Ukraine: Language-laws Are Not Purely Symbolic

July 31st, 2019 by Padraig McGrath

On February 22nd 2014 Oleksandr Turchynov, on his first day as speaker of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, made his now infamous speech concerning the disestablishment of the Russian language as a state language in Ukraine. What people who were not in Crimea at the time may not be fully cognizant of was that this speech was the match that lit the fire of the Crimean secession-movement, which commenced in earnest the same day. I should emphasize the point that the concerns of the Crimean people regarding that issue were not essentially cultural or identitarian. On the contrary, the people of Crimea understood clearly that the practical effect of this law would be that they would be living in an apartheid-state. That’s when they decided that they wanted out.

Not that Crimeans were ever particularly happy about the language-laws which existed before 2014. Back in the day, local people used to tell me things like “My grandmother is 78 years old, and the law says that all the labels on the bottles of her medication have to be printed only in Ukrainian. She needs her meds to stay alive, and sure she can speak Ukrainian, but all of the highly technical info regarding dosage and so on is written in technical jargon. The medication is dangerous if she misunderstands the instructions on the label.”

In a recent interview with Izvestia, following the implementation of Ukraine’s new law on the state-language, the OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier stated that

“Firstly, the law says nothing about the protection of national minorities’ languages. Secondly, all issues about the use of the state language are solved in quite a tough manner – not through a system of encouragements that the OSCE would like to see, but through punishment. Thirdly, the law was adopted without any consultations with representatives of national minorities.”

It’s a little bit infuriating the way that intergovernmental agency mandarins speak. IGO-speak is a dialect of the English language related to NGO-speak. Both dialects have special syntactical rules, for example the rule that absolutely every sentence must include the word “consultation.” Intergovernmental agency mandarins use phrases like “implementing mediating frameworks and mechanisms for consultation…..”

This kind of fluffy, oblique language is not simply pointless – it is damaging, because it causes people in the wider world to misunderstand the real issues at work in national debates about language-laws, which are ultimately practical rather than cultural or identitarian. Considering that “identity” is one of the woundedly narcissistic hobby-horses of so many people in the industrial world these days, many will be inclined to imagine that the central point at stake for native speakers of Russian in Ukraine is simply their right to remain culturally Russian.

It is not.

The real purpose of fair language-laws is to prevent very practical forms of discrimination in competitive social processes.

And furthermore, I should further unpack what I mean by “discrimination.”

By “discrimination,” I do not mean simply the offence to personal dignity caused by being prevented from using one’s own native language. By “discrimination,” I mean that being forced to use a language which is not their native language places people at very practical forms of competitive disadvantage in the legal system, the tax-system and the educational system.

Everybody who lives in Ukraine is comfortably conversant in Ukrainian, but a significant minority of Ukrainian citizens will not feel entirely confident while reading the turgidly, bureaucratically worded fine print regarding tax-exemptions, deductions and rebates while filling out a tax-form. Non-native speakers of Ukrainian will be more likely to gloss over the fine print, which means that they don’t get the tax-rebates they should be getting – the practical effect is that they will unnecessarily pay more tax than native speakers of Ukrainian.

The same holds regarding the ability to confidently read the equally turgidly worded fine print in a legal contract. If you didn’t understand the fine print perfectly in the legalese-register of your second language, then maybe you get ripped off on the contract.

As for the educational system, while exams in history and literature would not present any significant practical problem, how would you like to be required to sit exams in organic chemistry in your second language? Even many honours chemistry-students are not going to feel entirely confident doing that.

Remember that all academic examination-processes are competitive – you are competing against the other exam-candidates. On a practical level, the same holds for the tax-system. Taxpayers are essentially competing against each other – the more taxpayers fail to fully claim all of the exemptions and rebates which they are legally entitled to, the more there will be to go around for everybody else in next year’s fiscal budget.

So the competitive aspect of the educational and tax-systems, and for that matter the adversarial component of the legal system, needs to be emphasized. Unfair or exclusionary language-laws stack the deck in favour of native-speakers of a particular language. Non-native-speakers of that language will pay more tax than they are legally required to, will be at a disadvantage when they go before the courts, will find it more difficult to legally enforce their contractual rights, and their prospects for social advancement will be compromised because their academic performance will be compromised, most especially in highly technical or scientific academic disciplines.

In very practical bread-and-butter terms, this is apartheid.

So the core-issue in play in the debate concerning Ukraine’s language-laws is NOT simply “culture” or “identity.”

Not everybody is so frivolously narcissistic as to worry about something called “identity.”

The real issues are practical tax-equality, practical access to equal protection under the law, and the preservation of practical meritocracy in the educational system.

And then there’s the task of trying to ensure that your grandmother doesn’t accidentally overdose on her meds.

That’s what the people of Crimea understood clearly in February 2014.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Featured image is from OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/Flickr

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Ukraine: Language-laws Are Not Purely Symbolic
  • Tags:

Tulsi Gabbard vs Google Goliath

July 31st, 2019 by Rick Sterling

Introduction

The Tulsi Gabbard presidential campaign has filed a major lawsuit against Google.  This article outlines the main points of the lawsuit and evidence the the social media giant Google has quietly acquired enormous influence on public perceptions and has been actively censoring alternative viewpoints.

Tulsi Now vs Google

Tulsi Now, Inc vs Google, LLC  was filed on July 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The attorneys demand a jury trial and seek compensation and punitive damages of “no less than $50 million”. Major points and allegations in the 36 page complaint include:

*Google has monopolistic control of online searches and related advertising.

“Google creates, operates, and controls its platform and services, including but not limited to Google Search, Google Ads, and Gmail as a public forum or its functional equivalent by intentionally and openly dedicating its platform for public use and public benefit, inviting the public to utilize Google as a forum for free speech. Google serves as a state actor by performing an exclusively and traditionally public function by regulating free speech within a public forum and helping to run elections.” (p22)

“Google has used its control over online political speech to silence Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate millions of Americans want to hear from. With this lawsuit, Tulsi seeks to stop Google from further intermeddling in the 2020 United States Presidential Election….. Google plays favorites, with no warning, no transparency – and no accountability (until now).” (p2)

*At a critical moment Google undercut the Tulsi Gabbard campaign.

“On June 28, 2019 – at the height of Gabbard’s popularity among internet researchers in the immediate hours after the debate ended, and in the thick of the critical post-debate period… Google suspended Tulsi’s Google Ads account without warning.” (p3)

*Google has failed to provide a credible explanation.

The Tulsi campaign quickly sought to restore the account but

“In response, the Campaign got opacity and an inconsistent series of answers from Google… To this day, Google has not provided a straight answer – let alone a credible one – as to why Tulsi’s political speech was silence right when millions of people wanted to hear from her.” (p4)

Google started by falsely claiming “problems with billing”. Later, as reported in the NY Times story  a Google spokesperson claimed,

“Google has automated systems that flag unusual activity on advertiser accounts – including large spending changes – to prevent fraud….In this case, ‘our system triggered a suspension.’ “

*Google has a corporate profit motive to oppose Tulsi Gabbard.

“Google has sought to silence Tulsi Gabbard, a presidential candidate who has vocally called for greater regulation and oversight of (you guessed it) Google.” (p5)

“During her career in Congress, Gabbard has moved to limit the powers of big tech companies like Google and has fought to keep the internet open and available to all. Gabbard has co-sponsored legislation that prohibits multi-tiered pricing agreements for the privileged few, and she has spoken in favor of reinstating and expanding net neutrality to apply to Internet firms like Google.” (p 8)

*Google’s Actions have caused significant harm to the Gabbard campaign and violate the U.S. and California constitutions and California business law.

“Through its illegal actions targeting Tulsi Gabbard, Google has caused the Campaign significant harm, both monetary (including potentially millions of dollars in forgone donations) and nonmonetary (the ability to provide Tulsi’s important message with Americans looking to hear it).” (p6)

“Google engages in a pattern and practice of intentional discrimination in the provision of its services, including discriminating and censoring the Campaign’s speech based not on the content of the censored speech but on the Campaign’s political identity and viewpoint.” (p27)

*The public has an interest in this case.

“Unless the court issues an appropriate injunction, Google’s illegal and unconstitutional behavior will continue, harming both the Campaign and the general public, which has an overwhelming interest in a fair, unmanipulated 2020 United States Election cycle. (p 34)

Google Explanation is Not Credible

The Tulsi Gabbard Google Ads account was abruptly suspended at a crucial time. The question is why. Was it the result of “unusual activity” triggering an “automatic suspension” as claimed by Google? Or was it because someone at Google changed the software or otherwise intervened to undermine the Tulsi campaign?

Google’s explanation of an “automatic suspension” from “unusual activity” is dubious. First, the timing does not make sense. The sudden rise in searches on “Tulsi Gabbard” began the day before the suspension. Gabbard participated in the first debate, on June 26. Her presence and performance sparked interest among many viewers. Next morning, June 27, media reported that,  “Tulsi Gabbard was the most searched candidate on Google after the Democratic debate in Miami”. The second debate took place in the evening of June 27. With discussion of the Democratic candidates continuing,  Tulsi Gabbard continued to attract much interest. Around 9:30 pm (ET) on June 27 the Google Ads account was suddenly suspended. If the cause was “unusual activity”, the “automatic trigger” should have occurred long before.

Second, Google was fully aware of the “unusual activity”. In fact Google was the source of the news reports on the morning of June 27.  Reports said,

According to Google Trends, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the most searched candidate heading into the debate… After the debate, Gabbard vaulted into first.”

Screenshot from USA Today

Third, it is hard to believe that Google does not have any human or more sophisticated review before suspending a major Ads account on a politically intense night. It should have been obvious that the cause of increased interest in Gabbard was the nationally televised Democratic candidates debate and media coverage.

Fourth, the changing explanation for the sudden suspension, starting with a false claim that there were “problems with billing”, raises questions about the integrity of Google’s response.

Google Secretly Manipulates Public Opinion

Unknown to most of the public, there is compelling evidence that Google has been secretly manipulating search results to steer public perception and election voting for years.

Dr. Robert Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has been studying and reporting on this for the past six years. Recently, on June 16, 2019 he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Constitution. His testimony is titled “Why Google Poses a Serious Threat to Democracy, and How to End That Threat”.

Epstein has published 15 books and over 300 scientific and mainstream media articles on artificial intelligence and related topics.

“Since 2012, some of my research and writings have focused on Google LLC, specifically on the company’s power to suppress content – the censorship problem, if you will – as well as on the massive surveillance the company conducts, and also on the company’s unprecedented ability to manipulate the thoughts and behavior of more than 2.5 billion people worldwide.”

As shown by Dr. Epstein, Google uses several techniques to manipulate public opinion. The results of an online search are biased.  Search “suggestions” are skewed. Messages such as “Go Vote” are sent to some people but not to others.

Epstein’s written testimony to Congress includes links to over sixty articles documenting his research published in sites ranging from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to Huffington Post. Epstein’s testimony describes “disturbing findings” including:

“In 2016, biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton”. (Epstein notes that he supported Clinton.)

“On Election Day in 2018, the ‘Go Vote’ reminder Google displayed on its home page gave one political party between 800,000 and 4.6 million more votes than it gave the other party.”

“My recent research demonstrates that Google’s ‘autocomplete’ search suggestions can turn a 50/50 split among undecided voters into a 90/10 split without people’s awareness.”

“Google has likely been determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide since at least 2015. This is because many races are very close and because Google’s persuasive technologies are very powerful.” 

Google is Censoring Alternative Media  

In August 2017 TruePublica reported their experience and predictions in an article titled “The Truth War is Being Lost to a Global Censorship Apparatus Called Google”. The article says,

“60 percent of people now get their news from search engines, not traditional human editors in the media. It is here where the new information war takes place – the algorithm. Google now takes 81.2 percent of all search engine market share globally…. Google has the ability to drive demand and set the narrative, create bias and swing opinion.”

In 2017, the World Socialist Web Site (wsws.org) reported that,

“In April, under the guise of combatting ‘fake news’, Google introduced new procedures that give extraordinary powers to unnamed ‘evaluators’ to demote web pages and websites. These procedures have been used to exclude the WSWS and other anti-war and oppositional sites. Over the past three months, traffic originating from Google to the WSWS  has fallen by approximately 70%…. In key searches relevant to a wide range of topics the WSWS regularly covers – including the U.S. military operations and the threat of war, social conditions, inequality and even socialism – the number of search impressions …has fallen dramatically.”

In essence, Google has “de-ranked” and is screening searchers from seeing alternative and progressive websites such as truepublica, globalresearch, consortiumnews, commondreams, wikileaks, truth-out and many more. WSWS reported numerous specific examples such as this one:

“Searches for the term ‘Korean war’ produced 20,932 impressions in May. In July, searches using the same words produced zero WSWS impressions.”

“The policy guiding these actions is made absolutely clear in the April 25, 2017 blog post by Google’s Vice President for Engineering, Ben Gomes, and the updated ‘Search Quality Rater Guidelines’ published at the same time. The post refers to the need to flag and demote ‘unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and conspiracy theories’ – broad and amorphous language used to exclude any oppositional content…. “The ‘lowest’ rating is also to be given to a website that ‘presents unsubstantiated conspiracy theories or hoaxes as if the information were factual.'”

Tulsi Gabbard has not only called for much stricter regulations on high tech and social media giants. She has also challenged the Democratic Party and foreign policy establishment.  In late February 2016 she resigned as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee to support candidate Bernie Sanders against the establishment favorite, Hillary Clinton. Gabbard has issued sharp criticisms of US foreign policy.  Recently she said,

“We hear a lot of politicians say the same argument that we’ve got to stay engaged in the world otherwise we’ll be isolationists as though the only way the United States can engage with other countries is by blowing them up or strangling them with economic sanctions by smashing them and trying to overthrow their governments. This is exactly what’s wrong with this whole premise and the whole view in which too many politicians, too many leaders in this country are viewing the United States role in the world.”

Conclusion

Did Google take the next step from silently censoring websites the corporation does not like to undercutting a presidential candidate the corporation does not like?

This is a David vs Goliath story. Google/Alphabet is the 37th largest corporation in the world  with enormous political influence in Washington. Whether or not the law suit succeeds, it may serve the public interest by exposing Google’s immense monopolistic power  and illustrate the need for much more regulation, transparency and accountability.  It may also generate more interest in Gabbard’s message and campaign in the face of efforts to silence her.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be contacted at [email protected] He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Pixabay

“This ideology of [United States corporatism] embraces a belief that societies and cultures can be regenerated through violence….  This belief that [the US has] a divine right to resources, land and power, and a right to displace and kill to obtain personal and national wealth, has left in its wake a trail of ravaged landscaped and incalculable human suffering.”  — Chris Hedges, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt 

The United States in 1954, under the thin veil of fighting communism and defending “American” interests, led a coup d’état in Guatemala to overthrow democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz. Árbenz and his immediate predecessor Juan José Arévalo initiated substantial social programs that brought needed and popular changes to a rising urban working class and rural peasants that for 133 years were ruled by paternal autocrats that in Latin America were called caudillos. Beginning in the twentieth century Guatemalan rulers encouraged foreign corporations, enticed with generous governmental inducements to plunder the nation and keep labor costs at rock bottom.  By 1944 the Guatemalan people began to pushback against the caudillos who ruled for benefit of the oligarchy and US corporations.  The US onslaught against the Árbenz government set the stage for US imperialist interventions throughout Latin America for the next 65 years.  Indeed, for the US Central Intelligency Agency (CIA), the operations in Guatemala and Iran (1953), served as a blueprint for CIA led interventions around the globe.  Subsequent the overthrow of Árbenz, the elites in the CIA had jettisoned any notions that it follow the ethos that each had sworn to when he joined the intelligence agency.  Richard M. Bissell, Jr., CIA officer in charge of the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion, admitted that it was no longer necessary to speak the truth even to the nation’s commander-in-chief.

“Many of us who joined the CIA did not feel bound in the actions we took as staff members to observe all ethical rules,” he said.

For him and his colleagues protecting the image of the CIA was the prime directive.  The lies the CIA operatives told policymakers in the US would have disastrous in the decades to come.

Indeed, during the four decades subsequent the US-led destruction of the ambitious Guatemalan 1944 Revolution, Guatemala was once again beset with vicious and corrupt dictators. The revolution during 1944 that offered the working class and peasants social changes, that were featured in programs initiated during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in the US, were obliterated.  The dreams of the poor and working class of a liberal government in Guatemala were violently swept away and replaced by four decades of Civil War and governmental policies of scorched earth cruelty and genocide under the guidance, military training and acquiescence of the highest reaches of the US government.  These horrors, that claimed more than 200,000 lives, 93 percent of the deaths at the hands of the Guatemalan military, culminated in the 1996 peace accord under the auspices of the United Nations.  The peace accord ended a horrific and sustained wave of repression and slaughter and established a Commission on Historical Clarification to study the atrocities and their causes.  This paper examines the US-backed overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected government at the behest of corporate profits and the decades of savagery that supported tyrants who unleashed unspeakable horrors against their own populations during the 36-year Guatemalan Civil War.

Jacobo Árbenz, Francisco Arana, and Jorge Toriello, who oversaw the transition to a civilian government after the October Revolution (Public Domain)

Since 1821 when the Spanish empire ceded independence to Latin American nations, Guatemala remains the largest and the most populous nation in the Central American isthmus, a 200,000 square-mile region comprised of seven nations: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.  By the late nineteenth century, Guatemala’s economy was driven almost exclusively by coffee and banana exportation.  Coffee barons, mostly Guatemalan nationals and Germans (who were expelled from the country and removed to US camps as their landholdings were forcibly liquidated during World War II), exploited a large peasant population, including indigenous Mayan Indians, that resided in rural villages and hamlets.  US corporations dominated other economic sectors.  The urban population resided in Guatemala City, the nation’s capital.  The urbans were mostly ladino, Spanish descendants with combined Mayan ancestry.  The ladino population emerged at least partly from the exploitation of Indian women, who bore the children of white Spaniards or criollos who raped them.  Criollos were of white Spanish ancestry, but born in the Western hemisphere   However, by adopting their bourgeois values, ladinos could sometimes blend with the criollos.  But mostly ladinos were neither property owners nor forced laborers.  Instead, ladinos were landless free laborers who were in a constant struggle for survival.  The ladinos’ denial of their identity sharply differed with the Indians’ values of community and communal labor.  The class structure in Guatemala consisted of a tiny but powerful oligarchy with a small upper-middle class layer that would be blocked from entering the higher levels of the society by colonial structures.  The overwhelming percentage of the remaining population were impoverished, landless peasants.  Hardly any social mobility existed among the classes, especially for the Indians who were mostly ignored or exploited.  The Indians were considered in most quarters as non-citizens (Schlewitz 2004; Jonas 1991, 16, 22).

Guatemala’s economy and class divisions were based on land ownership that remained in the hands of the oligarchy and the US corporations.  Most of the population was landless.  The oligarchs and United Fruit Company controlled a vast majority of arable land in the country as of 1950 with a large portion of these tracts uncultivated.  The class differential also manifested itself in the ability of the elites to foist coercive methods on workers and the poor that included debt peonage and forced labor. Wages were at starvation levels even as periodic trends in the coffee and banana markets increased profits.  The coffee and banana export economy that drove profits for the oligarchs and foreign corporations limited production of foodstuffs for workers as chronic shortages persisted of rice, beans, corn, wheat, tobacco and meat.  The labor force in Guatemala was obviously connected to race with Indians at the bottom of the economic pyramid.  These repressive policies stymied any consumer demand in the nation (Galeano 1997; Schlewitz 2004).

In the early years of the twentieth century, banana plantations made their debut.  Beginning in the years subsequent to the US Civil War, US companies were becoming entrenched into the Guatemalan economy and a dominant presence in the lives of the nation.  Especially dominant were the companies engaged in banana production, railway transportation and merchant shipping.  Subsequent World War I, three US companies—United Fruit Company, International Railways of Central America (IRCA) and Electric Bond and Share— dominated economic scene.  These companies built new railways for the exclusive use of products from US-corporate owned plantations.  These foreign companies also monopolized the electric light, mail, telegraph and telephone services.    United Fruit swarmed into Central America and became the biggest latifundista, the large landholders that controlled the rural populations.  United Fruit Company dominated banana production and IRCA dominated transportation as their affiliates controlled the shipping ports and set up private customs and private police.  By 1944 United Fruit Company was the largest landholder in the nation with 550,000 acres fronting both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines (Galeano 1997; Schlewitz 2004; Gordon 1971; Jonas 1991, 19).

US businesses established favorable concessions from the Guatemalan government that included low taxes and capital transfer fees that kept the Guatemalan government in subservience, thus limited the government’s ability to establish meaningful gains in its own economy.  Furthermore, the wide profit margins the US corporations enjoyed allowed the US companies and their executives outsized leverage into the governmental policies of their host country.  Bribery was commonplace and the corporate connections to powerful US policymakers in the US State Department and the Commerce Department ensured US corporations received substantial privileges (Schlewitz 2004).

During the nineteenth century in Latin America conservatives opposed the influx of foreign capital and advocated for an isolationist policy.  They also preferred limited governmental oversight as the Catholic Church and latifundista maintained control of the peasants.  Conservatives also rejected a Central American federation under Guatemalan leadership that liberals envisioned.  On the other hand, liberals were the elites that mostly resided in the urban areas.  Liberals promoted a centralized government that included a planned economy, commercialization of agriculture, foreign investment along with integrating the nation with educational programs (Schlewitz 2004; Galeano 1997).

JuanJoseArevaloBermejo - cropped.jpg

Prior to the liberal Revolution of 1871 huge land tracts, that were owned by the state, the Catholic Church or by no one, were claimed by privateers as Indian communities were voraciously sacked.  Peasants who resisted offers to sell their land to the great enterprises that desired the parcels were forced into the army as brutal coffee plantations gobbled up land.  Between independence in 1821 and the 1944 revolution when Dr. Juan José Arévalo (image on the right, public domain) was elected president, Guatemala see-sawed between the rule of conservative and liberal elites.  Following Guatemalan independence from Spain in 1821, liberals maintained a tenuous hold on the government.  Conservatives came to power in 1837 and ruled until the liberal revolution of 1871.  That year General Justo Rufino Barrios seized the mantel of power that would remain in the liberals’ hands for 50 years.  Subsequent the 1871 revolution, liberals during the autocratic Rufino Barrios regime attempted to compel neighboring countries in Central America to unite into the Central American Federation, but these hopes expired when the caudillo was killed in the battle of Chalchuapa in El Salvador on April 2, 1885 (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 28-29; Schlewitz 2004).

Meanwhile, the liberals under the Justo Rufino Barrios regime ended the Church’s dominance in education and established public education as they completed land reforms that seized land from the oligarchs and transferred ownership to peasants.  As Guatemala flooded with foreign money primarily from Germany and the US, the liberal regime began infrastructure improvements in communication, seaports and roads to modernize the nation’s ability to enter the world economy.  The Rufino Barrios government could never be confused with a democracy, its progressive reforms for the poor notwithstanding.  Its generous policies for the poor came to a halt upon the death of Rufino Barrios in 1885.  When the megalomaniac protofascist General Jorge Ubico rose to power in 1931 with the support of the US and, specifically, the Rockefeller Foundation, after a string of brutal dictatorships, Guatemala had reverted back to its feudal conditions.  The US State Department had since 1919 sought to assist the advancement of Ubico.  Upon his rise to power, the oligarchs had successfully chased the peasants off the land.  Ubico increased a centralized government that sought to privatize the nation’s resources while it subsidized private industry and bolstered law and order to protect the ownership class (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 27-28; Jonas 1991, 20).

In 1934 the Ubico government instituted vagrancy legislation similar to the nineteenth-century Black Codes and Jim Crow laws in the post-Reconstruction US that forced those without proof of employment or ownership of enough land to labor for either for planters or on government work crews.  Workers who fled were hunted down by gunmen.  Industrial workers and artisans in Guatemala City made repeated efforts to establish unions, but they were unsuccessful until the 1944 Revolution.  The workers were paid minimal wages and never enjoyed the increases that came with the rising prices of coffee or bananas worldwide (Galeano 1997; Schlewitz 2004).

The power differential between the “Colossus of the North,” that was the US, and the Central American nation of Guatemala, ensured the subordination of the host nation’s interests, ideals and culture.  As US hegemony around the globe increased, so did the intensity of US prerogative over Guatemalan policy.  During the post-World War II years as the Cold War escalated and especially following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the US grip in Guatemala and Latin America tightened (Schlewitz 2004).

Presidente Jorge Ubico Castañeda.pngAs the Great Depression held the globe in its icy grip, General Jorge Ubico (image on the left, public domain) with the concerted influence of the US in a corrupt election assumed the presidency in 1931.  Using his secret police as a cudgel to menace any opposition, Ubico retained power as he restructured the Constitution at his whim for 13 years.  But by 1941 during World War II, the US had misgivings about Ubico’s pro-Nazi political stance.  When German elite landholders were expelled from Guatemala that year and interred in US relocation camps, the US sent FBI agents to ensure the expropriation of their lands.  Additionally, Assistant Secretary of State Nelson Rockefeller conceived a program of loans from the US government and private banks to spur business development and secure financial connections to the US.  When the ultraconservative Ubico rejected Rockefeller’s efforts, the US policymakers began to reconsider his usefulness to the empire (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 26-27; Schlewitz 2004; Jonas 1991, 22).

Meanwhile by 1944, a rising middle-class in Guatemala had assumed responsibility in coordinating work activities of the passive Indians who occupied 50 percent of the nation’s total population.  This petit bourgeoisie of schoolteachers, shopkeepers, skilled workers, underpaid public workers, junior military officers and university students  formed a coalition for a revolution that included progressive and nationalistic property owners who had been snubbed by Ubico.  Peasants and both rural and urban workers and artisans also joined the coalition on a limited basis.  The Indian population was not active in the movement, but their general restiveness contributed support for change.  Most important to the revolution was the broad support the population had for a constitutional democracy.  During the war years these cohorts listened intently via shortwave radios to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fire-side chats” about the New Deal and his “Four Freedoms” that declared that all humanity is entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.  Roosevelt was a hero to this growing population’s awareness of possibilities after it had been through 13 years of crushing repression from the Ubico regime.  Roosevelt inspired workers and middle-class Guatemalans that they deserved a government that served the public’s well-being not just the dominant class (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 26-29; Jonas 1991, 23).

Non-violent demonstrations led by schoolteachers began occurring in Guatemala with increasing frequency.  Demonstrations against the government had never happened in Guatemala’s history.  This stunned Ubico who fancied himself as comparable to his idol Napoleon.  He had not the slightest idea that his subjects hated him.  The flatterers and lickspittles that Ubico surrounded himself with kept him in the dark about the citizenry’s true feelings about his rule.  On June 29, 1944 Guatemalans energized by middle-class activists gathered people from broad sections of the urban population.  They staged a rally on the capital’s central square in Guatemala City, that demanded an end to the Ubico government.  Enraged, Ubico ordered cavalry to charge the protesters; 200 were killed or injured (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 27-28).

Until June 1944 Ubico had continued the thuggish and crushing legacy of repression of the caudillos that Guatemalan’s endured since the nation’s independence.   But that year the oligarchy’s government was in tatters.  A few days after the June 29th demonstration, 311 schoolteachers, lawyers, doctors, shop owners and others delivered a petition that boldly stated the “Petition of the 311 declared the “full solidarity” of the petition’s signers with the “legitimate aspirations” of the protesters.  Feeling betrayed as many of the petitioners were those whom he considered his friends and broken in spirit, Ubico on July 1, 1944 resigned his office and ceded the government to General Federico Ponce (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 28).

Federicoponcevaides.jpg

Ponce (image on the right, public domain) vastly misunderstood the mood of Guatemala’s electorate; he assumed incorrectly that the people desired a new caudillo that since independence from Spain was the hallmark of Latin American leaders.  Ponce did institute raises in teacher salaries and minimal reforms in the universities that he hoped would pacify the strident protesters who drove Ubico from office.  But simultaneously, Ponce issued crackdowns on civil liberties: prohibited private meetings and demonstrations, expanded surveillance and retained control of the government in the hands of the military and jefes politicos, the local political bosses that Ubico relied upon to dominate and terrorize the country.  Meanwhile, a prominent commentator wrote scathing articles denouncing the Ponce regime was assassinated on orders from Ponce  The schoolteachers and other activists sought an opposition candidate to run against Ponce.  Fellow schoolteacher and author of popular history and geography textbooks Dr. Juan José Arévalo was their choice (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 30).

On September 2, 1944 Arévalo, returning from a 10-year exile in Argentina, stepped off an airplane to adoring throngs of Guatemalans who accepted him as their chosen leader to take the people out of the dark days of dictatorship.  However, Arévalo went into hiding almost immediately as Ponce ordered his arrest.  But Ponce’s days were numbered.  Two military officers, Major Francisco Arana and Captain Jacobo Árbenz, who in 1950 would himself be elected president, returned from El Salvador where they plotted a revolt against the Ponce government.  Arana and Árbenz rapidly organized a brigade of loyal soldiers who under Arana and Árbenz direction attacked police stations and military installations friendly to Ponce.  Ponce acquiesced to the onslaught on October 22 and soon he left Guatemala.  Arana and Árbenz were hailed as national heroes and formed a temporary junta along with Jorge Toriello, a well-known business leader.  The junta immediately declared free elections would soon follow as it embraced Arévalo as the junta’s candidate (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 30-31; Pike 1955).

Arévalo enjoyed broad-based support.  On March 15, 1945 Juan José Arévalo took the oath of office as he was swept into the presidency with the support of 85 percent of voters.  The franchise was only permitted to “literate males.”  Nonetheless, Arévalo spoke of the benefits of democracy as he expressed Christian Socialist notions that the government has a duty to improve the lives of its citizens.  He called communism “contrary to human nature, for it is contrary to the psychology of man.”  Yet, he acknowledged communism existed in Guatemala as a legal political viewpoint.  When Marxists established Escuela Claridad, an indoctrination school in 1945, Arévalo ordered the school closed on the grounds that the Guatemalan Constitution did not permit a political organization of a foreign or international character.  But Marxism was gaining a toehold in the nation.  In 1947 a group led by José Manuel Fortuny established Vanguardia Democrática, a communist organization (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 32-34, 56; Pike 1955).

Arévalo’s governance promised major priorities: land and tax reform, labor protections, improvements to the nation’s educational system and consolidation of political democracy.  Arévalo encouraged formation of political parties.  He restructured the National Assembly as an equal branch of government to the executive.  Freedom of the press and free speech blossomed for the first time in the nation’s 123-year history.  In 1946 the Arévalo government passed Guatemala’s first social security legislation that was fashioned after Roosevelt’s New Deal.  Additionally, Arévalo and the National Assembly in 1947 passed the Labor Code that was modeled after the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act of 1935) that allowed labor unions and collective bargaining in the US.  The labor legislation included an eight-hour workday, minimum wages, child and female labor regulations, severance pay and paid vacations.  The land-owning oligarchs were enraged.  This tiny group of privilege resented the very idea that any citizens not in their rarified socioeconomic strata would be entitled to protections and benefits from the government.  But the larger issue was that the Labor Code was instrumental, at least in part, for the US intervention in Guatemala in 1954.  The Code required foreign corporations to maintain a workforce that was 90 percent Guatemalan.   The oligarchy’s obstinance drove Arévalo tentatively toward the welcoming arms of the communists.  Ubico supporters alerted the FBI of Arévalo’s labor reforms and cited “communist influence.”  The FBI opened a dossier on Arévalo. (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 37-38; Pike 1955; Gordon 1971).

Even as the oligarchy and the US corporations dug in their heels as the new welfare state delivered threats to their cheap labor supply and squabbles among the elites persisted, Arévalo’s progress was significant.  Government expenditures for education between 1944 and 1950 jumped 155 percent.  Outlays for new schools and hospitals tripled in 1945 and doubled again by 1950.  A group of US economists delivered a study that showed the new programs moderately redistributed income in favor of Indian peasants and low-income urban families and strengthened the entire economy by increasing productivity (Gordon 1971).

The benefits that Arévalo delivered mostly benefited the labor side of the economy but ignored the major issues of land and tax reform.  The Indians remained landless.  The overflowing wealth of oligarchy remained intact as the tax structure remained untouched.  The privileged contracts that US corporations held also remained in place.  A tax-reform measure that also would have provided adjustments to the corporations’ contracts did not pass in the Guatemalan Congress.  This legislative defeat prevented $4 million of income to the government that would have been available for economic expansion annually, according to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, i.e. the World Bank (IBRD) (Gordon 1971).

Notwithstanding Arévalo’s energy and optimism, he faced daunting conditions that plagued the nation’s living standards.  City dwellers were faced with limited options for a sustainable income as most industry resided in the hands of foreign corporations, principally United Fruit Company and its affiliates.  A small but steadily growing middle class remained on the fringes of the economy that had not adjusted to its existence.  Rural populations were faced with subsistence wages of between five cents and 20 cents per day.  Seventy-two percent of the land was owned by two percent of the population.  Latifundios that comprised more than 1,100 acres constituted only 0.3 percent of Guatemalan farms, but they occupied more than half of the country’s farmland.  Seventy-five percent of all farmers were landless or owned only small plots.  Indians, who were descendants of the Maya and never assimilated into Guatemalan society were landless.  Only one-half of the arable land in 1952 was in production.  The nation’s economic system left peasants in abject poverty; the underutilized land and resources left Guatemala dependent on the US banana and coffee markets.  The Indians represented 60 percent (1.8 million) of the nation’s three million total population but they were chained to a debt-labor system that was little different from the slavery conditions that existed during Spain’s rule.  Life expectancy for ladinos, i.e. those with mixed Spanish and Indian blood, was 50 years.  Indians could expect to live until age 40 (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 38-40; Pike 1955; Gordon 1971).

Inefficiencies in land utilization, resulting from the latifundio system, required that Guatemala import food, even as 75 percent of Guatemala’s population engaged in agricultural production.  Agricultural endeavors produced 57 percent of the country’s gross national product.  Beyond the narrow range of domestic agriculture in the country, banana and coffee production dominated the Guatemalan landscape.  The vast land tracts in bananas were wholly controlled by US corporations, principally United Fruit Company.  The coffee production remained in the grip of the Guatemalan oligarchy (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 40; Pike 1955).

The monopolies enjoyed by US corporations contributed to stalling Guatemalan industrial development, according to a 300-page report issued by the IBRD.  Contracts between the Guatemalan government and the US corporations allowed the corporations to reduce their tax liability to the Central American nation by one half.  The three US corporations had enormous political clout that allowed them to skim profits off the top and return them to their US shareholders.  Meanwhile, funds that might be used for economic development in Guatemala were siphoned off, tilting the economic table that left farmers in a dependent status and poverty ridden as it tightened the strangulating grip of the most reactionary elements (Gordon 1971; Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 53-53).

During the first couple of years of his presidential term Arévalo maintained a relatively stable environment in Guatemala.  However, dark clouds began to gather during 1948 as workers became restive.  The press, enjoying their newfound freedoms, began to vigorously attack the Arévalo administration as his base argued among themselves about definitive policies.  Between June 1948 and March 1949 labor unions began strikes that continuously harassed United Fruit Company.  A large cache of arms spurred Arévalo to declare a national emergency when the weaponry was uncovered in railroad cars at United Fruit’s railway line at Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast.  Plots to end the Arévalo government were tied to Colonel Francisco Arana who harbored ambitions to become president.  Arana, backed by the military, had risen in power to the extent that he enjoyed a virtual veto over Arévalo’s decisions (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 42-43).

Moreover, at least two dozen uprisings, either planned or in progress, threatened Arévalo’s government during the president’s six-year term.  Additionally, fractures appeared among the coalition that backed Arévalo as the middle class feared the 1944 Revolution was moving too far toward the left.  Radical elements continued to push for greater efforts to end poverty and the low status endured by workers and peasants.  Labor unions flexing their newfound gains under Arévalo instigated punitive worker strikes against United Fruit Company and IRCA in 1946, 1948-1949 and 1950-1952.  US financiers in Boston, the home of United Fruit’s headquarters, along with their supporters in the US Congress denigrated these labor actions that impacted foreign shareholders’ monetary gains.  Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, whose family had deep financial ties to the giant banana vendor that Guatemalans called El Pulpo (the Octopus), took to the senate floor to denounce the Labor Code as specifically targeting United Fruit Company.    The senator charged the legislation caused a “serious breakdown” because of communist intrusion.    Senator John W. McCormack joined the chorus by blaming “a minority of reckless agitators” of attempting to punish United Fruit Company for “being American.”  Congressman Christian Herter threatened legislation that would cease funding to countries that discriminated against US companies.  By 1950 the hysteria of the Red Scare was in full flower in the US as policymakers turned up the heat on Arévalo to denounce communism (Gordon 1971; (Stone and Kuznick 2012, 262).

In the runup to Guatemala’s 1950 election, elements in the military felt their dominant role in Guatemalan society was threatened.  Simultaneously, leftists, intimidated by Major Francisco Arana’s control of the military, were apprehensive at the notion of the military securing the reins of the government.  Also, sensing pushback from opposition the leftists were eager to implement the policies that the 1944 revolution promised.  As the Arévalo government faltered, the left sought a candidate for the upcoming election in 1950 election to counter Arana.  They set their sights on Defense Minister Jacobo Árbenz, who had partnered with Arana during the 1944 military revolt against Ponce (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 43).

The more assertive Arana was popular with voters as the more reticent Árbenz cut a less dynamic profile.  Árbenz’s principle advisers worried that Arana might launch a coup d’état with the acquiescence of the military.  A plot emerged to arrest Arana on charges that he was planning to take the government by force.  But Árbenz supporters balked at that idea, fearing an uprising by the military.  Another scheme considered was to kidnap Arana and force him into exile.  What finally occurred was that Arana was ambushed at the Puente de la Gloria bridge.  Arana was killed in the ensuing gun battle.  Close friends of Árbenz were implicated but Arévalo refused to investigate.  Rumors circulated that Árbenz witnessed the battle through binoculars while he was perched on a nearby hill.  Following sporadic uprisings in the weeks after the assassination that Arévalo quelled, it was a forgone conclusion that Jacobo Árbenz would be Arévalo’s successor as president (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 44-45).

Jacobo Arbenz Guzman (oficial).jpg

On the Ides of March 1951 Jacobo Árbenz (image on the left, public domain) began his term as Guatemala’s president.  The Ides of March was significant in 44 BCE as the day of the assassination of Julius Caesar that marked a major change in the Roman Empire’s destiny.  Guatemala was no Roman Empire, but the election of the 38-year-old Árbenz would usher in major changes in the course of the Guatemalan history.   The US would bring the wrath of empire to Guatemala as the Central American nation attempted to continue the nascent 1944 Revolution that ignited hope in the hearts of workers and the middle class during Arévalo’s administration.  The result of the US interventions that began in 1954 would lay the foundation for the slaughter or disappearance of 200,000 in Guatemala during the subsequent four decades (McSherry 2005; Weiner 2008; Stone and Kuznick 2012, 261).

President Jacobo Árbenz at his March 1951 inauguration voiced his commitment to meaningful reforms and social justice:

“All the riches of Guatemala are not as important as the life, the freedom, the dignity, the health and the happiness of its people…we must distribute these riches so that those who have less—and they are the immense majority—benefit more, while those who have more—and they are so few—also benefit, but to a lesser extent.  How could it be otherwise, given the poverty, the poor health and the lack of education of our people?”

Árbenz, early in his administration, was energetically transforming Guatemala into a modern capitalist nation.   He enthusiastically worked to quash the iron grip of world coffee prices on the Guatemalan economy.  He also sought to pull Guatemala away from the oppressive boot of US corporations on his countrymen.  One of his first projects was the development of an Atlantic coastal port that would be owned by the Guatemalan public and compete against the Puerto Barrios port owned by United Fruit Company.  Árbenz also began construction of a highway to the Atlantic that would compete with the IRCA railroad’s monopoly. Finally, he erected a hydroelectric plant that produced electrical power cheaper than the US-investor owned Electric Bond and Share monopoly.  Instead of simply nationalizing the US-corporate monopolies, Árbenz attempted to compete directly against the giants.  However, Árbenz’s main thrust was in land reform; in his message to Congress he stated that he advocated “agrarian reform which puts an end to the latifundios and the semi-feudal practices, giving the land to thousands of peasants, raising their purchasing power and creating a great internal market favorable to the development of domestic industry” (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 53; Stone and Kuznick 2012, 261).

The agrarian reform legislative vehicle to initiate the audacious plan to equalize wealth in Guatemala was called Decree 900.  Decree 900 granted the Guatemalan government the power to expropriate land of large plantations that was uncultivated.  Not included in this legislation were any farms with fewer than 223 acres, or farms between 223 acres and 670 acres that had a minimum of 2/3 of the farm’s land under cultivation.  Farms of any size that were totally cultivated were exempt from expropriation.  The owners of the expropriated lands would be compensated with 25-year term government bonds that yielded three percent per annum.  The valuation of the land expropriated was based on the owner’s declaration of value for tax purposes as of May 1952.  The property owners, especially the big US corporations and oligarchs, insisted that they valued their lands for tax purposes well below rates they could achieve on the open market to limit their tax liability (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 54-55).

These expropriated lands, together with huge “national farms” that were nationalized in 1941 when the Germans who owned these tracts were expelled from the country during World War II were to be parceled to landless peasants in tracts no larger than 42.5 acres each.  To avoid speculation in the real estate market, most of the recipients of the land would not be granted a clear title and they could only occupy the land for the remainder of their life.  Instead they would rent the land at five percent of the value of the food produced from the land.  The “nationalized farms” once owned by Germans would be rented for three percent of the food’s value from production.  This bold initiative would only survive for 18 months until the Árbenz government was toppled.  But during its existence, the program delivered 1.5 million acres (that the Guatemalan government paid $8,345,545 in bonds) to approximately 100,000 families—including 1,700 acres owned by President Árbenz and an additional 1,200 acres that was owned by Guillermo Toriello who would later become Árbenz’s foreign minister (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 54-55).

Decree 900 would have grave consequences for the largest landowner in Guatemala, United Fruit Company that owned about 550,000 acres.  Decree 900 was especially punishing to the corporation as the legislation targeted uncultivated land for expropriation.  The banana grower’s landholdings were 85 percent uncultivated in 1953 due to market demand for the produce.   In March 1953, 209,842 acres of United Fruit Company’s uncultivated land were expropriated at the Pacific coast in a region named Tiquisate.  The land was valued at $627,572.  Between October 1953 and February 1954, the Guatemalan government expropriated an additional 177,059 acres at Bananera, near the Atlantic coast. The government valued this expropriation at about $500,000.  The US Department of State on April 20, 1954 issued an angry protest and demanded a payment of $15,854,849 for the property at Tiquisate.  This sum did not include the US value estimate for the Bananera tract.  The total acreage expropriated tallied 386,901 (approximately 70 percent of United Fruit Company’s landholdings in Guatemala).  Foreign-policy experts in the Eisenhower were stepping up their rhetoric against the upstart Guatemalan government as they termed the previous Democratic administrations as “namby-pamby” (Pike 1955; Gordon 1971; Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 54, 75-76).

The larger scope, doubtless observed by Washington policymakers and their clandestine strong-arm men, was the contagion in other Central American nations of backlashes against the monolithic United Fruit Company.  In Costa Rica José Figueres who was running for president demanded the United Fruit Company increase the percentage of profits from 15 percent to 50 percent that the company paid annually to the Costa Rica government.  In Honduras and Panama, United Fruit Company’s workers engaged in crippling labor strikes as the governments in those nations demanded more favorable contract terms.  The US State Department and the CIA were alarmed by the Árbenz government in Guatemala actions against the fruit giant that were impending on the multinational corporation’s 3,000,000 acres of land (nearly the size of the state of Connecticut), 2,000 miles of railroad, 15 hospitals, 237 schools and 100 steamships throughout Central America (Gordon 1971; Whitfield 1984).

Coinciding with the Arbenz agrarian reform was the election of Republican President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower whose administration promptly abandoned President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” in Latin America.  To further complicate matters for Guatemala, key members of Eisenhower’s foreign policy architects either had current or past business ties with United Fruit Company.  Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, a law firm that historians Nancy Lisagor and Frank Lipsius reported “thrived on cartels and collusion with the new Nazi regime,” represented United Fruit Company in legal matters during the years prior to the 1944 Revolution.  John Foster Dulles, himself, spent 1934 “publicly supporting Hitler.”  John Foster Dulles’ brother Allen Dulles was director of the CIA.  Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, who was Dulles’ predecessor as CIA director, joined United Fruit Company as a vice president in 1955.  The assistant secretary of state for Latin America was John M. Cabot who held a large stockownership position in the company.  His brother Thomas D. Cabot was a director for First National Bank of Boston.  Robert D. Hill, the current ambassador to Costa Rica, was assistant vice-president of W.R. Grace and Company.  Hill would later be active in the coup d’état to destroy the Árbenz regime.  Hill later became a director of United Fruit Company (Gordon 1971; Stone and Kuznick 2012, 263; Kinzer 2006, 114).

Meanwhile, United Fruit Company, whose president was Samuel Zemurray, a business powerhouse that Newsweekmagazine called “the dictator of the banana industry,” was marshalling its considerable resources to combat the Árbenz assault on the fruit producer’s landholdings in Guatemala.  By 1947 the company had engaged the services of the celebrated public-relations genius Edward Bernays.  In 1950 in a strategy session to counter the Guatemalan government’s pushback on United Fruit Company, Bernays, the noted author and nephew of the father of modern psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud, calmly soothed the worried brows of United Fruit’s executives, “I [have] the feeling that Guatemala might respond to pitiless publicity in this country.”  Bernays would construct his marketing program on the theme that the dangerous communists that now infested Central America would soon be slithering into the very living rooms of Middle America (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 79-80; Whitfield 1984; (Stone and Kuznick 2012, 262).

By the time he appeared in front of the executives of United Fruit Company, Bernays had made his bones by directing advertising campaigns for several major US corporations.  He ran the marketing strategies of the fledgling CBS television network.  Perhaps his greatest feat was for the American Tobacco Company when he convinced prominent socialites to be photographed while they smoked cigarettes (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 80).

