Yaalon heaped effusive praise on Shurat HaDin and its leader Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. He thanked the group

“for the activities of Shurat HaDin fighting one of Israel’s challenges of today, the lawfare, BDS, delegitimzation of the state of Israel … Nitsana thank you very much for what you are doing for the state of Israel.”

He said Israel and its supporters should use courts around the world “to fight them back,” meaning critics of Israel, and that this is exactly what Shurat HaDin does.

Hasbara is not the right term,” he continued in the question and answer session, “it’s a war … Each of us can become to be a warrior in this war. By talkbacking, by blogging, by disseminating articles, by raising our case.”

Hasbara (literally “explanation” in Hebrew) is the Israeli term for propaganda.

Justifying Israeli attacks on civilians was the main theme of the conference. Speaker after speaker lined up to reinterpret international law so that it would, supposedly, allow the killing of Palestinian and other Arab civilians.

This was justified with familiar canards about the supposed use by Palestinian resistance factions of “human shields,” which then inevitably results in Palestinian civilian dead. In other words, Israel was being forced to kill civilians.

Yaalon did similar by saying that the civilian neighborhoods Israel had bombed had contained “rocket rooms.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Yaalon is likely to continue as defense minister in the newly-agreed government headed by his Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in coalition with the Jewish Home and other ultra-right-wing parties.

The Electronic Intifada watched the entire conference by livestream and will be reporting more detail soon.

Netanyahu Forms New Racist, Fascist Government

May 7th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Weeks after Israeli’s March 17 elections, Netanyahu and four other extremist political parties formed a new coalition government – barely with 61 of 120 Knesset seats.

Bar-Ilan University Professor Eytan Gilboa calls it “a big political mess…Nobody in his right mind believes that this will hold for even a short time.”

Coalition partners include:

  • Netanyahu’s hard-right Likud (30 MKs)
  • Naftali Bennett’s pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi (8MKs);
  • two far-right religious parties – Shas (7 MKs) and United Torah Judaism (6 MKs); and
  • Moshe Kahlon’s right-wing Kulanu party (10 MKs).

Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Lieberman refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition. It’s not extremist enough for him. It didn’t annihilate Hamas.

It didn’t enact a racist nationality law officially making non-Jewish Israelis second-class citizens.

Days earlier, Lieberman resigned as foreign minister saying:

“This is certainly a coalition that, to my regret, does not reflect the positions of the nationalist camp and is not to our liking, to put it mildly.”

He and Netanyahu are world class thugs. They spurn rule of law principles. The abhor democratic values.

They prioritize stealing all valued Palestinian land. They deplore peace. Netanyahu calls pursuing it a waste of time.

He opposes Palestinian statehood – publicly announced while campaigning.

Bennett will become education  minister. He’s militantly hardline. He’s anti-democratic. He opposes press freedom. He deplores progressive activism. He wants non-Jews excluded from Israel.

He opposes hiring “foreigners.” He calls them “infiltrators,” a “time bomb.” He reflects the worst of racist hate-mongering.

He’s against what he calls “excessive legalism.” He calls it “judicial activism.” He “killed lots of Arabs in (his) life,” he said – “and there is no problem with that.”

Ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah represent the worst of religious fundamentalism in Israel. They want Halakha, Jewish religious law principles, enforced.

Netanyahu announced formation of a new government shortly before a Tuesday midnight deadline. He informed President Reuven Rivlin saying:

“I am honored to inform you that I have been successful in forming a government, which I will request is brought before the Knesset for its approval as soon as possible.”

Both men spoke by phone. Rivlin “congratulated (Netanyahu) on completing the formation of the government.”

“I have received your letter of confirmation, and look forward to the convening of the Knesset as soon as possible, to approve the government,” he said.

Bennett said he and Netanyahu “work(ed) all night” to finalize coalition governance terms.

Netanyahu will serve both as prime minister and foreign minister. Reports indicate he wants the latter portfolio as bait to entice Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog to become a coalition partner.

Don’t bet on it based on his harsh words – calling Netanyahu’s new government a “national failure, lack(ing) responsibility, stability and governance.”

It’s “susceptible to blackmail. (It’ll) advance nothing and will quickly be replaced by a responsible and hopeful alternative.”

According to Likud’s public relations head Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu wants the foreign ministry position “to leave room for the government to expand in the future.”

When asked if he wants Herzog to join, he responded “yes.” Netanyahu appointments so far include Habayit Hayehudi MP Ayelet Shaket as justice minister.

She’s one of many extremist lunatics influencing policy – officials waging war on Palestine, threatening the entire region.

During last summer’s aggression on Gaza, she called for genocidal slaughter – declaring “the entire Palestinian people…the enemy, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

She said Palestinian mothers give birth to “little snakes.”

“The Palestinian people have declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings.”

“Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war.”

“It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority.”

“These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.”

She called genocidal Israeli wars morally right. She wants Palestinians entirely exterminated. As justice minister, Palestinians will get none.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared her to Hitler. “If (her) words had been said by a Palestinian, the whole would have denounced it,” he said.

Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said her appointment “is like giving the fire and rescue services to a pyromaniac.”

Netanyahu’s new government appears worse than his previous one. Shas party deputy finance minister Aryeh Deri served prison time for corruption.

Likudnik deputy Knesset speaker Moshe Feiglin urges “exterminat(ing) Palestinians in Gaza.”

Notorious racist/outgoing construction minister Uri Ariel becomes new agriculture minister.

He wants Palestine entirely colonized. Earlier he said “(t)here will be just one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel.”

Besides education, justice and agriculture, Bennett will control the Settlement Division and Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

One of his Habayit Hayehudi party MKs will be appointed deputy defense minister. Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon will become new finance minister. Likud’s Moshe Ya’alon will likely remain defense minister.

Institute for Palestine Studies senior fellow Mouin Rabbani calls Israel’s new government “the most extremist in its history.”

It includes a rogue’s gallery of hate-mongering racists.

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

San Francisco attorney Inder Comar didn’t initially strike me as a human rights crusader working to bring accountability to arguably the most powerful political office in the world. Maybe it was the setting.

Comar works out of a small, glass-walled office in the Impact Hub, the spot that the tech industry has carved out of the San Francisco Chronicle Building, replacing the newspaper’s hollowed out core of journalists with start-up entrepreneurs seeking “synergy” and other business buzzwords, or just the next great app.

In fact, that’s most of what Comar does in his business law practice, collaborating with management consultants just down the bustling hallway to feed the current tech boom that is having such a huge impact on San Francisco, for good or ill. But the case that has propelled him onto the international stage, his pro-bono passion project, is Saleh vs. Bush, et al.

The lawsuit — which is based on Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, but also leans on the Nuremberg Principles that the U.S. established to try and punish Nazi leaders after World War II — argues that Bush and company’s act of military aggression makes them civilly liable for the damages that Saleh and her family suffered when they were forced to flee to Jordan as the social order broke down following the invasion.

“She had a super middle class life and it all got destroyed,” Comar told me recently in his office,

The lawsuit was filed in March 2013 and it was dismissed by the federal district court in San Francisco in December 2014, based on the government’s claim that the President and other federal employees are immune from civil liability for the official acts, as spelled out in the Westfall Act and other assertions of sovereign immunity.

In its motion to dismiss, the government cited procedural reasons for tossing the case, sought to substitute the government for the former officials the case targeted, and wrote, “Saleh’s claims raise non-justiciable political questions that would require the Court to make determinations that are properly committed to the political branches of government.”

Yet Comar says that just because Congress and the Obama Administration haven’t had the stomach to delve back into this ill-advised march to war, a decision that is still dangerously rippling outward today, that doesn’t excuse actions that clearly violated international law and the Saleh family’s rights.

“In a functioning democratic system, the opposition party would help create that accountability, but that hasn’t happened,” Comar told me, noting the challenge that presents to the judicial branch. “That’s the biggest wall a judge will hit: ‘Who am I to do this?’”

Comar is now finishing up an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (just two blocks down from his office) that he intends to file later this month, arguing that claims of immunity don’t apply to leaders who commit acts of aggression that are illegal under international law, particularly when those decisions were made under false pretenses (ie the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that didn’t actually exist).

“We allege in the case that it was fraud,” Comar said of Bush’s pretexts for the invasion. “This was not an error, this was a plan they had to go in regardless of the cost.”

It was a plan put into motion after the 9/11 attacks, but that saber-rattling against Iraq by the neocon think tank Project for the New American Century began back in 1997, when those who would later lead the Bush Administration’s war effort pledged to topple Saddam Hussein by any means necessary.

Eventually, Comar would probably have to prove the case for war was fraud to win the case, which doesn’t worry him: “Legally speaking, no one has ever told me this isn’t a strong case.” But he’s going to need to overcome the immunity issue before he ever gets to that point — a high but important bar to overcome.

That’s one reason why he’s been seeking to work with international experts, asking them to join him in establishing the body of legal work that will reinforce the ban on military aggression that was so central to the Nuremberg court’s work. “But no court has dealt with Nuremberg’s ban on aggression,” he told me.

Comar’s case does seem to have generated more interest in international circles that it has on U.S. soil, and last month he was invited to address the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War’s International Forum on Peace and Justice, along with former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Hans von Sponeck and other luminaries.

Comar told the crowd that his appeal will rely heavily on the Numerberg Principles:

“With that as precedent, it’s quite amazing, actually, what might be possible, and a lot of where I’m coming from is as a student of Nuremberg, having learned about the Nuremberg case in law school, having studied it and read it now countless times, learning about the crime of aggression that was the chief crime prosecuted at Nuremberg.”

He also plans to cite the case that Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón bought against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the late 1990s, ordering Pinochet’s arrest and prosecution after rejecting Chile’s claim that its former leader enjoyed sovereign immunity for ordering the torture and killing of Spanish citizens.

“Pinochet is a very critical case because this issue is, I think, the final wall when we talk about accountability of leaders: the ability for a leader to claim some type of immunity. Right? This is what has to be, I think, destroyed in our minds and destroyed in the minds of judges once and for all. Why should immunity apply merely because someone was acting as a leader, if the act in question was illegal? That’s a key question,”

Comar told the gathering.

Meanwhile, Comar toils away in the Impact Hub, doing work that really could change the world, not through techno-gizmos, but through reinforcing the important but forgotten stand that a previous American generation made to prevent future wars and hold the leaders who launch them accountable.

“This is first time since Nuremberg that the issue of aggression is being raised in a U.S. court,” Comar said, noting how important it is to protect the principle that military aggression violates international law. “The whole reason we wanted those rules was to prevent another World War II.”

That’s a discussion that he said we should be having as a nation. As he told me, “From a realistic point of view, our chance of success goes up dramatically if there’s a political discussion around it.” So he’s been disappointed that President Obama is defending Bush and the acts of aggression that Candidate Obama called out and criticized at the time. “When you have Obama providing cover for this stuff, it hurts.”

But if the Ninth Circuit rules that domestic immunity doesn’t apply to Bush and his fellow warmongers, then the case will likely be considered on its merits in federal court.

“If we get that ruling, it’s the crack in the dam that you need,” Comar told me, “and once you get it, the water comes rushing through.”

It’s admittedly a long shot, but chipping away at the walls of power to create floods of justice, that’s San Francisco values at their best.

Inder Comar is a San Francisco attorney and a Global Research Correspondent. To learn more about Comar’s case and Saleh’s story, visit witnessiraq.com.

The Power and Symbolism of Voting

May 7th, 2015 by William John Cox

What does the Boston Tea Party and Gandhi’s Salt March have to do with voting in the United States today? These were symbolic political acts that were effectively used to demonstrate against and defeat the same kind of powerful forces now corrupting American politics.

When patriots sneaked aboard East India Company ships in Boston Harbor during the night of December 16, 1773—and dumped tea overboard—they were creatively confronting corporate political power. Much like today, the Company had obtained tax advantages from the English government that hurt small colonial businesses. Even though the colonists had to pay more for their cup of tea, they demonstrated their unity against corporate corruption and political oppression.

One hundred and fifty seven years later, Mahatma Gandhi used another symbolic act to prove the weak can nonviolently resist a powerful force. The East India Company operated India as a corporate fiefdom for a hundred years before England assumed direct imperial rule in 1858. The government nationalized the Company’s monopoly on salt and prohibited people from making salt—even for their own personal use.

When Gandhi announced he was going to walk 200 miles to the ocean and pick up salt in defiance of the law, the British officials laughed at him, and his own associates questioned his judgment. Starting with just a few believers, the symbolism of his march was not lost on the poor and downtrodden, as multitudes assembled along the way to cheer him on. Thousands joined him and watched as he knelt and scraped up bits of salt from the seashore. Gandhi was later arrested, and—as others peacefully joined him in breaking the law—more than 80,000 were jailed. The simple act of gathering salt generated the mass movement that defeated the Empire and led to the independence of India.

Today, in the United States, the government is dominated by powerful corporations, which have no loyalty to the nation or its people. They control the presidency and congress—irrespective of who is elected. If the American people continue to follow party lines and vote on computers, they will go on electing empty suits who serve their corporate benefactors—rather than the voters.

Half of all eligible voters do not vote, and those who do are forced to chose from among candidates whose campaigns are largely financed by corporations. Withheld or cast, the vote is increasingly worthless. If representative democracy is to survive, voting must become expressive, effective, and valued.

A symbolic feat is needed, one that can be performed by everyone—irrespective of political leaning—to take direct action against corporate control of the government. Rather than wasting their votes, people can take a moment to simply write in the name of whomever they most trust to represent them in government—whether or not that person is on the ballot! Even if voters support named candidates, they should still write in their choices. Nothing can stop voters from writing in anyone, including themselves. The power is in the act itself, and as a physical manifestation of liberty, it is magnified by the unity of action.

Voters can cast symbolic votes—even with computerized voting—by creating their own paper ballots to deposit at the polls. What matters is not whether the ballots are counted, but the breadth and depth of the protest. If enough people cast votes of conscience, corporate candidates will fail to achieve the stamp of legitimacy required to validate their election.

Use of symbolic acts to demonstrate against corrupt power requires imagination and courage. Voters have to look beyond the immediate effect to see the long-term benefit of engaging in a nonviolent, peaceful protest against politics as usual. Seventeen years passed before Gandhi’s symbolic act of gathering salt resulted in the independence of India.

As an emblem of their consent to be governed, the American people must firmly grasp their vote in their hands and feel the radiance of its power. The manner in which they vote, or fail to vote, and the consistency of their effort, will determine whether they will achieve control over their government. The choice is theirs, but they can take heart from Gandhi, who said, after many failures, there was no such word as defeat in his vocabulary.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer who writes on political, policy, and social matters. His email address is [email protected], and the United States Voters’ Rights Amendment is at www.usvra.us.

Radio “Liberty” has always been a propaganda ministry.  Formerly its propaganda was directed against the Soviet Union. Today it is directed against distinguished Americans who are known and respected for their allegiance to the truth.
 
Radio Liberty’s latest target is an American scholar who is far more widely respected than Radio Liberty.  Like everything else in Washington the two-bit propaganda ministry is carried away by hubris and a mistaken opinion of its own importance.
A Radio Liberty non-entity named Carl Schreck, of whom no one has ever heard, has declared America’s most distinguished Russian scholar, Stephen Cohen, to be “a Putin apologist.”
Stephen Cohen, a professor of Russian studies at both Princeton University and New York University, was advisor to President George Herbert Walker Bush.  Cohen was also respected by the Soviet government. Consequently, he was able to convince the Soviets to rehabilitate Nikolai Bukharin, a leading Bolshevik, one of Lenin’s favorites who was murdered by Joseph Stalin and to permit Bukharin’s widow to return to Moscow from exile.  Mikhail Gorbachev also trusted Cohen, and little doubt that Cohen helped to bring about the end of the Cold War.
Like myself, Cohen comes from a time when academic reputations were based on discerning and telling the truth regardless of the government’s propaganda line.  Those days have passed.
For propagandists like Carl Schreck, truth is whatever serves Washington’s agendas. Schreck is incapable of comprehending that truth is independent of Washington’s agendas.  Therefore, when Cohen speaks the truth, Schreck brands it the Kremlin propaganda line.
Another non-entity of whom no one has ever heard and never will again, Lynn Lubamersky, declared Cohen to be “a mouthpiece for a mass murderer.”  If the non-entity means Putin, who did Putin mass murder?  The mass murderers of our time are George W. Bush and Obama, and clearly Cohen is not a mouthpiece for them.
So many academic careers today depend on federal and corporate money, that it remains to be seen if the academics in Cohen’s area of expertise can afford to stand up in his behalf.
Cohen’s position on Russia and Ukraine is the same as mine.  The crisis began with the Washington organized coup in Kiev that overthrew the democratic government and replaced it with a puppet government answerable to Washington.  In the official Radio Liberty propaganda this coup never occurred.  Instead, there was a Russian invasion and annexation. No informed person can believe this abject nonsense.  Yet, this nonsense is prevailing over the truth.
The Washington establishment is trying to silence Stephen Cohen, but I think he will give the liars the finger and continue to speak the truth.

If the Washington Post’s clueless editorial page editor Fred Hiatt had been around during the genocidal wars against Native Americans in the 1870s, he probably would have accused Sitting Bull and other Indian leaders of “paranoia” and historical “revisionism” for not recognizing the beneficent intentions of the Europeans when they landed in the New World.

The Europeans, after all, were bringing the “savages” Christianity’s promise of eternal life and introducing them to the wonders of the Old World, like guns and cannons, not to mention the value that “civilized” people place on owning land and possessing gold. Why did these Indian leaders insist on seeing the Europeans as their enemies?

But Hiatt wasn’t around in the 1870s so at least the Native Americans were spared his condescension about the kindness and exceptionalism of the United States as it sent armies to herd the “redskins” onto reservations and slaughter those who wouldn’t go along with this solution to the “Indian problem.”

However, those of us living in the Twenty-first Century can’t say we’re as lucky. In 2002-03, we got to read Hiatt’s self-assured Washington Post editorials informing us about Iraq’s dangerous stockpiles of WMD that were threatening our very existence and giving us no choice but to liberate the Iraqi people and bring peace and stability to the Middle East.

Though Hiatt reported these WMD caches as “flat-fact” when that turned out to be fact-free, there was, of course, no accountability for him and his fellow pundits. After all, who would suggest that such well-meaning people should be punished for America’s generous endeavor to deliver joy and happiness to the Iraqi people who instead chose to die by the hundreds of thousands?

Because Hiatt and his fellow deep-thinkers didn’t get canned, we still have them around opening our eyes to Vladimir Putin’s historical “revisionism” and his rampaging “paranoia” as he fails to see the philanthropic motives of the U.S. free-market economists who descended on Russia after the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s to share their wisdom about the unbounded bounty that comes from unrestrained capitalism.

That many of these “Harvard boys” succumbed to the temptation of Russian girls desperate for some hard currency shouldn’t be held against these selfless business “experts.” Nor should the reality that they sometimes shared in the plundering of Russia’s assets by helping a few friendly “oligarchs” become billionaires. Nor should the “experts” be blamed for the many Russians who starved, froze or suffered early death after their pensions were slashed, medical care was defunded, and their factories were shuttered. Just the necessary “growing pains” toward a “modern economy.”

And, while these U.S. economic advisers helped put Russia onto its back, there was also the expansion of NATO despite some verbal promises from George H.W. Bush’s administration that the anti-Russian alliance would not be pushed east of Germany. Instead, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush shoved NATO right up to Russia’s border and touched a raw Russian nerve by taking aim at Ukraine, too.

But Russian President Putin simply doesn’t appreciate the generosity of the United States in making these sacrifices. The “paranoid” Putin with his historical “revisionism” insists on seeing these acts of charity as uncharitable acts.

‘Mr. Putin’s Revisionism’

In Tuesday’s Post, Hiatt and his team laid out this new line of attack on the black-hatted Putin in an editorial that was headlined, in print editions, “Mr. Putin’s revisionism: His paranoia shouldn’t blot out the good the West tried to offer,” and online as “After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians.” The editorial began:

“President Vladimir Putin recently was interviewed for a fawning Russian television documentary on his decade and a half in power. Putin expressed the view that the West would like Russia to be down at the heels. He said, ‘I sometimes I get the impression that they love us when they need to send us humanitarian aid. . . . [T]he so-called ruling circles, elites — political and economic — of those countries, they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand. As soon as we start declaring some interests of our own, they feel that there is some element of geopolitical rivalry.’

“Earlier, in March, speaking to leaders of the Federal Security Service, which he once led, Mr. Putin warned that ‘Western special services continue their attempts at using public, nongovernmental and politicized organizations to pursue their own objectives, primarily to discredit the authorities and destabilize the internal situation in Russia.’”

That was an apparent reference to the aggressive use of U.S.-funded NGOs to achieve “regime change” in Ukraine in 2014 and similar plans for “regime change” in Moscow, a goal openly discussed by prominent neocons, including National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman who gets $100 million a year from Congress to finance these NGOs.

But none of that reality is cited in the Post’s editorial, which simply continues:

“Mr. Putin’s remarks reflect a deep-seated paranoia. … Mr. Putin’s assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia’s power and influence is a willful untruth. The fact is that thousands of Americans went to Russia hoping to help its people attain a better life. … It was not about conquering Russia but rather about saving it, offering the proven tools of market capitalism and democracy, which were not imposed but welcomed. … The Americans came for the best of reasons.”

Hiatt and his cohorts do acknowledge that not everything worked out as peachy as predicted. There were, for instance, a few bumps in the road like the unprecedented collapse in life expectancy for a developed country not at war. Plus, there were the glaring disparities between the shiny and lascivious nightlife of Moscow’s upscale enclaves, frequented by American businessmen and journalists, and the savage and depressing poverty that gripped and crushed much of the country.

Or, as the Post’s editorial antiseptically describes these shortcomings:

“Certainly, the Western effort was flawed. Markets were distorted by crony and oligarchic capitalism; democratic practice often faltered; many Russians genuinely felt a sense of defeat, humiliation and exhaustion. There’s much to regret but not the central fact that a generous hand was extended to post-Soviet Russia, offering the best of Western values and know-how.

“The Russian people benefit from this benevolence even now, and, above Mr. Putin’s self-serving hysterics, they ought to hear the truth: The United States did not come to bury you.”

Or, as a Fred Hiatt of the 1870s might have commented about Native Americans who resisted the well-intentioned Bureau of Indian Affairs and didn’t appreciate the gentleness of the U.S. Army or the benevolence of life on the reservations: “Above Sitting Bull’s self-serving hysterics, Indians ought to hear the truth: The white man did not come to exterminate you.”

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

According to a report issued by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) on Wednesday, a record 38 million people in 60 countries were displaced by ongoing conflicts from their homes within the borders of their own country through the end of 2014. They comprise the vast majority of the more than 50 million classified as refugees.

The report, “Global Overview 2015,” notes that the number of people internally displaced is equivalent to the combined populations of New York City, London and Beijing. The report marks the third straight year in which the IDMC has tallied a record number of internally displaced people.

The report blames rising wealth inequality for increasing conflict around the globe as marginalized religious, ethnic and tribal minorities seek independence and control over territory. They single out Islamic jihadist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Boko Haram and Al Shabaab whose actions and the response by Western imperialism have caused millions to flee their homes.

11 million people were newly displaced as the result of violent conflict in the course of 2014, with an average of 30,000 people fleeing their homes every day. Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria account for 60 percent of new displacements.

Iraq showed the greatest new dislocation with 2.2 million people escaping from areas seized by ISIS. The Islamic fundamentalist organization launched an offensive in June last year in which it seized control of large swathes of northwestern Iraq including the major cities of Mosul and Tikrit. The United States responded by launching a new air campaign in Iraq and dispatching thousands of special forces which are assisting the Iraqi military in a counterassault.

A total of at least 3.2 million people are currently internally displaced in Iraq, a legacy of the American invasion and occupation of the country between 2003 and 2011.

In neighboring Syria, where the US and its allies have stoked a civil war against President Bashar al-Assad, at least 1.1 million people were forced out of their homes last year. In total, 35 percent of Syria’s population, approximately 7.6 million people, have been displaced by ongoing fighting in the country’s four-year-old civil war. It is estimated that at least 30 percent of the housing stock registered in the 2014 census has been damaged or destroyed, making return for many impossible.

US imperialism and its allies bear the responsibility for the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as they have flooded the country with weaponry and provided military training to so-called moderate rebel forces, which include Islamist fighters now aligned with ISIS and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front.

Meanwhile, fighting in South Sudan’s ongoing civil war displaced at least 1.3 million people last year, 11 percent of the country’s total population. Competing factions of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army have been fighting for control over the northeastern provinces which contain key oil fields since the end of 2013.

In the DRC at least a million people were displaced by fighting in the country’s eastern provinces. People fled in the aftermath of a series of massacres carried out by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces in the city of Beni that killed several hundred.

Nearly one million people were displaced in Nigeria last year where the Islamic fundamentalist organization Boko Haram has been involved in an insurgency since 2009. Suicide attacks and other assaults by Boko Haram killed more than 10,000 people throughout northern Nigeria in 2014.

Ukraine was the only European country in which a significant number of people were newly displaced by fighting last year. More than 646,000 people were forced from their homes as a result of fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces backed by the United States and Germany and pro-Russia separatists.

The conflict began after the US and Germany backed a fascist-led coup which ousted pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovych. The new pro-Western regime launched a bloody offensive which sought to suppress pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region opposed to the new government.

What the report makes clear is that every continent is affected by the growing numbers of people displaced due to ongoing armed conflicts.

There were at least 436,500 newly displaced people in North and South America in 2014, making a cumulative total of 7 million people. In Mexico more than 281,000 people have been displaced by fighting between the drug cartels and gang violence. More than 500,000 people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are currently displaced as the result of organized crime and gang violence.

Colombia accounted for 90 percent of the Americas’ total displaced population. The 6,044,200 people counted as displaced in Colombia account for 12 percent of the country’s total population. In addition to gang violence, many in Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala have been displaced by illegal and legal logging operations and cultivation of crops such as cocoa, poppies for opium, marijuana and palm oil.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 10 million of the world’s internally displaced peoples, and at least 4.5 million people newly displaced in 2014. The insurgency in Somalia headed by the Islamic jihadist group Al Shabaab has contributed to the more than 1 million displaced people in that country. Displaced people in Somalia suffer from the highest rate of severe malnutrition in the impoverished country.

At least 3.8 million people were newly displaced in the Middle East and North Africa in 2014, bringing the total to 11.9 million. In just the last four years alone, 7.8 million people have been forced out of their homes. The number of people forced to flee their homes in Libya, destabilized by a US-NATO air assault in 2011, increased more than six-fold from 2013 to 400,000. The Middle East and North Africa now account for 31 percent of the world’s internally displaced people, up from just 14 percent in 2011.

South Asia accounted for 1.4 million new displacements with a total of 4.1 million displaced by violence. In Pakistan the number of displaced people grew from 746,700 to 1.9 million. The US has carried out years of drone attacks and backs military operations against an Islamic insurgency in the country’s northwestern FATA region. In neighboring Afghanistan, which has been subjected to continuous US military operations since 2001, the number of displaced people grew by more than 170,000 to 805,400.

In Southeast Asia, 95 percent of the 855,000 displaced people are in Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines. While the region saw 134,086 new displacements in 2014, it was the only region that experienced a decline in the overall total, mainly in Burma and the Philippines.

The French National Assembly overwhelmingly passed the Intelligence Law on Tuesday, retroactively sanctioning mass spying carried out by the intelligence services. The reactionary and antidemocratic law formally sets up the surveillance infrastructure for a police state in France, allowing the government to collect data on the entire population.

All the parties of the political establishment supported the law, which was approved 438-86, with 42 abstentions. It was overwhelmingly backed by both the ruling Socialist Party (PS) and the conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP). Some Green and Left Party delegates voted against, secure in the knowledge that the law would pass overwhelmingly.

The Senate is due to begin examining the law on May 20 and is expected to approve it before the Constitutional Council examines it.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls (PS) personally appeared at the National Assembly to defend the bill. Admitting that “it is exceptionally rare for a prime minister to present a bill to the representatives of the nation,” he said that he was doing so “to insist on the law’s importance.”

During parliamentary debate last week, Valls sought to intimidate deputies critical of the bill by saying that they were refusing to “defend the Republic.” All but accusing opponents of the bill of treason, Valls declared that the decision to vote for or against the law would separate “those who have a sense for the state from those who sometimes do not.”

The French ruling class is seizing on the attacks on the anti-Islam Charlie Hebdo magazine in January to rapidly push through far-reaching measures. By voting for the law, the state is sanctioning powers that even supporters of the law admit were illegal, though broadly used. Last month, Le Monde wrote that “this text, which legalizes forty years of illegal practices by the secret services and tries to somewhat control them, was in the works for years.”

Thus, for years, the intelligence services have employed criminal practices to spy on everyone, without criticism from the parliament, which obeys the orders of the police and intelligence services. The law will now function to protect and offer legal cover to these same intelligence officials.

The law obliges Internet Service Providers to provide their clients’ data in real time. Electronic surveillance will be stepped up, with the mass collection of metadata. Cameras and microphones can also be exploited for spying purposes. Communications between two people in France, as well as communications between people in France and abroad, can be recorded.

An automated national judicial file for perpetrators of terrorist violations will conserve these data for 20 years, and 10 years for minors. Prison officials will also have the right to use these techniques legalized by the bill, turning them into an extension of the intelligence services.

The law also legalizes the use of IMSI-Catchers—false cell phone towers that allow authorities to identify and track physical movements of any cell phone user near the device. Previously, the use of such devices was illegal under French law.

The current law breaks with legality by hiding and justifying illegal conduct taking place without the knowledge of the population. This will only encourage the intelligence services, which know that they are protected by the state, to break through the weak limits that the law unconvincingly claims to impose upon them.

In fact, the law gives the secret services virtually unlimited powers. The National Commission of Control for Intelligence Techniques (CNCTR) will be composed of six magistrates of the Council of State and of the Court of Cassation, of three deputies and three senators from the government and the opposition, and one “technical expert.” This body replaces the current National Commission for Control of Security Intercepts (CNCIS).

The CNCTR can give advisory opinions to approve more intrusive spying, but in urgent cases operational chiefs or even agents of the intelligence services can skip the formality of obtaining the CNCTR’s advice, with the authorization of the prime minister.

The CNCTR thus serves as a pseudo-democratic cover for mass surveillance by the secret services.

The vote for the intelligence law took place behind the back of the French people. Besides a few criticisms that substantial powers were being granted to the intelligence services, the vast political implications of the law were neither mentioned nor debated.

One of the few more substantial statements on the law came from UMP deputy Alain Marsaud who, though he supported it, admitted: “This law does not have enough built-in controls. The capacity for intrusion it grants is enormous. Our life will not be the same before and after it passes, because everything we say will be monitored. This law can allow the creation of a political police, the likes of which we have never seen.”

The passage of the intelligence law, which has been openly compared in the press to the USA Patriot Act, is a warning to the working class. The ruling class is breaking with democratic forms of rule. Following the model employed in all the major capitalist countries, France is responding to the growth of social antagonisms through mass spying and a wholesale assault on democratic rights.

The French ruling class is seeking to implement the illegal and unconstitutional methods perfected by the US National Security Agency, as exposed by Edward Snowden. The NSA collects and monitors the communications data of the American people and of billions of other people around the planet, outside of any democratic control.

The immense expansion of the powers of the spying apparatus is part of a general militarization of French society. After the January terrorist attacks onCharlie Hebdo, the state has deployed 10,000 troops inside France itself.

The “war on terror” proclaimed by the Bush administration nearly 15 years ago was used by the American ruling class as the ideological framework for never ending war abroad and the destruction of democratic rights at home. It is now the modus operandi for country after country.

On Wednesday, a day after the vote in France, the Canadian House of Commons voted to approve the Anti-Terror Act, which gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and police vast new powers, including the ability to disrupt activity declared to endanger “national security” and engage in preventive arrests and detention without charges.

Este 4 de mayo del 2015 iniciaron las audiencias orales entre Bolivia y Chile ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ) con relación a las excepciones preliminares presentadas por Chile en torno a la competencia de la CIJ para conocer del asunto.

De manera a evitar la confusión provocada por algunos mapas circulados en medios internacionales de prensa, resulta oportuno precisar que la demanda presentada por Bolivia contra Chile en abril del 2013 se limita únicamente a solicitar a la CIJ que ordene que “Chile tiene la obligación de negociar con Bolivia en aras de llegar a un acuerdo que asegure a Bolivia un acceso soberano al océano Pacífico“, y que “Chile debe cumplir con esta obligación de buena fe, de manera expedita y formal, en un plazo de tiempo razonable y de manera efectiva” (traducción libre del  texto  de la demanda presentada a la CIJ el 22 de abril del 2013).

Notemos que fue tan solo en el 2011 que Bolivia oficialmente ratificó el Tratado Americano de Soluciones Pacíficas, más conocido como “Pacto de Bogotá”, convirtiéndose en el último Estado de América Latina en hacerlo. Chile por su parte es parte al Pacto de Bogotá desde 1967. El artículo XXXI de este tratado suscrito en 1948 es el que ha servido de base para casi todas las demandas entre Estados de América Latina planteadas ante la CIJ. De manera que sea plenamente aplicable en las relaciones entre ambos Estados, Bolivia retiró la reserva hecha al Pacto de Bogotá – que había sido objetada por Chile – pocos días antes de presentar formalmente su demanda a la CIJ contra Chile (Nota 1).

Las excepciones preliminares

Como bien se sabe, la presentación de excepciones preliminares constituye un incidente procesal mediante el cual el Estado demandado pretende demonstrar que la CIJ es incompetente para conocer sobre el fondo del asunto. Usualmente, este intento puede denotar poca confianza del Estado en sus argumentos sobre el fondo del asunto a discutir. Se lee en una publicación especializada publicada en Francia que: “Il n´est pas rare de remarquer que l´Etat qui présente ces exceptions a quelques doutes sur l´issue du procès, autrement dit, il préfère que l´affaire s´arrête plutôt que de  risquer de tout perdre au fond» (Nota 2).  En una época, las excepciones preliminares fueron sistemáticamente utilizadas ante la CIJ, con la notable excepción de Costa Rica en 1986, primer Estado demandado –  en no recurrir a esta herramienta en 28 años de litigios en La Haya, según el ex juez y Presidente Mohamed Bedjaoui (Nota 3). Notemos que esta demanda de Nicaragua contra Costa Rica  (ver texto) por permitir que el territorio costarricense sirviera de base para la denominada “Contra” sería retirada, al igual que otra acción planteada contra Honduras ante la CIJ por Nicaragua, como parte de los acuerdos de Esquipulas II suscritos en 1987 por los Estados centroamericanos.

Desde el punto de vista estrictamente procesal, las excepciones preliminares abren un primer compás de espera dentro del procedimiento contencioso, en el que, luego de leer y de oír a ambas partes, la CIJ decide si es o no competente. La última vez que un Estado de América Latina presentó excepciones preliminares a la CIJ fue Colombia, en el 2003, con relación a la demanda interpuesta por Nicaragua en diciembre del 2001. Posteriormente a las audiencias orales sobre excepciones preliminares, la CIJ entra a deliberar para determinar si es o no competente. El Artículo 79.9) del Reglamento de la CIJ precisa que son varias las opciones que tienen los jueces en La Haya: “9. La Corte, oídas las partes, decidirá por medio de un fallo, en el que aceptará o rechazará la excepción o declarará que la excepción no tiene, en las circunstancias del caso, un carácter exclusivamente preliminar.  Si la Corte rechazara la excepción o declarara que no tiene un carácter exclusivamente preliminar, fijará los plazos para la continuación del procedimiento”.

En el caso antes mencionado entre Nicaragua y Colombia, las excepciones preliminares interpuestas por Colombia en julio del 2003 dieron lugar a audiencias orales celebradas tan solo en el mes de junio del 2007. El fallo de la CIJ sobre excepciones preliminares fue adoptado seis meses después, el 13 de diciembre del 2007 (ver texto). En noviembre del 2012, la CIJ emitió su fallo sobre el fondo, provocando una reacción un tanto airada de Colombia que tuvimos la oportunidad de analizar (ver nuestro breve análisis publicado en Tribuglobal en septiembre del 2013).

Cronograma seguido ante la CIJ

Luego de muchos años de discusiones y controversias entre Bolivia y Chile relativas a la pretensión de Bolivia de contar con una salida al mar y, ante la negativa de Chile de retomar las negociaciones, Bolivia ha optado por intentar obtener de la Corte de La Haya una decisión que obligue a Chile a volver a la mesa de negociación, y por enmarcar esta pretensión en el principio de buena fe.  Por lo tanto, la demanda no busca obtener por parte de la CIJ una solución definitiva al diferendo, sino obligar a Chile a cambiar de posición. Con relación a la “obligación de negociar de buena fe”, la CIJ ha sido bastante explícita sobre los alcances de dicha obligación cuando debió analizarla en materia de delimitación marítima entre Alemania y Dinamarca, indicando que deben tener algún “sentido”: el texto oficial precisa que « the parties are under an obligation to enter into negotiations with a view to arriving at an agreement, and not merely to go through a forma1 process of negotiation /…/ they are under an obligation so to conduct themselves that the negotiations are meaningful, which will not be the case when either of them insists upon its own position without contemplating any modification of it / Les parties sont tenues d’engager une négociation en vue de réaliser un accord et non pas simplement de procéder à une négociation formelle (…) ; les parties ont l’obligation de négocier d’une telle manière que la négociation ait un sens, ce qui n’est pas le cas quand elle insiste sur sa propre position sans envisager aucune modification» (Asunto de la Plataforma del Mar del Norte, Alemania contra Dinamarca, sentencia del 20 de febrero de 1969, párrafo 85, ver texto integral del fallo).

Es de esperar una probable aclaración sobre los alcances de la obligación de negociar por parte de los jueces de la CIJ, si es que Bolivia logra su cometido. Mientras tanto, el procedimiento contencioso ante la CIJ se ha desarrollado de la siguiente forma:

- El 22 de abril del 2013, Bolivia presentó una demanda contra Chile ante la CIJ (ver  texto integral  de la demanda presentada).

- En una ordenanza del 18 de junio del 2013 (ver  texto), la CIJ fijó los plazos de presentación de los escritos de la siguiente manera: 17 de abril del 2014 para la presentación de la memoria de Bolivia, 18 de febrero del 2015 para la contra memoria de Chile.

- Debido a la presentación de excepciones preliminares por parte de Chile el 15 de julio del 2014, la CIJ, mediante ordenanza del mismo 15 de julio del 2014 (ver  texto), ordenó a Bolivia presentar su escrito sobre excepciones preliminares el 14 de noviembre del 2014.

- La CIJ ordenó que las audiencias se realizarían del 4 de mayo al 8 de mayo del 2015: esta fase oral permitirá a ambos Estados presentar sus alegatos a los jueces. Es de notar que, salvo error de nuestra parte, por vez primera en la historia, dos delegaciones de Estados comparecientes vienen encabezadas por sus respectivos cancilleres (ver listado de ambas delegaciones en acta del primer día de audiencias disponible aquí). Usualmente, la delegaciones que asisten a audiencias en La Haya vienen encabezadas cada una por su agente, con la notable excepción de Costa Rica en enero del 2011 y nuevamente en abril del 2015 (Nota 4).

Los “Consejales de la Corona” boliviana y chilena

Si bien la lectura del listado de cada uno de los dos equipos de los Estados que comparecen ante el juez de La Haya incluyen, además de los agentes, a asesores internacionales, consejeros, diplomáticos, historiadores, archivistas, asistentes, cartógrafos, expertos, habíamos tenido la oportunidad recientemente en las páginas de Dipúblico en Argentina (ver nuestra reciente  nota  y su acápite sobre los “Consejales de la Corona”) de explicar que esta aparente abundancia de recursos esconde una realidad mucho más exigua:  la existencia de un selecto grupo de académicos llamados de manera sistemática a tomar la palabra antes los jueces en La Haya, y que algunos han denominado un “invisible college of international lawyers“, para usar la expresión del profesor norteamericano Oscar Schachter (Nota 5): se trata de una decena de juristas de renombre internacional llamados a dirigirse a la CIJ y que, por su talento oratorio y su innegable experiencia en el arte del litigio internacional, se reparten la cartera de la asesoría internacional en la capital holandesa.  Para la ocasión, los “concejales de la Corona” boliviana llamados a tomar la palabra ante los jueces de la CIJ en representación de las dos grandes tradiciones del derecho internacional público (la anglosajona y la francesa) son los profesores Mathias Forteau (Francia), Antonio Remiro Brotóns (España), Monique Chemillier-Gendreau (Francia) y Payan Akhavan (Canadá). Por su parte Chile se presentó a la barra con los profesores Daniel Bethlehem (Reino Unido), Pierre-Marie Dupuy (Francia), Samuel Wordsworth (Reino Unido) y Mónica Pinto (Argentina). Habíamos precisado en un artículo publicado en La Nación en el 2005  y en otro en el 2011 que el peso de la tradición en la forma de operar de la justicia internacional adquiere una dimensión particular en La Haya, y que innovar como lo pretende hacer Costa Rica en sus diversas comparecencias durante las audiencias orales ante los jueces de la CIJ frente a Nicaragua desde el 2009 no es del todo exento de riesgos.

