Cutting the Cords of Empire: The Spectacle of US Elections

By William Hawes, September 14 2016

“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.” -Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle It’s almost time for our quadrennial political distraction, masquerading as the US presidential election. As opposed to previous elections, this one feels quite different. Even with Obama/Romney in 2012, important, basic economic issues were discussed, health care reform was questioned, and foreign policy was given its due.


Thwarting the “Zika Virus Threat” in America? Aerial Deployment of Dangerous Pesticides

By James F. Tracy, September 14 2016

Major Western news media’s coverage of the alleged dangers posed by the Zika virus and “preventative” measures mandated by overreaching federal agencies is a textbook example of censorship by omission, intentional oversight of facts, and deference to questionable “expert” authority to assuage valid public concern over aerial deployment of dangerous pesticides.

Dick Cheney, Vice-President of the United States of America

Another 9/11 Intrigue: Dick Cheney, John Yoo, and “Continuity in Government” (COG) Measures on 9/11

By Prof Peter Dale Scott, September 14 2016

In 1993 I wrote a book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, in which I said at the outset I was not going to try to solve the mystery of JFK’s murder but to examine the politics of it. I wish to argue here for similar research into the politics of 9/11. For the political consequences of 9/11 have been toxic, regardless of how the towers fell or who was responsible. The unusual process of their implementation deserves close study, a study which I believe will cast more light on 9/11 itself.


Israel’s Bogus Civil War

By Jonathan Cook, September 14 2016

Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Israeli commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply riven over the future of the occupation? On one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead.


Washington’s “Failure” in Syria Is Not About Strategy. Washington and Ankara Have Consistently Supported Al Qaeda, ISIS

By Federico Pieraccini, September 14 2016

So much has been said about the Syrian conflict in numerous analyses, yet one of the least discussed topics concerns the strategy and the relationship of cooperation and conflict between the United States, Turkey, the Kurds and Daesh. From the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Washington and Ankara have never hesitated to exploit Daesh’s advances. The occupation of Syrian towns near the Turkish border by Islamic extremists has been one of the preferred tactics endorsed by the United States and Turkey.

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This article was originally published on Global Research in April 2011:

One of the most divisive arguments within the environmental movement is population growth, whether by increasing births, or via immigration.

But population figures conceal more than they reveal.  They seem to suggest that the cause of climate change is too many people, and that a growing population means growing greenhouse gas emissions.  Therefore, we should encourage people to have smaller families because it’s “a lot easier than retooling our economic system.” (1)   And further, that we must slow population growth where it’s greatest, e.g. the “Third” World, where population is “exploding.”

In Chapter Three of his “Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography,” David Harvey gets to the bottom of this argument by dissecting the three pillars on which it stands – subsistence, resources, and scarcity.

The argument first posits an absolute and unchanging subsistence level, the bare minimum people need to stay alive.  But this level has been defined differently over time, according to the society in which people were living.  The subsistence level in Europe’s Dark Ages was defined very differently from that in the European Union today.  And today’s subsistence level is defined very differently in Uganda than it is in the United States.

This argument further categorizes nature as a “supermarket” of resources available to be made useful to humans.  But this perception has also varied according to the level of historical, technological, and cultural development within particular societies.

The third absolute in this argument is scarcity, defined as intrinsic to nature.  But this, too, is rooted in views of particular societies and modes of production.  Societies seek particular goals/ends, and it’s these goals/ends and the means used to achieve them, as much as a lack of natural resources, that define, even manufacture, scarcity.

Much scarcity is, in fact, created by the activities humans choose to engage in, according to the way their societies have been organized.  The scarcity of available land in cities like New York and London is a result of human activity, not nature’s.  And if this scarcity were not manufactured, the rents in London and New York would not be so wildly lucrative.

In such a scenario, a “crisis of overpopulation” happens when the scarcity of available resources no longer meets the subsistence needs of most of the population.  In other words, there are too many people in the world to allow “us” to continue to live in the way in which we’ve organized our society, based on available natural resources that we could be using to continue to live the way we’ve been living – if only it weren’t for all those people making subsistence demands and potentially preventing us from living in the way to which we’ve become accustomed.  (Think “non-negotiable American way of life.”)

But there are things we could do to change this scenario and adapt, which has been the hallmark of our species across millions of years.  We could redefine our goals by changing the societal organization that creates scarcity.  We could change our view of nature as a resource supermarket with value only insofar as we can make use of it.  We could change the things to which we’ve become accustomed.  Or we could try to reduce the number of people with subsistence needs to be met.

All of these options would be explored in relation to each other if there were real concern with environmental issues.

But it’s easiest by far to focus on population, especially other people’s population, and further, their overpopulation in view of the “scarcity” of resources we’ve created as a result of the way we’ve organized our society and how we go about implementing its goals.

“Somebody, somewhere is redundant, and there is not enough to go round.  Am I redundant?  Of course not.  Are you redundant?  Of course not.  So who’s redundant?  Of course, it must be them.  And if there’s not enough to go round, then it is only right and proper that they, who contribute so little to society, ought to bear the brunt of the burden.”  “And if we hold that there are certain of us who, by virtue of our skills, abilities, and attainments, are capable of ‘conferring a signal benefit on mankind’ through our contributions to the common good and who, besides, are the purveyors of peace, freedom, culture, and civilization, then it would appear to be our bound duty to protect and preserve ourselves for the sake of all mankind.”(2)  (emphasis added)

The population growth argument starts and ends with one idea – Earth with lots of people is bad, and Earth with more people is worse.  The argument goes that one person’s carbon footprint is X, two people’s, 2X, three people’s, 3X, and so on.  In this way we arrive at the conclusion that the effect of population on the environment is proportional to the number of people.

The whole of a country’s emissions are represented as the sum of each person’s, or per capita, emissions.  This makes it look like total emissions are a function of the total amount of people in that country.  But unless you know before hand what the total emissions are, you cannot calculate per capita emissions.  Per capita emissions can only be determined when total emissions are already known, not the other way around.  Total emissions are not arrived at by adding up each individual’s contribution.

Per capita is simply total emissions divided by total population.  The total remains the same whether every individual creates an equal amount of emissions, or one person generates them all.  It’s impossible to tell how much of the total each individual is responsible for when only the total is known.  Per capita reveals nothing about individual contributions.

In the US, each individual’s per capita share includes a share of the emissions created by commercial air travel, the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas, factory farms, the military, and the manufacture and use of pharmaceuticals and oil-based fertilizers and pesticides.  If one-third of the population of the US moved to Canada overnight, the per capita share of the remaining population would shoot up in the US and fall in Canada without any change in individual consumption or total emissions having occurred overnight in either country.  But US citizens would still be held responsible for the rise in per capita emissions which was created primarily by industry.

So that per capita math magic, those numbers examined in a vacuum, tell us next to nothing, and need to be looked at in context.  Ian Angus did just that with his article, “Dissecting Those ‘Overpopulation’ Numbers.”  In “Part One: Population Where?” he worked with actual global population and emissions figures for 2006 – and shredded the “more people equal more pollution” argument with the facts.

The population growth argument ignores what the total fertility rates in the G-20 countries, which describe themselves as “the systematically significant industrial and emerging-market economies,” and the total fertility rates in the world’s nineteen countries with the lowest levels of CO2 emissions illustrate.

The total fertility rate is the average number of children each woman in a country will have in her lifetime.  The higher this number, the faster the population is growing.  A stable population, that is, one that’s neither growing nor declining, has a total fertility rate of about 2.3 children per woman.

In the G-20 countries, which generate 90% of the world’s Gross National Product, this rate is as low as 1.21.  The G-20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.  (The “twentieth” is the European Union.)

In the world’s nineteen countries with the lowest CO2 emissions, however, the total fertility rate is as high as 7.75.  All of these countries, with the exception of Afghanistan, are in Africa.  They include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Let’s contrast total fertility rate with total CO2 emissions per country for 2006.  These range from a high in China of 6103.49 million tonnes* to a low of 273.71 million tonnes in Turkey.  The G-20 total was 22566.76 million tonnes.  (*These are British ‘long’ tons.)  The nineteen countries with the lowest rate of CO2 emissions range from a high of 6.01 million tonnes in Ethiopia to a low of 0.2 million tonnes in Burundi.  Their total was 29.3 million tonnes.  In other words, the countries with the lowest population growth rates are producing the bulk of C02 emissions, more than a whopping 770 times as much as the nineteen countries with the highest rates of population growth.

Angus has done the math.  Per capita, each American’s CO2 emissions were 132 times more than a person’s in Madagascar, 197 times more than a person’s in Mozambique, and 400 times more than someone who lived in Mali or Burkina Faso.    And these amounts don’t include the concentration of CO2 emission sources in G-20 countries like their militaries, extractive and agricultural industries, and commercial air travel.

Total emissions do not depend on population density.  The high-emitting G-20 includes densely-populated countries like Japan and India, but also the sparsely-populated countries of Canada and Russia.  This is equally true of the nineteen countries with the lowest emission rates.  Rwanda and Burundi are densely populated.  Chad and Niger are not.  So it’s obvious that low population density can co-exist with high emissions, and high population density with low emissions.

If emissions are dependent on population density, it would appear that high emissions cause low population growth (G-20), or that high population growth causes low emissions (the nineteen countries with the lowest rates of CO2 emissions).  These statements are equally absurd.  Both population growth and CO2 emissions depend on socioeconomic factors, not biological ones.

So there’s something not right about the “more people cause more emissions” argument, and something very wrong with promoting the idea that birth control for the “Third” World will slow climate change.  Focus on population growth distracts attention from issues like production and consumption, policies of technology and globalization, poverty and women’s status in world societies, and the boom and bust of our economic system’s cycle itself.  But the population control argument keeps reappearing as the solution to poverty, hunger, and now climate change.  The simple theory: more people equal more pollution.

In “Peoplequake,” Fred Pearce makes the point that the poorest three billion of us emit only 7% of CO2 worldwide, while the richest half billion of us create 50% of them.  (There are 6.9 billion of us.)  He says that a woman in rural Ethiopia with ten children does less damage, and uses fewer resources than one middle class family of four in the US, the UK or Germany.  And even if all ten of that Ethiopian woman’s children reach adulthood, which is highly unlikely, her entire extended family of over 100 people would still emit only about as much CO2 every year as one American.

So to suggest that the greatest threat to escalating climate change is too many children in Ethiopia, Somalia or Uganda is both disingenuous and dangerous.  The population “bomb” of the 20th century has been defused.  In fact, the rate of global population growth is slowing down.  According to the US Census Bureau International Data Base (December 2008), it peaked in the 60s and has fallen consistently ever since.  Yet the rate of greenhouse gas emissions is skyrocketing out of control. Some however, continue to claim this increase in emissions is a function of population growth, though the rise in energy and resource use has vastly outstripped population growth.

In September of 2009, the journal “Environment and Urbanization” showed that the places where population is growing the fastest are those where carbon emissions have been growing most slowly.  Between 1980 and 2005, 63% of the world’s population growth took place in countries with very low emissions. (3)

But by the end of the 60s, “reducing the population growth of poor countries had become an essential element of US foreign policy.  The main motive was not environmental: rather, population growth was seen as retarding economic growth and fomenting political instability, making countries more susceptible to Communist influence.” (4)

Detailed population growth statistics are easily available.  This allowed population control advocates to place them side-by-side with rising pollution statistics and draw a biological conclusion.  They divided the total pollution by the total population and came up with an individual, per capita, “carbon footprint” for every person on Earth.

So overconsumption and transnational corporate plunder were swept under the rug and the wombs of poor women became the reason for deforestation, water pollution, and desertification. This diverted the environmental movement and shifted blame to the “Third” World, allowing the countries of the “developed” world to avoid looking in the mirror at their own consumption and that of their governments, their militaries, and their transnational corporations, which were trashing the environment both at home and abroad.

The population growth argument is just old wine in a new bottle.  Those who advocate population control are pretending to address climate change so they can avoid focusing on replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.  They prefer to believe there’s a biological solution to problems created by the way society is structured.  Population growth has been made the scapegoat for the real social and economic causes of “poverty, hunger, famine, disease, war, racism, and unemployment.”  (5)

But population control has never had an acceptable environmental outcome.  Witness China.  “China’s one child policy has been hailed as an environmental measure… (but this)…ignores that China’s population control has hardly solved that country’s growing environmental problems.” (6)

Population control is a euphemism for eugenics.  It employs “us vs. them” in order to blame those least responsible for climate change by focusing on the quantity of human beings, rather than on the quality of their lives, when, in fact, it’s not so much the what of those population numbers, but the how of the way those numbers live that matters.  Those most responsible for the escalating threat of climate change are those who profit most from polluting and poisoning, and they’re desperately resisting change. (7)   That’s because they know that most greenhouse gases aren’t caused by individuals, but “by industrial and other processes over which individuals have no control.” (8)

Ian Angus and Simon Butler have pointed out that no reduction of Canada’s population (via fewer births or curtailed immigration) would have any effect on the oil industry’s extraction of oil from the Alberta Tar Sands.  Neither would such reductions in the US have any effect on the massive military spending of the Pentagon, the world’s number one oil consumer.

They further assert that there is no means of reducing population that will change either of those things.  In fact, reducing the population would have the effect of increasing the per capita emissions of the remaining population.  You just get a larger number (or individual carbon footprint) when you divide the reduced population into the same total emissions output.

The anti-immigrant wing of the population control argument says it’s better to keep poor people in poor countries so they consume less (and we can continue to consume more) than if they came “here” and adopted “our” lifestyle.  In 1974, Garett Hardin’s essay “Lifeboat Ethics” suggested throwing the poor majority overboard to allow the “elite” to survive.  He blamed immigration for “speeding up the destruction of the environment of the rich countries.”  This just diverts attention from the threat to the environment of overconsumption. For instance, US consumers, with only 5% of the world’s population, use 20% of the world’s resources.

Anti-immigrationists claim that immigrants will consume a lot more energy in the US than if they stayed in their home country, so they and their families are responsible for growing carbon  emissions.  So instead of conserving energy, switching to renewables, and adopting a sensible climate policy, we should just build bigger fences and continue to burn fossil fuels, which sustain not only that non-negotiable American lifestyle, but the escalating degradation of the environment. (9)

Both the immigration and population-growth wings of the populationist argument have only one “solution” – STOP!!!  Either stop immigration or stop population growth.   But climate change is a socioeconomic and political problem, not a biological problem.  And because of the way in which the globalized economic system is structured, it doesn’t matter how many people there are.  The environment will continue to be beaten down, and inequality will continue to be ratcheted up as a result of the way the dominant peoples on the planet have chosen to organize their societies and go about achieving their goals.

“Blaming climate change on human numbers is itself founded on denial – denial of the real causes of the problem and denial of our potential to forge positive solutions.”  “Instead of buying into the ‘more people=more emissions’ equation, we should put the blame for climate change squarely where it belongs: on fossil fuels and the vested interests that seek to perpetuate dependence on them.” (10)

These vested interests have the power to shift the true cost of their environmental and social degradation onto society as a whole, simply by ignoring their toxic waste.  It’s easier to just pour it into the air, into rivers, and discharge it along deserted rural roads by night.  Society pays the real costs of production, or “externalities,” by cleaning up the mess, or by enduring its effects and its costs on both the environment and health.  And if pushed, the vested interests just export their externalities en masse to the “Third” World. (11)

“Many of the emissions for which poorer countries are blamed should in fairness belong to us.  Gas flaring by companies exporting oil from Nigeria, for example, has produced more greenhouse gases than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa put together.  Even deforestation in poor countries is driven mostly by commercial operations delivering timber, meat and animal feed to rich consumers.” (12)

The estimated damage to the environment in 2008 by the “externalities” of the 3,000 largest public companies in the world topped $2.2 trillion, more than the economies of all but seven countries in the world.  The heads of major corporations at the 2010 economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, were worried about the effect on their bottom lines if they have to stop damaging the environment, or if they are forced to pay for the pollution they create.  (13)  They were not, however, worried about environmental damage or the effects on human health of continuing to pollute with impunity.

“Keeping fossil fuels in the ground will mean defeating the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions.” (14 )  “Rather than rise to this challenge, populationists fear that it’s too difficult.” (15)   Population control has one big advantage:  it seems easier.

In 2009, Ross Gittins wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that “Since the rich countries are reluctant to countenance a decline in living standards, to put it mildly, and the poor countries most assuredly won’t abandon their quest for affluence, there’s one obvious variable that could be used to limit global economic activity’s deleterious impact on the ecosystem: population growth.”  “Limiting population growth in the developing world and allowing population to continue on its established path of decline in the developed world wouldn’t be easy, but it would be easier than trying to prevent rising living standards among those already living.”   (emphasis added)

He links “serious action on climate change with a ‘decline in living standards’ – as if a high quality of life depends on trashing the planet.” (16)

Katie McKay Bryson, who coordinates the US-based Population and Development Program asks “Why is it easier for those who use and waste the most to imagine fewer people than less stuff?”

Population control shifts the focus off changing the social status quo.  Rather than adapting to change, population control advocates prefer to make people the problem, particularly other people.  But people are the solution.  We exist on Earth today because people adapted to change.  People who are willing to change are the key to continued human existence on the planet.

Vi Ransel is a frequent contributor to online political newsletters.  She can be reached at [email protected].


(1)  Hayden. Thomas.  “Environmental books suggest save-the-Earth Climate may be entering a new phase,” Washington Post, 4/20/10.
(2)  Harvey, David.  “The Political Implications of Population – Resources Theory,” Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography,” Routledge, 2001.
(3)  Satterthwaite, David.  “The Implications of Population Growth and Urbanization for Climate Change,” Environment & Urbanization, Sept. 2009.
(4)  Hartmann, Betsey.  “The Greening of Hate,” Special Report: Southern Poverty Law Center,” 7/20/10.
(5)  Butler, Simon.  “Population Control: 10 Reasons Why It’s the Wrong Answer,”  Green Left Weekly, 5/30/09.
(6)  Butler, Simon.  Ibid.
(7)  Butler, Simon.  Ibid.
(8)  Angus, Ian, and Butler, Simon.  “Should Climate Activists Support Limits on Immigration?” Climate and Capitalism, 1/24/2010.
(9)  Hartmann.   Ibid.
(10)  Boyce, James K.  “Climate Change: Are People the Problem?”, 7/6/10.
(11) Townsend, Terry.  “Individual Versus Social Solutions to Global Warming,” Links, 4/17/08.
(12)  Monbiot, George.  “The Population Myth,”, 9/29/09.
(13)  Jowitt, Juliette.  “3,000 Companies Cause $2.2 Trillion in Environmental Damage – Every Year,” The Guardian, 2/18/10.
(14)  Boyce, James K.  Ibid.
(15)  Butler, Simon.  “Population Control – A Political Weapon for Conservatives,”  Green Left Weekly, 6/24/10.
(16)  Butler, Simon.  Ibid.


Angus, Ian.  “Dissecting Those ‘Overpopulation’ Numbers. Part One – Population Where?” Climate and Capitalism, 4/28/10.
Angus, Ian.  “Dissecting Those ‘Overpopulation’ Numbers. Part Two – The Perils of Per Capita,” Climate and Capitalism, 7/2/10.
Angus, Ian.  “Dissecting Those ‘Overpopulation’ Numbers:  Appendix to Part Two:  Rate versus Ratio,” Climate and Capitalism, 7/27/10.
Angus, Ian.  “Do Consumers Cause Climate Change?” Climate and Capitalism, 2/20/10.
Angus, Ian, and Butler, Simon.  “Should Climate Activists Support Limits on Immigration?” Climate and Capitalism, 1/24/2010.
Berkowitz, Bill.  “Right Wing Front Organizations Use Progressive Sounding Names to Promote Anti-Immigration and Anti-Environmental Agendas,” The Smirking Chimp, 7/23/10.
Boyce, James K.  “Climate Change: Are People the Problem?”, 7/6/10.
Butler, Simon.  “Population Control – A Political Weapon for Conservatives,”  Green Left Weekly, 6/24/10.
Butler, Simon.  “Population Control: 10 Reasons Why It’s the Wrong Answer,”  Green Left Weekly, 5/30/09.
Conner, Steve.  “We need a global debate on population,”  The Independent, 7/14/10.
Hartmann, Betsey.  “The Greening of Hate” Special Report: Southern Poverty Law Center, 7/20/10.
Harvey, David.  “The Political Implications of Population – Resources Theory,” “Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography,” Routledge, 2001.
Hayden, Thomas.  “Environmental books suggest save-the-Earth Climate may be entering a new phase,” Washington Post, 4/20/10.
Hildyard, Nicholas.  “Too Many for What? The Social Generation of Food ‘Scarcity’ and ‘Overpopulation’,” The Corner House, 11/1/96.
Jowitt, Juliette.  “3,000 Companies Cause $2.2 Trillion in Environmental Damage – Every Year,” The Guardian, 2/18/10.
Monbiot, George.  “The Population Myth,”, 9/29/09.
Mutavallli, Jim.  “Birth Control or Border Patrol,” E, July/Aug 1998.
Pearce, Fred.  “Population Isn’t the Problem,” Grist, 7/13/10.
Ransel, Vi.  “Manufacturing Poor People”  Op Ed News, 6/20/09.
Ransel, Vi.  “The Population Bomb,” Shared Sacrifice, 4/09.
Satterthwaite, David.  “The Implications of Population Growth and Urbanization for Climate Change,” Environment & Urbanization, Sept. 2009.
Townsend, Terry.  “Individual Versus Social Solutions to Global Warming,” Links, 4/17/08.
Walker, Robert.  “Of Course Population Is Still a Problem,” Grist, 7/13/10

So much has been said about the Syrian conflict in numerous analyses, yet one of the least discussed topics concerns the strategy and the relationship of cooperation and conflict between the United States, Turkey, the Kurds and Daesh.

From the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Washington and Ankara have never hesitated to exploit Daesh’s advances. The occupation of Syrian towns near the Turkish border by Islamic extremists has been one of the preferred tactics endorsed by the United States and Turkey. Closing one eye, often both, concerning Daesh’s operations meant attacking the Syrian state indirectly and threatening its integrity whilst simultaneously allowing the creation of safe havens where terrorist groups could receive weapons and material support to spread their attacks on the legitimate government of Damascus over the rest of the country.

In the specific case of Turkey, there were also other assessments. ISIS / ISIL was supported vigorously by Ankara in the process of sweeping Kurdish territories, wreaking death and destruction on the community. Given the historical conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, it is easy to assume that advances by ISIS/ISIL meant a victory for Erdogan and a successful degradation of the Kurdish community in the Middle East.

Subtly and somewhat complacently, the United States reacted to this behavior of Ankara in two ways. It primarily imposed a media blackout on trade deals between Turkey and Daesh and it especially never attacked ISIS in Syria with the so-called international coalition.

What has altered the chessboard is the Russian military intervention in September of 2015. Moscow has been able to smash the wall of silence and collusion present in Syria involving terrorist organizations such as Daesh, Al Nusra Front, Jaysh al-Islam, Ansar al-Islam and countries like the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. In addition to military action, the Russian Federation has been able to apply strong diplomatic pressure on Western countries and, through the RT news channel, has repeatedly exposed the support of terrorism at any cost by the opponents of the legitimate government in Damascus.

Since September 2015 the war of aggression against Syria has been hit hard by Moscow’s triad of military, diplomatic and media action. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) quickly recaptured many territories previously lost. The liberation of Palmyra, and the road already opened to Deir ez-Zor, the vast areas around the Russian military base in the province of Latakia cleared, the recent victory at Darayya and Aleppo – these finally showed a clear military solution to the crisis in Syria.

The consequences of the strategic re-conquests made by the SAA, combined with the inability of Washington to more explicitly intervene directly in the conflict with men and materiel, forced the US to change its initial tactics. Hidden support (deliberately never mentioned by TV and newspapers) of terrorist groups continues unabated, the same of which can be said for Washington’s allies in the region. But what has changed is the media narrative of the conflict.

The terrorist attacks in recent months in Europe and the United States have arrested the attention of the public; and with a careful direction, especially in the US, thanks to the presidential election, people have been led to believe that a military intervention in Syria and Iraq was necessary to deal with a threat to national security. The inability to intervene directly with boots on the ground pushed Washington to arm and support directly (with the Air Force and with special forces) the Kurds as a force to opposing ISIS / ISIL on the ground.

For their part, not having other options to regain territories previously lost, the Kurds agreed to be the chosen on-the-ground force supported by the international coalition. They preferred to ignore the original sin of Washington (complicity with Daesh) to seize the unique opportunity available to them. It was a choice that in the short term ensured the desired results, with the recapture of several areas and an expansion and enlargement of their territory by over 50%. For some weeks, the Kurds even dreamed of the reunification of areas under their control in Syria and Iraq while Washington was enjoying the (self-proclaimed) media plaudits for combating Daesh, all the while preventing the Syrian Arab Army from regaining territory from ISIS.

From Moscow’s point of view, this change of approach to Syria by the Obama administration is a direct result of Russia’s military, diplomatic and media intervention, and the subsequent reconquests made by the SAA and its allies. It is a limited success, but still a victory against an enemy of Damascus (Daesh). It is a complicated affair, as the conflict in Syria stands out at times, wherein a partial victory is always preferable to the possibility of a defeat.

The second phase of the Russian plan, much more ambitious and difficult to achieve, is a military cooperation with Washington and its allies against terrorist organizations in Syria. The continued refusal of this proposal has once again exposed the real intentions of the United States and regional partners, namely the removing of Assad and the partitioning Syria’s territory.

The massive support given to the Kurds by the Americans created the ideal environment for Ankara to justify an intervention in Syria. The threat of a unification of Kurdish territory on Turkey’s border was a red line the crossing of which Erdogan could not countenance. What we understand is that the use of the Kurds against Daesh by Washington was a temporary move to last some months, probably agreed to with Ankara, designed for domestic consumption to appease public concern over Daesh. With these enabling conditions, Ankara did not hesitate to use them to its advantage. By entering Syrian territory and conquering Jarabulus, Ankara has prevented the reunification of Kurdish territories, has pleased its American ally by providing a structured land force (although very limited for now), and is now trying to clean up its own media image thanks to its portrayal of fighting Daesh. Analysing the battlefield in recent weeks, ISIL/ISIS has often abandoned its territories near the Turkish border without even engaging with the Turkish Army. This behavior is consistent with the thesis that Daesh functions as the West’s cat’s paw for regime change in Syria.

The final American attempt to use the Kurdish card to achieve their strategic objectives against Damascus was the failed attempt to incite the Syrian Kurds against regular police forces in Aleppo. Unfortunately for US policy-makers, the attempt did not last long, thanks to Russian mediation that put an end to the fighting.

The situation continues to evolve in favor of Damascus in recent weeks. Aleppo is now surrounded and sealed off, signalling game over for the terrorist gangs in northern Syria. Washington, running out of options, promptly dumped its momentary Kurdish ally in favor of full military cooperation with Ankara. Erdogan, for his part, had meanwhile consolidated power thanks to the purge following the failed military coup, and juggled his options so that he could easily play the direct-military-intervention card in Syria with the advantage of multiple excuses.

Erdogan even reiterated a few days ago at the G20 held in China that he would be willing to help and collaborate with Washington to regain the city of Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria. The substance of this change does not alter the balance of the war but exacerbates the conflict and places it on a new level. All armed groups in Syria over the years have shown that they cannot prevail in the military confrontation with Damascus and its allies. The United States, supporting the Kurds, has forced Turkey to become the much-needed force in the battlefield, essential in occupying territories currently held by Daesh, and preventing Damascus from further conquering and unifying Syrian territory.

This is Washington’s Plan B in the making, an old idea of the dismemberment of Syria theorized by many Western think-tanks like the Brookings Institute and RAND Corporation. The chances of the plan being realizing remains unknown. Plan A failed miserably: Assad is still in power, and it is only a matter of time before the SAA and its allies finish liberating the rest of the country.

It remains to be seen how Daesh will react to the threat of losing their so-called capital, Raqqa, in favour of the same forces (Turkey and United States) that created and helped them rise from nothing. If ISIS/ISIL should decide to fight and not abandon the city, it would be a first for the international coalition and the Turkish army, finding themselves embroiled in the Syrian quagmire like never before. How would the people of Turkey and America react to their soldiers and special forces being killed, imprisoned or tortured? Would Erdogan and Obama still be able to justify the operation to the broader public?

The silence and proportional protests coming from Moscow in light of the Turkish incursion in Syria confirms these suspicions: territories reconquered from Ankara are not strategic; the Turkish force is numerically limited (hence the objectives), and the ‘race’ to Raqqa would probably cause more damage than gain for Erdogan and Obama. Moreover, the Arab Syrian Army has other strategic priorities to address and does not want to make the necessary countermeasures to arrive first at Raqqa.

Obama and Erdogan’s bluff is all summed up in the last lines. Erdogan and Obama, in the efforts to free Raqqa and penetrate further into Syrian territory, hope to oblige Syrian forces to alleviate pressure on terrorist groups elsewhere in the country, especially in Aleppo, diverting troops towards the city of Raqqa. What we have been seeing in recent days are empty statements of small conquests by Turkish troops in Syrian territory, aimed at pushing Damascus to fall into the trap prepared by Washington and Ankara.

The clock is ticking, and it is all in the favour of Moscow, Damascus and Tehran, who observe the situation with relative calm. Their planned strategy is providing most of the desired results, and now America and its allies have only the ability to react to events on the ground, not to determine or create them. Compared to a few years ago, this is a resounding change. If Erdogan and Obama still will want to start doing the dirty work in Raqqa against the same terrorist group they instigated against Damascus, then they are free to do so.

All options available for Washington and its partners-in-terror will have negative effects on the fateful goal to undermine Syria. Raqqa is a Syrian city, inhabited by Syrians, and even if Ankara liberated it, it is never going to be incorporated into an imaginary Turkish territory.

Strategic contortions, moral contradictions, media deception, and the recent military defeats of terrorist groups have transformed Syria into a recipe for disaster for Washington, Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, from which there is no way out or path to victory.

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The ‘mainstream’ Western media is, almost by definition, the last place to consult for honest reporting of Western crimes. Consider the appalling case of Yemen which is consumed by war and an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

Since March 2015, a ‘coalition’ of Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, and supported by the US, Britain and France, has been dropping bombs on neighbouring Yemen. The scale of the bombing is indicated in a recent article by Felicity Arbuthnot – in one year, 330,000 homes, 648 mosques, 630 schools and institutes, and 250 health facilities were destroyed or damaged. The stated aim of Saudi Arabia’s devastating assault on Yemen is to reinstate the Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and to hold back Houthi rebels who are allied with the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudis assert that the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, are ‘proxies’ for Iran: always a convenient propaganda claim to elicit Western backing and ‘justify’ intervention.

Philip Hammond, who was UK defence secretary when the Saudi bombing began in 2015, promised:

‘We’ll support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.’

The British government has been true to its word; in this respect at least. Campaign Against Arms Trade says that UK sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of the attacks on Yemen include £2.2 billion of aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1 billion of missiles, bombs and grenades, and nearly half a million pounds of armoured vehicles and tanks. Just days ago, it was revealed that Britain is now the second biggest dealer of arms in the world. Is there any clearer sign of the corrupt nature of UK foreign policy?

Perhaps there is. Last month, Oxfam reported that in excess of 21 million people in Yemen, out of a total population of around 27 million, are in need of humanitarian aid, more than in any other country. Over 6,000 people have been killed, more than 3 million displaced and more than 14 million are suffering hunger and malnutrition.

Amnesty International reports that British-made cluster bombs have been used in deadly attacks on civilians. Children are among those who have been killed and maimed. The human rights organisation says that the UK should stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Amnesty has also called for Saudi Arabia to be dropped from the United Nations Human Rights Council because of ‘gross and systematic violations of human rights’, both at home and abroad.

‘They Call It Natural Death. But It’s Not.’

In a two-part piece for BBC Newsnight last year, Gabriel Gatehouse commendably reported from Yemen on the plight of civilians there, including the Saudi targeting of civilian infrastructure. The BBC journalist also alluded to ‘the British dimension’ in which the Saudi ‘coalition’s efforts are supported by Britain and the United States’, with British-supplied weaponry being used by the Saudis. Although a welcome deviation from the norm, his criticism of UK foreign policy was muted and not subsequently maintained by BBC News, as far as we could see (with limited recent exceptions as we will discuss later).

Peter Oborne is a rare example of a Western journalist reporting from Yemen, also pointing unequivocally to British complicity in the country’s nightmare. Together with his colleague Nawal Al-Maghafi, Oborne notes in a recent article that:

‘We discovered indisputable evidence that the coalition, backed by the UK as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is targeting Yemeni civilians in blatant breach of the rules of war.’

At the same time, Saudi Arabia has imposed a brutal blockade on Yemen preventing vital commodities from getting into the country. One doctor at the Republic teaching hospital in Sanaa told Oborne:

‘We are unable to get medical supplies. Anaesthetics. Medicines for kidneys. There are babies dying in incubators because we can’t get supplies to treat them.’

The doctor estimated that 25 people were dying every day at the Republic hospital because of the blockade. He continued:

‘They call it natural death. But it’s not. If we had the medicines they wouldn’t be dead.

‘I consider them killed as if they were killed by an air strike, because if we had the medicines they would still be alive.’

This is shocking enough. But Oborne adds that there is:

‘powerful evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has deliberately targeted hospitals across the country. Four MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] hospitals had been hit by Saudi air strikes prior to the organisation’s withdrawal from the country, even though MSF were careful to give the Saudi authorities their GPS positions.’

Oborne, who resigned as political commentator from the Telegraph last year, places Western complicity in Yemen’s nightmare at the front and centre of his reporting. He points out that Britain has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and its partners, despite copious evidence of breaches of international humanitarian law presented by human rights organisations.

This is an echo of Britain’s shameful role in arming Indonesia while it crushed tiny independence-seeking East Timor, killing around 200,000 people – about one-third of its population. Noam Chomsky described it as a ‘slaughter’ of ‘near-genocidal’ levels. He noted that:

‘By 1998, Britain had become the leading supplier of arms to Indonesia…over the strong protests of Amnesty International, Indonesian dissidents, and Timorese victims. Arms sales are reported to make up at least a fifth of Britain’s exports to Indonesia (estimated at one billion pounds), led by British Aerospace’.

(Noam Chomsky, ‘Rogue States’, Pluto Books, 2000, p. 232)

In the present case of Yemen, the British Foreign Office has repeatedly denied that Saudi Arabia had broken humanitarian law, asserting until a couple of months ago that the FO’s own ‘assessment’ had cleared the Saudis of any wrong-doing. As Oborne notes, however, on July 21 this year, the last day of parliament before the long summer recess:

‘the British government was forced to admit that it had repeatedly misled parliament over the war in Yemen.’

It turns out that no such ‘assessment’ had taken place; a grudging and potentially damaging admission that ministers had clearly hoped to slip out quietly without proper scrutiny. Oborne describes it as ‘a dark moment of official embarrassment.’ You have to dig deep in the BBC News website to find scant mentionof this shameful episode.

Moreover, Britain has supported the UN Security Council resolution backing a Saudi blockade, and the UK has also provided the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support.

‘Perhaps most crucially of all, Britain and the United States have provided Saudi Arabia with diplomatic cover. Last year, Britain and the United States helped to block a Dutch initiative at the UN Human Rights Council for an independent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law.’

In a powerful accompanying filmed report on the destruction of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, Oborne concludes:

‘This city of old Sanaa is as extraordinary, as priceless, as unique as any of the masterpieces of Western civilisation – like Florence or Venice. Just imagine the outcry if bombs were falling on Florence or Venice. But because this is old Sanaa, in forgotten Yemen, nobody cares a damn.’

And least of all Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who callously waved away copious evidence of Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law. The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour writes of Johnson’s assertion that the Saudis are not ‘in clear breach’ of humanitarian law:

‘His judgment is based largely on a Saudi-led inquiry into eight controversial incidents, including the bombing of hospitals.’

To his credit, Wintour notes that Johnson was ‘defending the credibility of a Saudi-led inquiry exonerating Saudi targeting’. Comment seems superfluous. He then adds Johnson’s own unwittingly self-damning statement:

‘They [the Saudis] have the best insight into their own procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations. It will also allow the coalition forces to work out what went wrong and apply the lessons learned in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies.’

Indeed, this is the same standard that the world saw with horror last year when the US investigated, and largely exonerated itself, over its dreadful bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson is sweeping aside compelling evidence of serious breaches of international law in a cynical move to maintain lucrative UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and to protect close strategic ties with a brutal kingdom of state beheaders and torturers. All this belies his carefully-crafted media image as an amiably bumbling and largely harmless P.G. Wodehouse-like character. In reality, he is a dangerous, extreme right-wing politician with too much power. Sadly, even the often admirable Peter Oborne’s judgement went awry on his return from Yemen when he appealed to Johnson to ‘act boldly to reset Riyadh [i.e. Saudi Arabia] relations’:

‘Boris Johnson has the potential to be one of the great British foreign secretaries of the modern era.’

Sadly, this line by Oborne does not appear to be satire.

Meanwhile, on September 5, the foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood, addressed the Commons after being requested to do so by the Speaker, John Bercow, because of previously misleading statements on Yemen given by ministers to parliament. Wintour claims in his Guardian report that Ellwood ‘apologised’ for these ‘inaccurate answers’. But the quoted wording is far from a proper apology. Indeed, the foreign minister obfuscated further in support of Saudi Arabia. Ellwood:

‘said it was not for the UK government to conclude whether individual bombing incidents by the Saudis represented breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), but instead to “take an overall view of the approach and attitude by Saudi Arabia to international humanitarian law”.’

In effect, the UK would continue to rely on Saudi Arabia’s assessments on whether the latter had breached international humanitarian law. Worse, while Yemenis continued to die under US/UK-supported bombing, Ellwood went on to support the Saudis:

‘Defending the Saudi response to criticisms of its campaign, Ellwood said: “It was new territory for Saudi Arabia and a conservative nation was not used to such exposure.”‘

This was sophistry of the worst order. ‘New territory’ entails a murderous bombing campaign and a crippling blockade. And describing Saudi Arabia – a brutal and repressive regime which ranks amongst the world’s worst offenders of human rights – as merely ‘a conservative nation’, speaks volumes about the mental and ethical contortions required to defend British foreign policy.

But there is even more to say about the UK’s shameful complicity in Yemen’s destruction. And, from what we have seen so far, it has had zero coverage in the ‘mainstream’ media.

Media Silence Over UK Role In ‘Targeted Killing’

Last week, the online investigative journal The Intercept published an in-depth piece on revelations about spying based on top-secret documents provided to them by Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency whistle-blower. Titled ‘Inside Menwith Hill. The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of U.S. Targeted Killing’, the article was written by Ryan Gallagher, a UK-based journalist specialising in government surveillance, technology and civil liberties.

The RAF Menwith Hill base lies a few miles from Harrogate in North Yorkshire and is the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. As Gallagher notes: ‘it is a vital part of the NSA’s sprawling global surveillance network’. Consequently, its activities are shrouded in secrecy, despite the best efforts of human rights groups and a few British politicians demanding greater transparency. These efforts have been continually rebuffed by the UK government ‘citing a longstanding policy not to discuss matters related to national security.’

Now, however, the NSA files released by Snowden:

‘reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.’

Over the past decade, advanced surveillance programmes at Menwith Hill have located ‘suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world’ and ‘provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.’

But, adds Gallagher, ‘they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war’, including Yemen. These disclosures ‘raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes.’

Kat Craig, legal director of London-based human rights group Reprieve, told Gallagher that Snowden’s revelations are:

‘yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. “targeted killing” program. It is now imperative that the prime minister comes clean about U.K. involvement in targeted killing’.

Gallagher describes a number of surveillance programmes, including one called GHOSTWOLF used to monitor ‘terrorist’ activity in internet cafes in the Middle East. This information is being used to ‘capture or eliminate key nodes in terrorist networks’.

As Gallagher observes:

‘GHOSTWOLF ties Menwith Hill to lethal operations in Yemen, providing the first documentary evidence that directly implicates the U.K. in covert actions in the country.

‘Menwith Hill’s previously undisclosed role aiding the so-called targeted killing of terror suspects highlights the extent of the British government’s apparent complicity in controversial U.S. attacks — and raises questions about the legality of the secret operations carried out from the base.’

The British government has consistently asserted that operations at Menwith ‘have always been, and continue to be’ carried out with its ‘knowledge and consent.’ In the context of the commission of war crimes, this is a damning admission.

Gallagher expands:

‘For several years, British human rights campaigners and lawmakers have been pressuring the government to provide information about whether it has had any role aiding U.S. targeted killing operations, yet they have been met with silence. In particular, there has been an attempt to establish whether the U.K. has aided U.S. drone bombings outside of declared war zones — in countries including Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia — which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and are in some cases considered by United Nations officials to possibly constitute war crimes and violations of international law.’

