Mass Voter Disenfranchisement in US Elections

June 9th, 2016 by Tom Carter

In recent weeks, numerous reports have emerged of arbitrary mass disqualifications, tampering with registration data, confusing and arcane voting procedures, and other efforts at voter suppression in the course of the primary elections and in advance of the US general election.

According to preliminary surveys, many voters were prevented from voting because they did not understand voting regulations, particularly early registration deadlines. Others were the subject of deliberate purges of voter rolls, the switching of their party affiliation without their knowledge or consent, their omission from the rolls at their polling places even though they were properly registered, or otherwise being turned away from polling places.

The brazen and provocative character of these voter suppression efforts is linked to the reactionary 2013 Supreme Court ruling gutting the enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a major reform of the period of civil rights struggles. The Voting Rights Act struck down arbitrary voting restrictions at the state and local level, a pillar of the Jim Crow system of segregation in the South.

Since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling, the Democrats have not introduced a single bill onto the floor of either house of the federal legislature that would mitigate the impact of the decision. Emboldened by this climate, state legislatures have unleashed a barrage of anti-democratic measures, such as “voter ID” laws, which discriminate against working class, poor, elderly and minority voters.

Voter ID laws are already in effect in 33 of 50 states. This year, new restrictions on voting will be operative in 17 states for the first time in a presidential election: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering and other forms of electoral corruption are increasingly accepted as a normal part of the American political system. Both capitalist parties have engaged in redistricting efforts that have twisted America’s election districts into absurd shapes that have no historical or geographical justification.

New anti-democratic provisions are often passed in election years by state legislatures in violation of federal law with the knowledge that by the time a judge can determine that the provisions are illegal, the elections will have already taken place and the desired result obtained.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund estimates that new voter ID laws will effectively disenfranchise 875,000 Latino voters this year.

The state of Missouri passed a voter ID law in May that is expected to disenfranchise 220,000 mainly poor and working class voters, although it is not expected to go into effect before this year’s November election. Wisconsin’s new law is expected to disenfranchise 300,000 voters.

Ohio election officials have purged tens of thousands of citizens from poor areas from the voter rolls on the spurious grounds that they have not “voted enough” in the past. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to halt the purges. If voters who have been purged do not re-register by a certain deadline they may turn up at polling stations in November only to discover that they are not able to vote.

“These people are perfectly eligible to vote,” Ohio ACLU Legal Director Freda Levenson told reporters. “They’ve lived in the same house since they’ve been registered, they haven’t moved, they haven’t been convicted of a felony, and they didn’t cancel their registration.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Georgia has also filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent similar purges of the voter rolls. The lawsuit alleges that purges of voters who have not “voted enough” violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

On Tuesday, just as the polls were opening in six states, including California, multiple TV and media networks announced that Hillary Clinton had secured the Democratic nomination in a transparent effort to discourage supporters of the self-described “socialist” Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders from voting. The report was purportedly based on a survey of anonymous superdelegates; neither Clinton nor Sanders have secured the 2,383 pledged delegates necessary to secure the nomination without superdelegates.

A lawsuit filed by Election Justice USA, a voter advocacy group, alleges that 125,000 Democratic voters were dropped from the rolls and prevented from voting in the New York primary elections. More than 200 voters have joined the lawsuit. The group has also alleged that voters who requested provisional or affidavit ballots were falsely told that “there was no such thing.”

The attorney general’s office in New York received more than 1,000 complaints from voters, a rise from 150 reports in the 2012 elections. At least one voter reported a forged signature on a voter registration sheet.

In California, the most populous state, reports are emerging of many voters receiving the wrong ballots, with registered Democrats receiving Republican ballots or non-party ballots. Voters who received non-party ballots may have cast them without realizing that doing so would preclude them from voting in the presidential primary for either party. A vote cast with the wrong ballot cannot be corrected.

The “non-party” ballot contains blank pages where the presidential candidates would otherwise be listed, with only an arrow and the words “GO TO NEXT PAGE.” A voter receiving the ballot could read the 23-page document, packed with dense legalese, from beginning to end without seeing the names “Clinton,” “Sanders” or “Trump.”

Under existing California regulations, a person who is designated as a “no party preference” (NPP) voter in California would have had to re-register as a Democrat or Republican by May 23 in order to vote for the presidential candidates of either party. There are approximately 2.2 million such voters in California. This means that a Bernie Sanders supporter who was listed on the rolls as an independent or “NPP” voter, and who did not know about the May 23 deadline, could have been handed a ballot on June 7 that did not have the name of his candidate on it.

Sanders campaigners were compelled to issue emergency instructions such as the following to their supporters:

“California, DO NOT WRITE IN Bernie Sanders on your ballot. If you do not see Bernie Sanders’ name printed on your ballot, then you have the wrong ballot and you need to exchange it for the proper ballot. Do NOT send it back, go exchange it for A Dem party CROSSOVER ballot.”

The Los Angeles Times reported “chaos” at polling places on June 7 in an article headlined “Broken machines, incomplete voter rolls leave some wondering whether their ballots will count.” The article describes many polling places with broken or jammed machines, missing voter rolls, purged lists of party members, and poll workers who themselves did not understand the applicable rules and regulations.

Many voters were immediately handed a pink provisional ballot because the standard voting infrastructure had broken down. Others protested the provisional ballots because they are not counted immediately, take longer to read and fill out, and are frequently rejected as improperly marked–at a rate of about 10 to 15 percent.

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Important personalities in alternative news, or the counter-narrative, have spilled a lot of ink recently on the imminent possibility of nuclear war between the US and Russia.

Before considering the issue more closely, it is essential to clarify certain basic principles on which we should all agree as a premise for this analysis.

(a) Russia will never allow any country to make it a victim of such a situation as a world war, condemning its citizens to suffer tens of millions of deaths.

(b) The United States does not have the slightest idea of what it means to lose millions of fellow citizens in an armed conflict. Except for Pearl Harbour, Americans have never fought or seen the devastation of a domestic war against a peer competitor.

(c) Since the collapse of the USSR, NATO has lost its reason for existence. If it has continued to fuel the spending spree of the American military-industrial complex, it is because it has managed to artfully conjure various bogeymen (intercontinental missiles, imaginary enemies, “rogue states”) over the past 25 years, thanks to the connivance of the corrupt mainstream media lies and deception.

(d) There is no missile shield that is capable of neutralizing with 100% accuracy a nuclear attack (of any kind, that is first strike, second strike, pre-emptive or response/retaliation). The S-400, Aegis, S-500, THAAD, and Patriot air-defense systems can all be saturated with a torrent of decoys to safeguard the nuclear-armed missiles.

Having agreed on the above, then what is the most likely scenario?

It is important not to underestimate the obvious and fundamental importance that humanity places on the strategic balance arising from so-called “MAD” (Mutually Assured Destruction). According to our trusted analysts, it is precisely the disturbance of this delicate balance that could lead to the real threat of war between NATO and Russia.

The question to ask is the following. Is it really possible to decisively alter MAD? The short answer is, no. As already explained in point (d), there is no chance now, and probably will not be in the future, where a state can hope to carry out a nuclear attack without receiving a retaliatory response from a nuclear-armed opponent.

 Relax – it ain’t gonna happen. 

Logic then leads us to ask a simple question: What purpose does this chatter over the supposed nullification of MAD, thanks to the missile shield in Europe that gives an alleged advantage to Washington, serve? The Kremlin has vehemently denounced this NATO effort, well aware of the psychological pressure that this move is meant to place on them. And this is the only tangible benefit NATO could derive from this, this psychological pressure of an existential threat hanging over the Russians. It is yet another infamous attempt by Washington to play with fire without getting burned.

Observing Moscow’s response to this continued aggression is a key issue in understanding the balance of power between superpowers. Although seeking to upset the strategic balance of MAD is misguided, NATO’s intention nevertheless remains to invalidate MAD, casting aside humanity’s most important safety guarantee.

A strong response from Moscow has been forthcoming, and this is what has developed over the last few months in particular: Iskander missiles in Europe; Russian ships in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas, all armed with Kalibr missiles that can carry nuclear warheads; radars able to identify and track objects from a distance of thousands of miles; and the S-300/400/500 missile defense systems. It seems clear that Moscow has manifold possibilities before it as well as the actual ability to actively disabuse any misguided attempt to alter the balance enshrined in MAD.

Having established the principle that those launching a nuclear attack should expect a symmetrical response, one wonders for what reason NATO & Co would want to trigger such a cataclysm. Maybe to save the dollar from the true economic crisis that threatens to annihilate American hegemony? What wealth prospects could the oligarchs of Wall Street and the City of London ever have once their main partners (Europeans, Americans, Russians, Chinese) are reduced to ashes? Who would obtain an advantage from a lethal exchange of nuclear weapons between NATO and Russia? Let’s be honest: nobody. All those who claim to the contrary have not examined the issue seriously enough.

I would like to bring to the attention of the kind reader some issues that we often take for granted. The real industrial profit for the military industrial complex, working hand in glove with Wall Street and London, stems from the preparation for war: spending on research, development, manufacture, stretching costs, inflating them and extorting as much money as possible from the government and the American taxpayers. This is the basic guideline for American military spending doctrine. Do you think that Raytheon and Boeing would derive higher profits from a nuclear exchange with tens of millions of deaths? Unlikely, least of all because those who finance them (common citizens paying taxes) would themselves be reduced to ashes.

If a nuclear exchange is not convenient for anyone, and if MAD cannot be altered willy-nilly, then why does NATO continue to fan the flames, raising the scenario of thermonuclear conflict?

Three main reasons:

1. To intimidate Russia with the ridiculous hope that Moscow will step back from the global arena in which it has been playing the leading role in the last months and years.

2. The constant state of pre-alert as a harbinger of war for billion-dollar contracts for the US arms industry.

3. Placing troops and weapons in distant countries is a way to project power and at the same time make those nations feel important within the Atlantic alliance (with the added benefit that these governments will provide lucrative contracts for the US defense industry)

The second point is the essence of this analysis and continues in the wake of the previous questions. How does Moscow perceive  NATO’s attitude, and what is a possible answer to this continuous aggression?

The answer for Russia is simple: tilt the table and take advantage from the deterioration of international relations. Sanctions are imposed? Implement countermeasures that, while painful, are necessary and in the long term will be positive and decisive. Import and export products looking towards the east. Encourage local production with reduced imports. And, especially, decrease the importing and exporting of goods using the US dollar.

A military doctrine does not differ much from the following basic principle: develop weapons and tactics to counter the existential dangers effectively. It is obvious that when Putin recently pointed out the danger that Romania will face, having decided to accept elements of the missile shield in their country, he was addressing the issue pointed out above in (a), which carries a lot of historical weight and significance.

There are of course two other issues to be addressed:

Many analysts note how the West has a really hard time understanding the Russian mindset in a scenario of existential crisis. They are not wrong to say so, but the conclusion they reach is excessive in my view, especially when they claim that a Russian preemptive strike on the European missile shield is possible in order to prevent (what seems to them) an inevitable US nuclear first strike.

The problem with this thesis is that according to the information at our disposal, there simply are not enough elements to this scenario to make it probable or even possible, especially in relation to a Russian preemptive strike. We observe Russia’s behavior in Libya, Ukraine and now Syria and are left in little doubt that Moscow’s involvement in international affairs has increased exponentially in recent years. But it is always carried out in a proportionate way, accompanied by unceasing diplomatic overtures to Europe and the United States. The carrot and stick always feature prominently in Putin’s global vision of the foreign affairs for the Russian Federation.

Realistically, Moscow is well aware that the military build-up on its borders is not a significant threat and nor is the missile shield. Does this mean that Moscow, or even Beijing, are happy to be surrounded by the Atlantic Alliance’s bases? Of course not. But this does not automatically mean that the time has come for a final showdown of nuclear Armageddon.

Major analysts of Russians think-tanks have reached the same conclusions as set out above, namely, nuclear war is not convenient for anybody, especially NATO. The negative effects of such a conflict would not be limited to Russia. We must remember that the best deterrent, along with MAD, is a nuclear arsenal that is intact, functional, and is ready and deadly. This is exactly the thinking that the Russians have employed over the last 10 years concerning their nuclear stockpile, thanks in large part to NATO’s aggressiveness.

In short, the beating of the war drums by the neo conservative and neoliberals in relation to Russia is only another way to increase military spending and fatten their own pockets (the same scam is being used when addressing IS, Al Nusra Front/Al-Qaeda as a national threat). Moscow, however, has an excellent opportunity to pursue a military doctrine based on modernization, preparation for conventional and non confrontation with NATO, increasing its zones of influence in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the Caucasus, the Baltic and Black Seas the, Pacific Ocean, the North Pole and elsewhere.

Of course the danger of an accidental confrontation leading to nuclear escalation is a possibility that hangs over humanity, but even in this case, it seems difficult if not impossible to imagine that there would not be a phone call between Moscow and Washington to clarify an accidental situation and thereby prevent tens of millions of deaths.

The engine of the conflicts are money and power. A nuclear war would lead to the exact opposite: poverty, famine and a general absence (for the remnant of the world’s population) of any form of power. A nuclear war would mean the end of civilization as we know it, would mark the end of the financial profits, war, industry, energy, banking and other sectors of the global economy. It would mean the end of all hegemonies, regional or global.

The next time you read alarming news that speaks of an imminent Armageddon, take a deep breath and ask yourself who would benefit from such an eventuality? Now you know the answer.

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Sanders Edges Toward Clinton Endorsement

June 9th, 2016 by Stephen Lendman

Sanders claiming he intends continuing his nomination quest to the July Democrat convention is meaningless hyperbole. Expect no floor fight. Concession followed by endorsing Clinton could come any time.

The same scenario repeats each electoral cycle. Party faithful rally behind presidential nominees, losing aspirants among them.

Sanders/Clinton rapprochement is virtually certain. His phony rationale will likely be to keep Trump from succeeding Obama. He’ll choose his time and place to make a formal announcement – maybe in days.

Thursday he’ll meet with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) in Washington. According to Politico, he’ll “likely (begin) the party’s internal healing process.”

His sole Democrat Senate supporter, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, said “I do believe that we now have our nominee. Our nominee is (Mrs.) Clinton.”

Don’t expect Sanders to disagree. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D. MI) said “there’s no way in the world he wants to in any way do anything that would help Donald Trump become president.”

The Wall Street Journal highlighted pressure building on Sanders “to rally behind presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton” – unity steps taken “with prominent…Sanders supporters conceding he had lost the race, and saying they would rally behind…Clinton.”

The Washington Post expects “enthusiastic” party unity backing her, Sanders sure to come on board, much like how Clinton conceded to Obama in 2008.

He has no chance to persuade unelected party insider super-delegates to switch allegiance from Clinton to him. He’ll likely be offered and willingly accept a high-level position in her administration, maybe as running mate.

The New York Times cited unnamed Obama aides, saying he “intends to nudge Mr. Sanders toward embracing (Clinton), stressing (he) can further his policy agenda while unifying the party to defeat Mr. Trump in November.”

The president will formally endorse her in days, followed by actively campaigning on her behalf.

Sanders notoriously caves when pushed. Endorsing Clinton will strip the mask off his hollow populist rhetoric, rendering it empty, meaningless.

He’s a longtime Democrat party loyalist, an independent socialist in name only, a phony progressive, a self-serving dirty business as usual politician.

Endorsing Clinton will betray millions of loyal supporters, showing he backs what he campaigned against, making him complicit in her high crimes. World peace hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” 

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html 

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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A Wall Street por trás do golpe de Estado no Brasil

June 9th, 2016 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

O controle sobre a política monetária e a reforma macroeconómica era o objectivo final do Golpe de Estado. As nomeações chave do ponto de vista da Wall Street são o Banco Central, o qual domina a política monetária bem como as transacções de divisas estrangeiras, o Ministério das Finanças e o Banco do Brasil.

Por conta da Wall Street e do “Consenso de Washington”, o “governo” interino pós-golpe de Michel Temer nomeou um antigo presidente-executivo da Wall Street (com cidadania estado-unidense) para a chefia do Ministério das Finanças.

Henrique de Campos Meirelles, antigo presidente do Fleet Boston Financial’s Global Banking (1999-2002) e antigo governador do Banco Central sob a presidência Lula foi nomeado ministro das Finanças em 12 de Maio.

Antecedentes históricos 

A divisa do Brasil sob o Real está fortemente dolarizada. Operações de dívida interna são conducentes à ascensão da dívida externa. A intenção da Wall Street é manter o Brasil num colete de força monetário.

Desde o governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a Wall Street tem exercido controle sobre nomeações económicas chave incluindo o Ministério das Finanças, o Banco do Brasil e o Banco Central. Sob os governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso e Luís Ignácio da Silva (Lula), as nomeações do governador do Banco Central eram aprovadas pela Wall Street.

Nomeações de Cardoso, Lula e Temer no interesse da Wall Street 

Ilan Goldfein.Arminio Fraga: Presidente do Banco Central (4/Março/1999 – 1/Janeiro/2003),
administrador de hedge fund e associado de George Soros, Quantum Fund, Nova York, cidadania dual Brasil-EUA.

Henrique de Campos Meirelles: Presidente do Banco Central (1/Janeiro/2003 – 1/Janeiro/2011). Cidadania dual Brasil-EUA. Presidente e Executivo-Chefe de Operações do Banco de Boston (1996-99) e presidente do FleetBoston Financial’s Global Banking (1999-2004). Em 2004 o FleetBoston fundiu-se com o Bank of America. Antes da fusão com o Bank of America o FleetBoston era o sétimo maior banco dos EUA. O Bank of America é actualmente o segundo maior banco dos EUA.

Depois de ter sido afastado por Dilma em 2010, Meirelles retornou. Ele foi nomeado ministro das Finanças pelo “presidente interino” Michel Temer.

Ilan Goldfajn , economista chefe do Itaú, o maior banco privado brasileiro. Goldfajn [Goldfein] foi nomeado pelo “governo” interino de Michel Temer como governador do Banco Central (16/Maio/2016). Cidadania dual Israel-Brasil.

Goldfajn trabalhara anteriormente no Banco Central sob Armínio Fraga bem como sob Henrique Meirelles. Ele tem laços pessoais estreitos com o Prof. Stanley Fischer, actualmente vice-governador do US Federal Reserve. Não é preciso dizer que a nomeação de Goldfajn foi aprovada pelo FMI, pelo Tesouro dos EUA, pela Wall Street e pela Reserva Federal dos EUA.

Armínio Fraga.Convém notar que Stanley Fischer teve anteriormente o posto de vice-administrador director do FMI e de governador do Banco Central de Israel. Tanto Fischer como Goldfajn são cidadãos israelenses, ligados ao lobby pró Israel.

Nomeado de Dilma Rousseff para o Banco Central, não aprovado pela Wall Street 

Alexandre Antônio Tombini, governador do Banco Central (2011-2016). Carreira oficial no Ministério das Finanças. Cidadania: Brasil

Antecedente histórico 

No princípio de 1999, no seguimento imediato do ataque especulativo contra a divisa nacional do Brasil (Real), o presidente do Banco Central, Professor Francisco Lopes (que fora nomeado na quarta-feira negra de 13/Janeiro/1999) foi demitido imediatamente após e substituído por Armínio Fraga, um cidadão estado-unidense e empregado de George Soros no Quantum Fund em Nova York.

“A raposa foi nomeada como guarda do galinheiro”. 

Mais concretamente, especuladores da Wall Street ficaram responsáveis pela política monetária do Brasil.

Sob o governo Lula, Henrique Campos Meirelles foi nomeado presidente do Banco Central do Brasil. Ele actuara anteriormente como presidente e CEO numa maiores instituições financeiras da Wall Street. O FleeBoston era o segundo maior credor do Brasil, após o Citigroup. Para dizer o mínimo, ele tinha um conflito de interesses. Sua nomeação foi acordada antes do acesso de Lula à presidência.

Henrique Meirelles foi um firme apoiante do controverso Plano Cavallo da Argentina na década de 1990: um “plano de estabilização” da Wall Street que infligiu destruição económica e social. A estrutura essencial do Plano Cavallo da Argentina foi replicada no Brasil sob o Plano Real, nomeadamente a imposição de uma divisa nacional dolarizada convertível (o Real). O que este esquema implica é que a dívida interna é transformada numa dívida externa denominada em dólar.

Com o acesso de Dilma à presidência, em 2011, Meirelles não foi reconduzido à presidência do Banco Central.

Soberania em política monetária 

O ministro das Finanças Meirelles, sob o “governo” interino, apoia a assim chamada “independência do Banco Central”. A aplicação deste falso conceito implica que o governo não deveria intervir em decisões do Banco Central. Mas não há restrições quanto às “Raposas da Wall Street”.

A questão da soberania em política monetária é crucial. O objectivo do golpe de Estado foi negar a soberania do Brasil na formulação da política macroeconómica.

Raposa da Wall Street 

Sob Dilma, a “tradição” de seleccionar uma “raposa da Wall Street” fora abandonada com a designação de Alexandre Antônio Tombini, um funcionário de carreira do governo, que encabeçou o Banco Central do Brasil de 2011 a Maio de 2016.

Com o acesso de Michel Temer a “presidente interino”, Henrique Campos Meirelles foi nomeado ministro das Finanças. Por sua vez, Meirelles nomeou seus próprios comparsas para chefiar o Banco Central e o Banco do Brasil. Meirelles foi descrito pelos media dos EUA como “amigo do mercado”.

Nomeações económicas de Michel Temer: 

Henrique de Campos Meirelles, ministro das Finanças,
Ilan Golfajn, Presidente do Banco Centrl do Brasil, comparsa nomeado por Meirelles
Paulo Caffarelli, Banco do Brasil, comparsa nomeado por Meirelles

Notas conclusivas 

O que está em causa através de vários mecanismos – incluindo operações de inteligência, manipulação financeira, propaganda nos media – é a desestabilização absoluta da estrutura do estado brasileiro e da economia nacional, não mencionando o empobrecimento em massa do povo brasileiro.

Os EUA não querem tratar ou negociar com um governo soberano reformista e nacionalista. O que querem é um submisso estado proxy dos EUA.

Lula foi “aceitável” porque seguia as instruções da Wall Street e do FMI.

Enquanto a agenda política prevaleceu sob Rousseff, uma agenda reformista-populista era também implementada a qual afastava-se dos fundamentos macroeconómicos patrocinados pela Wall Street durante a presidência Lula. Segundo o director administrador do FMI Heirich Koeller (2003) Lula era o “Nosso melhor presidente”:

“Sou entusiasta [da administração Lula]; mas é melhor dizer que estou profundamente impressionado pelo Presidente Lula” ( IMF Press Conference , 2003).

Sob Lula, não havia necessidade de “mudança de regime”. Luís Ignácio da Silva havia endossado o “Consenso de Washington”.

O afastamento temporário de Henrique Campos Meirelles a seguir à eleição de Dilma Rousseff foi crucial. A Wall Stree não aprovou nomeações de Dilma para o Banco Central e o Ministério das Finanças.

Se Dilma houvesse optado por manter Henrique Meirelles, mais provavelmente o golpe de Estado não teria ocorrido. 

Convém notar que o antigo presidente Lula, o qual tem um relacionamento pessoal estreito com Meirelles, havia recomendado à presidente Dilma que nomeasse Meirelles para a posição de ministro das Finanças como um meio de evitar o seu impeachment.

.

O regime proxy dos EUA em Brasília 

Um antigo presidente de uma das maiores instituições financeiras da América (e cidadão americano) controla as instituições financeiras chave do Brasil e estabelece a agenda macroeconómica e monetária para um país de mais de 200 milhões de habitações.

Isto é chamado um Golpe de Estado… pela Wall Street.

Michel Chossudovsky

01/Junho/2016

 

O original encontra-se em http://www.globalresearch.ca/wall-street-behind-brazil-coup-d-etat/5526715

Este artigo em português foi traduzido por Resistir .

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The UN’s short lived attempt at truth keeping has been brought to an abrupt end by an alleged funding Fatwa levied against them by a furious Saudi Monarchy, outraged at their inclusion in a UN blacklist for their genocidal acts of aggression against the children of Yemen.

On the 3rd June, news broke that the UN, in an unprecedented move of righteous human rights protection, blacklisted the Saudi Coalition for the killing and maiming of thousands of children in Yemen since the start of the war of aggression in March 2015.

The United Nations has blacklisted the Saudi-Arabia led coalition for killing and maiming thousands of children in Yemen.

“Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict,”

Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General, said intensive bombardment had taken a “devastating toll” on the civilian population as a civil war continues to rage between the Yemeni government, Houthi rebels, al-Qaeda and Isis. ~ Independent

However this new found courage and integrity,  an unfamiliar concept for the UN, was shortlived.  Within days, the Sauds had reacted and violently, in the way they do best.  They allegedly issued a “financial fatwa”, threatening to withdraw their considerable funding from various UN agencies and projects.

Echoes of Israeli supreme “victimhood” and the ubiquitous cry of “anti-semitism”, converted to anti-muslimism, were revealed by the Sauds as part of their campaign of extreme pressure upon the insolent UN.

The source said there was also a threat of “clerics in Riyadh meeting to issue a fatwa against the U.N., declaring it anti-Muslim, which would mean no contacts of OIC members, no relations, contributions, support, to any U.N. projects, programs.”  ~ The Daily Star

King Salman 2King Salman. Photo: Webistan

The following report in full from the Daily Star [Reuters] and a flurry of reports in mainstream media demonstrate quite clearly who holds the UN purse strings and is perfectly happy to throttle any dissenters with them if necessary.

“UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon over the blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen, with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other U.N. programs, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

The United Nations announced on Monday it had removed the coalition from a child rights blacklist – released last week – pending a joint review by the world body and the coalition of cases of child deaths and injuries during the war in Yemen.

That removal prompted angry reactions from human rights groups, which accused Ban of caving in to pressure from powerful countries. They said that Ban, currently in the final year of his second term, risked harming his legacy as U.N. secretary-general.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said Ban’s office was bombarded with calls from Gulf Arab foreign ministers, as well as ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), after the blacklisting was announced last week. One U.N. official spoke of a “full-court press” over the blacklisting.

“Bullying, threats, pressure,” another diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity about the reaction to the blacklisting, adding that it was “real blackmail.”

The source said there was also a threat of “clerics in Riyadh meeting to issue a fatwa against the U.N., declaring it anti-Muslim, which would mean no contacts of OIC members, no relations, contributions, support, to any U.N. projects, programs.”

A fatwa is a legal opinion used in Islamic Sharia law. In Saudi Arabia fatwas can only be issued by the group of top, government-appointed clerics and are sometimes commissioned by the ruling family to back up its political positions.

Responding to the allegations, Saudi U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said “we don’t use threats or intimidation,” and Riyadh was “very committed to the United Nations.”

Mouallimi denied any threat of a possible fatwa.

“That’s ridiculous, that’s outrageous,” he said, adding that the meeting of Saudi clerics was to approve and issue a statement condemning the blacklisting of the coalition.

On Monday Mouallimi described the annual U.N. report on states and armed groups that violate child rights in war as “wildly exaggerated” and demanded that it be corrected.

The main Saudi complaints were that the U.N. had not based its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and accused the world body of not consulting with the coalition. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, however, said on Tuesday that the Saudis had been consulted.

Several diplomatic sources said that the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would be hit especially hard if the blacklisting were upheld. Saudi Arabia was the fourth biggest donor to UNRWA after the United States, European Union and Britain, having supplied it nearly $100 million last year.

Coalition members Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are also key donors for UNRWA, together supplying nearly $50 million in 2015.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Dujarric said that Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh contacted Ban’s office to protest the listing of the coalition. Diplomats said Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar also complained to Ban’s office.

The Saudi-led coalition includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan.

There was no indication that the United States or any other Western Saudi allies encouraged the U.N. to reverse the blacklisting of the coalition.

The U.N. report on children and armed conflict said the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he was not aware that the United States had contacted the U.N. about the report.

“We take very seriously the protection of children in armed conflict in Yemen … and continue to urge all sides in the conflict in Yemen to protect civilians and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Toner said.

Dujarric said the removal of the coalition was pending a review of child casualties in Yemen and could be reversed, though Mouallimi said the deletion was “irreversible and unconditional.”

Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Dina Kawar described her country’s complaint to the U.N. chief.

“The report was accusing the coalition and of course we are a part of it,” she said. “So my (foreign) minister did contact the secretary-general and did voice his opinion that the report was biased and that they need to look into it.”

Bangladesh’s mission told Reuters that their foreign minister contacted Ban’s office prior to the reversal while on an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

One diplomatic source familiar with the situation said the Saudi fury was to be expected, adding that “the SG’s (secretary-general’s) reaction to the pushback was disappointing.”

Several diplomats cited the U.N. decision not to blacklist Israel last year over child casualties in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli and U.S. governments lobbied Ban hard, saying that it was clear the current U.N. chief was vulnerable to threats.

Another diplomatic source said the recent spat between the U.N. and Morocco over Ban’s use of the term “occupation” to describe Morocco’s presence in the disputed territory of Western Sahara had set a bad precedent.

He noted that when Morocco demanded the expulsion of dozens of civilian staff in the U.N. peacekeeping mission there earlier this year, the U.N. Security Council failed to rally behind Ban with a strong show of support. That, he added, set a dangerous precedent for the world body’s 193 member states.

“The message was clear,” the diplomatic source said. “If you get tough with the secretary-general, the Security Council isn’t going to come to his aid.”

It is not surprising that some will speculate that the UN’s credibility has reached the end of a long road paved with corruption and Midas gold.

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NATO has begun its Anaconda-16 war game, calling for the largest assembly of foreign forces in Poland since World War II.

On Monday, NATO launched its largest war game in decades, near the Russian border, as part of what analysts call the “summer of provocation,” a bid to reignite the Cold War intended to force Moscow to starve its domestic economy to ramp up its military to meet a growing external threat.

The war game, titled Anaconda-16, will take place in Poland ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Warsaw, where officials are expected to approve permanent troops to be stationed in the country and throughout eastern Europe, to combat what they consistently refer to ‘Russian aggression.’

The 10-day military exercise calls for the participation of some 31,000 NATO troops and thousands of military vehicles, in what will be the single largest movement of foreign forces inside of Poland since World War II, rehashing painful memories for many Russians.

In June 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to disarm the ‘Russian aggression’ talking point disseminated by neoconservative Beltway think tanks, pointing to the absurdity of Russia instigating a war against NATO member states.

“I think that only an insane person, and only in a dream, can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO,” said Putin, adding, “I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia.”

Regardless of the motives, the escalation of a NATO military presence close to Russian borders has reached a fever pitch, with the US establishing a missile-defense system in Romania and undertaking the development of a separate missile shield in neighboring Poland.

Beyond attempting to strangle Moscow’s nuclear deterrent, the Obama administration has also increased Pentagon spending in countries neighboring Russia by four-fold.

The Obama administration is not alone in its efforts to increase a rhetoric of threat. In recent months Poland has called for an influx of US troops and military aid, citing concerns that Russia may seek to invade. Germany has agreed to dispatch troops into the country for the war game, marking the first time that German soldiers have entered Polish territory since the Nazis used it as a route to invade the Soviet Union.

On Monday, Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with security analysts Daniel McAdams and John Wight to discuss the latest round of provocations on Russia’s border, and whether NATO war hawks seek more violence.

What is the purpose of the Anaconda-16 War Game?

“Well this is a series of so many NATO exercises on Russia’s borders during the summer, you can call it the summer of provocation,” said McAdams. “This is the largest of the military exercises, and is the largest movement of foreign forces within Poland since World War II, so that is very significant and it is all being sold to everyone else as a protection against Russian aggression.”

“In reality, it is NATO troops that are outside of Russia’s borders and it is absolutely a provocation, another step in trying to poke Russia in the eye,” explained the security analyst. 

Is Poland important to the United States strategically?

“Poland is massively important because of the historical enmity between the Poles and Russia along with the location,” explained John Wight. “Daniel is absolutely right in calling this the summer of provocation, what we are witnessing is the recrudescence of the policy of containment that was devised after the Second World War.”

“Containment, however, is a bit of a misnomer because it isn’t a policy of containment, it is a policy of aggression designed to surround Russia politically, economically, and ultimately militarily, in order to keep Russia’s government paranoid and to apply pressure on Russia to cause it to implode internally,” said Wight, explaining the existential threat that Moscow faces from US-led saber rattling. 

Is Russia a counter-hegemonic force against the United States?

“I wouldn’t say that Russia set out to be counter-hegemonic, but certain events have taken place,” suggested McAdams. “You know the famous Putin speech where he essentially said ‘We’ve had it, we’ve had enough, and we’ve taken it for a number of years,’ and this was right before Russia accepted Syria’s invitation to put down the jihadists.”

“I believe Russia has been pushed into this position, but if you talk about the early dates of the Obama administration, there was still this idea of resetting relations,” said McAdams. “Instead, what happened in the Obama administration, and it happens in every administration, in which the neocons swoop in and take over foreign policy.”

“You have people like Victoria Nuland who served Dick Cheney prior to President Obama. What on earth were they thinking by allowing somebody like this to have control of power, somebody who is a member of the Kagan neocon crime family, as the wife to Robert Kagan. This is how the neocons do it and they swallowed the Obama administration like a cancer that keeps growing,” stated the security analyst.

“The neoconservatives now have control of Obama’s Russian policy and I think they are pushing us towards World War III,” asserted McAdams.

 

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The U.N. has caved to pressure and removed Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of states and groups that kill children. Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed military coalition was recently listed among countries, rebel movements, and terrorist groups responsible for“grave violations” against children during armed conflict.

Originally published on June 2, the annual U.N. report documents the horrific violations committed against children in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen in 2015. The 40-page document claims that in the last year, the Saudi-led coalition has been responsible for 60% of child deaths and injuries in Yemen’s bloody conflict.

That is, until the United Nations abruptly changed its mind.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the U.N. complained to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon about the Gulf state’s inclusion on the list. Enraged Saudi senior diplomats claimed figures were wildly exaggeratedand threatened Riyadh, the Saudi capital and seat of power, would use its influence to convince other Arab governments and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to sever ties with the United Nations.

Despite the fact that the Saudis’ devastating intervention in Yemen has been well-documented — and includes the targeting of schools andhospitals — the strong-arming was successful. By Monday, Ban Ki-moon had backtracked and stated he would remove the coalition from the list, pending a review by a joint U.N and Saudi panel.

U.N. credibility has been on the line for a while, in part due to the jaw-dropping allegations that peacekeepers were involved in rape and indiscriminate killings in the Central African Republic. More recently, Anders Kompass, director of field operations at the UN human rights office in Geneva — who also blew the whistle on the sexual abuse of children — resigned from the agency, citing the organization’s failure to hold officials to account.

Responding to the backtracking, Oxfam’s Country Director in Yemen, Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, said political power and diplomatic clout have trumped the U.N.’s duty to expose those responsible for killing and maiming Yemen’s children. Claiming the retraction of the findings is a moral failure that goes against everything the U.N is meant to stand for, he added:

The killing of children in their homes, at schools and in hospitals should not be swept under the carpet. When the U.N. identifies crimes such as these in needs to act, regardless of who the perpetrators are.”

Amnesty International expressed similar outrage and accused the U.N. of blatant pandering:

This is a stark example of why the U.N. needs to stand up for human rights and its own principles — otherwise it will rapidly become part of the problem rather than the solution.”

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Following the 2016 US presidential elections, the next administration must adopt a new and realistically balanced policy toward Israel and the Palestinians to bring an end to their conflict in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace based on the Arab Peace Initiative. Throughout the primary campaign, only Senator Bernie Sanders had a position on this consuming conflict that was fresh, balanced, and welcome, especially given the increased intractability of the conflict and its dangerous implications not only for Israel and the Palestinians, but also for the US’s strategic interests in the Middle East.

The continuation of the conflict also has direct consequences on the security of the EU, precisely because it feeds into the region’s extremism from which the EU suffers greatly. In this regard, France’s initiative to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is timely and should be pursued despite the initial lack of consensus at a recent meeting in Paris between the European, American, and Arab foreign ministers on convening an international conference at the end of the year to address the conflict in earnest.

Throughout the primary campaign, Sanders articulated his position concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating that:

“I read Secretary Clinton’s speech before AIPAC, I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people… Of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region, unless the United States plays… an even-handed role in trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people … There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

What is admirable about his stand is not that it is new, but that it is articulated by a significant presidential candidate. Although he has failed to secure the nomination of the Democratic Party, he has become a major political force and the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, must seriously take into account his position on this critical issue.

Many Israeli and American Jews cynically accuse Senator Sanders of being an apologetic, self-hating Jew who is willing to bend backwards only to demonstrate that he is even-handed, when in fact he is undermining, from their perspective, Israel’s national security concerns.

On the contrary, I maintain that Sanders has taken this even-handed position precisely because he is committed to Israel’s security and well-being; he fully understands that time is against Israel, and those who really care about Israel’s future must speak out.

Sanders recognizes that Israel has no future as a Jewish, democratic, and secure state unless it recognizes the Palestinians’ right to a state of their own and “treat[s] the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.”

Many American politicians who support the policy of successive Israeli governments are, in fact, exploiting Israel for their own benefit. They want to draw not so much the votes of the Jewish community and their financial contributions, but the tens of millions of votes of the critically important evangelical constituency, whose support of Israel, for religious reasons, is unwavering.

Due to its traditional one-sided policy, the US has become the enabler of Israel’s addiction to the occupation and settlements by allowing successive Israeli governments to pursue a disastrous policy of expansionism, even though such a policy was and still is to Israel’s detriment.

As a result, the US’s involuntary acquiescence has allowed Israel to defy the international community with impunity, further strengthening Israel’s resolve against making any significant concession and rendering peace ever more elusive. Ironically, instead of protecting Israel’s national security, the US has inadvertently exposed it to constant threats and violence.

The fact that the Palestinians and the international community have failed to compel Israel to change direction does not suggest that the Israelis are winning. Israel is, in fact, only digging itself into an ever deeper hole from which it will be unable to climb unscathed.

This is what both Sanders and the French initiative want to avoid, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be wished away. Direct involvement of the US and the EU continues to be essential to changing the dynamic of the conflict, provided that careful lessons are drawn from past failures.

Given the intense hostility, hatred, and total lack of trust between Israel and the Palestinians, the resumption of direct or indirect negotiations will lead to nowhere as neither side is able to deliver the major concessions that will be required to reach an agreement without full public support.

For these reasons, the French initiative, with the backing of the next US administration, must support a process of reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians that precedes formal negotiations.

Although the June 3 meeting in Paris left the prospect of convening an international conference to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process later this year somewhat ambiguous, the participants have nevertheless agreed on a positive joint communique.

The communique calls for “fully ending the Israeli occupation” which represents an important shift from the US’s prior position, and that “a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to achieve an enduring peace, with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” It further states that the status quo is unsustainable and “actions on the ground, in particular continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity, are dangerously imperiling the prospects for a two-state solution.”

The US, in conjunction with France and the EU, should develop the mechanism that would establish a process of reconciliation to advance the prospect of peace, and to that end create a commission of reconciliation.

This commission should consist of individuals who are apolitical, greatly respected in their community for their integrity, and hold no formal position in their government. These individuals must be unbiased representatives, skilled in their profession, deeply committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinians — seeking no reward or compensation — and devoted humanitarians.

As such, the combined talents and creativity of the Commission will be unsurpassed, their power of persuasion will be formidable, and their unbiased perspective will make them a major force in advocating for the reconciliation process. In addition, a fair-minded Israeli and Palestinian, who are fully committed to peace and with a deep knowledge of the internal affairs of their respective communities, would act as general counsel to the commission.

The process of reconciliation undertaken by the commission should include scores of people-to-people interactions that would begin to mitigate some of the distrust between the two sides and pave the way for substantive negotiations 18 to 24 months down the line.

In this regard, Senator Sanders should insist that the Democratic platform reflect this new approach, and if Hillary Clinton becomes the next President, she must commit herself to pursuing such a course.

Simultaneously, as I mentioned a number of times before, the Arab Peace Initiative should provide an overall umbrella under which an Israeli-Palestinian peace (based on a two-state solution) is negotiated in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, which a majority of Israelis and Palestinians would fully support.

By raising the need for the US to play an even-handed role to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sanders has introduced a new critically important paradigm that the next administration must adopt, and in conjunction with the French initiative, they can create a much better prospect of ending the debilitating and explosive seven decades-old conflict.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.
[email protected]                             Web:www.alonben-meir.com

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Friday last week marked the death of arguably the greatest and most beloved Black athlete in history: Muhammad Ali.

No sport has exploited athletes, particularly Black athletes, quite like boxing. The very first boxers in America were African slaves. White slave owners would amuse themselves by forcing slaves to box to the death while wearing iron collars.

Even after the abolition of slavery, boxing became the first sport to be desegregated so that white boxing promoters could continue to exploit Blacks and make money from the deep racism in American society.

Eugenics was used to justified slavery, and the pseudo science of the time “proved” that Blacks were not only mentally inferior, but also physically inferior to whites.

Ironically, early white fight promoters unwittingly created a space where Black boxers could destroy white supremacist ideas of society and racial hierarchy.

The 1910 victory of Jack Johnson against “The Great White Hope” launched one of the greatest nationwide race riots in U.S. history. Out of that embarrassment, in which a Black man defeated a white man, Congress passed a law outlawing boxing films.

With a brief look at the history of boxing, it is abundantly clear that the races and cultures that have suffered the most at any given time always tend to produce the greatest champions.

Boxing has a tendency to both attract and indeed pray upon talent from underprivileged minority communities. Through boxing, one can read a direct chart of the underprivileged in America. The sport highlights the line of minorities who struggle to make it up the ladder, until they succeed, and then disappear from the boxing scene. Tellingly, the minorities that remain in the ring today are a consequence of still being on the bottom rung of America’s economic ladder.

You had the waves of underprivileged Jewish boxers, then Irish boxers, Italian-American boxers, African American boxers, and now, increasingly Hispanic boxers.

In a society that is so violently racist, the sport of boxing became an escape valve for people’s anger. Boxing symbolized a twisted manifestation of the American dream, where minorities have to, literally, fight their way out of poverty.

The modern image of Muhammad Ali, portrayed by the establishment, is one of a Black man dancing in the ring and shouting, “I am the greatest!” His image is now used to sell everything from luxury cars to soft drinks.

Despite the establishment’s whitewashing and Santaclausification of Ali’s image, history shows that the true Muhammad Ali was a staunch Black Nationalist, who was good friends with Malcolm X, and a member of the Black Power group, The Nation of Islam.

Ali was unquestionably the best boxer in history, not simply because of his achievements in the ring, but because he brought the fight against racism and war into professional sports.

Muhammad Ali grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Black freedom struggle was heating up and beginning to boil over. Born in Louisville as Cassius Clay to a house painter and domestic worker, Ali was immersed in America’s racist nature from birth.

After winning the Olympic gold medal at the age of 18, Ali was so proud of his medal that he said he wore it round his neck almost all the time. Fellow Olympian W. Rudolph remarked, “He slept with it, he went to the cafeteria with it. He never took it off.”

Days after returning from the Olympic games, Ali was eating in a restaurant with the medal swinging around his neck and he was denied service by the white restaurant owners. Ali then threw the gold medal into the Ohio river.

Ali found answers to America’s racism in friend and mentor Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. “X and Ali were one in the same,” journalist J. Tinsley wrote. “Both were young, handsome, intelligent, outspoken African American men who scared the crap out of White America during a time period when racial tension was the norm.”

With the Nation of Islam, Ali rejected the name Clay and explained how, “Cassius Clay is a name that white people gave to my slave master. Now that I’m free, that I don’t belong to anyone, that I’m not a slave anymore, I gave back their white name, and I chose a beautiful African one.”

At a time when most of the country were in favor of the Vietnam war, Ali asked, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

The typical sentence for refusing to go to war was 18 months, but an all-white jury convicted Ali and he was sentenced to 60 months, or five years, in prison for standing up to America’s most violent racism at home and abroad. Despite having been invited to the White House later in his life, the white establishment loathed Muhammad Ali and his phone was bugged by the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Perhaps Ali’s greatest legacy is his voice. Ali’s voice was uncompromising in its Blackness. His voice was just as uncompromising in its rejection of the trappings of wealth and fame, as it was in the rejection of a system that unleashed German shepherds on Black children. Ali’s voice did not seek acceptance. It simply demanded to be heard.