Por segunda vez consecutiva el ahora juez titular James Crawford (Australia) se recusó, tal y como lo indicó el Presidente de la CIJ al iniciar las audiencias el pasado lunes 4 de mayo: ello en virtud del artículo 17, párrafo 2 del estatuto de la CIJ que se lee así: “2. No podrán tampoco participar en la decisión de ningún asunto en que hayan intervenido anteriormente como agentes, consejeros o abogados de cualquiera de las partes, o como miembros de un tribunal nacional o internacional o de una comisión investigadora, o en cualquier otra calidad”. Habiendo sido el profesor Crawford un asesor muy solicitado en años recientes por los Estados, esta situación que se dio hace unas semanas en el marco de las audiencias entre Costa Rica y Nicaragua, aplicará de igual modo para muchas otras demandas, en particular las dos nuevas demandas interpuestas por Nicaragua contra Colombia en el 2013 (asesoró a Colombia), la de Costa Rica contra Nicaragua interpuesta en febrero del 2014 (asesoró a Costa Rica), para limitarnos a disputas pendientes de resolución entre Estados de América Latina.

Tanto Bolivia como Chile procedieron además a designar a un juez ad hoc, Yves Daudet (Francia) en el caso de Bolivia y Louise Arbour (Canadá) en el caso de Chile, quiénes acompañarán de esta manera a los 14 restantes jueces titulares en sus deliberaciones una vez finalizadas las audiencias de esta semana.

Las relaciones entre Santiago y La Paz

En las vísperas del inicio de estas audiencias entre Bolivia y Chile en La Haya, las autoridades de ambos Estados intercambiaron duros mensajes con relación al calificativo de “agentes de inteligencia” a periodistas chilenos en La Paz por parte del Jefe de Estado boliviano (ver  nota de Telam). Este episodio nos recuerda el innecesario nerviosismo entre Lima y Santiago que provocaron insinuaciones (igualmente innecesarias) de cara al fallo de la CIJ a inicios del año 2014 (véase nuestra modesta nota editada en Tribuglobal al respecto en enero del 2014).

Más allá del intento de unos y otros de usar a la CIJ como una verdadera tribuna política, un estudio publicado en el Anuario Mexicano de Derecho Internacional en el 2007 pormenoriza las distintas facetas de la controversia entre Bolivia y Chile que se inició en el siglo XIX, desde la perspectiva del derecho internacional texto completo disponible  aquí). Un estudio más reciente publicado en Agenda Internacional (Perú) en el 2013 pondera las bases de la demanda de Bolivia con relación a los pasados intentos de solución negociada entre Bolvia y Chile (análisis disponible  aquí): en los años setenta,  estas negociaciones incluyeron a Perú (sobre la propuesta peruana, véase este artículo publicado en el Annuaire Francais pour le Droit International en el volumen correspondiente al año 1975, en páginas 354 y subsiguientes).

Notemos que a raíz del desvío de las aguas del Río Lauca por parte de Chile en 1962, Bolivia y Chile suspendieron sus relaciones diplomáticas, las cuales a la fecha se mantienen como tal. Vale la pena indicar que esta suspensión de las relaciones diplomáticas (restablecidas durante pocos años a mediados de los años setenta) no ha constituido ningún impedimento para que ambos Estados mantengan y refuercen sus intercambios comerciales y para que sus cancilleres y mandatarios participen en un sinfín de reuniones, sea en La Paz o en Santiago o en el marco de reuniones y cumbres celebradas en Estados terceros.

Conclusión:

La demanda boliviana ante la CIJ busca remediar la negativa de Chile de negociar una salida al mar. La presentación de excepciones preliminares por parte de Chile buscar evitar que la CIJ conozca el fondo del asunto. El recurso a esta herramienta procesal (excepciones preliminares) siempre debiera ser cuidadosamente sopesado por parte del Estado demandado. En el caso en que la CIJ rechace algunas de las excepciones preliminares, declarándose competente, coloca al Estado que hizo uso de este recurso en una posición inconfortable ante los jueces de la CIJ. Bien lo sabe Estados Unidos, que intentó evitar que la demanda planteada por Nicaragua en abril del 1984 siguiera su curso, con la presentación de excepciones preliminares: al no obtener que la CIJ se declarara incompetente, Estados Unidos optó por no comparecer en la fase siguiente del procedimiento sobre el fondo que concluyó con el histórico fallo de junio de 1986 de la CIJ. De igual manera se puede inferir que el precitado fallo de la CIJ sobre excepciones preliminares en la controversia entre Nicaragua y Colombia colocó a Colombia en una situación incómoda ante los jueces de la CIJ en la fase ulterior del procedimiento: intentar evitar que la justicia internacional se pronuncie no siempre es bien percibido por parte del juez internacional.

 Nicolas Boeglin

Notas

Nota 1 : Al momento de ratificar el pacto de Bogotá en el año 2011, Bolivia emitió la siguiente reserva: “Asimismo, se confirma la reserva hecha por la Delegación Boliviana al firmar el Tratado Americano de Soluciones Pacíficas “Pacto de Bogotá”, con relación al Artículo VI, por el que “se considera que los procedimientos pacíficos pueden también aplicarse a las controversias emergentes de asuntos resueltos por arreglo de las Partes, cuando dicho arreglo afecta intereses vitales de un Estado“.  Esta reserva  fue inmediatamente objetada por Chile en junio del 2011 (ver texto de la objeción). Finalmente, el 10 de abril del 2013, Bolivia optó por retirar su reserva (ver texto del retiro de su reserva), permitiendo al Pacto de Bogotá surtir todos sus efectos en sus relaciones con Chile.

Nota 2: Véase SOREL J.M & POIRAT Fl., «Rapport Introductif », in SOREL J.M. & POIRAT Fl. (Ed.), Les procédures incidentes devant la Cour International de Justice : exercice ou abus de droits ?, Paris, Pedone, Collection contentieux international, 2001, pp.9-57, p.55.

Nota 3 : Leemos que para el ex juez y Presidente de la CIJ Mohamed Bedjaoui, « Dans une instance intentée en 1986 par le Nicaragua contre le Costa Rica, ce dernier admit d´emblée la compétence de la Cour. Ce fait mérite d´autant plus d´être signalé que c´était la première fois en 28 ans  q´un défendeur avait témoigné envers la Cour, au seuil de l´instance, son dévouement au règlement judiciaire des différends » : véase BEDJAOUI M., « La « fabrication » des arrêts de la Cour International de Justice », in Mélanges Michel Virally. Le droit international au service de la paix, de la justice et du développement, Paris, Pedone, 1991, pp.87-107, p. 89, nota 1.

Nota 4 : Costa Rica procedió en enero del 2011 (audiencias orales sobre la solicitud de medidas provisionales con relación a la ocupación ilegal del sector de Portillos por parte de Nicaragua) a innovar con relación a la práctica seguida en La Haya,  al contar en su comparecencia ante la CIJ con la presencia del Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores  en persona (René Castro Salazar). Raramente se ha observado en La Haya a un Ministro encabezando a su delegación durante audiencias orales, dado que la representación máxima de cada una de las partes recae en su agente, usualmente un diplomático con rango de embajador.  En aquella ocasión, varias declaraciones públicas del canciller de Costa Rica dadas desde la sede de la CIJ fueron consideradas un tanto inapropiadas y dieron pié para titulares tales como “Canciller Castro ve necesario reconsiderar tradición pacifista” (La Nación, 13/1/2011, ver artículo).

Nota 5: Véase SCHACHTER O., “Invisible College of International Lawyers”, Northwestern Univesity Law Review, Vol. 72 (1977), pp.217-226.

 

Nicolas Boeglin : Profesor de Derecho Internacional Público, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR).

 

Agrochemical and biotech giant Monsanto claims it is just a global company seeking to help mankind engineer a better life. However, the company is increasingly behaving more like an element of organized crime, especially when faced with science that refutes its claims about how “safe” its genetically modified crops and seeds are.

The company sends its operatives to intimidate and bully academics whose work produces results that counter Monsanto’s claims.

One of the most recent incidents took place at the National University of Cordoba in Argentina. There, university administrators dropped sanctions they were planning to levy against a scientist who conducted cancer research in the town of Monte Maiz after being faced with staggering popular and scientific support for his findings.

As reported by GM Watch:

Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez and his team conducted a survey that found that the incidence of cancer in Monte Maiz was three times the provincial and national average, correlating with exposure to pesticides in the area. The main crops grown are GM soy and maize.

Lots of money is at stake

The administrative sanctions against Vazquez were initially requested by the dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Juan Marcelo Conrero, who said the university did not support the research by Vazquez and his team because it did not match the project that was authorized.

Enter the hidden hand of Monsanto.

According to a translation of a report on the news web site La Mañana de Cordoba, however, “The truth is that the order sanctioning Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez did not gain support.”

Rather, Vazquez “received the support of social, labor, student and political organizations that designated themselves as ‘committed to the life and health of our people and to responding to a social and environmental emergency.’”

The Argentine national political party Unidad Popular also expressed its support for Vazquez’s work, according to GM Watch. On its website, the party wrote that Conrero, the dean who initiated the action against Vazquez, had just last year signed agreements between the University and Monsanto.

“We must not undermine his work”

Scientists also expressed support for Vazquez. In a letter posted online by the Institute of Science in Society:

As academics, institution officials, scientific authorities and social leaders from twelve countries who are engaged in research work into the question of food security and biotechnologies, we meet at various different international conferences and networks, such as the international food security Forum coordinated by Yunnan University in China.

We hereby wish to express our support for, and recognition of the scientific work and endeavors of Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez and his team, currently called into question by the National University of Cordoba in Argentina for carrying out a study on environmental health among the population of Monte Maiz (a small town in the province of Cordoba, Argentina). This study was requested by the mayor of the town and was accompanied by other academic groups from the National University of Cordoba and the National University of La Plata.

The scientists further expressed concern that rejection by any academic authority of the Vazquez investigation and other studies done in collaboration with communities could further reduce efforts to report factual science regarding GMO crops and their effects on local populations. Such studies, they argued, “in the face of a growing sanitary and technological risk in our industrial societies, are increasingly necessary.”

Hugo Bettiol, the health secretary for Monte Maiz, was quoted in La Mañana de Cordoba regarding the university’s moves against Vazquez as saying, “There are many economic interests. We are a soybean country with lots of money at stake, and there are many pressures.

“I think that the study that Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez conducted did have scientific backing,” he added. “We must not undermine his work.”

Sources:

http://gmwatch.org

http://www.lmcordoba.com.ar [Spanish]

http://www.i-sis.org.uk

http://www.reduas.com.ar [Spanish]

http://truthwiki.org/The_Green_Revolution_-_…

http://truthwiki.org/Genetically_modified_cr…

The immediate clamor from the Western mainstream press regarding the fall of Idlib to Western-backed al-Qaeda/ISIS forces revealed part of the NATO plan as much as it involved the simultaneous participation of a media campaign designed to weaken the morale of the Syrian people and present a sense of inevitability amongst Syrian and all other populations following the crisis that the Syrian government was on its way out.

Such media hysteria has been the norm in the West in regards to Syria. However, in terms of the recent media blitz over Idlib, the goal, which has been part of the NATO-Turkish plan since early on in the conflict was to enable the capture of a major Syrian city so as to provide a physical seat of what would then be presented as the “government in exile” in the form of an “interim” or “transitional” government.

While the GIE/interim government would be painted as a modern-day grouping of Founding Fathers and freedom lovers bravely standing up to a dictator, the reality would be a gaggle of terrorists and jihadists bent on imposing Sharia law and washing themselves in bathtubs full of Western money.

Such can be seen in the fact that, only a matter of days after taking the city, the death squads that can barely govern their interactions with one another announced that they were well on their way to establishing a “civilian government” in Idlib.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in its article, “Syrian Opposition Tries To Govern Newly Won Idlib City,”

The rebel groups that took over a provincial capital in northwest Syria over the weekend are now trying to consolidate control and establish civil governance.

After days spent tearing down the ubiquitous images of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the coalition of Islamist groups, which includes al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, say they will help form a civilian government to run Idlib, capital of Idlib province. For now the streets are full of armed fighters with little organizational direction.

[...]

The opposition has a lot to prove in terms of governance as much of the territory it controls is beset by crime, corruption and a lack of services— in addition to regular attacks by the Syrian regime. The political opposition in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, has provided funding for local councils but the money has often been scarce and unreliable.

Note how the WSJ refers to the “opposition,” “al-Qaeda,” “al-Nusra Front,” and “rebels” as they should rightly be described – as the same entity.

Still, as Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report and New Eastern Outlook wrote, the Turkish media also seized upon the jihadist victory and began calling for Idlib to be used as the Capital seat for an “interim” government. Of course, such an “interim” government would be presented as the legitimate government of Syria that finally found a physical seat of power after the ouster of Bashar al-Assad.

There is little doubt that such an interim government would not only consist of jihadists and the subsequent imposition of Sharia law, but also of the parasites and traitors that make up the Syrian National Coalition, a group of pathetic individuals who lap up the luxury of five star hotels paid for by Saudi and American money.

The forming of an “interim” (albeit illegitimate) government would follow the model of Libya, the NATO conquest that preceded Syria. Indeed, the goal of developing an “interim” government located inside Syria and protected by NATO bombing campaigns by virtue of the establishment of a “buffer zone” or “no-fly zone”has been one that NATO and the GCC have drooled over for quite some time.

Early on, it appeared that Aleppo was the preferred target for NATO in its bid to establish a “transitional” government but that attempt was ultimately defeated by the Syrian military, with Syrian control over Aleppo only growing in recent months. Damascus also seemed to have been a target if, for no other reason than the fact that it is the Syrian Capital city. However, those attempts have brought little favor to the death squads either.

Idlib, however, has been another story, with the jihadists sweeping in to take control of the territory in a manner so swift as to confuse many onlookers unfamiliar with the details of the Syrian crisis. For this reason, it is important to note that the city of Idlib lies only miles away from the Turkish border.

The location of Idlib in relation to Turkey is important because it is from Turkey that a steady supply of weapons and fighters are entering Syria. It is thus no coincidence that the presence of Jobhat al-Nusra is strongest in the areas bordering Turkey (as well as those bordering Jordan, another supporter of jihadist forces).

While the mainstream Western press is busy presenting Assad as having lost control of the overwhelming majority of the country and providing maps that are inconsistent with the realities on the ground, the truth is that the Syrian forces are on their way to returning Idlib to government control but are attempting to do so in a way that minimizes loss of civilian life. Indeed, the SAA is already in control of the Southern portion of Idlib, it is only a matter of time before the SAA is able to retake the city, providing there are no more mass injections of jihadists into the fray.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the U.S. airstrikes and its attempts to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria are nothing more than a farce. The death squads running amok in Syria are themselves entirely creatures of NATO and they remain under NATO’s command. The true enemy of ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and the cannibals of the Levant has always been and continues to be Bashar al-Assad.

There will be no “interim” government or “transitional phase” that will ever be legitimate in the context of the NATO, Anglo-American assault on Syria.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

Executives from the financial institutions who received TARP funds, (L-R) Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase & Co Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, The Bank of New York Mellon CEO Robert P. Kelly, Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and State Street Corporation CEO and Chairman Ronald Logue testify before the House Financial Services Committee February 11, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Even as millions and millions of Americans—represented by thousands of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other advocacy organizations—continue to stand firmly in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, those backing the TPP, including President Obama and a large majority of the Republican caucus, still have two dedicated demographic groups pledging their allegiance to the cause and arguing the so-called “free trade agreement (FTA)” would be good for average workers and the economy overall: billionaires and Wall Street titans.

As Zach Carter of the Huffington Post reports:

Last week, dozens of New York City’s power elite signed a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, urging lawmakers to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership now in negotiations. Democrats in Congress largely oppose the TPP, and Republican leaders have said they don’t have the votes needed to pass it without Democratic support.

But while Obama has struggled to win over members of his own party — he has been publicly feuding with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — wealthy CEOs probably aren’t the ideal pitchmen to skeptical Democrats. Even if their letter hails the TPP as “a catalyst for creating new jobs in the United States” that will benefit “American workers in a broad range of industries.”

Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch signed the letter. So did Steven Schwarzman, who once compared the prospect of raising taxes on private equity magnates like himself to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. John Paulson, the Republican mega-donor who made a fortune betting against the housing market with Goldman Sachs, is also a signee. So is vulture investor Wilbur Ross, who spent six figures to support GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 and has backed such conservative hardliners as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

Other signatories include real estate billionaire Jerry Speyer, who recently attended a $100,000-per-person fundraiser to bolster former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s White House hopes. The host of that event, private equity kingpin Henry Kravis, also signed.

News of the letter, which can be read in full here, came on the same day as new trade data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, covering the full first three years of the bilateral trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea, revealed that the U.S. goods trade deficit with that country has more than doubled since the agreement, first signed in 2007 and amended in 2010, was implemented.

What the new data shows, according to the advocacy group Public Citizen, is economic outcomes that are the opposite of the Obama administration’s “more exports, more jobs” promise used to push through that deal, which are the same promises the administration and those supporting TPP are now using as they attempt to persuade Congress to approve Fast Track authority and ram it through Congress without debate or amendment.

The new economic statistics, explains Public Citizen, offer a damning indictment of the promises on which such deals are sold:

U.S. goods exports to Korea have dropped 6 percent, or $2.7 billion, under the Korea FTA’s first three years, while goods imports from Korea have surged 19 percent, or $11.3 billion (comparing the deal’s third year to the year before implementation). As a result, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has swelled 104 percent, or more than $14 billion. The trade deficit increase equates to the loss of more than 93,000 American jobs in the first three years of the Korea FTA, counting both exports and imports, according to the trade-jobs ratio that the Obama administration used to project gains from the deal.” [...]

Record-breaking U.S. trade deficits with Korea have become the new normal under the FTA – in 35 of the 36 months since the Korea FTA took effect, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea has exceeded the average monthly trade deficit seen in the three years before the deal. In January 2015, the monthly U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea topped $3 billion – the highest level on record.

The administration has tried to deflect attention from the failure of its Korea FTA by claiming that its poor performance has been caused by economic stagnation in Korea. However, Korea’s economy has grown during each year of the Korea FTA, while U.S. exports to Korea have not.

Despite those figures and the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing sector in the age of neoliberal globalization, the repeated line from TPP supporters is that these deals are ‘job creators.’ As the letter from the billionaire elites to the New York Congressional Delegation stated, “TPP would be a catalyst for creating new  jobs in the United States, attracting more foreign investment to this country, and  benefitting American workers in a broad range  of industries.”

But that’s simply not what the evidence from past FTAs shows, said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, in a statement on Tuesday.

“Who’s going to buy the argument about Fast Track and the TPP creating ‘more exports, more jobs’ when Obama’s only major trade deal, used as the TPP template, was sold under that very slogan and yet has done the opposite?”

And Dave Johnson, from the Campaign for America’s Future, explained in a Tuesday post how none of this “just happened” by accident, but that corporate-friendly trade policies have created these ‘job-killing’ conditions:

Globalization is not some kind of inevitable natural process of history that has caught up with us. This was and is the result of intentional policy choices, designed to force deindustrialization, break unions, drive down wages and benefits and increase inequality as that pay differential is pocketed by a few. This is the result of the “free market, free trade” ideology that rose up in the late 70s. Free trade policy was and is designed to give a few plutocrats and their giant corporations — “the 1 percent” — increased power over governments.

Dean Baker, in “Globalization Was Policy, Not Something That Happened,” explained, “… inequality, like the path of globalization, is not something that happened. It was and is the result of conscious policy. We won’t be able to deal with it effectively until we acknowledge this simple fact.”

In his reporting for Huffington Post, Carter makes it clear that it wasn’t only billionaires who signed the letter urging for Fast Track and TPP approval. Some, he told his readers, were “merely millionaire CEOs” like Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein, Kenneth Chenault of American Express, and JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon.

For the second time in less than a year, an American city was transformed into a hypermilitarized police state to subdue growing resistance to anti-Black police violence.

Eight months ago, paramilitary forces barreled down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, following the gruesome police killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown.

Last week, martial law was imposed on the people of Baltimore, Maryland, in yet another crackdown aimed at crushing the Black Lives Matter uprising, galvanized this time by the police murder of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man whose spinal cord was severed while in police custody.

It was an occupation in the truest sense of the term. However, for Baltimore’s poor Black neighborhoods, it was a hypermilitarized version of the lower intensity occupation they are subjected to on a regular basis.

Paramilitary police forces face off against peaceful protesters outside Baltimore City Hall after 10 pm curfew on Friday, 1 May. (Bryan MacCormack)

Protests demanding justice for Gray had been largely peaceful, until heavy-handed police tactics against Baltimore high school students on 27 April incited a riot.

Some young people responded by throwing bottles and rocks at police, prompting comparisons to Palestine, where children often toss stones at Israeli occupation forces as a means of resistance and self-defense.

Windows of police cruisers were smashed, stores were looted and a CVS store was set ablaze, throwing white America into a panicked frenzy that seemed to prioritize broken windows over broken spines, as one activist put it.

Martial law

Within hours of the riots, Baltimore city officials declared a state of emergency and instituted a 10 pm curfew.

Practically overnight, Baltimore morphed into a heavily militarized police state with machine-like efficiency, demonstrating America’s frightening capacity to successfully implement martial law in a major US city in a matter of hours.

By Tuesday, 3,000 National Guard troops were deployed to Baltimore.

An armored police vehicle passes by the burned down a CVS store on the intersection of North and Pennsylvania avenues in Baltimore on 1 May. (Bryan MacCormack)

With assault rifles in hand, bored US soldiers in official military combat attire roamed the streets of downtown Baltimore, patrolling the National Aquarium, as well as the outlets of Forever 21, Cheesecake Factory and Barnes & Noble that dot the trendy and polished Inner Harbor.

The soldiers were flanked by police from a collection of law enforcement agencies from Maryland and across state lines, all working in concert with Baltimore police to crush the nascent uprising that erupted in the city’s long neglected poor Black neighborhoods. For these communities, martial law presented nothing more than an added layer to the ferocious police violence and intolerable economic deprivation that inform their daily lives.

Breaking curfew

On Friday 1 May, around eighty protesters held their ground in the courtyard in front of City Hall. They were in high spirits and determined to break the 10 pm curfew following news that six Baltimore police officers were charged in the killing of Freddie Gray.

Protesters huddle in the courtyard outside Baltimore City Hall on 1 May 2015, preparing to break the 10 pm curfew. (Rania Khalek / The Electronic Intifada)

The courtyard had become an unofficial media headquarters since the state of emergency began, saturated with TV news vans, cable news tents and lighting crews. The area also served as a command center for the National Guard and law enforcement. As the curfew went into effect, a line of around a hundred riot police filed into the quad opposite the protesters, who had thinned out from a couple hundred to a few dozen. The mood was tense, but calm.

Riot police face off against protesters trying to break the curfew outiside Baltimore City Hall on 1 May. (Bryan MacCormack)

Minutes later, hidden units of riot police thundered into the crowd, charging at frightened protesters who soon learned there was nowhere to run. Protesters were woefully outnumbered and surrounded, with all possible escape routes cut off by either riot squads, officers on horseback, armored vehicles with rooftop snipers or National Guard troops, reinforced by a police helicopter circling overhead. Police officers dressed like storm troopers attacked one protester after the next completely unprovoked. I watched as police all around me tackled civilians, slamming them into the ground face first, piling on top of them and blindly swinging their batons. It was a police riot.

Meanwhile, police closed in on the media, jostling members of the press and repeatedly threatening them to get back.

Mass arrests

Among those arrested that night was 32-year-old Chicago-based activist Danielle Villarreal, who was knocked to the ground by officers while quietly looking to see which of her comrades had been grabbed.

Her friend, Jackie Spreadbury, 26, instinctively reached for Villareal’s arm to protect her from police and was instantly thrown against a van and tossed to the ground, her cheek pressed up against the curb.

“They hit me with their batons on the back of the calf below the knee as I was already down on the ground,” Spreadbury told me, recollecting her arrest. “I didn’t realize at the time that I was getting hit. I was just looking at Danielle to see if she was okay.”

“A bunch of cops were yelling different things at me. And then they started yelling at me for not listening to all the different things they were demanding,” Spreadbury recalled.

“I’ve been to lots of demonstrations over the years and I’ve never seen this sort of pre-emptive oppression — outside of NATO in Chicago — where they lunged at us and chased us down without warning, and just pre-emptively attacked people,” said Villarreal, referring to the virtual police state during the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012 that saw protesters corralled, abused and arrested.

“If you want to see who wants a riot, look at who’s dressed for it,” added Villarreal, noting that police were the ones wearing body armor and carrying billy clubs.

During their 22 hour stay in jail, the women met countless Baltimore residents who were swept up by police for breaking curfew while going about their daily lives. “They were put in a cell with us — women, mothers daughters — they got picked up because of this police state. There was a 51–year-old woman who was arrested on her way from work at 4:45 am during curfew,” said Spreadbury.

At least 486 people have been arrested in Baltimore since 23 April, a fifth of whom wereheld for 48 hours without explanation and released without charge.

Others were given astronomically high bails.

Allen Bullock, 18, turned himself in at the behest of his parents after a photo of him smashing a police windshield with a traffic cone was plastered in news reports across the country. Bullock is currently being held on a half a million dollar bail that his family can’t possibly afford. In stark contrast, the officers who severed Freddie Gray’s spine received bails no greater than $350,000.

Palestine contingent lends support

Building on the deepening bond between the Palestinian and Black liberation struggles, Palestinian civil society organizations issued a declaration of support for those struggling against racial injustice in Baltimore.

“We send our condolences to the family of Freddie Gray and all those murdered in police custody,” says the statement. “We stand in solidarity with those whose homes have been foreclosed, with those who live under the constant watch of surveillance cameras and under the constant threat of being stopped, harassed, arrested and assaulted by a militarized police force in their own streets. Your struggle for justice, equality and freedom is our struggle.”

Palestine solidarity activists from Washington, DC, supporting protesters in Baltimore. (Rania Khalek / The Electronic Intifada)

A contingent of Palestine solidarity activists affiliated with Students for Justice with Palestine (SJP) at American University and Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at George Mason University turned those words into action.

Wearing their kufiyehs — Palestinian checkered scarves — to remain easily visible to one another amid the likely chaos, the group shuffled back and forth between Washington DC and Baltimore to lend their support as legal observers and medics.

“Oftentimes we struggle with wanting to participate because we don’t know if it’s our place and we don’t want to be co-opting,” said Ntebo Maya Mokuena, a 19-year-old member of SJP at AU. “But I think it’s important for people in DC to show solidarity in Baltimore because we’re so close.”

Mokuena gravitated toward Palestine solidarity work due to her father’s activism against apartheid in South Africa. “I saw the connections between his experiences in South Africa and what happens in Palestine. I thought it was really important to carry on the family legacy,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

“From Palestine to Baltimore, there are parallels with militarization of police and the tactics they use to take over space in other people’s land. They’re occupying people’s neighborhoods where they live. It’s like the second wave for Baltimore because it’s already economically occupied,” said Mokuena.

The group managed to avoid arrest during Friday night’s melee, though some told The Electronic Intifada that they were more frightened of police in Baltimore than Israeli forces at protests they had attended in Palestine.

“Even though I’ve been to protests in Palestine, I saw more physical abuse in Baltimore,” said Tareq Radi, a Palestinian American organizer and founding member of SAIA. Still, what he witnessed in Baltimore reminded him of Israeli crowd control in Palestine. “I went to the ‘day of rage’ protests in the Negev [Naqab] and I saw people getting slammed on the ground, hogtied, police grabbing their arms and legs and throwing them in the paddy wagon — the exact same imagery as Baltimore.”

“If Baltimore was a Middle Eastern country, we would be calling it a dictatorship,” Radi added.

Echoes of Israeli tactics in Baltimore

The similarities in suppression tactics employed by Baltimore and Israeli security forces are no coincidence.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, nearly every major police agency in the United States has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, including many of the agencies active in Baltimore last week.

In 2002, Baltimore city police officers went to Israel on a junket organized by the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), where they studied Israeli occupation tactics used against Palestinians, including “crowd control, and coordination with the media,” according to a JINSA press release. “Participants resolved to begin the process of sharing ‘lessons learned’ in Israel with their law enforcement colleagues in the United States,” boasted JINSA.

Baltimore city police returned to Israel for more occupation training in a 2009 triparranged by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange.

On a 2007 training session in Israel, Baltimore County police reportedly “received valued lessons from Israeli officials…about gathering human and electronic intelligence” that can “apply to investigations into organized crime and gangs.”

The Montgomery County Police Department, which sent dozens of police officers to assist in the Baltimore crackdown, has attended several training sessions in Israel, including one in 2010 and another in 2012, both hosted by Project Interchange.

New Jersey State Police, which donated around 150 of its officers to Baltimore’s police state, learned lessons in occupation enforcement on trips to Israel arranged by the Anti-Defamation League in 2011 and 2013, and JINSA in 2004.

Pennsylvania State Police, which contributed 300 state troopers to Baltimore, studied counterterrorism in Israel in 2004.

While there is a wealth of scholarship on police militarization in the US, there has been little to no examination of the ways Israel’s security apparatus facilitates it. Instead, the issue is virtually ignored or flat out denied, despite the troubling implications of emulating an apartheid regime actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.

Armed with cameras

There is something eerily consistent about occupation, whether in the ghettos of Palestine or the United States, including one of the most widely used means of resistance to it.

“A camera is the most trusted witness and the best protection tool,” Issa Amro, the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements, told me last year after his organization faced violent retaliation for recording Israeli soldiers pointing assault rifles at Palestinian teens in a video that went viral.

Kevin Moore, who filmed the video of Freddie Gray’s brutal arrest, sees the camera in a similar light.

“The most powerful weapon that we have against the police right now is a camcorder or any type of record that you can get against them performing those police brutal events,”argued Moore after his video of Gray went viral. After speaking out about Gray’s killing, Moore complained that police were intimidating him. He was later arrested with two activists from Copwatch, the police accountability organization he is a member of and released two hours later without charge.

Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed the chokehold killing of Eric Garner by NYPD officers in Staten Island last year, met an even worse fate. He was arrested along with his mother, brother and wife in what he contends is a campaign of vengeful harassment by the NYPD.

Meanwhile, not one of the officers who killed Garner on video will face charges; Video evidence of deadly police violence rarely results in accountability.

Under such intolerable conditions, where even video evidence of their murders isn’t enough to hold their killers accountable, it is no wonder that the oppressed are fighting back, from Baltimore to Ferguson to Palestine.

Washington, D.C. - The National Security Archive today posted key documents on Operation Condor, presented by its Southern Cone analyst, Carlos Osorio, at a historic trial in Buenos Aires of former military officers. During 10 hours on the witness stand recently, Osorio introduced one hundred documents into evidence for the court proceedings. His testimony was profiled on May 3 in a major feature article published in the Buenos Aires daily, Pagina 12.

Operation Condor was an infamous secret alliance between South American dictatorships in the mid and late 1970s – a Southern Cone rendition and repression program – formed to track down and eliminate enemies of their military regimes. The Condor trial charges 25 high-ranking officers, originally including former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla (deceased) and Reynaldo Bignone (aged 87), with conspiracy to “kidnap, disappear, torture and kill” 171 opponents of the regimes that dominated the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the victims were approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans and a dozen others from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who were targeted by Condor operatives.

National Security Archive analyst Carlos Osorio addresses an audience at the Argentine Embassy in Washington DC on March 23, 2015, prior to receiving an award for his work on human rights in Argentina.

The tribunal requested Osorio’s testimony, which took place over two days on March 6 and 7, 2015, and included presentation of an Excel data base of 900 documents drawn mostly from U.S. government sources and from the Archive of Terror in Paraguay. Of these, Osorio focused on 100 declassified records selected for the tribunal, which was presided over by Judge Oscar Amirante, president of Federal Tribunal N° 1.

The National Security Archive obtained the U.S. documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), primarily from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department. Other notable records originated from the Chilean former secret police, DINA.

“We have been working on Operation Condor for years,” Osorio said, “sifting through archives in many continents and building a body of knowledge and a trove of documents.”

The Pagina 12 feature entitled “The Evolution of Condor,” described Osorio’s presentation of “dozens” of documents to the tribunal, and the contribution the documents made in educating the judges on the genesis and evolution of coordinated repression in the Southern Cone. Osorio’s testimony covered a range of topics including the breadth of Condor operations, U.S. knowledge of those operations and the authenticity of the records being introduced into evidence.

The article highlighted one document Osorio presented that revealed the bilateral precedent for what would become a multilateral system of regional repression: a secret accord between the Argentine and Paraguayan military intelligence services to “Collaborate in the struggle against subversion…” and the “… internment [of dissenters]…” ” The agreement was dated September 12,1972, and signed by Paraguayan intelligence officer Col. Benito Guanes Serrano. Three years later, Guanes would also be one of the five original signatories of the secret Condor accords. Osorio discovered the document in the Archive of Terror in Paraguay.

In September 1975, an assessment by a State Department intelligence analyst concluded that “The national security forces of the southern cone surpass the terrorists in cooperation at the international level…” Six weeks later, in Santiago, Chile, intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay signed an “Acta” officially establishing Operation Condor. Osorio introduced that pivotal document – provided to the Archive by a source in Chile – into evidence as well.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentine military dictator Rafael Videla
(reproduced with permission of Pagina 12)

Two declassified U.S. documents presented to the tribunal underscored the contradictory response of high U.S. officials as they became aware of Condor operations in the summer of 1976. One well-known 13-page memorandum of conversation between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral Cesar Guzzetti dated June 10, 1976, revealed Kissinger’s endorsement of the regional collaboration to repress the left. After Guzzetti informed Kissinger that the Southern Cone regimes were engaged in “joint efforts” to fight “the terrorist problem,” Kissinger essentially supported this approach: “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you should get back quickly to normal procedures,” according to the declassified transcript Osorio provided to the court.

“We want you to succeed. We do not want to harrass [sic] you,” Kissinger concluded. “I will do what I can … ”

After a CIA briefing to Kissinger’s top aides in late July 1976 on the Condor countries’ plans to send assassination teams around the world to eliminate opponents, the Secretary of State authorized a démarche to General Augusto Pinochet in Chile, General Jorge Videla in Argentina, and other military leaders in the region calling on them to cease and desist. “Government planned and directed assassinations within and outside the territory of Condor members has most serious implication which we must face squarely and rapidly,” stated the secret August 13, 1976, cable to U.S. ambassadors in those nations. But the démarche was never delivered to any of the Condor regimes. After the U.S. ambassadors raised objections about presenting the démarche to the generals, on September 16, 1976, Kissinger rescinded it, and ordered “that no further action be taken on this matter.”

In addition to Osorio, the National Security Archive’s Chile Documentation Project director, Peter Kornbluh, testified in the Operation Condor trial for five hours in December 2014. Archive Advisory Board member, professor of journalism and author John Dinges presented evidence in April 2015.

Several defendants await the resumption of proceedings at the historic Condor trial in Buenos Aires in 2015. Among the 25 high-ranking officials originally charged were former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla (deceased) and Reynaldo Bignone (aged 87). (Reproduced with permission of Pagina 12)

For more information contact:
Carlos Osorio 202/994-7000 or [email protected]


Read the Documents

Document 1. Asunto: Acuerdo Bilateral de Inteligencia FF.AA. PARAGUAY/Ejército ARGENTINO, September 12, 1972

[Source: Archive of Terror, Asuncion, Paraguay]

In September 1972, the intelligence services of Argentina and Paraguay signed a secret agreement to facilitate a “mutual collaboration in the struggle against subversion…” The accord stated that the secret police would “join forces in the exchange of information” to undermine and eliminate subversive groups, and coordinate the “internment [of dissenters].” The accord, according to the document, appears to have been preceded by previous bilateral agreements between the two nations in the area of cooperation in fighting leftists. Along with bilateral cooperation between Argentina and Chile after Gen. Pinochet’s September 11, 1973, coup, this Paraguay-Argentina arrangement established a precedent and precursor operations for broader multilateral efforts at repression formalized under Condor three years later.

Document 2. Department of State, Ninety-first Meeting of the Working Group/Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism, Confidential Minutes, September 5, 1975

[Source: Digital National Security Archive, Argentina, 1975-1980: The Making of U.S. Human Rights Policy, document no. AR00087.]

This Department of State confidential document records an assessment of terrorist activities around the world, as well as global counterterrorism operations. “In general, the national security forces of the Southern Cone surpass the terrorists in cooperation at the international level,” as the analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, James Buchanan, briefed the Committee to Combat Terrorism. This assessment indicated a high level of regional coordination even before the official inauguration of Operation Condor in Chile in November 1975.

Document 3. Acta de Clausura de la Primera Reunion InterAmericana de Intelligencia Nacional [Minutes of the Conclusions of the First InterAmerican Meeting on National Intelligence] Secret, Meeting Minutes, November 28, 1975. [Translation attached.]

[Source: Investigators with access to Chilean Foreign Ministry Archives; translation from Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (New York: The New Press, 2013)]

Operation Condor was founded at the behest of the Pinochet regime in late November 1975. This summary of Operation Condor’s inaugural meeting hosted by the Chilean secret police, DINA, in Santiago, Chile, provides substantive detail on the mission, coordination, communications, intelligence sharing, joint operations and the Latin American intelligence officers involved in initiating a regional effort to suppress the left in the Southern Cone. It also identifies the origins of the name of this cross-border collaboration – Chile’s national bird, the Condor. “This organization will be called CONDOR, by unanimous approval of a motion presented by the Uruguayan Delegation to honor the host country,” the document concludes. The founding document is signed by five of the highest ranking intelligence officers in the Southern Cone, representing the original Condor nations: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. (Later Brazil, Peru and Ecuador joined Condor.) The document was originally obtained by National Security Archive analyst Peter Kornbluh from human rights investigators in Chile who discovered it in the Foreign Ministry archives; Osorio’s testimony marks the first time it has been formally introduced as evidence for the legal proceedings on Condor crimes in Argentina.

Document 4. Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation between Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister Adm. Cesar Guzzetti, Secret, June 10, 1976

[Source: Freedom of Information Act request filed by Carlos Osorio]

During a June 1976 OAS meeting in Santiago Chile, (which corresponded with the second Condor meeting also held in Santiago at the same time), Henry Kissinger met privately with Admiral Cesar Guzzetti, foreign minister of Argentina’s military regime. The declassified “memcon” reveals that Kissinger not only encouraged the ongoing internal repression in Argentina, but also endorsed the “joint efforts” with other Southern Cone regimes that Guzzetti described to address “the terrorist problem.” In what appears to be the very first time Kissinger is told of the Condor collaboration, Guzzetti tells him that Argentina wants “to integrate with our neighbors… All of them: Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil,”to fight subversion. In response, Kissinger advises him to step up diplomatic efforts to explain the repression and offset international condemnation:

“You will have to make an international effort to have your problems understood. Otherwise, you, too, will come under increasing attack. If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you must get back quickly to normal procedures.” When Guzzetti suggests that “The terrorists work hard to appear as victims in the light of world opinion even though they are the real aggressors,” Kissinger agrees. “We want you to succeed,” he concludes. “We do not want to harrass [sic] you. I will do what I can…”

Document 5. Department of State, “Operation Condor”, secret cable, August 23, 1976

[Source: Clinton Administration special declassification on Chile]

This “action” cable was a démarche drafted by aides to Secretary of State Kissinger, instructing U.S. ambassadors in key Condor nations to advise their host regimes not to undertake international assassination missions against selected opponents. It reflects a decision by Kissinger’s office to oppose the Condor assassination plots – especially those outside of Latin America – because they would create further human rights condemnation of the Southern Cone regimes. In the démarche, Kissinger instructs the ambassadors of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to meet as soon as possible with the chief of state or the highest appropriate official of their respective countries and to convey a direct message. The ambassadors are instructed to tell the officials the U.S. government has received information that Operation Condor goes beyond counterterrorism information exchanges and may “include plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain Southern Cone countries and abroad.” The ambassadors are ordered to express the U.S. government’s “deep concern” about the reports and to warn that, if true, they would “create a most serious moral and political problem.”

The cable was distributed the last week of August 1976; but after the U.S. ambassadors in Chile and Uruguay raised concerns about delivering this message, Kissinger decided to rescind it. On September 16, he instructed his top deputy for Latin America that “no further action be taken on this matter.” Five days later, former Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier and his colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt, were assassinated in Washington D.C. by a car bomb planted by Condor operatives.

A Vienna, Austria, court has ruled that Victoria Nuland (right), the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, attempted to pressure the President of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich (left), into accepting Ukrainian association with the European Union (EU) by threatening Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash with arrest, extradition to the US, and imprisonment on allegations of bribery several years ago in India.

The details were exposed for the first time in public in a proceeding in the Landesgerichtsstrasse Regional Court on April 30. Austrian judge Christoph Bauer was presiding on the application by the US Government for the extradition of Firtash. The transcript of the proceeding has not yet been issued publicly, nor the official text of the judge’s ruling from the bench.

Judge Bauer rejected extradition, ruling there had been improper political interference by the US Government in the Firtash case. This is a violation, according to Bauer’s judgement, of Article 4, section 3 of the US-Austria Extradition Treaty of 1998. “Extradition shall not be granted,” the proviso declares, “if the executive authority of the Requested State determines that the request was politically motivated.” Read the treaty in full here.