These new, deeply damaging revelations by Snowden appear to have been completely blanked by the ‘mainstream’ media. Searches of the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database yield zero hits on Snowden’s Menwith revelations, and there appears to have been nothing published on the BBC News website. Indeed, this dearth of coverage by UK media, including BBC News, had been anticipated by US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald, who previously worked with Snowden.

Not unusually, one has to go to media such as RT or PressTV to find any coverage; another reason why these outlets are so often bitterly denigrated as ‘propaganda’ operations by corporate journalists who haven’t done their job of holding Western power to account.

The Post-Brexit, $2 Trillion Saudi Carrot

On September 7, BBC Newsnight revealed how a draft report by MPs on the influential committee on arms export control was being watered down to remove the call for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia (clip available here). A statement in the draft report had said:

‘The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia.’

But a number of ‘pro-defence’ MPs had then tabled more than 130 amendments, including a move to remove the call to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Guardian noted cautiously that this attempt:

‘underlines the sensitivity of the issue of UK-Saudi relations at Westminster, the importance of the Gulf to the UK defence industry and the concern that Britain, for a variety of security reasons, is too ready to take Saudi assurances about how it is conducting a difficult civil war in Yemen.’

That is putting it all too mildly; a point to which we return below.

The following evening (September 8), Tory MP Crispin Blunt refused to respond when pressed by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark about reportedly walking out of the committee meeting in order to stall a vote. It appears that Blunt had feared his amendments were about to be rejected, and by walking out of the meeting the quorum requirement would fail and no valid vote could take place.

But the sickness of government priorities at the intersection of foreign policy and economic imperatives was really highlighted when the Saudi foreign minister declared last week that it was ‘in Britain’s interest’ to continue supporting Saudi Arabia in its murderous assault on Yemen. Or, as the neocon Telegraph defence editor Con Coughlin put it:

‘to continue supporting the Saudis in the battle to prevent Yemen falling into the hands of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.’

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, then dangled a carrot in front of British ministers’ noses.

‘Apart from maintaining traditional links on military and intelligence cooperation, Mr Jubeir also said post-Brexit Britain could look forward to forging new trade links with the kingdom as Saudi Arabia embarks on its ambitious plan to restructure its economy under a plan called Saudi Vision 2030. “We are looking at more than $2 trillion worth of investment opportunities over the next decade, and this will take the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain to an entirely new level post-Brexit.”‘

Sometimes, you have to go to the extreme right-wing press to have the crude realpolitik spelled out so clearly.

Saudi pressure is considerable and difficult to resist. In June, it was reported that even the UN succumbed when it removed Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of countries responsible for child casualties in conflicts around the globe. Saudi Arabia had been placed on the list for killing and maiming children in Yemen bombing attacks. The country, along with other Arab and Muslim countries, had reportedly threatened to withdraw funding from vital UN humanitarian programmes. One anonymous diplomat spoke of ‘bullying, threats, pressure’, and summed it up as ‘real blackmail’.

The reports on Yemen cited in this media alert from the Guardian and BBC News show the permissible limits of occasional – very occasional – challenges to state power. What is routinely missing, and what would be prominent in coverage of British foreign policy in honest news media, has never been better highlighted than by historian Mark Curtis. For many years, he has extensively analysed formerly secret government records detailing internal discussions about state policies and priorities. In his book, ‘Web of Deceit’, which lays out ‘Britain’s real role in the world’, Curtis concludes that the primary function of the British state:

‘virtually its raison d’être for several centuries – is to aid British companies in getting their hands on other countries’ resources.’

(Mark Curtis, ‘Web of Deceit’, 2003, Vintage, p. 210)

To pursue such state policies means initiating war, military interventions, threats, bullying, and other aggressive actions, usually in support of the United States and/or Nato. This global imperialism is dressed up in propaganda garb as ‘countering terrorism’, ‘improving world security’, ‘working with our allies’ and similar pieties propagated by the ‘mainstream’ media. Curtis lays particular responsibility for such propaganda at the door of the ‘liberal’ media, notably the Guardian and BBC News:

‘The liberal intelligentsia in Britain is in my view guilty of helping to weave a collective web of deceit…. To read many mainstream commentators’ writings on Britain’s role in the world is to enter a surreal, Kafkaesque world where the reality is often the direct opposite of what is contended and where the startling assumptions are frighteningly supportive of state power.’

(Ibid., p. 4)

This ‘surreal, Kafkaesque world’ – in which Britain shares responsibility for appalling violence, while proclaiming its supposed desire for ‘peace’ and ‘security’ – will continue for as long as we do not have an honest media that seriously and consistently challenges brutal state power.

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On November 10, 2011, a hundred or so residents of Andrews, Texas, gathered at a large hole in the ground to celebrate the grand opening of America’s newest nuclear waste dump.

Assembled amongst the locals were political and business luminaries from Dallas, Austin, and Washington D.C.. For the ribbon cutting, hedge trimmer-sized scissors were passed out to the various men in suits responsible for making Andrews County a repository for the nation’s radioactive trash. Among them were the senior managers of Waste Control Specialists (WCS), the company that owns the site, Harold Simmons, the conservative Dallas billionaire who owned that company; and Bob Zap, the mayor of Andrews at the time.

The inauguration of the low-level radioactive waste facility, Texas’ first, ended with a barbecue.

Most communities would not find the prospect of housing nuclear refuse cause for celebration. And yet, two years earlier, the town had narrowly voted to fund the construction of the disposal site with a $75-million bond.

Despite the enduring opposition from a handful of locals and the state Sierra club, most of Andrews’ 15,000 residents were eager to celebrate their accomplishment. And it was an accomplishment.

With the opening of the WCS facility, the town of Andrews had done what no other community in the United States has accomplished in two decades: it wrangled the necessary political support to open a new nuclear waste disposal site.

“We’re accustomed to a riskier type of industry here,” says Julia Wallace, the executive director of the Andrews Chamber of Commerce, which supported the radioactive disposal facility. In a community that has long depended on the roughnecking jobs of the oil-and-gas industry, nuclear waste did not seem like a decidedly dirtier business, she says. Plus, unlike the perpetually booming and busting petroleum market, radioactive trash—which must be stowed away for tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years—promises a consistent return on investment.

Andrews isn’t alone in making that investment. Across the high plains of west Texas and eastern New Mexico, communities have invited private companies to set up shop reprocessing, storing, and disposing of radioactive trash. If Detroit is the “Motor City” and the San Francisco Bay Area has “Silicon Valley,” this arid stretch of the southwest is reinventing itself as America’s “nuclear corridor.”

In doing so, they are also offering a solution—if a temporary and controversial one—to America’s longstanding failure to find a home for its nuclear waste.

A Brief History of How Not To Dispose of Nuclear Waste

Though the term “nuclear waste” conjures up images of undifferentiated, glow-in-the-dark goo, it refers to a wide variety of irradiated refuse. But, in broad strokes, civilian nuclear waste comes in two basic flavors: high-level and low-level.

High-level is largely made up of spent fuel rods, pulled hot and dangerous from cooling pools in nuclear power plants across the country. This is the stuff that generates the power at nuclear power plants and, once removed, it will remain radioactive, for all intents and purpose, forever. The federal government intends to one day bury these rods deep in the ground somewhere. More on that plan later.

Low-level waste, on the other hand, is pretty much everything else that’s too radioactive to pass along to your neighborhood garbage collector. This includes the metal filters, wires, gauges, tools, and residues from nuclear power plants; the gloves, booties, and goggles worn by plant technicians; the syringes, swabs, and medical equipment from PET scans and oncology wards; and the fluids, vials, and animal carcasses from laboratory experiments.

This hodgepodge low-level waste can be further divided into classes that roughly correspond to the threat they pose to public health. The radioactivity of Class A waste fades to safe levels within one hundred years. Class C garbage can remain dangerous for half a millennium.

But whatever the official category of radioactive trash, the United States has never been good at getting rid of the stuff.

In the earliest years of America’s nuclear energy program, the waste issue was handled with a combination of lax regulation, aggressive arms proliferation, and a misplaced confidence that scientific progress would soon deliver a solution.

In a win-win for atomic energy advocates and war hawks alike, high-level waste was reprocessed into bombs, with the remaining dregs shipped off to federal facilities in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Washington State.

But there was no such elegant solution for low-level waste. Throughout the 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission’s disposal method of choice was to place the refuse into concrete barrels and then, like a Mafia hit job, weigh it down with cement and drop it into the sea.

By the 1960s, the AEC started to push for a land-based solution for low-level waste—not because it was safer, but because it cost less than the maritime option. Throughout that decade, six federally licensed landfills started operating across the country. By and large, these facilities were privately owned and run.

The Maxey Flats Low-Level Radioactive Waste Site in Kentucky was closed after a leak was discovered in 1977. Photo credit: RRJackson.

Such slipshod measures yielded predictable results. Leaks and contamination of nearby water sources led to the shuttering of three of the six sites. By 1978, only the Beatty, Nevada; Richland, Washington; and Barnwell, South Carolina facilities remained in operation. Of those three, Barnwell received the lion’s share—some 80% of all U.S. low-level radioactive waste.“The disposal was pretty slipshod,” says Barry Rabe, professor of environmental policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. “Not a whole lot more than digging trenches and ditches and dropping in waste.”

At around the same time, the federal government’s high-level waste reprocessing system hit a snag. When spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed, it isolates plutonium, the likes of which is used in nuclear warheads. In 1977, the Carter administration suspended all commercial reprocessing as an anti-proliferation measure.

This was a victory for anti-nuke advocates, but it compounded the waste disposal problem. Just as the remaining landfills were being forced to absorb larger and larger volumes of the low-level trash, federal regulators began asking nuclear power plants to store more and more of their high-level waste on site.

In short, stockpiles of nuclear waste were growing, and the country was running out of places to put it.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. In 1978, NASA drafted a report that contemplated disposing of waste in outer space. Of the five destinations considered, the sun’s orbit and the surface of the moon were considered “most attractive,” though in the end the ideas were considered impractically expensive and risky. (If you think SpaceX’s recent launchpad explosion was bad, imagine if it had been carrying irradiated scrap metal.)

Things came to a head in the spring of 1979 when a reactor at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown. Aside from dealing a major blow to the public’s trust in nuclear technology, the incident also irradiated a fair amount of station infrastructure, creating a huge amount of low-level waste all at once. When the governor of South Carolina learned that the bulk of it was headed for his state’s landfill in Barnwell, he ordered the trucks to turn around.

“We take a lot of [nuclear] waste down here, but we don’t want to take all of it for the whole country,” the governor’s health and environmental secretary told the press. South Carolina increased disposal fees by 600% and partially closed the facility.

The following year, Congress declared a “national crisis.”

A Civil War Over Nuclear Waste

One could hardly blame South Carolina.

A state’s reluctance to host a nuclear waste depository is more than your run-of-the-mill NIMBY-ism. One of the nation’s founding principles, reflected in the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, is that the country is a free-trade area. Nevada cannot place tariffs on Colorado shoes to protect its own cobbler industry. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that what is true of shoes must be true of nuclear waste. As soon as a state opens up a radioactive waste landfill within its borders, it risks becoming a nuclear dumping ground for the entire country.

But in response to the country’s main radioactive waste site shutting its doors, Congress provided states with a workaround. Under a new law passed in the final days of 1980, states could place some restrictions on nuclear waste delivery as long as they joined regional waste management “compacts.”

Under the new system, if Illinois and Kentucky agreed upon a shared disposal site, they could form a compact, thus reserving the facility solely for nuclear waste generated between the two states. States outside of the compact system would be forced to deal with their own waste.

The compact system was seen as a way to facilitate mutually beneficial arrangements amongst the states. Instead, it just relocated the same old argument over where to locate landfills. As one hazardous waste treatment expert characterized the situation, “what we have is a Lebanon of hazardous waste in which everybody is fighting everybody else.”

In the late 1980s, New York found itself unable to join a compact (the state’s five nuclear power plants made it an unpopular partner) and unable to open any new waste dumps in-state (municipalities and counties didn’t want the trash either). Without any place to locate its radioactive waste, the State of New York would soon be forced under the new rules to assume legal ownership of the waste.

Instead, New York sued the federal government and seventeen other states joined. The resulting Supreme Court decision held that non-compact states could not be forced to take responsibility for their own waste. The ruling stripped the compact system of its teeth. States no longer had final responsibility over low-level waste. Instead, that responsibility fell to the generators of the waste (mostly nuclear power plants), who could either send it to one of the country’s few licensed landfills or store it onsite.

Three decades later, the compact system remains in place, but it is an incoherent mess.

Image source: United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission

That’s why the opening of the facility outside Andrews, Texas, in 2011 came as such a relief to many watchers of the nuclear industry.”A lot of consultant time has been spent and a lot of proposals have been made, but we’ve seen very little addition of new waste disposal capacity,” says Rabe. In the meantime, the total amount of low-level waste has only grown. In 1995, the country had approximately 32,000 tons of the stuff. Now, the figure is over 70,000 tons.

“Very few countries around the world have found ways to really resolve this and deal with it,” says Rabe. From the United Kingdom, to Germany, to Japan, Americans are not alone in rejecting nuclear waste disposals in their backyards. “I think the Andrews case will be really instructive and important.”

Radioactive Waste as Economic Development

Even in the rarefied world of radioactive disposal facilities, the Andrews site occupies an unusual niche.

Today, there are four low-level waste landfills operating around the country. Two, in South Carolina and in Washington, can only accept waste from their respective compacts. A third, in Utah, which began operating in the early 1990s, only accepts Class A refuse.

That makes the Andrews facility the only landfill that can receive all classes of low-level radioactive waste from any state in the continental United States.

Image source: United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission

As a result, for many producers of nuclear waste, Andrews is effectively the only game in town. This has been good news for the local economy, says Julia Wallace of the Andrews Chamber of Commerce. Since WCS began accepting low-level waste, new high-skilled jobs have come to town, donations to schools and other charities have increased, and civic participation in sleepy Andrews is on the rise.

The singular position of the WCS facility within the nuclear waste industry has also been good news for the company’s bottom line. (According to an article in the New York Timesfrom 2014, for the permanent use of a cubic foot of soil, WCS charges waste producers $10,000). This is also one of the reasons that the Utah-based EnergySolutions announced its intentions to buy WCS last November.

EnergySolutions is little known outside the obscure world of radioactive trash management, but it is in many ways the linchpin of U.S. low-level nuclear waste policy.

When the company formed in 2007, it brought the low-level radioactive waste sites in Clive, Utah, and Barnwell, South Carolina, under the same corporate roof. If the WCS acquisition is approved, this will give EnergySolutions ownership of three of the four low-level sites across the country. With the exception of the Northwest compact, which has access to the Richland, Washington site, all states will have little choice but to send their radioactive refuse to EnergySolutions-owned landfills.

Though EnergySolutions’ has been able to acquire a dominant position in the industry, it is not because they have edged out the competition by nefarious means. There are few radioactive landfills across the country for the simple reason that few communities want them in their backyard.

There are few communities, in other words, like Andrews, Texas.

From Disposal to Storage

In December of 2014, Waste Control Specialists, the company that owns the Andrews site, announced its plan to get into the big leagues of radioactive waste. Alongside its low-level waste disposal operation, they had filed an application to store spent nuclear fuel, waste that will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years.

Unlike a disposal site, which serves as a permanent home for radioactive refuse, a storage facility functions as more of a hotel—a temporary fix until the federal government settles on a permanent disposal site. The government has been looking for one of those for a long time.

In the early 1980s, just as the compact system was getting up and running, Congress decided that the safest way to dispose of spent fuel would be to bury it deep in the ground. A few years later, they chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

In the intervening years, the Department of Energy spent roughly $15 billion dollars researching and preparing the site. But Yucca has since succumbed to what political scientists Doug Easterling and Howard Kunreuther have labeled “the doughnut effect”: though the community immediately adjacent to the mountain welcomed the economic benefits associated with such a massive infrastructure project, Nevadans further afield only saw Yucca for what it was: a nuclear waste dump.

“There have always been counties or towns willing to host projects like this,” explains Daniel Sherman, the author of Not Here, Not There, Not Anywhere, a book about the politics of radioactive waste disposal. “[But] it is rare that you have a willing host community and a supportive state government that has the political will to follow-through on implementation. Neighboring states can sometimes obstruct a project as well.”

Throughout the early 2000s, Senator Harry Reid and other anti-Yucca interests ran ads in the urban centers of Nevada and in the surrounding states warning of the dangers of Yucca-bound radioactive freight. In the lead up to the congressional elections of 2010, the Obama administration bowed to state-level resistance and took Yucca off the table.

There are few alternatives.

Until just two years ago, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, located east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, offered one possibility. A subterranean storehouse for radioactive waste generated by bombs, nuclear submarines, and defense-related activities, WIPP has also served as a testing ground for the viability of safe underground storage for the last 25 years.

That test failed in 2014 when one of the steel barrels containing low-level waste ruptured. (Evidently, kitty litter is often used to stabilize radioactive waste, but someone had mistakenly used the organic variety.) According to a Los Angeles Times estimate, the incident, which has shuttered the site for the time being, could cost as much as $2 billion.

It has also reduced the odds than any state will volunteer to host an alternative, underground repository anytime soon.

In the meantime, nuclear power plants have been left holding the radioactive bag.

Absent a long-term solution, these plants are storing their own spent fuel. This means that virtually every nuclear power plant in the country is currently serving as a de facto nuclear waste storage facility.

“If you look at a map of nuclear power plants, basically each of those is also a nuclear waste repository,” says Barry Rabe. “Most of them are in metropolitan areas.”

The national holding pattern on nuclear waste management has come at a steep cost. The federal government has paid nuclear plants some $5 billion in compensation for their “temporary” storage costs. The Department of Energy expects to pay at least $22 billion before a solution is found.

High-level nuclear waste storage locations as of 2006. Image source: U.S. Department of Energy

In lieu of a long-term solution, the Obama Administration has called for the development of additional “interim storage facilities.” Lobbyists from the nuclear power industry are now pushing Congress to give the Department of Energy authority to enter into contracts with private companies that operate these sites.

On the list of such companies is Waste Control Specialists of Andrews, Texas. But it is not alone.

Friendly Competition for the Most Dangerous Stuff on Earth

The WCS facility sits only a few hundred feet from the New Mexico border. From the town of Hobbs, New Mexico, the distance is about 20 miles as the crow flies. That makes Hobbs closer to the Andrews County landfill—and its projected spent fuel storage facility—than the town of Andrews itself.

And yet, according to Sam Cobb, the mayor of Hobbs, his voters “see no economic benefit” from the Texas facility. Instead, Hobbs, along with officials from Lea and nearby Eddy County, and the City of Carlsbad have been pushing for their own interim storage site. Located 35 miles northeast of Hobbs, the facility will be run by the nuclear waste cask producer Holtec International if it is approved.

“We’re not opposed to Waste Control Specialists putting in the contract,” says Cobb. “If the Department of Energy wants to select two sites, we certainly don’t have a problem with that—as long as one of them is ours.”

If Holtec wins the license, casks of highly radioactive waste will be transported to the site where they will be lowered by crane into ventilated subterranean silos. With each cask stored, Holtec will collect a rental fee from the Department of Energy and a cut of those fees will go to Hobbs and the surrounding towns and counties.

Eastern New Mexico is no stranger to nuclear waste. To the south of Hobbs, the British nuclear fuel company, Urenco, runs a uranium enrichment facility. To the west, International Isotopes Inc. is hoping to establish a factory for depleted uranium processing. On the drive from Hobbs to Carlsbad, you pass the turnoff to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Route 62, east of Hobbs, New Mexico, the heart of America’s “nuclear corridor.” Photo credit: Leaflet

“We have a very informed and educated electorate about the nuclear fuel cycle,” he says.Taken together, this cluster of nuclear industry makes up what many refer to as “the nuclear corridor” or “nuclear alley.” Lea County has officially adopted the less suggestive term, “EnergyPlex.” In any case, the familiarity means that the local population is less skittish about the prospect of handling radioactive waste, says Cobb.

Plus, he argues, storing some of the most toxic material ever created by humanity in the arid, rural high plains makes more sense than storing it at various nuclear power plants across the country.

“Behind a chain link fence in some large metropolitan areas are these same casks that we’re talking about putting out here in the desert, 35 miles from the closest population center,” he says. “This environment out here is very good for something to sit.”

Whether Holtec, WCS, or another company is given permission to store radioactive waste out in this desert, this appears to be the foreseeable future of our nation’s nuclear waste management policy. Conditional on the uninterrupted approval of Texas and New Mexico, we will transport it to the high plains of the southwest and let it sit there until we come up with a better solution.

If the past is anything to go by, it’s likely to sit out there for a long time.

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The truth about Syria and what is happening in Syria is all here, in the video below, outlined and documented during this press briefing by the US Peace Council (USPC).

We cannot be sure how long this video will be allowed to stay on Youtube, but we urge everyone to take 45:00 minutes of your time to see this video, share this video, and finally spread the word about the “vicious” war being waged on Syria.

Please share this post, and share this video, and share these excerpts, which may provide some life saving truth to an unjust, criminal war…and a western media narrative that continues to push lies and confusion to what is a clear and blatant international crime.

The Duran reported earlier today, as one of the few media organizations to expose this story…

A delegation from the US Peace Council (USPC) has recently returned to the US from a fact finding mission to Syria.

The members spent 6 days meeting with Syrian Government Officials including, President Assad, Union Leaders, Government Opposition Members as well as Civil & Business Leaders, NGO’s, Charities and Universities.

The delegation stated that each member paid their own way and that the Syrian Government allowed them to meet whomever they wanted.

They issued their report and held a press conference Press conference at the UN on 9th August 2016.

Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, Member of the Syria Delegation at the 17:15:

“This is not a civil war in Syria. That’s probably the first thing we heard, and we heard it over and over again.

It is not President Assad against his own people. It is President Assad and the Syrian people, all together, in unity, against outside forces, outside mercenary forces, terror organisations, the names change everyday or every other day, to try to protect their identity, and maybe keep the connection between the country that funded it and that group, kind of a little bit more nebulous, but there are groups, mercenary forces, supported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United States, and underneath it, Israel, the state of Israel.

And these outside mercenary forces are the ones that are terrorising the Syrian people, and are attempting to divide the Syrian people.”

US Peace Council (USPC):

  • H.E. Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic
  • Alfred Marder, President of the US Peace Council
  • Mary Compton, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council
  • Henry Lowendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Head of the Syria Delegation
  • Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Member of the Syria Delegation
  • Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, Member of the Syria Delegation
  • Donna Nassor, Professor and Lawyer also part of US Peace Council

Henry Lowendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, at the 12:30 mark:

“We saw villages, that are basically Christian villages, that have been besieged by the terrorists, but have now been liberated. And the damage done to a shrine in the village called Maaloula, which is a village where they still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. And the attacks on the Christian population.”

“Their two things I want to mention, finally, that we feel are really important…

One is…That while the United States would like to divide the Syrians up, by religion or within a religion — by the different beliefs within that religion. There wasn’t a Syrian we talked to who would accept that.

We spoke to the Grand Mufti, and he said, ‘People ask me how many Muslims there are in Syria?’and his response is always 23 million. That’s is the population of Syria.

And when we talk to the bishop of one of the Orthodox Churches, he answered the same thing, the number of Christians is 23 million.

We will not allow ourselves to be divided up the way the United States has divided up the people of Iraq, or Libya, or Afghanistan, or so many other countries. We won’t allow that.

And that unity, I believe, has lead to the ability of the Syrians to withstand an invasion by the most powerful country in the world, and its most powerful allies in Europe, its most powerful allies in the Middle East, with what is a vicious attack on the Syrian people.

The second is the sanctions. I have to admit that I did not know (before I went) that the United States has imposed sanctions on Syria in a way that’s similar to the sanctions that the United States imposed on Iraq in the 1990s, in order to weaken that country and that government, that the United States admits killed 500,000 children in Iraq, during the 1990s sanctions.”

The Duran reported in a post entitled, “Why the Syrian conflict is not a civil war”

Alfred Marder who, is the President of the USPC firstly acknowledged that the US peace and anti-war movement has been in a state of confusion about Syria and that this has caused division within the movement.

He explained that the domestic tactic used by the US government to sway US public opinion, is, to demonise the leader of whatever country the US is targeting.

“Whether it’s Noriega, Hussein, Gaddafi, or Assad, there’s a definite pattern here”

He said the story the US people have been told about President Assad and Syria have been purposefully false. Concerning the reporting he said

“This is not accidental. This is designed to confuse people’s opinions on these Leaders.”

Jamison was blunt in his assessment and likened this quote to the dangerous attitude of so many Americans who think they know about Syria and President Assad but “….what they think they know, just ain’t so!”

In his opinion the US motive is to destroy Syria as an independent secular Arab state and make it compliant to US interests and policies, like Iraq and Libya have become since the US invasions and bombings of these two countries.

Just like Libya before the NATO bombing, Syria has universal free healthcare and free education from childcare through to university.

Jamison pointed out that the US government supports Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups (whose names change often) who they claim to be ‘moderate rebels’ but who in truth are not moderate in any way and are affiliated either with Al-Qaeda or ISIS.

He mentioned the foreign backed mercenaries (ISIS) are fuelled by the Wahhabi doctrine which he described as

“a sick medieval and backward ideology driven by the Muslim Brotherhood with its genesis in Saudi Arabia.”

He affirmed his opinion by describing how so called ‘moderate’ Jabhat Al-Nusra mercenaries beheaded a 12 yr old boy during the time the delegation was in Syria. There is nothing ‘moderate’ about beheading a 12 year old boy.

The other major story they shared was the generally unreported sanctions that the US has imposed upon the Syrian people.

The US government claims the sanctions target the Syrian government. However they are actually aimed at wearing down the resolve of the Syrian people.

The US has imposed sanctions similar to the ones Iraq experienced before the invasion, which even the US admits killed half a million children.

Syrians cannot get baby formula, common medication, medication for chemotherapy, child immunisation etc.

These sanctions are so insidious that they affect medical clinics throughout Syria because they are unable to get parts for machines used in medical practice. Think: X-ray, CAT, MRI machines right down to dentists drills.

President Assad has claimed from the beginning that there was no uprising and that the country was being invaded by foreign backed mercenaries. Gaddafi said exactly the same thing when NATO started bombing Libya.

Coincidence? I think not.

The same scenario was acted out in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria: invaded and bombed into submission without any politician, general or complicit media representative tried or held to account. There is not even an acceptance of error or a conciliatory voice of remorse.

“The campaign to confuse the American people has been intense.”

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In another indication of the terrible price paid by working people in the United States and all over the globe for the crimes of US imperialism, a new reportfrom Brown University estimates that Washington has squandered nearly $5 trillion since September 11, 2001 on the wars launched under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The report coincides with the 15th anniversary of 9/11, with 10,000 US troops still in Afghanistan, 15 years after the US invasion of that country, and an estimated 6,000 in Iraq. Hundreds more special operations forces have been deployed to Syria, where the US is fighting for regime change in a de facto alliance with that country’s affiliates of Al Qaeda—which was supposedly the principal target of the last decade and a half of war.

While the financial costs of these wars are staggering, bordering on the unfathomable, the author of the report, Boston University professor Neta Crawford, correctly places them in their far broader, and more horrifying, context of the trail of blood and destruction that US military operations have left in their wake:

“…a full accounting of any war’s burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger. From the civilians harmed or displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the US and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors.”

Some of these numbers are also quantifiable, and appalling, from the over one million Iraqi lives lost to the US invasion of 2003 to the more than 12 million refugees driven from just the four countries laid waste by US wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. In addition, there are the nearly 7,000 US troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with roughly an equal number of private contractors, as well as the 52,000 officially listed as wounded in combat and the untold hundreds of thousands more suffering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other mental health problems resulting from multiple deployments in dirty colonial-style wars.

Nonetheless, the report argues persuasively that it is also vital to make a serious and comprehensive evaluation of the real financial costs of these wars.

The overall cost of US imperialism’s wars includes the $1.7 trillion directly appropriated by Congress to wage them as so-called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This is above and beyond the Pentagon’s base budget, which totals some $6.8 trillion from FY2001-2016.

By defining these wars as OCOs, Congress, together with both the Bush and Obama administrations, has acted as if they are some kind of unforeseeable emergencies that could not be planned for within the government’s normal budgetary process, even as they dragged out for a decade and a half. As a result, they were freed from any kind of normal fiscal accountability, with no taxes or other revenues allotted to pay for them.

In addition to this direct war funding, the report includes the costs of veterans’ medical and disability care, allocations for Homeland Security, interest on Pentagon war appropriations and future costs for veterans’ care.

This last cost is estimated at amounting to at least $1 trillion between now and 2053. The basis for such an estimate is made clear by the presentation of some alarming statistics.

By the end of 2015, more than 1,600 soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan had undergone major limb amputations as a result of wounds suffered in combat. A total of 327,000 veterans of these wars had been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury as of 2014 and by the same year fully 700,000 out of the 2.7 million people deployed to the war zones had been classified as 30 percent or more disabled.

The report points out that Veterans Affairs is the fastest growing department in the US government, with its staffing levels having nearly doubled since 2001 to 350,000 workers. Yet, according to another recent report, it “still lacks sufficient funding to fill thousands of vacancies for doctors and nurses and to finance badly needed repairs to its hospitals and clinics.”

In addition to these costs, the report estimates that, unless Congress changes the way that it is paying for the wars, even without their continuation, cumulative interest on war appropriations made just through FY2013 will amount to a staggering $7.9 trillion by 2053.

The report recalls that as the Bush administration was preparing to launch the war of aggression against Iraq, the administration’s chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey came under intense fire for estimating that the “upper bound” costs of the war reached between $100 and $200 billion. This estimate was roundly rejected by everyone from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to House Democrats, who put the figure at roughly $50 billion, which it is now clear underestimated the real cost by a factor of 100.

Reflected in these wars, both in the criminality with which they were initiated and fought, and in the way they were funded, are the financial parasitism and socially destructive forms of speculation that pervade the workings of American capitalism as a whole.

By keeping the wars’ costs “off the books” and relying on an “all-volunteer” military to fight them, the US ruling class also hoped to dampen the popular hostility to militarism.

The new report does not attempt to estimate the wars’ broader impact on the economy and the living standards of broad masses of American working people. Another report issued two years ago by Harvard University conservatively estimated that the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars amounted to $75,000 for every American household.

The report points to previous studies indicating that the wars cost tens of thousands of jobs and significantly reduced investment in infrastructure. The vast amount of resources diverted into slaughter and destruction in the Middle East and Central Asia could have funded the $3.32 trillion that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says must be spent over the next decade to fix America’s crumbling ports, highways, bridges, trains, water and electric facilities and paid off the entire $1.26 trillion in student debt, with money left over.

Instead, the elected officials of both major capitalist parties have continuously insisted that there is no money for jobs, decent wages, education, health care and other basic necessities, while spending unlimited money on militarism and war, leaving the bill to be paid for through the intensification of austerity measures directed against the working class.

The human and fiscal toll wrought by the wars of the last 15 years are only a foretaste of the global catastrophe that is threatened as US imperialism prepares for far larger wars, with its military escalation focused ever more directly against the world’s second and third largest nuclear powers, Russia and China.

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Over the course of the long Labor Day weekend, American bombs rained down on targets spanning nearly 4,000 miles across the Mideast and North Africa.

The strikes hit six countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and targeted terrorist groups including the Islamic State (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria), al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (in Yemen), al Shabab (in Somalia), and the Taliban (also in Afghanistan). About 45 strikes took place in Iraq and Syria alone, plus another 20 or so in Libya and smaller totals in the remaining three nations.

These campaigns, as well as occasional drone strikes in Pakistan, will almost certainly continue past President Obama’s term in office. “This administration really wanted to end these wars,” said Paul Scharre of the Center for a New American Security. “Now, we’ve got U.S. combat operations on multiple fronts and we’re dropping bombs in six countries. That’s just the unfortunate reality of the terrorism threat today.”

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Major Western news media’s coverage of the alleged dangers posed by the Zika virus and “preventative” measures mandated by overreaching federal agencies is a textbook example of censorship by omission, intentional oversight of facts, and deference to questionable “expert” authority to assuage valid public concern over aerial deployment of dangerous pesticides.

This summer South Florida public health authorities under the direction of the Centers For Disease Control asserted that a handful of Zika cases warrants a mass aerial spraying campaign to protect the public and unborn, all of whom may be susceptible to microcephaly—a prenatal neurological condition characterized by deformation of the head.

The CDC proposed using the pesticide Naled to counter the Zika-bearing mosquito population. Naled is known to be harmful to human health and is banned in the European Union. Its effects via dermal contact and inhalation can resemble symptoms of Zika infection, and the compound may prove to be a very real cause of microcephaly. Despite public protests in Miami area officials have once again blindly capitulated to the CDC’s directives, initiating a second spraying campaign on September 9. The basic deduction that Naled’s effects and the much-dreaded Zika symptoms could be very easily confused is carefully avoided by the CDC and corporate news media alike.

Such news outlets would not have to look very far to find substantial evidence of Naled’s dangers that warrant public concerns over the US government’s eagerness to employ the pesticide. For example, in July after the CDC informed Puerto Rico it had unilaterally made a decision to use Naled to curtail the spread of Zika the mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico sued the CDC in federal court to prevent its use in the region that broadly went against the sentiments of Puerto Rican citizens.

The lawsuit brought by San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz-Soto and the San Juan Municipality charges that the agency’s plan to spray the island with the purported anti-Zika pesticide Naled violates the federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Multiple studies have demonstrated,” the complaint reads,

that exposure to Naled can cause respiratory complications, nausea, headaches, skin irritation and damage to the nervous system in humans, and could potentially cause irreparable harm to the fish and wildlife that live in the island’s estuaries and ecosystems, which will directly affect the health, recreational, aesthetic, commercial and environmental interests of [San Juan].”

The lawsuit further explains how neither the CDC nor any other federal agency have carried out environmental impact studies for proposed actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” or that may pose a threat to the welfare of any endangered or threatened species.

Aside from one brief reference of the San Juan lawsuit by CNN and more detailed reportage in the Latin American TeleSUR network upon its filing in July almost no major news media have covered the important case.

Rather than closely consider the legal and scientific facts concerning Naled presented in the suit which tend to reinforce popular concerns in the US, major media have routinely emphasized footage of protests in the street and on social media opposing the pesticide program that tends to make such objections appear irrational when contrasted with expert sources, including those with ties to the same government interests that have vigorously advocated Naled’s use. Such framing techniques have been long recognized by media sociologists as a means to malign social activism in the public eye.

For example, a CBS News report highlights Dr. Aileen Marty, a  medical professor at Florida International University whose areas of expertise include infectious diseases, and who most recently worked on the Ebola media and public health phenomenon. Marty maintains that Naled’s use in South Florida is benign.

The “dose [sic] is so low and so fine a mist that it’s almost impossible—not totally impossible—but almost impossible for any human to have any significant effect in the way that they’re spraying and at the heights that it’s being sprayed.”

CBS correspondent David Begnaud fails to make clear that his expert source is a member of the State of Florida Medical Reserve Corps, where she the professor headed up the recent federally-coordinated “surveillance program” that has gone door-to-door throughout Miami neighborhoods collecting urine specimens to test for Zika. The academic’s FIU profile, states she is a graduate of the Navy War College and 25-year US Navy veteran who previously worked at the Uniformed Services Industry, the National Defense University, and “has also worked with and for elements of” the World Health Organization and an array of US lettered agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, the Department of Agriculture, and the White House National Security Administration. Marty also has ties to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers For Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, “and other government agencies.

Along these lines CNN consulted P. Barry Ryan, a professor of environmental chemistry and public health at Emory University in Atlanta. While the video report initially highlights Ryan’s skepticism of the pesticide’s use in urban areas, it concludes on an affirmative note, that “Naled can carry risks, but not nearly as big as the risks posed by Zika.”

Major news outlets’ use of such sources to placate their viewerships while downplaying other important developments, not the least of which is the federal lawsuit brought by San Juan, suggests an intent to mislead and legitimize government measures regardless of how irrational and dangerous they may be. Such coverage makes it much easier for South Florida officials to capitulate to the CDC’s directives than stand up to the agency’s overreach, as Puerto Rico’s public servants have done. One must ask exactly to what degree CDC-commissioned public relations maneuvers would differ from the “journalistic” efforts discussed above.

Political leaders including former Florida Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio are vying for over $1 billion in federal funding that will purportedly be used to further thwart the “Zika threat.” If the CDC and local officials’ activities in South Florida are any indication of future actions, these will likely include more intensified aerial bombardment of subject populations and environments with pesticides that have been long-proven injurious to human health.

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Cutting the Cords of Empire: The Spectacle of US Elections

September 14th, 2016 by William Hawes

“The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist.” -Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

It’s almost time for our quadrennial political distraction, masquerading as the US presidential election. As opposed to previous elections, this one feels quite different. Even with Obama/Romney in 2012, important, basic economic issues were discussed, health care reform was questioned, and foreign policy was given its due.

However, this time, the spectacle of the personalities seems to dominate the conversation: Mrs. Clinton is somehow on a feminist crusade, an inspiration for women everywhere. Going unmentioned are her irredeemable backers, such as the genocidal Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. As for Trump, his version of America is as naïve, narrow-minded, and delusional as a Leave It to Beaver episode, or a Captain America comic book. In the background, the monstrosity of global capitalism goes unquestioned, and the cries from victims of US institutional racism and structural violence go unheard.

Global warming, broad economic policy, and nuanced foreign policy are simply too much to ask of these candidates. Their stupidity knows no end; their corruption and depravity know no bounds, and many of both of their supporters, as well as media, political, and corporate backers and sycophants can be considered “deplorable”. Many supporters of the two-party system do not bother to think about the damage either potential president would do to people outside the US. Many backers of Trump and Clinton have little to no basic knowledge of world cultures and history.

What are the cords that connect us to these “leaders”, to our American Empire? They are the same ones that the Industrial Revolution, the basis of our civilization, has implanted in each of us since birth, as Alvin Toffler explains in The Third Wave. As our social world became modeled on the factory floors developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, a set of unspoken principles were ironed out, and transferred to the political, social, and economic realms. (1)  As we shall see, these principles spread unchecked, and have infiltrated political discourse and social hierarchies. Toffler identifies these implicit rules as:

1) Standardization: Industry, production, and factory life revolved around endless loops and inputs of metals, fabrics, coal, oil, and specialized parts for trains, cars, etc. The simplification and standard mechanical parts used were mirrored and reflected in the culture at large: eventually, markets, the media, radio and TV, and even great art and literature succumbed to commoditization and homogenization. We now have mass marketing, public relations, and “electioneering”, where our duopoly controls all branches of government.

2) Specialization: With the explosion in the fields of science and engineering, specialized techniques were taught to develop, invent, and maintain mechanical and electric equipment. Yet again, this philosophy infected the general society:  only bureaucrats are able to work in the halls of power, only industrial experts are able to administer federal agencies, creating the disgraceful revolving door phenomena in Washington.

3) Synchronization: As more people flocked into cities with gleaming promises of steady, factory jobs, time and punctuality became of prime importance. Punching timecards and meeting quotas were necessary: there was no room for leeway, as assembly lines demanded strict timelines. The time demands of labor leaked into white-collar work as well: in banking and finance, railroads, time zones, and office jobs, advanced scheduling became the norm. Eventually, synchronization of the political system gained traction, and the imperial system came to resemble a deathly machine, marching in time to bloody footsteps: military, immoral diplomacy and ideology, and industry worked together to lord over Latin America with the Monroe Doctrine, annihilate Native Americans using Manifest Destiny, even as today, the excuse of the “War on Terror” is used to exterminate entire populations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere.

4) Concentration: Think of the vast oil and coal stored underground for millions of years, only to be strip-mined, taken up by rigs, and transported by rail and tanker into vast refineries: concentration of energy. Further, every class of people became absorbed and intensified in the industrial system: workers into factories, children into schools, mentally ill into institutions, finance concentrated into New York, London, and Paris. Mega-mergers of corporations: today, it is the Apple, Google, Shell, and BP’s of the world who have coffers of blood money held tidily in banks throughout the world. Further, the concentration of technocrats who we supposedly need to run our societies: in the West, the military-industrialists, just as the Soviets were once told the nomenklatura was necessary.

5) Maximization: Firms were encouraged to grow as large as possible, and expand into as many fields as possible. Companies in Japan in the mid-twentieth century would actually have workers sing of the glory and greatness of their employer. Today, 62 people have the same wealth as half the world’s population. This is concentration and maximizing at its most obscene. Of course, you won’t hear Clinton, Trump, or anyone in Washington talking about this. Maximizing GDP, corporate profits, fossil fuel use, and flexing imperial muscle is what the Feds do best.