Bernays was a master of manipulating public opinion and manufacturing consent of public policy.  In Propaganda (1928) he wrote:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.  Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…. [I]t is the intelligent minorities which need to make use of propaganda continuously and systematically.” (Emphasis added.)

With the benefit of nearly a century of hindsight, Bernays’ prescient words are starkly frightening.  Nonetheless, while this hired gun for big business provided a valuable service for his clientele, he also was a political liberal who supported many of Roosevelt’s initiatives in the New Deal.  Most important to United Fruit Company, Bernays supported Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy that eschewed the heavy-handed policies of the US that treated Latin America as the imperialist nation’s colony.  Bernays and United Fruit Company President Samuel Zemurray worked well together initially.  But as Bernays learned about El Pulpo (the Octopus), the disparaging moniker that detractors called United Fruit Company because of its feudalistic policies against its workers, the public relations master began to have misgivings.  After traveling to Central America to see firsthand his employer’s operations, Bernays penned a memorandum that criticized the company’s racist policies toward “colored” natives and the shoddy company-provided housing for its US managers in Central America.  His star dropped rapidly in United Fruit Company’s boardroom after he presented his findings (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 80-82; Whitfield 1984).

Nevertheless, Bernays enlisted journalists to write articles in liberal publications about the difficulties that United Fruit Company was experiencing in Guatemala.  The New York Herald Tribune sent Fitzhugh Turner to Guatemala in February 1950.  The reporter penned a series of articles, based on interviews with company bosses titled “Communism in the Caribbean.”  The article garnered frontpage headlines for five consecutive days.  The New York Times sent reporter Will Lissner to Guatemala who concocted a bizarre story about communists from Chile infiltrating Guatemala.  After it appeared in the Times, the story quietly disappeared from the discussion.  Bernays’ propaganda efforts began to post results as public opinion swung in United Fruit’s favor.  When college professor and author Samuel Guy Inman traveled to Guatemala, he obtained an interview with Guatemalan President Arévalo in 1950.  Inman was impressed with the results of the 1944 Revolution that provided social security, new schools and hospitals, labor unions, a free press and free elections.  During the interview Arévalo insisted that he wanted the people of the US to know his disdain for communism.  He declared Guatemala’s “complete solidarity” with the US battles against communism in the Korean War then in progress.  Arévalo emphatically stated that “Politically speaking Guatemala has no connections whatsoever with any extra-continental power, either European or Asiatic.”  The Guatemalan president added that the Guatemalan people sought to establish a nation based on the principles of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The US press including the Associated Press, the Hearst Corporations International News Service, Newsweek magazine, The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times gave scant coverage of Arévalo’s statements of loyalty to the US. (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 84-85).

By August 1953 Bernays was armed with a budget of $500,000 per year from the deep pockets of United Fruit Company and backed by a collection of corporate and political heavy hitters.  Bernays and his allies convinced both liberals and conservatives in the US Congress that communism was running amok in Guatemala, despite the reality that the party had a paltry membership of 4,000.    As the Senator Joseph McCarthy hysteria in the US reached feverish panic, the nation’s public was looking for “commies” under every bed and behind every bush.  Bernays and his coterie of propagandists successfully convinced America that radicals in Guatemala’s government were the toadies of the Soviet Union. The American people succumbed to the Bernays story that United Fruit was the victim of sinister connivers of Soviet aggression.  Thus, with the phony pretext established it was only a matter of time before the CIA would ignite the fuse of Operation Success the code name for the regime-change plot in Guatemala.  Indeed, that very month, President Eisenhower authorized a $2.7 million budget for “psychological warfare and political action” and “subversion” along with other actions for a limited paramilitary war in Guatemala.  While the initial program did not call for assassinating the Guatemalan president, the CIA in a its so-called “K program” stated that “the option of assassination was still being considered” up until Árbenz resigned his office on June 27, 1954, according to CIA documents that were declassified in 1995.  The CIA had assembled a five-page roster of 58 targets for assassination.  It included “high government officials and organizational leaders” who were alleged communists” (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 88-90; Stone and Kuznick 2012, 263; Kate Doyle and Kornbluh, Ed. 1995; Weiner 2008, 111).

The lynchpin in the CIA’s schemes around the globe to topple governments that have the misfortune to raise the ire of the US empire is to identify a suitably pliable puppet to replace the besmirched “brutal dictator” of the targeted nation.  United Fruit Company had considerable anxiety that the installed leader would be someone who would assist the corporation in its endeavors to maximize profits.  Indeed, it pays to have friends in high places; this is especially true for US corporations that are operating in foreign nations where exploitation of the working class is paramount in the company’s business plan.  CIA Director Allen Dulles (and his brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles) would be among the cadre of US officials that would pave the way for United Fruit’s plans.  Allen Dulles assured United Fruit Company’s executives that the next leader of Guatemala would not expropriate any of the corporation’s landholdings.  As a bonus, CIA Director Dulles encouraged United Fruit Company to actively join the search for just the right man to replace the hapless Jacobo Árbenz (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 119-120).

After establishing three candidates who fit the prescribed CIA-United Fruit Company profile for Guatemala’s new president, the US policymakers settled on General Carlos Castillo Armas.  The first candidate General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes who garnered reputations in the military as an opportunist and for cruelty.  He hated Indians and was implicated in several massacres while he served under President Jorge Ubico prior to the 1944 Revolution.  He was vetoed by E. Howard Hunt who would gain infamy during the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon.  Curiously, Hunt objected to Ydígoras because he was a “right-wing reactionary” and too “authoritarian.”  Additionally, Hunt argued that Ydígoras looked too much like a Spanish nobleman; he was too white.  The second candidate was offered by a United Fruit Company executive.  The executive Walter Turnbull claimed that his choice, a lawyer and coffee plantation owner named Juan Córdova Cerna, was greatly superior to the unscrupulous Ydígoras.  Unfortunately for him, Cerna developed throat cancer and was hospitalized, so he too was eliminated.  Castillo Armas, although not ideal, looked like an Indian and his military background was favorable to the paramilitary forces that would be leading the offensive on the ground.  Also, Castillo Armas fit the bill because as a smirking Time correspondent opined, “He was younger than Ydígoras, but also because he was a stupid man” (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 121-122).

On May 15, 1954 the nearly mile-long Swedish freighter Alfhem made its way into Puerto Barrios from the Atlantic Ocean.  The big freighter’s cargo was a guarded secret of the Guatemalan government.  During the next few days more than 100 boxcars would be filled with the ship’s contents that were comprised of large crates marked “Optical and Laboratory Equipment.”  As the boxcars were loaded, they traveled under a military escort to Guatemala City.  But instead of optical and laboratory equipment, the crates contained war matériel from Czechoslovakia.  The purchase included rifles, ammunition, antitank mines, and artillery pieces.  Guatemala had paid more than a million dollars for the war equipment that the Árbenz government soon found to be mostly defective.  Much of the weaponry was rusted and did not function.  The artillery could not be transported through the jungle because of their size and design. The largest portion of the weaponry was antitank mines, but no tanks were used during the conflict because of the terrain and their maintenance costs.  Some displayed a swastika emblem that showed their origin and age.  The New York Times commented snidely that Árbenz was sold a cache of “white elephants.”  The US had placed a weapons embargo on Guatemala, so options for the Árbenz government to purchase weapons from other nations were extremely limited.  When news of the 2,000-ton arms shipment reached Washington, Allen Dulles and other CIA policymakers were jubilant. Foster Dulles took the propaganda gift to claim that Guatemala was in league with the Soviet Union to expand communism into the Western Hemisphere.  House Speaker John McCormack breathlessly called the weapons an atomic bomb planted in America’s backyard.  The high-strung US Ambassador to Guatemala John E. Peurifoy hysterically screamed that the United States was at war.   The cache of nearly worthless weaponry served as the pretext that CIA and State Department were waiting for to launch their regime-change war against Árbenz.   Castillo Armas who would lead the assault was waiting in Nicaragua for orders.  Earlier the CIA hatched a scheme to plant boxes of weaponry with Soviet markings near the Nicaraguan border with the hope the weapons would be “discovered” by the Nicaraguan police (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 148-152; Weiner 2008, 112; Pike 1955, 250-251).

Meanwhile, the US State Department was plotting to initiate sanctions against Guatemala that included cutting off lines of credit for Guatemala from other nations, eliminating sources of petroleum and encouraging investors to remove their money from Guatemalan banks.  Simultaneously, US Navy warships and submarines began a blockade against Guatemala in violation of international law as CIA-piloted C-47 transport airplanes dropped leaflets over the presidential palace to terrorize Guatemalans.  Reeling, Árbenz and his Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello met with Ambassador John E. Peurifoy on May 24th seeking to arrange a settlement.  When that meeting did not reach a meaningful conclusion, Torriello offered to accept a proposal that President Eisenhower had offered in January to arrange a neutral commission to arbitrate the issues between the two nations.  Torriello even went as far as promising that Árbenz would negotiate concessions to United Fruit Company.  But by then, the US plans for the Árbenz regime’s demise in Operation Success were already cemented.  During early June, Peurifoy cabled CIA Director Dulles urgently suggesting that the US negate existing trade agreements with Guatemala and order US citizens to evacuate the nation.  Peurifoy hoped news of these actions would alarm the Guatemalan citizenry enough to instigate an uprising in the Guatemalan military (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 164; Weiner 2008, 112).

By June 15, just three days ahead of the CIA-led US invasion of Guatemala, Ambassador Peurifoy in a sweaty panic cabled Allen Dulles that “a reign of terror” was in progress after baseless rumors that reported that the Árbenz government was committing widespread torture and murder.  Meanwhile, the US propaganda machine with E. Howard Hunt directing the orchestra was operating at full blast.  Hunt described the goals of his psychological warfare operation this way:

“What we wanted to do is to have a terror campaign to terrify Árbenz particularly, to terrify his troops, much as the German Stuka bombers terrified the population in Holland, Belgium and Poland at the onset of World War Two.”

Hunt clandestinely arranged a “Congress Against Soviet Intervention on Latin America” in Mexico City.  Hunt stoked the conference with anti-communist thugs and reactionaries along with a token sprinkle of liberals to denounce the Árbenz government amid outlandish and bogus charges that would become his trademark in the decades to come.  The conference ended in a public-relations disaster after delegates from Costa Rica and Ecuador stormed out of the conference in disgust (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 166; Weiner 2008, 112-113).

The United States Information Agency (USIA) had greater success with its more sophisticated system.  USIA published propagandistic articles based on biased information provided by the CIA.  Two hundred of these articles were widely distributed among various publications in Latin America.  USIA printed 100,000 copies of “Chronology of Communism in Guatemala,” a pamphlet distorting left-wing influence in the nation.  Additionally, the propaganda agency printed 27,000 copies of cartoons and posters depicting the evils of communism.  Free to the public movies were screened in theaters in Latin America that featured film footage that glorified the US.  Finally, radio broadcasts were aired at prime listening hours to increase the favorable opinions of the US actions in Latin America.  When the Guatemalan state radio station went off the air for a scheduled repair of its antenna, the CIA arranged for broadcasts at a frequency very close to the state-owned radio frequency.

On June 4 Guatemalan chief of the Guatemalan Air Force Colonel Rodolfo Mendoza Azúrdia  flew an airplane to Anastasio Somoza’s farm in Nicaragua.  After the CIA plied him with whisky and misleadingly edited a taped interview to make it sound like the Mendoza Azúrdia was calling for a rebellion against the Árbenz government, the phony tape was broadcast.  When Árbenz listened to the broadcast, he realized that the CIA had succeeded in its scam to paint him as a torturing dictator.  Árbenz made things worse by arresting members of an anti-communist group that provided the CIA assistance.  At least 75 of these members were tortured, murdered and buried in mass graves  (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 167; Weiner 2008, 113; Pike 1955, 250).

A secret radio propaganda campaign directed by David Atlee Phillips, a former actor who was hired by the CIA to conduct a “disinformation program,” was especially successful in fomenting fear and panic among Guatemalans.  The “Voice of Liberation” that the announcers falsely claimed originated “deep within the Guatemalan jungle” and that Árbenz was about to disband the army and replace it with a peasant militia.  Broadcasts initially targeted directly to women, soldiers, workers and young people urged them to join the Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas Liberation Movement.  Another broadcast tailored for military officers was crafted to encourage their defection from the Árbenz government.

The CIA issued broadcasts that become increasingly outrageous in their creativity.  One broadcast hysterically reported falsely:

“A group of Soviet commissars, officers and political advisers, led by a member of the Moscow Politburo have landed….  In addition to military conscription, the communists will introduce labor conscription.  A decree is already being printed.  All boys and girls 16 years old will be called for one year of labor duty in special camps, mainly for political indoctrination and to break the influence of family and church on the young people….  Árbenz has already left the country.  His announcements from the National Palace are actually made by a double, provided by Soviet intelligence”.

The radio announcers schemed to falsely imply that rebels had infested the entire Guatemalan countryside by issuing fake calls for Guatemalans to aid “partisans” in locating air-drop sites.  Meanwhile, the CIA radio team successfully jammed Árbenz’s radio broadcasts that were issued to calm the fearful population (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 168; Weiner 2008, 114).

Meanwhile, the CIA transported 170 mercenaries to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for a planned meeting with their “commander,” Castillo Armas.  The mercenaries were picked from Guatemalan exiles, US soldiers of fortune and an assortment of Central Americans that the CIA had trained at secret bases in Nicaragua.  After their training the rebels were moved to various villages in Honduras including a plantation town that was owned by United Fruit Company where the CIA trucked in armaments and rations.  Included in the arms package were small arms weapons including bazookas, machine guns, grenade launchers.  The invasion would begin in two days.  The plan called for Castillo Armas to take and occupy the key town of Zacapa, where a strategic railroad junction supplied access to El Salvador, Guatemala City and the Atlantic coastal port of Puerto Barrios.  The other major part of the Castillo Armas plan was to establish guerrilla forces throughout the countryside to harass government forces with sabotage and attacks.   On June 18, 1954 after the CIA had flown in additional troops to villages in Honduras, Castillo Armas decked out in a leather jacket and travelling in a battered station wagon led a procession of trucks across the border into Guatemala.  The invasion, that required four years to prepare, was begun.  The planned capture of Zacapa and Puerto Barrios never came to fruition.   Dockworkers and police loyal to Árbenz defeated 198 rebels at Puerto Barrios.  Another troop contingency of 122 attacked the Guatemalan army garrison at Zacapa; 92 rebels were killed or captured.  Another force of 60 rebels marched from El Salvador, but these troops were seized by local police.  Castillo Armas personally led a company of 100 men to lightly defended villages, but within three days he radioed the CIA for additional weapons and food.  More than half of his fighters were dead, captured or on the verge of defeat.  Peurifoy and Haney were aghast.  Peurifoy pleaded for Allen Dulles “Bomb repeat bomb.” An irate Haney wrote to CIA headquarters a scathing, if more eloquent, missive:

“Are we going to stand by and see last hope of free people in Guatemala submerged to the depths of Communist oppression and atrocity until we send American armed force against enemy?…  Is not our intervention now under these circumstances far more palatable than by Marines?  This is the same enemy we fought in Korea and may fight tomorrow in Indo-China.”

(Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 170-171; Weiner 2008, 114-115).

As the invasion moved into its early days, Árbenz had time to recover from his initial surprise.  As early as June 20, he began to see through the CIA’s charade that the invasion was widespread in Guatemala.  The plan to intimidate the Árbenz into an early surrender began to dissolve.  CIA Director Allen Dulles confessed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that the odds of winning the incursion amounted to a coin toss.  In his memoir Reflections of a Cold Warrior: From Yalta to the Bay of Pigs(1966), CIA officer Richard M. Bissell, Jr. wrote, “Grappling with continual operational snafus, we were only too aware how perilously close to failure we were.”   To the administration’s chagrin, The New York Times published a stinging article by James Reston that disclosed Dulles was the architect of the invasion and thus spotlighted US involvement (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 172; Weiner 2008, 116).

Determined to keep the US in general and the CIA in particular off the front pages of US newspapers and to ensure deniability, the CIA had resorted to only three F-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers for use in their air assault.  The single-engine propeller aircraft were World War II vintage.  After three of these planes were downed, the mercenaries who contracted with the CIA to pilot the planes were forced to drop hand grenades out of cargo doors in lieu of flying bombers.  Strafing runs were completed with hand-held machine guns.  Meanwhile, Castillo Armas and his collection of troops that he referred to as the “Liberation Army” was faltering on the ground.  The Guatemalan army pushed the Castillo Armas rebels back after the rebels attempted to capture Puerto Barrios and Zacapa.  While the CIA had no illusions about potential successes from the Castillo Armas forces, the clandestine agency hoped they would succeed in spurring defections from the Guatemalan army (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 173-174).

The chief of operations for Operation Success Colonel Albert Haney contacted CIA Director Dulles with urgent pleas to send replacement fighter-bombers.  Haney feared the assault would collapse without sufficient air support.  Dulles continued to worry about international exposure of the US-led coup d’état.  Meanwhile, Haney cooked up a plot that would create a false-flag operation for a bombing run in Honduras that could be blamed on Árbenz.  But Honduran officials refused to comply with a plan that would have required bombs to be deployed against Honduran villages.  In another colossal example of CIA incompetence, Haney assigned a former marine pilot to destroy the Guatemalan government’s radio station in Guatemala City.  Haney specifically warned the pilot, “Just down the road is the transmitter of an evangelical station, and there are two American ladies there.  You can tell the difference because the Árbenz station is all concrete and the mission has a red tile roof.”  When the pilot returned from his mission it became obvious that he misunderstood Haney’s admonition not to bomb the structure with the red tile roof.  The pilot, beaming, said, “You should have seen them red tiles flying!” (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 175-176).

Despite the CIA’s foundering assault against the Árbenz government in Guatemala, Allen Dulles convinced President Eisenhower to increase his commitment in the overthrow of the democratically elected Árbenz government.  Árbenz and his foreign minister Guillermo Torriello continued to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis.  Árbenz approached El Salvador’s dictator President Oscar Osorio to mediate a solution, unaware of the vice-grip the US had on Guatemala’s Central American neighbor.  Osorio actively worked for the end of Árbenz’s rule.  Torriello frantically beseeched the United Nations to intervene.  The US blocked Torriello’s initiatives at the UN.  The US ambassador to the UN and former US Senator, Henry Cabot Lodge, a staunch backer of United Fruit Company, and Dulles were worried that the UN forum would expose the US to criticism for its aggression against Guatemala (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 178-180).

Meanwhile, the CIA’s propaganda machine cranked out fake news bulletins over the “Voice of Liberation” radio broadcasts that proclaimed Árbenz forces suffered major defeats in clashes with rebel troops.  The hyped successes increased the fear and confusion among disheartened Árbenz loyalists.  The broadcasts were well-timed to match the arrival of trains bringing in wounded Árbenz forces, lending credence to the CIA’s propaganda efforts.  In one broadcast the “Voice of Liberation” falsely reported, “At our command post here in the jungle we are unable to confirm or deny the report that Castillo Armas has an army of 5,000 men.”  In fact, the “Voice of Liberation” was nowhere near the Guatemalan jungle; Castillo Armas had only succeeded in gathering a force of barely 400 troops.  But by June 25, even high-placed officials in the Árbenz began to express doubts of Árbenz ability to survive.  The US corporate press did its share to spread disinformation about the actual events on the ground.  The press depicted the swaggering, John Wayne caricature, Peurifoy, who toted a .45-caliber handgun and the inept Castillo Armas as heroes in an epoch struggle against what was ridiculously characterized as a gigantic Red Army.  The reporters acted as stenographers to the river of lies coming out of the US embassies in Guatemala and Honduras, along with the public relations staff of United Fruit Company (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 185-188).

Despite the avalanche of US-fueled propaganda, anti-American sentiment exploded across Latin America as the month of June ended.  Supporters of the Árbenz government waived the bloody shirt of US imperialism in Latin America.  Students in Mexico marched against the US actions in marketplaces and at the university.  In Honduras, students marched in support of the Guatemalan government, despite the Honduras government support of US interests.  Panamanian students called for a 24-hour strike to protest the US aggression.  Cubans in Havana threw stones at the offices of United Press International and the North American Electric Company as students attempted to enlist in the Guatemalan army at the Guatemalan embassy.  Labor unions in Bolivia held mass events and decried the US “intervention.”  Argentina and Uruguay’s congresses passed resolutions that denounced US “aggression in Guatemala.”  The US State Department privately polled Latin American nations and found that 11 non-communist and moderate pro-US nations voiced strenuous objections to the US policies in Guatemala.  Nevertheless, the corporate media continued ignoring these objections as they beat the drums for war (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 188-189).

Meanwhile, the CIA was offering cash bribes to any officer from Árbenz’s forces who would surrender his troops to the US-backed Castillo Armas forces.  At least one officer reportedly accepted a $60,000 bribe to deliver the troops in his command to his government’s enemies.  But, despite the large sums offered, there is scant evidence that Guatemalans were joining the Castillo Armas cause.  Castillo Armas was having difficulty in convincing enough volunteers to drive trucks ferrying supplies.  Nevertheless, while the rebels were not showing significant success in converting the masses in Guatemala, few were motivated to join in defending the country against the invaders.  The “Voice of Liberty” propaganda stream was having its effect on the peasants who were accepting that defeat of the Árbenz government was imminent.  Árbenz, himself, began to realize that even his army was becoming apathetic in its loyalty to him.  The shaken Árbenz began to understand that the end was rapidly approaching.  The CIA psychological warfare campaign succeeded in undermining the confidence of the Guatemala president (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 188-190).

As Árbenz began to understand that his support base was limited to the few communists that had a stake in his government’s survival, Árbenz acted rationally.  To continue fighting against the overwhelming odds of the US-backed rebels would only delay the inevitable and cause the deaths of more Guatemalans.  Essentially, he was abandoned by almost all factions of Guatemalan society.  The rich already despised him for his liberal social programs that he instigated.  The tough actions his police had implemented had caused the middle class to turn its back on him.  Also, in April the Catholic Church led by the Archbishop of Guatemala, Monsignor Rossell y Arellano had leveled attacks against Árbenz calling for Catholics to fight communism, demanding that “the people of Guatemala rise as a single man against this enemy of God and country.”   Rossell y Arellano asserted in a New York Times article that the relationship between Árbenz and the Church no longer existed.  The middle class was further alienated when communist member of Congress Cesar Montenegro Paniagua warned on June 3 that anti-communists who launched an assault against the government would be decapitated, according to a frontpage article in the New York Times.   Many in the military harbored resentment toward the beleaguered president stemming from his implication in the murder of his opponent, the former head of the military Colonel Francisco J. Arana during the run up to the presidential election in 1949.  The Times reported that on June 15, 80 army officers demanded that Árbenz address questions about communist influence in his administration.  The lack of measurable success of his economic policies, cooled the segment of the population that had been neutral toward him to wish his ouster.  Only the poor who benefited from his policies remained loyal, but their general passivity toward authority added no concrete support (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 198; Pike 1955, 248).

Image on the right: When President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán attempted a redistribution of land, he was overthrown in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état (Public Domain)

On June 27, 1954 at 9:15 pm on Sunday, Árbenz announced in a radio broadcast that he was stepping down as Guatemala’s president.  “For 15 days a cruel war against Guatemala has been underway,” Árbenz reported.  “The United Fruit Company in collaboration with the governing circles of the United States is responsible for what is happening to us.”  Árbenz blamed the US for instigating the overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected government on “the financial interests of the fruit company and other US monopolies which have invested great amounts of money in Latin America and fear that the example of Guatemala would be followed by other Latin American countries….”  Árbenz emphatically denied the US claim that the attack on Guatemala was about the US fighting communism.  Árbenz told the nation that he was handing the reins of the government “to my friend Colonel Carlos Enrique Díaz, chief of the armed forces of the republic.”  Árbenz assured the nation that Díaz “will guarantee the democracy in Guatemala and that all the social conquests of our people will be maintained” (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 199-200; Weiner 2008, 117-118).

Historians and direct participants in the 1954 coup d’état have debated the causes of the failure of the Árbenz government and the wisdom of his resignation.  Within a month subsequent his decision, Árbenz blamed pressure from “the military cliques that had been under terrific pressure from [Ambassador John E.] Peurifoy…. [T]he truth is that most of the officers had betrayed me and if it is true that the helpless masses were loyal to their government, they had lost their attributes.”  The communists, who had the most to lose from the resignation of Árbenz urged him not to step down.  The communists argued, “It would have been better to bring the crisis out into the open, to denounce to the people the vile treason committed by the army chiefs, but President Árbenz underestimated the role that the masses could play.”  The communists were particularly angry that Árbenz chose Díaz as his successor.  They claimed that Árbenz knew of Díaz’s “treacherous commitments to Peurifoy.”  Thus, the communists insisted that Árbenz misled the nation that “the change in government, the democratic and revolutionary conquests could be salvaged.”  On the other hand, the communists in Guatemala, especially a young Argentine doctor named Ernesto “Che” Guevara, learned from the Árbenz failure.  Che argued that Árbenz should have armed the peasants and taken a harder stand against the rebels.  During the CIA-led Bay of Pigs debacle in 1961, Che and Fidel Castro made certain that the defenders of the Cuban Revolution would not succumb to the same defeat as Árbenz.  The Cuban fighters were both well-trained and well-armed.  In more recent days, as the Donald Trump administration’s attempt to topple the Nicolás Maduro government showed signs of faltering in the spring of 2019, one could attribute this failure in part to the well-prepared state militia in Venezuela (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 201-202; Stone and Kuznick 2012, 266).

Later, US journalists who covered the US-led coup d’état against Árbenz in 1954 conceded that the ousted Guatemalan president was correct in his accusations of the US intervention.  Many in the media concluded that the military action against the Árbenz government was retribution for interfering with the potential profits of United Fruit Company.  In a confidential interview with Stephen Schlesinger, an experienced correspondent for Time magazine admitted years later that, “there would have been no pressure or intervention.  The US wouldn’t have cared.  With no threats to US property, there would have been no problems.”  This correspondent also acknowledged the horrendous consequences in Central America of the US misadventures in Guatemala.  “If Árbenz had survived his term in office, it would have influenced and strengthened democrats in Honduras and El Salvador and isolated [Anastasio] Somoza in Nicaragua.”  The military action against Árbenz resulted in powerful reactionary forces in the region.  It also ensured that future advocates of social change would be more militant and anti-US than the relatively mild Árbenz political stance.  Moreover, as historian Frederick B. Pike asserts, the overthrow of the Árbenz government might have been accomplished by legal means through the existing structure of the US friendly Organization of American States (OAS).  Instead, the US chose the violent diplomacy of might means right that played into the hands of the Soviets that bolstered its claims of US imperialist aggression.

Nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of the coup d’état, US operatives were ecstatic that Árbenz was defeated.  Peurifoy’s insipid wife burnished her “ugly American” credentials when she penned this preen that appeared in Timemagazine on July 26, 1954:

“Sing a song of quetzals,* pockets full of peace!

The junta’s in the Palace, they’ve taken out a lease.

The commies are in hiding, just across the street;

To the embassy of Mexico, they beat a quick retreat.

And pistol-packing Peurifoy looks might optimistic

For the land of Guatemala is no longer communistic!”

*Guatemala’s national bird and symbol (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 203-204; Pike 1955, 257).

After his ouster, Árbenz and his family would lead an unsettled life.  He first fled to Mexico and then to various European cities where he was viewed with suspicion and the tainted by a concentrated CIA smear campaign that continued until 1960.  By 1957, the beleaguered former president returned to Latin America under a strict protocol that included his promise not to be involved in politics and report to the police weekly.  He and his family lived in Montevideo, Uruguay for three years, but he remained depressed and was drinking heavily.  Árbenz was heartened when in 1960 he was invited to live in Revolutionary Cuba.  This would be a chance to live in a nation that could return to him his lost self-respect and his good health.  But soon his personal problems with family members and his disillusionment with the Castro government dimmed his outlook.  In 1965, his 25-year-old daughter Arabella committed suicide, further sending Árbenz into dark and profound depression.  Finally, in 1970 Mexico granted him permission to reside there permanently.  On January 27, 1971, still plagued with feeling abandoned by his family and communist friends, 58-year-old Jacobo Árbenz drowned in his bathtub at his home.  Authorities ruled his death was due to natural causes, but others doubted this conclusion as questions lingered (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 230-232).

Meanwhile, as President Carlos Enrique Díaz took center stage briefly as Guatemala’s new leader, he advanced his plans to eradicate the tattered army of Castillo Armas.  In a radio broadcast Díaz assured Guatemalans of his inspiration of the 1944 Revolution and his promise to Árbenz to continue the struggle to expel the foreign mercenaries from his nation’s soil.  US operatives who listened to the broadcast were enraged.  At 4:00 am, Peurifoy along with CIA officers John Doherty and Enno Hobbing arrived at Díaz’s suite for a meeting that lasted two hours.  In a cable issued to Allen Dulles, Peurifoy, who could easily be described as domineering and mercurial, detailed a mild account of his conversation with Díaz.  But Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello reported a more likely version of the encounter as Díaz related it:

“Peurifoy waved a long list of names of some leaders.  He was going to require Díaz to shoot those who were on the list within 24 hours.  ‘That’s all, but why?’ Díaz asked.  ‘Because they’re communists,’ replied Peurifoy.  Díaz refused absolutely to soil his hands and soul with this repugnant crime and rejected the pretensions of Peurifoy to come and give him orders. ‘It would be better, in that case,’ he went so far as to tell him, ‘that you actually sit on the presidential chair and that the stars and stripes fly over the Palace.’  Saying too bad for you, Peurifoy left.

Tensions escalated to a new level during a noon meeting.  Díaz told Peurifoy that the new junta was thoroughly anti-communist, and if Castillo Armas was sincere that the rebellion stemmed from fighting communism, then he should lay down his arms.  But as the meeting ended, Díaz casually informed Peurifoy that he would issue a proclamation that declared a general amnesty and a release of all political prisoners, including communists.  Peurifoy was infuriated; he stormed from the room.  Later, Peurifoy blasted off a cable to the Operation Success headquarters that reported, “We have been double-crossed.  BOMB!”  That afternoon CIA pilots bombed the government radio station that they a missed earlier (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 206-209).

A few hours later, Peurifoy returned to Díaz’s office to find a meeting in progress with the three members of the junta: Díaz, Colonel Elfegio Monzón, who was the CIA’s clandestine agent in Árbenz’s cabinet, and Colonel José Angel Sánchez.  Peurifoy succeeded in convincing Díaz to meet with Castillo Armas, despite the ill will that Díaz held for the US puppet, Castillo Armas.  When the meeting finally occurred during the early-morning hours Peurifoy, Sánchez and Díaz were present, but Monzón had not arrived.  Meanwhile, as tensions sharpened, Peurifoy thought that bullets were about to erupt, Monzón, flanked by two others and carrying a submachine gun abruptly entered the room.  He stuck the barrel of his weapon into Díaz’s ribs.  Monzón directed Díaz out of the room.  When Monzón returned alone, he announced wryly, “My colleague Díaz has decided to resign.  I am replacing him.”  As dawn peeked over the horizon, Díaz reentered the room to pledge his support for Monzón.  By 4:45 am, Monzón announced the new junta would be comprised of himself and two trusted partners, Lieutenant Colonel Mauricio Dubois and a US-trained 34-year-old Lieutenant Colonel José Luis Cruz Salazar.  The three new leaders agreed to meet Castillo Armas in El Salvador to arrange a cease fire and a peace treaty (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 210-211; Weiner 2008, 114).

Nevertheless, smooth sailing was not to be.  From the start, members of Operation Success believed that Monzón was sympathetic to the ideals of the 1944 Revolution.  Another complication was Castillo Armas, acting without consulting his CIA handlers, demanded that Monzón stepdown or face the consequences.  Despite the cease-fire agreement Peurifoy endeavored to seal, Castillo Armas continued bombing in the region of Zacapa.  Eventually, through back channels Peurifoy was able to get control of the capricious Castillo Armas.  The bombing ended that evening.  But during the meeting that Peurifoy arranged for the next day, June 30 in San Salvador, things became prickly.  Both Monzón and Castillo, who already had previous clashes, claimed to be Guatemala’s new leader.  With no resolution in sight, it appeared that talks would breakdown and fighting would resume.  But neither Monzón nor Castillo Armas would be able to assume the presidency without Peurifoy’s blessing.  Peurifoy structured a deal, that both Monzón and Castillo Armas agreed to, that provided a “total halt to hostilities” and the constitution that came out of the 1944 Revolution would be revoked.  All members of the communist Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT) and Árbenz administration would be jailed and later tried.  A five-man junta including Monzón and Castillo Armas with a provisional president selected within 15 days.  On July 13, the US officials recognized Castillo Armas as the nation’s legitimate leader as he dutifully denounced communism (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 212-216).

The Eisenhower White House was exultant that the US-backed Castillo Armas government was installed in Guatemala.  Castillo Armas was celebrated at the White House with a 21-gun salute and a state dinner in his honor.  Vice President Richard M. Nixon offered a toast to the US-selected Guatemalan “Liberator”:

“We in the United States have watched the people of Guatemala record an episode in their history deeply significant to all peoples.  Led by the courageous soldier, who is our guest this evening, the Guatemalan people revolted against communist rule, which in collapsing bore graphic witness to its own shallowness, falsity and corruption.”

  On September 1, 1954, thanks to his US benefactors, Carlos Castillo Armas assumed the full-fledged powers as the president of the Guatemalan nation.  United Fruit Company was already salivating over the prospects of the new and friendly government.  On July 1, seven labor organizers at United Fruit Company’s plantations were murdered in Guatemala City.  Weeks later, the new government cancelled the legal registration of 533 union locals.  Revisions to the Labor Code placed enormous restrictions on the banana workers’ federation, effectively making it illegal.  Despite the promises to restore trade union rights lost when the so-called Liberation government under Castillo Armas seized power, union membership plummeted from 100,000 to 27,000.  The conservative US union boss, Serafino Romualdi, from the American Federation of Labor was brought in to extirpate any communist influence in the labor movement in Guatemala.  But upon his arrival, he was appalled at the extreme nature of the views of labor that were expressed by Castillo Armas.  By the middle of September, the corporation had inked a deal with the Castillo Armas regime to reverse the expropriation of its lands and replace the taxes levied during the 1944 Revolution with much more generous tax rates to the company (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 219-221; Weiner 2008, 118).

The US-backed Liberation government’s victory in securing rulership in Guatemala, officials in Washington worried about unfavorable reporting from the world press.  Commentators and politicos in Latin America began to voice skepticism that Árbenz was really a communist as evidence of Washington’s clandestine involvement began to surface.  The CIA launched a poorly organized program to counter allegations that the US misrepresented Árbenz’s affiliations with communists by organizing a tour of the former president’s residence.  Reporters from the New York Times were shown stacks of textbooks that had imprints that implied that they were published in the Soviet Union.  The reporters remained unconvinced and filed no story about the CIA’s staged efforts.  Another attempt to inhibit the revelations of CIA lies about Árbenz’s political affiliation with communism included crews sent to Guatemala to film evidence of “communist atrocities” that Árbenz allegedly committed (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 219-220).

In an amazing and blatant show of hypocrisy, the Eisenhower administration attempted to minimize its ties to United Fruit Company, despite the Dulles brothers’ long-term history with the company.  In 1936, John Foster Dulles was involved in a shady scheme that benefitted United Fruit Company at the expense of his putative client IRCA, when the fruit company sought to gain total ownership of the railway.  The transaction, negotiated by John Foster Dulles, also benefited the Schroder Banking Corporation, who owned most of the IRCA stock, with a hefty profit.  Both Dulles brothers provided a substantial amount of work for Schroder Bank.  Allen Dulles later served on the bank’s board of directors.  Yet, neither Dulles brother attempted to hinder the investigation that the Department of Justice was continuing into the company’s operation that eventually concluded the fruit giant violated US antitrust laws.  The US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit within five days after Árbenz resigned the presidency.    The Dulles brothers’ silence might have been the result of a fear of allegations that they harbored bias in favor of United Fruit Company.  Thomas Corcoran, United Fruit Company’s legal counsel sardonically stated that “Dulles began the antitrust suit against [United Fruit Company] just to prove he wasn’t involved with the company.”  The lawsuit dragged on until 1958, as the company’s lobbyists initiated a vigorous effort to stymy the litigation.  The lawsuit weakened United Fruit Company’s stranglehold on Guatemala and caused the breakup of the firm’s banana business in that country (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 220-221).

Meanwhile, the CIA and the US State Department began to roundup suspected communists and their fellow travelers in Guatemala.  As the dominant class began to seek retribution against proponents of the 1944 Revolution, all constitutional guarantees were suspended.  Conservative estimates reveal that 9,000 were imprisoned and many of these were tortured.  Castillo Armas on orders from the CIA generated the National Committee of Defense Against Communism.  The Committee that was announced on July 19 was endowed with the authority to meet secretly to declare anyone at its whim of being a communist.  There was no due process or right of appeal for those accused.  A few weeks later, Castillo Armas decreed a new law called the Preventive Penal Law Against Communism.  This law declared that a series of “crimes” including many labor union activities would be labeled “sabotage” and considered capital offenses.  Those who landed in the Committee’s crosshairs could be arbitrarily arrested and jailed for up to six months.  They were prohibited from holding public office or even owning a radio.  Eight thousand Indians were slaughtered in the first two months of the regime.  By November 21, 1954 a developed list emerged of 72,000 names with a goal of expanding the list to 200,000, about 6.7 percent of Guatemala’s total population (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 219-221; Jonas 1991, 41).

One of the first actions that Castillo Armas initiated after he seized power was ending voting rights of illiterates that comprised 75 percent of the nation’s population.  By the end of July, he abandoned the legislation for land reform that Árbenz established in Decree 900.  All political parties, labor confederations and peasant organizations were outlawed by August 10.  Seven days later, Castillo Armas, the “Liberator” reinstated the dreaded secret police that Ubico used to terrorize the country.  The Castillo Armas regime began burning “subversive” books including Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and novels written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Writings of Juan José Arévalo, Guatemala’s first democratically elected president were destroyed as were the works of other revolutionary writers.  The Nobel Prize-winning novelist and vocal critic of United Fruit Company Miguel Angel Ásturias, who penned El Señor Presidente a novel about a brutally vicious fictional dictator in an unnamed Latin American nation, was included in the list of victims of The Liberator’s censorship (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 221-224).

These actions did not appear to disturb Secretary of State John Foster Dulles to any extent.  He only lamented that about 700 of Árbenz’s supporters were safely ensconced in foreign embassies and beyond the reach of the CIA or Castillo Armas’ secret police.  Dulles became obsessed with the fear that any remaining Árbenz followers might cause blowback throughout the Western Hemisphere if they were not jailed.  Foster Dulles frantically told Peurifoy to command Castillo Armas to arrest communist refugees before they fled the country.  In July, Foster Dulles contrived a scheme to allege crimes whereby they would be charged and convicted of being “covert Moscow agents.”  As Peurifoy brought this plan to the Castillo Armas government, one of the government’s ministers surprised that even the reactionary US ambassador would even make this suggestion.  The minister informed Peurifoy that there was no legal basis in Guatemalan law for prosecuting someone because they might be a communist.  Castillo Armas simply ignored Dulles’ absurd suggestions.  The only action that Castillo Armas took was to humiliate for former president by having Árbenz strip-searched in front of a jeering crowd as he was leaving Guatemala for exile in Mexico (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 222).

Meanwhile, Castillo Armas began an earnest rollback of the social changes inspired by the 1944 Revolution.  In action that deviated from policies established in the nineteenth century, Castillo Armas reestablished a governmental connection with the Catholic Church.  He returned to the Church the right to own property, to deliver religious teachings in the public schools and import foreign clergy.  Castillo Armas abolished the Arévalo and Árbenz era prohibition against favorable concessions to foreign oil interests and encouraged them to purchase drilling rights in Guatemala.  Guatemala at Castillo Armas’ order rejoined the Organization of American States (OAS), the lapdog that the US held on a tight leash.  Ironically, Castillo Armas received funds from his benefactor to complete Árbenz’s pet public works project the highway to Puerto Barrios.  Both the US and Castillo Armas had previously disparaged the project because it competed with United Fruit Company’s railroad, IRCA.  While these changes in Guatemala’s landscape continued apace, the Eisenhower administration including the Dulles brothers continued to repeat the fiction that the coup d’état was instigated and completed by the Guatemalans with the slightest intervention from the US.  Peurifoy swaggered into a congressional hearing and lied that that his role in the Árbenz ousting was limited to “strictly that of a diplomatic observer.”  During a September 12, 1979 interview, CIA officer Richard Bissell during Operation Success, admitted “Our job was simply to get rid of Árbenz.  We did that successfully.”  Without the knowledge of the atrocities in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America the US perpetrated in the 1980s during the Reagan administration, Bissell added, “[B]ut this does not assure a happy ultimate outcome”  (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 224-225).

For US Ambassador John E. Peurifoy the glow of victory would not last long.  After his successes in Guatemala, before the summer of 1954 ended Secretary of State John Foster Dulles assigned Peurifoy to a new ambassadorship in another hotspot, Thailand.  On August 18, 1955, while his son sat in the passenger seat, Peurifoy was driving his powerful sky-blue Ford Thunderbird sportscar at highspeed along a narrow bridge when a slow-moving truck entered from the other end.  As he attempted to maneuver around the truck, he lost control of the car and crashed.  Peurifoy and his son were killed instantly.  The CIA also achieved a short-lived boost in its reputation among policymakers as the clandestine organization was coming off impressive regime-change operations; the first being the 1953 overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in August 1953 and the second barely a year later in Guatemala.  The bloom faded from the flower of conquest for the CIA however during the failed attempts to oust the governments of Sukarno in Indonesia and Fidel Castro in Cuba.  These failures led to the downfall of CIA Director Allen Dulles and his aide and later Deputy Director Richard Bissell.  United Fruit Company’s star dimmed subsequent the Guatemalan coup d’état as the Justice Department continued to prosecute its lawsuit against the corporate titan.  In 1972 the banana grower sold its Guatemalan operation to another exploiter in the fruit business Del Monte.  But the fruit company continued to stagger under the weight of economic pressures.  On February 3, 1975,  Eli Black, the president of the latest iteration of the company, United Brands was in deep despair after losing his $2 billion empire.  He rose from his massive executive desk in his corner office on the forty-fourth floor of New York City’s Pan Am Building.  Black smashed a hole in the window and jumped to his death (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 227-229).

Finally, Castillo Armas, who benefited during the initial phases of the successful coup d’état as the $80 million of US foreign aid commenced.  Predictably, the largesse of Guatemala’s titanic benefactor benefitted the oligarchy as it left the underclass in a state of poverty.  Even with the full-throttle support of the US that hoped to make Guatemala the showpiece of US influence in Latin America, Castillo Armas would soon sour.  The Liberator’s economic plan focused on rolling back the advances to the working class and peasants that Arévalo and Árbenz installed.  He returned the nation’s economic base to bananas and coffee as he abandoned the ideas of industrialization.  Within 18 months the land reforms were reversed as fewer than one percent of the peasants retained land that they gained during Árbenz’s government.  The gains that most Guatemalans enjoyed in the decade subsequent the 1944 Revolution vanished.  Scandals began to plague the Castillo Armas government as he mutilated democratic processes that threatened his rule.  By May 1956, plots against the regime sprouted like weeds.  During a May Day celebration, workers booed government speakers off the platform to voice their rage against the anti-union laws.  Responding to the government’s crackdown, students began major demonstrations in cites around the country.  The brutality evidenced in the counterrevolution galvanized the dominant class against workers to never again allow even the most modest social reforms.  But the regime’s cruelty and repression also prevented any broad-based support and legitimacy to the Castillo Armas government.  Finally, Castillo Armas was gunned down on July 27, 1957 as he and his wife walked to a dinner down the hallway of the presidential residence behind the National Palace.  When police arrived, they found the Castillo Armas’ alleged assassin, army guard Romeo Vásquez Sánchez, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.  The police explained the assassination as the work of a lone fanatical gunman, a theme that the US policymakers would repeat frequently for decades to explain assassinations in the US.  Despite alleged leftist propaganda and a “diary” found in the pockets of Vásquez Sánchez, most Guatemalans remained skeptical of the government’s official explanation (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 233-236; Jonas 1991, 64).

Meanwhile, the assassinated president’s cabal that had organized under the banner of the National Liberation Movement (MLN) attempted to maintain power in its own clutches.  However, exiled General Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, then serving as ambassador to Columbia, had other plans.  Ydígoras never relinquished the notion that he was the rightful leader of Guatemala.  Ydígoras insisted that Árbenz rigged the 1950 election and later Castillo Armas reneged on a 1956 “gentlemen’s agreement” that deprived him of the presidency.  Ydígoras announced he would return to Guatemala to enter the presidential on the day that the MLN announced the election date.  The election would be held on the anniversary of the 1944 Revolution, October 20, 1957.  While he was aboard a flight to Guatemala, the stewardess handed him a message that said a mob was waiting for him at the airport intending to lynch him.    The flight had been rerouted to San Salvador for his safety.  This did not deter the “Old Fox” who suspected a plot to deprive him once again of the presidency.  He walked into the cockpit where he placed his .45-caliber pistol to the American pilot’s head and shouted in broken English, “You son of a bitch!  We go to Guatemala or we all die!”  When the plane landed in Guatemala, the crowd was populated by as many supporters as those who opposed him (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 236-237).

After his return to Guatemala an election was held with Ydígoras receiving a plurality of the vote.  But five days later, influenced by the MLN, the official electoral tribunal issued a laconic statement that Ortiz Passarelli won the election.  Ydígoras was furious as his followers took to the streets to protest the third time that he had been swindled out the presidential office.  Intimidated by Ydígoras’ popularity, the junta greed to a second election.  This time things went in Ydígoras’ favor, despite the CIA clandestinely handing the junta’s choice to oppose Ydígoras, Colonel José Cruz Salazar $97,000 in “campaign funds.”  Ydígoras won on a plurality of the vote, but this time Congress confirmed him the winner by a 40 to 18 vote.  Ydígoras assumed the office of the president on March 15, 1958 (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 238-239).