To begin with, the American press viewed Ali’s voice as a refreshing change to professional boxing’s un-poetic violence. His antics and doggerel enhanced newspaper columns. However, that editorial stance suddenly changed in 1964 when Ali, immediately after claiming the heavyweight title, revealed that he had become a Black Muslim. The American press then began to use Ali’s voice to portray him as a racist hothead.

The New York Times continued to print the slave name Cassius Clay for years and called him a “nauseating and childish loudmouth braggart”. White sports writers certainly preferred their Negro athletes tough, quiet and docile.

White America hated his voice, the white press sought to denigrate that voice, and the U.S. government tried to silence his voice completely. White America only embraced the most outspoken Black athlete in history after he was unable to speak anymore because of Parkinson’s disease.

Boxing changed American history. The sport of boxing had more to do with the advancement of the civil rights movement than any other sport, from Jack Johnson to Joe Lewis to Muhammad Ali.

History has never produced an athlete more persecuted by the U.S. government, more vilified by the American media, or more respected globally than Muhammad Ali.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on [email protected]

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Rehearsing for World War III

June 9th, 2016 by Justin Raimondo

Operation “Anakonda 16” is a dangerous provocation

As I write this, US troops are building a bridge across Poland’s Vistula river, and conducting a nighttime helicopter assault to secure the eastern part of the country against a Russian assault.

Has World War III started? Well, not quite yet, although it’s not for want of trying.

This is Operation “Anakonda 16.” Thirty-one thousand troops, 14,000 of them American, are conducting war games designed to secure an Allied victory in World War III. The exercises involve “100 aircraft, 12 vessels and 3,000 vehicles,” and precede the upcoming NATO summit, which is expected to approve the stationing of yet more troops – mostly Americans – in eastern Europe.

NATO claims this is all strictly “defensive” in nature, designed to deter Russian “aggression” – but who is the real aggressor?

It is the Western powers who, ever since the fall of the USSR, have pushed eastward relentlessly, expanding the “defensive” NATO  alliance to include such useless nonentities as Albania and Montenegro, and even extending “associate” status to distant Georgia. Their policy has been to eliminate the buffer between NATO and Russia, absorbing previously neutral Ukraine into the Western orbit by means of a violent coup d’etat, and launching a propaganda war that targets Russian President Vladimir Putin as the second coming of Stalin.

The Russian reaction has been to reverse Nikita Khrushchev’s 1954 decision to hand Crimea to Ukraine, pull out of a treaty limiting the number of troops in Europe, launch a military build up on their borders, and upgrade their nuclear arsenal to parallel asimilar effort by the US.

With the collapse of international communism, the need for NATO was obviated, and yet – like any and all  government programs – it not only persisted, it expanded. Complementing the idea of “Greater Europe” and the creation of the European Union, the NATO-crats enlarged the original “defensive” vision that was supposedly the rationale for the alliance and embarked on an ambitious program that involved the creation of a permanent military architecture which inevitably sought to absorb real estate in the east. Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states – all eventually joined NATO’s ranks as Moscow looked on in alarm. As the “war on terrorism” commenced, NATO became the instrument of Western military operations in the Middle East, sending its tentacles into the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and insinuating itself into the Caucasus region.

From a cold war policy of containment, US/NATO has since moved into regime change mode: the idea is to encircle Russia militarily, while using “soft power” to undermine pro-Russian regimes in Russia’s periphery and eventually achieve regime change in Russia itself. The Ukrainian operation was an example of the “soft power” approach: utilizing Western-funded “civil society” groups, they succeeded in evicting the democratically elected government from office and installing one handpicked in Washington. With the imposition of sanctions, and the continued encirclement of Russia, the idea is to squeeze the Russian bear until he either gives up or collapses. Which is why “Anakonda” – an iteration of the giant snake that crushes its victims to death and then devours them – is truly an evocative name.

As is usual with the regime-changers in Washington, they approach their task with little or no understanding of their intended victim. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they thought they could destroy the regime, and then create a Middle Eastern version of Kansas. It didn’t work out that way – but our political class is incapable of learning the lessons of experience.

In the case of Russia, they believe that a Russian collapse would have to mean the ascension to power of a figure much like the late Boris Yeltsin, who was too drunk to resist the incursions of Western power most of the time, and went along with the marginalization of his country without too many protests. However, the memory of the Yeltsin era is abhorred by the Russian people, who saw their country plundered by the oligarchs, and their standard of living fall into a veritable abyss, while Russia was pushed around on the international stage like a freshman pledge on fraternity row.

What the NATO-crats want is a “pro-Western” figurehead in power in Russia, but what they don’t get is that Putin is as pro-Western as they come in the current political milieu. His main opponent in the election that brought him to power was the virulently anti-Western Communist Party, which he handily defeated, with the even more anti-Western Russian nationalists coming in third.

Initially, Putin sought to include Russia in “Greater Europe,” and he proposed an agreement with NATO to ensure that Europe would be a “common space.” Yet his initiatives to create an inclusive Europe were met with implacable hostility by the Western powers, who rejected the idea that Russia would be treated as an equal and insisted on the primacy of NATO and the EU. This set up the present standoff, in which the countries of the former Warsaw Pact were forced to choose between Brussels and Moscow.

If and when the West succeeds in collapsing the Russian economy and taking down Putin, it won’t be a Yeltsin-like figure who will inherit the ruins. What comes after Putin, in this context, is something much worse. And in that case, the prospect of war will loom large on the horizon.

If Hillary Clinton gets into the White House, you can be sure the tensions with Russia will reach fever pitch. She has compared Putin to Hitler – always the signal that we are about to embark on yet another crusade – and her neoconservative supporters are eager to restart the cold war. The great danger is that a cold war may very well become a hot one – and that raises the specter that we lived with for half a century, the very real possibility of a nuclear war.

To compare Putin to Stalin, or Hitler, is absurd: Russia has come a long way since the days of the Gulag, when 60 million people were killed and imprisoned. If we want to push Russia back into the darkness, then the policy we are presently pursuing is the way to go: if, however, we want peace, then it’s high time to disband NATO – which is outdated and expensive – give up our dreams of regime change in Russia, and start cooperating with Moscow in solving our mutual problems.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert andDavid Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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As the world is faced with numerous crises requiring cooperation between the US and Russia – Syria, Ukraine, and international terrorism to name just three – Washington just can’t help its Russophobic ways.

Most recently, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul expressed his extreme displeasure (dare I say revulsion) at the idea that the Canadian Government, and specifically its Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, could possibly make the independent decision to not follow the diktats of Washington in adopting a Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act, a piece of proposed legislation which would have severe repercussions for the Russia-Canada relationship.  McFaul, a staunch anti-Putin crusader whose time as ambassador was marred by countless failures and embarrassing public blunders, went so far as to cast doubt on the commitment to human rights of Mr. Dion and the Canadian Government.

In highly undiplomatic language, McFaul bluntly declared, “Do you stand for human rights or not? If this is an important value [sic] then this is something that should be done.” Leaving aside the condescension oozing from every word of that statement, it is quite clear that the US political establishment is not at all pleased with its usually pliant partners in the Great White North who, it seems, are attempting the unthinkable: conducting a foreign policy that is independent of the United States, at least on this issue.  Indeed, despite the finger-wagging from McFaul, and the ceaseless lobbying and self-promotion of the vulture capitalist and convicted criminal Bill Browder, Canada is unwilling to sacrifice its increasingly friendly relations with Moscow simply to satisfy the anti-Putin obsession of interests based in Washington and London.

Indeed, Browder is undeniably the leading voice of the transnational lobbying effort to internationalize the Magnitsky Act – a US law passed in 2012 that places sanctions and restrictions on key figures in the Russian government ostensibly over alleged participation in the murder of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky – and to try to isolate Russian President Putin and his closest advisers.  Of course, embarrassingly for Browder, he was until a decade ago the leading pro-Putin voice in the western investing community in Russia, lauding Putin up and down as the savior of Russia.

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For instance, in 2005 Browder told the New York Times, when speaking about the jailing of the criminal oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that “Putin cares about foreign investors; he just doesn’t care about them enough to allow one oligarch to use his ill-gotten gains to hijack the state for his own economic purposes.”  However, the warm and fuzzy feelings Browder once had for Putin & Co. seem to have evaporated right around the time he was curtly shown the door out of Russia.  As Pando’s Mark Ames wrote in 2015:

And ever since his KGB pals decided they’d had enough of him and chased him out to London a very rich vulture capitalist, Browder has styled himself as the Mother Theresa of global vulture capitalism—and he’s thrown untold millions into promoting that public relations/lobbying effort, whose goal is to use human rights abuses he once covered for and profited from as a cudgel to force the Kremlin to become investor-friendly to vulture capitalists like Bill Browder again.

So it seems that the Magnitsky Act itself, and Browder’s crusade to make it holy writ around the world, is less a product of concern for human rights, and more the result of a personal vendetta against the Russian Government by a very rich and influential vulture capitalist nested comfortably in the City of London, hatching his various anti-Russian pressure campaigns.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dion has rightly pointed to Canada’s invitation to join the International Syria Support Group in Vienna as an example of the fruit of the Russia-Canada relationship, implicitly arguing that it would be unwise to pass a Magnitsky-style bill solely to placate anti-Russian elements in Washington and London while alienating an important global power with considerable political, economic, and diplomatic influence.

Interestingly, in all the talk of human rights, and the chastising of Dion and the Canadian government for their shameful sale of $15 billion of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia, it is completely ignored that the US is the principal arms dealer to Saudi Arabia, and countless other autocratic regimes which routinely, and quite systematically, violate the human rights of their own people.  So it would seem that for the US human rights is the convenient club with which to bash allies over the head, but which can be completely ignored when it suits Washington’s political and geopolitical agenda.

Russia = bad. Russia = human rights violator. Russia must be punished.

Saudi Arabia = friend. Saudi Arabia = human rights violator but let’s not talk about. Saudi Arabia must be rewarded with tens of billions of dollars of military equipment.

Got it? Good.

Ultimately, the issue is really about control.  The US would like to be able to control the way in which Canada, and all the countries of the West, carry on their relations with Russia.  Washington would like to cobble together a “united front” of sorts that will isolate Russia and, in the wildest pipe dreams of strategic planners, bring down Putin and his administration.

And the US believes that the combination of sanctions, depressed oil prices, Magnitsky-style legislation, and a number of other political, economic, and diplomatic weapons will bring those pesky old Russians to heel.  How little Washington has learned.

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No one ever lost money betting on the Pentagon refraining from exceptionalist rhetoric.

Once again the current Pentagon supremo, certified neocon Ash Carter, did not disappoint at the Shangri-La Dialogue – the annual, must-go regional security forum in Singapore attended by top defense ministers, scholars and business executives from across Asia.

Context is key. The Shangri-La Dialogue is organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which is essentially a pro-Anglo-American think tank. And it takes place in the privileged aircraft carrier of imperial geostrategic interests in South East Asia: Singapore.

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© Nguyen Minh

 

As expressed by neocon Carter, Pentagon rhetoric – faithful to its own estimation of China as the second biggest “existential threat”to the US (Russia is first) – revolves around the same themes; US military might and superiority is bound to last forever; we are the“main underwriter of Asian security” for, well, forever; and China better behave in the South China Sea – or else.

This is all embedded in the much ballyhooed but so far anemic“pivoting to Asia” advanced by the lame duck Obama administration – but bound to go on overdrive in the event Hillary Clinton becomes the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Real threats are predictably embedded in the rhetoric. According to Carter, if Beijing reclaims land in the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, “it will result in actions being taken by the both United States and … by others in the region.”

What’s left for China, in Pentagonese, is just to be a member of a hazy “principled security network” for Asia – which will also help protect the East against “Russia’s worrying actions”. Carter mentioned “principled” no less than 37 times in his speech. “Principled” cheerleaders so far include Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia.

So here’s an instant translation: we do a NATO in Asia; we control it; you will answer to us; and then we encircle you – and Russia – for good. If China says no, that’s simple. Carter proclaimed Beijing will erect a “Great Wall of self-isolation” in the South China Sea.

If this is the best Pentagon planners have to counteract the Russia-China strategic partnership, they’d better go back to the classroom. In elementary school.

Navigate in freedom, dear vassals

Predictably, the South China Sea was quite big at Shangri-La. The South China Sea, the throughway of trillions of US dollars in annual trade, doubles as home to a wealth of unexplored oil and gas. Stagnated and increasingly irrelevant Japan, via its Defense Minister Gen. Nakatani, even advanced the Japanese would help Southeast Asian nations build their “security capabilities” to deal with what he called “unilateral” and “coercive” Chinese actions in the South China Sea. Cynics could not help to draw similarities with Imperial Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The Beijing delegation kept its cool – to a point. Rear Admiral Guan Youfei stressed, “The US action to take sides is not agreed by many countries.” Youfei – the head of the Chinese office of international military cooperation – did not refrain though from condemning a “Cold War mentality” by the usual suspects.

As for Japan, China’s Foreign Ministry detailed that “countries outside the region should stick to their promises and not make thoughtless remarks about issues of territorial sovereignty.” Japan has absolutely nothing to do with the South China Sea.

Beijing’s reclamation work on reefs in the South China Sea naturally put it in direct conflict with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. So US meddling – under the convenient cover of “freedom of navigation” – had to be inevitable. “Freedom of navigation” operations are a silly intimidation game in which a US Navy ship or plane passes by a Chinese-claimed island in the South China Sea.

It was up to Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission, to cut to the chase, stressing “the provocation of certain countries” and adding that “selfish interests” have led to the South China Sea issue becoming “overheated”. He slammed the Pentagon for double standards and “irresponsible behavior”. And he slammed the Philippines for taking the conflict to a dubious UN arbitration court after breaching a bilateral agreement with China; “We do not make trouble but we have no fear of trouble.”

U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea's Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and Japan's Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. © Reuters

U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with South Korea’s Minister of Defence Han Minkoo (R) and
Japan’s Minister of Defence Gen Nakatani for a trilateral at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 4, 2016. © Reuters

The Chinese position prefers dialogue and cooperation – and Jianguo re-stressed it, calling for ASEAN to make a move. In fact China has already reached what is called a four-point consensus with Brunei, Cambodia and Laos on the South China Sea two months ago. The Philippines are a much harder nut to crack – as the Pentagon is taking no prisoners to lead Manila “from behind”.

Even Vietnam, via Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh, made it clear – in the same plenary session as Admiral Jianguo – that Vietnam prefers solutions via the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as negotiation between China and ASEAN.

Bend over to our rules – or else

After Shangri-La’s rhetorical excesses, the action moved to Beijing, the site of the 8th China-US Strategic and Development Dialogue. That’s the annual talkfest launched in 2009 by Obama and then Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang painted a rosy picture, stressing the exchange of “candid, in-depth views on important and sensitive issues of shared concern.” Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai once again needed to point out that the relationship is just “too important” to be “hijacked” by the South China Sea. And yet this is exactly the Pentagon’s agenda.

Beijing though won’t be derailed. As State Councilor Yang Jiechi put it, ASEAN-China dialogue is progressing via what Beijing calls the “dual-track” approach, according to which disputes are negotiated between the parties directly involved. That implies no Washington interference.

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© AFP

 

Beyond what is discussed either at Shangri-La or at the China-US dialogue, the Big Picture is clear. ‘Exceptionalistan’ planners have molded a narrative where China is being forced to make a choice; either you bend over to “our” rules – as in the current unipolar geostrategic game – or else.

Well, Beijing has already made its own choice; and that entails a multipolar world of sovereign nations with no primus inter pares. The Beijing leadership under Xi Jinping clearly sees how the so-called international “order”, actually disorder, is a rigged system set up at the end of WWII.

Wily Chinese diplomacy – and trade – knows how to use the system to advance Chinese national interests. That’s how modern China became the “savior” of global turbo-capitalism. But that does not mean a resurgent China will forever comply with these extraneous “rules” – not to mention the morality lessons. Beijing knows ‘Exceptionalistan’ would not agree even to divide the spoils in a geopolitical spheres-of-influence arrangement. Plan A in Washington is containment – with possibly dangerous ramifications. There is no Plan B.

The bottom line – thinly disguised by the somewhat polite responses to Pentagon threats – is that Beijing simply won’t accept anymore a geopolitical disorder that it did not create. The Chinese could not give a damn to the New World Order (NWO) dreamed up by selected ‘Masters of the Universe’. Beijing is engaged in building a new, multipolar order. No wonder – alongside with strategic partner Russia – they are and will continue to be the Pentagon’s top twin threat.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. Born in Brazil, he’s been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of “Globalistan” (2007), “Red Zone Blues” (2007), “Obama does Globalistan” (2009) and “Empire of Chaos” (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is “2030”, also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.

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Worst Economy In 5,000 Years?

June 9th, 2016 by Washington's Blog

Lowest Interest Rate In 5,000 Years

According to Bank of England economist Andy Haldane, Bank of America Merrill Lynch economistMichael Hartnett and others, we’ve got the lowest interest rates in 5,000 years:

Interest Rates

Interest

 

The inventor of quantitative easing – economics professor Richard Werner – says that it’s a myth that interest rates drive the level of economic activity. According to Werner, the data shows that rates lag the economy.

In other words, interest rates respond to what’s already happened in the economy.  So does having the lowest interest rates in 5,000 years imply that we’ve had the worst economy in 5,000 years?

We don’t know, but there are quite a few signs that something is very wrong with the world economy …

Other Depression Indicators

We noted in 2009 that more Americans will be unemployed than during the Great Depression.

We noted in 2010:

The following experts have – at some point during the last 2 years – said that the economic crisis could be worse than the Great Depression:

 

We explained in 2011 that many economists agree we’re in a depression … and they only argue about whether we’re facing the “Great” depression of the 1930s or the “Long” depression of the 1870s. We also noted that housing prices fell farther than during the Great Depression.

In 2012, we wrote:

We’ve repeatedly pointed out that there are many indicators which show that the last 5 years have been worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s, including:

***

Indeed, the number of Americans relying on government assistance to obtain basic foodmay be higher now that during the Great Depression. The only reason we don’t see “soup lines” like we did in the 30s is because of the massive food stamp program.

We noted in 2013 that the British economy is worse than during the Great Depression, and more Americans are committing suicide than during the Great Depression.

We pointed out in 2014 that Europe is stuck in an economic malaise worse than a depression, and citedcharts showing that Europe’s GDP is recovering much slower than after the Great Depression:

Great Depression v. Great Recession, United Kingdom GDP

Great Depression v. Great Recession, Europe GDP

We also noted that Americans fared better after the Great Depression than the 2008 crisis and that U.S. foreclosure rates are comparable to the Great Depression.

Last year, we noted that an important economic indicator – the velocity of money – has crashed far worsethan during the Great Depression, and that the howling winds of deflation are hammering the U.S. just as much as Europe.

We noted that last year was the first pre-election year stock market loss since the Great Depression.

In January, we pointed out that a prominent economist said:

Future economic historians may not call the period that began in 2007 the “Greatest Depression.” But as of now, it is highly and increasingly probable that they will call it the “Longest Depression.”

In March, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis noted that – as with Europe – America’s GDP is recovering much slower than after the Great Depression:

Economic RecoveriesAnd last month, Pew reported:

More young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents than at any time since around 1940, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014 ….

***

Similar long-term trends have been observed elsewhere. Canada’s most recent census, in 2011, found that 42.3% of adults ages 20 to 29 lived in their parents’ homes, up from 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981. In Australia, about 29% of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with one or both of their parents (but without a partner or child) in 2011, up from 21% in 1976. And in Japan, the share of 20- to 34-year-olds living with their parents grew from 29.5% in 1980 to 48.9% in 2012.

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Trump_&_Clinton

“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton in November

By Stephen Lendman, June 08 2016

It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad.  Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant…

PaulMartinHaitiwavingthefla

Governing Through Lies And Deception

By Mark Taliano, June 08 2016

On September 16, 2005, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, addressed “The High Level Meeting of the Sixtieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly”:  “Clearly, we need expanded guidelines for Security Council action to make clear our responsibility to…

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Germany’s Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) to Become Branch of America’s CIA?

By Eric Zuesse, June 08 2016

According to a news report in the June 7th German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), headlined “Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland” or “Merkel Ousts BND: US to Control German Espionage,” a new law will soon…

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Genetically Engineered Golden Rice: Is This the Solution for Disease, Poverty and Malnutrition?

By Colin Todhunter, June 08 2016

The pro-GMO lobby often relies on fraud, regulatory delinquency, opaque practices, smear campaigns, dirty tricks, slick PR and the debasement of science. While choosing to sideline the root causes of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and regional food insecurity (and effective solutions),…

Syria Solidarity Movement

The War on Syria and the Refugee Crisis: Censorship and “Humanitarian Propaganda”, NGOs Support America’s “Moderate Terrorists”

By Rick Sterling, June 07 2016

Syria Solidarity Movement is an international network in solidarity with the Syrian people and their struggle to retain a secular, independent state.  Unfortunately, there is an organization in the UK called “Syria Solidarity UK” (SSUK).  The similarity in names has…

Détroit

Housing Struggle Continues in Detroit Defying Landlords and Bankers

By Abayomi Azikiwe, June 08 2016

Jeanette Shannon of Detroit was evicted from her home on June 3 after a protracted fight against fraudulent real estate interests and the local courts which favor the predatory lenders and the banks. This was a test case for Detroit…

SFMOMA

Defining Art: Pranks at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

BDr. Binoy Kampmark, June 08 2016

Never underestimate the power of the puncturing prank.  It acts as subversion, and before you know it, that April Fool’s joke becomes the order of the day, the next gospel, the affirmed orthodoxy. Consider, for instance, a pair of glasses…

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Pro-government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division and Desert Hawks and supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, are advancing deeper into the Raqqa province. By the situation on June 5, the pro-government forces seized the city of Zakia, the nearby Zakia crossroads and the village of Bir Abu al’Allaj. Now, the SAA and its allies need to seize the Tabaqa Military Airport and consolidate the gain in the area, setting the ground for further advances on the ISIS self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa. The Syrian government forces use Russian-made T90C main battle tanks in the area. This confirms the importance of the operation for the Syrian government.

Thus, despite the complicated situation in the province of Aleppo, where the Jaish al-Fatah operation room successfully advances near the city of Khan Tuman, the Syrian government forces have started a competition with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dubbed “Who will seize Raqqa?” Indeed, the situation in the Aleppo City is also complicated for the predominantly Kurdish SDF. On June 4, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that Kurdish units have withdrawn from the Sheikh Maqsoud district of the Aleppo city under the perssure of Al Nusra and Ahram al-Sham. Militants used rocket artillery, mortars and anti-aircraft cannons to attack neighborhoods of the city. About 40 civilians and troops were killed by the shelling and some 100 injured. We remember, in May, the Russian military staff reported that Al Nusra front concentrated a 6,000-strong attack force in the area of Aleppo.

The SDF, supported by the US-led coalition air power and spearheaded by U.S. special operation forces, continued military operations in the areas nearby to the city of Manbij. The approaching SDF units encircle the ISIS-controlled Manbij from northern and southern flanks. Recently, the SDF seized the village of Kabir al-Kabir, located 5 kilometers south of Manbij. However, this operation in Northern Aleppo has withdrawn a significant force of the SDF and its US supporters, halting the attempts to launch a full-scale operation to liberate the city of Raqqa in the nearest future.

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By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_PubliusTumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article here

I‘ve been writing for weeks that there are two aspects to the Clinton “secret server” issue — the way the server was handled, and the content of the messages it contained. Regarding the way the server was handled, almost everything needed to determine criminal liability is already in the public record and has been for a while.

So here are three data points, just three. They line up perfectly so the main idea is easy to grasp. (Consider this the first in a series, “The Clinton Server Story for Progressives.” If events move too quickly, it will be the last, as everyone from Time to the Washington Post will be telling you what’s what and you won’t need me at all.)

  •  The server’s email system was apparently unencrypted for the first two months of usewhen Clinton was Secretary of State.

This means that email going to and from the server was unencrypted during transmission. Messages were sent and received in plain text. This is the Washington Post from last March (my emphasis):

The server was nothing remarkable, the kind of system often used by small businesses, according to people familiar with its configuration at the end of her tenure. It consisted of two off-the-shelf server computers. Both were equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. A firewall was used as protection against hackers.

Few could have known it, but the email system operated in those first two months without the standard encryption generally used on the Internet to protect communication, according to an independent analysis that Venafi Inc., a cybersecurity firm that specializes in the encryption process, took upon itself to publish on its website after the scandal broke.

Not until March 29, 2009 — two months after Clinton began using it — did the server receive a “digital certificate” that protected communication over the Internet through encryption, according to Venafi’s analysis.

It is unknown whether the system had some other way to encrypt the email traffic at the time. Without encryption — a process that scrambles communication for anyone without the correct key — email, attachments and passwords are transmitted in plain text.

“That means that anyone could have accessed it. Anyone,” Kevin Bocek, vice president of threat intelligence at Venafi, told The Post.

The system had other features that made it vulnerable to talented hackers, including a software program that enabled users to log on directly from the World Wide Web.

Four computer-security specialists interviewed by The Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.

“For data of this sensitivity . . . we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening,” said Jason Fossen, a computer-security specialist at the SANS Institute, which provides cybersecurity training around the world.

The man Clinton has said maintained and monitored her server was Bryan Pagliano, who had worked as the technology chief for her political action committee and her presidential campaign. It is not clear whether he had any help. Pagliano had also provided computer services to the Clinton family. In 2008, he received more than $5,000 for that work, according to financial disclosure statements he filed with the government.

The Post article is much longer and contains a great deal of information. If this subject interests you, I encourage you to click through.

I hope you noticed the name “Bryan Pagliano” above. He’s among the key people the FBI are talking to. In March, Pagliano was granted immunity in exchange for information. Pagliano is also the subject of a Judicial Watch FOIA request, and he’s on the Judicial Watch deposition list. (For more on Pagliano, see below.)

Your first takeaway — Unless there was encryption employed by Clinton’s private email service that no one knows about, email communications to and from it were readable as plain text. Certainly not deliberately so, but a fact nonetheless.

  •  The above-mentioned Bryan Pagliano has announced he’s taking the fifth in his Judicial Watch deposition. He’s going to refuse to speak when deposed.

The Hill:

Clinton IT aide to plead Fifth in email case

The man believed to have set up and maintained Hillary Clinton’s private email serverwill assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions as part of an open records lawsuit against the State Department.

Bryan Pagliano will decline to answer questions from Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group, during a deposition scheduled for Monday, his lawyers wrote in a court filing on Wednesday afternoon.

The move forecloses the possibility that Pagliano would break his months of silence about the server issue, even as scrutiny has intensified on his role.

Pagliano’s lawyers told Judicial Watch more than a week ago that he would not be answering any questions, they claimed in their filing on Wednesday, and asked that it drop its subpoena. The organization refused.

“Taking the fifth” is an admission of guilt of something (who knows what?), but it’s an absolute protection from prosecution by evidence from his own mouth. (The ability to “take the fifth,” by the way, is important — it’s our protection against evidence produced by torture. Still, it’s damning, not just of Pagliano, but of that whole crew.)

Your second takeaway — Pagliano thinks he can be prosecuted for something if he speaks about the Clinton email server in his FOIA deposition. Check the first story above to review what he can speak about.

There will perhaps be political consequences from this. Will there be legal consequences? Keep reading.

Note first that the information listed below doesn’t require a formal “classified” designation to be relevant, and second, that “intent” is not necessary to trigger the law’s penalties. “Gross negligence” is sufficient. Again, my emphasis below:

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information,relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(g) If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.

Your third takeaway — Unless this law doesn’t apply for some other reason, it seems perfectly applicable for the reasons noted above. All sorts of State Department business and communications could be considered “relating to the national defense,” including simple travel itineraries of top officials, such as President Obama’s.

“Gross negligence” in allowing such documents to be “lost” or “stolen” is, under this law, a criminal act subject to fines, imprisonment, or both. If the server was hacked, broken into, the above law appears to apply.

Was This Law Actually Broken?

Were documents related to the national defense in fact stolen from Clinton’s “home-brew” server through negligence? I think that’s the piece we don’t know. Will we ever find out? That’s the other piece we don’t know. Still, these data points have been on my mind since I discovered them.

(By the way, the list of laws that may have been broken, not to mention State Department practices and guidelines ignored, is proffered to be long, at least according to the Internet. I’ve seen a list, and this is just one item on it. It’s also the one I find least controvertible, since the meaning of “classified” is a mine field, depending on how each law is written, and this law isn’t limited to “classified” material. I don’t envy the FBI in sorting through all this.)

I’m not saying Clinton committed a crime; I’m not a lawyer, just a political observer. But as an observer, I do observe these data points, and suspect that they’re related. And again, this is all from the public record, and every piece but the middle one has been there, out in the open, for a while.

Stay tuned. This may be nothing or not-nothing. But if it turns into something, you’ll at least have heard about it.

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“The cold was terrible but the screams were worse,” Sara Mendez told the BBC. “The screams of those who were being tortured were the first thing you heard and they made you shiver. That’s why there was a radio blasting day and night.”

In the 1970s, Mendez was a young Uruguayan teacher with leftist leanings. In 1973, when the military seized power in her country (a few months before General Augusto Pinochet’s more famous coup in Chile), Mendez fled to Argentina. She lived there in safety until that country suffered its own coup in 1976. That July, a joint Uruguayan-Argentine military commando group kidnapped her in Buenos Aires and deposited her at Automotores Orletti, a former auto repair shop that would become infamous as a torture site and paramilitary command center. There she was indeed tortured, and there, too, her torturers stole her 20-day-old baby, Simón, giving him to a policeman’s family to raise.

Mendez was an early victim of Operation Condor, a torture and assassination program focused on the region’s leftists that, from 1975 to 1986, would spread terror across Latin America’s southern cone. On May 27th, an Argentine court convicted 14 military officers of crimes connected with Operation Condor, issuing prison sentences ranging from 13 to 25 years. Among those sentenced was Reynaldo Bignone, Argentina’s last military dictator, now 88. (He held power from 1982 to 1983.)

Those convictions are deeply satisfying to the surviving victims and their families, to the legal teams that worked for more than a decade on the case, and to human rights organizations around the world. And yet, as just as this outcome is, it has left me with questions — questions about the length of time between crime and conviction, and about what kinds of justice can and cannot be achieved through prosecutions alone.

Operation Condor

Operation Condor was launched by the security forces of five military dictatorships: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Brazil soon joined, as did Ecuador and Peru eventually. As a Cold War anti-communist collaboration among the police, military, and intelligence services of those eight governments, Condor offered an enticing set of possibilities. The various services could not only cooperate, but pursue their enemies in tandem across national borders. Indeed, its reach stretched as far as Washington, D.C., where in 1976 its operatives assassinated former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. Orlando Letelier and his young assistant, Ronni Moffitt, both of whom then worked at the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-wing think tank.

How many people suffered grievously or died due to Operation Condor? A definitive number is by now probably beyond recovery, but records from Chile’s secret police suggest that by itself Argentina’s “dirty war” — the name given to the Argentine junta’s reign of terror, “disappearances,” and torture — took the lives of 22,000 people between 1975 and 1978. Thousands more are thought to have died before that country’s dictatorship ended in 1983. It’s generally believed that at least another 3,000 people died under the grimmest of circumstances in Chile, while thousands more were tortured but lived. And although its story is less well known, the similar reign of terror of the Uruguayan dictatorship directly affected the lives of almost every family in the country. As Lawrence Wechsler wrote in a 1989 article in the New Yorker:

“By 1980, one in every fifty Uruguayans had been detained at some point, and detention routinely involved torture; one in every five hundred had received a sentence of six years or longer under conditions of extreme difficulty; and somewhere between three hundred thousand and four hundred thousand Uruguayans went into exile. Comparable percentages for the United States would involve the emigration of thirty million people, the detention of five million, and the extended incarceration of five hundred thousand.”

And what was the U.S. role in Operation Condor? Washington did not (for once) plan and organize this transnational program of assassination and torture, but its national security agencies were certainly involved, as declassified Defense Department communications indicate. In his book The Condor Years, Columbia University journalism professor John Dingesreported that the CIA provided training for Chile’s secret police, computers for Condor’s database, telex machines and encoders for its secret communications, and transmitters for its private, continent-wide radio communications network. Chilean Colonel Manuel Contreras, one of Condor’s chief architects (who was then on the CIA payroll), met with CIA Deputy Director Vernon Walters four times. And what did the CIA get in return? Among other things, access to the “results” of interrogation under torture, according to Dinges. “Latin American intelligence services,” he added,

“considered U.S. intelligence agencies their allies and provided timely and intimate details of their repressive activities. I have obtained three documents establishing that information obtained under torture, from prisoners who later were executed and disappeared, were provided to the CIA, the FBI and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency). There is no question that the U.S. officials were aware of the torture.”

Justice Delayed

Why did it take 40 years to bring the architects of Operation Condor to justice? A key factor: for much of that time, it was illegal in Argentina to put them on trial. In the first years of the new civilian government, the Argentine congress passed two laws that granted these men immunity from prosecution for crimes committed in the dirty war. Only in 2005 did that country’s supreme court rule that those impunity laws were unconstitutional.  Since then, many human rights crimes have been prosecuted. Indeed, Reynaldo Bignone, the former dictator, was already in jail when sentenced in May for his role in Operation Condor. He had been convicted in 2010 of kidnapping, torture, and murder in the years of the dirty war. As of March, Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) had recorded 666 convictions for participation in the crimes of that era.

But there’s a question that can’t help but arise: What’s the point of bringing such old men to trial four decades later? How could justice delayed for that long be anything but justice denied?

One answer is that, late as they are, such trials still establish something that all the books and articles in the world can’t: an official record of the terrible crimes of Operation Condor. This is a crucial step in the process of making its victims, and the nations involved, whole again. As a spokesperson for CELStold the Wall Street Journal, “Forty years after Operation Condor was formally founded, and 16 years after the judicial investigation began, this trial produced valuable contributions to knowledge of the truth about the era of state terrorism and this regional criminal network.”

It took four decades to get those convictions.  Theoretically at least, Americans wouldn’t have to wait that long to bring our own war criminals to account. I’ve spent the last few years of my life arguing that this country must find a way to hold accountable officials responsible for crimes in the so-called war on terror. I don’t want the victims of those crimes, some of whom are still locked up, to wait another 40 years for justice.

Nor do I want the United States to continue its slide into a brave new world, in which any attack on a possible enemy anywhere or any curtailment of our own liberties is permitted as long as it makes us feel “secure.” It’s little wonder that the presumptive Republican presidential candidate feels free to run around promising yet more torture and murder. After all, no one’s been called to account for the last round. And when there is no official acknowledgement of, or accountability for, thewaging of illegal war, international kidnapping operations, the indefinite detention without prospect of trial of prisoners at Guantánamo,and, of course, torture, there is no reason not to do it all over again. Indeed, according to Pew Research Center polls, Americans are nowmore willing to agree that torture is sometimes justified than they were in the years immediately following the 9/11 attacks.

Torture and the U.S. Prison System

In a recent piece of mine, I focused on Abu Zubaydah, a prisoner the CIA tortured horribly, falsely claiming he was a top al-Qaeda operative, knew about a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, and might even have trained some of the 9/11 pilots. “In another kind of world,” I wrote, Abu Zubaydah “would be exhibit one in the war crimes trials of America’s top leaders and its major intelligence agency.” Although none of the charges against him proved true, he is still held in isolation at Guantánamo.

Then something surprising happened. I received an email message from someone I’d heard of but never met. Joseph Margulies was the lead counsel in Rasul v. Bush, the first (and unsuccessful) attempt to get the Supreme Court to allow prisoners at Guantánamo to challenge their detention in federal courts. He is also one of Abu Zubaydah’s defense attorneys.

He directed me to an article of his, “War Crimes in a Punitive Age,” that mentioned my Abu Zubaydah essay. I’d gotten the facts of the case right, he assured me, but added, “I suspect we are not in complete agreement” on the issue of what justice for his client should look like. As he wrote in his piece,

”There is no question that Zubaydah was the victim of war crimes. The entire CIA black site program [the Agency’s Bush era secret prisons around the world] was a global conspiracy to evade and violate international and domestic law. Yet I am firmly convinced there should be no war crimes prosecutions. The call to prosecute is the Siren Song of the carceral state — the very philosophy we need to dismantle.”

In other words, one of the leading legal opponents of everything the war on terror represents is firmly opposed to the idea of prosecuting officials of the Bush administration for war crimes (though he has not the slightest doubt that they committed them). Margulies agrees that the crimes against Abu Zubaydah were all too real and “grave” indeed, and that “society must make its judgment known.”  He asks, however, “Why do we believe a criminal trial is the only way for society to register its moral voice?”

He doubts that such trials are the best way to do so, fearing that by placing all the blame for the events of those years on a small number of criminal officials, the citizens of an (at least nominally) democratic country could be let off the hook for a responsibility they, too, should share.  After all, it’s unlikely the war on terror could have continued year after year without the support — or at least the lack of interest or opposition — of the citizenry.

Margulies, in other words, raises important questions.  When people talk about bringing someone to justice they usually imagine a trial, a conviction, and perhaps most important, punishment. But he has reminded me of my own longstanding ambivalence about the equation between punishment and justice.

Even as we call for accountability for war criminals, we shouldn’t forget that we live in the country that jails the largest proportion of its own population (except for the Seychelles islands), and that holds the largest number of prisoners in the world. Abuse and torture — including rape, sexual humiliation, beatings, and prolonged exposure to extremes of heat and cold — are routine realities of the U.S. prison system. Solitary confinement — presently being experienced by at least 80,000 people in our prisons and immigrant detention centers — should also be considered a potentially psychosis-inducing form of torture.

Every nation that institutionalizes torture, as the United States has done, selects specific groups of people as legitimate targets for its application. In the days of Operation Condor, Chilean torturers called their victims “humanoids” to distinguish them from actual human beings. Surely, though, the United States hasn’t done that? Surely, there’s no history of the torture of particular groups? Sadly, of course, such a history does exist, and like so many things in this country, it’s all about race.

The practice of torture in the U.S. didn’t start with those post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation techniques,” nor with the Vietnam War’s Phoenix Program, nor even with the nineteenth century U.S. war in the Philippines. It began when European settlers first treated native peoples and enslaved Africans as subhuman savages. As southern farmers started importing captured Africans to augment their supply of indentured English labor, they quickly realized that there was little incentive for those slaves to work — none but the pain of whippings, mutilations, and brandings, and the threat of yet more pain. Torture and slavery, in other words, were fused at the root. From the first arrival of black people on this continent, it has been permissible, even legal, to torture them.

And it didn’t stop with emancipation. After the end of slavery, southern states began the practice of convict leasing — arresting former slaves and then their descendants, often on trumped-up charges, and renting them out as labor to farmers and later coal mine owners who had the power and legal right to whip and abuse them as they chose.

Then there’s lynching. Many people think of it as an extrajudicial death by hanging.  As it was practiced in the Jim Crow South, however, it was a form of public, state-approved torture, often involving the castration or disembowelment of the living victim, sometimes followed by death by fire. Lynching thus continued the practice of treating black minds and bodies as legitimate targets of torture. So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that, of the more than two million prisoners in the United States today, 40% are black, while the U.S. population is only 13% black.

Here’s the problem, then. When we say that putting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and other top officials in their administration in prison for war crimes would be justice, we endorse a criminal justice system that is more criminal than just, and where torture is a daily occurrence.

Do we want to do to Bush, Cheney, and their accomplices essentially what they did to their victims?  There is, of course, a certain appeal to the idea of someday seeing such powerful white men among the suffering, tortured millions in our prison system, or even — like the supposed “dirty bomber”José Padilla and Abu Zubaydah — in perpetual solitary confinement.

And yet, would this truly provide even a facsimile of justice, given that American prisons are hardly instruments of justice to begin with? Those opposed to the acts at the heart of America’s never-ending war on terror were heartened when President Obama ordered the CIA “black sites” dismantled globally. We continue to demand the closing of Guantánamo (something that looks increasingly unlikely to happen in his presidency). How, then, can we find justice through a prison system that uses similar methods on an everyday basis here in the U.S.?

Forty Years to Go?

And then, of course, there is the question: Whom should justice truly serve?

The first answer is: the victims of the “war on terror,” including those who were tortured, those detained without trial, the civilian “collateral damage” of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the “unintended” victims of drone assassinations. Then there are all those in the rest of the world who have to live with the threat of a nuclear-armed superpower that has in these years regularly refused to recognize the most basic aspects of the rule of law.

Many who work with survivors of organized repression like Operation Condor say that their primary desire is not the punishment of their oppressors but official acknowledgement of what happened to them. In his New Yorkerarticle, Wechsler, for instance, pointed out that, for the victims of torture, accountability may not be identical to punishment at all.

“People don’t necessarily insist that the former torturers go to jail — there has been enough of jail — but they do want to see the truth established… It’s a mysteriously powerful, almost magical notion, because often everybody already knows the truth — everyone knows who the torturers were and what they did, the torturers know that everyone knows, and everyone knows that they know.”

Seeing “the truth established” was the purpose behind South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Torturers and murderers on both sides of the anti-apartheid struggle were offered amnesty for their crimes — but only after they openly acknowledged those crimes. In this way, a public record of the horrors of apartheid was built, and imperfect as the process may have been, the nation was able to confront its history.

That is the kind of reckoning we need in this country. It started with the release of a summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program, which brought many brutal details into the light. But that’s just the beginning. We would need a full and public accounting not just of the CIA’s activities, but of the doings of other military and civilian agencies and outfits, including the Joint Special Operations Command. We also would need a full-scale airing of the White House’s drone assassination program, and perhaps most important of all, a full accounting of the illegal, devastating invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Justice would also require — to the extent possible — making whole those who had been harmed. In the case of the “war on terror,” this might begin by allowing torture victims to sue their torturers in federal court (as the U.N. Convention against Torture requires). With one exception, the Obama administration has until now blocked all such efforts on national security grounds. In the case of the Iraq War, justice would undoubtedly also require financial reparations to repair the infrastructure of what was once a modern, developed nation.

We’re unlikely to see justice in the “war on terror” until that cruel and self-defeating exercise is well and truly over and the country has officially acknowledged and accounted for its crimes. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 40 years.

Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes (Hot Books). Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.

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There are several essential messages literally shouting from the screen, whenever one watches ‘The Last Supper’ (La Ultima Cena), a brilliant 1976 film by a Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea.

The utmost one: it is impossible to enslave an entire group or race of people, at least not indefinitely. Longing for freedom, for true liberty, is impossible to break, no matter how brutally and persistently colonialism, imperialism, racism and religious terror try to.

The second, equally important message is that the whites and the Christians (but mostly the white Christians) have been behaving, for centuries and all over the world, like a horde of savage beasts and genocidal maniacs.

At the end of April 2016, on board Cubana de Aviacion jet that was taking me from Paris to Havana, I couldn’t resist opening my computer and watching La Ultima Cena again, for at least the tenth time in my life.

Gutierrez on my screen, Granma Internacional (official Cuban newspaper named after the boat which brought Fidel, “Che” and other revolutionaries to Cuba, triggering the Revolution) and a glass of pure and honest rum on my table, I felt at home, safe and blissfully happy. After several depressing days in Paris, I was finally leaving that gray, increasingly depressing, oppressive and self-righteous Europe behind.

Latin America was waiting for me. It was facing terrible attacks organized by the West. Its future was once again uncertain. “Our governments” were bleeding, some of them collapsing. The appalling extreme right-wing government of Mauricio Macri in Argentina has been busy dismantling the social state. Brazil was suffering from the political coup performed by corrupt right-wing lawmakers. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution was struggling, literally fighting for its survival. Treasonous reactionary forces were confronting both Ecuador and Bolivia.

I was asked to come. I was told: “Latin America needs you. We are fighting a war for survival”. And here I was, on board the Cubana, going ‘home’, to the part of the world that has always been so dear to me, and has shaped me into what I am now, as a man and as a writer.