6) Centralization: Connected to the first five rules of empire stated above, centralizing power, wealth, and using knowledge for private gain is required to uphold the industrial state. Taxation, subsidies for industry, political debates via the sham Committee on Presidential Debates, the backroom shenanigans of the DNC and RNC, and cloak and dagger lobbying and bribery now dominate our system of government. Further, the Leviathan of state-sanctioned violence now lords over the world from the Pentagon and NATO, and the centralization of information runs through fiber-optic cables straight to the infernal, yet temperature-controlled offices of the CIA and NSA.

The elections have adopted all the patterns of the industrial, imperial state: we have standardized TV, scripted questions, airbrushed candidates, and childlike debates. We’ve seen specialized tactics of gerrymandering, vote-rigging, PR bullshit, and strategists whose careers accomplish nothing for the public good. We all know of the synchronization of Wall Street, defense and oil companies. The concentration of power in the hands of the few hardly needs mention: here’s the study by Princeton and Northwestern professors who conclude that the US is an oligarchy, not a democracy. We’ve witnessed the maximization of endless primaries, debates, press conferences, and town-hall meetings ad infinitum. The centralization of political ideology (triangulation in Clintonite terms, Machiavellian to a rational person) and the limitations of discourse that our candidates display are all too clear.

These are the iron chains holding us down, shackling us in Plato’s cave: our candidates are figureheads, shadows on the wall; they are puppets of the super-elite. The central position they carve out in the mainstream is really a pit, an abyss: one that we all find ourselves in, as we continue to vote for those who don’t fight for our interests.

The two best options for this election seem to be: voting for Jill Stein, or boycotting the election, as Joel Hirschhorn advocates. As for our obscene election cycles, I believe Zach de la Rocha summed it up best:

  A spectacle monopolized

The camera’s eyes on choice disguised

Was it cast for the mass who burn and toil?

Or for vultures who thirst for blood and oil?

William Hawes is a writer specializing in politics and environmental issues. His articles have appeared online at Global Research, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, The World Financial Review, Gods & Radicals, and Countercurrents. He is author of the e-book Planetary Vision: Essays on Freedom and EmpireYou can reach him at [email protected]


1.) Alvin Toffler. The Third Wave. Bantam, 1980. p. 46-60.


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Israel’s Bogus Civil War

September 14th, 2016 by Jonathan Cook

Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Israeli commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply riven over the future of the occupation?

On one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead.

The group has demanded the government hold a referendum next year – the half-centenary of Israel’s occupation, which began in 1967 – on whether it is time to leave the territories. Its own polling shows a narrow majority ready to concede a Palestinian state.


On the other is Benjamin Netanyahu, in power for seven years with the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. On Friday he posted a video on social media criticising those who want to end the occupation.

Observing that a Palestinian state would require removing hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers currently living – illegally – on Palestinian land, Netanyahu concluded: “There’s a phrase for that. It’s called ethnic cleansing.”

Not only did the comparison upend international law, but Netanyahu infuriated the Obama administration by implying that, in seeking to freeze settlement growth, the US had supported such ethnic cleansing. A spokeswoman called the comments “inappropriate and unhelpful” – Washington-speak for deceitful and inflammatory.

But the Israeli prime minister is not the only one hoodwinking his audience.

Whatever its proponents imply, the Decision at 50 referendum is about neither peace nor the Palestinians’ best interests. Its assumption is that yet again the Israeli public should determine unilaterally the Palestinians’ fate.

Although the exact wording is yet to be decided, the referendum’s backers appear concerned solely with the status of the West Bank.

An Israeli consensus believes Gaza has been free of occupation since the settlers were pulled out in 2005, despite the fact that Israel still surrounds most of the coastal strip with soldiers, patrols its air space with drones and denies access to the sea.

The same unyielding, deluded Israeli consensus has declared East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a Palestinian state, as instead part of Israel’s “eternal capital”.

But the problem runs deeper still. When the new campaign proudly cites new figures showing that 58 per cent support “two states for two nations”, it glosses over what most Israelis think such statehood would entail for the Palestinians.

A survey in June found 72 per cent do not believe the Palestinians live under occupation, while 62 per cent told pollsters last year they think Palestinians have no rights to a nation.

When Israelis talk in favour of a Palestinian state, it is chiefly to thwart a far bigger danger – a single state shared with the “enemy”. The Decision at 50 poll shows 87 per cent of Israeli Jews dread a binational conclusion to the conflict. Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet intelligence service and a leader of Decision at 50, echoed them, warning of an “approaching disaster”.

So what do Israelis think a Palestinian state should look like? Previous surveys have been clear. It would not include Jerusalem or control its borders. It would be territorially carved up to preserve the “settlement blocs”, which would be annexed to Israel. And most certainly it would be “demilitarised” – without an army or air force.

In other words, Palestinians would lack sovereignty. Such a state exists only in the imagination of the Israeli public. A Palestinian state on these terms would simply be an extension of the Gaza model to the West Bank.

Nonetheless, the idea of a civil war is gaining ground. Tamir Pardo, the recently departed head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, warned last month that Israel was on the brink of tearing itself apart through “internal divisions”.

He rated this a bigger danger than any of the existential threats posited by Mr Netanyahu, such as Iran’s supposed nuclear bomb.

But the truth is that there is very little ideologically separating most Israeli Jews. All but a tiny minority wish to see the Palestinians continue as a subjugated people. For the great majority, a Palestinian state means nothing more than a makeover of the occupation, penning up the Palestinians in slightly more humane conditions.

After many years in power, the right is growing in confidence. It sees no price has been paid, either at home or abroad, for endlessly tightening the screws on the Palestinians.

Israeli moderates have had to confront the painful reality that their country is not quite the enlightened outpost in the Middle East they had imagined. They may raise their voices in protest now but, if the polls are right, most will eventually submit to the right’s realisation of its vision of a Greater Israel.

Those who cannot stomach such an outcome will have to stop equivocating and choose a side. They can leave, as some are already doing, or stay and fight – not for a bogus referendum that solves nothing, but to demand dignity and freedom for the Palestinian people.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website


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Nuclear power may never recover its cachet as a clean energy source, irrespective of safety concerns, because of the ongoing saga of meltdown 3/11/11 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Over time, the story only grows more horrific, painful, deceitful. It’s a story that will continue for generations to come.

Here’s why it holds pertinence: As a result of total 100% meltdown, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) cannot locate or remove the radioactive molten core or corium from the reactors. Nobody knows where it is. It is missing. If it is missing from within the reactor structures, has it burrowed into the ground? There are no ready answers.

And, the destroyed nuclear plants are way too radioactive for humans to get close enough for inspection. And, robotic cameras get zapped! Corium is highly radioactive material, begging the question: If it has burrowed thru the containment vessel, does it spread underground, contaminating farmland and water resources and if so, how far away? Nobody knows?


According to TEPCO, removing the melted cores from reactors 1,2 and 3 will take upwards of 20 years, or more, again who knows.

But still, Japan will hold Olympic events in Fukushima in 2020 whilst out-of-control radioactive masses of goo are nowhere to be found. TEPCO expects decades before the cleanup is complete, if ever. Fortunately, for Tokyo 2020 (the Olympic designation) radiation’s impact has a latency effect, i.e., it takes a few years to show up as cancer in the human body.

A week ago on September 7th, Former PM Junichiro Koizumi, one of Japan’s most revered former prime ministers, lambasted the current Abe administration, as well as recovery efforts by TEPCO. At a news conference he said PM Shinzō Abe lied to the Olympic committee in 2013 in order to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

“That was a lie,” Mr Koizumi told reporters when asked about Mr Abe’s remark that Fukushima was “under control,” Abe Lied to IOC About Nuke Plant, ex-PM Says, The Straits Times, Sep 8, 2016. The former PM also went on to explain TEPCO, after 5 years of struggling, still has not been able to effectively control contaminated water at the plant.

According to The Straits Times article: “Speaking to the IOC in September 2013, before the Olympic vote, PM Abe acknowledged concerns but stressed there was no need to worry: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

PM Abe’s irresponsible statement before the world community essentially puts a dagger into the heart of nuclear advocacy and former PM Koizumi deepens the insertion. After all, who can be truthfully trusted? Mr Koizumi was a supporter of nuclear power while in office from 2001-2006, but he has since turned into a vocal opponent.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Mr Koizumi said: “The nuclear power industry says safety is their top priority, but profit is in fact what comes first… Japan can grow if the country relies on more renewable energy,” (Ayako Mie, staff writer, Despite Dwindling Momentum, Koizumi Pursues Anti-Nuclear Goals, The Japan Times, Sept. 7, 2016).

Mr Koizumi makes a good point. There have been no blackouts in Japan sans nuclear power. The country functioned well without nuclear.

Further to the point of nuclear versus nonnuclear, Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma, a city of 70,000 located 25 km north of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, at a news conference in Tokyo, said: “As a citizen and as a resident of an area affected by the nuclear power plant disaster, I must express great anger at this act… it is necessary for all of Japan to change its way of thinking, and its way of life too – to move to become a society like Germany, which is no longer reliant on nuclear power,” (Sarai Flores, Minamisoma Mayor Sees Future for Fukushima ‘Nonnuclear’ City in Energy Independence, The Japan Times, March 9, 2016).

In March of 2015, Minamisoma declared as a Nonnuclear City, turning to solar and wind power in tandem with energy-saving measures.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of the Abe administration, seven nuclear reactors could restart by the end of FY2016 followed by a total of 19 units over the next 12 months (Source: Japanese Institute Sees 19 Reactor Restarts by March 2018, World Nuclear News, July 28, 2016).

Greenpeace/Japan Discovers Widespread Radioactivity

One of the issues surrounding the Fukushima incident and the upcoming Olympics is whom to trust. Already TEPCO has admitted to misleading the public about reports on the status of the nuclear meltdown, and PM Abe has been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, but even much worse, lying to a major international sports tribunal. His credibility is down the drain.

As such, maybe third party sources can be trusted to tell the truth. In that regard, Greenpeace/Japan, which does not have a vested interest in nuclear power, may be one of the only reliable sources, especially since it has boots on the ground, testing for radiation. Since 2011, Greenpeace has conducted over 25 extensive surveys for radiation throughout Fukushima Prefecture.

In which case, the Japanese people should take heed because PM Abe is pushing hard to reopen nuclear plants and pushing hard to repopulate Fukushima, of course, well ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics since there will be events held in Fukushima Prefecture. After all, how can one expect Olympians to populate Fukushima if Japan’s own citizens do not? But, as of now to a certain extent citizens are pushing back. Maybe they instinctively do not trust their own government’s assurances.

But, more chilling yet, after extensive boots-on-the-ground analyses, Greenpeace issued the following statement in March 2016: “Unfortunately, the crux of the nuclear contamination issue – from Kyshtym to Chernobyl to Fukushima- is this: When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016).

That is a blunt way of saying sayonara to habitation on radioactive contaminated land. That’s why Chernobyl is a permanently closed restricted zone for the past 30 years.

As far as “returning home” goes, if Greenpeace/Japan ran the show rather than PM Abe, it appears they would say ‘no’. Greenpeace does not believe it is safe. Greenpeace International issued a press release a little over one month ago with the headline: Radiation Along Fukushima Rivers up to 200 Times Higher Than Pacific Ocean Seabed – Greenpeace Press Release, July 21, 2016.

Here’s what they discovered: “The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,” says Ai Kashiwagi, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

“These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe,” claims Kashiwagi.

Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg” (Greenpeace)

The prescribed safe limit of radioactive cesium for drinking water is 200 Bq/kg. A Becquerel (“Bq”) is a gauge of strength of radioactivity in materials such as Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 (Source: Safe Limits for Consuming Radiation-Contaminated Food, Bloomberg, March 20, 2011).

The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated.  (Greenpeace).

Still, the Abe administration is to be commended for its herculean effort to try to clean up radioactivity throughout Fukushima Prefecture, but at the end of the day, it may be for naught. A massive cleanup effort is impossible in the hills, in the mountains, in the valleys, in the vast forests, along riverbeds and lakes, across extensive meadows in the wild where radiation levels remain deadly dangerous. Over time, it leaches back into decontaminated areas.

And as significantly, if not more so, what happens to the out-of-control radioactive blobs of corium? Nobody knows where those are, or what to do about it. It’s kinda like the mystery surrounding black holes in outer space, but nobody dares go there.

Fukushima is a story for the ages because radiation doesn’t quit. Still, the Olympics must go on, but where?

Join the debate on Facebook

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at [email protected]

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The naive hopes of Bernie Sanders’ supporters—to build a grass-roots political movement, change the Democratic Party from within and push Hillary Clinton to the left—have failed. Clinton, aware that the liberal class and the left are not going to mount genuine resistance, is running as Mitt Romney in drag. The corporate elites across the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat, have gleefully united to anoint her president. All that remains of Sanders’ “revolution” is a 501(c)(4) designed to raise money, including from wealthy, anonymous donors, to ensure that he will be a senator for life. Great historical events happen twice, as Karl Marx quipped, first as tragedy and then as farce. 

The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game. Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling.

While there is a difference in the temperament of the two major presidential candidates, that difference will play out only in how our poison will be delivered. Political personalities serve global corporate centers of power. They do not control them. Barack Obama illustrates this.

A Hillary Clinton rally in Cleveland in June. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

To neoliberals, everyone and everything are disposable. The failed states that have risen up across the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus and Asia in the wake of the Cold War herald a neoliberal world driven by violence, corruption, greed and desperation. The drug traffickers, smugglers, pirates, kidnappers, jihadists, criminal gangs and militias that roam huge swaths of territory where central authority has vanished are the real faces of globalization. These nihilists define Islamic State just as they define the corporate state. Corruption may be more naked and cruder in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it has its parallel in the for-sale politicians and political parties that dominate the United States and Europe. The common good—the building of community and solidarity—has been replaced through decades of corporate indoctrination with the callous call to amass all you can for yourself and leave the stranger bleeding on the side of the road.

Is the Goldman Sachs commodity trader, who hoards futures of rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock to jack up prices on the global market, leaving poor people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to starve, any less morally repugnant than the drug trafficker? Are F-16 pilots who incinerate families in Raqqa morally distinct from jihadists who burn a captured Jordanian pilot in a cage? Is torture in one of our black sites or offshore penal colonies any less barbaric than torture at the hands of Islamic State? Are the decapitations of children by military drones any more defensible than decapitations of Egyptian laborers on a beach in Libya by self-described holy warriors? Is Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, who raised the price of the lifesaving EpiPen by 400 percent or more and whose compensation since 2007 has risen by 600 percent to above $18 million a year, any less venal than a human trafficker who sends an overloaded boat and its occupants to their doom on the coast of Libya?

There is a new world order. It is based on naked exploitation. It—not democracy—is what we have exported across the globe. And it looks a lot like the anarchic state that Hobbes feared. The criminal gangs that deliver migrants to Europe make about $100 million a month for their work. They exploit and traffic human beings just as highly paid CEOs do.

The failed states of Iraq, Syria and Libya, a direct result of globalization, have their counterparts in Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Baltimore, Atlanta, Milwaukee and the south side of Chicago. They are our versions of Mogadishu, complete with lawlessness, senseless killings, armed gangs, widespread hunger, fear, a population retreating into the numbing embrace of opiates, crippling poverty, dysfunctional state institutions, the growth of private security companies that protect the elites, and indiscriminate police violence that creates reigns of terror aimed at the poor. The more the global corporate forces extract from us in the name of austerity and the maximization of profit, the more parts of the U.S. will descend into domestic versions of the failed states overseas. The same system exists here and abroad. And it has the same result here and abroad. It may appear first in Somalia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya, but it will soon come to characterize much of America. The proliferation of weapons will do to our society what it has done to every other failed state where there has been unchecked access to arsenals—hand power to those with a penchant for violence.

“Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals,” Elias Canetti wrote in “Crowds and Power.” “He uses them like animals and, even if he does not tell them so, in himself he always knows quite clearly that they mean just as little to him; when he speaks to his intimates he will call them sheep or cattle. His ultimate aim is to incorporate them into himself and to suck the substance out of them. What remains of them afterwards does not matter to him. The worse he has treated them, the more he despises them. When they are no more use at all, he disposes of them as he does of his excrement, simply seeing to it that they do not poison the air of his house.”

History has amply demonstrated where this will end up. The continued exploitation by an unchecked elite, and the rising levels of poverty and insecurity, will unleash a legitimate rage among the desperate. They will see through the lies and propaganda of the elites. They will demand retribution. They will turn to those who express the hatred they feel for the powerful and the institutions, now shams, that were designed to give them a voice. They will seek not reform but destruction of a system that has betrayed them.

Failed states—czarist Russia, the Weimar Republic, the former Yugoslavia—vomit up political monstrosities. We will be no different.

A form of fascism has already taken hold in two nations on the edges of the European Union, Hungary and Poland. Far-right parties, reacting to the flood of more than a million migrants that descended on Europe last year, are gaining ground in France, Austria, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Nationalism, buttressed by a deification of the military, will be used to compensate for individual powerlessness and a loss of national identity. Dissent in the U.S. will become “anti-American,” a form of treason. Enemies at home will be vilified along with enemies abroad. And this will lead to even more warfare in the Middle East. The far-right political parties in Eastern Europe flirt rhetorically with military conflict with Russia. And because of its membership in NATO, the United States would be obligated to enter any hostilities.

Voting for Hillary Clinton will not halt this slide into the apocalypse. It will only accelerate it. Donald Trump may vanish from the political landscape, but someone even more venal, and probably more intelligent, will take his place. Our job is to dismantle the machinery that is pushing toward the cliff. And this means sustained and massive civil disobedience. As exemplified by the protests at theStanding Rock Sioux Reservation and by prisoners across the nation who carried out work stoppages last Friday, it means doing everything possible not to cooperate with the elements of authority. It means disrupting the mechanisms of power. It means overcoming fear. It means no longer believing the lies we are told.

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In 1993 I wrote a book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, in which I said at the outset I was not going to try to solve the mystery of JFK’s murder but to examine the politics of it.

I wish to argue here for similar research into the politics of 9/11. For the political consequences of 9/11 have been toxic, regardless of how the towers fell or who was responsible. The unusual process of their implementation deserves close study, a study which I believe will cast more light on 9/11 itself.

I hope in this paper to show that Dick Cheney responded to 9/11 by using devious means to install a small cabal of lawyers – most notoriously John Yoo – who proceeded conspiratorially in the next weeks to exclude their superiors, while secretly authorizing measures ranging from warrantless surveillance and detention to torture.

Some of these were measures which Cheney and Rumsfeld had previously been preparing for almost two decades, as central figures in the secret agency planning for so-called Continuity of Government (COG). It was revealed in the 1980s that these plans aimed at granting a president emergency powers, uncurbed by congressional restraints, to intervene abroad, and also to detain large numbers of those who might protest such actions.

On 9/11, the 9/11 Report confirms, COG was implemented. As we shall see, Cheney promptly ordered the three top figures in the Justice Department out of Washington to a designated COG site buried deep underground.

This allowed Cheney’s cabal to deal instead, starting that same afternoon, with John Yoo in the Justice Department command center. At that time John Yoo, a 34-year-old distinguished chiefly for his repeated defense of Cheney’s eccentric views on presidential authority, had only been in the government for two months.

As a consequence, since 9/11 we have seen warrantless surveillance, suspension of habeas corpus, and the militarization of homeland security, on an unprecedented scale that is not just illegal but an erasure of rights specified in the U.S. constitution.[1]

Furthermore, the secrecy and speed of the manner in which our rights were drastically subverted is itself an affront to the ideals of America as an open society: one in which major changes to our political fabric are only made through authorized channels, and after debate.

The Background: Continuity of Government Planning

The origin of many of these measures – both their content and their secret planning outside of channels – was the secret Continuity of Government (COG) planning that Rumsfeld and Cheney had been engaged in since 1982.

In the 1980s three secret COG provisions were roughly identified by Alfonso Chardy of the Miami News and Ross Gelbspan of the Boston Globe. According to Chardy in 1987, the plans envisaged suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], emergency appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law during a national crisis.”[2]

Gelbspan added that North was also working with FEMA officials on a secret contingency plan to surveil political dissenters and to arrange for the detention of hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens in case of an unspecified national emergency.[3]

The detention planning was clearly aimed at protesters, many of them Hispanic, who objected to Reagan’s policies in Nicaragua and El Salvador. (Col. Oliver North, who coordinated the planning, was also at the center of a “three-year operation aimed at monitoring the activities of U.S.-based opponents of Reagan’s Central America policies.”)[4]

Between them, the two journalists thus pointed to the content of the surveillance, detention, and militarization measures which, after over a decade of further refinement, were finally implemented on 9/11.

They also indicated how secret, extra-constitutional, and unaccountable was the process of the COG planning. Chardy accurately referred to North’s network as “a virtual parallel government outside the traditional Cabinet departments and agencies almost from the day Reagan took office.”[5]

Four years later, in 1991, CNN revealed for the first time that North and FEMA were under a secret National Program Office (NPO) in charge of Continuity of Government (COG) planning, known in the Pentagon as “the Doomsday Project.” It called the NPO a “shadow government . . . about which you know nothing.”[6] And in 2004 two authors, James Mann and James Bamford, wrote that in the 1980s two central  figures guiding North in the Doomsday planning, which Mann called “extralegal and extraconstitutional,” had been Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.[7]

The new details from Bamford and Mann about this multi-billion program were invaluable. But unfortunately both men believed, because of a very misleading story in the New York Times, that under Clinton “officials decided to abandon the program as an outdated legacy of the cold war.”[8]

Both men were wrong: all that had been abandoned was the original and completely honorable purpose of COG planning under Truman and Eisenhower – to deal with the catastrophe of an atomic attack. Under Reagan the planning, from the outset, had shifted to dealing with any emergency.[9] Not only did the planning by Rumsfeld and Cheney continue under Clinton, it was augmented.[10]

How very true, then, was Mann’s observation that Cheney and Rumsfeld were, in a sense, a part of the permanent hidden national-security apparatus of the United States—inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America keeps on fighting.[11]

This situation was particularly disturbing under Clinton, when Rumsfeld (and possibly Cheney) continued to plan for subordination of the constitution, even though at this time neither man was in the government.[12] Both men were now CEOs of large private corporations (as Rumsfeld had been since recruited in 1982 for the task).[13] And one of the planners told Andrew Cockburn that the Clinton administration had “no idea what was going on.”[14] (Such phenomena persuaded me to analyze 9/11 as a deep event, to be analyzed in the context of the American deep state.)[15]

Private corporation leaders had been brought into COG planning under Eisenhower, because recovery from a nuclear attack would have required a corporate as well as government response.[16] Ike could hardly have foreseen that under Reagan private people would begin to plan for the extralegal surveillance and detention of their fellow citizens, still less that these plans would finally be implemented by two of the central planners — Rumsfeld and Cheney — on September 11, 2001.

The Implementation of COG Measures on 9/11

As the 9/11 Report confirms (pp. 38, 226), on 9/11 COG plans were indeed implemented, before the last plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. It was under the auspices of COG that Bush stayed out of Washington on that day, and other government leaders like Paul Wolfowitz were swiftly evacuated to COG’s Site R, inside a hollowed out mountain near Camp David.[17]

These emergency measures were soon followed by two White House Declarations of Emergency: Executive Order 13223 of September 14, 2001 (“Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty”), and Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001 (“with respect to persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism”).[18]

There was much more to come.

Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Dick Cheney in effect took command of the national security operations of the federal government. Quickly and instinctively, he began to act in response to two longstanding beliefs: that the great dangers facing the United States justified almost any response, whether or not legal; and that the presidency needed vastly to enhance its authority, which had been unjustifiably and dangerously weakened in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate years.[19]

James Mann has argued that COG implementation was the “hidden backdrop” to Cheney’s actions on 9/11, when he  “urged President Bush to stay out of Washington,” and later removed himself to more than one “’undisclosed location’”.[20]

According to Jane Mayer, Cheney’s chief aide that day in revamping government was his long-time legal assistant David Addington (a veteran with Cheney of COG planning). All sources follow the Washington Post in asserting that Addington initially walked away when the order was given to vacate the White House, then was summoned back by Cheney.[21] Yet Mayer writes that “Within minutes of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Addington began to assert himself as the war on terror’s indispensable man.”[22]

How Cheney’s Lawyers Subordinated US Law

According to Barton Gellman in the Washington Post,

Before the day ended, Cheney’s lawyer [Addington] joined forces with Timothy E. Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, linked by secure video from the Situation Room. Flanigan patched in John C. Yoo at the Justice Department’s fourth-floor command center. White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales joined later.

Thus formed the core legal team that Cheney oversaw, directly and indirectly, after the terrorist attacks.[23]

In addition, Flanigan was in touch by about 10:30 AM with the fifth member of the War Council, William Haynes, Pentagon general counsel.[24] This War Council “explicitly excluded the State Department’s general counsel and other military and Justice Department lawyers who had historically been included in reviewing legal structures for combating terrorism.”[25]

In the next months this five-man team, who called themselves “the War Council,” issued secret directives, sometimes without notifying their nominal superiors, that continued to implement COG plans and up-end established constitutional restraints on executive power.

One of the first instances was to authorize the use of military force domestically, something that Congress, when passing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) on September 14, had refused to do. Before passage, Republican Senate Minority leader Trent Lott delivered to his Democrat counterpart, Tom Daschle, a special request from White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez. This was that the proposed language defining the area for military action be expanded, by adding the words “in the United States.” Daschle refused to give the president the power to round up US citizens in this country, and the AUMF passed unamended.[26]

On the lawbooks, that is.

However, within a week, the Justice Department delivered a secret answer [submitted on September 21 by John Yoo] that would shock Daschle when he found out about it [three years later]. The memo argued that in times of national emergency, which had been declared since September 11,

“If the president decided the threat justified deploying the military inside the country, the federal government could legally “raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed ….” …. In this and related memos, the Justice Department said that the executive branch could ignore both Fourth Amendment protections against illegitimate searches and, without court warrants, specific laws passed by Congress prohibiting wiretaps and other surreptitious surveillance.[27]

So what Cheney, Gonzalez, and Flanigan had failed to obtain from Congress, they got instead from their own small group.[28]

The War Council’s secret rulings were often kept hidden from other administration lawyers, as well as Congress. In October, for example, John Yoo, the young deputy at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, drafted a memo, quickly approved by Cheney and Addington, that ruled that the NSA could surveil whomever it wished without an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[29]

This memo granted the NSA a power which Michael Hayden had requested and already exercised. Yet many other administration lawyers were not consulted, including  the top lawyer for Condoleezza Rice’s National Security Council, John Bellinger III. In fact, Bellinger was not told about the Terrorist Surveillance Program at all. This was strange, because unlike Addington, who had no line authority over national security matters, Bellinger was the ranking lawyer in the White House on intelligence affairs, with statutory purview over the subject…. Richard Shiffrin was also not informed about the domestic spying program, which was remarkable, because Shiffrin was the Pentagon lawyer in charge of supervising the legality of the NSA’s programs…. Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, Larry Thompson, the second-ranking lawyer in the Department of Justice, was excluded… too…. This was phenomenal, given that he was John Yoo’s boss.[30]

This cabal-like behavior by Cheney and the War Council – the team that would subsequently produce the notorious torture memos — was repeated on other matters. In the decision to use military commissions to try the Guantanamo detainees, for example, those left out of the loop included Defense Secretary Powell, National Security Adviser Rice, Rice’s lawyer John Bellinger III, and Michael Chertoff, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Attorney General Ashcroft had only learned of the military commission plan two days earlier, when he discovered to his outrage that John Yoo, his subordinate, had vouched for a confidential legal memorandum cutting the Justice Department and U.S. Courts out of the picture.[31]

It would be wrong to think that all of the post-9/11 changes can be attributed to the legal team of the War Council. According to Professor Shirley Anne Warshaw, in this period

Cheney jumped into action in his bunker beneath the East Wing to ensure continuity in government. He immediately began to create his shadow government by ordering one hundred mid-level executive officials to move to specially designated underground bunkers and stay there twenty-four hours a day. They would not be rotated out, he informed them, for ninety days.[32]

The Washington Post revealed this “shadow government” under Cheney in March 2002, and described it as still on-going.[33]

What this parallel government did for three or more months is not known. But I have noted elsewhere a number of other new COG measures, such as permanent detention centers and the militarization of homeland security, that date back to this post-9/11 period.[34]

How Cheney and Addington Used COG to Empower Yoo

Given the speed and determination with which the War Council acted to rewrite U.S laws and procedures, one needs to look more closely at circumstances under which they sprang into action on the afternoon of 9/11. According to all mainstream accounts, the five members of the War Council were thrown together that day by accident. Addington spoke to Flanigan, the deputy White House counsel, because “Flanigan’s boss, Alberto Gonzalez, was stranded in Norfolk.”[35]

On 9/11 Findley (to quote the mainstream account by Barton Gellman), “found a young attorney named John C. Yoo.”[36] But this was not by accident. Yoo, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel with two months of government experience, was presiding at the Justice command center. This was because attorney general Ashcroft and those directly under him (his deputy Larry Thompson, and his assistant David Ayres) had been ordered by the PEOC under COG rules to go elsewhere. [37]

(The Ashcroft team were not Cheney’s only targets on 9/11. On that day Cheney also evacuated to Site R the second and third in line to succeed to the presidency, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Byrd.[38] This was consistent with the COG priority of ensuring that the US Government was not decapitated. And in the weeks after 9/11, when Site R became so busy under Cheney that substantial upgrades to its equipment had to be ordered by Andrew Card in the White House, someone from the line of succession was always there. However, never once again was that person either Hastert or Byrd.[39] This suggests that Hastert and Byrd may have also been banished to Site R on 9/11, and excluded from Site R thereafter, for political reasons.)

Cheney had compelling ideological reasons on 9/11 to decapitate the Justice Department on that day and leave Yoo in command. Both men shared the eccentric legal belief, repudiated by most Bush administration lawyers, that a president in times of emergency had almost unrestricted powers. Back in 1980 Cheney had advised incoming presidential chief of staff James Baker that it was important to get rid of the War Powers Act and restore the president’s independent rights.[40] In his Iran-Contra Minority Report of 1987, Cheney declared his belief, drafted for him by Addington, that “the Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the laws.”[41] Yoo was one of the few academics to share that opinion: “For years, [Yoo] had written articles for law reviews… arguing that in a time of war, the executive had a sweeping claim to act independently from the other branches of government.”[42]

As in the COG planning of previous decades, the implementation of new measures under Cheney proceeded with what Barton Gellman called

near hermetic secrecy. Not only the conduct of policy but even the law itself, as Yoo and Addington and Flanigan rewrote it, was classified. The new legal framework was meant to be invisible, unreviewable – its very existence unknown by legislative or judicial actors who might fight back.[43]

Andrew Bacevich, reviewing The Dark Side for the Washington Post, characterized the behavior of the War Council as that of a small, secretive “conspiracy… made up chiefly of lawyers contemptuous of the Constitution and the rule of law.”[44] I agree that the War Council’s plots to evade existing laws constituted conspiratorial behavior; and would argue further that Cheney’s role in creating the War Council on 9/11, by exiling the three top Justice officials who might have thwarted them, was also conspiratorial.[45]

But the key to the emergence of the ideological War Council cabal may go back to Cheney’s position as chief of the Bush transition team which selected John Yoo to be Office of Legal Counsel deputy assistant attorney general. Cheney was also responsible for locating Findley as a deputy legal counsel in the White House (a considerable demotion from his position a decade earlier as assistant attorney general for the OLC). According to Bernard Weiner,

Cheney began meddling with the all-important White House Office of Legal Counsel …. Cheney made sure Bush’s lightweight consiglieri Alberto Gonzales didn’t get the OLC post; instead, Cheney eased in a trusted aide, Tim Flanigan. With Flanigan in the White House under the influence of Cheney and David Addington, …. there was no real countervailing power in the Administration’s legal departments to stop the reckless policies on torture, violation of habeas corpus, extraordinary rendition and so on.[46]

Other authors have raised questions about the absence from Washington, at the time of the 9/11 attacks, of such leaders as Defense Secretary Powell (in Peru), Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Henry Shelton (airborne en route to Europe), Attorney General Ashcroft (en route to Milwaukee), presidential counsel Alberto Gonzalez (in Norfolk, Va.), and others.[47]

I am not in this article suggesting that all these absences were pre-planned as part of a larger 9/11 conspiracy.[48] In contrast, the order from the PEOC after the attacks to exile Ashcroft, Thompson, and Ayres to a COG website – thus putting Yoo in a command position – falls into a quite different category. If as I believe Cheney made this order with Yoo in mind, it would indicate only that Cheney’s behavior was in response to a planned terrorist attack, not as part of that attack plan itself.[49]

But I believe we should see all the disparate plotting of 9/11 in the context of an older plot – to modify the U.S. constitution with procedures dating back to COG planning in the 1980s. This “emergency planning” has in fact created a real and on-going emergency, one under which we still live.

Today the extra-legal practices of warrantless detention and surveillance, inaugurated by Cheney and Yoo, are still used to crush protest, most dramatically in the case of the incipient Occupy movement. But this emergency does more than threaten to extinguish the culture of democratic protest which sixty years ago gained significant victories against racial segregation and the Vietnam War. It has radically impaired such fundamental American rights as habeas corpus and the Fourth Amendment guarding against unreasonable searches and seizures.

It is time, I suggest, to end the “war on terror”. As a first step, we should launch a campaign to terminate the State of Emergency instituted by Bush three days after 9/11, and since renewed annually – most recently by Obama on August 30, 2016.[50]

The anti-war movement in the 1970s empowered

Senator Charles Mathias, [and] Senator Frank Church… to

establish a Senate special committee to study the implications of terminating the 1950 proclamation of national emergency [for Korea!] that was being used to prosecute the Vietnam war.[51]

Their initial success in this limited endeavor led, as some of us can remember, to the whole host of post-Watergate reforms that were explicitly and successfully targeted by Vice-President Dick Cheney – the same reforms that need to be restored and enhanced today.

3424 words, 5155 with notes.


[1] There was also heightened surveillance of Americans as a consequence of Dallas, but far less obtrusively than what we have today.

[2]Alfonso Chardy, “Reagan Aides and the Secret Government,” Miami Herald, July 5, 1987,, emphasis added.

[3] Ross Gelbspan, Break-Ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement (Boston: South End Press, 1991), 184.

[4] Alfonso Chardy, Philadephia Inquirer, November 16, 1986,

[5] Chardy, “Reagan Aides and the Secret Government,” Miami Herald, July 5, 1987.

[6] CNN Special Assignment, November 17, 1991. Cf, AP, “CNN reveals plans for ‘Doomsday Government,’” Racine Journal Times, November 17, 1991,

[7] James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence

Agencies (New York: Doubleday, 2004), 74; cf. James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 138–45; James Mann, “The Armageddon Plan,” Atlantic, March 2004,

[8] Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans, 144; citing Tim Weiner, “Pentagon Book for Doomsday to Be Closed,” New York Times, April 18, 1994; cf. Bamford, A Pretext for War, 74. Cf. discussion in Peter Dale Scott, The American Deep State (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 32.

[9] One of Reagan’s last Executive Orders, 12676 of 18 November 1988, decreed that COG planning was not just to deal with “a nuclear war,” but for “any national security emergency” (Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 [Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007], 186). This merely confirmed six years of NPO practice from the time of its establishment by another Reagan Executive Order in September 1982.

[10] Scott, The American Deep State, 33. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, “Systemic Destabilization in Recent American History: 9/11, the JFK Assassination, and the Oklahoma City Bombing as a Strategy of Tension,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, September 23, 2012,

[11] Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans, 145.

[12] Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (New York:

Scribner, 2007), 88: “In earlier times the… ‘shadow government’ had [included] the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans alike. But now, down in the bunkers, Rumsfeld found himself if politically congenial company, the players’ roster being filled almost exclusively with Republican hawks.” I have written in the past that Cheney was also there, but cannot now verify whether or not he was still part of COG planning.

[13] For five years in the 1990s Cheney was CEO of the Halliburton Company, an oil extraction firm with a direct stake in opening up Iraqi and other central Asian oilfields to American development.

[14] Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy, 88; quoted in Scott, Road to 9/11, 187.

[15] Scott, The American Deep State; Mike Lofgren’s The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (New York: Viking, 2016)

[16] Bamford, A Pretext for War, 71; Matthew L. Conaty, “The Atomic Midwife: The Eisenhower Administration’s Continuity-of-Government Plans and the Legacy of ‘Constitutional Dictatorship,’” Rutgers Law Review, 62, no. 3 (Spring 2010), 7.

[17] Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans, 139. Cf. Robert J. Darling, 24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker (iUniverse, 2010), 57. 67. Bush himself was directed on 9/11 to an underground COG site at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (Bill Kelly, “Military insiders recall Bush’s 9/11 stop at Stratcom,” KVNO News, September 7, 2011,

[18] This gave the president the power to confiscate without trial or warning the property of individuals providing funds to entities, such as charitable foundations, which were judged to be supporting terrorism. The executive order initially blocked property of twenty-seven designated terrorists. But the list has become enormous. By November 18, 2010, the list included eighty-seven pages just for the letter A. By August 2016 the letter A took 192 pages.

[19] Alan Brinkley, “Black Sites,” New York Times, August 3, 2008,

[20] Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans, 145.

[21] Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, “’A Different Understanding with the President’,”

Washington Post, June 24, 2007,

[22] Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story on How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (New York: Anchor, 2009), 49.

[23] Gellman and Becker, “’A Different Understanding with the President’,”

Washington Post, June 24, 2007.   

[24] Kurt Eichenwald, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars [QQ: Touchstone, 2012], 35.

[25] Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield (New York: Nation Books, 2013), 24.

[26] Mayer, The Dark Side, 44-45.

[27] Mayer, The Dark Side, 46; cf. Tim Golden, “Threats and Responses: Tough Justice; After Terror, a Secret Rewriting of Military Law, New York Times, October 24, 2004, (“September 21, Yoo”). Jeremy Scahill also writes of a War Council opinion leading to a Bush presidential finding of September 17. This finding was used to create Greystone, a highly classified program outside of Congressional oversight that effectively “declared all covert [CIA] actions to be pre-authorized and legal” (Scahill, Dirty Wars, 24). Cf. Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little, Brown, 2011), 19-20 (“CIA”).

[28] Later Yoo would argue that “Congress not only did not forbid but actually invited warrantless domestic surveillance when it passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Barton Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency [New York: Penguin Press, 2008], 152).

[29] Mayer, The Dark Side, 69; Gellman, Angler, 141-43. After the warrantless surveillance program was revealed in 2005, Bush justified it, linking it to “terrorist threats to the continuity of our government” (David E. Sanger, “Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying,” New York Times, December 18, 2005,

[30] Mayer, The Dark Side, 68-70.

[31] Mayer, The Dark Side, 82. Cf, Tom Lasseter, “Secret Tactics Dictated Treatment of Detainees,” Seattle Times, June 18, 2008: “When military lawyers protested, the War Council shut them out. ‘We were absolutely marginalized,’ said Donald Guter, a rear admiral who served as the Navy’s judge advocate general from 2000 to 2002. ‘I think it was intentional, because so many military JAGs spoke up about the rule of law.’”

[32] Shirley Anne Warshaw, The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney (Stanford, CA: Stanford Politics and Policy, 2009), 164–65. Cf. Scott, The American Deep State, 34; Scott, Road to 9/11, 237; Gellman, Angler, 157: “Joseph Hagin, the deputy White House chief of operations, kept a rotating cadre of 70 to 150 senior managers from across the executive branch on twenty-four hour bunker duty in a hollowed-out mountain away from Washington.”

[33] Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt, “Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret,” Washington Post, March 1, 2002,

[34] Scott, The American Deep State, 34-38.

[35] Gellman, Angler, 133.

[36] Gellman, Angler, 134.

[37] Attorney General Ashcroft had been airborne for most of the morning. On his belated return to Washington, he was told by Rice in the PEOC to join his deputy, Larry Thompson, and his assistant, David Ayres, who had already been sent out of Washington to a classified COG site. Because of traffic conditions, Ashcroft was ultimately redirected that afternoon to the FBI Crisis Management Center. See John Ashcroft, Never Again: Securing America and Restoring Justice (New York: Center Street, 2006). Yoo’s eventual boss at the OLC, Jay Bybee, had not yet been appointed. Bybee’s position, as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, required Congressional approval. His name had been submitted to Congress on September 4, 2011, one week before 9/11. He was confirmed by the Senate on October 23, and began to serve in November.

[38] Gellman, Angler, 156; Chris Simpson, on Democracy Now, NPR, March 22, 2002, (“Site R”).