During the runup to the Bay of Pigs debacle that would occur in April 1961, the officer from the US military, fronting for the CIA, appeared at the National Palace in late 1957 to ensure his cooperation for a military base in Guatemala.  Ydígoras agreed on the condition that the US government support him in continuing as the nation’s president.  It did not take long before the nationalistic officers in the Guatemalan military noted the CIA presence in their country as construction began airbases and infrastructure for receiving large shipments of war matériel.  The officers resented being pushed aside as Ydígoras worked directly with foreign invaders.  Many Guatemalan officers flatly balked at allowing the training in their country of a force to topple the Castro government.  Many in the Guatemalan military respected Fidel Castro for his own nationalistic pride.  In addition to the military, groups from the communist party, students, union members and peasants joined the incensed military officers’ efforts to curtail the US infringement on Guatemalan soil.  On November 13, 1960, Guatemalan troops totaling nearly one half of the entire army, led by 120 officers launched a successful assault on Fort Matamoros in the nation’s capital, Guatemala City.  Another brigade seized Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast along with the barracks at Zacapa (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 238-239; McSherry 2005, 209-210).

Alarmed that the uprising could interfere with plans to subvert the Marxist government of Fidel Castro in Cuba, Eisenhower dispatched B-26 bombers that were piloted by right-wing Cuban exiles.  He also ordered five US Navy ships including the aircraft carrier Shangri-La to positions off the Guatemalan coastline.  The revolt was put down in short order, but the Christian Science Monitor noted that forces in Guatemala resented the US imperialists to such an extent that “rebels could take over two garrisons before the government learned of the revolt and that it took huge government forces to put down ill-equipped men is cause for much comment here.”  Despite the ill-fated and short-lived rebellion, some of the officers who led the insurgency remained unrepentant as they refused the typically mild punishments for such actions, i.e. return to barracks and a reprimand from the president.  Some of the officers, encouraged by the backing of the peasants, fled to neighboring Honduras and El Salvador.  Two of the most zealous officers, 22-year-old Lieutenant Marco Aurelio Yon Sosa and 19-year-old Lieutenant Luis Turcios Lima, who were trained in special forces units by the US, soon returned to their native country  They sought to wage guerrilla warfare against the hated Ydígoras, whom the two officers viewed as a US puppet and a corrupt lackey of the landowners  (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 239-240).

During 1961 Yon Sosa and Turcios remained underground as they developed contacts with exiles and gathered support from peasants.  Turcios established contacts with the outlawed communist party, the Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT).   Meanwhile, the two leaders recreated their growing army who fought in the initial uprising into a guerrilla force.  Their strategies included toppling the US-backed Guatemalan government by attacks on government military installations using hit and run tactics.  Their plans envisioned swiftly overthrowing the right-wing government, not for a long-term war of attrition.  In February 1962, the two firebrands issued a call to arms under the banner of the “Alejandro de León November 13 Guerrilla Movement” that called for the “overthrow of the Ydígoras government and to set up a government that represents human rights, seeks ways … to save our country from hardships and pursues a serious self-respecting foreign policy.”

Meanwhile, Guatemalans were increasingly angry as protests erupted over election fraud in congressional elections that occurred in December 1961.  On January 24, 1962, Ranulfo González, chief of the secret police was slain.  Ydígoras blamed “Marxism directed from Cuba.”  On February 6, guerrillas led by Yon Sosa and Turcios attacked army garrisons in Bananera and Morales, near Puerto Barrios, but their assault was repelled by government forces.  However, in March another guerrilla force sprouted.  Former Árbenz Minister of Defense Carlos Paz Tejeda led the brigade, called the “October 20 Front” in honor of the 1944 Revolution. The October 20 Front denounced the Congress “government stooges” and declared their rage “over foreign military bases in our country and the military treaties with foreign powers…. The statement added:

“The only road left is the road of uprisings.  The only way to end the calamities torturing our country is to overthrow the despotic rule of Ydígoras and set up a government which proves by deeds that it is worthy of the peoples’ trust.”

By the middle of March, calls from the leftist political parties in Guatemala began earnestly calling for Ydígoras’ ouster as demonstrations clogged city streets.  On orders from President John F. Kennedy, the US military once again entered Guatemala to stem the escalating uprisings.  The US government equipped the Guatemalan air force with jet fighter aircraft and transport planes along with military advisers with counterinsurgency-trained special forces units.  The advisers brought a company of 15 Guatemalan soldiers trained in guerrilla warfare at the US Panama Canal Zone facilities.

Ydígoras with the resources supplied by JFK, squashed the rebellion, but  his troubles were not over yet.  The Catholic Church rebuked him for subjecting peasants and workers to starvation wages and housing that “closely resembled concentration camps.”  The CIA plagued Ydígoras for repayment of $1.8 million that the agency incurred during the 1954 invasion.  Secretary of State John Foster Dulles questioned his commitment to anticommunism.  Even JFK, who had supplied the Ydígoras government with troops and war matériel began voice disdain of the embattled general’s corruption.  As economic conditions continued to worsen in Guatemala and the cold-shoulder issued from the US, Ydígoras promised to stepdown as Guatemala’s president at the expiration of his term in 1964 (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 240-242).

On March 29, 1963 on the news that Ydígoras was on the way out, Arévalo reentered Guatemala.  The US reacted with predictable force.  The following morning Ydígoras awakened to find a US tank on his lawn with the barrel of its cannon inches from the front door.  Ydígoras took the hint and surrendered to the US choice to lead Guatemala, Defense Minister Enrique Peralta Azurdia.  If Ydígoras was a tyrant, his zeal for dictatorship paled in comparison to extremes of General Peralta Azurdia.  Any effort to bring even the slightest aid to the poor was abandoned under the new regime.  Peralta Azurdia instead expanded the Guatemalan military.  He rejected JFK’s offers to supply the fledgling dictatorship with US Green Berets, the elite special forces who were trained in guerrilla warfare, preferring to use his own army squads to destroy rebel forces.  Peralta Azurdia’s death squads murdered anti-government activists by the score, but he was unable to eliminate insurgent fighters completely.  In a police raid on March 2, 1966 on a meeting of the outlawed the communist parties the Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT) and the Rebel Armed Forces Party (FAR) government forces arrested 28 people, including a former congressman who supported Árbenz.  The congressman, Victor Manuel Gutiérrez, who was a forceful advocate for the left wing in Guatemala, was tortured to death with electrical shocks and disappeared; his body reportedly was thrown from an airplane at 20,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean.  Others who were arrested with Gutiérrez suffered similar fates.

The Guatemalan death squads originated in November 1965 when US Ambassador to Guatemala Gordon Mein requested John Longan to train Guatemalan judiciary, national police and military officers in “techniques and methods for combatting terrorists, kidnapping and extortion tactics” under the banner of Operación Limpieza (Operation Cleanup).  These techniques were at the core of a paradigm that evolved into counterinsurgent terror states that sank roots in Latin America—specifically, in Brazil (1968), Chile and Uruguay (1973), Argentina (1976) and El Salvador during the late 1970s.  Operation Cleanup strengthened an intelligence system that spread its tentacles throughout Guatemalan society and morphed into the transnational Operation Condor, one of the most savage systems of state repression of the twentieth century.  Operation Condor, part of an overarching US-led counterinsurgency program to inhibit social change, was based on a transnational intelligence apparatus that fostered the seizure, torture, murder and disappearance of political opponents in one another’s nations to obscure the identities of the perpetrators of specific atrocities.  During March 1966, relatives of disappeared persons filed more than 500 habeas corpus writs that elicited only silence from the Guatemalan regime.

Despite his tyranny, President Peralta Azurdia agreed to hold election in 1966.  Liberals and activists who opposed the militarization of the country supported the candidacy of Mario Méndez Montenegro a moderate who had escaped the death squads’ retribution by kowtowing to the regime.  Nonetheless, four months before the election Méndez Montenegro according to official reports put a bullet into his skull and died in his home.  Family members insisted his death was the result of political opponents.  The dead candidate’s supporters substituted his brother, Julio César Méndez Montenegro, who on March 6, 1966 won the election.  The military attempted to oust the president-elect, but it was thwarted by US diplomacy.  However, the hopes of that social reforms might be initiated under President Méndez Montenegro were dashed when he allowed military commanders a free rein.  With the Guatemalan military’s acquiescence, the US placed Green Beret special forces in Guatemala.

Méndez Montenegro appointed Colonel Carlos Arana Osorio as commander of Zacapa province in the midst of the stronghold of guerrilla activity.  With counterinsurgency training provided by Green Berets and bolstered by $17 million in military aid and equipment, the government increased its crackdown on rebel guerrilla forces.  Under President Méndez Montenegro, backed by Arana Osorio, the “Butcher of Zacapa” and US Green Berets, the notions of liberalism in Guatemala were coming to a harsh ending.  Arana Osorio instigated a strategy of unbridled bloodletting and cruelty.  He established death squads that applied systematic terror that incorporated rape, torture and disappearances.  In addition to its normal attacks on guerrillas, the government added widespread assassination of anyone who aligned with the liberals.  His policy of destroying entire communities was de rigueur.  Between October 1966 and March 1968, an estimated 3,000 to 8,000 people including guerrillas, but also middle-class professionals who supported policies of Arévalo and Árbenz, were gunned down in cold blood.  The war hawks in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration were all smiles within four months of the Méndez Montenegro election as the US finally had a “willing partner” in Guatemala, as the New York Times described it.

The year 1966 marked the beginning of 30 years of carnage including the slaughter of  200,000 people in Guatemala and the torture of an incalculable number of victims.  The US had its bloody hand in atrocities carried out in Guatemala.  US pilots embarking from its airbases in Panama dumped napalm bombs on guerrilla targets in Guatemala.  US special forces conducted intensive training of Guatemalan soldiers in anti-guerrilla warfare, prisoner interrogation and jungle survival.  Under the US Office of Public Safety (OPS) Program, the US showered the Guatemalan government with $2.6 million from 1966 to 1970 for police training and equipment.  During the same period, the US energized the Méndez Montenegro government to expand the police force from 3,000 to 11,000.  The US boasted in reports that by 1970 30,000 police officers in Guatemala received training from the OPS (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 244-247; Bedan 2018, 337-338; McSherry 2005, 1; Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre 2004, 73-74, 96-99).

As right-wing terrorist groups began swamping the Central American nation in 1967, one of these death squads murdered former Miss Guatemala beauty queen and anti-government activist Rogelia Cruz Martínez during December.  Cruz Martínez’s mutilated corpse was found naked and left for vultures.  She had been beaten, stabbed, raped, poisoned and disgustingly tortured.  She was among many women who suffered at the hands of torturers in government security forces, but the extremes of the depravities against her went beyond the norms of abject cruelty seen in prior cases.    Left-wing guerrilla forces sought revenge by directly attacking the US military that they blamed for the barbarism unleashed in Guatemala.  On January 16, 1968, guerrillas shot dead US Colonel John Webber and his aide Lieutenant Commander Ernest Munroe.  Webber was the officer tasked with forming counterterror death squads that operated in the Zacapa-Izabal region.  A declassified 1967 State Department memorandum disclosed:

“[A]t the center of the Army’s clandestine urban counterterror apparatus is the Special Commando Unit formed in January 1967….  Composed of both military and civilian personnel, the Special Unit has carried out abductions, bombings, street assassinations of real and alleged communists.”

After the assassinations, the guerrillas issued a statement that blamed the US military for creating the death squads that were “sowing terror and death” throughout the country.  “The genocidal work of such bands of assassins has resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,000 Guatemalans,” they alleged.  “Disappearances” emerged as a counterinsurgency tactic in Guatemala during the 1960s.

Meanwhile, Colonel Arana Osorio, touted by his fellows in the military as a force for law and order and therefore, they asserted, Arana Osorio should be the next president.  By this time the military and right-wing extremists were in control of the Guatemalan government.  These members of the ruling elite had redrafted the constitution to ensure that whomever they selected would be elevated into president’s chair.  The use of terrorism kept the voting public cowed as it ensured the moderates and left wing played no part in the government.  In 1980, the right-wing National Liberation Movement (MLN) issued a radio broadcast that summarized government policy, “The MLN is the party of organized violence…there is nothing wrong with violence; it is vigor and the MLN is a vigorous movement.”  After the “Butcher of Zacapa” Arana Osorio was installed in the National Palace on July 1, 1970, he instituted a vicious terror campaign to extirpate all traces of opposition, especially the left-wing guerrillas.  Various sources estimated that during the first three years of the Arana Osorio regime there were between 10,000 and 15,000 disappearances and murders in the country.  Arana Osorio with the contributions of the US financing and Green Berets laid the foundation for the unmitigated genocide in Guatemala against the Maya Indians during the 1980s.

In 1974, Guatemalan moderates supported an alleged centrist candidate named Efraín Rios Montt, a general in the military for the nation’s next president.  Rios Montt won the election, but powers in the military made certain Rios Montt would not assume the presidency.  Rios Montt went into exile as Guatemala’s attaché in Madrid, Spain.  But he would return to occupy the National Palace during the 1980s when he would establish a legacy of genocide.  However, in the interim Arana Osorio backed the colorless and affable General Kjell Eugencio Laugerud.  He was installed as president.  Still reeling from the “oil shock” of the 1970s and an inflationary economy, Schoolteachers went on strike for higher wages in 1973.  The strike lasted for several months and ignited additional strikes throughout the public sector that extended into 1974.  Diverse groups including semi-proletarian rural, urban masses, sections of the impoverished middle classes united under the common experiences of governmental caprice and violence.  An already restive population was further angered when in February 1976 a massive earthquake that registered 7.5 on the Richter scale hit Guatemala, killing 25,000 and leaving 1.25 million (20 percent of Guatemala’s population) homeless.  The government did little to deliver assistance to survivors and even denounced foreign humanitarian groups for bringing desperately need aid to Guatemalans.  Meanwhile, the rich scarcely were troubled by these inconveniences as their lives returned to normal within a week.  They kept their dog-grooming appointments and in the evenings congregated at opulent restaurants and bars where they drank terremoto (earthquake) cocktails, the latest rage of the privileged set.

Meanwhile, a new spark of guerrilla activity started a blaze of renewed insurgency that formed under the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP).  The EGP targeted Arana Osorio henchman Congressman Jorge Bernal Hernández Castellón, who was implicated in the disappearance of many leftists during the early 1970s.  Additionally, other militant groups came together including the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR), the communist Guatemalan Labor Party PGT and the Revolutionary Organization of the People in Arms (ORPA) (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 248-249; Grandin, Empire’s Workshop 2006, 88; McSherry 2005, 47; Jonas 1991, 63, 123-124; Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre 2004, 103).

The Guatemalan government’s terror campaign reached levels not seen in that embattled nation by 1978.  After a fraudulent election, Laugerud’s defense minister and the darling of the military establishment, Fernando Romeo Lucas García occupied the National Palace.  He promised to increase the already horrendous crackdown on guerrillas.  The Lucas García regime is credited with levels of repression that were at the time unrivaled.  He murdered 10,000 civilians, many of these in illegal executions.   In October, massive protest erupted after increases in bus fares were established.  During violence that ensued during the first 12 days of the month, at least 30 died, 350 sustained injuries and 600 were jailed.  Labor leaders called for a general strike to begin on October 20, the anniversary of the 1944 Revolution to “protest against institutionalized repression.”  During a large rally in Guatemala City on that day, the head of the Association of University Students was machine-gunned as police calmly watched.  After this slaughter, that occurred across the street from the National Palace, the perpetrators slowly drove away.  His regime entered a crisis as the coalition of the bourgeoisie and military factions that supported his government unwound.  Further compounding his troubles emerged as despite is utter willingness to slaughter unarmed civilians, the guerrilla movement continued to gather strength (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 250; Jonas 1991, 122-123).

By 1978 the Committee for Peasant Unity (CUC) emerged as a national organization that included peasants and agricultural workers comprised of Indians and impoverished ladinos but led by Indians.  Subsequent their eviction in May from land they had been working 700 Kekchi Indians joined to protest.  Their land was in a region known as the “Zone of the Generals,” that was in demand by high-ranking military officers and developers. General Lucas owned 78,000 acres in the zone near Panzós.  This land benefited from its location near industrial development near Guatemala City.  The land also had plentiful resources of oil and minerals that were in demand by transnational corporations.   During the peaceful protests, troops working at the behest of the landowners in a planned assault attacked the unarmed protesters, killing more than 100 and wounding 300 in broad daylight.  The corpses were dumped into mass graves that had previously been excavated for that purpose. The massacre ignited a protest with 80,000 strong that was the largest demonstration in a quarter of a century.  A year later 100,000 reprised the demonstration against the massacre.    The massacre was significant as a tool of social terror to stymy the incipient unrest in Guatemala.   In January 1980, poverty-ridden Indians from a rural province journeyed to Guatemala City marched into the Spanish embassy in desperation to have a hearing for their grievances.  In direct violation of international law, Guatemalan police attacked the embassy as the ambassador pleaded for calm.  During the chaos, a Molotov cocktail exploded into flames that engulfed the embassy killing all but one of the 35 Indians, several embassy workers and two Guatemalan government officials.  Spain broke off diplomatic relations with Guatemala as its officials shrugged their shoulders in apparent nonchalance.  Historians generally conclude that the massacre at Panzós and the burning of the Spanish embassy in 1980  collectively were a turning point in the consciousness the Indian population and the Christians who were advocating in the Indians’ behalf (Jonas 1991, 127-128).

Meanwhile, as the 1980s arrived, the bloodshed, broad-daylight  kidnappings and disappearances continued unabated.  Death squads comprised of government military were in the mainstream of daily life in Guatemala.  No member of the poor or petty bourgeoisie was immune to violence.  Drive-by killings claimed the lives of lawyers, schoolteachers, journalists, peasant leaders, priests and religious workers, politicians, trade union organizers, students, professors and others.  Those who did not support the regime, including moderates, were called leftists or “subversives” and therefore, enemies of the state.  Their corpses littered the blood-drenched streets.  Between November 1981 and early 1983 the level of wholesale slaughter and genocide reached unimagined proportions as death squads and counterinsurgency forces combed the country for “subversives.”  The counterinsurgency campaign included a scorched-earth devastation that included burnings, massacres of entire villages and forced relocations.  Entire groups, mostly Indians, were targeted for destruction, including the elderly and children.  During this reign of terror in a region considered to be a hotbed of leftist activity 600 villages were destroyed, between 100,000 and 150,000 were murdered or disappeared.  Reports described soldiers sweeping into villages and murdering children by bashing their brains out onto rocks while their parents were forced watch.  The soldiers sliced open the abdominal cavities of live victims, mutilated genitalia, amputated arms and legs and committed mass rapes.  In some cases, the soldiers tied victims to support poles inside their dwellings and set fire to the structure, burning the victims alive.  A surviving witness reported that pregnant women were gutted; their fetus then yanked out of their body.  During the same massacre, a soldier threw an infant into a river to drown saying, “Adiós niña,” as her parents pleaded for their child’s life.  Often the soldiers simply machine-gunned their victims.  More than one million were displaced as internal refugees including 200,000 who fled to Mexico.  Additionally, the military ignited forest fires to eliminate hiding places for their quarry.  The environmental destruction was irreversible, modifying weather patterns and rainfall amounts.   Meanwhile, a media blackout in the US and many other Western hemisphere nations kept the public in the dark as to conditions in war torn Guatemala.  Jonas attributes this “great silence” to inherent racism as the victims of these atrocities were overwhelmingly Indians (Jonas 1991, 147-149; Grandin, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States and the Rise of the New Imperialism 2006, 90).

Meanwhile, as a February 6, 1980 edition of Newsday reported:

“During recent months, the rebels have carried out some spectacular actions.  They have assassinated the army chief of staff, who was reputed to be a leading organizer of “death squads.”  They have bombed two buildings in the capital, including the modern headquarters of the National Tourism Agency.  And they have kidnapped the son of one of the nation’s most prominent families, holding him for 103 days until a ransom estimated at $5 million was paid and laundered abroad.  It was the first kidnapping on that scale to be seen yet in Guatemala, and the ransom money will presumable be used to buy weapons.”

Guerrilla fighters in Guatemala against the right-wing dictatorship, claimed in 1981 the source of the nearly three-decade long revolution’s genesis to the CIA’s Operation Success action that toppled Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán’s liberal government in 1954.  In a formal statement the  Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) claimed:

“that the defeat of guerrilla forces during the 1960s “by an army trained by the United States in counter-insurgency technique-s learned in Vietnam….  The temporary defeat of the armed movement by the end of the 1960s did not demonstrate the impossibility of armed struggle….  Today, the expansion of the guerrilla war and the qualitative growth of guerrilla units are occurring faster than ever before.”

Thanks to the 1954 US intervention and overthrow of a democratically elected Árbenz government by 1978 the World Bank concluded in its study titled Guatemala: Economic and Social Positions and Prospects (1978) that reforms the institution recommended in 1950 had not returned to the levels that existed during the Arévalo-Árbenz era.  Instead, according to the World Bank, 10 percent of Guatemalan landowners continued to own more than 80 percent of the land.  Most of this land was converted to the cultivation of exotic spices and other crops for exportation.  This lopsided distribution of land ownership in the nation exacerbated shortages of basic food staples like corn and beans.  Only 15 percent of the rural population had access to piped water.  Just four percent had electricity.  The absence of land reform forced many peasants to spend months out of every year working for hunger wages for owners of huge plantations, just as they did during the brutal days of the Ubico years.  A third of the rural population was malnourished (Schlesinger and Kinzer 1982, 250-254).

By 1980 when Ronald Reagan was swept into the White House on a neo-liberal agenda, the “showcase for democracy” that President Dwight D. Eisenhower promised in 1954 had become a “laboratory of counterinsurgency,” as historian Susanne Jonas and others have described it.  Even before he was elected, Reagan in 1979 sent a delegation to Guatemala with the message that Reagan was sympathetic to the savage, corrupt regime of General Fernando Romeo Lucas García.  But by 1982 US officials were calling Lucas García a butcher.  During the decades prior to Reagan’s ascension to the White House, a torrent of US money and military training produced a Guatemalan army that was well skilled in obliterating in the most brutal fashion vast swaths of indigenous populations in the highlands.

The conscripts pressed into military service eagerly participated in these atrocities.  Rigorous basic training in the Guatemalan army drained any sense of civilized proportion from conscripts.  Recruits went through a training course that included enduring beatings and degradation.  Their officers forced them to bathe in sewers and then prohibited from washing the excrement from their bodies.  During training some recruits were ordered to raise puppies, then commanded to kill the helpless animal and drink its blood.

On March 23, 1982, the Lucas García government was toppled during a coup d’état led by evangelical Christian Efraín Ríos Montt.  Playing to his right-wing religious base, Reagan never missed a chance to praise the Ríos Montt dictatorship.  The US president had complete awareness through detailed CIA reports of reports of genocide in Guatemala, but still Reagan had an utter lack of concern of the blood-soaked Ríos Montt regime’s unbridled slaughter of Indian men, women and children.  In a memorandum dated November 15, 1982 Secretary of State George P. Schultz told President Reagan, “The coup which brought Ríos Montt to power on March 23 presents us with an opportunity to break the long freeze in our relations with Guatemala and help prevent an extremist takeover.”  Despite the administration’s assertions in congressional hearings and in the press to the contrary, human rights organizations insisted that the Guatemalan army was slaughtering peasants in rural and Mayan regions of the country.  Indeed, Reagan met with the Ríos Montt one day before the Guatemalan army on the dictator’s orders began a three-day orgy of killing at a small village called Dos Erres.  Soldiers murdered more than 160 including 65 children.  Soldiers grasped children by their feet and swung their heads against rocks, splitting open their skulls.  Meanwhile, Reagan complained to the press that the religious fanatic, who had substantial ties to the fundamentalist movement in the US, was receiving a “bad deal.”  Reagan confidently stated that Ríos Montt was “totally committed to democracy,” according to a December 5, 1982 article in the New York Times (Bedan 2018, 338; Grandin, Empire’s Workshop 2006, 90, 109-11; Doyle 2018).

The Guatemalan election of 1985 laid the foundation for the civilian government of Vinicio Cerezo and the first “political opening” in the nation’s modern history that lowered the intensity of civil war.  The horrors of the scorched-earth policies were limited, but the counterinsurgency was still active, and the revolutionary movement was not decisively defeated.   Yet, most Guatemalans welcomed the respiro (breathing space), however limited and contradictory.  As the counterinsurgency apparatus remained, political tyranny was relaxed to a certain degree.  The moderation of repression was codified into law, but even so, Guatemalans were leery that protest might result in government retribution.  Only the most reactionary sections of the population felt any security in their freedom to openly express their opinions.  But by 1987, the bloom was off the rose as political assassinations increased and accelerated during 1988 and 1989.  At least three coups d’état attempts from military and civilian extremists in the right wing spurred an increase of death squad activity and crimes committed by the official security forces.   Observers noted that a “return to the early 1980s” was in the offing as human rights groups named Guatemala as the nation with the worst human rights record in Latin America for 1989 and 1990.  Assassination targets were the usual suspects: trade unionists, peasants, student leaders and church officials who advocated for even moderate reforms.  June 1988, the progressive newspaper offices of La Epoca were destroyed by firebombs.  Evidence pointed toward governmental security forces as the terrorism perpetrator.  Vinicio Cerezo refused to initiate investigations as he had promised during his campaign not to prosecute atrocities committed before his regime.  Cerezo’s unwillingness to prosecute those who committed crimes against humanity provided a shield of unaccountability that allowed these practices to continue (Jonas 1991, 163).

During the final two years of the Cerezo government the economy was in crisis, workers engaged in crippling strikes and protest marches and persistent allegations wide-spread corruption tarnished the government.  The quality of life in Guatemala remained in tatters as the government ineptitude failed to address desperate conditions including infant mortality, wide-spread illiteracy, seriously deficient health care and social services and rampant violence.  On November 11, 1990 during a general election Jorge Serrano was named Guatemala’s president in a runoff ballot.  He was inaugurated on January 14, 1991.  But internal strife in the government was the hallmark of life in the Central American nation.  The regimes of governments continued to be racked by civil war, corruption and instability.  In November 1995 in a field of 20 candidates battling for the presidency, the election finally came down to a runoff on January 7, 1996 when Álvaro Enrique Arzú defeated Alfonso Portillo.  During the Arzú administration negotiations between Guatemalan military commanders and guerrilla leaders of the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) under the auspices of the United Nations were initiated to bring the vicious 36-year civil war to a close (Global Security 2017).

On Sunday December 29, 1996 the historic peace accords we signed, officially ending the savage Guatemalan civil war, the longest and bloodiest in Latin American Cold War history.  When viewed in its entire context the turmoil in Guatemala existed for 42 years, beginning with the US engineered coup d’état that ended the democratically elected government of Jacobo Árbenz in 1954.  The process that laid the foundation for the signing of the accords began during the middle of the 1980s, subsequent the government’s scorched-earth genocide that ravaged the country between 1981 and 1983.  When a civilian government assumed power in 1986, the URNG began making efforts to resolve the conflict.  The genocide that ravaged the country ended in 1983 left the URNG decimated and its mission to restore the 1944 Revolution and deliver the promise of a socially equal nation was finished.  The fighting continued for another 14 years, but for the URNG, it became an issue of fighting for survival, attempting to restore the rule of law and respect for basic human rights.  Serious negotiations began when a Catholic bishop offered his services as a “conciliator” and increased dramatically when the UN and other international figures entered the process in 1994.

The Accords that marked the end of the Guatemalan civil war are an enormous milestone in the nation’s history that ended the wave of unremitting government repression.  The Accords also poured the foundation for a Commission on Historical Clarification, that was tasked with studying the violence and identifying its causes. Yet, unfortunately the Accords did little to ameliorate the vast gulf of inequality that dominated the landscape in Guatemala.  As of 2006, two percent of the population owned 50 percent of the arable land in the country.   (Jonas, Guatemalan Peace Accords 2007; Kinzer 2006, 207; Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre 2004, 166).

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Edward B. Winslow is a historian and freelance writer.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Sources

Bedan, John. 2018. The Price of Progress: Guatemala and the United States During the Alliance for Progress Era.Dissertation, History, Eugene: University of Oregon. Accessed July 10, 2019. https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/24200.

Cullather, Nicholas. 1994. Operation PBSUCCESS: The United States and Guatemala 1952-1954. Washington DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency.

Doyle, Kate. 2018. “The Guatemala Genocide Ruling, Five Years Later.” nsarchive.gwu.edu. Edited by Kate Doyle. May 18. Accessed July 16, 2019. https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/guatemala/2018-5-10/guatemala-genocide-ruling-five-years-later.

Galeano, Eduard. 1973, 1997. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Global Security. 2017. Guatemala Civil War 1982-1996. Alexandria: GlobalSecurity.org. Accessed July 27, 2019. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/guatemala-3.htm.

Gordon, Max. 1971. “A Case History of US Subversion: Guatemala, 1954.” Science & Society 35 (2 (Summer)): 129-155.

Grandin, Greg. 2006. Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States and the Rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company.

—. 2004. The Last Colonial Massacre. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Jonas, Susanne. 2007. “Guatemalan Peace Accords: An End and a Beginning.” NACLA Report on the Americas(North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)).

—. 1991. The Battle for Guatemala: Rebels, Death Squads and US Power. Bouler, San Francisco and Oxford: Westview Press.

Kate Doyle, Ed., and Peter Kornbluh, Ed. 1995. CIA and Assassinations: The Guatemala 1954 Documents — National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 4. The George Washington University, Washington, DC: The National Security Archive. Accessed June 11, 2019. https://www.nsarchives2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB4/.

Kinzer, Stephen. 2006. Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. New York: Henry Holt and Company LLC.

McSherry, J. Patrice. 2005. Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Pike, Frederick B. 1955. “Guatemala, the United States and Communism in the Americas.” The Review of Politics 17 (2): 232-261.

Schlesinger, Stephen, and Stephen Kinzer. 1982. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala.Garden City: Doubleday & Company Inc.

Schlewitz, Andrew J. 2004. “Imperial Incompetence and Guatemalan Militarism, 1931-1966.” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 17 (4 (Summer)): 585-618.

Stone, Oliver, and Peter Kuznick. 2012. The Untold History of the United States. New York: Gallery Books, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Weiner, Tim. 2008. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. New York: Anchor Books, a division of Random House Inc.

Whitfield, Stephen J. 1984. “Strange Fruit: The Career of Samuel Zemurray.” American Jewish History (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 73 (3): 307-323.

Featured image: Elena Hermosa / Trocaire from Flickr

It may well be a finding of some implication should Julian Assange find his way into the beastly glory that is the US justice system.  In its efforts to rope in President Donald Trump’s election campaign, Wikileaks, Assange and the Russian Federation for hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, the DNC case was found wanting.

The case presented in the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York was never convincing but remains as aspect of a broader effort to inculpate WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in assisting the Trump campaign triumph.  One allegation was key: that “the dissemination of those [hacked] materials furthered the prospect of the Trump Campaign”, a point of assistance the defendants “welcomed”.  Claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupted Organizations Act and Stored Communications Act, among other statutes, were also advanced.

An important ingredient in the DNC case was that of conspiracy, a notable point given current efforts on the part of the US Justice Department to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom.  The elaborate conspiracy was alleged to link the Russian theft of emails and data from the DNC computer system to WikiLeaks and company via dissemination.  Effectively, the argument was that stolen materials were disclosed.  (Merrily for transparency advocates, the DNC did not contest the veracity of the material, merely the way such material had been obtained.)

Reporters and civil liberty groups rallied.  The Knight First Amendment Institute situated at Columbia University, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, all made submissions backing WikiLeaks’ request for the dismissal of the lawsuit.

The first snag for the DNC team was the Russian Federation.  As District Judge John G. Koeltl noted from the outset, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act rendered the issue of Russia’s legal liability for the pilfering deeds a moot one; the Federation could not be sued in the courts of the United States for acts of state, a point duly acknowledged as reciprocal.  Nor had the DNC shown that the case satisfied any exceptions, including that of “commercial activity”.  Cyber-attacks, it was accepted, tended to lack the necessary commercial quality.

What then followed was a textbook application of the First Amendment and press freedoms at play.  The DNC effort had a smell of desperation; in pursuing WikiLeaks, it had ignored a salient lesson in constitutional history.  The good judge was wise to the point, recalling the US Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. v United States (the “Pentagon Papers” case) upholding “the press’ right to publish information of public concern obtained from documents stolen by a third party.”

The 2001 Supreme Court decision of Bartnicki v Vopper was also added to the judicial mix, one involving the interception by an unknown person of a recorded call between a teachers’ union’s president and its main negotiator.  The subsequent airing of the recording by a local radio host did not result in any liability for breaching federal and Pennsylvania wiretapping statutes, despite knowledge that the recording had been obtained illegally.  Action on the part of a state “to punish the publication of truthful information seldom can satisfy constitutional standards”.

Koeltl noted that the DNC raised “a number of connections and communications between the defendants and with people loosely connected to the Russian Federation, but at no point does the DNC allege any facts in the Second Amendment Complaint to show that any of the defendants – other than the Russian Federation – participated in the theft of the DNC’s information.”  What the DNC was essentially doing was making allegations sound like fact, something of an irritation for Koeltl.

While acknowledging that the DNC’s argument against WikiLeaks might have initially seemed strong, they being “the only defendant – other than the Russian Federation – that is alleged to have published the stolen information”, such an allegation lacked legs.  The Bartnicki case loomed as a heavy precedent: WikiLeaks had played no “role in the theft of the documents and it is undisputed that the stolen materials involve matters of public concern.”  It was left to the DNC to distinguish the two cases, something which it tried to do with the concept of the “after-the-fact co-conspirator”. The bridge was alleged to be WikiLeaks’ “coordination to obtain and distribute stolen materials”.

In what seems like an audible sigh coming through the text, Koeltl deemed WikiLeaks’ knowledge that the material was stolen a “constitutionally insignificant” matter and “unpersuasive.”  On the other hand, publishing internal communications allowing “the American electorate to look behind a curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election” was very much deserving of the “strongest protection that the First Amendment offers.”

Even any solicitation of the part of WikiLeaks to obtain such material (prosecutors, take note) was irrelevant. “A person is entitled to publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source as long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.”

The logical implication following from punishing individuals and entities for doing so, acknowledged the court, would “render any journalist who publishes an article based on stolen information a co-conspirator in the theft”.  Assange and his legal team will be more than a little heartened by this acknowledgment, one that repels efforts to treat WikiLeaks as a hacking rather than publishing enterprise.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.” — Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), (September 1932)

“Armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.” — James Madison, (1751-1836), 4th U.S. President, (April 20, 1795)

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” — Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), 3rd U.S. President

“We know now that government run by organized money is the same as government run by the organized mob.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd American President, 1933-1945,  (in a speech at Madison Square Garden, Oct. 31, 1936)

Don’t look now, but there is a new monetary craze going on in some parts of the world, and it is the new so-called ‘unconventional’ monetary policy adopted by some central banks to push interest rates to ultra-low levels, and even into negative territory. For some time now, some central banks and some governments have been pushing nominal interest rates down, so much so that a few countries have negative short-term interest rates and, when inflation is factored in, even more deeply negative real interest rates. Why suddenly such an unconventional monetary policy? Their rationale is a fear that the economy could otherwise be saddled with an overvalued currency and be faced with a too heavy debt burden, and this would hurt their economic growth.

How is this possible? How could a central bank push interest rates to zero or to below zero, and with what consequences? A central bank does that by offering zero or negative returns on private banks’ excess reserves or extra funds that those banks want to store at the central bank. This is a complex matter, but essentially this occurs when private banks are awash with cash that they have trouble lending profitably to private borrowers. They are then forced to find alternative ways to invest their funds, one of them is to park those funds at the central bank, or alternatively, to buy government bonds and other securities. The result is an increase in the prices of those assets and a lowering of interest rates.

The question to be asked is why many banks are saddled with too much excess cash, above and beyond what is required to meet the ordinary private demands for loans? To answer that question, we have to go back to the international financial crisis of 2007 and later years.

This all began with the subprime financial crisis, which started at the end of the summer of 2007, when some mega-banks in the United States and in other financial centers were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Indeed, they had created a new type of financial products, the so-called mortgage-and debt-backed securities (MBS) and other asset-backed paper (ABCP), which were bundles of risky debt and were sold as new esoteric securities. When the housing market collapsed, these artificially created securities also collapsed, and the banks found themselves in financial trouble.

To prevent large banks from failing, the American central bank, i.e. the Fed, began printing new money to the extent of more than three thousand billion $ to rescue them. The Fed called its generosity “Quantitative Easing” (QE), a fancy and innocuous word to cover the largest expansion ever of the monetary base in the United States, which is to a large extent made up of the Fed’s balance sheet (i.e. the private banks’ reserves held at the central bank) and of bank notes and coins circulating in the economy.

— With the newly printed money, the Fed bought Treasuries but also large amounts of private banks’ bad debts. And it did it for six years from 2008 to late 2014, in three successive rounds of money printing.

— Historically speaking, it was really an orgy of money printing. This was done, however, on the premise that the banks would leave most of their newly created bank excess reserves deposited at the central bank. Nevertheless, the result (withso much excess liquidity in the system) was to push the prices of bonds and securities up and to lower interest rates across the board. And, in fact, interest rates have been declining ever since. The Fed said that it was ‘reflating’ the economy. In fact, what it was doing could be more accurately called ‘reflating’ the private banks’ balance sheets.

— During that period, the Fed’s own total balance sheet ballooned, jumping from roughly $1,000 billion in 2008, (ordinarily, it is mostly made up of Treasury securities and its net interest income is returned to the Treasury), to slightly more than $4,500 billion en 2017, an increase of 350 percent.

Today, the Fed’s total balance sheet is made up of Treasuries for about 55 percent, while mortgage-and-debt backed securities that it bought from the private banks account for about 40 percent, with gold and other assets accounting for the rest. An important point is the fact that the Fed’s balance sheet before 2008 represented around 6 percent of annual U.S. output (GDP) but it reached 25 percent in 2014. It has since declined somewhat to 20 percent of GDP, and the Fed would like to “normalize it “, i.e. shrink it further to prevent future inflation and above all, to be in a position to intervene if a new crisis were to arise.

Let us now do some fast-forward thinking to today’s economic situation.

Enter the Trump administration in 2017 with its big increase in the pubic debt and with its bullying of the Powell Fed to bring down interest rates, possibly to zero

The last economic recession in the United States, (dubbed the Great Recession), was the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. It began in December 2007, and it ended in June 2009. The economic recovery, however, has been the longest in U.S. history, having passed the 121-month mark, and it is already more than 10 years old.

The Trump administration’s economic policy as been characterized by trade protectionism, an anti-immigration policy, the lowering of taxes especially for large corporations and large banks, trillion-dollars yearly fiscal deficits, a very loose monetary policy, and a 13 percent jump in the total U.S. public debt since Jan. 20, 2017, when President Donald Trump took office.

[N. B.: The total national debt stood at $19.95 trillion on January 20, 2017. As of July 31, 2019, it has been galloping past $22.54 trillion.]

It could be expected that when the public debt has grown so large that there is fear that it could not be managed if interest rates were to rise. Governments and central banks would then be tempted to push interest rates down, in order to alleviate the burden of debt service (essentially interest payments on government bonds). It is like imposing a stealth tax on savers and creditors.

It is worth pointing out that the Fed has recently done just that. Indeed, by artificially lowering interest rates below the inflation rate and a risk premium, it has made it possible for the U.S. Treasury to pay negative real interest rates on its public debt. This means that when the inflation rate is higher than the nominal interest rate paid on the public debt, the U.S. government gets a free ride at the expense of its creditors.

If interest rates were to fall to zero, for example, or even to below zero, (as it is the case nowadays in Japan, after its two-decade long experiment withzero interest rates, and presently in some European countries, such as Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, France, Sweden, etc.), savers, retirees, pension funds, insurance companies and lenders in general are the big losers.

Indeed, in countries where ten-year government bonds, for example, are generating a zero or a negative return, this means that the principle of compound interest has de facto been abolished for investors. Such a development may have serious consequences for savers, retirees and pension funds.

However, when the central bank buys government bonds and issues newly created money in exchange, this is called “debt monetization”. If this is done on a large scale, it could eventually lead to a form of gallopinginflation, possibly even to hyperinflation.

It is also worth noting that when central banks push interest rates to ultra low levels or to negative levels, investors have no other alternative than to purchase assets that offer positive returns, such as shares in companies or ownership titles of real estate. Price bubbles in the stock market and in the real estate market can be expected to ensue. Such investments become a refuge from the negative returns received on fixed-income financial assets. Historically, when this has happened, such developments have ultimately ended up in crashes and panics down the road.

The 1920s all over again?

The economic situation of today is, to a certain extent, reminiscent of the U.S. economy in the 1920s, leading to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Indeed, the U.S. economy had been growing by 2.7 percent per year between 1920 and 1929. There was overall full employment and inflation was stable.

Also, economic growth had been extended through protectionist measures, such as the Fordney-McCumber Tariff of 1922. During the presidential campaign of 1928, for example, republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) proposed large tariff increases on imports, as part of his platform. Once in power, his promise was implemented with the passage of the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930, which is thought to have accelerated the global economic depression.

The economy was also stimulated through increased spending on public works and through tax cuts in 1921, 1924, and 1925.

Moreover, President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) signed an anti-immigration bill called the Immigration Act of 1924, (also called the Johnson–Reed Act), whose main purpose was to prevent immigration to the United States of people from Asia. There was also widespread hostility toward Catholic Americans, many of Italian origin, toward Jews, and toward blacks.

— These were the “roaring ‘20s”.

Considering the many similarities between the two periods, politically, socially and economically, a few questions beg to be asked: Is not history repeating itself? Might the excesses of today lead also to a day of reckoning? Might the current central bankers and politicians be leading the U.S. and other economies into a severe global economic downturn? Trade protectionism, lower taxes, higher debt levels, anti-immigration legislation, wholesale deregulation… etc.

— It’s ‘déjà vu all over again’!

Conclusion

Artificially low interest rates may be on their way in the United States. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell appears to have been intimidated by Donald Trump’s bullying tactics into lowering interest rates. Therefore, even though the U.S. economy is presently at full employment—partly a demographic consequence of the retirement in droves of baby-boomers—it is also saddled with very loose fiscal and monetary policies.

This is most unusual and it flies in the face of the principles of sound economic management. Such a situation is bound to create financial excesses and bubbles, to be corrected down the road.

In fact, the policy mix of today is a typical example of a government going after short-run economic and political gains at the expense of future medium- and long-run pains.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, of the book “The New American Empire”, and the recent book, in French “La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018“. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

Please visit Dr. Tremblay’s site: http://rodriguetremblay100.blogspot.com/ where this article was originally published.

Featured image is from Pixabay

For more than six decades, socialist Cuba has struggled against the ‘most formidable imperial power ever known to humankind’. It could be said that, ‘never has the world witnessed such an unequal fight’ when considering the respective sizes, populations, economies, and military strengths of Cuba and the US (Fidel Castro, May 1, 2003 Havana). In its anti-communist/anti-socialist zeal, the Trump administration has maintained America’s long-standing policy of attempting ‘to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of [Cuban] government’, which has been in place since 1960’s with the exception of a brief period of engagement from December 17, 2014 to June 16, 2017, when the Obama administration sought to normalize diplomatic relations with the island nation[i]. The Trump administration has frequently employed rhetoric reminiscent of the Cold War Era while implementing aggressive, impulsive and harsh policies against Cuba, which have strengthened the American economic embargo against the island and its people. Washington has justified such policies on the basis that Cuba has been ‘exporting its communist ideology’ to Venezuela, Nicaragua[ii] and other Latin American countries, even going so far as to claim that ‘Cuba is the true imperialist power in Venezuela.’

On June 16, 2017, just under six months after assuming office, President Trump delivered a speech in Miami where he mentioned that Americans ‘will not be silenced in the face of communist oppression any longer’. In that same speech, he also stated that ‘with God’s help, a free Cuba’ will soon be achieved[iii]. However, the aggressiveness of US policies towards Cuba has clearly intensified since Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State since April 26, 2018), John Bolton (National Security Advisor since April 9, 2018) and Elliott Abrams[iv] (special Representative for Venezuela since January 25, 2019) were given prominent roles in Washington. Subsequently, in a speech delivered in Miami on February 18, 2019, Trump went so far as to call Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro a ‘Cuban puppet’ and make the outrageous claim that ‘the Venezuelan military are risking their lives, and Venezuela’s future, for a man controlled by the Cuban military and protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers.’ The same day, Trump elaborated on his hostile view of Venezuela’s socialist government when he claimed that:

Their tyrannical socialist government, nationalized private industries, and took over private businesses. They engaged in massive wealth confiscation, shut down free markets, suppressed free speech, and set up a relentless propaganda machine, rigged elections, used the government to persecute their political opponents, and destroyed the impartial rule of law…In other words, the socialists have done in Venezuela all of the same things that socialists, communists, totalitarians[v] have done everywhere that they’ve had a chance to rule.  The results have been catastrophic[vi].

In February 2019, president Trump confidently asserted that his administration would put an end to socialist and communist regimes throughout Latin America when he announced:

the twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere, and frankly in many, many places around the world. The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well.

The latest US efforts to overthrow Cuba’s socialist regime include the full implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act[ix] (also known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996), which was announced by National Security Advisor John Bolton in a speech delivered in Miami on April 17, 2019. The Helms-Burton Act was designed to bring hunger and desperation to Cuba by extending the original commercial, economic, and financial embargo against the island nation. Title III allows for the ‘protection of property rights of United States nationals’ in order to discourage investment in Cuba on the part of non-US companies. More specifically, it permits ‘American citizens, including naturalized Cuban-Americans, to sue any foreign company conducting business involving properties that were owned by American citizens before being confiscated by the Cuban socialist government after the 1959 Revolution.’[vii]

Subsequently, on June 4, 2019, the Trump administration announced that it was amending Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR)[viii] by implementing new travel restrictions on American citizens seeking to visit Cuba, including for educational trips and cultural exchanges. Furthermore, the amended CACR also includes a full ban on cruise ships, private yachts or plane travel to Cuba. These new restrictions were justified by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the basis that:

Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes.[ix]

Despite his recent enthusiasm for anti-communist propaganda, Trump did not appear particularly interested in reversing Obama’s policies aimed at re-establishing normalized relations with Cuba early on in his presidency. According to Mark Feierstein, senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council under Obama, ‘Trump has never demonstrated a concern about Cuba. As we know he tried to do business in Cuba. We know that he privately told Obama that he agreed with what Obama was doing on Cuba policy.’ This might suggest that the Trump administration’s policies towards Cuba are intended to bolster his anti-socialist/communist[x] credentials before the 2020 presidential election[xi], which could pit him against Bernie Sanders, who has called for ending the trade embargo and lifting travel restrictions against Cuba.