I was going ‘home’, because I wanted to, but also because it was my duty. And I damn believe in duties!

After all, I’m not an anarchist but a Communist, ‘educated’ and hardened in Latin America.

***

But what does it mean when I say: ‘I’m a Communist?’

Am I a Leninist, a Maoist, or a Trotskyist? Do I subscribe to the Soviet or theChinese model?

Honestly, I have no idea! Frankly, I don’t care much for those nuances.

To me personally, a true Communist is a fighter against imperialism, racism, ‘Western exceptionism’, colonialism and neo-colonialism. He or she is a determined Internationalist, a person who believes in equality and social justice for all people on this Earth.

I’ll leave theoretical discussions to those who have plenty of time on their hands. I never even re-read the entire Das Kapital. It is too long. I read it when I was 16 years old. I think that reading it once is enough… It’s not the only pillar of Communism and it is not some holy scripture that should be constantly quoted.

More than Das Kapital, I was influenced by what I saw in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. I saw the entire world, some 160 countries; I lived on all continents. Wherever I went, I witnessed the horrors of ongoing Western plunder of the Planet.

I saw the Empire forcing countries into bestial civil wars; wars sparked so the multi-national companies could comfortably loot. I saw millions of refugees from once proud and wealthy (or from potentially wealthy) countries that were ruined by the West: Congolese refugees, Somali refugees, Libyan and Syrian refugees, refugees from Afghanistan… I saw inhuman conditions in factories that looked like purgatories; I saw monstrous sweatshops, mines, and fields near feudally run villages. I saw hamlets and townships, where the entire population vanished – dead from hunger, diseases, or both.

I also spent days and days listening to shocking testimonies of victims of torture. I spoke to mothers who lost their children, to wives who lost husbands, to husbands whose wives and daughters were raped in front of their eyes.

And the more I saw, the more I witnessed, the more shocking the stories I heard; the more obliged I felt to take sides, to fight for what I believe could be a much better world.

I wrote two books compiling hundreds of stories of terror committed by the West: Exposing Lies Of The Empire and Fighting Against Western Imperialism.

It didn’t bother me how derogatorily the Empire has been in depicting peoplewho are still faithful to their ideals; ready to sacrifice everything, or almost everything, for the struggle against injustice.

I’m not afraid of being ridiculed. But I am terrified of wasting my life if I put selfishness on a pedestal, elevating it above the most essential humanistic values.

I believe that a writer cannot be ‘neutral’ or apolitical. If he is, then he is a coward. Or he is a liar.

Naturally, some of the greatest modern writers were or are Communists: Jose Saramago, Eduardo Galeano, Pablo Neruda, Mo Yan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name just a few. Not a bad company, not bad at all!

And I believe that living and struggling for others is much more fulfilling than living only for one’s own selfish interests and pleasures.

***

I admire Cuba for what it has done for humanity, in almost six decades of its revolutionary existence. Cuban Internationalism is what I personally see as ‘my Communism’.

Cuba has heart and it has guts. It knows how to fight, how to embrace, how to sing and dance and how not to betray its ideals.

Is Cuba ideal? Is it perfect? No, of course it is not. But I don’t demand perfection, from countries or from people, or from the Revolutions for that matter. My own life is very far from ‘perfect’. We all make errors and bad decisions: countries, people as well as revolutions.

Perfection actually horrifies me. It is cold, sterile and self-righteous. It is ascetic, puritanical, and therefore inhuman, even perverse. I don’t believe in saints. And I feel embarrassed when someone pretends to be one. Those small errors and ‘imperfections’ are actually making people and countries so warm, so loveable, so human.

The general course of the Cuban Revolution has never been ‘perfect’, but it has always been based on the deepest, most essential roots of humanism. And even when Cuba stood for some short time alone, or almost alone (it was China at the end, as I wrote and as Fidel shortly after confirmed in his “Reflections”, that extended to Cuba its mighty fraternal hand) – it bled, it suffered and shivered from pain brought by countless betrayals, but it did not stir from its path, it did not kneel, it did not beg and it never surrendered!

This is how I think people and countries should live. They should not exchange ideals for trinkets, love for security and advantages, decency for cynical and bloodstained rewards. Patria no se vende, they say in Cuba. Translated loosely: ‘The Fatherland should never be sold’. I also believe that Humanity should never be sold, as well as Love.

And that is why I am a Communist!

***

Betraying what we – human beings – really are, as well as betraying the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable among us is, I believe, more frightening than suicide, than death.

A person, a country or a culture that thrives on the suffering of others, is defunct, thoroughly immoral.

The West had been doing exactly that, for decades and centuries. It has been living from and thriving on the enslavement of others and usurping everything on and under the surface of our Earth. It has corrupted, morally and financially, millions of people in its colonies and client states, turning them into shameless and spineless collaborators. It has ‘educated’, indoctrinated and organized huge armies of traitors, on all continents, in almost all corners of the world.

Betrayal is the most powerful weapon of the Western Empire – betrayal and oblivion.

The West turns human beings into prostitutes and butlers, and those who refuse, into prisoners, slaves and martyrs.

Indoctrination is well planned. Dreams are poisoned and ideals dragged through dirt. Nothing pure is allowed to survive.

People are made to fantasize only about hardware; phones and tablets, cars and television sets. But the messages are empty, full of nihilism, repetitive and shallow. Cars can now drive very fast, but there is nothing really significant waiting at the end of the journey. Phones have thousands of functions and applications, but they are broadcasting increasingly trivial messages. Television sets are regurgitating propaganda and intellectually toxic entertainment.

It all brings profits to big corporations. It guarantees obedience. It strengthens the regime. But in many ways, humanity is getting poorer and poorer, while the Planet is almost entirely ruined.

Beauty is replaced with images full of gore. Knowledge is spat on, substituted by primitive pop. Or it is confused with those official-looking diplomas and stamps of approval issued by the indoctrination centers called universities: “Graduated: ready to serve the Empire!” Poetry is gone, from most of bookstores, and from life.

Love is now shaped on pop culture images, anchored in some ‘retro’, oppressive and outdated Christian dogmas.

It is clear that only Communism has so far been strong enough to confront the essence of the mightiest and the most destructive forces on our Planet: Western colonialism/ imperialism, which is locked in a disgusting and incestuous marriage with its own offspring – cruel feudal, capitalist and religious gangs of ‘local elites’ in conquered and ruined countries all over the world.

Both the Empire and its servants are betraying humanity. They are ruining the Planet, pushing it into the state where it could soon become uninhabitable. Or where life itself could lose all its meaning.

To me, to be a true Communist means this: to be engaged in the constant fight against the incessant rape of human brains, bodies and dignity, against the plunder of resources and nature, against selfishness and consequent intellectual and emotional emptiness.

I don’t care under which flag it is done – red with the hammer and sickle, or red with several yellow stars. I’m fine with either of them, as long as the people holding those banners are honest and concerned with the fate of humanity and our Planet.

And as long as people calling themselves Communists are still able to dream!

***

Western propagandists tell you: “show us one perfect Communist society!”

I answer: “There is no such society. Human beings, as we have determined, are incapable of creating anything perfect. Fortunately!” Only religious fanatics are aiming at ‘perfection’. Humans would die of boredom in a perfect world.

Revolution, a Communist Revolution, is a journey; it is a process. It is a huge, heroic attempt to build a much better world, using human brains, muscles, hearts, poetry and courage! It is a perpetual process, where people give more than they take, and when there is no sacrifice, only a fulfillment of duty towards humankind.

Che’ Guevara once said: “Sacrifices made should not be displayed as some identity card. They are nothing less than fulfilled obligations.”

Maybe in the West, it is too late for such concepts to flourish. Selfishness, cynicism, greed and indifference have been successfully injected into thesub-consciousness of the majority of people. Perhaps that is why, despite all those material and social privileges, the inhabitants of Europe and North America (but also of Japan) appear to be so depressed and gloomy. They live only for themselves, at the expense of others. They want more and more material goods and more and more privileges.

They have lost the ability to define their own condition, but probably, deep inside, they feel emptiness, intuitively sensing that something is terribly wrong.

And that’s why they hate Communism. That’s why they stick to self-righteous lies, deceptions and dogmas delivered to them by the regime’s propaganda. If Communists were right, then they would be wrong. And they suspect that they may be wrong. Communism is their bad conscience, and it brings fear that the bubble of lies could one day get exposed.

Most people in the West, even those who claim that they belong to the Left, want Communism to go away. They want to smear it, cover it with filth; bring it ‘to their level’. They want to muzzle it. They are desperately trying to convince themselves that Communism is wrong. Otherwise, theresponsibility for the hundreds of millions of lost lives would haunt them incessantly. Otherwise, they would have to hear and maybe even accept that the privileges of Europeans and North Americans are constructed on dreadful crimes against humanity! Otherwise, they would be forced to, on moral grounds, dismantle those privileges (something truly unthinkable, given the mindset of Western culture).

The recent position of the majority of Europeans towards the refugees coming from countries destabilized by the West, clearly shows how morally defunct the West really is. It is incapable of basic ethical judgments. Its ability to think logically has collapsed.

But the West is still ruling the world. Or more precisely, it is twisting its arm, pushing it towards disaster.

Western imperialist logic is simple: “If we rape and loot, it is because if we don’t, others would! Everybody is the same. It cannot be helped. What we do is essential to human nature.”

It is not. It is rubbish. I have seen people behaving better, much better than that, almost everywhere outside the Western world and its colonies. Even when they manage to slip away from their torturers and jailers – the Empire – for only a few years, they behave much better. But usually they are not allowed to slip away for too long: the Empire hits powerfully against those who dare to dream about freedom. It arranges coups against rebellious governments, destabilizes economies, supports the ‘opposition’, or directly invades.

It is absolutely clear to anyone who is still able and willing to see, that if the criminal Western Empire collapses, human beings would want to, they’d be capable of building great egalitarian and compassionate societies.

I believe that this is not the end. People are waking up from indoctrination, from stupor.

New, powerful anti-imperialist alliances are being forged. The year 2016 is not 1996 when there seemed to be almost no hopes left.

The war is waged, the war for the survival of humankind.

It is not a classical war of bullets and missiles. It is a war of nerves and ideals, dreams and information.

Before passing away, the great Uruguayan writer and revolutionary, Eduardo Galeano, told me: “Soon the time will come, and the world will erect old banners again!”

It is happening now! In Latin America, Africa and Asia, in almost all parts of the former Soviet Union and in China, people are demanding more Communism, not less. They don’t always call Communism by its name, but they are crying for its essence: freedom and solidarity, passion, fervor, courage to change the world, equality, justice and internationalism.

I have no doubt that we will win. But I also suspect that before we do, the Empire will bathe entire continents in blood. Desire of Westerners to rule and to control is pathological. They are ready to murder millions of those who are unwilling to fall on their knees. They already murdered hundreds of millions, throughout the centuries. And they will sacrifice millions more.

But this time, they will be stopped.

I believe it, and shoulder-to-shoulder with others, I am working day and night to make it happen.

Because it is my duty…

Because I’m a Communist!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western ImperialismDiscussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or hisTwitter.

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The last three or four years have seen a number of books, documentaries and articles on the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds. The majority has focused on adverse health and environmental impact; almost none on the geo-politics of GM seeds, and particularly seeds as a weapon of mass destruction. Engdahl has addressed this issue but the crop seed is one of the many “Seeds of Destruction” in this book.

Engdahl carefully documents how the intellectual foundations of ‘eugenics,’ mass culling of the sick, coloured, and otherwise disposable races, were actually first established, and even legally approved, in the United States. Eugenics research was financially supported by the Rockefeller and other elite families and first tested on Jews under Nazi Germany.

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It is purely by chance that the world’s poorest nations also happen to be best endowed with natural resources. These regions are also the ones with growing population. The fear among European ruling families, increasingly, integrating with economic and military might of the United States, was that if the poor nations became developed, the abundant natural resources, especially oil, gas, and strategic minerals and metals, may become scarcer for the white population. That situation was unacceptable to the white ruling elite.

The central question that dominated the minds of the ruling clique was population reduction in resource rich countries but the question was how to engineer mass culling all over the world without generating powerful backlash as it was bound to happen. When the US oil reserves peaked in 1972 and it became a net oil importer, the situation became alarming and the agenda took the centre stage. Kissinger, one of the key strategists of Nixon, nurtured by the Rockefellers, prepared what is known as National Security Study Memo (NSSM#200), in which he elaborated his plan for population reduction. In this Memo he specifically targets thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia,  Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and The Phillipines.

The weapon to be used was food; even if there was a famine food would be used to leverage population reduction. Kissinger is on record for stating, “Control oil, you control nations; control food and you control the people.” How a small group of key people transformed the elitist philosophy, of controlling food to control people, into realistic operational possibility within a short time is the backdrop of Engdahl’s book, the central theme running from the beginning till the end with the Rockefellers and Kissinger, among others, as the key dramatis personae.

He describes how the Rockefellers guided the US agriculture policy, used their powerful tax-free foundations worldwide to train an army of bright young scientists in hitherto unknown field of microbiology. He traces how the field of Eugenics was renamed “genetics” to make it more acceptable and also to hide the real purpose. Through incremental strategic adjustments within a handful of chemical, food and seed corporations, ably supported by the key persons in key departments of the US Government, behemoths were created that could re-write the regulatory framework in nearly every country. And these seeds of destruction of carefully constructed regulatory framework- to protect the environment and human health- were sown back in the 1920s.

Pause to think: a normal healthy person can at the most go without food for perhaps seven days but it takes a full season, say around four months, for a seed to grow into food crop. Just five agri-biz corporations, all US based (Cargill, Bunge, Archer Daniels, et al), control global grain trade, and just five control global trade in seeds. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and Dow Chemicals control genetically engineered seeds. While these powerful oligopolies were being knocked into place, anti-trust laws were diluted to exempt these firms. Engdahl writes, “It was not surprising that the Pentagon’s National Defense University, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq  War, issued a paper declaring: ‘Agribiz is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East.’ Agribusiness had become a strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world’s only superpower.” (page 143)

The “Green Revolution” was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil and gas based agriculture inputs in which Rockefeller’s had main interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. (See my notes, Box 1)

It is true that initially Green Revolution technologies led to spurt in farm productivity but at a huge cost of destruction of farmlands, bio-diversity, poisoned aquifers and progressively poor health of the people and was the true agenda of ‘the proponents of Green Revolution.’

The real impetus came with the technological possibility of gene splicing and insertion of specific traits into unrelated species. Life forms could be altered. But until 1979, the US Government had steadfastly refused to grant patent on life form. That was changed [my comment: helped much by a favorable judgment in the US Supreme Court granting patent protection to oil eating bacteria developed by Dr Ananda Chakraborty]. Life forms could now be patented. To ensure that the world surrendered to the patent regime of the seeds corporations, the World Trade Organization was knocked into shape. How it conducted business was nobody’s business, but it forced the world to accept intellectual property right of these corporations. There is opposition but these firms are too determined as Engdahl describes.

“The clear strategy of Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and the Washington Government backing them was to introduce the GMO seeds in every corner of the globe, with priority on defenceless …..African and developing countries,” write Engdahl (page 270). However, Engdahl also describes how US and Canadian farmlands came under GMOs. It was suspected that GMO could pose serious threat to human and animal health and the environment, yet efforts at independent biosafety assessment were discontinued. Scientists carrying out honest studies were vilified. Reputed scientific establishments were silenced or made to toe the line that was supportive of the Rockefeller’s food control and mass culling agenda. The destruction of the credibility of scientific institution is yet another seed of destruction in Engdahl’s book.

Engdahl cites the example of a German farmer Gottfried Glockner’s experience with GM corn. Glockner planted Bt176 event of Syngenta essentially as feed for his cows. Being a scientist, he started with 10% GM feed and gradually increased the proportion, carefully noting milk yield and any side effects. Nothing much happened in the first three years but when he increased the feed to 100% GM feed, his animals “were having gluey-white feaces and violent diarrhea” and “milk contained blood.” Eventually all his seventy cows died. Prof Angelika Hilbeck of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found from Glockner’s Bt 176 corn samples Bt toxins were present “in active form and extremely stable.” The cows died of high dose of toxins. Not if, but when human food is 100% contaminated should be a sobering thought.

In the US unlabelled GM foods were introduced in 1993 and that 70% of the supermarket foods contain GMOs in varying proportions in what should rightly be called world’s largest biological experiment on humans. While Engdahl has clearly stated that the thrust of US Government and the agi-biz is control over food especially in the third world, he has left it to the readers to deduce that American and European citizens are also target of that grand agenda. And there are more lethal weapons in the arsenal: Terminator seeds, Traitor seeds, and the ability to destroy small independent farmers at will in any part of the world, and these are powerfully presented in the book. Engdahl provides hard evidences for these seeds of final destruction and utter decimation of world civilizations as we have known.

It is a complex but highly readable book. It is divided into five parts, each containing two to four short chapters. The first part deals with the political maneuverings to ensure support to Seed and Agri-biz firms, the second deals with what should be widely known as ‘The Rockefeller Plan’, the third deals with how vertically integrated giants were readied for Washington’s silent wars on planet earth, the fourth part deals with how GM seeds were unleashed on unsuspecting farmers, and the final part deals with how the elites is going on destroying food, farmers that would eventually cause mass culling of population. He does not offer any solution; he can’t because it is up to the rest of the world, including Europeans and Americans, to wake up and take on these criminals head on. An essential read for anyone who eats and thinks.

Seeds of Destruction

The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

by F. William Engdahl

Global Research, 2007 ISBN 978-0-937147-2-2

SPECIAL ONLINE AND MAIL ORDER PRICE  US$18.00 (list price $25.95)

This skillfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and World peace.

original

 F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages. 

What is so frightening about Engdahl’s vision of the world is that it is so real. Although our civilization has been built on humanistic ideals, in this new age of “free markets”, everything– science, commerce, agriculture and even seeds– have become weapons in the hands of a few global corporation barons and their political fellow travelers. To achieve world domination, they no longer rely on bayonet-wielding soldiers. All they need is to control food production. (Dr. Arpad Pusztai, biochemist, formerly of the Rowett Research Institute Institute, Scotland)

If you want to learn about the socio-political agenda –why biotech corporations insist on spreading GMO seeds around the World– you should read this carefully researched book. You will learn how these corporations want to achieve control over all mankind, and why we must resist… (Marijan Jost, Professor of Genetics, Krizevci, Croatia)

The book reads like a murder mystery of an incredible dimension, in which four giant Anglo-American agribusiness conglomerates have no hesitation to use GMO to gain control over our very means of subsistence… (Anton Moser, Professor of Biotechnology, Graz, Austria).

Order Now: Online or Mail Order 

List Price US$25.95 plus taxes

US$18.00 plus shipping and handling (incl. taxes where applicable)

Every schoolchild knows that in order to makeup one must first offer a sincere apology. They must also be perceived as sincerely regretting whatever offense it was they committed, and show interest in not repeating such an offense or compounding it with similarly antisocial behavior. If such a notion is easily understood by a schoolchild, how come the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears not to know this?

To answer this question, one must read the narrative provided by the Washington-London establishment. Articles like the BBC’s “Can Russia and Turkey heal rift?” provides useful insight.

The article claims:

[Turkish President Erdogan] also said he wanted to improve ties with Russia but that he did not understand what kind of “first step” Moscow was expecting. 

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was clear about that: Moscow expects a formal and public apology from Turkey and also compensation for the jet incident. 

Not something that Ankara seems likely to do.  

To explain why something so simple is not something Ankara is likely to do, the BBC would elaborate by explaining that there is no “international” pressure on Ankara to do so. For long-time readers of news services like the BBC, they will realize that the term “international” actually refers to the US, UK and EU exclusively.

There is no pressure on Turkey from Washington, London and Brussels specifically because the downing of Russia’s warplane over Syria was part of a wider proxy war these centers of power have been waging in Syria against both Damascus and ultimately against Moscow.

The BBC also noted that:

As Russia maintained a de facto no-fly zone in northern Syria by the Turkish border, Turkey lost its ability to give air support to Syrian rebels or protect its borders from Islamic State (IS) militants’ shelling. 

However, this is a transparent falsehood. IS has long been suspected of using Turkish territory as a safe haven and springboard into Syria. More recently, this has become painfully obvious and a point of humiliating contention for Ankara. Ankara is clearly being left holding the most toxic aspects of Washington’s proxy war against Syria, including complicity in propping up IS.

IS “shelling” into Turkey resembles less of a genuine threat to Turkish security, and more of an updated version of a conspiracy revealed by the International Business Tribune (IBT) in which Ankara planned to attack its own territory from Syria to help justify cross border military incursions into Syria by Turkish forces.

IBT would report in its 2014 article, “Turkey YouTube Ban: Full Transcript of Leaked Syria ‘War’ Conversation Between Erdogan Officials,” that:

The leaked call details Erdogan’s thoughts that an attack on Syria “must be seen as an opportunity for us [Turkey]”. 

In the conversation, intelligence chief Fidan says that he will send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to “make up a cause of war”.

The reason Russia is conducting airstrikes along the Syrian-Turkish border is precisely to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations operating along it. Most importantly, airstrikes along the border have aimed specifically at disrupting the flow of supplies, fighters and weapons from Turkey into Syria. Considering that fact, it is more likely Turkey and its partners in America and Europe are not upset because they are unable to support efforts to stop IS, but are being prevented from they themselves continuing to prop up IS.

All the Benefits of Reconciliation, Without Actually Reconciling? 

Turkey does indeed likely want to repair relations with Russia, with the latest diplomatic row costing Turkey economically, politically and the BBC even alludes to military consequences as well. However, it is clear that Turkey neither seeks actual reconciliation with Russia, nor intends on reforming its current role in the proxy war being waged on Moscow’s allies in Damascus that has caused this widening chasm in bilateral relations.

In other words, Turkey wants the penalties of its actions negated, while continuing its destructive behavior toward both Syria and Russia. Nothing could be a more irrational and unreasonable foreign policy or more indicative of the immature and irresponsible policymakers currently residing in Ankara.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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Nas engrenagens da Anaconda

June 8th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

Começa hoje (7 de junho), na Polônia, a Anakonda 16, “a maior manobra militar aliada deste ano”: participam mais de 25 mil hommes de 19 países da Otan (entre estes Etados Unidos, Alemanha, Reino Unido, Turquia) e de 6 parceiros (1): Geórgia, Ucrânia e Kossovo (reconhecido como Estado), de fato já na Otan sob comando dos Estados Unidos; Macedônia, que não está ainda na Otan apenas devido à oposição da Grécia sobre a questão do nome do país (o mesmo de uma das províncias gregas, que a Macedônia poderia reivindicar); Suécia e Finlândia, que se aproximam cada vez mais da Otan (elas participaram em maio na reunião dos ministros das Relações Exteriores da Aliança).

Formalmente a manobra está sob a condução polonesa (daí o “k” no nome), para satisfazer o orgulho nacional de Varsóvia. Na realidade, está sob comando do US Army Europe que, como “área de responsabilidade” abrange 51 países (incluindo toda a Rússia), tendo por missão oficial “promover os interesses estratégicos americanos na Europa e Eurásia”. Cada ano esse exército efetua mil operações militares em mais de 40 países da área.

O US Army Europe participa na manobra com 18 de suas unidades, entre as quais a 173ª Brigada aerotransportada de Vicenza. A Anakonda 16, que se desenvolve até 17 de junho, é claramente dirigida contra a Rússia. A manobra prevê “missões de assalto de forças multinacionais aerotransportadas” e outras incluindo a área do Mar Báltico na fronteira do território russo.

Na véspera da Anakonda 16, Varsóvia anunciou que em 2017 aumentará as forças armadas polonesas de 100 a 150 mil homens, constituindo uma força paramilitar de 35 mil homens denominada “força de defesa territorial”. Distribuída em todas as províncias, a começar pelas orientais, ela terá como missão “impedir a Rússia de controlar o território polonês, como ela fez na Ucrânia”.

Os membros da nova força, que receberão um salário mensal, serão treinados, a partir de setembro, por instrutores estadunidenses e da Otan segundo o modelo adotado na Ucrânia, onde treinam a Guarda Nacional incluindo os batalhões neonazistas. A associação paramilitar polonesa Strzelec, que com mais de 10 mil homens constituirá o ponto nevrálgico da nova força, já começou seu treinamento participando na Anakonda 16. A constituição da força paramilitar, que no plano interno fornece ao presidente Andrzej Duda um novo instrumento para reprimir a oposição, participa no aumento do poderio militar da Polônia, com um custo previsto de 34 bilhões de dólares, de agora até 2022, sob o encorajamento dos Estados Unidos e da Otan com finalidades antirrussas.

Os trabalhos já começaram para instalar na Polônia uma bateria terrestre de mísseis do sistema estadunidense Aegis, semelhante ao que já está em funcionamento na Romênia, que pode lançar tanto mísseis interceptadores como mísseis de ataque nuclear. Aguardando a cúpula da Otan de Varsóvia (8 e 9 de julho), que oficializará a escalada anti-Rússia, o Pentágono se prepara para deslocar para a Europa uma brigada de combate de cinco mil homens que se movimentará entre a Polônia e os países bálticos.

Ao mesmo tempo, intensificam-se as manobras militares dos EUA/Otan dirigidas contra a Rússia: em 5 de junho, dois dias antes da Anakonda 16, começou no Mar Báltico a Baltops 16, com 6.100 militares, 45 navios e 60 aviões de guerra de 17 países (inclusive a Itália) sob o comando dos EUA. Nela participam também bombardeiros estratégicos estadunidenses B-52. A cerca de 100 milhas do território russo de Kalingrado.

É uma escalada ulterior da estratégia de tensão, que a Europa impulsiona para uma confrontação não menos perigosa que a da guerra fria. Sob o silêncio politico-midiático das “grandes democracias” ocidentais.

Manlio Dinucci

Artigo em italiano :

http://ilmanifesto.info/nelle-spire-dellanaconda/

 Tradução de José Reinaldo Carvalho, para Resistência

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Bilderberg Chooses Hillary Clinton for 2016?

June 8th, 2016 by Intellihub News

Note: This article originally published in June 2015 is of significance in relation to ongoing US presidential campaign

Image: A Bilderberg attendee arrives at the 2012 Bilderberg conference in Virginia – photo credit: Shepard Ambellas

The “official” Bilderberg Group website has released a list of participants for this years upcoming conference. The website also released a list of bullet points that they claim is the agenda for the secretive globalist confab.

In the past, Intellihub News and others have confirmed that while the list released by the Bilderberg website does include many who will be there, it also leaves out those that would rather not have their name released to the public.

It is also well-known that whatever agenda is discussed at Bilderberg will have repercussions for the entire world for years to come. (past attendees have claimed that the idea for the Euro was first discussed at Bilderberg)

Perhaps the biggest piece of news coming out of Austria and Bilderberg 2015 so far is the fact that a major Hillary Clinton advisor is on the list and set to attend.

Longtime Clinton friend and ally Jim Messina of The Messina Group will be attending the globalist conference where the globalist favorite for United States 2016 election will surely be decided. This news indicates that the powers that be have most likely decided to back Clinton for President.

Key topics listed in the official press release include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cybersecurity
  • Chemical Weapons Threats
  • Current Economic Issue
  • European Strategy
  • Globalisation
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Middle East
  • NATO
  • Russia
  • Terrorism
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • US Elections

FINAL LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

Chairman

Castries, Henri de Chairman and CEO, AXA Group FRA
Achleitner, Paul M. Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG DEU
Agius, Marcus Non-Executive Chairman, PA Consulting Group GBR
Ahrenkiel, Thomas Director, Danish Intelligence Service (DDIS) DNK
Allen, John R. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, US Department of State USA
Altman, Roger C. Executive Chairman, Evercore USA
Applebaum, Anne Director of Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute POL
Apunen, Matti Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA FIN
Baird, Zoë CEO and President, Markle Foundation USA
Balls, Edward M. Former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer GBR
Balsemão, Francisco Pinto Chairman, Impresa SGPS PRT
Barroso, José M. Durão Former President of the European Commission PRT
Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP FRA
Benko, René Founder, SIGNA Holding GmbH AUT
Bernabè, Franco Chairman, FB Group SRL ITA
Beurden, Ben van CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc NLD
Bigorgne, Laurent Director, Institut Montaigne FRA
Boone, Laurence Special Adviser on Financial and Economic Affairs to the President FRA
Botín, Ana P. Chairman, Banco Santander ESP
Brandtzæg, Svein Richard President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA NOR
Bronner, Oscar Publisher, Standard Verlagsgesellschaft AUT
Burns, William President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace USA
Calvar, Patrick Director General, DGSI FRA
Castries, Henri de Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings; Chairman and CEO, AXA Group FRA
Cebrián, Juan Luis Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA ESP
Clark, W. Edmund Retired Executive, TD Bank Group CAN
Coeuré, Benoît Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank INT
Coyne, Andrew Editor, Editorials and Comment, National Post CAN
Damberg, Mikael L. Minister for Enterprise and Innovation SWE
De Gucht, Karel Former EU Trade Commissioner, State Minister BEL
Dijsselbloem, Jeroen Minister of Finance NLD
Donilon, Thomas E. Former U.S. National Security Advisor; Partner and Vice Chair, O’Melveny & Myers LLP USA
Döpfner, Mathias CEO, Axel Springer SE DEU
Dowling, Ann President, Royal Academy of Engineering GBR
Dugan, Regina Vice President for Engineering, Advanced Technology and Projects, Google USA
Eilertsen, Trine Political Editor, Aftenposten NOR
Eldrup, Merete CEO, TV 2 Danmark A/S DNK
Elkann, John Chairman and CEO, EXOR; Chairman, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ITA
Enders, Thomas CEO, Airbus Group DEU
Erdoes, Mary CEO, JP Morgan Asset Management USA
Fairhead, Rona Chairman, BBC Trust GBR
Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S DNK
Feldstein, Martin S. President Emeritus, NBER;  Professor of Economics, Harvard University USA
Ferguson, Niall Professor of History, Harvard University, Gunzberg Center for European Studies USA
Fischer, Heinz Federal President AUT
Flint, Douglas J. Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc GBR
Franz, Christoph Chairman of the Board, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd CHE
Fresco, Louise O. President and Chairman Executive Board, Wageningen University and Research Centre NLD
Griffin, Kenneth Founder and CEO, Citadel Investment Group, LLC USA
Gruber, Lilli Executive Editor and Anchor “Otto e mezzo”, La7 TV ITA
Guriev, Sergei Professor of Economics, Sciences Po RUS
Gürkaynak, Gönenç Managing Partner, ELIG Law Firm TUR
Gusenbauer, Alfred Former Chancellor of the Republic of Austria AUT
Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Economics, Leiden University NLD
Hampel, Erich Chairman, UniCredit Bank Austria AG AUT
Hassabis, Demis Vice President of Engineering, Google DeepMind GBR
Hesoun, Wolfgang CEO, Siemens Austria AUT
Hildebrand, Philipp Vice Chairman, BlackRock Inc. CHE
Hoffman, Reid Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn USA
Ischinger, Wolfgang Chairman, Munich Security Conference INT
Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard USA
Jäkel, Julia CEO, Gruner + Jahr DEU
Johnson, James A. Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners USA
Juppé, Alain Mayor of Bordeaux, Former Prime Minister FRA
Kaeser, Joe President and CEO, Siemens AG DEU
Karp, Alex CEO, Palantir Technologies USA
Kepel, Gilles University Professor, Sciences Po FRA
Kerr, John Deputy Chairman, Scottish Power GBR
Kesici, Ilhan MP, Turkish Parliament TUR
Kissinger, Henry A. Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc. USA
Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa USA
Knot, Klaas H.W. President, De Nederlandsche Bank NLD
Koç, Mustafa V. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S. TUR
Kogler, Konrad Director General, Directorate General for Public Security AUT
Kravis, Henry R. Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. USA
Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute USA
Kudelski, André Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group CHE
Lauk, Kurt President, Globe Capital Partners DEU
Lemne, Carola CEO, The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise SWE
Levey, Stuart Chief Legal Officer, HSBC Holdings plc USA
Leyen, Ursula von der Minister of Defence DEU
Leysen, Thomas Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group BEL
Maher, Shiraz Senior Research Fellow, ICSR, King’s College London GBR
Markus Lassen, Christina Head of Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Security Policy and Stabilisation DNK
Mathews, Jessica T. Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace USA
Mattis, James Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University USA
Maudet, Pierre Vice-President of the State Council, Department of Security, Police and the Economy of Geneva CHE
McKay, David I. President and CEO, Royal Bank of Canada CAN
Mert, Nuray Columnist, Professor of Political Science, Istanbul University TUR
Messina, Jim CEO, The Messina Group USA
Michel, Charles Prime Minister BEL
Micklethwait, John Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg LP USA
Minton Beddoes, Zanny Editor-in-Chief, The Economist GBR
Monti, Mario Senator-for-life; President, Bocconi University ITA
Mörttinen, Leena Executive Director, The Finnish Family Firms Association FIN
Mundie, Craig J. Principal, Mundie & Associates USA
Munroe-Blum, Heather Chairperson, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board CAN
Netherlands, H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of the NLD
O’Leary, Michael CEO, Ryanair Plc IRL
Osborne, George First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer GBR
Özel, Soli Columnist, Haberturk Newspaper; Senior Lecturer, Kadir Has University TUR
Papalexopoulos, Dimitri Group CEO, Titan Cement Co. GRC
Pégard, Catherine President, Public Establishment of the Palace, Museum and National Estate of Versailles FRA
Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute USA
Petraeus, David H. Chairman, KKR Global Institute USA
Pikrammenos, Panagiotis Honorary President of The Hellenic Council of State GRC
Reisman, Heather M. Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc. CAN
Rocca, Gianfelice Chairman, Techint Group ITA
Roiss, Gerhard CEO, OMV Austria AUT
Rubin, Robert E. Co Chair, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury USA
Rutte, Mark Prime Minister NLD
Sadjadpour, Karim Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace USA
Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Pedro Leader, Partido Socialista Obrero Español PSOE ESP
Sawers, John Chairman and Partner, Macro Advisory Partners GBR
Sayek Böke, Selin Vice President, Republican People’s Party TUR
Schmidt, Eric E. Executive Chairman, Google Inc. USA
Scholten, Rudolf CEO, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG AUT
Senard, Jean-Dominique CEO, Michelin Group FRA
Sevelda, Karl CEO, Raiffeisen Bank International AG AUT
Stoltenberg, Jens Secretary General, NATO INT
Stubb, Alexander Prime Minister FIN
Suder, Katrin Deputy Minister of Defense DEU
Sutherland, Peter D. UN Special Representative; Chairman, Goldman Sachs International IRL
Svanberg, Carl-Henric Chairman, BP plc; Chairman, AB Volvo SWE
Svarva, Olaug CEO, The Government Pension Fund Norway NOR
Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital USA
Tsoukalis, Loukas President, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy GRC
Üzümcü, Ahmet Director-General, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons INT
Vitorino, António M. Partner, Cuetrecasas, Concalves Pereira, RL PRT
Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB SWE
Weber, Vin Partner, Mercury LLC USA
Wolf, Martin H. Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times GBR
Wolfensohn, James D. Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company USA
Zoellick, Robert B. Chairman, Board of International Advisors, The Goldman Sachs Group USA

Intellihub News is a leading independent news agency covering a wide range of issues including globalism, the increasing police state, and the control of media by a small number of corrupt corporations.

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Economist Michael Hudson says neoliberal policy will pressure U.S. citizens to emigrate, just as it caused millions to leave Russia, the Baltic States, and now Greece in search of a better life.

A research team from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York estimates 875,000 deaths in the United States in year 2000 could be attributed to social factors related to poverty and income inequality.

According to U.S. government statistics, 2.45 million Americans died in the same year. When compared to the Columbia research team’s finding, social deprivation could account for some 36% of the total deaths in 2000.

“Almost all of the British economists of the late 18th century said when you have poverty, when you have a transfer of wealth to the rich, you’re going to have shorter lifespans, and you’re also going to have emigration,” says Michael Hudson, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Many countries, such as Russia, the Baltic States, and now Greece, have seen a massive outflow of their populations due to worsening social conditions after the implementation of neoliberal policy.

Hudson predicts that the United States will undergo the same trend, as greater hardship results from the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, changes to social security, and broader policy shifts due to prospective appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and the next presidential cabinet.

“Now, the question is, in America, now that you’re having as a result of this polarization shorter lifespans, worse health, worse diets, where are the Americans going to emigrate? Nobody can figure that one out yet,” says Hudson.

SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: After decades of sustained attacks on social programs and consistently high unemployment rates, it is no surprise that mortality rates in the country have increased. A research team from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York has estimated that 875,000 deaths in the United States in the year 2000 could be attributed to clusters of social factors bound up with poverty and income inequality. According to U.S. government statistics, some 2.45 million Americans died in the year 2000, thus the researchers estimate means that social deprivation was responsible for some 36 percent of the total deaths that year. A staggering total.

Joining us to discuss all of this from New York City is Michael Hudson. Michael is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri Kansas City. His latest book is Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy

So, Michael, what do you make of this recent research and what it’’s telling us about the death total in this country?

HUDSON: What it tells is almost identical to what has already been narrated for Russia and Greece. And what is responsible for the increasing death rates is neoliberal economic2KillingTheHost_Cover_rulepolicy, neoliberal trade policy, and the polarization and impoverishment of a large part of society. After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, death rates soared, lifespans shortened, health standards decreased all throughout the Yeltsin administration, until finally President Putin came in and stabilized matters. Putin said that the destruction caused by neoliberal economic policies had killed more Russians than all of whom died in World War II, the 22 million people. That’s the devastation that polarization caused there.

Same thing in Greece. In the last five years, Greek lifespans have shortened. They’re getting sicker, they are dying faster, they’re not healthy. Almost all of the British economists of the late 18th century said when you have poverty, when you have a transfer of wealth to the rich, you’re going to have shorter lifespans, and you’re also going to have immigration. The countries that have a hard money policy, a creditor policy, people are going to emigrate. Now, at that time that was why England was gaining immigrants. It was gaining skilled labor. It was gaining people to work in its industry because other countries were still in the post-feudal system and were driving them out. Russia had a huge emigration of skilled labor, largely to Germany and to the United States, especially in information technology. Greece has a heavy outflow of labor. The Baltic States have had almost a 10 percent decline in their population in the last decade as a result of their neoliberal policies. Also, health problems are rising.

Now, the question is, in America, now that you’re having as a result of this polarization shorter lifespans, worse health, worse diets, where are the Americans going to emigrate? Nobody can figure that one out yet. There’s nowhere for them to go, because they don’t speak a foreign language. The Russians, the Greeks, most Europeans all somehow have to learn English in school. They’re able to get by in other countries. They’re not sure where on earth the Americans will go. Nobody can really figure this out.

And the amazing thing, what’s going to make this worse, is the the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, and the counterpart with the Atlantic states. There’s news that President Obama plans to make a big push for the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, essentially the giveaway to corporations preventing governments from enacting environmental protections, preventing them from imposing health standards, preventing them from having cigarette warnings or warnings about bad food. Obama says he wants to push this through after the election. And the plan is that the Republicans also are sort of working with him and saying okay, we’re going to wait and see. Maybe Donald Trump will come in and he’ll really do things. Or maybe we can get Hillary, who will move way further to the right than any Republican could, and bring along the Congress.

But let’s say that we don’t know what’s happening after the elections, and the Republicans don’t want a risk. They’re going to do a number of things. They’re going to approve Obama’s Republican nominee to the Supreme Court figuring, well, maybe Hillary will put in someone worse, or even Trump may put in someone worse. They may go along, at this point, with ratifying a trade agreement that’s going to vastly increase unemployment here, especially in industrial labor, turning much of the American industrial urban complex into a rust belt. And they’re also talking about an October surprise or an early November surprise. It’s the last chance that Obama has, really, to start a war with Russia.

Russia policy expert Stephen Cohen, and a number of other site,s have warned that there’s going to be a danger when they put in the atomic weapons in Romania. President Putin has said this is a red line. We’re not going to warn. We don’t have an army. We can only use atomic weapons. So you have danger coming not only from a domestic decline in population, you have a real chance of war. And Obama has stepped things up. Hillary has, I think, almost announced that she is going to appoint Victoria Nuland as secretary of state, and Nuland is the person who was pushing the Ukrainian fascists in the direction of assassinations and shootouts.

This trend looks very bad. If you want to see where America is going demographically, best to look at Greece, Latvia, Russia, and also in England. A Dr. Miller has done studies of health and longevity, and he’s found that the lower the income status of any group in England, the shorter the lifespan. Now, this is very important for the current debate about Social Security. You’re having people talk about extending the Social Security age because people are living longer. Who’s living longer in America? The rich are living longer. The wealthy are living longer. But if you make under $30,000 a year, or even under $50,000 a year, you’re not living longer.

So the idea is how to avoid having to pay Social Security for the lower-income people — the middle class and the working class that die quicker, and only pay social security for the wealthier classes that live longer? Nobody has plugged this discussion of lifespans and longevity into the Social Security debate that Obama and Hillary are trying to raise the retirement age, to ostensibly save Social Security. By saving Social Security she means to avoid taxing the higher brackets and paying for Social Security out of the general budget, which of course would entail taxing the higher-income people as well as the lower-income people.

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The decision to place all the arrivals in a closed detention centre which followed on from the EU/Turkey pact led some activists and NGOs to withdraw from direct work in the Samos hotspot (aka the Camp). Given the dubious legality of the pact and the intention to return the majority of the arrivals back to Turkey which has been deemed a safe place for refugees, it was considered that any interventions with refugees in the Camp would signify compliance with this latest inappropriate and inhumane response to the refugees. As one MSF worker observed at the time, “how can I help and welcome the arrivals on the beach when I know that they are going to be locked in the camp and then possibly deported to Turkey? I can’t do that”.

The changed role of the NGOs and some activists has not been without some negative consequences. Not the least the refugees now in the Camp (around 1,000 including hundreds of young children) have to some degree been abandoned to the authorities. One of the key lessons we have learnt over the years of working with refugees here, is that the system does not do humanitarianism when it comes to refugees. Many individual volunteers who arrive here for a short time and register with the authorities have continued to enter the camp to do what they can, especially with respect to clothing and in one case offering classes in Greek.

If the pact should collapse it is very likely that the flow to the frontier Greek islands will grow again. As it is the numbers now coming to the frontier islands such as Samos, Lesvos and Chios are slowly increasing. 55 refugees arrived on 7th June and a further 60 three days earlier. This week has also seen the Greek press reporting on convoys of buses travelling into Izmir carrying refugees and ‘hundreds’ of boats being prepared along the coast. Who knows? It is possible and the pact is by no means secure. More significantly, there is no let-up in the war in Syria, nor in Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen. Neither is there any let up in the plundering and corruption which drives so many young men to leave north Africa and Pakistan. And should the situation in the huge refugee camps within Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan continue to deteriorate then more refugees will be taking to the road especially if there is no sign of any peace agreements.

Shameful

What is so shameful is that there is no desire or intent to provide a safe and supportive place for refugees. The Samos hotspot is a perfect illustration of this attitude. European history is full of examples where the oppression and control of the poor has been exercised in a wide variety of ways, including architecture. Prisons and workhouses in 19th century Britain were not only located in the midst of desperately poor neighbourhoods but were consciously designed and built to be symbols of state power and fear. This is no less true for the Samos hotspot. A double wire fence topped with razor wire speaks volumes and it is not in words of welcome and compassion.

In part this is driven by the notion, which we have heard many times from senior officials on Samos, that a humanitarian embrace of the arrivals would make Samos attractive and encourage more refugees to come over from Turkey. We heard exactly the same sentiments expressed in Hamburg in the 1980s when we visited the converted factories which housed refugee families for up to 5 years in the most appalling overcrowded and dismal conditions. It was important we were told that the message gets back up the line to intending refugees that this was what they could expect. Don’t come! It was the same logic used by the British government in its support for reducing the Italian led Mare Nostrum rescue initiative in the Mediterranean. If the journey was made in the knowledge that there would be less chance of rescue and hence more danger then it would discourage refugees from attempting the journey. It is certainly reflected in the total silence of the system with respect to safe passage across the Aegean from Turkey to Samos. The ferries between the islands and Turkey are now operating again. And yet again they are not allowed to carry refugees.