[39] Gellman, Angler, 157; citing interview with Norman Ornstein, senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. Cf. Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt, “Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret,” Washington Post, March 1, 2002,

(“substantial upgrades”).

[40] Charlie Savage, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (2008), 43,

[41] Mayer, The Dark Side, 60.

[42] Kurt Eichenwald, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror War, 38. Yoo, unlike Cheney and Addington, used the common law term “prerogative” sparingly in his articles. Yet the effect of the War Council was to create, in Jane Mayer’s words, “a doctrine of presidential prerogative” (Mayer, The Dark Side, 47).

[43] Gellman, Angler, 138.

[44] Andrew Bacevich, “Collateral Damage,” Washington Post, July 13, 2008,

[45] When the warrantless Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) came up for renewal in March 2004, Ashcroft, supported by his new deputy James Comey and his new OLC Chief Jack Goldsmith, refused to approve it. This led to a notorious confrontation in Ashcroft’s hospital bedroom, where Gonzalez and Andrew Card arrived from the White House with a renewal order for Ashcroft to sign. Ashcroft, who was under intensive care after surgery for gallstone pancreatitis, “lifted his head off the pillows and delivered a strong denunciation of the TSP’s legal framework”. His temporary replacement, deputy attorney general Comey, refused to sign. In the room Ashcroft and Comey were supported by Goldsmith and FBI Director Robert Mueller, both of whom Comey had summoned urgently to join him at the hospital after “a frantic call from Ashcroft’s wife” (Mayer, The Dark Side, 289-91; cf. Gellman, Angler, 302-05).

[46] Bernard Weiner: “Review of Barton Gellman’s Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” HistoryNewsNetwork, May 9, 2009,

[47] E.g. Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11–and America’s Response (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 364.

[48] Some have used these absences to suggest that the “state” itself planned 9/11, a simplistic notion I have consistently opposed.

[49] I believe that Cheney and Addington did indeed have a pre-planned agenda, dating from before 9/11, for response to the next terrorist attack; and that these plans, as I have suggested elsewhere, grew out of their years of secret planning for COG. But to say this does not imply that Cheney and Addington were involved in the attack itself. Some researchers believe that the fourth hijacked plane which crashed in Pennsylvania may have crashed because it had been shot down on Cheney’s orders, a gruesome possibility which would however indicate that Cheney on that day was dealing with a dangerous enemy not under his control. See e.g. Mark H. Gaffney, Black 9/11: Money, Motive and Technology (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2012), 175-202.

[50] “Notice — Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks,” White House, August 30, 2016,

[51] Congressional Research Service, “Report for Congress, National Emergency Powers.” updated August 30, 2007,

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Ante Upped on Bayer Monsanto Merger – Billions on the Table

September 14th, 2016 by Brandon Turbeville

The possibility of a merger between German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer AG and multinational seed and pesticide corporation Monsanto Co. has just increased with the recent rounds of discussions between the two companies.

Having been in discussion regarding Bayer’s potential purchase of Monsanto for some time, Bayer has now suggested that it is now willing to offer more than $65 billion dollars. This is a two percent increase from the previous offer made by Bayer. On the other side of the deal, Monsanto has agreed to open its books for Bayer to conduct thorough checks into the company’s business status.

Bayer’s previous offer was already considered the biggest all-cash takeover bid on record. Bayer has stated that it is prepared to offer 127.50 per share – $2.50 more per share than its previous offer. “Both sides are gradually nearing consensus,” said one person familiar with the discussions and quoted by Reuters.


If Bayer does indeed purchase Monsanto it will give the company the opportunity to become one of the top dogs in the “farm supplies industry” an already highly consolidated market.

Bayer would be combining its crop science aspect with Monsanto’s near-monopoly in seeds. Monsanto has stated that it is continuing the conversation with Bayer. As well as evaluating Bayer’s offer, it also stated that it was evaluating proposals from other prospective buyers although it declined to name these other parties.

While the deal has a high probability of going through, one must also wonder what will happen to Monsanto’s shares if Bayer declines to purchase the corporation.

Regardless, another interesting aspect of the potential merger is the possibility that the merger itself might violate the Clayton Act, a law that Congress passed years ago to prevent anti-competitive business practices. In fact, a legal opinion, written by two former officials from the Justice Departments Anti-Trust division argues that the merger would do just that.

As Sum of Us summarizes,

  • The merger would eliminate direct competition between two of the largest players in the traited seed sector, with direct consequences for seed development, herbicide markets, and innovative and open research and development.
  • A merger will mean the new Bayer-Monsanto conglomerate will control nearly 70% of the cotton acreage in the United States – unacceptably high by antitrust standards. It would also have unacceptable market concentration in wide swaths of commercial seed development and sales for other commonly used varieties, including traited canola, soybeans, and corn developed in North America.
  • The new corporation would likely lead to higher input prices, with less choice and higher food prices for consumers, and fewer non-biotechnology options available to farmers and consumers.

Natural and Non-Toxic Products. Up to 50% Off – Every Day (Ad)

The opinion argues that the Bayer-Monsanto merger would violate a 2008 court order that forced Monsanto to divest itself of certain cotton-breeding and cotton seed assets which were then sold to Bayer. If the merger goes through, Monsanto would necessarily reacquire these assets and thus, violate the court order.

Brandon Turbeville  an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real Conspiracies,Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and 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 600 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)


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The nationwide ceasefire in Syria concluded by Russia and the United States began at 16:00 GMT on September 12. Chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said that the Russian Aerospace Forces will continue to strike terrorist targets despite the ceasefire and Moscow and Washington are going to set up a joint coordination center for further coordination.

The Syrian government supported the ceasefire and a silence were reported at the most of Syrian frontlines.

Heavy firefights and artillery duels were reported in and at Aleppo City on September 13 as Syria entered the 2nd day of nationwide ceasefire. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah shelled and engaged Jaish al-Fatah militants in Qarassi, Zeitan, Khan Touman and Khalsah while Jaish al-Fatah units targeted the pro-government forces’ positions in the Malah Farms and at the Ramouseh Artillery Base.

Jaish al-Fatah is a major militant operation room that includes the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al Nusra) terrorist group and opposes the SAA and its allies across the country.

On September 12, a significant part of Jaish al-Fatah (including one of the biggest militant groups in Syria, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham) claimed that it did not support the ceasefire agreement. According to Jaish al-Fatah members, the agreement should not exclude Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham because this organization is a common example of Syrian opposition.

The General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces said on September 13 that the Syrian Defense Forces have shot downed two aircraft belonged to the Israeli Air Force in eastern Syria. According to the Syrian state-run SANA news agency, an Israeli warplane was downed southwest of Quneitra and an Israeli drone west of Sa’sa’.

The Syrian Armed Forces’ move was an answer to airstrikes on the Syrian Arab Army conducted by Israeli aircraft around 1:00 am (local time) on September 13. SANA emphasized that Israeli air strikes were made in support of the offensive of Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham and others on the government positions in the provicne of Quneitra. Israel denied the loses in Syria. No photos or videos from the scene have been provided.

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Note: We bring to the attention of our readers this article originally published in June 2013

In a very recent presentation at the Ford School, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger commented on the current Syrian situation, expressing his preference for a broken-up and balkanized Syria to emerge out of the current Assad-controlled unity (from 19 minutes and 30 seconds onward):



“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view.”

After being introduced by the chair as “the honorable Dr. Kissinger”, the 90-year old power-broker began an interesting history lesson. Kissinger detailed how the current state of Syria was designed by European powers, as is the case with the neighboring state of Iraq:

“First of all, Syria is not a historic state. It was created in its present shape in 1920, and it was given that shape in order to facilitate the control of the country by France, which happened to be after UN mandate. The neighboring country Iraq was also given an odd shape, that was to facilitate control by England. And the shape of both of the countries was designed to make it hard for either of them to dominate the region.”

kiss6As a result of Syria’s a-historical origins, Kissinger explained, the current Syria was conceived as a more or less artificial national unity consisting of different tribes and ethnic groups. As the recent “revolution” is further spiraling into chaos, Kissinger comments on the nature of the current situation:

“In the American press it’s described as a conflict between democracy and a dictator- and the dictator is killing his own people, and we’ve got to punish him. But that’s not what’s going on. It may have been started by a few democrats. But on the whole it’s an ethnic and sectarian conflict.”

“It is now a civil war between sectarian groups”, Kissinger went on to state. “And I have to say we have misunderstood it from the beginning. If you read our media they say: we’ve got to get rid of Assad. And if we get rid of Assad, then we form a coalition government. Inconceivable. I’m all in favour of getting rid of Assad, but the dispute between us and the Russians on that issue, was that the Russians say: you start with getting rid of not just Assad, that’s not the issue, but you break up the state administration and you’ll wind up like in Iraq- that there is nothing to hold it together. And then you’ll have an even worse civil war. This is how that mess has taken the present form.”

Kissinger has commented previously on the desirability of breaking up dissenting nations into smaller fragments, after which the emerging chaos may facilitate their introduction into a global order. This, in essence, is the rule of divide and conquer. These recent comments by Kissinger are in step with previous statements in which he promulgates the idea that social upheaval and mass civil unrest are to be used as a means of merging nations (including, by the way, the United States) into an “international system”.

“The United States has to be part of an international system that we create domestically”, Kissinger told The Harvard Crimson in 2012. When asked what the most important problems are facing American society today, Kissinger then answered:

“Internationally, the problem is that there are upheavals going on in every part of the world, but these upheavals don’t follow the same basic causes, and so the United States has to be part of an international system that we create domestically.”

The concept of seizing crises and upheavals, the causes of which may differ from nation to nation, in order to bring about an international order- is neatly following the elite’s golden rule, namely that a global order is best brought about by chaos. Furthermore, Kissinger provides us with a glimpse of the underlying intent he and his fellow-bilderbergers have in mind, stating in so many words that civil unrest- be it economically, politically or socially motivated- must be seized upon in order to merge nations into the desired “international system” .

In a December 2008 article it was reported that Kissinger, in an interview with Bilderberg-darling Charlie Rose, “cited the chaos being wrought across the globe by the financial crisis and the spread of terrorism as an opportunity to bolster a new global order.”, Steve Watson wrote.

“I think that when the new administration assesses the position in which it finds itself it will see a huge crisis and terrible problems, but I can see that it could see a glimmer in which it could construct an international system out of it”, Kissinger told Rose some years ago.


This talk of crises and upheavals as just another country-specific means to a centralized global end could specifically point to an underlying transnational plan- a sinister concept that follows the course of classic Hegelian dialectic, namely the problem (whether real or feigned) provokes the reaction which in turn allows the elite to provide the solution on a silver platter. It occurred to me that Kissinger’s words are ominously reminiscent of those written down by University of Chicago’s Alexander Wendt, who in 2003 in his treatise titled Why a World State is Inevitable: teleology and the logic of anarchy stated:

“Nationalist struggles for recognition are by no means over, and more new states- “more anarchy”- may yet be created. But while further fragmentation is in one sense a step back, it is also a precondition for moving forward, since it is only when difference is recognized that a larger identity can be stable. (…) Far from suppressing nationalism, a world state will only be possible if it embraces it.”

These words may shed some light on the words uttered by Kissinger and his fellow supranationalists, in essence revealing they are very much aware of the fact that the mere proposition of a world state will not make it so- may even backfire on them when proposed too directly- and that the same goal may be better achieved via the fragmentation and balcanization of nation-states, whether in the East or West, in order to then merge those fragments into a global construct, usually described as the new world order.

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false flag

False Flag Terror “Has Succeeded Consistently Against Audiences Around The World, For Millennia, To Compel War”

By Washington’s Blog, September 13 2016

Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos.

Clinton Trump

Election Reflections 2016: Health Matters, Are Clinton and Trump Fit for Office? Failed Policies and the Socialist Imperative

By Abayomi Azikiwe, September 13 2016

Clinton and Trump represent the same class interests diametrically opposed to the majority.  It has been a decade-and-a-half since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Consequently, the corporate media was filled over the weekend with numerous documentaries, interviews with those on the scene at the time as well as tributes to the armed forces of the United States which have been strengthened enormously in the midst of what some describe as a “permanent war.”


Drug-Induced Dementia IS NOT Alzheimer’s Disease

By Dr. Gary G. Kohls, September 13 2016

Over the past several decades there have been a number of well-financed campaigns, promoted by well-meaning laypersons, to raise public awareness to the plight of patients with dementia. Suspiciously, most of these campaigns come from “patient support” groups lead the public to believe that every dementia patient has Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).


Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 12 2016

The main objective of the US-supported military coup was to impose the neoliberal economic agenda. “Regime change” was enforced through a covert military intelligence operation. Sweeping macro-economic reforms (including privatization, price liberalization and the freeze of wages) were implemented in early October 1973.


Damascus, A Creative City, Remains Strong and Glorious in Preserving its Cultural Heritage

By Jamila Assi, September 13 2016

Bending the will to celebrate life and beauty in a city like Damascus is something that six years of war was not able to achieve; not even 600 years of war would do it. It is no secret to anyone the amount of damage done to archeological and cultural heritage of Syrian cities has exceeded anything recorded in human history so far. Yet, Damascus with all its greatness and will to remain strong and glorious, and despite its wounds, has decided to enter the race and document its amazing heritage in different fields of creativity.

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La Bomba è autorizzata

September 13th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

La B61-12, la nuova bomba nucleare Usa destinata a sostituire la B-61 schierata in Italia e altri paesi europei, è stata «ufficialmente autorizzata» dalla National Nuclear Security Administration (Nnsa), l’agenzia del Dipartimento dell’Energia addetta a «rafforzare la sicurezza nazionale attraverso l’applicazione militare della scienza nucleare».

Dopo quattro anni di progettazione e sperimentazione, la Nnsa ha dato luce verde alla fase di ingegnerizzazione che prepara la produzione in serie. I molti componenti della B61-12 vengono progettati e testati nei laboratori nazionali di Los Alamos e Albuquerque (Nuovo Messico), di Livermore (California), e prodotti (utilizzando in parte quelli della B-61) in una serie di impianti in Missouri, Texas, Carolina del sud, Tennessee. Si aggiunge a questi la sezione di coda per la guida di precisione, fornita dalla Boeing. Le B61-12, il cui costo è previsto in 8-12 miliardi di dollari per 400-500 bombe,  cominceranno ad essere fabbricate in serie nell’anno fiscale 2020, che inizia il 1° ottobre 2019. Da allora cominceranno ad essere sostituite alle B-61.

Secondo le stime della Federazione degli scienziati americani (Fas), gli Usa mantengono oggi 70 bombe nucleari B-61 in Italia (50 ad Aviano e 20 a Ghedi-Torre), 50 in Turchia, 20 rispettivamente in Germania, Belgio e Olanda, per un totale di 180. Nessuno sa però con esattezza quante effettivamente siano: ad Aviano ci sono 18 bunker in grado di stoccarne oltre 70. In questa base e a Ghedi sono già state effettuate modifiche, come mostrano foto satellitari pubblicate dalla Fas. Analoghi preparativi sono in corso nelle altre basi in Europa e Turchia.

La Nnsa conferma ufficialmente che la B61-12, definita «elemento fondamentale della triade nucleare Usa» (terrestre, navale e aerea), sostituirà le attuali B61-3, -4, -7 e -10. Conferma quindi quanto abbiamo già documentato. La B61-12 non è una semplice versione ammodernata della precedente, ma una nuova arma: ha una testata nucleare a quattro opzioni di potenza selezionabili, con una potenza media pari a quella di quattro bombe di Hiroshima;  un sistema di guida che permette di sganciarla a distanza dall’obiettivo; la capacità  di penetrare nel terreno per distruggere i bunker dei centri di comando in un attacco nucleare di sorpresa. Le nuove bombe, che gli Usa si preparano a installare in Italia e altri paesi europei nel quadro della escalation contro la Russia, sono armi che abbassano la soglia nucleare, ossia rendono più probabile il lancio di un attacco nucleare.

La 31st Fighter Wing, la squadriglia di cacciabombardieri Usa F-16 dislocata ad Aviano, è pronta all’attacco nucleare ventiquattr’ore su ventiquattro. Anche piloti italiani, dimostra la Fas, vengono addestrati all’attacco nucleare sotto comando Usa con i cacciabombardieri Tornado schierati a Ghedi.

In attesa che arrivino anche all’aeronautica italiana i caccia F-35 nei quali, annuncia la U.S. Air Force, «sarà integrata la B61-12». La prima squadriglia di F-35, di stanza nella base Hill nello Utah, è stata ufficialmente dichiarata «combat ready» (pronta al combattimento).

La U.S. Air Force dice di non prevedere quando la squadriglia di F-35 sarà «combat proven» (provata in combattimento), ma che è «probabile un suo schieramento oltremare agli inizi del 2017».

La ministra Pinotti spera che venga schierata in Italia, già «scelta»  dagli Usa per l’installazione del Muos che «avrebbero voluto altre nazioni». Con le B61-12, gli F-35 e il Muos sul proprio territorio, l’Italia sarà anche scelta, dal paese attaccato, quale bersaglio prioritario della rappresaglia nucleare.

Manlio Dinucci

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Russian Troops take up Positions in Aleppo, Jihadis given Ultimatum

September 13th, 2016 by Alexander Mercouris

Russia’s official news agency TASS has confirmed that Russian troops are taking positions along the Aleppo road – the main road leading into Aleppo from the north, which was captured by the Syrian army in July.

“…..this arrangement (the US-Russian agreement – AM) also requires forces from both sides to pull back from Castello Road – and we have agreed on that pullback. Castello Road is a major artery into Aleppo, and what this pullback will do is create a demilitarised zone around it, permitting as quickly as possible the resumption of humanitarian and civilian traffic along that road. And that will be achieved over a period of time by some monitoring, which is essential to the compliance.”

Since the terms of the agreement are not being published, the precise nature of what was agreed was not clear from Kerry’s remarks.  It is now becoming clearer.

It appears from the TASS report that whilst Syrian troops are being withdrawn from the immediate area of the Castello road, their place is being taken by Russian troops – apparently naval infantry troops sent there from the Russian base at Khmeimim.

The TASS report also makes it clear that the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo are supposed to hand over their weapons and to evacuate eastern Aleppo by way of the Castello road.  Here is how TASS reports Sergey Kapitsyn, the senior Russian official on the spot, explained it

“This road is now the corridor for the exit of gunmen from the eastern part of Aleppo who decided to stop fighting and surrender their weapons. As part of the September 9 agreements between Russia and the US on reinstating the ceasefire a special focus will be on the Castello road.  It will become a key route for delivering humanitarian cargos in Aleppo. Now works are underway here to equip the checkpoint of the Syrian Red Crescent Society through which the humanitarian cargos will travel to the eastern and western parts of the city,”

(bold italics added)

This explains why, as reported previously, the Syrian air force dropped leaflets over Aleppo a few days ago giving the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo two days to lay down their arms or evacuate.  The Syrians were pre-empting the announcement of the US-Russian agreement, which it is now becoming clear requires the Jihadi fighters to evacuate eastern Aleppo, and which came into force on Monday i.e. two days after the leaflets were dropped.

In passing, the incident with the leaflets confirms that the Russians were keeping the Syrians informed of the progress of the negotiations with Kerry, just as they say.

Earlier reports which circulated a few weeks ago claimed that the Russians told Kerry that they wanted all Jihadi fighters out of eastern Aleppo by mid September.  It is increasingly looking as if the US-Russian agreement does indeed contain such a provision, though possibly with a more relaxed deadline.

The original US ceasefire proposal which the Russians rejected at the G20 summit in Hangzhou required the Syrian military to pull back from the Castello road at a time when the Jihadis led by Jabhat Al-Nusra were in control of the Ramousseh district and had therefore closed the Ramousseh road into Aleppo from the south.

Though there are obviously more than 2 roads into Aleppo, the Castello road from the north and the Ramousseh road from the south are the two main roads into the city.

Had the US ceasefire plan as originally conceived come into effect the Syrian army would have given up control of both of the two main roads into Aleppo: the Castello road from the north and the Ramousseh road from the south.  That would have made the government’s position in Aleppo extremely precarious and vulnerable to any collapse of the ceasefire.

The recent government victories in south west Aleppo have radically changed the picture.  With the Syrian army back in control of the Ramousseh district its communications from the south are secure.

If there ever was a plan by the hardliners in Washington to impose a ceasefire in Aleppo that would have made the city vulnerable to takeover by the Jihadis, then it has failed.  Instead it appears that the existing plan is for the Jihadi fighters to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo instead, securing the government’s control over the city.

Words of caution are in order.  The mere fact that the Russians are taking control of the Castello road in place of the Syrian army and that the US – Russian agreement apparently requires the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo to evacuate the city does not mean that the latter will happen.

Already there are reports that various Jihadi groups are rejecting the agreement Kerry and Lavrov agreed in Geneva on Sunday.  It seems far more likely and far more in character that the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo will dig in rather than evacuate.

The US – Russian agreement does not therefore mean that the battle of Aleppo is over.  What it means is that a faction in Washington – which however does not mean the entire bureaucracy in Washington – has now rather grudgingly coming round to accepting the fact that the battle is lost.

In order to save something from the wreckage it is therefore trying to save the lives of the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo and to preserve them as a coherent force by agreeing face-saving terms for their withdrawal.  The fact the Jihadi fighters will not appreciate the effort and will almost certainly refuse to do what the US has agreed for them is another matter.

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News is coming in of a statement from the Syrian Military Command, claiming that Syrian air defenses have brought down an Israeli warplane and drone illegally entering Syrian airspace in Quneitra.  Quneitra is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in south-western Syria. It is situated in a high valley in the long disputed Golan Heights.

This report from Syrian Arab News Agency:

“Quneitra, SANA – The General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces announced on Tuesday that the Israeli enemy’s air force attacked a Syrian military position in the countryside of the southern Quneitra province around 1:00 am on September 13, 2016.

The General Command said the Syrian air defense forces responded to the attack and shot down an Israeli warplane to the southwest of Quneitra and an Israeli drone to the west of Sa’sa’.

It noted that the Israeli attack came in support of the armed terrorist groups and in a desperate attempt to raise the deteriorating morale of their members due to the heavy losses they have suffered in Quneitra.”

This report from Press TV:

“The Syrian army says it has shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone inside Syria following an Israeli attack on Syrian army positions in the south, state media report.

Syria’s official SANA news cited the Syrian military as saying that the intruding aircraft had been detected and targeted by the country’s air defense system while they were striking Syrian military positions. The warplane, it said, was downed in western Quneitra and the drone in an area called Sa’sa’ and located on the Damascus Reef.

Soon after the report, the Israeli military denied that any of its aircraft had been shot down in Syria, claiming that two missiles were fired at them during the airstrike on Quneitra but missed.

Israeli fighter jets had attacked two Syrian army cannons in the Golan Heights, where Quneitra is located, early on Tuesday morning. It was the fifth such attack in just over a week.

Israel seized parts of the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.”

“Never believe anything until it has been officially denied” – Claude Cockburn.

Israel is denying that it’s aircraft was downed by Syrian air defenses, according to the Independent:

“Israel has denied the Syrian government’s claim to have shot down an Israeli fighter jet and drone at the start of a fragile seven-day truce in the country’s civil war.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) immediately refuted the report, saying a Syrian anti-aircraft battery had shot at its aircraft but missed their target.

“Early this morning, two missiles were launched from Syria after the IAF targeted Syrian artillery positions,” a spokesperson said. “IDF aircraft were not harmed.”

Is it a coincidence that this Israeli invasion of Syrian airspace come after a powerful statement from Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, discussing reconciliation, while visiting recently liberated Daraya,  and promising that Syria will re-take all terrorist held areas? Particularly when one considers that it is effectively Al Nusra [Al Qaeda in Syria]that has occupied the illegally Israeli claimed areas of the Golan Heights.  The same Al Nusra that is being treated in Israeli hospitals and that has never fired a shot in Israel’s direction.  Report from SANA:

“In statements to the national media, the President said “Visiting Daraya today has plenty of meanings. They may be symbolic, but they are not addressed to the Syrian people as I and the Syrian people… have been in the same situation since the beginning of the crisis.”

He added that the Syrian people have been aware of the reality of the conspiracy and the existence of traitors and agents and the external factor and share the same feelings whenever an area is taken by the terrorists, or liberated by the army or when a reconciliation agreement is achieved.

The President affirmed that the message of his visit to Daraya is addressed to those who have worked against Syria and bet on its collapse, especially those countries that got directly involved in conspiring against Syria and supporting the terrorists and the Syrian traitors and agents who chose to be part of the foreign plot.

“We as state, by coming to this area, also send a message to those [sides] that the Syrian state is determined to retake every area from the terrorists and restore security and safety,” stressed the President, adding that the state is also resolved to reconstruct all that has been destroyed physically and on the human level.

“We come here today to replace the false freedom they tried to market at the beginning of the crisis, including about Daraya, with the real freedom; the freedom that starts with restoring security and safety, goes through reconstruction and ends with the independent national decision,” said President al-Assad.

He reiterated that the message is addressed especially from Daraya “since there are some who were annoyed that [Daraya] was brought back home and had issued official statements, and they are Western officials.”

He addressed those parties saying “You are sad and extremely distressed, whereas we are happy; firstly because Daraya is back, and secondly because you are sad and distressed,” adding that the when the conspirators reach a point where they are feeling distressed, “it means that things are going in the right direction.”

The President dismissed as “malicious” and “dangerous” the talk about “demographic changes” being attempted by the Syrian state in the areas taken from the terrorists or where reconciliations happen.

He went on saying that this talk targets not only Daraya but Syria as a whole as it aims at creating the impression that the Syrian society is dismembered where social groups are at odds with each other to show that the Syrian cities are divided along sectarian, racial or religious lines.

The President however affirmed that there is no need to worry about this issue as this game has been played so many times, and that it has now become difficult to market such a concept as “demographic change” because the Syrian people have high-level awareness and they have learned a lot throughout the crisis.

As for his message regarding the areas that are still under the gunmen’s control, President al-Assad called on the Syrians to walk towards reconciliation, stressing that experience, especially over the past three years, showed that the Syrian state has kept all its promises and has always been open for reconciliation and for stopping the bloodshed.

The doors of the homeland, he reiterated, will always be open to those who want to get back on the right track at any time and at all levels.

“However, those who are determined and insist on acting as tools in return for a handful of dollars, we simply say to them ‘the armed forces will continue their work unhesitant and undaunted and regardless of any internal or external conditions until restoring security and safety to all areas in Syria,” the President said.”

Israel has a history of denying its military losses or downplaying its defeats.  The fact that the Military Command in Syria has made a public statement concerning their air defence reaction against this Israeli incursion into its airspace, particularly over the long disputed Golan Heights, demonstrates that Syria has reached the end of its patience with Israeli aggression and lawlessness.

This is potentially a game-changer.  It is a response to US and Israeli hegemony in the region that cannot be ignored.

To be updated.

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Clinton and Trump represent the same class interests diametrically opposed to the majority. 

It has been a decade-and-a-half since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Consequently, the corporate media was filled over the weekend with numerous documentaries, interviews with those on the scene at the time as well as tributes to the armed forces of the United States which have been strengthened enormously in the midst of what some describe as a “permanent war.”

Almost nothing was said over the multinational-controlled networks about the toll that the increased imperialist militarism has leveled against the working people in the U.S. and the world through the process of deployment to unjust and illegal wars of regime-change, the loss of millions of lives in the impacted states and the burgeoning humanitarian crises leaving 60-75 million displaced both domestically and internationally. Looking at the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia and Yemen, to name some of the most egregious, any objective observer could by no means conclude that the so-called “war on terrorism” has been a success even in Pentagon and State Department terms.

Inside the U.S. itself, the social conditions have worsened immensely since 2001. There has been a further militarism of law-enforcement leading to thousands of killings by the police of civilians. Racism and national oppression have intensified with the expansion of low-wage labor, the rise in structural unemployment, the continuing deterioration of the public education system, the collapse of municipal and rural infrastructure and unacceptable environmental degradation.

These issues are barely mentioned in the general discussions surrounding the political race between the Democrats and Republicans. More emphasis is placed on issues that are secondary to addressing the real needs of people inside the U.S. and those around the world which Washington and Wall Street have kept imperiled through massive bombing operations, military occupations, intelligence subversion, economic sanctions and psychological demoralization.

Health Matters: Are Clinton and Trump Fit for Office?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to have fainted while attending an official ceremony held to commemorate the September 11 attacks in New York City. With the media spectacle that the national presidential elections have become, it was inevitable that the Clinton campaign’s concealment of serious health problems would eventually be broken open.

Clinton’s physician later issues a statement saying the Democratic candidate had been diagnosed with pneumonia just two days before and was put on antibiotics. If this is true then it demonstrates a degree of irresponsibility on the part of the campaign since people with such a serious ailment should be confined to rest for a number of weeks. Yet it would have been quite damaging for Clinton not to attend such a public event in which the entire imperialist project has been based upon ideologically for the last fifteen years.

Despite the pledge by both Clinton and Trump to release their medical records in a few days, the real sick people in the U.S. and internationally are those who have been subjected to the policies of successive U.S. administrations which promote war and escalating capitalist exploitation. These people numbering in the billions are not ever taken into consideration by the ruling class and those politicians who serve their interests in Congress, the Judiciary and the White House.

A poignant example of this disregard for the peoples of the world was reflected in statements by Clinton saying that “no Americans were lost in the Libya war.” Of course the corporate media quickly quoted officials who recalled the attacks of four years ago (2012) in Benghazi where Ambassador and high-ranking Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer Christopher Stevens along with four other intelligence operatives died in an attack on two American compounds in the city in eastern Libya which served as the cradle of the U.S.-backed counter-revolution against the Jamahiriya system led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi. However, what of the tens of thousands of Libyans, Africans and foreign nationals who died as a direct result of the rebel ground war and Pentagon-NATO led aerial bombardment of the North African state over a period of seven months during 2011? The millions of Libyans who were displaced in the war losing their livelihood and homes are not even considered by the Clinton campaign.

Libya today has become a major source of instability throughout North and West Africa leading across the Mediterranean into Southern, Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, not a single gesture of regret or contrition has been uttered by former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Clinton.

Trump as well in a September 12 address in Baltimore continued his utterances related to rebuilding the Pentagon and empowering the Generals to destroy ISIS. The reality is that the wars of regime-change and neo-colonial dominance which characterizes Washington’s foreign policy is at the root cause of the founding and proliferation of ISIS.

The Pentagon and the intelligence agencies already captures at least one trillion dollars annually in working people’s tax dollars to maintain the policies of permanent war. These resources could be utilized to rebuild the infrastructure and services of the U.S. There needs to be guaranteed national health insurance, free education, cleaning of the waterways, and mandatory full-employment as well as a living wage for those who work and the disabled.

This of course cannot be done as long as the Pentagon budget is considered sacrosanct along with the well-being and profitability of the financial institutions. The banks have been bailed out to the tune of trillions since 2008 with no end in sight. Nonetheless, the people who were victimized by the financial crisis such as homeowners, renters, students, teachers, civil servants and industrial workers have yet to receive any meaningful compensation for the crimes of capital.

The Imperatives of Socialist Construction

This raises the question of what a just and equal society would look like in the U.S. It would have to be a society governed by a system that would place the interests of the working people and nationally oppressed as being paramount.  The militarism which is such a cornerstone of the exploitative structures would have to be eliminated in order for any true picture of world events to come into view.

The advent of socialism in the U.S. would make a monumental contribution to the struggle against exploitation and oppression internationally. Much of the suffering and hunger in the world today stems directly from the policies of Washington and its financial backers in New York and other imperialist capitals around the globe.

Socialism cannot be built without socialists. Therefore, those committed to fundamental change from the capitalist relations of production to a genuinely egalitarian society must be involved in the socialist movement. The workers and nationally oppressed must be organized into a revolutionary party which could focus on the actual source of the contemporary crisis of inequality and super-exploitation. Alliances are required among the proletariat with the farmers and youth. Policy decisions would be seriously formulated and debated among the people insuring maximum participation in the political system. Everyone seeking justice would have an incentive to take ownership in the process of transforming their present situation leading to a socialist future.

These matters require serious thought and action. Only the masses and their organizations operating outside the established ruling class and it surrogates can bring these necessities into reality. This is the major challenge facing not only the people of the U.S. but indeed those around the world.

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Obama, referring to the military coup in Chile, stated in 2011 that we should not be “trapped by our history.”

At the September 11, 2016 ceremony, President Barack Obama remembered and honored the victims of terrorism. However, what was Obama’s position when he visited La Moneda in Chile in 2011, the presidential palace where the U.S.-organized military coup of September 11, 1973, took place?

Chile was the second leg of Obama’s March 2011 trip to Latin America. For the vast majority of people in Latin America, as well as many in North America and Europe, Chile invokes the atrocious events of 1973.

The military coup was directed against the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende. After the coup, tens of thousands of people were imprisoned, tortured, killed, forced into exile or disappeared. All left-wing socialist and communist organizations were violently suppressed. Allende, one of the icons of Latin American socialist and revolutionary personalities, himself died on that day in La Moneda Palace.

At La Moneda on March 21, 2011, Obama, along with his host, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, addressed invited guests and some journalists at a press conference. In his opening remarks, Obama did not refer to the 1973 military coup nor, of course, to U.S. responsibility, but he did mention that Chile has “built a robust democracy.”

The US-orchestrated coup in Chile led to tens of thousands of people being imprisoned, tortured, killed, forced into exile or disappeared.

The US-orchestrated coup in Chile led to tens of thousands of people being imprisoned, tortured, killed, forced into exile or disappeared. | Photo: EFE

The first question asked by a journalist addressing Obama, despite his comments about transition to democracy, was, “In Chile … there are some open wounds of the dictatorship of General Pinochet. Political leaders, leaders of the world, of human rights, even MPs … have said that many of those wounds have to do with the United States … (is) the U.S. willing to collaborate with those judicial investigations … (is) the United States willing to ask for forgiveness for what it did in those very difficult years in the ’70s in Chile?”

In response to the correspondent’s question, Obama referred to the coup only as evidence of an “extremely rocky” relationship between the U.S. and Chile. This was followed by his statement that we should not be “trapped by our history,” that he “can’t speak to all of the policies of the past,” and repeated once again the importance of “understand(ing) our history, but not be(ing) trapped by it.”

In the same vein of avoiding the role of the U.S. in the 1973 coup, during another address in La Moneda several hours later, he was forced to make a vague reference to it. He referred to La Moneda as the place where “Chile lost its democracy decades ago.” He also made a frontal attack on Cuba.

He ignored the U.S. anti-communist orientation that motivated the 1973 coup against the Allende socialist government supported by the Chilean communists. Cuba and Allende’s Chile while had very fraternal relationships. Nevertheless, Obama vowed, “support for the rights of people to determine their own future—and, yes, that includes the people of Cuba.”

People should not be surprised by Obama’s selective use of history regarding the 1973 coup in Chile. Obama announced in his second book, to those who were interested in knowing, where he stands on the issue of military coups versus progressive or socialist thought and action.

He wrote, “At times, in arguments with some of my friends on the left, I would find myself in the curious position of defending aspects of Reagan’s world view. I didn’t understand why, for example, progressives should be less comfortable about oppression behind the Iron Curtain than they were about brutality in Chile.”

It is important for people to reflect seriously upon Obama’s manipulation of history and political content that is embedded in his use of the past. Together, they form the manner in which Obama and the U.S.-type of multi-party, competitive democracy use selective history with the goal of distancing themselves (in the case of Obama) from the previous administrations and, indeed, the entire history of U.S. military interventions in the hemisphere.

This process is carried out in order to provide a “new face” to U.S. intervention. This course of action even goes so far as to co-opt opposition to the decades-long U.S. policy so that this resistance applauds the new U.S. image under Obama. He goes to La Moneda, where the U.S. was responsible for the death of Allende.

Obama uses the hostility against the U.S.-organized coup and the pro-Allende sentiment by attempting to convert the resentment in favor of the U.S. by giving the impression that Washington is turning the page on its aggressive interference and thus the Chilean people can rely on the U.S. and Obama himself.

We recall, as mentioned above, Obama’s comment in his second book regarding his frustration about progressives and the left standing up against the coup in Chile. He juxtaposed this progressive political tendency to repression behind the Iron Curtain. Obama’s view on the Iron Curtain versus Chile reflects a very important traditional stance of U.S.-foreign policy.

Irrespective of one’s opinion on the former USSR and Eastern Europe, what has been the age-long policy of the U.S. since the 1917 October Revolution?

The course of action has been to support anything that opposes socialist, progressive and revolutionary ideas and actions. Taking the 20th century alone, there was the initial support for the fascists in Germany and Italy leading up to World War II, because it had in its crosshairs the USSR. There were also the innumerable, bloody undertakings in Latin America throughout the century—El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, Grenada, etc.—it is well known with whom the U.S. has always sided and against which forces it fought.

What remains a problem to be solved is that many people still turn a blind eye to Obama’s writings and utterances, a haziness caused by the U.S.-centric, prejudiced faith in the legend that the U.S. two-party system can really compete between programs of “change” and “status quo.”

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of “Democracy in Cuba” and the “1997-98 Elections” and, more recently, “Cuba and its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion.” Arnold can be followed on Twitter andFaceBook.

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On September 9, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Desert Hawks Brigade, the Syrian Marines and and Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) started a full-scale advance on Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al Nusra) and Jaish al-Fatah terrorists in the province of Latakia. The advance was massively supported by airstrikes of Russian and Syrian warplanes and followed reports that 1,000 cadets completed a 6 month training cycle for the Syrian Marines by Russian military advisers and had been deployed at the frontline in northern Latakia.

By September 12, the loyalists captured a group of villages in northeastern and northwestern parts of the province and finished the day with pushing the terrorist alliance from the strategic Al-Ra’i Mountains. The control of Al-Ra’i Mountains allows the pro-government forces to overlook the countryside of Idlib province and the strategic village of Kabani.

The pro-government forces have also stormed Kabbani and the nearby mountaintops of Jabal Hassan Al-Ra’i, Tal Haddadeh, and Jabal Tufahiyah. As result of this move, the Syrian army and its allies captured Jabal Hassan Al-Ra’i and Jabal Al-Tufahiyah. However, they were unable to push terrorists from Kabani. Further attempts to do this are expected in the nearest future.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham have agreed to surrender the last terrorist-controlled district of Homs, Al-Wa’er, to the Syrian government. The agreement includes transporting 300 militants and their families to the northern countryside of the Homs province.

Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, one of the largest Syrian militant groups, rejected the proposed ceasefire deal that would end all hostilities between non-terrorist factions inside the country, Al-Arabiya News reported on Sunday. Ahrar Al-Sham’s spokesperson “Abu Yousif Al-Muhajar” stated on Sunday that this ceasefire is “unacceptable” because it allegedly strengthens the pro-government forces. If true, this will likely undermine the shaky stability needed to implement the proposed agreement on the ground.

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Update to the situation covered in the below video report by Washington’s Blog:

Since the video was made, the House and Senate have unanimously passed an act that could make it possible for US 9/11 victims to sue Saudis for their complicity in perpetrating the 9/11 attack.

Bush and Obama censored for more than a decade the evidence of Saudi involvement while they invaded Iraq, killing at least hundreds of thousands of people.

Obama is now reasserting his intention to veto the act, but, as Jason Ditz reports, will still allow “9/11 victims to sue Iran, even though Iran had nothing to do with the attack”.

Ditz continues that this is in keeping with the standard US practice of “protecting its allies [and itself] from lawsuits while setting up suits against international rivals”.  (The US has been attempting to reconquer Iran since 1979 when the US’s Iranian proxy-dictator, whom Amnesty International called one of the world’s worst human rights violators, was overthrown.)

Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the US-backed Saudi dictatorship appears to have also provided financial and other forms of support for the crime.

Iran appears to have had no involvement, and has instead been a major victim of US violence for many decades, with, for example, Saddam Hussein’s US-backed war of aggression against Iran killing up to a million Iranians, including with illegal chemical weapons provided to Hussein by the US and Europe:

“U.S. exports to Iraq included the precursors to chemical-warfare agents, plans for chemical and biological warfare production facilities, and chemical-warhead filling equipment.”

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Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror

In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos:

(1)  In 1697, native American conspirators admitted in court that Iroquois leaders convinced a Piscataway tribesman to murder an Englishwoman in Virginia  for the purpose of igniting a war between the English and the Piscataway – thus weakening both parties – and allowing the Iroquois to seize Piscataway lands.

(2) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the ‘Incident’ was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” And see this, this and this.

(3) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.

(4) The minutes of the high command of the Italian government – subsequently approved by Mussolini himself – admitted that violence on the Greek-Albanian border was carried out by Italians and falsely blamed on the Greeks, as an excuse for Italy’s 1940 invasion of Greece.