During the Cold War Era, neo-liberals often claimed that the destruction of Western civilisation and liberalism at the hands of fascism, Nazism, and communism could have been prevented had people recognized the warning signs and understood where these movements were headed before it was too late. It would appear that the Trump administration is employing similar rhetoric, as was evident on November 4, 2018, when president Trump declared that ‘Democrats are socialists’ and that ‘they want to impose socialism on our country.’ The Trump administration is trying to instill fear of totalitarian regimes, as if the world was still operating under the conditions of the Cold War Era. Speeches and statements by Trump, Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams give the impression that the ideological battle against communism has not been concluded even though the Soviet Union collapsed almost three decades ago.

Despite the widespread belief that the ideological battle between capitalism and communism was settled at the end of Cold War, ‘the End of History’has not yet been decisively achieved, as alternative ideologies to free-market capitalism continue to persist in some countries. Cuban socialism has managed to survive for six decades, despite being subjected to a destructive embargo, intimidation, and destabilization, including assassination attempts against it leaders, while the Bolivarian Revolution is entering its third decade. Also, the US has only recently managed to reverse the ‘Pink Tide’ (or turn to the left) in Latin America by supporting the electoral defeat or overthrow of progressive governments in a number of countries throughout the region and their replacement by right-wing candidates committed to the neoliberal economic model. The US government and its allies are now focusing their attention on destabilizing and overthrowing the governments of Cuba and Venezuela[xii], as well as Nicaragua, the few remaining countries in the region that prevent foreign corporations from earning unlimited profits at the expense of domestic workers and the environment.

History has shown that Washington is not averse to intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries in order to further its own interests, which includes facilitating the overthrow of a long list of governments that did not fully submit to US dictates. Such interventions were often justified on the grounds of national security, with recurring pretexts including the Cold War, the Global War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs. Given that the US is losing or has already lost the War on Terrorism and the War on Drugs, a return to the discourse of the Cold War Era appears to be the new narrative used to justify American foreign interventions. In Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the Trump administration is using the pretext of spreading democracy or, more accurately, ‘their democratic model.’[xiii] On a number of occasions, president Trump has suggested that there is a risk of communist and socialist movements spreading within the US, including his last State of the Union Address where he indicated that he was ‘alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism’ in the American way of life, with the implication being that this would inevitably bring terror, misery, despotism, and oppression to American citizens. This type of discourse helps elicit fears and resentment among the population, directing them towards an irrational and aggressive defense of the status quo. Perhaps this is the tactic that Donald Trump is hoping will help him secure re-election in 2020. Unfortunately, the world will continue to be subjected to the destructive and malicious policies of the Trump administration that only serve the interests, wealth, and power of corporate elites until then.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Global Research contributor Dr. Birsen Filip holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Ottawa.

Notes

[i] On June 16, 2017, President Trump announced that he was ‘cancelling’ the Obama administration’s deals with Cuba.

[ii] Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have been labelled the ‘troika of tyranny’ and the ‘three stooges of socialism’ by, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

[iii] President Trump, Miami, Florida in 2017

[iv] ‘Among the leading players in the current anti-communist and neo-imperialist crusade being perpetrated by the US government include: current US vice-president Mike Pence; Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State since April 26, 2018; Florida Senator Marco Rubio; John Bolton, National Security Advisor since April 9, 2018; Mauricio Claver-Carone, senior director of the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere affairs division since fall 2018; Elliot Abrams, Special Representative for Venezuela since January 25, 2019; and, Mark Andrew Green, Administrator of USAID since August 7, 2017. All of them are well-known for holding strong anti-Castro views, opposing the Obama administration’s engagement with Cuba, and being proponents of aggressive regime change strategies in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.’ https://www.globalresearch.ca/enacting-title-iii-helms-burton-act-us-revisits-cold-war-era/5671648

[v] Many of the hostile actions directed against Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua on the part of the Trump administration have been justified on the basis that these countries are socialist or communist, and that they support totalitarian regimes. However, the systems of government and economics in each of these countries are very distinct from the communism that prevailed during the Cold War Era. In fact, Venezuela and Nicaragua are mixed economies, while Cuba is reforming its socialist regime. These three nations have been trying to reduce exploitation and misery, while ensuring that society is egalitarian, communitarian, which does not suggest that their governments are totalitarian in nature.

[vi] Contrary to much of president Trump’s rhetoric, there is plenty of evidence to support the view that ‘revolutionary communism created a life for the mass of people that was far better than the wretched existence they had endured under feudal lords, military bosses, foreign colonizers, and Western capitalists. The end result was a dramatic improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of people on a scale never before or since witnessed in history. State socialism transformed desperately poor countries into modernized societies in which everyone had enough food, clothing, and shelter; where elderly people had secure pensions; and where all children (and many adults) went to school and no one was denied medical attention.’ (Parenti, 1997, 85).

[vii] https://www.globalresearch.ca/enacting-title-iii-helms-burton-act-us-revisits-cold-war-era/5671648

[viii] ‘The CACR removes an authorization for people-to-people educational travel that was conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact (group people-to-people educational travel). This amendment also includes a grandfather clause authorizing certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized where the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 5, 2019.’https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_faqs_new.pdf

[ix] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm700

[x] There is little doubt that anti-communism has been the most powerful political force inhibiting the success of revolutionary movements around the world. During the Cold War, anti-communist orientation of Washington resulted in foreign interventions aimed at destabilizing governments viewed even as moderately socialist (incorrectly on some occasions) including Guatemala (1953-1954, 1960), Indonesia (1957-1958, 1965, 1975), the  Dominican Republic (1960-1966), Chile (1964-1973), Cambodia (1955-1973), Laos (1957-1973), the Congo (1960-1964), Greece (1964-1974), Bolivia (1964-1975), and Afghanistan (1979-1992).

https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-cuban-revolution-the-u-s-imposed-economic-blockade-and-us-cuba-relations/5433797

[xi] Preparations for the 2020 election could also have factored into Trump’s decision to bring experienced anti-communist crusaders into his administration, including John Bolton, National Security Advisor since April 9, 2018, and Elliot Abrahams.

[xii] Given that ‘six of the world’s ten top industrial corporations are involved primarily in the production of oil, gasoline, and motor vehicles’, securing Venezuela’s oil reserves, which are the largest known reserves in the world, is a priority for these industrial corporations (Parenti 1997, 158). This would require the removal of president Maduro, who has been using his country’s oil revenue to finance social and economic programs aimed at achieving the distributive justice.

[xiii] ‘It’s the false democracy of elites…a very original democracy that’s imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons’ (Hugo Chávez, 2006).

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons

O modelo USA do governo «soberanista»

July 30th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

Embora a oposição ataque sempre o governo e existam divergências no seio do próprio governo, em todo o arco parlamentar não se ergueu uma única voz, quando o Primeiro Ministro Conte expôs as linhas de orientação da política externa, na Conferência dos Embaixadores (em 26 de Julho), o que prova o amplo consenso multipartidário.

Conte definiu, antes de tudo,  qual é o fundamento da posição da Itália no mundo: “O nosso relacionamento com os Estados Unidos continua qualitativamente diferente do que temos com outras Potências, porque é baseado em valores, em princípios partilhados, que são o próprio fundamento da República e parte integrante da nossa Constituição: a soberania democrática, a liberdade e a igualdade dos cidadãos, a salvaguarda dos direitos humanos fundamentais”.

O Primeiro Ministro Conte não só reitera que os EUA são o nosso “aliado privilegiado”, como também afirma um princípio orientador: a Itália considera os Estados Unidos como um modelo de sociedade democrática. Uma mistificação histórica colossal.

Ø  No que diz respeito à “liberdade e à igualdade dos cidadãos”, basta lembrar que os cidadãos americanos ainda hoje são oficialmente registados com base na “raça” – brancos (distintos entre não hispânicos e hispânicos), negros, índios americanos, asiáticos, nativos havaianos – e que as condições de vida médias dos negros e dos hispânicos (latino-americanos pertencentes a todas “raças”) são, de longe, as piores.

No que diz respeito à “salvaguarda dos direitos humanos fundamentais”, basta lembrar que nos Estados Unidos mais de 43 milhões de cidadãos (14%) vivem na pobreza e cerca de 30 milhões não possuem plano de saúde, enquanto muitos outros possuem seguro de saúde insuficiente (por exemplo, para pagar uma longa quimioterapia contra um tumor).

E no que diz respeito à “salvaguarda dos direitos humanos”, basta recordar os milhares de negros desarmados, assassinados impunemente, por polícias brancos.

No que diz respeito à “soberania democrática”, basta recordar a série de guerras e golpes de Estado, efectuados pelos Estados Unidos, desde 1945 até hoje, em mais de 30 países asiáticos, africanos, europeus e latino-americanos, causando 20-30 milhões de mortes e centenas de milhões de feridos (ver o estudo de J. Lucas apresentado pelo Prof Chossudovsky em Global Research).

Estes são os “valores partilhados” sobre os quais a Itália baseia a sua relação “qualitativamente diferente” com os Estados Unidos. E, para demonstrar como ela é profícua, Conte assegura: “Encontrei sempre no Presidente Trump, um interlocutor atento aos legítimos interesses italianos”.

Interesses que Washington considera “legítimos” enquanto a Itália permanecer associada à NATO, dominada pelos EUA, seguir os EUA, de guerra em guerra, aumentar a sua despesa militar, a seu pedido, colocar o seu território à disponísição das forças e bases USA, incluindo as nucleares.

Conte procura fazer crer que o seu governo, habitualmente designado como “soberanista”, tem um amplo espaço autónomo de “diálogo com a Rússia com base de aproximação NATO de duplo binário” (diplomático e militar), uma abordagem que, na realidade, segue o binário único de um confronto militar cada vez mais perigoso.

A este respeito – refere ‘La Stampa’ (26 de Julho) – o Embaixador dos EUA, Eisenberg, telefonou ao Vice Presidente Di Maio (considerado por Washington o mais “confiável”), pedindo esclarecimentos sobre as relações com Moscovo, em particular do Vice Presidente Salvini (cuja visita a Washington, apesar dos seus esforços, teve um “resultado decepcionante”).

Não se sabe se o governo Conte vai passar no exame. Sabe-se, no entanto, que prossegue a tradição, segundo a qual, em Itália, o governo deve ter sempre a aprovação de Washington, confirmando qual é a nossa “soberania democrática”.

Manlio Dinucci

 

Artigo original em italiano :

Il modello USA del governo «sovranista»

Tradutora: Maria Luísa deVasconcellos

  • Posted in Português
  • Comments Off on O modelo USA do governo «soberanista»

The popular Western mainstream media outlet Reuters published a very misleading piece over the weekend that deceptively described the latest events in Hong Kong as a “cycle of violence,” inaccurately implying that the recent disturbances are partially the fault of the city’s police.

The article, “Protesters clash in Hong Kong as cycle of violence intensifies,” paints a sympathetic picture of the rioters who have tried to wreak havoc across the municipality over the past two months while ignoring the commendable restraint and patience of the law enforcement representatives tasked with keeping the peace.

The subtext is that the police’s supposedly excessive response to the so-called protesters is contributing to a “cycle of violence,” suggesting that the city should just stand back and let rioters run wild across town until they finally get what they want.

That would be absolutely irresponsible because no country – including Western leaders such as the U.S. and France – would allow such a scenario to materialize since it’s the responsibility of the state to keep the majority of law-abiding and peaceful citizens safe from the violent vanguard of political radicals who are attacking public property, disturbing the peace and intimidating others.

The deplorable events of early July are etched in everyone’s mind after hooligans stormed the legislative building, vandalized the premises and even raised the city’s colonial-era flag in the clearest sign yet of their regressive political agenda, yet even then the police reacted responsibly and went to great lengths to ensure that the situation was defused as peacefully and realistically as possible under those tense circumstances.

Instead of lauding law enforcement representatives for their professional handling of the situation, Western mainstream media outlets spun conspiracy theories speculating about why the police didn’t use more forceful means.

Evidently, many Western political observers have been unpleasantly surprised by how the city has dealt with recent events, hence why Reuters, for example, is now trying to imply without any evidence whatsoever that law enforcement representatives are partially responsible for a “cycle of violence.”

This is a similarly deceptive narrative as the one that’s regularly propagated against the authorities in many non-Western countries whenever politically motivated protests in the main urban areas descend into anti-state violence and rioting, making it seem like the same perception management playbook is now being applied against Hong Kong.

According to the established pattern, a “trigger event” usually takes place which provides the masterminds of the planned unrest with the “international plausible” pretext to commence their destabilization operations.

A small minority of the protesters are actually anti-state radicals who then try to violently provoke the police into responding in kind, after which the law enforcement representatives’ actions are decontextualized, misreported and then propagated through selectively edited footage on mainstream and especially social media platforms in order to spread a completely false perception of the events that just took place.

The intent is to manufacture the artificial narrative that the state is using excessive force against peaceful civilian protesters, which instantly attracts biased international media coverage and could contribute to misleading other citizens into participating in increasingly larger demonstrations, during which time they could be exploited as de-facto human shields by nearby rioters who are trying to provoke a forceful response from the police that they know might unwittingly injure others as collateral damage.

This is the real cycle of violence that’s occurring and the true culprits behind it, not the one that Reuters implied is partially the state’s fault.

Going forward and judging by the distorted way in which many Western mainstream media outlets are reporting on the latest incidents in Hong Kong, one can predict that this deceptive perception management trend will probably continue into the future since it’s driven by hostile political motivations.

In fact, one can even go as far as describing it as a “cycle of media violence,” since those outlets are tacitly supporting the rioters by encouraging the continuance of their criminal actions, which makes them much more culpable for what’s taking place than the police are because they’re literally waging psychological warfare to provoke more unrest.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on CGTN.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Sky News

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent branding of US National Security Advisor Bolton, “Israeli” Premier Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) as part of a so-called “B-Team” of anti-Iranian hawks has been very successful in putting enormous pressure on the first-mentioned one and making Americans think twice about the whose interests would really be served by going to war with the Islamic Republic.

 ***

Perception management is a tactic of information warfare that’s become extremely important in the modern-day age of social media, which isn’t to render any value judgement on it one way or the other, but just to point out a fact that few are reluctant to admit. All countries, leaders, movements, and politically minded individuals engage in it, though it’s “taboo” to say so. In any case, that doesn’t change the reality of it occurring all the time, especially since it’s come to play such a prominent role in the latest American-Iranian tensions. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif‘s recent branding of US National Security Advisor Bolton, “Israeli” Premier Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) as part of a so-called “B-Team” of anti-Iranian hawks is a case in point and deserves to be analyzed more in depth because of the tremendous success that it’s had in putting enormous pressure on the first-mentioned one.

Iranian strategists keenly understand that many Americans on both sides of the partisan aisle are deeply suspicious of Bolton, with Democrats literally hating him simply because he’s a Republican while the Republicans themselves are divided over his controversial legacy of supporting the 2003 War on Iraq. They’ve also obviously been following the US’ domestic affairs closely enough to know that there are even rumors that Bolton isn’t in the best standing with Trump, especially after popular TV host Tucker Carlson’s reported intervention in getting the President to reconsider the wisdom of striking Iran in response to its downing of an American spy drone last month. All of this suggests that there are serious fault lines inside the Trump Administration and the rest of America as a whole over Bolton’s role as the country’s National Security Advisor, which presents a unique opportunity for Iran to relieve some of the pressure that he’s putting on it.

Every American is aware by now of the Democrats’ “Russian collusion” conspiracy theory, which has brought the topic of foreign interference in the country’s many political processes to the front and center of domestic debate. With this in mind, Iranian strategists realized the brilliance of grouping Bolton together with Bibi and MBS as part of the so-called “B-Team” that Tehran blames for trying to provoke war with the Islamic Republic because it strongly implies that the infamous war hawk might be doing the bidding of “Israel” and Saudi Arabia instead of advancing America’s own interests. Those two aforementioned actors are very controversial nowadays after many Americans have become aware of “Israel’s” crimes against the Palestinians and Saudi Arabia’s vicious conduct in the War on Yemen, and Bolton’s unwavering support for both of them has contributed to his unpopularity and the theory that he might be their joint “agent of influence”.

Iran wants as many Americans as possible — including regular folks, government officials (both domestic and foreign), and even Trump himself — exposed to this idea in order to exacerbate the preexisting fault lines over this official and either functionally neutralize his influence or get him fired, but the only way to ensure widespread awareness of the theory that he might be “Israel” and Saudi Arabia’s joint “agent of influence” in provoking the US into war against Iran on their behalf was to get Foreign Minister Zarif to tweet about the “B-Team”. That instantly caught the international media’s attention and guaranteed that the largest number of people possible could be made aware of who Bolton might really be working for, which has put the National Security Advisor under unprecedented pressure like never before. Iran’s successful employment of perception management tactics via social media might even result in Trump tempering his position towards the latest tensions and ultimately preventing an outbreak of what Zarif warned would be the “war of the century”.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from New Eastern Outlook


150115 Long War Cover hi-res finalv2 copy3.jpg

The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

Click here to order.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Information Warfare: Iran’s “B-Team” Branding Is Effective in Putting a Lot of Pressure on Bolton
  • Tags: ,

Deer Caught in the Headlights

July 30th, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

We all remember those vivid pictures of a deer, halfway across a road at night…. Frozen as the car is about to hit it. A shrewder animal would not allow itself to be so defenseless on that roadway. Alas, the poor deer, a wonderfully peaceful and relaxed creature of nature, many times over is found destroyed by an oncoming auto.

When photographers, or even illustrators, can capture that look on the face of the poor deer just as it is about to be slammed into, is a sad sight indeed.

The American public, or rather, a majority of us, are like that unfortunate deer caught in those headlights. Most of us are good, hardworking folks…. decent Americans who care about family and community. We give to charities, help old ladies cross the street, all that nice stuff.

Yet, when it comes to studying history, especially that of the previous 100 years, most Americans are at a loss for true clarity of facts. They rely on the mainstream media to not only entertain, but to inform – an oxymoron if there ever was one! Thus, Americans never learn, even in our primary and secondary schools (or many colleges for that matter) what ‘really went down’ in all the military engagements our nation has been in. The truth of it all would freeze us up like that deer.

How many of us were taught, from the onset of the Cold War until this day, that it was they, the Soviet Union, who really won the European portion of World War 2 while sacrificing over 25 million of their people?

How many of us ever questioned why it was necessary to drop two atomic bombs on Japan? Surely one so devastating was all the Japanese needed to ‘see the light‘ and surrender. What we were never taught in history class was that the Japanese were already suing for a surrender?

All they needed was for the Allies (meaning America) to allow their Emperor to remain as titular head of their nation. Roosevelt, then Truman, along with Churchill, refused to accommodate them, on the theory that hundreds of thousands of our troops would be killed during an ‘island to island‘ invasion of Japan. We had already terrorized the Japanese through our incendiary carpet bombing destruction of Tokyo…. A city that was almost totally made of wood structures. The Japanese were a beaten foe, ready to  negotiate a face saving settlement. All that propaganda about ‘fighting to the death‘ was great for movies…. Not for what was happening on the ground. So, why did we drop the atomic bomb? And why the need for two? Well, those who study real history, and not that of the revisionist victors, know that the Cold War had already begun before WW2 ended. So much so, that in 1942, Stalin was promised by Roosevelt and Churchill that the allies would stage a second front (later to become the D- Day invasion of Normandy). Stalin was assured, in mid 1942, that this would happen ‘within one year, and no later‘. It took actually two years (June ‘44) and only even then because Stalin threatened Churchill and Roosevelt that he would sue for peace with the Germans if an invasion did not happen!

So now we have two Whys.

Why the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, if the Japanese were desperate for a deal?

Why the stall of a second front invasion by the US and Brits?

Let us answer the latter question first, as it happened before the other one.

Roosevelt and (especially) Churchill were already into their ‘Cold War Mode‘ in 1942. What they had hoped for was that the longer it took for the Allies to invade European soil, the more devastation the Russians and Germans would inflict upon each other. It is no wonder that the Russians are overly sensitive of NATO having missiles planted on their borders.

As to the A bombs on Japan, it seems that the broker for a Japanese surrender was in fact ….. Russia.

Plus, the Russians, in 1945, were turning their attention to Japan…. Gearing up their armies to attack from their land mass. The US and the Brits saw how the Russians had already  occupied a great portion of  Germany and controlled all of Poland and the other eastern European countries…… Sharing in the spoils of war and all that. Truman and Churchill wanted no part of a partial Russian occupied Japan as well. So, we had the bomb, better to use it now to show the Russians we had one developed. But wait! What if we dropped one bomb and the Russians thought ‘Well, they made an atomic bomb. OK. How do we know they can make them so easily?‘ Thus, the second bomb was dropped……

The war ended immediately and Japan was under full American control. And all you fools out there who follow the Neo Con mindset of a Russian enemy should realize that the Russians had every reason on earth to be paranoid concerning US and British intentions after WW2.

In that time, my parents….. And probably yours, did not even fathom any of these previously stated stories. Suggesting to them the facts or theories of those scenarios would most likely  receive a response analogous to deer caught in the headlights.  It was, unfortunately, beyond their realm of comprehension. Today, after our nation illegally invaded and continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan with a multitude of bases and soldiers, the facts drip out slowly. That horrendous decision to invade Iraq was the first determining factor, along with the Wall Street Subprime mortgage scam, that began the 2008 economic slide. Yet, how many Americans actually realize this, or dare question  it? We know most of our politicians (both parties) do not even acknowledge the truth of it.

How many Americans are, years later, still out of decent work, decent housing and decent health care because the money is simply not there? Our elected officials and our populace refuse to look for the reasons  as to why the Feds stopped giving money to the states. Thus, the state where you live cannot send money it does not have to the localities for many projects and needs. I met a firefighter at the gym a few years ago, a wonderful young man, who told me how budget cuts are affecting his job. Slower response times, less staffing and equipment etc. Then I had a friend, whose son is a schoolteacher and coach, tell me other facts. It seems that the school system in his town in Florida is so broke, that during the intense and long Florida seasonal heat the teachers were lighting candles and placing them by the locked thermostats to get the AC to turn on!  Yet, we have spent, to date, well over one trillion dollars for our  invasions and occupations, making fabulously wealthy all the folks Eisenhower warned us about. Where is the American public’s outrage? Where are the two parties? Most saddening….. Where are you?

How many times  have writers and documentarians referred to or have replayed  Eisenhower’s famous 1961 Military Industrial Complex speech? Yet, like deer caught in the headlights, most Americans are oblivious. We who understand that ‘history has this terrible habit of repeating itself unless…’  had stood on street corners in peaceful protest. Yet, after all the news that finally is coming out……. The general public still looks from their car windows….

Like that deer.  “Huh? Wha?”  What will it take? Will it take a complete meltdown of their personal lives and that of their relations? Even still, deer like to run free, and prance about, gamboling through life. They may do so in the shelter of the forest….. But on the highway of tears….. Watch out!

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at [email protected].

Imperial adventurism is grand theft on a global scale — seizing, controlling, and looting the resources of targeted nations, along with exploiting their people.

Operating from illegally constructed military bases in northern and southern parts of Syria, platforms for war and training of jihadists, the US controls about 30% of Syrian territory, including where most of the country’s oil reserves are located.

Pre-war, Syria was a small producer, the only Eastern Mediterranean country with significant/yet small reserves, estimated at about 2.5 billion barrels earlier by the Oil and Gas Journal, along with around 5.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Looted Syrian oil by US-supported ISIS was earlier transported cross-border to Turkey for refining and sales.

President Erdogan, his family and cronies reportedly profited from the grand theft/smuggling operation.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov earlier said

“Turkey is the main destination for the oil stolen from its legitimate owners, which are Syria and Iraq,” adding:

“Turkey resells this oil. The appalling part about it is that the country’s top political leadership is involved in the illegal business — President Erdogan and his family.”

Like the US, NATO, Israel, the Saudis, and their Middle East partners, Turkey supports regional jihadists these countries pretend to oppose.

Antonov earlier explained that

Erdogan and other “Turkish elites conspir(e) to steal oil from their neighbors in industrial quantities along ‘rolling pipelines’ made up of thousands of tanker trucks.”

“We are certain that Turkey is the destination for stolen (Syrian and Iraqi) oil, and (have) irrefutable facts to prove it.”

The illicit trade was worth hundreds of millions of dollars on the black market. Turkey may still be involved as the destination for US-stolen Syrian oil.

On Monday, Russian General Staff/Main Operational Directorate commander General Sergey Rudskoy accused US and allied forces of “highjack(ing)” Syrian oil from ISIS, profiting from its sales — perhaps shipping it cross-border to Turkey and/or elsewhere, the Trump regime running a black market operation with looted Syrian oil, adding:

US-supported ISIS and other jihadists were also trained to destroy Syrian (and perhaps Iraqi) oil and gas infrastructure, along with continuing attacks on government forces and civilians, using heavy and other weapons supplied by Western and regional countries, including Israel, Turkey, the Saudis and UAE.

Rudskoy added that the Trump regime is arming Arab and Kurdish fighters, working with them as well in the illicit trafficking of stolen Syrian oil.

US trained and armed jihadists are also being used against Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in Syria’s Latakia province, attacking it with Western-supplied drones and rocket launchers.

They’re deployed by US transport planes and helicopters to continue endless war in Syria. Thousands are being trained at the Pentagon’s Al-Tanf base in southern Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.

The US came to Syria, Iraq, elsewhere in the region, North Africa, Central Asia, and other parts of the world to stay — part of its imperial aim for global conquest and control, endless wars its favored strategy.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on US Stealing Syrian Oil. Controls About 30% of Syrian Territory
  • Tags: , , ,

Israel Has “the Most Moral Army in the World”?

July 30th, 2019 by Philip Giraldi

Eight days ago eleven Palestinian buildings containing seventy family apartments located in the illegally Israeli occupied East Jerusalem village of Wadi al-Hummus were demolished in a military-led operation by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers, policemen and municipal workers using bulldozers, backhoes and explosives. Residents who resisted were beaten by the soldiers, kicked down flights of stairs and even shot at close range with rubber bullets. The soldiers were recorded laughing and celebrating as they did their dirty work. Occupants who did not resist and who held their hands up in surrender were also not spared the rod, as were also foreign observers who were present to add their voices to those who were protesting the outrage. The injuries sustained by some of the victims have been photographed and are available online.

Twelve Palestinians and four British observers were injured badly enough to be hospitalized. The British reported that they were “stamped on, dragged by the hair, strangled with a scarf and pepper sprayed by Israeli border police.” One who was hospitalized described how Israeli soldiers dragged him by his feet, lifting him up, and kicking him in the stomach, while one soldier stamped on his head four times “at full force” before standing on his head and pulling his hair. Another suffered a fractured rib after “[the policeman] then stamped on my throat and others started punching my torso. It was a sadistic display of violence…”

Yet another foreign observer was dragged out of the house, “…her hands were crushed so badly that she suffered a fractured knuckle on her left hand, and her right hand suffered severe tissue damage ‘which will be permanently misshapen unless she gets cosmetic surgery.’”

Edmond Sichrovsky, an Austrian activist of Jewish origin, who was in one of the houses, described how Israeli forces broke the door down, first dragging out the Palestinians, “knocking the grandfather to the floor in front of his crying and screaming grandchildren.” Cell phones were forcibly removed to eliminate any picture taking or filming before soldiers began attacking him and four other activists.

“I was repeatedly kicked and kneed, which left a bloody nose and multiple cuts, as well breaking my glasses from a knee in the face. Once outside, they slammed me against a car while shouting verbal insults at me and women activists, calling them whores.”

The buildings were destroyed due to claims that they were too close to Israel’s illegal separation wall, with the Benjamin Netanyahu government citing “security concerns.” The families living in the buildings that did not have either the time or ability to remove their furniture and other personal items will now have to comb through the rubble to see what they can recover, if the Israeli soldiers will even allow them that grace. They will also have to find new places to live as the Israelis have made no provision for housing them.

The homes were legally constructed on land that is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), a fine point that the Israeli authorities chose to consider irrelevant. When the Palestinians object to such arbitrary behavior, they are sent to Israeli military courts that always endorse the government decisions. And the Netanyahu regime of kleptocrats has made clear that it does not recognize international law about treatment of people who are under occupation.

The buildings were destroyed a few days after rampaging Israeli settlers on the West Bank continued their campaign to destroy the livelihoods of their Palestinian neighbors. Hundreds of olive trees were burned on the West Bank on July 10th, a deliberate attempt to drive the Arabs from their land by making it impossible to farm, strangling the local economy. Olive trees are particularly targeted as they are a cash crop and the trees take many years to mature and produce. The Israeli settlers have also been known to kill livestock, poison water, destroy crops, burn down buildings, and beat and even kill the Palestinian farmers and their families. And in Hebron the settlers have surrounded the old town, dumping excrement and other refuse on the Palestinians shops below that are still trying to do business. It should surprise no one that the Jewish settlers who engage in the violence are rarely caught, even less often tried, and almost never punished. The ghastly Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has declared that what was once Palestine is now a country called Israel and it is only for Jews. Killing a Palestinian by a Jewish Israeli is considered de facto to be a misdemeanor.

And meanwhile the carnage continues in Gaza, with the death toll of unarmed demonstrating Palestinians now at more than 200 plus several thousand wounded, many of them children and medical workers. Recently, orders to the Israeli army snipers direct them to shoot demonstrators in the ankles so they will be crippled for life. This is what it takes to be the “most moral army” in the world as defined by French fop pseudo intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, demonstrating only yet again that the tribe knows how to stick together. But the war crimes carried out by Israel also require unlimited support from the United States, both in money and political cover to allow it all to happen. Israel would not be killing Palestinians with such impunity if it were not for the green light from Donald Trump and his settler-loving mock Ambassador David Friedman backed up by a congress that seems to cherish Israelis more than Americans.

How is it that the horrific treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis as aided and abetted by the worldwide Jewish diaspora is not featured in headlines all over the world? Why isn’t my government with its highly suspect but nevertheless declared agenda of bringing democracy and freedom to all saying anything about the Palestinians? Or condemning Israeli behavior as it once did regarding South Africa?

Can one even imagine what The New York Times and Washington Post would be headlining if American soldiers and police were evicting and beating the residents of a housing project in a U.S. city? But somehow Israel always gets a pass, no matter what it does and politicians from both parties delight in describing how the “special relationship” with the Jewish state is cast in stone.

In the wake of the home demolitions, Washington yet again shielded Israel from a United Nations censure for its behavior by casting a Security Council veto. The Jewish state is consequently never held accountable for its bad behavior, and let us be completely honest, Israel is the ultimate rogue regime, dedicated to turning its neighbors into smoking ruins with U.S. assistance. It is evil manifest and it is not in America’s own interest to continue to be dragged down that road.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Unz Review.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected]. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Open wound of Ivan Rivera, a Spanish activist (Photo: International Solidarity Movement via Mondoweiss)

Americans are the most over-entertained, uninformed citizens on planet earth — despite around 80% of US households having Internet access, making it easy to stay informed with minimal effort.

Manipulated by the power of state-sponsored and go-along establishment media propaganda, Americans are ignorant about geopolitical and other major issues affecting their lives and welfare.

It’s why both right wings of the US war party get away with ravaging one country after another — while the FBI and police nationwide operate with impunity as enforcers for powerful interests, grievously breaching the rights of ordinary people.

Reality is clear. The US already is a police state because of repressive laws overwhelmingly passed by Congress, supported by the executive and federal courts.

Based on events post-9/11 at home and abroad, things in the US are heading toward full-blown tyranny and ruin.

Perhaps it’s another major state-sponsored false flag away, wrongfully blamed on elements having nothing to do with it, followed by martial law and suspension of the Constitution on the phony pretext of sacrificing fundamental rights for greater security, losing both in the process.

Polls consistently show Americans are out-of-touch with reality.

Earlier polls showed most Americans favor war on North Korea if diplomacy fails. Other polls showed around half of Americans believe war on Iran is coming.

Both countries are viewed as threats to the US despite their nonbelligerent agendas. Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries.

Nor has North Korea throughout its entire post-WW II history — while the US wages forever wars against invented enemies, its ruling class hostile to world peace.

Annual Gallup polls since 1989 showed from 79 – 87% of Americans view Iran as “mostly (or) very unfavorabl(y).” Throughout this period, they viewed the Islamic Republic from 5 to 17% favorably.

North Korean nukes, ballistic missiles, and other weapons are solely for defense — to deter the legitimate threat of US aggression.

Iran’s nuclear program has no military component, repeatedly confirmed by nuclear watchdog IAEA monitors.

Since joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nearly half a century ago, Iran fully complied with its provisions.

According to Nukewatch co-director John LaForge,

“(t)he United States is perhaps the principle nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).”

Nuclear armed and dangerous Israel never signed NPT, the world community doing nothing to challenge its menace to regional and world peace.

According to a new Fox News poll, around 60% of Americans view Iran and North Korea as threats to US security — a questionable source, but here are the results anyway.

Asked if North Korea “pose(s) a real national security threat to the US, 60% of respondents said “yes,” only 27% saying “no.”

Results to the same question on Iran are identical, pollster Daron Shaw saying:

“Despite changes in the partisanship of the White House and shifts in geopolitics, the percentage of Americans who see Iran and North Korea as threats has been quite consistent.”

Over half of respondents (53%) support military action to prevent Iran from developing nukes its leadership abhors, doesn’t seek, never did, and wants eliminated everywhere to remove the threat these WMDs pose to planet earth and all its life forms if detonated in enough numbers.

A higher percentage (57%) favor attacking North Korea militarily to prevent expansion of its nuclear weapons program.

Most respondents also disapprove of how Trump is dealing with both nations.

Beacon Research and Shaw & Company conducted the poll on July 21 – 23 “with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones.”

Like other polls on major geopolitical and other issues, results show an ignorant electorate.

Lincoln reportedly said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time…”

Most Americans are easily fooled time and again — no matter how many times they were duped before, especially on issues of war and peace.

Notably it’s true about nations threatening no one like Iran and North Korea.

Throughout the post-WW II era, no nations threatened US security.

All US post-WW II wars were and continue to be waged against nations threatening no one — threats invented to justify what’s illegal and unjustifiable.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

A ruling by the high court in London has just made relations between Britain and the Islamic Republic of Iran more complicated, increasing friction at an already tense time.

The court ruled this week that the International Military Services (IMS) does not have to pay Iran interest on the prepayment for the purchase of hundreds of Chieftain tanks that were ordered by the Shah’s government but were not delivered as a result of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Shah had ordered 1,750 tanks and support vehicles for £650m from the IMS, but only 185 were delivered. Ever since, the Islamic Republic has demanded the money back.

The International Chamber of Commerce sided with Tehran in an arbitration that concluded in 2009. The dispute was thought to have been settled in 2010 and it was expected that the IMS would transfer more than £390 million plus interest to an account holding Iranian assets, which Tehran could not touch because of EU sanctions.

More than 18 years have passed since the initial case opened, and more interest has been accrued, but the International Military Services has argued that the debt to Iran was not paid as a result of EU sanctions and the British government’s obligations under EU rules. Therefore, it argued, IMS had no role in the financial dispute and must not be forced to pay for it. The London high court recently agreed with this argument, heightening tensions between Tehran and London.

The ruling by the high court said that the UK did not owe interest accumulated over 10 years on the sum it acknowledges it owes Iran. The issue of whether there is an Iranian body to which the UK can lawfully pay the £387 million remains to be determined.

Earlier, when asked in the House of Commons about the financial dispute between the two countries, the then-minister of defense had said that the sum in dispute was somewhere between £32m and £41m.

As the case was winding its way through the high court, British media reported that money has not been paid to Iran because the UK Ministry of Defense has opposed it, reporting that the ministry believes that the Islamic Republic would spend the money for “destructive” military purposes in the region, including in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

A Hostage for the Money

The financial dispute between the two countries is closely tied to the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Iranian-British charity worker jailed in Iran since 2016. Boris Johnson, the new British Prime Minister, was informed about the financial dispute when he visited Iran in 2017, when he was the UK’s foreign secretary. Both Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the sum demanded by Iran were the subjects of talks between Johnson and Iranian officials and it was reported that Britain might pay the sum in cash to bypass banking restrictions due to US sanctions. However, this did not happen.

In recent months British officials have been more forthcoming about the connection between the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the financial dispute. During a visit to Tehran in November 2018, Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign Secretary at the time, asked Iranian officials to separate the fate of Zaghari-Ratcliffe from the financial dispute. He was unsuccessful and later said:

“The problem is if you pay ransom money for someone who is a hostage then all that happens is you might get that hostage out, but the next time they want something they’ll just take someone else hostage.”

The UK has kept the money the Shah paid for the Chieftain tanks for more than 40 years, and it has refused to pay back this money for 18 years, despite the ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce. In the 1980s, the UK even sold some of the tanks ordered by the Shah to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, at a time when the country was in a protracted war with Iran. The irony is that the Shah had ordered tanks that would match Iran’s climate so that it would have more robust defense capabilities vis-à-vis Iraq.

With the situation as it stands now, it would be extremely difficult for the Islamic Republic to get back the prepayment for the tanks. The International Military Services has deposited the money in an escrow account in the name of London’s high court, pending a court ruling.

In his ruling, Justice Phillips of the high court said that the IMS did not have to pay any interest for the last 10 years — meaning since Iran was hit with international sanctions over its nuclear program and has been unable to conduct transactions with the international banking system.

If Iran now insists that it must be paid the full amount, the issue must be settled outside the court, and it will be the British government that will have to pay the difference, an amount that, according to the British defense ministry, is around £41m. Otherwise, Iran must appeal the ruling to the High Court of Justice and, considering the speed with which this court handles cases, the process might add a few more years to the longest-running dispute between the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from IranWire

The Trump administration released a management plan for the illegally reduced areas of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah today. With Congressional recess right around the corner, the timed release of the proposed management plans and Final Environmental Impact Statement has been called into question by members of the House Natural Resources Committee. Trump’s illegal reduction of Bears Ears is still being challenged in federal court. 

“The release of this management plan days before Congress leaves for a month is dubious at best and reckless at worst. The Trump administration continues to prove its utter disregard of our public lands and outdoor heritage through its strong-armed attempts to illegally shrink this sacred and culturally-critical place. There is a lack of respect for the law, the courts, and the mass public concern that illegally shrinking Bears Ears has evoked. Stealing land away from the public in order to reward their special interest allies seems to be the only priority of this administration,” said Chris Saeger, the Executive Director of the Western Values Project. 

On December 4, 2017, President Trump announced his plan to illegally reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument, along with the Grand Staircase Escalante – the largest elimination of public land protections in American history. Since then, conservation groups and tribes have sued the administration, arguing that President Trump didn’t have the authority to reduce the size of the monuments. Cases are still pending in federal court – making Trump’s management plan announcement a move to undermine the court’s decision-making authority.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, a former mega-lobbyist for extractive industries, strongly supported the illegal reduction of the two national monuments. Previous analysis by the New York Times found that oil was central in the decision to shrink Bears Ears, despite then-Secretary Ryan Zinke’s repeated claims that it was not. Previous Western Values Project analysis has documented that many of the areas taken out of Bears Ears National Monument are rich in oil, gas and uranium reserves.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from the US Bureau of Land Management

Greece – “Economic Suicide” or Murder?

July 30th, 2019 by Peter Koenig

Pundits from the left, from the right and from the center cannot stop reporting about Greece’s misery. And rightly so. Because Greece, the vast majority of her people live in deep economic hardship. No hope. Unemployment is officially at 18%, with the real figure closer to 25% or 30%; pensions have been reduced about ten times since Syriza – the Socialist Party – took power in 2015 and loaded the country with debt and austerity. In the domain of public services, everything that has any value has been privatized and sold to foreign corporations, oligarchs, or, naturally – banks. Hospitals, schools, public transportation – even some beaches – have been privatized and made unaffordable for the common people.

While the pundits – always more or less the same – keep lamenting about the Greek conditions in one form or another, none of them dares offer the only solution that could have rescued Greece (and still could) – exiting the euro zone; return to their local currency and start rebuilding Greece with a local economy, built on local currency with local public banking and with a sovereign Greek central bank deciding the monetary policy that best suits Greece, and especially Greece’s recovery program. – Why not? Why do they not talk about this obvious solution? Would they be censured in Greece, because the Greek oligarchy controls the media – as oligarchs do around the (western part of the) globe?

Instead, foreign imposed (troika: IMF, European Central Bank – ECB – and European Commission – EC; the latter mainly pushed by German and French banks – and the Rothschild clan) austerity programs have literally put a halt on imports of affordable medication, like for cancer treatments and other potentially lethal illnesses. So, common people get no longer treatment. They die like flies; a horrible expression to be used for human beings. But that’s what it comes down to for people who simply do not get the treatment they humanely deserve and would have gotten under the rights of the Greek Constitution, but do simply not get treated because they can no longer afford medication and services from privatized health services. That is the sad but true story.

As a consequence, the suicide rate is up, due to foreign imposed (but Greek government accepted) debt and austerity, annihilating hope for terminally ill patients, as well as for pensioners whose pensions do no longer allow them to live a decent life – and especially there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Now, these same pundits add a little air of optimism to their reporting, as the rightwing New Democracy Party (ND Party) won with what they call a ‘landslide’ victory on the 7 July 2019 elections; gathering 39.6% of the votes, against only 31.53 for Syriza, the so-called socialist party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who represents a tragedy that has allowed Greece to be plunged into this hopeless desolation. The ND won an absolute majority with 158 seats in the 300-member Greek parliament. Therefore, no coalition needed, no concessions required.

AAA 2108 (45718115542).jpg

The new Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis (51), son of a former PM of the same party, in his victory speech on the evening of 7 July, vowed that Greece will “proudly” enter a post-bailout era of “jobs, security and growth”. He added that “a painful cycle has closed” and that Greece would “proudly raise its head again” on his watch.

We don’t know what this means for the average Greek citizen living a life of despair. What the “left” was unable to do – stopping the foreign imposed (but Greek accepted) bleeding of Greece; the strangulation of their country – will the right be able to reverse that trend? Does the right want to reverse that trend? – Does the ND want to reverse privatization, buy back airports from Germany, water supply from the EU managed “Superfund”, and repurchase the roads from foreign concessionaires, or nationalize hospitals that were sold for a pittance and – especially – get out from austerity to allow importing crucial medication to salvage the sick and dying Greek, those who currently cannot afford treatment of their cancers and other potentially deadly diseases?

That would indeed be a step towards PM Mitsotakis’ promise to end the “painful cycle” of austerity, with import of crucial medication made affordable to those in dire need, with job creation and job security – and much more – with eventually a renewed Greek pride – and Greek sovereignty. The latter would mean – finally – it’s never too late – exit the euro zone. But, that’s an illusion – a pipe-dream. Albeit – it could become a vision.

If the ND is the party of the oligarchs, the Greek oligarchs that is, those Greek who have placed literally billons of euros outside their country in (still) secret bank accounts in Switzerland, France, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg and elsewhere, including the Cayman islands and other Caribbean tax havens – hidden not only from the Greek fiscal authorities, but also impeding that these funds could, crucially, be used for investments at home, for job creation, for creation of added value in Greece – if the ND is the party of the oligarchs, they are unlikely to make the dream of the vast majority of Greek people come true.

Worse even, these Greek oligarch-billionaires call the shots in Greece – not the people, not those who according to Greek tradition and according to the Greek invention, called “democracy” (Delphi, some 2500 years ago) have democratically elected Syriza and have democratically voted against the austerity packages in July 2015. Now, that they are officially in power, they are unlikely to change their greed-driven behavior and act in favor of the Greek people. – Or will they?

Because, if they do, it may eventually also benefit them, the ND Party and its adherents – a Greece that functions like a country, with happy, healthy and content people, is a Greece that retains the worldwide esteem and respect she deserves – and will by association develop an economy that can and will compete and trade around the world, a Greece that is an equal to others, as a sovereign nation. – A dream can become a reality – it just takes visionaries.

Back to today’s reality. The Greek Bailout Referendum of July 5, 2015, was overwhelmingly rejected with 61% ‘no’ against 39% ‘yes’, meaning that almost two thirds of the Greek people would have preferred the consequences of rejecting the bailout, euphemistically called “rescue packages”, namely exiting the euro zone, and possible, but not necessarily, the European Union.

Despite the overwhelming, democratic rejection by the people, the Tsipras government reached an agreement on 13 July 2015 – only 8 days after the vote against the bailout – with the European authorities for a three-year bailout with even harsher austerity conditions than the ones rejected by voters. What went on is anybody’s guess. It looks pretty obvious, though, that “foul play” was the name of the game – which could mean anything from outright and serious (life) threats to blackmail, if Tsipras would not play the game – and this to the detriment of the people.

President Tsipras’ betrayal of the people resulted in three bailout packages since 2010 and up to end 2018, in the amount of about €310 billion (US$ 360 billion). Compare this to Hong Kong’s economy of US$ 340 billion in 2017. In that same period the Greek GDP has declined from about US$ 300 billion (€ 270 billion) in 2010 to US$ 218 billion (€ 196 billion), a reduction of 27%, hitting the middle- and lower-class people by far the hardest. This is called a rescue.

The democracy fiasco of July 2015 prompted Tsipras to call for snap elections in September 2015, hélas – he won, with a narrow margin and one of the lowest election turnouts ever in Greek postwar history; but, yes, he ‘won’. How much of it was manipulated – by now Cambridge Analytica has become a household word – so he could finish the job for the troika and the German and French banks, is pure speculation.