The system knows all too well that making refugee journeys dangerous and making reception facilities ugly and oppressive has no deterrent impact. This is a known truth across the globe. We are now witnessing sometimes over a thousand people a week drowning in the crossings to Europe, especially from Libya. We are seeing new and more dangerous routes opening up between Turkey and Crete and so it will go on. Knowing that cruel deterrence does not work makes the system’s policies all the more toxic and vile. It simply doesn’t care how many refugees perish. After all they are refugees and not passengers on some missing airliner.

Fewer in Number But Still They Come

There are many factors at play in the recent marked reduction in the refugee flow to the Greek islands since March 20th. Some we can only guess at, as there is, as ever, a marked lack of reliable information about what is going on over in Turkey. So we hear many different accounts from the refugees which include more push backs by the Turkish coastguards, and a reduction in the number of smugglers so making it more difficult to find transport but we have no idea if this because the smugglers are lying low at this time, or if they have moved their operations. We also hear of increased police and army patrols on the Turkish side. Inevitably the closing and militarisation of the land borders out of Greece making the country a prison trapping tens of thousands of refugees, especially the old and the young is leading refugees to forge new roads to Europe avoiding Greece.

Amongst the refugees who have arrived on Samos since the end of March there have been well over 300, nearly all young men, from Pakistan, Morocco and Algeria. All of whom paid between 600 and 1700 Euros to make the dangerous sea passage to Samos on top of all their other costs in getting here. Under the EU/Turkey pact these refugees are considered to be ‘economic migrants’ and prime candidates for immediate deportation back to Turkey, and indeed the majority of those who have been returned are overwhelmingly from these countries. Yet still they come and take enormous risks and confront such hardship whilst they are detained.

It is clear from some of those we have talked with that there is little interest in the details of the latest policies and practices. The system, as they say, is always against them, always interested in stopping them, hassling them in whatever ways it can. This is how it is. Amongst many of the young men we find a determination and a confidence that whatever the barrier they will find a way around. Hundreds of thousands have gone before them, breaking through borders and barriers. OK it might be more difficult now but it is not impossible. Refugees are still making it out of Samos and Greece despite the pact, including our friend Mamoud who left here in April and is now in France. And the choice becomes less crazy when the refugees see the chaos and confusions in the hotspots across Greece. To date only a tiny fragment of asylum applications have been processed in the whole of Greece since the end of March. There are over 7,000 refugees who are still waiting to just make an asylum application. There are around 55,000 refugees stuck in Greece. Just how long is it feasible to hold people in the hotspots as they wait for their cases to be considered?

One of the loudest complaints of the refugees is that they are left in the dark with no information. But there is no information to give. The Greek asylum system generally is in chaos. The authorities running the hotspots don’t know when they are going to get the lawyers and judges necessary for this new system to function. In the Samos hotspot it appears from a question in the Athens parliament this week that there is only ONE person working on the asylum applications!

For months now statements in the local media make grand announcements about the resources that are going to come to Samos. In March we were informed that 500 jobs were to be created in the hotspot which would constitute the biggest job creation project since the Greek crisis started in earnest over 6 years ago. New and better accommodation cabins for the camp were on their way as well as lawyers and asylum experts from across Europe (2,300 of them for the Greek islands). But virtually nothing has arrived apart from more police and Frontex people. And this has been the pattern for years now on Samos. Lots of talk and declarations and then nothing unless it involves security and barbed wire.

Pact Under Pressure

The pact can only work if Turkey is accepted as a safe country for deported refugees. Much to the dismay of the EU authorities, Greece has not endorsed Turkey as a ‘blanket’ safe country and the judges on the panels which hear appeals when asylum is not granted, are insisting that every case for deportation has to be considered on a case by case basis. This completely goes against the plan to deport the majority of new arrivals as rapidly as possible with Turkey established as one of the gateways into Europe. According to the Greek newspaper, Ekathimerini (7th June):

“Fears are rising about the possible breakdown of a deal between the European Union and Turkey for the return of migrants after legal committees in Greece upheld dozens of appeals by refugees against their deportation. By late Monday, Greek appeals committees had ruled in favour of 35 refugees, ruling that Turkey is “an unsafe country.” Only two rulings overturned appeals by refugees against their deportation.”

The pact may fall not simply as a result of whether Turkey gets what it wants (visas and cash) but from within Europe itself. The EU seems (thankfully) incapable of being able to implement its policies and unable to mobilise its collective resources. There is little solidarity between the member states and each is now making its own arrangements irrespective of the wider consequences. One of which appears to be turning countries such as Greece and Italy into giant holding camps for refugees.There are endless examples of these failures including the intention that all newly arriving refugees are to be kept on the frontier islands and not be allowed to move onto the mainland. This is an important aspect of their policy as the Austrian foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, noted in an interview on June 5th:

“A refugee, who stays on an island like the [the Greek island of] Lesbos with no chance of receiving asylum, will be more willing to return voluntarily, as someone who has moved into an apartment in Vienna or Berlin.” (http://presstv.ir/Detail/2016/06/05/468984/Austria-Kurz-refugees-EU-Turkey-Australia)

But the hotspots are already massively overcrowded and all new arrivals add to that pressure. Drip by drip and as each day passes the pressure grows. It is not sustainable.

Desperation and Hope

The European authorities constantly fail to grasp that the overwhelming majority of refugees are desperate to find a safe home again. It is desperation that drives them onto the road away from their countries and to make life threatening journeys. And it is often hope that pushes them towards Europe. They may find their final destinations difficult but as yet there are no bombs dropping on Berlin or Munich. Moreover Europe projects itself to the rest of the world not only as a place of peace but also as highly civilised, democratic, protective, governed by the rule of law, justice and so on. A place of refuge, a place where they might live again. Imagine then arriving on such hallowed ground and then being treated as less than human, let alone as a refugee fleeing war and danger; it is quite literally gob-smacking for many refugees. But they don’t relent because they believe that their claims for refuge are un-impeachable and it is almost inconceivable that Europe will not eventually concede and rescue them from the hotspots on the islands. When nothing of the sort happens so their rage (and depression for some) grows and more and more we hear them resort to their very basic demand of “We are human”.

Boiling Over

This rage is going to escalate. For the refugees trapped for months in the hotspot on Samos the Camp is a pressure cooker as we have recounted in earlier articles. Overcrowded, starved of information, having no idea when their lives might resume, treated like dirt, bored out their heads, surviving on pathetic food feeds frustration. Daily fights break out inside the camp as these emotions boil over. But the press only report the big fights such as the one which erupted during the late evening of June 2nd when two of the cabins were burnt down and 7 refugees required hospitalisation. The mainstream media report these more spectacular fights where refugees are injured but they never provide any context so encouraging the belief that this is how refugees are – violent, unpredictable, excitable…. Whereas it is the Camp and its cruelties and inadequacies which are responsible for these tensions. And they are not episodic incidents as the press would have us believe. They are happening every day.

Tourism has collapsed on Samos this summer. It is catastrophic for the island as tourism is such an important part of the local economy. With almost no exception the refugees on Samos have been identified as the reason for this disaster. Visiting government ministers, the mayor, the regional prefect, the hotel associations, the lawyers and so on all point the finger at the refugees and the highly reported explosions in the camp play into this story. Refugees are to be feared because they are dangerous, they fight, they steal, they spread diseases, they sexually harass women; all of which are said to be almost unknown amongst the locals on Samos (Samos Bar Association, 4th June).

The local elites then seem disturbed when they find their accounts being publicised in the media especially in countries like Germany and Holland which are traditionally big markets for Samos tourism. It is not the reality here which keeps tourists away because there are no hordes of refugees wandering the streets; there are no outbreaks of dangerous diseases; there is no violence outside of the Camp and it is a lie to suggest that everyone on the island is being badly affected by the presence of the refugees. But this myth making which has become the main tactic of the local establishment when begging for funds from Athens and Brussels has back-fired badly. It is the authorities here which are largely responsible for feeding the media’s one-eyed reporting of the situation on Samos, not the refugees.

New Anxieties

They talk rubbish but it is dangerous for here in Greece it can only be a matter of time before fascist parties such as Golden Dawn begin to exploit this manufactured unease with a vengeance. Only yesterday we heard that far right groups were attacking refugees on Chios. And across Europe as a whole we are seeing attacks on refugees increasing.

We are also seeing new areas of deep concern and anxiety emerging as refugees on Samos are hearing more and more from their friends and families in northern Europe about the huge delays and bureaucracy associated with family re-unification. For many family re-unification was both their dream and their expectation when making their escape to Europe. In all the main receiving countries family reunification procedures are becoming increasingly complex and bureaucratic and lasting from anything between 2 and 3 years. It is a new form of torture with unendurable delays. There is increasing refugee testimony that these barriers are a major influence as to why 37,000 refugees sought voluntary return to their countries from Germany in the past year. Stories such as the one we heard from northern Germany this week where the parents are separated from their 2 daughters in one part of Germany and their son in another, and after 8 months are still no nearer to being united are becoming more common place and provoking deep unease amongst the refugees here.

But it is not just family re-unification which is bothering the refugees.Statewatch, an excellent source of information on refugees, posted the following this week:

“As reported by Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), an interior ministry report based on March 31 data shows there were over 219,000 migrants set to be expelled from Germany. Almost 168,000 of them had been issued the so-called Duldung (tolerance) permits, allowing them to stay in the country until obstacles for their deportation are cleared. The remaining 51,000, however, were to be expelled as soon as possible.”

On the basis of these numbers alone, it would seem that the number one destination country (Germany) for the refugees coming through Samos, does not look so promising.

Being Forgotten

On Samos we need to make sure that the refugees in the Camp are not forgotten. So much of the system’s agenda is played out in and by the mainstream media. But what often gets neglected is the impact of its episodic coverage. A classic example are the ‘missing’ 10,000 refugee children within Europe which Europol revealed in January 2016. For a few days this was news. Since then virtually nothing. They are off the agenda. 10,000 or more children missing and so little attention. It is extraordinary. It takes no imagination to know that if these were British or French children it would be a very different story.

On Samos if there is nothing dramatic to report or to film there is no media coverage. Once off the pages of papers and dropped from the news bulletins it is as if the issue has simply gone away. So although the refugees are not coming now in great numbers we have in our midst a Camp holding over 1000 refugees in conditions which defy any meaning of humanity and solidarity. To live with this tumor in our midst is distressing in the extreme for both the refugees and many islanders. How do you relax over a coffee with friends in the centre of Samos town when you know that less than 1 km away is a Camp where people are frightened and treated worse than any animal on this continent?

We are like many other people on Samos. We want to shout out to the people of Europe and the World. Look at what is happening. Find out. Learn and act. To be silent is to be compliant. The system is foul and dangerous and criminal. It will not reform itself. Only the people of the world, acting as human beings can make the changes so desperately needed.

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US-dominated NATO is currently holding its largest war games since Soviet Russia dissolved in 1991 – provocative exercises in Poland, America on a slippery slope toward direct confrontation with Russia, pushing the envelope toward possible nuclear war.

So-called Anaconda 16 continues for 10 days through mid-June, involving over 30,000 combat troops from 24 NATO states and partners – led, of course, by America with nearly half the force contingent, continuing to prove it’s the greatest threat to world peace and humanity’s survival.

Russia threatens no one, Putin the world’s preeminent peacemaker. US-led NATO exercises are occurring weeks before a July 8 – 9 Warsaw summit to approve increased numbers of combat troops deployed near Russia’s borders – in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Poland urges a permanent US-led NATO presence on its territory and regionally. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg falsely claimed added troop deployments are to counter a “more assertive Russia, intimidating its neighbors, and changing borders by force” – a gross perversion of truth.

Heading the war games, US Army Europe (USAREUR) said they’re “to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an allied, joint, multinational environment” – focusing on conventional warfare, defending against a nonexistent Russian invasion threat.

On Monday, Sergey Lavrov said “every serious and honest politician (knows) Russia will never invade any NATO member. (T)here are no threats in this part of the world whatsoever…justify(ing) (NATO’s Eastern European) buildup…” Russia intends responding accordingly.

Moscow’s NATO envoy Aleksandr Grushko said it’s “completely absurd” to suggest Russian forces might attack Poland – at  the same time calling Anaconda 16 war games “shockingly blatant.”

According to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov, NATO justifies its provocative behavior by absurdly claiming it’s “cornered by ‘predators’ (like) Russia and other countries” – not subservient to US interests.

NATO’s reckless drive east near Russia’s borders risks the unthinkable – possible US-launched nuclear war by design or accident.

Cold War 2.0 could turn red hot – especially if Hillary Clinton succeeds Obama, a recklessly dangerous neocon/hawkish Russia hater.

Earlier she compared Putin to Hitler. East/West conflict would mean all bets are off.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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I started a conspiracy to harm Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (HMGUKGB&NI).  It was a petition to make the UK Government respond or debate the question of appearing before the International Court of Justice and allowing it to rule on the case of the Chagos Archipelago.

At issue is the terrible injustice to the Chagossians and their descendants who were arbitrarily evicted from their homeland with trickery or brutality. It was the US that decided the negative repercussions of this crime were a reasonable price to pay for a completely depopulated archipelago in which to put a naval and air base. The US gave the order to their British subordinates in a now notorious 3 word telegram: “ABSOLUTELY MUST GO”.

At issue also are the rights of Mauritius. The UK broke international law by detaching Chagos in the lead-up to decolonisation but refuses to have the question adjudicated. Her Majesty’s Government takes the position that Chagos will be returned to Mauritius once the islands are no longer required for “defence” purposes. So far they have “needed” Chagos for 50 years and there is absolutely no reason to believe that they will not “need” the military base on the island of Diego Garcia for another 50 years.

The plight of the islanders, who continue to live in deprivation, is a worthy cause, but we allow it to distract us from what is most important. Our natural sympathies and our psychology as activists is used to make the issue into a lightning rod. We pour our energy into that, and the UK Government directs it safely away from its edifice of imperial violence. Ultimately this is not only turning our backs on the victims of US military violence, it is also useless to the Chagossians. The fact is that no one can argue against the proposition that an injustice was perpetrated against the Chagossians, but they and their supporters are forced to fight the same battle over and over again, and each time they win it gains them nothing. To understand why we need to understand that human rights discourse is dominated by establishment voices who are unquestioningly subservient to power.

Take the example of this educator and human rights professional. She writes:

Considering the crucial importance of the military base for the USA and having in mind all the conflicts that are currently taking place in the Middle East and Asia and those that might be coming soon, it is difficult to believe that even if the Chagossians win again, they would be allowed for real to resettle the islands again.

The case of the Chagossians is interesting precisely because of its complexity and the many factors that have to be taken into consideration when examining it: the interests of both American and British governments, international politics, diplomacy and security, are most certainly factors that could not just be disregarded. So how do human rights enter the picture? Are they taken into consideration when they are opposed to international security? Could they change the course of events? They should definitely influence it. And here comes the question – is something as important as international security worth risking, so that human rights are not violated?

This creates a false dichotomy between human rights and “international security”. The author clearly cedes precedence to security as the superior concern, but without devoting even a single atom of examination to what it might mean. The embedded presumption is that the US and UK can unilaterally decide what constitutes “security” and that their actions are necessarily in favour of “international security”. On a very basic level this violates logic by suggesting that killing people and wreaking destruction in a region geographically distant from both countries is somehow in the service of “security” when there can be no immediate threat from the victims of that violence and destruction. If that basic flaw is unconvincing then there is the fact that US/UK interventions in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia seem to have spawned incredible amounts of insecurity. If “security” is defined as being the physical security of human beings, or even UK citizens, it seems quite a stretch in these times of instability and crisis to say that US/UK military actions have been in the service of security, but to simply stipulate that this is the case without even giving some form of argumentation is ludicrous and unforgivable nonsense.

The political discourse of UK foreign affairs relies on unchallenged assumptions and areas of inquiry where silence is enforced. Like their US counterparts the UK establishment cultivates and inhabits a world of parochial narrow-mindedness and mirror-blindness where they never need to ask themselves why they consider it their right to take lands and resources from others by force. The assumptions are based on exceptionalist notions that presume a fundamental benevolence of nature and benevolence of purpose as the foundations of Western civilisation. These assumptions take on the character of articles of faith and challenges to those articles are greeted with hostility as being heresy. For those that would oppose unjust actions by HMGUKGB&NI it is made much easier to challenge on narrow grounds by suggesting that a particular crime is an exception, while they affirm the rule. That is why it is acceptable to criticise the UK for injustices perpetrated on the Chagosians or even on Mauritius, but it is not permissible to state that their purposes in doing so are themselves criminal, arrogant, imperialistic, militaristic, illegitimate and morally repugnant. In fact even bringing up the subject is offensive, because the facts are so clear. The UK has no right to be in the Indian Ocean and no right to use territory there in support of killing people in the Middle East and Africa.

It is easy to see, therefore, why well-meaning people are attracted to the easy option of treating the issue of the Chagos Islands as separate from the acts of mass violence that are facilitated by the base at Diego Garcia, but it becomes a trap, The callousness of the treatment of those deprived of a homeland is infuriating and exasperating by design. Both openly and behind closed doors officials will fight every step of the way to avoid any admission of wrongdoing. They will make challengers fight and fight for every little admission and then finally, when the time is right and the fullness of consciousness is invested in the blatant injustice, they will admit regret and cite “strategic necessity” for “defence purposes”. In practical terms neither an individual nor a movement can change track at that point. Leaders of the cause, such as crusading parliamentarians, will effectively be subverted or left in a halfway position of campaigning to moderate rather than end overt wrongdoing.

At the same time the voices of the dead of 50 years of mass killing cry out. Diego Garcia is a base for long-range cruise missiles and bomber aircraft as well as communications and logistical support. Even leaving aside the questions of its naval and nuclear role, it is the source of incalculable death, destruction and suffering. This is not potential or theoretical. Another 50 years of “defence purposes” will mean hundreds of thousands killed. The very nature of the weapons systems is such that “defence purposes” can only mean imperial aggression. These are true weapons of mass destruction. Despite pretences, they are not and cannot be used in a pure military sense against a chosen Hitler-of-the-month dictator and their armies, they are weapons that attacks “peoples and nations” – which is the original defining trait of genocide.

Since the end of World War 2 the most indiscriminate and obscene weapon of war to be used has been the B-52 bomber. After smaller aircraft and ground artillery had had created a 20 km traffic jam on the Mutla Ridge early in 1991, it was B-52s which carpet bombed those trapped there, massacring them in a period of hours. This became known as the “Highway of Death” and the B-52s which were responsible for the slaughter flew from Diego Garcia.

Most B-52s that flew in the 1990-1 “Gulf War” were based in Diego Garcia. The near obsolete bombers dropped one third of the aerial tonnage and every time they dropped ordnance it was, by the very nature of the weaponry, a war crime of disproportionate and/or indiscriminate killing.

Paul Walker wrote:

B-52s were used from the first night of the war to the last. Flying at 40,000 feet and releasing 40 – 60 bombs of 500 or 750 pounds each, their only function is to carpet bomb entire areas. … B-52s were used against chemical and industrial storage areas, air fields, troop encampments, storage sites, and they were apparently used against large populated areas in Basra.

Language used by military spokesman General Richard Neal during the war made it sound as if Basra had been declared a “free fire zone”…. On February 11, 1991, Neal told members of the press that “Basra is a military town in the true sense…. The infrastructure, military infrastructure, is closely interwoven within the city of Basra itself” He went on to say that there were no civilians left in Basra, only military targets. … Eyewitness accounts Suggest that there was no pretense at a surgical war in this city. On February 5, 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that the air war had brought “a hellish nightime of fires and smoke so dense that witnesses say the sun hasn’t been clearly visible for several days at a time . . . [that the bombing is] leveling some entire city blocks . . . [and that there are] bomb craters the size of football fields and an untold number of casualties.”

This was the opening of a period of genocide against Iraq. In 1998, during the sanctions period which was estimated in 1996 to have cost 500,000 children’s deaths, B-52’s from Diego Garcia launched 100 aerial cruise missiles as a major part of Operation Desert Fox. While officials, wonks and security studies hacks are triumphal about the efficacy of strikes against “regime” targets this comes from the long-standing habit of conflating civilian and military targets.

The patently false stated aim of Operation Desert Fox was to “degrade” the mythical WMD programme. The targeting of “command and control”, WMD industrial and “concealment” sites, and the Basra oil refinery were all deleterious to the people of the stricken country. Only retrospectively did the think-tank pundits decide that the real aim must have been regime destabilisation not WMD, but as with the sanctions inflicting misery and hardship on Iraqis only strengthened the governing regime. From 600-2000 civilians died along with an unknown number of military personnel who were attacking no one and had no chance to defend themselves or fight back.

In 2001, Diego Garcia was the most important base in launching attacks on Afghanistan. This was a high-altitude no boots-on-the-ground approach by the US which led predictably to a power vacuum, rampaging warlords, insoluble instability, refugee crisis, food insecurity and everything else we have since seen unfold. Like Iraq, the country is being slowly tortured to death. In 2003, Diego Garcia was once again central to US efforts against Iraq. Readers are probably somewhat familiar with what has happened in the area since.

Diego Garcia has never had legitimate “defence purposes”. It is a strategic asset of empire and it is used to maintain control over the Middle East, South Asia and parts of Africa. The base is there primarily for the purpose of killing large numbers of people at once when other means of exerting power are unsuitable, undesirable or unavailable. Its role is distinctly and inescapably genocidal.

Here’s the thing: it is difficult for activists to recruit people by accusing the government of war crimes, let alone mass-murder and genocide. A web search will show that even antiwar websites and writers tend mention Diego Garcia’s role in bombing only in passing while focussing either on its role in torture and “extraordinary renditions”, or on the injustice perpetrated against the islanders.

It is easy to see why the plight of the Chagossians appeals in the same way that seeing rabbits tortured in testing cosmetics was so rousing in the 1980s. The moral dimensions of the issue are readily apparent and very few people need to re-examine their ideology, challenge their beliefs, or question their loyalties. The Chagossian cause is just, but it is not right to ignore other crimes which are even more monstrous. It is not right, and it is not wise. Without undermining the “strategic necessity” argument then there can never be a victory. The Chagossians have already won in court – several times – but they remain in exile. Why? Because “defence purposes”.

People may not want to hear the truth about imperial aggression and the suffering inflicted in their names, but they can at least understand that giving the US a base in the Indian Ocean from which to bomb people has not made the United Kingdom in any respect safer. No one can suggest that carpet bombing Iraq reduced the threat of terrorism or Saddam’s WMD. If we do not accept that there are valid “defence purposes” then there are no legally or morally valid “strategic” reasons for keeping the Chagos Archipelago. That is something that we must always bear in mind when working in this cause – there is no strategic justification and the UK has no right to be there at all.

The cause of Mauritius is also just. They are the rightfully sovereign country deprived due to “strategic” decisions taken in 1964-5 which were no more defensible than the depopulation decisions of 1970-1. Mauritius recently won a case against the UK in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but the UK denies the jurisdiction of the court and the court cannot rule on the issue of sovereignty. Mauritius is taking the case to the International Court of Justice for an “advisory” ruling, but that is only as good as the publicity it generates. They need allies, especially among UK activists who can keep the issue on the agenda at home.

For this reason I contacted Mhara Costello, an activist and poet who uses the pen name Tamerishe. Along with her poem “Once Upon a Palestine” she also wrote “Just a Word” which deals with the abuse of the term “terrorist”. It seemed an appropriate qualification. We formulated a petition that would incorporate a direct challenge to the narrative frame which ensures that critiques always remain atomised, specific and isolated – hermetically and prophylactically sealed away from infecting the self-righteous self-love of civilised Britons.

The characters allowed for e-petitions to HMGUKGB&NI are predetermined and restrictive, and this is what Mhara posted:

HMG should agree with Mauritius to an ICJ case regarding the Chagos Islands.The Republic of Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, but that claim is disputed by the UK. If the UK government agrees the International Court of Justice can hear and judge the issues as a “Contentious Case” in accordance with international law.At issue is more than sovereignty. The UK forcefully removed the inhabitants of the islands and leased Diego Garcia as a US military base. The treatment of the islanders is cruel and unjust, and has been ruled unlawful. The US military base sends bombing sorties which cause countless deaths and may constitute crimes of aggression or terrorism. The base is also implicated in torture, illegal rendition, and concealment of illegal munitions. More at:http://johnpilger.com/videos/stealing-a-nation.

The first response was silence. The after prodding the following belated reply:

Dear Mhara,Thank you for your email. I apologise for the length of time it has taken to process your petition. We can accept the central request of your petition, but we cannot publish the second paragraph because it does not comply with our rules. This means that your petition would read:HMG should agree with Mauritius to an ICJ case regarding the Chagos Islands.The Republic of Mauritius claims sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago, but that claim is disputed by the UK. If the UK government agrees the International Court of Justice can hear and judge the issues as a “Contentious Case” in accordance with international law.If you could let me know that you are happy with this, we could publish your request immediately.

To which Mhara responded:

No, I am not happy removing the second paragraph. I would be willing to amend it. Can you be more specific please, regarding your objections? In what way does the petition not comply with the rules? Please cite which rules have been breached? I am unable to identify any (inadvertently) I may have overlooked.

She then sent a second reminder and eventually received a longer email including the following:

We cannot publish the second paragraph of your petition, because we have not been able to establish that the very serious allegations you make are true. I hope you will understand that we cannot publish allegations of unlawful conduct. We would be happy to look at alternative wording for this paragraph, if you would like to propose some. It would need to be worded moderately and fall within our rules. You might reasonably say, for example, that many people believe that the former inhabitants of the Chagos Islands have been very badly treated by the Governments of the UK and the USA, and that this ought therefore to be examined by the ICJ. 

They are saying that you can’t detail allegations that you want addressed in court, because you have to prove the truth of the allegations before petitioning to have the matter adjudicated. This response is a bureaucratic Catch-22 piece of nonsense. It must be assumed that, as intended, the petition itself is troubling. The offending paragraph deliberately broadens the issue as much as possible within the character limit. One petition is unlikely to really shake the UK establishment, but it may yet frighten them because it takes matters into a realm which they cannot control. What is more, there is a hook in it.

When they commit crimes or act unjustly the greatest vulnerability of the authorities is their perceived legitimacy. When they are forced to overtly display illegitimacy it breaks their support structure. Even in the face of mass popular condemnation, a government can act with blatant injustice as long as they have a cover story – a lie which, however unconvincing, allows those who really want to give them unconditional support to believe in benign intent or even the ineffable divine schemes of “security”, which lie beyond mortal ken. In this case the UK might be in an awkward position if the question were debated because it does not want to negotiate directly with Mauritius. To explain why they do not wish the matter adjudicated by the ICJ the UK government might either have to say it prefers bilateral talks or it would have to say that it does not think its actions should be subject to adjudication under international law because “defence purposes”. That would bring the spotlight back onto the criminal uses of the criminally acquired Chagos Archipelago.

Right at the moment the “perceived legitimacy” of the UK government may already be close to breaking. Foreign entanglements must surely seem even less attractive to the UK public than February 2003, when a million marched in London to protest the looming invasion of Iraq. The sordid aftermath of shame from that act continues while the ongoing Balkanisation of the oil rich Arab world is surely one of the most inglorious blood-lettings in the unpleasant history of conflict. Even for those who do not understand that US/UK intervention created the fractures and fervour that wrack the region, it is hard to see any nobility in backing the Saudis, the Israelis and the “moderate” forces that fight alongside al-Nusra.

Meanwhile, the establishment seems to have to put the UK public in its rightful place of silent subjugation more often than it would normally need to. It seems that every time that there is a popular consensus in the general population or some significant segment of it, they need to be reminded that their democratic voice must be conveyed through a mediating wah-wah pedal that is under the foot of their social superiors. Whether it is giving Thatcher an appropriate send-off, or naming a sea-vessel, or when Labour Party members mistakenly choose a leader whose views coincide with those of ordinary people. Much more of this and people will start demanding that the hollow sham of modern democracy have some populist stuffing shoved back in it, and once government’s start giving in to popular demands it just encourages more; things could spiral out of control and before you know it you are dealing with a sovereign self-emancipated people who do not want a society run by and for a controlling greedy and/or power-obsessed few.

That is why even an e-petition can frighten Her Britannic Majesty’s mighty Royal Government. They need people to continue to be their own worst enemies. They need people to sabotage their own efforts. They need people to think that those within the establishment have a greater understanding of issues and how to tackle them. They need them to make their own protests against specific injustice into an embrace and an endorsement of the system itself.

Let’s show them that we won’t play that stupid game any more.

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The Syrian military is quickly closing in on Raqqa, one of the last ISIS strongholds in the country, and is expected to reach the city within a matter of weeks or even days where a major battle between government and terrorist forces is inevitable. Recently, the Syrian military liberated a number of areas in eastern Syria near the Taqba airbase, another site that is expecting liberation in the next few days. The Syrian military has already reached the edge of Raqqa province.

Raqqa has acted as the ISIS capital since the mysterious appearance of the group two years ago and has gone virtually untouched as the Syrian military has been bogged down in major cities and western/central areas of the country in their fight against the Western-backed terrorists. Notably, despite its rhetoric of fighting to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, the U.S.-led coalition has yet to bomb Raqqa.

Fresh on the heels of a major public relations victory in Palmyra, however, the Syrian military is now marching toward Raqqa and, if successful, it will score one of the biggest victories in the five-year war. This is not only because the de facto ISIS capital will be eliminated or because the SAA will gain more territory, it is because the liberation of Raqqa will be yet another example of how the Syrian military will have accomplished in weeks what the United States and coalition members have claimed may take a decade to do. It will be another instance where the lack of will on the part of the United States to actually destroy Daesh is put on display for the rest of the world, either causing the U.S. to look weak in the eyes of the world or exposing it for actually supporting the terrorist organization to begin with. Regardless, the victory for the Syrian government will be twofold.

That is, unless the U.S. gets there first . . . .

The U.S. Interest In Raqqa – A Sudden Shift

The U.S. has been using the presence of ISIS in Syria as an excuse to bomb, send Special Forces, publicly support terrorists, and possibly invade since the Western-backed terror group appeared on the scene two years ago. Yet, despite its rhetoric, the United States and its coalition have not bombed Raqqa and have largely abstained from bombing (see here and here) any other terrorist group. Instead, the U.S. has focused on bombing Syrian military targets, civilians and civilian infrastructure (see here also), and acting as a deterrent to the Syrian military’s movement in many “rebel-held” areas of the country.

Now, however, the United States seems to have great interest in Raqqa as it aids its loose collection of terrorists, fanatical Kurds, and Arabs known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in “battles” around the ISIS capital.

So why the sudden interest in Raqqa? It’s fairly simple. The United States sees clearly that the Syrian military and its Russian allies are going to liberate Raqqa soon enough and the U.S. does not want to suffer another public relations setback. A defeat for ISIS is thus a humiliation for the United States. That fact alone should raise some eyebrows.

Regardless, the United States would like to have its own “victory” in Raqqa before the Syrians and the Russians can have theirs. If the SDF is able to “take” Raqqa, the U.S. will then be able to shout from the rooftops that America has liberated Raqqa and defeated ISIS in its own capital.

The U.S. also has another goal in Raqqa – the theft of more Syrian territory by using its proxy forces going by the name of the SDF. Whether or not ISIS proper is in control of Raqqa is merely a secondary concern for the United States. If the SDF succeeds in imposing control over the city and the province, then the West will have succeeded in cementing control over the area in the hands of its proxy terrorists once again, but with yet another incarnation of the same Western-backed jihadist fanaticism. The U.S. can then use the “moderate rebel” label to keep Russia and Syria from bombing the fighters who merely assumed a position handed to them, albeit through some level of violence, by ISIS.

The Meeting In The Middle

With the situation as it stands, there is now the very real possibility of some type of major confrontation taking place in Raqqa that could very well have international ramifications. On one hand, there is the Syrian military, backed by the Russian Air Force and Russian Special Forces heading East to Raqqa while, on the other side, there is the SDF, backed by the U.S. Air and Special Forces, heading West toward Raqqa. Both sides are in a race to gain control over the ISIS capital, gain territory, and declare a victory for the world to see. But what if they arrive in Raqqa at the same time?

In other words, there is a distinct potential that, in the race for Raqqa, the Syrian/Russian alliance might find itself face to face with the possibility of direct military conflict with the U.S./SDF (terrorist) alliance. At that point, the question will be who, if either, will back down? If both forces decide to push forward, the result could be devastating not only for Syria but for the rest of the world.

Regardless of what happens, it is important to remember that the Syrian military is acting entirely in self-defense both against the terrorists posing as “rebels” and the United States. Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah have all been invited in to Syria, acting legally and with the assent of the Syrian government, while the United States and its coalition are once again acting completely outside of international law in an attempt to shore up its terrorist proxies; and, once again, the United States and its coalition of the willing is pushing the patience of the rest of the world.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

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Governing Through Lies And Deception

June 8th, 2016 by Mark Taliano

On September 16, 2005, Canada’s Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin, addressed “The High Level Meeting of the Sixtieth Session of the United Nations General Assembly”

“Clearly, we need expanded guidelines for Security Council action to make clear our responsibility to act decisively to prevent humanity’s attack on humanity.  The “Responsibility to Protect” is one such guideline. It seeks rules to protect the innocent against appalling assaults on their life and dignity.  It does not bless unilateral action.  To the contrary, it stands for clear, multilaterally-agreed criteria on what the international community should do when civilians are at risk.”

These “expanded guidelines” as expressed by Martin, were later exploited to launch the criminal invasion of Libya, in which Canada played an important role.

Instead of “protecting the Libyan people”, the guidelines were used to attack the wealthiest nation in Africa, to support proxy ground forces (al-Qaeda), and to destroy the country.

The notion that Libyans needed “protection” was engineered through a campaign to demonize Libya’s leader, Mohammar Gaddafi. The West used an arsenal of evidence-free allegations, largely unchallenged by corporate media, to press its case.  Maximilian C. Forte lists the lies in “The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya” :

  • Genocide
  • Gadaffi is “bombing his own people”.
  • “Save Benghazi”
  • African mercenaries
  • Viagara-fueled mass rape
  • Gaddafi – the Demon
  • Freedom Fighters – the Angels

The lies also masked Libya’s socially-oriented governance that boasted remarkable achievements:

  •  Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of health, education, and income, ranked above the regional average
  • the highest standard of living in Africa
  • Free public health care, and free public education
  • 89% adult literacy rate (with girls outnumbering boys by 10% in secondary and tertiary education)
  • Subsidized, affordable food
  • Homelessness all but wiped out

In reality, then, the R2P legislation served as a cover to enable the inversion of its professed goal.  Instead of protecting Libya and Libyans, it destroyed both.

Abayomi Azikiwe reports in “Libya War Continues Three Years After Gaddafi Assassination”  that the demise of the Jamahiriya-Gaddafi rule has resulted in “on-going destabilization, with warring factions battling for control.”

Martin also explained that,

the status quo and too often empty rhetoric must make way here for a new and pragmatic multilateralism measured by concrete results, not simply by promises. Our citizens want security, based on international law. They want opportunity, based on more effective aid. They want empowerment, based on respect for human rights.

This statement, too, has proven prophetic, in the sense that Canada is still practicing the opposite to what it proclaims to do.

Canada’s disregard for international law and order Canadian was also in full view when it supported the Canada-Honduras Free Trade deal not long after the democratically-elected Zelaya government was deposed by an illegal, Washington-orchestrated coup. The author wrote in “Why Canada and the U.S. are on the ‘Wrong Side of Democracy’ “:

Living conditions in Honduras have gone from bad to worse since the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was ousted by a military coup in 2009. The rupture of democratic governance has set Honduras back decades,

and that

Hondurans have experienced increased levels of violence since the coup and unprecedented levels of murder and criminalization of politicians, human rights advocates, labor activists, journalists and indigenous leaders.

In fact, assassins recently murdered Honduran indigenous leader Berta Caceres, one of numerous murders that in all likelihood would not have occurred had it not been for the illegal coup, orchestrated  by Washington.

Canada’s complicity in the “destabilisation” of Honduras is best illustrated through its ratification of the  “Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act”.

On March 31, 2014, Member of Parliament (MP) Alex Atamanenko, of British Columbia Southern Interior, BC, explained the duplicity of ratifying the agreement:

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. There are three fundamentally important criteria for assessing the merits of trade agreements.

First, does the proposed partner respect democracy, human rights, adequate labour and environmental standards, and Canadian values? If there are challenges in these regards, is the partner on a positive trajectory toward these goals?

Second, is the proposed partner’s economy of significant or strategic value to Canada?

Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory?

The proposed free trade agreement with Honduras clearly fails this test.

Canada’s foreign policy duplicity is also inherent in its support another illegal government:  that of the neo-Nazi infested regime, offspring of the Western-orchestrated coup that deposed the elected government of  President Yanuyovch.  George Freidman, founder and CEO of   Stratfor intelligence described the coup as “the most overt coup in history.”

More recently, our duplicity was in full view when Defence Minister, Harjit Sajjan, stated publicly that “Assad must go”. This, despite the fact that engineering regime change in a sovereign, foreign country, contradicts international law; despite the fact that Canada’s previous bombing campaign against Syria (now more of a support role), was a clear violation of international law; and despite the fact that the current sanctions levied against Syria are  illegal as well.

Clearly, Canada’s humanitarian proclamations are hollow facades engineered to fool Canadians into thinking that we have a benevolent foreign policy, even as evidence demonstrates the opposite.

Instead of supporting democracy and the rule of international law, our government practices public deception and subterfuge to conceal its criminal international policies which deny and negate both democracy and international law.

Increasingly, our elected governments are ruling through lies and deceptions; the consent that they are engineering is not informed consent.  “Democracy” and Canada’s current political economy flow in opposite directions.

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Fallujah: A Symbol of US War Crimes

June 8th, 2016 by James Cogan

No city in Iraq is more symbolic of the criminal consequences of the US invasion of Iraq than Fallujah. Prior to 2003, the 300,000-strong, prosperous, predominantly Sunni Muslim community on the Euphrates River, one of humanity’s oldest continuous urban settlements, was known as the “city of mosques.” After 13 years of destruction at the hands of the US military and its client state in Baghdad, it is today a labyrinth of ruins, a city of the dead.

Following weeks of air strikes by US, British and Australian bombers, a combination of Iraqi government forces and Shiite militias is reportedly on the verge of a final offensive to seize back Fallujah from some 500 fighters of the Sunni-extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which took control of the city in early 2014. Iraqi special forces units are accompanied by elite troops of the US, British and Australian militaries, who direct air strikes and ground artillery bombardments and provide tactical advice to Iraqi commanders.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein has issued urgent appeals concerning the fate of the estimated 50,000 civilians who are trapped in Fallujah, without food or water. Civilian deaths caused by the offensive have been justified in advance by the US-backed Iraqi government with allegations that the occupiers are using the population as “human shields.” ISIS is accused of murdering dozens of people who have attempted to flee.

Men and teenagers who do escape are being detained by Iraqi government and militia units. According to the UNHCR, they are being subjected to “physical violations and other forms of abuse, apparently in order to elicit forced confessions” of being ISIS members or supporters. The UNHCR has received unconfirmed accounts of at least 21 summary executions.

In the media coverage, the question as to how and why ISIS was able to gain control of the city two years ago is largely ignored. To the extent it is raised, the explanation given is Sunni resentment over the sectarian and discriminatory policies of the Shiite-dominated government— after the withdrawal of American troops in 2011. The Iraqi people as a whole are generally portrayed as incurably divided along Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish lines, incapable of living in harmony together and inherently attracted to extremist ethno-sectarian ideologies.

A review of the tortured history of Fallujah since 2003 makes clear that this narrative is a lie. The current situation in Iraq and neighbouring Syria is the outcome and continuation of the deliberate stoking of sectarian conflict by the American occupation for the purpose of dividing the Iraqi masses and cementing the US grip over the oil-rich Middle East.

After the illegal invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, Fallujah was the scene of one of the first widely reported crimes by American troops against Iraqi civilians. Two hundred youth demanding the reopening of their school were fired on by troops of the US 82nd Airborne Division. Seventeen were murdered and over 70 wounded.

Over the following months, Fallujah emerged as a centre of Iraqi resistance to the US occupation. By early 2004, the city was effectively controlled by armed groups overwhelmingly made up of former members of the Iraqi Army and local Sunni tribes. Religious-based extremists, such as the small grouping calling itself “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” had only a minor presence.

The killing of four Blackwater mercenaries in Fallujah in March 2004 triggered a massive American military response. Across Iraq, the defiance of the people of Fallujah became a clarion call for resistance. In the first week of April, the stand in the city against the occupation was joined by an uprising of tens of thousands of Shiite working class youth in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq. The armed insurgency against the US forces spread to predominantly Sunni cities such as Ramadi, Tikrit and Mosul.

The dominant feature of the anti-occupation resistance in Iraq in 2004 was that it objectively unified Iraqis of all backgrounds who opposed the US occupation and its local collaborators. However, it lacked any coherent perspective or strategy. In city after city, Iraqi fighters were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the US military, including in Fallujah in November 2004. After a months-long siege, the city was left depopulated and in rubble. Of its 200 mosques, 60 were destroyed or damaged, along with some 39,000 homes and other buildings.

The other central feature of the US occupation in 2004 was the deployment of US-trained Shiite death squads, such as the Wolf Brigade, against the Sunni population. Thousands of people were murdered. At the same time, Al Qaeda in Iraq escalated sinister bombings of Shiite civilians, which assisted the US occupation in driving a wedge between the two communities. By 2006, US policy had provoked a full-scale sectarian civil war that forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee for safety into areas controlled by the militias of their religious denomination.

The origins of the present savage sectarianism in Iraq lie in the manner by which US imperialism “stabilised” Iraq under the control of its Shiite-dominated puppet state, using the criminal methods of divide-and-rule, mass killings and mass dislocation. In 2011, as it withdrew its forces from Iraq, Washington launched a regime-change war in Libya and began sponsoring a regime-change operation in Syria using the same methods that had triggered civil war in Iraq. In Syria, however, the CIA and US military worked through Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to arm Sunni-based groupings to overthrow the Russian- and Iranian-backed Shiite-dominated government of Bashar al-Assad.

One of the main groupings that benefited from the flow of arms was the remnants of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which sent fighters into Syria and soon emerged as a dominant force in the civil war. In April 2013, strengthened by a flood of foreign Islamist fighters who were permitted to enter Syria from Turkey, it renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The ISIS fighters who entered Fallujah in late 2013 and claimed control over the city in January 2014 had been financed, equipped and armed as part of the US intrigues in Syria. ISIS seized other areas of Sunni-dominated western and northern Iraq, most dramatically the city of Mosul, in July 2014. To the extent the Islamist movement received support, it was because it pledged to defend the Sunni population from the consequences of the US invasion, including the depredations and abuses of the US-backed government in Baghdad. Both materially and ideologically, ISIS is the by-product of US policy.

The current onslaught on Fallujah is only the latest chapter in the catastrophe that US imperialism has inflicted on the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East as a whole. It can be ended only through the building of a mass international anti-war movement based on the working class and the fight for socialism.

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The Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 relies heavily on information provided by the Ukrainian security service and operates primarily from a field office in Kiev, despite the fact that Ukraine should be a principal suspect in the mystery of who was responsible for killing 298 people.

The cozy relationship between the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the Ukrainian government’s secret service emerges from a JIT report presented to Dutch families of MH-17 victims in the last few days, a portion of which was made available to me.

What was perhaps most startling in the breezy travelogue-style “e-zine” report was how dependent the investigation has become on data supplied by Ukraine’s security and intelligence service, the SBU, which also is an active participant in the war against ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and is responsible for protecting state secrets.