(5) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

(6) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939 – while blaming the attack on Finland – as a basis for launching the “Winter War” against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor in the Winter War.

(7) The Russian Parliament, current Russian president Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, and then falsely blamed it on the Nazis.

(8) The British government admits that – between 1946 and 1948 – it bombed 5 ships carrying Jews attempting to flee the Holocaust to seek safety in Palestine, set up a fake group called “Defenders of Arab Palestine”, and then had the psuedo-group falsely claim responsibility for the bombings (and see thisthisand this).

(9) Israel admits that in 1954, an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this).

The U.S. Army does not believe this is an isolated incident. For example, the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies said of Mossad (Israel’s intelligence service):

“Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act.”

(10) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950′s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

(11) The Turkish Prime Minister admitted that the Turkish government carried out the 1955 bombing on a Turkish consulate in Greece – also damaging the nearby birthplace of the founder of modern Turkey – and blamed it on Greece, for the purpose of inciting and justifying anti-Greek violence.

(12) The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change.

(13) The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s through the 1980s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism.

As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security” … so that “a state of emergency could be declared, so people would willingly trade part of their freedom for the security” (and see this) (Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special. They also allegedly carried out terror attacks in France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and other countries.

The CIA also stressed to the head of the Italian program that Italy needed to use the program to control internal uprisings.

False flag attacks carried out pursuant to this program include – by way of example only:

(14) In 1960, American Senator George Smathers suggested that the U.S. launch “a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]”.

(15) Official State Department documents show that, in 1961, the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals.

(16) As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in 1962, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news reportthe official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

(17) In 1963, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote a paper promoting attacks on nations within the Organization of American States – such as Trinidad-Tobago or Jamaica – and then falsely blaming them on Cuba.

(18) The U.S. Department of Defense also suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: “The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro’s subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on Guantanamo.”

(19) A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its “Cointelpro” campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

(20) A top Turkish general admitted that Turkish forces burned down a mosque on Cyprus in the 1970s and blamed it on their enemy. He explained: “In Special War, certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance. We did this on Cyprus; we even burnt down a mosque.” In response to the surprised correspondent’s incredulous look the general said, “I am giving an example”.

(21) A declassified 1973 CIA document reveals a program to train foreign police and troops on how to make booby traps, pretending that they were training them on how to investigate terrorist acts:

The Agency maintains liaison in varying degrees with foreign police/security organizations through its field stations ….

[CIA provides training sessions as follows:]a. Providing trainees with basic knowledge in the uses of commercial and military demolitions and incendiaries as they may be applied in terrorism and industrial sabotage operations.

b. Introducing the trainees to commercially available materials and home laboratory techniques, likely to he used in the manufacture of explosives and incendiaries by terrorists or saboteurs.

c. Familiarizing the trainees with the concept of target analysis and operational planning that a saboteur or terrorist must employ.

d. Introducing the trainees to booby trapping devices and techniques giving practical experience with both manufactured and improvised devices through actual fabrication.


The program provides the trainees with ample opportunity to develop basic familiarity and use proficiently through handling, preparing and applying the various explosive charges, incendiary agents, terrorist devices and sabotage techniques.

(22) The German government admitted (and see this) that, in 1978, the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted “escape tools” on a prisoner – a member of the Red Army Faction – which the secret service wished to frame the bombing on.

(23) A Mossad agent admits that, in 1984, Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Gaddaffi’s compound in Tripoli, Libya which broadcast fake terrorist transmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

(24) The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing.

(25) An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author).

(26) In 1993, a bomb in Northern Ireland killed 9 civilians. Official documents from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (i.e. the British government) show that the mastermind of the bombing was a British agent, and that the bombing was designed to inflame sectarian tensions. And see this and this.

(27) The United States Army’s 1994 publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces – updated in 2004 – recommends employing terrorists and using false flag operations to destabilize leftist regimes in Latin America. False flag terrorist attacks were carried out in Latin America and other regions as part of the CIA’s “Dirty Wars“. And see this.

(28) Similarly, a CIA “psychological operations” manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a “martyr” for the cause. The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government. The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other news coverage that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

(29) A Rwandan government inquiry admitted  that the 1994 shootdown and murder of the Rwandan president, who was from the Hutu tribe – a murder blamed by the Hutus on the rival Tutsi tribe, and which led to the massacre of more than 800,000 Tutsis by Hutus – was committed by Hutu soldiers and falsely blamed on the Tutis.

(30) An Indonesian government fact-finding team investigated violent riots which occurred in 1998, and determined that “elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked”.

(31) Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion).

(32) As reported by the New York TimesBBC and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that in 2001, the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”. luring foreign migrants into the country, executing them in a staged gun battle, and then claiming they were a unit backed by Al Qaeda intent on attacking Western embassies”. Macedonian authorities had lured the immigrants into the country, and then – after killing them – posed the victims with planted evidence – “bags of uniforms and semiautomatic weapons at their side” – to show Western diplomats.

(33) At the July 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, black-clad thugs were videotaped getting out of police cars, and were seen by an Italian MP carrying “iron bars inside the police station”. Subsequently, senior police officials in Genoa subsequently admitted that police planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer at the G8 Summit, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.

(34) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war.

Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction.

Despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have allegedthat 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).

(Additionally, the same judge who has shielded the Saudis for any liability for funding 9/11 has awarded a default judgment against Iran for $10.5 billion for carrying out 9/11 … even though no one seriously believes that Iran had any part in 9/11.)

(35) Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country. And see this.

(36) According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.

(37) The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings.

(38) Police outside of a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester.

(39) Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launch fake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”

(40) Similarly, in 2005, Professor John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School – a renowned US defense analyst credited with developing the concept of ‘netwar’ – called for western intelligence services to create new “pseudo gang” terrorist groups, as a way of undermining “real” terror networks. According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh, Arquilla’s ‘pseudo-gang’ strategy was, Hersh reported, already being implemented by the Pentagon:

“Under Rumsfeld’s new approach, I was told, US military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists

The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls ‘action teams’ in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. ‘Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?’ the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. ‘We founded them and we financed them,’ he said. ‘The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.’ A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, ‘We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.’”

(41) United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

(42) In 2005, British soldiers dressed as Arabs were caught by Iraqi police after a shootout against the police. The soldiers apparently possessed explosives, and were accused of attempting to set off bombs. While none of the soldiers admitted that they were carrying out attacks, British soldiers and a column of British tanks stormed the jail they were held in, broke down a wall of the jail, and busted them out. The extreme measures used to free the soldiers – rather than have them face questions and potentially stand trial – could be considered an admission.

(43) Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians.

(44) Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this).

(45) A 2008 US Army special operations field manual recommends that the U.S. military use surrogate non-state groups such as “paramilitary forces, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistant or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political ‘undesirables.’” The manual specifically acknowledged that U.S. special operations can involve both counterterrorism and “Terrorism” (as well as “transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms-dealing, and illegal financial transactions.”)

(46) The former Italian Prime Minister, President, and head of Secret Services (Francesco Cossiga) advised the 2008 minister in charge of the police, on how to deal with protests from teachers and students:

He should do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior … infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs inclined to do anything …. And after that, with the strength of the gained population consent, … beat them for blood and beat for blood also those teachers that incite them. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly, of course, but the girl teachers yes.

(47) At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.

(48) Egyptian politicians admitted (and see this) that government employees looted priceless museum artifacts 2011 to try to discredit the protesters.

(49) In 2011, a Colombian colonel admitted that he and his soldiers had lured 57 innocent civilians and killed them – after dressing many of them in uniforms – as part of a scheme to claim that Columbia was eradicating left-wing terrorists. And see this.

(50) Rioters who discredited the peaceful protests against the swearing in of the Mexican president in 2012 admitted that they were paid 300 pesos each to destroy everything in their path. According to Wikipedia, photos also show the vandals waiting in groups behind police lines prior to the violence.

(51) A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

(52) On November 20, 2014, Mexican agent provocateurs were transported by army vehicles to participate in the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping protests, as was shown by videos and pictures distributed via social networks.

(53) The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls “Chechen” terrorists.

(54) Two members of the Turkish parliamenthigh-level American sources and others admitted that the Turkish government – a NATO country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks in Syria and falsely blamed them on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out attacks and blame it on the Syrian government.

(55) The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the Ukrainian coup were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that the Ukrainian snipers fired on both sides, to create maximum chaos.

(56) Burmese government officials admitted that Burma (renamed Myanmar) used false flag attacks against Muslim and Buddhist groups within the country to stir up hatred between the two groups, to prevent democracy from spreading.

(57) Israeli police were again filmed in 2015 dressing up as Arabs and throwing stones, then turning over Palestinian protesters to Israeli soldiers.

(58) Britain’s spy agency has admitted (and see this) that it carries out “digital false flag” attacks on targets, framing people by writing offensive or unlawful material … and blaming it on the target.

(59) U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants

(60) Similarly, police frame innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit. The practice is so well-known that the New York Times noted in 1981:

In police jargon, a throwdown is a weapon planted on a victim.

Newsweek reported in 1999:

Perez, himself a former [Los Angeles Police Department] cop, was caught stealing eight pounds of cocaine from police evidence lockers. After pleading guilty in September, he bargained for a lighter sentence by telling an appalling story of attempted murder and a “throwdown”–police slang for a weapon planted by cops to make a shooting legally justifiable. Perez said he and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, shot an unarmed 18th Street Gang member named Javier Ovando, then planted a semiautomatic rifle on the unconscious suspect and claimed that Ovando had tried to shoot themduring a stakeout.

Wikipedia notes:

As part of his plea bargain, Pérez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division’s anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.

(As a side note – and while not technically false flag attacks – police have been busted framing innocent people in many other ways, as well.)

(61) A former U.S. intelligence officer recently alleged:

Most terrorists are false flag terrorists or are created by our own security services.

(62) The head and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office said that most terror attacks are committed by the CIA and FBI as false flags. Similarly, the director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

(audio here).

(63) The Director of Analytics at the interagency Global Engagement Center housed at the U.S. Department of State, also an adjunct professor at George Mason University, where he teaches the graduate course National Security Challenges in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology, a former branch chief in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, and an intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security (J.D. Maddox) notes:

Provocation is one of the most basic, but confounding, aspects of warfare.  Despite its sometimes obvious use, it has succeeded consistently against audiences around the world, for millennia,  to  compel  war.  A  well-constructed  provocation  narrative  mutes  even  the  most vocal opposition.


The  culmination  of  a strategic  provocation  operation  invariably  reflects  a  narrative  of  victimhood:  we  are  the
victims of the enemy’s unforgivable atrocities.


In the case of strategic provocation the deaths of an aggressor’s own personnel are a core tactic of the provocation.


The persistent use of strategic provocation over centuries – and its apparent importance to war planners – begs the question of its likely use by the US and other states in the near term.

(64) Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the “benefits” of of false flags to justify their political agenda:

Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
– Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
– Josef Stalin

Postscript: The media plays along as well. For example, in 2012, NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, was kidnapped in Syria. NBC News said that Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by forces affiliated with the Syrian government. He reported that they only escaped when some anti-Syrian government rebels killed some of the pro-government kidnappers.

However, NBC subsequently admitted that this was false. It turns out that they were really kidnapped by people associated with the U.S. backed rebels fighting the Syrian government … who wore the clothes of, faked the accent of, scrawled the slogans of, and otherwise falsely impersonated the mannerisms of people associated with the Syrian government. In reality, the group that kidnapped Engel and his crew were affiliated with the U.S.-supported Free Syrian Army, and NBC should have known that it was blaming the wrong party. See the New York Times and the Nation’s reporting.

Of course, sometimes atrocities or warmongering are falsely blamed on the enemy as a justification for war … when no such event ever occurred. This is sort of like false flag terror … without the terror.

For example:

  • The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war
  • One of the central lies used to justify the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq after Iraq invaded Kuwait was the false statement by a young Kuwaiti girl that Iraqis murdered Kuwaiti babies in hospitals. Her statement was arranged by a Congressman who knew that she was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U.S. – who was desperately trying to lobby the U.S. to enter the war – but the Congressman hid that fact from the public and from Congress
  • Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind reported that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 … and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see this and this
  • Time magazine points out that the claim by President Bush that Iraq was attempting to buy “yellow cake” Uranium from Niger:

had been checked out — and debunked — by U.S. intelligence a year before the President repeated it.

  • The “humanitarian” wars in Syria, Libya and Yugoslavia were all justified by exaggerated reports that the leaders of those countries were committing atrocities against their people. And see this
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Bending the will to celebrate life and beauty in a city like Damascus is something that six years of war was not able to achieve; not even 600 years of war would do it.

It is no secret to anyone that the amount of damage done to archeological and cultural heritage of Syrian cities has exceeded anything recorded in human history so far. Yet, Damascus with all its greatness and will to remain strong and glorious, and despite its wounds, has decided to enter the race and document its amazing heritage in different fields of creativity.



Damascene artifacts are known worldwide for their high quality and their charming beauty; those artifacts have been passed from one generation to the next for centuries, from great grandparents to sons and grandchildren. Folktales, music, architecture, music, literature, design and many other domains have made Damascus over the ages a pilgrimage site for lovers of all forms of art and folklore.

12805662_1544347919190893_8542875810480605374_nThe Creative Cities Network is currently formed by 116 Members from 54 countries covering seven creative fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts. Damascus now is compiling its nomination file for becoming a member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

Please Support and share publications of this page (Damascus A Creative City) and help maintain the remains of our Syrian precious culture.

Also support the hashtag #DamscusCreativeCity  #دمشق_مدينة_مبدعة

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Over the past 15 years many highly respected academics and experts have come forward to challenge the official narrative on the collapse of the WTC towers forwarded by the U.S. government. The official government position holds that the collapse of all three towers was due to intense heat inside of the buildings.

But a new forensic investigation into the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11, published in Europhysics News – a highly respected European physics magazine – claims that “the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that all three buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition.”

While many in the mainstream have attempted to label anyone questioning the official narrative as “tin foil hat” conspiracy theorist, many highly respected experts have come forward to lampoon the idea that the buildings collapsed due to the intense heat and fires following two terrorist-directed plane crashes.

“Given the far-reaching implications, it is morally imperative that this hypothesis be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities,” the four physicists conclude in the damning report.

The new study is the work of Steven Jones, former full professor of physics at Brigham Young University, Robert Korol, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, Anthony Szamboti, a mechanical design engineer with over 25 years of structural design experience in the aerospace and communications industries and Ted Walter, the director of strategy and development for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a nonprofit organization that today represents more than 2,500 architects and engineers.

The comprehensive study in Europhysics Magazine directly challenges the official narrative and lends to a growing body of evidence that seriously questions the veracity of the government narrative.

In 2002, the National Institute of Standards and Technology remarked that the case was exceptionally bizarre. There were no other known cases of total structural collapses in high-rise buildings caused by fires and so it is deeply unusual that it should have happened three times in the space of one day, noted NIST.

Official investigations have never been able to thoroughly and coherently explain how this might have happened and various teams tasked with examining the collapse have raised difficult questions about the veracity of the government’s story.

Perhaps most damning of all, the experts claimed that after a thorough forensic analysis of video footage of the building’s collapse, it revealed signs of a controlled implosion. Additionally, Jones has co-authored a number of papers documenting evidence of unreacted nano-thermitic material in the WTC dust.

The authors of the study note that the buildings fell with such speed and symmetry that they there was no other feasible explanation for the sudden collapse at free fall speeds – directly refuting studies that attempted to debunk the idea that the building fell without resistance. These respected experts’ new forensic analysis only adds to the growing movement of people calling for a new and impartial investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Revealing the scope and breadth of public disbelief in the official government narrative surrounding the events of 9/11, even presidential candidate Jill Stein has recently called for a new investigation.

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Drug-Induced Dementia IS NOT Alzheimer’s Disease

September 13th, 2016 by Dr. Gary G. Kohls

“The desire to take medicine is perhaps  the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals.” –– Sir William Osler

“More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia.” and “Alzheimer’s (can only be) distinguished from other dementias at autopsy.” — from a Harvard University Health Publication entitled What’s Causing Your Memory Loss? It Isn’t Necessarily Alzheimer’s

“Medications have now emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial damage, which may explain many adverse effects. All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others…Damage to mitochondria is now understood to play a role in the pathogenesis of a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis. Medications have now emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial damage, which may explain many adverse effects” —  Neustadt and  Pieczenik  authors of Medication-induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease

“Establishing mitochondrial toxicity is not an FDA requirement for drug approval, so there is no real way of knowing which agents are truly toxic.”  – Dr. Katherine Sims, Mass General Hospital –

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair, anti-fascist, anti-imperialist American author who wrote in the early 20th century.

“No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable…for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.” – President Ronald Reagan, as he signed The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, absolving drug companies from all medico-legal liability when children die or are disabled from vaccine injuries.

Over the past several decades there have been a number of well-financed campaigns, promoted by well-meaning laypersons, to raise public awareness to the plight of patients with dementia. Suspiciously, most of these campaigns come from “patient support” groups lead the public to believe that every dementia patient has Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).

Not so curiously, it turns out that many – perhaps all – of these campaigns have been funded – usually secretly – by the very pharmaceutical companies that benefit economically by indirectly promoting the sale of so-called Alzheimer’s drugs.

Such corporate-generated public relations “campaigns” are standard operating procedure for all of Big Pharma’s drugs, especially its psycho-pharmaceutical drugs. Big Pharma has found that the promotion and de-stigmatization of so-called “mental illnesses of unknown etiology” is a great tool for marketing their drugs.


Recently Alzheimer’s support groups all around the nation have been marketing a documentary about country singer Glen Campbell who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (of unknown etiology) despite the obvious fact that Campbell was infamous for his chronic heavy use of brain-damaging, dementia-inducing, addictive, and very neurotoxic drugs like cocaine and alcohol. And, just like so many other hard-living celebrities like the (now cured) dementia victim Kris Kristofferson and the suicidal and early dementia victim Robin Williams. All three celebrities were known to have received prescriptions for legal neurotoxic brain-altering drugs, adding to the burdens that their failing brains, livers and psyches had to endure. It is highly likely that all three of them were also on statins and were up-to-date on their mercury and aluminum-containing vaccinations.

It is an established fact that Alzheimer’s disease can only be definitively diagnosed at a post-mortem examination of the cerebral cortex, something that dementia patients are almost never subjected to. Because of the rarity of coroners doing autopsies on dementia patients, we have to question the accuracy of the diagnoses of, for example, the still living Glen Campbell, Kris Kristofferson and our own memory-impaired spouses, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas, especially since so many of them have been on neurotoxic substances such as those mentioned in this article.

And we also have to question the motivations of the Big Pharma corporations that financially underwrite patient support groups like the Alzheimer’s Association. AND, equally importantly, given the total lack of recognition of the reality of drug-induced dementia, we have to question to oft-cited assertion that 2/3 of all dementia cases are because of Alzheimer’s disease (of unknown cause).

Are the Alzheimer’s, Autism and Autoimmune Epidemics Actually Iatrogenic, Drug-Induced Epidemics?

Synchronous with the recent large increases in 1) childhood and adult neurotoxic aluminum-adjuvanted vaccinations, 2) the use of neurotoxic psychotropic drugs, 3) the use of statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering drugs)  known to cause memory-impairment, and 4) the  ingestion of a variety of neurotoxic food additives, there has been a large parallel increase in A) the incidence of chronic autoimmune disorders, especially in childhood, B)the incidence of autistic spectrum disorders, C) “mental illnesses of unknown origin” and D) dementia.

For more go to:—mitochondrial_b_147030.html.

Each of those 4 root causes and the 4 neurological disorders that are closely correlated with them are admittedly multifactorial realities. But the important lesson is that they are also preventable. However, due to clever marketing by Big Pharma and the studied ignorance of Big Medicine and the refusal of Big Media to allow scholars to talk about the connections, “walks for the cure” and drug treatment is what is emphasized rather that prevention.

So what we need to ask – and then demand – is an honest answer to the question “could there be a connection between America’s increasingly common over-prescribing of immunotoxic, neurotoxic, synthetic prescription drugs and the equally over-prescribed immunotoxic and neurotoxic vaccines (that often contain either of the heavy metals aluminum and mercury) and some of the neurodegenerative disorders that supposedly “have no known cause”? Could the disabling American epidemic of autoimmune disorders, psychiatric disorders, autism spectrum disorders, etc (all supposedly of unknown origin) be found to have recognizable iatrogenic root causes and therefore be preventable? Psychiatrist and scholar Grace E. Jackson has the answers in her seminal (and black-listed) book

“Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime”.

These are extremely important issues, especially in the case of the dementia epidemic, because the Alzheimer’s patient support groups seem to be unaware of the fact that many psychiatric drugs are known to irreversibly damage brain cells (partly by poisoning their mitochondria, the microscopic hearts and lungs of every cell) and therefore would be expected to cause a variety of other neurological and mental health disorders. (See more info on drugs and mitochondria below.

One of the big problems in America’s corporate-controlled culture, corporate-controlled government, corporate-controlled medical industries and corporate-controlled media is that the giant multinational (especially Big Pharma) corporations are in the business of developing and marketing known mitochondrial toxins with no oversight from regulatory agencies. These businesses obscure the fact that there ARE known causes for the disorders and that they are preventable. The unproven claims expressed in the TV commercials and medical journals advertising the newest drug-of-the-month are often later exposed as plain snake oil propaganda.

It should be a concern for everyone that some Alzheimer’s support groups are actually front groups for the pharmaceutical industry that profit handsomely from the handful of virtually useless drugs such as Aricept, Exelon, Namenda, Hexalon, and Razadyne.

Prescription Drug-Induced and Vaccine-Induced Mitochondrial Disorders

Acquired mitochondrial disorders (as opposed to the rare primary mitochondrial disorders like muscular dystrophy) can be caused by commonly prescribed drugs. They are difficult to diagnose and are generally poorly understood by most healthcare practitioners. When I went to medical school, none of my professors knew anything about the lethal effects that many synthetic drugs and vaccines do to the mitochondria of average brain or body cells. The science of the mitochondria was in its infancy.

A lot of mitochondrial research has been done since then, especially starting in the 1990s,and that research has proven the connections between a variety of commonly prescribed medications and mitochondrial disorders. That evidence seems to have been cunningly covered-up by the for-profit pharma groups whose drug are the culprits. Big Pharma has tremendous control  over the medical education of most health care providers, and they spoon-feed pro-drug and pro-vaccine propaganda to undiscerning “healthcare” journalists, which is where many physicians and patients get their health information.

An Honest Patient Guide for Dementia Patients (from Harvard)

I was pleasantly surprised recently to find a reasonably honest guide for dementia patients on a Harvard University website.

The entire guide can be accessed at

The information at that site stated that there were over 50 conditions that could cause or mimic early dementia symptoms. What medical practitioner in our double-booked clinic environment has the time to thoroughly rule out the 50 root causes of dementia symptoms when confronted with a patient with memory loss? It’s simpler to just diagnose every case of dementia as another case of Alzheimers! Who will ever dispute such an authoritative-sounding diagnosis? Certainly not those who want to keep dementia from being recognized as a potentially iatrogenic disorder (doctor or treatment-caused disorder).

I have often said to my patients and seminar participants: “it takes only 2 minutes to write a prescription, but it takes 20 minutes to not write a prescription”. In the current for-profit clinic culture, time is money and very few physicians are ever given the “luxury” of spending sufficient time listening carefully to their patients. (In defense of the physicians that I know, they are not happy about these realities but feel powerless to do anything about it.)

It is so tempting for us physicians to use the popularized, but rather squishy label of Alzheimer’s dementia rather than to educate ourselves about the possibility of drug-induced, vaccine-induced or malnutrition-related dementia. But what is so important is that many of the 50+ conditions are preventable or reversible, which will be therapeutic only if the real root causes are identified before permanent brain damage occurs. Just one example was the subject of the book “Lipitor: Thief of Memory” written by former astronaut and flight surgeon Duane Graveline, M.D., M.P.H

(for more information go to

The Harvard guide actually said that “medications are common culprits in mental decline. With aging, the liver becomes less efficient at metabolizing drugs, and the kidneys eliminate them from the body more slowly. As a result, drugs tend to accumulate in the body. Elderly people in poor health and those taking several different medications are especially vulnerable.”

The guide continued with a list of the possible classes of prescription drugs that number in the hundreds:

“The list of drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms is long. It includes antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-Parkinson drugs, anti-anxiety medications, cardiovascular drugs, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, narcotics, sedatives.”

The Harvard guide went on to emphasize that Alzheimer’s can only be accurately diagnosed on a post-mortem examination. The guide states that “Alzheimer’s is distinguished from other dementias at autopsy by the presence of sticky beta-amyloid plaques outside brain cells (neurons) and fibrillary tangles within neurons (all indicative of cellular death). Although such lesions may be present in any aging brain, in people with Alzheimer’s these lesions tend to be more numerous and accumulate in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory.”

“The leading theory is that the damage to the brain results from inflammation and other biological changes that cause synaptic loss and malfunction, disrupting communication between brain cells. Eventually the brain cells die, causing tissue loss and cell carcasses or scars.  In imaging scans, brain shrinkage is usually first noticeable in the hippocampus, which plays a central role in memory function.”

The FDA Does Not Require Big Pharma to Test its New Drugs or Vaccines for Mitochondrial Toxicity

But even the Harvard guide inexplicably fails to mention known mitochondrial toxins such as statins, metformin, Depakote, general anesthetics, fluoroquinolone antibiotics (like Cipro), fluorinated psychotropic drugs (like many of the SSRIs and the so-called antipsychotics).

And Big Food corporations are guilty of feeding us neurotoxins also.

For example, when the ubiquitous synthetic food, soft drink and chewing gum sweetener NutraSweet (aspartame) reaches 86 degrees (whether in our 98.6 degree bodies or in some MidEast desert (as was true for many American soldiers who developed Gulf War Syndrome) every molecule releases a molecule of the excitotoxic amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid and one molecule of the cellular toxin methanol (wood alcohol). Methanol then rapidly metabolizes into the known mitochondrial poison formaldehyde (embalming fluid), which is a serious cellular and mitochondrial toxin.

The chlorinated artificial sweetener Splenda, which was initially developed as a neurotoxic pesticide, is in an uncountable variety of foods as well.

These examples are only some of the synthetic chemicals in medicines, vaccines and processed foods that are capable of causing mitochondrial damage in brain and body cells – with memory loss, confusion and cognitive dysfunction, all early symptoms of dementia.

It is a tragedy for reversible and preventable drug- or vaccine-induced dementias (or any of the many neurodegenerative disorders) to be mis-diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease (or neurological disorder) “of unknown cause” because if the root causes are not recognized preventive care will not be offered. And then, what may be worse, those patients might be placed on costly, potentially toxic and often useless medications that have not been tested for their own potential mitochondrial toxicities. (Tragically, the American pharmaceutical industry is not required by the FDA to test its drugs for mitochondrial toxicity, thus leaving physicians and their drug-consuming patients in the dark as far as safety of those medications is concerned.)

There is much more in the basic neuroscience literature proving the connections between drugs and vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. Those basic neuroscience researchers that do not have conflicts of interest with Big Pharma and Big Medicine should be listened to. Those authors with monetary or professional conflicts of interest should be regarded with suspicion.

Don’t expect Big Pharma to respond to such unwelcome revelations as mentioned above. Don’t expect Big Medicine to acknowledge the existence of iatrogenic illnesses or to offer apologies.

Do, however, expect denials, dismissals, distractions, delays and ad hominem attacks against the whistle-blowers rather than honest mea culpas.

So it must be up to the consumers of potentially toxic substances to do the research themselves, for those substances may not show symptoms until a tipping point is reached when their livers can no longer detoxify the cocktail of poisons that are presented to it).

Professor of Medicine Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “If all the medicine in the world were thrown into the sea, it would be bad for the fish, but good for humanity.”

Enough said.

Dr Kohls has spent many years researching the powerful, obscenely profitable and therefore easily corrupted pharmaceutical industry and the many false claims that their lobbyists, think tanks and co-opted opinion leaders in the media have been making. He knows many families whose lives have been devastated by psychiatric drug and vaccine injuries, including the post-vaccination regressive autism that unequivocally began following routine well-baby or well-child vaccinations. He takes seriously the precepts of the Hippocratic Oath that he took when he received his medical degree. That oath says that physicians should above all do no harm to their patients and thus, when there is evidence of potential harm from a prescription drug, vaccine or procedure, physicians should hesitate in doing that harmful treatment until a thorough, unbiased re-evaluation is done. 

Tragically, there has been a proliferation of big medical corporations (for-profit health insurance companies, for-profit clinics, for-profit hospitals, etc) and the secretive, often above-the-law multinational pharmaceutical corporations that regularly use corrupted science to “prove” the safety and efficacy of their obscenely profitable drugs. They employ thousands of workers but mainly work for the economic benefit of their shareholders and not vulnerable patients. 

Dr Kohls practiced holistic mental health care for the last decade of his family practice career. He now writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly published in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. Many of his Duty to Warn columns have been archived at, or at

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Last week, Pope Francis and church officials encouraged everyone to consume less and think more about our impact on the environment.

It’s a timely warning because the next six months will be critical to our future.

Ahead of a series of major events later this year, The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center released a collection that illustrates the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it’s breathtaking.

“This is an issue that people care about, and oftentimes it’s just not discussed by mainstream media,” Missie Thurston, director of marketing and communications at the Population Media Center, told Mic.

It’s difficult to always know the impacts of our daily choices, like the real effect of buying a bottled water or an extra TV or laptop. With 220,000 more people on the planet every day, and the average person generating over 4 pounds of waste a day — an almost 60% increase since 1960 — the impact of that growth and change in behavior is rarely seen like this.

 Source: Peter Essick/Foundation for Deep Ecology

 Electronic waste, from around the world, is shipped to Accra, Ghana, where locals break apart the electronics for minerals or burn them. 

Source: Pablo Lopez Luz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Mexico City, Mexico, one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.

 Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

New Delhi, India, where many landfills are reaching a breaking point. The surrounding population of Delhi totals some 25 million people

Source: Mike Hedge/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Los Angeles, California, which is famous for sometimes having more cars than people.

Source: Mark Gamba/Corbis/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Kern River Oil Field, California, USA.

Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Former old-growth forest leveled for reservoir development, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, per the Population Media Center.

Source: Jason Hawkes/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Coal power plant, United Kingdom.

Source: Cotton Coulson/Keenpress/Foundation for Deep Ecology

North East Land, Svalbard, Norway, where rising global temperatures are fundamentally changing the ecology.

Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

The world’s largest diamond mine, Russia.

Source: Daniel Beltra/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Amazon jungle burns to make room for grazing cattle, Brazil.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands and open pit mining in an area so vast, it can be seen from space. Alberta, Canada.

Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

 Tires discarded in Nevada.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Vancouver Island, Canada.

Source: Yann Arthus Bertrand/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Industrial agriculture in Almeria, Spain, stretches for miles.

Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.

Source: Lu Guang/Foundation for Deep Ecology

 A man turns away from the smell of the Yellow River in China.

Source: M.R. Hasasn/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Bangladesh, where much of the world’s clothing and goods are manufactured.

Source: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Black Friday, Boise, Idaho.

Source: Zak Noyle/Foundation for Deep Ecology

A remote bay in Java, Indonesia, where local residents, without infrastructure for waste disposal, discard waste directly into streams and rivers.

The rest of the year is going to be critical. In September, world leaders will try and agree on sustainable development goals that will take us through 2030. In December, in Paris, the United Nations will attempt to finally set binding limits on pollution. 2015 will dictate how we address our degrading planet over the next few decades.

The Population Media Center and partners hope these photos will help generate awareness and action. Because as the word spreads, so does the will to make sure we never have to see images like these again.

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September eleventh, two thousand & one, was a very strange day. Of course we are told, enemies, hostile to Americans, people hating our Freedoms, attacked various locations near the heart and control centers of American power, New York City and Washington, DC.

We were told hijackers acting in synchronicity, boarded state of the art airliners in several cities, carrying passports and box cutters (like a “shank” used in prison), quickly overwhelmed the cockpits of the various airliners and soon were at the controls – piloting mankind’s most sophisticated flying machines toward a nefarious destiny. We later learn these pilots had trained to fly the world’s most sophisticated jet airliners by obtaining a few hours of training in single engine, high winged, Cessna airplanes.

At the same time, unfortunately, airspace drills were in progress around the East coast; drills ironically, simulating airliners being hijacked by Terrorists. These drills made it difficult for air traffic controllers to respond fast enough to the dangers of the commandeered flights — leaving the world’s most advanced and technologically guarded nation blind to the deliberate acts of destruction that were to follow. On that fateful and strange day, the FAA was unable to ask for “escort service” from the National Military Command Center and like the rest of the day that too was strange.

The story goes that airliners were flown into two populated skyscrapers in New York City as well as the Pentagon in Washington DC, and the last crashing straight into the ground at “Shank”sville, Pennsylvania.

According to an article in the Associated Press, the government referred to the excessive number of military drills in progress as a “bizarre coincidence.” According to many researchers there were more than 40 coinciding drills in action on that very strange day.

Richard Ben-Veniste, Commissioner : Isn t it a fact, Sir, that prior to September 11th, 2001, NORAD had already in the works, plans to simulate in an exercise, a simultaneous hijacking of two planes in the United States?

Maj. Gen. Craig McKinley : Col. Scott, do you have any data on that? I m not aware of that, Sir. I was not present at the time.

Richard Ben-Veniste,Commissioner:  That was operation Amalgam Virgo.

Col. Alan Scott:  Yes, Sir. Specifically, operation Amalgam Virgo, which I was involved in before I retired.

Col. Stephen N. Wood  : By sheer coincidence we were scheduled to conduct Timely Alert II,’ a force protection exercise on Sept. 11 and because of that, some of the concrete barriers were already in place.

And Operation “Operation Northern Vigilance” in progress that day, conveniently, or should I say coincidently, sent jets patrolling the U.S. east coast to Alaska and Canada; how strange.

Operation “Vigilant Guardian,” a fourth drill in progress that strange morning, also simulated hijacked planes.

And lets not forget “Operation Vigilant Warrior,” in progress likely as “Vigilante Guardian’s” nemesis.

Regardless of the how Vigilant the military and NORAD may practice to become, they were conspicuously and coincidently very un-vigilant on that very strange day.

More strange, however, than the enormous numbers of drills in progress on that fateful day, was the coincidental collapse of the laws of physics and several laws of nature. Perhaps the Laws of Nature were too busy drilling a possible attack on the laws of physics and missed the opportunity to control the events of 9-11.

It was on that very strange day when three massive, modern, heavy and flying fast airliners purportedly slammed into two buildings, each constructed with over 650,000 tons of concrete and steel, each reinforced to sustain just such a collision and internally fortified with flame retardant steel coatings, and the third into the United States Pentagon Building, a concrete reinforced super fortress, and in each case not leaving a single trace of the airliners in view.

In the case of the of the Pentagon – it is the most surveilled building on the planet with likely more than 80 cameras filming the area during the attack, but only five frames of blurry videowere made available, years later, to study the attack.

In the case of the video shown of Flight 175 for example, it appears on this very strange day, the World Trade Center seem to have turned temporarily into butter. The plane fully loaded with fuel and passengers surrounded by thin aluminum wings and fuselage is seen clearly swallowed into the building on the videos produced for public consumption that day.

A massive standing tower of concrete and steel, with an acre of concrete on each floor, exhibiting enormous short term physical inertia (the planes having only three one-hundredths of one percent of the mass of each Tower) which, on any other day, would have caused a gigantic external explosion followed by a blast of aluminum fragments, fuel, cargo and people. The 767’s twin Titanium 9000 lb engines should have produced massive indentations in the concrete and steel reinforced buildings, perhaps entering the buildings, but even these massive chunks of heavy metal would have met the massive wall of the World Trade Center, like an automobile slamming into the front end of a Mac Truck; the truck remaining largely intact as the car is stopped in its tracks.

The photos and videos show airliners being swallowed whole by the World Trade Centers – leaving nothing behind but a silhouette, much like Wiley Coyote launched through a wall chasing the Road Runner; this can only be explained as a temporary lapse in the laws of physics and nature – again it was a very strange day.

At the Pentagon, the full throttled 757 flying in ground effect (making it very difficult to keep the airplane close to the ground – but these were highly trained Cessna pilots) just above the cars, knocking down lamp posts in the parking lot, again finds the laws of nature rescinded and is totally and utterly consumed by the building producing a gigantic, nearly circular, opening in the Pentagon wall into which the entire plane, wings and landing gear and enormous engines are swallowed. Luckily for the environment, not even the grass on the lawn outside the building was scraped or damaged, and nothing **at all** remained of the gigantic twin engine 127,000 lb. airliner; no engines, wings, passengers, luggage, miles of cable, debris, nothing!

According to the CNN crew who showed up within minutes of the alleged crash, “There is no evidence of a plane hitting anywhere near the Pentagon.”

Again, the Pentagon turns to butter and a 757 folds itself into the shape of a torpedo and vanishes into circular hole that Donald Rumsfeld accidentally referred to as the result of amissile hitting the Pentagon. Perhaps it was a Stargate and the 757 loaded with crew and passengers entered a worm hole – destined for a planet in Alpha Prime.

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the site of the newly created, 9-11 Memorial (reinforcing the trauma of 9-11), the ground opened up and swallows yet another airplane – It turns out flight 93 had also located a “butter-gate” and disappeared without a trace into the ground – nothing remained. No Plane Found

On that Very Strange Day, steel melted at temperatures far below the natural melting point – reaffirming, the Laws of Physics and Nature were temporarily out service

The World Trade Centers — constructed with 650,000 tons of concrete and steel (top to very bottom); each floor rising skyward capable of sustaining the weight of all the other floors above and more as a safety factor of at least double was the standard engineering practice of the day – mysteriously collapse into its own footprint, reportedly the result of a pancake collapse resulting from collapsing caused by a weakness created by a kerosene fire and the steel support system melted, leaving the entire structure to fall at damn near free fall speeds.

It was a very strange day, because in order for a building, any building, to fall at close to free fall speeds, there must be almost nothing in the way of the fall, just air. In the case of the World Trade Centers, that would mean miles of steel reinforcing beams forming structural squares the length of the building would have to be removed. It would mean the concrete could not pile up on itself, slowing the fall and creating a compaction of very low compressible materials, which might also slow the fall, while creating a standing lump of steel and concrete. Surely this is only possible on certain days when nature is called away.

On that Strange Day … we are told kerosene melted the supporting steel beams and the building collapsed. But on a normal day, in a normal reality, kerosene burns at 800 F, and if has a lot of oxygen and the right air flow to move the burnt hydrocarbons away from the conflagration, it might reach temps of 1500 F under optimum conditions of oxygen; far below the 2600+ degrees F required to melt untreated steel – but wait, the WTC steel was treated with flame retardants and should have been resistant even at higher temps – not that day.

The “other” World Trade Center, building 7 fell at exactly free fall speed and strangely enough was never hit by an airliner or any other contrivance. It just fell to ground in a controlled demolition which was announced in advance on the BBC – predicted in advance . Prepping the building for a controlled demolition would have taken many days or weeks to be setup so it could be properly gutted by internal explosions before the then helpless outer shell could fall unimpeded. The non-critical thinking public was told Building 7 suffered collateral fire damage and kerosene fuel tank explosions which weakened the building enough to do its own controlled demolition – perhaps the greatest example of the suspension of the Laws of Nature of the entire day.


On this very strange day, the hijackers of the airliners who disappeared into the “butter-gate” were never listed as passengers on the plane’s passenger list — meaning they just walked on board. For the rest of us, we have to show our tickets and the tickets are confirmed by a passenger list. Even higher strangeness followed as some of the hijackers, after having flown these planes and themselves into buildings and the ground, turned up alive living in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and elsewhere.

And it stays strange all day, as we learn two of the airliners supposedly destroyed in 9-11 were shown by air traffic control data to be in the air . It’s easy to see that either the laws of Nature, especially the laws of Physics, were either repealed on this day OR the stories presented as explanations for the events of 9-11 are totally fabricated, egregious, hateful lies causing trauma and the loss of critical thinking skills for most American people. I’m going with the latter.

The events as told by the news media, and the official reports of 9-11 commission, include impossible and mocking explanations of how the World Trade Centers were destroyed and how the Pentagon was damaged and the story of the crash at Shanksville is just hatefully insulting.

Itis not enough though, our reality is fabricated and most everything Americans believe is not true.

We’ll know our disinformation program is a success when everything the American public believes is false. ..” CIA Director William Casey candidly remarked in early February 1981

It’s also necessary for the fabricators to mock and insult Americans while they do the injury and harm. The official account of the events of 9-11 is a farce, a silly fairy tale, except no one lived happily ever after.