Today, the ND has an absolute majority in Parliament, plus the ND could ally with a number of smaller and conservative parties to pursue a “people’s dream” line policy. But they may do the opposite. Question: How much more juice is there to be sucked out of broken Greece? Of a Greece that cannot care for her people, for her desperate poor and sick, cannot provide her children with a decent education, of a Greece that belongs into the category of bankruptcy? – Yes, bankruptcy, still today, after the IMF and the gnomes of the EU and the ECB predict a moderate growth rate of some 2%? – But 2% that go to whom? – Not to the people, to be sure, but to the creditors of the €310 billion.

Already in 2011, the British Lancet stated “the Greek Ministry of Health reported that the annual suicide rate has increased by 40%”, presumably since the (imposed) crisis that started in 2008. From this date forward the suicide rate must have skyrocketed, as the overall living conditions worsened exponentially. However, precise figures can no longer be easily found.

The question remains: Is the Greek population dying increasingly from diseases that could be cured, but aren’t due to austerity- and privatization-related lack of medication and health services – and of suicide from desperation? – Is Greece committing suicide by continuing accepting austerity and privatization of vital services, instead of liberating herself from the handcuffs of the euro and very likely the stranglehold of the EU? – Or is Greece the victim of sheer murder inflicted by a greed-driven construct of money institutions and oligarchs, who are beyond morals, beyond ethics and beyond any values of humanity? You be the judge.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published onNew Eastern Outlook.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21stCentury; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); 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. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Selected Articles: Billionaires Invest in Outer Space

July 30th, 2019 by Global Research News

A future without independent media leaves us with an upside down reality where according to the corporate media “NATO deserves a Nobel Peace Prize”, and where “nuclear weapons and wars make us safer”

.

.

If, like us, this is a future you wish to avoid, please help sustain Global Research’s activities by making a donation or taking out a membership now!

Click to donate or click here to become a member of Global Research.

*     *     *

Militarising Australia: Talisman Sabre and the US Military Build Up

By Dr. Binoy Kampmark, July 30, 2019

Deemed the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations strategy, the military method is a US Marine special, still spanking new, featuring “the amphibious landing of troops on islands for seizure and capture as part of a forward projection of sea and airpower aimed at the mainland.”

Space Lunacy: $ Trillion Space Games and False Prophecies by Billionaires While Rome Burns

By Dr. Andrew Glikson, July 30, 2019

Space playgrounds of billionaires can only come at the expense of the multitude of humanity left behind where, coupled with plans for militarization and even weaponization of space, humanity may be left with a few barren rocks in space to temporarily support a few survivors.

Brazil’s Massive Crime Against Humanity. Bolsonaro has Decided to Destroy the Amazon

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, July 30, 2019

The corrupt Brazilian government installed by Washington has decided to destroy the Amazon Rain Forest.  This will adversely affect the Earth’s climate by eliminating a massive carbon sink.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act: The Bill that Could Imprison “Israel Boycotters” for 20 years

By If Americans Knew, July 29, 2019

In a recent post on the Mondoweiss website, Journalist Philip Weiss examines the Israel Anti-Boycott Act that would punish those boycotting Israel with a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. The legislation is being sponsored by both conservatives and liberals.

Water Not Oil: Battle Cry of the Blue Planet

By Irwin Jerome, July 29, 2019

It’s Mother Earth’s battle cry inspired by the world’s dire climate crisis that has been sung by so many others for years yet still hasn’t had the intended effect because it still hasn’t resolutely been taken up by the world as a whole. So the cry remains: what ultimately is more important: Water or Oil?

The Threat of Nuclear War: Nuclear Disarmament Should be a Top 2020 Campaign Issue. But It’s Being Ignored

By Howie Hawkins, July 29, 2019

Two years ago on July 7, 2017, 122 nations approved the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of NuclearWeapons (TPNW). The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for spearheading this achievement. Few Americans are aware of it and none of the major presidential candidates are informing us.

The Dragon Lays Out Its Road Map, Denies Seeking Hegemony. “China’s National Defense in the New Era”

By Pepe Escobar, July 29, 2019

The key merit of China’s National Defense in the New Era, a white paper released by the State Council in Beijing, is to clear any remaining doubts about where the Middle Kingdom is coming from, and where it’s going to by 2049, the mythical date to, theoretically, be restored as the foremost global power.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

  • Posted in NO READ MORE LINK
  • Comments Off on Selected Articles: Billionaires Invest in Outer Space

Il modello USA del governo «sovranista»

July 30th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

Anche se l’opposizione attacca sempre il governo e vi sono divergenze nel governo stesso, dall’intero arco parlamentare non si è levata alcuna voce critica quando il premier Conte ha esposto alla Conferenza degli ambasciatori (26 luglio) le linee guida della politica estera, a riprova del vasto consenso multipartisan.

Conte ha definito anzitutto qual è il cardine della collocazione dell’Italia nel mondo: «Il nostro rapporto con gli Stati Uniti rimane qualitativamente diverso da quello che abbiamo con altre Potenze, perché si fonda su valori, su principi condivisi che sono il fondamento stesso della Repubblica e parte integrante della nostra Costituzione: la sovranità democratica, libertà e uguaglianza dei cittadini, la tutela dei diritti fondamentali della persona».

Il premier Conte così non solo ribadisce che gli Usa sono nostro «alleato privilegiato», ma enuncia un principio guida: l’Italia assume gli Stati uniti come modello di società democratica.

Una colossale mistificazione storica.

Riguardo alla «libertà e uguaglianza dei cittadini», basti ricordare che i cittadini statunitensi sono ancora oggi censiti ufficialmente in base alla «razza» – bianchi (distinti tra non-ispanici e ispanici), neri, indiani americani, asiatici, nativi hawaiani – e che le condizioni medie di vita dei neri e degli ispanici (latino-americani appartenenti a ogni «razza») sono di gran lunga le peggiori.

Riguardo alla «tutela dei diritti fondamentali della persona», basti ricordare che negli Usa  oltre 43 milioni di cittadini (14 su cento) vivono in povertà e circa 30 milioni sono privi di assicurazione sanitaria, mentre molti altri ne hanno una insufficiente (ad esempio, per pagare una lunga chemioterapia contro un tumore).

E sempre riguardo alla «tutela dei diritti della persona» basti ricordare le migliaia di neri inermi assassinati impunemente da poliziotti bianchi.

Riguardo alla «sovranità democratica» basti ricordare la serie di guerre e colpi di stato effettuata dagli Stati uniti,  dal 1945 ad oggi, in oltre 30 paesi asiatici, africani, europei e latino-americani, provocando 20-30 milioni di morti e centinaia di milioni di feriti (vedi lo studio di J. Lucas presentato dal prof. Chossudovsky su Global Research).

Questi sono i «valori condivisi» sui quali l’Italia basa il suo rapporto «qualitativamente diverso» con gli Stati uniti. E, per dimostrare quanto esso sia proficuo, Conte assicura: «Ho sempre trovato nel presidente Trump un interlocutore attento ai legittimi interessi italiani».

Interessi che Washington considera «legittimi» fintanto che l’Italia resta in posizione gregaria nella NATO dominata dagli Stati uniti, li segue di guerra in guerra, aumenta su loro richiesta la propria spesa militare, mette il proprio territorio a disposizione delle forze e basi USA, comprese quelle nucleari.

Conte cerca di far credere che il suo governo, comunemente definito «sovranista», abbia un ampio spazio autonomo di «dialogo con la Russia sulla base dell’approccio Nato a doppio binario» (diplomatico e militare), approccio che in realtà segue il binario unico di un sempre più pericoloso confronto militare.

A tale proposito – riferisce La Stampa (26 luglio) – l’ambasciatore Usa Eisenberg ha telefonato al vice-presidente Di Maio (ritenuto da Washington il più «affidabile»), chiedendo un chiarimento sui rapporti con Mosca in particolare del vice-presidente Salvini  (la cui visita a Washington, nonostante i suoi sforzi, ha avuto un «esito deludente»).

Non si sa se il governo Conte supererà l’esame. Si sa comunque che prosegue la tradizione secondo cui in Italia il governo deve sempre avere l’approvazione di Washington, confermando quale sia la nostra «sovranità democratica».

Manlio Dinucci

  • Posted in Italiano
  • Comments Off on Il modello USA del governo «sovranista»
  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Top End Travels: The Tiwi Islands, the Catholic Church and King Joe of Melville Island
  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on The Recent Japanese Elections Might Slow Down the US’ “Indo-Pacific” Strategy
  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Khalistan Isn’t About “Sikh Supremacy”, but Challenging Hindu Supremacy

After a windy uphill journey to Aguerzran, a small village nestled within the High Atlas Mountains, we reached the building where we would be conducting workshops. The small rectangular building, painted in sun-faded pink and green, overlooked the lush valley. My colleague explained to the group, over thirty women of varying ages, the purpose of our visit: to conduct both a cooperative building workshop and a women’s health discussion. As we waited for women to fill up the desks of the primary school, I asked the women why they felt health was important to them.

“Without health, we have nothing,” one woman proclaimed. The conversation naturally continued, as every woman reiterated the same sentiment.

Within minutes, the mood within the room shifted. One woman, a matriarch in the village, spoke through tears about challenges her community faces in accessing healthcare. Aware of her heart disease, she was unable to leave the village to take any action towards treatment. With merely one ambulance in the municipality, it is both physically and financially inaccessible. Aguerzran’s nearest health clinic is located in the Imlil Souk L’Aarba, three hours away by foot. Workshop handouts and diagrams originally brought to discuss nutrition, exercise, and hygiene were important, but not adequate.

The problem does not lie in the do’s and don’ts of health. The issue lies in addressing economic stability, education systems, the built environment, and community context; all of which are social and structural determinants surrounding health in Aguerzran.

Three months prior to our visit, the women went through an empowerment workshop conducted by the High Atlas Foundation. The workshop aims to cultivate visions women have for themselves within different spheres of personal development including money, spirituality, emotions, and the body. During our visit, facilitators conducted follow up interviews with the women to track their progress in actualizing their goals. The women expressed feeling more confident, advocative, and self-aware. Yet, their perception of taking care of their personal health and well-being was defined simply by “working hard.”

Measured by means such as healthy lives, education, and standard of living, Morocco ranks 123rd on the United Nations Human Development Index out of 189 countries. Although this indicator is widely used to gauge the country’s progress, it may not capture severe regional disparities and inter-sectional inequalities. Nearly forty percent of Morocco’s population is rural, and women make up half of the population. With the implementation of Moudawana, the Moroccan family code, and the National Initiative for Human Development, Morocco has made strides towards improving social and economic development. However, empowerment is not the only means to development; and improved health is more than a result of development.

Health, empowerment, and development have a symbiotic relationship. Significant strides in development should be holistic, and include the reduction of health inequalities in order to achieve sustainable change. Morocco faces the double burden of communicable and increasing non-communicable disease. A 2015 study published in BMC Cancer found that rural Moroccan women are at higher risk of late diagnosis for breast cancer, the most common cancer among Moroccan women. Illnesses such as tuberculosis are also often detected at late stages in rural communities. According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease make up nearly seventy-five percent of all deaths in Morocco. Coupled with inaccessibility to clinical care and monitoring, rural communities are increasingly susceptible to undetected chronic diseases. This epidemiological shift is indicative of unresolved structural inequalities that exacerbate rates of non-communicable diseases.

Physically and figuratively on the margins, rural women face a two-fold disadvantage. Weaker education systems in rural communities do not address health education, and weaker health systems can prevent women pursuing their education. Additionally, physical distance from health centers is discouraging and compromises safety. Women in Aguerzran expressed that heavy lifting and labor causes intense aches and pains. If left unaddressed, these pains can increase the risk of serious injury, halting their ability to work. Addressing the mutual relationship between these determinants will lead to better long-term health and equity outcomes for rural women and their communities.

When in Aguerzran, Marrakech, or anywhere in between, the crucial role of women in their communities and families is undeniable. The migration of rural men into cities has increased women’s agricultural labor and domestic care responsibilities, occupying a rural woman’s ability to give attention to her own health. As epicenters for their families, evidence suggests that the educational success and overall well-being of children is positively correlated with educational attainment and health of their mothers.

Fostering comprehensive women’s empowerment not only encourages internal progress but also paves the way for better future generations and communities. Empowering rural women through health provides the foundation for improved human capital, capacity building, and better long-term economic outcomes through participation in activities such as cooperatives.

Talking to the women in Aguerzran brought forth the importance of including health in an empowerment context. Since health seems to truly be everything for these women, it should also be an integral part of empowerment and development methodologies. Just as empowerment programs may inform women of their societal rights, the right to health should also be progressively achieved through increased data, awareness, and advocacy. Not prioritizing the wellbeing of the most vulnerable populations will prevent sustainable development from becoming a reality.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Fariha Mujeebuddin ([email protected]) is a student at the University of Virginia studying Economics and Global Public Health, and an Intern for the High Atlas Foundation where this article was originally published.

Featured image: Two girls run down the road that leads from Aguerzran village to Souk L’Arbaa.  (Photo by Fariha Mujeebuddin, July 2019)

Deemed the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations strategy, the military method is a US Marine special, still spanking new, featuring “the amphibious landing of troops on islands for seizure and capture as part of a forward projection of sea and airpower aimed at the mainland.”

That particular description comes from Bevan Ramsden, an active member of the coordinating committee of IPAN, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network.  IPAN has been decidedly concerned about what it sees, rightly, as an enthusiastic, boisterous build-up of US military forces primarily in the Northern Territory and ambling across the continent and along the shorelines.

The Australian Defence Department adds to Ramsden’s overview in a discussion of Talisman Sabre, a joint US-Australian military exercise conducted since 2007.

“TS19 will be the eighth iteration of the exercise and consists of a Field Training Exercise incorporating force preparation (logistic) activities, amphibious landings, land force manoeuvre, urban operations, air operations, maritime operations and Special Forces activities.”

On this occasion, Talisman Sabre had a new addition: Japan’s 1st Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment, which joined in beach landings alongside Australian, US and British forces on July 16.  Australian commander Major General Justin “Jake” Ellwood was notably impressed by the showing.  And a sight it proved to be: some 34,000 troops, 200 planes and 60 naval vessels.

What the Australian Defence Force cannot shy away from is that it remains, ultimately, an annex of the US military machine.  In a report from the Headquarters, Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) from April, an acknowledgement is made that TS19, “is focused on enhancing the readiness and interoperability of ADF Defence elements and exposing participants to a wide spectrum of military capabilities and training experiences.”  It is presumed, and never challenged, that such exercises are “in support of Australia’s national interests” begging the question whether any state should ever be so utterly interoperable with foreign military forces.

The US imperium was keen, using Australian facilities, to test the EABO in scenarios which envisage a concept of island seizure and, in the words of the official website of the US Marines, “distribute lethality by providing land-based options for increasing the number of sensors and shooters beyond the upper limit imposed by the quantity of seagoing platforms available.”  The integration of the Marines into the broader operations of the US Navy is an essential feature of this move.  This would, in turn, deny access to enemy vessels and aircraft, making the target of this clear: any power keen to challenge US power in the Pacific.  As James Lacey, who teaches at the Marine Corps War College suggests,

“the Marines will help ensure that the US Navy retains its freedom of manoeuvre throughout the Pacific, while curtailing China’s ability to get much beyond its littorals.”

What a lovely future confrontation this promises to be.

The TS19 show was also a display of military plumage and provocation. US Marine Colonel Matthew Sieber made the aim of it clear:

“to walk away having strengthened that relationship [between participants] and to demonstrate to our would-be partners or adversaries the strength of that alliance.”

The scale of TS19 has proven hefty, comprising whole swathes of the country.  An important feature of this is not to frighten the locals, who might be put off by the sheer scale of it all.  Do not, for instance, give the impression they are living under the cloud of occupation.

“Welcome,” comes the jolly opening to the Australian Defence Department’s information site, where “you will learn about TS19, the importance of the exercise to preparing out military, how we involve the community and protect the environment.”

The Defence Department leaves us this impression of movement and deployment across the country, and even then, struggles to make the monster innocuous:

“Large convoys will be on the roads from June to August 2019 and includes Australian, US and New Zealand military vehicles travelling from across Australia and converging at Rockhampton and Shoalwater Bay Area.”

To reassure environmental activists and residents, TS19 emphasises a lack of “live fire activities”, something seen as a marked improvement.  In other words, no underwater detonations or demolitions, naval gunnery and aerial bombardment; in place of that, dummy ammunition would be used, with added pyrotechnics to give effect.  But as Friends of the Earth Australia noted in May, this would not be the case at Shoalwater Bay, nor various lead-up or follow on activities.  These “are not assessed as part of Talisman Sabre because they fall outside of the official exercise dates.”  Hair splitting operatives will eventually get to you.

Even since Talisman Sabre became a regular feature of joint Australian-US operations, a nervousness among activist circles has grown.  What, for instance, are the neighbours to think about such displays of force?  The Chinese People’s Liberation Army, for instance, was very keen to monitor TS19 activities with a general intelligence vessel, known as the Type 815.  This was a repeat performance from 2017, when a Type 815 AGI also kept an eye on the Talisman Sabre exercises.

More broadly speaking, protests against the US military juggernaut Down Under remain skimpy, with efforts of resistance confined to conferences intended to raise awareness.  The latest word from Washington is a promise to build more than a quarter of a billion dollars-worth of naval facilities in Darwin and its environs, a move that delights more than alarms.  In 2015, for instance, a solitary stand was made by Justin Tutty off Lee Point, Darwin, a modest effort that led to his arrest.  Two other protestors made their way to the Shoalwater Bay live-firing range in a disruptive effort.  This year, IPAN intends holding a national public conference in Darwin from August 2 to 4 with the theme “Australia at the Crossroads: Time for an independent foreign policy.”  It promises few converts, given the continuing presence of the faithful at such gatherings.

More common, and creepily voyeuristic, is the spectator element of such exercises, the weak-at-the-knee individuals aroused by displays of power.  Ready your deckchairs and chilled chardonnay and observe the proceedings unfold.  That, at least, is how the owners of beach land at Stanage Bay, Ivonne and Fred Burns, saw it.  In the words of Ivonne Burns, “It’s incredible just to watch it all… to see it all happening before your eyes, in your own backyard.” Or not, if Washington’s adventurism gets out of hand, leaving Australia with more than just a bloody nose.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

Featured image: An Australian M1 Abrams tank during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jordan Talbot)

The illegal coalition led by the United States of America outside the United Nations and without the approval of the Syrian state added a new massacre to its long list of ugly crimes against the Syrian people today by bombing a village in Deir Ezzor countryside causing mayhem.

At the early hours of dawn, the Trump coalition of evil states bombed the village of Al-Rez in Al-Busayrah area, southeast Deir Ezzor countryside. The bombing killed a number of civilians, left many others injured most of whom were women and children, as well as large destruction in the people’s homes.

Trump who failed his own election promises to withdraw his troops from Syria and elsewhere, has instead increased the level of crimes his troops and their allies commit in Syria.

This latest massacre comes just a couple of days after the same evil coalition admitted it has killed 1300 civilians in Syria and Iraq since 2014. A number that many observers mocked due to the casualties in the devastated city of Raqqa alone, which the illegal coalition obliterated and not liberated from ISIS.

Despite having a ceremonial flag exchange between US-sponsored ISIS terrorists in the city with the US-sponsored Kurdish SDF separatist militias, the US-led coalition made sure it continued bombing the city until over 80% of it became inhabitable, as per a UN investigation team.

The evil coalition did the same to Mosul in Iraq, in an apparent style thinking they’ll make more contracts for US corporations who will come for reconstruction, as they dream of.

Residents of Al-Rez village targeted earlier today by the Trump’s coalition who were not killed were left in a state of shock and panic due to the massive explosions around them, another goal of such coalitions.

The purpose of setting up coalitions of willing outside the United Nations and against international law is to make more profits for the military-industrial complex that has a large influence on the US foreign policy, and to set the stage for new contracts for rebuilding at the same time they enjoy killing the people of other nations for Satanic rituals.

The coalition operating in Syria and Iraq under the banner of fighting ISIS has fought everybody who fought ISIS including the Syrian Arab Army and the Iraqi’s PMU forces. Rarely they targeted low-level ISIS commanders who they couldn’t lift to other places for recycling.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Syria News

History testifies to powerful rulers’ aspirations for the position of gods, including the Pharaohs and Roman Emperors such as Caligula or Nero, nowadays mimicked by false messianic prophecies of “intergalactic civilization” made by billionaires and their followers in public and the media, including some scientists. This includes predictions of making life interplanetary by giant proprietors of space hardware, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, including plans for space tourism, asteroid mining and permanent human settlements on the Moon and Mars. This would by some estimates be expected to cost about  $1 trillionby 2040. These ideas are closely linked to the rise of climate disruption and potential nuclear calamities and with the upsurge of fascism.  

Space playgrounds of billionaires can only come at the expense of the multitude of humanity left behind where, coupled with plans for militarization and even weaponization of space, humanity may be left with a few barren rocks in space to temporarily support a few survivors.

In 2000 Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, launched the reusable Blue Origin, albeit with several launch engine problems. The aim is to commence space tourism in sub-orbital flights, charging a six-figure price such as $300,000 per ticket. Further developments of returnable rockets include defense contracts with the US government and ambitions for permanent human settlement on the Moon, in partnership with NASA. Bezos is quoted to say

humans need space travel because they are “destroying this planet. He doesn’t mean that humanity will have to evacuate a dying Earth, however, but rather that we could outsource our more destructive behaviors to space.

In 2002 Elon Musk, founder of Pay-Pal, developed the SpaceX rocket, including 70 launches to date, with contracts with NASA, the US Air Force and the Argentine Space Agency, including supply contract with the International Space Station.  SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to send crewed flights to Mars and eventually colonize the Red Planet. “I want to die on Mars,” Musk has said, “just not on impact.”, with the motto being:

Making Life Interplanetary” … “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.

In 2004 Richard Branson launched Virgin Galactic, a tourist-oriented reusable ‘space plane’ for sub-orbital flights, having already signed some rich people on $250,000 tickets and collaborating with the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund. On 13 December 2018 the VSS Unity achieved the project’s first suborbital space flight, reaching an altitude of 82.7 km. In February 2019 a member of the team sat in a flight that reached an altitude of 89.9 km. In Richard Branson’s Motto

Together we open space to change the world for good.

Unfortunately these ideas are attracting some scientists like bees to the honey.

Stephen Hawking said:

Human race is doomed if we do not colonize the Moon and Mars” …. If we’re to survive, Hawking said, “I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth”.

The science presenter Brian Cox, known for his excellent programs on astronomy and the planets, is cited:

Cox says the only way we can become ‘immortal’ as a species is to populate other planets”.

Whereas scientific exploration of space is an exciting project, messianic ideas of colonization of planets raise critical questions, including:

  1. Ultimately the $trillion resources come out from the mouths of hungry children, who can hardly gain from space rocket games.
  2. Prophecies of space colonization divert attention from the extreme urgency of resisting the calamity of global warming and its disastrous consequences and mass extinction of species.
  3. Prophecies of space colonization give people a mistaken impression as if alternatives exist to environmental repair of the terrestrial atmosphere, oceans and biosphere.
  4. Space prophets include mainly physicists, but very few biologists, and do not understand that the human body and psychology are inexorably connected with the Earth. We are Earthlings, our bodies evolved on Earth and are attuned to the gravity, atmosphere and radiation environment on the surface of this planet as well as the multitude of micro-organisms on whom we depend.
  5. Exploration of the planets best belongs to mobile robotic micro-laboratories designed to monitor the wave spectrum..

According to Oxfam eight billionaires now own as much wealth as half the human race. In an ethics-free age false prophecies of planetary colonization—of the rich, by the rich, for the rich— can only be described as a diversion from the need to save life on Earth. The parallels between religious beliefs of heaven and hell are evident, the virtuous (i.e. the super-rich) will be salvaged, whereas the other (poor and/or colored skin) will burn in hell, as Earth is warming.

One cannot argue with insanity.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology, ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

The corrupt Brazilian government installed by Washington has decided to destroy the Amazon Rain Forest.  This will adversely affect the Earth’s climate by eliminating a massive carbon sink.

The beneficiaries of the destruction of the rain forest are the timber loggers who are buddies with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, environmental minister Ricardo Salles, and farming lobbyist Tereza Cristina Dias.  

One might have thought that the build-up of CO2 and the impact of carbon emissions in raising the temperature of Earth would result in more careful and responsible policies than one that destroys a unique ecological habitat that stabilizes the Earth’s climate. For no other reason than to maximize profits for timber loggers, the Amazon Rain Forest is to be destroyed. This is unregulated international gangster capitalism at work.  Destroy the planet for everyone else so that a handful of gangsters can acquire fortunes.

We cannot expect any intelligence in a government where Dias dismisses global warming as “an international Marxist plot.” Dias sounds like a parrot for the anti-global warming think tanks sponsored by the carbon energy lobby.  Anything that would constrain short-run profits regardless of their long-run costs is dismissed as a hoax or a communist plot.  

President Lula de Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff attempted to run Brazil in the interests of a broader segment of the population than the robber-baron capitalists. In its unbridled form, capitalism is an exploitative mechanism that permits a few people to grab large profits in the near term by imposing massive external costs on the broader society and the environment.  The more responsible policies of Lula and Rousseff enraged the Brazilian robber barons and their backers in Washington.  Using the capitalist controlled press, Brazil’s gangster capitalists demonized Lula and Rousseff. They were accused of money laundering and “passive corruption.”  The most corrupt elements on the political scene framed them up on false charges. Lula was imprisoned and Rousseff was impeached and removed from office, thus turning the country back over to Washington and the corrupt Brazilian capitalists. The idiot Brazilian population accepted this.  The fools believed their enemies.

Currently, the rain forest is being destroyed at the rate of 3 football fields per minute.  The rain forest has already lost 17 percent of its tree cover.  Scientists report that when deforestation reaches 20 to 25 percent the rain forest converts to savanna and loses its ability to absorb carbon.  But the concerns expressed at Brazil’s National Institute of Amazonian Research are not as important to Bolsonaro and his cronies as the profits temporarily gained by destroying the rain forest along with the many species dependant on the habitat of the rain forest.  

The policies for which a small handful of Brazilian capitalist gangsters, backed by Washington, are responsible will have massive effects and impose massive costs on the rest of mankind.  More melting of ice and release of methane, rising and more acidic oceans, drought, water stress, more intense storms all of which affect food production. The extinction rates of species increase. The external costs are many and massive. The profits of the capitalists from plundering the Amazon rain forest will be exceeded a billion times over by the external costs imposed on the rest of the world by a handful of Brazilian political gangsters.

What is happening right now in Brazil is a massive crime against humanity.  It is such a massive crime that the countries on Earth should unite and give the corrupt gangster Brazilian government an ultimatum:  Stop the deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest or be invaded and put on trial for crimes against humanity. There is no greater crime than to make the Earth uninhabitable. There is no better case for war than to protect the global climate and life on earth.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes on his blog at Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: IBAMA operation against illegal loggers in the Brazilian Amazon, courtesy of IBAMA.

A significant new template has appeared in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific last week when Russia’s Aerospace Force and China’s Air Force carried out their first-ever joint air patrol in the region.

Steadily and imperceptibly but profoundly, the regional alignments are transforming. Russia and China routinely claim that their entente is neither a military alliance nor is directed against any third country. Yet, the alchemy of that relationship is undergoing a huge transformation, stemming out of a conscious decision by their top leaderships. 

The so-called joint patrol last Tuesday involved Russia’s Tu-95MS strategic bombers and the H-6K aircraft on China’s part. The Tupolov Tu-95MS (which NATO calls the ‘Bear’) is a large, four-engine turboprop-powered strategic bomber and missile platform to carry the new Russian Kh-101/102 stealth cruise missile, which uses use radio-radar equipment and target-acquiring/navigation system based on GLONASS. The ‘Bear’ used to be a veritable icon of the Cold War as it performed a maritime surveillance and targeting mission for other aircraft, surface ships and submarines and a versatile bomber that would deliver the thermonuclear bomb.

China’s H-6K is a heavily redesigned version of the ‘Bear’, capable of carrying air launched cruise missiles. According to the Pentagon, the bomber gives China a “long-range standoff offensive air capability” with precision-guided munitions. Russia and China deployed two each of the Tu-95MS and H-6K strategic bombers in the air patrol on Tuesday. 

According to a Russian Defence Ministry statement, the air patrol was undertaken on the “planned route over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.” The statement added that the joint air patrol was intended to strengthen Russian-Chinese relations and raise the level of interaction between the armed forces of both countries, in particular, to expand their capabilities for joint operations. 

Significantly, the Russian statement  said that another goal of the joint patrol is “strengthening global strategic stability.” 

The South Korean defence ministry, however, insisted that following the Russian-Chinese air patrol by the strategic bombers, a Russian A-50 command and control military aircraft also entered the country’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) twice. South Korea claimed that it deployed fighter jets and fired 360 warning shots ahead of the Russian A-50, which  is an unarmed AWACS plane, designed for tracking and observation.

Why Russia and China jointly undertook an unprecedented joint air patrol over the disputed islands in the East China Sea (known to the Koreans as Dokdo and to the Japanese as Takeshima) remains unclear. But, quite obviously, it is an affront to the US, which has alliance treaties with both Japan and South Korea. The incident comes barely two months after the release of the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which spelt out the US’ dual containment strategy against China (“a Revisionist Power”) and Russia (“a Revitalised Malign Actor”.) 

The Chinese Defense Ministry’s official spokesman Col. Wu Qian said on Wednesday,

“I would like to reiterate that China and Russia are engaged in all-encompassing strategic coordination. This patrol mission was among the areas of cooperation and was carried out within the framework of the annual plan of cooperation between the defence agencies of the two states. It was not directed against any other “third state.” 

“As far as the practice of joint strategic patrols is concerned, both sides will make a decision on the matter on the basis of bilateral consultations. Under the strategic command of the heads of states, the armed forces of the two nations will continue developing their relations. The sides will support each other, respect mutual interests and develop corresponding mechanisms of cooperation.” 

Clearly, the Chinese statement has been far more assertive than the Russian statement, describing the joint patrol as part of an “all-encompassing strategic coordination” between the two countries and may continue in future as they “support for each other, respect mutual interests and develop corresponding mechanisms of cooperation.” 

Map of the route of Russian-Chinese joint patrol mission on July 23, 2019

Moscow also says that the first-ever joint patrol of the long-range aviation in the Pacific was the beginning of a wider program, which aims to boost the Russian and Chinese militaries’ ability to work together and the planned program stretches at least for the remainder of the year.

Neither Russia nor China is party to the maritime dispute in the East China Sea and when the undertook a joint patrol nonetheless, it bore an uncanny resemblance to the US exercising its ‘freedom of navigation’ in the South China Sea. The US has a big military presence in the region but was rendered an ineffectual observer, unable to go the aid of either of its allies — Japan and South Korea which too could protest and lament from the sidelines. 

The symbolism is striking. The US National Security Advisor John Bolton who was on a visit to Seoul a day after the flyover of the islands by the Russian and Chinese strategic bombers exhorted South Korea and Japan to work together amid growing security concerns. 

On the other hand, the incident last Tuesday only served to highlight the conflicting claims over the islands. Eighteen South Korean jets and about 10 from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were deployed to the area during the incident. Japan, which considers the South Korean-controlled islands as its own, maintains that the South should not have responded to the Russian plane. Meanwhile, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday that Japan’s views are completely irrelevant. 

In fact, one viewpoint is that China and Russia took advantage of this rift to put their security partnership to the test. The CNN speculated that the Russian-Chinese mission may have been designed to draw out South Korean and Japanese aircraft for intelligence gathering purposes. 

Either way, Russia and China may have underscored that carrying forward their convergence on the Asia-Pacific region, their two militaries intend to undertake active “strategic coordination” in the Far East where the US has begun deploying advanced missile defence capabilities. For China, the timing is particularly significant in view of the proposed US arms sales to Taiwan. 

For both Russia and China, the Far East will be of increased importance in the period ahead as forming a gateway to the Northern Sea Route, the shipping lane which the two countries are jointly developing to connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean along the Russian coast of Siberia and the Far East. 

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image: Russian Tu-95 MS (above) & Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers. File photo

Help Secure the Future of GlobalResearch.ca

July 29th, 2019 by Global Research News

The situation for independent media has changed significantly over the past few years, and not for the better. Despite this, in the face of large corporations attempting to censor our content and curtail our traffic and revenue, we are still here – largely thanks to you, our core readership.

Your feedback tells us that Global Research continues to be a vital source of information in today’s rapidly changing world. We thank you, and pledge that we will continue to deliver the cutting-edge research and insight that you have come to rely on.

We have made some progress in our campaign to meet our running costs and put an end to our monthly deficit, but we still need your help. As grateful as we are to those who have given so far, the total number of donations and membership subscriptions we have received over the past year still only amounts to a very small fraction of the tens of thousands of people who read our website on a daily basis. If you can make a contribution to help secure the future of GlobalResearch.ca, please click below:

Click to become a member (receive free books!):

Click to view our membership plans


Click to donate:

Click to make a one-time or a recurring donation


Thank you for your essential support!

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Help Secure the Future of GlobalResearch.ca

In a recent post on the Mondoweiss website, Journalist Philip Weiss examines the Israel Anti-Boycott Act that would punish those boycotting Israel with a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. The legislation is being sponsored by both conservatives and liberals. 

Mondoweiss, founded by Weiss in 2006, explains on its website that it “grew inside the progressive Jewish community.”  In his post Weiss is commenting on an Intercept article by Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim about the legislation.

Weiss says that the Israel lobby is responsible for the legislation and indicates that it is Jewish Zionists, not Christian Zionists, who are the main wielders of power on the issue.

He writes:

“Ultimately, this is a story about the fight inside Jewish life over Zionism and support for Israel. I believe we will win this fight, and that this legislation will help us. The legislation will shock many civil-liberties-loving Jews. The Intercept story will force legislators to redraft the legislation.” 

Weiss reports that “a year ago Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List and JJ Goldberg of the Forward described the ‘gigantic’ and ‘shocking’ degree of the Democratic Party’s reliance on Jewish wealth for campaign contributions.”

Below is an excerpt from Weiss’s article:

Bill making it a federal crime to support BDS sends shockwaves through progressive community.

…This bill is the work of the Israel lobby. It was drafted by one of the lead Israel-support groups, AIPAC– “one of the most powerful, and pernicious, lobbying forces in the country,” as the Intercept puts it. Greenwald and Grim raise the issue of the American people’s interest:

“In what conceivable sense is it of benefit to Americans to turn them into felons for the crime of engaging in political activism in protest of a foreign nation’s government?

I would answer that question frankly by explaining that the bill is about the Israel lobby’s presence inside the Democratic Party, and therefore of the role of conservative Zionist Jews inside the Democratic Party. The efforts by many to claim that the Israel lobby is also evangelical Christians (lately Paul Pillar at Lobelog) is pure deception when it comes to the Democratic Party. Evangelical Christians don’t tell Schumer and Gillibrand how to vote on stem-cell research or abortion, and they don’t tell them how to vote on Israel either. No, the organized Jewish community does.

Older Jews tend to be huge ideological supporters of Israel. Ben Cardin goes to synagogues and tells other older Jews that Palestinian statehood is “anti-American.” Schumer has called himself the “Schomer” or guardian of Israel and said that there is a Jewish interest in supporting Israel. A year ago Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List and JJ Goldberg of the Forward described the “gigantic” and “shocking” degree of the Democratic Party’s reliance on Jewish wealth for campaign contributions.

Ultimately, this is a story about the fight inside Jewish life over Zionism and support for Israel. I believe we will win this fight, and that this legislation will help us. The legislation will shock many civil-liberties-loving Jews. The Intercept story will force legislators to redraft the legislation.

And, most important: a diverse coalition of human-rights-loving Democrats are enraged by this legislation and are organizing against AIPAC’s role in the party. Call it the Keith Ellison wing, the Sanders wing– young Jews, young Latinos, blacks, women [& numerous Christians]  — they want a more progressive policy on Israel and many of them support BDS. Bernie Sanders did not attend the AIPAC conference in 2016, because his base opposed such pandering, and that base is fighting for the heart of the party.

Lastly, remember this story and the frank declaration of support for a foreign nation by legislators the next time you hear about the insidious influence of Russia in our politics. As the Intercept notes, “Among the co-sponsors of the bill are several of the politicians who have become political celebrities by positioning themselves as media leaders of the anti-Trump #Resistance, including three California House members who have become heroes to Democrats and staples of the cable news circuit: Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell.”

Adam Schiff is worthy of special mention, as David Bromwich points out to me. “He is among the scores of obedient Democrats co-sponsoring the bill. Schiff has a high reputation in liberal circles, but he voted for the Iraq war, supported the Saudi intervention in Yemen, said the assassination of Qaddafi was ‘an end to the first chapter of another popular revolution,’ and approved of Trump’s bombing of Syria. On foreign policy he is a believer in the conventional wisdom of the Cold War and the War on Terror, that’s all; but his opinions have taken on an outsize importance since he is now routinely accepted as the party’s outstanding authority on Russia. He knows Russia about as well as he knew Iraq and Libya.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Israeli Deadly Force Against Palestinian Civilians

July 29th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

For over half a century, Occupied Palestine has been and remains a deadly undeclared free fire war zone.

Time and again, Israeli forces gun down Palestinians engaged in peaceful demonstrations threatening no one.

Gazans under more than 12 years of politically motivated/suffocating blockade endured and continue enduring the worst of it.

Since establishment of the Jewish state on stolen Palestinian land in May 1948, the world community took no actions with teeth to hold its criminal class accountable for a regime of brutal state terror against defenseless Palestinians.

Since West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem occupation began in June 1967, Israel held the entire Palestinian population hostage to what the late Edward Said called its “refined viciousness.”

The Occupied Territories are virtual free-fire zones. Israel considers peacefully demonstrating Palestinians “terrorists,” killing, maiming, or otherwise harming them considered “self-defense” — defying international humanitarian laws.

In Gaza and throughout the Territories, Israel commits Nuremberg-level crimes repeatedly, yet remains immune from accountability — because of US support and world community indifference Palestinian suffering.

In its 2018 annual report, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) highlighted Israel’s “policy of willful killing (of peaceful) Great March of Return” demonstrators.

What’s been going on weekly since March 30, 2018 was and continues to be “one of the most violent and bloodiest violations (of international law) committed by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian civilians” since occupation began over half a century earlier.

The weekly onslaught was only exceeded by three premeditated Israeli wars of aggression during the December 2008 to summer 2014 period — another virtually certain ahead, at a time and invented reason of Israel’s choosing, based on Big Lies and deception like all wars.

PCHR stressed that Gazan protests have been “fully peaceful and included various folklore activities and political speeches,” adding:

“(S)ometimes (small numbers of) young men approached the border fence to throw stones and molotov cocktails and used slingshots against the Israeli soldiers fortified in watchtowers in military vehicles and behind sand berms on the other side of the border fence.”

Some “young men also attempted to break through the border fence or pull parts of it in addition to firing incendiary balloons at the borders.”

“However, all those acts did not pose any imminent threat to the life of Israeli soldiers as none of them were harmed during the reporting period.”

Since legitimate weekly protests began 16 months ago, continuing weekly, Israeli forces waged virtual undeclared war on its participants — including against young children, paramedics aiding the wounded, and journalists reporting on events.

Israeli forces have used live fire, tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound grenades, even drones — against unarmed peaceful demonstrators threatening no one.

Since March 30, 2018, well over 300 Gazan men, women, and children were lethally shot, many thousands of others wounded, hundreds maimed for life. “(D)ozens had their upper or lower limbs amputated,” said PCHR, adding:

“Even before the outbreak of the Great March of Return and the following months, the statements and procedures issued by the Israeli political and military leaders provided the Israeli forces a climate of impunity to open fire at civilians and encourage them to commit crimes of willful killings.”

“Those statements described the Great Return March as ‘violent’ and “terrorist’ protests and that Hamas Movement is behind those protests.”

Then-Israeli war minister (2018) Avigdor Lieberman said

“Israeli soldiers did what was necessary (sic). I think all our soldiers deserve a medal (sic).”

Like its predecessors, the Netanyahu regime enforces collective punishment throughout the Occupied Territories, Palestinians brutalized, their fundamental rights denied.

Separately, UN Secretary General Antonio GuterresChildren in Armed Conflict report report to Security Council members highlighted, but way understated, the extent of Saudi war crimes against children in Yemen and Israeli ones in the Territories.

Saying it verified 1,689 child casualties in Yemen last year, including 576 deaths, another 1,113 seriously wounded flew in the face of an earlier UNICEF report.

It said at least one Yemeni child under age-five dies every 10 minutes from starvation alone.

Annualized that’s 52,560 deaths – plus countless numbers of older children and adults perishing from starvation, untreated diseases, and overall deprivation, along with deaths from Saudi/UAE terror-bombing.

Since Bush/Cheney launched war against the Yemeni people in October 2001, escalated by Obama, greatly exceeded by Trump, civilian deaths in the country likely number in the hundreds of thousands, carnage continuing daily, the death and injury toll mounting.

The secretary general’s report blamed Israel for killing 56 Palestinian children, wounding another 2,674 — but failed to include the Jewish state on its annual blacklist “of shame” for crimes against children and other civilians.

Like most of his predecessors, Guterres failed to observe UN Charter principles he’s sworn to uphold – notably preserving and protecting human rights, supporting world peace and stability, denouncing wars of aggression, and respecting fundamental international laws.

He one-sidedly supports Western and Israeli interests, doing nothing to help long-suffering Palestinians, notably beleaguered Gazans.

Time and again, his response to premeditated US-led Western and Israeli high crimes against peace called for all sides “to refrain from any act that could lead to further casualties and in particular any measures that could place civilians in harm’s way” — consistently and repeatedly ignoring reality.

Civilians in all US-led war theaters and Occupied Palestinians are subjected to merciless mistreatment.

Since taking office in January 2017, Guterres failed to condemn Western and Israeli high crimes, failed to demand long-ignored accountability, failed to support victims of their naked aggression.

His earlier calls to reengage in the (no-peace) peace process ignored US/Israeli opposition to peace and stability in the Territories and active war theaters.

In April 2018, while Israeli soldiers were lethally shooting and wounding defenseless Gazans during their weekly peaceful protest, Guterres tweeted his “best wishes to all those celebrating Passover around the world. Chag Same’ach (joyous festival)!”

The US, its imperial partners, and Israel use deadly force against children and other defenseless civilians without condemnation of accountability from the world community.

Nor has the UN secretary general used his bully pulpit to condemn their repeated high crimes against peace — siding with Western/Israeli oppressors against the oppressed, instead of the other way around.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

Featured image is from Occupy Palestine TV

Water Not Oil: Battle Cry of the Blue Planet

July 29th, 2019 by Irwin Jerome

It’s Mother Earth’s battle cry inspired by the world’s dire climate crisis that has been sung by so many others for years yet still hasn’t had the intended effect because it still hasn’t resolutely been taken up by the world as a whole. So the cry remains: what ultimately is more important: Water or Oil?

The Human World is starved for both. But which of the two will ensure the ultimate survival of life on this tiny orb commonly called the Blue Planet?

The dilemma of modern human civilization and plight of our Mother Earth are one and the same. The lack of water eventually will kill both, while the abundance of oil eventually will also kill them both.

There’s a very real, simple reason why every aspect of the planet’s corporate world order – and especially its corporate mainstream press, governmental bodies, political parties and energy sectors – refuse to truthfully air the ramifications that underlie why there exists such a climate crisis in the first place, and what actually would have to be done – not by the year 2030, 2040, 2050 or 2100 – but Now – Today – to lower pollution emissions that are inexorably producing ever-greater planetary climate change imbalances. The reason is simple.

No truthful dialogue is occurring to come up with the kind of immediate, dramatic, workable solutions desperately needed for any true reconciliation with the planet because it would require a complete and utter re-definition, re-calibration and re-tooling of modern human civilization’s entire raison d’etre. To get the world’s titanic energy juggernaut to move even a few degrees to avoid the fatal calamity that lies ahead is all but impossible. It won’t ever happen until whatever calamity will happen, finally does happen. Until then humanity’s modern civilization will continue to whistle in the dark, espousing whatever hypocritial doublespeak, while applying whatever band aids to wherever the hurt is greatest while paying lip service to all the rest.

As a result, a fatal disconnect exists in Canada, as indeed it does everywhere else in the world, between an avowed desire to protect and care for Mother Earth’s natural world, her finite resources and the opposing reality of mankind’s greedy, desperate, ever-burgeoning political-corporate-societal needs for ever more copious amounts of oil and fossil fuels needed to continue: to run all of its vehicles, planes, trains and ships; grow all its food crops for an ever-exploding population, while continuing to manufacture and sell every petroleum starved man-made thing in the modern world’s endless inter-woven, ever-expanding array of Chinese Silk Road’s that keeps the ever-burgeoning masses busily employed and the whole business of life proliferating, however greedy, unbalanced and suicidal that may be.

This is why countries like Australia, Canada, the United States and so many others still refuse to fully and openly discuss the climate crisis issue and ongoing degradation of their nation’s pristine habitats and finite natural resources, even though in places like Australia’s New South Wales a recent report revealed that the destruction of its natural habitats, forests and woodlands have increased five fold from what the crisis was only a few short years ago, with its iconic Kaola Bear on the verge of extinction. While in the United States, ever since the violent debacle of its Dakota Access Pipeline occurred, the need to further expand the amount of barrels of petroleum flowing through that pipeline maze continues to increase with no end in sight. While in Canada’s Alberta Tar Sands, that province’s devastated region already has been turned into a virtual national sacrifice area. What is everywhere going on in the world is nothing more nor less than a form of sheer madness matched only by unparalleled greed.

Yet to keep mankind’s world running as it is means ever greater amounts of the planet’s pure, precious, finite waters must, knowingly and willingly, continue to be consumed, polluted and destroyed to perpetuate human civilization’s hopelessly-addicted fossil-fueled way of life hell bent on its own self-destruction and that of all life on this, ourexquisitely beautiful, Blue Planet.