A New York Times reporter, David Herszenhorn (below, left), tweeted during the proceedings against Firtash (right, centre), and then published a report of what was translated for him from the German.

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The newspaper version: “Mr. Firtash’s lawyers asserted that an initial request by the United States for his arrest, on Oct. 30, 2013, was directly tied to a trip to Ukraine by an assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, in which she sought to prevent Mr. Yanukovych from backing out of a promise to sign sweeping political and trade agreements with Europe. Ms. Nuland left Washington on the day the arrest request was submitted to Austria. The request was rescinded four days later, said a lawyer, Christian Hausmaninger, after Ms. Nuland came to believe she had received assurances from Mr. Yanukovych that he would sign the accords. From that point, nothing happened in the Indian bribery case, Mr. Hausmaninger [defence lawyer for Firtash] said, until Feb. 26 — four days after Mr. Yanukovych was ousted after months of street protests. The arrest request was renewed then, and the Austrian authorities detained Mr. Firtash two weeks later, the same day the new Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, was visiting President Obama at the White House.”

A different record of what was said in court can be read in Herszenhorn’s twitter feed for April 30; there were 87 separate tweets. This record reveals that Judge Bauer heard evidence that the US Government had shown political favour for Yulia Tymoshenko to replace President Victor Yanukovich; intervened to block the Firtash-supported candidacy of Vitaly Klitschko as Ukrainian president after Yanukovich’s ouster on February 21, 2014; and sought reallocation of Firtash’s assets in the gas and titanium sectors. For more on the US interest in Ukrainian titanium, read this. For the file on the US decision not to prosecute Tymoshenko for corruption, making and receiving bribes, click this.

Herszenhorn hints that the Austrian government intervened administratively to swing the outcome of the case against the US. “At least 4 lawyers arguing for #Firtash in Vienna court, more in gallery or not here. Only 1 Austria govt lawyer in support US extradition.”

The US State Department has yet to respond. “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said in an e-mailed statement to US newspapers. On the telephone to a London outlet on Friday, Carr claimed the Justice Department has “filed an appeal”.

The time line for the US charges against Firtash was first reported here. The allegations claim bribery commenced in April 2006. Transactions identified in the published indictment are dated between April 2006 and July 2010. The Chicago grand jury investigation is dated January 2012. The official indictment, according to the Austrian documents, was not dated until June 2013. The US request to the Austrian government for the arrest of Firtash on the extradition warrant was dated October 30, 2013, then withdrawn on November 4. It was re-issued on February 27, 2014. The Austrian arrest took place on March 12.

Eric HolderThe US Government officials in charge of this process included Eric Holder (right), who was US Attorney-General from February 3, 2009 until April 27, 2015; Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013; and Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State from September 18, 2013. In that same month, September 2013, there was a change of director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Robert Mueller was replaced on September 4, 2013, by James Comey.

The FBI Chicago office conducted the investigation. At the start, the agent in charge in Chicago was Robert Grant, who was in his position from 2004 until September 2012. Grant was replaced by Cory Nelson on November 2, 2012, but he lasted only seven months until July of 2013. His temporary substitute was Robert Shields until Robert Holley took over on November 12, 2013.

The US District Attorney in charge of the Firtash grand jury was Patrick Fitzgerald (below, left), but he resigned in June of 2012. He was then succeeded temporarily by a deputy until Zachary Fardon (right) took office on October 23, 2013.

1663_egte

The State Department announced Nuland’s visit to Kiev for November 3 and 4, 2013. According to the US Embassy in Kiev, in a transcript of Nuland’s statement on November 4, Nuland had “a very good and very long meeting with the President.” She claimed in addition: “The President made clear in that meeting that Ukraine has made its choice and its choice is for Europe. The United States supports Ukraine’s right to choose, and we are committed to supporting Ukraine as it works to meet the remaining few requirements for an Association Agreement with the European Union and the trade benefits that come with it. We also took the opportunity tonight to congratulate Ukraine on all of the work it has already done to meet the conditions that the European Union has set forth — literally dozens of pieces of legislation. I delivered a letter this evening from Secretary Kerry to the President.”

In the wake of the revelations in the Austrian court proceeding a record of part of what Nuland and Yanukovich discussed has surfaced. Tape-recordings of Nuland’s confidential remarks in Kiev have surfaced in the past and can be read here. The following content cannot be corroborated, and its accuracy should be treated with caution:

“NULAND: Mr President, we will have Firtash arrested unless you agree to sign the [EU] Association Agreement.
YANUKOVICH: Okay, I’ll sign.
In the background, a telephone rings. Audible footsteps, mumbling, as Yanukovich excuses himself to take the call. In his absence, Nuland whispers to Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.
NULAND: We got the guy by the [f…… b….], huh?
PYATT: Way to go, Toria!
(Separate telephone tape, in Russian) 
YANUKOVICH: You’re off the hook, Dima. The АМЕРИКАНКА fell for it.
FIRTASH: МОЛОДЕЦ! Mr President.”

According to Herszenhorn’s twitter feed, “True or not #Firtash lawyers have strung together fascinating narrative of his legal travails rising/falling based on US State Dept goals.”

Copyright © 2007-2014 Dances With Bears

GR Editor’s Note. Parts of this article are not fully corroborated.

The shocking decision  by the government-owned New Zealand Super Fund (NZSF)  to NOT divest from Israel Chemicals Ltd (ICL), manufacturer of white phosphorus, blatantly violates the NZSF Responsibilities: 

“ethical investment including policies, standards and procedures for avoiding prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community” and Standards for Human Rights: -

1. Support and respect human rights

2. No complicity in abuses…”  as set out in the NZSF cautionary but brushed off Responsible Investment Framework.

Moreover, NZSF CEO, Adrian Orr, pragmatically amnesic of Israel’s infinite violations of international law and UN resolutions, assured members that,

In 2013, Israel said it would find alternatives to white phosphorus, following condemnation of its use on civilians during the 2008-09 Gaza conflict.

“We have no evidence that Israel Chemicals’ product – or any white phosphorus – has been used against civilians in the recent Gaza conflict,” Mr Orr said. “Our analysis suggests Israel Chemicals operates within national and international laws, and conventions NZ has signed.” (LOL)

NZSF analysis, if done at all, is fraudulent. NZSF certainly acknowledges that Israel Chemicals is a supplier of white phosphorus to the US Defense Force.

Yet, easily found on Google, are contract awards from the US Army Contracting Command to ICL Performance Products for White Phosphorus, Destination- Pine Bluff Arsenal, Pine Bluff, AR to be “used for the Ctg 155mm M110A2”

As for Orr’s profit-induced ‘no evidence’, The M110 / M110A1 White Phosphorus (WP) projectiles are available for 105mm and 155mm howitzers. Used for screening, spotting and signaling purposes, they have an additional incendiary effect on a target and processes casualty producing effects.

The contemptible NZSF’s 16-8-14 decision to continue assisting in the US manufacture of M110A2 was reviewed and reached during Israel’s monstrous war, Operation Protective Edge, against the terrified trapped Gazan population. It shows the NZ fund to be an highly irresponsible member of the world community and a collaborator in Israel’s war crimes.

Synchronistically, on the very same 16-8-14, little Hamza Mus’ab Almandani, 3 ,of Khan Younis, Gaza was in Nasser hospital in excruciating pain suffering from burns, like fire, from artillery shells made in Pine Bluff, USA  that were fired on 25-7-14, discharging white incendiary rain on Gaza in hundreds of phosphorous-impregnated felt wedges as Hamza and his family slept.

It is important that NZSF contributors are aware that White Phosphorous burns at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit or 816 degrees Celsius through skin, muscle and bone and is only contained by blocking off oxygen, but the extreme pain and the horrific tissue damage endures.

In terror, Hamza’s father, Mus’ab, also injured along with his other children Bara and Nada, 5, ran through the tumultuous night carrying Hamza who spent agonising months in hospital. This once happy lively toddler, is now mute from trauma and pain. . . thanks, in part, to NZSF and its members.

NZSF should, at the very least, be paying for this child to have burns treatment in Italy. or Aotearoa New Zealand  for that matter.

Contrary to Adrian Orr’s assurance to the New Zealand public, Hamza’s suffering was DELIBERATELY inflicted in 2014 in blatant defiance of the 2009 Human Rights Watch,  Amnesty and witness Reports and the significant UN Goldstone Report on Israel’s war crimes that condemned its illegal use.

Israel inhumanely defied “Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, which prohibits use of the substance as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas.”

Significantly, Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza prevents escape by land, sea and air. The alarming Israeli documentary, The Lab, by Yotam Feldman exposes the 1.6 million mothers, fathers, children, are locked in an Israeli laboratory cage that battle-tests weaponry on Gaza. Billions of international dollars from western defense departments and investors, like NZSF, fuel the demand and sanction Israeli atrocities.

NZSF executives, Chair Gavin Walker, Deputy Chair Catherine Savage and Chief Executive Adrian Orr, on $800,000 plus salaries, sit in their safe and sleek offices making criminally negligent decisions to pour NZ workers’ monies into supporting Israeli companies that are integral to the illegal  colonisation and brutal  military oppression of Palestine’s indigenous people that has spanned 68 long long years. . . thus NZSF cannot plead ignorance particularly if one also considers New Zealand’s own shameful history of violence against the Maori peoples.

Nor are NZSF beneficiaries morally squeaky clean . Since August last year there have been numerous calls in the media  for NZSF divestment from ICL and protests by a few decent people at the NZSF offices… but no mass demands from the members for divestment.

Other Israeli companies in the NZSF portfolio that also have grounds for divestment are Strauss Group Ltd which has close connections to the Israeli military, particularly the notoriously vicious Golani and Givati brigades that participated in war crimes in Gaza in 2008/9, 2011 and 2014.

And TEVA Pharmaceuticals has a plant in Har Hotzvim beyond the Green Like making it a settlement  factory.

To understand the incestuous links between the majority of Israeli companies steeped in Palestinian blood and tears we can look at TEVA’s CEO.

TEVA’s Erez Vigodman was CEO of the Strauss Group for 8 years, then CEO of Makhteshim Agan which had signed a production agreement with U.S. chemical giant Monsanto to develop an herbicide for weeds that had developed resistance to glyphosate, its popular herbicide marketed as Roundup. Israeli companies have a knack for death and destruction.

NZSF must also check if the Israeli oil companies in its portfolio are involved in the theft of Palestinian oil and gas resources and all Israel Banks have labyrithine investments in Israel’s arms and security industries.

NZSF ‘has a passive $900,000 investment in Israel Chemicals Ltd which ethically must be immediately divested along with the majority of its Israel investments.

The NZSF governance its contributors and beneficiaries should, in the manner of all decent people, be absolutely outraged that their monies and blood profits are complicitous in the deaths and inhumane suffering of Palestinian children like little Hamza and divest immediately.

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. 

America’s Main Problem: Corruption

May 7th, 2015 by Washington's Blog

Sadly, in the month since we last posted on this topic, many new examples of corruption have arisen.

The Cop Is On the Take

Government corruption has become rampant:

  • Senior SEC employees spent up to 8 hours a day surfing porn sites instead of cracking down on financial crimes
  • NSA spies pass around homemade sexual videos and pictures they’ve collected from spying on the American people
  • Investigators from the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General found that some of the regulator’s employees surfed erotic websites, hired prostitutes and accepted gifts from bank executives … instead of actually working to help the economy
  • The Minerals Management Service – the regulator charged with overseeing BP and other oil companies to ensure that oil spills don’t occur – was riddled with “a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity”, which included “sex with industry contacts
  • Agents for the Drug Enforcement Agency had dozens of sex parties with prostitutes hired by the drug cartels they were supposed to stop (they also received moneygifts and weapons from drug cartel members)
  • The government-sponsored rating agencies committed massive fraud (and see this)
  • The former chief accountant for the SEC says that Bernanke and Paulson broke the law and should be prosecuted
  • The government knew about mortgage fraud a long time ago. For example, the FBI warned of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud in 2004. However, the FBI, DOJ and other government agencies then stood down and did nothing. See this and this. For example, the Federal Reserve turned its cheek and allowed massive fraud, and the SEC has repeatedly ignored accounting fraud. Indeed, Alan Greenspan took the position that fraud could never happen
  • Paulson and Bernanke falsely stated that the big banks receiving Tarp money were healthy, when they were not. The Treasury Secretary also falsely told Congress that the bailouts would be used to dispose of toxic assets … but then used the money for something else entirely
  • Warmongerers in the U.S. government knowingly and intentionally lied us into a war of aggression in Iraq. The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest ranking military officer in the United States – said that the Iraq war was “based on a series of lies”. The same is true in Libya and other wars
  • In an effort to protect Bank of America from the threatened Wikileaks expose of wrongdoing – theDepartment of Justice told Bank of America to a hire a specific hardball-playing law firm to assemble a team to take down WikiLeaks (and see this)
  • The Bush White House worked hard to smear CIA officersbloggers and anyone else who criticized the Iraq war

The biggest companies own the D.C. politicians. Indeed, the head of the economics department at George Mason University has pointed out that it is unfair to call politicians “prostitutes”. They are in factpimps … selling out the American people for a price.

Government regulators have become so corrupted and “captured” by those they regulate that Americansknow that the cop is on the take. Institutional corruption is killing people’s trust in our government and our institutions.

Indeed, America is no longer a democracy or republic … it’s officially an oligarchy.

The allowance of unlimited campaign spending allows the oligarchs to purchase politicians more directly than ever. Moreover, there are two systems of justice in America … one for the big banks and other fatcats, and one for everyone else.

Big Corporations Are Also Thoroughly Corrupt

But the private sector is no better … for example, the big banks have literally turned into criminal syndicates.

Wall Street and giant corporations are literally manipulating every single market.

And the big corporations are cutting corners to make an extra penny … wrecking havoc with their carelessness. For example:

We’ve Forgotten the Lessons of History

The real problem is that we need to learn a little history:

  • We’ve known for thousands of years that – when criminals are not punished – crime spreads
  • We’ve known for centuries that powerful people – unless held to account – will get together and steal from everyone else

Beyond Partisan Politics

Liberals and conservatives tend to blame our country’s problems on different factors … but they are all connected.

The real problem is the malignant, symbiotic relationship between big corporations and big government.

Both conservative and liberal ‘news’ media misrepresent U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed international trade-deals as if they were about only such things as lowering tariffs and reducing national trade-protectionism — which are relatively minor surface-features of these huge proposed treaties: TTIP with Europe, TPP with Asia, and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement). All of these proposed Obama trade-deals are actually about transferring to panels of international corporations the powers that currently reside in the various individual nations’ regulatory and legal authorities — i.e., that reside in the democratic governments that are accountable to the population that elected them instead of to the few global billionaires who control the international corporations.

A typical example of this misrepresentation is an article by Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post on May 6th. Its headline is “Clinton Campaign Chairman On Trade Deal: ‘Can You Make It Go Away?’.” It says: “If TPA [Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority] passes, the issue won’t go away, as Congress would be allowed a 60-day period to review the final draft, which isn’t yet complete.” This statement gives the impression that Fast Track can pass and then the trade-deal that has been fast-tracked can fail to pass Congress — but this is something that has actually never happened.

For example, if you will google-seach in one-and-the-same search the two phrases together “fast track was passed” “bill was defeated” you will get the following: “No results found for ‘fast track was passed’ ‘bill was defeated’.”

The reason why this is the case is laid out in the book by Public Citizen, The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority. It explains that Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was created by President Nixon in order to get around something: to get around the U.S. Constitution’s having placed America’s treaty-making authority in a balance-of-powers framework with Congress, something that the Constitution did in order to prevent the emergence of dictatorship by excessive power in the hands of the federal Executive, the President (which dictatorship was Nixon’s goal to achieve). The book also explains how TPA has been consistently used since Nixon in order to provide mega-corporations more and more control over the economy, not just within this country but globally.

Only 16 times since Nixon was in the White House has his Fast-Track TPA been applied, and yet hundreds of free-trade agreements have passed Congress without any need for (or application of) Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority during that time. How and why has this been so, and why does the public not know these crucially important things?

TPA, or “Fast Track,” is the device that is used only when a President wants to ram through Congress a trade-deal that would never be able to pass Congress under the traditional, and fully Constitutional, method, because these are the few trade-deals that have provisions in them that, for the typical member of Congress, would cause him or her to lose the congressional seat if he or she didn’t at least try to get the bill amended before it was passed. In other words: only fascistic, or outrageously pro mega-corporate, trade deals, need TPA in order for them to pass Congress. That’s why Nixon initiated TPA. It works as he intended it would.

In Congress, to vote for TPA is to vote for the trade-deal that’s about to be fast-tracked; and to vote against TPA is to vote against that trade-deal.

Here is what happens when a President proposes Fast Track and his trade-deal that he wants passed on a Fast-Track basis is so bad politically that Congress won’t even pass his Fast Track to “grease the skids” for a trade-deal that would otherwise crash many congressional careers: the Fast Track bill quietly dies. (Before that had happened, theLos Angeles Times headlined, “Clinton Pulls Trade Bill Rather Than Risk Defeat,” but Republicans then tried to resuscitate it, and couldn’t do so.)

This article at Huffington Post tries to pull Bill’s wife, Hillary Clinton, off the hook, for her refusal to commit pro-or-con on her former boss Barack Obama’s Fast Track, and so this HuffPo article just stenographically and uncritically transmits the PR or propaganda from her Presidential campaign, about this matter. For example, there’s this in it, about John Podesta, who is Hillary’s campaign chairman:

Podesta, a source close to him said, was referring to the fight over trade promotion authority, or TPA. Known as ‘fast track,’ TPA would grease the skids for trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If fast track passes, Congress would have 60 days to debate the trade deal and vote it up or down, with no opportunity to amend it. The source also said Podesta was speaking more in the context of how difficult the issue was for Democrats in general, not Clinton in particular. …

“Podesta’s lament is born of a simple political calculation: Any benefits that might come from the vast trade deal, if they do, won’t appear for years, while the down payment on the political price will be due upfront.”

That statement describes the trade-deal as if it’s something that will be in America’s long-term best interest but that’s unpopular today; however, that’s false; it’s the exact opposite.

The article then goes on:

“In her book, Hard Choices, Clinton also expressed concern about a key piece of the trade agreement, writing that the United States ‘should avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own, like giving them or their investors the power to sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules, as Philip Morris is already trying to do in Australia.’

While it is widely described as a trade deal, much of the agreement deals with corporate governance issues, seeking to find ‘regulatory harmony’ among different nations — which can often mean weakening regulations.

First of all, Hillary’s record on these actually hyper-corporate or fascistic sorts of trade-deals, and also on her lying about what her record on them has been, is already well-documented; so, we already know that she favors them and that she says she doesn’t.

Second, this phrase, “’regulatory harmony’ among different nations — which can often mean weakening regulations,” misrepresents the issue, because it can also mean strengthening regulations (which the journalists didn’t even mention, because it wasn’t in the propaganda that was handed to them by the Clinton campaign); and what is really at issue here is instead the method by which this crucial treaty-making power will be handled, and for what purposes — for whose purposes.

Contrary to the propaganda from pro-Democratic-Party propagandists who are pumping sell-out Presidents and Presidential candidates that have the mere label ‘Democrat’ (like the Clintons and Obama), and contrary also to the propaganda from pro-Republican-Party propagandists who are pumping the sell-out ideology, conservatism, itself (which actually stands behind these sorts of trade-deals, and which is why Republicans in Congress love them), the issue here is not about advancing ‘a level playing field’ and reducing ‘trade-protectionism,’ but is instead about whether the future of human society will be national democracies (which might or might not some day evolve into one global democratic federal government), or will instead be outright international fascism: a global government ruled by the few people who control international corporations. Will this be a world of democratic nations that do business with one-another, or instead a world of international cartels that crush the public in every land, every nation — driving down wages, despoiling the environment, and poisoning the foods, etc., for the greater wealth of the few.

This is the most consequential of all news stories in our time, because its outcome will shape whether the future is to be global fascism, or instead something democratic. On no other issue is truthful and insightful news reporting so important, and so urgent (urgent because Fast Track is now on Congress’s front burner).

The aristocracy already control all of ‘our’ ‘news’ media; and, so, even relatively good media such as Huffington Post, and even relatively good employees of them, such as the two who did this particular ‘news’ ‘report,’ unfortunately allow mere stenography and propaganda to pass as being ‘news,’ when it should instead be (like here) an authentic journalistic challenge: the exposing of frauds.

It’s fine, up to a point, to report what a politician says, but not beyond that point, where the politician is saying things that mislead or even outright lie. Beyond that point, authentic journalism consists only of investigative journalism — such as here.

However, mainly, investigative journalism ignores the biggest scandal of all, which is the corruption that’s rampant in ‘our’ ‘free’ press. This is a news-beat that’s simply too hot to touch. It’s ignored even by both the liberal (fair.org and mediamatters.org) and the conservative (aim.org andmrc.org) media-watchdog organizations. It’s journalism’s orphan, because ‘journalism’ is owned by the aristocracy, and no aristocrats want it to become honest. Aristocrats instead want honest journalists to become fired. Journalists just want to keep their jobs.

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.

Should Greece Pay Back Its Debt?

May 7th, 2015 by CADTM

by Ozlem Onaran

Financial speculators are nervously asking whether Greece will pay its debt or default. Political leaders from Europe to the US and the IMF are telling the Greek government to leave aside its democratic mandate and accept further austerity as a condition for getting credit to continue to pay back its debt. But the right question politically is: should Greece pay this debt.?

On 4 April the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou, set up the Debt Truth Committee – a special committee of the Parliament to investigate the truth about the increase in Greece’s public debt. Eric Toussaint of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt is the team’s scientific coordinator. The Debt Truth Committee in law, economics, accounting, banking from Europe as well as Zambia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

There are well-established concepts in international law that question the legality, legitimacy, sustainability or odiousness of a loan agreement if and when it deters a state from meeting its obligations to its citizens to ensure adequate access to health and education, a life with dignity, and the right to organise. There is a long history of states making use of these legal concepts to enter into dispute with their creditors over theirsovereign debt starting with Cuba in 1898, the US in Iraq in 2003 and Ecuador in 2007.

These legal concepts are the guiding references for the Debt Truth Committee: Is any part of Greek public debt before or after the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the Troika illegitimate?

Was it contracted by a government without considering whether the public or general interest would be safeguarded?

Was any part of it contracted in violation of the current legal or constitutional system? Has any part of the debt been granted on conditions that violate the social, economic, cultural, civic, and political rights of the people concerned? Were the loans intended not to save Greece but French and German banks?

The creditor institutions as well as the debtor governments have an obligation to audit these aspects before any loan agreement is made. Did EU governments consider whether any of these loan agreements violated the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights?

In the case of Greece, the ILO’s supervisory body along with other supervisory bodies of the European Code of Social Security, the United Nations and European human rights bodies have repeatedly expressed concern that maintaining the course of fiscal consolidation foreseen by the MoU undermined the national social security system’s “capacity to maintain the population ‘in health and decency’ above the poverty threshold.” As a result of these policies and the dismantling of the collective bargaining system, real hourly wages in Greece fell by 25% by 2014.

The minimum wage has fallen to its level of the 1970s. The minimum pension fell below the poverty threshold. As many as 35.7% of the population and 44.1% of children aged 11 to 15 are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The economic depression became a fully-fledged reproductive crisis, with the population decreasing at the same time as rising emigration and decreasing fertility.

The conditionalities of the loan agreements since 2010 have not only destabilized the economy and society, but they also made public debt even more unsustainable. Research by Gechert and Rannenberg of the Hans Böckler Foundation in Germany show that without austerity the Greek economy would only have stagnated rather than lose 25% of its GDP. Implementing tax increases alone and no spending cuts would have been much more effective in lowering the debt to GDP ratio. The Troika did not adequately take into account the higher than average multiplier effects of cuts during recessions when designing the Greek programme.

Our work at Greenwich for the Foundation for European Progressive Studies shows that the fall in wages alone explains 4.5 percentage points of the decline in Greek GDP. Contrary to the assumptions of the European Commission (EC) and the IMF, falling wages do not stimulate net exports significantly either.

Dealing with the depression and humanitarian crisis in Greece requires measures to reverse both inequality and austerity, increase the minimum wage, re-establish collective bargaining institutions and the welfare state, and promote public investment in the social and physical infrastructure via a healthy and progressive tax system. This is, unfortunately, not how the creditor institutions understand structural change.

Mario Draghi, the ECB President, has recently warned; “we are certainly entering into uncharted waters if the crisis were to precipitate.” To avoid the next potential Lehman moment, the sane response to the crisis would be to analyse the origins of the debt in Europe to shed light on adequate policies to generate sustainable development and social cohesion in Europe. The German export-led growth model also requires debt, but in another country, in Greece or Spain, hence it is as unsustainable as debt-led growth. However the EC, ECB, and the IMF are not guided by rational long-term economic and social concerns, but by erroneous economic concepts that serve the interests of the financial world. Therefore, the initiative of the Greek Parliament is of historical importance, not just for Greece but also for Europe as a whole.

Özlem Onaran is a member of the Debt Truth Committee in Greece and Professor of Workforce and Economic Development Policy at the University of Greenwich.

Copyright Ozlem Onaran, Social Europe 2015

He has thrown his hat into the ring as the populist spoiler.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, who would have been the ideal anti-Hillary Clinton candidate, seems to lurk in the background as a threatening promise.  “Financial institutions shouldn’t be allowed to cheat people,” she suggested to those attending the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Finance & Society conference.  “Can I have an amen on that?”[1]  With all that about, it has fallen to Bernie Sanders to create a bit of a ruckus in the Democratic camp, a person who has shunned such tags as “progressive” or “liberal” in favour of “democratic socialist”. 

In somewhat clumsy fashion, Charles W. Cooke attempted to heap some praise on the candidate who anticipates giving the Clinton campaign a few headaches.  “Unlike the vast majority of American politicians, Sanders has not contrived to determine the most electable point on his part of the ideological spectrum and then to present its presuAmerica’s Populaist mptions as if they were his own, but has instead determined to present himself to the public as he actually is” (National Review Online, Apr 29).

Sanders has a considerable swathe of targets in the Hillary dossier, which is looking more pneumatic with each passing day of campaigning.  There will be the free trade train which is chugging away to secrecy and non-consultation, a point Clinton is mor likely to celebrate than not.  She is hardly in any mood to take on the moneyed classes, despite doffing the symbolic hat to America’s common voter.  “Why don’t you tell me what Hillary Clinton is campaigning on?” Sanders demanded of an MSNBC host.

It takes the ostensibly corporate driven nature of US politics to make Sanders look screamingly radical. “What’s wrong with being more like Scandinavia?” is the sort of question that will make the militia run for their weaponry and the Tea Party mount the stump.  For Sanders, democratic socialism is standard, and fairly mundane Scandinavian fare – one just needs to “know what democratic socialism is.”

Central here are the basics of social justice; and anything with social in the equation of American politics sits very uncomfortably with the Social Darwinian instinct.  Crippling poverty and hunger exist in parallel worlds with Silicon Valley and the start-up mentality.  Sanders noted the words of Michael Reisch of the University of Maryland in testimony before his Senate subcommittee on health and ageing in 2014.  “Poverty is a thief.  Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.”[2]

In his own observations on the subject, Sanders has noted the astral disparities between life expectancy in regions of the United States, even localising their effects to neighbourhoods.  But he does not reflect upon them as a sociologist shaded by Marxist sentiment.  He, too, has an eye on the money cost to the country.  Poverty, in other words, does not merely reduce life; it increases losses more broadly speaking.  “If people don’t have access to health care, if they don’t have access to education, if they don’t have access to jobs and affordable housing then we end up paying not only in terms of human suffering and the shortening of life expectancy but in actual dollars.”

Then comes reference to the participatory element in a country that is ritualistically estranged from its political roots.  A vote is necessary to the pantomime, but is generally irrelevant to shifting the political status quo.  In contrast, “The voter turnout [in Denmark, Norway, Sweden] is a lot higher than it is in the United States.”[3]

Suggesting a Canadian-styled Medicare system is already going to send the anti-socialising forces into a spin even if it seems banal in most other cases.  Other regulatory pushes, insinuating the state into responsible roles for public welfare will do the same.  Sanders wishes to audit the Federal Reserve, a point he shares with Ron Paul, but oversight is the demon of the plunder’s mission.

None of this points makes Sanders a “socialist” at all.   But that does not stop Forbes Magazine from suggesting, through Tim Worstall, that Sanders is “an avowed socialist” with a vital difference: the media will cover his exploits, give him coverage and some measure of exposure.  “Rather than debating whatever the merits or not of the 3 degree differences between the Republican or Democratic position on anything we can proffer up truly radical policies.”[4]

We are not left with a banquet of options.  Do you want Sanders, the unvarnished, direct sort of chap who is a sanitised faux radical, or the Nebuchadnezzar of the focus-group, the synthetic, hologram nightmare that is the Clinton factory?  He has already raised $1.5 million on his first day of campaigning, and secured 175,000 pledge volunteers.[5]

US political society will prevent Sanders from getting to the White House, as will the Clinton machine, but that won’t stop him trying.  Whether Sanders instils an element of sanity over such matters as a frayed safety net and equitable taxation may well receive a traditional rebuke.  It is, after all, nigh impossible to succeed in a political race that avoids all references to change inspired by the left in favour of right-wing varieties and populist cameos.

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

The US led war against  the Islamic State is a big lie.

Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists.  

The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel.

The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism” 

The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June. 

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The  Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been  -from a military standpoint-  a rapid and expedient surgical operation  

In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie.  Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.

It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of  the Western media which has upheld Obama’s initiative as a counter-terrorism operation.  

THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF AL QAEDA

1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a century since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. 

2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan.  In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.”

3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.

Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades.  It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

4. Jihadist textbooks  were  published by the University of Nebraska. “. “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings”

5. Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIL)

6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎).

China unlikely to join Obama's anti-ISIS coalition: Report

7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of  Bashar al Assad.

8.  NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

9.There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.

10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

11. The ISIL’s practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

12. Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades. 

13. Israel  has supported  the ISIL and Al Nusrah brigades out of the Golan Heights.

Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See  image below:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″

Inline images 1

SYRIA AND IRAQ

14 The ISIL are the foot soldiers  of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.

15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)

16  The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of  a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US.  Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.

17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.

18.  The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.

THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM (GWOT)

19. “The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

20 U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.

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America’s “War on Terrorism” By Mchel Chossudovsky

These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa  and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc,  create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.

21 Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011),  Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),  Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia,  among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.

Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US)  is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China.  (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

23 The Terrorists R Us:  While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State,  Obama’s holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.

24 The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication.  It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of “Islamic terrorists” sustain the legitimacy of America’s Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.

The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.

25.  The “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly  associated with the jihadists.

26  Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.

The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.

The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council.  The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.

The Big Lie has become the Truth. 

Say no to the “Big Lie”. Spread the message.

The truth is ultimately a powerful weapon.

Please help us continue. We rely on the support of our readers.

Consider donating to Global Research. 

For Peace and Truth in Media, Michel Chossudovsky

On Friday, April 24, VICE on HBO aired a segment entitled “The Haitian Money Pit,” which focuses on the impact of aid to Haiti, now over five years after the earthquake. The episode takes a critical look at the billions in relief and reconstruction pledged to Haiti, finding that much of it went to U.S.-based contractors with little reaching those most in need.

In the episode, VICE on HBO correspondent Vikram Gandhi travels to Caracol, in the north of Haiti, home to the international community’s flagship reconstruction project, the Caracol Industrial Park. Gandhi visits a police station, which cost over $2 million as well as soccer field and cultural center. As Gandhi states, “when we looked at the costs of many other projects, we noticed the same contractor kept coming up.” Chemonics.

In an interview aired during the episode, I explain that Chemonics was the largest recipient of post-quake U.S. disaster relief and in fact, is one of the largest aid contractors in the world. A topic that we have covered on this blog for years.  In a response to the episode, Chemonics claims the “segment does not provide a complete or accurate picture of Chemonics’ work in Haiti over the past five years.”

Chemonics continues:

As part of our USAID-funded Haiti Recovery Initiative, which ended in 2013, both the soccer field and the cultural center were designed to build a greater sense of community in the north of Haiti. Taken separately, these community projects may seem random. However, they were part of a larger strategy to stimulate growth in the region.

While this may be true, it does not address the main issue which VICE raises: that so much post-quake aid went to a community that wasn’t impacted by the quake. Further, the priority for Chemonics in implementing a USAID program was to provide support to the industrial park. Chemonics also funded the public relations firm for the inauguration of the park, paid for billboards that dot the area declaring it “open for business,” as well as other efforts aimed at promoting the park. This very well may be what Chemonics was asked to do by USAID, but it doesn’t mean it was a good use of aid dollars.

Next, Chemonics addresses the allegation that communities were left out of the decision-making process, writing:

Both the soccer field and community center were identified as local priorities at community meetings, and Haitian leaders such as Mayor Lamour, who was interviewed for the piece, participated in kick-off meetings and signed grant agreements that included details on the projects, as well as roles and responsibilities for both Chemonics and community leaders.

Adding:

Throughout the piece, the development industry in Haiti is criticized for lack of consultation with Haitians. For Chemonics, this is incorrect on a number of levels. At every point during implementation, we prioritized using Haitian expertise, Haitian goods, and Haitian companies … Our team of passionate Haitian staff engaged directly with a diverse array of community leaders prior to and during every activity.

But in the VICE episode, Mayor Lamour explains that what happens is that companies like Chemonics “just come and tell us they are investing in something.” Gandhi asks if the mayor would rather have had support for plumbing and running water, to which Lamour responds, “it’s true that they built a lot of things in the area, but we didn’t really need them.” Of course, Lamour and VICE are not the only ones who have denounced the lack of community involvement. In fact, USAID’s own inspector general (OIG) has specifically called out Chemonics for just this problem.

The OIG found “not all activities implemented have involved community participation in a way that guarantees sustainability.” In one especially egregious example, Chemonics:

…used contractors from Port-au-Prince to implement a number of activities in Cap-Haitien and Saint-Marc; these contractors brought their own people to do the jobs instead of hiring locals. As a result, residents saw jobs in their neighborhoods being done by outsiders, and without an understanding of the activities, they did not see how anyone local benefitted.

The OIG also found that “urban beautification” projects failed for similar reasons. The OIG writes, “The purpose of these projects was to improve public areas by installing plants and benches, as well as doing minor masonry work, and to project ‘a positive image of what role the nearby Caracol industrial park and other upcoming economic investments will play in citizens’ lives.’” Although Chemonics did do some plantings, “they died from lack of care.” Meanwhile:

According to the project’s final evaluation report, residents did not understand how the activity led to the beautification of the area nor did they associate it with the industrial park. Limonade’s mayor said the municipality could have been involved more in planning the activity to ensure its success.

Chemonics also contends that far more money makes it to Haitian organizations than what was reported in the VICE episode (one penny out of every dollar), writing:

This is not true. Since the earthquake, Chemonics alone has awarded nearly $100 million dollars directly to Haitian organizations, in the form of grants and subcontracts, providing much-needed monetary resources, as well as institutional strengthening and capacity building services in tandem.

It is true that far more than one penny out of every dollar goes to Haitian organizations through sub contracts and grants. In the interview, I specifically note that just one penny of every dollar goes directly to Haitian organizations. It is an important distinction because while USAID reports on the first layer, it is extremely difficult to obtain information at the subcontract level. As we wrote in our 2013 report, “Breaking Open the Black Box”:

To truly assess where USAID funds go, and what percent is spent locally, it is vital to have information on sub-awards as well as on prime awards. Prime awardees are the contractors and grantees discussed previously that receive funds directly from USAID. They often turn around and give a contract or grant to another entity to carry out some or all of the work; this is known as a subaward. In response to growing criticism of the amount of USAID funding going to U.S.-based organizations, the agency has indicated that a much larger share goes to local organizations through subcontracts. But it isn’t possible to confirm to what extent this is true given that USAID has failed to report on what organizations receive funding at the sub-award level.

It is certainly welcome that after years of stonewalling inquiries and Freedom of Information Act requests that Chemonics is now eager to discuss their funding of local organizations.

Finally, Chemonics writes:

The piece also claims that while USAID tracks how much money goes to a given contractor, it has no way to track the money beyond that point. This is false. Contractors are accountable for every penny spent on their respective projects, and USAID is closely involved in all stages of the projects, including monitoring expenditures.

Again, taking a look at previous OIG reports proves useful. A 2010 report found that USAID had not performed internal financial reviews of Chemonics despite “expending millions of dollars rapidly.” Also in 2010, I asked a USAID contracting official if he could provide information on amounts going to subcontracts, he responded: “you need hard data … and I need that hard data too.”

And yet efforts to obtain greater transparency have been met with resistance, as we noted in our report:

In response to inquiries, USAID has generally blocked any further disclosure. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for financial information have resulted in the release of heavily redacted documents, which exempt disclosure of any financial information as “proprietary.” An Associated Press investigation into USAID spending encountered many of the same problems, reporting that “U.S. contractors, from pollsters to private development firms, told the AP that USAID had asked them not to provide any information, and referred to publicly released descriptions of their projects.

Indeed, it was Chemonics’ contract with USAID that is shown in the episode, with all cost information redacted and the entire statement of work—25 pages—redacted with bright pink pages.

There is clearly more to the story of Haiti’s reconstruction than what was covered in the roughly 15-minute VICE on HBO episode, but Chemonics’ response is not just incomplete; it’s inaccurate and misleading too.

Hooligans attached to the regime of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul attacked about 30 militants from the Dessalines Coordination (KOD) party as they loudly demonstrated at an official event for International Workers Day in front of Haiti’s National Palace on May 1.

The KOD militants had marched about three miles from the Industrial Park with hundreds representing unions, popular organizations, and student groups. The demonstrators loudly shouted their demands for a 500 gourdes ($10.57) a day minimum wage. Many marchers affiliated with KOD also called for an end to the United Nations military occupation of Haiti and the resignation of President Martelly before the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections, now scheduled for August, October, and December 2015.

At the official ceremony on the Champ de Mars, regime thugs assaulted the chanting KOD militants, who fought back. A melee ensued in front of the stage where Martelly and Paul were sitting.

“We so panicked Martelly with our action that it became clear that he did not know what to say,” stated KOD leader Oxygène David after the struggle. “There was a security officer behind Martelly who sent a guy to come take the sign I was holding high. When he came to me, I gave him a shove. I received a lot of blows today, but I also gave a lot of blows.”

Police of the Company for Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) eventually dispersed the demonstrators who came to protest at the Martelly government’s official celebration, a Labor Fair.

Workers from some unions carried signs saying “Down with Yellow Unions that Collaborate with the Bosses!”

KOD distributed a flyer explaining how May 1st began as a day to remember the repression against workers in the U.S. in 1886. “Today, this same American government, which crushed its own working class, is carrying out the same repression in Haiti,” the flyer read. “Since the 1970s, U.S. corporations have sent much of their manufacturing to Haiti because workers here earn only $5 per day. In the U.S., the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

“In 2011, the U.S. government carried out an electoral coup d’état to put the Martelly regime in power in Haiti so that it could continue to keep the working class in poverty, continue to steal the land of peasants on Ile à Vache and the homes of residents in downtown Port-au-Prince, to tax working people sending money and making calls from the U.S., along with a lot of other theft, corruption, and repression.

“Now, they need to do another electoral mascarade for those who don’t understand the game. KOD says ‘NO,’ the Haitian people will not be ambushed again. KOD demands that Martelly and MINUSTAH [UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti] leave so the country can have free, fair, and sovereign elections. Having the MINUSTAH, OAS, and Washington decide who wins elections in Haiti, that can’t happen again! This business of money buying the election, the way the bourgeoisie does it in the U.S., that is not good for Haiti, it is not good for democracy!”

KOD has called for a massive demonstration on May 18, beginning at Fort National in Port-au-Prince, to demand the departure of Martelly and MINUSTAH before any elections are held. The highly patriotic date marks the 212th anniversary of the creation of the red and blue Haitian flag.

While no high-level executive has been jailed for the widespread subprime mortgage fraud, which led to the 2008 financial crisis, and no US government official was prosecuted for lying to go to war in Iraq, “at least 115 enlisted US personnel and military officers [were] convicted since 2005 of committing theft, bribery, and contract rigging crimes valued at $52 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a comprehensive tally of court records by the Center for Public Integrity.” (Julia Harte, U.S. military personnel have been convicted of $50 million worth of crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Center for Public Integrity, May 5, 2015)

The in-depth report details of the criminal behavior of US personnel in combat zones, lured by “[l]arge cash transactions, loose military oversight, and deeply corrupted local cultures…” Although such misconduct by army personnel is rarely reported, it seems to be part of the military culture and cannot only be blamed on the “deeply corrupted local cultures”:

Soldiers who had little or no prior criminal history… say the circumstances of their deployments made stealing with impunity look easy… They say that they knew of other military personnel who also broke the law, but without getting caught…

Additional crimes by military personnel are still under investigation, and some court records remain partly under seal. The magnitude of additional losses from fraud, waste, and abuse by contractors, civilians, and allied foreign soldiers in Afghanistan has never been tallied, but officials probing such crimes say the total is in the billions of dollars…

MacDonald, 68, editor-in-chief of the website MilitaryCorruption.com, co-founded the site after a 33-year career in the Army and Army Reserve during which he says he witnessed many small instances of corruption. “What you can make out of these [recent] wars is staggering. It’s an opportunity for anybody, even a non-commissioned officer, to become very rich overnight,” MacDonald said.