A Malaysia Airways' Boeing 777 like the one that crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. (Photo credit: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland)

Image: A Malaysia Airways’ Boeing 777 like the one that crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. (Photo credit: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland)

Yet, according to the report, the SBU has helped shape the MH-17 investigation by supplying a selection of phone intercepts and other material that would presumably not include sensitive secrets that would implicate the SBU’s political masters in Ukraine. But the JIT report seems oblivious to this obvious conflict of interest, saying:

“Since the first week of September 2014, investigating officers from The Netherlands and Australia have worked here [in Kiev]. They work in close cooperation here with the Security and Investigation Service of the Ukraine (SBU). Immediately after the crash, the SBU provided access to large numbers of tapped telephone conversations and other data. …

“At first rather formal, cooperation with the SBU became more and more flexible. ‘In particular because of the data analysis, we were able to prove our added value’, says [Dutch police official Gert] Van Doorn. ‘Since then, we notice in all kinds of ways that they deal with us in an open way. They share their questions with us and think along as much as they can.’”

The JIT report continued:

“With the tapped telephone conversations from SBU, there are millions of printed lines with metadata, for example, about the cell tower used, the duration of the call and the corresponding telephone numbers. The investigating officers sort out this data and connect it to validate the reliability of the material.

“When, for example, person A calls person B, it must be possible to also find this conversation on the line from person B to person A. When somebody mentions a location, that should also correlate with the cell tower location that picked up the signal. If these cross-checks do not tally, then further research is necessary.

“By now, the investigators are certain about the reliability of the material. ‘After intensive investigation, the material seems to be very sound’, says Van Doorn, ‘that also contributed to the mutual trust.’”

So, despite the fact that some “cross-checks do not tally” and require “further research,” the JIT has decided that the SBU’s material is “very sound” and underpins a “mutual trust.”

Personnel Concern

Another personnel concern is that the long assignments of investigators in Kiev over a period of almost two years could create compromising situations, especially considering Kiev’s reputation as a European hotbed for prostitution and sex tourism as well as the possibility of less transactional human interaction.

According to the JIT report, four investigating officers from Australia are stationed in Kiev on three-month rotations while Dutch police rotate in two teams of about five people each for a period of a “fortnight,” or two weeks.

A photograph of a Russian BUK missile system that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt published on Twitter in support of a claim about Russia placing BUK missiles in eastern Ukraine, except that the image appears to be an AP photo taken at an air show near Moscow two years ago.

Image: A photograph of a Russian BUK missile system that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt published on Twitter in support of a claim about Russia placing BUK missiles in eastern Ukraine, except that the image appears to be an AP photo taken at an air show near Moscow two years earlier.

The relative isolation of the Australian investigators further adds to their dependence on their Ukrainian hosts. According to the report, “The Australian investigators find themselves a 26 hour flight away from their home country and have to deal with a large time difference. ‘For us Australians, it is more difficult to get into contact with our home base, which is why our operation is quite isolated in Kiev’, says [Andrew] Donoghoe,” a senior investigating officer from the Australian Federal Police.

Despite the collegial dependence on the SBU’s information, it has not led to a quick resolution of the mystery of MH-17. Last week, the JIT informed Dutch family members  that its investigative report on the case has been postponed again, now not expected until after the summer, more than two years after the disaster, and even then the report will not be open for public examination.

The long delays in the investigation and the curious failure of the U.S. government to share usable data from its own intelligence services have caused concerns among some family members that the inquiry into who was responsible for shooting down the plane has been compromised by geopolitical pressures.

Immediately after the shoot-down of the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the U.S. government sought to pin the blame on ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and their Russian government backers, but – as more evidence emerged – the possible role of a Ukrainian military unit became more plausible.

For instance, according to the Dutch intelligence service in a report released last October, the only anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, capable of hitting a plane flying at 33,000 feet belonged to the Ukrainian military.

Nevertheless, Ukraine was invited to join the JIT and play a key role in the investigation along with the investigators from Australia and the Netherlands. Under the JIT agreement, participating governments, which also include Belgium and Malaysia, have the right to block the release of information to the public.

Meanwhile, after CIA analysts had time to evaluate U.S. satellite, electronic and other intelligence data, the U.S. government went curiously silent about what it had discovered, including the possible identity of the people who were responsible. The U.S. reticence, after the initial rush to judgment blaming Russia, suggested that the more detailed findings undercut those original claims.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

Image: A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A source who was briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts told me that the CIA’s conclusion pointed toward a rogue Ukrainian operation involving a hard-line oligarch with the possible motive of shooting down Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official plane returning from South America that day, with similar markings as MH-17. But I have been unable to determine if that assessment represented a dissident or consensus view inside the U.S. intelligence community.

Ignoring Substance

The new JIT report doesn’t address much of substance, such as the findings of Dutch (i.e., NATO) intelligence that the Ukrainian military had several powerful anti-aircraft missile batteries in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, and that the Russian-backed rebels had none, nor does it reference the dog-not-barking silence of U.S. intelligence.

Still, the JIT “e-zine” report bubbles enthusiastically about the investigators’ comradeship with their Ukrainian hosts, despite some early difficulties.

“An incredible amount of research material; differing legal systems and initial unfamiliarity with each other. Despite this, both Australian and Dutch members working in the Field Office in Kiev have managed to build good relations with each other and with the Ukraine to effectively conduct the investigation into the MH17 crash,”

the report said.

“In an office building in Kiev, Australian and Dutch investigating officers are working in cramped conditions in a small room. The working conditions are far from perfect, but the small room has a great advantage: the investigating officers cannot possibly get round each other.

“They are professionals who recognize each other’s love for the police work. They understand each other’s circumstances. And they are, regardless of their country of origin, motivated to do their utmost to uncover the truth. …

“Beyond the investigation area of the MH17 investigators office is a long narrow room filled with desks, after which there is another small room. Not exactly a room like you may imagine on the basis of the name ‘Field Office’, but still, it is the name used for this accommodation. …

“‘The thing is to see how you can keep it workable”, says Van Doorn, ‘we like practical solutions. That means ‘poldering’ [the Dutch practice of policy-making by consensus].”

It’s clear that the JIT investigators from Australia and the Netherlands have fallen into routines from their long stints in Kiev, as the “e-zine” report describes in its golly-gee-whiz style:

“Every morning, a minibus brings investigating officers from the hotel to the Field Office and back again in the evening after their long days. In the meantime, the investigating officers make various interesting discoveries. Every time persons or locations are identified, they experience a eureka moment, especially if after several checks all data prove to be correct.

“‘This is the most complex and difficult investigation I have ever been involved with in my police career’, says Donoghoe, ‘but we are all extremely motivated to do the best investigation possible. We won’t stop before the perpetrators of this tragedy can be brought to court.’”

President Barack Obama talks with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Image: President Barack Obama talks with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker following a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 18, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But the question is whether the investigation has been so tainted by its reliance on the SBU, an intelligence service which is controlled by a chief suspect (the Ukrainian government) and whose responsibilities include shielding the state secrets of that suspect. The SBU is also directly engaged in warfare against the other chief suspect (the ethnic Russian rebels).

That obvious conflict of interest should have prompted the JIT to establish clear parameters that guaranteed the independence of the investigation. But the new report makes clear that no such lines were drawn or observed.

[For more background on this controversy, see Consortiumnews.com’s “More Game-Playing on MH-17.”]

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

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In two interviews – for RT’s Going Underground and Dennis Bernstein’s Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio in the US — John Pilger describes the dangers of confrontation between the United States and Russia, and between the US and China, and how a ‘conspiracy of silence’ has excluded vital debate from the US election campaign.

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According to a news report in the June 7th German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), headlined “Merkel entmachtet BND: USA kontrollieren Spionage in Deutschland” or “Merkel Ousts BND: US to Control German Espionage,” a new law will soon be passed in the German parliament and be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel, which will make Germany’s version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), nothing more than a branch of the CIA, to such an extreme degree, that even U.S. corporate espionage against German companies will become part of that ‘German’ operation. The independent capacities of the BND will become emasculated, no longer operational, under the new law.

“In practice, this means that the US intelligence services [NSA] will be allowed to continue to listen in on every company and every individual in Germany.”

(That includes the Chancellor herself, whose phone-conversations were previously embarrassingly revealed to have been listened-in upon by the NSA. Now it’ll be legal.)

This could be part of the West’s buildup toward a global war. According to a report issued on June 6th in German Economic News, the German government is preparing to go to war against Russia, and has in draft-form a Bundeswehr report declaring Russia to be an enemy nation. DWN said there:

“The Russian secret services have apparently thoroughly studied the paper. In advance of the paper’s publication, a harsh note of protest has been sent to Berlin: The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, Alexei Puschkow, has posted this Twitter message: ‘The decision of the German government declaring Russia to be an enemy shows Merkel’s subservience to the Obama administration.’”

Back on February 17th, DWN had reported that German Chancellor Merkel “will develop a new military doctrine” declaring, “The ‘annexation’ of Crimea by Russia is the basis for military action against Moscow.” Apparently, that prior report will soon be fulfilled.

Taken all together, these news reports from DWN indicate a clear subordination of the German government to the U.S. government, in a period of preparation for a NATO war against Russia.

However, not mentioned at all in the DWN articles — nor anywhere else in Western ‘news’ media — is a crucial fact, a fact that the head of America’s ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor acknowledged only when addressing a Russian-speaking audience, because it reveals the fraudulence of the West’s alleged ‘justification’ for all of this economic and now also military action by the West against Russia: that (in English) the overthrow of Ukraine’s President in Russia’s neighboring nation of Ukraine during February 2014 was “the most blatant coup in history.” That coup, in turn, led to the separation from Ukraine of the two regions of Ukraine that had voted overwhelmingly for the President whom Obama had just overthrown.

Extensive video documentation exists demonstrating that the overthrow was a coup, and even demonstrating that the Obama Administration had selected Ukraine’s post-coup leader 22 days prior to his being formally appointed by the Ukrainian parliament. Furthermore, the only detailed scholarly study of the evidence that has been performed came to the same conclusion — that it was a U.S. coup. The last month before the coup was incredibly violent, with Obama’s hired fascists attacking the government’s securitly forces brutally: Here is some of the bloodshed from the prior month, on January 21st, then January 22nd, then January 25th.

Moreover, immediately after the overthrow, when the EU sent its own investigator into Kiev to report back on how the overthrow had taken place, he too reported that it had been a coup. Subsequently revealed was that the Obama Administration had started preparing the coup inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev by no later than 1 March 2013 — almost a year prior to the coup. Also, the even earlier preparation for the coup, extending through decades, on the part of CIA-affiliated ‘nonprofit’ or NGO organizations (funded by Western aristocrats and their corporations), laying the groundwork for this coup, has been brilliantly documented at some online sites.

None of this information has been widely published — it’s virtually not at all published in the West.Though the potential audience for it might be vast (especially since Western publics pay much of the tab for this operation and yet receive none of the benefits from the resultant looting of Ukraine, which goes all to aristocrats in the U.S. and allied aristocracies), the market in the West for reporting it, is virtually nil, because the market is the West’s news media, and they’ve all (except for a few small ones like this) been taken over by the aristocracy, and serve the aristocracy — not the public (their audiences, whom they’re in business to deceive). The aristocracy’s companies advertise in, and thereby fund, most of those ‘news’ media, and the aristocracy’s governments fund the rest — and the public pays for that, too, not just by being manipulated to vote for the aristocracy’s politicians, but by being taxed to pay what the NGOs and their aristocrats don’t (so the public are buying the weapons etc.). It’s a vast money-funnel from the many, to the few.

Though the transfer of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia is treated by Western ‘news’ media as having been a‘conquest’ by Russia, and as being Russia’s ‘seizure’ of Crimea, and Russia’s ‘stealing’ Crimea, nothing of the sort is true (and Crimeans had good reason to be terrified of the Obama-coup regime that had just been installed, from which Russia saved Crimeans), but the lie needs to be promulgated in order for the aristocracy’s invasion of Russia to be able to organized and carried out.

Unfortunately, the reason why this U.S coup in Ukraine has still not been reported in the West, is that to make it public to Westerners would jeopardize not only the Western economic sanctions against Russia after Russia accepted the overwhelming decision by Crimeans to separate from the post-coup Ukrainian government, but would also jeopardize the preparations by all of NATO to go to war against Russia: both the sanctions and the invasion would have no basis and no support among Western publics. All of that (the sanctions, and now the pouring of troops and weapons onto and near Russia’s borders for a possible invasion of Russia) would no longer be at all palatable by Western publics, if this history — that it all began by a violent U.S. coup in Ukraine — were to become known before the U.S. and NATO invasion occurs. So it all remains, instead, suppressed in the‘democratic’ West.

So: please email this article’s URL address (which is immediately above this article), to friends, so as to spread to them the word, that NATO is preparing an invasion of Russia. There’s no way that the ‘news’ media they see are likely to tell them (until it’s already too late).

Author’s Note: The above news report was offered on the morning of June 7th as an exclusive, to the following newsmedia, all of whom ignored it; and so it’s now being distributed free-of-charge to all newsmedia, but the following were the newsmedia that had already declined it as an exclusive news report: The Daily Beast, Slate, The Intercept, Huffington Post, Salon, Common Dreams, Truthout, ProPublica, Harper’s, Atlantic, Foreign Policy, National Journal, AP, Globe and Mail, National Post, Telegraph, Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist, Daily Mail, London Times, London Review of Books, New Statesman, The Spectator, Bloomberg, NYT, McClatchy, CBS, CNN, Politico, The Nation, The National Interest, The New Republic, Reason, Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, Newsweek, Time, USN&WR, Consortium News Service.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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An investigation by Finance Uncovered has exposed a little-known offshore business registry that has created tens of thousands of anonymous companies and registered them to a non-existent address in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Although these companies are technically a creation of Liberian law, management of the registry is based in the United States and appears to have the support of the US government.

The companies, which can be purchased online, offer near-total anonymity to their clients, allowing them to hide assets without fear of being caught by law enforcement or revenue authorities.

Among other things, Finance Uncovered’s investigation, supported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and amaBhungane, discovered over half a billion pounds of high-value London property registered to Liberian offshore companies.

And there have been allegations that revenues from the registry were used to fund arms purchases during Liberia’s terrible civil war

Liberia’s secret companies

Non-resident corporations are a particular form of corporate entity offered by the Liberian government to foreigners. They cannot do business in Liberia, and anyone in the world can set up such a corporation online within 24 hours through a corporate service provider.

Registered with the ministry of foreign affairs, they have no liability to pay taxes in Liberia, and no obligation to declare who owns them or file annual accounts.

They can also issue “bearer shares”, a legal instrument banned in most countries because of the ease with which they can be used for tax evasion and money laundering.

Bearer shares are unregistered certificates of ownership which can be physically transferred, changing ownership of a company without any record being kept. They are companies in cash form.

This means that no one, including tax and law enforcement authorities and the directors of the company itself, can find out who the owners are.

It is unclear exactly how many offshore companies Liberia has established. The Liberian government does not publish official figures, and Liberian officials repeatedly stonewalled requests for information, citing “commercial confidentiality”.

The registry is apparently a sensitive issue for the foreign ministry. The ministry’s then-deputy minister for legal affairs, Boakai Kanneh, became visibly enraged when we raised the issue during a brief meeting and ordered us out of his office.

Binyah Kesselly, former commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), which has oversight of the corporate registry, said in answer to e-mailed questions that the number of companies registered is kept confidential because of competition in the maritime industry.

The Liberian International Shipping and Corporate Registry (LISCR), a private company that manages the registry on the government’s behalf, also cited commercial confidentiality in response to questions.

Photo: One Hyde Park. A company called Vamespark Investments Corporation owns a 22.2 million pound apartment in London’s most exclusive address overlooking Hyde Park. (Photo by George Turner)

Outside LISCR, the LMA, the ministry of foreign affairs and the president’s office, few Liberians seem aware that the offshore companies registry exists.

The minister in charge of the Liberian domestic business registry until his death earlier this year, deputy minister of commerce and trade services Cyril Allen, told us in December 2015 he was unaware that Liberia had any other system of registering companies.

Some of the tax advisers who use the registry also seemed strangely unwilling to discuss it. Price Waterhouse Coopers is the only member of the “big four” accountancy firms with an office in Liberia, and is listed as a “certified service provider” on theLISCR’s website.

To qualify for this programme PwC must actively promote the use of Liberian companies. When we contacted them, the company said it would only respond to a letter delivered to its Monrovia office.

A letter was delivered, but no reply was forthcoming.

Liberia’s former auditor-general, John Morlu, slammed what he called secrecy surrounding the registry and the Maritime Programme of which it forms part.

He told us in an email:

“The Presidency has managed to conceal the corporate registry in the infamous maritime registry with 99% of the Cabinet, 99% of the legislature, and 99% of the Liberian people having no clue what a corporate registry is.

“Many Liberians know that the Maritime Programme is lucrative, and since it has always been the prerogative of the presidency no one dares bother to poke into it.”

Photo: Grosvenor Square. This entire building, located opposite the US Embassy in London is owned by a Liberian company, Forty Five Holdings Limited. (Photo by George Turner)

However, Finance Uncovered located an OECD report from 2013 on Liberia’s tax and transparency laws which states that 55,000 companies are registered in that country. Most are understood to be non-resident corporations.

In 2009 the trial of former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor heard that the offshore corporate registry had registered 40,000 companies.

Asked for comment, the Liberian government claimed that the maritime programme and the registry are not secret and that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf usually reports on the activities of the registry in her annual State of the Union address.

No mention of the registry could be found in the previous two State of the Union addresses. We asked when Sirleaf last updated the Liberian legislature on the programme. Her spokesperson,Jerolinmek Matthew Piah did not respond.

In search of 80 Broad Street

To receive mail, all Liberian non-resident corporations must have an address in Liberia and a registered agent.

Under Liberian law the LISCR Trust Company, a private entity with the address of 80 Broad Street, is the exclusive agent for all Liberian non-resident corporations. This means that all such corporations have the same mailing address – 80 Broad Street, Monrovia.

Broad Street is the commercial heart of downtown Monrovia. But 80 Broad Street does not exist, and when we visited the area none of the businesses in the street had heard of it.

At the ministry of post and telecommunications, no one would say who was assigned to that address.

Finally, a DHL agent we interviewed found that mail for 80 Broad Street is diverted to LISCR, on 5th Street in Sinkor, a few kilometres away.

At the LISCR offices, we were told that the managing director, Joseph Keller, was on long-term sick leave in the US and no one had replaced him.

Photo: The Liberian Business Registry, off Broad Street Monrovia, where Liberian resident corporations are are registered. (Photo by George Turner)

Asked whether anyone at LISCR’s Monrovia office could explain what happened there, we were told “no”.

LISCR’s Monrovia office appears to be little more than a mailroom, receiving correspondence for the thousands of companies registered there, which is scanned into computers and e-mailed to LISCR’s US headquarters.

The US connection

Liberia’s offshore registry would not have been possible without US patronage . A LISCR spokesperson said the foundation of the registry “resulted from an initiative of the United States government at the end of World War 2 to set up, in effect, an offshore ship register for the United States.”

Liberia was chosen because of the “strong historical connections between the US and Liberia”.

The Liberian shipping registry was founded in 1948 by former US secretary of state Edward Stettinius, who persuaded the Liberian government to contract out its shipping register to a private US company.

Today LISCR, the register’s current manager, is based in Vienna, Virginia, at the heart of the US military-industrial complex close to Washington DC. It has offices across the world.

The fees collected by LISCR are transferred to the Liberian government through a special account at the US Federal Reserve.

Liberian law continues to require that LISCR is owned and managed by US nationals. Its owner is Yoram Cohen, whose investment firm YCF Group owns agriculture, shipping and telecommunication companies operating in 18 countries, according to its website.

Cohen was also the president of Cellcom, a Liberian cell phone company, before it was sold to Orange earlier this year.

LISCR itself is registered in the tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction of Delaware in the US – prompting criticism in 2003 from the United Nations, which said it would have preferred the company to publicly declare its shareholders.

LISCR said the UN has never accused it of wrongdoing and that it has always co-operated with Security Council investigations into Liberia.

Throughout the history of the registry, LISCR and its predecessor have been staffed by retired US generals and former employees of the US coast guard.

In return for hosting this outpost of financial secrecy, the Liberian government gets to keep 67% of the net revenues collected by LISCR on its behalf. Funds raised by the company accounted for 75% of the government’s annual revenues during Charles Taylor’s rule, according to Taylor’s head of maritime affairs, Benoni Urey. During the first Liberian Civil War, revenues from the registry accounted for 90% of government revenue, as described in UN Security Council Report on Liberia.

The receipts are far less significant now, but there are still concerns about where they end up. Under the Taylor administration the Bureau of Maritime Affairs (BMA), a Liberian government agency that oversees the work of LISCR, took 10% of the revenue from the maritime programme for its running costs.

This was off the government’s balance sheet, and the UN alleged that Urey used the agency to make off-budget arms purchases during the civil war in violation of UN sanctions.

In a recent interview, Urey claimed that the money granted to the BMA was used for legitimate running costs. He said his agency was audited four times and on each occasion he was cleared of wrongdoing.

According to news reports, an agreement signed earlier this year between LISCR and the Liberian government grants the Liberian Maritime Authority, which has taken over from the BMA, 25% of revenues to meet its running costs. There appears to be little scrutiny of where the money goes, although there is no evidence that it is used for inappropriate expenditure.

The government refused to respond to questions about the revenues generated by the corporate registry.

Knuckles-gate

In 2009, LISCR’s contract with the government came up for renewal, and the negotiations led to a political storm known as “Knuckles-gate”.

Willis Knuckles was President Sirleaf’s former chief of staff. In 2009, he was chairperson of Cellcom, LISCR’s sister company, when emails emerged purporting to show that Knuckles tried to bribe members of the government, including Sirleaf herself, during the negotiations to extend LISCR’s contract.

An independent commission was set up to investigate the allegations led by Dr Elwood Dunn, a respected academic. The Dunn Commission, whose report can still be found on the Liberian president’s website, states that their findings were in part based on interviews with Yoram Cohen and other staff at LISCR and Cellcom.

The commission’s report cleared Sirleaf of corruption but criticised Knuckles for offering a $200 top-up card to the president’s brother-in-Law.

The commission found evidence of some “unclear payments” by LISCR that should be probed further, including a $600,000 “pre-payment” referred to in an email on a hard drive in Sirleaf’s mansion.

In its response to Finance Uncovered, LISCR issued a stinging attack on the Dunn Commission, claiming that the commission never contacted the company in the course of its inquiries. LISCR added that the alleged payments from it referenced on the hard drive in the president’s mansion never took place and that the company was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing in a letter from the Liberian justice ministry.

Liberia blacklisted

The offshore registry has prompted a growing number of countries to place Liberia on tax haven blacklists, with potentially far-reaching consequences for investment.

In June 2015 the European Union released a consolidated list of tax havens drawn from its member states – and Liberia was included by Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

Now, the EU is threatening to create a new list compiled by the European Commission, and may impose sanctions on states that do not meet international tax and transparency standards.

Brazil lists Liberia as a “privileged tax regime”. Argentina has produced a white list of countries that are not tax havens, and Liberia is one of the few that is not included.

Several US states, including Montana and Oregon, have drawn up tax haven lists, and companies in these states doing business in listed countries have greater tax obligations. Again, Liberia features.

Asked to comment, Sirleaf’s office and LISCR emphasised that the registry complies with international norms and standards on tax and transparency. Said the president’s office: “Liberia does not conform to the definition of tax haven and in fact is not considered such by leading OECD countries such as France and the USA.” It added, “Over the past years, the government of Liberia has … taken measures to improve upon the transparency and management of the programme to meet all of the OECD requirements. Liberia is in fact an OECD ‘white-listed’ jurisdiction.”

On its website and in its statement to Finance Uncovered, LISCR echoed the claim that Liberia is an OECD “white-listed jurisdiction”.

However, the OECD ceased to publish a white list in 2009. Responsibility for international coordination of policy in this area has passed to the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. A spokesperson confirmed that the forum does not publish white lists.

The forum, which has 131 members, including Liberia, conducts phased reviews of whether governments meet agreed standards on tax and transparency.

Last reviewed in 2012, Liberia has yet to pass phase one. And this is because of lack of access to ownership and accounting information from Liberian non-resident corporations.

In response, the government said: “There is no bad stigma attached to this designation, as many other countries have been in the same position. The reason for this is very simple. Liberia has not been able to compete with the larger countries, such as in Europe, as it does not have the infrastructure and manpower in place to assist with the implementation of the rigorous standards required by the OECD.”

Only eight states – Liberia, Vanuatu, Trinidad and Tobago, Nauru, Lebanon, Micronesia, Guatemala and Kazakhstan – have failed to make it past phase one of the OECD Global Forum. Even tiny well-known tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Mauritius and Panama have moved to phase two.

This month, Liberia passed new legislation on corporations, after the country was given a deadline by the OECD, which is conducting its latest review. This reiterates companies’ obligation to keep internal accounting and ownership records but does not oblige them to file those records with the corporate registry.

LISCR emphasised that the provisions are similar to those of many other countries.

For the first time the law gives the Liberian authorities power to request documents from the companies themselves.

A failure to comply results in a minimum fine of $1.000, while the fine for not keeping records is capped at $5,000.

Liberian companies also continue to be allowed to issue bearer shares, which can make attempts to discover the ownership of companies extremely difficult.

‘Unimaginable damage’

After the European Union published its tax haven blacklist, officials at LISCR’s US headquarters started to email campaign groups in Europe to ask for help in lobbying to get Liberia removed from the list.

In one e-mail seen by Finance Uncovered, a senior LISCR official writes: “The harm this blacklisting will do to reputation and commercial enterprise is unimaginable.”

It is a fear echoed by banking representatives in Liberia. In theLiberian Observer, local banks said it was difficult for them to establish correspondent banking relations because of Liberia’s reputation as a money-laundering centre.

Asked about the effect on a country such as Liberia of being added to a blacklist, Melissa Dejong, a tax policy analyst for the OECD, said they are aware of financial institutions moving out of countries that do not comply with the Global Forum recommendations, and that blacklisting deters investment.

“In some cases, jurisdictions may impose rules with respect to jurisdictions that do not meet the Global Forum standards,” Dejong said.

“For example, a jurisdiction may impose tax consequences on their own taxpayers who engage in transactions with a person in a jurisdiction that does not meet the Global Forum standards, such as higher withholding taxes, increased likelihood of audit, denial of tax benefits, increased information reporting requirements. These create a disincentive to investment.”

A national resource

Kesselly, the former chief executive of the Liberian Maritime Authority, said the characterisation of Liberia as a tax haven is a “misconception”.

Kesselly said Liberia is not listed as a “high-risk” jurisdiction by the Financial Action Task Force, and that diplomatic correspondence with the EU suggests the country will be taken off the European list of tax havens later this year.

Calling the registry “a national resource”, he said that every non-resident Liberian corporation must have an agent and an address in Liberia where official documents and mail can be served, regardless of whether anything else happens there.

In addition, non-resident corporations pay fees to the Liberian government on incorporation and every year thereafter, as well as when they file documents.

“The government views these programmes as national resources and is committed to protecting these resources by modernising them to both meet the needs of clients, and maintain compliant ratings from our international peers,” Kesselly said. “This synergy ultimately benefits the people of Liberia.”

However, Morlu, Liberia’s former auditor-general, said the small income the registry generates for the government – between $9-million and $15-million in most years – does not justify the tremendous risk.

“There are better ways to make money and since Liberia does not have the means, the desire and the political will to create a stronger regulatory and enforcement regime, we are better off not adding to the world’s problem of terrorist financing, drug financing and illicit flow of funds from other poor countries,” Morlu said in an email.

He would like to see the registry reserved only for legitimate shipping companies.

With the OECD report due on its progress in meeting transparency standards, and the EU threatening sanctions against countries on its blacklist, this summer will be a key moment for Liberia.

Scrutiny by international institutions is bound to grow in the wake of the Panama Papers. If Liberia is once again found to be lacking, the consequences for this fragile economy, still recovering from ebola, could be devastating. DM

*Liberian journalist’s identity is concealed to protect his publication from reprisals.

This story was produced by a Liberian journalist and Finance Uncovered, a global network of investigative journalists. It was written as part of Wealth of Nations, a pan-African media skills development programme run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Main photo: LISCR’s office on 5th Street Sinkor District Monrovia, where mail for the more than 40,000 companies registered to 80 Broad Street is delivered. (Photo by George Turner)

This story was provided by:

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It has the air of legacy about it.  The Clinton campaign has now moved forth with confidence to claim a victory over Bernie Sanders, who persists in an admirably tenacious campaign.  The Clintonites were given, on Monday, a nugget of value in the form of a declaration by Associated Press.  

Evidently assuming that everything was in the bag, the news agency found Hillary Clinton the winner among the Democrats.  In actual terms, this was hypothetical, despite the assessment that she had surpassed the 2,383 delegate mark.  The unelected superdelegates, numbering 712, have yet to formally declare their intention for either candidate, and the Democratic National Convention has to go through the rounds.  Even the functionaries of the National Committee have cautioned against such speculative reasoning.

The release also came before the primary verdicts in six states, including California, were in.  No one cast a vote on Monday.  This, however, has been the pattern in the Sanders-Clinton tussle. From the moment he won New Hampshire, the senator has faced a media barrage of inflated leads in the superdelegate stakes. With each victory in the popular vote, the rebuff from Clinton was that he could not shake the aptly antidemocratic core, despite doing very nicely with pledged delegates.

What transpired was that some plain badgering on the part of AP reporter Stephen Ohlemacher of various superdelegate worthies yielded material suitable for publication.  Hitherto untapped views streamed forth, to be caught by AP reporters.  These worthies remain, as such, nameless.

“Hillary Clinton,” opened the article, “has commitments form the number of delegates needed to become the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president, and will be first woman to top the ticket of a major U.S. political party.”[1]

Ohlemacher, with the sort of arrogance that social media feeds, made his role in this affair clear. “Dear superdels,” went his June 7 tweet, “I promise to stop calling you 6X a day AP count: Clinton has delegates to win Democratic nomination.”[2]

Sanders spokesman, Michael Briggs, was understandably peeved by this act of premature adjudication.  “It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer.”[3]

Reminding media outlets of Democratic Party procedure, he noted that Clinton was still reliant on superdelegates who do not vote till July 25 “and who can change their minds between now and then.”  The campaign, in other words, remains a live and burning issue.

Like a pool of patrician wisdom, these superdelegates pitched for Clinton, effectively ignoring the popular trend that had seen the candidates in a close race. The managers were evidently getting concerned that the Sanders campaign had been doing a bit too well.  “The decisive edifice of superdelegates,” noted Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept, “is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes.”

Hillary Clinton floated with the AP announcement.  A form of historical manufacture was in the making.  “Thanks to you,” she told supporters on Tuesday, “we have reached a milestone.”  The rush of platitudes proved overwhelming.  The “highest, hardest” of glass ceilings had been broken; little girls could dream about becoming president.  “Tonight is for you.”

Then came the plea for the Sandernistas to join her, though it is one that is similarly being advanced by Donald Trump.  President Barack Obama similarly joined the fabrication, congratulating the candidate he beat in 2008 for having reached the number of delegates necessary for the nomination.

Election observers such as Jeff Stein from Vox did not see the unfolding circumstances as all problematic.  Sanders was going to lose because he was losing the popular vote.  With naïve relish, Stein could say that the superdelegates were merely “voters in line with the broader electorate.”[4]  Hardly.

It was fitting that such a move should benefit one half of the Clinton duo. It was inappropriate on the part of AP, adding unjustified, premature political mettle to an ongoing political process.  It may well have filtered through the primary voting constituency, sowing a degree of disgust and apathy.  Why vote if the result is already in the bag?

A few more Sanders victories would make the superdelegates ponder their positions, possibly tilting towards the socialist senator.  Instead, the establishment gospel is being preached again, with victories effectively announced ahead of time by a news outlet.  With the primary race now gone to seed, the apparatchiks will breathe a bit easier.

Sanders will have to find some suitable form of retaliation, while some of his supporters, should he chose not to run as an independent, will either stay home or make a pact with an electable devil.  The latter, as yet unknown quantity, is a terrifying and deserved prospect.

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

Notes: 

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The pro-GMO lobby often relies on fraudregulatory delinquencyopaque practicessmear campaignsdirty tricks, slick PR and the debasement of science. While choosing to sideline the root causes of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and regional food insecurity (and effective solutions), it promotes a techno quick-fix based on profitable proprietary technology.

At the same time, prominent advocates of GM attempt to deflect attention from their own self-interest in promoting this technology and their hypocritical attitudes towards the poor by smearing their critics and offering sound bites about ‘feeding the poor and hungry’. And then there are the wealthy agritech corporations which flex their financial and political muscle and effectively hijack democracy for their own ends by slanting, science, politics, policies and regulation (these claims are discussed herehere and here).

Given this situation, it should not be about whether we are pro-GMO or anti-GMO. It is more the case of whether we are anti-corruption and pro-democratic.

People are demanding transparency, genuine independent testing and genuine independent evaluations of the impacts of GM on farmers’ livelihoods, ecology, the environment and on human and animal health. They also require fair and open debate.

Instead, what we too often get are dirty tricks, smears and PR from supporters of GM, which demonstrate a deep ideological commitment to corporate power and profit, rather than an openness and a willingness to address the concerns of those who question the efficacy of GMOs and the practices of the companies, politicians and scientists who are promoting this technology.

It is about what is best for farmers, the public as consumers of food and the environment, not what is best for research funding and career paths, well-paid lobbyists, rich CEOs and wealthy shareholders.

The case of Golden Rice

GMO advocates have long argued that genetically engineered Golden Rice is a practical way to provide poor farmers in remote areas with a subsistence crop capable of adding much-needed vitamin A to local diets. Vitamin A deficiency is a problem in many poor countries in the Global South and leaves millions at high risk for infection, diseases and other maladies, such as blindness.

Some scientists believe that Golden Rice, which has been developed with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, could help save the lives of around 670,000 children who die each year from Vitamin A deficiency and another 350,000 who go blind.

Meanwhile, critics say there are serious issues with Golden Rice and that alternative approaches to tackling vitamin A deficiency should be implemented. Greenpeace and other environmental groups say the claims being made by the pro-Golden Rice lobby are misleading and are oversimplifying the actual problems in combating vitamin A deficiency. Moreover, they argue that the Golden Rice programme is diverting attention from other more effective solutions.

Many critics regard Golden Rice as an over-hyped Trojan horse that biotechnology corporations and their allies hope will pave the way for the global approval of other more profitable GMO crops. The Rockefeller Foundation might be regarded as a ‘charitable’ entity but its track record indicates it has been very much part of an agenda which facilitates commercial and geopolitical interests to the detriment of indigenous agriculture and local and national economies.

The pro-Golden Rice lobby’s smears and attacks

As Britain’s Environment Secretary in 2013, Owen Paterson claimed that opponents of GMOs were “casting a dark shadow over attempts to feed the world”. Talking about golden rice, he called for the rapid roll-out of vitamin A-enhanced rice to help prevent the cause of up to a third of the world’s child deaths:

GMO It’s just disgusting that little children are allowed to go blind and die because of a hang-up by a small number of people about this technology. I feel really strongly about it. I think what they do is absolutely wicked.

Paterson claimed:

There are 17 million farmers, farming 170 million hectares which is 12 per cent of the world’s arable area, seven times the surface area of the UK [with GM] and no one has ever brought me a single case of a health problem.

When you think that golden rice has been developed by philanthropists and could have a dramatic impact on children who are going blind from Vitamin A deficiency or dying from Vitamin A deficiency it is absolutely wicked that these environmental groups oppose it. There is no other word for it.

Paul Evans, a communications and media consultant who promotes Golden Rice via his Twitter account and the Allow Golden Rice Now website, also engages in rhetoric aimed at critics of Golden Rice by calling them “anti-capitalist”, “socialist”, “nut jobs”, “human hating” ideologues and “anti-science”, among all the other various falsehoods and misleading statements he makes (see this and this).

Then there is his associate, corporate lobbyist Patrick Moore, who forms part of the pro-GMO lobby’s attacks on critics of GM. Whether it is Paterson, Mark Lynas, Moore or other prominent attack-dogs for the biotech industry, their rhetoric takes the well-worn cynically devised PR line that anti-GMO activists and environmentalists are little more than privileged, affluent people residing in rich countries and are denying the poor the supposed benefits of GM crops.

As of 2010, according to George Monbiot’s piece in The Guardian, Moore himself made “less than the average corporate lawyer” (which is currently $98,000 in 2016) and had three homes.

Monbiot wrote:

His services have been widely used not only by controversial companies, but also by the media, for which he writes articles and gives interviews attacking environmental groups and their campaigns. While he is invariably billed as a co-founder of Greenpeace, I have come across only two instances in which viewers or readers are told that he works for companies with an interest in the issues he’s discussing.

Monbiot says:

At one point in our correspondence he asserted: “I do not attack environmentalists, show me an example.” It happened that on the same day he had sent an email to the green group GMWatch, in which he told them: “You are a bunch of murdering bastards.” When I pointed this out to him, he told me: “I made an exception for murdering bastards… Besides which it was not against any particular person but rather at the whole lot of the murdering bastards.”

Moore’s attack on GMWatch was in response to an article from May 2009 criticising the way Golden Rice has been abused for PR purposes. People can read all about that here, where Moore says “Your piece on Golden Rice is enough to make one puke.” And in further correspondence states “The beta-carotene level is well above required amounts and it is perfectly safe and you are a bunch of murdering bastards.”Moore continued:

… I can see right through you and your anti-human, murderous agenda. If you know of some better way to save millions of people from suffering and death why don’t you do something about it you low-life, profiteering on ignorance, murdering creeps?

After 24 years, Golden Rice does not work and opponents are not to blame

So what of golden rice? Are the critics right to raise doubts about its efficacy, safety and the motives of those who are pushing for it? Will it prevent millions of children from going blind or save their lives?

And what about the emotional blackmail employed by supporters of Golden Rice and the abuse directed towards opponents?

In a recent article in the journal Agriculture& Human Values, despite the claims of Paterson, Moore Evans and others, Glenn Stone and Dominic Glover find little evidence that anti-GMO activists are to blame for Golden Rice’s unfulfilled promises. Golden rice is still years away from field introduction and even then, may fall short of lofty health benefits claimed by its supporters.

Professor Glenn Stone from Washington University in St. Louis stated that:

Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, but we find little support for the common claim that environmental activists are responsible for stalling its introduction. GMO opponents have not been the problem.

Stone adds:

The rice simply has not been successful in test plots of the rice breeding institutes in the Philippines, where the leading research is being done. It has not even been submitted for approval to the regulatory agency, the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

While activists did destroy one Golden Rice test plot in a 2013 protest, it is unlikely that this action had any significant impact on the approval of Golden Rice.

Stone says:

Destroying test plots is a dubious way to express opposition, but this was only one small plot out of many plots in multiple locations over many years. Moreover, they have been calling Golden Rice critics ‘murderers’ for over a decade.

Believing that Golden Rice was originally a promising idea backed by good intentions, Stone argued that it deserved a chance to succeed. But, on the back of his research, he argues:

But if we are actually interested in the welfare of poor children – instead of just fighting over GMOs – then we have to make unbiased assessments of possible solutions. The simple fact is that after 24 years of research and breeding, Golden Rice is still years away from being ready for release.

Since 2013, Stone has directed a major Templeton Foundation-funded research project on rice in the Philippines. His research compares Golden Rice to other types of rice developed and cultivated in the Philippines. As part of the Golden Rice initiative, researchers introduce genes into existing rice strains to coax these GMO plants into producing the micronutrient beta carotene in the edible part of the grain.

As Stone and Glover note in the article, researchers continue to have problems developing beta carotene-enriched strains that yield as well as non-GMO strains already being grown by farmers. The two authors point out that it is still unknown if the beta carotene in Golden Rice can even be converted to vitamin A in the bodies of badly undernourished children. There also has been little research on how well the beta carotene in Golden Rice will hold up when stored for long periods between harvest seasons, or when cooked using traditional methods common in remote rural locations.

Stones says that, as the development of Golden Rice creeps along, the Philippines has managed to slash the incidence of Vitamin A deficiency by non-GMO methods.

Golden Rice: in whose interest?

The evidence presented here might lead us to question why supporters of Golden Rice continue to smear critics and engage in abuse and emotional blackmail when they are not to blame for the failure of Golden Rice to reach the commercial market. It begs the question of whether they capable of carrying out the “unbiased assessments” that Stone mentions.

Whose interests are they really serving in pushing so hard for this technology?

In 2011, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, a senior scientist with a background in insect ecology and pest management asked a similar question:

Who oversees this ambitious project, which its advocates claim will end the suffering of millions?”

She answered her question by stating:

An elite, so-called “Humanitarian Board” where Syngenta sits – along with the inventors of Golden Rice, Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and public relations and marketing experts, among a handful of others. Not a single farmer, indigenous person or even an ecologist, or sociologist to assess the huge political, social, and ecological implications of this massive experiment. And the leader of IRRI’s Golden Rice project is none other than Gerald Barry, previously Director of Research at Monsanto.

What we should be doing is finding out what would be best for malnourished children rather than pushing a failing technology on behalf of transnational agritech companies that has thus far been 24 years in the making.

While highlighting the reasons why Golden Rice would be an economic and ecological disaster for Asia, Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, also called on the donors and scientists involved to wake up and do the right thing:

Golden Rice is really a ‘Trojan horse’; a public relations stunt pulled by the agri-business corporations to garner acceptance of GE crops and food. The whole idea of GE seeds is to make money… we want to send out a strong message to all those supporting the promotion of Golden Rice, especially donor organizations, that their money and efforts would be better spent on restoring natural and agricultural biodiversity rather than destroying it by promoting monoculture plantations and genetically engineered (GE) food crops.

In 2013, the Soil Association highlighted short-term measures that have been successful in reducing vitamin A deficiency, while indicating what could be done in the long-term to eradicate it.

It concluded by saying:

… there are already effective cures for vitamin A deficiency, both short-term and long-term, we know that these work, and we know that the long-term solutions solve not just the problem of vitamin A deficiency, which does not occur in isolation, but the wider problem of multiple vitamin deficiency.

If all the resources poured into Golden Rice had been diverted to facilitating these solutions, perhaps even greater progress would have now been achieved in tackling vitamin A deficiency and addressing the broader issues of poverty.

However, one obstacle has been the Philipinne government’s cooptation to the agenda of transnational corporations and the WTO and the revolving door that exists between government, academia and corporations (as Belinda Espiritu outlines here).

In order to tackle disease, malnutrition and poverty, you have to first understand the underlying causes – or indeed want to understand them. Walden Bello notes that the complex of policies that pushed the Philippines into an economic quagmire over the past 30 years is due to ‘structural adjustment’, involving prioritizing debt repayment, conservative macroeconomic management, huge cutbacks in government spending, trade and financial liberalization, privatization and deregulation, the restructuring of agriculture and export-oriented production.

Whether it concerns The Philipinnes, EthiopiaSomalia or Africa as a whole, the effects of IMF/World Bank ‘structural adjustments’ have devastated agrarian economies and made them dependent on Western agribusiness, manipulated markets and trade.

And GMOs are now offered as the ‘cure’ to ‘boost productivity’ or to tackle poverty-related diseases.

These are the huge issues that the pro-GMO agritech lobby does not like to discuss, though, not least because it advocates such policies and benefits from them, as Espiritu demonstrates in her piece. But any discussion of these issues brings up the predictable abuse of it all being just “anti-capitalist twaddle“.

But that’s the whole point isn’t it? Anything to close down open debate.

 

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It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. 

Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.

Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.

Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she devil – fascist rule prevailing either way.

Both candidates represent pure evil. Duopoly power runs things, serving monied interests exclusively, popular ones increasingly ignored.

US elections are farcical, anti-democratic, illegitimate by any standard. Outcomes are predetermined, dirty business as usual winning every time.

Voting is a waste of time. On election day, stay home. Four more years of imperial wars are certain.

So are policies favoring wealth, power and privilege exclusively, social justice fast disappearing, remaining fundamental freedoms on the chopping block for elimination, police state harshness replacing them.

Clinton won big on Tuesday, notably taking California and New Jersey. Mixed Sanders messages followed.

On the one hand, vowing to fight to the July convention. On the other, saying he’s returning to Vermont on Wednesday to “assess” his options.