It’s a cliché to say the time has long since past the critical tipping point when humanity can no longer have it both ways. Every human must, sooner or later, once and for all, choose which side of the debate they’re on and then accept the consequences of whichever side is chosen.

One prime example of that is Canada’s decision to continue to choose this fatal addiction to oil and fossil fuels by its latest decision to continue building a Trans Mountain pipeline from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of British Columbia. This plan will only further increase the flow of toxic bitumen – one of the dirtiest of all substances known to exist – to a world hopelessly hooked on yet its next fix of the deadly black stuff. Canada’s in–between a rock and a hard place decision flies in the face of whatever constantly re-adjusted Paris Accord Agreement or proposed grandiose Green Environmental Plan it may design to help humanity once and for all kick this fatal attraction. Every new scheme in this direction, whether it’s a so-called aboriginal/First Nation ‘Reconciliation’ Pipeline, to get their own ‘slice of the pie’, or whatever other spinoff plan of the same thing boils down to a falsehood of perpetually trying to have one’s cake and eat it, too.

it’s always a curious fact to note that oil is what remains as a by-product of one of Earth’s most primitive epoch’s in its evolutionary journey yet also is perhaps the main cause of what scientists now refer to as the Anthropocene Epoch in geological history that is in the process of repeating yet the sixth great extinction of all of life on earth.

Human society must keep reminding itself that it’s by-products like bitumen that are fueling this epoch extinction and literally every aspect of the human world’s modern civilization, and that such decisions are bringing about, if not speeding up, this fatally destructive geologic epoch that, to continue to do so, must knowingly and willingly consume and destroy ever-greater amounts of the earth’s precious, finite natural sources of water that, literally and figuratively, is the very essence of life. It’s the only lifeline that sustains all of earth’s living things as we all travel together safely through time and space on our tiny, resilient blue orb through an incredibly harsh, unforgiving, hostile universe. One could even go so far as to say that the ancient waters that daily course through all our bodies is a holy communal fluid full of actual hosts of ancient ancestors of all manner and kind going back to the very beginning of creation. Therefore, no matter how else one may put it: Water is the Most Sacred Substance of all that not only Protect’s but Inspires the Journey we’re on Together.

Of all the holy mantras ever sung, this should be the single-most one the people of Canada and everywhere else in the world chant to themselves as they awaken each morning to greet the new day. It’s a mantra to be repeated as a ritual on the full moon of each month as the waters in our bodies, mystically, are pulled this way and that in the same way that the currents and tides cause the planet’s own waters to ebb and flow. It’s a truly sacred mantra to be repeated everytime we turn on a tap to fill up a glass of water to quench our thirst and then mindfully pause for still a moment longer to give thanks and ponder this whole wondrous story of our Mother Earth’s endless journey through time and space and her ability to quench the thirst of every one of its lifeforms with the same waters that literally and figuratively always have been since the beginning of time and, in some form or another, always will be to its final end.

Such awareness should give every human cause to pause for one moment longer still before quenching one’s thirst to consider how wondrous this precious, finite substance is that already has been in the bodies of so many famous or infamous humans, or taken such an eons-long circuitous journey through still so many other innumerable living beings and lifeforms going all the way back to the dinosaurs and beyond, and yet continues to enrich our lives as it did their’s.

Before Canadians and other peoples of the world decide to give any further support whatsoever to a woefully-disrespecting corporate world order that perpetuates this reality they should use this daily water mantra to call their mind to the kind of destructive fossil-fuelled way of life that, through the daily primitive, brutal mining and extraction of so many countless dirty, toxic ores and minerals poisons and destroys forever colossal amounts of this precious, finite, natural substance that without it our earth no longer would remain blue but instead just become yet another brown, shrivelled-up, lifeless hulk endlessly hurtling through empty space.

In a National Observer opinion article (“The Juggernaut of corporate oil must be stopped” June 18th2019), Giindajing Guujaaw, an Hereditary Chief Gidansta of the Haida Nation, who also is an advisor to British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations, spoke out in response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to approve the extension of the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of British Columbia and beyond.

The words of Guujaaw – a Haida activist, leader, visionary, drummer, dancer, carver among his people – hereditary leader of the Gakyaals Kliqawaay, a Haida family of the Raven Moiety, protector of Gwaii Haanas (South Moresby), who was instrumental in the renaming of the Queen Charlotte Islands as Haida Gwaii – is one exceptionally inspirational First Nation man whose song represents a centuries old battle cry that has been sounded in every corner of the earth, manytimes over, in as many ways as there are a multitude of fine speakers who have ever come and gone upon our earth. His lofty words should be taken as a renewed living retort to all those Canadian politicans-indian leaders-energy CEO’s and voters alike who consider themselves, consciously or unconsciously, to be part of the corporate world order as they willingly and knowingly continue to support the sacrifice of so much of the earth’s precious finite resources to be further misused to satiate whatever humanity’s immediate selfish needsrather than treat as a sacred trust to be bequeathed as a legacy to future generations.

Amplified here, in light of Canada’s recently-proposed concept of a so-called First Nation Reconciliation Pipeline, Guujaaw has taken it upon himself to call to all our minds what those basic responsibilities are that those of us of this living time in the earth’s and our own evolution now must do:

 “Through the years”, Guujaaw says, “of  legal battles and a very measured examination of Aboriginal issues, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has given well-considered definition to Rights and Aboriginal Title in the context of Canada in the modern world.

Aboriginal Rights are a far-reaching right of the collective, held not only for the present generation but for all succeeding generations. The rights also include an economic component coupled with a very deliberate and appropriate “inherent limit,” which requires that the land “not be used in a way that is irreconcilable with the attachment an Aboriginal group has with the land” nor shall it be encumbered in ways “that would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.” This is, in fact, a limit that, if applied to all, could go a long way in looking after the earth.

In difficult times, our people stood to look after our land and restore our rights leaving us a solid legal base from which we can uphold our responsibilities. This changed the legal and political dynamic requiring governments and industries not only to consult, but to make accommodations, while the Supreme Court also called out for “reconciliation.”

And so it began: out of the sacrifice and efforts of our champions to look after the lands when came the attention of Corporate Oil, with the tried solution of simply buying its way.

Regardless of owner or name, a pipeline and all that comes with it crosses the “inherent limit” and certainly does not carry any Aboriginal Rights. There is none amongst us of any colour or creed that can claim a right to disregard the neighbour downstream, or who can claim a right to neglect life. There is none amongst us with the right to harm the great killer whale or the little barnacle.

An Indian pipeline would be a business venture as any other and is not “reconciliation”; rather, an infringement and a threat.

Be certain that the apparatus killing this planet is a nasty one and it seems intent on finishing the dirty deed. It gains strength through violence with the jack-booted obedient servants at its beck and call. It is commanding enough to recruit our cousins if not you and me. Though it is tough as hell, it’s not that smart.

Left to its devices this Juggernaut will continue killing our planet, and without intervention our fate is sealed and we may as well prepare a dignified exit, but that would be irresponsible.

While it must be stopped, don’t wait for the Indigenous people to lead. The Indians are few in number, battle-weary, and, along with the multitudes, distracted by the ballgames and trying to pay the bills. We are too easy to imprison, too easy to kill, and as you see, as fallible as any.

Be assured, however, that on the front lines the Indigenous people are already standing up for the health of the planet, already standing for basic clean air and water. Most of us love this planet and respect life before money.

Children all over the world are calling out for us to stop this careless behaviour and fix this disorder. The grown-ups still ignore the symptoms and avoid the cure.

Reach out across the chasms to your fellow earthlings and devote some time to figuring this thing out. In each of us is some measure of good and understanding of truth, and somewhere in there is the solution. There is no need to put anyone in harm’s way.

We, the multitudes, allowed it to come to this. We, the creators of the Juggernaut, have got to fix it together.

So with this further amplification of Guujaaw’s wise words, there should be nothing more left for the rest of us to say or do but for each human being in Canada and every other country to follow what their individual conscience and morality directs them to do to stop all the dirty deeds of this nasty oil Juggernaut and its jack-boots in the world that daily, steadily, are killing all our lives and that of our crystalline Blue Planet.

Each human being now must simply open up and speak truth to power every which way they humanly can in the face of whatever next wave of propaganda yet to be unleashed that will seek to convince us all of how right or just is the adequacy of whatever niggardly actions thus far have or will be taken to reduce the world’s climate crisis while, still in denial, will yet continue to suck Mother Earth dry of all her last resources while pumping yet more bitumen throughout the world for British Columbia, Canada and the world at large.

The Shit Has Long Since Hit the Fan! Our Beautiful Blue Planet Needs to Cool Down! It’s Time for We Humans to Switch Back and Move Forward to a New-Old Natural Way of Life!

Postscript 

The prize-winning author Darren Dochuk, in his new book “Anointed With Oil; How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America”, documents how oil literally has transformed virtually every aspect of American religion, business and politics, turning countries like the United States into an endless horse race for preeminent global power while, at the same time, shaped Christianity’s modern evangelical movement and its radical Alt-Right movement. The Petroleum black stuff continues to fuel literally every major right-wing political-religious power in countries like the U.S., Isreal, Saudi Arabia and China, who also continue to be driven by a quasi-theological imperative and virtual quest for terrestrial supremacy on the planet. This sinful marriage that exists in the minds of many world leaders, and embedded within the very fiber of their country’s make-up, between God and Petroleum is an unholy alliance that most probably now will never be broken. This means that Mother Earth’s struggle for her very survival, and need to preserve her precious dwindling supply of water, will only worsen over time as humanity’s desperate need for still more of the toxic black stuff steadily increases.

To date, it has been the youth – our children of virtual school age – who have taken upon themselves to commit to climate strike actions around the world. Now we, the adults of the world, must join with them because we allare the people who happen to be alive at this moment when our choices will determine the future for tens of thousands of years: how high the seas will rise, how far the deserts will spread, how fast the forests will burn. Our work, beginning on September 20th for a Global Climate Strike Day, now must be to protect that future.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer who, for decades, in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has sought to call attention to problems of sustainability caused by excessive mega-developments and a host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

“Under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information. It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of political rights.” – Albert Einstein

While the professional class minority employed in sustaining the multi-million dollar Russiagate fiasco has financially cleaned up, one has to sympathize with the slightly larger minority of innocent citizens who missed their therapy appointments in order to watch or listen to the incredibly boring, pointless and nearly unending game-of-drones latest chapter, called “Mueller’s Testimony”.

The overwhelming majority of Americans only took note of this programming for the puerile when tuned into other social and anti-social media belching up enormous amounts of this brain dissolving gas. But both the minority under forceful brain assault and the majority not paying any attention are kept from far more serious events and issues that warrant all our consideration.

While one of the ruling class parties is under forced obsession with the fiction of Russiagate, both parties are moving ahead either in blissful ignorance or saber rattling madness, towards war in the Middle East for Israel, while increasing finances for Israel, suppressing American freedom of speech for Israel, and throwing in some mental assault on China to take a little attention off Russia and put it on the other alleged major menace.

The imperial system of global capitalism is under greater threat than ever, with competition originating in new forms, nations and cultures everyday. What’s a ruling minority to do but further coerce its minions under thought control while slaughtering foreigners whenever and wherever possible, even as that becomes more problematic? The twenty first century has created even bigger problems for minority rule than the last one did.

As if the repercussions of the Russian revolution in 1917 weren’t bad enough for the empire, the Chinese revolt thirty-two years later caused greater nightmares in the West. While seemingly controlling these two major revolutions in part by boycotting, sabotaging and engaging them in proxy wars, Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution was immediately seen as a threat by the US and its new imperial partner Israel, with forebodings of doom at this Middle Eastern national force taking control from its colonial rulers. Iran offered a newer adversary driven by religion as well as political economics, and could become a local power threatening to Israel such as had never existed before. Naturally, the global twins of terror were alarmed and that alarm has grown as has Iran’s stature and power in the area and the world. And even the end of the soviet union, seen as a victory for the short sighted west, has resulted in a rebuilt Russian force and renewed assumption of a role as world power, bringing revival of all the dumbest forms of past anti-communism this time directed at a seemingly worse enemy: capitalism!

Meanwhile, China underwent a massive reform and became a capitalist economic system under the control of a communist party, thereby experiencing an incredible measure of growth quite shocking to the west and causing more need to fear the end of euro-ruled environmental destruction in a more equitable –if that’s possible – exercise of market forces under the domain of an authority putting the public good before private profit. What are the ruling powers to do?

Elect a totally un-related to the political establishment egotistical rich boob as president, whose ego speaks so honestly he is all but totally destroying the usual hypocritical political protocol, and having failed miserably by allowing that to happen, blame it all on Russia. And call the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the white house a tool of.. guess which country? While past presidents toed the Israeli line in deference to the power of the Israeli lobby, this one doesn’t need their money and actually believes the mythology. Ruling power is really in a quandary and so must reduce the population to even greater confusion than usual, making Einstein’s opening quote almost an understatement.

Thus we have a nation in debt for 23 trillion dollars, mostly spent making a tiny minority wealthy beyond belief while buying a massive military with hundreds of foreign bases and enough munitions to destroy the entire planet, including Trump’s ego. This while numbers of America’s homeless increase by the minute, personal consumer and student debt are in the trillions, and the economy is said to be booming, once again assuring that it makes great sense to rely on a market under control of private profiteers and claim democracy, equality and peace on earth good will to all as the outcome of such deranged lunacy.

Meanwhile, we hear that the oaf in charge is a sexist – he leaves the seat up in the toilet – a racist – he probably has more lower income supporters “of color” than upper income types of color or no color can imagine – and anything but the danger of policy in the middle east getting beyond usual wretched American anti-Semitism towards Palestinians, and threatening to further alienate more of the world from the monstrous entity our propaganda claims as humanity’s hope while most of the world sees us as the greatest threat to peace and global security imaginable.

So, look for ever more details of Trump’s guilt in working for Russia – not Israel – hiding his tax forms so we won’t learn he is rich– who knew? – and how he is strengthening America’s greatest menace, alienated guys with shaved heads and swastika tattoos who are making it difficult for guys who ride in limos and deal billions of dollars in stocks and bonds every day in service to their masters who use some of the profits to pay media stenographers to fill our heads with important info about Russia taking over our electoral process from the billionaires who previously owned it and are now reduced to watching some measly little Russian online operation of market hustlers spending something like a hundred thousand dollars – wow! – to affect the outcome of the multi billion-dollar market mall we’re told is our democracy.

The American dollar’s power is going the way of all forms of previous domination and many nations are banding together to confront what the American people should be dealing with: bringing our nation under the control of its people, not just its minority ruling class, before the rest of the world has to do it for us. It’s going to have to happen to save humanity and we’d be much better off affecting that transformation ourselves, rather than be distracted further by more nonsense from consciousness control about Russia. Our problems are the climate calamity threatening all of humanity, Wall Street, the Pentagon, congress, the White House, and especially the market under minority control which is responsible for all of them. The famous socialist thinker quoted at the beginning was talking about something more recently called fake news, but whatever the label, he had it right and it’s still true.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate where this article was originally published.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on “CapitalGate” Is the Problem, Not “RussiaGate”: The Imperial System of Global Capitalism is Under Threat
  • Tags: ,

It was something of a shrug moment.  One of the world’s largest digital platforms had been fined $5 billion for privacy violations by the Federal Trade Commission, claiming it had violated its 2012 order.  The FTC order also requires the company “to restructure its approach to privacy from the corporate board-level down, establishing strong new mechanisms to ensure that Facebook executives are accountable for the decisions they make about privacy, and that those decisions are subject to meaningful oversight.”

On a certain level, being fined $5 billion seems astonishing.  It is two hundred times more than next ranked fine ever imposed on a technology company.  In many an instance, it could sink a company.  Not Facebook, an entity that raked in just under $56 billion last year in profits. Call it an economy of permitted wrong doing, a regime of tolerable violation.  As the sociologist Émile Durkheim posited, the phenomenon of deviance is far from pathological and aberrant: it is, rather “an integral part of all healthy societies”.  

Leaving the matter of health to one side, the continuing casualty in this entire affair remains privacy, ignored, abused and held in a kind of formalised contempt.  As The Washington Post editorialised, “The problem is that the nation lacks a strong privacy law, and Congress is sitting on its hands.”

With each wave or cycle of criticism, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in his ineffably asocial manner, promises his own variation of a grand strategic pivot to that rather withered concept of privacy.   In March, he wrote about his “privacy-focused vision for social networking”.  Various anodyne observations make the meat of the announcement. “Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”  He also noted the caution people had shown towards having a permanent record of online engagement.  “Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends.”

Significant to Zuckerberg’s message is that everything can become a commodity for regulation, because business makes it so. It’s not that he himself cares much for privacy; he knows, however, that people and institutions do, which means he can deliver a service, treating it as part of the marketable armoury of the enterprise.  He acknowledged “that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform – because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing.”  Never fear: “we’ve shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”

Digital pundits attempting to understand Facebook’s marketing strategy are generally of one mind on this: the market incentive gallops through first; principles limp on later.  Bhaskar Chakravorti of the Fletcher School at Tufts University finds little to commend the Facebook packaging in all of this, a vain attempt to deem the change as a “revolutionary solution to his company’s widespread problems with privacy, facilitating fake news and understand deals to share user data.”  Furthermore, changes promise to be slow.

The company’s optimism for change did not sway the FTC, unconvinced by the lack of tempo in the Zuckerberg reform agenda.  The Commission insists that it is bringing in a structural dimension to the changes, an externally mandated one that propels necessary reform.  “Unprecedented new restrictions” are being imposed on Facebook’s business operations.  The entity must create “an independent privacy committee within the company’s board of directors”.

The perennially slippery Zuckerberg is supposedly brought within the chain of accountability.  “He must certify Facebook’s compliance with [the] FTC order – exposing him, personally, to civil and criminal penalties.”  Each quarter would see him “review material privacy risks”.  Nor can he dabble with the membership of the independent privacy committee or assessor.

The confident language of the FTC order belies an assortment of problems that marred their effort to right Facebook’s data breaches.  Even the FTC itself was, to some extent, tainted, given that the investigation was assisted by Chris Hughes, himself a former dorm mate of Zuckberberg from Harvard days and Facebook worthy.  Hughes has his own suggestion for government regulators which have their own compromising flavour of market-before-principle: break up the company, reverse the acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram and any future acquisitions. “Mark Zuckerberg cannot fix Facebook but our government can.”  The sense that Hughes is sporting his own agenda is hard to suppress.  

The devil lurking in the omitted detail here is that of any stinging enforcement: lawyers representing Facebook had threatened the FTC that it would “cease settlement talks and send the matter to court”, something the Commission has little appetite for.  Yet another jot for Durkheim’s theory of permissible deviance. 

The lawmakers have done little to suggest that changes on the statute books are coming any time soon, leaving states such as California to take the lead in an untidy field.  “We’ve been talking for what, two years about a privacy bill?” put Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, earlier this month.  “Haven’t seen one, don’t know if we’ll ever see one.”

Most prefer indignation as a substitute.  Massachusetts Democratic Senator Edward Markey, for one, was not impressed by the FTC formula.  “The settlement is also notably deficient in its lack of new safeguards that would effectively prohibit similar privacy violations in the future.” 

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley was of similar mind.  “This settlement,” he lamented, “does nothing to change Facebook’s creepy surveillance and its own users & the misuse of user data.”  Even more critically, the issue of accountability was not put forcefully enough.  “It utterly fails to penalize Facebook in any effective way.”  Business as usual, and just to make the point, Zuckerberg made money on the day news of the fine broke.  Privacy breaches do pay.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

Featured image is from Legal Loop

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Permissible Deviance: Privacy Violations and Facebook’s FTC Fine
  • Tags:

The UK’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed Priti Patel as Home Secretary despite the fact that she was forced to resign two years ago after holding secret, unofficial meetings with Israeli ministers.

The former international development secretary made several unofficial meetings including with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was accused of conducting her own foreign policy in the Middle East.

The meetings included a visit to an Israeli army field hospital in the occupied Golan Heights; Patel asked officials within her department to look into whether British aid money could be funneled into the medical centre.

In her resignation letter Patel herself admitted she “fell below the high standards that are expected of a Secretary of State.”

Her appointment has drawn outrage across the board due to her record on key human rights issues.

Despite the fact that her parents migrated to the UK in the sixties, Patel has voted for a stricter asylum system and against banning the detention of pregnant women in immigration jails.

The Essex MP has suggested using the potential of food shortages in Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit as leverage against the backstop being introduced.

In 2011 Patel supported the death penalty on the BBC’s Question Time arguing it would “act as a deterrent.”

Before being elected as an MP in 2010, Patel worked for the PR company Weber Shandwick, whose clients included the government of Bahrain, which has been criticised for its high number of torture and forced disappearance cases.

Shortly after being elected the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs flew Patel  to Bahrain to meet several ministers. She has also been on a UAE-funded trip to the country and attended a conference in Washington paid for by the Henry Jackson society.

Patel will replace former Home Secretary Sajid Javid who is now Chancellor. Earlier this year Javid ordered that Shamima Begum be stripped of her British citizenship and let her two-year-old son die of pneumonia in a refugee camp in Syria.

At the time her family accused him of making the decision based on political gain.

Last week Javid labelled a number of Muslim organisations as extreme, including Cage, the Islamic Human Rights Commission and MEND, saying of Cage that it was “one of the most prominent organisations that rejects our shared values.”

Two years after becoming MP Javid told the Conservative Friends of Israel annual lunch that as a British born Muslim if he had to go and live in the Middle East, he would not go to a Muslim majority country:

“There is only one place I could possibly go. Israel. The only nation in the Middle East that shares the same democratic values as Britain. And the only nation in the Middle East where my family would feel the warm embrace of freedom and liberty.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Empics Entertainment

The right of resistance to occupation, by the Palestinian people, is grounded in international law.  Freedom-loving people of the world must remember the words of Nelson Mandela:

“We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Child prisoners

“Israeli” prisons hold about 5,700 Palestinians, including a large number of children.  In 2018 over 800 Palestinian children were arrested.  Those children are denied the right to telephone their parents by Israeli Supreme court ruling and are denied the right to education.  The “Israeli” Army routinely raids homes and neighborhoods in the vicinity of illegal Jewish settlements.

B’Tselem’, a human rights organization reports, that as of April 30, 2019, the “Israeli” prisons were holding 205 Palestinian children, which included 30 under the age of 16, and 1 under 14.  “Israeli” law allows prisoners to be held indefinitely without charge, or access to a trial.  ‘Defence of Children International’ confirms that about 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years of age, are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted by the Israeli military court system, with a conviction rate of 99.74 %.

Demolishing of homes

Kuwait, South Africa, and Indonesian presented a draft statement to the UN Security Council condemning “Israel’s” demolition of Palestinian homes near Jerusalem, and expressing that destruction undermines the principle of the UN accepted two-state solution.  Bulldozers and occupation soldiers had destroyed homes in Wadi-al-Hummus, to expand Jewish settlements, which are illegal under international law. However, the statement was shot down by the U.S. who refused to agree to the condemnation.

Boycott movement

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a peaceful campaign promoting various forms of boycott against the occupier Israel.  The U.S. Congress, both houses, voted to condemn the movement, which seeks to end the Israeli occupation through non-violent means.

 “What they don’t get is, this is precisely why civil society boycotts continue to grow; the abject failure of governments to hold Israel accountable,” wrote Yousef Munayyer on Twitter, the executive director of ‘US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’.

U. S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman in Congress, said,

“I stand before you the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Parents who experienced being stripped of their human rights, the right to freedom of travel, equal treatment. So I can’t stand by and watch this attack on our freedom of speech and the right to boycott the racist policies of the government and the state of Israel. I love our country’s freedom of speech, Madam Speaker. Dissent is how we nurture democracy.”

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence’ is an organization of soldiers who have served in the occupation army, and are exposing the “Israeli” public to the reality of life in the Palestinian areas. They aim to end the occupation, by swaying the public opinion in favor of justice, based on the realities on the ground.

The U.S. role

The Deal of the Century” presents an American solution to the conflict, which was the brain-child of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Pres. Trump.  Mr. Kushner has no political experience, but he has been successful in real estate. The economic portion of the deal was presented in Bahrain and was shunned by Palestinians, who felt it was just throwing money at a complex problem and was not comprehensive.  The political portion of the deal has yet to be revealed and is waiting in the wings until after the Israeli election in September.  If it is not based on the UN-sanctioned 2 state solution, based on resolution 242 it will likely not be accepted.

“Palestine and Jerusalem are not for sale and bargain. They are not a real estate deal in a real estate company.”, said Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Nabil Shaath, a veteran Palestinian negotiator said,

“The whole world is tired of the control of the United States. The world continues to change and form a multipolar dynamic. Today, Europe, China, Russia, and South Africa are working to form a multipolar world.”

The UN role

The UN Security Council resolution 242, dating to 1967, embodies a vision where “Israel” and Palestine would live side by side within recognized borders.  The UN has always worked towards peace while using international law and UN resolutions as the framework.  They have called for all illegal settlement activities pursued by “Israel” to stop.

The U.S. has maintained their commitment to UN 242; however, over the course of many administrations it has become apparent that the “road map to peace” was not high on the U.S. agenda, and currently, the Trump administration has a different approach.  The diplomatic Quartet: U.S., Russia, EU, and UN don’t seem to be singing the same song, or even standing together on center stage.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Featured image: Palestinian take cover as Israeli forces fire at protesters at the Gaza border on 14 December 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

US/UK Militarization of Persian Gulf Waters Risks War

July 29th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Britain is an appendage of Washington’s belligerent imperial agenda. Israel, the Saudis, UAE, and other regional regimes hostile to peace operate the same way.

Sending more US and UK warships to Persian Gulf waters has nothing to do with regional security, everything to do with stoking tensions more than already — risking possible confrontation with Iran.

It’s what Trump regime hardliners Bolton, Pompeo, and their henchmen are pushing for in a part of the world already boiling from US aggression.

On Sunday, Iran’s Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei accused the US and UK of heightening regional tensions by their provocative actions.

Iran considers itself the guardian of safe passage through Persian Gulf waters and the strategic Hormuz Strait chokepoint off its coastline.

During a meeting with senior Chinese diplomat Song Tao in Tehran, Rezaei said the following:

“(W)e live in the energy region of the world. Any kind of insecurity and conflict in this region would carry harm to global peace and security,” adding:

“Americans and Britain have been fanning the flames of war in the Persian Gulf region, and they want to pretend they have control over the Strait of Hormuz and the movement of vessels.”

“Of course, we do not allow this to happen. In the meantime, we expect cooperation from our friends in China.”

“Persian Gulf security is our security, and we have to respond to their attacks and destabilizing actions in order to maintain security. We want free shipping and security in the Persian Gulf.”

Song said the mission of his visit to Tehran “is to strengthen the strategic coordination and dialogue between the two countries, and we are willing to confront challenges and problems together,” adding:

“(T)here are complicated and rapid developments happening on the international stage that have created challenges for the countries of China and Iran, but our resolve and determination is to support Iran’s legal and legitimate rights to development and progress.”

Beijing rejects illegal US sanctions on Iran, what it calls its unacceptable “long-arm jurisdiction.”

In June, Chinese and Islamic Republic naval vessels conducted joint military exercises near the Hormuz Strait.

Securing it against hostile US-led actions is essential to both countries, China getting much of its oil from the region.

Reportedly both countries established multi-million barrel oil storage facilities at Chinese ports. Iranian oil continues to be shipped to the country.

According to oil analyst Rachel Yew,

“Iranian oil shipments have been flowing into Chinese bonded storage for some months now, and continue to do so despite increased scrutiny,” adding:

“We can see why the producer would want to do so, as a build-up of supplies near key buyers is clearly beneficial for a seller…”

According to ship-tracking data cited by Bloomberg News, 10 or more super-tankers and at least two smaller ones owned by the National Iranian Oil Company are in transit to China, already in its waters, or docked in its ports.

These vessels carry around 20 million barrels of oil. China reportedly is receiving more Iranian oil than what tracking data show, more supplies arriving almost daily.

The world community knows that US sanctions have no validity. Nations observing them are complicit with its hostile actions — notably Britain, France, Germany, and the EU by breaching their JCPOA commitments.

On Sunday, an emergency meeting was held in Vienna to try saving the JCPOA. Following the session, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi called the “atmosphere…constructive” — code language for failing to bring Europe into compliance with its obligations, Araghchi adding:

“I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments.”

There have been European commitments since the Trump regime abandoned the landmark agreement in May 2018 — but no fulfillment.

Sunday’s meeting failed to bring Europe into compliance with its obligations.

As long as EU countries fail to fulfill their JCPOA commitments, Iran will continue reducing its own to legitimate pre-agreement activities, Araqchi saying:

“As we have said, we will continue to reduce our commitments to the deal until Europeans secure Iran’s interests under the deal.”

“The countries who are part of (the nuclear deal) shouldn’t create obstacles for the export of Iranian oil” — what they’re doing by their unacceptable actions.

EU countries are committed to preserving the JCPOA rhetorically. Their actions show complicity with the Trump regime’s unlawful breach of the deal.

Continued failure to fulfill their obligations will doom the landmark agreement if nothing changes ahead.

Separately, Iranian spokesman Ali Rabiei said

“(w)e heard that…a European fleet (is coming) to the Persian Gulf, which naturally carries a hostile message, is provocative, and will increase tensions.”

“The presence of foreign forces will not help the region’s security and will be the main source of tensions,” Iranian President Rouhani stressed.

It shows EU complicity with the Trump regime’s unlawful “maximum pressure” on Iran — making it harder to preserve the JCPOA.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

Featured image is from South Front

Two years ago on July 7, 2017, 122 nations approved the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of NuclearWeapons (TPNW). The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for spearheading this achievement. Few Americans are aware of it and none of the major presidential candidates are informing us.

None of the nuclear powers (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK, US) participated in the negotiations. The treaty is now being considered by the nations of the world. 23 nations have ratified it. The treaty goes into effect for signatories when 50 nations ratify it.

As the biggest military power by far in the world today, the US can play a pivotal role in initiating nuclear disarmament. US nuclear disarmament peace initiatives should start with taking US nukes off hair-trigger alert, declaring a No First Use policy, and unilaterally disarming to a minimum credible deterrent. Those initiatives would lay the foundation for following up with urgent negotiations with the nuclear powers for complete global nuclear disarmament and ratification of the TPNW.

None of the major presidential candidates are now calling for this set of nuclear disarmament peace initiatives.

The Growing Threat of Nuclear War

We are lucky to still be alive today because the US, Russia, and other nuclear powers have had their nukes on hair-trigger alert for launch on warning for over 60 years with enough nukes to kill us all from starvation in a nuclear winter if the blasts and radiation don’t kill us first.

We have come close many times to blowing ourselves off the face of the Earth during international crises and false alarms. The US has repeatedly used nuclear weapons as blackmail. As Daniel Ellsberg has repeatedly explained, these threats are like the mugger who puts a gun to your head and demands all your money. Every president from Truman to Trump has used this nuclear terrorism to demand concessions from other countries. “No option is off the table.” Such threats could easily blow up into the real thing.

The “nuclear football” that is carried around with the president is for all practical purposes a fiction to reassure the public about command and control of US nuclear weapons. In fact, the power to launch nukes has been delegated far down the chain of command since Eisenhower’s presidency. Once one nuke flies, they will all fly in automated “Doomsday Machines” on both the US and Russian sides. Daniel Ellsberg documents all this in his “second Pentagon Papers,” his 2016 book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

Now we are into a new nuclear arms race, with nuclear modernization programs underway in the US and Russia. They are now joined by China and Pakistan in deploying “miniaturized” tactical nukes into conventional battlefields with the idea that their use won’t trigger a strategic nuclear armageddon.

This new Cold War and nuclear arms race, along with the climate crisis, convinced the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2018 to move their Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, as close to Doomsday as it has ever been since the 1953 crisis when both the US and USSR began testing H-bombs amidst high tensions.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF), and Iran nuclear agreements have been unilaterally abandoned by the US. Russia responded to the 2001 ABM withdrawal by increasing its nuclear arsenal. After Trump withdrew the US from the INF treaty last November, Putin followed his lead in March. The Strategic Arms Treaty (START) expires in February 2021. Trump calls it a terrible treaty. Warhawk John Bolton, who was a key player in the US reneging on the ABM, INF, and Iran nuclear agreements, is in charge of START negotiations.

Democrats Silent

The Democratic presidential candidates are largely silent on these developments, except for the venerable Mike Gravel. On his presidential campaign website, Gravel calls for fully agreeing to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and pledging No First Use of nuclear weapons.

Gravel’s program is a good start. I have had great respect for Senator Gravel since June 1971 when he convened his Buildings and Grounds subcommittee and started reading into the Congressional Record the Pentagon Papers, which Daniel Ellsberg had conveyed to him while on the lam from the FBI. As Gravel was putting the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, the Supreme Court was deliberating on whether to sustain a federal court injunction against their publication.

I have one quibble with Gravel on fully agreeing to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This 1970 treaty has three parts: stop the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries, negotiate complete global nuclear disarmament and general disarmament, and promote the spread of the “peaceful atom.” It’s the third part I object to. Nuclear power risks catastrophic accidents produces deadly radioactive waste that has to be isolated for over 250,000 years and facilitates nuclear weapons proliferation. Instead of proliferating nuclear power, we need a Global Green New Deal that builds clean, renewable energy and economic human rights.

In all likelihood, Gravel won’t be on the November 2020 ballot. Tulsi Gabbard got notice in the first Democratic debate by calling nuclear war the biggest threat we face. But she’s a self-described hawk for the US “war on terror” who supports drone strikes, torture, the division of Iraq and Syria along ethnic/sectarian lines, and the intervention of US special forces in partnership with authoritarian regimes. Gabbard has joined three other candidates—Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren—as co-sponsors of the congressional No-First-Use bills. However, none of these or other Democratic candidates have No First Use in the issues section of their campaign websites or raise it in their campaign appearances. No First Use is not a high priority for them.

Nuclear Disarmament Peace Initiatives

The doctrines of no first use and a minimum deterrent have already been deployed by China and India, although both are now reconsidering their posture in the face of the new nuclear arms race that they fear makes their deterrent forces vulnerable to a first strike. Nuclear strategists’ proposals for a US minimum credible nuclear deterrent range from a handful to a few hundred nuclear weapons deployed on hard-to-detect nuclear submarines. The US currently has over 6,000 nuclear warheads. The point of a minimum deterrent is to deploy the minimum nuclear weapons sufficient to inflict enough damage in a strike back against a nuclear attacker to deter such an attack in the first place. Moving to a US minimum credible deterrent combined with a no-first-use policy will maintain nuclear deterrence; reduce the motivations for the nuclear arms race; ease tensions, particularly in a crisis; reduce the risks of miscalculations and accidental nuclear war; save money; reduce the risk of an omnicidal nuclear winter in the event of a nuclear war; and give the US political credibility in negotiations for mutual and complete global nuclear disarmament.

A program of US Nuclear Disarmament Peace Initiatives should include:

  • Take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
  • Adopt a No-First-Use policy for nuclear weapons.
  • Unilaterally Disarm to a Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrent, including
    • End the nuclear weapons modernization program.
    • Dismantle the land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
    • Dismantle the strategic nuclear bomber force.
    • Dismantle the tactical nuclear weapons.
    • Dismantle preemptive first-strike forces.
    • Keep a minimum credible deterrent of nuclear weapons on submarines (SLBMs).
  • Begin urgent negotiations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty toward complete global
    nuclear disarmament and general disarmament.
  • Sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

With none of the major presidential candidates raising this kind of nuclear disarmament program, it is up to the US peace movement and Green Party candidates up and down the ticket to inject these demands into the 2020 elections.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Howie Hawkins is a retired Teamster in Syracuse, New York. As the Green candidate for New York governor, he was the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010. He is seeking the Green Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

US Sanctions Are Still Strangling Venezuela

July 29th, 2019 by Dave DeCamp

As tensions in the Persian Gulf are taking up most of the headlines, the Trump administration is still seeking regime change in Venezuela. Since coming into office President Trump has had an aggressive policy towards Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. The Center for Economic Policy and Research determined in April that US sanctions were responsible for 40,000 deaths in Venezuela since 2017.

Well, those sanctions are still in full affect. A report released last month by Torino Economics concluded, “There is no logical reason why Chavez’s irresponsibility, Maduro’s incompetence and U.S. economic sanctions cannot all have contributed to worsening the plight of Venezuelans.” Francisco Rodriguez, the economist who prepared the report, is no fan of Maduro. He served as an advisor to Henri Falcon, one of Maduro’s opponents in the 2018 election. Yet Rodriguez still recognizes the damage US sanctions are inflicting.

The report focused on the effect sanctions have had on Venezuela’s oil production. It makes the point that oil production had been slowly declining, but it decreased drastically once the August 2017 sanctions were imposed by the US and when more sanctions were added in January 2019.

In an interview with Journalist Aaron Mate, Rodriguez warned US sanctions could lead to a famine in Venezuela. Rodriguez said,

“The most reasonable conclusion based on the data is that a famine is going to occur in Venezuela over the course of the next twelve months.”

Since declaring himself President in January, opposition leader Juan Guaido has failed to actually take power from Maduro. In April, he called for the military to rise up and take out Maduro. But the coup was short lived. The military has overwhelmingly stood by Maduro, and there are over a million militia members willing to fight for him.

Even though there is plenty of opposition to Maduro in Venezuela, Guaido is seen as a US puppet. Just last week, the Trump Administration announced they would be diverting over $40 million worth of aid from Honduras and Guatemala to Guaido and his crew. This comes after members of Guaido’s opposition party were accused of embezzling money that was for “humanitarian aid.”

The idea of cutting aid to Honduras and Guatemala is to make the governments of those countries increase efforts to curb migration. But if Guaido’s opposition starts a civil war in Venezuela with that money, the US will see a migration crisis similar to the one in Europe after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. It shows how shortsighted Trump’s foreign policy is, or how blind he is to the neocon agenda.

Last week, US Southern Command said a Venezuelan plane made an “unsafe approach” and “aggressively shadowed” a US reconnaissance aircraft over the Caribbean Sea. Venezuelan officials said the US plane was in their airspace.

In another tweet US Southern Command said, “Russia’s irresponsible military support to Maduro’s illegitimate regime and underscores Maduro’s recklessness and irresponsible behavior, which undermines international rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking.” An ironic statement, considering the Trump administration has been arming Saudi Arabia as they perpetuate a genocidal war on Yemen. Venezuela is not currently bombing any other countries, they just want to protect themselves from US imperialism.

National Security Advisor John Bolton has been tweeting away about Venezuela this week. On Tuesday, he said,

“The United States is unwavering in its commitment to @jguaido (Juan Guaido) and Venezuelans in their fight for a peaceful democratic transition, freedom, and human rights.”

Bolton tweeted out a Bloomberg article Wednesday, about the IMF’s growth forecasts in Latin America. The article said in Venezuela, “the IMF forecasts a “devastating” economic contraction of 35% this year. That’s even worse than the expectation of a 25% plunge in its April report.”

Of course, Bolton does not take US sanctions into account when looking at Venezuela’s failing economy. Bolton said of the article, “Maduro’s incompetence could not be more evident. His man-made crisis continues to plunge Venezuelans further into despair. The US stands ready to help Venezuelan people recover their freedom and democracy and chart a path towards economic growth and prosperity

Maduro’s “incompetence” could be largely to blame for the situation in Venezuela. But the simple truth is that US sanctions do nothing but make the suffering worse for the people. Just this week, Trump’s envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said new sanctions will be put into effect. “We keep rolling out additional sanctions to keep the pressure up. We are trying to cut off the funds flow to the regime, and I think we’re having a fairly dramatic impact on the regime,” Abrams said. Sanctions may have a dramatic impact on the regime, but research shows they have a devastating impact on the civilian population.

So, while certain members of the Trump administration are loudly clamoring for war with Iran, they are still quietly squeezing the people of Venezuela. These reports on sanctions go largely unnoticed in the mainstream media. But if US pressure leads to a famine or civil war in Venezuela, the American people will feel the blowback, whether it be another migration crisis or something worse.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He recently joined Antiwar.com as an assistant editor. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.

Featured image is from Venezuelanalysis

Why Should Iran be Cherished and Defended?

July 29th, 2019 by Andre Vltchek

As I pen this short essay, Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.

Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.

This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.

Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.

I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.

*

Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?

I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.

You know, you were of course never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.

Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.

*

I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.

Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.

I promised to make this essay short. There is no time for long litanies. And in fact, this is not really an essay at all: it is an appeal.

As this goes to print, many people in Iran are anxious. They do not understand what they have done to deserve this; the sanctions, the US aircraft carriers sailing near their shores, and deadly B-52s deployed only dozens of miles away.

Iranians are brave, proud people. If confronted, if attacked, they will fight. And they will die with dignity, if there is no other alternative.

But why? Why should they fight and why should they die?

Those of you, my readers, living in the West: Study; study quickly. Then ask this question to your government: “What is the reason for this terrible scenario?”

Rent Iranian films; they are everywhere, winning all festivals. Read Iranian poets. Go eat Iranian food. Search for images of both historic and modern Iranian cities. Look at the faces of the people. Do not allow this to happen. Do not permit psychopathic reasoning to ruin millions of lives.

There was no real reason for the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The West perpetrated the most terrible imperialist interventions, ruining entire nations.

But Iran – it all goes one step further. It’s a total lack of logic and accountability on the part of the West.

Here, I declare my full support to the people of Iran, and to the country that has been giving countless cultural treasures to the world, for millennia.

It is because I have doubts that if Iran is destroyed, the human race could survive.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on New Eastern Outlook.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are China and Ecological Civilization with John B. Cobb, Jr., Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter. His Patreon. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Why Should Iran be Cherished and Defended?
  • Tags:

The flood of tears from NATO media journalists over the impending liberation of Idlib has completely blinded them to facts on the ground in Syria. Over the past weeks, they have missed the mortar, missile and IED attacks on civilians, their homes, their cars, their universities, their coffee shops — in Aleppo, in Damascus, in Hama, in Lattakia. They have missed the children blown up by landmines and the soldiers ambushed and decapitated. In addition to the murders committed by the world’s human garbage, with weapons from NATO countries and its satraps, the Shaer Gas Pipeline in Homs, and the Baniyas Refinery Terminal in Tartous were sabotaged. 

On 26 July, terrorist gangs bombed the towns of Salhab and Mhardeh, and the village of Asileh, with rockets. The Syrian Arab Army retaliated, destroying an undisclosed number of launchers and “fortifications.”

Damage by the armed savages was fortunately limited to property and infrastructure.

The Syrians of Mhardeh have been a frequent target of the deranged, violent criminals adored by NATO journalists. In September, 11 persons going about their daily lives were massacred; 9 immediately, and 2 subsequently succumbing to critical injuries. That slaughter occurred on the same day that UNSC President Nikki Haley was warning Syria not to fight terrorists in Syria.

nato

Ten coffins carrying the remains of civilians are draped in the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic for their mass funeral.

Haley — dubbed “Samantha Power on bath salts” during her UN schtick — turns out to be the proverbial bad penny that always comes back. She founded an organization that ”advocates” for the perpetuation of imagined enemies, she was weirdly named one of the top 10 most admired women in the world by an unknown pollster in the UK, she has gotten very nice press from at least two Trump-hating media, and transatlantic journals are running news stories about her.

It is essential to note, again, that mortar and missile bombs fired into Mhardeh, generally, are fired from Ltamenah. Syrians who reside in Ltamenah are under the occupation of one of the al Saud factions of al Qaeda in the SAR, al Ezza (also transliterated as ‘Izza’). This gang of serial killers was one of the ‘open sources’ used by UC Berkeley School of Law‘s ‘Human Rights Investigation Lab,’ in its January 2018 anti-Syria ‘report.’

Yesterday, the Syrian Arab Army targeted the Saudi al Ezza faction and the Qatari al Nusra factions of al Qaeda, and bombed an undisclosed number of the murderers’ launching pads, rockets, mortars, missiles, and vehicles in Morek, Ltamenah, Kafr Zeta, al Jebin, and Hesrata in Hama’s northern and northwestern countryside.

un-backed-terrorists

nato

NATO journalists do not merely engage in criminally lying (that which is considered a war crime by Nuremberg Principle VI) against Syria, but they also use vicious sadism in their fabrications.

Why does the Syrian Arab Army not simply level the towns occupied by the demons? Is it not to protect the lives of civilians?

In October 2015, Ambassador Jaafari explained this to MSNBC: Raqqa was a city of 800,000 people who were being held hostage by takfiri. For the preservation of the Syrian citizens, the air force was quite judicious in choosing its targets.

Who was it that did obliterate Raqqa? The war criminal ”coalition,” the war criminals cheered by NATO journalists.

syrian-democratic-forces

CNN cheers destruction as far as the eye can see. This is al Raqqa, courtesy of the US-led war criminal coalition.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image: Bombing Northwest Syria – Archives

The British seizure of the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar was illegal. There is no doubt of that whatsoever. The Iranian response to the seizure of its tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, by the seizure of a British Tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, was also illegal, though more understandable as a reaction. The implications for the global economy of the collapse of the crucial international law on passage through straits would be devastating.

It may seem improbable that the UK and or France would ever seek to close the Dover Strait, but in the current crazed climate it is no longer quite impossible to imagine the UK seeking to mess up access to Rotterdam and Hamburg. It is still easier to imagine them seeking to close the Dover Strait against the Russian Navy. Yet the essential freedom of navigation through the Kerch strait, respected by Russia which controls it, is necessary to the survival of Ukraine as a country. For Turkey to close the Bosphorus would be catastrophic and is a historically recurring possibility. Malaysia and Indonesia would cause severe dislocation to Australia and China by disrupting the strait of Malacca and the Suharto government certainly viewed that as an advantage from which it should have the right to seek to benefit, and was a continued nuisance in UN Law of the Sea discussions. These are just a few examples. The US Navy frequently sails through the Taiwan Strait to assert the right of passage though straits.

Keeping the Strait of Hormuz open is perhaps the most crucial of all to the world economy, but I hope that the above examples are sufficient to convince you that the right of passage through straits, irrespective of territorial waters, is an absolutely essential pillar of international maritime law and international order. The Strait of Gibraltar is vital and Britain has absolutely no right to close it to Iran or Syria. If the obligation on coastal states to keep maritime straits open were lost, it would lead to economic dislocation and even armed conflict worldwide.