Even though these crimes should be punished, it is easy to understand why soldiers might be tempted to commit crimes when corporate and political leaders constantly do so with impunity. Soldiers are simply emulating the ones sitting at the top of the social and military hierarchy.

Read the full report here.

The largely unobservant public had previously been under the impression that the Baltic Sea was a zone of peace and stability, thinking that all the region’s states lived in harmony with one another. This may have been the case prior to 1991, but immediately afterwards, NATO’s expansion into the Baltic basin seriously upset the balance of power, as the incorporation of Poland and the former Soviet Baltic States in 1999 and 2004 attests. Through this manner, NATO was able to surround Kaliningrad and directly push up against part of Russia’s western border.

The military tension remained just below the surface (literally), until Shadow NATO states Sweden and Finland started initiating highly publicized ‘Russian sub’ scares, designed with the sole intent of scaring their publics into formal NATO membership and opening up an additional front in the New Cold War. Taking it further, this is all part of NATO’s new policy of regional blocs, as Brussels hopes to see the formation of a ‘Viking Bloc’ that would apply pressure against Russia in the Arctic. The most dangerous development, however, is with Finland, which is capitalizing off of the sea scare to call up nearly one million reservists (1/5 of the total population) in the event of a “crisis situation”, thereby presenting a dangerous test run in conflict escalation that might be applied all over Europe in the future.

Regional Hysteria

To put everything into focus, it’s best to begin by documenting the latest hysteria stemming from supposed ‘Russian sub’ sightings. Sweden started the trend when it claimed to be hunting a believed-to-be Russian sub back in October, and when nothing came out of the stunt except for a scared public and a couple million dollars spent, Stockholm continued to insist that it had evidence that a foreign sub did trespass through its waters, but curiously kept the details to itself. Be that as it may, it didn’t stop legislators from increasing the defense budget by a whopping $1.18 billion for the period 2016-2020, earmarking an additional $945 million for the future purchase of two subs, and announcing plans to reopen a military base on the Baltic island of Gottland. The ultimate irony is that there was never a ‘Russian sub’ to begin with, and that it was eventually revealed that the whole scandal started over a simple workboat, thus making it seem like Sweden exaggerated the situation simply to push through more defense funding and militarize its society against Russia.

Being the regional leader that it is, it appears as though Sweden’s spectacle of the phantom Russian sub rubbed off on Finland, which soon after its latest elections began detonating underwater charges against its own suspected ‘Russian sub’. Finnish political analyst Jon Hellevig assessed that this was simply Helsinki’s application of Stockholm’s decades-long tactic of using phantom Russian subs to increase the population’s acceptance of future NATO membership. While Finland isn’t a de-jure member of the alliance, both it and Scandinavian military hegemon Sweden signed a NATO host nation agreement last fall to intensify their relations with the bloc, essentially making them Shadow NATO members in an even deeper capacity than Ukraine has become (the latter of which has been the bone of contention sparking the New Cold War in the first place).

Given such a relationship, it may not even be needed for either state to formally join NATO at this point, since the alliance can already reap the resultant military advantages of their territory in any possible anti-Russian crisis scenario. However, putting the provocative issue up for a referendum vote or making a unilateral government decision in this regard might be a forthcoming tactic towards creating the aforementioned crisis needed to ‘justify’ the indefinite hosting of NATO troops in those countries. It’s quite clear that Sweden is already de-facto participating in NATO, since they just partook in the group’s “Dynamic Mongoose” anti-submarine drills off the Norwegian coast. This would have obviously raised eyebrows among its domestic citizenry had it not been for the earlier ‘Russian sub’ scare that created the social pretext for its acceptance, showing how such false crises can be manipulated by the media for predetermined military gain.

The Viking Bloc

Everything going on in Scandinavia right now, from the phantom ‘Russian sub’ scares to the de-facto NATO-ization of the region’s last formal holdouts, is designed to create the northern component of NATO’s regional bloc strategy. In sum, the alliance is reverting to history and using Polish interwar leader Josef Pilsudski’s Intermarum concept to establish a Baltic-to-Black-Sea coalition of anti-Russian states to which it can more efficiently outsource its military prerogatives, all per the Lead From Behind strategy. The ‘Viking Bloc’ which consists of the Greater Scandinavian states of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland (centered on Sweden, possibly incorporating Estonia and Latvia as well) is envisioned to complement the emerging Commonwealth Bloc of Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine (centered on Poland), and the forthcoming Black Sea Bloc of Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova (centered on Romania, possibly even expanded to Georgia).

Focusing more specifically on the characteristics of the Viking Bloc, its members have a maritime identity, so it’s predicted that they’ll focus their activity on the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Arctic Ocean, accordingly making them all one large naval base. Sweden’s demographic and economic strength makes it the obvious leader amongst the identified members and the control node of its activity, while wealthy Norway can provide the natural resources needed to keep it running. Denmark controls the entrance to and from the Baltic Sea, and together with its colony country of Greenland, Iceland, and Norway, the three can patrol the North Sea and Arctic Ocean in hunting ‘Russian subs’. It’s also not a coincidence that all of these states are members of the Arctic Council, meaning that this dialogue configuration has essentially become one of confrontation between North America & the Viking Bloc on one side and Russia on the other. The odd member out of this naval configuration is Finland (also a member of the Arctic Council), which has recklessly adapted a land-based anti-Russian policy that’s bound to ratchet up tension with its neighbor. One should also note that the Viking Bloc’s members signed a multilateral defense cooperation agreement in April that basically institutionalized the organization as an official regional bloc.

The Finnish Amphibian

The most dangerous sub-bloc strategy being adopted by NATO is its Finnish affiliate’s advance preparation of 900,000 reservists in the event of a “crisis situation”, which obviously could only refer to a military conflict with Russia. The Finnish government is trying to account for all of its former reservists aged 20-60 in order to inform them of what their “crisis situation” role would be, as well as to collect updated information about them. This dramatic movement of anti-Russian initiatives from sea onto land represents an amphibious strategy that’s likely only in its initial test-run phase. NATO wants to gauge Russia’s reaction and monitor its response in order to fine-tune this template for eventually export throughout the bloc as a whole.

The Finnish Amphibian is a very simple strategy. All that the practicing states or regional blocs have to do is report on a phantom ‘Russian sub’ sighting, preferably with as much media paranoia as possible but providing no proof whatsoever, and then use the subsequent buzz to justify the potential mobilization of a massive land-based reservist force. This leads to the militarization of society within the targeted state and initiates a siege mentality that makes its citizens feel as though they’re constantly under some type of Russian attack. None of the accusations have to be proven, let alone even seen by the citizens themselves, so long as the media and supportive political figures repeat the chorus of conflict enough to make it believable. An added touch would be to implement Sweden’s strategy of publicly accusing 1/3 of all Russian diplomats there as being spies, which when coupled with the existing paranoia about phantom ‘Russian subs’, sends the populace’s paranoia into overdrive and all but assures that they’ll support whichever military or surveillance solutions their government or NATO suggests.

Concluding Thoughts

NATO’s northernmost regional fighting group, the Viking Bloc, owes its speedy creation to the utilization of phantom ‘Russian sub’ scare tactics to galvanize support for this new initiative. Greater Scandinavia is rapidly being transformed into one giant NATO naval base that’s meant to confront Russia on the neighboring high seas. As destabilizing as that is, it moves into the realm of flashpoint danger with the fact that Finland is preparing to mobilize 1/5 of its population against Russia, thus presenting an amphibious land-based component to the majority sea-focused strategy. Even worse, the template of using false sea-based scares to ‘justify’ massive land-based mobilizations could likely be applied elsewhere in Europe, thereby serving as an ideal model of militarization all throughout NATO. It’s this hybrid of media-military strategic collaboration that may eventually prove to be more destabilizing than the unveiling of the Viking Bloc itself.

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

The Insurance Industry Pays Incentives Like a Mercedes-Benz Lease to Push Annuity Sales

Increasingly it feels to Americans that the bulk of the news about scams to separate them from their life savings is coming from one Senator from Massachusetts — Elizabeth Warren.

Ripoffs in financial services, insurance, and real estate – known as F.I.R.E. on Wall Street – are being exposed by Warren, typically in bold pronouncements in Senate Banking hearings where Warren has a chair and a respected voice, and are rapidly amplified in the media.

In 2013, it was only because of Senator Warren that we learned that the so-called Independent Foreclosure Reviews to settle the claims of 4 million homeowners who had been illegally foreclosed on by the bailed out Wall Street banks were a sham. The “independent” consultants were hired by the banks, paid by the banks, and the banks themselves were allowed to determine the number of victims.

It was Senator Warren who put the high frequency trading scam described in the Michael Lewis book, “Flash Boys,” into layman’s language the American people could understand. Speaking at a Senate hearing on June 18 of last year, Warren said:

“High frequency trading reminds me a little of the scam in Office Space. You know, you take just a little bit of money from every trade in the hope that no one will complain. But taking a little bit of money from zillions of trades adds up to billions of dollars in profits for these high frequency traders and billions of dollars in losses for our retirement funds and our mutual funds and everybody else in the market place. It also means a tilt in the playing field for those who don’t have the information or have the access to the speed or big enough to play in this game.”

In 2013, Warren, together with Senators John McCain, Maria Cantwell and Angus King, introduced the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.” Warren explained why the legislation is critically needed:

“By separating traditional depository banks from riskier financial institutions,” said Warren, “the 1933 version of Glass-Steagall laid the groundwork for half a century of financial stability. During that time, we built a robust and thriving middle class. But throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Congress and regulators chipped away at Glass-Steagall’s protections, encouraging growth of the megabanks and a sharp increase in systemic risk. They finally finished the task in 1999 with the passage of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which eliminated Glass-Steagall’s protections altogether.”

Nine years later, the financial system crashed, leaving the economy in the worst condition since the Great Depression.

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“After the election every Westminster politician will have to come and face the reality of the electorate’s judgment.  There is no disrespect or disgrace in any politician coming to terms with the democratically expressed position of the electorate.  All politicians, those of us who are lucky enough to be elected, chosen by the people, will try to do their best as they see it in the interests of the people who elected them.”  Alex Salmond, ex-First Minister of Scottish Parliament, now running for a seat in Westminster

Where much of the electorate is concerned politicians, apart from a noble few, will do their best in the interests of their particular elite.  It’s all lies and dodgy statistics pulled out of a magician’s hat in the form of a politician’s mouth.  Almost all the UK general election campaign has been based on the shifting sands of political-speak.  The ‘main’ parties are finally realising, far too late, that this election is like no other.

What is at stake?  The economy; the tax system; the National Health Service; welfare; education and housing – these are the main issues that touch people’s lives and which are being treated in a way that creates little except increasing inequality between the rich and the poor.

Westminster loves money and big business.  Those MPs losing their seats in the election won’t worry about unemployment; they will move smoothly into a directorship here and there, and go on influencing harmful government policies.

The economy is not in the happy position Cameron insists it is.  He says the ‘deficit’ has decreased and so it has, but not by nearly as much as was promised.  He will not mention that the national debt has greatly increased under his government.  Despite George Osborne saying the UK is doing better than most other countries, the economic growth dropped to 0.3 percent.

Everyone except the rich wants to see a reform of a tax system that favours the rich; an end to tax evasion, an end to ‘non-dom status; an end to the ultra-rich not paying their share; and an end to a financial hub (London) populated by billionaires but where there is no affordable housing for street cleaners, firemen, nurses and those others providing essential services.  London boroughs removed 50,000 families over the last three years while selling off various social housing schemes for ‘development’.

Education has long suffered from the reforms that each new government brings in, none of which are based on consultation with teachers.  Schools trying to balance their budgets sold off their land for development, leaving no sports and unhealthy pupils.  Some schools have the burden of Private Finance Initiative interest payments, something that is paupering the NHS.

The NHS, the jewel in the UK’s social crown, the one creation that is the envy of the world.  Super-Tory Oliver Letwin declared back in 2004 that the NHS will not exist within 5 years of an all-Tory government.  But even under the Coalition, piece by piece, bits of the NHS are being privatised.

Cameron claims we have more people in work than ever before.  Those jobs are mostly low paid or ‘zero hour contracts’, so generate little tax revenue and do not contribute to ‘growth’.  And never will the government admit that many of these ‘wage earners’ earn so little they have to seek housing benefits or resort to food banks to feed their children.  But the ‘austerity’ plans will cut deeper, whether Tory or Labour sits in Number 10.

This country is governed by politicians who, living in the Westminster bubble, have no idea how the majority live, constantly juggling their meagre budgets.  They have no idea how insecure so many of their constituents feel.  The oddity is that these people either don’t vote any more, or keep voting them into power without considering the paucity of choice on the ballot papers.  That is slowly changing.  People want a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot papers.  60 percent want voting reform, but not the alternative vote system they were offered, and rightly refused.

This country is broken.  It is worth more than money, the one value system our leaders have.

David Cameron believed the Tories could win an outright majority, but if the British public backed him.  Ed Miliband was insisting that he was only focused on winning outright.  Yet all the time their parties were running neck and neck, and neither was achieving a rating much above 33 percent.  From the start it was clear there would be no outright winners; that deals would have to be made on all sides to get any form of government established.

It is no longer a two-horse race between Tory and Labour.  In many ways it never has been.  As John Warren writes :

“… not a single British Government in the whole 20th century managed to break the magical 50% threshold and actually represented the majority of the British people: indeed, in recent decades British governments have struggled consistently to breach the 40% mark. Now they fail even to garner enough votes in a biased system, to rally one-third of the electorate behind them, or even to establish a single-party majority of MPs in a Parliamentary FPTP system that is effectively designed to allow unjustifiably small minorities (well below 50% of the popular vote) to control Parliament. There could be no better example of the collapse of the electors’ trust in Parliament and Politicians than this relentless decline; this tidal-wave of electoral failure; this spiral downwards that ends in just this shoddy 2015 Westminster campaign; the commonplace peddling of deceit and defeat as success and triumph.”

He is right to call the campaign ‘shoddy’.  With increasing desperation the voters have been offered outrageous pledges in an effort to gain the support of the poor, the young, the rich, the elderly, the ‘hard-working families’ (a Cameron favourite).  It isn’t that the sums don’t add up.  It is that no one will show the sums to the voters.  They are, as usual, being asked to vote on blind faith.  But they don’t have that faith any more.  Promises have been broken too often.

Mostly the electorate are being asked not to vote for all those other parties that might affect the result.  The LibDems, who were part of the last Coalition government, have sunk right down in popularity.  Supporters felt betrayed that they had ‘got into bed’ with the Tories, and many decided they would not vote for them again.  But they may win just enough seats to enable them to renew the coalition.

UKIP are –well – UKIP.  They only have one reason for existing: their desire to get Britain out of the EU.  They are also hot on stopping immigration.  But although some Tory MPs and quite a few voters have defected to UKIP, the party has lost several candidates during the campaign, not a few having had to step down because of racist or sexist statements and the like.  But they are a genuine threat to the Tories, witness Cameron’s frightener to Tory voters: “Vote UKIP, get Labour”.

The Green Party, despite a poor campaigning start by their leader Natalie Bennett, has seen a surge in membership; in fact, apart from the spectacular rise of the Scottish National Party, they are the only party to do so.  If the UK had a Proportional Representation system, they would now win around 33 seats rather than the miserable one that is projected.

In Wales, voters have to consider the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru.  Their leader Leanne Wood has taken part in a TV debate or two, and certainly got applause for confronting the bombastic UKIP leader, Nigel Farage.  It is difficult to make any kind of guess about where Plaid Cymru will be once the votes are counted.  But Welsh voters, had they been paying any attention at all as to what has been happening in Scotland, may think again about their own country.  They might also react to being almost ignored by the national media during the campaigning.

Northern Ireland – now there’s a place that is almost invisible in debates, speeches and the media.  They really must be feeling ignored.  Despite Cameron refusing to rule out a coalition deal with the Democratic Unionist Party which is, among other things, homophobic, this would upset the other Northern Ireland parties.  The peace process there is ongoing, and shouldn’t be derailed simply because Cameron wants to stay in power.

The real game-changer, the cuckoo in the nest, is Scotland and the Scottish National Party, the SNP.  In last year’s referendum on independence, Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom but, because of the insincerity of Westminster’s promises (they were going to give SO much to Scotland if only they would vote No), the SNP saw a massive surge in members.  Now one of the largest parties in the UK, it genuinely threatens the very existence of Labour north of the border where once it was powerful – which resulted in Labour’s frightener Vote SNP, get Tory.

The SNP will win a sizeable number of the Scottish seats, although they may not achieve the total wipe-out predicted by some.  Whoever tries to form a government after Thursday’s election will have to take them into account because they will have enough votes to prevent policies from going through.  Vitally, they will have the power to vote down the Queen’s Speech, without which no government can govern.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, while not standing for election to Westminster, has impressed whole swathes of the UK.  Articulate, well informed and always cool in debate, she has shown what a politician can and should be.  She and her party are determined to end the ‘austerity’ programme that has punished so many people already poor and disadvantaged.  It follows that she will do what she can to keep the Tories out of government.

The hatred, viciousness and bile that has been heaped on her head by all the Westminster parties and the national media is extraordinary – and shaming.  Called a ‘cult’ leader and ‘the most dangerous woman in politics’ she has been continually accused of trying to break up the Union.  She has repeated over and over that, as Scotland voted to stay in the Union that is where they now are, and she will work for the benefit of the whole country.  Indeed, the sheer nastiness of the language makes it clear that if (or when) Scotland does go independent the responsibility will rest on the shoulders of Cameron, Miliband et al.

Scottish independence globalresearch.caAlone among the big party leaders, she is comfortable in the crowds, going everywhere she can on foot, talking to everyone and not a security man in sight.  For our party leaders have become toxic – local campaigners have asked them to stay away.  Nor are they anxious to tangle with the genuine public.  Cameron in particular has not just avoided head-to-head televised debates with his opponents, but his itinerary has been arranged to avoid any embarrassing encounters, although that failed when he met little Lucy.  He prefers visits to factories and construction sites where he can be seen looking serious in hard hats.

The LibDem leader Nick Clegg on the other hand talked to a hedgehog.  And Ed Miliband, well, he unveiled a very large stone carved with a list of Labour’s promises, which he said would be installed in the garden of Number 10 if he became Prime Minister.  Someone unkindly pointed out he would have trouble getting planning permission.  And we voters are expected to take these people seriously?

What we shall wake up to on Friday is anybody’s guess.  It could include Cameron refusing to get out of Number 10, as Edward Heath had done in 1974, while he tries to cobble together another coalition with the depleted LibDems; Miliband having another attempt at categorically refusing to do a deal with the SNP while his colleagues point out this is the only way into Number 10; the LibDems licking wounds inflicted by disillusioned voters; UKIP wildly celebrating the winning of a few seats and telling us the UK has voted to get out of Europe; and the SNP, along with much of the UK, wondering how soon they can sever the ties to the barking-mad political bubble of Westminster.

On Tuesday, Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine revealed that the top-earning 25 hedge fund managers in the United States secured another massive payout last year, totaling $11.62 billion.

The hedge fund managers earned an average of $400 million apiece. This meant that they received some $200,000 per hour, assuming that they worked 40 hours per week. On average, they made more than 10,000 times the median household income in the United States.

In Detroit, the city administration is preparing to shut off water service to 28,000 residents in order to force the collection of $42 million in delinquent water bills. A typical member of the top-earning hedge fund managers could have paid this entire amount nine times over from their income this year.

The highest-earning hedge fund manager was Kenneth Griffin, head of Chicago-based Citadel LLC, who got $1.3 billion last year, bringing his net worth to $6.6 billion. Citadel operates through a combination of speculation in stocks, high-speed computerized trading and the operation of so-called “dark pools”: secretive securities exchanges that function outside of all government regulation.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records indicate that much of Citadel’s earnings come from old-fashioned securities fraud. The hedge fund has been fined or sanctioned for misconduct 26 times.

Griffin does not skimp on spending the money he procures through financial speculation. A recent divorce filing by Griffin’s wife alleges that his family regularly spends more than $1 million a month, including $300,000 a month for private-jet travel and $160,000 a month for vacation rentals. The family’s staff of servants, assistants, and security personnel is so large that Griffin has founded a company exclusively to employ them, calling it “Griffin Family Services.”

The second highest earner on the list, James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, raked in $1.2 billion last year, bringing his net worth to $14 billion. Next was Raymond Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, who made $1.1 billion.

In 2004 Dalio, whose net worth is now $15.4 billion, infamously summed up the parasitic character of the social layer of which he is part: “The money that’s made from manufacturing stuff is a pittance in comparison to the amount of money made from shuffling money around,” he said.

Hedge funds are largely unregulated financial institutions that pool funds from large investors, charging massive fees: normally 2 percent for assets under management, plus 20 percent of any profits accrued.

They employ a variety of strategies, from old-fashioned speculation and capitalizing on financial bubbles created by central banks, to actively intervening in companies they invest in, forcing them to carry out layoffs and cost cutting. To cite one example, Dow Chemical this week announced that it would lay off nearly 2,000 workers, citing pressure from the hedge fund Third Point.

In other cases, hedge funds simply operate as massive criminal enterprises. In 2013, the Hedge Fund SAC Capital pled guilty to what the SEC called wire and securities fraud “on a scale without known precedent,” resulting in “hundreds of millions” of dollars in gains for the firm. Notably, the hedge fund’s owner, Steven A. Cohen, was not charged and was allowed to keep the more than $9.4 billion he made through the firm’s activities.

The payouts for hedge fund managers are part of a massive enrichment of the financial oligarchy as a whole. The wealth of the Forbes 400 billionaires, which has doubled since 2008, has hit a total of $2.9 trillion.

The billions of dollars diverted into the coffers of hedge fund managers come not through productive activity, but through speculation, backed by a relentless assault on the jobs and living conditions of the working class.

As a result of the massive upward redistribution of wealth over the past decade, the US poverty rate increased from 12.6 percent of the population in 2007 to 14.5 percent in 2013. According to the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), 47 percent of Americans have incomes below 200 percent of the official poverty level, making half of the country either poor or near poor.

Social inequality is the defining element of social, economic and political life in America. The vast sums of money available to these Wall Street kingpins makes it possible for them to purchase both politicians and financial regulators. It is noteworthy that Kenneth Griffin, the highest-earning hedge fund manager, was the largest donor to the campaign of Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to whom he gave over $1 million.

Last month Citadel hired former Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke as a senior adviser, paying him handsomely for the services rendered by the Federal Reserve to Wall Street and the financial oligarchy. During his time as head of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke funneled trillions of dollars in government funds to Wall Street.

The upcoming US presidential elections a year and a half away will be the most expensive in history by far, much of it financed by contributions from hedge fund managers, and beside them the various corporate executives and traders that constitute the American ruling class.

For great swathes of the UK, Prime Minister Cameron is seen as an arrogant, out of touch, over-privileged, aristocrat who hates the poor, disadvantaged, elderly, disabled, affordable social housing, those unable to find work in a shrinking job market and just about anyone not from his money-mired hunting and country mansion pals. In a family tree festooned with titles he is also a lineal descendent of King William IV. 

His government’s swinging welfare cuts have led to suicides and many other financially related deaths, such as diabetic ex-soldier, David Clapson, who died with just £3.44 in the bank, six tea bags, a tin of soup and tin of out of date sardines in his cupboard. His benefits had been stopped. He died from diabetic ketoacidosis caused by not taking his insulin. His sister felt he may have stopped injecting himself in despair over his lack of cash and work. (Daily Mirror, 20th April 2015.)

Labour Party Leader, Ed Miliband’s popularity is faring little better, especially since Tony Blair pitched up, all teeth and perma-tan, to “support him 100%”, also donating £100,000+ in £1,000+ bundles to one hundred Labour parliamentary candidates. Endorsement by Blair after Iraq is the kiss of electoral death.

Cameron and Miliband are running about neck and neck in the unpopularity stakes, with Cameron saying that should Miliband scrape in to form a “minority government” it would have no standing. Chutzpah of some dimension. Cameron, of course, leads a minority party, which is why he had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

David Cameron also tied his own hands when it came to calling an election at a time when government popularity might have been marginally higher. since he changed the parliamentary cycle to a fixed five year term (he assumed office on 11th May 2010.)

However will he benefit from an unexpected coincidence, the birth five days before the 7th May elections of a second child to the heir to the throne, Prince William and his wife?

In context, in 2013 David Cameron faced scathing criticism including UK poverty and social exclusion rising by 1,689,000; those earning below the minimum living wage at 6,422,000; food banks reaching 707, with 500,000 relying on just one chain; child poverty rising by 13% and 800,000 more households living in fuel poverty, with a further woeful list: “Cost of Cameron’s Hundred Worst Failures” (1) of the social slash and burn of his government’s policies to shame.

But then a baby was born, Prince George, Prince William’s first child and third in line to the throne.

As Matthew D’Ancona wrote at the time:

“What Cameron will want – subtly but unmistakably – is to annex some of the mood of celebration and associate himself and his government with the outpouring of emotion. Royal fertility is one of the ancestral forces that binds a nation together and mediates its dreams. It is both magical and down-to-earth; swathed in majesty, yet grounded in flesh and blood. Every politician wants a piece of that.” (Evening Standard, 24th July 2013.)

David Cameron, it seems was also early on to the possibilities of hitching his wagon to the feel good factor of the second birth at the time of the election and amongst the first to congratulate the royal couple last September when the pregnancy was announced.

On the announcement of her admission to hospital for the birth on 2nd May, he tweeted:

“My best wishes to the Duchess of Cambridge, who is having her second child today. The whole country will wish her well.” The Daily Mirror recorded that Twitter users speedily noted that, as one wrote: “nicely managed to avoid saying labour …”

Another cynic wrote:

“You’ve had that Tweet saved in your drafts folder for days, haven’t you … ready to deploy at a seconds notice.”

Of the birth he tweeted congratulations and “delight” and fawned:

“One of the privileges of my job, is you get to see them up front and they are a wonderful couple and loving parents.”

The Obamas in their message also congratulated “all the people of the United Kingdom” though quite what they had to do with the creation and arrival is hard to fathom.

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel congratulated David Cameron.

In a throwback to empire, the 8lb., mite was greeted with royal gun salutes in London’s Hyde Park and at the Tower of London. There are royal baby stamp collections, royal baby coins struck by the Royal Mint.

Legoland in Windsor, near one of the Queens palaces announced: “ … at the Legoland Windsor resort we have welcomed the new royal baby in miniature into our lego royal family in our world famous Miniland attraction.” Bookmakers have paid out over a £ million to those who guessed the baby’s name correctly (Charlotte Elizabeth Diana) and Pizza Hut gave free “royal” pizzas to customers named Charlotte.

But whilst former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Obama Small Business Advisor, Karen Mills have enthusiastically supported David Cameron, will he, with less than 24 hours to go, as he sweats around the country, jacketless, tieless, sleeves rolled up, trying to look how he thinks “ordinary” people look, manage: “ to annex some of the mood of celebration and associate himself and his government with the outpouring of emotion”?

We will have to wait and see. His Senior Advisor is Jim Messina, former campaign manager of Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, known as “the fixer”, a stated Cameron admirer, he has a reputation for pulling advantageous political stunts. However what works in the US often does not travel well across the Atlantic.

Cameron’s chief election strategist is Australian Lynton Crosby, a political strategist dubbed “ the master of the dark arts” and the “Australian Karl Rove.” He ran the Conservative election failure in 2005. That he is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry introduces another contradiction for Cameron who has finally made some weak efforts to discourage smoking.

Further: “a cross-party committee of MPs accused the government of “utterly unacceptable” behaviour over the preparation of a new bill on lobbyists, Labour warned of a “lobbying scandal” in Downing Street after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne unveiled tax breaks for the fracking industry, championed by Crosby.” (2)

Crosby’s company, Crosby Textor: ” represents the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association. One of its members, Dart Energy, has a UK subsidiary, Dart Europe Limited, which has an interest in the Bowland Shale site in Lancashire and Yorkshire …” There is deep hostility to fracking in the UK.

In a further blow to Cameron-Crosby credibility the Independent  obtained a document, produced in 2010 by Crosby’s lobbying firm, which proposes targeting key UK Government figures, including David Cameron, to enhance the “size, acceptability and profitability of the private healthcare market.”  (3) If there is one service of which the British are militantly proud and protective, it is their National Health Service.

So Miliband has the Blair millstone round his neck, and Cameron who wanted to be “heir to Blair”, and regards him as his “mentor” has the Messina-Crosby duo. Whatever they come up with overnight it seems it will take more than a royal baby to persuade a cynical public to resoundingly embrace either of them.

Incidentally, inconsequential comment of the day: Cameron father’s home was called Blairmore.

Notes 

1.    http://www.greenbenchesuk.com/2013/12/the-cost-of-cameron-100-worst-failures.html

2.    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/jul/19/david-cameron-fracking-lynton-crosby

3.    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-tory-election-chief-lynton-crosbys-firm-planned-to-expand-role-of-private-healthcare-in-the-uk-10223112.html

 

US-Jordan War Games Prepare Wider Mideast Conflict

May 6th, 2015 by Patrick Martin

Some ten thousand troops began military exercises in Jordan on Tuesday, in the fifth annual “Eager Lion” war games led by the Pentagon. The drills are in preparation for a greatly expanded military conflict in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

A total of nine Arab countries—Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, and Iraq—join the US, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Belgium, Poland, Australia and Pakistan for the exercise.

But the US military will dominate Eager Lion, supplying 5,000 of the 10,000 troops, including headquarters, air, land, sea and special operations forces. During the two-week-long exercise, from May 5 through May 19, there will be more American troops in Jordan than in neighboring Iraq, where President Obama has dispatched some 3,000 troops to train Iraqi forces and conduct special operations warfare and airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Maj. Gen. Rick Mattson, Director of Exercises and Training at the US Central Command, said the 2015 version of Eager Lion was the largest military exercise involving US and Jordanian armed forces since the series of drills began in 2011.

The military exercise is focused on counterterrorism, although that term has been stretched to include almost every facet of military operations short of using nuclear weapons. Mattson said, “Everything available is dedicated to the success of the exercise,” including B-52 strategic bombers, which will participate for the first time.

One element of the exercise will be a simulated bombing raid by a new US plane that will take off from the United States and fly directly to Jordan to drop bombs on a desert target.

Jordanian Brigadier General Fhad al-Damin told reporters the exercises would focus on border security and “combating terrorism,” clearly linking the war games to the ongoing conflict with ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamist group whose forces are just across Jordan’s borders with both Syria and Iraq.

According to a report Monday in the Christian Science Monitor, Jordan has stepped up its intervention against ISIS and the Al Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, which recently took control of Nassib, on the border between Jordan and Syria, the last crossing point still in widespread use.

The Jordanian monarchy views the presence of ISIS and al-Nusra along its borders as the main threat to its security and continued rule, and has sought allies among tribal sheiks whose extended families live on both sides of the Syria-Jordan border, a vast and largely desert region.

According to the Monitor,

“Jordan is reaching out to Syrian tribes and civilians. It’s offering support in their fight to regain towns and villages overrun by IS—a preemptive step to prevent jihadists from threatening Jordan’s borders.”

Jordan has offered air support from the US-led coalition that is bombing ISIS targets in both Syria and Iraq.

Perfecting his technique of telling barefaced lies to reporters who know he is lying and take dictation anyway, General Mattson declared, “Eager Lion has nothing to do with what is currently happening in the region,” a reference to ongoing US-led or US-backed military operations in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Strait of Hormuz and across North Africa.

A look at the map demonstrates how preposterous that claim is. Jordan is of central importance to the US-led imperialist intervention in the Middle East. It lies just south of Syria and west of Iraq, both key battlefields against ISIS, east of Israel and north of Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, nearly all the countries joining in Eager Lion are engaged in one or another of the US-led and US-supported military operations throughout the Middle East.

In Iraq, Britain, France, Canada, and Australia are participating either in airstrikes against ISIS or training of Iraqi combat units, or both.

In Syria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan have joined in US-led airstrikes, mainly against ISIS targets but in a few cases against the al-Nusra Front. On Friday, a US airstrike killed at least 64 civilians in the Syrian Arab village of Bir Mahali.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf sheikdoms and Egypt are all engaged in airstrikes against Houthi rebels who ousted the US-installed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. There are reports that Saudi and other special forces troops may be operating inside Yemen as well, and that Saudi warplanes have used US-supplied cluster bombs against Yemeni cities.

UAE, Qatari and Egyptian warplanes have struck Islamic fundamentalist militia targets in Libya as well, and the Egyptian military is fighting Islamist rebels among the Bedouin tribes who live in the Sinai Peninsula, near the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Add to this the enormous US military presence in the Persian Gulf, including major bases in Kuwait (Army), Qatar (Air Force) and Bahrain (Navy), as well as a French base in the UAE and US and British bases in Oman, along with regular US Navy patrols of the Strait of Hormuz, separating Iran and Oman.

The Middle East is a powder keg, and American imperialism is the leading arsonist, both in deploying its own military forces and selling vast (and highly profitable) caches of weapons to its client states throughout the region. That list, of course, includes the state of Israel, the most heavily armed in the region, with an estimated stockpile of at least 250 nuclear bombs, along with missiles, warplanes and submarines capable of delivering them.

The opening of the war games in Jordan follows reports in the New York Times and Washington Post that members of the US-led “coalition” against ISIS are pressing for an extension of military operations against the Islamists into other countries, including Libya and the Sinai region of Egypt, as well as unspecified repressive measures in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Yemen.

Meanwhile, the US continues to strike targets in Yemen with drone-fired missiles operated from the American military base in Djibouti, just across the Red Sea. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the base this week, in a sign of the stepped-up concern in the Obama administration over the deteriorating position of US-backed forces in Yemen.

Also, the Egyptian military junta announced Sunday that it had extended by three months the deployment of “some elements of the armed forces” abroad, i.e., in Yemen. The action came a day after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Saudi Arabia, where he discussed both the war in Yemen and Saudi financial subsidies to the bloodstained military dictatorship in Egypt.

The War over the Vietnam War

May 6th, 2015 by Don North

Image: ABC TV News cameraman Jim Dysilva at the Citadel in Hue at Tet 1968. (Photo credit: Don North)

Wars are fought twice, once on the battlefield and later in the remembering. In that way, the Vietnam War – though it ended on the battlefield four decades ago – continues as a battle of memory, history and truth. And the stakes are still high. Honest narratives about important past events can shape our destinies, helping to determine whether there will be more wars or maybe peace.

A few years ago, I was pleased to hear that the Pentagon would be funding a committee for the commemoration of the Vietnam War. I thought maybe, finally, we’ll get the record straight. But I didn’t have to read further than the keynote quote at the top of the new website to realize it was not to be.

Quoting President Richard Nixon, it read: “No event in history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam war. It was misreported then and is misunderstood now.”

I belong to the dwindling ranks of journalists who covered the war. We call ourselves “the Vietnam old hacks” and we got pretty exercised about this quote since it perpetuates the myth that the war would have worked out just fine if not for the discouraging words of some reporters. I wrote a letter to the chief of the commemoration committee, retired Lieutenant General Claude Kicklighter, protesting this slur on the thousands of journalists who tried to honestly cover the war, a slur coming from a U.S. president who was one of the most responsible for misleading the public about the war.

I badgered the committee for months but they were reluctant to take the quote down. I enlisted friends at the U.S. Army Center for History who strongly suggested to the committee that the quote was inappropriate. After six months through clenched teeth, they finally took it down. But many of the myths and falsehoods of the Vietnam War remain on the website.

So what went wrong in Vietnam? One of the prevailing and persistent myths is that the United States was betrayed by disloyal journalists. Even the U.S. Army commander in Vietnam, General William Westmoreland, subscribed to that old saw.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times historians – even Army historians – challenge this myth, noting that the U.S. press on balance did a pretty good job covering a complex and dangerous conflict. The myth of the disloyal journalists who supposedly sabotaged what would have otherwise been an American victory just keeps coming back.

My Life in Vietnam

I landed in Vietnam in May of 1965, an eager and enterprising young reporter from Canada. I was like hundreds of other would-be-journalists going into the field to report the war as freelancers, arriving as this counter-insurgency conflict grew into a full-blown Asian war. And like so many of us I initially bought Washington’s rationale for the war – to save this little democracy from a Communist takeover and the start of falling dominoes in Asia.

Don North of ABC News crossing stream in Mekong Delta with US Army 9th Division.

The truth however didn’t take long to learn. At that time, the United States had the benefit of some brilliant journalists who took their craft seriously — and many were on the front lines of reporting about the gaps between the glowing PR and the grim reality.

For example, my late friend David Halberstam of the New York Times told me about an historic battle down in the Mekong Delta in late 1962 when the reality of the conflict was becoming evident. Hundreds of American helicopters had arrived in Vietnam promising great new technological advantages to defeat the Viet Cong.

On the first day of the battle, a few Viet Cong were killed. On the second day, an enormous helicopter assault was launched but nothing happened. On the third day, the same thing happened, no enemy, no battle.

On the way back to Saigon, Neil Sheehan, then with UPI, muttered about the waste of his time. Homer Bigart, an experienced World War II reporter for the New York Times, said, “What’s the matter Mister Sheehan?” Sheehan grumbled about three days spent tramping the paddy fields and no story to write.

“No story,” remarked Bigart, slightly surprised. “But there is a story. It doesn’t work. That’s your story, Mr. Sheehan. “

Indeed, the U.S. strategy in Vietnam didn’t work. It never worked. Not then, not ever. But the price for the folly was staggeringly high. The Vietnamese suffered some two million civilian dead, many killed by the heaviest aerial bombing in history.

In many ways, the young American soldiers, who were dropped into Vietnam, were victims, too, as they found themselves woefully ill-prepared for the rigors and cruelty of counter-insurgency warfare, often fought in villages packed with women and children. Some 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the conflict and many more were scarred either physically or psychologically.

Nick Turse, who wrote Kill Anything that Moves, recently noted:

“Civilian suffering in Vietnam was the essence of a war caused by America’s callous use of power. I question whether the Henry Kissinger’s of today, Washington’s latest coterie of war managers, are any more willing to consider this than Kissinger was.”

Villagers flee B-52 bombing Quang Tri provinve 1972. (Photo credit: Don North)

Going Back

I have just returned from a three-week tour of Vietnam and Cambodia and found that there are those in Vietnam as well as in America who are still unwilling to hear honest voices about the war. Yet, returning to Vietnam for the fortieth anniversary of the war’s end with the Vietnam old hacks – we journalists who covered that lost war – was a moving experience and brought back many memories of the war years.

In a war full of surprises, there was no greater surprise for us than the Tet offensive attack on the U.S. Embassy on Jan. 31, 1968. Military analysts say one way to achieve decisive surprise in warfare is to do something truly stupid and the 15 Viet Cong sappers who carried out the daring embassy attack were poorly trained and unprepared, but its effects marked a turning point in the war and earned a curious entry in the annals of military history.

Today the imposing U.S. Embassy that withstood the attack has been torn down and replaced by a modest U.S. Consulate. A small marker stone in a garden, closed to the public, records the names of the seven American Marines and Military Police who died there. Outside the Consulate gates on the sidewalk is a brick monument engraved with names of Viet Cong sappers and agents who also died.

I couldn’t help imagining the scene if somehow U.S. Army PFC Bill Sebast and Viet Cong sapper Nguyen Van Sau, two soldiers who died on opposite sides of the Embassy wall, could return today to marvel at Saigon’s economic progress, with Vietnam and the U.S. having put aside old animosities to become valuable trading partners.

For the first time, the Vietnam Foreign Ministry treated us old hacks like people worth knowing, interested in our knowledge about the bloody war that we once covered. The truth is Vietnam is more concerned these days about its giant neighbor to the north, China, and even looks to the United States as a possible counterweight to China’s tendency to throw its significant weight around.

Judging the Journalists

So what about the recent Pentagon suggestion that we journalists “misreported the war?” Am I satisfied with my own coverage of the Vietnam war? No, I’m not. I think ignorance of Vietnam history and culture at first and the limitations of TV news sometimes made the truth suffer. A minute and a half was about max for an evening news report. Not nearly enough time to describe the complex events of the Vietnam War.

I also found my ABC News editors in New York reluctant to sound negative about the war. Critical stories got brutally edited or just mysteriously disappeared before air time.

The only censorship that I experienced was from my own news company. At the U.S. Embassy when the last Vietcong sapper was killed or captured, I quickly filmed a “standupper.” To conclude my report, I said, “Since the Lunar New Year, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese have proved they are capable of bold and impressive military moves that Americans never dreamed could be achieved. Whether they can sustain this onslaught for long remains to be seen.

“But whatever turn the war now takes, the capture of the U.S. Embassy here for seven hours is a psychological victory that will rally and inspire the Viet Cong. Don North ABC News Saigon.”

But my instant analysis never made it to the air on ABC News. I was accused of “editorializing” and the standupper was killed by some producer on the evening news. Ironically, however, the standupper with other out-takes ended up in the “ABC Simon Grinberg Library” where it was later found by producer Peter Davis and used in his Academy Award winning film, “Hearts and Minds.”