On Thursday, he’ll meet with Obama at the White House. Will a concession statement and Clinton endorsement follow – supporting what he campaigned against, betraying his supporters, showing his stump populism was phony, empty rhetoric!

He operated this way throughout his political career – saying one thing, doing another, showing he’s more opportunist than populist, just another dirty politician, self-interest alone driving him.

Each electoral cycle, Americans get the best democracy money can buy – wealth, power and privilege exclusively served.

The only solution is nonviolent revolution. Voting accomplishes nothing.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

 

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The Associated Press(6/6/16) has unilaterally declared Hillary Clinton to be  “the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for president,” based on the news agency’s own polling of unelected superdelegates.

Superdelegates—who have a role in the Democratic nominating process based on their institutional positions rather than being chosen by voters—do not vote until the Democratic National Convention, to be held on July 25. They can declare their intention to vote for one candidate or another, just as voters can tell pollsters who they intend to vote for before Election Day, but like voters they can (and do) change their mind at any time before the actual voting. Media do not generally call elections weeks before the actual voting based on voters’ intentions.

The timing of AP’s announcement–on the eve of primaries in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota, and caucuses in North Dakota—raises concerns of voter suppression, intentional or not. The six states choose a total of 806 delegates on June 7, making it the second-biggest day in the Democratic primary calendar (after “Super Tuesday,” March 1, when 865 delegates were at stake).

News outlets generally withhold the results of exit polling until voters have finished voting, regardless of how far ahead the leading candidate is, because they don’t want to confuse poll-based speculation with the actual electoral results. AP, it seems, has no such qualms.

AP Count: Clinton Has Delegates to Win Democratic Nomination CNN: Hillary Clinton Clinches Democratic Presidential Nomination

Compounding the damage done by AP’s premature call were other major news outlets that joined the rush to declare the nominating process over.NBC News (6/6/16) came out with “Clinton Hits ‘Magic Number’ of Delegates to Clinch Nomination.” “Hillary Clinton Clinches Democratic Presidential Nomination,” was CNN’s headline (6/6/16); an onscreen graphic reported that “Hillary Clinton Earns Enough Delegates to Win Democratic Nomination,” an odd choice of verb to describe the inclinations of unelected delegates.

At least NBC and CNN claimed to be making its own independent count of superdelegates; USA Today (6/6/16) had the headline “Hillary Clinton Clinches Nomination: Here’s How She Did It,” as if the AP call were an objective fact that needed no attribution.

ACTION: Please tell AP not to preempt the democratic process by telling voters their votes don’t matter.

To: AP political editor David Scott

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AP

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APNews

Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Feel free to leave copies of your messages to AP in comments.

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South Korea’s Anti-Communist Dogma

June 8th, 2016 by Andre Vltchek

In Conversation with Mr. Kim Dol

“Thus now I have come to recognize the recently implemented sanctions against North Korea as an ‘injustice’.”

Above is a short excerpt from the letter that I received in May 2016, a letter from one of my readers, Mr. Kim Dol, a young South Korean professional based in Seoul.

Mr. Kim Dol, it seems, has been lately suffering from a gradual but irreversible loss of faith in the official dogmas that have been shaping his worldviews for most of his life – dogmas manufactured by his own country, South Korea (ROK), as well as those that have been imported from the West. He discovered countless contradictions between simple logic and what he was told, and expected to believe. He began questioning things, and searching for alternative sources.

That is how he found me. Online, he began reading my essays, as well as the essays of other comrades.

His letter arrived when I had been living for a month in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working on my new political novel while literally confronting the neo-liberal and neo-fascist government of the Argentinean President, Mauricio Macri.

Argentinian people had been fooled and they were now quickly waking up to a social, economic and political nightmare. The US was going to build military bases in at least two territories of this proud and essentially socialist nation. Prices were going up, privatization was in full-swing, and social benefits melting away. Protests erupted all over the capital. The fight for Argentina was on!

Simultaneously, in neighboring Brazil, a clique of cynical, corrupt, white and mostly evangelical members of the pro-Western ‘elites’ managed to overthrow the socialist government of Dilma Rousseff.

Mr. Kim Dol’s letter was timely. The Empire was on the offensive, destroying Latin America, while provoking Russia, China and the DPRK (North Korea).

An enormous military conflict, even a Third World War did not appear as some improbable and phantasmagoric scenario, anymore.

Mr. Kim Dol solicited several questions. His letter and queries were simple, honest and essential. Obviously, they were addressing some of the philosophical and political concerns of South Korean people. I decided to reply, but on one condition: that this exchange would be in the form of an interview, and made public. He agreed. I asked whether he’d mind using his real name? He responded, bravely, that he’d have no problem with that whatsoever.

Therefore, we were on!

***

I am dedicating this interview to those citizens of South Korea (ROK) who are, like Mr. Kim, brave enough to question and challenge the official propaganda, and who are searching together with us – their comrades in Latin America, Russia, China, the DPRK, South Africa and elsewhere – for much better and kinder world, based on internationalism, solidarity, decency, humanism and equality.

***

An introduction by Mr. Kim Dol:

“I am a native South Korean in my early thirties. Having been raised in a middle class family, I now work as an office worker, as many ordinary Koreans of my generation do. I’ve never been abroad — I have hardly ever been outside the city of Seoul — and it has only been several years since I started getting interested in affairs that happen outside my tiny sphere. Though both of my parents are of a progressive type, they rarely shared their political views with me in my youth, therefore I have been educated by the most typical ideology in South Korea from schools, society, and media: the superiority of capitalism (though we readily recognize its shortcomings), the terrible conditions of North Korea and other socialist countries, model cases of western countries, democracy, highly valued nationalism and patriotism, and so forth. At least in terms of ideology, I used to be the most typical person one would encounter in South Korea.

But recently lots of happenings and trends have made me think about other possibilities: the S. Korean government’s increasing rightward shift and pro-market policies has been enlarging the gap between the rich and the poor. The coarse lies of the ROK’s central intelligence against North Korea, which used to serve as the most effective means of consolidating the conservative ruling party’s power, are now being uncovered one after another. Although the current president of South Korea has been elected presumably in the most ”democratic” way to be found among the chiefs of Northeast Asian countries — no one was forced to vote for her — ironically now it seems that she is the most unpopular leader. The ongoing low economic growth the world is facing has revealed capitalism’s limits and its dangerous future. By contrast, Russia and China, which have been mentioned as representative failures of communism, are now emerging as new economic powers and challenging the USA and EU. I was confused by all these changing factors.

And two different forces — ISIS and North Korea — have been seemingly incurring the world’s hatred over the past few years, which has brought a decisive change in my ideas. Both are hostile to the USA and western powers, but in quite different ways. While ISIS attacks civilians as a means of resistance against its state-scale enemies, North Korea does not need to harm innocent people in its struggle against its enemies. Arming itself with nuclear weapons seems to be the most effective means to defending its people from the USA’s threats. (Just see what happened to the Iraqi people who had suffered from the USA invasion). Thanks to the nuclear weapons owned by N. Korea, not only its people but also the soldiers of the USA and its allies can avoid bleeding. It seems justifiable and appropriate to me. However, to my surprise, the global public, as well as all the mass media are siding with the USA. They overtly criticize North Korea arming itself with nuclear weapons. I don’t know why. They seem to just assume that DPRK is wrong.

Throughout all this, I have found myself no longer able to conform to mainstream media. What was extreme now seems normal, and what was normal now seems extreme. Out of this confusion, I tried to listen to the voices of North Korean people, on both elite and mass levels via a few available media channels, and read some materials and books written by socialists, communists, anti-capitalists, or anti-imperialists, which include some of your works. Among them I have found some common qualities all the authors share: “universalism”, “internationalism”, and “egalitarianism.” They are in striking contrast to the notion of “nationalism”, which is so highly valued in South Korea. Now I see why socialists prefer the words “people” and “comrade”, which are the most powerful words that break down the barriers between nations and classes. For three decades of my life, I have learned about the many cases of slaughters and brutality committed by communists and socialists. But it transpires that this ideology is founded on a powerfully peace-oriented spirit, at least theoretically — I have not yet sufficiently studied how it has been actually been put into practice. Rather, your books hold the western capitalist powers responsible for countless deaths and exploitation.

At the moment I am neither a capitalist nor a socialist. Though the western outlook I used to trust in now disappoints me to a degree and the other ideology I used to despise now touches and impresses me to a degree, still my knowledge is too short to identify me as something. For now, I am just a seeker for reality. I might end up being a capitalist, a socialist, or something in-between. Since I have long learned the values of the western capitalist scheme, now I need the teachings of your side. Once I get fully informed of both value systems, perhaps I will be able to come to the right conclusion. I hope the rest of my life will not be spent in opposition to humanity because of my ignorance of reality. Please help me get closer to reality, or the truth, by answering my questions.”

Q1: Given the many phases you have written about, you seem to be a socialist or communist. Do you think violence and immorality are inherent in capitalism even if the most virtuous capitalists make up part of a society? Or are your works only accusing a misuse of capitalism? In other words, I am wondering whether capitalism should be “discarded and replaced with something else or “renovated” and reformed into a better form. If you maintain the former, is it possible for it to happen in the current situation where only the few countries such as North Korea remain fully socialist?

A.V.: I believe that the Western imperialist/capitalist global dictatorship/regime has to be immediately dismantled, or else our humanity will eventually and most likely very soon, cease to exist.

The present form of capitalism (or call it neo-liberalism) is simply a grotesque, genocidal and gangrenous system. It is in direct contradiction to almost all the basic principles on which all the great civilizations of our planet had been based on. It is also a thoroughly nihilistic and depressing system.

The present form of capitalism is directly connected, even derived from, Western colonialism, Christian fundamentalism and the unmatchable brutality of the European culture.

It is thoroughly unrealistic to expect that capitalism could be reformed, considering that until this very moment, only one small ethnic group that is responsible for murdering hundreds of millions of human beings all over the world is still holding the global reins of power.

I am an internationalist, in the Cuban, Latin American tradition. You can call me a Communist, but I am not subscribing to any particular ‘branch’ of the left. My Communism or Socialism is about the perpetual struggle against colonialism, racism and imperialism – a struggle for equality, justice and social rights.

I believe that right now we have many socialist countries on this Planet (no matter how they are defined) including, of course, the most populous one – China.

I’m not dogmatic in how the socialism should be structured, economically. There are many ways, depending on the culture of each particular country. Chinese socialism is different from Bolivian or Iranian socialism, and that is actually wonderful.

Capitalism is an extremely outdated, barbaric and unsavory concept, and I believe that it should be scrambled eventually, but only after some prolonged and deep philosophical discussions take place – discussions during which the people should be offered many alternatives and enlightened about the past (how capitalism has been destroying countless countries and human lives, for decades).

Q2: Many administrations that have been criticized as “dictatorships” by the Empire are really dictatorships at least from the perspective of the western concept of democracy, for example, Kim Jong Un’s administration in North Korea. Furthermore, under those administrations, typically the media/press are not free to criticize them. To my knowledge, the public in a socialist country is usually less able to participate in politics and to express their views against their governments. Is this thought simply a misunderstanding caused by my “brainwashing” by the western imperialist ideas? Do you have another perspective on this?

A.V.: The question is essential and complex, and the answer cannot be simple either.

Essentially, almost all of us, including those in what you call ‘the socialist countries’, are, to at least some extent, under tremendous psychological pressure to accept Western slogans and definitions of “democracy”, “freedom” and “openness”. They have been literally bombarded, day and night, by open and concealed messages propagating this sort of system: through mass media, mass-produced films and pop music, and ‘education’ (which could be better described as ‘indoctrination’).

For decades and centuries, the West has been actually shamelessly utilizing a racist and ‘exceptionalist’ reasoning: “the only acceptable ‘democratic’ forms of government are those invented and implemented in/by Europe, North America, etc.”

Why? To this, no answer is given, but it is understood that the reason is: “because the West; its race and its ‘culture’ (and therefore its political concepts) are simply superior, ‘God-given’ and unquestionable. It is all based on fundamentalist faith, not on any serious analyses or comparisons.

On closer examination, which is almost never conducted, such presumptions would, of course, immediately melt.

Not only that, Western global rule has never been ‘democratic’, it has been clearly genocidal.

But back to practical aspects of democracy…

For instance, present-day China is in many ways much more ‘democratic’ than the West. But there, the number of political parties competing or not participating at the election booths does not determine the level of ‘democracy’. Let us remember that ‘democracy’ means only ‘rule of the people’, translated from Greek (nowhere does it say ‘multi-party system’). In China, there is a thousand years old concept, ‘The Heavenly Mandate”. The government or the ruler has to answer to the people, and if it fails to represent them, can be removed. The Communist Party of China is well aware of it. It reacts to the needs and desires of the Chinese people much more readily than the Western governments do to their own voters. The current direction taken by President Xi and the leadership of the country is extremely good proof of it: Chinese people are demanding much more ‘Chinese-style socialism’, and they are getting it. There is a direct democracy at work there: it is unique, but it could be understood by outsiders/foreigners, if they decided to study it. The problem is that most of them don’t. They repeat, like parrots, clichés invented by Western propagandists, without even doing their basic homework. But then they pass their indoctrination as a legitimate ‘point of view’, as their own opinion. That is very typical for the Westerners and citizens of the Western colonies and ‘client’ states: the absolute acceptance of the doctrines and unmatchable arrogant self-righteousness. It is really equal to fundamentalism.

In the West as well as in South Korea (or Japan), there is no serious and deep discussion about what precisely ‘democracy’ is. Perception implanted and accepted by almost all citizens of the Empire is: democracy is ‘us’, dictatorship is ‘them’. There is no public philosophical discussion. As there are no reports ridiculing the Western ‘democratic concept’ (basically a useless, even grotesque act of sticking a piece of paper into those big carton or metal boxes, ‘voting’ for similar-thinking candidates already pre-selected by the regime) in the mainstream media.

No serious comparison of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is performed.

Let me give you a few simple examples to illustrate what I am saying:

In Venezuela, during Hugo Chavez Frias, but even now, all major developments and changes (including constitutional ones) have to be approved by the people, through a plebiscite. During those referendums you can vote for the government, for the Process, and that means that your country will stay on the socialist course; or you were to vote in the US-backed opposition, and in that case Venezuela would make a sharp U-turn and go back to being a Western ‘client’ state and capitalist economy. That is 1800 degrees turn! Where in the West would the citizens be allowed to make such decisions? In the West, you can choose only between capitalism and capitalism! After WWII, the Communist parties in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe were heading for easy election victories, but the US and UK employed Nazi and fascist cadres to derail the votes. So much for their freedom and ‘democracy’! Look now at all those recent polls: most of the Westerners are against capitalism. But can they choose? Can they change the entire system? No! But in China or in Cuba people live with the system desired by the majority. And they are much better informed than people in the West. Just visit any major bookstore in Beijing: you will see tons of books on Marxism and Communism, but you will also see tons of books on business, Obama’s biographies, Bill Gate’s biographies, Western bestsellers and even some iconic Western propaganda rubbish. Then go to the bookstores in New York City or Paris, and tell me how many books defending and glorifying Communism would you find in there. And then just draw some logical conclusions!

Or visit ‘798’ which is an enormous city of art galleries and theatres in Beijing. What do you see there? Some great art, yes. But also, plenty of it carries provocative political messages. Messages are critical of everything: from Western imperialism to the way China is governed. It is impressive, truly mind-blowing, how free Chinese art is, compared to that of the West or in Japan. In China, people are passionate about their country, they are discussing, arguing how to make it better, even greater than it already is. Last year I visited 300 art galleries in Paris and I did not find one, a single one that would carry political art. And that is in France, a country that is rapidly falling apart, where people are basically pissed off at their regime, frustrated day and night. Do you call it normal or free? I definitely feel much more free and alive in Beijing than in Paris. And I am not alone! But you would hardly read such thoughts in the British or French or South Korean newspapers.

Now, let me return to your mentioning of the ‘undemocratic nature’ of the DPRK or some of the other socialist countries.

You should think why they are ‘undemocratic’. As a Korean, you perhaps know that after the Korean War, the DPRK was in much better shape, and was more open that the ROK. ROK was a brutal right-wing dictatorship, run by a pro-Western treasonous clique, and by the military and business interests. People were being hunted down, tortured, and “disappeared”. It was not unlike the situation in Pinochet’s Chile or Suharto’s Indonesia. But the West unleashed the terror of an arms race, intimidation, sanctions and psychological warfare against the DPRK. At some point it pushed the country into the corner. And DPRK had to react, to close its ranks, to harden itself, simply in order to survive. And when it reacted, the West pointed its fingers, shouting: “You see! It is acting undemocratically!” In fact the hatred of the West for North Korea has nothing to do with ‘democracy’. It goes back to the neo-colonial era. Both Cuba and North Korea heroically fought for the liberation of Africa; that’s why the West hates and tries to destroy them. I wrote extensively on this (DPRK: Isolated, Demonized, and Dehumanized by the West). But that angle is never mentioned!

The same happened to Cuba. There the West unleashed direct terror against the island, shooting down passenger airliners, bombing civilian airports, restaurants, hotels, staging assassinations, even trying to divert clouds to cause severe droughts. Cuba never reacted by full-force, but it reacted. The propaganda of the West went immediately into over-drive! You see, for the old and new Western colonialist powers, it is unacceptable, even ‘undemocratic’, to defend your own country! It is actually perversely ‘logical’: to the Westerners only the white, ‘Caucasian’, Christian, Western people really matter – only their ‘rights to rule’ are (sometimes) respected. All others have to accept their fate of subservience, of slavery!

But no, this would never happen in Cuba or in the DPRK. People don’t want to be slaves there. They would never accept Western terror as something ‘normal’. And they know that the only reason why they are in this ‘special situation’ is because they are intimidated, attacked, even terrorized by the West for helping to liberate the world from slavery! They never attacked any foreign country. But if attacked, they will fight. That is how the majority of people feel in both countries. And therefore, their determination is ‘democratic’.

Q3: Your term the Empire is mentioned in a singular form although it consists of many countries. Is it because North America and Western Europe have a common interest and usually stand on the same side? Doesn’t “imperialism” usually feature competitions among a number of empires?

A.V.: Correct. The empires of Europe and later the United States of America used to compete for the loot and control of entire continents or particular countries. But after the WWII, there was ‘consolidation’, and now it is basically the Western world, a white race, or some sort of Christian fundamentalist realm (plus its lieutenants like Japan, South Korea and Israel) that forms one huge neo-colonialist Empire. I described it in detail in two of my recent books: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.

Q4: You and lots of other communists and socialists condemn the imperialist governments for having led many nations into ruins. However, I’ve found that communists and socialists including you also frequently criticize “feudalism”, which is highly likely to have been predominant among those nations before they were colonized. Should I think that the “evil feudalism” has been replaced with the “more evil colonialism” and those nations have never been in bright conditions?

A.V.: Very interesting, and again, an essential question.

Many countries that were later colonized by the West went through some type of feudal period. And the West itself also lived, for centuries, under a feudalist system.

If there were to be no brutal intervention from abroad (from the West), most nations of the world would be developing in their own, specific way, but most likely moving towards some modern and, I’d dare to say, socialist state; definitely away from feudalism.

After colonizing Asia, Africa, what is now Latin America and Oceania, the West began using and re-introducing some old, oppressive power structures in each and every occupied country or part of the world. Almost immediately, the local feudal lords, warlords and ‘aristocrats’ were bribed, restored into control and armed with new privileges and powers, so they could terrorize and intimidate their own people on behalf of the occupying powers.

So, in a way, the West restored or re-introduced feudalism in the countries from which it had already disappeared, or upheld it where it was still reigning. It was clearly a regressive process, but what else are colonialism and slavery if not extremely dark, primitive and backward concepts?

A very good example is Indonesia, which, before the West-backed, extremely brutal and genocidal fascist coup of 1965, was moving towards electing its first Communist government (PKI). The country was ready to move to the Left, democratically. After the pro-Western murderous forces grabbed power, killing between 1 and 3 million people and turning Indonesia into an intellectual zombie land, feudalism was forcefully reintroduced, almost immediately.

Actually, to be precise, at least in modern history, most countries that were experiencing what you described as “bright conditions” were destroyed and occupied by the West, exactly because they were so democratic, and cared for their own people. What we see as ‘bright conditions’ – something that is positive and beneficial for the local people – the Empire considers as mortal danger to its dictatorial interests. The Empire does not care about people, especially for what Orwell used to call ‘un-people’ – the non-Westerners. Examples of horrors administered by the West are limitless: from Congo to Indonesia, Chile, Iraq, Iran and Libya.

Do you really believe that such a system can be reformed? Or perhaps we should finally stop fooling ourselves, after almost a billion of lives had been lost, throughout the centuries and in all corners of the world? And instead start defending human beings, human lives!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western ImperialismDiscussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or hisTwitter.

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Never underestimate the power of the puncturing prank.  It acts as subversion, and before you know it, that April Fool’s joke becomes the order of the day, the next gospel, the affirmed orthodoxy. Consider, for instance, a pair of glasses left on the floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

On May 23 both Kevin Nguyen and T. J. Khayatan from San Jose decided to do what has, in fact, been done before: place an object on the floor of a museum, preferably under some caption, and observe the process of conversion. As Khayatan explained, “some of the ‘art’ wasn’t very surprising to some of us.  We stumbled upon a stuffed animal on a grey blanket and questioned if this was really impressive to some of the nearby people.”[1]

That particular work referenced by Khayatan had the name of Arenas, a creation of Mike Kelley who explained how he liked creating “art about the commodity in terms of a classical notion of perfection.”[2]

Mike Kelly Arena. 7 Stuffed Bears

Go back to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) and we have the first noted attempt to mock what can only be a form of “artification” (dare one even use that term?), where a utilitarian piece of high functionality becomes an expression of artistic sentiment.  It consisted of Duchamp’s selection of a Bedfordshire model porcelain urinal which received, on its return to his studio, the signature of “R. MUTT 1917.”  Having been witnessed by a few, it promptly vanished, leaving replicas in their place.

The conservative view on this – and here, art critic Brian Sewell is roaring from beyond the grave – is that this is pure bollocks, an act of clever subversion, ironic and pure prank.  The other side of it come the establishment paladins and sponsors, shielded by coy art critics who do not wish to be offensive, and proceed to call everything art with verbiage in heavy dress.

Martin Grayford, writing about Fountain in February 2008 ahead of the Tate Modern exhibition “Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia”, did precisely that, suggesting that the urinal was “a rather beautiful object in its own right and a blindingly brilliant logical move, check-mating all conventional ideas about art.  But it was also a highly successful practical joke.”[3]

The 2002 engagement between Sewell and Matthew Collings, his much junior counterpart in Prospect, serves a few instructive purposes here.  The point of debate was simple enough: “Are young British artists nincompoops and frauds?”[4]

Collings simply takes such conceptual art, products of “modernism and post-modernism” as “self-referential.  There is no point crying about it; this is the art that society produces.”  Rather than engaging the idea of art, Collings simply accepts the totality of the premise that all can be art.  He merely wishes to point out that there is a “structure and a system” which enables you to see meaning in it.

Sewell’s tart demolition was entirely pertinent.  Collings was playing grand court fool and fence sitter, not wishing to alienate those who paid for his reviews.  “That art itself is either a structure or a system in any deliberate or even art historical sense, is to me an incomprehensible notion”.

When one is in the puffery of avoiding offence against the big wigs of the art world (or other worlds, for that matter), being struck off the invitation list hangs as a continual threat.  The dinner parties dry up; the canapé rounds vanish.  Lonely, such a critic can only rely on brute revelation, becoming a loud and disagreeable Doubting Thomas.

For the two San Jose teens, the Duchamp effect kicked in almost immediately, not least of all from SFMOMA itself.  Rather than blushing with disgrace, the museum staff decided to inflate Cruda’s ego by extolling the lessons of history.  “Do we have a Marcel Duchamp in our midst?”[5]

One remark dredged up from Facebook’s endless corridors of digital piffle came up with the view that “by placing his glasses there and inspiring people to look at them in a new light, and by what he was trying to convey by doing so, this guy did, in fact, create a work of modern art!  Sweet!”  The network NBC, covering the Bay Area, decided to tweet that, “Everyone can make their own art.”[6]

Jack Moore, writing for GQ, demonstrated a similar obliviousness of definitions and art terms by seeing behavioural intent as somehow artistic.  Forget the nature of the object – search for the deep, bottom hugging meaning.  “I think there’s a good argument to be made that it is actually art commenting on the opaque and sometimes seemingly slapdash nature of some modern art.”[7]

Such imbecility has a tendency to be all consuming. Rather than dealing with the question of art itself, it avoids it altogether. “Let’s remember,” insists an art writer for theHuffington Post, “Museums aren’t out to trick anyone.  They’re simply a space where looking, and more importantly, slow, thoughtful seeing, is encouraged.”[8]

The paid-up fence sitter comes to the fore in such exculpatory drivel, assuming that the prank itself is art, a way of being contemplative about the sanctioned faecal matter.  This confuses the act of debunking criticism with what art, the subject of that criticism, actually is.  Hardly reassuring for modern critics.  One can very well agree with Moore that this was a “good prank” – but it hardly qualifies as art.

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

Notes

[1] https://www.buzzfeed.com/javiermoreno/people-are-loving-this-teens-art-gallery-prank?bftw&utm_term=.jnGvoAPbL0#.bbRPnY04yG

[2] http://bombmagazine.org/article/1502/mike-kelley

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3671180/Duchamps-Fountain-The-practical-joke-that-launched-an-artistic-revolution.html

[4] http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/debate-value-modern-british-art

[5] https://twitter.com/SFMOMA/status/735622919837995008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

[6] http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/San-Jose-Teens-Glasses-Prank-at-San-Francisco-Museum-of-Modern-Art-Goes-Viral-381055301.html

[7] http://www.gq.com/story/glasses-on-sf-moma-art

[8] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/glasses-mistaken-for-art-sfmoma_us_57471468e4b055bb11716189?section=australia

 

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The UK has been secretly upgrading its arsenal of Trident nuclear weapons and is working on a new warhead, a report shows.

The UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) is running a program to produce a more powerful and accurate nuclear warhead called the “Mark4A,” the Nuclear Information Service (NIS), a London-based research body, reported Tuesday.

The Mark 4A warhead program is running in tandem with a US program that seeks to improve the performance of the W76 warhead and extend its operational lifetime, the NIS says.

A joint working group of British and American experts has also been established to allow collaboration on the program, and new warheads have been tested at Sandia National Laboratories in the US.

UK HMS Vanguard nuclear submarine

UK HMS Vanguard nuclear submarine

“The Mark 4A warhead modification program will allow Trident nuclear warheads to remain in service until the middle of this century, and plenty of money is being spent to pave the way for developing a new generation warhead which will remain in service for even longer,” said Peter Burt, a research manager with the NIS.

The British Parliament has been kept in the dark about the upgrade program’s cost and timetables, according to the report.

The existence of the program has been confirmed in a July 2014 letter by the Ministry of Defense, where Jon Thompson, then top civil servant at the Ministry of Defense, confirms Dr. Paul Hollinshead’s appointment as the senior official responsible for the “nuclear warhead capability sustainment program.”

Hollinshead was also put in charge of “commencement of Mk4A production in accordance with the Trident Manufacture Plan,” the letter shows.

The report revealed that AWE’s design studies for the new warhead have already cost British taxpayers nearly £85 million.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is expected to submit a Commons motion in favor of retiring the existing fleet of Trident submarines and replacing them with four new boats.

The government put the cost at £31bn, but has set aside a £10bn contingency fund in the event of overruns.

So far the Ministry of Defense has refused to disclose the Trident program’s overall cost on the grounds that it is classified. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, however, has estimated that it will cost at least £205 billion.

“The government is committed to maintaining minimum continuous at-sea deterrence to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and to protect our vital interests; a decision on replacing the warhead will be taken when necessary,” said a ministry spokesperson.

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Jeanette Shannon of Detroit was evicted from her home on June 3 after a protracted fight against fraudulent real estate interests and the local courts which favor the predatory lenders and the banks.

This was a test case for Detroit Eviction Defense (DED) coalition and other anti-foreclosure activists in the city. The struggle to save Shannon’s homes revealed further the political character of the administration of corporate-imposed Mayor Mike Duggan whose police officials provided protection for the bailiff and the contract laborers hired to break into the home, trash the property and dispose of the household belongings in a dumpster parked in an alleyway next to the house.

The role of the Detroit police was critical in the eviction which was viewed by 100 people who turned backed the dreaded dumpsters twice within two days.

In similar instances which occurred during 2012 in another section of northwest Detroit, police withdrew saying it was a civil matter or stayed away allowing for the situation to be resolved by activists through political pressure and negotiations with courts and the banks.

On Thursday June 2, the court bailiff appeared at the Shannon home after 5:00pm with the intent to evict the homeowner and her 17-year-old son. The storm door leading into the house was pulled off the hinge.

Several activists who had been keeping vigil in an effort to block the eviction were able to stave off the bailiff. The bailiff then told those outside the home that Shannon had to be out of the home by Friday.

Early Friday morning when the dreaded dumpster was delivered it prompted a response by anti-foreclosure activists keeping watch over the home. A driver of the vehicle delivering the dumpster attacked, choked and pummeled activists resulting in a leading member of Detroit Eviction Defense, Bob Day, having his leg broken in two places.

A member of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Martha Grevatt, was unjustly issued a civil infraction for ostensibly refusing to move her automobile from in front of the Shannon home. Her vehicle was not breaking any parking laws and therefore these orders were motivated by the enforcement of the eviction order.

Others at the scene were threatened with felony arrests. Columns of police cars returned after Noon the same day and proceeded in their attempt to break down the front door.

Having failed to enter through the front they then walked around to the back entrance and barged the door open and later refused access to Jeanette Shannon so that she could retrieve her cats. She was later allowed to enter the home to rescue her pets from the bailiff and the hired hands that went about hauling possessions to the dumpster and boarding up the house.

Mobilization to Defend Shannon Home

DED along with other social justice and labor activists rallied to the defense of the Shannon home due to the compelling character of the case. There is a proliferation of similar scenarios across the city stemming from the real estate and banking collapse of 2007-2008, leaving tens of thousands of vacant homes many of which have been turned over to the unscrupulous “developers” and the notorious Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA).

A number of these so-called real estate developers exploit the situation when they are given preference in purchasing the properties through the Wayne County auction and those conducted by the DLBA. The homes are often sold on “land contracts” because despite the ruling class propaganda that Detroit is being revitalized with property values increasing as well as rents, the banks wrote less than 500 mortgages during the entire year of 2015.

After purchasing homes on land contracts from these companies, the residents soon discover that there are property tax and other liens on the homes. Others discovered that they do not even own the home since their names do not appear on the deeds.

In the specific case of Jeanette Shannon, according to an entry on the website of DED, “Shannon purchased her Detroit home in 2010 from Thor Real Estate LLC for $15,000 on a land contract — with an understanding that the company was responsible for paying the property taxes, and that the amount for taxes was added into her monthly payment. But the year after she moved in with her daughter and son, she was shocked to be told by Thor’s attorney that her house payment was being jacked up by almost $100 a month to pay the property taxes. That threw her in a panic and she hired an attorney she found through a friend of a relative, who said she was an expert in real estate law.” (detroitevictiondefense.org)

As is frequently the situation among other Detroit residents, “It was then that Shannon discovered that Thor LLC hadn’t paid any property taxes since 2008, two years before her purchase of the property. When she contacted the city, they told her that the property tax debt had been sent to the County.”

The County of Wayne is designated to collect not only their portion of taxes on properties but also those delinquent payments assessed by the City of Detroit Finance Division. Late fees and charges accumulate at the rate of 18 percent annually.

These inevitable burdens placed on homeowners are compounded by the fact that actual appraisals of Detroit homes have not been effectively carried out in two decades since the 1990s, when banks engaged in predatory lending in part by overinflating the worth, where residents would then borrow money against these arbitrarily designated values.

Typically the courts in Wayne County side with the real estate firms and the banks. Only public pressure from activists has won residents’ rights to remain in their homes.

Federal Funds Misdirected to Corporate Interests

This is taking place while on June 1 the State of Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) received $188 million in federal funds ostensibly aimed at foreclosure prevention and blight removal.

There is now a struggle being waged by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs to release the funds to those who need them. Other organizations are also endorsing the effort which not only is targeting the Treasurer of Wayne County for not vigorously pursuing the utilization of the federal monies to assist homeowners to remain in these properties, but also MSHDA and the United States Department of Treasury.

The Treasury Department issues the funds and is allowing them to be funneled into the DLBA where massive fraud by administrators and functionaries are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice. So-called “blight removal” efforts are the source of the corruption as well as the process of emptying the city of its African American and working class population.

MSHDA held their monthly board meeting on May 25 in Lansing. The proceedings were streamed to their offices at the state office building at Cadillac Place in the New Center area of Detroit.

A delegation from the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and supporters attended the meeting and during the public comment section blasted the board for not directed these limited resources to pay delinquent property taxes and water bills for residents of Detroit and Wayne County.

Another action is being planned for the Department of Treasury which by turning over hundreds of millions to MSHDA and the DLBA is facilitating the forced removal of people from Detroit. These efforts will continue through various forms of protests and agitation in the next several months, according to Moratorium NOW! Coalition organizers.

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The Racial Divide Between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

June 8th, 2016 by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

As I sat in the San Diego sunshine yesterday listening to Bernie Sanders outside of Qualcomm Stadium, I was struck by the stunning contrast between the senator and Donald Trump, particularly on the issue of race.

Sanders emphasized racial justice, citing the courage of African Americans and their allies who fought against racism and bigotry during Jim Crow. He talked of the thousands of undocumented workers who are ruthlessly exploited, overworked and underpaid, vowing to end the current deportation policies. Sanders seeks to “unite, not divide families.” And he wants to “fundamentally change” the federal government’s oppressive relationship with the Native American community.

There are more people in U.S. prisons than in any other country in the world, Sanders noted. Those imprisoned, he said, are disproportionately African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The senator wants to invest in “jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.”

Sanders was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He served as president of the Congress of Racial Equality at the University of Chicago, organizing pickets and sit-ins, which led to his 1963 arrest for “resisting arrest.”

When Dr. Cornel West, author of the book Race Matters, introduced Sanders, he said the senator stands on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr., Edward Said and Cesar Chavez. Said, a professor at Columbia University, was a path-breaking Palestinian-American activist scholar, who decried the “dehumanization of Palestinians to the level of beasts virtually without sentience or motive.”

The overwhelming popularity of Sanders prompted the Democratic National Committee to invite him to nominate several members to the platform committee for the Democratic Convention. Much to the consternation of Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ choices included Dr. West, Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Keith Ellison, and Arab-American Institute president James Zogby, all staunch supporters of Palestinian rights.

Sanders called out Donald Trump for his bigotry, saying, “In the year 2016, the American people will not accept a bigoted president.” He added, “We are not going back. We will not accept a candidate that insults Latinos, Muslims, women, veterans and African Americans.” Sanders reminded us that Trump was a leader of the birther movement, whose aim was to delegitimize Barack Obama as president because he is black.

Trump has a nasty habit of attacking people based on their race. His most recent assault was on Gonzalo Curiel, a well-respected federal judge in San Diego, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed by people claiming they were scammed by Trump University. When Curiel ordered the unsealing of documents in the case, Trump mounted a double-barrel assault on the judge, stating that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” that should disqualify him from the case. Trump’s reasons: “He is a Mexican.” Trump said, “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest.” Curiel is a U.S. citizen born to Mexican immigrant parents. Trump also maintains that a Muslim judge might treat him unfairly because the latter has advocated the temporary exclusion of most foreign Muslims from entering the United States. But federal courts have roundly rejected the claim that the ethnicity of a judge disqualifies him or her from hearing a case.

Trump has also vowed to deport 11 million undocumented workers from the United States.

The overt racism of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate is causing hand-wringing in GOP circles. Republican strategist Brian Walsh characterized Trump’s comments as “racist, nonsensical” and “the definition of racism.”

Veteran GOP operative Rick Wilson is also alarmed at Trump’s racism, noting that [the Republican Party] “own[s] the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign.” Wilson said that Trump’s comments about Curiel and Muslim judges are “overtly racist.”

Trump’s racism is also evident in his pandering to people based on their race. He recently pointed out a black man in the crowd, declaring, “Oh, look at my African American over here – look at him.”

Sanders has cited Trump’s demagoguery, which, the former thinks, is a reaction to fear and anger than many people feel, leading them to embrace scapegoating.

“Don’t go to the dark side,” Sanders implores. He advocates building a strong, progressive movement. “Real change,” he told us yesterday, “has never taken place from the top on down, only from the bottom up.”

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US sanctions aren’t just hurting everyone including the US, they are accomplishing nothing. The US State Department’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) notified readers of a diplomacy campaign by the United States aimed at “urging” Europe to maintain sanctions against Russia. While the US claims the necessity of these sanctions are self-evident and beneficial to the US and Europe, such campaigns would not be needed if that were truly the case.

The article titled, “U.S. Sends Envoy To Urge Europe To Maintain Russian Sanctions,” states:

The United States is dispatching an envoy to Paris and Berlin on June 7 and 8 to try to convince European allies “of the importance of maintaining sanctions pressure on Russia,” the U.S. Treasury said on June 3.

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The sanctions, RFE/RL claims, are a result of Russia’s involvement in neighboring Ukraine’s downward spiral, which ironically enough, began not with Russian involvement but with that of America. Between 2013-2014 the United States, with its own senators traveling to Ukraine and taking the stage at US-backed protests in Kiev, quite literally propelled a violent Neo-Nazi putsch into power.

Since then, Ukraine has unraveled. Rather than taking responsibility for yet another failed US intervention, US policymakers have instead decided to shift the blame on Moscow. The ability to hold up US-EU sanctions against Russia as a means of legitimizing this shift of responsibility is key to the continued underpinning of Western support for the current regime in Kiev, and Washington’s continued belligerence toward Moscow.

US Sanctions are a Geopolitical Wrecking Ball


Like a geopolitical wrecking ball, US intervention in Ukraine first destabilized and destroyed Ukraine’s economy, before brushing into Russia and now with sanctions ongoing ever since, the effects have swung back to hit Europe and even the United States itself.

Ukraine since Soviet days has enjoyed several notable accomplishments in the field of heavy industry. The legendary Anatov aircraft company is headquartered in Ukraine and produces some of the largest heavy lift aircraft in the world.

The New York Times in 2014 would report in its article, “Aviation Giant Is Nearly Grounded in Ukraine,” that:

The crisis with Russia that erupted in February terminated Antonov’s most promising, albeit already troubled, joint venture: a short-takeoff, heavy-lift plane that the Russian military had sought for years. 

Antonov was not alone. With the rupture, Ukraine, among the world’s top 10 arms exporters, lost the market that spurred the development of its military industry. 

Economic and military experts said Antonov’s troubles epitomized the twin problems plaguing state-run companies in Ukraine, particularly the military sector, as it tries to slip Russia’s gravitational pull and hitch its fortunes to Europe.

Though the New York Times attempts to place the blame squarely on Russia, the reality is that Ukraine has an inescapable historical, cultural, technological and socioeconomic relationship with neighboring Russia, a relationship being artificially severed by a likewise artificial regime in Kiev.

The primary problem facing this US-European prodded shift is that the defense industry Ukraine was a part of, represented and benefited from mirroring that of the US and Europe. Attempting to integrate itself with the US and Europe is unlikely, and instead what will follow is the liquidation of Ukraine’s economic strength.

The New York Times notes that Ukraine also was a prolific weapons developer and manufacturer, among the top 10 in the world. Nations around the world sought Ukrainian systems, including armored personnel carriers and main battle tanks because of comparable characteristics to Russian and Chinese systems.

Again, however, these systems depended on the many ties that still exist between Ukraine and Russia, not to mention socioeconomic and political stability within Ukraine that now no longer exists. Having severed these ties for political rather than pragmatic reasons, Ukraine has crippled itself yet again. The most poignant example of this was the failure to deliver T-84 Oplot main battle tanks to the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand.

The order was placed before the 2013-2014 putsch in Kiev, along with the acquisition of Ukrainian BTR-3 armored personnel carriers. However, delays in deliver due to instability after 2013-2014 have caused the Thai government to shift to China’s VT-4 main battle tank instead.

It should be remembered that large acquisitions of weapon systems like aircraft and ground vehicles often create an entire ecosystem of spare parts, replacements, training, and even closer military cooperation. Ukraine has not only lost out on potentially lucrative weapon deals, but all the additional benefits included with them.

There was also Ukraine’s space industry whose biggest partner was Russia. With the partnership ended by Kiev and the ability of space agencies elsewhere around the world unable to fill the void because of the long-term nature of most space programs, Kiev’s decision has all but laid this industry to rest.

Bloomberg in its article, “Putin Is Knocking Ukraine’s Space Industry Out of Orbit,” implies that Russia has crippled Ukraine’s space industry. However, throughout the article, Bloomberg admits that Ukraine’s space program was mutually beneficial to both Kiev and Moscow, with its “knocking out” benefiting neither nation. The article admits:

The rest of Ukraine’s space industry hasn’t been so fortunate. Russia was its biggest customer, and sales have cratered. That’s partly Ukraine’s doing: In June, President Petro Poroshenko halted all military sales to Russia, including some dual-use missile and rocket technologies made by Ukrainian companies.

Bloomberg also admits:

By 2013, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister told the website Space News, the country was making about $600 million a year from commercial space ventures. But Russia still accounted for about 80 percent of sales at Yuzhmash, Vladimir Tkachenko, the company’s assistant general manager, told the BBC earlier this month. 

What is clear is that the US-European installed regime in Kiev has intentionally destroyed several prominent industrial centers of Ukraine’s economy, setting back, not benefiting Russia who had maintained strong ties with and depended on Ukrainian industry. What is also clear is that Ukraine and Russia weren’t the only interdependencies disrupted by Ukraine’s unraveling or the US-led sanctions leveled against Russia in its wake.

The Wrecking Ball Swings Back 

Historically Western Europe and Russia have maintained close economic ties both because of proximity and out of necessity. Interdependencies exist here not only in terms of aerospace technology, with Russia sending the entirety of all American and European astronauts into orbit aboard its Soyuz launch system, but also in terms of trade, defense and energy.

US-led sanctions and geopolitical maneuvers by Washington to breakup EU-Russian cooperation have been costly. Pipeline deals have been repeatedly disrupted, delayed or cancelled. A lucrative French-Russian deal involving the sale of Mistral Class ships to Moscow has cost the French government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perhaps the most ironic structure to be threatened as this wrecking ball swings back West, is the US dependence on Russian RD-180 rocket engines used to launch, among other things, US Department of Defense satellites into orbit.

Even in the US, special interests are not united behind the notion of continued economic pressure on Russia. While those pushing for the continued sanctions against Russia claim the United States can find replacements, so far those replacements look particularly bleak, if not comical.

RFE/RL would report in its article, “Ukraine Proposes Working With U.S. To Replace Russian Rockets,” that:

Ukraine has proposed that Kyiv and the United States jointly develop and produce a rocket engine to replace Russian rocket engines currently used to launch U.S. military satellites. 

The head of Ukraine’s Space Agency, Lyubomyr Sabadosh, said on May 31 that he proposed the plan to replace Russian RD-180 rocket engines, which the U.S. Congress has ordered to be phased out by 2019, on a visit to the United States last month.  

However, for Ukraine, who is busy liquidating some of its most important heavy industrial assets on behalf of Washington and Brussels, the prospect of it replacing rocket engines even American industry would be hard-pressed to develop on its own is unlikely.

US-Russian cooperation in space between not only NASA and Roscosmos, but also between American and Russian private industry in regards to the RD-180 rocket engines has been an enduring example of post-Cold War progress. It is ironic that the United States claims, by endangering this achievement, it is some how protecting international order, peace and stability.

In the end, it seems that those in

US sanctions aren’t just hurting everyone including the US, they are accomplishing nothing. The US State Department’s Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) notified readers of a diplomacy campaign by the United States aimed at “urging” Europe to maintain sanctions against Russia. While the US claims the necessity of these sanctions are self-evident and beneficial to the US and Europe, such campaigns would not be needed if that were truly the case.