The events of 9-11 required the pretension of airliners being used as missiles — slamming into buildings (buildings designed to withstand such an event) and ensuing fires causing the Titans of steel and concrete to melt to the ground. The sad mockery of the 9-11 events is: no airplanes were involved directly with the attacks and these secondary stories of passengers meeting their deaths, phone calls from the planes, silly slogans like “lets roll” are all mockingly false.

What really happened to the possible passengers on two of the flights (the other two were never actually scheduled to fly on that strange day) we are not yet aware — but we know for sure, no passenger airliners ever crashed into buildings and they are likely still flying to this day.

It’s possible, and necessary, for people to think for themselves. The fabricators of our pop culture and scripted and invented current events are using ancient magic to control the mind and steer the heart via emotional, trauma based, cyclic injections of fear and over the top mega-lies.

For America the nation, a bitter end has been planned and it’s in progress and quickly becoming visible. When people cannot think for themselves and have no options but to accept the invented reality spun from fear and the spurious authority of psychopaths in costume, there is no opportunity to live as a means to your own ends. Living in this “Truman Show” is the life of a prop, a pawn in someone else’s game – a servant at best, a slave, powerless and with increasing despair.

9-11 was a trial run, just like media hyped mass shootings, such as the Faked Sandy Hook Shooting and the B-Movie Faked Bombing in Boston and many, many others. In some cases people die, in others the entire event is faked – but most people never catch on. They are forced to live in fear and suffer and offer up their wealth and Liberties as an offering to the gods of State created Terrorism in hopes that maybe this will be last time.

 Funk and Wagonals 1946 definition.

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When my union, the National Union of Journalists, has been campaigning about secret state surveillance it has often felt like we are boxing with shadows.
No member of the public is allowed to know the extent of the types of operations involved and no-one is able to access the policies that relate to whether or not journalists and trade unionists are being put under surveillance.

The government’s response has been to draft the Investigatory Powers Bill, a new legal framework that specifies some of the state’s power. The measures in the Bill include the ability to intercept and target electronic communications, including emails, social media and mobile phones; it also allows the state to collect general internet browsing records and to hack into computers.

The Bill can be summed up as a human rights nightmare, one that sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about how we operate.

It also means that as a society we are redefining the acceptable boundaries of what the state can do to its citizens without their knowledge or consent.
To give just one example — according to the Home Office, you might have bought your mobile phone and continue to pay the bill but the information it holds is not yours but your service provider’s.

The Bill allows the state to compel your service provider to give them all your electronic information and they can get their hands on it secretly, without you ever knowing.

The Investigatory Powers Bill resurrects some of the proposals contained within the “Snoopers’ Charter” that allow the security and intelligence services to grab large quantities of our personal information — regardless of whether or not the authorities suspect you have done something wrong.

In the last session of Parliament the NUJ created a new form of words that could be added into the draft legislation to ensure that journalists’ sources and whistleblowers would, at least, be protected.

If journalists are not protected from state interference or if they are seen as conduits for information for the authorities then this will put journalists in danger. This is a direct attack on our democracy.

Our proposals to amend the Bill have achieved unprecedented levels of support — politicians from every political party have backed our new legislative clause in the debates in the Lords and in the House of Commons.

We’ve also had support from the majority of privacy and human rights organisations in Britain, other trade unions and — almost uniquely — the media industry is united on this issue.

People should be able to come forward and speak in confidence to a journalist — to blow the whistle, for example, to prevent the abuse of children or the abuse of disabled people in care homes; or highlight the safety problems at a nuclear power station; or tell a journalist about abusive management practices in their workplace.

If people can’t come forward and speak in confidence to a journalist because they know the state is snooping on them, we will all suffer.
This ill-thought-out, rushed-through Bill should not be used to override the existing protections for journalists established in British law using the flimsiest excuse that technology has changed over time.

We have been arguing robustly that the state should not have these powers to bypass the existing protections.

Yet the government is determined to push through the changes before the end of this year.

Now we have a new parliamentary term we’ve little hope that we can fundamentally change the Bill.

Theresa May has become the Prime Minister and the previous home office minister John Hayes MP has been replaced by Ben Wallace MP — who still hasn’t replied to our correspondence.

The labour movement uniquely understands why this is so important. Trade unionists already know the state colluded with blacklisting, we know some of our members as well as political activists and justice campaigners have been wrongly put under surveillance, we know that unjustified state interference is a threat to us.

May’s mass surveillance Bill goes further and raises fundamental questions about whether the powers specified in the Bill could be used to monitor and disrupt legitimate political or industrial protests.

The Bill is even more of a chilling read when it is considered alongside the new Trade Union Act.

Despite all the challenges, we remain committed to the fight — we hope you will join in.

Michelle Stanistreet is general secretary of the National Union of Journalists.

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Former president of the chamber of deputies and mastermind of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Eduardo Cunha, lost his seat in the lower house Monday night that had so far given him immunity against judicial proceedings over corruption charges.

Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of his removal with 450 votes for impeachment, nine abstentions and 10 votes against, when the approval required only 257 deputies, with a minimum of 420 attending the vote.

At the end of the vote, Cunha left the assembly surrounded with guards while opposition representatives chanted “Cunha Out!”

Cunha has been investigated for lying about hiding over US$5 million in laundered money in secret Swiss bank accounts. He denied having money offshore, but accounts tied to him were repeatedly confirmed by Swiss officials.

According to surveys issued Monday, on the day of the vote by local media, at least 298 deputies—out of a total of 513—declared they would vote in favor of his impeachment. Only four said they would vote to absolve him, 183 said they would abstain and 26 said they would not attend the session.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a June congressional ethics committee recommendation in favor of impeaching Cunha.

In May, he was suspended from his position as head of the lower house by the Brazilian Supreme Court over accusations of intimidating lawmakers and hampering investigations, one month after the lower chamber voted in favor of Rousseff’s impeachment. He faces an eight-year ban from elected office.

Cunha is notorious for using stalling tactics as the issue of his suspension stood before the council of ethics for months after having been initiated in October, making it the longest process in the history of the council.

Supporters of the Rousseff said Cunha initiated impeachment proceedings against Rousseff as payback after members of her party voted to look into corruption allegations against him.

Rousseff has said that despite the fact that Michel Temer is the acting president, Cunha is really the person in charge in Brasilia, the federal capital. Both Cunha and Temer are members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process as a campaign to root out government corruption, despite himself facing multimillion dollar bribery and fraud charges.

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Hillary Clinton’s doctor now says the Democratic presidential candidate, 68, was officially diagnosed with pneumonia sometime on Friday, and has been campaigning with the serious respiratory illness for a week, leading to her “medical episode” at Sunday morning’s September 11th memorial event.

But what happens if the candidate’s health issues get more serious? Certainly, the Democrats always have the option of propping her up, Weekend at Bernie’s style, until after November 8th, but what if matters get progressively worse? Here’s a quick primer on where the Dems could end up:


When it comes to candidates (rather than office holders) the rules actually come from the political parties, not the Constitution. For Republicans, if a Presidential candidate dies or drops out, the RNC has to either convene a new convention or take an official poll of the RNC’s state representatives to select a replacement candidate. Most likely, the RNC would move the running mate up to the top of the bill, in order to preserve what fundraising has already been done for the ticket.

But for the Democrats, it’s not so clear. The Democratic National Committee reserves the right to replace a candidate who dies or drops out, and it doesn’t provide additional details in its by-laws. So presumably the Democrats would have to make up the process up as they go along. The DNC could entrust replacing Clinton to a central DNC brain trust or, more likely, replicate the RNC’s system, handing the vote over to the committee’s state delegates.

Tim Kaine

The DNC would likely want to retain the support of major donors who’ve already given to the Clinton-Kaine ticket, and would probably just bump Tim Kaine up from the Veep slot. Kaine would simply slide up the ticket, choose a new running mate, hope the ballots could be reprinted in time, and carry on just as Clinton had.

But, of course, this is 2016 and anything can happen.

The Open Slot

Donald Trump has proven to be a wild card candidate: he’s spent no money, compared to Clinton’s million-dollar ad buys, and raised virtually nothing compared to his Democratic opponents, and he’s still running neck and neck with Clinton nationwide. So the DNC would likely have to consider whether Kaine could retain Clinton’s razor-thin lead, or whether they’d need a more capable candidate.

The DNC might naturally lean towards Joe Biden who said he didn’t want to campaign, but has never said, openly, that he’d prefer not to be President. Biden is neither Clinton nor Trump, making him an easy favorite in the Presidential contest (though, it’s likely any number of cartoon characters, inanimate objects and D-list celebrities would also easily pull into the lead), and he’d have the backing of President Obama, who could unite the party with a call to action to unite behind his Vice President.

Also likely contenders:

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (both progressive candidates with a large swath of support within the Democratic party), New York governor Andrew Cuomo, Virginia’s Jim Webb, even second runner up Martin O’Malley.

Chelsea Clinton

There’s a longtstanding tradition in American politics of spouses stepping in after an unexpected death. Take Missouri’s Jean Carnahan, for instance, who stood in for her husband Mel after he died in a plane crash three weeks before the Missouri Senate election. After Mel won posthumously, she served in the Senate for two years. Future Senator Olympia Snowe first entered politics after the death of her husband, a Maine state representative, in a car wreck. Likewise, Mary Bono’s long political career began when her husband Sonny died in a skiing incident.

Bill Clinton is prohibited by the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution from running. If a Clinton were to step in for Hillary, it would likely be Chelsea, who at 36 is just old enough, in terms of the Constitution, to be president.

The Filing Deadlines

Most states’ campaign filing deadlines have already passed – and as some independent candidates, including conservative Evan McMullin are finding, states aren’t normally open to extending the period of time candidates have to file the paperwork necessary to put their names on the Presidential ballot.

For the Democratic replacement, though, as long as they have the party’s blessing, it’s likely officials could simply replace Clinton name any time up to a month before election day (ballots are usually printed and mailed about three weeks before). It’s also possible that Congress could postpone or move election day, but that would be an extreme step.

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Fifteen years ago, 19 men committed suicide and took more than 3,000 people with them. The 9/11 attacks constituted crimes against humanity and should have been treated as such, with investigations and prosecutions of those who helped plan and finance the horrific crimes.

If they had been armed attacks by another country, George W. Bush could have lawfully used military force in self-defense under the United Nations Charter. But they were not. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq had attacked the United States or any other UN member country. In fact, Iraq had not invaded any country for 11 years, since it went into Kuwait. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq posed an imminent threat to any nation.

US Army soldiers convene during an attack on Muradia village, Iraq, on March 12, 2007. (Photo: US Army)

US Army soldiers convene during an attack on Muradia village, Iraq, on March 12, 2007. (Photo: US Army)

None of the hijackers hailed from Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, 15 came from Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, the Bush administration invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq and changed their regimes, killing and injuring untold numbers of people. The resulting vacuum in Iraq has been filled by Islamic State, which formed and became powerful after the US invaded that country.

Bush declared a “war on terror.” Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy and you don’t declare war on a tactic. Yet Bush invoked the 9/11 attacks to shred the Constitution. And although he avoids using the phrase “war on terror,” Barack Obama is continuing Bush’s perpetual war.

Bush’s War on Civil Liberties

Bush did not confine his war on terror to other countries. He mounted a wholesale assault on civil liberties here in the United States.

He rammed the USA PATRIOT Act through a shell-shocked Congress that had rejected its provisions prior to 9/11. The act enhanced the government’s ability to conduct surveillance and created a crime of “domestic terrorism,” which was used to target political activists who protest government policies. It is defined so broadly that it has been used to go after environmental and animal rights groups.

Bush inaugurated a new program of COINTELPRO-style surveillance, in which the government used wiretapping without judicial authorization. A similar policy was banned by a Republican-controlled Congress with the passage of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after the FBI used it to target civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.

In violation of FISA and the Fourth Amendment, Bush signed an executive order establishing the Terrorist Surveillance Program. It authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to wiretap people within the United States with no judicial review. The NSA has eavesdropped on untold numbers of private conversations. It has combed through large volumes of telephone and internet communications flowing into and out of the United States, collecting a vast amount of personal information that has nothing to do with national security.

Bush ordered federal agencies to refuse to honor requests under the Freedom of Information Act, an important vehicle for citizens to hold the government accountable by requesting, receiving and publicizing public records.

In particular, three developments on Bush’s watch have had a chilling effect on protected First Amendment activity: the shift from reactive to preemptive law enforcement; the enactment of domestic antiterrorism laws; and the relaxation of FBI guidelines on the surveillance of Americans.

Bush also indefinitely detained hundreds of men and boys of Arab, Muslim and South Asian descent in the United States and Guantánamo, Cuba, without charges or suspicion of terrorist ties.

Bush & Co.’s Illegal Torture Program

Nearly 800 individuals have been held indefinitely at Guantánamo, most without charge, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the US has ratified.

Prisoners released from Guantánamo report having been tortured and subjected to cruel treatment. They describe assaults, prolonged shackling in uncomfortable positions and sexual abuse. There are accounts of prisoners being pepper-sprayed in the face until they vomited, fingers being poked into their eyes, and their heads being forced into the toilet pan and flushed.

Those who engaged in hunger strikes were brutally force-fed, a practice that the United Nations Human Rights Commission called torture. Thirty-two attempted suicides took place in an 18-month period.

As evidence of torture leaked out of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a Guantánamo-Iraq torture connection was revealed. General Geoffrey Miller, implicated in setting torture policies in Iraq, had been transferred from Guantánamo to Abu Ghraib specifically to institute the same harsh interrogation procedures he had put in place at Guantánamo.

In late 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 499-page executive summary of its torture report. It said the CIA used “rectal feeding” without medical necessity on prisoners. A mixture of pureed hummus, pasta and sauce, nuts and raisins was forced into the rectum of one detainee. “Rectal rehydration” was also utilized to establish the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.”

The interrogation policy that permitted torture and abuse came from the top. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and John Yoo admitted they participated in decisions to subject prisoners to waterboarding. This involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning. Waterboarding has long been considered torture, which is a war crime. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for the war crime of torture after World War II.

The CIA engaged in extraordinary rendition, sending men to other countries where they were viciously tortured, in violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. That treaty, which the US has ratified, is unequivocal. It says, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Yet the Bush administration’s legal mercenaries, including John Yoo and Jay Bybee, wrote memos with twisted reasoning that purported to justify torture, and advised high government officials how to avoid criminal liability under the US War Crimes Act.

Obama Continues the War on Terror

When the US ratified the Torture Convention and the Geneva Conventions, it agreed to punish those who commit torture and war crimes.

And the Constitution mandates that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But Obama has refused to prosecute the Bush administration war criminals, saying, “We need to look forward, as opposed to looking backward.”

Like his predecessor, Obama uses the “state secrets” privilege to block judicial inquiry into the US’s extraordinary rendition and surveillance programs.

Obama continues to wage the war on terror, although he doesn’t use that moniker.

Declaring the whole world a battlefield, the Obama administration has vastly expanded the use of armed drones that began during the Bush administration. Deadly missiles are killing and maiming people in seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And Obama continues to fight the war in Afghanistan, leaving 8,400 US troops and special operations forces there.

Like Bush’s fateful regime change in Iraq, Obama’s invasion of and regime change in Libya created space for Islamic State to proliferate.

Under the Obama administration, the US military continues to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo.

Terror as Blowback Against US Foreign Policy

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have conducted the war on terror by combating the symptoms of terrorism rather than grappling with its root causes. They have succeeded in maintaining an atmosphere of fear, shifting the national discourse away from the reasons why the US is hated.

That hatred dates back to the stationing of US troops at the holy sites of Islam in Saudi Arabia, the killing of one million Iraqis — half of them children — with punishing sanctions during the 1990s, and the United States’ uncritical support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. The hatred is exacerbated by the perpetual war the US is waging in Afghanistan and much of the Middle East.

Contrary to his periodic proclamations about transparency, Obama has continued his wars in obscurity, except in cases where he has been forced to reveal information through the Freedom of Information Act.

We owe a debt of gratitude to courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou and others, who have stripped the veil of secrecy from the US torture, drone and surveillance programs. Obama has responded to their truth-telling with prosecutions under the Espionage Act, rivaling all prior presidents combined in his aggressive pursuit of whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, with some 800 US military bases abroad, the tentacles of American Empire are reaching further and tightening their grasp.

In the words of Andrew Bacevich, “There is no strategy [for the war on terror]. None. Zilch. We’re on a multitrillion dollar bridge to nowhere, with members of the national security establishment more or less content to see where it leads.”

But there is a strategy for the American people to stand up to endless war. As Phyllis Bennis has suggested, we must call for “a massive reduction of the military budget,” slated at $619 billion this year. We must also “demand to replace the so-called global War on Terror with nonmilitary solutions,” since “killing people simply creates more terrorists.” And finally, we must “broaden efforts to end the US support — military, economic and diplomatic — for Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

There is little doubt that the permanent war on terror will continue in a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump administration, stealing precious resources that could be used to fight climate change, enhance our educational and healthcare systems, and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

It is up to all of us to speak out, write and protest against endless war. That means pressuring Congress and the White House, holding demonstrations and inserting our opposition into the media and public debate. Our very survival depends on it.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and on the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website: Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn.

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Le macerie della democrazia

September 12th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

«Solo macerie, come se ci fosse stato un bombardamento», ha detto la presidente della Camera Boldrini visitando i luoghi terremotati. Parole su cui riflettere al di là dell’immagine. Di fronte alle scene strazianti dei bambini morti sotto le macerie del terremoto, come non pensare a tutti quei bambini (che la Tv non ci ha mai mostrato) morti sotto la macerie dei bombardamenti ai quali, dalla Jugoslavia alla Libia, ha partecipato anche l’Italia? «Sembra di essere in guerra», racconta uno dei tanti volontari.

In guerra, quella vera, l’Italia in effetti c’è già, bruciando risorse vitali che dovrebbero essere destinate a proteggere la popolazione del nostro paese dai terremoti, dalle frane e alluvioni che provocano sempre più vittime e distruzioni. Politici di aree diverse hanno proposto, in un impeto di generosità, di destinare alle zone terremotate il jackpot del Superenalotto, 130 milioni di euro. Nessuno ha proposto però di usare a tal fine il «jackpot» della spesa militare italiana ammontante, secondo i dati ufficiali della Nato, a circa 20 miliardi di euro nel 2016, 2,3 miliardi più del 2015: in media 55 milioni di euro al giorno, cifra in realtà più alta, includendo le spese extra budgtet della difesa addebitate ad altri ministeri. Stando comunque ai dati della Nato, l’Italia spende in un solo giorno per il militare più di quanto ha destinato il governo per l’emergenza terremoto (50 milioni di euro), cinque volte più di quanto è stato finora raccolto con gli sms solidali.

Mentre mancano i fondi per la ricostruzione e la messa in sicurezza degli edifici con reali sistemi antisismici, per un piano a lungo termine contro i terremoti e il dissesto idrogeologico.

Mentre i vigili del fuoco, di cui in queste occasioni si riconoscono formalmente i meriti, hanno organici, stipendi e mezzi del tutto inadeguati all’opera che svolgono, spesso a rischio della vita, non solo nelle emergenze quotidiane, ma nei sempre più frequenti disastri «naturali» (le cui catastrofiche conseguenze sono in gran parte dovute a responsabilità umane).

Non mancano invece i finanziamenti e i mezzi per le forze speciali italiane che operano nella nuova guerra in Libia. A Pisa, dove due anni fa è stato costituito il Comando delle forze speciali dell’esercito (Comfose), si sono intensificati da mesi i voli dei C-130J che partono per ignote destinazioni carichi di armi e rifornimenti. Tali operazioni sono segretamente autorizzate dal presidente Renzi scavalcando il parlamento. L’articolo 7 bis della legge n. 198/2015 sulla proroga delle missioni militari all’estero conferisce al presidente del consiglio facoltà di adottare «misure di intelligence di contrasto, in situazioni di crisi, con la cooperazione di forze speciali della Difesa con i conseguenti assetti di supporto della Difesa stessa», col solo obbligo di riferirne formalmente al «Comitato parlamentare per la sicurezza della Repubblica». In altre parole, il presidente del consiglio ha in mano forze speciali e servizi di intelligence da usare in operazioni segrete, con il supporto dell’intero apparato militare. Un potere personale anticostituzionale, potenzialmente pericoloso anche sul piano interno.

Mentre ostenta commozione al funerale delle vittime del terremoto, elargendo promesse sulla ricostruzione, il presidente del consiglio Renzi, nel quadro della strategia Usa/Nato, porta l’Italia in altre guerre e a una crescente spesa militare a scapito delle esigenze vitali del paese. Spesa a cui si aggiunge quella segreta per le operazioni militari segrete da lui ordinate. Mentre, sulla promessa ricostruzione delle zone terremotate, Renzi assicura la «massima trasparenza».

Manlio Dinucci


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Selected Articles: Welcome to Your Delusional Democracy

September 12th, 2016 by Global Research News


Welcome to Your Delusional Democracy

By Joel S. Hirschhorn, September 11 2016

For some years I have used the term “delusional democracy” to describe the condition of the US .  It seemed obvious to me that the vast majority of Americans have deliberately chosen to fool themselves.  They have been brainwashed to believe what no longer is true.  Become convinced that you do not live in a true and terrific democracy, or that your democracy is the best in the world.


US Proxies and Regional Rivalries

By Prof. James Petras, September 11 2016

US empire building depends on regional regimes’ support, especially in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.  These proxy regimes fulfill valuable military roles securing control over neighboring regions, populations and territory.In recent times, however, we witness the same proxies developing their own tendency toward expansionist policies – in pursuit of their own mini-empires.


U.S. Caves In to Russia on Syria: Washington Won’t Continue Protecting Al Qaeda

By Eric Zuesse, September 11 2016

On Friday, September 9th, America’s Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, came to an agreement on Syria, for the second time. (The previous agreement fell apart). Like the first ‘cease-fire’, this one concerns the ongoing occupation of many parts of Syria by foreign jihadists, who have been hired by America’s allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in order to overthrow Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. (It’s nothing like a democratic revolution there; it’s a war over pipelines.)

Drapeau sur carte d'Europe

“Globalization is the Demise of Humanity”: Towards an “Economy of Peace” with an Alternative Monetary System

By Peter Koenig, September 11 2016

Globalisation is the demise of humanity. That being said, if we want peace, solidarity, harmonious cohabitation, justice and equality – we have to defeat globalisation. And to be able to defeat it, countries which strive to take back autonomy and sovereignty may want to move away from the oppressive fist of the west.

9-11-attacksWhy I Don’t Speak of 9/11 Anymore

By Edward Curtin, September 11 2016

As the government and the media accused Osama bin Laden and 19 Arabs of being responsible for the attacks, I told a friend that what I was hearing wasn’t believable; the official story was full of holes.  It was a reaction that I couldn’t fully explain, but it set me on a search for the truth.  I proceeded in fits and starts, but by the fall of 2004, with the help of the extraordinary work of David Ray Griffin and other early skeptics, I could articulate the reasons for my initial intuition.  I set about creating a college course on what had come to be called 9/11.

réserve fédérale

The Untold Financial Story of 9/11: Bailing Out Alan Greenspan’s Legacy. Billions of Financial Dealings by the Fed in Immediate Wake of 9/11

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens, September 12 2016

Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and yet the American public remains in the dark about critical details of hundreds of billions of dollars of financial dealings by the Federal Reserve in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11.

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Though intelligence documents from the 1973 coup period have been declassified since 1999, the CIA continues to censor them.

The CIA continues to withhold information on its involvement in the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that led to the death of President Salvador Allende in Chile, followed by adeadly dictatorship, according to documents posted Friday by the National Security Archive.

In the list of published documents, the section regarding Chile is censored. The President’s Daily Briefs, the intelligence reports given daily to the U.S. president, in particular former President Richard Nixon days before Allende’s death, were among those censored.

Allende during his last moments in La Moneda presidential palace, 1973

Allende during his last moments in La Moneda presidential palace, 1973 | Photo: Reuters

According to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Archive’s Chile Documentation Project, censorship on this issue makes no sense since the intelligence agency has officially acknowledged its ties to those who plotted the coup from inside the Chilean military, and declassified several intelligence reports since.

“The CIA is trying—but failing—to hold history hostage,” Kornbluh said. “The CIA is attempting to cover up what Nixon knew about coup plotting in Chile and when he knew it, as well as hiding the CIA’s own contacts and connections to the coup plotters.”

According to the documents, three days before the coup—and on the day of the coup—the CIA gave Nixon an intelligence report on the progress of the efforts inside the Chilean military to overthrow Allende, a socialist.

In one document, a CIA operative in Santiago named Jack Devine identifies the new date of the planned coup for the next day, September 11, and confirms all three branches of the Chilean armed forces along with the police “are involved in this action.”

The same sources told the CIA that General Augusto Pinochet, who would later become a dictator with the support of the U.S., was in communication with Air Force General Gustavo Leigh about the planned coup. The Air Force would later bomb La Moneda presidential palace, where Allende and his closest allies were on Sept. 11.

The CIA told the White House that a “key officer” in the coup attempt requested U.S. assistance in case the Chilean military encountered any resistance, according to the documents.

Kornbluh said his institution would press for the release of the censored information.

“The documents provided to Richard Nixon on Chile can and should be released for the sanctity of the historical record. The public has a right to know what the President knew, and when he knew it,” he said.

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A recent USA Today poll found 76% of voters want debates with four candidates including not just the two most hated candidates in history, the Republican and Democratic nominees and their vice presidential running mates, but Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Greens, and Gary Johnson and Bill Weld of the Libertarians.

Any candidate on enough ballots to achieve 270 electoral college votes should be in the debates. The people have a right to see all candidates debating the issues who are on their ballots.

The deceptive debate commission, which is called a debate commission just to hide the truth: it is a corporation of the Democrats and Republicans whose purpose is to limit debates to their two parties, has no legitimacy. It has a major conflict of interest – why should the two establishment parties decide their opponents cannot debate? It is an obvious conflict of interest that the media should be calling out. The media should join the demand of the people – open debate are essential for democracy.

Today, half of US voters do not even consider themselves Democrats or Republicans, both parties are widely disliked and debates should not be limited to two minority parties, who present two hated candidates when there are four candidates on enough ballots to win a majority of the electoral college.

This week we are starting a series of protests in Washington, DC at the offices of the deceptive debate commission. On Wednesday during rush hour beginning at 4:30 people will be holding a disruptive protest at rush hour. We will me meeting at New Hampshire Ave and M St. NW at 4:30.  We are calling for people to “Occupy the Debates.” The anniversary of OWS is September 17th and opening the debates would be a good use of that anniversary. The people need to challenge the DC political elites who keep the debate closed so only big business views are heard.

Please share this announcement widely and urge people to attend if they are near DC also urge them to share it widely so all activists near DC are aware of it.

We also urge people around the country to self-organize protests at media outlets to urge them to demand open debates and to stop the fraud of the deceptive debate commission. The debates will be shown on all network and cable news outlets.

And, we urge students and others near the venues of the debates to organize protests, write about the deceptive debate commission in local papers (including student papers), and pressure the president and board of trustees for open debates. Debates will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, Longwood University in Farmville, VA, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV. Universities in particular should be open to a wide variety of views not just the views of two parties funded by Wall Street and big business interests.

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton could demand open debates. Donald Trump supported open debates in 2000 and exclaimed how it was amazing that this commission could keep people out of debates. Now, he seems to have joined the DC political elites and is manipulating democracy. In 2008 Hillary Clinton pushed for debates because of the importance of the office of the presidency. She too, is a debate manipulator. These two hated candidates do not want the voters to know there are more options. Instead they prefer to close the debates and shut out the voices of those who challenge them.

The debates impact every issue we care about. Many issues will not be on the agenda for these debates, among them are preventing escalation of wars, relieving students and millennials of the burden of unfair tuition debt, ensuring healthcare for everyone in an improved Medicare for all program, breaking up the big banks, and transforming to a green economy with a major jobs programs. These issues among others will not be debated if we only hear from two Wall Street parties.

It is time for all of us to unite and demand inclusive debate as a step toward creating a real democracy and ending the manipulation of the elites.

Kevin Zeese is a Senior Advisor to the Stein-Baraka campaign and is a long term political activist who co-directs Popular Resistance.

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Fire Did NOT Cause Collapse of Third WTC Building on 9/11

September 12th, 2016 by Washington's Blog

Today, the Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks – a PhD in structural engineering (Leroy Hulsey) – publicly announced that fire did NOT bring down World Trade Center building 7 on 9/11.

He joins scores of other structural engineers, civil engineers, high-rise architects, and fire experts who say that the government’s story is false … Building 7 was NOT brought down by fire. Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 911/ Truth elaborates upon these findings and their implications.

And see this.

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The preposterous ironies of President Obama’s unapologetic visit to Laos on September 6 have not yet generated the attention they deserve, but they provide an excellent measure of the self-righteousness of the monstrous continuity of American violence inflicted on the world from Viet Nam in the 1950s to Yemen more than sixty years later.

The baldest irony of Laos is that the U.S. spent nine years bombing Laos, at a cost of more than $100 million per week in current dollars (on the order of $45 billion in all), powerfully documented in Mother Jones in 2014. Having tried to bomb Laos back into the stone age and then walked away, now, decades later, as the bombs continue to blow up Laotian civilians, the U.S. president is promising $90 million (the equivalent of less than a week of bombing) over the next three years to help clean up the mess the U.S. made. This promise of more bomb-removal aid was one of the few lines in his speech to elicit applause from his 1,000-person audience, who were likely more aware of the brutal context than most Americans. As the U.S. president described the bombing of Laos, then a neutral country:

At the time, the U.S. government did not acknowledge America’s role. It was a secret war, and for years, the American people did not know. Even now, many Americans are not fully aware of this chapter in our history, and it’s important that we remember today.

There are minor ironies in that passage. The U.S. government did not acknowledge bombing Laos then, just as it does not acknowledge now that bombing Laos was a war crime of major magnitude. The president says it was a secret war, which isn’t really true, since the Laotians and the Vietnamese certainly knew, and any American who wanted to know could find out, but now the number of Americans in denial is probably larger. And in saying “it’s important that we remember today,” isn’t it ironic that the president says this in the capitol of a country that has never forgotten, but in the U.S. his voice is as silent about these war crimes as it has been about the war crimes of his predecessor, as well as his own, in the Middle East. That allows for some future president to go to Yemen, for example, and echo President Obama by promising to help clean up the deadly debris from years of U.S. cluster bombs and drone strikes on the poorest country in the region (like Laos in Southeast Asia). The U.S.-supported atrocities in Yemen are only a few years old now but, with no end in sight, could eventually compare to the devastation dropped on Laos. In the U.S. president’s words:

Over nine years — from 1964 to 1973 — the United States dropped more than two million tons of bombs here in Laos — more than we dropped on Germany and Japan combined during all of World War II. It made Laos, per person, the most heavily bombed country in history. As one Laotian said, the “bombs fell like rain.” Villages and entire valleys were obliterated. The ancient Plain of Jars was devastated. Countless civilians were killed.

In Laos, the U.S. made a whole country into collateral damage

Laos was doubly victimized by a war in which it had no part. The U.S. bombed Laos with unmerciful futility because Laos was unable to defend its eastern border with North Viet Nam, which used the mountainous region with impunity along the Ho Chi Minh Trail that was a supply route to guerrillas in the south. So when the U.S. president says with Orwellian sanctimoniousness that he acknowledges “the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict,” he’s speaking to people who were not on any side of the Vietnamese civil war or the U.S. criminal intervention in that civil war, thereby blaming the victims in Laos. Accepting responsibility for its own actions is not something the United States does. But the U.S. president has still another revision of history to offer:

And from the anguish of war, there came an unlikely bond between our two peoples. Today, the United States is home to many proud Laotian Americans.

A large proportion of those Laotian Americans are from the Hmong tribes that lived in the mountains along the Vietnamese border. U.S. Special Forces (Green Berets) recruited Hmong to help attack the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Once the U.S. lost the war and pulled out of Viet Nam, the Hmong were left to fend for themselves like so many local U.S. allies in other war zones (as in South Viet Nam, Afghanistan, or Iraq for example). Faced with the communist Pathet Lao takeover of Laos, thousands of Hmong fled, mostly to Thailand and beyond. Laos, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, remains a one-party state with close ties to China.

The U.S. is presently waging another criminal war mercilessly attacking civilians in Yemen, but this time the U.S. is on the side of the one-party state that is the lead aggressor, Saudi Arabia. Few if any American media have made the ironic connections between Laos and Yemen, but the Hong Kong based Asia Times nailed it despite running a half-wrong headline:

U.S. apologizes to Laos over cluster bombs,
then sells them to pound Yemen

The story that followed, by Johns Hopkins Fellow Christina Lin, does not mention the apology that never happened. She reports on President Obama’s speech in Laos this way:

Obama said, “Given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal.” This gesture of trying to make amends for the damage U.S. caused in the past is laudable, especially since Obama is the first U.S. president to visit Laos. However, one wonders how sincere is this gesture, when U.S. turns around and sells the same cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia for a similar bombing campaign of another poor country—Yemen—that is maiming children and will likewise keep the population trapped in dire poverty and devastation for the next several decades.

The assertion, despite its relatively cautious academic prose, is as devastating and undeniable as the hypocrisy and war crimes it describes are palpable. But Lin, like others “concerned” about Yemen, keeps her rhetoric modest to the point of obscuring the truth. She describes the inhumanity of using cluster bombs without mentioning their criminality. She points out that the White House has approved another arms sale to Saudi Arabia for $1.15 billion to benefit U.S. arms makers. She does not say that without U.S. support, weapons, and ordnance the Saudi-led war on Yemen could not continue. She does manage to hint at outrage when she notes: “As a token gesture, Secretary Kerry announced a $189 million humanitarian aid for Yemen, a Band-Aid compared to the multi-billion dollar arms packages used to inflict harm on the very same people.” She does not connect this payment to the much smaller amount of conscience-salving money promised to the much smaller, but much more damaged Laos.

Reuters offers example of how to do journalism really, really badly

Whatever its shortcomings, this Asia Times piece is better than any of the non-coverage by most American mainstream media. For serious reporting on Yemen one has to go to this or other sources like Dissident Voice. International coverage is generally consistent with the official U.S.-Saudi line that usually alleges the necessity to resist Iranian influence, for which there is precious little evidence. At its worst in “respectable” media, Yemen coverage is like this Reuters filing that begins:

Egypt will host an international conference in March to coordinate humanitarian aid for Yemen, which has been devastated by a civil war, a minister in Yemen’s Saudi-backed government said on Tuesday.

It’s bad enough that Reuters leads with a press release by one of the combatants. That’s sloppy and dishonest, but common enough, and at least the source is named for the careful reader to identify. It’s unconscionable to omit the Saudi role in bombing Yemen on a daily basis, and it’s unacceptable to hide that role behind the assertion that Yemen “has been devastated by a civil war,” when most of the devastation comes from the U.S.-Saudi criminal war. In this case, Reuters is in the tank for war criminals, which it makes clear in its third deceitful paragraph, which claims: “The conflict pits the Iran-allied Houthis and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is supported by an alliance of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.” This neat bit of propagandizing ignores the essential U.S. support that makes the war on Yemen possible, and also omits the reality that half the country or more is currently controlled by the forces of al Qaida and the Islamic State that are fighting each other as well as everyone else. As for that humanitarian aid conference in Egypt six months from now, Reuters reports that Egypt has said nothing about it.

J. Michael Springmann is a former U.S. diplomat who served in Saudi Arabia in 1987-1989, until he was fired in a whistleblower incident. To hear him criticize the U.S. participation in “a war of aggression” against Yemen, one has go to an Iranian PressTV clip on YouTube (which the Yahoo search engine warns against). In that clip he accurately expresses skepticism about the U.S. “withdrawing” military forces from Saudi Arabia. The incident he described in August involved moving the U.S.-Saudi command and control center for the bombing campaign from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, which Springmann calls “political theatre.”

Opposition to U.S. war on Yemen is tepid, laced with “Moral Idiocy”

A recent piece in Consortium News discusses the century-old psychological term “moral idiocy” in the context of American war-making since 1949. Lawrence Davidson’s main point is that the rules of war, in particular the Geneva Conventions, are not widely observed and that there’s rarely any penalty for committing war crimes, a term he eschews. He blames this on moral idiocy, the inability of our leaders to understand moral behavior and act on that understanding. He does not use the word “sociopath.” And his list of moral idiots contains only Republicans like Nixon, Bush, Cheney, and Kissinger. But is Barack Obama with his drone strikes not a moral idiot? Is Hillary Clinton with her Qaddafi killing glee not a moral idiot? Is John Kerry not a moral idiot when he says, as he did in June 2016, “I think the Saudis have expressed in the last weeks their desire to make certain that they’re acting responsibly and not endangering others.” Davidson doesn’t mention Yemen or other current wars. He doesn’t even wonder why there is virtually no anti-war movement in America today. He doesn’t seem to understand that his anodyne detachment is part of the problem, not least when he concludes: “And, who are those who most often take advantage of this loophole? Ironically, it is the very people who lead our societies and those assigned to defend the culture and enforce the law. Lack of accountability makes for very poor public hygiene.”

That sounds a lot like Pontius Pilate washing his hands.

Another Consortium News writer, Jonathan Marshall, began a piece on September 2 with wan donnish wit and profound disinformation:

If there were an Olympics for waging bloody wars, Saudi Arabia and its Arab coalition allies would surely win a medal for their relentless bombing of Yemen over the past year and a half to crush rebels who seized power in 2014.

This framing is tantamount to a lie, given that the “Saudi war” could not be waged, could not have begun, without U.S. intelligence, U.S. targeting expertise, U.S. mid-air refueling, U.S. pilot rescue, U.S. cluster bombs and other ordnance, U.S. planes, U.S. maintenance crews, and U.S. participation in the naval blockade that has brought roughly half of Yemen’s population of 26 million to the brink of starvation. By Marshall’s moral idiocy reckoning, the Saudis get only the bronze medal; the U.S. deserves the gold.

Marshall is not someone who could not know better. He started writing about Yemen in April 2015, when he said of the war, correctly:

This naked aggression against a sovereign state has never been approved by the UN Security Council and stands in apparent violation of the United Nations charter. Congress has not approved this latest act of war either.

“Right now (the operation) does not have any foundation in international law,” complained Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, not that anyone in the United States cared what he had to say.

American disregard for international law is so complete that hardly anyone cared what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had to say about the war in Yemen, either.

Even then, Marshall played the Iran card, claiming that “the Houthis also enjoy support from the Tehran regime,” without offering any detail or supporting evidence that Iranian “support” amounts to much more than a cheering section. But Marshall was also clear-eyed then about White House justifications for its new war:

In a typical example of unconscious doublespeak, Secretary of State John Kerry told an interviewer that Washington was “not going to stand by while the region is destabilized,” as if bombing will somehow stabilize Yemen.

That was then. Now, after almost 18 months of unjustified carnage that has accomplished nothing honorable, Marshall is seeing it as the Saudis’ war and is criticizing Congress for its belated opposition with a strange kind of moral detachment: “… the Obama administration’s support for Saudi Arabia’s criminal policies is at last beginning to trouble many legislators on Capitol Hill.” This “support,” unlike anything Iran is doing, is lethal, criminal, and crucial – without U.S. participation, Yemen does not suffer daily crimes against humanity.

Marshall ends with some quoted mild outrage from congressmen and senators whose anti-war efforts consist of trying to block the current $1.15 billion sale of more weapons to the Saudis. This effort is pathetic, meaningless, and quixotic – unless a lot of Republicans decide to go along. Even success in blocking this sale will do nothing to help Yemen. All it could do is send the Saudis to other markets and deprive U.S. arms merchants of some undeserved profits. Yes, blocking the sale is good in and of itself, but in the context of continuing U.S. war crimes in Yemen, it’s a deceitful bad joke.

If Americans want to do something decent for Yemen, then Americans need to hold their own country accountable.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

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Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and yet the American public remains in the dark about critical details of hundreds of billions of dollars of financial dealings by the Federal Reserve in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11.

What has also been lost in the official 9/11 Commission Report, Congressional hearings and academic studies, is how Wall Street, on the day the planes slammed into the World Trade Towers, was on the cusp of being exposed by the New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, as the orchestrator of a fraud of unprecedented proportion against the investing public. That investigation was stalled for more than six months. It would have been politically incorrect to do perp walks outside Wall Street’s biggest investment banks as families mourned the loss of their loved ones; as U.S. savings bonds were renamed Patriot Bonds to rally patriotism around the country; and Congress paid homage to the heroes at the big banks, the stock exchanges and the Federal Reserve for getting the system back up and running in less than a week.