So it’s true that the truth about the Vietnam War often suffered, but not in the way Nixon’s quote suggested. Much of the U.S. media reporting put the war in too rosy – not too harsh – a light. More accurate journalism would have more consistently challenged what Neil Sheehan later called “A Bright Shining Lie,” the upbeat PR for a misguided war.

A US Marine pinned down by North Vietnamese Army sniper fire in the Citadel 1968 at Tet. (Photo credit: Don North)

And the lessons of Vietnam – fruitlessly discussed over the past half century – have taught Washington so little that today’s war hawks replicated many of the same Vietnam mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq — the same hubris, the same over-reliance on technology and propaganda, the same ignorance of complicated foreign cultures.

So what were the real lessons learned about journalism in the Vietnam War? In spite of difficulties, censorship and the fog of war, I believe much of our Vietnam reporting was accurate and has withstood the scrutiny of time. However, has U.S. war reporting today improved any more than American foreign policies?

Mark Twain once wrote of what I think is a major dilemma of our age. He said, “If you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed. If you do read the newspapers you are misinformed.”

The great reporter A.J. Liebling of the Baltimore Sun once observed, “The Press is the weak slat under the bed of democracy.”

Recently Bill Moyers while at PBS picked up on Liebling’s observations when he wrote:

“After the invasion of Iraq, the slat in the bed broke and some strange bedfellows fell to the floor … the establishment journalists, neo-con polemicists, beltway pundits, right-wing warmongers flying the skull and crossbones of the ‘balanced and fair brigade.’ And administration flaks whose classified leaks were manufactured lies … all romping on the same mattress in the foreplay to disaster. Thousands of casualties and billions of dollars later, most of the media co-conspirators caught in ‘flagrante delicto’ are still prominent, still celebrated, and still holding forth with no more contrition than a weathercaster who made the wrong prediction as to the next day’s temperature.”

And the same sort of “group think” and hostility to dissent that proved so disastrous in Vietnam a half century ago and Iraq a decade ago is ascendant again in Washington today.

The New York Times and Washington Post land on my doorstep every day and I’m appalled to read how “neocon ideology” appears to have seized control of the editorial pages, a development that should concern every American. Inevitably military power is recommended as a first, not a last resort.

Suggestions about seeing a conflict from the other side’s perspective is dismissed as soft-headed and un-American. Instead, it’s easier to talk tough and wave the flag, while squandering the nation’s tax dollars on military hardware and military adventures, even as millions of American families slip beneath the poverty line.

At West Point last May, President Obama observed,

“Some of our most costly mistakes come from, not our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures without thinking through the consequences. Just because we have the best hammer, does not mean that every problem is a nail.”

Don North is a veteran war correspondent who covered the Vietnam War and many other conflicts around the world. He is the author of a new book, Inappropriate Conduct,  the story of a World War II correspondent whose career was crushed by the intrigue he uncovered.

Forty three people were reported dead officially by Kiev. According to witnesses, and even some politicians the real data concealed by the Ukrainian government reaches over a hundred people burnt alive and murdered, and two hundred forty-seven people injured on that day. R.I.P.

A year ago, at night on May 2, my mother and I stayed awake almost the whole night watching live reports from Odessa. There were no journalists, either from state-owned or private TV channels; only once in a while videos recorded on mobile phones would appear on YouTube—all from different angles and varying distances. These were people themselves reporting from the ground, near the Trades Union House, and in every recording there was nothing but horror: a real, deliberate massacre. That day became a crucial moment for many people, and for me personally.

Today the name Donbass is familiar to most, but not many of you knew about this small region of big Ukraine before the war there started—a region whose people are peaceful, hard-working and very tolerant. Coal mining has for decades been the main occupation of the inhabitants of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and many families used to earn their living from this industry. These people never used to protest or to demonstrate for or against anything—they used to work, taking care of their families. They are my people, and I am just like them.

For me and my peers Donbass was Ukraine. I should mention, though, that we never really considered Russia to be another country because it was no different. I went to a Ukrainian school, where I studied both Russian and Ukrainian. The year I started studying was the last when pupils had Russian language instruction in the ten year school curriculum. For the following generation of students, all the subjects were taught in Ukrainian, and Russian was officially proclaimed a “Foreign language” in our schools. Still, we treated this change as a reasonable decision because it was the state language, and absolutely everybody could understand written and spoken Ukrainian perfectly well: we had foreign movies and cartoons dubbed into Ukrainian, shows and news on state TV channels, and newspapers and magazines in Ukrainian. However, Ukrainian was never a mother tongue or a language of everyday usage for the residents of the whole of eastern Ukraine. Moreover, the territory of former left-bank Ukraine has always in fact been inhabited by Russian-speakers (unlike former right-bank Ukraine, where you can encounter people speaking Ukrainian on the streets).

We do not choose our parents or our motherland. I am Ukrainian by citizenship, I was born in the Donbass just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Following that, the population was divided between 10% who became very rich and 90% who became very poor people. I do not come from a rich family: my father was a mechanical worker, and my mother was unemployed until I began school. Life in the 90s was really hard. Nevertheless I do not remember my parents complaining about it: we learned to value good things (perhaps because they were rather rare). I remember my mother gathered raspberry and currant leaves and twigs to use for brewing tea: she explained, that such “tea” was more healthy than that from tea leaves, but in fact it was just that we had no money to buy normal tea. And yet that raspberry leaf tea was the best tea in the world!

As a child, I did not know that we were living in poverty, and that everybody else around us was as well—looking for a better future in the tomorrow of that just established state. Yes, independent Ukraine was a young country—a ship sailing through good and bad weather, trying to make its own way alongside other ships with more experienced crews abroad. Its attempts to be unique and self-determined were understandable. We tolerated the Ukrainisation of the population… Until the very last drop.

I used to love my Ukraine, I used to be proud of it: I know its history very well, its anthem, I know the meaning of its state symbols much better than many of those young “true Ukrainians”. If somebody had asked me in early autumn 2013 whether I would like the Donbass to be separated from Ukraine and joined to the Russian Federation, I would have certainly said “no”. Not because I disliked Russia, but, rather, but because I loved my Ukraine. It was never perfect, but we could bear it. Everything began to change on November 21, 2013. Eventually, it was Ukraine no more.

When Kiev activists started Maidan under the auspices of American-backed right-wing Western politicians, we remained silent—perhaps it would somehow end. When Right Sector ‘revolutionaries’ overthrew the President of Ukraine, legally elected in 2012, we remained silent—perhaps it would somehow get fixed. Then Maidan made a decision for us: to throw the entire Ukrainian state into western snare under the motto “Ukraine is Europe.” People’s obsession with this groundless idea only brought about aggression, impulsive madness and uncontrolled violence in society.

This Ukrainian possession has become a mass hysteria, and Ukrainisation today does not mean “Ukraine is an independent state in its own right,” but, rather,  “Ukraine is totally opposed to Russia.” As though under a spell, activists of the European integration movement repeat the same belligerent mottoes: “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes! Death to the enemies!”, “Impale a Moskal!”, “Who does not jump is a Moskal!”  and so forth. Let me to draw your attention to the fact that there was not yet the slightest hint about a referendum in Crimea—thus there was not the slightest reason to accuse Russia of interference in Ukrainian affairs, though such accusations already existed and were very popular among ‘true Ukrainians.’

Events took a new turn in April, when we began preparing the Great Victory Day celebration. Wearing St George’s ribbons several weeks before and after the holiday had been a tradition for many decades, and we began pinning them to our clothes as usual. Normally, Ukrainians wore these ribbons as well, until they found for themselves “an old European symbol of the memory of WWII”—the poppy. Whether by coincidence or not, the colours of the poppy symbol match the red and black colours of the Right Sector’s flag. After all, Ukrainians associated our St George’s ribbon with a Colorado beetle (because of the stripes), and started to identify the people wearing these ribbons as “Colorados. ”

It is not just a black and orange piece of cloth, and we wear it not because it is beautiful, but rather because it is meaningful. My great grandfather was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, and I still remember him very well. Everyone in the Donbass has veterans in their family. This ribbon is a material part—a symbol of the triumph over fascism, which we can keep in our hands in the name of the contribution of our great-grandparents. Commemorating the veterans who won peace for us is a major part of the education of several generations. The majority of Ukrainian people have easily rejected their historical values in the name of European ones, and during the last year they have been trying to deprive us of our roots. We have become fed up with this. Nevertheless, in order to kill our memory they will have to kill all of us.

When the people of Crimea organised their referendum, Kiev claimed it was fabricated—they began to use the label “vatnik” (a quilted jacket—but according to ‘true Ukrainians’, a pro-Russian acting under the influence of a Kremlin agenda). Generally, Ukrainians are good at attaching labels—once you receive it you become a dangerous individual who threatens the safety of Ukraine, and thus you may even be killed, and the Ukrainians will be justified because you were a ‘colorado’, a ‘vatnik’, a ‘separatist’, or the child of a ‘separatist’ or a parent of a future ‘separatist’. Such labels were quickly applied to the whole population of the Donbass. In fact, the Militia had begun seizing administrative buildings in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions before the Crimea had held its referendum. It was peaceful and organised: the people who worked in those buildings were allowed to leave them with their possessions and with important documents; nobody was hurt or injured. All we wanted was to go through a legal process of separation from Ukraine, for a number of reasons, but firstly because we did not want to follow the path of integration with the European Union.

By occupying the buildings, the locals made their protest against the Junta regime, because they had not elected them and they did not like its policy. Maidan activists had raised EU flags asserting their desire to join the EU; we did not support this idea, completely understanding that our living standards did not match those of the Union and that we would thus not be equal members. For “Ukraine is Europe”, the necessary condition was to sever all relations with Russia. The Donbass raised Russian flags over administrative buildings to assert that we did not want to separate from Russia. This divorce could have gone peacefully, but the ‘true Ukrainians’ wanted blood.

On May 2, the right-wing extremists committed a crime against humanity: they burnt people alive. This is a fact that nobody can deny, as the amount of pictorial and video evidence is so overwhelming. Watching the Odessa massacre, we could not imagine anything worse, but it appeared to be only the beginning. You could see girls with Ukrainian flags round their necks pouring petrol into bottles, which were certainly intended to be thrown at people (what else could be the purpose?), and that night the Ukrainian flag ceased to exist for me.

It was so defiled by being used for carrying Molotov cocktails, but nobody judged this profanation at the governmental level. You could see young guys with Right Sector symbols on their sleeves finishing the people off who had managed to get out of the Trade Union House which was enveloped in flames. These are not my people who call to kill other human beings, and who can triumph above the bodies of dead humans. They burnt Ukraine in the Odessa Trades Union House, they killed it together with young Kristina and her baby in Gorlovka, they downed it along with MH17, they ran it over together with eight year old Polina in Konstantinovka, they gunned it down along with Oles Buzina in Kiev.

Dear readers, please remember and honour your roots, and the deeds of your great-grandparents who made sacrifices for your Peace. It becomes easy to manipulate a population which is willing to forget its past, to rewrite its history, which is obsessed with revolution in the name of revolution. We stand for a better future in the name of our past. The moment of cleavage has happened. It is Donbass, it is Novorossiya. We will have our second Victory Day.

“Mitochondrial damage is now understood to play a role in a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Recently it has become known that iatrogenic (physician or treatment-caused) mitochondrial damage explains many adverse reactions from medications.” – John Neustadt, MD and Steven Pieczenik, MD

“All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others.” – John Neustadt, MD and Steven Pieczenik, MD

Several years ago I attended a conference that was sponsored by the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (UMDF), an organization which seems to be a combination patient advocacy group and a funding organization for mitochondrial researchers.

The conference centered entirely upon the rare congenital/inherited forms of mitochondrial disorders that are first diagnosed in infancy and which comprise about 10 – 15 % of cases of known mitochondrial disorders.

Nothing was said by the presenters about the 85 – 90 % of acquired forms of mitochondrial disorders, which could, of course, be preventable if knowledge of the root causes were transmitted to us physicians and patients.

During the Q & A, a mitochondrial research scientist in the audience got up and talked about a colleague of his that had written an academic paper that identified 72 commonly-prescribed drugs that were mitochondrial poisons. He mentioned Pfizer’s Lipitor and Zoloft as two examples. The author had not been able to get her paper published, and I have found no evidence that it was ever published. No comments were forthcoming from the UMDF expert that was leading the conference, and the discussion went back to the rare hereditary forms of the disease.

Being naturally suspicious of “experts” who may have professional or financial conflicts of interest, my curiosity was aroused; so I talked to the researcher who raised the obviously unwelcome question. He gave me his email address, but my several attempts to contact him by email failed to get any response. I later discovered that the researcher had at one time received research grants from Pfizer.

Ever since that suspicious episode I have maintained an interest in mitochondrial disorders, and since then I have discovered many articles in the basic science literature that have dealt with drug and vaccine-induced mitochondrial disorders, none of which ever gets published in the mainstream medical journals, at least those that take advertising money from pharmaceutical companies.

Interestingly, UMDF has a convenient privacy policy that keeps it from revealing who are their donors, although five pharmaceutical or genetic testing companies (Reata, Transgenomic, Courtagen, Raptor and Stealth BioTherapeutics) have their logos displayed, but no discussion about acquired or iatrogenic mitochondrial disorders could be found on its website. I could find only one statement (on www.Mitoaction.org’s website) about non-inherited mitochondrial disorders. It said that “Medicines or other toxic substances can trigger mitochondrial disease.” No elaboration or links to more information were provided. I smelled a rat, and so should we all.

So this Duty to Warn column is about the multitude of common iatrogenic (drug- or doctor-caused) diseases that can be caused by the commonly prescribed drugs and/or commonly injected vaccine ingredients that are making many of us highly drugged, malnourished, environmentally-toxic and also thoroughly vaccinated. We Americans (infants, children, adolescents and adults) are among the sickest, most chronically-ill people in the developed world.

I include excerpts from just three examples from a multitude of peer-reviewed medical journal articles that have been trying to tell us clinicians (and our most aware patients) that there are many common, preventable disorders that the powers-that-be want us to believe are either the fault of the patient-victim (“shame-on-you”) or are simply inherited from our guilty parents (and thus neither preventable nor curable).

Many of these disorders (see list below) are actually caused by prescription drugs, vaccines and/or other toxic chemicals that are poisoning the mitochondria in our brains, nerves, muscles and other organs. Thus we are being afflicted by preventable, iatrogenic- or industry-caused diseases. Both realities are taboo subjects in the current era of mind-control by America’s powerful, profit-motivated, multinational corporations in BigPharma, BigChemical, BigMedicine, BigMedia, BigFood and BigAgribusiness industries. That pervasive group prefers our ignorance, and each of them spends unlimited amounts of money to ensure it.

The avarice of these industries for larger market-share, higher share price, bigger profits, lower wages and more aggressive wealth extraction knows no bounds, and their brain-disabling products makes their goals ever easier to attain.

The first excerpt below is about the injectable, toxic aluminum adjuvants that have been added to virtually all infant and adult vaccines for the past 70+ years There is no safe dose of aluminum or mercury, and neither have any nutritional value. (Aluminum is poorly absorbed when swallowed [0.5% absorption] but is 100% absorbed into the blood stream when injected.) The CDC/AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics)-mandated immunization schedule ensures that a total of nearly 5,000 micrograms of the mitochondrial toxin aluminum will be injected into the average American baby by the time he or she reaches 18 months (before which, by the way, is when many of the alleged “inherited” mitochondrial diseases become manifest)!

The second excerpt talks about how poisonous mercury is to the mitochondria that are in human brain, nerve, muscle and body cells. Over the last 20 years there have been at least a hundred peer-reviewed medical journal articles that have been warning physicians about the neurotoxicity of mercury, the second-most toxic metal known to man (plutonium is first).

Mercury, in the form of Eli Lilly & Company’s Thimerosal, has been in most infant and adult vaccines for several generations and was only removed from a number – but not all – of them when the AAP pleaded with the vaccine manufacturers to remove it from all vaccines because many concerned pediatricians were rightfully convinced that the rapidly escalating autism epidemic was at least partially caused by the rapidly escalating dosing of vaccines: and they were correct. But the neurotoxic aluminum, often given in multiple inoculations simultaneously, remained in the over-vaccination schedule, and the epidemic of chronic, autoimmune disorders among fully vaccinated children continued.

Nevertheless, the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC and the AAP continue to recommend annual (aluminum and mercury-containing) flu shots for immature, immune-vulnerable, brain-undeveloped babies as young as 6 months of age, and for their pregnant mothers! What could possibly go wrong? One must ask: who are the benefactors and who are the victims?

The third article below consist of extracts from a literature review of the subject of mitochondrial damage and the role of medications, chemicals, pesticides, metals, drugs, vaccine ingredients and other mitochondrial poisons that put every cell in our bodies at increased risk of permanent damage. It is titled “Medication-induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease”. Alarmingly, no mitochondrial patient advocacy website that I could find has links to this or any of the scores of articles that discuss acquired or iatrogenic mitochondrial disorders. Go figure.

1) Aluminum-induced Defective Mitochondrial Metabolism Perturbs Cytoskeletal Dynamics in Human Astrocytoma Cells

By  J. Lemire, R. Mailloux, S. Puiseux-Dao, and V. D. Appanna

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research 87:1474–1483 (2009) 

Posted at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jnr.21965/abstract

Abstract

Although aluminum (Al), a known environmental toxin, has been implicated in a variety of neurological disorders, the molecular mechanism responsible for these conditions is not fully understood. In this report, we demonstrate the ability of Al to trigger mitochondrial dysfunction and ineffective adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. This situation severely affected cytoskeletal dynamics. Whereas the control cells had well-defined structures, the Al-exposed astrocytoma cells appeared as globular structures. Creatine kinase (CK) and profilin-2, two critical modulators of cellular morphology, were markedly diminished in the astrocytoma cells treated with Al. Antioxidants such as a-ketoglutarate and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) mitigated the occurrence of the globular-shaped cells promoted by Al toxicity. Taken together, these data reveal an intricate link between ATP metabolism and astrocytic dysfunction and provide molecular insights into the pathogenesis of Al-induced neurological diseases.

2) Thimerosal-Derived Ethylmercury Is a Mitochondrial Toxin in Human Astrocytes

By M. A. Sharpe, A. D. Livingston, and D. S. Baskin – Published online 6/28/2012 in the Journal of Toxicology, (posted at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395253/)

Abstract

Thimerosal generates ethylmercury in aqueous solution and is widely used as a (bactericidal) preservative. We have investigated the toxicology of Thimerosal in normal human astrocytes, paying particular attention to mitochondrial function and the generation of specific oxidants. We find that ethylmercury not only inhibits mitochondrial respiration leading to a drop in the steady state membrane potential, but also concurrent with these phenomena increases the formation of superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and Fenton/Haber-Weiss generated hydroxyl radical. These oxidants increase the levels of cellular aldehyde/ketones. Additionally, we find a five-fold increase in the levels of oxidant damaged mitochondrial DNA bases and increases in the levels of mtDNA nicks and blunt-ended breaks. Highly damaged mitochondria are characterized by having very low membrane potentials, increased superoxide/hydrogen peroxide production, and extensively damaged mtDNA and proteins. These mitochondria appear to have undergone a permeability transition, an observation supported by the five-fold increase in Caspase-3 activity observed after Thimerosal treatment.

Introduction

Thimerosal is a preservative that is widely used in medical products, including as a preservative in vaccines, immunoglobulin preparations, skin test antigens, antivenins, ophthalmic and nasal products, and tattoo inks, and is composed of 49.6 percent ethylmercury by weight. The widespread use of Thimerosal exposes many to its potential toxic effects, especially in  utero and in neonates. We report the results of a series of experiments using cultured normal human astrocytes (NHA) exposed to Thimerosal to study the compound’s effect on astrocyte mitochondria.

Oxidative Stress and Brain

The brain utilizes 20% of the oxygen consumed by the body but constitutes only 2% of the body’s mass. <<snip>>

3) Medication-induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease

By John Neustadt and Steve R. Pieczeni

Published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2008, 52, pp 780 – 788

This article is posted in its entirety at: http://psychrights.org/research/Digest/NLPs/DrugsCauseMitochondrialDamage.PDF

Abstract

Since the first mitochondrial dysfunction was described in the 1960s, the medicine has advanced in its understanding the role mitochondria play in health and disease. Damage to mitochondria is now understood to play a role in the pathogenesis of a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis.
Medications have now emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial damage, which may explain many adverse effects.
All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others. While targeted nutrient therapies using antioxidants or their precursors (e. g., N-acetylcysteine [NAC]) hold promise for improving mitochondrial function, there are large gaps in our knowledge. The most rational approach is to understand the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial damage for specific medications and attempt to counteract their deleterious effects with nutritional therapies. This article reviews our basic understanding of how mitochondria function and how medications damage mitochondria to create their occasionally fatal adverse effects.

Introduction

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells. They are responsible for generating energy… <<snip>> …mitochondria are the only other subcellular structure aside from the nucleus to contain DNA. However, unlike nuclear DNA (nDNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are not protected by histones. nDNA wraps around histones, which then physically shield the DNA from damaging free radicals and are also required to repair DNA breaks. Since mtDNA lacks the structural protection of histones and their repair mechanisms, they are quite susceptible to damage. <<snip>>

Mitochondria Structure and Function

Cellular energy requirements control how many mitochondria are in each cell. A single somatic cell can contain from 200 to 2000 mitochondria, while human germ cells such as spermatozoa contain a fixed number of 16 mitochondria and oocytes have up to 100 000. The largest number of mitochondria are found in the most metabolically active cells, such as skeletal and cardiac muscle and the liver and brain. Mitochondria are found in every human cell except mature erythrocytes (red blood cells).

Acquired Conditions in which Mitochondrial Dysfunction has been Implicated (as of 2007

Diabetes

Huntington’s disease

Cancer including hepatitis-C virus-associated hepatocarcinogenesis

Alzheimer disease

Parkinson’s disease

Bipolar disorder

Schizophrenia

Aging and senescence

Anxiety disorders

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – late stage of nonalcoholic fatty infiltration of the liver)

Cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis

Sarcopenia (muscle-wasting disease, mainly of the elderly)

Exercise intolerance

Fatigue, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain

Medications Documented to Induce Mitochondrial Damage (as of 2007)

http://psychrights.org/research/Digest/NLPs/DrugsCauseMitochondrialDamage.PDF

Alcoholism medications Ex: Antabuse

Alzheimer’s dementia drugs Ex: Tacrine (Cognex), Galantamine

Analgesics (for pain) and anti-inflammatory drugs, Ex: Aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), indomethacin, Naproxen

Anesthetics Ex: lidocaine, propofol (also general anesthetics likehalothane. isoflurane, sevoflurane)

Angina medications Ex: amiodarone

Antiarrhythmic (regulates heartbeat) Ex: amiodarone (also beta blockers)

Antibiotics Ex: tetracycline (also chloramphenicol, Cipro)

Antidepressants Ex: amitriptyline, citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Symbyax, Sarafem)

Antipsychotics Ex: chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, haloperidol, risperidone, quetiapine, clozapine, olanzapine

Anxiety medications Ex: (Every benzodiazepine), including alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (valium)

Barbiturates Ex: amobarbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, , propofol, secobarbital

Cholesterol-lowering medications Ex: All statins – atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin, cholestyramine, clofibrate (Atromid-S)

Cancer (chemotherapy) medications Ex: Mitomycin C, profiromycin, adriamycin

Diabetes medications Ex: metformin, Glucophage, troglitazone, rosiglitazone, buformin

HIV/AIDS medications Ex: (AZT, zidovudine)

Epilepsy/Seizure medications Ex: valproic acid (Depakene, depakote, divalproex sodium)

Mood stabilizers Ex: lithium

Parkinson’s disease medications

Vaccine Ingredients Ex: Mercury, aluminum, ethylene glycol

Mechanisms of Mitochondria-induced Injury

Damage to mitochondria is caused primarily by reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by the mitochondria themselves. <<snip>>

As a medical concern, hyperglycemia induces mitochondrial superoxide production by endothelial cells, which is an important mediator of diabetic complications such as cardiovascular disease. Endothelial superoxide production also contributes to atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, aging, sepsis, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and hypercholesterolemia. Inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) have been associated in vitro with mitochondrial dysfunction and increased ROS generation. <<snip>>

Vitamins, minerals, and other metabolites act as necessary cofactors for the synthesis and function of mitochondrial enzymes and other compounds that support mitochondrial function, and diets deficient in micronutrients can accelerate mitochondrial decay and contribute to neurodegeneration. For example, enzymes in the pathway for hemoglobin synthesis require adequate amounts of pyridoxine, iron, copper, zinc, and riboflavin. Deficiencies of any component of the TCA cycle or ETC can lead to increased production of free radicals and mtDNA damage. For example, low iron status decreases mitochondrial activity by causing a loss of complex IV and increasing oxidative stress.

Medication-induced Mitochondrial Damage

Mitochondrial dysfunction is increasingly implicated in the etiology of drug-induced toxicities, but mitochondrial toxicity testing is still not required by the US FDA for drug approval. Mitochondria can be damaged both directly and indirectly by medications.

Conclusions

Since the first mitochondrial dysfunction was described in the 1960s, the central role mitochondria play in health and disease has been widely documented. Mitochondrial damage is now understood to play a role in a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (late-stage fatty infiltration of the liver).

Recently it has become known that iatrogenic mitochondrial damage explains many adverse reactions from medications. Mitochondrial toxicity testing as part of the preapproval process for medications may help protect the public by identifying the most toxic medications before they are allowed to reach the market. By understanding the mechanisms underlying drug-induced mitochondrial damage, it may be possible to develop nutritional strategies to decrease the potentially toxic effects of medications.

While targeted nutrient therapies using antioxidants or their precursors (e. g., N-acetylcysteine [NAC]) holds promise for improving mitochondrial function, there are large gaps in our knowledge. The most rational approach is to understand the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial damage for specific medications, and attempt to counteract their deleterious effects with nutritional therapies. While randomized, controlled trials are lacking in this regard, they hopefully will be designed and conducted in coming years so that clinicians will have a clearer understanding of how to best protect and treat their patients.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic mental health care for the last decade of his career. Virtually all of his patients exhibited iatrogenic (prescription drug-related) syndromes such as are mentioned in the article above. In retrospect, those patients were actually manifesting iatrogenic mitochondrial diseases. His practice mainly consisted of helping his patients, through brain nutrient therapy, psycho-educational psychotherapy and the gradual reduction or elimination of the psychotropic medications that were sickening them. He now writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly published in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Many of Dr Kohls’ columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn.

A scientific paper published last month in the journal Climate Dynamics by a scientist from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and three universities found that the 1930s drought was exacerbated by an anomalous warm spots in the ocean:

Unusually hot summer conditions occurred during the 1930s over the central United States and undoubtedly contributed to the severity of the Dust Bowl drought. We investigate local and large-scale conditions in association with the extraordinary heat and drought events, making use of novel datasets of observed climate extremes and climate reanalysis covering the past century. We show that the unprecedented summer heat during the Dust Bowl years was likely exacerbated by land-surface feedbacks associated with springtime precipitation deficits. The reanalysis results indicate that these deficits were associated with the coincidence of anomalously warm North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific surface waters and a shift in atmospheric pressure patterns leading to reduced flow of moist air into the central US. Thus, the combination of springtime ocean temperatures and atmospheric flow anomalies, leading to reduced precipitation, also holds potential for enhanced predictability of summer heat events. The results suggest that hot drought, more severe than experienced during the most recent 2011 and 2012 heat waves, is to be expected when ocean temperature anomalies like those observed in the 1930s occur in a world that has seen significant mean warming.

Similarly, a warm “blob” of ocean water is currently floating off the West coast of the U.S. And – as reported by the Washington Post, NBC News, and CBS – scientists say that the warm anomaly may be causing the California drought.

Postscript: Scientists say that the warm seawater anomalies are associated with shifts in atmospheric pressure patterns, which may – in turn – be caused by periodic fluctuations in the “Pacific decadal oscillation” or the “North Pacific mode“. And see this.

Interestingly, these patterns may, in turn, be effected by fluctuations in the output from the sun.  For example, National Geographic reported in 2008:

The sun’s fluctuations can help predict extreme climatic events on Earth decades ahead of time, new research suggests.

***

The cycles, which are driven by the sun’s magnetic turbulence, may influence weather systems on Earth, particularly the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a periodic climatic system associated with floods and droughts mostly in the Southern Hemisphere.

***

The Southern Oscillation Index, which measures the El Niño-Southern Oscillation system, seems to correspond with a 90-year sun cycle, Baker found.

***

Periods of greater solar disturbances are associated with rainy periods, whereas a calmer sun dovetailed with times of drought in Australia, Baker said.

***

El Niño and La Niña, which creates opposite climatic effects from El Niño, also affect North America.

That means long-range forecasting is possible for water availability in Mexico and the western United States, where droughts are often severe, Baker said.

How solar cycles may influence Earth’s weather systems is not well understood, but Baker speculated that cosmic radiation is a factor.

For instance, Baker’s research shows that periods of high cosmic radiation coincide with particularly long La Niñas, Baker said.

The Obama-proposed international-trade deals, if passed into law, will lead to “a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots,” says Alfred De Zayas, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order.

These two mammoth trade-pacts, one (TTIP) for Atlantic nations, and the other (TTP) for Pacific nations excluding China (since Obama is against China), would transfer regulations of corporations to corporations themselves, and away from democratically elected governments. Regulation of working conditions and of the environment, as well as of product-safety including toxic foods and poisonous air and other consumer issues, would be placed into the hands of panels whose members will be appointed by large international corporations. Their decisions will remove the power of democratically elected governments to control these things. “Red tape” that’s imposed by elected national governments would be eliminated — replaced by the international mega-corporate version.

De Zayas was quoted in Britain’s Guardian on May 4th as saying also that, “The bottom line is that these agreements must be revised, modified or terminated,” because they would vastly harm publics everywhere, even though they would enormously benefit the top executives of corporations by giving them control as a sort of corporate-imposed world government, answerable to the people who control those corporations.

Obama is pushing for international cartels to replace important functions of today’s national governments, and De Zayas is saying that, “We don’t want an international order akin to post-democracy or post-law.”

De Zayas told the Guardian that the panels that are proposed to be at the very center of these trade-pacts

“constitute an attempt to escape the jurisdiction of national courts and bypass the obligation of all states to ensure that all legal cases are tried before independent tribunals that are public, transparent, accountable and appealable.”

That is, in fact, the motivation behind these deals. Costs get transferred from corporations onto consumers, workers, and the environment, while profits are increased for the corporation’s investors, and CEO pay will soar. In fact, the EU’s own study of the economic impact of the TTIP with America, calculated

“economic gains as a whole for the EU (€119 billion a year) and US (€95 billion a year). This translates to an extra €545 in disposable income each year for a family of 4 in the EU, on average, and €655 per family in the US. … Income gains are a result of increased trade. EU exports to the US would go up by 28%, equivalent to an additional €187 billion worth of exports of EU goods and services. Overall, total exports would increase 6% in the EU and 8% in the US.”

According to the analysis, no one would lose anything. For example, tariffs would be reduced but income taxes and other taxes that the public pays wouldn’t be increased in order to make up for that loss of income to the state from reduced tariffs. Not at all. Instead: “As much as 80% of the total potential gains come from cutting costs imposed by bureaucracy and regulations, as well as from liberalising trade in services and public procurement.”

In other words: government regulations of product-safety and the environment and workers’ rights are a terrible waste, which would be eliminated and handled more efficiently by letting international corporations themselves handle those things, according to the EU’s study. And “liberalising trade in services and public procurement” would cut “red tape” that has prevented government officials who are the purchasers in “public procurement” from getting high-paid corporate directorships, etc. under the existing regulatory structures in democratic nations where the public, the voters, can hold their own government accountable for such corruption. If these functions become the domain of the international corporations themselves, then existing regulations and the government employees who enforce them can be eliminated. Accountability, in other words, is such a waste, for the inside investors in large corporations. They don’t need it; they fight against it. They are fighting against it. They don’t even want accountability to their own outside investors, who might want them removed from corporate management.

The EU simply doesn’t mention the downsides. And they also don’t mention that, “Obama’s TTIP Trade Deal w. Europe Would Be Disastrous for Europe, Says the First Independent Study.” That study wasn’t paid for by the EU, so they just ignore it. (They even ignore that it found that America’s international corporations would benefit even more from the deal than would Europe’s international corporations, which is the exact opposite result than the EU’s own study calculated. President Obama performs brilliantly for America’s billionaires, even though most of them are Republicans.) The economist who did that study wasn’t paid by anybody to do it. Occasionally, a study like that is performed by an economist. However, paid-for studies get far more publicity, because the findings are then heavily promoted by the sponsoring organization — after all, it’s propaganda.

On 23 January 2015, Britain’s Financial Times bannered, “Davos 2015: Businesses rally support for transatlantic trade deal.” Attendees there would pop the champagne corks if these deals pass.

David Korten at YES! magazine, headlined on 15 April 2015, “A Trade Rule that Makes It Illegal to Favor Local Business? Newest Leak Shows TPP Would Do That And More.” He stated, in common language, a recently-leaked (from wikileaks) chapter of the TPP, the treaty’s Investment chapter. Key provisions of it are:

Favoring local ownership is prohibited. …

Corporations must be paid to stop polluting. [Yes: Obama demands that corporations possess an actual right to pollute! It’s in the contract!! Ignore his mere rhetoric.]

Three [corporate] lawyers will decide who’s right in secret tribunals. …

Speculative money must remain free [of governmental regulation]

Corporate interests come before national ones. …

Then, there’s a sixth basic provision: to “prohibit governments from requiring that a foreign investor be under any obligation to serve the host country’s people or national interest.”

And that’s just one chapter of the proposed document. No wonder, then, why the billionaires at Davos are eager for Obama to ram this secret treaty through Congress. (Their people were in on the drafting of this proposed treaty, so Davosians didn’t need Julian Assange’s organization for them to know what the treaty contains. Only we do. And so now we understand why Obama wants to imprison or execute Assange.)

In the United States, congressional Republicans are almost unanimously in support of Obama’s trade-deals, but most congressional Democrats are opposed to these deals. President Obama doesn’t even enforce the workers’ rights provisions in the existing NAFTA and other existing trade-deals. Murders of labor union officials are prohibited under NAFTA but the Obama Administration ignores them. On April 22nd, Huffington Post bannered, “AFL-CIO’s Trumka: USTR Told Us Murder Isn’t A Violation Under U.S. Trade Deals” and quoted an AFL-CIO official,

“‘The question is whether USTR [Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative, the same man who is negotiating both the TPP and the TTIP] considers murder to be a violation of the labor chapter. That is the question,’ she said. ‘The point is that USTR has informed us that labor-related violence does not constitute an actionable violation of the labor provisions [of NAFTA]’.”

Obama relies almost entirely upon congressional Republicans for support of his proposed trade-deals, and of his existing trade-policies (such as non-enforcement of NAFTA). The only real question is whether congressional Democrats will be able to block his deals. When American voters in 2014 elected Republicans to majorities in both houses, the result was to ease the way for passage of Obama’s proposed international-trade deals. Harry Reid controlled the Senate and blocked them, but he was now replaced by the Republican Mitch McConnell, who is trying to win Senate approval for the TTIP. Reid, now as the Minority Leader, is still doing the best he can to block that; he just doesn’t have the power he did when he was Majority Leader.

Within the general American public, however, there seems to be more support for the TTIP among Democrats than among Republicans. On 9 April 2014, Pew Research Center issued a poll that was sponsored by the pro-deal Bertlelsmann Foundation, headlined “Support in Principle for U.S.-EU Trade Pact,” and the poll’s key question was:

“Q3 As you may know, the U.S. and the EU are negotiating a free trade agreement called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Do you think this trade agreement will be a good thing for our country or a bad thing?”

In the United States, 53% of respondents marked “Good thing,” 20% marked “Bad thing,” and 14% marked “Haven’t heard enough.” (Most of the others marked “Don’t know.”) Whereas 53% of all respondents said “Good thing,” 60% of Democratic respondents did, but only 44% of Republican ones did. That’s a 16% difference — substantial. Thus, apparently, at least as of a year ago, when a member of the public heard “TTIP,” the person mainly thought that it came from Obama (which it does), and that Obama is a Democrat (which he isn’t, except in rhetoric, but members of Congress are different; they know that he’s not, even if the public don’t); and, so, Republican voters were far less supportive of TTIP than were Democratic voters.

The general public judged the deal by the nominal party of the person who initiated and is negotiating it. This is why, whereas in Congress, Republicans almost unanimously want TTIP to pass, and most Democrats want it to fail, the situation among the voting public is in the exact opposite direction: overwhelmingly favorable to the deal among Democrats, but only slightly favorable to the deal among Republicans. On the other hand, all Republican U.S. Presidential candidates support Obama’s trade-deals in principle and they only want him to speed up his getting other nations’ leaders to sign onto to them — as if he even has the power to do that.

If the TTIP and the TPP pass and become law, then historians will almost certainly remember Obama far more for those international trade-deals than for Obamacare or anything else, because of the enormous global political change they will bring. And Obama will then probably be generally regarded as the worst President in U.S. history, because he will then have done more to bring back dictatorship as the global norm and ended democracy, than any other nation’s leader, in all of history, ever did.

The evidence strongly supports Alfred De Zayas’s statement, that these trade-deals would produce “a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots.” His statement was alarming, but not at all alarmist.

De Zayas is the chief UN official responsible for “reporting” on proposed international-trade treaties. As the likelihood of Obama’s proposed treaties passing has increased, he has become increasingly vocal about what their implications would be, for the UN’s founding vision of gradual evolution toward a democratic world-government — something comprehensive like what is now being suddenly rammed through, but democratic instead of fascist, and thus more the opposite of Obama’s vision instead of similar to it. On April 23rd, Reuters headlined, “U.N. expert says secret trade deals threaten human rights,” and De Zayas spoke in far more measured terms, not nearly so direct. He said:

“I am concerned about the secrecy surrounding negotiations for trade treaties, which have excluded key stakeholder groups from the process, including labour unions, environmental protection groups, food-safety movements and health professionals”

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.

Drone Murders and the Illegality of High Tech War

May 6th, 2015 by Coleen Rowley

Why has the United Nations Special Rapporteur called drone strikes extrajudicial killing?

Why has a Pakistani judge recently filed criminal charges against a former top CIA lawyer who oversaw its drone program and a former station chief in Islamabad over a 2009 strike that killed two people? The Islamabad High Court ruled CIA officials must face charges including murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and terrorism.

Why is a case being heard in May against the German government on behalf of three Yemeni survivors of a U.S. drone strike? The lawsuit argues it is illegal for the German government to allow the U.S. air base at Ramstein to be used for drone murders abroad, especially after the passage of a resolution in the European Parliament in February 2014 urging European nations to “oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial targeted killings” and to “ensure that Member States, in conformity with their legal obligations, do not perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states.”

Why have Sicilians been protesting construction – which in 2013 led to the President of the Region of Sicily temporarily revoking construction authorization – of a US Navy base in their desert which would house Lockheed Martin’s new satellite communications system? Part of the effort to automate war, to entrust the choice of targets to machines, a principal function of the system would be to remotely pilot drones all over the world, ultimately reaching the North Pole.

Closer to home, why have protests arisen of Camp Ripley’s drone training? When Col. St. Sauver, the commander at Camp Ripley, weighed in on the beginning controversy in September 2012, he lauded unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as being used “to increase efficiency, save money, enhance safety and even save lives.” He hit all the Pentagon talking points. The smaller “Shadow” drones at Camp Ripley were initially used to conduct surveillance and identify people (targets) for the lethal punch of the larger “Reaper” and “Predators.” The smaller drones then served merely as an accomplice in the illegal drone assassination program, also termed President Obama’s “Disposition Matrix” kill list.

The goal of the U.S. State Department was, however, to arm the Shadows with guided bombs weighing under 25 pounds. Cleared for treaty compliance in 2011, Raytheon successfully tested a new 5 pound warhead developed for the Shadow that same year and in 2012, tested a 13 pound warhead. The Marine Corps thereafter sent armed Shadows to Afghanistan as a combat demonstration program.

As a result of this high tech trend, some military officials have become even more effusive in their praise of

“federated airpower as small UAVs (like the Shadow) can be bought and operated in numbers that provide far wider battlefield coverage. … When smart networks communicate, almost brain-like systems will emerge.”

Down on earth, however, the short answer to all the questions posed above is that the law may be catching up with the stars in militarists’ eyes. While commentators generally agree UAS technology is not illegal per se (which people often confuse the drone debate as being), when and how it’s being used to extra-judicially kill in our self-declared “global war” is another story.

The following constitutes a consensus of legal opinion:

Outside a war zone, a State can legally kill only where (1) necessary to save a life, and no other option is available, or alternatively (2) it’s the result of fair judicial process [e.g., death penalty after decent adjudication].

So drones – at least those used for targeting killing – are basically not legal unless the looser “law of armed conflicts” (aka international humanitarian law, IHL) applies. IHL only governs in unique, geographically constrained and limited situations, not in a “war of choice” or a “global war.” Even under IHL, you can’t kill civilians (those not operating as forces of a warring State) unless they’re directly participating in hostilities, or in a “continuous combat function.” This may explain why the U.S. has thus far refused to provide information about its strikes. Lastly, under IHL, even if you have a valid target, you still can’t kill that target if the civilian casualties would be disproportionate to the particular objective.