The article titled, “U.S. Sends Envoy To Urge Europe To Maintain Russian Sanctions,” states:

The United States is dispatching an envoy to Paris and Berlin on June 7 and 8 to try to convince European allies “of the importance of maintaining sanctions pressure on Russia,” the U.S. Treasury said on June 3.

The sanctions, RFE/RL claims, are a result of Russia’s involvement in neighboring Ukraine’s downward spiral, which ironically enough, began not with Russian involvement but with that of America. Between 2013-2014 the United States, with its own senators traveling to Ukraine and taking the stage at US-backed protests in Kiev, quite literally propelled a violent Neo-Nazi putsch into power.

Since then, Ukraine has unraveled. Rather than taking responsibility for yet another failed US intervention, US policymakers have instead decided to shift the blame on Moscow. The ability to hold up US-EU sanctions against Russia as a means of legitimizing this shift of responsibility is key to the continued underpinning of Western support for the current regime in Kiev, and Washington’s continued belligerence toward Moscow.

US Sanctions are a Geopolitical Wrecking Ball

Like a geopolitical wrecking ball, US intervention in Ukraine first destabilized and destroyed Ukraine’s economy, before brushing into Russia and now with sanctions ongoing ever since, the effects have swung back to hit Europe and even the United States itself.

Ukraine since Soviet days has enjoyed several notable accomplishments in the field of heavy industry. The legendary Anatov aircraft company is headquartered in Ukraine and produces some of the largest heavy lift aircraft in the world.

The New York Times in 2014 would report in its article, “Aviation Giant Is Nearly Grounded in Ukraine,” that:

The crisis with Russia that erupted in February terminated Antonov’s most promising, albeit already troubled, joint venture: a short-takeoff, heavy-lift plane that the Russian military had sought for years. 

Antonov was not alone. With the rupture, Ukraine, among the world’s top 10 arms exporters, lost the market that spurred the development of its military industry. 

Economic and military experts said Antonov’s troubles epitomized the twin problems plaguing state-run companies in Ukraine, particularly the military sector, as it tries to slip Russia’s gravitational pull and hitch its fortunes to Europe.

Though the New York Times attempts to place the blame squarely on Russia, the reality is that Ukraine has an inescapable historical, cultural, technological and socioeconomic relationship with neighboring Russia, a relationship being artificially severed by a likewise artificial regime in Kiev.

The primary problem facing this US-European prodded shift is that the defense industry Ukraine was a part of, represented and benefited from mirroring that of the US and Europe. Attempting to integrate itself with the US and Europe is unlikely, and instead what will follow is the liquidation of Ukraine’s economic strength.

The New York Times notes that Ukraine also was a prolific weapons developer and manufacturer, among the top 10 in the world. Nations around the world sought Ukrainian systems, including armored personnel carriers and main battle tanks because of comparable characteristics to Russian and Chinese systems.

Again, however, these systems depended on the many ties that still exist between Ukraine and Russia, not to mention socioeconomic and political stability within Ukraine that now no longer exists. Having severed these ties for political rather than pragmatic reasons, Ukraine has crippled itself yet again. The most poignant example of this was the failure to deliver T-84 Oplot main battle tanks to the Southeast Asian nation of Thailand.

The order was placed before the 2013-2014 putsch in Kiev, along with the acquisition of Ukrainian BTR-3 armored personnel carriers. However, delays in deliver due to instability after 2013-2014 have caused the Thai government to shift to China’s VT-4 main battle tank instead.

It should be remembered that large acquisitions of weapon systems like aircraft and ground vehicles often create an entire ecosystem of spare parts, replacements, training, and even closer military cooperation. Ukraine has not only lost out on potentially lucrative weapon deals, but all the additional benefits included with them.

There was also Ukraine’s space industry whose biggest partner was Russia. With the partnership ended by Kiev and the ability of space agencies elsewhere around the world unable to fill the void because of the long-term nature of most space programs, Kiev’s decision has all but laid this industry to rest.

Bloomberg in its article, “Putin Is Knocking Ukraine’s Space Industry Out of Orbit,” implies that Russia has crippled Ukraine’s space industry. However, throughout the article, Bloomberg admits that Ukraine’s space program was mutually beneficial to both Kiev and Moscow, with its “knocking out” benefiting neither nation. The article admits:

The rest of Ukraine’s space industry hasn’t been so fortunate. Russia was its biggest customer, and sales have cratered. That’s partly Ukraine’s doing: In June, President Petro Poroshenko halted all military sales to Russia, including some dual-use missile and rocket technologies made by Ukrainian companies.

Bloomberg also admits:

By 2013, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister told the website Space News, the country was making about $600 million a year from commercial space ventures. But Russia still accounted for about 80 percent of sales at Yuzhmash, Vladimir Tkachenko, the company’s assistant general manager, told the BBC earlier this month. 

What is clear is that the US-European installed regime in Kiev has intentionally destroyed several prominent industrial centers of Ukraine’s economy, setting back, not benefiting Russia who had maintained strong ties with and depended on Ukrainian industry. What is also clear is that Ukraine and Russia weren’t the only interdependencies disrupted by Ukraine’s unraveling or the US-led sanctions leveled against Russia in its wake.

The Wrecking Ball Swings Back 

Historically Western Europe and Russia have maintained close economic ties both because of proximity and out of necessity. Interdependencies exist here not only in terms of aerospace technology, with Russia sending the entirety of all American and European astronauts into orbit aboard its Soyuz launch system, but also in terms of trade, defense and energy.

US-led sanctions and geopolitical maneuvers by Washington to breakup EU-Russian cooperation have been costly. Pipeline deals have been repeatedly disrupted, delayed or cancelled. A lucrative French-Russian deal involving the sale of Mistral Class ships to Moscow has cost the French government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perhaps the most ironic structure to be threatened as this wrecking ball swings back West, is the US dependence on Russian RD-180 rocket engines used to launch, among other things, US Department of Defense satellites into orbit.

Even in the US, special interests are not united behind the notion of continued economic pressure on Russia. While those pushing for the continued sanctions against Russia claim the United States can find replacements, so far those replacements look particularly bleak, if not comical.

RFE/RL would report in its article, “Ukraine Proposes Working With U.S. To Replace Russian Rockets,” that:

Ukraine has proposed that Kyiv and the United States jointly develop and produce a rocket engine to replace Russian rocket engines currently used to launch U.S. military satellites. 

The head of Ukraine’s Space Agency, Lyubomyr Sabadosh, said on May 31 that he proposed the plan to replace Russian RD-180 rocket engines, which the U.S. Congress has ordered to be phased out by 2019, on a visit to the United States last month.  

However, for Ukraine, who is busy liquidating some of its most important heavy industrial assets on behalf of Washington and Brussels, the prospect of it replacing rocket engines even American industry would be hard-pressed to develop on its own is unlikely.

US-Russian cooperation in space between not only NASA and Roscosmos, but also between American and Russian private industry in regards to the RD-180 rocket engines has been an enduring example of post-Cold War progress. It is ironic that the United States claims, by endangering this achievement, it is some how protecting international order, peace and stability.

In the end, it seems that those in the United States lobbying heavily to keep sanctions in place have more than just Moscow to worry about. They have a growing chorus of leaders in industry who may silently seek domination over Russian industry in the long-term, but failing that, needs cooperation with Russian industry in the short-term. It is clear that those behind the sanctions are unable to deliver on either.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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The UK financial sector spends at least €34 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 140 lobbyists to influence EU policy-making, according to a study published today by Corporate Europe Observatory. [1]

Lobbying for the City of London” shows that British banks, hedge funds, insurance companies and their lobby groups command massive resources and enjoy easy access to decision-makers in EU institutions. And collectively, the industry has emerged victorious from many lobbying battles in Brussels, with key victories on banking regulation, hedge fund regulation, and complicated financial products such as derivatives, often at the cost of regulation in the public interest.

 

From December 2014 to May 2016, UK financial sector lobbyists had 228 lobby encounters with elite European Commission officials. [2] On top of this, 71 representatives of ‘the City of London’ hold passes that offer access to the European Parliament enabling them to hold hundreds of lobby meetings with MEPs.

Corporate Europe Observatory campaigner Vicky Cann said:

The UK financial services lobby is very active in Brussels. It has the resources, the people and the access to ensure that its agenda is heard loud and clear, and this translates into serious political influence on the EU decision-making agenda. EU citizens must put pressure on politicians to disarm and defeat the lobby firepower of the financial sector.

The research shows the top spender is the Association for Financial Markets in Europe which forks out over €7 million per year to lobby in Brussels. Meanwhile, TheCityUK spends at least €2 million, just ahead of HSBC. Other major lobbyists featured in the study include well-known names from the world of global finance such as Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Royal Bank of Scotland.[3]

The survey is based on several sources of lobby data [4] and analyses 50 of the biggest UK financial services actors. Actual lobbying spending is likely to be higher than reported because when organisations declared their lobby spend within a range, researchers took the lower figure. Also, key players who are not signed up to the EU’s (voluntary) lobby register could not be included as there is no data available on their lobbying activities.

Full report available here

For more information please contact:

Vicky Cann [email protected];

Kenneth Haar [email protected];

Note: 

The report “Lobbying for the City of London: The firepower of the UK financial sector in Brussels” is available here:http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/ukfinancialfirepower.pdf The full data set is available here:http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/uk_finance_industry_firep…

  1. These encounters were with commissioners, their cabinet members and/ or directors general at the Commission.
  2. The top 50 UK finance lobby list includes some US corporations which nonetheless have a major base in London and form part of ‘the City of London’.
  3. Sources include the LobbyFacts.eu database and UK Conservative MEPs’ online lobby meetings reports.

Corporate Europe Observatory is not taking a position on the question posed in the UK referendum.

 

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From Vietnam to Afghanistan: America and the Dictators

June 8th, 2016 by Prof Alfred McCoy

This incisive article by renowned author and historian Prof. Alfred McCoy was first published in April 2010

From Ngo Dinh Diem to Hamid Karzai

The crisis has come suddenly, almost without warning. At the far edge of American power in Asia, things are going from bad to much worse than anyone could have imagined. The insurgents are spreading fast across the countryside. Corruption is rampant. Local military forces, recipients of countless millions of dollars in U.S. aid, shirk combat and are despised by local villagers. American casualties are rising. Our soldiers seem to move in a fog through a hostile, unfamiliar terrain, with no idea of who is friend and who is foe.

After years of lavishing American aid on him, the leader of this country, our close ally, has isolated himself inside the presidential palace, becoming an inadequate partner for a failing war effort. His brother is reportedly a genuine prince of darkness, dealing in drugs, covert intrigues, and electoral manipulation. The U.S. Embassy demands reform, the ouster of his brother, the appointment of honest local officials, something, anything that will demonstrate even a scintilla of progress.

After all, nine years earlier U.S. envoys had taken a huge gamble: rescuing this president from exile and political obscurity, installing him in the palace, and ousting a legitimate monarch whose family had ruled the country for centuries. Now, he repays this political debt by taunting America.  He insists on untrammeled sovereignty and threatens to ally with our enemies if we continue to demand reforms of him. Yet Washington is so deeply identified with the counterinsurgency campaign in his country that walking away no longer seems like an option.

This scenario is obviously a description of the Obama administration’s devolving relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul this April. It is also an eerie summary of relations between the Kennedy administration and South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon nearly half a century earlier, in August 1963. If these parallels are troubling, they reveal the central paradox of American power over the past half-century in its dealings with embattled autocrats like Karzai and Diem across that vast, impoverished swath of the globe once known as the Third World.

Our Man in Kabul

With his volatile mix of dependence and independence, Hamid Karzai seems the archetype of all the autocrats Washington has backed in Asia, Africa, and Latin America since European empires began disintegrating after World War II. When the CIA mobilized Afghan warlords to topple the Taliban in October 2001, the country’s capital, Kabul, was ours for the taking — and the giving. In the midst of this chaos, Hamid Karzai, an obscure exile living in Pakistan, gathered a handful of followers and plunged into Afghanistan on a doomed CIA-supported mission to rally the tribes for revolt.  It proved a quixotic effort that required rescue by Navy SEALs who snatched him back to safety in Pakistan.

Desperate for a reliable post-invasion ally, the Bush administration engaged in what one expert has called “bribes, secret deals, and arm twisting” to install Karzai in power.  This process took place not through a democratic election in Kabul, but by lobbying foreign diplomats at a donors’ conference in Bonn, Germany, to appoint him interim president. When King Zahir Shah, a respected figure whose family had ruled Afghanistan for more than 200 years, returned to offer his services as acting head of state, the U.S. ambassador had a “showdown” with the monarch, forcing him back into exile.  In this way, Karzai’s “authority,” which came directly and almost solely from the Bush administration, remained unchecked. For his first months in office, the president had so little trust in his nominal Afghan allies that he was guarded by American security.

In the years that followed, the Karzai regime slid into an ever deepening state of corruption and incompetence, while NATO allies rushed to fill the void with their manpower and material, a de facto endorsement of the president’s low road to power. As billions in international development aid poured into Kabul, a mere trickle escaped the capital’s bottomless bureaucracy to reach impoverished villages in the countryside. In 2009, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan as the world’s second most corrupt nation, just a notch below Somalia.

As opium production soared from 185 tons in 2001 to 8,200 tons just six years later — a remarkable 53% of the country’s entire economy — drug corruption metastasized, reaching provincial governors, the police, cabinet ministers, and the president’s own brother, also his close adviser. Indeed, as a senior U.S. antinarcotics official assigned to Afghanistan described the situation in 2006, “Narco corruption went to the very top of the Afghan government.”  Earlier this year, the U.N. estimated that ordinary Afghans spend $2.5 billion annually, a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, simply to bribe the police and government officials.

Last August’s presidential elections were an apt index of the country’s progress. Karzai’s campaign team, the so-called warlord ticket, included Abdul Dostum, an Uzbek warlord who slaughtered countless prisoners in 2001; vice presidential candidate Muhammed Fahim, a former defense minister linked to drugs and human rights abuses; Sher Muhammed Akhundzada, the former governor of Helmand Province, who was caught with nine tons of drugs in his compound back in 2005; and the president’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, reputedly the reigning drug lord and family fixer in Kandahar. “The Karzai family has opium and blood on their hands,” one Western intelligence official told the New York Times during the campaign.

Desperate to capture an outright 50% majority in the first round of balloting, Karzai’s warlord coalition made use of an extraordinary array of electoral chicanery. After two months of counting and checking, the U.N.’s Electoral Complaints Commission announced in October 2009 that more than a million of his votes, 28% of his total, were fraudulent, pushing the president’s tally well below the winning margin. Calling the election a “foreseeable train wreck,” the deputy U.N. envoy Peter Galbraith said, “The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.”

Galbraith, however, was sacked and silenced as U.S. pressure extinguished the simmering flames of electoral protest.  The runner-up soon withdrew from the run-off election that Washington had favored as a face-saving, post-fraud compromise, and Karzai was declared the outright winner by default. In the wake of the farcical election, Karzai not surprisingly tried to stack the five-man Electoral Complaints Commission, an independent body meant to vet electoral complaints, replacing the three foreign experts with his own Afghan appointees. When the parliament rejected his proposal, Karzai lashed out with bizarre charges, accusing the U.N. of wanting a “puppet government” and blaming all the electoral fraud on “massive interference from foreigners.” In a meeting with members of parliament, he reportedly told them: “If you and the international community pressure me more, I swear that I am going to join the Taliban.”

Amid this tempest in an electoral teapot, as American reinforcements poured into Afghanistan, Washington’s escalating pressure for “reform” only served to inflame Karzai. As Air Force One headed for Kabul on March 28th, National Security Adviser James Jones bluntly told reporters aboard that, in his meeting with Karzai, President Obama would insist that he prioritize “battling corruption, taking the fight to the narco-traffickers.” It was time for the new administration in Washington, ever more deeply committed to its escalating counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan, to bring our man in Kabul back into line.

A week filled with inflammatory, angry outbursts from Karzai followed before the White House changed tack, concluding that it had no alternative to Karzai and began to retreat.  Jones now began telling reporters soothingly that, during his visit to Kabul, President Obama had been “generally impressed with the quality of the [Afghan] ministers and the seriousness with which they’re approaching their job.”

All of this might have seemed so new and bewildering in the American experience, if it weren’t actually so old.

Our Man in Saigon

The sorry history of the autocratic regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon (1954-1963) offers an earlier cautionary roadmap that helps explain why Washington has so often found itself in such an impossibly contradictory position with its authoritarian allies.

Landing in Saigon in mid-1954 after years of exile in the United States and Europe, Diem had no real political base.  He could, however, count on powerful patrons in Washington, notably Democratic senators Mike Mansfield and John F. Kennedy. One of the few people to greet Diem at the airport that day was the legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale, Washington’s master of political manipulation in Southeast Asia. Amid the chaos accompanying France’s defeat in its long, bloody Indochina War, Lansdale maneuvered brilliantly to secure Diem’s tenuous hold on power in the southern part of Vietnam.  In the meantime, U.S. diplomats sent his rival, the Emperor Bao Dai, packing for Paris. Within months, thanks to Washington’s backing, Diem won an absurd 98.2% of a rigged vote for the presidency and promptly promulgated a new constitution that ended the Vietnamese monarchy after a millennium.

Channeling all aid payments through Diem, Washington managed to destroy the last vestiges of French colonial support for any of his potential rivals in the south, while winning the president a narrow political base within the army, among civil servants, and in the minority Catholic community. Backed by a seeming cornucopia of American support, Diem proceeded to deal harshly with South Vietnam’s Buddhist sects, harassed the Viet Minh veterans of the war against the French, and resisted the implementation of rural reforms that might have won him broader support among the country’s peasant population.

When the U.S. Embassy pressed for reforms, he simply stalled, convinced that Washington, having already invested so much of its prestige in his regime, would be unable to withhold support. Like Karzai in Kabul, Diem’s ultimate weapon was his weakness — the threat that his government, shaky as it was, might simply collapse if pushed too hard.

In the end, the Americans invariably backed down, sacrificing any hope of real change in order to maintain the ongoing war effort against the local Viet Cong rebels and their North Vietnamese backers. As rebellion and dissent rose in the south, Washington ratcheted up its military aid to battle the communists, inadvertently giving Diem more weapons to wield against his own people, communist and non-communist alike.

Working through his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu — and this should have an eerie resonance today — the Diems took control of Saigon’s drug racket, pocketing significant profits as they built up a nexus of secret police, prisons, and concentration camps to deal with suspected dissidents. At the time of Diem’s downfall in 1963, there were some 50,000 prisoners in his gulag.

Nonetheless, from 1960 to 1963, the regime only weakened as resistance sparked repression and repression redoubled resistance.  Soon South Vietnam was wracked by Buddhist riots in the cities and a spreading Communist revolution in the countryside. Moving after dark, Viet Cong guerrillas slowly began to encircle Saigon, assassinating Diem’s unpopular village headmen by the thousands.

In this three-year period, the US military mission in Saigon tried every conceivable counterinsurgency strategy.  They brought in helicopters and armored vehicles to improve conventional mobility, deployed the Green Berets for unconventional combat, built up regional militias for localized security, constructed “strategic hamlets” in order to isolate eight million peasants inside supposedly secure fortified compounds, and ratcheted up CIA assassinations of suspected Viet Cong leaders. Nothing worked. Even the best military strategy could not fix the underlying political problem. By 1963, the Viet Cong had grown from a handful of fighters into a guerrilla army that controlled more than half the countryside.

When protesting Buddhist monk Quang Duc assumed the lotus position on a Saigon street in June 1963 and held the posture while followers lit his gasoline-soaked robes which erupted in fatal flames, the Kennedy administration could no longer ignore the crisis. As Diem’s batons cracked the heads of Buddhist demonstrators and Nhu’s wife applauded what she called “monk barbecues,” Washington began to officially protest the ruthless repression. Instead of responding, Diem (shades of Karzai) began working through his brother Nhu to open negotiations with the communists in Hanoi, signaling Washington that he was perfectly willing to betray the U.S. war effort and possibly form a coalition with North Vietnam.

In the midst of this crisis, a newly appointed American ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, arrived in Saigon and within days approved a plan for a CIA-backed coup to overthrow Diem. For the next few months, Lansdale’s CIA understudy Lucien Conein met regularly with Saigon’s generals to hatch an elaborate plot that was unleashed with devastating effect on November 1, 1963.

As rebel troops stormed the palace, Diem and his brother Nhu fled to a safe house in Saigon’s Chinatown. Flushed from hiding by promises of safe conduct into exile, Diem climbed aboard a military convoy for what he thought was a ride to the airport. But CIA operative Conein had vetoed the flight plans.  A military assassin intercepted the convoy, spraying Diem’s body with bullets and stabbing his bleeding corpse in a coup de grâce.

Although Ambassador Lodge hosted an embassy celebration for the rebel officers and cabled President Kennedy that Diem’s death would mean a “shorter war,” the country soon collapsed into a series of military coups and counter-coups that crippled army operations. Over the next 32 months, Saigon had nine new governments and a change of cabinet every 15 weeks — all incompetent, corrupt, and ineffective.

After spending a decade building up Diem’s regime and a day destroying it, the U.S. had seemingly irrevocably linked its own power and prestige to the Saigon government — any government. The “best and brightest” in Washington were convinced that they could not just withdraw from South Vietnam without striking a devastating blow against American “credibility.” As South Vietnam slid toward defeat in the two years following Diem’s death, the first of 540,000 U.S. combat troops began arriving, ensuring that Vietnam would be transformed from an American-backed war into an American war.

Under the circumstances, Washington searched desperately for anyone who could provide sufficient stability to prosecute the war against the communists and eventually, with palpable relief, embraced a military junta headed by General Nguyen Van Thieu. Installed and sustained in power by American aid, Thieu had no popular following and ruled through military repression, repeating the same mistakes that led to Diem’s downfall. But chastened by its experience after the assassination of Diem, the U.S. Embassy decided to ignore Thieu’s unpopularity and continue to build his army. Once Washington began to reduce its aid after 1973, Thieu found that his troops simply would not fight to defend his unpopular government. In April 1975, he carried a hoard of stolen gold into exile while his army collapsed with stunning speed, suffering one of the most devastating collapses in military history.

In pursuit of its Vietnam War effort, Washington required a Saigon government responsive to its demands, yet popular with its own peasantry, strong enough to wage a war in the villages, yet sensitive to the needs of the country’s poor villagers.  These were hopelessly contradictory political requisites. Finding that civilian regimes engaged in impossible-to-control intrigues, the U.S. ultimately settled for authoritarian military rule which, acceptable as it proved in Washington, was disdained by the Vietnamese peasantry.

Death or Exile?

So is President Karzai, like Diem, doomed to die on the streets of Kabul or will he, one day, find himself like Thieu boarding a midnight flight into exile?

History, or at least our awareness of its lessons, does change things, albeit in complex, unpredictable ways.  Today, senior U.S. envoys have Diem’s cautionary tale encoded in their diplomatic DNA, which undoubtedly precludes any literal replay of his fate. After sanctioning Diem’s assassination, Washington watched in dismay as South Vietnam plunged into chaos. So chastened was the U.S. Embassy by this dismal outcome that it backed the subsequent military regime to a fault.

A decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee uncovered other U.S. attempts at assassination-cum-regime-change in the Congo, Chile, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic that further stigmatized this option. In effect, antibodies from the disastrous CIA coup against Diem, still in Washington’s political bloodstream, reduce the possibility of any similar move against Karzai today.

Ironically, those who seek to avoid the past may be doomed to repeat it. By accepting Karzai’s massive electoral fraud and refusing to consider alternatives last August, Washington has, like it or not, put its stamp of approval on his spreading corruption and the political instability that accompanies it.  In this way, the Obama administration in its early days invited a sad denouement to its Afghan adventure, one potentially akin to Vietnam after Diem’s death.  America’s representatives in Kabul are once again hurtling down history’s highway, eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, not the precipice that lies dead ahead.

In the experiences of both Ngo Dinh Diem and Hamid Karzai lurks a self-defeating pattern common to Washington’s alliances with dictators throughout the Third World, then and now.  Selected and often installed in office by Washington, or at least backed by massive American military aid, these client figures become desperately dependent, even as they fail to implement the sorts of reforms that might enable them to build an independent political base. Torn between pleasing their foreign patrons or their own people, they wind up pleasing neither. As opposition to their rule grows, a downward spiral of repression and corruption often ends in collapse; while, for all its power, Washington descends into frustration and despair, unable to force its allies to adopt reforms which might allow them to survive. Such a collapse is a major crisis for the White House, but often — Diem’s case is obviously an exception — little more than an airplane ride into exile for the local autocrat or dictator.

There was — and is — a fundamental structural flaw in any American alliance with these autocrats. Inherent in these unequal alliances is a peculiar dynamic that makes the eventual collapse of such American-anointed leaders almost inevitable. At the outset, Washington selects a client who seems pliant enough to do its bidding. Such a client, in turn, opts for Washington’s support not because he is strong, but precisely because he needs foreign patronage to gain and hold office.

Once installed, the client, no matter how reluctant, has little choice but to make Washington’s demands his top priority, investing his slender political resources in placating foreign envoys. Responding to an American political agenda on civil and military matters, these autocrats often fail to devote sufficient energy, attention, and resources to cultivating a following; Diem found himself isolated in his Saigon palace, while Karzai has become a “president” justly, if derisively, nicknamed “the mayor of Kabul.”  Caught between the demands of a powerful foreign patron and countervailing local needs and desires, both leaders let guerrillas capture the countryside, while struggling uncomfortably, and in the end angrily, as well as resentfully, in the foreign embrace.

Nor are such parallels limited to Afghanistan today or Vietnam almost half a century ago. Since the end of World War II, many of the sharpest crises in U.S. foreign policy have arisen from just such problematic relationships with authoritarian client regimes. As a start, it was a similarly close relationship with General Fulgencio Batista of Cuba in the 1950s which inspired the Cuban revolution.  That culminated, of course, in Fidel Castro’s rebels capturing the Cuban capital, Havana, in 1959, which in turn led the Kennedy administration into the catastrophic Bay of Pigs invasion and then the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For a full quarter-century, the U.S. played international patron to the Shah of Iran, intervening to save his regime from the threat of democracy in the early 1950s and later massively arming his police and military while making him Washington’s proxy power in the Persian Gulf. His fall in the Islamic revolution of 1979 not only removed the cornerstone of American power in this strategic region, but plunged Washington into a succession of foreign policy confrontations with Iran that have yet to end.

After a half-century as a similarly loyal client in Central America, the regime of Nicaragua’s Anastasio Somoza fell in the Sandinista revolution of 1979, creating a foreign policy problem marked by the CIA’s contra operation against the new Sandinista government and the seamy Iran-Contra scandal that roiled President Reagan’s second term.

Just last week, Washington’s anointed autocrat in Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, fled the presidential palace when his riot police, despite firing live ammunition and killing more than 80 of his citizens, failed to stop opposition protesters from taking control of the capital, Bishkek. Although his rule was brutal and corrupt, last year the Obama administration courted Bakiyev sedulously and successfully to preserve U.S. use of the old Soviet air base at Manas critical for supply flights into Afghanistan. Even as riot police were beating the opposition into submission to prepare for Bakiyev’s “landslide victory” in last July’s elections, President Obama sent him a personal letter praising his support for the Afghan war. With Washington’s imprimatur, there was nothing to stop Bakiyev’s political slide into murderous repression and his ultimate fall from power.

Why have so many American alliances with Third World dictators collapsed in such a spectacular fashion, producing divisive recriminations at home and policy disasters abroad?

During Britain’s century of dominion, its self-confident servants of empire, from viceroys in plumed hats to district officers in khaki shorts, ruled much of Africa and Asia through an imperial system of protectorates, indirect rule, and direct colonial rule. In the succeeding American “half century” of hegemony, Washington carried the burden of global power without a formal colonial system, substituting its military advisers for imperial viceroys.

In this new landscape of sovereign states that emerged after World War II, Washington has had to pursue a contradictory policy as it dealt with the leaders of nominally independent nations that were also deeply dependent on foreign economic and military aid. After identifying its own prestige with these fragile regimes, Washington usually tries to coax, chide, or threaten its allies into embracing what it considers needed reforms. Even when this counsel fails and prudence might dictate the start of a staged withdrawal, as in Saigon in 1963 and Kabul today, American envoys simply cannot let go of their unrepentant, resentful allies, as the long slide into disaster gains momentum.

With few choices between diplomatic niceties and a destabilizing coup, Washington invariably ends up defaulting to an inflexible foreign policy at the edge of paralysis that often ends with the collapse of our authoritarian allies, whether Diem in Saigon, the Shah in Tehran, or on some dismal day yet to come, Hamid Karzai in Kabul. To avoid this impending debacle, our only realistic option in Afghanistan today may well be the one we wish we had taken in Saigon back in August 1963 — a staged withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, which probes the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over the past 50 years. His latest book, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, explores the influence of overseas counterinsurgency operations on the spread of internal security measures here at home.   

Syria Solidarity Movement is an international network in solidarity with the Syrian people and their struggle to retain a secular, independent state. 

Unfortunately, there is an organization in the UK called “Syria Solidarity UK” (SSUK).  The similarity in names has caused some confusion, especially because their “solidarity” is with the “Syrian Revolution”.  In reality, this ‘revolution’ consists of long exiled Syrians with heavy Muslim Brotherhood influence, some daydreaming Trotskyists, Western or Gulf or Turkish supported political agents and tens of thousands of jihadis and mercenaries supplied, paid, assisted and promoted by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Turkey, USA, France, UK.

The genuine and positive forces seeking change in Syria disappeared long ago. James Foley documented the reality in Syria after his illusions were dispelled in Fall 2012. So did the native Aleppan known as Edward Dark. Initially he and his friends supported the uprising but then realized what it meant.  While there is an array of jihadi factions, the conflict has crystallized into its essence: a brutal war of aggression with foreign funded mercenaries and international jihadis on one side, and a struggling multi-ethnic, multi-religious Syrian army and allies on the other.

SSUK and their American counterpart Syrian American Council are an integral part of Team Regime Change. They receive direct and indirect funding from the governments they are allied with. They are promoted in the Zionist establishment in the USA. Their voice is amplified by the media. Yet that is not enough. They aggressively attempt to block, prevent and censor any other voices.  In 2014 the voice of Mother Agnes Mariam was disrupted and attacked at various venues in the USA because she talked about the reality in Syria rather than what was being proclaimed by Washington and Doha. Her voice was shamefully shut down in London. The reason: because she opposed the media propaganda narrative about the chemical weapon attack in August 2013. Now some of the same sectarian propagandists are trying to prevent Dr. Tim Anderson from speaking at a global conference in Greece examining the refugee crisis and its causes.  Dr. Anderson brings an analysis of the “Dirty War on Syria” and its connection to the refugee situation. That is what SSUK cannot abide and why they have threatened to disrupt the conference.

Under pressure from SSUK, the “Crossing Borders” conference organizers withdrew their invitation to keynote speaker Dr. Tim Anderson.  This censorship led to hundreds of calls for the the conference to be true to its stated goals.  To their credit, conference organizers realized the error and Dr. Anderson who will be presenting a paper and speaking at the conference. Now, the sectarian and bullying SSUK is again on the rampage; they are threatening to disrupt the conference and urging speakers to withdraw.  After five years of continuous propaganda and demonization of the Assad government, what kind of academics or activists are so pathetic they cannot stand to hear a different perspective?  What could be more relevant to an examination of the refugee crisis than an examination of the root causes?

The true nature of SSUK and their ‘revolution’ is revealed by their own actions. They talk about ‘freedom and democracy’ but practice censorship, repression and intimidation.  Their threats need to be rejected and their actions condemned. They evidently do not want to solve the crisis; they want to escalate it.

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U.S. Expands Secret Wars in Africa

June 7th, 2016 by Justin Yun

The secret expansion of U.S. military bases and special operations in Africahas initiated a new and lightweight style of warfare and welcomes the next phase of American military imperialism. Unlike the highly publicized U.S. military “pivot to Asia,” the proliferation of drones, special ops, mercenary spies, classified bases, proxy fighters and cyber warfare constitute what the journalist Nick Turse calls a “new light-footprint Obama doctrine” that “seems to be making war an ever more attractive and seemingly easy option.”

A New Style of Fighting

On any day, elite U.S. forces conduct covert missions in an estimated 70 to 90 countries. According to Turse, special forces have been sent to anunprecedented 147 countries —  75 percent of the world’s nations last year alone. This is a 145 percent increase from the rate of operations conducted under the Bush administration.

Wars conventionally fought by large infantry forces and full-scale invasions of foreign countries have made way for a new style of fighting — one that has become increasingly dependent on special forces, drones and private defense contractors. Because of the confidential nature of special ops, the Pentagon can essentially keep foreign military involvement secret from the American public. The U.S. has always had troops in Africa since the Cold War but the rate of its expansion dangerously indicates a lack of public accountability.

A Naive Claim

The shadow wars in Africa are now fought by members of the U.S. Special Operations Command and JSOC — a clandestine organization that carries out kill/capture missions. JSOC has been called “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine” by counterinsurgency advisor John Nagl and many have described it as the president’s “private assassination squad.” The group reports directly to the White House. It is the military’s secret military.

The notion the U.S. would someday pull its troops out of the Middle East is a rather naive claim considering the fact we have nothing short of a permanent war economy. From main operating bases that house thousands of soldiers to single airstrips used by the C.I.A. to taxi their blacked-out turboprops, the U.S. continues to maintain over 800 to 1,000 bases around the world — making us the most expansive military empire in history. Nobody really knows the exact figure — not even the military experts. The late scholar Chalmers Johnson wrote in his book, “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic” on how the Pentagon and an uncontrollable military-industrial complex have turned the U.S. into “a new kind of military empire — a consumerist Sparta.” Chalmers declares, “Another crucial characteristic that distinguished the American empire from empires of the past is that bases are not needed to fight wars but are instead pure manifestations of militarism and imperialism.”

Global Instability

Military expansion does not make us safe since it cultivates global instability. The uncontrollable growth into Africa has resulted in the funding and training of proxy armies with atrocious human-rights records and has attracted mercenaries such as Erik Prince — founder of the infamousBlackwater private army hired by the D.O.D to provide security to high-level diplomats during the Iraq war.

With military presence in 53 of 54 of Africa’s nations, the American empirehas emerged to pick up where the former European colonial powers have left off.

Justin Yun is a writer and apprentice for the Opinions section of the Chimes. 

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Chossudovsky

The US-NATO Military Buildup on Russia’s Doorstep is Part of a Global Warfare Strategy

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Press TV, June 07 2016

NATO has launched massive war-games in Poland, weeks ahead of a security summit in Warsaw. The Anaconda-16 is the biggest-ever military exercise by the Western military alliance in Poland since the end of the Polish People’s Republic in 1989. More…

US NATO

Globalization of War. US-NATO Anakonda War Games: Main Target is Middle East, Not Russia

By Sputnik, June 07 2016

Anakonda 2016, NATO’s large-scale military exercises underway in Poland, is meant to kill two birds with one stone – intimidate Russia, but more importantly help Washington to “wage wars” across the globe, particularly in the Middle East, Canadian economist and…

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US Falsely Calls Iran “Leading State Sponsor of Terrorism”

By Stephen Lendman, June 07 2016

Propaganda works because when repeated enough most people believe it.   The disturbing irony of the latest State Department annual report on terrorism finds the world’s leading state sponsor, America, accusing Iran, threatening no one, without just cause. The same false…

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Germany Preparing for War Against Russia?

By Eric Zuesse, June 07 2016

According to a report issued on June 6th in German Economic News (Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or DWN), the German government is preparing to go to war against Russia, and has in draft-form a Bundeswehr report declaring Russia to be an…

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The Iraq Chilcot Inquiry, “Apology” from “Alleged” War Criminal Tony Blair. UK Government Shameful U-Turn

By Felicity Arbuthnot, June 07 2016

“It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century. You don’t just invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.” (John Kerry, “Meet the Press, 2nd March 2014.)  If “a week is a long time in…

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The political outcry from Trump’s ongoing back and forth with Gonzalo Curiel, the judge overseeing the class-action lawsuits against Trump Unviersity, escalated today when following accusations of racism from democrats, as well as many top GOP leaders such as Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich and Sen. Ben Sasse distancing themselves from Trump’s comments, a Hispanic House Democrat who represents a Texas district bordering Mexico tore into Donald Trump’s attacks on the Mexican-American judge, calling them blatantly racist.

Texas Democratic Congressman Filemon Vela didn’t mince words in a lengthy open letter to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee on Monday.

“Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.” Vela wrote.

Vela begins the letter noting that he agrees with Trump that Mexico should do more to deter violence from drug cartels and that felons in the U.S. illegally should be deported. But, as The Hill summarizes, he then excoriates the real estate mogul over his rhetoric about Hispanics, including Trump’s assertion that an American-born federal judge of Mexican descent won’t be impartial in a lawsuit against Trump University.

TrumpTexas Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela

Texas Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela

“[Y]our ignorant anti-immigrant opinions, your border wall rhetoric, and your recent bigoted attack on an American jurist are just plain despicable,” Vela wrote.

Your position with respect to the millions of undocumented Mexican workers who now live in this country is hateful, dehumanizing, and frankly shameful.

The second-term lawmaker noted his own Mexican roots and pointed out that his family immigrated to the U.S. before Trump’s grandfather did from Germany.

“Before you dismiss me as just another ‘Mexican,’ let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather. His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first ‘Mexican’ federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench,” Vela wrote.

Trump on Sunday doubled down on his stance that Gonzalo Curiel, the judge overseeing class-action lawsuits against Trump University, would be biased due to the billionaire’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The candidate similarly said that a Muslim judge “absolutely” might treat him unfairly because of his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

Here is the full text of the letter:

June 6, 2016

Donald Trump
725 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022

 

Dear Mr. Trump,

As the United States Representative for the 34th Congressional District of Texas, I do not disagree with everything you say. I agree that the United States Government has largely failed our veterans, and those of us who represent the people in Congress have the obligation to rectify the Veterans Administration’s deficiencies. I also believe that the Mexican government and our own State Department must be much more aggressive in addressing cartel violence and corruption in Mexico, especially in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas. And clearly, criminal felons who are here illegally should be immediately deported. There might even be a few other things on which we can agree

However, your ignorant anti-immigrant opinions, your border wall rhetoric, and your recent bigoted attack on an American jurist are just plain despicable

Your position with respect to the millions of undocumented Mexican workers who now live in this country is hateful, dehumanizing, and frankly shameful. The vast number of these individuals work in hotels, restaurants, construction sites, and agricultural fields across the United States. If I had to guess, your own business enterprises either directly or indirectly employ more of these workers than most other businesses in our country. Thousands of our businesses would come to a grinding halt if we invoked a policy that would require “mass deportation” as you and many of your supporters would suggest. That is precisely why the Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees that these workers deserve a national immigration policy that would give them a pathway to citizenship.

While you would build more and bigger walls on the U.S.-Mexico border, I would tear the existing wall to pieces. No doubt Mexico has its problems, but it is also our third-largest trading partner. U.S. Chamber of Commerce has documented that this trade relationship is responsible for six million jobs in the United States. In 2015, the U.S. imported $296 billion in goods from Mexico while exporting $235 billion in products manufactured in this country to Mexico. The Great Wall of China is historically obsolete, and President Ronald Reagan famously declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall … ” while urging the Soviet Union to destroy the barrier that divided West and East Berlin. Why any modern-thinking person would ever believe that building a wall along the border of a neighboring country, which is both our ally and one of our largest trading partners, is frankly astounding and asinine.

I should also point out that thousands of Americans of Mexican descent that you mistakenly refer to as “Mexicans” have valiantly served the United States in every conflict since the Civil War. While too numerous to list, let me educate you about a few of these brave Medal of Honor recipients:

Master Sergeant Jose Lopez, from my own hometown of Brownsville, Texas, fought in World War II. Lopez was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor in combat – the Medal of Honor – for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge, in which he single handedly repulsed a German infantry attack, killing at least 100 enemy troops. If you ever run into Kris Kristofferson, ask him about Jose Lopez because as a young man Mr. Kristofferson recalls the 1945 parade honoring Sergeant Lopez as an event he will never forget.

In 1981, President Reagan presented Master Sergeant Roy Benavides with the Medal of Honor for fighting in what has been described as “6 hours in hell.” In Vietnam, Sergeant Benavides suffered 37 separate bullet, bayonet and shrapnel wounds to his face, leg, head and stomach while saving the lives of eight men. In fact, when awarding the honor to Benavides, President Reagan, turned to the media and said, “if the story of his heroism were a movie script, you would not believe it.”

You have now descended to a new low in your racist attack of an American jurist, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by calling him a “Mexican” simply because he ruled against you in a case in which you are being accused of fraud, among other accusations. Judge Curiel is one of 124 Americans of Hispanic descent who have served this country with honor and distinction as federal district judges. In fact, the first Hispanic American ever named to the federal bench in the United States, Judge Reynaldo G. Garza, was also from Brownsville, Texas, and was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Before you dismiss me as just another “Mexican,” let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather. His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first “Mexican” federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench.

I would like to end this letter in a more diplomatic fashion, but I think that you, of all people, understand why I cannot. I will not presume to speak on behalf of every American of Mexican descent, for every undocumented worker born in Mexico who is contributing to our country every day or, for that matter, every decent citizen in Mexico. But, I am sure that many of these individuals would agree with me when I say: ‘Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.’

Sincerely,
Filemon Vela
Member of Congress

But while the condemnation of Trump’s statement has been largely uniform among the political elite, one person who has so far voiced a supporting tone and said that “Trump has a right to ask if Judge Gonzalo Curiel is fair”, was Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration. Here is an excerpt of what he said in a WaPo oped:

Certainly, Curiel’s Mexican heritage alone would not be enough to raise a question of bias (for all we know, the judge supports Trump’s pledge to better secure our borders and enforce the rule of law). As someone whose own ancestors came to the United States from Mexico, I know ethnicity alone cannot pose a conflict of interest.

But there may be other factors to consider in determining whether Trump’s concerns about getting an impartial trial are reasonable. Curiel is, reportedly, a member of a group called La Raza Lawyers of San Diego. Trump’s aides, meanwhile, have indicated that they believe Curiel is a member of the National Council of La Raza, a vocal advocacy organization that has vigorously condemned Trump and his views on immigration. The two groups are unaffiliated, and Curiel is not a member of NCLR. But Trump may be concerned that the lawyers’ association or its members represent or support the other advocacy organization. Coupled with that question is the fact that in 2014, when he certified the class-action lawsuit against Trump, Curiel appointed the Robbins Geller law firm to represent plaintiffs. Robbins Geller has paid $675,000 in speaking fees since 2009 to Trump’s likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and to her husband, former president Bill Clinton. Curiel appointed the firm in the case before Trump entered the presidential race, but again, it might not be unreasonable for a defendant in Trump’s position to wonder who Curiel favors in the presidential election. These circumstances, while not necessarily conclusive, at least raise a legitimate question to be considered. Regardless of the way Trump has gone about raising his concerns over whether he’s getting a fair trial, none of us should dismiss those concerns out of hand without carefully examining how a defendant in his position might perceive them — and we certainly should not dismiss them for partisan political reasons.

Finally, some have said that Trump’s criticism of the judge reflects on his qualifications to be president. If the criticism is solely based on Curiel’s race, that is something voters will take into account in deciding whether he is fit to be president. If, however, Trump is acting from a sincere motivation to protect his constitutional right to a fair trial, his willingness to exercise his rights as an American citizen and raising the issue even in the face of severe criticism is surely also something for voters to consider.

In any event, this issue is not going away any time soon, and it remains to be seen how it will impact Trump’s popularity in the coming days, especially if Trump continue to engage in a back and forth over what is ultimately a private matter, instead of refocusing his supporters’ attention on the escalating feud with Hillary Clinton.

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Hunting Sharks: Unnatural Justice and Human Revenge

June 7th, 2016 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Every so often, when a human wades in absurd company with a majestic shark, a predictable spectacle unfolds.  The shark, interest piqued, attacks human.  The human can be fatally wounded, though not always. Shark is thereby hunted – this, deemed the automatic reaction of the outraged and incensed. 