The loony policies of laissez-faire capitalism of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, who worshiped at the feet of Ayn Rand, were also bailed out by the events of  9/11. Members of the Senate Banking Committee praised him on September 20, 2001 for his performance. Amazingly, at this hearing, just nine days after the attack, not one Senator asked Greenspan how much money the Fed had spent or to whom it went. The percolating collapse of Wall Street was held off for seven more years until 2008 when it finally became impossible to deny that Greenspan’s brand of financial deregulation and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act he had pushed for, had left Wall Street in ruins – without any assault from the skies.

Alan Greenspan, Former Fed Chairman, Testifying to the House Oversight Committee on How He Got It Wrong, October 23, 2008

Alan Greenspan, Former Fed Chairman, Testifying to the House Oversight Committee on How He Got It Wrong, October 23, 2008

Here’s where Wall Street and the U.S. economy stood on September 10, 2001, the day before an attack in lower Manhattan provided the excuse for the Federal Reserve to flood Wall Street with unquestioned amounts of cash: The Nasdaq stock market, filled with the stocks of rigged analyst research from the iconic firms on Wall Street (the target of Spitzer’s investigation), had imploded, losing 66 percent of its pumped up value and wiping out $4 trillion in wealth. While it wasn’t yet known at the time, being only officially acknowledged long after 9/11, the U.S. economy had contracted for two consecutive quarters and was looking at another negative quarter of growth.

Thus, it was quite advantageous for Alan Greenspan’s legacy as Chair of the Federal Reserve and what might have been an even worse economic slump that the Fed was given carte blanche to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street after 9/11 with the Federal government pumping billions more in fiscal stimulus.

According to a report from the New York Fed, an “unprecedented” amount of liquidity was pumped into the system. The Congressional Research Service quantifies the “unprecedented” amount as “$100 billion per day” over a three-day period beginning on 9/11. But the idea that the bailout lasted only a few days or weeks is misguided. The consolidated annual reports of the Federal Reserve Banks show that the Fed’s balance sheet grew from $609.9 billion at the end of 2000 to $654.9 billion at the end of 2001 to $730.9 billion at the end of 2002 and $771.5 billion as of December 31, 2003.

According to the 2001 Annual Report of the Chicago Fed, one unnamed bank was so grateful for the largess flowing from the Fed that it sent “a thousand packages of LifeSavers candy to each of the 45 Fed offices.”

report prepared by Stacy Panigay Coleman for the Federal Reserve’s Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems indicated that the flood of money took various forms on and after 9/11:

A handful of the largest, again unnamed, Wall Street banks were dramatically overdrafting their accounts at the Fed, resulting in daylight overdrafts peaking at “$150 billion on September 14, their highest level ever and more than 60 percent higher than usual….” According to other annual reports at regional Fed banks, fees were waived by the Fed for these massive overdrafts.

Coleman reports that “discount window loans rose from around $200 million to about $45 billion on September 12.”

Read complete article on Wall Street on Parade

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Update 2: It appears the next plan from the Clinton Campaignb is to remove all evidence that it ever happened…

 Update: The following clips show the moment of Hillary’s “medical episode” resulting from the “blistering” 79 degree heat in Manhattan.


An even better video, capturing the incident in its entirety from a different, more exposing angle, emerged moments ago, Here is the best video of the incident, yet:


And then this: 

* * *

Meanwhile, Hillary emerges from Chelsea’s apartment to declare: “It’s a beautiful day in New York!”…which seems to slightly contradict to her official statement issued earlier that she “overheated.”

* * *

And now, roughly 12 hours after experiencing her latest “medical episode, Hillary has announced plans to cancel her West Coast fundraising tour originally planned for Monday and Tuesday.

* * *

For those who missed it, earlier today, Hillary Clinton collapsed and appeared to faint on her way to her campaign van on Sunday as she became “overheated” and had to leave early from a September 11 memorial ceremony in New York City. Clinton, 68, was taken to her daughter Chelsea’s home in Manhattan, and emerged a few hours later wearing sunglasses and telling reporters that she was “feeling great.”

Clinton went, as previously planned, to her home in Chappaqua, New York, 30 miles (50 km) north of New York City. Clinton left the memorial event after about 90 minutes while it was still underway, Nick Merrill, a Clinton spokesman, said. “During the ceremony, she felt overheated so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better,” Merrill said in a statement. As the event began on Sunday at the site of the World Trade Center that was attacked by two hijacked airliners 15 years ago, there was patchy sunlight, with temperatures at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius).

Video taken at the scene and posted on social media shows Clinton being held up by three people. She staggers and appears to trip on a curb as they help her into a vehicle. Clinton’s departure from the event was not witnessed by the reporters who travel with her campaign, which did not offer any information about why she left and her whereabouts for more than an hour.
* * *


While we have yet to receive any confirmation from a second source – so take this report with a big grain of salt – moments ago Fox News senior correspondent Rick Leventhal, citing an anonymous law enforcement official as a source, reported that Hillary Clinton who was present at the Sept 11 ceremony in downtown Manhattan, suffered a “medical episode” when she stumbled and nearly fell after her knees buckled, and was then ushered into a van, in the process losing a shoe, as she was rushed away from ground zero in an early departure.

As Fox News reports, the Democratic presidential nominee appeared to faint on her way into her van and had to be helped by her security, the source said. She was “clearly having some type of medical episode.” Clinton’s stumbled off the curb, her “knees buckled” and she lost a shoe as she was helped into a van during her “unexpected early departure,” a witness told Fox News. A separate law enforcement source told Fox News that Clinton left the event because she wasn’t feeling well

There has been no official statement from the Clinton campaign yet.

Thanks to ABC and NBC we do know that Clinton left the Sept 11 ceremony about 45 minutes ago when the “medical incident”is said to have happened, however the press has not been told where, while aides are not responding to questions about her whereabouts.

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Once again a plan for democratic transition in Syria has been drawn up by a coalition of opposition groups meeting in London, supported by the usual suspects in the shape of Turkey, the EU, US, and Gulf States. It is described as a detailed plan committing Syria to democratic and religious pluralism. Predictably, and the reason why it is a non-starter, it contains the pre-condition of Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power.

The coalition behind this ludicrous scheme goes by the name of the Higher Negotiating Committee (HNC), and is said to comprise thirty different ‘moderate’ political and military groups united in the objective of removing Assad as the country’s president. Who exactly these people represent in Syria itself, nobody knows. What we do know is that Assad retains the support of the vast majority of his people, who will not accept any colonial arrangement to depose their president.

The gall of those who demand the removal of a government that has played an indispensable role in the country’s survival over 5 long years of unremittingly brutal conflict against the forces of hell, unleashed as a direct result of the destabilization of the region by the US and its allies starting with the war in Iraq back in 2003, is simply staggering. London, the scene of the colonial and imperialist crime of Sykes-Picot in 1916 – plotted, prepared, and organized to deprive the Arabs of their right to self-determination and sovereignty – is one hundred years later the scene of a crime to deprive the Syrian people their sovereignty and dignity under the guise of a plan for democratic transition.

There is no greater example of democracy than an army supported by a people refusing to bow in the face of unrelenting barbarism. As British journalist and Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk revealedearlier this year, 60,000 Syrian officers and men have perished in the most brutal and merciless conflict the region has witnessed since the Iran-Iraq war between 1980-88. Not only has the Syrian Arab Army – made up of Christians, Alawites, Sunnis, Shia, and Druze soldiers – faced along with its Lebanese and Iranian allies an enemy so barbaric and murderous it bears comparison with the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s, it has done so knowing that their fellow soldiers and civilians have been slaughtered by forces supported by neighbouring states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, etc., along with their Western backers.

And these are the countries and governments the Syrians are expected to trust with their future?

The Syrian government’s crime in the eyes of the West is not the lack of democracy – how could it possibly be given the longstanding alliance between Western governments and Saudi Arabia, run by a clutch of medieval potentates? – but rather the fact that Syria under Assad has long refused to bend the knee to US and Western hegemony, especially with regard to the country’s support for the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, and its friendship and alliance with Iran. Together they make up an axis of resistance which Washington and its regional allies have long been intent on breaking.

Despite the courage and tenacity of the Syrian Arab Army and people, there is little doubt they would have succeeded in this endeavour without Russia’s intervention in the conflict, beginning at the end of September 2015. When Vladimir Putin addressed the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations days prior to Russian aircraft flying their first sorties against ant-government forces in Syria, he effectively announced the birth of the multipolar world demanded by Russia’s recovery from the lost decade of the 1990s, caused by Washington and its European allies’ attempt to impose a Carthaginian peace on the country in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, along with China’s ferocious economic growth and global footprint.

Russia’s military intervention was and continues to be a remarkable achievement of logistics, planning, and organization, necessary in the successful projection of hard power thousands of miles beyond its own borders. It has allowed it to showcase some of the most advanced aircraft, missile systems, and technologically advanced weaponry in the world today, beating Washington at its own game in the process. This, to be sure, is the real reason for the demonization of Putin that has been a mainstay of Western media coverage over the past year and more.

Vladimir Putin and Russia has staked too much in the outcome of the conflict in Syria to allow Assad to be thrown under the bus in service to a contrived and transparent attempt to depose him under the guise of a peace plan. This is not to claim that Assad should lead Syria in perpetuity. It is, however, to claim that the government of Syria is a matter for the Syrian people and that at this point Assad’s survival is coterminous with Syria’s survival as a non-sectarian, secular state.

But let’s not delude ourselves that the timing of the unveiling of this latest effort to depose Assad has anything to do with alleviating the biblical suffering of Syria and its people. It is not. Instead it comes as evidence of the desperation of those who are losing the war.

The objective of those who have suffered and sacrificed so much is victory not transition.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

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Nine months after a massive propaganda campaign based on outright lies, the BBC quietly sneaked out an admission on its website tucked away in “corrections and complaints”. As the BBC went all out to galvanise support for bombing Syria, the meme was pumped out relentlessly that opponents of bombing Syria were evil and violent misogynist thugs, bent on the physical intimidation of MPs. Leading the claims was Stella Creasy MP.

LABOUR MP Stella Creasy says she was forced to leave the Commons debate on airstrikes in Syria because people are ringing her office to abuse her staff.

LABOUR MP Stella Creasy claimed she was forced to leave the Commons debate on
airstrikes in Syria because people were ringing her office to abuse her staff.

9 months after the propaganda had its effect – run on every news bulletin of every single BBC platform – the BBC published this correction, carried on zero news bulletins of any BBC platform.

Two listeners complained that the programme had inaccurately reported that a peaceful vigil in Walthamstow, in protest against the decision to bomb targets in Syria, had targeted the home of the local MP, Stella Creasy, and had been part of a pattern of intimidation towards Labour MPs who had supported the decision. The claim that the demonstration had targeted Ms Creasy’s home, and the implication that it was intimidatory in nature, originated from a single Facebook posting which later proved to be misleading (the demonstration’s destination was Ms Creasy’s constituency office, which was unoccupied at the time, not her home, and it was peaceful)

The BBC response goes on further and get increasingly mealy-mouthed, the essence of the excuses being “the other media were all doing it and we just joined in.” They also say they did eventually report – across a much more limited spread of news platforms – a more accurate version of events. But they then go on to admit that, even after this, Nick Robinson went on to repeat all the original lies in an aggressive high profile headline news interview with John McDonnell.

The BBC faces accusations of anti-independence bias after its political editor, Nick Robinson, produced a report that wrongly claimed Alex Salmond had ignored his question during a heated press conference.

The BBC faced accusations of anti-independence bias after its political editor, Nick Robinson, produced a report that wrongly claimed Alex Salmond had ignored his question during a heated press conference.

That the BBC took 18 months to admit to its lies is astonishing, because the information was immediately available, and indeed reported by me at the time. This article includes footage of the peace vigil outside Ms Creasy’s office which led to the BBC story – a vigil of some very nice people led, I kid you not, by the local vicar. In a delightfully circular argument, Ms Creasy complained that my article pointing out that her allegations of intimidation were false, itself was “offensive.”Former President of Oxford University Conservatives, Nick Robinson has form as a liar. The new documentary London Calling, forensically examining the appalling BBC bias during the Scottish referendum campaign, calls Robinson out as a liar in claiming on BBC News that Alex Salmond had failed to answer Robinson’s question, where the documentary has the footage of Salmond answering Robinson in great detail. Robinson’s replacement, Laura Kuenssberg, has of course continued the theme of tendentious reporting of fabricated violent intimidation by the left wing.

If the Labour Party continues to allow people like Ms Creasy to run as its candidate, then nobody should vote for it. As for the BBC, remember whatever lies they are putting out today are likely to be very quietly disowned about next July.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was a British Ambassador from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010. Murray complained to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in November 2002, 2003 and in June 2004 that intelligence linking the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to al-Qaeda was unreliable, immoral and illegal, as it was thought to have been obtained through torture. For that the government sacked him. Go to his website HERE

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President Vladimir Putin says [November 2015] he’s shared Russian intelligence data on Islamic State financing with his G20 colleagues: the terrorists appear to be financed from 40 countries, including some G20 member states.

During the summit, “I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them,” Putin told the journalists.

Putin also spoke of the urgent need to curb the illegal oil trade by IS.

I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” he said.

The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,” Putin added, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems.

It’s not the right time to try and figure out which country is more and which is less effective in the battle with Islamic State, as now a united international effort is needed against the terrorist group, Putin said.

Putin reiterated Russia’s readiness to support armed opposition in Syria in its efforts to fight Islamic State. “Some armed opposition groups consider it possible to begin active operations against IS with Russia’s support. And we are ready to provide such support from the air. If it happens it could become a good basis for the subsequent work on a political settlement,” he said. “We really need support from the US, European nations, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran,” the president added.

Putin pointed out the change in Washington’s stance on cooperation with Moscow in the fight against the terrorists.

We need to organize work specifically concentrated on the prevention of terrorist attacks and tackling terrorism on a global scale. We offered to cooperate [with the US] in anti-IS efforts. Unfortunately, our American partners refused. They just sent a written note and it says: ‘we reject your offer’,” Putin said.

But life is always evolving and at a very fast pace, often teaching us lessons. And I think that now the realization that an effective fight [against terror] can only be staged together is coming to everybody,” the Russian leader said.

According to Putin, first of all it should be decided which groups in Syria can be considered terrorist organizations and which can be attributed to an armed, but still legitimate part of the Syrian opposition.

Our efforts must be concentrated on the battle with terrorist organizations.

Putin also disagreed with Western criticism of Russia’s actions in Syria, where the country has been carrying out a large-scale air campaign against Islamic State and other terror groups since September 30.

It’s really difficult to criticize us,” he said, adding that Russia has repeatedly asked its foreign partners to provide data on terrorist targets in Syria.

They’re afraid to inform us on the territories which we shouldn’t strike, fearing that it is precisely where we’ll strike; that we are going to cheat everybody,” the president said.

Apparently, their opinion of us is based on their own concept of human decency,” he added.

Putin told the media that Russia has already established contact with the Syrian opposition, which has asked Moscow not carry out airstrikes in the territories it controls.


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Fifteen years ago the world reacted in horror as more than 3,000 individuals were murdered. We honor those victims, and the heroic first responders of that day.

The same day the Green Party issued a statement calling for this act of terrorism to be treated as a crime against humanity and for the culprits to be criminally prosecuted. We pleaded, “Do not turn our cries of grief into a cry for war.” Our national leaders and the corporate media ignored us.

The Stein/Baraka campaign stands for truth and transparency in politics. Since September 11 of 2001, secrecy and lies, endless war, torture, and a frightening “surveillance state” have become the new normal. On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, it is past time for sober reflection and public discourse about this tragedy.

We now know with absolute certainty that fraudulent claims of “weapons of mass destruction” and of links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were used as pretexts to invade Iraq. That illegal and immoral war cost the lives of over 4,000 US soldiers and maimed and wounded almost a million more. In Iraq, another million people were killed.

Fifteen years later, American troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pretext of “humanitarian relief” was used to invade and devastate Libya. And the escalating violence has intensified the Syrian civil war into a disaster of the highest order. The Obama administration has expanded a drone war into Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. Hundreds of thousands of people—many of them children—have died as a result of the invasions. Millions more have become refugees.

The September 11 attacks were used to launch a war against terrorism, yet terrorism has soared worldwide. This war has been used as an excuse to squash civil liberties and to scapegoat Muslims and other immigrants.

This year the Islamic celebration of Eid al-Adha coincides with the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11. We join with people of all faiths and beliefs in standing with our Muslim friends and neighbors and demand an end to Islamaphobia in public discourse.

It is time to end these failed wars and to heed the Green Party’s initial call to build a new world based on peace and justice.

The families and friends of those who were murdered on 9/11 deserve justice. They also deserve to know the truth.

Led by the families of those who died on 9/11, the American people wanted—and deserved—a comprehensive and independent inquiry into the attacks. The Bush administration initially said an inquiry was unnecessary, claiming that the perpetrators had been identified and their methods and motives were clear.

It is well known that the 9/11 Commission produced a report containing so many omissions and distortions that Harper’s Magazinedescribed it as “whitewash as public service”—a document that “defrauds the nation.” The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission wrote a book just two years after the final commission report, saying, “We were set up to fail.” The 9/11 Commission was not given enough money, time, or access to relevant classified information.

The Stein/Baraka campaign believes a new inquiry is necessary.

Under our administration a new inquiry would have access to the considerable body of responsible independent research that has emerged over the last 15 years. We would create an independent 9/11 Commission, not one dominated by members with an interest in protecting the reputation and careers of foreign affairs and intelligence communities.

The US government has finally released the long-classified 28 pages from the 2002 Congressional Report, which have raised many questions about Saudi intelligence as well as other intelligence agencies and their relationship to 9/11.

It’s time for a full accounting of what happened, and an end to the misguided post-9/11 wars that are actually making us less safe, not more safe.

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When the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe mobilized thousands to protect their land and water in Cannon Ball, North Dakota from a proposed $3.8 billion crude-oil pipeline, they were met with national guard deployments, police crackdowns, an FBI investigation and private security forces that attackedthem with dogs. A key firm hired during this time to provide security for the pipeline company, Dakota Access LLC, is the British multinational G4S—one of the largest private security corporations in the world targeted by a years-long global boycott campaign for profiting from the inhumane treatment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including the torture of children.

G4S announced in March that it plans to halt all of its business with Israel in the next 12 to 24 months, in what was hailed as a significant human rights victory, with international campaigners vowing to hold the company to its word. However, the corporation’s role in protecting the Dakota access pipeline indicates that G4S is profiting from a different colonial context, this time in North Dakota’s Indian country.

In an interview with AlterNet, G4S communications director Monica Lewman-Garcia confirmed that the company provided private security for the Dakota Access Pipeline for a two-week period, starting August 24. Lewman-Garcia claimed that the company “had no employees present during the incident on September 3” when protesters were attacked with dogs. However, she repeatedly declined to identify where the G4S employees were located during the contract, merely stating that they were dispatched to “remote locations” and “did not come into contact with protesters.”

According to Lewman-Garcia, the security force consisted of “six to eight unarmed security personnel” who performed “patrol and response” duties. Asked to elaborate on what “patrol and response” entails, Lewman-Garcia suggested that AlterNet look up the term. She said she does not know what past contracts G4S has with the pipeline nor what deals it will enter into in the future. Her statements follow recent remarks she made to TeleSUR.

Attorneys representing the Standing Rock encampments identified the companies behind the Dakota Access company’s brutal dog attacks, captured on video, as private security firm 10-Code Security, LLC and attack dog contractor Frost Kennels. While G4S claims it was not involved in the incident, it is difficult to verify this assertion, as Lewman-Garcia did not state where staffers were located, nor whether they were wearing uniforms. Participants in the mobilization told AlterNet that the attackers wore non-descript clothing and were difficult to identify.

The company 10-Code Security could not be reached for comment. Dakota Access LLC, and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners, did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. The state licensing board for private investigation and security announced Friday that it is launching an investigation into the attacks.

Whether or not G4S was involved in the dog attacks, the fact that they performed security for the pipeline during a time of mass protest indicates that they are profiting from the Dakota Access company’s efforts to prevent indigenous communities from protecting their land and water.

The resistance campaign attracted support from the Palestine solidarity organization Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. The group released a statement on August 30 to express its “strongest support for the Sioux nation and Native resistance,” writing: “Settler colonialism and its theft of native land for the purpose of exploitation and the construction of colonial and imperialist power is a threat to indigenous peoples around the world and indeed, the future of the world itself.”

“Today, the settler-colonial United States, built on the dispossession and genocide of indigenous people and nations—as well as the murderous and genocidal exploitation of Black labor through slavery—is the greatest threat to the environment and people of the world,” the statement continued. “It is also the strongest and largest backer and strategic ally of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine that has ravaged indigenous Palestinian land for nearly 100 years.”

G4S has faced widespread allegations of human rights abuses far beyond Palestine—from South Africa to the United Kingdom, including its operation of a Florida for-profit juvenile detention center where conditions were so abysmal a that a grand jury said in 2015 that the facility should cease to exist.

Despite the heavy crackdown by law enforcement and private security companies, the Sioux-led mobilization won a significant victory Friday afternoon, when the Obama administration announced it is stepping in to temporarily halt construction of the stretch of the Dakota Access LLC’s pipeline that is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The joint announcement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior came roughly one hour after a federal judge rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s attempt to stop the pipeline’s construction on the grounds that it threatens the water supply, environment, public health and sacred sites.

If approved, the pipeline would transport at least 470,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to Illinois, crossing beneath the Standing Rock Sioux reservation’s main drinking water source and cutting through the community’s burial grounds.

While the long-term impact of the Obama administration’s temporary reprieve is not yet known, and the order does not apply to all areas under construction, the announcement was embraced by organizers, who have waged a long-term effortto halt the pipeline.

“I want to take a moment and reflect on this historic moment in Indian Country,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in a press statement released Friday. “But I know that our work is not done. We need to to permanently protect our sacred sites and our water. There are areas on the construction route that do not fall within federal jurisdiction, so we will continue to fight.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

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Having stated that her coughing fit last week was due to her suffering from seasonal allergies, and that this morning’s fainting episode was due to ‘overheating’, the Clinton campaign now once again changed the constantly changing narrative, releasing a shocking statement by Hillary’s doctor, according to which she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, which in turn made her “dehydrated.” 

As CBS writes, Hillary’s campaign did not immediately explain why the Democratic nominee did not reveal the pneumonia diagnosis prior to the Sunday incident, raising questions of transparency.

This is what her spox said earlier: “Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen.  During the ceremony, she felt overheated so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better.” We read it twice: no mention of pneumonia.

So when the entire Clinton campaign fell like a ton of bricks on anyone hinting the presidential candidate was unwell after her dramatic coughing fits last week, what word best describes this?  And then why did it take two days since Friday for this Doctor Bardack to reveal Clinton’s medical condition?

Five more questions:
  1. Hillary made her infamous “basket of deplorables” comments at a Barbra Streisand fundraiser on Friday night – the same night she was supposedly diagnosed with pneumonia: why go to a fundraiser if sick, especially since pneumonia is contagious.
  2. Hillary has had a nasty, documented cough since January – why did it take 9 months to diagnose this? 
  3. If Hillary has pneumonia, and passed out at an event, – why was she taken to her daughter’s apartment and not a hospital? After all, she was as of today aware of her Friday diagnosis. 
  4. After coming out of Chelsea’s apartment, why did Hillary says she “felt great” – as of this morning she was aware she had Pneumonia; why not admit the truth for once to the public?
  5. After coming out of Chelsea’s apartment a young girl ran up to Hillary for a quick picture – again, knowing she had been diagnosed with pneumonia why would Hillary expose this young girl to her illness?
  6. Does pneumonia typically require neurological testing? 

This story smells so bad, that even the left-leaning media is upset at the Clinton campaign:

It makes one wonder why something as simple as her not being well has to be lied about, covered up, spun, and then propagandized? A distraction from her ‘deplorable’ comments? Perhaps, but one thing is for sure, all those mainstream media types damning conspiracy-theorists over health concerns are now silenced.

We wonder if now Hillary will blame her (non-GAAP) pneumonia for having to back out of the upcoming debates, and finally, with credibility in anything Hillary says no non-existent, would it be too much to ask for an independent verification of her rapidly changing medical condition especially since nobody knows what is going on, and whom to believe any more.

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Later this month I will be travelling to England, to take part in the ‘One Earth One Humanity One Future’ festival in Oxford, which will celebrate 50 years of the UK’s flagship environmental magazine, Resurgence.

This ‘Resurgence 50’ festival will be bringing together leading figures from the world’s social justice and environmental movements to share ideas for bridging a more equitable and sustainable world. A world that would be imminently fairer and more sustainable without the transnational agrochemical giant Monsanto and its GMO crops.

Meantime, In India we are celebrating 70 years of our Independence, and last month we also celebrated the anniversary of the Quit India movement of 1942. That was also the year of the Great Bengal famine which killed 2 million Indians because of the extortionist revenue collection by the British. It was clear that we had to reclaim our freedom because British rule was pushing people to starvation while maximising its revenue extraction, Lagaan, from land.

Today we are suffering a similar tragedy related to seeds, as Monsanto extracts super profits from our farmers in the form of illegal royalties as ‘seed Lagaan’, trapping them in debt and pushing them to suicide.

Seed Sovereignty cannot coexist with Monsanto’s failed technologies and false claims. Monsanto’s withdrawal threat is empty. Indian law does not allow a patent on seed, and Roundup Ready crops are not approved for cultivation.

In fact, the Technical Expert Committee advising the Supreme Court in the GMO case has categorically advised that there should be no herbicide resistant GMO trials or commercialisation in India because India is a land of small farms and rich biodiversity. Herbicide resistant crops like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready cotton would lead to spraying of the broad spectrum herbicide, which would kill all other crops in the field except the plant genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Not only would this destroy biodiversity, it would rob the poor of rich sources of nutrition in the biodiversity, and aggravate India’s food and nutritional insecurity.

Instead of focusing on farming systems, biodiversity, seeds, farmer’s rights and national laws, Monsanto, through its massive PR machine keeps repeating three lies to cover up its failures and false and unreasonable PR claims.

First, it claims that the Government is trying to issue compulsory licences for Bt cotton seed. This is false because when there are no patents on seeds, there can be no compulsory licensing. The Government Licensing guidelines have merely clarified the law about exclusion of seeds and plants from patentability. Contrary to what was falsely claimed by Christi Dixon, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, who said in an e-mail that the application was withdrawn because of ‘regulatory uncertainties and ongoing discussions’, there is no regulatory uncertainty. It is just that our laws do not suit Monsanto’s seed monopoly aims.

Second, Monsanto and its spokespeople claim their GMO Bt seeds have increased yields and cotton production by controlling pests. This too is false.

Bt cotton is now resistant to bollworm which it was supposed to control. New pests like Whitefly have devastated the cotton crop in Punjab. Bt cotton area has dropped by 27 per cent from 10.3 lakh hectares in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) to 7.56 lakh hectares in the 2016-17 crop year because of the failure of Bt cotton to control pests.

Maharashtra and Telangana also saw a reduction of cotton sowing from 87.83 lakh hectares to 67.88 lakh hectares.

The national cotton acreage has come down by 8 per cent from 128 lakh hectare to 118 lakh hectare between 2014-15 to 2015-16, as revealed by the latest Cotton Corporation of India statistics.

A third totally false claim is that the Roundup Ready trait would help overcome the bollworm resistance that has emerged in Bollard II. As Mayank Bhardwaj writes in Mint: ‘Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex would have been the first technological breakthrough since the launch of Bollgard II, potentially pushing up crop yields at a time when some farmers have said the existing variety was losing its effectiveness. Bollgard II, introduced in 2006, is slowly becoming vulnerable to bollworms, experts say, and, as any technology, has a limited shelf life.’

These are scientifically fraudulent and misleading statements. If emergence of pest resistance is the problem, spraying Roundup won’t solve it. Herbicides are supposed to kill weeds, not pests. And Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops are failing in controlling weeds also. Instead they have led to super weeds resistant to Roundup, just like bollworm has become a super pest resistant to Bt.

But the most outrageous phrase is that seeds have a ‘limited shelf life’. True seed is Bija – that which rises again and again and again. Our seeds have evolved for 10,000 years. Living seed does not have a ‘limited shelf’. Otherwise, we would have starved to death as a species centuries ago. Seeds are called heritage and heirloom seeds because they don’t have a limited shelf life like Monsanto’s GMO seeds. Living seed does not become obsolete. It renews. It has the potential to live and evolve forever through dynamic change, including contributions of farmers breeding. And as our three decades of work in Navdanya shows, living seeds have more nutrition, higher overall food output, more resilience to pests and diseases, and to climate change. Monsanto does not just force farmers to buy seed every year to collect royalties, it also owns the patent for the ‘terminator technology’ to create sterile seed. This technology has been stopped from commercialisation by the UN Convention on Biodiversity.

Seed freedom is our birthright. To defend our seed sovereignty and food sovereignty, we must compel Monsanto to Quit India, like we compelled the British 70 years ago

When the Government regulates seed prices, and clarifies India’s patent law that excludes seeds and plants from patentability Monsanto tries to threaten the government by saying it is withdrawing a new GMO Bt cotton seed Bollgard IIRoundup Ready Flex which contains 2 Bt toxin genes and a gene for resistance to Monsanto’s herbicide.

Roundup Ready crops are resistant to Roundup, so Monsanto can sell more Roundup as well as collect royalties from seeds it would like to patent. We cannot allow a corporation which has no understanding of biodiversity or what a seed is, but only knows how to extract royalties from farmers and create a monopoly control over our seed supply through its illegal, unscientific attempts at patent on seed.

Seed freedom is our birthright. To defend our seed sovereignty and food sovereignty, we must compel Monsanto to Quit India, like we compelled the British 70 years ago.

Vandana Shiva is a scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author. 

She will be talking at the One Earth One Humanity Future festival in Oxford in celebration of Resurgence magazine’s 50th anniversary on Thursday 22nd September and again on Friday 23rd September. For booking and further information, visit:

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The following article published twelve years ago, in August 2004 refutes the 9/11 Commission script as to what actually happened on the planes.

Much of this  detailed information was based on alleged cell phone conversations between passengers and family members. Yet the technology to use a cell phone on a plane above 8500 feet did not exist in September 2001.  

A revised version of the article was subsequently published as a chapter in my book entitled America’s “War on Terrorism”, Montreal 2005, which can be ordered directly from Global Research   

More Holes in the Official Story: The 9/11 Cell Phone Calls    original

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, August 10, 2004

“We Have Some Planes”

The 9/11 Commission’s Report provides an almost visual description of the Arab hijackers. It depicts in minute detail events occurring inside the cabin of the four hijacked planes.

In the absence of surviving passengers, this “corroborating evidence”, was based on passengers’ cell and air phone conversations with their loved ones. According to the Report, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was only recovered in the case of one of the flights (UAL 93).

Focusing on the personal drama of the passengers, the Commission has built much of its narrative around the phone conversations. The Arabs are portrayed with their knives and box cutters, scheming in the name of Allah, to bring down the planes and turn them “into large guided missiles” (Report, Chapter 1, ).

The Technology of Wireless Transmission

The Report conveys the impression that cell phone ground-to-air communication from high altitude was of reasonably good quality, and that there was no major impediment or obstruction in wireless transmission.

Some of the conversations were with onboard air phones, which contrary to the cell phones provide for good quality transmission. The report does not draw a clear demarcation between the two types of calls.

More significantly, what this carefully drafted script fails to mention is that, given the prevailing technology in September 2001, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to place a wireless cell call from an aircraft traveling at high speed above 8000 feet:

“Wireless communications networks weren’t designed for ground-to-air communication. Cellular experts privately admit that they’re surprised the calls were able to be placed from the hijacked planes, and that they lasted as long as they did. They speculate that the only reason that the calls went through in the first place is that the aircraft were flying so close to the ground


Expert opinion within the wireless telecom industry casts serious doubt on “the findings” of the 9/11 Commission. According to Alexa Graf, a spokesman of AT&T, commenting in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks:

“it was almost a fluke that the [9/11] calls reached their destinations… From high altitudes, the call quality is not very good, and most callers will experience drops. Although calls are not reliable, callers can pick up and hold calls for a little while below a certain altitude”


New Wireless Technology

While serious doubts regarding the cell calls were expressed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a new landmark in the wireless telecom industry has further contributed to upsetting the Commission’s credibility. Within days of the release of the 9/11 Commission Report in July, American Airlines and Qualcomm, proudly announced the development of a new wireless technology –which will at some future date allow airline passengers using their cell phones to contact family and friends from a commercial aircraft (no doubt at a  special rate aerial roaming charge)


“Travelers could be talking on their personal cellphones as early as 2006. Earlier this month [July 2004], American Airlines conducted a trial run on a modified aircraft that permitted cell phone calls.” (WP, July 27, 2004)

Aviation Week (07/20/04) described this new technology in an authoritative report published in July 2004:

“Qualcomm and American Airlines are exploring [July 2004] ways for passengers to use commercial cell phones inflight for air-to-ground communication. In a recent 2-hr. proof-of-concept flight, representatives from government and the media used commercial Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) third-generation cell phones to place and receive calls and text messages from friends on the ground.

For the test flight from Dallas-Fort Worth, the aircraft was equipped with an antenna in the front and rear of the cabin to transmit cell phone calls to a small in-cabin CDMA cellular base station. This “pico cell” transmitted cell phone calls from the aircraft via a Globalstar satellite to the worldwide terrestrial phone network”

Needless to say, neither the service, nor the “third generation” hardware, nor the “Picco cell” CDMA base station inside the cabin (which so to speak mimics a cell phone communication tower inside the plane) were available on the morning of September 11, 2001.

The 911 Commission points to the clarity and detail of these telephone conversations.

In substance, the Aviation Week report creates yet another embarrassing hitch in the official story.

The untimely July American Airlines / Qualcomm announcement acted as a cold shower. Barely acknowledged in press reports, it confirmed that the Bush administration had embroidered the cell phone narrative (similar to what they did with WMDs) and that the 9/11 Commission’s account was either flawed or grossly exaggerated.

Altitude and Cellphone Transmission

According to industry experts, the crucial link in wireless cell phone transmission from an aircraft is altitude. Beyond a certain altitude which is usually reached within a few minutes after takeoff, cell phone calls are no longer possible.

In other words, given the wireless technology available on September 11 2001, these cell calls could not have been placed from high altitude.

The only way passengers could have got through to family and friends using their cell phones, is if the planes were flying below 8000 feet. Yet even at low altitude, below 8000 feet, cell phone communication is of poor quality.

The crucial question: at what altitude were the planes traveling, when the calls were placed?

While the information provided by the Commission is scanty, the Report’s timeline does not suggest that the planes were consistently traveling at low altitude. In fact the Report confirms that a fair number of the cell phone calls were placed while the plane was traveling at altitudes above 8000 feet, which is considered as the cutoff altitude for cell phone transmission.

Let us review the timeline of these calls in relation to the information provided by the Report on flight paths and altitude.

United Airlines Flight 175

United Airlines Flight 175 departed for Los Angeles at 8:00:

 “It pushed back from its gate at 7:58 and departed Logan Airport at 8:14.”

The Report confirms that by 8:33, “it had reached its assigned cruising altitude of 31,000 feet.” According to the Report, it maintained this cruising altitude until 8.51, when it “deviated from its assigned altitude”:

“The first operational evidence that something was abnormal on United 175 came at 8:47, when the aircraft changed beacon codes twice within a minute. At 8:51, the flight deviated from its assigned altitude, and a minute later New York air traffic controllers began repeatedly and unsuccessfully trying to contact it.”

And one minute later at 8.52, Lee Hanson receives a call from his son Peter.

[Flight UAL 175] “At 8:52, in Easton, Connecticut, a man named Lee Hanson received a phone call from his son Peter, a passenger on United 175. His son told him: “I think they’ve taken over the cockpit—An attendant has been stabbed— and someone else up front may have been killed. The plane is making strange moves. Call United Airlines—Tell them it’s Flight 175, Boston to LA.

Press reports confirm that Peter Hanson was using his cell (i.e it was not an air phone). Unless the plane had suddenly nose-dived, the plane was still at high altitude at 8.52. (Moreover, Hanson’s call could have been initiated at least a minute prior to his father Lee Hanson picking up the phone.)

Another call was received at 8.52 (one minute after it deviated from its assigned altitude of 31,000 feet). The Report does not say whether this is an air phone or a cell phone call:

Also at 8:52, a male flight attendant called a United office in San Francisco, reaching Marc Policastro. The flight attendant reported that the flight had been hijacked, both pilots had been killed, a flight attendant had been stabbed, and the hijackers were probably flying the plane. The call lasted about two minutes, after which Policastro and a colleague tried unsuccessfully to contact the flight.

It is not clear whether this was a call to Policastro’s cell phone or to the UAL switchboard.

At 8:58, UAL 175 “took a heading toward New York City.”:

“At 8:59, Flight 175 passenger Brian David Sweeney tried to call his wife, Julie. He left a message on their home answering machine that the plane had been hijacked. He then called his mother, Louise Sweeney, told her the flight had been hijacked, and added that the passengers were thinking about storming the cockpit to take control of the plane away from the hijackers.

At 9:00, Lee Hanson received a second call from his son Peter:

It’s getting bad, Dad—A stewardess was stabbed—They seem to have knives and Mace—They said they have a bomb—It’s getting very bad on the plane—Passengers are throwing up and getting sick—The plane is making jerky movements—I don’t think the pilot is flying the plane—I think we are going down—I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building—Don’t worry, Dad— If it happens, it’ll be very fast—My God, my God.

The call ended abruptly. Lee Hanson had heard a woman scream just before it cut off. He turned on a television, and in her home so did Louise Sweeney. Both then saw the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center.50 At 9:03:11, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. All on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed instantly.”

American Airlines Flight 77

American Airlines Flight 77 was scheduled to depart from Washington Dulles for Los Angeles at 8:10… “At 8:46, the flight reached its assigned cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.”

At 8:51, American 77 transmitted its last routine radio communication. The hijacking began between 8:51 and 8:54. As on American 11 and United 175, the hijackers used knives (reported by one passenger) and moved all the passengers (and possibly crew) to the rear of the aircraft (reported by one flight attendant and one passenger). Unlike the earlier flights, the Flight 77 hijackers were reported by a passenger to have box cutters. Finally, a passenger reported that an announcement had been made by the “pilot” that the plane had been hijacked….

On flight AA 77, which allegedly crashed into the Pentagon, the transponder was turned off at 8:56am; the recorded altitude at the time the transponder was turned off is not mentioned. According to the Commission’s Report, cell calls started 16 minutes later, at 9:12am, twenty minutes before it (allegedly) crashed into the Pentagon at 9.32am:

” [at 9.12] Renee May called her mother, Nancy May, in Las Vegas. She said her flight was being hijacked by six individuals who had moved them to the rear of the plane.”

According to the Report, when the autopilot was disengaged at 9:29am, the aircraft was at 7,000 feet and some 38 miles west of the Pentagon. This happened two minutes before the crash.

Most of the calls on Flight 77 were placed between 9.12am and 9.26am,  prior to the disengagement of automatic piloting at 9.29am.  The plane could indeed have been traveling at either a higher or a lower altitude to that reached at 9.29. Yet, at the same time there is no indication in the Report that the plane had been traveling below the 7000 feet level, which it reached at 9.29am.

At some point between 9:16 and 9:26, Barbara Olson called her husband, Ted Olson, the solicitor general of the United States. [using an airphone]

(Report p 7, see )

United  Airlines Flight 93

UAL flight 93 was the only one of the four planes that, according to the official story, did not crash into a building. Flight 93 passengers, apparently:”alerted through phone calls, attempted to subdue the hijackers. and the hijackers crashed the plane [in Pennsylvania] to prevent the passengers gaining control.” ( ). Another version of events, was that UAL 93 was shot down.

According to the Commission’s account:

“the first 46 minutes of Flight 93’s cross-country trip proceeded routinely. Radio communications from the plane were normal. Heading, speed, and altitude ran according to plan. At 9:24, Ballinger’s warning to United 93 was received in the cockpit. Within two minutes, at 9:26, the pilot, Jason Dahl, responded with a note of puzzlement: “Ed, confirm latest mssg plz—Jason.”70 The hijackers attacked at 9:28. While traveling 35,000 feet above eastern Ohio, United 93 suddenly dropped 700 feet. Eleven seconds into the descent, the FAA’s air traffic control center in Cleveland received the first of two radio transmissions from the aircraft….”

At least ten cell calls are reported to have taken place on flight 93.