Part III of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relates entirely to passage through straits.

Please note that the right of passage through straits is here absolute, in a UN Convention which is one of the base blocks of international law. It does not state that the right to transit through straits can be subject to any sanctions regime which the coastal state chooses to impose; indeed it is clearly worded to preclude such coastal state activity. Nor can it be overridden by any regional grouping of which the coastal state is a member.

Jeremy Hunt’s statement to parliament that the Iranian tanker had “freely navigated into UK territorial waters” was irrelevant in law and he must have known that. The whole point of passage through straits is that it is by definition through territorial waters, but the coastal state is not permitted to interfere with navigation.

It is therefore irrelevant whether, as claimed by the government of the UK and their puppets in Gibraltar, the tanker was intending to breach EU sanctions by delivering oil to Syria. There is a very strong argument that the EU sanctions are being wilfully misinterpreted by the UK, but ultimately that makes no difference.

Even if the EU does have sanctions seeking to preclude an Iranian ship from delivering Venezuelan oil to Syria, the EU or its member states have absolutely no right to impede the passage of an Iranian ship through the Strait of Gibraltar in enforcement of those sanctions. Anymore than Iran could declare sanctions against Saudi oil being delivered to Europe and close the Straits of Hormuz to such shipping, or Indonesia could declare sanctions on EU goods going to Australia and close the Malacca Strait, or Russia could declare sanctions on goods going to Ukraine and close the Strait of Kerch.

There are two circumstances in which the UK could intercept the Iranian ship in the Strait of Gibraltar legally. One would be in pursuance of a resolution by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. There is no such resolution in force. The second would be in the case of a war between the UK and Iran or Syria. No such state of war exists (and even then naval blockade must be limited by the humanitarian measures of the San Remo Convention).

What we are seeing from the UK is old fashioned Imperialism. The notion that Imperial powers can do what they want, and enforce their “sanctions” against Iran, Syria and Venezuela in defiance of international law, because they, the West, are a superior order of human being.

The hypocrisy of arresting the Iranian ship and then threatening war when Iran commits precisely the same illegal act in retaliation is absolutely sickening.

Finally, there will no doubt be the usual paid government trolls on social media linking to this article with claims that I am mad, a “conspiracy theorist”, alcoholic or pervert. It is therefore worth pointing out the following.

I was for three years the Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I was Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. I both negotiated, and drafted parts of, the Protocol that enabled the Convention to come into force. I was the Head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre and responsible for giving real time political and legal clearance, 24 hours a day, for naval boarding operations in the Gulf to enforce a UN mandated embargo. There are very few people alive who combine both my practical experience and theoretical knowledge of precisely the subject here discussed.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Elijah J Magnier

The key merit of China’s National Defense in the New Era, a white paper released by the State Council in Beijing, is to clear any remaining doubts about where the Middle Kingdom is coming from, and where it’s going to by 2049, the mythical date to, theoretically, be restored as the foremost global power.

Although not ultra-heavy on specifics, the white paper certainly should be read as the Chinese counterpoint to the US National Security Strategy, as well as the National Defense Strategy.

It goes without saying that every sentence is being carefully scrutinized by the Pentagon, which regards China as a “malign actor” and “a threat” – the terminology associated with its “Chinese aggression” mantra.

To cut to the chase, and to the perpetuating delight of China’s supporters and critics, here are the white paper’s essentials.

What global stability?

The Beijing leadership openly asserts that as “the US has adjusted its national security and defense strategies, and adopted unilateral policies” that essentially “undermined global strategic stability.” Vast sectors of the Global South would concur.

The counterpart is the evolution of “the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era,” now playing “a significant role in maintaining global strategic stability.”

In parallel, Beijing is very careful to praise the “military relationship with the US in accordance with the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.” The “military-to-military relationship” should work as “a stabilizer for the relations between the two countries and hence contribute to the China-US relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability.”

Another key counterpart to the US – and NATO – is the increasingly crucial role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is “forging a constructive partnership of non-alliance and non-confrontation that targets no third party, expanding security and defense cooperation and creating a new model for regional security cooperation.”

The white paper stresses that “the SCO has now grown into a new type of comprehensive regional cooperation organization covering the largest area and population in the world”, something that is factually correct. The latest SCO summit in Bishkek did wonders in featuring some of the group’s much-vaunted qualities, especially “mutual trust,” “consultation,” “respect for diverse civilizations” and “pursuit of common development.”

On hot spots, contrary to Western skepticism, the white paper asserts that,

“the situation of the South China Sea is generally stable,” and that a “balanced, stable, open and inclusive Asian security architecture continues to develop.”

There should be no illusion regarding Beijing’s position on “Taiwan independence” – which will never deviate from what was set by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s: “Separatist forces and their actions remain the gravest immediate threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the biggest barrier hindering the peaceful reunification of the country.”

And the same applies to “external separatist forces for ‘Tibet independence’ and the creation of ‘East Turkestan’.” How Beijing dealt with – and economically developed – Tibet will continue to be the blueprint to deal with, and economically develop, Xinjiang, irrespective of the Western outcry over China’s subjugation of more than a million Uighurs.

In regard to the turmoil Hong Kong and the degree it reflects interference by “external forces,” the white paper shapes Hong Kong as the model to be followed on the way to Taiwan. “China adheres to the principles of ‘peaceful reunification,’ and ‘one country, two systems,’ promotes peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and advances peaceful reunification of the country.”

On the South China Sea, the white paper notes that “countries from outside the region conduct frequent close-in reconnaissance on China by air and sea, and illegally enter China’s territorial waters and the waters and airspace near China’s islands and reefs, undermining China’s national security.”

So there won’t be any misunderstanding, it says: “The South China Sea islands and Diaoyu Islands are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory.” ASEAN and Japan will have to deal with what Beijing says are facts.

No hegemony, ever

While noting that “great progress has been made in the Revolution in Military Affairs with Chinese characteristics” – the Sino-version of the Pentagon’s – the white paper admits that “the PLA still lags far behind the world’s leading militaries. The commitment is unmistakable to “fully transform the people’s armed forces into world-class forces by the mid-21st century.”

Special emphasis is placed on China’s relatively quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy. “China has played a constructive role in the political settlement of regional hotspots such as the Korean Peninsula issue, the Iranian nuclear issue and Syrian issue.” The corollary could not be more clear-cut. “China opposes hegemony, unilateralism and double standards.”

Arguably the most important point made by the white paper – in stark contrast with the “Chinese aggression” narrative – is that “Never Seeking Hegemony, Expansion or Spheres of Influence” is qualified as “the distinctive feature of China’s national defense in the new era.”

This is backed up by what could be defined as the distinctive Chinese approach to international relations – to respect “the rights of all peoples to independently choose their own development path,” and “the settlement of international disputes through equal dialogue, negotiation and consultation. China is opposed to interference in the internal affairs of others, abuse of the weak by the strong, and any attempt to impose one’s will on others.”

So the road map is on the table for all to see. It will be fascinating to watch reactions from myriad latitudes across the Global South. Let’s see how the “Chinese aggression” system responds.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of ploughshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well…We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
–- From the farewell address of President Dwight David Eisenhower – January 17, 1961

“The world’s military forces survive primarily as instruments to protect elite interests and suppress the civil unrest that results from economic injustice. They further place an unconscionable burden on the earth’s scarce ecological resources.” From “The People’s Earth Declaration: A Proactive Agenda for the Future” (the summary statement of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – June 12, 1992)

The US Navy’s Blue Angels won’t be transitioning to Lockheed-Martin’s (and the Pentagon’s) latest fighter jet boondoggle, the F-35, each of which costs $121,000,000 per each.

According to Popular Mechanics the F-35C was supposed to be “initial operations capable? (ie, “combat war-ready”) at the end of 2015. (Note that “combat war-ready” means that at least a squadron of planes can carry out limited combat operations. That date, according to some watchdog agencies may never come.

Popular Mechanics says that there are other reasons to put off the hoped-for transition to the F-35s:

  1. Replacing the Blues’ Hornets with Lockheed-Martin’s F-35s would be enormously expensive ($121 million each). Purchasing 11 of them for the “flight demonstration team” would cost $1.34 billion – as much as a new destroyer;
  2. It’s more cost effective to convert aircraft that have already flown operationally and are already paid for;
  3. The F-35C isn’t entirely suitable for the Blue Angels propaganda work (the F-35C is a single-seater cockpit and therefore can’t give celebrities rides at their air shows);
  4. The planned new Blue Angels’ fleet of Boeing’s F/A-18Fs will have two twin seater jets for VIP work.

Besides being major draws in the 70+ air shows in which they do their stunt-flying each year, impressing local celebrities, journalists, news media types, politicians and other non-military personnel by taking them up for demonstration flights is part of the team’s mission, which is “to give the public a better understanding of the what it means to fly the jets”.

Below is the financial information that explains why Wall Street, War Street, the Dow Jones Averages (that lists only 30 of the world’s largest corporations) and the world’s elite investor classes love wars. (Note that the war-fomenting, war-agitating military contractors include every super-wealthy investor around the world whose wealth dramatically increases (and whose stock portfolio value surges) every time the President, the White House or the US Congress threatens military intervention or the Congress reduces the taxes of wealthy political campaign contributors.

***

America’s 15 Biggest Defense Contractors

By Paul Ausick – July 2, 2018

  1. Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT)> 2017 funding obligations: $50.70 billion
    > Market cap:$85.15 billion
    > Total revenue:$51.05 billion
    > Net income: $2.00 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 285.57 million
    > Employees: approximately 100,000

Lockheed Martin is a pure-play defense contractor. The company builds and sells military aircraft, missiles, drones, fire control systems, helicopters, ships, and space systems. The government accounts for nearly all of Lockheed’s business, as the amount of federal funds obligated to the company accounted for nearly all of its full-year 2017 revenue. Lockheed captured nearly 18% of all federal procurement last year. The company’s headline program is the F-35 Lightning II Joint-Strike Fighter that is projected to haul in $1 trillion over its 60-year lifespan. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $51.33 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $371.89. Lockheed has cut some 26,000 employees since 2015.

The notorious boondoggle that was/is Boeing/Bell Helicopter’s V-22 Osprey resulted in 12 serious (“hull-loss”) accidents (plus many minor accidents) that resulted in 42 fatalities. During testing of the Osprey (from 1991 to 2000), there were four crashes resulting in 30 fatalities. Since becoming operational in 2007, the V-22 Osprey has had seven serious crashes resulting in 12 fatalities, plus a number of minor incidents. Photo Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michelle Reif / defense.gov

  1. The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA)> 2017 funding obligations: $23.36 billion
    > Market Cap:$194.29
    > Total Revenue:$93.39 billion
    > Net Income: $8.20 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 588.45 million
    > Employees: approximately 140,800

Military programs, including the KC-46A tanker, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and Apache combat helicopter, accounted for more than $21 billion of Boeing’s fiscal year 2017 revenue, about 22% of the company’s total revenue. Like most of the other companies on this list, Boeing sells military systems internationally. The company expects $21.5 billion to $22.5 billion in military revenue for this year and has a backlog of $50 billion, 36% of which represents orders from foreign buyers. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $97.88 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $398.13.

  1. General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD)> 2017 funding obligations: $15.34 billion
    > Market Cap:$55.80 billion
    > Total Revenue:$30.97 billion
    > Net Income: $9.56 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 296.93 million
    > Employees: 98,600

The poster child for General Dynamics is its Abrams main battle tank, but the company’s information systems and technology division accounted for the most revenue. To further bolster that part of the business, GD is paying $9.7 billion, including assumed debt, to acquire military IT specialist CSRA Inc. The deal will create the second largest provider of U.S. military IT services with annual sales of around $9.9 billion. As for those tanks, the company received a $1 billion contract from the U.S. government last year to upgrade 800 of them. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $35.94 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $247.53.

  1. Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN)> 2017 funding obligations: $14.66 billion
    > Market Cap:$56.18 billion
    > Total Revenue:$25.35 billion
    > Net Income: $2.00 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 288.51 million
    > Employees: approximately 64,000

Sales to the U.S. government accounted for two-thirds of Raytheon’s total 2017 revenue, and sales to foreign governments accounted for another 13%. The company’s largest division is missile systems, which brought in about $7.8 billion of last year’s revenue. Though there were rumors in the spring of 2017 that Boeing would acquire Raytheon, that did not happen. In addition to its missile business, Raytheon’s strengths include its radar, sensor, and guidance systems, and the company is focusing more on cybersecurity. Its Forcepoint cybersecurity joint venture with Vista Equity Partners racked up $608 million in revenue in 2017 and ended the year with a total backlog of $484 million. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $26.78 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $239.89.

  1. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC)> 2017 funding obligations: $11.19 billion
    > Market Cap:$53.47 billion
    > Total Revenue:$25.80 billion
    > Net Income: $2.02 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 174.09 million
    > Employees: 70,000

Image on the right: Northrup Grumman’s B2 bomber: Source: williambrawley / Flickr

Northrop Grumman operates in three main divisions: aerospace systems, mission systems, and technology services. The aerospace division manufactures and sells control systems for the F/A 18 (as a partner with Boeing), the B-2 bomber, and the venerable A-10 Warthog. Earlier this month, the company’s $9.2 billion acquisition of Orbital ATK, a maker of solid-fuel rocket engines, was approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Northrop was also awarded a $103 million contract to upgrade the wings on the A-10 ground-attack aircraft, which entered service in 1977. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $27.43 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $367.50.

  1. McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK)> 2017 funding obligations: $8.80 billion
    > Market Cap:$29.66 billion
    > Total Revenue:$208.36 billion
    > Net Income: $67 million
    > Shares outstanding: 202.05 million
    > Employees: 78,000

McKesson primarily distributes medical and pharmaceutical supplies for health care providers and pharmacies around the world. The company is the pharmaceutical prime vendor (PPV) for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Its current contract ends on August 9, and there is a two-year option remaining that the VA may exercise. The contract, originally awarded in 2012, has generated average annual revenue of around $4 billion and could generate a total of $44 billion if extended to 2020. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $216.15 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $171.60.

Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier Source: usnavy / Flickr

  1. Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. (NYSE: HII)> 2017 funding obligations: $7.24 billion
    > Market Cap:$9.51 billion
    > Total Revenue:$7.44 billion
    > Net Income: $479.00 million
    > Shares outstanding: 44.79 million
    > Employees: approximately 38,000

Huntington Ingalls builds the single most expensive and largest military weapon in the U.S. arsenal, the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier. The first of four new carriers on order, the Ford was commissioned last year after the company spent $13 billion to build the ship. The fiscal 2019 budget includes $4.5 billion for continuing work on the second and the third carriers that will be christened the John F. Kennedy and the Enterprise. A name has not been selected for the fourth. Eventually, the Ford-class carriers are expected to replace the Navy’s entire current Nimitz-class fleet of 11, guaranteeing Huntington Ingalls a solid decade or so of work. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $7.63 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $254.64.

  1. Bechtel Group Inc.> 2017 funding obligations: $5.53 billion
    > Market Cap:N/A
    > Total Revenue:$32.90 billion (2016)
    > Net Income: N/A
    > Shares outstanding: N/A
    > Employees: N/A

Bechtel, an engineering and construction firm, is the only privately held company on this list of top defense contractors. In 2015, the company’s largest federal contracts were valued at $2.48 billion with the U.S. Navy and $1.73 billion with the U.S. Department of Energy. Both were related to work on nuclear reactors. The company’s 10-year contract with the Navy, valued at a total of $12.8 billion, expires this year. On the non-military side, Bechtel has worked on two massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) liquefaction facilities: the Sabine Pass project offshore of Louisiana and the Wheatstone project offshore of Northwest Australia. No estimates for the company’s total revenue are available.

  1. BAE Systems plc> 2017 funding obligations: $5.29 billion
    > Market Cap:£26.07 billion
    > Total Revenue:£18.32 billion
    > Net Income: £1.36 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 3.19 billion
    > Employees: 83,200

BAE is the only non-U.S.-based company among top federal contractors. The British company just won a $198 million contract from the U.S. Marine Corps to build an initial batch of 30 wheeled amphibious combat vehicles out of a planned total of 208. If all are built the contract will be worth about $6.2 billion to BAE, including $1.2 billion to manufacture the vehicles and $5 billion to maintain them over their expected lifespan. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of £18.5 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of £6.73 per share.

  1. L3 Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LLL)> 2017 funding obligations: $5.15 billion
    > Market Cap:$15.04 billion
    > Total Revenue:$9.57 billion
    > Net Income: $753.00 million
    > Shares outstanding: 78.22 million
    > Employees: approximately 31,000

L3 makes a wide range of electronic, sensor, and communications systems for military, homeland security, and commercial platforms. The company is also a prime contractor of aerospace systems, security and detection systems, and pilot training. Last year the company won a contract as the systems integrator to modernize the U.S. Air Force’s Compass Call EC-130H aircraft. Despite a Boeing protest, L3 chose General Dynamics’ Gulfstream 550 as the airplane that would carry the sophisticated Compass Call electronic warfare gear. No value for the contract has been released. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $9.99 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $236.93.

  1. Leidos Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LDOS)> 2017 funding obligations: $4.79 billion
    > Market Cap:$8.86 billion
    > Total Revenue:$10.17 billion
    > Net Income: $366.00 million
    > Shares outstanding: 151.46 million
    > Employees: approximately 31,000

Leidos’ defense solutions group generated nearly half of the company’s 2017 revenue, but U.S. government contracts accounted for 84% of 2017’s total company revenue. In addition to a variety of security and intelligence systems, Leidos recently bested Raytheon in a competition to build a hosted payload for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Galaxy-30 satellite that will sharpen GPS signals. The company is currently battling Amazon, Google, and other technology and defense firms for a Pentagon cloud contract worth as much as $10 billion. The winner of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) will create and manage a cloud-based application the military will use to host and distribute mission-critical workloads and classified secrets all over the world. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $10.4 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $77.20.

  1. Aecom (NYSE: ACM)> 2017 funding obligations: $4.11 billion
    > Market Cap:$5.39 billion
    > Total Revenue:$18.20 billion
    > Net Income: $339 million
    > Shares outstanding: 157.62 million
    > Employees: 87,000

Like Bechtel, Aecom is an engineering and construction company with a solid, although not dominant, presence in the federal contract world. One of its current showcase projects is a new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta that seats up to 83,000 people for NFL and MLS games. For the U.S. government Aecom provides management services programs and facilities, none of which it discusses in any detail. In May, a wholly owned subsidiary won a $3.1 billion cost-plus-award-fee, 15-year contract with the U.S. Air Force for the operation, maintenance, and sustainment of test and training ranges in California, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $19.67 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $40.54.

  1. Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (NYSE: BAH)
    > 2017 funding obligations: $4.09 billion
    > Market Cap:$6.42 billion
    > Total Revenue:$6.17 billion
    > Net Income: $$305.11 million
    > Shares outstanding: 5.29 billion
    > Employees: approximately 24,600

Booz Allen provides a variety of management and technology consulting services to governments, corporations, and nonprofits worldwide. The company began working with the U.S. Navy in 1940, and the Navy remains its largest client. Work for the Defense Department accounted for 46% of its fiscal year revenue. Booz Allen also provides mission-critical support for the International Space Station and assists commercial and government clients with cyber threats. At least one incident the company would like to forget is its hiring of NSA documents leaker Edward Snowden as a contractor in 2013. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $6.6 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $49.10.

  1. Humana Inc.> 2017 funding obligations: $3.72 billion
    > Market Cap:$41.18 billion
    > Total Revenue:$53.77 billion
    > Net Income: $2.45 billion
    > Shares outstanding: 137.68 million
    > Employees: approximately 45,900

Humana is one of the country’s largest health insurers, and the company offers administrative services to the Department of Defense through its Tricare program. Beginning in 2016, the company began providing services to about 6 million program beneficiaries in 32 states, with delivery of health care services beginning in January of this year. The five-year contract expires at the end of 2022 and may be renewed at the government’s option. Humana reported military enrollment totaling nearly 3.1 million at the end of 2017. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $56.29 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $316.44.

  1. Science Applications International Corp. (NYSE: SAIC)> 2017 funding obligations: $3.46 billion
    > Market Cap:$3.45 billion
    > Total Revenue:$4.45 billion
    > Net Income: $179.00 million
    > Shares outstanding: 42.28 million
    > Employees: more than 15,000

SAIC is a pure-play technical services provider to the U.S. government and is the prime contractor of 91% of what the company calls “premier” contract vehicles. These are basically open-ended federal contracts that allow prime contractors to collect a fee for matching a vendor with a government agency. SAIC lists 14 federal contract vehicles under its management, including one to provide advice and assistance to the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command and another to provide IT solutions to the Department of Homeland Security. Even though SAIC lost the bidding for a Marine Corps amphibious combat vehicle to BAE this month, last November the company won a one-year, $980 million Army battlefield systems contract that is renewable for two additional years. For the current fiscal year, analysts forecast revenue of $56.29 billion and have a 12-month consensus price target on the stock of $89.67.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Transcend Media Service.

Dr Gary Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA and a member of the TRANSCEND Network. In the decade prior to his retirement, he practiced what could best be described as “holistic (non-drug) and preventive mental health care”. Since his retirement, he has written a weekly column for the Duluth Reader, an alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American imperialism, friendly fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, and the dangers of Big Pharma, psychiatric drugging, the over-vaccinating of children and other movements that threaten American democracy, civility, health and longevity and the future of the planet. Many of his columns are archived at

http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2;

http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/gary-g-kohls; or at

https://www.transcend.org/tms/search/?q=gary+kohls+articles; [email protected]

Featured image is by Ben Jennings

They started off by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Ten minutes later, they were reading the text of a resolution claiming the existence of “overwhelming evidence” that “pre-planted explosives . . . caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings.”

And so it was, on July 24, 2019 — nearly 18 years after the horrific attacks that traumatized a nation and changed the world forever — the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District, which oversees a volunteer fire department serving a hamlet of 30,000 residents just outside of Queens, New York, became the first legislative body in the country to officially support a new investigation into the events of 9/11.

The resolution, drafted and introduced by Commissioner Christopher Gioia, was unanimously approved by the five commissioners. Members of the audience — including the families of fallen firefighters Thomas J. Hetzel and Robert Evans, both Franklin Square natives — joined in solemn but celebratory applause after the fifth “ay” was spoken.

Franklin Square Munson Fire Districts Commission 768

The Franklin Square and Munson Fire District commissioners: Philip F. Malloy, Jr. (left); Dennis G. Lyons (second from left); Joseph M. Torregrossa (center); Christopher L. Gioia (second from right); Les Saltzman (right).

Conversing with guests after the meeting, Commissioner Dennis Lyons remarked on the enormous and lasting toll that 9/11 has taken on the Franklin Square community.

“We have a memorial — a piece of steel from the World Trade Center with 28 holes where the nuts and bolts used to go,” Lyons explained. “Every year on the 11th, we put a rose in each hole for the 24 Nassau County firefighters and four Franklin Square residents who died on 9/11.”

The impact of 9/11 on the community extends well beyond the victims and their grieving families. On September 12, 2001, the Franklin Square Fire Department was called in to assist with the massive rescue and recovery effort that was just getting underway. Countless members of the department, including Gioia and Commissioner Philip Malloy (then rank-and-file firefighters), spent weeks on the pile searching in vain for civilians and fellow responderswho might still be alive. Today, Malloy is one of thousands suffering chronic health effects.

Hetzel Memorial 768

A memorial to Thomas J. Hetzel, a member of the New York Fire Department and Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department, who died on September 11, 2001.

The department also lost one of its own in Thomas J. Hetzel, affectionately referred to as “Tommy” by the commissioners. Hetzel was a full-time member of the New York Fire Department in addition to serving as a volunteer firefighter in Franklin Square. A touching memorial to Hetzel was on display during the meeting, and Hetzel’s widow, parents, and sister were all in attendance.

“The Hetzel and Evans families were very appreciative of the proceedings,” Gioia commented the day after the meeting. “They know it’s an uphill struggle. But at least they have hope, which is something they haven’t had in a long time.”

Franklin Square Munson Fire Districts Family 1 768 432

Franklin Square Munson Fire Districts Family 2 768 432

The Franklin Square and Munson Fire District commissioners greet the families of fallen firefighters Thomas J. Hetzel and Robert Evans, both Franklin Square natives.

Besides the commissioners’ desire to see justice done for their fallen brothers and deceased neighbors, the driving force behind the resolution was a petition filed last year with United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, outlining the evidence of the World Trade Center’s explosive demolition on 9/11.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office notified the Lawyers’ Committee in November that it would indeed comply with the federal statute requiring the U.S. Attorney to present the petition to a special grand jury. The news set off a wave of hope, among those paying attention, that the wheels of justice were finally beginning to move in the right direction.

Adding a surge to that wave of hope, the Franklin Square resolution declares the fire district’s full backing of the (presumably) ongoing grand jury investigation in Lower Manhattan, while also proclaiming the district’s support for “any and all efforts by other government entities to investigate and uncover the full truth surrounding the events of that horrible day.”

Speaking to those still present after the meeting, Gioia made it clear that this was the first step in a long process. Their goal now is to get every fire district in the state to go on record supporting a new 9/11 investigation.

“We’re a tight-knit community and we never forget our fallen brothers and sisters,” Gioia said. “You better believe that when the entire fire service of New York State is on board, we will be an unstoppable force.”

After a pause, Gioia added,

“We were the first fire district to pass this resolution. We won’t be the last.”

The Franklin Square and Munson Fire District 9/11 Resolution

Whereas, the attacks of September 11, 2001, are inextricably and forever tied to the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department;

Whereas, on September 11, 2001, while operating at the World Trade Center in New York City, firefighter Thomas J. Hetzel, badge #290 of Hook and Ladder Company #1, Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department of New York, was killed in performance of his duties, along with 2,976 other emergency responders and civilians;

Whereas, members of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department were called upon to assist in the subsequent rescue and recovery operations and cleanup of the World Trade Center site, afflicting many of them with life-threatening illnesses as a result of breathing the deadly toxins present at the site;

Whereas, the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District recognizes the significant and compelling nature of the petition before the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York reporting un-prosecuted federal crimes at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and calling upon the United States Attorney to present that petition to a Special Grand Jury pursuant to the United States Constitution and 18 U.S.C. SS 3332(A);

Whereas, the overwhelming evidence presented in said petition demonstrates beyond any doubt that pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries — not just airplanes and the ensuing fires — caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings, killing the vast majority of the victims who perished that day;

Whereas, the victims of 9/11, their families, the people of New York City, and our nation deserve that every crime related to the attacks of September 11, 2001, be investigated to the fullest and that every person who was responsible face justice;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District fully supports a comprehensive federal grand jury investigation and prosecution of every crime related to the attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as any and all efforts by other government entities to investigate and uncover the full truth surrounding the events of that horrible day.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

It is rare that a high official in a government will admit that his country has been killing foreigners without any declaration of war or being subjected to an imminent threat, but that is exactly what Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi has done recently, boasting on a Sunday morning talk radio show that “Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years now.” 

Hanegbi’s candid admission of a policy that is a war crime included his description of how Israel “strikes the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria, sometimes admits it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it. Sometimes the chief of staff [reveals it], sometimes the outgoing air force chief [reveals it], but it’s all coordinated policy.”

The interviewer then asked “what would happen should Israel get in trouble with Iran?” and Hanegbi responded that

“You can see that the Iranians are very limited in their responses [to Britain’s seizure of their tanker], and it’s not because they don’t have abilities, it’s because they understand that Israel means business.”

Hangebi went on to add that Israel is “very aggressive when it comes to our national security… We still didn’t see the Iranians backing off from their intention to entrench themselves militarily in Syria, and this campaign isn’t over. But they know exactly who to mess with, and who can be annoyed. We can’t.”

The minister’s comments inevitably were not reported in the western media, which is reluctant to air anything that demonstrates just how irresponsible Israeli policies actually are. In the United States, in particular, the Jewish state is consistently portrayed as some kind of perpetual victim in spite of the fact that it is the only nuclear armed power in its neighborhood as well as having the most powerful conventional military arsenal.

The Iranian government did not respond directly to the report of the Israeli minister’s comments, but there was some mention on Tehran’s Press TV local broadcast, which noted that “This is how Israelis are freely and proudly talking about killing Iranians! Just imagine what would happen if it was the other way around!” Indeed. A boast by Iran that it had been very successful at killing Israelis would have produced shocked headlines in every European and American newspaper.

The Israeli admission that it is attacking targets in Syria should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following developments in the region. That there have been hundreds of attacks may be an exaggeration to impress the Israeli listeners regarding their country’s military prowess, but it is certainly true that numerous incidents have been recorded both by the Syrian government and by foreign observers. In one notorious incident on Christmas Day 2018, Israeli warplanes masked their approach to targets inside Syria by flying closely behind civilian airliners transiting the region. It has been speculated that they hoped that Syrian air defenses would respond by shooting down a civilian plane, creating a major crisis for the Bashar al-Assad government. In the event, the Syrians held their fire and the Israeli warplanes launched their missiles against targets near Damascus, killing Syrian military personnel and civilians on the ground.

What is astonishing is that Minister Hangebi does not perceive the implications of the Israeli government’s apparent willingness to kill Syrians on the ground by intent and also as collateral damage even though it is not at war with Damascus. It does so with the stated objective of killing Iranians even though it is also not at war with Iran. It is, to state it succinctly, several war crimes tied up in one package and it would make the Jewish state uniquely a rogue among nations but for the fact that the United States has done the same sort of thing with cruise missile strikes in Syria, though not in as sustained a fashion as have the Israelis.

Israel’s willingness to use its armed forces in what might be described as non-traditional roles creates some very specific problems for the region. One particular concern is that the Israelis might stage a false flag attack, possibly in cooperation with its temporary friend Saudi Arabia, to draw outside powers into a war with Iran. The recent incidents involving mining two tankers, attributed to Iran but much more likely a false flag, nearly succeeded in doing just that. Subsequent incidents involving the seizures of a tanker carrying Iranian oil by the British and a retaliatory move against two British tankers by the Iranians have threatened to escalate into a shooting war. There should be little doubt that any ambiguous armed exchange involving Iran and Israel would see the American Jewish dominated media immediately laying the blame on the Iranians, producing demands by the Israel Lobby, Christian Zionists and Congress to get involved in the conflict.

There should also be particular concern over developments in neighboring Iraq, even though the country is not yet under attack by the Israelis. Shi’te militias in the country, linked to Iran, have long demanded that American military bases be closed down. Recent rocket attacks on the bases have been blamed on the militias, with Washington placing particular emphasis on the militia links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp, which has now been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department. The Israelis are well aware of the dynamics of what is going on in Iraq and might be inclined to stage an incident in that country that will kill Americans and be blamed on the Iranians. The comments by Minister Hangebi that Israel is “very aggressive when it comes to our national security” would strongly suggest that his country is prepared to do anything – even something quite stupid – to eliminate what it sees as the Iranian threat.

The tragedy in all this for Americans is that Washington is being led into war by an Israeli propaganda and influence machine that is second to none. In May four hundred Congressmen signed on to a generic bill that was intended as a blanket endorsement of Israeli behavior and a blank check for the ruthless Netanyahu government to do whatever it sees fit in “self-defense,” with Washington willing to be dragged into a conflict in which it has no real interest just to show its loyalty to the Zionist enterprise. More recently, by last Tuesday’s vote of 398 to 176, another Congressional bill condemned and established penalties against the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has become a bête noire for all of Israel’s friends. If America is ever to regain its independence from foreign entanglements the time to start is now and the process should begin by disengaging from Israel.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on American Herald Tribune.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image:  Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi. Credit: Facebook

Recent events have shone a spotlight not only on how Israel is intensifying its abuse of Palestinians under its rule, but the utterly depraved complicity of western governments in its actions.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House two-and-a-half years ago has emboldened Israel as never before, leaving it free to unleash new waves of brutality in the occupied territories.

Western states have not only turned a blind eye to these outrages, but are actively assisting in silencing anyone who dares to speak out.

It is rapidly creating a vicious spiral: the more Israel violates international law, the more the West represses criticism, the more Israel luxuriates in its impunity.

This shameless descent was starkly illustrated last week when hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, many of them masked, raided a neighbourhood of Sur Baher, on the edges of Jerusalem. Explosives and bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes, leaving many hundreds of Palestinians without a roof over their heads.

During the operation, extreme force was used against residents, as well as international volunteers there in the forlorn hope that their presence would deter violence. Videos showed the soldiers cheering and celebrating as they razed the neighbourhood.

House destructions have long been an ugly staple of Israel’s belligerent occupation, but there were grounds for extra alarm on this occasion.

Traditionally, demolitions occur on the two-thirds of the West Bank placed by the Oslo accords temporarily under Israeli control. That is bad enough: Israel should have handed over what is called “Area C” to the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago. Instead, it has hounded Palestinians off these areas to free them up for illegal Jewish settlement.

But the Sur Baher demolitions took place in “Area A”, land assigned by Oslo to the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting – as a prelude to Palestinian statehood. Israel is supposed to have zero planning or security jurisdiction there.

Palestinians rightly fear that Israel has established a dangerous precedent, further reversing the Oslo Accords, which can one day be used to justify driving many thousands more Palestinians off land under PA control.

Most western governments barely raised their voices. Even the United Nations offered a mealy-mouthed expression of “sadness” at what took place.

A few kilometres north, in Issawiya, another East Jerusalem suburb, Israeli soldiers have been terrorising 20,000 Palestinian residents for weeks. They have set up checkpoints, carried out dozens of random night-time arrests, imposed arbitrary fines and traffic tickets, and shot live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets into residential areas.

Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights group, calls Issawiya’s treatment a “perpetual state of collective punishment” – that is, a war crime.

Over in Gaza, not only are the 2 million inhabitants being slowly starved by Israel’s 12-year blockade, but a weekly shooting spree against Palestinians who protest at the fence imprisoning them has become so routine it barely attracts attention any more.

On Friday, Israeli snipers killed one protester and seriously injured 56, including 22 children.

That followed new revelations that Israeli’s policy of shooting unarmed protesters in the upper leg to injure them – another war crime – continued long after it became clear a significant proportion of Palestinians were dying from their wounds.

Belatedly – after more than 200 deaths and the severe disabling of many thousands of Palestinians – snipers have been advised to “ease up” by shooting protesters in the ankle.

B’Tselem, another Israeli rights organisation, called the army’s open-fire regulation a “criminal policy”, one that “consciously chose not to regard those standing on the other side of the fence as humans”.

Rather than end such criminal practices, Israel prefers to conceal them. It has effectively sealed Palestinian areas off to avoid scrutiny.

Omar Shakir, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, is facing imminent deportation, yet more evidence of Israel’s growing crackdown on the human rights community.

A report by the Palestinian Right to Enter campaign last week warned that Israel is systematically denying foreign nationals permits to live and work in the occupied territories, including areas supposedly under PA control.

That affects both foreign-born Palestinians, often those marrying local Palestinians, and internationals. According to recent reports, Israel is actively forcing out academics teaching at the West Bank’s leading university, Bir Zeit, in a severe blow to Palestinian academic freedom.

Palestinian journalists highlighting Israeli crimes are in Israel’s sights too. Last week, Israel stripped one – Mustafa Al Haruf – of his Jerusalem residency, tearing him from his wife and young child. Because it is illegal to leave someone stateless, Israel is now bullying Jordan to accept him.

Another exclusion policy – denying entry to Israel’s fiercest critics, those who back the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – is facing its first challenge.

Two US congresswomen who support BDS – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank – have announced plans to visit.

Israeli officials have indicated they will exempt them both, apparently fearful of drawing wider attention to Israel’s draconian entry restrictions, which also cover the occupied territories.

Israel is probably being overly cautious. The BDS movement, which alone argues for the imposition of penalties on Israel until it halts its abuse of Palestinians, is being bludgeoned by western governments.

In the US and Europe, strong criticism of Israel, even from Jews – let alone demands for meaningful action – is being conflated with antisemitism. Much of this furore seems intended to ease the path towards silencing Israel’s critics.

More than two dozen US states, as well as the Senate, have passed laws – drafted by pro-Israel lobby groups – to limit the rights of the American public to support boycotts of Israel.

Anti-BDS legislation has also been passed by the German and French parliaments.

And last week the US House of Representatives joined them, overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning the BDS movement. Only 17 legislators demurred.

It was a slap in the face to Omar, who has been promoting a bill designed to uphold the First Amendment rights of boycott supporters.

It seems absurd that these curbs on free speech have emerged just as Israel makes clear it has no interest in peace, will never concede Palestinian statehood and is entrenching a permanent system of apartheid in the occupied territories.

But there should be no surprise. The clampdown is further evidence that western support for Israel is indeed based on shared values – those that treat the Palestinians as lesser beings, whose rights can be trampled at will.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Smart Meters

July 29th, 2019 by Electromagnetic Sense Ireland

Smart Meters use wireless radio frequencies to transmit electrical, gas and water usage information direct to the utility companies. These meters are designed to transmit pulsed microwave radiation frequently (sometimes every few seconds). Smart meters are already rolled out in many other countries, where there have been reports of health problems, price hikes, overcharging and some incidents of smart meters going on fire. 

Existing Analogue Meters are safer for you and your family.

Not Healthy

Acute health problems reported where smart meters are installed include heart palpitations, chest pain, inability to concentrate, feeling faint, headaches, dizziness, irritability, nausea, sleep difficulties, and tinnitus and auditory problems. Health complaints . Many people have had no choice but to leave their homes as a result of illness from smart meter radiation.

Smart Meters can also cause Dirty Electricity.

Accumulative long-term exposure to microwave radiation can lead to depression, chronic illnesses, Alzheimer’s, neurological illnesses and cancers. Children, the elderly and those with already compromised health are most at risk of developing acute or long-term illnesses from exposure to smart meters.

Smart Meters have also been known to interfere with heart pacemakers and other  implanted medical devices.

Even Smart Meter industry leaders have admitted privately that they are aware of health effects and other problems associated with them  “There really are people who feel pain, etc., related to EMF,..” See this.

Not Green

Trees, plants, animals and birds can all be affected by smart meter radiation See here.

Smart Meters are not environmentally friendly. Consider the huge environmental cost to produce millions of new meters and to dispose of analogue meters, as well as installing a new smart grid  – an unnecessary expense as existing analogue meters work perfectly well.

Smart meters will be on all the time, collecting information and sending out pulsed radiation.  Extra electricity will be required to power the communications masts needed for the Smart Grid, and computer Data Centres to collect and store all this information are huge consumers of energy.

Do not believe the spin about Smart Meters helping to combat climate change.  Smart Meters are not environmentally friendly and are not carbon neutral. They will not actually reduce your electricity or gas consumption, only tell you how much you are using – which is possible to do with existing analogue meters.

Not Safe

Many smart meters have exploded and caused fires. See this, this and this.

Not Secure

Smart meters and the Smart Grid are vulnerable to hacking and remote interference. Your information can be used for criminal purposes, ie checking your daily activities and whether you are at home or not.

“Then there is the vexed question of data protection and privacy. Experts claim that a trained eye would be able to look at the data coming from your smart meter and tell what time you get up in the morning and go to bed at night. They would be able to tell when you have a shower, when you are on holidays, when you are at home and when you are not. That’s the type of information that would be manna from heaven for hackers, for burglars, for advertisers who want to call to your door or call you on the phone, and to law enforcement who may want to track your movements” Will GoodbodyRTE – Smart Meters could Spark Problems if Mishandled – September 2017.

No Savings

Many consumers have reported higher bills since smart meters were installed.

Also the cost of production and installation will be passed on to you. See this and this.

No Say

Utility companies can switch your power off when they want to, without your consent.

No Privacy

Utilities companies will collect personal  data about you, your family  and your living habits. This information can be sold to third-party marketing companies, invading your privacy, and making a profit. The Roll of Utility Meters in Mass Surveillance

Software company admits smart meter spying for profit: see this.

Cartoon Courtesy of Infomatic Films  http://infomaticfilms.com/download.htm

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from ESI

Joaquin Guzman, also known as “El Chapo,” will likely spend the rest of his life in isolation inside a “supermax” prison in Colorado, after his sentencing on July 17 for drug trafficking, money laundering, and other crimes. No U.S. bankers will be in the adjoining cells, although without vast assistance from the latter, the Mexico-based drug cartels could never have achieved the size and profitability they have. 

Despite the banks reaping huge profits as financiers and accomplices of the cartels, the number of bank executives criminally prosecuted for laundering hundreds of billions of dollars in illegal drug money is exactly zero. Take the case of the late Wachovia bank.

Wachovia bank went under in the great financial collapse of 2008 and was taken over — with the aid of billions in government funding — by Wells Fargo.

In March 2010, Wachovia agreed in a settlement to having laundered at least $378 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) in drug money from 2004 to 2007 for Mexican drug cartels, the same gangs that have wreaked murder and misery on much of Mexico, leaving tens of thousands dead.

In return for its invaluable services to the drug kingpins, Wachovia raked off a sizable share of the loot in fees for its services.

Did the Wachovia CEO and his lieutenants know where this river of dirty money was coming from? To ask the question is to answer it. They surely didn’t think it was from the meager earnings of small farmers or maquiladora workers, or even from legal industries. There could have been only one source for an amount equal to one-third of Mexico’s gross domestic product.

 A June 30, 2010, a Bloomberg News article quoted lead federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Sloman:

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations.”

Martin Woods, director of Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit, stated: “It’s the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy” in Mexico.  Woods told Bloomberg that he quit the bank after Wachovia executives repeatedly ignored his documentation of drug dealers laundering funds through the bank.

The cartels used some of the laundered money to buy large planes for the transport of hundreds of millions of dollars of cocaine, according to the Bloomberg report.  Such purchases to expand their operations would have been impossible without the funds being funneled through a “legitimate” bank. Some of the funds for the planes were laundered through Bank of America, which has long been notorious for the practice.

In U.S. federal court, conviction of possession of crack cocaine with a street value of $378 results in a minimum sentence of 5-10 years in prison. The majority of the more than two million jailed people in the U.S.  are there for small-time drug offenses.

So, the Wachovia executives, who admitted their guilt, must have gotten really long sentences for doing $378 billion in admitted drug business, right?  Not exactly.

Not one Wachovia executive spent a night or even an hour in jail. The federal prosecutors, after making strong-sounding speeches for public relations purposes, settled the case by fining Wachovia (by then Wells Fargo) $110 million (with an “m”) and penalizing them an additional $50 million. That amounts to about 4/100ths of 1 percent of the $378 billion of drug money that Wachovia laundered, and a mere 2 percent of Wells Fargo’s profits for 2010.

The federal prosecutors agreed to suspend their criminal “investigation” for one year. In April 2011, they announced that it was all over and there would be no further “punishment” for Wachovia or Wells Fargo.

Of course it’s not just one bank that engaged in drug money laundering — all the big U.S. and European banks have. All have engaged in fraudulent and deceptive schemes. In the decade after the 2008 crisis, the largest thirteen U.S. and European banks were fined a total of $230 billion, led by Bank of America with $76 billion in fines.

The U.S. Treasury Department arranged the settlements, and again, none of the repeat criminals in three-piece suits were criminally charged by the Justice Department, under either the Obama or Trump administrations. And while $230 billion is a lot of money, it is small fraction of the banks’ overall profits over those ten years, and in many cases only part of the fines is actually paid to the government.

What the total immunity of the finance CEOs reaffirms once again is that while the government rules over the people, the banks rule over the government.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Liberation News.

Featured image: Guzman arrives at Long Island MacArthur Airport, January 2017. Public domain image.

After spending a week in New York for high level meetings at the UN, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made his way on July 20th to South and Latin America to attend a few conferences and meetings in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. 

His first stop was the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Caracas, Venezuela on July 20-21st. The theme was “Promotion and Consolidation of Peace through Respect for International Law”. Zarif said “Since the United States is implementing interventionist policies in the American continent, it is necessary that a group of independent states show resistance in the face of such policies”.

One of the main topics of discussion was crippling sanctions imposed by the United States on countries such as Iran, Venezuela, and Nicaragua among others.

Iran’s Foreign Minister and Venezuela’s legitimate president Nicolas Maduro also spoke about ways to boost bilateral relations between their two countries, among other interests.

While at the NAM conference in Caracas, Zarif also noted that the US is in fact engaging in “economic terrorism” through these economic sanctions. Zarif read the definition of terrorism to the attendees, “the unlawful use of violence or intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political gains”. Then Zarif urged NAM members to discontinue using the term sanctions and use the correct terminology, of “economic terrorism”.

Zarif said,

“I suggest that all of us deprive the unlawful, basically lawless US government from using a terminology that has lawful connotation, this is economic terrorism pure and simple, we need to repeat it again and again. And we do not negotiate with terrorists”.

In a tweet on July 22nd Zarif reiterated,

“Today at NAM meeting on sanctions I said, “Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation against civilians in pursuit of political aims.” The US is thus engaged in #economic terrorism. It cannot be called “sanctions”, as they’re not designed to enforce laws. They in fact violate law.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov during the same conference said

“The US methods towards Venezuela are similar to other places where the US wants regime changes. By one hand, the US holds Venezuela by the throat, introducing immense measure of coercive measures, and then these limitations impede the country’s normal development.”

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the largest grouping of states after the United Nations. It is comprised of 120 developing world members that are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.

After leaving the NAM conference Zarif headed to Nicaragua. In a tweet on July 23rd, Zarif wrote

“In Managua, I offered congratulations to the people and government of #Nicaragua on the 40th anniversary of their revolution. Iran and Nicaragua have both resisted US’ #EconomicTerrorism and aggressive interventions. We’ve agreed on wide-ranging cooperation between our two nations.”

After leaving Nicaragua, Zarif traveled to Bolivia where he attended a session at Gabriel Rene Moreno University. While there Zarif told students that they are the future, and to believe in their power, and that they do not need to follow the powerful. He also said that they can lead with self-confidence and innovative ideas. Zarif mentioned this in a tweet on July 23rd.

In a tweet on July 23rd Zarif said that he was honored to meet with Bolivian President Evo Morales in Santa Cruz that morning. He also said that he had a pleasant and fruitful working lunch with Bolivia’s Foreign Minister. He said that he was going to another university and sign a MoU on technological cooperation: “Iran’s gift of nano-tech lab will arrive soon”.