A final problem with how we use our drones is more a problem of angering other nations, increasing enemies and setting bad precedent. Obviously, a foreign country does not have the right to come into the United States and kill people. The guiding document is the U.N. Charter, which doesn’t allow force against a State unless it’s self-defense, or the Security Council authorizes it. So consider if a country, take China for example, decided to someday post drones over U.S. cities and execute people when it determined that people here were fighting against it, knowing civilian casualties are to be accepted, as long as China doesn’t consider our casualties disproportionate to its military objectives.

You don’t have to be a legal expert to understand the terrifying precedent the U.S. is setting.

Robin Hensel is a free speech and peace activist in Little Falls who organizes the annual “Peace Fair” and anti-drone warfare protests there.

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI agent and former chief division counsel in Minneapolis. She’s now a dedicated peace and justice activist and board member of the Women Against Military Madness and works with the Veterans for Peace chapter in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

There are more than 11,000 currently outstanding demolition orders issued by Israeli authorities against Palestinian-owned properties in the Occupied West Bank, according to new figures.

The official data, as presented by UN OCHA in a recent report, shows that Israeli authorities issued 14,087 demolition orders in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank between 1988 and 2014, on the basis that they lacked the required permit.

The number of affected structures is higher, however, as some orders target several structures.

According to the figures, some 20 percent of these orders have been implemented, and just one per cent cancelled, leaving a total of 11,134 outstanding.

Some 60 percent of the Occupied West Bank is designated as ‘Area C’, where Palestinians require building permits from Israel. There are around 300,000 Palestinians living in Area C, alongside approximately 341,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements and settlement outposts.

Israel has long made it almost impossible for Palestinians in Area C to obtain the required permits for construction, even as settlements expand.

Of the outstanding demolition orders, 570 are described by the Israeli authorities as “ready for execution.” Most of the orders are concentrated in the Hebron governorate (3,669) orders, then Jerusalem (1,756), Ramallah (1,173) and Bethlehem governorates (1,145).

UN OCHA notes that there is also “a correlation between the distribution of the orders and the location of main roads in Area C: the closer a structure is to a main road, the higher the possibility of it receiving a demolition order.”

Re:  VACCINE LEGISLATION

Dear Legislator:

My name is Tetyana Obukhanych.  I hold a PhD in Immunology.  I am writing this letter in the hope that it will correct several common misperceptions about vaccines in order to help you formulate a fair and balanced understanding that is supported by accepted vaccine theory and new scientific findings.

Do unvaccinated children pose a higher threat to the public than the vaccinated?

It is often stated that those who choose not to vaccinate their children for reasons of conscience endanger the rest of the public, and this is the rationale behind most of the legislation to end vaccine exemptions currently being considered by federal and state legislators country-wide.  You should be aware that the nature of protection afforded by many modern vaccines – and that includes most of the vaccines recommended by the CDC for children – is not consistent with such a statement.  I have outlined below the recommended vaccines that cannot prevent transmission of disease either because they are not designed to prevent the transmission of infection (rather, they are intended to prevent disease symptoms), or because they are for non-communicable diseases.  People who have not received the vaccines mentioned below pose no higher threat to the general public than those who have, implying that discrimination against non-immunized children in a public school setting may not be warranted.

  1. State Senator Richard Pan of California, sponsor of vaccine legislation

    IPV (inactivated poliovirus vaccine) cannot prevent transmission of poliovirus (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #1). Wild poliovirus has been non-existent in the USA for at least two decades. Even if wild poliovirus were to be re-imported by travel, vaccinating for polio with IPV cannot affect the safety of public spaces.  Please note that wild poliovirus eradication is attributed to the use of a different vaccine, OPV or oral poliovirus vaccine.  Despite being capable of preventing wild poliovirus transmission, use of OPV was phased out long ago in the USA and replaced with IPV due to safety concerns.

  1. Tetanus is not a contagious disease, but rather acquired from deep-puncture wounds contaminated with C. tetani spores. Vaccinating for tetanus (via the DTaP combination vaccine) cannot alter the safety of public spaces; it is intended to render personal protection only.
  1. While intended to prevent the disease-causing effects of the diphtheria toxin, the diphtheria toxoid vaccine (also contained in the DTaP vaccine) is not designed to prevent colonization and transmission of C. diphtheriae. Vaccinating for diphtheria cannot alter the safety of public spaces; it is likewise intended for personal protection only.
  1. The acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine (the final element of the DTaP combined vaccine), now in use in the USA, replaced the whole cell pertussis vaccine in the late 1990s, which was followed by an unprecedented resurgence of whooping cough. An experiment with deliberate pertussis infection in primates revealed that the aP vaccine is not capable of preventing colonization and transmission of B. pertussis (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #2). The FDA has issued a warning regarding this crucial finding.[1]
  • Furthermore, the 2013 meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the CDC revealed additional alarming data that pertussis variants (PRN-negative strains) currently circulating in the USA acquired a selective advantage to infect those who are up-to-date for their DTaP boosters (see appendix for the CDC document, Item #3), meaning that people who are up-to-date are more likely to be infected, and thus contagious, than people who are not vaccinated.
  1. State Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward of Oregon, sponsor of vaccine legislation

    Among numerous types of H. influenzae, the Hib vaccine covers only type b. Despite its sole intention to reduce symptomatic and asymptomatic (disease-less) Hib carriage, the introduction of the Hib vaccine has inadvertently shifted strain dominance towards other types of H. influenzae (types a through f).These types have been causing invasive disease of high severity and increasing incidence in adults in the era of Hib vaccination of children (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #4).  The general population is more vulnerable to the invasive disease now than it was prior to the start of the Hib vaccination campaign.  Discriminating against children who are not vaccinated for Hib does not make any scientific sense in the era of non-type b H. influenzae disease.

  1. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne virus. It does not spread in a community setting, especially among children who are unlikely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as needle sharing or sex. Vaccinating children for hepatitis B cannot significantly alter the safety of public spaces.  Further, school admission is not prohibited for children who are chronic hepatitis B carriers.  To prohibit school admission for those who are simply unvaccinated – and do not even carry hepatitis B – would constitute unreasonable and illogical discrimination.

In summary, a person who is not vaccinated with IPV, DTaP, HepB, and Hib vaccines due to reasons of conscience poses no extra danger to the public than a person who is.  No discrimination is warranted.

How often do serious vaccine adverse events happen?

It is often stated that vaccination rarely leads to serious adverse events.  Unfortunately, this statement is not supported by science.  A recent study done in Ontario, Canada, established that vaccination actually leads to an emergency room visit for 1 in 168 children following their 12-month vaccination appointment and for 1 in 730 children following their 18-month vaccination appointment (see appendix for a scientific study, Item #5).

State Senator Kevin Mullin of Vermont, sponsor of vaccine legislation

When the risk of an adverse event requiring an ER visit after well-baby vaccinations is demonstrably so high, vaccination must remain a choice for parents, who may understandably be unwilling to assume this immediate risk in order to protect their children from diseases that are generally considered mild or that their children may never be exposed to.

Can discrimination against families who oppose vaccines for reasons of conscience prevent future disease outbreaks of communicable viral diseases, such as measles?

Measles research scientists have for a long time been aware of the “measles paradox.” I quote from the article by Poland & Jacobson (1994) “Failure to Reach the Goal of Measles Elimination: Apparent Paradox of Measles Infections in Immunized Persons.” Arch Intern Med 154:1815-1820:

“The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons.”[2]

Further research determined that behind the “measles paradox” is a fraction of the population called LOW VACCINE RESPONDERS.  Low-responders are those who respond poorly to the first dose of the measles vaccine.  These individuals then mount a weak immune response to subsequent RE-vaccination and quickly return to the pool of “susceptibles’’ within 2-5 years, despite being fully vaccinated.[3]

Re-vaccination cannot correct low-responsiveness: it appears to be an immuno-genetic trait.[4]  The proportion of low-responders among children was estimated to be 4.7% in the USA.[5]

Studies of measles outbreaks in Quebec, Canada, and China attest that outbreaks of measles still happen, even when vaccination compliance is in the highest bracket (95-97% or even 99%, see appendix for scientific studies, Items #6&7). This is because even in high vaccine responders, vaccine-induced antibodies wane over time.  Vaccine immunity does not equal life-long immunity acquired after natural exposure.

It has been documented that vaccinated persons who develop breakthrough measles are contagious.  In fact, two major measles outbreaks in 2011 (in Quebec, Canada, and in New York, NY) were re-imported by previously vaccinated individuals.[6]–[7]

Taken together, these data make it apparent that elimination of vaccine exemptions, currently only utilized by a small percentage of families anyway, will neither solve the problem of disease resurgence nor prevent re-importation and outbreaks of previously eliminated diseases.

Is discrimination against conscientious vaccine objectors the only practical solution?

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, sponsor of federal vaccine legislation

The majority of measles cases in recent US outbreaks (including the recent Disneyland outbreak) are adults and very young babies, whereas in the pre-vaccination era, measles occurred mainly between the ages 1 and 15.  Natural exposure to measles was followed by lifelong immunity from re-infection, whereas vaccine immunity wanes over time, leaving adults unprotected by their childhood shots.  Measles is more dangerous for infants and for adults than for school-aged children.

Despite high chances of exposure in the pre-vaccination era, measles practically never happened in babies much younger than one year of age due to the robust maternal immunity transfer mechanism.  The vulnerability of very young babies to measles today is the direct outcome of the prolonged mass vaccination campaign of the past, during which their mothers, themselves vaccinated in their childhood, were not able to experience measles naturally at a safe school age and establish the lifelong immunity that would also be transferred to their babies and protect them from measles for the first year of life.

Luckily, a therapeutic backup exists to mimic now-eroded maternal immunity.  Infants as well as other vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals, are eligible to receive immunoglobulin, a potentially life-saving measure that supplies antibodies directed against the virus to prevent or ameliorate disease upon exposure (see appendix, Item #8).

In summary: 1) due to the properties of modern vaccines, non-vaccinated individuals pose no greater risk of transmission of polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and numerous non-type b H. influenzae strains than vaccinated individuals do, non-vaccinated individuals pose virtually no danger of transmission of hepatitis B in a school setting, and tetanus is not transmissible at all; 2) there is a significantly elevated risk of emergency room visits after childhood vaccination appointments attesting that vaccination is  not risk-free; 3) outbreaks of measles cannot be entirely prevented even if we had nearly perfect vaccination compliance; and 4) an effective method of preventing measles and other viral diseases in vaccine-ineligible infants and the immunocompromised, immunoglobulin, is available for those who may be exposed to these diseases. 

Taken together, these four facts make it clear that discrimination in a public school setting against children who are not vaccinated for reasons of conscience is completely unwarranted as the vaccine status of conscientious objectors poses no undue public health risk. 

Sincerely Yours,

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD, is the author of the book Vaccine Illusion.  She has studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions. She earned her PhD in Immunology at the Rockefeller University in New York and did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and Stanford University in California.

Dr. Obukhanych offers online classes for those who want to gain deeper understanding of how the immune system works and whether the immunologic benefits of vaccines are worth the risks:  Natural Immunity Fundamentals.

Appendix

Item #1. The Cuba IPV Study collaborative group. (2007) Randomized controlled trial of inactivated poliovirus vaccine in CubaN Engl J Med 356:1536-44

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17429085

The table below from the Cuban IPV study documents that 91% of children receiving no IPV (control group B) were colonized with live attenuated poliovirus upon deliberate experimental inoculation.  Children who were vaccinated with IPV (groups A and C) were similarly colonized at the rate of 94-97%.  High counts of live virus were recovered from the stool of children in all groups.  These results make it clear that IPV cannot be relied upon for the control of polioviruses.

Item #2. Warfel et al. (2014) Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:787-92

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24277828

“Baboons vaccinated with aP were protected from severe pertussis-associated symptoms but not from colonization, did not clear the infection faster than naïve [unvaccinated] animals, and readily transmitted B. pertussis to unvaccinated contacts. By comparison, previously infected [naturally-immune] animals were not colonized upon secondary infection.”

Item #3. Meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Harkins Global Communication Center, Atlanta, Georgia, December 11-12, 2013

http://www.cdc.gov/maso/facm/pdfs/BSCOID/2013121112_BSCOID_Minutes.pdf

Resurgence of Pertussis (p.6)

“Findings indicated that 85% of the isolates [from six Enhanced Pertussis Surveillance Sites and from epidemics in Washington and Vermont in 2012] were PRN-deficient and vaccinated patients had significantly higher odds than unvaccinated patients of being infected with PRN-deficient strains.  Moreover, when patients with up-to-date DTaP vaccinations were compared to unvaccinated patients, the odds of being infected with PRN-deficient strains increased, suggesting that PRN-bacteria may have a selective advantage in infecting DTaP-vaccinated persons.”

Item #4. Rubach et al. (2011) Increasing incidence of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease in adults, Utah, USA. Emerg Infect Dis 17:1645-50

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21888789

The chart below from Rubach et al. shows the number of invasive cases of H. influenzae(all types) in Utah in the decade of childhood vaccination for Hib.

Item #5. Wilson et al. (2011) Adverse events following 12 and 18 month vaccinations: a population-based, self-controlled case series analysis. PLoS One 6:e27897

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22174753

“Four to 12 days post 12 month vaccination, children had a 1.33 (1.29-1.38) increased relative incidence of the combined endpoint compared to the control period, or at least one event during the risk interval for every 168 children vaccinated.  Ten to 12 days post 18 month vaccination, the relative incidence was 1.25 (95%, 1.17-1.33) which represented at least one excess event for every 730 children vaccinated.  The primary reason for increased events was statistically significant elevations in emergency room visits following all vaccinations.”

Item #6. De Serres et al. (2013) Largest measles epidemic in North America in a decade–Quebec, Canada, 2011: contribution of susceptibility, serendipity, and superspreading events. J Infect Dis 207:990-98

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23264672

“The largest measles epidemic in North America in the last decade occurred in 2011 in Quebec, Canada.”

“A super-spreading event triggered by 1 importation resulted in sustained transmission and 678 cases.”

“The index case patient was a 30-39-year old adult, after returning to Canada from the Caribbean.  The index case patient received measles vaccine in childhood.”

“Provincial [Quebec] vaccine coverage surveys conducted in 2006, 2008, and 2010 consistently showed that by 24 months of age, approximately 96% of children had received 1 dose and approximately 85% had received 2 doses of measles vaccine, increasing to 97% and 90%, respectively, by 28 months of age.  With additional first and second doses administered between 28 and 59 months of age, population measles vaccine coverage is even higher by school entry.”

“Among adolescents, 22% [of measles cases] had received 2 vaccine doses.  Outbreak investigation showed this proportion to have been an underestimate; active case finding identified 130% more cases among 2-dose recipients.”

Item #7. Wang et al. (2014) Difficulties in eliminating measles and controlling rubella and mumps: a cross-sectional study of a first measles and rubella vaccination and a second measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. PLoS One9:e89361

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24586717

“The reported coverage of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is greater than 99.0% in Zhejiang province.  However, the incidence of measles, mumps, and rubella remains high.”

Item #8. Immunoglobulin Handbook, Health Protection Agency

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140714084352/http://www.hpa.org.uk/webc/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1242198450982

HUMAN NORMAL IMMUNOGLOBULIN (HNIG):

Indications

  1. To prevent or attenuate an attack in immuno-compromised contacts
  2. To prevent or attenuate an attack in pregnant women
  3. To prevent or attenuate an attack in infants under the age of 9 months

[1] http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm376937.htm

[2] http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=619215

[3] Poland (1998) Am J Hum Genet 62:215-220

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9463343

“ ‘poor responders,’ who were re-immunized and developed poor or low-level antibody responses only to lose detectable antibody and develop measles on exposure 2–5 years later.”

[4] ibid

“Our ongoing studies suggest that seronegativity after vaccination [for measles] clusters among related family members, that genetic polymorphisms within the HLA [genes] significantly influence antibody levels.”

[5] LeBaron et al. (2007) Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 161:294-301

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17339511

“Titers fell significantly over time [after second MMR] for the study population overall and, by the final collection, 4.7% of children were potentially susceptible.”

[6] De Serres et al. (2013) J Infect Dis 207:990-998

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23264672

“The index case patient received measles vaccine in childhood.”

[7] Rosen et al. (2014) Clin Infect Dis 58:1205-1210

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24585562

“The index patient had 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine.”

A leading scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose noted “Denmark Study” ostensibly disproved any link between vaccines and autism as well as additional neurological disorders is now fleeing justice with nearly $2 million he allegedly was to spend on research.

As first reported in April 2011 by Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, Dr. Poul Thorsen was indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and defrauding research institutions of grant money.

That report came after a May 2010 report in The Huffington Post noting that Thorsen fled with the money as Danish police launched an investigation into alleged fraud involving millions of taxpayer dollars over time.

Adams noted that Thorsen “is a scientist who formerly worked for the CDC, and over the last several years, he oversaw millions of dollars in grant money that was used to conduct research to ‘prove’ that vaccines have no link to autism.” One of Dr. Thorsen’s research papers is the famous “Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data” study.

You can see that study published here.

Theft raises doubts about validity of his research

Adams said the paper concluded that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative that is used in vaccines globally, has no statistically significant link to autism. Thorsen’s piece was a key paper used by vaccine proponents who argued that thimerosal is safe to inject into children.

Adams noted that the fact that Dr. Thorsen’s “credibility is now being called into question by a federal indictment of fraud and money laundering will, of course, have ripple effects throughout both the vaccine industries and autism support groups.”

Regarding his autism-vaccine “research,” HuffPo added:

His study has long been criticized as fraudulent since it failed to disclose that the increase was an artifact of new mandates requiring, for the first time, that autism cases be reported on the national registry. This new law and the opening of a clinic dedicated to autism treatment in Copenhagen accounted for the sudden rise in reported cases rather than, as Thorsen seemed to suggest, the removal of mercury from vaccines. Despite this obvious chicanery, CDC has long touted the study as the principal proof that mercury-laced vaccines are safe for infants and young children.

Natural News also developed a graphic demonstrating the web of deceit woven by Thorsen:

Hiding the vaccine-autism link

According to the indictment, Thorsen was given millions in grant money dating back to the 1990s. In 2002, he moved to Denmark and became the “principal investigator” for the grant money, responsible for administering the research money that the CDC awarded. Between 2000 and 2009, he received some $11 million in awards. Adams cited the Justice Department’s indictment that said Thorsen allegedly skimmed money by submitting fraudulent expense statements that were falsely tied to the Denmark study.

As HuffPo further noted, Thorsen wasn’t even a research scientist or toxicologist – he was a psychiatrist. Nevertheless, he parlayed his initial autism study into a taxpayer-funded cash cow in the form of a long-term relationship with the CDC.

He managed to build a research empire of sorts called the North Atlantic Epidemiology Alliances, or NANEA, which boasted a close relationship with the CDC’s autism team. It was a relationship that “had the agency paying Thorsen and his research staff millions of dollars to churn out research papers, many of them assuring the public on the issue of vaccine safety,” HuffPo reported.

Thorsen’s shenanigans have forced leading independent scientists to question the CDC’s judgment, his research in particular, and why the agency has gone to some effort to conceal the vaccine-autism link in mercury-laced injections beginning in 1989 with the epidemic of autism and other neurological disorders that have affected generations of American children.

Now awaiting extradition to the U.S.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s web site, Thorsen remains in custody in Denmark awaiting extradition to the United States.

The indictment says that, from “approximately February 2004 until February 2010, Poul Thorsen executed a scheme to steal grant money awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC had awarded grant money to Denmark for research involving infant disabilities, autism, genetic disorders, and fetal alcohol syndrome.”

The HHS IG has accused Thorsen of allegedly diverting more than $1 million of the CDC grant money to his own personal bank account.

“Thorsen submitted fraudulent invoices on CDC letterhead to medical facilities assisting in the research for reimbursement of work allegedly covered by the grants,” says the IG’s Web summary on the indictment. “The invoices were addressed to Aarhaus [sic] University and Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The fact that the invoices were on CDC letterhead made it appear that CDC was requesting the money from Aarhaus University and Sahlgrenska University Hospital although the bank account listed on the invoices belonged to Thorsen.”

In April 2011, Thorsen was brought up on charges on 22 counts of Wire Fraud and Money Laundering. According to bank account records, Thorsen purchased a home in Atlanta, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, an Audi automobile and a Honda SUV with funds that he received from the CDC grants.

Adams reported that Thorsen faces 13 counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering after speaking with the Justice Department. In total, Thorsen could be sentenced to some 260 years behind bars just on the wire fraud charges alone; he could get an additional 90 years in prison for money laundering and face more than $22 million in fines.

For its part, Aarhus University sought to sever its ties with Thorsen in 2011.

“Unfortunately, a considerable shortfall in funding at Aarhus University associated with the CDC grant was discovered,” the university said in a statement. “In investigating the shortfalls associated with the grant, DASTI and Aarhus University became aware of two alleged CDC funding documents as well as a letter regarding funding commitments allegedly written by Randolph B. Williams of CDC’s Procurement Grants Office which was used to secure advances from Aarhus University. Upon investigation by CDC, a suspicion arose that the documents are forgeries.”

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.naturalnews.com 

https://oig.hhs.gov 

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.rescuepost.com

In a tiny corner of Eastern Europe, a fledgling Republic struggling with the day-to-day hurdles of warfare and shaky ceasefires, has succeeded in doing what has long been overdue in the most powerful nation on the face of the earth – it has nationalized its out-of-control banks and put them to use for the good of the people.

While the DPR was not faced with a privatized central bank such as the United States and other nations due to the fact that DPR is a breakaway bloc and a new nation separated from the Kiev central bank, it was nonetheless host to a number of larger banking institutions that not only parasitized the people of DPR and Ukraine but also did nothing to improve the infrastructure of these areas or the living standards of the people there.

Emerging out of the stage of mere bands of militias and governing committees, the Donetsk People’s Republic is now in the process of putting together a formal government. Its plans to nationalize banks that have parasitized Ukraine for years have no doubt drawn the ire of not only the oligarchs that own those banks but the Anglo-American banking cartel that essentially owns the United States and NATO countries and who are bent on world hegemony and submission to their will.

The plans to nationalize banks within the borders of the DPR were announced as early as January, 2015.

By April 2015, however, those banks have now been nationalized and the oligarch owners castrated in their ability to manipulate the economy and political sphere, at least in this specific instance. As Roger Annis wrote for Counterpunch, “A nascent banking system has been established in the two republics by nationalizing the banks of the billionaire bankers, notably the Privat Bank of the rightist oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.”

It should be pointed out that Kolomoisky is not only one of the richest men in Ukraine but one who has been a fervent supporter and contributor to the Euro-maidan color revolution cause as well as the current fascist and Nazi government operating from Kiev along with Western support. Indeed, Kolomoisky was even appointed governor of Dnepropetrovsk by the fascist Ukrainian government.

Having been nationalized, these banks are now apparently going to be used for investment in infrastructure for the people of the DPR. This infrastructure is expected to be used for roads, sanitation, and other public services but also for the purposes of industrial infrastructure and transportation. If the DPR plan moves forward in this manner, it will be a breath of fresh air and an example to the world, at least in the area of the potential for progress and development by use of a nationalized banking system as opposed to private banking alone and certainly to a privatized central bank such as the Federal Reserve.

One can only hope that the DPR bank nationalization will be able to overcome sanctions and embargoes and become a beacon for the rest of the world.

However, one thing is for certain – it will become a beacon for the Anglo-American war machine. As evidenced by American military involvement and targeting of virtually every other nation across the world without a privatized central bank, it is clear why NATO and the US has stepped up its attempts to destroy the new Republic before it ever has a chance to take root. There is no mistake that the United States has increased its moves to support the Kiev government in overtaking the DPR as of late. Indeed, providing political cover for fascist forces attempting to destroy the DPR, misrepresenting ceasefire violations as the fault of the “separatists,” and the arming and training of the Kiev fascist forces have gradually increased over the last several months.

While vast oil reserves, oil pipelines, opium fields,[1] strategic positioningno-bid contracts for the defense industry and military-industrial complexmineral deposits, and geopolitical concerns are all known reasons for American military adventures overseas, the goal of total domination of the world by the privatized private banking cartel complete with central banks, cannot be overlooked.

With the DPR’s recent move, it has no doubt placed itself in the crosshairs of the Anglo-Americans and the war machine set out destroy any signs of independence and the use of government and banking for the benefit of the people. We can only wish the best for the people of the DPR while attempting to stop US involvement in their internal affairs at the same time.

Regardless of the economic decisions of the DPR, a refusal to continue to provoke the DPR’s main supporter would also be a wise idea.

Notes:

[1] Griffin, David Ray. The New Pearl Harbor. Interlink Publishing Group. 2004.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

U.S. Empire-Building “Interventions”

May 6th, 2015 by Dr. T. P. Wilkinson

After World War II, the U.S. rushed to replace European colonialism with its own, corporate variety. When it encountered resistance in Korea and Vietnam, Washington deployed “the strategy and tactics derived from the fundamental principles of white America: Negro slavery and annihilation of indigenous peoples.” But “war” was never declared. Instead, the U.S. developed and refined an elaborate fiction of “intervention” to explain its aggressions.

As far as the White House, the Congress, the military and other government agencies were concerned the US was never a party to the war, merely an intervener.”

The US invaded Vietnam publicly in the “wake” of the so-called Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964.iSince then this action by the US regime is customarily dignified by the term “intervention.” Although the pretext for the congressional resolution was at least suspicious then and long since discredited as fraudulent, the perception of the war as an “intervention” is still widely shared.ii“Intervention” is itself a term of deception. It implies that the US was an intervener, that it joined a pre-existing dispute lending an air of impartiality or indifference to the substance, even worse—that it had no prior role in the dispute or relationship to the parties. The failure (refusal) to seek an explicit constitutionally defined framework, e.g. a declaration of war or other legal status, reinforces the belief that the US invasion was spontaneous, a reaction rather than a planned measure. The absence of any unequivocal legal instrument directing the US president to act also guaranteed what became a virtually unrestricted field of discretion for the executive in the conduct of operations (overt and covert) in Indochina. This omission imposed a burden upon all opponents of the war to seek specific remedies, e.g. singular prohibitions, denial of funds or rejection of appointments; in other words it pre-shaped the constitutional resistance to the war from the beginning.

It also shaped the language and scope of action for the political opposition in the country as a whole.

Already the war against Korea and the great purge, commonly associated with Senator McCarthy, had established the new terms of reference for US Asia-Pacific policy.iii By conflating the theater conflict the US was conducting against the Soviet Union in Europe with all other foreign expeditionary aims, the well-cultivated antagonism toward the Soviet Union was transferred to US foreign policy as a whole. Prior to 1945, the US regime had relied upon the navy and marines to execute foreign policy. Thus most violence was wreaked by volunteer and elite forces with which the general public had very little contact. Very little attention was paid to Latin America and the Philippines. Only Mexico served as a venue for publicity and promotion of military careers. When the US invaded Korea in 1945 little attention was devoted to the activities of either the US Military Government in Korea (USMGK) or the driving force in Asia—Douglas MacArthur’s viceroyalty in Tokyo with its plans for expansion into China.iv It took the surprise battle between the army of the PDRK and the surrogate army of US vassal Syngman Rhee to force the regime into its first major propaganda campaign since Pearl Harbor in 1941.vTruman’s officials claimed that communists had invaded the South—implying that they were anything but Koreans—and that the US was obliged to aid its man in Seoul by mobilizing US forces to defend South Korea from the communists. The communists had already seized China and forced the Chinese into exile on the island of Formosa. There was immanent danger of all Asia being conquered by foreigners (communists) and the fact that the South had to combat a fully-armed force of regular soldiers meant that this was a threat to world peace, triggering United Nations action. The Koreans living in the North, separated by US fiat from the rest of their country including families, were decreed en masse to be communist non-persons and white Americans had been urged to fanatical hatred of communists, esp. as non-Americans, the extermination of which became a self-evident and holy cause.

It took the surprise battle between the army of the PDRK and the surrogate army of US vassal Syngman Rhee to force the regime into its first major propaganda campaign since Pearl Harbor in 1941.”

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution pre-empted any need to appeal to international bodies, gave the executive carte blanche to wage war (albeit without calling it that) and served as proof that Americans must support their leaders in the elimination of the communist threat. That threat was a fantasy, a propaganda contrivance, and it remained an effective device for controlling the scope of dissent in the US and its vassal states. It was so effective that most of debate in the US at least focussed not on the US invasion, slaughter and destruction of Vietnam (or Korea before that) but whether the enemy or the opposition was really communist or whether there was an alternative to annihilating communists or whether communists could be converted from the errors of their ways. Part of this continuing idiocy, even found among bona fide opponents of the war, is that not even actual regime policy is consistently anti-communist. The propaganda is so effective in stipulating the terms of reference for US foreign policy that “communism” is reified as true movement challenging Americans when it is nothing of the sort.

A basic Cold War tenet—again very widely accepted in the US—was that the emergence of independent countries from the remains of European empires had to be protected from an expanding Soviet Union.vi To render this model plausible, the emerging states were compared with Eastern Europe, where supposedly the Soviet Union had unilaterally conquered Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Baltic States. This historical distortion could be sold in part because the US regime had a substantial contingent of refugees from these countries, including Nazi collaborators, who could promote this image from posts in academia and the media.vii No amount of appeals, argument or facts, even from people like Joshua Nkrumah or Ho Chi Minh who had lived in the US and admired it, could overcome the disinformation used by the US government and US corporations to depict any nationalist leader not utterly subservient to Washington or New York as a stooge of Moscow and the international communist conspiracy. The usual responses of domestic opposition to this form of international redbaiting were either to insist that the country’s leader was not a communist or to advocate more support to insulate the country from Marxist influence. Another option deemed acceptable by liberal opponents of a leader or party on the US regime’s black list is to also encourage official support of alternatives that could dilute the supposed concentration of power and engender a competitive system like in the US (despite the fact that the US system itself is anything but competitive).

The US government and US corporations depicted any nationalist leader not utterly subservient to Washington or New York as a stooge of Moscow and the international communist conspiracy.”

Despite the declassification of numerous foreign policy documents (e.g. NSC 68) produced before the US war against Korea, the public debate, whether among academics or laypeople, still focuses on such issues as a) was there a communist threat in fact? b) was there a risk to other countries and to the region as a whole that had to be prevented or minimised? c) did US action actually serve to check (contain), if not rollback (imputed) Soviet and/ or Chinese expansionism? Subsidiary justification for “intervention” was found in the need to deter future threats and to demonstrate the will and ability to fulfil obligations (to whom?) as “champion or guarantor of the free world.” Walt Rostow’s “stages of development” theory provided an additional argument for US intervention in order to protect new nations in their initial stages so that they would mature into the right kind of political-economic entities.viii To do this the US regime would guarantee the country at whose invitation it came freedom from foreign interference (the US itself was never foreign) while it developed the capacities to reach its national goals. The fiction of “invitation” could provide the trigger for either unilateral intervention or application of one of the US post-war vassal systems (e.g. NATO, SEATO etc.)ix

Any explanation as to how the US regime could wage this war for some thirty years with virtually no domestic opposition must give due weight to the language used to control both private and public responses to the regime’s actions—both in Vietnam and at home. It is not accidental or trivial that the events in Indochina were almost never called a war. It was always an “intervention,” a “conflict,” or a “quagmire” from which finally the US had to “extricate itself,” to “withdraw,” to “reduce its exposure,” or to “get out.” Even as the last US Americans and their Vietnamese retainers were being ferried out of Saigon forty years ago, there was no talk of surrender. Richard Nixon always spoke of “peace with honour”: this is the perfume of a bully applied to the skin of a coward.

As far as the White House, the Congress, the military and other government agencies were concerned the US was never a party to the war, merely an intervener. Hence it had no obligations or responsibilities to either of the principals. The US essentially used a shell company to conduct the war and through fraudulent bankruptcy to escape the duties incumbent upon a vanquished aggressor.

Thirty years later this was still the dominant perspective and hence the implicit policy of the US regime (e.g. promised reparations never paid) toward the people and government of Vietnam. For US Americans, the war against Vietnam is still seen primarily as a misguided intrusion in a war the Vietnamese should have been able to fight among themselves. When critics of US policy get serious they say the same things about Vietnam and all subsequent US wars—when the US military does not prevail. Namely US “hubris”—meanwhile also a cliché—led the US government to believe it knew best and was capable of imposing a solution to other people’s problems.

It is not accidental or trivial that the events in Indochina were almost never called a war.”

All these arguments however, are beside the point. They only serve to obfuscate, conceal or simply deny the essential facts of the war against Vietnam. First it was an invasion and war against the Vietnamese people as a whole, extending to all of Indochina. Second, it was a unilateral action by the US regime, neither provoked nor unplanned. Thirdly, it was neither a unique nor necessary action.

In fact the US war against Vietnam was consistent with the basic pattern of colonial warfare that shaped the white-settler republic when it was founded. As in all US wars against non-whites, the strategy and tactics derive from the fundamental principles of white America: Negro slavery and annihilation of indigenous peoples.x The arrival of advisors in Vietnam was not an isolated security action. The US regime was simultaneously active throughout Southeast Asia, in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, together with its only real ally in the region—the Chinese gangster fascists of the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek that had been driven to Formosa in 1949.

The domino theory, popularized by President Eisenhower, was—as is so often the case with US policy pronouncements—a deceptive reversal of perspective. US Asia-Pacific policy after the defeat of Japan (from which the Soviet Union was deliberately excluded) was to start from Japan and capture all the countries needed to feed it, while preparing to open the door to China as wide as possible for US corporations. The reversal in Korea was seen as the harbinger of future failures once China had been lost to Mao. At the same time as the US was murdering some three million Koreans and levelling every town and city north of the 38th parallel, MacArthur’s friends on Formosa were hoping they could sufficiently ingratiate Washington to have a sign off on—if need be even nuclear—restoration to the mainland. This “unknown war” was the template for US policy in Vietnam but since hardly any American has a clue about the US war in Korea they believe Vietnam was a unique and isolated case—an anomaly and misadventure for US Americans.xi

“When the Korean army in the North under Kim Il Sung marched into Seoul they were greeted as liberators.”

Korea was divided by the US.xii The popular government already in place when US forces invaded was deposed and a fascist, educated by US Christian missionaries, named Sygman Rhee was installed. Rhee proceeded with US help to wage a major counter-insurgency to destroy peasant resistance to further expropriation of their rice crops to feed the Japanese. When the Korean army in the North under Kim Il Sung marched into Seoul they were greeted as liberators who chased the hated Rhee into the protection of the US military. Truman used subterfuge (as Johnson would later) to get a UN blanket and also avoid a declaration of war before unleashing the most vicious bombing campaign ever waged on a country with no air defense and no air force. The bombing was so comprehensive that when someone in the National Security Council suggested using an atomic bomb against the North, Dean Rusk said that made no sense since the US Air Force had already destroyed everything in the North that an atomic bomb could hit.xiii

Despite MacArthur throwing every conceivable conventional weapon into the battle, massive troop deployments, endless saturation bombing and murderous covert action against the civilian population (all to reappear in Vietnam), the North Koreans forced the US Forces out of the North before a ceasefire was declared. The war has yet to end and the US has drawn one lesson from it: South Korea can only be controlled by full-scale military occupation. That occupation continues to this day—with the largest contingent of US military forces outside of the continental US based in South Korea.

After this humiliating defeat only hedged by the presence of a huge standing army on the peninsula, the US regime feared their hopes of absorbing French Indochina would also be dashed. No one among the US ruling elite wanted to see Indochina go the way of Korea. On the other hand everyone responsible for policy in Korea (and Dean Rusk was one of the most important people with Korea experience) knew that they could not hold Vietnam if China intervened. Hence, the pretence that a limited war would be waged in Indochina to avoid “great power confrontation” was a deceptive statement of policy at best.

The US had brokered Japanese colonization of Korea at the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Koreans became slaves of the Japanese and Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Proof that even making a presidential warmonger into a Nobel laureate has its precedent.) Japan used the South as a breadbasket to provide cheap food for its own population and taking advantage of mineral wealth and water, industrialized the North. When McArthur arrived in the capital of his expanded Pacific viceroyalty, it became clear that cheap food would have to flow to Japan if the economy was to be rebuilt as planned. The USMGK arrived in Seoul and helped assure that the rice crop in the South was faithfully delivered to Japan. Korean peasants could starve, and did.

The largest contingent of US military forces outside of the continental US is based in South Korea.”

Essentially the same process occurred in Indochina, except the French had control over the rice export from Vietnam along with exploitation of other sources of wealth. When Japan invaded Vichy joined with the Japanese Empire and continued to make money. However when the war ended France was poorly equipped to maintain control of its Asian colony.xiv Finally France appealed to the US for support. Although the US financed the restored colonial regime, its Asia-Pacific policy anticipated US displacement of Europeans. The French surrendered, leaving the “shell company,” the Republic of Vietnam in Saigon, which the US continued to fund. There were no plans to alter the economic relationships that had made rice exports profitable business. Things had changed in Asia since the ceasefire in Korea. No doubt the regime in Washington, now resigned to the Chinese Revolution—even if the government in Peking was not recognized—hoped to develop an economical means of stabilizing a US vassal in the South, like in Korea, but without going to war against China again.

Why were so many official and semi-official discussions about the need for US presence in Vietnam focussed on “credibility?” The answer, I believe, is simple. The cost of the war in Korea was enormous (and with the occupation remained so). A major political purge was necessary to prevent opposition to the war from destabilizing the US regime itself. As exaggerated as this my sound, the classified decisions of the National Security Council acknowledged the need for massive military expenditure to prevent the economy from reverting to its 1930s depression. They also reflected an awareness that without military force (both overt and covert) the US could not continue to control and consume the current disproportionate amount of the world’s resources. The people in Washington—in other words the bureaucratic apparatus of the US corporate state—had to reassure the ruling class for which it works that the State has the ways and means to impose the political, social, and economic priorities of US corporations and the class that dominate them. This obviously meant the capacity to intimidate peoples and countries whose resources are targeted. The great danger for Washington was that having set the target of absorbing Europe’s empires after World War II, it would lack the force needed to maintain that control. Since it is impossible to say this openly in the US—hence also the classification of such NSC documents—it has been necessary to create and maintain another discourse that carefully separates economic, political and social issues. In the US, race plays a very crucial role in upholding these cognitive barriers—in preventing open discussion of class or capitalism or the nature of the plutocracy that rules the US. Race—specifically the constant terror waged against African-Americans—is used to consolidate the fictive “white race” which in turn can identify with the “white” ruling class as opposed to the black descendants of slaves. The complement of race is ethnicity. At the same time as African-Americans are terrorized in order to constitute “whiteness,” ethnicity helps constitute patriotism. Prior to the Russian Revolution, Americans were to be separated from anarchists. After 1917 Americans were to be separated from communists. Anarchism and communism were defined as foreign and usually associated with specific ethnic groups imported as laborers to the US from Europe. (Asians were subjected to the race code.) American patriots could license or even abandon their ethnicity by dogmatic compliance with US political orthodoxy, especially abandoning their mother tongue along with any European ideas they had brought with them (unless of course they were monarchist or fascist).

The great danger for Washington was that having set the target of absorbing Europe’s empires after World War II, it would lack the force needed to maintain that control.”

Hence at the outbreak of peace in 1945, the US corporate elite was acutely aware not only of an impending collapse in the rate and amount of profit the administered wage and price regime had assured during the war. They were also faced with global resurgence of revolutionary and nationalist movements—esp. among the inferior colored races. This could (and did) catalyze radicals and African-Americans and Native Americans in the US. So it was war abroad and the great purge with Senator Joseph McCarthy as its poster child and the Klan as its Southern delivery boys. While the suppression of political radicalism among whites was successful, the defeat of the Black liberation movement in the US required more time and a very nasty covert campaign, including imprisonment, detention, torture and assassination. While CIA advisors were developing what would be called the Phoenix Program in Vietnam—an improvement and systematic organization of the methods used in Korea—the FBI, together with Army Intelligence and local police forces, were waging a counter-insurgency equivalent against Blacks and Indians in the US. Even liberal youth were targeted, e.g. the students assassinated during the notorious demonstration at Kent State university.

Until World War II, wars among whites were essentially waged in order to divide or re-divide colonies and protectorates. After WWI Germany had been excluded from the international community (of colonial empires). Britain and France eliminated all the other European colonial competitors with the help of the US and by promoting ethnic nationalism among the multi-ethnic Central powers.xv This created a new group of national states and institutionalized them within what became the League of Nations. When the German industrial and financial elite decided to recapture its imperial prerogatives—of which it had been unjustly deprived by the Anglo-French armistice terms, the now inconvenient nationalism was brushed aside so that Nazi Germany could exploit Eastern Europe rather than threaten Anglo-French overseas interests. In the Asia-Pacific region (and Africa) it should be noted concessions to nationalism were scarcely considered—this was a white man’s prerogative. World War II was another matter entirely. The US emerged richer and unscathed with its long sought-after control of Japan and the old empires hopelessly indebted to US bankers. The nationalism in Eastern Europe that had been abandoned to pacify Hitler and encourage his campaign against the Soviet Union was now useful again to attack the temporary ally and revive the US “open door policy” in the dependencies of its biggest debtors. Hence the United Nations Charter entrenched national self-determination for the first time in terms potentially applicable to non-whites. It was almost impossible to avoid since the war had generated an enormous British trade deficit in favor of India, its greatest imperial (and non-white) possession. With Indian independence the white privilege of dominion status or even complete independence could no longer be defended—financially or ideologically. The same process unfolded in the French empire. Territorial colonialism was, with very few exceptions, doomed.