The shark is but one animal, incapable of understanding the false notion of a social contract it is meant to abide it. Similarly, humans assume that notions of revenge and deterrence have some role to play.  You killed one of our species, and must account.  

Much of this is occasioned by the traditional galeophobic tendencies that have become mandatory in countries in proximity of shark populations.  In a statistical sense, being nabbed and placed on the menu of a shark is akin to 1 in 3,748,067.  That is the figure arrived at from the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. Obviously, the figure changes if you are a marine obsessive, tempting fate.

That figure, however, should also be considered along others.  The chances of drowning are 1 in 1,134, far greater relative to becoming the gourmet delight of the animal in question. “We never get to the what-are-the-odds part,” notes Elizabeth Palermo of Live Science, “because the nature of the brain is to take partial information, quickly judge whether there may be danger, and then draw quick, protective or precautionary conclusions before we objectively look at the evidence.”[1]

The shark, however, is deemed wily, much in the way western cultural commentators considered the Oriental inscrutable, outrageous and unbecoming of Western ideals. One has to be sneaky in order to be effective, adjust, adapt to the beast of the sea.  “Baited drum lines,” goes the ABC report, “have been dropped off Perth’s north in the hunt for a suspected five-metre shark which killed a diver”.[2]

The Sea Shepherd crew were far from impressed.  Spokeswoman Natalie Banks claimed that this was

“a knee-jerk reaction… it does not prevent these shark attacks.  By killing a white shark in Falcon we are not preventing shark attacks from happening again.  We need to do things like signage and medical kits at beaches right now.”

Obviously, the emphasis there being on human cognisance of the obvious – though prevention has little role to play in the role of mythology, mankind and beast.  The shark performs roles it has no clue of, the subject of a script which enrols the enforcers, the killers, the marauders.  The beast shall be found.

Pictures of the deceased are demonstrated as sacred images.  There is Ben Gerring, who “died after being attacked by a shark while surfing at Falcon”; and Doreen Collyer, “Edith Cowan lecturer… fatally wounded while diving at Mindarie.”  In her husband’s words, “Doreen was a beautiful person and everyone loved her.  She was a devoted grandmother, mother and loving wife.”[3]

They have the faces, and the tears of those who lost them.  The shark, on the other hand, remains the marine skulking animal, eluding authorities, posing a public menace.  Authorities have deemed the shark “a serious threat to public safety.”

According to the premier of WA, Colin Barnett, “It was estimated to be 6m long and if a shark like that stays in the vicinity it is a continuing threat.”  A creature in breach of the human social contract imposed upon it. “If that shark stays in the area it will be presumed or judged to be a threat so we reserve that right.”

Catching the creature is not proving to be an easy affair.  Drum lines off Mindarie have been deployed with the purpose of eliminating sharks if they fit the appropriate “description”.  Barnett has resisted, so far, drawing upon the bloody 2014 policy of catch-and-kill via permanent drum lines which, by his own admission, was “divisive” and did not prove successful.  (This is understated – some 172 sharks were killed in the move, with not a single great white among the numbers.)

The shark attacks have, however, given the premier cause for concern.  As Fisheries department metropolitan regional manager Tony Cappelluti explained on Monday, “We’ve had [the attacks] months apart but probably never several days apart.”[4] How inconsiderate of them – and their timing.

There is nothing of the Hemingway macho about this.  The political fears are far more rudimentary in their material worth.  The great whites, in inflicting such fatalities, have given the state “world exposure” that will damage tourist numbers, something that was already affecting various WA beaches.

The response from Barnett is simple: shoot the animal in question.  “Shark suspected of WA attack to be shot.”[5]  Forget the shark’s role in the great body of the sea – it has been condemned without a jury of peers or the dictates of natural justice.  It is merely being punished for its nature.

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

Notes:

[1] http://www.livescience.com/51579-fear-of-sharks-psychology.html

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/perth-shark-attack-baited-drum-lines-to-be-set-off-mindarie/7479688

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-06/mindarie-shark-attack-victim-was-ecu-lecturer-doreen-collyer/7481384

[4] http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2016/06/06/shark-suspected-of-wa-attack-to-be-shot-.html

[5] http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/premier-colin-barnett-defends-order-to-kill-sharks-but-rules-out-permanent-drumlines/news-story/9b89292ece35b30038ef6b2bca5bbf2d

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What you are about to see is major confirmation that a new economic downturn has already begun.  Last Friday, the government released the worst jobs report in six years, and that has a lot of people really freaked out.  But when you really start digging into those numbers, you quickly find that things are even worse than most analysts are suggesting.  In particular, the number of temporary jobs in the United States has started to decline significantly after peaking last December.  Why this is so important is because the number of temporary jobs started to decline precipitously right before the last two recessions as well.

You see, when economic conditions start to change, temporary workers are often affected before anyone else is.  Temporary workers are easier to hire than other types of workers, and they are also easier to fire.

In this chart, you can see that the number of temporary workers peaked and started to decline rapidly before we even got to the recession of 2001.  And you will notice that the number of temporary workers also peaked and started to decline rapidly before we even got to the recession of 2008.  This shows why the temporary workforce is considered to be a “leading indicator” for the U.S. economy as a whole.  When the number of temporary workers peaks and then starts to fall steadily, that is a major red flag.  And that is why it is so incredibly alarming that the number of temporary workers peaked in December 2015 and has fallen quite a bit since then…

Temporary Help Services

In May, the U.S. economy lost another 21,000 temporary jobs, and overall we have lost almost 64,000 since December.

If a new economic downturn had already started, this is precisely what we would expect to see.  The following is some commentary from Wolf Richter

Staffing agencies are cutting back because companies no longer need that many workers. Total business sales in the US have been declining since mid-2014. Productivity has been crummy and getting worse. Earnings are down for the fourth quarter in a row. Companies see that demand for their products is faltering, so the expense-cutting has started. The first to go are the hapless temporary workers.

Another indicator which is pointing to big trouble for American workers is the Fed Labor Market Conditions Index.  Just check out this chart from Zero Hedge, which shows that this index has now been falling on a month over month basis for five months in a row.  Not since the last recession have we seen that happen…

Fed Labor Market Conditions MoM

Of course I have been warning about this new economic downturn since the middle of last year.  U.S. factory orders have now been falling for 18 months in a row, job cut announcements at major companies are running 24 percent higher up to this point in 2016 than they were during the same time period in 2015, and just recently Microsoft said that they were going to be cutting 1,850 jobs as the market for smartphones continues to slow down.

As I have been warning for months, the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the last major economic crisis are playing out once again right in front of our eyes.

Perhaps you have blind faith in Barack Obama, the Federal Reserve and our other “leaders”, and perhaps you are convinced that everything will turn out okay somehow, but there are others that are doing what they can to get prepared in advance.

It may surprise you to learn that George Soros is one of them.

According to recent media reports, George Soros has been selling off investments like crazy and has poured tremendous amounts of money into gold and gold stocks

Maybe the best argument in favor of gold is that American legendary investor and billionaire George Soros has recently sold 37% of his stock and bought a lot more gold and gold stocks.

George Soros, who once called gold ‘the ultimate bubble,’ has resumed buying the precious metal after a three-year hiatus. On Monday, the billionaire investor disclosed that in the first quarter he bought 1.05 million shares in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s biggest gold exchanged-traded fund, valued at about $123.5 million,” Fortune and Reuters reported Tuesday.

George Soros didn’t make his fortune by being a dummy.

Obviously he can see that something big is coming, and so he is making the moves that he feels are appropriate.

If you are waiting for some type of big announcement from the government that a recession has started, you are likely going to be waiting for quite a while.

How it usually works is that we are not told that we are in a recession until one has already been happening for an extended period of time.

For instance, back in mid-2008 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke insisted that the U.S. economy was not heading into a recession even though we found out later that we were already in one at the moment Bernanke made that now infamous statement.

On my website, I have been documenting all of the red flags that are screaming that a new recession is here for months.

You can be like Ben Bernanke in 2008 and stick your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening, or you can honestly assess the situation at hand and adjust your strategies accordingly like George Soros is doing.

Of course I am not a fan of George Soros at all.  The shady things that he has done to promote the radical left around the globe are well documented.  But they don’t call people like him “the smart money” for no reason.

Down in Venezuela, the economic collapse has already gotten so bad that people are hunting dogs and cats for food.  For most of the rest of the world, things are not nearly that bad, and they won’t be that bad for a while yet.  But without a doubt, the global economy is moving in a very negative direction, and the pace of change is accelerating.

Those that are wise have already been getting prepared, and those that are convinced that everything is going to be just fine somehow have not been getting prepared.

In the end, most people end up believing exactly what they want to believe, and we are not too far away from the time when those choices are going to have very severe consequences.

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The Democrat party campaign was over before it began. On April 15, 2015, Clinton and Sanders both formally announced their candidacy to become party standard bearer this November.

Primaries and caucuses since last winter were largely theatrical noise, the process rigged to anoint Clinton – an unindicted neocon war criminal, racketeer, Wall Street tool she devil, a menace threatening world peace, a perfect choice for US president, following in the despicable tradition of husband Bill, George W. Bush and Obama. 

The possibility of her becoming America’s 45th president should scare everyone. Her finger on the nuclear trigger heightens the possibility of it being squeezed – the nation under her stewardship, if elected, transitioning from MAD to madness, humanity’s survival at risk.

According to AP News, she already has enough delegates to be Democrat party nominee, including unelected insider super-delegates, overwhelmingly backing her – ahead of six June 7 primary results, California the big one.

Obama’s official endorsement awaits, heavy pressure put on Sanders for party unity. His 30-year political history shows when pushed he bends, supporting what he rhetorically opposed.

He pledged several times to endorse Clinton if nominated. His House and Senate voting record largely mirrors her imperial agenda – pure evil by any standard.

He barely stopped short of conceding ahead of Tuesday’s primaries, saying he’ll return to Vermont on Wednesday to “assess where we are.”

His comment followed a weekend call from Obama ahead of the president formally endorsing Clinton, likely getting Sanders to agree not to contest her following Tuesday’s primaries.

Her rise to become Democrat party nominee reflects a debauched US political system, an uninformed, brainwashed, indifferent electorate, and a corrupted media establishment led by The New York Times.

Its editorial board outrageously calls her “the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidate in modern history” – followed by a litany of misinformation, distortions, and Big Lies about her public record, suppressing her high crimes demanding daily headline

A Clinton presidency assures Wall Street and America’s military-industrial-intelligence establishment continuing to make policy, endless wars raging, new ones likely, possibly challenging Russia and China belligerently.

No matter who succeeds Obama, dirty business as usual will continue unimpeded – monied interests exclusively served at the expense of popular ones and world peace

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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The recent advances of Al Nusra and Ahram al-Sham in the Sheikh Maqsoud district and the Jaish al-Fatah operation room, which also includes Al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, near the village of Khan Touman, have almost scrubbed any initiatives to set a ceasefire regime in the Aleppo city and nearby areas, showcasing that rhetoric about bad humanitarian conditions and the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan are a merely part of the ongoing PR-war against the Assad government and its allies. The strategic goal is to prevent the advances of pro-government troops and operations of the Russian aerospace forces in the Aleppo city and in Northern Syria, in general.

The only answer to this challenge is a constant military pressure on all Syrian armed groups that ignore attempts of the cessation of hostilities. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on June 6 that Russia will provide “the most active” air support for government troops in and around the city of Aleppo. In this case, such groups as Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Fatah should be a legitimate target of the Russian air power. If the Washington directly recognizes these al-Qaeda-linked groups as a moderate opposition on an official level, it will be a PR disaster, threating to undermine the US diplomatic position on Syria in the nearest future.

In turn, the tolerance of conditions when Islamist militants were able to prepare and storm Aleppo districts was a mistake of Russian military advisers and the Syrian military. Initially, Saudi and Turkish backed groups passed the areas near the city of Mare to ISIS. This allowed them to re-deploy a significant force to the Aleppo city and the Sheikh Maqsoud district.

Al Nusra and Ahram al-Sham units were strengthened by arms supplies from Turkey. Furthermore, there were reports about Turkish troops among the militant groups. According to experts, Turkish military advisers have been providing strategic planning and other support to Al Nusra and Ahram al-Sham at least since the middle of 2015. The fact that ISIS didn’t stormed Mare, when Al Nusra and others conducted operations in Aleppo, proved at least tactical military cooperation between Al Nusra and ISIS. The advance was covered by the US-led diplomatic and PR campaign, doubted “Don’t bomb the moderate opposition”. As result, the military situation in the Aleppo city worsened.

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Military tensions surged yesterday in Europe as NATO launched Operation Anaconda, the largest NATO military exercise in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War a quarter century ago, when the Stalinist bureaucracy dissolved the Soviet Union in 1991.

Some 31,000 troops, 3,000 vehicles, 105 aircraft, and 12 warships are participating in war games based on a scenario that war erupts between NATO and Russia, a nuclear-armed power. European defense officials in Warsaw said the scenario was one where there is “a mishap, a miscalculation which the Russians construe, or choose to construe, as an offensive action.”

The largest contingents in the exercises are 14,000 troops from the United States, 12,000 from Poland, and about 800 from Britain, as well as other forces, including from non-NATO countries. They will be commanded by Polish Lieutenant General Marek Tomaszycki.

Operation Anaconda is a massive provocation, effectively amounting to a dress rehearsal for a NATO invasion of Russia. In the exercise, for the first time since the Nazi invasions of Poland and the Soviet Union during World War II, German tanks will cross all of Poland from west to east.

With staggering recklessness, NATO officials are launching exercises dangerously close to Russian soil, even as security analysts acknowledge that this creates a situation where miscalculations could lead to war between NATO and Russia. According to the British Guardian, “defence experts warn that any mishap could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow.” The daily cited Marcin Zaborowski, an official of the Center for European Policy Analysis, as admitting that the international situation surrounding Operation Anaconda is “tense, and accidents can happen.”

Russian officials reacted aggressively against escalating NATO military activity along Russia’s borders. The exercises in Poland come as 5,000 NATO forces carry out exercises code-named Operation Iron Wolf in Lithuania, the largest NATO deployment to Lithuania in several years, and amid NATO military exercises in Latvia, another Baltic republic bordering Russia.

“We do not hide that we have a negative attitude toward the NATO line of moving its military infrastructure to our borders, drawing other countries into military unit activities,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Moscow. “This will activate Russia’s sovereign right to provide its own safety with methods that are adequate to today’s risks.”

Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Aleksandr Grusho said yesterday that Moscow would closely analyze NATO military activity in the region during the exercises. Russian military sources indicated that they would move three divisions closer to Russia’s western borders in response to the exercises, likely motorized rifle units of about 10,000 men each.

Operation Anaconda goes hand in hand with US and NATO operations aiming to encircle Russia’s entire western border, from the Baltics and Eastern Europe to the Balkans. Last month, NATO officials set up a missile base in Deveselu, Romania, and began work on a similar base at Redzikowo in northern Poland.

Yesterday, the US guided missile destroyer USS Porter sailed through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea with a strengthened missile armament—a year after a similar US warship in the Black Sea, the USS Ross, nearly violated Russian territorial waters, prompting a standoff with Russian warplanes.

All of these aggressive actions come in the run-up to the July 8-9 NATO summit in Warsaw, which is expected to further escalate NATO deployments to the Baltic region and tighten ties between NATO and former Soviet republics including Ukraine and Georgia, in the Caucasus.

Twenty-five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the disastrous geopolitical implications of this event are ever more evident. The elimination of what capitalist propagandists of an earlier era called the “communist menace” did not lead to a flowering of peace and prosperity under the aegis of a capitalist European Union (EU). Rather, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and of the Warsaw Pact threw Eastern Europe open to imperialist intrigue and war plotting by Washington and its major allies in Europe.

The assurances NATO gave Moscow decades ago that its strategic interests would not be threatened have proven worthless. The 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act said: “in the current and foreseeable security environment, the [NATO] Alliance will carry out its collective defense and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.”

Instead, as NATO absorbed countries across Eastern Europe, what emerged was a steady spread of NATO wars and combat forces across the continent. From NATO’s bloody Balkan wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the brief 2008 war that Georgia recklessly launched against Russia with US support, the intervention has now escalated to the point that Russia is surrounded and directly threatened with invasion.

The pretense that NATO’s latest escalation is a legitimate response to a change in the European security environment due to Russian aggression in Ukraine is a political fraud. The war in Ukraine was provoked by a violent putsch, led by the fascistic Right Sector militia and supported by the CIA and the European capitals, that toppled a pro-Russian government in Kiev in 2014. As the current military situation with Operation Anaconda makes clear, it was not part of a Russian master plan to conquer Europe, but of a relentless and aggressive NATO drive to strategically isolate Russia.

This does not change in any way the fact that the actions of the Russian capitalist oligarchy in the Kremlin are politically reactionary. Incapable of and hostile to mobilizing opposition to war in the international working class, they oscillate between seeking an accommodation with the imperialist powers and threatening them with Russia’s military power.

Particularly as Russia faces ever more bellicose and right-wing regimes in Poland, Ukraine, and further afield in Eastern Europe, backed by Washington and its NATO allies, such threats simply escalate the danger of nuclear war.

The right-wing regime in Poland is in particular using Operation Anaconda to inaugurate the 35,000-strong nationalist territorial militias it has set up after cashiering a quarter of the country’s generals since it came to power last October. There are numerous reports that the territorial militias, drawn from Polish gun clubs and paramilitary groups, are linked to racist Polish football hooligan groups.

The deployment comes amid rising tensions between the EU and the Polish government, which has sought to sideline the country’s constitutional court. On June 1, the EU Commission issued a ruling demanding “concrete steps to resolve the systemic risk to the rule of law in Poland.”

The territorial militias are apparently viewed with concern in the Polish army and in NATO circles internationally. The Guardian cited an unnamed “Western defense expert” as saying: “Poland is highly regarded internationally. In the past 15 years, they spent a lot of money and created one of the best armies in the region… It is not clear what the government thinks it needs to improve.”

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The Associated Press reported late Monday night that Hillary Clinton had secured a sufficient number of additional superdelegates to clinch the Democratic Party presidential nomination. The AP report was immediately picked up and featured prominently by the Washington Post and the New York Times, despite the fact that the AP did not identify the superdelegates newly declaring for Clinton.

It had previously been reported that Clinton intended to declare herself the presumptive Democratic nominee immediately following the vote in Tuesday’s New Jersey primary election, where opinion polls show the former secretary of state holding a double-digit lead over her challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders.

It had also been reported that President Barack Obama would officially endorse Clinton this week, possibly on Wednesday when he travels to New York for a fundraising event. There were reports that Obama had telephoned Sanders to discuss his plans to endorse the former first lady, senator and secretary of state.

These developments amount to a coordinated push by the Democratic Party establishment and sections of the media to proclaim Clinton the victor in the hotly contested primary campaign in advance of the California primary election on Tuesday, which could deliver the favored candidate of Wall Street and the military/intelligence establishment a stunning defeat at the hands of Sanders, whose campaign continues to gain popular support.

It had been reported that Clinton would not wait until the votes were counted in California, the country’s most populous state, where the polls close later than in New Jersey due to the three-hour time zone difference with the US east coast. Polls in California show Clinton’s one-time double-digit lead over Sanders evaporating amidst a record surge in newly registered voters, most of them younger than 45, a demographic that has consistently backed Sanders by a two-to-one margin.

Media outlets, including the Democratic-leaning MSNBC, were also expected to proclaim Clinton the victor as soon as the New Jersey results were announced.

The haste to preemptively crown Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate is reflected in numerous press commentaries portraying Sanders’ continuing push for the nomination as a Quixotic exercise in futility—or a fifth column boost to the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Just in the past two days, the New York Times published pieces headlined “Bernie’s Last Stand” and “Bernie Sanders’ Chances of Winning Have Faded, but His Rallies Haven’t,” and the Washington Post carried an article titled “Doing great too late.”

All three top elected officials in California, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have endorsed Clinton and called on Sanders to end his campaign.

The rush to declare Clinton the presumptive nominee, even as Sanders publicly pledges to continue fighting for the nomination up to and perhaps during next month’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, is a measure not of political strength on the part of the Clinton campaign, but rather immense weakness and crisis. Clinton, the overwhelming choice of the Democratic Party establishment, continues to see her popular support erode in favor of Sanders, who has based his campaign on an appeal to popular anger over social inequality and Wall Street criminality.

After lopsided victories over the weekend in the Puerto Rican primary and the Virgin Islands caucuses, Clinton was, in fact, only 26 elected delegates shy of reaching the 2,383 figure needed to clinch the nomination, a number she is certain to obtain in New Jersey. However, neither she nor Sanders will have a sufficient number of elected and therefore pledged delegates and will have to rely on the votes of superdelegates, who are free to change their allegiance when they make their choice at the convention itself.

The 712 superdelegates are appointed by the Democratic National Committee and consist of elected officials, Democratic Party operatives and party leaders, including former office-holders. As of last weekend, 547 of these denizens of the party establishment had publicly announced for Clinton, while only 46 had come out in support of Sanders.

Over the weekend, Sanders denounced plans to declare Clinton the presumptive nominee and reiterated his stated intention of fighting to convince Clinton superdelegates to switch to his campaign on the grounds that polls show him defeating Trump decisively in the general election, while for the most part they indicate a dead heat in a contest between Clinton and Trump.

Sanders has been counting on an upset victory in California, the biggest trove of delegates at 548, to fuel already percolating concerns over the viability of a Clinton candidacy. Widely despised by young and lower-income voters as a corrupt personification of the status quo and a warmonger, Clinton has failed to generate any significant enthusiasm for her bid to follow her husband into the White House.

One measure of the immense political weakness of Clinton’s campaign is its refusal to debate Sanders in advance of the final round of nominating contests, including California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota on Tuesday and Washington, DC on June 14. Clinton reneged on a previous agreement to debate Sanders one more time before the end of the primaries because she and her advisers concluded such an event could only cost her more votes.

Sanders, who has won 46 percent of the elected delegates, has taken 16 of the last 25 primary contests and triumphed in major industrial states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. He has held some two dozen rallies in California, attracting large and enthusiastic crowds, dominated by young voters. His campaign estimates it will have addressed some 250,000 people by primary election day in California.

Clinton canceled scheduled appearances in New Jersey in order to return to California in an attempt to avoid a crippling defeat. However, she has limited her appearances to small, vetted media events, knowing she could not attract large audiences. Her campaign has made clear that regardless of the outcome in California, Clinton will declare herself the presumptive nominee.

There is an element of desperation in the effort to declare a fait accompli, along with a large measure of arrogance and contempt for the voters and for democratic procedures. The not-too-veiled message is that the plutocracy has chosen its candidate and the people should just reconcile themselves to the choice, no matter how much they might hate her. There is barely concealed annoyance at having even to go through the motions of an election.

Behind this is fear within the ruling class over the social opposition that has found an expression, for the present, in popular support for Sanders, who has benefited beyond his own wildest expectations from his self-promotion as a “democratic socialist.” There is also frustration within the Clinton camp that Sanders’ continued presence hinders the frontrunner from pivoting as far and as rapidly to the right as she would like in preparation for the general election.

Nevertheless, Clinton has made a sharp turn to the right since the fascistic Trump’s emergence as the presumptive Republican nominee. She has largely dumped her semi-populist rhetoric—a response to the challenge from Sanders—and openly directed her appeal to disaffected Republican voters and campaign contributors, wealthier suburbanites, and, above all, Wall Street and the military/intelligence establishment.

When she rushed back to California last week, her first major appearance was a speech on foreign policy in San Diego in which she denounced Trump for being soft on China and Russia and too unreliable and unpredictable to competently pursue US imperialist interests internationally. In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday she continued in the same vein, warning that Trump “violates Republican and Democratic agreement about how to be strong in the world, how to present ourselves, how to protect our allies and our friends, how to take on our rivals when necessary.”

These statements give a small indication of the ferocious militarism that would characterize a Clinton administration, continuing and expanding the war-making of Obama and Bush.

Nor would a Sanders administration be fundamentally different. If he were to come to power, Sanders would quickly drop his reformist pretenses and continue the same basic policies as his predecessors, both domestic and foreign. He has repeatedly in the course of the primary campaign declared his support for Obama’s war policies, including drone assassinations.

The political function of the Sanders campaign from the outset has been to serve as a lightning rod for social discontent and preemptively block it from taking an independent form, channeling the working class and youth instead back behind the Democratic Party, the oldest capitalist party and historic graveyard of social protest in the United States. He has repeatedly made clear that he will campaign for the Democratic nominee.

Sanders’ stated intention of contesting the Democratic nomination up to and even during the July convention is determined by his conscious aim of promoting illusions that this party of American imperialism can be reformed and made responsive to the needs of working people. He is concerned that too brazen a capitulation to Clinton will arouse disgust and anger among his supporters and damage the Democratic Party.

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Fukushima: Worse Than a Disaster

June 7th, 2016 by Robert Hunziker

Disasters can be cleaned up.

Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO Chief of Decommissioning at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant, finally publicly “officially” announced that 600 tons of hot molten core, or corium, is missing (Fukushima Nuclear Plant Operator Says 600 Tons of Melted Fuels is Missing, Epoch Times, May 24, 2016).

Now what?

According to Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), it is not likely the fuel will ever be recovered: “Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point, and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time.”

A big part of the problem is that nobody has experience with a Fukushima-type meltdown, which now appears to be 100% meltdown, possibly burrowed into the ground, but nobody really knows for sure.

What’s next is like a trip into The Twilight Zone.

“The absolutely uncontrollable fission of the melted nuclear fuel assemblies continue somewhere under the remains of the station. ’It’s important to find it as soon as possible,’ acknowledged Masuda, admitting that Japan does not yet possess the technology to extract the melted uranium fuel,” (600 Tons of Melted Radioactive Fukushima Fuel Still Not Found, Clean-Up Chief Reveals, RT, May 24, 2016).

Nuclear fission is when atoms split apart into smaller atoms. With nuclear bombs, fission must happen extremely quickly to charge a large explosion whereas, in a nuclear reactor, fission must happen very slowly to make heat, which, in turn, is used to boil water to make steam to turn a turbine to generate electricity.

Eventually, by rubbing two sticks together, one can boil water, but modern-day society doesn’t have the patience, which means accepting risks leaps and bounds beyond rubbing two sticks together. Welcome to an altered world.

Even if Masuda’s cleanup crew find the missing 600 tons, which is so highly radioactive that workers cannot even get close enough to inspect the immediate areas, then they need to construct, out-of-midair, the technology to extract it, and then what? It’s guesswork. It’s what modern-day society has been reduced to, guesswork. Toss out rubbing two sticks together and build monstrous behemoths for billions to boil water, and when it goes wrong, guess what to do next. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, to start with, nobody knows what to do when all hell breaks loose.

They do not have the technology to extract it!

In 1986, Russian teams of workers found the melted corium of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor core in the facility’s lowest level. Whilst “frying 30 workers” along the way, they contained it just enough to prevent burrowing into the ground, maybe.

During containment work at Chernobyl, a makeshift robotic camera managed to actually photograph the monster, the melted core, nicknamed “the Elephant’s Foot.” Thirty years after the fact, the “Elephant’s Foot” is still lethal.

By way of comparing/contrasting Chernobyl and Fukushima, extraordinarily high radiation zaps and destroys robots at first sight when sent into Fukushima’s containment vessels. It’s kinda like the Daleks in Doctor Who.

Whereas, thirty years after the fact, Chernobyl seems to have found a solution to the elephant’s foot menace to society, but as for Fukushima, they must first locate 600 tons of hot stuff. That may be an impossible task. Then what?

“Thirty years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, there’s still a significant threat of radiation from the crumbling remains of Reactor 4. But an innovative, €1.5 billion super-structure is being built to prevent further releases, giving an elegant engineering solution to one of the ugliest disasters known to man,” Claire Corkhill, PhD, University of Sheffield, New Tomb Will Make Chernobyl Site Safe for 100 Years, Phys.Org, April 22, 2016.

As it happens, the older collapsing sarcophagus for Chernobyl is being replaced by a brand new enormous steel frame: “Thanks to the sarcophagus, up to 80% of the original radioactive material left after the meltdown remains in the reactor. If it were to collapse, some of the melted core, a lava-like material called corium, could be ejected into the surrounding area in a dust cloud, as a mixture of highly radioactive vapour and tiny particles blown in the wind. The key substances in this mixture are iodine-131, which has been linked to thyroid cancer, and cesium-137, which can be absorbed into the body, with effects ranging from radiation sickness to death depending on the quantity inhaled or ingested,” Ibid

“The Elephant’s Foot could be the most dangerous piece of waste in the world,” (Chernobyl’s Hot Mess, “the Elephant’s Foot,” is Still Lethal, Nautilus, Science Connect, Dec. 4, 2013). It’s a highly charged radioactive massive hunk of goo that will not die or waste away. This could be a Doctor Who script, par excellence! Therein exist the soft underbelly, the vulnerability, and the risks of using nuclear power to boil water, or alternatively, the sun and wind could be used. They’re not radioactive and still much faster than rubbing two sticks together.

Fukushima is three times (3x) Chernobyl, maybe more; however, in Fukushima’s case there’s a distinct possibility that its white-hot sizzling corium has already started burrowing into Earth. Thereafter, let your imagination run wild because nobody has any idea of how that ends, if ever!

But, Einstein knew. Here’s a famous Einstein quote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes.”

We’re finally there!

Gregory Jackzo, former head of the NRC, ponders the security of nuclear power: “You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants, wherever they are in the world … that you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident, and you can release a significant amount of radiation and have a decade long cleanup effort on your hands” (Epoch Times).

Looking ahead a few years, the question remains: Where will the sizzling white-hot melted corium be when the Tokyo Olympics arrive in 2020?

Nobody knows!

Still, Prime Minister Abe told the Olympic selection committee that Fukushima was “under control.”

“This debate has dogged him since his Sept. 7 speech to the International Olympic Committee, when he said the nuclear disaster is “under control.” The next day, Tokyo won hosting rights for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games,” (Tsuyoshi Inajjma and Yuriy Humber, Abe Olympic Speech On Fukushima Contradicts Nuclear Plant Design, Bloomberg, Oct. 23, 2013).

“French authorities are investigating payments worth around $2m to a company linked to the son of former world athletics chief Lamine Diack over alleged connections to Japan’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games,” (Tokyo Olympics Bid Questioned as Prosecutors Probe $2M Payouts, The Financial Times, May 12, 2016).

Japan won the right to host the 2020 Olympics with a bid to spend $5 billion, which is suspiciously small, especially in an historical context. For the record, rival Istanbul’s bid was almost $20 billion, a much more realistic commitment for such a momentous worldly event.

Thusly, with mucho “balls-in-the-air,” one has to wonder if PM Abe’s infamous secrecy law will click into play, in other words, is there any way it can impede investigations? After all, the law allows any Japanese politician to put an offender behind bars for 10 years for breaking state secrets, which are (very embarrassingly) whatever the accuser claims to be “secretive.” After all, prima facie, between Fukushima and the Olympics, there could be a lot of secretive stuff going on behind the scenes.

Japan’s state secrecy law Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (SDS) Act No. 108 of 2013 passed on the heels of the Fukushima meltdown, is very similar to Japan’s harsh Public Peace and Order Controls of WWII (a real doozy). According to Act No. 108, the “act of leaking itself” is bad enough for prosecution, regardless of what, how, or why. Absolutely, if someone “leaks,” they’re going to “the can.”

Susumu Murakoshi, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations dissents: “The law should be abolished because it jeopardizes democracy and the people’s right to know,” Abe’s Secrets Law Undermines Japan’s Democracy, The Japan Times, Dec. 13, 2014.

The Japan Times needs to fact-check the definition of democracy.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at [email protected]

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Dear Prime Minister:

Congratulations for taking such a strong stand when you spoke at the G7 summit in Tokyo last week in favour of government spending to bring new life to moribund economies.  Despite the skeptics, it is the only plan with a proven track record.  In 1939 it was massive federal spending that got us out of the Great Depression and allowed us to become a significant participant in World War II.

It appears that your G7 colleagues were not only divided on the question of promoting growth, but equally stymied about the related problem of debt, which is at its highest level in history.  Our society, in general, is in denial that the world financial system is broken.  It has been cracked for a very long time, but in the last few decades it has become a total write off as an operating system.

This is because privately-owned banks have managed to achieve a monopoly to create “money.”  It is all created as debt – debt that has to be repaid in full with interest. But there is no money created with which to pay either interest or repay capital.  Basic arithmetic proves that the system is a dead end.  Money is the gasoline essential for any economy, but there is no way to get any except to borrow it and go deeper and deeper in debt – a lifetime mortgage on our most precious assets.

There is only one solution that can save the system and that is a massive infusion of government-created debt-free money to dilute the ocean of existing debt, and an end to the banking monopoly that has enabled 62 families to acquire ownership of 50% of all the wealth in the world.  In future the money-creation function must be shared fairly between government and the private banks.

We don’t have to look further than our own history to see how well that can work.  When the federal government needed money in 1939, the Bank of Canada printed it and made large sums available at near-zero cost – just the cost of administration deducted.  The new cash wound up in the banks where it became “high-powered money,” – cash reserves that allowed the banks to play their legitimate part.  In effect the money-creation function was shared, as it must be again.  This system continued after the war ended and helped fund the great infrastructure projects of the progressive 1940s and ’50s.

In 1974 the 35 best years of the century ended abruptly when Bank of Canada Governor Gerald Bouey unilaterally, and without consultation or agreement with your father, the prime minister, announced that the Bank was adopting “monetarism.”  There was no hint that shareholders’ interests were to be abandoned in favour of policies established by the Bank for International Settlements, an organization indirectly controlled by the elite banking families.

One of the new rules was to end the practice of providing low cost money to governments.  They would have to borrow in the market, and pay market rates of interest.  This change in direction proved to be a devastating blow to good government in Canada.  From 1867 to 1974 Canadians had financed two world wars and a very long list of major infrastructure projects, while only accumulating an inconsequential $21.6 billion in debt.  After 1974, however, the federal debt soared to $615 billion, and from fiscal 1974/75 to fiscal 2011/12 hard-pressed Canadian taxpayers had to pay $1.1 trillion interest on a debt that is still outstanding.  This huge sum should have been available for health care, education, First Nations needs, and a dozen other essentials that have been underfunded for decades.  So while we applaud your plan to begin the long overdue essential catch-up, borrowing the money is not the preferred option.

Under our Constitution, Parliament has absolute authority over money and banking in Canada.  Canadians own the patent to create money.  Private banks have no rights; they are only licencees which must obey rules set by Parliament.

A word of caution however.  If Parliament ratifies either the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the disputes settlement mechanism would effect a unilateral change in the Canadian constitution and impinge on Parliament’s control over money and banking.  It would amount to giving up Canada’s most valuable financial asset, worth trillions, to create our own money.

As prime minister, you obviously want what is best for our country.  I would respectfully ask that the government consider a radical, not-so-new plan of action that would benefit our country immeasurably – “A Social Contract Between the Government and People of Canada.”www.canadianbankreformers.ca/new-social-contract/

This plan would provide $150 billion a year for 7 years to be split 50/50 between Ottawa and the provinces and territories.  It will put back into the Canadian economy an amount of the same magnitude as our accumulated loss from spending our tax dollars on unnecessary interest payments, while at the same time increasing the private banks cash reserves from zero to 34%, so that the government-created money would not be inflationary!  At the end of the 7 years new money creation will be split 34% for the governments and 66% for the private banks – a ratio that would allow both to meet their legitimate requirements.

There is still time to put the plan into effect in June before the summer recess, and give the Canadian economy the biggest supercharged boost it has seen since 1939.  To do so would win gold for Canada in the race to provide financial relief and renewed hope for the long-suffering 99 percent.

Best wishes,

Paul Hellyer

Paul Hellyer, is a distinguished author and Canadian politician, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense.

 

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Brexit – The Propaganda of Propaganda

June 7th, 2016 by Graham Vanbergen

Official campaigning for the June 23 referendum on UK membership of the European Union is trying its damnedest  to reach new depths of scare-mongering. The playbook of modern day electioneering is negative propaganda. It is particularly pointed at an anti-immigrant xenophobia, but it is in fact aimed at a dislike or prejudice of basically anything if it scares enough people. Don’t forget that around 12 per cent of the voting population still haven’t decided which way to vote and 35 per cent may not vote at all.

The propaganda game gets underway and last week, for instance, the Office for National Statistics released figures revealing that net migration into the UK had risen to 333,000 in 2015. This was the second highest figure on record, with EU-only net migration at 184,000, equalling its record high.

The ONS report did in fact prominently highlight that the 20,000 rise in net migration was caused by a 22,000 drop in the number of British people moving abroad rather than a rising ‘swarm’ of migrants dragging themselves up on the shores of Dover. However, this fact was almost universally ignored in the establishment media. Blame was pointed at PM David Cameron for failing to honour his own anti-migrant pledges amongst all the other pledges he has not honoured.

Over the following days, anti-migrant propaganda reached fever pitch, especially after a poll for the Guardian reported a two point lead for the Leave Team, which today has extended another point. Different newspapers are reporting different poll results, most are misleading one way or another but what’s interesting is that now we have accusations by both camps over their equally distasteful levels of propaganda. Don’t forget of course that both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ are headed up by Tories.

The Sun “Brexit campaigners furious over £9.3m spend on pro-EU propaganda leaflets”.

The Daily Mail “Brexit MP’s demand pro-EU propaganda is stripped from government website because it’s illegal”

The Independent “Leave campaigners claim IFS study warning of Brexit impact is ‘propaganda’”

CNBC “Brexit warning is ‘rotten propaganda,’ says former UK Chancellor”

The Express “Osborne under fire from furious Brexit MPs over ‘illegal’ pro-EU propaganda websites”

The Mirror “Send David Cameron’s ‘EU propaganda’ leaflets back to No.10”

Huffington Post “Mark Carney Condemned By Jacob Rees-Mogg For ‘Brexit’ ‘Propaganda’”

The ‘Remain’ camp seem to be in some trouble as almost all the accusations of propaganda are firmly directed at them.

In more subtle ways other statistics are being used in the war of words for your mind.

The Telegraph reported last week that “UK manufacturing unexpectedly returned to growth in May as a closely-watched survey showed uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote had “no significant effect” on activity for most businesses.” This is a clear case of disinformation as UK manufacturing has been declining ever since joining the EU and a small bounce in trade had nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit.

Almost from the same day The Telegraph prints “FTSE 100 suffers sharp sell-off after Brexit poll shows ‘leave’ camp ahead”. Again, this is full spectrum propaganda as there is no evidence that the global market players that make up the FTSE100 were suffering from Britain’s contemplations over its future relationship with the EU. Depressed economic data is now spewing out daily from all over the world and it is of no surprise that share prices are falling, which they have been for nearly a year.

Next up from the BBC “OECD warns of Brexit ‘negative shock‘” – this one was positively apocalyptic in its prediction that Britain’s economy would fail in the years to come in the event of leaving the EU. However, there is a positive message here. The OECD completely failed to predict the global crisis in 2007, the biggest since the great depression and the slowest recovery ever on record. It constantly over-estimates the GDP forecasts for its own 34 club members, under-estimates just as many inflation projections and did predict a completely stable Euro area by now! So on that note, reverse everything they say, and you will be closer to a prediction that might add up. Statistically speaking OECD Observer makes this point better than I do.

My favourite is George Osborne’s assertion that “House prices could fall by 18% if Britain quits EU”. This would happen in less than 18 months from the referendum of course. He also stated that the cost of mortgages will rise and that property investors were inserting “Brexit clauses” in commercial deals to allow them to pull out. The fact that lowering property prices is government policy at the moment makes Osborne’s statement rather contradictive. These blatant scare tactics come from a man who has missed almost of all his own deficit targets last year, along with all the other major predictions such as the ‘welfare cap’ and the only ones he did hit came from some ‘creative accounting‘. It also appears his predictions of of 2019-20 budget surplus is nothing more than fudging the books.

You might ask which way I am going to vote. I’m as confused as the next sane person. No-one knows what’s best because no-one can see into the future. One thing we do know is that the only reason we’re having this referendum is that the European Union has failed. After all, if it is was a raging success, we wouldn’t be having this debate in the first place.

At the moment I am very distrustful of a Tory government that has lied on just about everything it promised at two elections. At the first it needed a partner to scrape in, the second looks like to have been rigged with 28 MP’s facing an investigation from at least eleven police forces under an extension of the “Representation of the People Act” – in other words electoral fraud. To make matters worse, the Tories have tried to block the investigation by police, heightening the probability of guilt.

I am also extremely worried that David Cameron himself is at the heart of a democratic scandal. Britain is rushing through a trade agreement that is basically another TTIP deal, just not as well known. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU is a worrying development where Cameron stands accused of trampling over democracy by pushing for the “fastest possible implementation” of the trade deal. This is without parliamentary scrutiny or indeed without any debate or vote at all. The same can be said of TTIP.

And look who the other countries are that are pushing CETA just as hard; Spain, Estonia, Sweden, Portugal, Lithuania and Cyprus. Contrary to popular belief, Sweden’s economy is on the verge of collapse (interestingly, because of long-term immigration that is bankrupting the economy) Spain and Portugal are already Zombie economies hanging on by their fingernails. They surely have reason to join a club of Desperados in the vain hope of economic recovery. Or does Cameron know something the rest of us don’t?

The propaganda game has been rife, as it was with the Scottish referendum.

By voting to Leave we are at the mercy of a government that represents nothing more than a corporatocracy. Politicians will be rewarded with perpetual revolving doors from some of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world whilst everyone else is left to their mercy. We definitely do not want this.

By voting to Remain we are increasingly unable to decide our own destiny where geo-politics, cold wars, hot wars and trade wars looks more likely to drive political and economic outcomes in the future. And the EU have made a pretty poor job of everything so far.

If TTIP says anything to the average citizen that cares to look – the thin veil of Britain’s democracy will not shield her whether in or out of the EU. For all of the wonderful things you may have read about the benefits of EU membership, and to be fair, there are many, you might be surprised to find out that their are plans for an EU-Army, EU border guard, and EU paramilitary police force called theEuropean Gendarmerie Force and they are worrying enough along with pretty shocking powers the EU has given the police forces all over Europe to control protesting against governments and corporations. Stifling free speech is another skill set the EU Commission are perfecting. The EU even wants you to log in to social media accounts only with government issued ID cards. The USA is triallingthis in several states right now. This is because those with too much power want to control the discourse and narrative on the important stuff. Britain is only one of two countries in the EU that do not have ID cards.

Then again, no-one gave electoral permission for Thatcher to deregulate the banks that is causing wave after wave of economic chaos, Tony Blair to destabilise the world order, David Cameron to dismantle the NHS and secretly negotiate our sovereignty away with trade deals. All of these huge decisions that have or will badly affected us all were done outside of manifestos, mandates and any sense of morality.

There’s no easy answer.

Like most elections in my time, it’s really been about voting for the least worst and I can’t work out which one would be more dreadful as neither have our best interests at heart. Whatever direction you vote, go with your heart and think about the generation that’s going to have to live with your decision because elite politician’s and their corporate paymasters will do neither.

Graham Vanbergen – truepublica.org.uk

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Inizia oggi in Polonia la Anakonda 16, «la più grande esercitazione alleata di quest’anno»: vi partecipano oltre 25 mila uomini di 19 paesi Nato (Usa, Germania, Gran Bretagna, Turchia e altri) e di 6 partner: Georgia, Ucraina e Kosovo (riconosciuto come stato), di fatto già nella Nato sotto comando Usa; Macedonia, che non è ancora nella Nato solo per l’opposizione della Grecia sulla questione del nome (lo stesso di una sua provincia, che la Macedonia potrebbe rivendicare); Svezia e Finlandia, che si stanno avvicinando sempre più alla Nato (hanno partecipato in maggio alla riunione dei ministri degli esteri dell’Alleanza). Formalmente l’esercitazione è a guida polacca (da qui la «k» nel nome), per soddisfare l’orgoglio nazionale di Varsavia.

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