What’s evident in these meetings is that increased economic and political collaboration with fellow nations in South and Latin America that have suffered at the hands of the United States is high on Iran’s foreign policy agenda. While in Nicaragua, Zarif noted that many nations are trying to rely less on the US dollar in international transactions.

This year in particular, we are seeing a geopolitical split which has formed two camps, those who continue to support using the US dollar as a universal financial tool and those who are using alternative financial means for trade.

Some of the factors that have brought this on, include increased economic sanctions and trade conflicts. The top five states that are ditching the dollar are: China, India, Turkey, Iran, Russia. This article illustrates the reasons behind each of these nation’s decision to move away from relying heavily on the US dollar.

In an article titled “A World without Dollars? Are We Approaching the End of America’s Financial Order?” Timothy Alexander Guzman addresses this topic in further detail. Guzman wrote “For Washington, the U.S. dollar is leverage, a financial weapon to dominate the world economy, to impose its foreign policy agendas and to secure a steady flow of natural resources over sovereign countries who use the currency.”

Nations that have faced the wrath of US imperialism through regime change, and economic terrorism through sanctions, need to come together and face this behemoth together. Strength in numbers is the only way to bring about serious change on the world political stage. A coordinated strong shift away from the US dollar will hit the “greatest” nation in the world where it hurts the most.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: The Rabbit Hole.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. For media inquiries please email [email protected]

Featured image is from the author

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Iran Increases Economic and Political Collaboration with Latin American Allies
  • Tags:

Over six months since Trump regime designated puppet/usurper in waiting Guaido illegally declared himself interim Venezuelan president, a flagrant constitutional and international law breach, White House hardliners continue pursuing their failed coup plot.

On Saturday in Caracas, Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly President/Bolivarian Vice President Diosdado Cabello told Latin American progressive/anti-imperial participants at the Sao Paulo Forum that he believes “US marines (will) likely…enter” Venezuela illegally and aggressively, adding:

“Their problem will be getting out of Venezuela.” Over five million of its people are voluntarily armed and mobilized in citizen assemblies to defend the revolution from internal and external efforts to undermine it, Maduro earlier explained.

Venezuela’s military stands with him against US regime change tactics, committed to protect the republic and its social democracy, its forces trained and able to wage protracted guerrilla war against Yankee imperialism.

Hosting the Forum’s 25th meeting, Cabello stressed that

“(t)he Latin American left has to increase its power so that the people have more power in each country,” adding:

“Leaders have to include the demands of the people to generate the changes that the territories need.”

“From this crisis and from this war, we are going to get stronger because we are united…We are not willing to give up. Whatever happens, we will continue to raise the flags of socialism.”

Trump’s war on Venezuela by other means continues, supported by right-wing European, Latin American, and other regimes — opposed by over two-thirds of world community nations.

On Saturday, Venezuela’s military reported that US spy planes continue provocatively entering the nation’s air space illegally — “insult(ing) our country.”

After Venezuelan warplanes were scrambled to intercept the latest intruder, the plane “changed course and left the area,” according to the country’s military.

Bolivarian Republic Communications and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez explained that Pentagon aircraft illegally and provocatively breached Venezuelan airspace 78 times this year.

Hawkish/anti-Bolivarian USCENTCOM commander Admiral Craig Faller said he’s prepared to intervene in Venezuela militarily if ordered.

The USS Comfort hospital ship (likely with combat marines on board) is “very close” to the country’s territorial waters, adding:

The vessel is ready to assist an illegitimate US supported puppet regime he called “legitimate” if installed in Venezuela. “We could make that happen,” he claimed.’

The USS Comfort’s deployment has nothing to do with helping Venezuelans in need, everything to do with aiding the Trump regime’s war on the country’s social democracy, harming the rights and welfare of its people.

Faller falsely accused Maduro of high crimes against Venezuela’s economy and people — committed by Trump regime hardliners, breaching the UN Charter and other international law.

If they order aggression against the country, Faller will likely command the operation.

Separately on Friday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled against Guaido’s attempt to reenter the Bolivarian Republic into the 1948 Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).

From 2004 to 2013, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Mexico withdrew from the so-called Rio Pact.

Venezuelan High Court justices called Guaido’s move “an assault on the rule of law and the power of the Venezuelan people,” nullifying it because “it lacked legality.”

The Washington-based/US-controlled Organization of American States (OAS) overseas TIAR.

Justice Juan Jose Mendoza slammed the OAS and so-called Lima Group of fascist-run Latin American nations for complicity with the Trump regime’s coup attempt against sovereign Venezuela, adding:

“Any intent to apply the TIAR within Venezuela will be considered an act hostile to national sovereignty and an aggression against the territory, the people, peace and international law.”

Venezuela’s military also rejected Guaido’s attempt to reenter Venezuela into TIAR — Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino tweeting the following:

“This Treaty is precisely an instrument of domination and interventionism that goes against the independence and sovereignty of the people, a product of the already obsolete imperialist doctrines that have done so much damage to Latin America.”

Like NATO’s collective defense Article 5 in similar language, TIAR states that “an armed attack by any State against an American State will be considered an attack against all American States.”

Reentering the Bolivarian Republic into TIAR at a time that the Trump regime is using Guaido, other internal fifth column elements, and fascist Latin American countries against Venezuelan social democracy could facilitate possible US-led military intervention against its sovereign independence.

Months earlier, Venezuelan Law Professor Pablo Aure tweeted: TIAR “will be the instrument that allows the entry of a foreign military coalition” against the Bolivarian Republic.

Venezuelan High Court justices stressed that President Maduro alone is constitutionally authorized to enter into or pull out of international agreements.

US imperial tool Guaido has no constitutional authority for anything. Guilty of treason for betraying his nation and people, an eventual day of reckoning awaits him.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

Featured image is from New Eastern Outlook

As I write, Boris Johnson has just been confirmed as Britain’s new Prime Minister. A highly controversial and divisive figure, there are millions who are shocked at his offensive sexist, racist, Islamophobic, and homophobic views, amongst others.

It is hardly surprising that Donald Trump is an ardent fan.

Yesterday, Trump tweeted:

Newt Gingrich even calls Boris the “Donald Trump of Britain”:

No wonder the Republicans are excited, as Boris Johnson is one of their own. He is cut from the same cloth.

It is ironic that today Europe is experiencing record temperatures with neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands announcing record maximum temperatures.

On his way to Buckingham Palace, Johnson’s motorcade was blocked by climate protesters from Greenpeace.

One of those who attempted to give Johnson a 134-point “climate emergency” manifesto was John Sauven, the head of Greenpeace UK. Sauven said, “Boris Johnson must get to grips with the climate emergency or be remembered as the prime minister who jeopardised our children’s future.”

But Johnson will jeopardize our children’s future, because he is a climate denier.

As Desmog UK pointed out yesterday, “for the increasing number of people loudly calling for climate action,” Johnson’s views on climate make “uncomfortable reading.”

DeSmog points out that the UK’s new Prime Minister has “rejected climate science a number of times over the years,” including in December 2015,  praising the work of notorious climate science denier Piers Corbyn, who he called a “great physicist and meteorologist.”

During the Conservative leadership campaign, he received a £25,000 donation from Terence Mordaunt, who is a director of the leading climate denier organization in the UK, the Global Warming Policy Forum. Last year, Johnson went on an all-expenses-paid trip to a dinner at the Koch-funded think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

Next year, the UK will host the most important climate talks since Paris and at the moment, Johnson looks set to be at the political helm. It is a disaster for the climate, as Johnson will do nothing.

In contrast, as the Overseas Development Insitute points out, there are really simple things Johnson could do tomorrow.

In a letter to Johnson, the ODI states: “First, the UK must end tax breaks and fiscal concessions for oil and gas production, including in the North Sea.” It must also stop subsidizing fossil fuels abroad too.

Indeed, new research published by the ODI yesterday revlealed that the UK government provided support for energy in developing countries with a total value of £7.8 bn from 2010 to 2017. Of that a whopping 60 percent still went to fossil fuels.

Dr Sarah Wykes, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) Lead Climate Analyst, said:

“The UK wants to be a leader on climate change, so it’s shocking that UK aid money is still being spent on fossil fuels overseas.”

She continued:

“At a time when we are reducing the UK’s own reliance on fossil fuels, why are we spending billions of pounds saddling poorer nations with outdated technologies that will cause more climate damage?”

Boris could stop this funding tomorrow. But he won’t. He could act immediately to stop climate change, but he won’t. He will bluster and bluster and bluster his way through our climate emergency.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

On July 23, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for Mexican authorities to protect investigative reporter Lydia Cacho Ribeiro.

Two days prior, unidentified thugs broke into the journalist’s home, killed her two dogs, stole a laptop, audio recorder, three cameras, memory cards, and ten hard drives “containing information about sexual abuse cases the reporter was investigating,” according to the CPJ and Cacho. The attackers also damaged personal belongings including photographs. 

It’s remarkable Cacho is still alive. In 1999, she was beaten and raped in retaliation for her investigations. Despite this, she continued to report on sex rings and the trafficking and murder of Mexican girls. 

In 2005, she published Los Demonios de Edén (“The Demons of Eden”), a book exposing a child sex trafficking ring involving politicians, government officials, and businessmen. Cacho was arrested and charged with defamation following the book’s publication. 

CPJ reported at the time:

The underlying defamation case is based on a complaint filed by Puebla-based clothes manufacturer José Camel Nacif Borge, the Mexican press said. In a book released in May titled, “The Demons of Eden,” Cacho described the activities of a child prostitution ring that she said operated with the complicity of local police and politicians. She alleged that Nacif had ties to an accused pedophile, which the businessman said damaged his reputation.

Borge is one of the wealthiest men in Mexico. Known as “El Rey de la Mezclilla” (the Denim King), he amassed his wealth by manufacturing clothing for  Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Chaps, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, and American Eagle Outfitters. An investigation by the Game Commission of Nevada looked into Borge’s links to drug smuggling and gun-running. 

Threats against Cacho’s life were serious enough to warrant protection by the federal police. In 2006, a transcript of telephone conversations between Borge and Mario Marín, then governor of the state of Puebla, was published by the Mexico City daily La Jornada. Borge and Marín discussed having Cacho arrested and thrown in jail where she would be beaten and abused. 

In November 2009 the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that Chaco’s arrest on defamation charges did not violate her rights as a journalist. The ruling was made despite the fact at least 30 public officials, including Marín, had conspired to harass her, according to The New York Times. 

The Demons of Eden exposed a pedophile ring in Cancún. In the book, Cacho accuses 

a businessman, Jean Succar Kuri, of luring poor, under-age girls to his home and coercing them into having sex with him and his friends. She also mentioned a businessman from Puebla, Kamel Nacif, and said he was paying for Mr. Succar Kuri’s defense. (Mr. Succar Kuri, who is awaiting trial on child pornography and child molestation charges, maintains his innocence.)

Succar Kuri was convicted of child pornography and child sexual abuse and sentenced to 112 years in prison on August 31, 2011. 

The Epstein case exposed how the elite engages in pedophilia without serious consequence. Investigative journalists such as Conchita Sarnoff and Vicky Ward have yet to confront the sort of treatment suffered by Lydia Cacho and others for revealing details on the Epstein case, including the involvement of former president Bill Clinton. However, this may change if names other than celebrities and a former president and Israeli politician are made public. 

CBS46 reporter Ben Swann discovered what happens when you look too closely at the possibility the elite operate pedo sex rings. 

Although he made it clear “there is no proof here that there is a child sex ring being operated out of a D.C. pizza parlor,” he was suspended from the news network and his social media accounts and web page disappeared from the internet. 

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author

Many books discuss the transition of U.S. interest in Palestine/Israel mostly through the lens of Truman’s Christian Zionism, either as a part of the political history involving Truman or a more generalized history of U.S. geopolitics in the post war era.  Irene Genzier’s recent work, Dying to Forget – Oil, Power, Palestine, & the Foundations of U.S. policy in the Middle East, presents a much more highly focused, well researched, more detailed account of the short period of time from 1945 to 1949.  While Truman’s role is included, the main perspective of the book is on other players, mainly involved within the government at different levels.

What is revealed is a government at odds with itself, with different parties presenting different ideas on how to approach the situation, with the Israeli declaration of its independence (the Provisional Government of Israel, PGI) creating a new but not entirely unexpected scenario.

Several themes reach out from this detailed and well documented history.

Oil and communism

Of prime importance are the transitions made in general of U.S. policy.  Originally the general idea was to say no to partition.  Two factors influenced this perspective: oil and communism. The U.S. feared that by supporting partition – in essence supporting Israel – would create a backlash from it Arab oil producing partners.  In its fear of communism, the U.S. saw the possibility of losing out on both sides: that the Arab countries would turn towards the Soviet Union if it accepted partition; and if it did not, then Israel would strengthen its ties with the Soviet Union (in recognition of the possible Jewish immigration from the USSR).

With the UN partition plan announced, the U.S. transited to a position of creating a truce (as fighting was already occurring between Palestinians and Jews) accompanied with a UN trusteeship with U.S. and Britain as the main sponsors.  At this time the U.S. also recognized that Jewish forces, the Haganah, Irgun, and the Stern gang, were prepared and intending to use force in order to establish their new state.

Under these circumstances [Partition/trusteeship],

“a new threat of Jewish attempts by violence to establish a de facto state in Palestine” would replace the previous threat of Arab aggression….it was also becoming clear that the structure of the future Jewish state was virtually in operation.

….the Jewish Agency would proceed with its intention “to go steadily ahead with the Jewish separate state by force of arms.”

The Israeli declaration of independence (May 14, 1948) realized the truth of both the threat of violence and the establishment of a provisional state.  At this point the two concerns about oil and communism rose to preeminence.  The NSA, the Pentagon, the joint Chiefs of Staff, advocated for a pro Israel alignment, partly as the Arab states were seen as weak and desiring U.S. economic support by way of oil sales.

The U.S. military recognized Israel’s value in terms of oil and defense and exclusion of the USSR from the Middle East….”It would be desirable for her [Israel’s] orientation toward the United States be fostered and for her military capability to be such as to make her  useful as an ally in the event of war with our probable enemy. “

Israel’s narrative – foundational myths

Throughout the work two Israeli myths are exposed, that of the supposed advantage of the Arab forces over the weak Jewish forces, and of the refugees “fleeing” under orders of Arab command.

There are numerous citations and iterations of U.S. awareness that the Jewish forces were superior in both numbers and equipment. Israeli historian Avi Shlaim says, “at each stage of the war, the IDF significantly outnumbered all the Arab forces arrayed against it, and by the final stage of the war its superiority ration was nearly two to one.

”U.S. State Department employee Robert McClintock said, in light of the Jewish military superiority which now obtains in Palestine, the Jewish Agency will prefer to …rely on its armed strength to defend the state from Arab counterattack.”

The second foundational myth of Arabs fleeing is also thoroughly rebutted.  Even from the beginnings of Zionism, Theodor Herzl and and Ze’ev Jabotinsky recognized the demographic threat of the Palestinian population for the future Jewish state.  David Ben Gurion in 1930 indicated, “few, if any, of the Arabs would uproot themselves voluntarily; the compulsory provision would have to be put into effect.”  That “compulsory provision” began before the declaration of independence and continued well after.  After the partition plan, Ben Gurion advocated “the destruction of the place or the expulsion of the residents along with the seizure of the place.”

The  Plan Dalet began before the actual ‘war’.  It was “built on the foundations of the transfer policy and the rejection of repatriation.”  Deir Yessin is the single most cited incident of a Jewish massacre, and as reported by Jacques de Reynier of the IRC, “there had been 400 people in the village about fifty of them had escaped, and were still alive.  All the rest had been deliberately massacred in cold blood.”  Deir Yassin “became the single most important factor to the 1948 exodus.”

But is was not the only one,  Israeli historian Benny Morris recognized “the liquidation of Arab villages involved as many as 100 massacres in 1948-49 alone.”  Ethnic cleansing was paramount in the war.  Another Israeli historian, Amnon Kapeliuk, drawing from Israeli sources, says,

“The two main reasons for the Palestinian exodus of 1948 were expulsion by the Israeli army and fear of massacre.”

Israeli officials also recognized the need for ethnic cleansing.  Yigal Allon, the Palmach officer in charge of Eastern Galilee, indicated “we regard it as imperative to cleans [of Arabs] the interior of the Galilee and create Jewish territorial continuity in the whole of Upper Galilee.”  Israeli soldiers, under the orders of Yitzhak Rabin, were an element of the partial ethnic cleansing that rid Israel of the majority of its Arab inhabitants” in Lydda and Ramle, with “between 50 000and 60 000 driven from their homes…forced to walk eastward…shedding their possessions along the way.”

In the end over 400 villages had been destroyed, erased from the landscape, while an estimated 700 000 to over 900 000 Palestinians became refugees.

Prophecy

The refugee crisis combined with the concerns over Arab oil control was not some dark horse that emerged after the final truce was settled.  U.S. officials recognized that the refugee problem, the “cancerous Palestine situation” was “a threat to U.S. security and global peace.”

The refugees became a major concern of U.S. officials, who feared the pressure of caring for such a large number of refugees would lead to the destabilization and radicalization of the MiddleEast.

The U.S. also recognized that “if it occurred [Jewish expansion beyond the partition lines] it would lead to thousands of Palestinian refugees and a Jewish State dependent on U.S. financial, political, and military support.” The CIA in 1947 indicated “The Zionists will continue to wage a strong propaganda campaign in the U.S…and the U.S. government may, consequently, be forced into actions which will further complicate and embitter relations with the entire Arab world.”

It is not true prophecy, but obviously there was some forethought given to how the future might unfold – and indeed did unfold, and continues to unfold.  Fear of communism gave way to fear of terrorism, and oil control strengthened to become petrodollar control, and, as currently evident, a renewed fear of “Russian/Iranian/Chinese aggression” needing to be contained.

Dying to Forget is a tightly written, well referenced examination of U.S. policy changes during the short period just before and after the Israeli declaration of independence.  Along the way it destroys two foundational myths of the Israeli state, and highlights U.S. indecision and prevarication concerning its positions on Soviet influence and the role of its oil concessions in the region.

While this book is an intense research read, it is accessible as a strong place to start if one is interested in the general area of Middle East geopolitics.  While it helps to have a basic outline of historical facts concerning World War II and its Middle East aftermath, it is clearly enough written to serve as an introduction to the current problems as centered on Israeli interests and the cancerous situation now existing in the region.  It is a powerful, well written review of a critical period of Palestinian history.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Jim Miles is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on Dying to Forget – Oil, Power, Palestine, & the Foundations of U.S. Policy in the Middle East
  • Tags: , ,

As Foreign Secretary, Johnson licensed bombs two days after Saudi forces destroyed a food factory killing 14 people. And a day before a school was bombed, killing 10 children. Two months later, Saudi forces bombed a funeral killing 140 people. In the weeks that followed, Johnson signed another arms transfers for bombs.

***

Boris Johnson’s ascension to Prime Minister has dominated the news agenda. For the last few days our screens have shown images of him addressing parliament and meeting the Queen. With Brexit on the horizon, there has been endless talk about the different vision and approach he will take to the UK’s role on the world stage.

Unfortunately, one area where we are very unlikely to see any meaningful change is in Johnson’s approach to relations with the brutal Saudi Arabian regime and Government’s role in championing  the arms industry.

Johnson may have caused the Saudi dictatorship some embarrassment in 2016, when he accused it of ‘puppeteering‘ and ‘twisting and abusing religion’ but he soon made up for it with a toadying visit Riyadh and all the arms sales it could want.

During his tenure as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson approved hundreds of millions of pounds worth of arms sales to the brutal Saudi regime. These weapons have played a central role in creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Government statistics show that during his tenure as Foreign Secretary, Johnson approved £1.2 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This included £270 million worth of ML10 licences (aircraft etc) and £880 million worth of ML4 licences (bombs and missiles etc).

Arms export licence applications are formally the decision of the Secretary of State for International Trade. However, following the start of the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen this was changed for arms exports to the Saudi-led coalition for use in the war (see page 12 of this Foreign Affairs Select Committee Report).

Fourth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee Session 2016–17

A recent FoI showed that in August 2016, Johnson signed off on the transfer of bombs only two days after Saudi forces had destroyed a food factory killing 14 people.

The following day the Saudi Air Force bombed a school killing 10 children. Two months later, Saudi forces bombed a funeral killing 140 people. In the weeks that followed, Johnson signed another arms transfer for bombs.

Of course there is nothing unique about the approach that Johnson took. He was following a long-standing and institutional policy of supporting the Saudi dictatorship at all costs. His successor at the Foreign Office, and leadership rival, Jeremy Hunt followed the exact same policies, and it is likely that his new appointment, Gavin Williamson, will as well.

After leaving office, Johnson remained close to Saudi Royalty, enjoying £14,000 worth of hospitality in Riyadh shortly after his resignation.

Unfortunately, despite the atrocities that have been inflicted on Yemen, there is no reason to believe that the Government will change policy off its own accord. All of the signs suggest that as PM he will continue to offer his uncritical political and military support to some of the most abusive dictatorships in the world.

Last month the Court of Appeal found that it was ‘irrational and therefore unlawful’ for the Government to have allowed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi forces for use in Yemen without making at least some assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law.

The Government was ordered not to approve any new licences and to retake the decisions on extant licences in a lawful manner.

Unfortunately, even if the review process sees all extant licences revoked it cannot undo the terrible damage that has already been inflicted. Nor can it guarantee that a Johnson-led Government wouldn’t do the exact thing if faced with similar circumstances in the future. It is not just these arms sales that need to be stopped, it is the political mindset that allowed them in the first place.

Johnson may present himself as a jovial joker, but the arms sales he supported have had devastating consequences. It is time for new thinking from Downing Street, not the same failed policies that have done so much damage and cost so many lives.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Andrew Smith is a spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Featured image is from Felton Davis | CC BY 2.0

Boris Johnson Vows to Ditch EU Rules on GM Crops

July 29th, 2019 by Éanna Kelly

In his first day in office, new prime minister controversially returns his brother to former brief as science and universities minister, while pledging to liberate UK bioscience and develop UK satnav rival to Galileo

***

Boris Johnson pledged to abandon European environmental rules that have curtailed development of genetically modified (GM) crop plants and farm animals in the UK, in his first speech as prime minister on Wednesday.

“Let’s liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules. Let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world,” Johnson said.

Johnson also reiterated a pledge to build a rival satellite navigation system to the EU’s Galileo network and promised to change tax rules to benefit investments in capital and research.

On a busy first day in office, Brexiter Johnson also returned his Remainer brother Jo to his former brief as universities and science minister, replacing Chris Skidmore, who had served in the role since 2018.

Jo Johnson resigned from the post in January 2018, after opposing plans to cut tuition fees for universities, and subsequently resigned from government entirely in protest at a Brexit deal he said required choosing between “vassalage and chaos”.

At the time, Jo Johnson advocated a second referendum and said a no-deal Brexit “will inflict untold damage on our nation.”

He now faces strong criticism for signing up to his brother’s policy to leave on October 31, deal or no deal.

“There was a moment in time when you actually said what you thought and suddenly became a leading light of reason for this country,” Mike Galsworthy, the head of activist group Scientists for EU, tweeted on Thursday. “Now you have become a sell-out in one fell swoop.”

Fresh approach welcomed

Plant breeders were more positive about Boris Johnson’s commitment to shake up restrictive rules around GM.

Only one type of GM crop seed, Monsanto’s 810 maize, has commercial approval in Europe, in line with the EU’s traditionally cautious approach to biotechnology in food and agriculture. Any GM imports are subject to strict safety assessments imposed on a case-by-case basis.

US farming groups portray such restrictions as trade barriers and are demanding they be dropped in initial discussions with the UK over a post-Brexit trade deal.

In January, the US National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association said a new deal could create a trans-Atlantic market “that can act as a bastion against the EU’s precautionary advances and its ongoing aggressive attempts to spread its influence around the globe”.

Potential gains from genetic technologies include a reduction in agrochemicals use, which would reduce the carbon footprint, said Dale Sanders, director of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, which specialises in crop genetics.

However, other researchers warned that while the UK may be leaving the EU, it should not rip up rules around GM safety assessments.

“Any technology for intervention in a system as complex as a plant or an animal must be proportionately sophisticated. Even with the latest genome modification techniques like CRISPR, it takes a great deal of work to make sure that only the desired changes have been induced,” said John Dupre, professor in philosophy of science at the University of Exeter.

As prime minister, Boris Johnson’s scope for ditching EU rules will depend on the outcome of Brexit negotiations with Brussels.

According to the withdrawal agreement drafted between the previous prime minister and the EU – the Brexit deal Johnson says is dead in its current form – EU requirements on GM would remain in UK law.

Any GM product would continue to require prior authorisation, and this would only be granted if there were no safety concerns.

And in a no-deal scenario, UK businesses would still only be able to export GM products to mainland Europe with EU marketing approval.

“You need a lawyer, not a molecular geneticist, to judge how [all of this] may be implemented,” said Huw Jones, professor of translational genomics for plant breeding at Aberystwyth University. “However, plant breeding in all its guises will clearly form part of sustainable future farming.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Thanks to a ‘broken regulatory process,’ the Federal Aviation Administration has been passing off routine oversight tasks to manufacturers for years. In the case of the beleagured 737 Max, however, the plane was so advanced that the regulator “handed nearly complete control to Boeing,” which was able to sign off on its own safety certificates, according to the New York Times

The lack of regulatory oversight meant that the FAA had no clue how Boeing’s automated anti-stall system, known as MCAS, worked. In fact, “regulators had never independently assessed the risks of the dangerous software” when they issued a 2017 approval for the plane.

The company performed its own assessments of the system, which were not stress-tested by the regulator. Turnover at the agency left two relatively inexperienced engineers overseeing Boeing’s early work on the system.

The F.A.A. eventually handed over responsibility for approval of MCAS to the manufacturer. After that, Boeing didn’t have to share the details of the system with the two agency engineers. They weren’t aware of its intricacies, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. –New York Times

During the late stages of the Max’s development, Boeing engineers decided to increase the plane’s reliance on MCAS to fly smoothly.  Unfortunately, a new version of the system relied on a single sensor which could malfunction and push the plane into a nosedive.

Boeing never submitted a formal assessment of the MCAS system following its upgrade – which wasn’t required by FAA rules. An agency official claims that an engineering test pilot was familiar with the changes, however his job was to evaluate its effect on how the plane flew – not on its safety.

The jet was eventually certified as safe to fly, and the FAA required very little pilot training until the second Max crashed less than five months after the first.

The plane remains grounded as regulators await a fix from Boeing. If the ban persists much longer, Boeing said this past week that it could be forced to halt production.

The F.A.A. and Boeing have defended the plane’s certification, saying they followed proper procedures and adhered to the highest standards. –New York Times

“The agency’s certification processes are well-established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs,” said the FAA in a Friday statement undoubtedly written by lawyers. “The 737 Max certification program involved 110,000 hours of work on the part of F.A.A. personnel, including flying or supporting 297 test flights.”

Boeing, meanwhile, said that “the F.A.A.’s rigor and regulatory leadership has driven ever-increasing levels of safety over the decades,” adding that “the 737 Max met the F.A.A.’s stringent standards and requirements as it was certified through the F.A.A.’s processes.”

Chris Hart, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to get to the bottom of these regulatory shortcuts.

“Did MCAS get the attention it needed? That’s one of the things we’re looking at,” said Hart, who now leads a multiagency task force investigating the Max’s approval. “As it evolved from a less robust system to a more powerful system, were the certifiers aware of the changes?”

Rushed Orders

In an effort to compete with its rival Airbus, Boeing was “racing to finish” the 737, according to the report. And when it came to cutting through red tape to speed that process along, the FAA handing the regulatory reigns over to Boeing was crucial. 

At crucial moments in the Max’s development, the agency operated in the background, mainly monitoring Boeing’s progress and checking paperwork. The nation’s largest aerospace manufacturer, Boeing was treated as a client, with F.A.A. officials making decisions based on the company’s deadlines and budget.

It has long been a cozy relationship. Top agency officials have shuffled between the government and the industry.

During the Max certification, senior leaders at the F.A.A. sometimes overruled their own staff members’ recommendations after Boeing pushed back. For safety reasons, many agency engineers wanted Boeing to redesign a pair of cables, part of a major system unrelated to MCAS. The company resisted, and F.A.A. managers took Boeing’s side, according to internal agency documents. –New York Times

The FAA, meanwhile, was ‘surprised’ to learn after last October’s Lion Air crash that they didn’t have a complete analysis of the MCAS system – including the fact that the system could “aggressively push down the nose of the plane and trigger repeatedly, making it difficult to regain control of the aircraft, as it did on the doomed Lion Air flight.”

And what did the agency do after the October incident? Instead of grounding the plane, they issued a notice reminding pilots of existing emergency procedures (which made no mention of how the MCAS system works – after an FAA manager told agency engineers to remove the only mention of the system).

Read the rest of the Times report here.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Featured image is from Zero Hedge

  • Posted in English
  • Comments Off on FAA Let Boeing Sign Its Own Safety Certifications on the 737 Max
  • Tags: , ,

Mueller Should Have Subpoenaed Trump?

July 29th, 2019 by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

During Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s televised appearances before the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, he testified to facts that amount to lawbreaking by Donald Trump. Contrary to Trump’s mantra of “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION,” Mueller affirmed that his 448-page report did not exonerate the president or reach a conclusion about whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.

The Mueller team found “substantial evidence” of the elements required to convict Trump of obstruction of justice. But, constrained by a Justice Department rule forbidding the indictment of a sitting president, Mueller’s report did not conclude whether Trump actually committed the crime.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Mueller, “And your investigation actually found, quote, ‘multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations.’ Is that correct?” Mueller answered, “Correct.”

Those acts, according to the Mueller report, include “efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

When Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell inquired whether the president’s efforts were largely unsuccessful because the people around him refused to obey his orders, Mueller replied, “Correct.” But Mueller also confirmed that an attempt to obstruct justice can be a crime even if it doesn’t succeed.

Mueller’s Failure to Subpoena Trump

During his 22-month investigation, Mueller did not interview Trump and did not subpoena him to compel his attendance. Mueller told Nadler that Trump refused a request to be interviewed even though the special counsel and his team told the president’s lawyer that “an interview with the president is vital to our investigation” and “it is in the interest of the presidency and the public for an interview to take place.”

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney asked Mueller why he didn’t subpoena Trump. Mueller said they negotiated with Trump for a little more than a year. As they neared the end of the investigation with little success in getting the interview, they declined to use their subpoena power because Trump would fight it and they wanted to expedite the end of the investigation.

Maloney queried, “Did you have sufficient evidence of the president’s intent to obstruct justice, and is that why you didn’t do the interview?” Mueller responded, “We had to make a balanced decision in terms of how much evidence we had, compared to the length of time.” That entails balancing “how much evidence you have, does it satisfy the last element against how much time are you willing to spend in the courts litigating the interview with the president.”

When he said “the last element,” Mueller was referring to the intent to obstruct, which is the third element necessary to prove obstruction of justice. The crime of obstruction of justice requires (1) an obstructive act (2) connected with an official proceeding (3) with an intent to obstruct.

Mueller’s failure to subpoena Trump was a mistake. John Dean, White House counsel during the Watergate scandal, criticized Mueller because he didn’t vigorously pursue Trump’s testimony. Appearing on CNN, Dean speculated that Mueller wouldn’t have gone after the Nixon tapes because it would take too long. It was the court order to produce those tapes that led to Nixon’s resignation.

There is no substitute for an in-person confrontation to determine whether a person is being truthful. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying to a grand jury.

An interrogation of Trump by the special counsel could have made a significant difference in the findings of the report. Mueller admitted that Trump’s written responses to the special counsel’s questions were “certainly not as useful as the interview would be.” When asked whether Trump “wasn’t always being truthful” when he provided written answers, under oath, to the special counsel’s questions, Mueller replied “I would say generally.”

Mueller should have subpoenaed Trump a couple of months after the investigation began.

While the Democrats on the committees queried Mueller about the contents of his report, the Republicans did not question the facts. They focused on the origins of the Russia investigation and tried to discredit Mueller’s methodology. GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner asked Mueller why he spent 182 pages analyzing obstruction of justice if he didn’t make a traditional prosecutorial decision. Mueller replied that you don’t know where it will go until you investigate and the Justice Department regulation says you can continue an investigation even if you don’t indict.

Mueller testified that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion” to help Trump win the election. He said, “We did not address ‘collusion,’ which is not a legal term. Rather, we focused on whether the evidence was sufficient to charge any member of the campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy. It was not.” Mueller said his team believes their investigation “was hampered by Trump campaign officials’ use of encryption communications” and “the deletion of electronic messages.”

The Mueller report, however, did not determine whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” the report says. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

Mueller Passes the Baton to Congress

Mueller’s report “determined that there was a sufficient factual and legal basis to further investigate potential obstruction-of-justice issues involving the President.”

Although he wouldn’t use the word “impeachment” during his testimony, Mueller alluded to it. His report says,

“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

The power of impeachment lies with the House of Representatives and the process begins in the House Judiciary Committee. If a majority of the House votes to impeach, the case moves to the Senate for trial. Two-thirds of the senators must agree to convict and remove the president from office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thus far resisted launching impeachment proceedings, opting instead to continue the process of holding committee hearings on Trump’s culpability. Pelosi, however, told The New York Times that the Mueller hearing “is a crossing of a threshold in terms of the public awareness of what happened and how it conforms to the law — or not.” She added, “I do believe that what we saw today was a very strong manifestation — in fact, some would even say indictment — of this administration’s code of silence and their cover-up.”

The House Judiciary Committee is pursuing enforcement of its subpoena of former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify publicly at a hearing. Shortly after Trump learned that Mueller was investigating him for criminal activity, the president ordered McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn refused and threatened to resign. Trump backed down. McGahn is a key witness to obstruction of justice by Trump.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told The New York Times, “The case for impeachment based on the Mueller investigation has been now publicly crystallized and articulated.” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal concurs. “What became clear today was that this is a groundbreaking moment,” she said. “This now has allowed us to break open what was stuck in the Mueller report.”

The number of House members who favor impeachment has climbed above 90 since the Mueller hearings.

As the congressional hearings continue to unfold, the public will become increasingly aware of Trump’s criminal responsibility and popular support for impeachment will grow.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was first published on September 12, 2018

Since the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria of September 2017, the world has heard of Puerto Rico’s economic, social and environmental crisis. This crisis is not new nor even due primarily to the hurricanes, but is the culmination of the savage colonialist domination and capitalist exploitation that the United States of America has imposed ever since its 1898 military invasion of Puerto Rico.

On October 27, 2018, activists and witnesses from Puerto Rico (including eyewitnesses to US crimes), the Puerto Rican diaspora, the US and the world, met in New York City to take part in a colonial crimes tribunal. The tribunal will present a people’s investigation of the role of the US government during its 120-year colonial rule, and particularly since the hurricane’s devastation put Puerto Rico in the world’s media. They will be joined by renowned Nicaraguan legal scholar and attorney Dr. Augusto Zamora, who will serve as prosecutor, and a distinguished jury of US and international human rights leaders.

Call to Action

What is happening now in Puerto Rico is the culmination of a process of national destruction that began with the US military invasion of Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898.

Almost immediately the US commenced destruction of Puerto Rico’s autonomous economy, suppression of historical knowledge, and repression of the independence movement. US colonial rule imposed a parasitic economic model that blocked self-sufficient development. The US imposed its own citizenship, which provided cheap labor as well as cannon fodder for its bloody imperialist wars. Puerto Rico’s economic dismantling continues today, with the US imposition of an illegitimate and unpayable public debt, and since 2016 the Fiscal Control Board (called “La Junta” in Puerto Rico) created by Congress’ “Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act” (PROMESA). The Junta’s members represent colonial government and corporate interests who ran up the debt and sold out to Wall Street. This is like putting wolves in charge of sheep.

The world has heard of Puerto Rico’s crisis as a result of the September 2017 hurricanes, which demonstrated the power of nature and the failure of capitalism to prioritize the most basic of needs: our planet’s health. But the aftermath of the hurricanes also demonstrated the criminal cruelty with which the US has responded to devastation by speeding up its plans to restructure Puerto Rico for corporate and imperialist profit. Nearly a year after the hurricanes, Puerto Rico has not made real progress in its recovery. On the contrary, “real progress” refers to imposing the most terrible austerity policies, from privatization of basic services such as electricity and education, to cost of living increases while reducing benefits, pensions, and workplace security. The Puerto Rican people are being suffocated by a neoliberal economic policy, combined with a colonial political status that sequesters its sovereignty in Washington. On the one hand, the US does not provide the necessary disaster recovery assistance, while on the other hand, prohibits the entry of solidarity aid from neighboring countries.

This is the colonial, neoliberal vision of a thoroughly privatized Puerto Rico; vision that the current policies regarding the reforms of education and other essential services contemplate: A country being bought up and “resettled” by vulture capitalists and other foreign billionaires, with the sole purpose of increasing their income free of all restrictions, free of taxes or oversight, who are served by impoverished, poorly educated, politically repressed youth. With a diminished population since thousands of Boricuas have been forced to migrate in order to survive. This vision contemplates a Puerto Rico without Puerto Ricans – echoing the martyred independence leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos’ warning that the US “wanted the cage without the bird.” Ethnic cleansing and population substitution are recognized internationally as war crimes.

It is for the Puerto Rican movement – for decolonization, for independence and sovereignty, for social and economic justice – to give a strong response to this assault. As part of this effort, our international tribunal proposal aims to expose the policies and their consequences, for which the US has an enormous responsibility.

The Puerto Rico Tribunal AdHoc Committee is convening this important colonial crimes tribunal in order to expose the true nature of the U.S. war against Puerto Rico. This call for action is not made solely for the sake of posterity, but also seeks to strengthen the worldwide struggle for self-determination today. What is happening in Puerto Rico is different only in scale and duration from US-perpetrated destruction elsewhere.

Only a people’s campaign in solidarity with the Puerto Rican struggle for decolonization, self-determination, and justice can begin to end the continued U.S. presence and domination not only of Puerto Rico, but in the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere. We hope that your organization can endorse this very important organizing effort and can join with us on October 27th in New York City.

Click here to know how to endorse the organization.

When Michelle Alexander, a distinguished African-American scholar, wrote her now famous column in The New York Times, ‘Time to Break the Silence on Palestine’,her sympathetic words toward Palestinians received huge attention. Her article became a “watershed moment … with arguably even more impact on mainstream U.S. opinion than Israel’s onslaught last spring against Gaza’s Great March of Return, which left more than 150 Palestinians dead and another 5800 wounded by live ammunition.”

In commenting about the astonishing impact of Alexander’s column, James North expressed puzzlement. After all, it wasn’t the first time that The New York Times had published a piece favorable to Palestinians. At the top of a list of tentative explanations for the furor generated by Alexander’s column, North listed the following:

First, Alexander reveals an open secret — that many mainstream American progressives have been afraid to speak out against Israel because they fear losing funding for their other important causes, or they fear being smeared by the pro-Israel forces.

I believe North’s explanation above, the “open secret” he refers to, is behind so-called progressive African-American Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Mass.) discordant vote on HRes246 — i.e., her vote in favor of the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel) House resolution that was passed overwhelmingly.

Her motivation is an “open secret”. Some are saying she caved in to pressure from pro-Israel groups such as J-Street. Others speculate that Pressley was set up by such groups, from the very beginning, in order to unseat a progressive democrat in Massachusetts who had been willing to be approached by his constituents on the issue of Palestine.

All the indications for the rumors above are there. Until she was prevented from doing so by an injury, Pressley was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser dinner celebrating immigrants organized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Zionist, anti-Palestinian organization. Unlike her predecessor longtime Rep. Michael Capuano, who was approachable on Palestine, she has reportedly consistently stonewalled all attempts to reach her by Palestinian solidarity activists in her state and surrounded herself by advisers associated with Zionist groups.

That Ayanna Pressley is a supposedly progressive, young rising black politician makes her vote on HRes246 and her positioning on the issue of Palestine especially shocking and disconcerting.

In an interview on “CBS This Morning” regarding Trump’s attacks against Pressley and the three other freshmen lawmakers targeted by racist Trump tweets (Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), Pressley described the so-called “Squad” as coming together on the issue of immigration. She made the point that,

Each of us represent very different districts and each of us bring our unique and our authentic voice to this body. We govern in our own way. What we are four women who have an alignment of values, shared policy priorities. There is no insurgency here. …What we are four lawmakers who happened to land in the same place on the same issue [immigration] time and time again.

I am compelled to ask, though, just how “authentic” is Ayanna Pressley’s voice both as a black woman and as a progressive? Her policy adviser Lynese Wallace describes Pressley’s “guiding principle” as the belief that “the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power driving and informing policymaking.”

Why then do her values, principles and pain land in a dark place on the issue of the Palestinian struggle for freedom — land far apart from her three other colleagues and in sync with “Conservative Democrat” Dan Lipinski (a white male), who represents Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, and who also voted yes to condemning the BDS movement in the House, despite the fact that his district has the highest concentration of Palestinians in the state? Such a “landing” doesn’t “just happen”.

Commenting on Pressley’s vote against BDS, Eoin Higgins (Common Dreams) says:

If Pressley doesn’t get Palestine on this most basic and limited point she’s made her position clear. This is an Israel lobby resolution targeting a nonviolent resistance movement.

When will Pressley realize that “the pain” she is feeling is the identical pain Palestinians feel?

I invite her to read Hamid Dabashi’s article in AL Jazeera Black Lives Matter and Palestine: A historic alliance: A new generation of civil rights uprising has now picked up where the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s left off.

In the Al Jazeera article, Dabashi writes:

Progressive forces now gathered around this noble movement for the dignity of black lives and beyond are in fact late in joining the rest of the civilised world denouncing the systemic violence at the core of the Israeli settler colony.

Ayanna Pressley is better advised not to tarry any longer in joining the civilized world and her truly progressive colleagues in the “Squad” on the issue of Palestinian liberation.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Tanker-War: Everything Is Ideological

July 28th, 2019 by Padraig McGrath

Ukraine’s most senior military prosecutor, Anatoly Matios, announced yesterday that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) had seized the Russian tanker Nika Spirit at the port of Izmail and detained the crew, including at least 7 Russian nationals. Matios alleged that the tanker was involved in the Kerch Strait incident in November, during which Ukrainian naval vessels were seized by the Russian Coastguard for attempting to illegally enter Russian territorial waters, and 24 Ukrainian sailors arrested. Anatoly Matios has claimed that the Russian tanker was seized yesterday as material evidence in the ongoing Ukrainian investigation into the Kerch Strait incident.

In response to this news, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that

“If this amounts to taking Russians hostage, it will qualify as a blatant violation of international law and the consequences will not be long in coming.”

The Ukrainian government, and numerous western governments, had also claimed that the seizure of the Ukrainian naval vessels in November constituted a violation of international law.

These events quickly follow the seizure of the Panamanian-registered, Iranian-owned Grace 1 supertanker off Gibraltar by the Royal Marines on July 4th, and the seizure of the Swedish-owned, British-registered tanker Stena Impero  by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on July 19th. Yesterday Iranian president Hassan Rouhani suggested a swap. The British legal argument for the seizure of the Iranian tanker on July 4th was that it was involved in smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.

We understand perfectly well, of course, that the appeals to “international law” by the various sides are strictly pro forma. While the relevance and meaningfulness of the concept of “international law” has steadily eroded since 2001, we might still argue that this new tanker-war makes that process of the decay of international law more explicit than it has been at any point since 2001. The US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the deliberate destruction of Libya, have all created humanitarian catastrophes and created a historical precedent of reckless military unilateralism, the normalization of wars of aggression. However, in even those appalling events, the demise of international law was only implicit. Once widespread piracy re-appears, we can say that the concept of “international law” is well and truly dead.

As Europe’s first de facto failed state, as the European equivalent of Somalia, it is entirely to be expected that Ukraine is one of the first countries to graduate to the new maritime culture of neo-piracy.

However, this very point concerning the demise of international law in itself makes the various sides’ appeals to the concept of “international law” all the more necessary. Once it is admitted that “international law” is now an irrelevant, meaningless concept, it opens up an even more appalling vista. De facto, we are in the preliminary stages of a third world war. Everybody knows this. This is precisely why all sides are still engaging in pro forma appeals to “international law” – the logic of this deliberate obtuseness is that, if we admit that international law is dead, then it accelerates the escalation of the impending global conflict. Everybody is in denial, but that denial is a matter of pragmatic necessity. Once the denial-phase ends, the third world war begins in earnest. Everybody is trying to delay that for as long as possible. Denial is an existential imperative in this case.

This existential imperative to deny the obvious closely mirrors the economic forces primarily driving the process of gradual escalation. The overly financialized western liberal economic model is unsustainable. It has always required subsidization by the natural resources of other nations, and always will.

We may accuse western governments of hypocrisy regarding their self-serving and selective appeals to “international law” (which was only ever a euphemism for quasi-legalized western hegemony), but the point should not be overlooked that this hypocrisy is also seen by the Occident’s political elites as an existential imperative, not only because it is partially devised to maximally delay the outbreak of a third world war, but also because the western world’s entire social and economic structure cannot possibly survive without this hypocrisy.

When your entire social order is premised on denying the obvious, civilizational self-negation sooner rather than later is inevitable, but you still don’t have a choice. Therefore, critiques of western hypocrisy do not go deep enough – the point is overlooked that, from the Occidental point of view, this hypocrisy is actually an existential imperative. Western liberal hypocrisy is an absolutely logical manifestation of neo-imperial capitalism’s ideological superstructure, made inevitable by the realities of its economic base.

There is no point in trying to postulate an “objective” ethical position. All ethical truths are temporary, because their purpose is ultimately to sustain a particular social order, and all social orders ultimately self-negate. That is to say, all truths are temporary because all truths are ultimately expedient. Lenin’s observation that realty itself is inherently ideological (somewhat adapted from Hegel) is highly applicable here.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Featured image is a screenshot from Youtube via Citizen Truth