“The United Nations Charter entrenched national self-determination for the first time in terms potentially applicable to non-whites.”

The US accomplished a major ideological innovation during WWI, the fruits of which only became apparent after 1945. Until the end of the 19th century US imperialism was expressed mainly in killing Native Americans, taking their land and working it with slaves or European immigrant labor. In the West, Mexicans and Chinese were used instead of African slaves or European immigrants. Overseas colonial enterprise was undertaken by US corporations or pirates who when in need of help called in the US Marine Corps or a few naval ships. This was corporate conquest and was state subsidized but not state-sponsored or administered. Essentially, US colonial enterprise followed the model of the British East India Company, even employing company armies or buying the local government for the same purpose. Hence the US regime had almost no colonial bureaucracy to maintain with taxes. This was the model that the US pursued after 1945: after forcing open the doors of its European rivals, it protected its corporations while they invaded and extracted everything they could get out of the target country without any traces of an imperial government. People could learn to hate United Fruit and still love “the American way of life.” The “American way of life” was not obviously racist since it was not the same as the British or French lifestyle visible in all their colonies. It had been marketed successfully despite the vicious racism prevailing in the US itself. When linked with the promises of the United Nations Charter it inspired people to imagine independence and prosperity that had previously been reserved only to the white races and nations. They were repeated endlessly and more than a few nationalists from Africa and Asia went home believing that the US would champion true independence and progress.

Given this impressive marketing accomplishment and the expectations it awakened throughout the world, US Asia-Pacific policy could not be articulated in the terms used by its European predecessors. Another US advantage was that it was formally free of monarchs and emperors. The term “empire” just did not seem to fit.

“US colonial enterprise followed the model of the British East India Company, even employing company armies or buying the local government for the same purpose.”

US domination after the Creel Committee expressed itself foremost in psychological terms.xviThe aim of US imperialism became the control of people, not territory. Rather than importing an extension of feudal forms, the regime fosters private property (mainly for its corporations) and the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the “American way of life.” The “American way of life” is an integrated discipline including economic and psychological coercion/ bribery and backed by covert, largely corporate force. Its principal instruments are private ownership and “autistic” individualism. Thus it is a totalizing and totalitarian worldview—to see life as American without actually being an American requires a vast array of consumption habits, social rituals, and obsession with personal liberty as opposed to healthy social organization.xvii Hence when the “enemy” was conceived in order to give content to the all-encompassing fear of “communism,” a caricature emerged: the extreme opposite of this “American way of life.” Neither Americans, nor anyone else, can actually find a communist or communism that fits the image propagated by the regime. The simple reason is there is no counter-ideology constituted solely by the negation of this marketing product. Communism for the US regime and its praetorian guard around the globe is nothing more than a label for the enemy which in order to appear convincing must threaten the subject population with the loss of something they value. Since not everyone values the same elements of the “American way of life” the regime is forced to defend them all at once and punish any and every heresy—like its ideological ancestor the Roman Catholic Church, selling salvation (for money) or torturing and executing those who failed to show adequate enthusiasm for the faith.

The first war in Vietnam, the one fought for credibility, to oppose communism, to defend the American way of life or “freedom”—this was a crusade in the most medieval sense of the word. It was a summons to white folks (although disproportionately more colored folks died) to punish heretics, to bring salvation to Vietnam by subjecting the entire country to an auto de fé. As Michael McClintock called the policy: convert or annihilate.xviii Of course, in an auto de fé one does both.

Dr. T. P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket in Heinrich Heine’s birthplace, Düsseldorf. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa (Maisonneuve Press, 2003). 

Notes

Southeast Asia Resolution, 7 August 1964. Adopted unanimously in the House of Representatives, only two US Senators voted against it, Wayne Morse (Oregon) and Ernst Groening (Alaska), both Democrats.

ii The term “intervention” is used throughout the historical literature to refer to US military operations in the absence of a formal declaration of war under the US Constitution, which reserves to the Congress the power to declare war (Article I, section 8, clause 11). The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was adopted over presidential veto to reaffirm explicitly the necessity of congressional authorisation for deployment of US military in armed conflict outside the United States.

iii Commonly referred to as the “McCarthy era” or the Second Red Scare, the purge began well before Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) attained prominence. The expiration of wage and price controls imposed during WWII led to labour demands for wage increases, which met with violent resistance by employers and hence increased industrial action by unions. Employer organisations combined to advocate strong anti-union legislation, e.g. the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) that effectively repealed the key New Deal legislation like the 1935 National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act. The first “red scare” was an equally repressive period between 1917 and 1920, immediately following the October Revolution in Russia (Soviet Union).

iv Arthur MacArthur, Jr. Military Governor of the Philippines (1900-1901). His son Douglas MacArthur was appointed Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government in 1935, a position he occupied until the Japanese occupation of the US colony.

v People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (PDRK), created in the north after the US forced the division of the peninsula.

vi In 1949 the People’s Army under Mao Zedong defeated the Kuomintang under Chiang-Kai-Shek to evacuate the mainland and move to the island of Formosa where it continued under US protection. The mainland became the People’s Republic of China under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. The defeat of the right wing of the old Chinese Nationalist Party, founded by Sun Yat-Sen in the civil war following the defeat of Japan triggered a massive conflict in the US as to “who lost China to the Reds”, a conflict that fuelled the great purge already under way. Both Mao and Chiang had been members of the Kuomintang until the Japanese occupation when the party split.

vii The history of overt and covert recruitment of Nazi and fascist recruits for service to the US starting in 1945 is too extensive to elaborate here.

viii W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth (1962)

ix US post-war military operations abroad were supposed to be justified either by “invitation” of individual governments or through “collective security” arrangements. The first of these was NATO formed to galvanise Western Europe as an anti-Soviet military alliance. SEATO, the Southeast Asian Treaty Organisation, was founded in 1954 to include Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, France and the United Kingdom as a US-led anti-communist block. India was non-aligned. It was dissolved in 1977. The Organisation of American States (OAS) had been founded by the US in 1948 to facilitate a similar policy in Latin America.

x For simplification the term „white“ is used in its ideological sense following the argument extensively articulated in Theodore White The Invention of the White Race (Vol. 1 1994, Vol. 2 1997). White in this sense refers to both implicit and explicit white supremacy by means of enforced race-based practices as well as direct and indirect benefits accrued usually at the expense of non-whites. It does not mean imputing racism per se to every particular member of the group so identified.

xi Bruce Cumings prefers the term “unknown” as opposed to the more common description “forgotten” since at least in the West, esp. in the US almost total ignorance oft he war prevails. For detailed treatment of the war and its origins: see Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War(Vol. 1 1980, Vol. 2 1991). I draw on this extensive work and reading of many of the primary sources he cites for the recount of US Asia-Pacific policy and the Korean War. See also Cumings,Dominion from Sea to Sea (2010).

xii As had been agreed with the Koreans and the US, the Soviet Union withdrew its forces in 1948, while the USMGK backed Syngman Rhee in the formation of the Republic of Korea with its capital in Seoul. US Forces are still there fifty years after they began their occupation.

xiii “In North Korea there were no atomic targets. We were bombing with conventional weapons everything that moved in North Korea.” Interview in Korea: The Unknown War, Thames Television (UK) 1988.

xiv Initially British troops were sent to Saigon to help the French suppress Vietnamese nationalists intent on ejecting the French, as colonisers and collaborators under Japanese occupation. Ultimately the first uprisings were defeated by British and French troops—and as in Korea—along with elements of the Japanese constabulary who were released from prison for that purpose. See John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried (2006).

xv For a detailed discussion of the role ascribed to British support of nationalist movements in Europe prior to and during WWI, see Markus Osterrieder, Welt im Umbruch (2014). For a detailed argument as to the change in British policy under Neville Chamberlain, usually connected with so-called “appeasement”, see Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment (1982). Quigley argues that Chamberlain secretly sacrificed the sovereignty Czechoslovakia and then Poland to facilitate Germany’s advance against the Soviet Union and to divert it from threatening the British overseas empire.

xvi George Creel, How We Advertised America (1921)

xvii Anthony Sampson, The Sovereign State (1973) discusses ITT as a typical totalitarian US corporation. An extensively researched description of the DuPont companies in Gerald Colby Zilg, Beyond the Nylon Curtain (1974) re-issued in 2014 in the Forbidden Bookshelf series, Colby Zilg not only describes the oldest and richest industrial dynasty in the US and its ubiquitous role in the economy, he shows the extent to which US policies and military operations were influenced, if not driven by corporations of which DuPont was one of the most powerful.

xviii Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft (1992).

A los pueblos de Europa y del mundo,

A todos y todas las que rechazan las políticas de austeridad y no aceptan pagar una deuda pública que nos ahoga, que fue contraída sin nosotros y contra nosotros.

Quienes firmamos este llamamiento nos situamos junto al pueblo griego que, tras su voto en las elecciones generales del 25 de enero de 2015, es el primer pueblo en Europa –y en el hemisferio Norte- que ha rechazado las políticas de austeridad aplicadas en nombre del pago de una deuda pública contraída por los de arriba, sin el pueblo y contra el pueblo. Al mismo tiempo, consideramos que la creación de la Comisión de la Verdad sobre la Deuda Pública, por iniciativa de la Presidenta del Parlamento griego, constituye un acontecimiento histórico de fundamental importancia, no sólo para el pueblo griego sino también para los pueblos de Europa y del mundo entero.

El problema de la deuda es una verdadera peste que se abate sobre casi toda Europa y otros lugares

En efecto: esta Comisión, compuesta por ciudadanos y ciudadanas voluntarias llegadas de todo el orbe, sin duda estimulará iniciativas semejantes en otros países. En primer lugar, porque el problema de la deuda es una verdadera peste que se abate sobre casi toda Europa y otros lugares. Y también porque muchos millones de ciudadanas y ciudadanos plantean, con sobrada razón, preguntas a la vez elementales y fundamentales sobre la deuda:

- ¿Qué ha pasado con el dinero de los préstamos, y en qué condiciones se solicitaron estos préstamos? ¿Qué intereses se han pagado ya, bajo qué tipos de interés, qué parte del principal ya se ha devuelto? ¿De qué manera la deuda ha crecido sin que ello beneficie al pueblo? ¿Qué caminos han tomado los capitales? ¿Para qué han servido? ¿Qué parte se ha sustraído, por quién y cómo? Y también:
- ¿Quién ha pedido prestado, y en nombre de quién? ¿Quién prestó y cuál fue su papel? ¿De qué manera se ha visto implicado el Estado, quién y cómo tomó las decisiones? ¿Cómo las deudas privadas se convirtieron en “públicas”? ¿Quién ha impulsado proyectos inadecuados e inútiles, quién contrató, quién se ha beneficiado? ¿Se han cometido delitos –por no decir crímenes- con ese dinero? ¿Por qué no se sustancian responsabilidades civiles, penales y administrativas?

Todas estas preguntas las va a analizar de forma rigurosa la Comisión especial creada por iniciativa de la Presidenta del Parlamento de Grecia, Comisión cuyo mandato oficial se formula así: “Recopilar todos los datos relacionados con el surgimiento y el aumento desmesurado de la deuda pública y someterlos a minucioso escrutinio científico con el objetivo de definir qué parte que se puede identificar como deuda ilegítima, ilegal, odiosa o no sostenible, y ello tanto durante el período de los Memorandos, entre mayo de 2010 y enero de 2015, como en años anteriores. La Comisión también debe publicar informaciones claras y accesibles para todos los ciudadanos, realizar declaraciones públicas, facilitar la toma de conciencia de la población griega, así como de la comunidad internacional y la opinión pública internacional, y finalmente redactar argumentaciones y demandas relativas la cancelación de la deuda.

Consideramos que constituye el más elemental de los derechos democráticos, para cualquier ciudadano o ciudadana, el plantear estas preguntas y obtener respuestas claras y precisas a las mismas. Entendemos que rechazar responderlas supone una denegación de democracia y un rechazo de transparencia por parte de los de arriba, que han inventado el “sistema-deuda” y lo utilizan para enriquecer a los ricos y empobrecer a los pobres. Aún más grave: juzgamos que, al monopolizar el derecho a decidir sobre el curso de la sociedad, los de arriba privan a la inmensa mayoría de las ciudadanas y ciudadanos no sólo de su derecho a decidir, sino sobre todo del derecho a asumir sus propios destinos, así como tomar las riendas del destino de la humanidad.

Por eso, en esta situación de emergencia, dirigimos el urgente llamamiento siguiente a todos los ciudadanos y ciudadanas, a los movimientos sociales, a las redes y movimientos ecologistas y feministas, a los sindicatos de trabajadores y a las formaciones políticas que no se reconocen en esta Europa neoliberal, cada vez menos democrática y humanista:
Manifestad vuestra solidaridad con esta Grecia resistente apoyando ahora, de forma activa, a la Comisión de la Verdad sobre la Deuda Pública griega y su trabajo de identificación de la porción ilegítima, ilegal, odiosa o no sostenible de tal deuda.

Defended a la Comisión de los indignos ataques con que la acosan quienes, en Grecia y en todo el mundo, están interesados en mantener oculta la verdad sobre el “sistema-deuda”.

Participad activamente en los procesos de auditoría ciudadana de la deuda que se están desarrollando en muchos lugares, en Europa y fuera de ella.
Compartid en red vuestro apoyo y solidaridad, pues sólo semejantes apoyos y solidaridades pueden lograr frustrar el plan de los poderosos que quieren asfixiar a la Grecia que lucha contra nuestros enemigos comunes: las políticas de austeridad y la deuda que nos ahoga.

Frente a adversarios experimentados, unidos, bien coordinados, armados con poderes exorbitantes y sobre todo decididos a llevar hasta el final su ofensiva contra todos y todas los que constituimos la aplastante mayoría de nuestras sociedades, no podemos permitirnos el lujo de resistir por separado, cada cual aislado en su rincón.

Unamos nuestras fuerzas en un vasto movimiento de solidaridad con la Grecia resistente y apoyemos a la Comisión de la Verdad sobre la Deuda Pública griega, y multipliquemos Comisiones semejantes allí donde sea posible.

La lucha del pueblo griego es nuestra lucha, y su victoria será la nuestra, pues sólo la unión hace la fuerza.

Para firmar el Llamamiento, clicar aquí GreekDebtTruthCommission.org

http://cadtm.org/Llamamiento-en-apoyo-de-la-Grecia

Primeros signatarios:1. Immanuel Wallerstein, sociologist, historical social scientist, and world-systems analyst, USA
2. Noam Chomsky, MIT, USA
3. Ken Loach, film and television director, UK
4. Hugo Blanco Galdos, historico dirigente movimiento campesino indigeno, Peru
5. Etienne Balibar, philosophe, France
6. Frei Betto, writer, political activist, liberation theologist, Brazil.
7. Leonardo Boff, theologist and writer, Professor Emeritus of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Ecology at the Rio de Janeiro State University, Brazil.
8. Gaillot Jacques, France, Évêque
9. Paul Jorion, Belgique, Détenteur de la chaire «Stewsardship of Finance», Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
10. Padre Alex Zanotelli- missionatio comboniano(Napoli- Italia)
11. Ada Colau (major candidate, Barcelona en Comú) Barcelona- Estat español
12. Susan George, honorary president of Attac-France; president of the Transnational Instistute, France
13. Costas Isychos, Deputy Minister of National Defense, Greece
14. James Petras, retired Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published prolifically on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues, USA
15. ALBIOL GUZMAN Marina parlamentaria electa del Parlamento Europeo en las Elecciones al Parlamento Europeo de 2014 por la coalición de La Izquierda Plural.
16. DE MASI Fabio, Ökonom und Politiker (Die Linke). Bei der Europawahl 2014 wurde er in das Europäische Parlament gewählt.
17. CHRYSOGONOS Kostas, European parliamentarian, Syriza, Greece
18. LOPEZ BERMEJO Paloma, sindicalista y política española. Fue elegida eurodiputada, Izquierda Plural, Espana
19. Ransdorf Milislav, Member of the European Parliament for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Czech Republic.
20. FORENZA Eleonora, , Parlamentaria Europea (L’Altra Europa con Tsipras) membro della segreteria nazionale del Partito della Rifondazione Comunista, Italia
21. Arcadi Oliveres, economista català i un reconegut activista per la justícia social i la pau, Catalunya
22. Jorge Riechmann, Jorge Riechmann, ensayista, poeta y profesor de filosofía moral (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). Miembro del Consejo Ciudadano de Podemos en la Comunidad de Madrid.
23. Joanne Landy. Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, New York City, USA
24. Tariq Ali, writer, UK
25. Mariana Mortagua, députée Bloco, Portugal
26. Cecilia Honorio, députée Bloco, Portugal
27. João Semedo, députée Bloco, Portugal
28. José Soeiro, député Bloco, Portugal
29. Jeffrey St. Clair,editor of CounterPunch, author of Born Under a Bad Sky and Grand Theft Pentagon, USA
30. Nico Cué, secrétaire général de la FGTB Métal, Belgium
31. Jaime Pastor, Profesor de Ciencia Política y editor de Viento Sur.
32. Michael Lowy, ecrivain, professeur, France
33. Paolo Ferrero, segretario nazionale del partito della Rifondazione Comunista- Sinistra Europea, Italia
34. Farooq Tariq , General secretary , Awami Workers Party, Pakistan
35. Andrej Hunko, depute Die Linke, Germany
36. Annette Groth, depute Die Linke, Germany
37. Mireille Fanon Mendes France ,Expert ONU, France
38. István Mészáros, Professor Emeritues of Philosophy, University of Sussex, Hungary/UK
39. Pierre Khalfa, coprésident de la Fondation Copernic, France
40. Aminata Traore, ancienne ministre de la culture du Mali
41. CARMEN LAMARCA PEREZ, catedratica de Derecho Penal Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Espana
42. Francisco Louçã, Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal
43. Pablo Micheli, secrétaire général de la CTA (Central de los Trabajadores Autónoma de la Argentina)
44. Joxe Iriarte «Bikila», Miembro de la coordinadora nacional de la organizacion vasca, Alternatiba y de la coailicion Eh-Bildu.
45. Mary N. Taylor, member of editorial board, LeftEast website/Assistant Director, Center for Place, Culture and Politics, City University of New York., USA
46. Ahlem belhadj, pédopsychiatre; militante féministe, Tunisie
47. Achin Vanaik, founding member of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace and a co-recipient of the International Peace Bureau’s Sean McBride International Peace Prize for 2000, India
48. Michel Warschawski, ecrivain-activiste, Israel
49. Eleonora Forenza, eurodeputata “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras”, Italia
50. Besancenot Olivier, NPA, France
51. Sol Trumbo Vila , Economic Justice, Corporate Power and Alternatives Program , Transnational Institute (TNI)
52. Jesper Jespersen,professor of Economics,Roskilde University, Denmark
53. Marta Harnecker, writer Chile
54. Michael A Lebowitz, economist Canada
55. Krivine Alain, NPA, France
56. Marco Revelli, professore universitario ed ex portavoce “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras”, Italia
57. Marcel Francis Kahn, medecin, France
58. Houtart Francois, Fundaciõn Pueblo Indio del Ecuador
59. SAMIR AMIN,Professeur d’Université,Président Forum Mondial des Alternatives, France
60. Mariya Ivancheva, member of editorial board, LeftEast website/Post-doctoral research fellow, University College Dublin, Ireland
61. Pablo Echenique, Podemos, Espana
62. Gustave Massiah (AITEC (Association Internationale des Techniciens Experts et Chercheurs),membre du Conseil International du Forum Social Mondial, France
63. Juan Carlos Monedero, Podemos, Espana
64. Achcar Gilbert, professor SOAS University of London, UK
65. Gerardo Pisarello (Barcelona en Comú) Barcelona -Estat Español
66. Paul Lootens, Président, Centrale Générale FGTB, Belgium
67. Vicent Maurí, Portavoz Intersindical Valenciana, Espana
68. Pablo Micheli, secrétaire général de la CTA (Central de los Trabajadores Autónoma de la Argentina)
69. Dr Pritam Singh DPhil (Oxford) ,Professor of Economics,Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
70. Raúl Camargo Fernández, candidato en la lista de Podemos a la Comunidad
de Madrid. Miembro de Anticapitalistas, Espana
71. Miguel Benasayag, philosophe, psychanalyste, Argentina/France
72. Vincent DECROLY, ancien parlementaire fédéral indépendant, membre du Secrétariat de VEGA (Vert et de gauche), Belgium
73. Catherine Samary, économiste et altermondialiste, France
74. Harribey Jean-Marie, professeur de sciences économiques et sociales, France
75. Coutrot Thomas, économiste, porte parole d’Attac France
76. Aziki Omar, Secrétaire général, ATTAC/CADTM MAROC
77. Marga Ferré, Coordinadore General de areas Izquierda Unida, Espana
78. Vladimir Unkovski-Korica,member of editorial board, LeftEast website/ Assistant Professor, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
79. Alessandra Mecozzi,Libera International, Italia
80. Dr. Elmar Altvater, Politikwissenschaftler, Autor und emeritierter Professor für Politikwissenschaft am Otto-Suhr-Institut der FU Berlin., Germany
81. Guido Viale, economist, promotore della lista “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras », Italia
82. Gustave Massiah (AITEC (Association Internationale des Techniciens Experts et Chercheurs)membre du Conseil International du Forum Social Mondial, France
83. Dr Guy Standing,,Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Professor in Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies,University of London. Co-President, Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), UK
84. Julio Perez Serrano, Head of the Contemporary History Research Group, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters,Universidad de Cádiz, Espana
85. Roberto Musacchio, già eurodeputato, Italia
86. Véronique Gallais, militante et actrice de l’économie sociale et solidaire, membre du conseil scientifique d’Attac France
87. Jean Gadrey, économiste, Conseil scientifique Attac, France
88. Rossen Djagalov,member of editorial board, LeftEast website/ Assistant Professor, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey
89. Paul Mackney – Co-Chair, Greece Solidarity Campaign, UK
90. Katz Claudio, economist, profesor, Argentina
91. Monique Dental, présidente fondatrice Réseau Féministe «Ruptures» France
92. John Weeks, economist. He is a Professor Emeritus of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, UK
93. Luciana Castellina, già deputata e già presidente Cultura del Parlamento Europeo, presidente onoraria ARCI
94. Tijana Okic, University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy, Faculty Member, Bosnia/Herzegovina
95. Josep Maria Antentas, profesor de sociología de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Espana
96. David Graeber, London School of Economics, Usa/UK
97. Sergio Rossi, Full Professor & Chair of Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
98. Óscar Carpintero,Profesor de Economía Aplicada,Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Valladolid, Espana
99. Geoffrey Harcourt, Emeritus Reader in The History of Economic Theory, Cambridge 1998; Professor Emeritus, Adelaide 1988; Visiting Professorial Fellow, UNSW 2010–2016, Australia
100. Janette Habel , universitaire, France
101. ANDREJA ZIVKOVIC, sociologist and member of Marx21, Serbia
102. Philippe Diaz, cinéaste, réalisateur de « The End of Poverty », USA
103. Attac Castilla y Leon . España.
104. Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University, USA
105. Lieben Gilbert, Secrétaire Générale CGSP Wallonne, Belgium
106. Esther Vivas, periodista, Estado español
107. Pierre Salama, economiste, professeur emerite des universités
108. Teresa Gómez, economista,miembro del Círculo 3E (Economía,Ecología y Energía) de PODEMOS
109. PACD (Plataforma Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda), Espana
110. Liliana Pineda, abocada, escritora -15M-movimiento por la defense de agua, Espana
111. Claude Calame,Directeur d’études, EHESS, ATTAC,Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Centre AnHiMA (Anthropologie et Histoire des Mondes Antiques, UMR 8210), France
112. Teivo Teivainen, Professor of World Politics, University of Helsinki, Finland
113. Yannis Thanassekos, Professeur de Sociologie politique, ancien directeur de la Fondation Auschwitz, collaborateur scientifique à l’université de Liège, Belgium
114. Enrique Ortega,, professor-movimiento por la defense de agua, Espana
115. Dr. Karl Petrick,Associate Professor of Economics, Western New England University, UK
116. Rosa Moussaoui, grand reporter à L’Humanité, France.
117. Eric Corijn, Professeur Etudes Urbaines, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
118. Dr. Jorge Garcia-Arias,Associate Professor of Economics,University of Leon, Espana
119. Lankapeli Dharmasiri, member of the Polit Bureau of the NSSP, Sri Lanka
120. Colectivo Internacional Ojos para la Paz
121. Yves Sintomer, Membre de l’Institut Universitaire de France, Professeur de science politique, chercheur au CSU-CRESPPA (CNRS/Université Paris-Lumières), France
122. Prabhat Patnaik, Economist, New Delhi.
123. Roger Silverman, Workers’ International Network, UK
124. Des Gasper, professor of public policy, The Hague, Netherlands
125. Dr Julian Wells, Principal lecturer in economics, School of Economics, History and Politics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, UK
126. Lluís Alòs i Martí, profesor economia,Barcelona
127. Benoit Hazard, Anthropologue, Institut interdisciplinaire d’Anthropologie du Contemporain (UMR Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/ Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), France
128. Bruno THERET, Bruno Théret, économiste, Directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS, université Paris Dauphine, France
129. Steve Keen, professor Head, School of Economics, Politics & History,Kingston University London, UK
130. Jennar Raul Marc, écrivain, France
131. Franchet Pascal, vice-président CADTM, France
132. Adda BEKKOUCHE,Juriste, France
133. Marie-Dominique Vernhes, Rédaction du «Sand im Getriebe» (ATTAC), France
134. Claude Serfati, Economiste, France
135. Samy Johsua, professeur émérite Aix Marseille université
136. Dr. Antoni Domenech, Full Professor of Methodology of Science Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona, Espana
137. Bibiana Medialdea, economist, Espana
138. Judith Dellheim, Berlin, Zukunftskonvent, Germany
139. Dra. Patricia Britos (Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina)
140. Syed Abdul Khaliq, Focal Person, Executive Director Institute for Social& Economic Justice (ISEJ) Pakistan
141. María Elena Saludas, ATTAC Argentina / CADTM – AYNA, Argentina
142. Gerard PERREAU BEZOUILLE, Premier Adjoint honoraire de Nanterre, France
143. BENHAIM RAYMOND, CEDETIM, ECONOMISTE, France
144. António Dores, Professor Auxiliar com Agregação do Departamento de Sociologia do Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia (CIES/ISCTE-IUL), Portugal
145. Annie Pourre, No Vox International, France
146. Pedro Ibarra catedrático ciencia política Universidad país vasco, Espana
147. Dan Gallin, Global Labour Institute, Geneva, Switzerland.
148. Cossart Jacques, économiste, France
149. Richard Danie, responsable syndicale FGTB, Belgium
150. Rome Daniel, Attac – Professeur d’économie gestion, France
151. ANGEL GARCÍA PINTADO (escritor y periodista), Espana
152. Gotovitch José, historien, Professeur hon. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
153. Nacho Álvarez, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Valladolid, Member of Podemos, Espana
154. Dr. Jeff Powell,Senior Lecturer, Economics,Department of International Business & Economics, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, London, UK
155. J. Francisco Álvarez DNI 41981064S Full Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science. National Distance University of Spain. Madrid, Espana
156. Christian Zeller, Professor of Economic Geography, University of Salzburg, Austria
157. Dillon John,Ecological Justice Program Coordinator, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canada
158. Jean-Claude SALOMON, DR honoraire au CNRS, conseil scientifique d’Attac, France
159. Dr.Oscar Ugarteche,Instituto de InvestigacioneEconómicas,UNAM,Ciudad,universitaria, Coyoacán, México DF04510,Coordinador OBELA, Mexico
160. Alberto Montero, economistas de Podemos, Espana
161. Dr Vickramabahu,new same society party- NSSP, Sri Lanka
162. João Romão, Music Sociologist, University of Leipzig, Germany
163. Michel Rouseau, Euromarches, France
164. Julio Alguacil Gómez. Profesor de Sociología. Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Espana
165. Fernando Rosas, professeur universitaire, Portugal
166. Dr Neil Lancastle,Senior Lecturer, Department of Accounting and Finance, DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY, LEICESTER, UK
167. Rosaria Rita Canale,Associate professor in Economic Policy, Dept. of Business and Economics, University of Naples «Parthenope», Italia
168. Antonio Baylos, Professeur du Droit de Travail. Université Castilla La Mancha, Espana
169. Abdallah Zniber, ancien président du réseau Immigration Développement Démocratie (IDD) – France
170. Eric Fassin, sociologue, Université Paris-8, France
171. Paul Ariès, politologue, rédacteur en chef du mensuel les Zindigné(e)s, France
172. Nuno Rumo, Democracia e Divida, Portugal
173. Roland Zarzycki, Not Our Debt, Poland
174. Nicolas Sersiron, Président cadtm France et auteur, France
175. Noemi Levy, phd in economics. Chair professor Noemi Levy, UNAM. Economic Faculty, Mexico
176. Domenico M. Nuti, Emeritus Professor, Sapienza University of Rome, Italia
177. Christine Pagnoulle, ATTAC Liège, Université de Liège, Belgium
178. . Dr Judith Mehta, heterodox economist, recently retired from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
179. Maria João Berhan da Costa, CADPP, Revista Rubra, Habita, Portugal
180. Héctor Arrese Igor, profesor Universidad de Buenos Ayres, Argentina.
181. Ciriza Alejandra, Dra. en Filosofía por la UNCuyo. Investigadora Independiente del CONICET, INCIHUSA CCT Mendoza. Directora del Instituto de Estudios de Género (IDEGE) de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.
182. René Passet, Professeur émérite d’économie à l’Université Paris 1- Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
183. Dr. Susan Caldwell, professor (retired), Conseil d’administration d’Alternatives, Montréal, Canada
184. Dr. Deborah Potts , Reader in Human Geography, King’s College London, UK
185. Dr. James D. Cockcroft, author, professor (retired), Honorary Editor Latin American Perspectives; a founder Red en Defensa de la Humanidad; Montréal, Canada
186. Daniela Tavasci , senior lecturer ,Queen Mary University of London, UK
187. Wilfred Dcosta, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF,New Delhi, India
188. Malcolm Sawyer,Emeritus Professor of Economcs,University of Leeds, UK
189. Matyas BENYIK, Chairman of ATTAC, Economist, Budapest, Hungary
190. Ricardo Ortega Gonzalez, economista, funcionario de Eusko Jaurlaritza-Gobierno Vasco, Espana
191. Gabriel Colletis, Professeur de Sc. économique à l’Université de Toulouse 1-Capitole. France
192. Adam Rorris, National Coordinator, Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign, Australia
193. Carlos Durango Sáez , Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Espana
194. Dr. Laura Horn, Associate Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark
195. Dr. Peter Herrmann, Федеральное государственное бюджетное образовательное учреждение высшего профессионального образования «Российский экономический университет имени Г.В. Плеханова/
Federal state-funded educational institution of higher professional education Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Russia
196. Dr. Miriam Boyer, ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Germany
197. Jérôme Duval, CADTM, Estado español
198. Michael Hartmann, Professur für Elite- und Organisationssoziologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
199. Dr. Ulrich Duchrow, professor, Scientific Council of Attac Germany
200. Mogens Ove Madsen,Associate Professor, Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University, Denmark
201. Guglielmo Forges Davanzati, Professor of Political Economy,University of Salento, Italia
202. Mehmet Ugur,Professor of Economics and Institutions, University of Greenwich Business School, UK
203. Jacques Berthelot, économiste, France
204. Herbert Schui, Prof. of Economics, Germany
205. Mateo Alaluf, Prof émérite de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium
206. Michele CANGIANI, economist, ecrivain, université Ca’ Foscari, Venise, Italia
207. Marcela de la Peña Valdivia, Chargée de missions (Sociologue, Maitrise en gestion interdisciplinaire de l’environnement, spécialité femmes et développement. Certificat interuniversitaire d’évaluation de politiques publiques, Suisse
208. Jean Batou, professeur, Université de Lausanne, Suisse
209. Julia Varela Fernández, catedrática de sociología de la universidad complutense, Espana
210. Benny Asman, Economic historian, Belgium
211. Pepe Mejia, activista/militante de Attac Madrid, Plataforma contra la operación especulativa en Campamento, Plataforma en Defensa de la Sanidad Pública de Latina, miembro de Podemos y de Anticapitalistas, Espana
212. Joaquin Aparicio Tovar, Catedrático de Derecho del Trabajo y La Seguridad Social. Decano, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Espana
213. raffaella bolini – Arci
214. International Alliance of Inhabitants (Cesare Ottolini IAI Global Coordinator)
215. Marco Bersani, Attac Italia
216. Professor Robert Dixon,Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, Australia
217. Nicolás Giest, argentinian lawyer, and a also a researcher about the argentinian external debt, Argentina
218. Anastassia Politi, metteur en scène – comédienne, France
219. Luis Glez Reyes. Ecologistas en Acción, Espana
220. Georges Menahem, Economiste et sociologue, directeur de recherche au CNRS, MSH Paris Nord, France
221. Franck Gaudichaud, enseignant-chercheur Université Grenoble-Alpes (France)
222. Iván H. Ayala, profesor universitario, investigador del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales, Espana
223. Asier Blas Mendoza – Profesor del Departemento de Ciencia Política de la Universidad del País Vasco UPV/EHU, Espana
224. Jean NKESHIMANA, Country Program Manager, Terre des Jeunes du Burundi
225. Piero Di Giorgi, direttore di Dialoghi Mediterranei, Italia
226. Dr. Stefanie Wöhl,Guest Professor,University of Kassel,Political Science Department, Kassel, Germany
227. Enzo Scandurra, Full Professor of Urban Planning, Sapienza University of Rome, Italia
228. Massimo Pasquini, Segretario Nazionale Unione Inquilini, Italia
229. Manuel Martínez Forega, Crítico literario y filólogo. Estudios de Filología Española, de Filología
Románica y de Derecho en la Universidad de Zaragoza, Espana
230. Josep Maria Antentas, profesor de sociología de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Espana
231. Barry Finger, Editorial board member, New Politics, Netherlands
232. Giusto Catania, Assessore al Comune di Palermo. – Ex Deputato europeo, Italia
233. Janette Habel , universitaire, France
234. Francesco Denozza, Professore ordinario di diritto commerciale., Dipartimento di diritto privato e storia del diritto., Università degli Studi di Milano, Italia
235. Javier De Vicente, (on behalf of) UNION SINDICAL OBRERA (USO), Secretario Confederal de Accion Internacional, Espana
236. Sebastian Franco (Alter Summit wants to sign the Call for the Commission on debt audit).
237. Jonathan Davies, Professor of Critical Policy Studies, De Montfort University, UK
238. Katu Arkonada – Red de Intelectuales en Defensa de la Humanidad, Espana
239. Juan Tortosa, periodista, Espana
240. Eleonora Ponte, Movimento NO TAV Valle di Susa, Italia
241. Pablo de la Vega, Coordinador Regional, En representación de la “Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD Regional)”, organización de derechos humanos de carácter regional, con presencia en 15 países latinoamericanos y caribeños, y sede administrativa en Quito Ecuador
242. Matias Escalera, Cordero, Escritor y profesor, Espana
243. Enzo Traverso, Cornell University, USA
244. José Manuel Lucía Megías, Catedrático de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Escritor, Espana
245. Juan Ramón Sanz, Presidente de la Fundación «Domingo Malagón» Madrid España
246. Bruce Clarke, artiste plasticien, France
247. Luis Buendia, Associate Professor of Economics, Espana
248. Dominique Taddéi, économiste, ancien député, président de la commission des lois à l’Assemblée Nationale, France
249. Isabel Pérez Montalbán, escritora, Espana
250. Pablo Duque García-Aranda. Músico y profesor. Madrid, España
251. Frédéric Neyrat, philosophe français, ancien directeur de programme au Collège international de philosophie et Docteur en philosophie (1998). Il est membre du comité de rédaction de la revue Multitudes et de la revue Lignes, France
252. Daniel TANURO, militant écosocialiste, membre de la LCR, Belgium
253. BRACONNIER, Yves, CGSP-Enseignement-Luxembourg, Belgium
254. Jean-Marie Roux, économiste et syndicaliste France
255. Antonio Canalìa sindacalista CGIL Piemonte Italia
256. Michel Cahen, senior researcher, CNRS/Sciences Po Bordeaux, France.
257. Yu Maxime, Compositeur-Comédien, Liège, Belgiun
258. Renato Zanoli – Commissione Ambiente PRC Torino – Italia
259. Luis Cabo Bravo, miembro de IU de Madrid y de la dirección del PCE, Espana
260. Giorgio Ferraresi, “Società dei territorialisti”, già Ordinario di urbanistica al Politecnico di Milano, Italia
261. Edouard Bustin, enseigne les Sciences Politiques à l’Université de Boston et est, également, membre du Centre d’études africaines, USA/Belgium
262. Guillermo Cruz, Guillermo Cruz, realizador de documentales (€uroestafa), España,
263. Françoise Clément, chercheur militante altermondialiste, France
264. Gianni Fabbris – coordinatore nazionale di Altragricoltura -
Confederazione per la Sovranità Alimentare, Italia
265. Luis Dominguez Rodriguez. , Presidente de Attac Castilla y Leon.
266. Antonio Martinez-Arboleda, Reino Unido, profesor universitario, Espana
267. Werner Ruf, Professor an der Universitaet Kassel, Germany
268. Ricardo García Zaldívar. Economista. Activista (Attac España
269. Pratip Nag, Unorganised Sector Workers Forum, India
270. Marc Amfreville (professeur Paris-sorbonne), France
271. L’Initiative de Solidarité avec la Grèce qui Résiste – Bruxelles, Belgium
272. Jean-Michel Ganteau, Professeur, Université Montpellier 3, France
273. Marco Revelli, professore universitario ed ex portavoce “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras”, Italia
274. Rosa Rinaldi, Direzione Rifondazione Comunista
275. Sylvie FERRARI, Associate professor in economics, University of Bordeaux, France
276. Srecko Horvat, Independent scholar, Croatia
277. Karl Fischbacher (Labournet-Austria)
278. Guido Ortona (Prof. Ordinario di Politica Economica),Dipartimento DIGSPES,, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italia
279. oscar flammini, Espacio de Cultura y Memoria «El Rancho Urutau» de la Ciudad de Ensenada,Provincia de Buenos Aires,Argentina
280. Isabel VAZQUEZ DE CASTRO, Enseignant-Chercheur, formatrice ESPE, France
281. Arnal Ballester, dessinateur. Catalogne, Espana
282. amal Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign.
283. Liliane Blaser, Documentalista, Venezuela
284. Gonzalo Haya Prats, profesor y director del Departamento de Teología en la Universidad del Norte de Chile; profesor de habilidades directivas en instituciones de enseñanza empresarial en España
285. Sol Sánchez Maroto. Socióloga/Antropóloga/ Activista (Attac España)
286. Raquel Freire, cineasta, activista, Portugal
287. Lisa Tilley, Erasmus Mundus GEM Joint Doctoral Fellow, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
288. Thomas Berns, professeur, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Blegium
289. Francesca Gobbo , former Professor of Intercultural Education & Anthropology of Education, University of Turin, Associate Editor of «Intercultural Education», Italia
290. Marcos Del Roio, prof. de Ciências Políticas UNESP, Brasil.
291. Andrea Zinzani, researcher in Political Geography, CNRS (Paris), France
292. MARIAN SANTIAGO (ciberactivista ecosocial), Espana
293. Gloria Soler Sera, Barcelona, escritora-profesora, Espana
294. Sara Rosenberg, escritora y dramaturga, Argentina-España
295. CARINA MALOBERTI, Consejo Directivo Nacional – ATE-CTA (Asociación Trabajadores del Estado – Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina)
296. Convocatoria por la liberación Nacional y Social, Frente Sindical:
Agrupación Martín Fierro (Varela, Mar del Plata y Neuquén
297. Massimo Torreli, Responsabile “L’Altra Europa con Tsipras”.
298. Hichem SKIK, universitaire, dirigeant Parti «Al-Massar» (Voie démocratique et sociale), Tunisie
299. Inma Luna,escritora, poeta, periodista y antropóloga, Espana
300. Manuel Giron, catedratico, Alicante, Espana

Israeli Soldiers Break the Silence on Gaza War

May 6th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”

They recount disturbing experiences Israel wants  suppressed – horrific crimes of war and against humanity including mass murdering civilians “excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases.”

No Israeli commander or government official was ever prosecuted for horrific high crimes demanding accountability.

Make no mistake. Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge was well-planned premeditated naked aggression against 1.8 million largely defenseless Palestinians trapped under lawless siege.

For Israel’s powerful military, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. It was cold-blooded mass murder and destruction – mostly harming noncombatant men, women, children, infants and the elderly.

Israel considers them legitimate targets. International law calls killing them a high crime against peace.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers involved in last summer’s war broke the silence on war crimes they were ordered to commit. More on what they said below.

The Breaking the Silence web site said testimonies were collected from over 60 IDF officers and rank-and-file soldiers involved in aggressive war on Gaza.

They served in ground, naval and air operations. Their testimonies were carefully vetted for veracity.

Their comments based on direct involvement exposed government and IDF command Big Lies.

Rules of engagement made Gaza a free-fire zone. Commanders ordered troops “to fire at every person they identified in a combat zone” – meaning anyone, anywhere in Gaza, including civilian neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, UN shelters, and other nonmilitary targets.

Everyone in sight was considered an enemy, including small children too young to understand what was happening.

A May 3 press release headlined “This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014.

Saying released testimonies “paint a disturbing picture of the IDF’s policy of indiscriminate fire, which directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians.”

“The testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence paint a troubling picture of” official Israeli policy.

Soldiers were told to “shoot to kill” anyone in sight. They were deliberately lied to about areas supposedly cleared of civilians where entire families remained.

“Throughout the Operation, the IDF fired thousands of imprecise artillery shells into residential neighborhoods.”

Soldiers were ordered to carry out “mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes.”

“Many residential homes were shelled, from the ground and from the air, in order to ‘demonstrate presence in the area,’ or even as an act of punishment.”

Breaking the Silence director Yuli Novak said the following:

“From the testimonies given by the officers and soldiers, a troubling picture arises of a policy of indiscriminate fire that led to the deaths of innocent civilians.”

“We learn from the testimonies that there is a broad ethical failure in the IDF’s rules of engagement, and that this failure comes from the top of the chain of command, and is not merely the result of ‘rotten apples.’ ”

“As officers and soldiers, we know that internal military investigations scapegoat simple soldiers rather than focusing on policy.”

“The public must know what missions its sons are being sent to carry out, and according to which norms the IDF acts in its name.”

“We call for the establishment of an investigative committee external to the IDF, which will investigate the policy behind the rules of engagement given during ‘Protective Edge,’ and the norms and values that stand at the base of this policy.”

Soldier testimonies best explain Israel’s lawless contempt for Palestinian lives and welfare.

An armored corps first sergeant said in part:

“(B)efore entering Gaza, the commander…said ‘(w)e do not take risks. We do not spare ammo (including in civilian neighborhoods). We unload. We use as much as possible.’ ”

A Givati Brigade lieutenant said:

“The motto guiding lots of people was: ‘Let’s show them.’ It was evident that that was a starting point.”

“Lots of guys who did their reserve duty with me don’t have much pity towards (Arabs). The only thing that drives them is to look after their soldiers, and the mission. They are driven towards an IDF victory, at any price. And they sleep just fine at night.”

“They are totally at peace with that. These aren’t people who spend their days looking for things to kill. By no means. But they aren’t afraid to kill, either.”

“They don’t see it as something bad. The power-trip element is also at play, it’s all kinds of things.”

“I think that a lot can be learned from Operation Protective Edge about the issue of dealing with civilians, and how that works.”

“There were a lot of people there who really hate Arabs. Really, really hate Arabs. You could see the hate in their eyes.”

A Gaza division lieutenant said in part:

“You could feel there was a radicalisation in the way the whole thing was conducted. The discourse was extremely right-wing.”

“The military obviously has very clear enemies – the Arabs, Hamas.”

“The discourse is racist. The discourse is nationalistic. The discourse is anti-leftist. It was an atmosphere that really, really scared me.”

An infantry soldier said:

“The rules of engagement for soldiers advancing on the ground were: open fire, open fire everywhere, first thing when you go in.”

“The assumption being that the moment we went (into Gaza), anyone who dared poke his head out was a terrorist.”

A mechanized infantry first sergeant said:

“The rules of engagement are pretty identical: anything inside (Gaza) is a threat. The area has to be ‘sterilised,’ empty of people…”

“Shooting to kill. This is combat in an urban area, we’re in a war zone. The saying was: ‘There’s no such thing there as a person who is uninvolved.’ In that situation, anyone there is involved.”

An armored corps first sergeant said:

“During training (they told us) we only enter houses ‘wet,’ with grenades, and the more of them the better – and (grenade) launchers if you can use them.”

“You’re going to ‘open’ a house? Don’t take any chances, use your grenade launcher, utilise every effective tool you’ve got.”

“Aim, fire and only then go in. You don’t know if there is or isn’t someone in there. Go in ‘wet’ with grenades, with live fire. These were the orders for entering houses.”

An infantry first sergeant said:

Orders were “(i)f you spot someone, shoot. Whether it posed a threat or not wasn’t a question…If you shoot someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal.”

Commanders “made it clear that there were no uninvolved civilians.”

Another first sergeant said “whoever you see (in Gaza), you kill.” Asked who gave the order, he said the commander.

Soldiers spoke of “sterilizing” an area – killing everyone in sight. Just open fire, they were told.

Official Israeli policy was kill everyone. All Gazans are considered enemies. Law Professor Phillipe Sands called soldier testimonies “troubling insights into (Israeli) intention and method.”

“(T)hey cannot be ignored or brushed aside, coming as they do from individuals with firsthand experience. The rule of law requires proper investigation and inquiry.”

Top Israeli government and military officials claiming they took proper care to safeguard civilian lives were lying.

Official Israeli policy considers noncombatant civilians legitimate targets – including women and young children.

Everyone in Gaza is considered a terrorist. The Big Lie is drummed into the minds of recruits – brainwashing them to believe mass murder is the right thing to do.

According to Israeli human rights lawyer/Breaking the Silence advisor Michael Sfard:

“One of the main threads in the testimonies is the presumption that despite the fact that the battle was being waged in urban area – and one of most densely populated in the world – no civilians would be in the areas they entered.”

Anyone there was considered fair game to kill. Rules of engagement allowed everything regardless of fundamental international law.

Official Spirit of the IDF code of ethics states “soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property.”

Dozens of soldier testimonies show it’s duplicitous rhetoric – meaningless.

In combat, anything goes is official Israeli policy – including indiscriminately mass murdering noncombatant civilians. Accountability remains nowhere in sight.

Originally published at WhoWhatWhy

By Lara Turner

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was raised to take the direction of the most powerful adult in his life, his attorneys say—and now all those powerful adults seem to be telling the 21-year-old to sit down and shut up.

And to make sure he shuts up, they have been holding him under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that severely restrict any contact with the outside world. This is presumably to prevent him from communicating to the outside world any plans that could result in death or bodily harm.

But is muzzling the defendant really in the interest of national security—or in the interest of the national security apparatuses?

For the two years since the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings, WhoWhatWhy has documented the myriad ways that arms of the US government have contradicted its claim that the two Tsarnaev brothers were “lone wolves” motivated by ideology, with the feds consistently seeking to suppress information that could shed light on the bombings. This includes keeping the defendant totally mute.

To date, we have not heard a word from him—and now, even after he was convicted, we still have not heard a peep. This is in part, too, due to the strategy his own attorneys employed. Seeing the impossibility of their own investigators getting to the bottom of the many mysteries in the case, they threw in the towel, claiming their client “did it,” and blamed the influence of his dead older brother, Tamerlan, in hopes of achieving the dubious victory of a life sentence without parole.

Now, in the “penalty phase,” while he awaits word of whether he will face the death penalty, Tsarnaev sits there, mute and virtually expressionless, causing some to wonder just how bad were the injuries he sustained when police fired upwards of 100 bullets into the boat where he was hiding, or if he might be heavily medicated.

And yet he seemed particularly astute during the defense’s presentation of its case during the guilt phase. He frequently spoke with his attorneys, and wrote Post-it notes to them as they were examining witnesses. If he wasn’t incapacitated, why wouldn’t his legal team allow him to speak in his own defense?

Continuing Mysteries

Any thinking person (and we’ve heard from far too few as this affair has unfolded in all its tabloid lurid-ness) would wonder:

Does Dzhokhar Tsarnaev want to testify? If so, why has he been stopped from doing so? What would he have had to lose? Do his lawyers think the prosecution would provoke him into behaving in a manner that would harden the jury against him even more? If he is the victim of more complex circumstances, why not give him a chance to say so? And if he is a terrorist, why would he not want to publicize his cause and have his lawyers show photos of dead Muslim children killed by American drone strikes?

Why bomb a public event if you’re not making a political statement?

The defense’s strategic decision not to help us learn more about what the Tsarnaev brothers were up to—and why—seems a strange one. But then so does the constant invocation of “national security” by government agencies in repeatedly blocking disclosures and sealing a plethora of motions. The paradox is that we’ve been repeatedly told that this plot was about nothing larger than two misguided young people operating alone.

But as our reports have shown, the FBI had a prior relationship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, sought to recruit others in his orbit as plot infiltrators, and, bizarrely, failed to monitor his doings and international travel even after a warning from Russian intelligence.

Somehow, all of this has been lost or buried. It barely came up in the trial, perhaps because of the strategy: blame it all on the elder brother, then assure that virtually nothing about the elder brother can be deemed germane, because he is dead and not on trial.

Unapologetic Killer or Pliant Follower?

The jury heard this claim: “Dzhokhar (Tsarnaev) had been raised all his life to take direction from the most powerful adult.”

Rather tellingly, the person who argued that point might just be one of the most powerful adults in the convicted Boston Marathon bomber’s life: his attorney, David Bruck.

Bruck, together with Tsarnaev’s other lead attorneys Judy Clark and appointed federal defender Miriam Conrad, hold Tsarnaev’s life in their hands as they attempt to show that their client was really nothing more than a “lost teenager” without any real motivation to bomb anything. They are arguing, during the sentencing phase of the trial, that Tsarnaev would never have committed this crime had he not taken direction from his older brother, Tamerlan.

Remaining rigidly locked into this approach, they have sought to demonstrate their cooperation with every point asserted by the government.

The Silence of the SAMs

If Tsarnaev is given life in prison, his lawyer has said that he would be completely cut off from the outside world.

If Tsarnaev is given life in prison, his lawyer has said that he would be completely cut off from the outside world.

We get a rare look at the inner-workings of his trial team’s strategy in a transcript released by the court during the sentencing phase. The transcript was of a lobby conference to which the jury was not privy.

The transcript reveals that Tsarnaev’s attorneys were so determined to show their cooperation and commitment to ensuring that their client would never again pose a risk that they agreed to any conditions of confinement—including his total muzzling. In his opening argument to the penalty phase, Bruck virtually guaranteed that should the jury  send him to prison for the rest of his life, Tsarnaev would live a lifetime of pained silence in retribution for what he did.

“There are no interviews with the news media. There will be no autobiography. There will be no messages relayed from Dzhokhar onto the internet. There will be no nothing. There will be no media spotlight coming back on him as an execution date approaches. And one important thing you’ll learn is that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Boston are in a position to help ensure that Dzhokhar is cut off from the outside world forever if they think it best. So the evidence will show that if you sentence Dzhokhar to a lifetime of thinking about what he did, you’ll both punish him and protect society at the same time.”

To be sure, the defense likely hopes that promising Tsarnaev will never cause further anguish to the victims will be an effective bargaining chip. But there seems to be more to it.

“If They Think It Best”

One phrase above especially stands out:

”If they think it best.” 

Best for whom that Tsarnaev be silenced?

Bruck was referring to the SAMs, which allow the government to restrict a prisoner’s communications in ways that may include “housing the inmate in administrative detention and/or limiting certain privileges, including, but not limited to, correspondence, visiting, interviews with representatives of the news media, and use of the telephone, as is reasonably necessary to protect persons against the risk of acts of violence or terrorism.”

The law was established to prevent presumably dangerous inmates—those accused of terrorism, espionage, mob or gang activity—from communicating to the outside world any plans that could result in death or bodily harm.

Tsarnaev will most likely go to a federal supermax prison—whether he is given life without parole or the death penalty—and be kept in solitary confinement. As the measures currently stand, he would never be able to tell his version of events, communicate the reason behind his alleged murderous rampage or cry out that he was framed, coerced, or caught up in something larger.

Assuming he was, as convicted, involved in a plot to harm large numbers of people, it would seem to be in the interest of public safety to learn something from and about those who would commit such acts. And if this story is much more complicated—as suggested by the anomalies WhoWhatWhy has uncovered—then it is in the rather urgent interests of a democracy increasingly beset by an unaccountable security state to hear directly from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Copyright Lara Turner, WhoWhatWhy 2015

“Once again a country “liberated” by the West is sinking deeper and deeper into chaos.” Global Research. 

This could be anyone of the countries in conflict, where Washington and its Western and Middle Eastern stooges sow war – eternal chaos, misery, death – and submission.

This is precisely the point: The Washington / NATO strategy is not to ‘win’ a war or conflict, but to create ongoing – endless chaos. That’s the way (i) to control people, nations and their resources; (ii) to assures the west a continuous need for military – troops and equipment – remember more than 50% of the US GDP depends on the military industrial complex, related industries and services; and (iii) finally, a country in disarray or chaos, is broke and needs money – money with hardship conditions, ‘austerity’ money from the notorious IMF, World Bank and other associated nefarious ‘development institutions’ and money lenders; money that equals enslavement, especially with corrupt leaders that do not care for their people.

That’s the name of the game – in Yemen, in Ukraine, in Syria, in Iraq, in Sudan, in Central Africa, in Libya…. you name it. Who fights against whom is unimportantISIS / ISIL / IS / DAISH / DAESH / Al-Qaeda and whatever other names for the mercenary killer organizations you want to add to the list – are just tags to confuse. You might as well add Blackwater, Xe, Academi and all its other successive names chosen to escape easy recognition. They are prostitutes for the Zionist-Anglo-Saxon Empire, prostitutes of the lowest level. Then come elite prostitutes, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other Gulf States, plus the UK and France, of course.

President Hollande has just signed a multi-billion euro contract with Qatar for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets. He is now heading to Riyadh for talks with the Saudi King Salman, and to sell more Rafale planes – it’s good business and helps killing off the fabricated enemies; and also to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on 5 May. Topics of discussions at the meeting are the ‘crises’ of the region including in Yemen, planted by the west on behalf of Washington (and its Zionist masters) and blamed on the ‘rebels’ who are seeking merely a more just government.

The west has invented a vocabulary so sick, it’s like a virus ingrained in our brains – or what’s left of it – that we don’t even know anymore what the words really mean. We repeat them and believe them. After all, the MSM drills them into our intestines day-in and day-out. People who fight for their freedom, for survival against oppressive regimes, are ‘terrorists’, ‘rebels’. – The refugees from Africa, from the Washington inflicted conflict-stricken countries, the refugees of whom more than 4,000 have already perished this year trying to cross the Mediterranean for a ‘better life’ – they have been conveniently renamed ‘immigrants’. Often the term ‘illegal’ is added. Thus, the west’s conscience is whitewashed from guilt. Immigrants are beggars. Illegal immigrants belong jailed. They have nothing to do with unrest and chaos planted by the west in the ‘immigrants’ home countries. – Shame on you, Brussels!

Back to chaos – Mr. Hollande knows very well that his jets are being used to serve the master and spread more havoc in the region, more death, more disaster, more misery, more slavehood – more refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea – more everlasting chaos, people at the edge of survival, people who can no longer fight for their country, for their resources, for their freedom – as they must just fight for their sheer survival, for the survival of their kids and families. That’s empire.

Tell me – is someone who sells weapons, fighter planes – other types of killing machines, to countries, knowing quite well that these weapons are being used for killing people, for destroying countries – is such a person not a mass-murderer? A war criminal of the worst kind?

Mr. Hollande, in addition to being a war criminal, he is a perfect bigot who believes at the end of the day a few crumbs of the Big Loot will fall into his plate – and that he may swim with his masters in a lush sea of milk and honey. Does he think he has to safe the economy of his grand country that produced the likes of Victor Hugo, Stendhal, Balzac, Dumas – by selling killing machines to other stooges of the empire? – Does he not care that 83% of his electorate despise him?

Spreading unrest, chaos, misery – that is what Washington and its vassals do best. They do not want to ‘win’ wars; they want eternal chaos, misery; people who can be subdued easily – full spectrum dominance, they call it. 

And since the US army and its big brother (or sister) NATO cannot be everywhere, doesn’t want to be seen everywhere, they hire to kill. Washington invents and creates, then funds with its endless money stream, the ISILs, Daesh’s, AlQaedas – and the repertoire grows as the masters please – to fight for them, to kill for them, to produce chaos and false flags – so that eventually they – NATO and the Pentagon bulldozer – can come in and make believe ‘destroying’ those mercenaries that they generated in the first place. But the mainstream media won’t tell you the truth.

They have you believe that the Houtis, a secular humanitarian left-leaning group of Shias, and the Sunnis are fighting each other in Yemen for power; that the Saudis and their GCC cronies are just freeing Yemen from a bunch of terrorists; that the Houtis are supported by Iran (a predominant Shia country) – recently vehemently denied by a UN official – so, the Houtis have to be subdued. At the same time there is more reason for Washington to put yet another blame on Iran. Once the Houtis are dominated and killed off in sufficient numbers, a puppet president will be put in place, like the ex-President Saleh, or his successor Hadi, so that Washington can keep calling the shots – oppressing the country’s population to maintain unlimited access to the strategic port of Aden – and to the Gulf.

Ukraine is the same: Are ISIS / ISIL/ Daesh, Al Qaeda, or whatever their names may be, in the Ukraine? – You bet they are, under the command of CIA and some 6,000 US troops, trainers of course. They train the Kiev troops how best and fastest to kill their brothers in the Donbass; they train them how to create lasting chaos. And if the soldiers refuse to be trained to kill their brothers, the Kiev Nazi regime will shoot them as traitors. Point blanc. So easy. So that nobody will resist.

Not least, the US military ‘advisors’ and CIA with the help of their hired killers, the Kiev Nazis, the ISIS / Daesh / AlQaeda, are attempting to provoke President Putin into war – possibly a third World War. Yes, the third in less than hundred years, potentially devastating Europe, and possible the world. So far, the world has been spared this disaster, largely thanks to Mr. Putin’s wise strategy of non-confrontation.

So – no question whether the ISIS / Daesh / AlQaeda are in the Ukraine. They are everywhere the empire orders them to be. That’s what they are paid for. That’s what prostitutes do. Especially created prostitutes; well-paid prostitutes. Ideology is just a fig leave, conveniently used by the western media – so we all may believe that the Muslims are evil, some even more than others. The west must fight them, because they are a serious and present danger for our freedom, our liberty our democracies – and especially our neoliberal everything-goes free market values.

Because that is the ultimate goal: humans as a market commodity, dispensable, reducible to cannon fodder, to be killed off in masses by (poisoned) genetically modified food, by drones, by bombs, by artificially created famine, so that at the end the survivors are serfs to a small elite which controls the four corners of the globe and ALL its resources, to maintain a lifestyle of exceptional people – yes, the exceptional nation, will be reduced to a bunch of exceptional people living in grand splendor.

Remember Henry Kissinger’s infamous words, the vision of one of the most atrocious war criminals still alive today – another Nobel Laureate (sic) – spoken some fifty years ago: “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

These words ring truer every day. But only as long as we allow it; as long as We, the People, We the 99.999% of the globe’s inhabitants, allow it.

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

UN Peacekeepers: Defenders of Human Rights or Felons?

May 6th, 2015 by Global Research News

by Valery Kulikov

The recent scandal involving the sexual abuse of African children carried out by members of a UN peacekeeping mission, despite numerous efforts of this international organization to play it down, will not be ignored. And the international community must finally recall what was the original purpose of the UN as established by allied powers after the Second World War in the name of peace and security for all people on the planet.

According to a series of publications by Bruxelles2France InfoGuardian and a number of other media outlets, a number of French and Georgian soldiers that were employed in the UN peacekeeping operation “Sangaris” in Central Africa, are responsible of child sexual abuse.

It should be recalled that an armed conflict between the government of the Central African Republic and Muslim rebels, many of which took part in the civil war of 2004-2007, resulted in the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announcing that France would deploy a thousand soldiers in CAR to carry out a UN peacekeeping mission. On December 9, 2013 the United States decided to take part in this operation, while the Georgian parliament also agreed to send its soldiers to CAR a year later, on February 22, 2014. By June 2014 the number of Georgian Armed Forces in the Central African Republic reached 140 members.

According to the French news agency France Info, French and Georgian soldiers were raping children aged 8 to 15 years in the area near M’Poko airport and were subjecting them to  sexual exploitation.

Some of the incidents that occurred between December 2013 and June 2014 in a refugee camp at M’Poko airport were depicted in a special UN closed report that was titled “Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces.” In particular, the document contains witnesses of local boys that were subjected to sexual exploitation, including rape and homosexual relations in exchange for food and water. The majority of the victims were orphans, increasing their vulnerability. In the summer of 2014 this report was handed over to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, however no action was taken to investigate the factual findings.

In these circumstances and in order to stop systematic child rape in CAR, one of the staff members of the Geneva Branch of the United Nations Anders Kompass had given those documents to French authorities on his on initiative, in hopes that they would take effective measures to investigate the described incidents and punish those responsible. However, the highest ranks of the United Nations didn’t seem willing to “wash their dirty linen in public”, instead they are now planning to sack the “snitch” for an “unauthorized disclosure of proprietary information.”

In this regard, one must note that in the past the United Nations has been caught trying to conceal incidents of pedophilia numerous times, including sexual exploitation of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia, along with concealing incidents involving sexual harassment in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.

Recently, some serious accusations against the UN were made by James Wasserstrom, a former US diplomat that was fired from the UN once he expressed his suspicions about the corruption among senior officials of the former UN mission in Kosovo. In particular, this former diplomat stressed the fact that instead of punishing Anders Kompass, this international organization must have taken all possible measures to prevent such abuse in the future, along with punishing all responsible figures in a timely manner. A responsible official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry Anders Ronquist, has also raised his voice in the defense of Anders Kompass, stating that those incidents must never again occur in the future. There’s little doubt that those crimes along with the UN’s attempts to hide them do not erode the credibility of this international organization.

But the fact is that this credibility has already been jeopardized by numerous cases of unjustified use of force initiated by certain UN members to achieve their own geopolitical goals. Once the UN became a political servant of Washington, it has started serving US military contractors that hungry for even more bloodshed all across the globe. This policy has already led to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries of the Middle East, along with Africa and the former Yugoslavia.

If there’s going to be no change in the policies and actions of the United Nations officials now, it is possible that this organization may suffer the sorry fate of its predecessor – the League of Nations, that was just as unable to prevent conflicts and global threats to humanity on the basis of respect to international laws.

Valery Kulikov, political analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Copyright Valery Kulikov, New Eastern Outlook, 2015

How do you calculate the human costs of the U.S.-led War on Terror?

On the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, groups of physicians attempted to arrive at a partial answer to this question by counting the dead.

In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001.

However, the report notes, this is a conservative estimate, and the total number killed in the three countries “could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

Furthermore, the researchers do not look at other countries targeted by U.S.-led war, including Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and beyond.

Even still, the report states the figure “is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs.

In Iraq, at least 1 million lives have been lost during and since 2003, a figure that accounts for five percent of the nation’s total population. This does not include deaths among the estimated 3 million Iraqi refugees, many of whom were subject to dangerous conditions during this past winter.

Furthermore, an estimated 220,000 people have been killed in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, note the researchers. The findings follow a United Nations report which finds that civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2014 were at their highest levels since the global body began making reports in 2009.

The researchers identified direct and indirect deaths based on UN, government, and NGO data, as well as individual studies. While the specific number is difficult to peg, researchers say they hope to convey the large-scale of death and loss.

Speaking with Democracy Now! on Thursday, Dr. Robert Gould, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-author of the forward to the report, said:

“[A]t a time when we’re contemplating at this point cutting off our removal of troops from Afghanistan and contemplating new military authorization for increasing our operations in Syria and Iraq, this insulation from the real impacts serves our government in being able to continue to conduct these wars in the name of the war on terror, with not only horrendous cost to the people in the region, but we in the United States suffer from what the budgetary costs of unending war are.”

According to Gould’s forward, co-authored with Dr. Tim Takaro, the public is purposefully kept in the dark about this toll.

“A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization cause by decades of outside military intervention,” they write. “As such, under-reporting of the human toll attributed to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate of through self-censorship, has been key to removing the ‘fingerprints’ of responsibility.”

On Friday, Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby declared that six police officers will face criminal charges including second degree heart murder, manslaughter, assault and false imprisonment for their role in the arrest and homicide of 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray. While this is welcome and encouraging news for those seeking justice for Gray and his family, past experience demonstrates the odds the accused criminals will be convicted are miniscule. Regardless, it is not enough to treat the Freddie Gray incident as merely a violation of domestic law. The actions by agents of the State are part of a pattern of human rights abuses that are rampant against the domestic population, especially ethnic and racial minorities. The crimes are not only attributable to the indicted Baltimore officers but to the government they represent, which has failed to deliver the human rights obligations owed to all American citizens.

After the arrests of the six officers, residents continued their protests in a clear indication that the outrage of the Baltimore uprising is about much more than the mistreatment and killing of Freddie Gray as an isolated incident. Interviewed on Friday by the Baltimore Sun, Kevin Moore, who filmed the unlawful arrest of Gray on his cell phone, said that “We’re going to keep on marching for human rights. We’re going to keep on going until this stops — the police brutality.”

Across the country, grassroots movements that have gained momentum after the killings of unarmed African Americans including Michael Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Brandon-Tate Brown, and Freddie Gray have focused on far-reaching political and economic demands. They must be understood as a critique of the entire socioeconomic system that oppresses minorities and manifests itself with excessive use of force by agents of the state against members of these same disenfranchised communities.

Critically, activists have stressed the connections between police brutality, structural economic inequalities, and the epidemic of mass incarceration that all target predominantly African Americans and Latinos. Economic policies relegate African Americans to an impoverished underclass. They are then attacked by the state through the criminal justice system precisely for their social status. The prison system is used to warehouse what is considered a surplus population that has no role in the modern economy. Law enforcement officers take on the role of enforcers of oppression.

As Michelle Alexander explains in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, “The stark and sobering reality is that, for reasons largely unrelated to actual crime trends, the American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history.”

Police brutality carried out by law enforcement enforcing a racist drug war is merely a symptom of the system of white supremacist-informed politics that produces the nation’s unequal social and economic structures. Eliminating the violence of the enforcers would do nothing to eliminate the violence of structural inequality that permeates American society.

Groups like #BlackLivesMatter recognize this and explicitly state their grievances with the systemic factors behind individual crimes against black people: “When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. How Black poverty and genocide is state violence. How 2.8 million Black people are locked in cages in this country is state violence. How Black women bearing the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families is state violence.”

We The Protesters write in an Open Letter that they seek to “build a community that is empowered to establish a new political and social reality that respects and affirms blackness and the humanity therein.”

When Freddie Gray was killed, agents of the state violated many of his human rights. as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Namely, he was deprived of his right to life and liberty (Article 3); he was subjected to torture and degrading treatment (Article 5); he was subjected to arbitrary arrest (Article 9); and he was subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy (Article 12).

Possibly the only thing unique about Gray’s treatment at the hands of Baltimore police is the scale of the uprising it gave rise to among his community members. As a Baltimore Sun investigation revealed, city residents have had to pay out nearly $6 million in the last four years to settle more than 100 lawsuits alleging “that police officers brazenly beat up alleged suspects.” The victims ranged from young children to old women. Even City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young told the paper that “[residents] fear the police more than they fear the drug dealers on the corner.” And the situation in Baltimore is not unique to the rest of the United States.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee declared in its most recent report they were “concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces … and reports of excessive force by certain law enforcement officers, including the deadly use of tasers, which has a disparate impact on African Americans.” The Committee also also expressed its concern about “racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, as well as sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails.”

If the United States had ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and was subject to review by the United Nations, the findings would be equally damning, or likely worse. How many Baltimore residents – or those of any major U.S. city – would feel that their government was delivering their right “to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions” (Article 11)? Or “a decent living for themselves and their families” (Article 7)? The right to “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (Article 12)?

Last month, MintPress News reported that the city of Baltimore has issued notices to residential water customers with overdue accounts that their service will be shut-off. They note that United Nations experts “were among many who expressed concern that water shut-offs violate basic human rights.” Freddie Gray, like many residents of Baltimore, was exposed to lead paint in his childhood home. Lead paint exposure by children has been proven to result in potentially disastrous development problems.

The Washington Post writes that it is “hard to know whether Gray’s problems were exclusively borne of lead poisoning or were the result of other socioeconomic factors as well. From birth, his was a life of intractable poverty that would have been challenging to overcome.” The socioeconomic factors must be attributed directly to the state that created them and failed to remedy them for Gray and millions of others.

If protesters were polled about whether the government was fulfilling its human rights obligations to provide basic social and economic rights, is there any doubt that they would nearly unanimously disagree? Could city, state or federal officials even claim to enjoy the consent of the governed among African American communities that have been victimized for decades, if not centuries, of structural inequalities and aggressive policing meant to repress people through a cruel system of social control?

Many voices on the street are loudly calling for an indictment of the system as a whole. The difference between this American movement and other color revolutions overseas that receive much corporate media attention is that it is entirely homegrown and a product of grassroots reaction to oppression, rather than a manufactured product of foreign funding and training.

U.S. government officials have never hesitated to decry alleged human rights abuses by the regimes of official enemies. One year ago, Secretary of State John Kerry accuses Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of carrying out a “terror campaign against his own people” who did not “respect human rights.” Kerry neglected to mention that half of the deaths resulting from the protests were of security agents and government supporters, some who were decapitated by barbed wire barricades erected by anti-socialist protesters.

The U.S. government has showered middle and upper-class Venezuelan students and pro-business interests with millions of dollars in funding and organizational training to provoke protests they could then condemn for political purposes. The same is true in Ukraine, Syria, Cuba, Hong Kong and across the world. What justification do they have to spend the nation’s resources to manufacture opposition abroad rather than address the demands of citizens at home opposed to the inequality and insecurity that the state subjects them to, and which they could drastically reduce or outright eliminate, through taxation of private wealth and redistribution, if they chose to?

Freddie Gray has become a martyr for the suffering he endured throughout his life at the hands of the social, economic, and political system he lived under, rather than just for his suffering at the hands of the six police officers who ended his life. The Baltimore uprising will not end with the verdicts against the six officers. It will only end when the people of Baltimore and cities across the U.S. are able to hold the people who design the policies that deprive them of their fundamental human rights accountable.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. You can follow him on twitter.

Dan Froomkin reports today at the Intercept:

Most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.

Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.

***

The Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

***

By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.

And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.

***

Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept …  “Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”

And, she asked: “How would we ever know if they change the policy?”

Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.

That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”

***

Voice communications can be collected by the NSA whether they are being sent by regular phone lines, over cellular networks, or through voice-over-internet services.

(Anyone who has tried dictating into their smart phone – or who uses software like Dragon – knows how incredibly accurate this kind of technology can be.)

The NSA refused to tell the Intercept how widely the speech-to-text programs are used on Americans.

But high-level NSA whistleblowers Bill BinneyThomas Drake and Russell Tice have all told Washington’s Blog that NSA is recording the content – and not just the metadata – of Americans’ phone calls. And see this.

Indeed, any statements that content is only stored for some short period of time is moot, since transcripts of that content can easily be stored forever … without taking up much space.

Of course, the NSA voluntarily shares the raw data it collects on American citizens with Israel and likely also with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.   And see this.  So those countries might be doing voice-to-text transcription on Americans’ conversations as well.

Update: After reviewing this story, NSA whistleblower Bill Binney told Washington’s Blog:

It sounds like they have achieved as least a working level of success at automatically translating speech.  This means to me that they use this capability to do a rough scan of unlimited numbers of phone calls to sample what is being said.  Add to that the ability to do digital recordings at the same time and keep for a short period (20-30 days) gives their analysts (as well as FBI/DEA/DOJ/IRS/DHS/CIA/etc.) a window of opportunity to select the recordings and have people do a final transcription for the record and files/storage.  Now they need to do a similar thing for video. For Americans, this has major implications when applied to the NSA FAIRVIEW program with its 80 to 100 taps on the fiber lines inside the lower 48 states. FAIRVIEW would enable them to capture rough translations of most calls made in the US.

As Binney previously explained:

BILL BINNEY:  Fairview is the program they use that produces most of the content and metadata on US citizens. Note the distribution of tape points in the lower 48 states.

WASHINGTON’S BLOG:  The US 990-Fairview slide certainly shows NSA sucking up alot of data from within America.

But the press characterizes Fairview as gathering info solely on foreigners. Sounds like this is false?

In other words, Fairview sucks up information – content and metadata – on Americans and foreigners, and then NSA simply retains and stores the info?

BILL BINNEY:  If NSA was after only foreigners, then they would have collection points on the east and west coasts at points where the transoceanic cables surface. Anything other than that is collecting domestic communications – the PSTN phone network and the world wide web.

You could argue that Stormbrew [another “upstream” collection program … see below] is targeted at foreign by the distribution. But, some of that is also questionable. This does not count input from cooperative countries (second and third parties) on domestic activity collected by them as well. To the point, they have done nothing but lie to us.

In other words, the Stormbrew map is a pretty good proxy for what foreign surveillance locations should look like. But the Fairview map shows many more collection points all over the country … proving that the NSA is specifically collecting information on Americans living on U.S. soil.

Washington continues to drive Europe toward one or the other of the two most likely outcomes of the orchestrated conflict with Russia. Either Europe or some European Union member government will break from Washington over the issue of Russian sanctions, thereby forcing the EU off of the path of conflict with Russia, or Europe will be pushed into military conflict with Russia.

In June the Russian sanctions expire unless each member government of the EU votes to continue the sanctions. Several governments have spoken against a continuation. For example, the governments of the Czech Republic and Greece have expressed dissatisfaction with the sanctions.

US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged growing opposition to the sanctions among some European governments. Employing the three tools of US foreign policy–threats, bribery, and coercion–he warned Europe to renew the sanctions or there would be retribution. We will see in June if Washington’s threat has quelled the rebellion.

Europe has to consider the strength of Washington’s threat of retribution against the cost of a continuing and worsening conflict with Russia. This conflict is not in Europe’s economic or political interest, and the conflict has the risk of breaking out into war that would destroy Europe.

Since the end of World War II Europeans have been accustomed to following Washington’s lead. For awhile France went her own way, and there were some political parties in Germany and Italy that considered Washington to be as much of a threat to European independence as the Soviet Union. Over time, using money and false flag operations, such as Operation Gladio, Washington marginalized politicians and political parties that did not follow Washington’s lead.

The specter of a military conflict with Russia that Washington is creating could erode Washington’s hold over Europe. By hyping a “Russian threat,” Washington is hoping to keep Europe under Washington’s protective wing. However, the “threat” is being over-hyped to the point that some Europeans have understood that Europe is being driven down a path toward war.

Belligerent talk from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from John McCain, from the neoconservatives, and from NATO commander Philip Breedlove is unnerving Europeans. In a recent love-fest between Breedlove and the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by John McCain, Breedlove supported arming the Ukrainian military, the backbone of which appears to be the Nazi militias, with heavy US weapons in order to change “the decision calculus on the ground” and bring an end to the break-away republics that oppose Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.

Breedlove told the Senate committee that his forces were insufficient to withstand Russian aggression and that he needed more forces on Russia’s borders in order to “reassure allies.”

Europeans have to decide whether the threat is Russia or Washington. The European press, which Udo Ulfkotte reports in his book, Bought Journalists, consists of CIA assets, has been working hard to convince Europeans that there is a “revanchist Russia” on the prowl that seeks to recover the Soviet Empire. Washington’s coup in Ukraine has disappeared. In its place Washington has substituted a “Russian invasion,” hyped as Putin’s first step in restoring the Soviet empire.

Just as there is no evidence of the Russian military in Ukraine, there is no evidence of Russian forces threatening Europe or any discussion or advocacy of restoring the Soviet empire among Russian political and military leaders.

In contrast Washington has the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which is explicitly directed at Russia, and now the Council on Foreign Relations has added China as a target of the Wolfowitz doctrine. 

The CFR report says that China is a rising power and thereby a threat to US world hegemony. China’s rise must be contained so that Washington can remain the boss in the Asian Pacific. What it comes down to is this: China is a threat because China will not prevent its own rise. This makes China a threat to “the International Order.” “The International Order,” of course, is the order determined by Washington. In other words, just as there must be no Russian sphere of influence, there must be no Chinese sphere of influence. The CFR report calls this keeping the world “free of hegemonic control” except by the US.

Just as General Breedlove demands more military spending in order to counter “the Russian threat,” the CFR wants more military spending in order to counter “the Chinese threat.” The report concludes: “Congress should remove sequestration caps and substantially increase the U.S. defense budget.”

Clearly, Washington has no intention of moderating its position as the sole imperial power. In defense of this power, Washington will take the world to nuclear war. Europe can prevent this war by asserting its independence and departing the empire.

Why Iran Must Remain a US Enemy

May 6th, 2015 by Gareth Porter

An anti-US mural painting outside the former US embassy in Tehran. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Since the start of the US nuclear negotiations with Iran, both Israeli and Saudi officials have indulged in highly publicized handwringing over their belief that such a nuclear deal would represent a fundamental strategic shift in US policy towards the region at the expense of its traditional alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But the Obama administration is no more likely to lurch into a new relationship with Iran than were previous US administrations. The reason is very simple: The US national security state, which has the power to block any such initiative, has fundamental long-term interests in the continuation of the policy of treating Iran as an enemy.

Some in the Israeli camp have spun elaborate theories about how the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran represent a strategic vision of partnership with the Iranian regime.

Typical of the genre is former Bush administration official Michael Doran’s speculation in February that US President Barack Obama based his policy of outreach to Tehran on the assumption that Tehran and Washington are “natural allies”.

Saudi response

The Saudi response to the negotiations has been, if anything, even more extreme. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence, who speaks more candidly in public than any other Saudi public figure, told an audience at London’s Chatham House last month, “The Americans and Iranians have been flirting with each other. Now it seems each side is anxious to get over the flirtation and get to the consummation.”

Behind the sexual metaphor lie Saudi fears of a “grand bargain” under which Iran would forgo nuclear weapons in return for ratification of Iranian hegemony over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gulf.

But these Israeli and Saudi imaginings are divorced from the reality of the Obama administration’s actual Iran policy. Far from the Nixon-like fundamental strategic revision, as the Netanyahu camp and the Saudis have suggested, the Obama administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran over its nuclear programme represents a culmination of a series of improvised policy adjustments within an overall framework of coercive diplomacy towards Iran.

Despite Obama’s embrace of diplomatic engagement with Iran as a campaign issue in 2008, when he entered the White House his real Iran policy was quite different. In fact, Obama’s aim during his first term was to induce Iran to accept an end to its uranium enrichment programme.

‘Unconditional talks’

Even as Obama was offering “unconditional talks” with Iran in a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2009, he was already pursuing a strategy of multiple pressures on Iran to agree to that US demand.

Obama’s strategy of coercive diplomacy involved plans for more intrusive and punishing economic sanctions, a secret NSA programme of cyber-attacks against the Natanz enrichment facility and political/diplomatic exploitation of the threat of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the Netanyahu government in Israel.

Obama made no serious effort to negotiate with Iran until 2012, when he believed the new sanctions that were about to take effect would force Iran to agree to suspend enrichment indefinitely. He dropped that demand in 2013, only because Iran had increased the number of centrifuges in operation from 4,000 to 10,000 and had begun enriching to 20 percent.

Since the beginning of the negotiations, moreover, senior administration officials have repeatedly affirmed the policy of treating Iran as a state sponsor or terrorism and a “troublemaker” and destabilising factor in the Middle East.

In his April 7 interview with National Public Radio Obama said, “I’ve been very forceful in saying that our differences with Iran don’t change if we make sure that they don’t have a nuclear weapon – they’re still going to be financing Hezbollah, they’re still supporting Assad dropping barrel bombs on children, they are still sending arms to the Houthis in Yemen that have helped destabilise the country.”

At a deeper level, the most important factor in determining the policy of the US towards Iran is domestic electoral and bureaucratic politics – not Obama’s personal geopolitical vision of the Middle East. The power of the Israeli lobby obviously will severely limit policy flexibility towards Iran for many years. And the interests of the most powerful institutions in the US national security state remain tied to a continuation of the policy of treating Iran as the premier enemy of the US.

Bigger bonanza

Since 2002 the US Department of Defense has spent roughly $100bn on missile defence, most of which goes directly to its major military contractor allies. That bonanza depends largely on the idea that Iran is intent on threatening the US and its allies with ballistic missiles.

But an even bigger bonanza for the US arms industry is at stake. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf regimes in the anti-Iran alliance have been pouring big money into Pentagon arms contractor coffers for years. A deal with Saudi Arabia for fighter planes and missile defence technology first announced in 2010 was expected to yield $100-150bn in procurement and service contracts over two decades. And that tsunami of money from the Gulf depends on identifying Iran as a military threat to the entire region.

These sales are now integral to the health of the leading US military contractors. Lockheed, for example, now depends on foreign sales for as much as 25-33 percent of its revenue, according to the Times story.

So the Israeli and Saudi fear of a supposed Obama shift in alliances doesn’t reflect fundamental domestic US political realities that are not likely to change for the foreseeable future.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist on U.S. national security policy who has been independent since a brief period of university teaching in the 1980s. Dr. Porter is the author of five books, the latest book, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” was published in February 2014. He has written regularly for Inter Press Service on U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran since 2005.

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May 6th, 2015 by The Global Research Team

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