The Report confirms that passengers started placing calls with cell and air phones shortly after 9.32am, four minutes after the Report’s confirmation of the plane’s attitude of 35,000 feet. In other words, the calls started some 9 minutes before the Cleveland Center lost UAL 93’s transponder signal (9.41) and approximately 30 minutes before the crash in Pennsylvania (10.03)

“At 9:41, Cleveland Center lost United 93’s transponder signal. The controller located it on primary radar, matched its position with visual sightings from other aircraft, and tracked the flight as it turned east, then south.164 “

This suggests that the altitude was known to air traffic control up until the time when the transponder signal was lost by the Cleveland Center. (Radar and visual sightings provided information on its flight path from 9.41 to 10.03.)

Moreover, there was no indication from the Report that the aircraft had swooped down to a lower level of altitude, apart from the 700 feet drop recorded at 9.28. from a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet:

“At 9:32, a hijacker, probably Jarrah, made or attempted to make the following announcement to the passengers of Flight 93:“Ladies and Gentlemen: Here the captain, please sit down keep remaining sitting.

We have a bomb on board. So, sit.” The flight data recorder (also recovered) indicates that Jarrah then instructed the plane’s autopilot to turn the aircraft around and head east. The cockpit voice recorder data indicate that a woman, most likely a flight attendant, was being held captive in the cockpit. She struggled with one of the hijackers who killed or otherwise silenced her.

Shortly thereafter, the passengers and flight crew began a series of calls from GTE airphones and cellular phones. These calls between family, friends, and colleagues took place until the end of the flight and provided those on the ground with firsthand accounts. They enabled the passengers to gain critical information, including the news that two aircraft had slammed into the World Trade Center.77…At least two callers from the flight reported that the hijackers knew that passengers were making calls but did not seem to care.

The hijackers were wearing red bandanas, and they forced the passengers to the back of the aircraft.80 Callers reported that a passenger had been stabbed and that two people were lying on the floor of the cabin, injured or dead—possibly the captain and first officer. One caller reported that a flight attendant had been killed.81 One of the callers from United 93 also reported that he thought the hijackers might possess a gun. But none of the other callers reported the presence of a firearm. One recipient of a call from the aircraft recounted specifically asking her caller whether the hijackers had guns.

The passenger replied that he did not see one. No evidence of firearms or of their identifiable remains was found at the aircraft’s crash site, and the cockpit voice recorder gives no indication of a gun being fired or mentioned at any time.

We believe that if the hijackers had possessed a gun, they would have used it in the flight’s last minutes as the passengers fought back.82 Passengers on three flights reported the hijackers’ claim of having a bomb. The FBI told us they found no trace of explosives at the crash sites. One of the passengers who mentioned a bomb expressed his belief that it was not real. Lacking any evidence that the hijackers attempted to smuggle such illegal items past the security screening checkpoints, we believe the bombs were probably fake. During at least five of the passengers’ phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the World Trade Center. Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew members to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted. At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:

“Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door. Some family members who listened to the recording report that they can hear the voice of a loved one among the din.

We cannot identify whose voices can be heard. But the assault was sustained. In response, Jarrah immediately began to roll the airplane to the left and right, attempting to knock the passengers off balance. At 9:58:57, Jarrah told another hijacker in the cockpit to block the door. Jarrah continued to roll the airplane sharply left and right, but the assault continued. At 9:59, Jarrah changed tactics and pitched the nose of the airplane up and down to disrupt the assault. The recorder captured the sounds of loud thumps, crashes, shouts, and breaking glasses and plates.

At 10:00:03, Jarrah stabilized the airplane. Five seconds later, Jarrah asked, “Is that it? Shall we finish it off?” A hijacker responded, “No. Not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.” The sounds of fighting continued outside the cockpit. Again, Jarrah pitched the nose of the aircraft up and down.At 10:00:26, a passenger in the background said, “In the cockpit. If we don’t we’ll die!” Sixteen seconds later, a passenger yelled,“Roll it!” Jarrah stopped the violent maneuvers at about 10:01:00 and said, “Allah is the greatest! Allah is the greatest!” He then asked another hijacker in the cockpit,“ Is that it? I mean, shall we put it down?” to which the other replied, “Yes, put it in it, and pull it down.” The passengers continued their assault and at 10:02:23, a hijacker said, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The hijackers remained at the controls but must have judged that the passengers were only seconds from overcoming them. The airplane headed down; the control wheel was turned hard to the right.

The airplane rolled onto its back, and one of the hijackers began shouting “Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. ”With the sounds of the passenger counterattack continuing, the aircraft plowed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at 580 miles per hour, about 20 minutes’ flying time from Washington D.C. Jarrah’s objective was to crash his airliner into symbols of the American Republic, the Capitol or the White House. He was defeated by the alerted, unarmed passengers of United”

The Mysterious Call of Edward Felt from UAL 93

Earlier coverage of the fate of UAL 93 was based in part on a reported cell call from a passenger named Edward Felt, who managed to reach an emergency official in Pennsylvania. How he got the emergency supervisor’s number and managed to reach him remains unclear.

The call was apparently received at 9.58 am, eight minutes before the reported time of the crash at 10.06 am in Pennsylvania:

“Local emergency officials said they received a cell phone call at 9.58 am from a man who said he was a passenger aboard the flight. The man said he had locked himself in the bathroom and told emergency dispatchers that the plane had been hijacked. “We are being hijacked! We are being hijacked!” he was quoted as saying. A California man identified as Tom Burnett reportedly called his wife and told her that somebody on the plane had been stabbed. “We’re all going to die, but three of us are going to do something,” he told her. “I love you honey.”

The alleged call by Edward Felt from the toilet of the aircraft of UAL 93 was answered by Glenn Cramer, the emergency supervisor in Pennsylvania who took the call.

It is worth noting that Glenn Cramer was subsequently gagged by the FBI.” (See Robert Wallace`s incisive analysis published in Sept 2002 by the Daily Mirror, ( ).

Ironically, this high profile cell call by Ed Felt, which would have provided crucial evidence to the 9/11 Commission was, for some reason, not mentioned in the Report.

American Airlines Flight 11

Flight 11 took off at 7:59.  Just before 8:14. The Report outlines an airphone conversation of flight attendant Betty Ong and much of the narrative hinges upon this airphone conversation

There are no clear-cut reports on the use of cell phones on Flight AA11.  According to the Report, American 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8.46.

Concluding Remarks

A large part of the description, regarding the 19 hijackers relies on cell phone conversations with family and friends.

While a few of these calls (placed at low altitude) could have got through, the wireless technology was not available. On this issue, expert opinion within the wireless telecom industry is unequivocal.

In other words, at least part of the Commission’s script in Chapter 1 on the cell phone conversations, is fabricated. 

According to the American Airline / Qualcomm [2004] announcement, the technology for cell phone transmission at high altitude will only be available aboard commercial aircraft in 2006. This is an inescapable fact.

In the eyes of public opinion, the cell phone conversations on the Arab hijackers is needed to sustain the illusion that America is under attack.


The “war on terrorism” underlying the National Security doctrine relies on real time “evidence” concerning the Arab hijackers. The latter personify, so to speak, this illusive “outside enemy” (Al Qaeda), which is threatening the homeland.

Embodied into the Commission’s “script” of 911, the narrative of what happened on the plane with the Arab hijackers is therefore crucial. It is an integral part of the Administration’s disinformation and propaganda program. It constitutes a justification for the anti-terror legislation under the Patriot acts and the waging of America’s pre-emptive wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

 Note: Emphasis added in bold font. 

America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky’s book can be order directly from Global Research. Click image to order


The 9/11 Report’s Footnotes on the Cell Phone Conversations

emphasis added

70. On FDR, see NTSB report,“Specialist’s Factual Report of Investigation—Digital Flight Data Recorder” for United Airlines Flight 93, Feb. 15, 2002; on CVR, see FBI report,“CVR from UA Flight #93,” Dec. 4, 2003; Commission review of Aircraft Communication and Reporting System (ACARS) messages sent to and from Flight 93 (which indicate time of message transmission and receipt); see UAL record, Ed Ballinger ACARS log, Sept. 11, 2001. At 9:22, after learning of the events at the World Trade Center, Melody Homer, the wife of co-pilot Leroy Homer, had an ACARS message sent to her husband in the cockpit asking if he was okay. See UAL record,ACARS message, Sept. 11, 2001.

71. On FDR, see NTSB report,“Specialist’s Factual Report of Investigation—Digital Flight Data Recorder” for United Airlines Flight 93, Feb. 15, 2002; on CVR, see FBI report,“CVR from UA Flight #93,” Dec. 4, 2003; FAA report,“Summary of Air Traffic Hijack Events: September 11, 2001,” Sept. 17, 2001; NTSB report, Air Traffic Control Recording—United Airlines Flight 93, Dec. 21, 2001.

72.The 37 passengers represented a load factor of 20.33 percent of the plane’s seating capacity of 182, considerably below the 52.09 percent for Flight 93 on Tuesdays in the three-month period prior to September 11 (June 11–September 4, 2001). See UAL report, Flight 93 EWR-SFO load factors, undated. Five passengers holding reservations for Flight 93 did not show for the flight.All five were interviewed and cleared by the FBI. FBI report,“Flight #93 ‘No Show’ Passengers from 9/11/01,” Sept. 18, 2001.

73. INS record,Withdrawal of Application for Admission for Mohamed al Kahtani,Aug. 4, 2001.

74. See FAA regulations,Admission to flight deck, 14 C.F.R. § 121.547 (2001);UAL records, copies of boarding passes for United 93, Sept. 11,2001.One passenger reported that ten first-class passengers were aboard the flight. If that number is accurate, it would include the four hijackers. FBI report of investigation, interview of Lisa Jefferson, Sept. 11, 2001;UAL record, Flight 93 passenger manifest, Sept. 11, 2001.All but one of the six passengers seated in the first-class cabin communicated with the ground during the flight, and none mentioned anyone from their cabin having gone into the cockpit before the hijacking.Moreover, it is unlikely that the highly regarded and experienced pilot and co-pilot of Flight 93 would have allowed an observer into the cockpit before or after takeoff who had not obtained the proper permission. See UAL records, personnel files of Flight 93 pilots. For jumpseat information, see UAL record,Weight and Balance Information for Flight 93 and Flight 175, Sept. 11, 2001;AAL records, Dispatch Environmental Control/Weekly Flight Summary for Flight 11 and Flight 77, Sept. 11, 2001.

75. Like Atta on Flight 11, Jarrah apparently did not know how to operate the communication radios; thus his attempts to communicate with the passengers were broadcast on the ATC channel. See FBI report,“CVR from UA Flight #93,” Dec. 4, 2003.Also, by 9:32 FAA notified United’s headquarters that the flight was not responding to radio calls.According to United, the flight’s nonresponse and its turn to the east led the airline to believe by 9:36 that the plane was hijacked. See Rich Miles interview (Nov. 21, 2003); UAL report, “United dispatch SMFDO activities—terrorist crisis,” Sept. 11, 2001.

76. In accordance with FAA regulations, United 93’s cockpit voice recorder recorded the last 31 minutes of sounds from the cockpit via microphones in the pilots’ headsets, as well as in the overhead panel of the flight deck. This is the only recorder from the four hijacked airplanes to survive the impact and ensuing fire.The CVRs and FDRs from American 11 and United 175 were not found,and the CVR from American Flight 77 was badly burned and not recoverable. See FBI report,“CVR from UA Flight #93,”Dec. 4, 2003; see also FAA regulations, 14 C.F.R. §§ 25.1457, 91.609, 91.1045, 121.359; Flight 93 CVR data. A transcript of the CVR recording was prepared by the NTSB and the FBI.

77. All calls placed on airphones were from the rear of the aircraft. There was one airphone installed in each row of seats on both sides of the aisle.The airphone system was capable of transmitting only eight calls at any one time. See FBI report of investigation, airphone records for flights UAL 93 and UAL 175 on Sept. 11, 2001, Sept. 18, 2001.

78.FAA audio file, Cleveland Center, position Lorain Radar; Flight 93 CVR data; FBI report, “CVR from UA Flight #93,” Dec. 4, 2003.

79. FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Todd Beamer, Sept. 11, 2001, through June 11, 2002; FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Sandy Bradshaw, Sept. 11, 2001, through Oct. 4, 2001.Text messages warning the cockpit of Flight 93 were sent to the aircraft by Ed Ballinger at 9:24. See UAL record, Ed Ballinger’s ACARS log, Sept. 11, 2001.

80.We have relied mainly on the record of FBI interviews with the people who received calls. The FBI interviews were conducted while memories were still fresh and were less likely to have been affected by reading the accounts of others or hearing stories in the media. In some cases we have conducted our own interviews to supplement or verify the record. See FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham,Sandy Bradshaw,Marion Britton,Thomas Burnett, Joseph DeLuca,Edward Felt, Jeremy Glick,Lauren
Grandcolas, Linda Gronlund, CeeCee Lyles, Honor Wainio.

81. FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Thomas Burnett, Sept. 11, 2001; FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Marion Britton, Sept. 14, 2001, through Nov. 8, 2001; Lisa Jefferson interview (May 11, 2004); FBI report of investigation, interview of Lisa Jefferson, Sept. 11, 2001; Richard Belme interview (Nov. 21, 2003).

82. See Jere Longman, Among the Heroes—United Flight 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back (Harper-Collins, 2002), p. 107; Deena Burnett interview (Apr. 26, 2004); FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Jeremy Glick, Sept. 11, 2001, through Sept. 12, 2001; Lyzbeth Glick interview (Apr. 22, 2004). Experts told us that a gunshot would definitely be audible on the CVR. The FBI found no evidence of a firearm at the crash site of Flight 93. See FBI response to Commission briefing request no. 6, undated (topic 11).The FBI collected 14 knives or portions of knives at the Flight 93 crash site. FBI report, “Knives Found at the UA Flight 93 Crash Site,” undated.

83. FBI response to Commission briefing request no. 6, undated (topic 11); FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from Jeremy Glick, Sept. 11, 2001, through Sept. 12, 2001.

84. See FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from United 93.

85. FBI reports of investigation, interviews of recipients of calls from United 93. For quote, see FBI report of investigation, interview of Philip Bradshaw, Sept. 11, 2001; Philip Bradshaw interview (June 15, 2004); Flight 93 FDR and CVR data.At 9:55:11 Jarrah dialed in the VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR) frequency for the VOR navigational aid at Washington Reagan National Airport, further indicating that the attack was planned for the nation’s capital.

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In looking at the heroic seizure of Attica Prison on September 9, 1971, we must acknowledge the real purpose of the prison system in the United States. The millions who remain incarcerated, paroled and supervised by the so-called correctional institutions are there not for the purpose of rehabilitation. Prisons are a mechanism to facilitate the continuing national oppression, super-exploitation and social containment of peoples of African and Latin American descent whom are considered the most dangerous subjects of the U.S. capitalist and imperialist system.

Those who took over Attica Prison recognized that their existence inside the walls was part and parcel of broader system of racism which extended back to the days of the Atlantic Slave Trade in North America and the entire western hemisphere. These men who rebelled during those fateful five days did so in response to the overall struggle for national liberation being waged on the outside.

By 1971, the African American movement against racism, national oppression and capitalist exploitation had reached an apex. For the previous 16 years, the African people had developed tactics from the collective boycott, to the sit-in, mass demonstrations, bloc voting, self-organization, urban rebellion and the armed revolutionary seizure of power.

One cannot understand the Attica Rebellion without examining the ongoing struggle of the African American people and its connection to the independence movements of African people throughout the globe. After the national independence of the Gold Coast (renamed Ghana) in 1957, a model of self-government, social reconstruction and the development of a Pan-African foreign policy would guide the most advanced elements within the oppressed nation.

George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson and the Attica Rebellion

At the same time we cannot fully grasp the mood of the African American inmates at Attica without reviewing the theoretical and literary contributions of George L. Jackson. Through his two books of prison writings, Soledad Brother and Blood in My Eye, Jackson reveals the social plight of the African American during this period.

Incarcerated in 1960 in connection with a robbery of filling station for the total amount of $70, Jackson was given a one year to life sentence. In other words, the system will either keep you imprisoned for life or release you when they think you are fully broken as a human being. His imprisonment paralleled the burgeoning African American liberation movement of the period.

It was during February of 1960 that the sit-in movement began in full swing. Sit-ins had occurred as early as 1958 in Wichita, Kansas and Austin Texas. Nonetheless, it was in Greensboro, North Carolina where four students from the local Agricultural & Technical College would ignite a fire that burned for more than a decade. Out of these protests emerged the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which prompted the formation of other organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, the Black Panther Party, Republic of New Africa, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, among others.

All of these organizations and their theoretical works had a tremendous impact on the imprisoned population. A former friend of mine who was incarcerated during the late 1960s in Ohio told me during the early 1980s what the atmosphere was like behind bars. He said that the African American inmates were observing what was happening on the outside with the struggle for Civil Rights, the urban rebellions and the growth of revolutionary organizations. He said they were frustrated by being locked up and the situation grew so tense that it exploded. Although the rebellion was crushed by the guards, he reflected on the fact that it was a “liberating experience.”

Jonathan Jackson, the 17-year-old brother of George, was active in the movement to free the Soledad Brothers. These three activist prisoners including George Jackson, along with Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette, were charged with the killing of a white prisoner guard in January 1970. The action was supposedly done in retaliation for the murder of three African American prisoners including W.L. Nolen, a leader among revolutionary prisoners who was gunned down by a guard shooting 30 feet above from a tower.

The younger Jackson took it upon himself in coalition with three inmates, Ruchell Magee, William Chirstmas and James McClain to take a judge, prosecutor and others in captivity in a failed bid to free the Soledad Brothers on August 7, 1970 at the Marin County Courthouse. Jonathan, Christmas and McClain were killed along with the white judge. Ruchell Magee survived but remains imprisoned up until today, having been incarcerated for some 53 years.

Six years ago during a Black August forum at this office I noted that: “Jackson became politicized in prison like so many other African American men from Malcolm X to Eldridge Cleaver. Jackson was the co-founder along with W.L. Nolen of the Black Guerrilla Family in prison. He would later join the Black Panther Party and was appointed as Field Marshall. In 1970 he wrote of the slave system and its antecedents in the United States saying “After the Civil War, the form of slavery changed from chattel to economic slavery, and we were thrown onto the labor market to compete at a disadvantage with poor whites.” (Soledad Brother, 1971, p. 175)

Jackson continued saying ‘Ever since that time, our principal enemy must be isolated and identified as capitalism. The slaver was and is the factory owner, the businessman of capitalist Amerika, the man responsible for employment, wages, prices, control of the nation’s institutions and culture. It was the capitalist infrastructure of Europe and the U.S. which was responsible for the rape of Africa and Asia.’ Therefore, Jackson saw clearly that there was a logical progression from the system of chattel slavery to industrial capitalism. He defines the struggle as one of both national oppression and class exploitation, but that the class struggle is the primary struggle.

This same presentation continued emphasizing that “Jackson notes ‘Capitalism murdered those 30 million in the Congo. Believe me, the European and Anglo-Amerikan capitalism would never have wasted the ball and powder were it not for the profit principle. The men, all the men who went into Africa and Asia, the fleas who climbed on that elephant’s back with rape on their minds, richly deserve all that they are called. Every one of them deserved to die for their crimes. So do the ones who are still in Vietnam, Angola, and the Union of South Africa (USA!!).’”

I later said “Nonetheless, Jackson emphasizes the need for an objective view of the enemy and the tactics needed to defeat capitalism and imperialism. It will require a scientific analysis of the problems facing the oppressed and a people’s organization to defeat it. Jackson goes on to say that ‘we must not allow the emotional aspects of these issues, the scum at the surface, to obstruct our view of the big picture, the whole rotten hunk. It was capitalism that armed the ships, free enterprise that launched them, private ownership of property that fed the troops. Imperialism took up where the slave trade left off. It wasn’t until after the slave trade ended that Amerika, England, France, and the Netherlands invaded and settled in on Afro-Asian soil in earnest. As the European industrial revolution took hold, new economic attractions replaced the older ones; chattel slavery was replaced by neo-slavery. Capitalism, ‘free enterprise’, private ownership of public property armed and launched the ships and fed the troops; it should be clear that it was the profit motive that kept them there.’” (Soledad Brother, p. 176)

The Legacy of George Jackson and Attica Today

A prison movement continues into the modern period with the advent of hunger strikes and other forms of resistance. This was brought to the attention of the U.S. and the world by the events several ago at Pelican Bay and other facilities in Georgia, Ohio and Michigan.

The plight of Rev. Edward Pinkney is an illustration of the continuing racist character of the legal system. Convicted without evidence, Pinkney was targeted for his outspoken opposition to racism in Berrien County. He has recently been transferred from the dreaded Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula to a facility in Muskegon. We have been waging a campaign for his exoneration and release for over two years.

Since the early 1970s, the rate of incarceration in the U.S. has grown by over 500 percent. Disproportionately, the African and Latino people are imprisoned in the hellholes and dungeons of the capitalist system. There is an estimated 2.2 million incarcerated in the U.S., the highest per capita rate of imprisonment in the world by a society that claims to be the citadel of democracy and human rights.

Although the Attica Rebellion was brutally crushed at the aegis of the-then billionaire Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, resulting in the deaths of over 40 people including several guards held hostage by the inmates, the movement for prisons’ rights, political prisoners and the for the abolition of the system of incarceration continues.

We can never be free as long as these institutions exist. The abolition of prisons will coincide with the total liberation of the African American people and the destruction of the world capitalist and imperialist system.  This struggle cannot be divorced from the broader movement to eliminate racism and national oppression.

Note: This address was delivered at a Workers World Party (WWP) campaign meeting held on Saturday September 10, 2016 in Detroit. Other speakers included Carlos Topp of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Joe Mshahwar of Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST), Yvonne Jones of the Detroit Active Retired and Employees Association (DAREA) and Monica Moorehead, the WWP presidential candidate. The meeting was chaired by Debbie Johnson of the WWP’s Detroit branch.

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Islamic State fighters launch a new round of suicide attacks as government allied forces battle to liberate the Libyan town of Sirte

Sirte, LIBYA – With Islamic State (IS) forces now carrying out attacks outside Sirte, the final offensive to liberate the town has been delayed while Libyan forces secure the surrounding desert area. 

“Daesh are becoming active again outside the town and have started targeting us on the road between Sirte and Misrata,” fighter Hatham told MEE, using an alternative acronym for IS.

They are planting IEDs on the road to Sirte, which have already killed two of our men, and another vehicle was targeted by an RPG.

IS flags painted on the walls of the Ougadougou centre in Sirte (MEE/Tom Westcott)

The attacks took place along the 150-kilometre stretch of desert highway between Sirte and the village of AbuGrain, liberated four months ago.

The Libyan forces, operating under the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), have now imposed a curfew, banning civilian vehicles from using the road between 8pm and 8am and increasing checkpoints, in an attempt to secure the road.

IS members are also upping their suicide operations outside Sirte. An attempted suicide attack on a checkpoint outside Misrata on Thursday was thwarted by Libyan troops, while a fortnight ago the militant group successfully carried out a suicide bombing on a logistics position used by Libyan forces on the outskirts of Sirte, in an area that had been liberated for several months.

“I passed an ordinary civilian BMW driven by a guy in normal Libyan clothes on my way to the front line, but I felt something wasn’t right because he was driving very fast and flashing his lights,” said fighter Mohammed.

We heard the explosion within minutes, when he reached our petrol station and food depot, and then we realised he must have been a suicide bomber.

Much of downtown Sirte lies in ruins after prolonged periods of fierce battles (MEE/Tom Westcott)

Mohammed claimed the vehicles came from the area of AbuHadi, a village on the southern outskirts of Sirte where the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was born.

Dual car-bombings in the capital Tripoli on Thursday, targeting the naval base home to the GNA and the foreign ministry, have so far gone unclaimed by any group.

This string of attacks indicates that IS presence on the central Libyan coastline had already spread into secret locations outside Sirte before the Libyan forces began their assault on the town.

The spokesman for the Sirte operation, Brigadier-General Mohammed Al-Ghassri, confirmed that the final offensive to liberate the town was being delayed to ensure that IS were completely eliminated from the surrounding areas.

This continued IS presence, he said, was also why the United States had authorised a further 30 days of air strikes on IS targets in Libya.

“We need America’s continued support because, although Daesh is confined to one-and-a-half square miles of central Sirte, some elements have spread to the peripheries,” he said.

“If we liberate the centre now, these residual Daesh fighters on the peripheries will become more active and we can expect more suicide vehicles and more IEDs. We have to secure the whole area.”

Ghassri said the final offensive was being coordinated with British and American teams that have been supporting the battle, mainly with intelligence and logistics, since early May.

Local people had claimed for months that top IS leaders were no longer inside Sirte but had relocated to other Libyan towns and villages at the outset of the war, forming new militant sleeper cells that would continue to pose a threat long after the liberation of Sirte.

Armed units are now patrolling the desert south of Sirte where IS militants are believed to be hiding.

Commander Mohammed Issa, who heads one of the main front-lines in Sirte, still insisted the fall of Sirte was imminent.

“The final offensive is now being planned, and could be in the next 72 hours,” he told MEE last week. “We realise we are fighting against a suicidal enemy, so the next battle will be really big and hard – it will be the mother of all battles.”

But, almost a week later, there had still been no major new advance.

Libyan forces prepare tanks to fight IS militants on the front line in Sirte (MEE/Tom Westcott)

He said the suicidal nature of IS fighters meant one militant was often equivalent to three ordinary fighters, and they were battling even more fiercely now they were compressed into such a compact area.

“IS are not fighting to live, they are fighting to die and will give this battle everything they’ve got,” he said. “We are expecting them to make serious attacks against our positions because they want to reduce our numbers to the minimum.”

He slammed European governments for not supporting the operation against IS in Sirte.

“We are not happy with the EU because they didn’t give us any help, but we know they are helping [General Khalifa] Haftar in the east, but Haftar is actually supporting terrorism because he let IS members leave [the eastern town of] Derna to come to Sirte,” he said. “We are not extremists. We are normal Muslims who believe that there should be peace and religious freedom for everyone.”

Issa pointed out that IS in Libya was a global threat, saying graffiti found in Sirte’s small port read: “This is our departure point for Europe,” and that documents discovered in IS offices showed there were a number of European militants, including French and Germans, among their ranks.

Despite delays to the final offensive, front lines in the town remain modestly active, with Libyan forces still targeting IS sniper positions. Several units also carried out a successful operation to retrieve the corpses of two dead soldiers on the edge of Sirte’s District Three – the only area still under IS control. Seven IS militants were reportedly killed and several new premises seized, including Sirte’s civil court, a bank and an ammunition storage facility.

Libyan forces are also keeping a constant watch for suicide vehicles, still one of IS’s preferred and most deadly weapons.

“A US air strike destroyed a suicide vehicle this morning,” said young fighter Ali, driving through the battle-scarred streets of Sirte’s District One. “And we have destroyed several ourselves during this last week. Because IS are running out of metal, the suicide bomb trucks aren’t bullet-proofed like before, so it’s easier for us to stop them now by shooting the driver.”

He predicted that the liberation of Sirte would take at least two more offensives to achieve, a feeling echoed by other fighters.

“We know IS don’t have many fighters left because now they leave their dead in the street whereas before they had enough men to take the bodies, because we rarely found them,” said Abdusalem. “But they know they are now fighting a desperate battle so they are using anything and everything they have against us. They are still a dangerous and difficult enemy.”

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Crimea Cannot Be Returned to Ukraine. Czech President

September 11th, 2016 by South Front

Crimea cannot be returned to Ukraine, Czech President Milos Zeman said on Friday, answering readers’ questions in the Parlamentni Listy newspaper.

“An annexation means breaching international agreements, and it is doubtless that agreements guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial integrity were breached,” Zeman said.

But, at the same time, the Czech President noted that an unforgivable stupidity was committed by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1954 made Crimea a part of Ukraine, which was then a part of the Soviet Union.

“The world’s politicians acknowledge today that Crimea cannot be given back to Ukraine,” Zeman stressed.

Milos Zeman (Photo: BGNES)

In 2014, immediately after the Crimean Republic’s accession into the Russian Federation, Zeman had urged the EU to accept this fact and said that the region’s return to Ukraine should not be expected in the foreseeable future.

On August 25, the Czech President said that the time to join the countries, advocating for lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions, has come for the Czech Republic, and stressed that the US embargo on Cuba had demonstrated that these kinds of measures were ineffective.

“I support improving relations with Russia due to economic and cultural reasons. Russia is a part of the European-American civilization, which is fighting against international Islamic terrorism,” Zeman concluded.

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The EU’s food and farming safety regulator is trying to create a ‘back door’ system to licence the use of herbicides that have been banned for their toxic impacts on people and wildlife – under a clearly inapplicable ‘plant health’ exemption.

This protocol is a scandal. Weeds will in the worst case cause a reduction of the yield of a crop and not be a serious danger to plant health. Allowing these highly toxic herbicides to be part of this derogation is a grave misuse of the rules.

While Europe has been enjoying its summer holiday, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been hard at work – creating a massive loophole for EU laws intended to protect people and wildlife from the most toxic and dangerous pesticides.

Weeds in farmers' crops - like these poppies in an oilseed rape field near Thirsk - may reduce profit margins - but they are hardly a 'serious danger to plant health'. Photo: James West via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Weeds in farmers’ crops – like these poppies in an oilseed rape field near Thirsk – may reduce profit margins – but they are hardly a ‘serious danger to plant health’. Photo: James West via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

It took advantage of the lower level of scrutiny over the holiday period topublish a ‘protocol’for implementing a major derogation (exemption) from the Pesticides Regulation 1107/2009 which is only meant to apply where there is “serious danger to plant health”.

The derogation would apply to herbicides (weed killers) that are still on the EU market but about to be banned based on the 2009 pesticide Regulation that includes ‘cut-off’ provisions for classified carcinogenic, reprotoxic or endocrine disruptive pesticides.

Examples of the herbicides that were due to be banned are Glufosinate (causing birth defects), Epoxiconazole (birth defects, liver cancer), Flumioxazin (toxic for reproduction & for endocrine organs), Pymetrozin (cancers, reduction fertility & effects on endocrine organs).

Monstrous abuse of the ‘plant health’ loophole

EFSA describes its derogation procedure as “concerning the necessity of the application of herbicide active substances to control a serious danger to plant health” and “to confirm the lack of other available means capable of controlling an identified serious danger to plant health.”

But Hans Muilerman of Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN) responded that the entire premise of the derogation was fraudulent: “This protocol is a scandal. Weeds will in the worst case cause a reduction of the yield of a crop and not be a serious danger to plant health. Allowing herbicides to be part of the Article 4.7-derogation is a grave misuse of the rules.”

Their view is even confirmed by EFSA, he stated, which has itself conceded that “weeds in a strict sense do not directly pose a threat to plant health”.

The derogation was originally designed to allow the use of banned pesticides in cases where plants were suffering from disease caused by, for example, fungal, bacterial or viral infection, or insect attack. That’s controversial enough in its own right – but to extend its use to herbicides is clearly outside the original scope and motivation.

Under Article 4(7) of the regulation, banned pesticides may be permitted “on the basis of documented evidence included in the application an active substance is necessary to control a serious danger to plant health which cannot be contained by other available means including non-chemical methods, such active substance may be approved for a limited period necessary to control that serious danger but not exceeding five years”.

Ignoring legal requirement to promote non-chemical alternatives

EFSA mentions that priority has to be given to non-chemical methods, as required by theSustainable Use of Pesticides Directive 128/2009. However the body has always been quick to dismiss alternatives like mechanical weeding as being less applicable, reliable and effective.

The Directive aims “to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides by reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.”

It also requires member states to “adopt National Action Plans to set up their quantitative objectives, targets, measures and timetables to reduce risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and to encourage the development and introduction of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques in order to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides.”

But these provisions of the Directive have been a dead letter – actively undermined by EFSA, member states and the EU Commision, says Muilerman, while EFSA’s ‘plant health group’ has “no knowledge of sustainable crop growing and dismisses available and widely used non-chemical methods.”

“Instead of reducing the use of pesticides by sustainable practices (like crop rotation, mechanical weeding), EFSA promotes the all-out use of synthetic pesticides to fight weeds”, he said. Resistance caused by overuse of pesticides needs to be countered by use of more pesticides, according to the Authority. This is the chemical treadmill – a dead-end street.

The EU member states should not accept this EFSA protocol since it is undermining sustainable agriculture and decades of environmental and health policy.

Oliver Tickell is contributing editor at The Ecologist.

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Why I Don’t Speak of 9/11 Anymore

September 11th, 2016 by Edward Curtin

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a non-teaching day for me.  I was home when the phone rang at 9 A.M.  It was my daughter, who was on a week’s vacation with her future husband.  “Turn on the TV,” she said.  “Why?” I asked. “Haven’t you heard?  A plane hit the World Trade Tower.”

I turned the TV on and watched a plane crash into the Tower.  I said, “They just showed a replay.”  She quickly corrected me, “No, that’s another plane.”  And we talked as we watched in horror, learning that it was the South Tower this time.  Sitting next to my daughter was my future son-in-law; he had not had a day off from work in a year.  He had finally taken a week’s vacation so they could go to Cape Cod.  He worked on the 100th floor of the South Tower.  By chance, he had escaped the death that claimed 176 of his co-workers.

That was my introduction to the attacks.  Fifteen years have disappeared behind us, yet it seems like yesterday.  And yet again, it seems like long, long ago.

Over the next few days, as the government and the media accused Osama bin Laden and 19 Arabs of being responsible for the attacks, I told a friend that what I was hearing wasn’t believable; the official story was full of holes.  It was a reaction that I couldn’t fully explain, but it set me on a search for the truth.  I proceeded in fits and starts, but by the fall of 2004, with the help of the extraordinary work of David Ray Griffin and other early skeptics, I could articulate the reasons for my initial intuition.  I set about creating a college course on what had come to be called 9/11.

But I no longer refer to the events of that day by those numbers.  Let me explain why.

By 2004 I was convinced that the U.S. government’s claims (and The 9/11 Commission Report) were fictitious.  They seemed so blatantly false that I concluded the attacks were a deep-state intelligence operation whose purpose was to initiate a national state of emergency to justify wars of aggression, known euphemistically as “the war on terror.”  The sophistication of the attacks, and the lack of any proffered evidence for the government’s claims, suggested that a great deal of planning had been involved.

Yet I was chagrined and amazed by so many people’s insouciant lack of interest in researching arguably the most important world event since the assassination of President Kennedy.  I understood the various psychological dimensions of this denial, the fear, cognitive dissonance, etc., but I sensed something else as well. For so many people their minds seemed to have been “made up” from the start.  I found that many young people were the exceptions, while most of their elders dared not question the official narrative.  This included many prominent leftist critics of American foreign policy.  Now that fifteen years have elapsed, this seems truer than ever.

So with the promptings of people like Graeme MacQueen, Lance deHaven-Smith, T.H. Meyer, et al., I have concluded that a process of linguistic mind-control was in place before, during, and after the attacks.  As with all good propaganda, the language had to be insinuated over time and introduced through intermediaries.  It had to seem “natural” and to flow out of events, not to precede them.  And it had to be repeated over and over again.

In summary form, I will list the language I believe “made up the minds” of those who have refused to examine the government’s claims about the September 11th attacks and the subsequent anthrax attacks.

1. Pearl Harbor.  As pointed out by David Ray Griffin and others, this term was used in September 2000 in The Project for the New American Century’s report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (p.51).  Its neo-con authors argued that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to attack Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. “absent some catastrophic event –  like a new Pearl Harbor.”  Coincidentally or not, the filmPearl Harbor, made with Pentagon assistance and a massive budget, was released on May 25, 2001 and was a box office hit. It was in the theatres throughout the summer.  The thought of the attack on Pearl Harbor (not a surprise to the U.S. government, but presented as such) was in the air despite the fact that the 60th anniversary of that attack was not until December 7, 2001, a more likely release date. Once the September 11th attacks occurred, the Pearl Harbor comparison was “plucked out” of the social atmosphere and used innumerable times, beginning immediately. Even George W. Bush was reported to have had the time to allegedly use it in his diary that night. The examples of this comparison are manifold, but I am summarizing, so I will skip giving them. Any casual researcher can confirm this.

2. Homeland.  This strange un-American term, another WW II word associated with another enemy – Nazi Germany – was also used many times by the neo-con authors of “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.”  I doubt any average American referred to this country by that term before.  Of course it became the moniker for The Department of Homeland Security, marrying home with security to form a comforting name that simultaneously and unconsciously suggests a defense against Hitler-like evil coming from the outside.  Not coincidentally, Hitler introduced it into the Nazi propaganda vernacular at the 1934 Nuremberg rally. Both usages conjured up images of a home besieged by alien forces intent on its destruction; thus preemptive action was in order.

3. Ground Zero. This is a third WWII (“the good war”) term first used at11:55 A.M. on September 11th by Mark Walsh (aka “the Harley Guy” because he was wearing a Harley-Davidson tee shirt) in an interview on the street by a Fox News reporter, Rick Leventhal. Identified as a Fox free-lancer, Walsh also explained the Twin Towers collapse in a precise, well-rehearsed manner that would be the same illogical explanation later given by the government: “mostly due to structural failure because the fire was too intense.”  Ground zero – a nuclear bomb term first used by U.S. scientists to refer to the spot where they exploded the first nuclear bomb in New Mexico in 1945 – became another meme adopted by the media that suggested a nuclear attack had occurred or might in the future if the U.S. didn’t act. The nuclear scare was raised again and again by George W. Bush and U.S. officials in the days and months following the attacks, although nuclear weapons were beside the point. But the conjoining of “nuclear” with “ground zero” served to raise the fear factor dramatically. Ironically, the project to develop the nuclear bomb was called the Manhattan Project and was headquartered at 270 Broadway, NYC, a few short blocks north of the World Trade Center.

4. The Unthinkable.  This is another nuclear term whose usage as linguistic mind control and propaganda is analyzed by Graeme MacQueen in the penultimate chapter of The 2001 Anthrax Deception.  He notes the patterned use of this term before and after September 11th, while saying “the pattern may not signify a grand plan …. It deserves investigation and contemplation.”  He then presents a convincing case that the use of this term couldn’t be accidental. He notes how George W. Bush, in a major foreign policy speech on May 1, 2001, “gave informal public notice that the United States intended to withdraw unilaterally from the ABM Treaty”; Bush said the U.S. must be willing to “rethink the unthinkable.”  This was necessary because of terrorism and rogue states with “weapons of mass destruction.”  PNAC also argued that the U.S. should withdraw from the treaty. A signatory to the treaty could only withdraw after giving six months notice and because of “extraordinary events” that “jeopardized its supreme interests.” Once the September 11th attacks occurred, Bush rethought the unthinkable and officially gave formal notice on December 13th to withdraw the U.S. from the ABM Treaty.  MacQueen specifies the many times different media used the term “unthinkable” in October 2001 in reference to the anthrax attacks.  He explicates its usage in one of the anthrax letters – “The Unthinkabel” [sic].  He explains how the media that used the term so often were at the time unaware of its usage in the anthrax letter since that letter’s content had not yet been revealed, and how the letter writer had mailed the letter before the media started using the word.  He makes a rock solid case showing the U.S. government’s complicity in the anthrax attacks and therefore in the Sept 11th attacks.  While calling the use of the term “unthinkable” in all its iterations “problematic,” he writes, “The truth is that the employment of ‘the unthinkable’ in this letter, when weight is given both to the meaning of this term in U.S. strategic circles and to the other relevant uses of the term in 2001, points us in the direction of the U.S. military and intelligence communities.”  I am reminded of Orwell’s point in 1984: “a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc – should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words.”  Thus the government and media’s use of “unthinkable” becomes a classic case of “doublethink.”  The unthinkable is unthinkable.

5. 9/11. This is the key usage that has reverberated down the years around which the others revolve. It is an anomalous numerical designation applied to an historical event, and obviously also the emergency telephone number.  Try to think of another numerical appellation for an important event in American history. The future editor of The New York Times and Iraq war promoter, Bill Keller, introduced this connection the following morning in a NY Times op-ed piece, “America’s Emergency Line: 911.”  The linkage of the attacks to a permanent national emergency was thus subliminally introduced, as Keller mentioned Israel nine times and seven times compared the U.S. situation to that of Israel as a target for terrorists. His first sentence reads: “An Israeli response to America’s aptly dated wake-up call might well be, ‘Now you know.’” By referring to September 11th as 9/11, an endless national emergency became wedded to an endless war on terror aimed at preventing Hitler-like terrorists from obliterating us with nuclear weapons that could create another ground zero or holocaust. It is a term that pushes all the right buttons evoking unending social fear and anxiety.  It is language as sorcery; it is propaganda at its best. Even The Journal of 9/11 Studies uses the term that has become a fixture of public consciousness through endless repetition.   As George W. Bush would later put it as he connected Saddam Hussein to “9/11” and pushed for the Iraq war, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”  All the ingredients for a linguistic mind-control smoothie had been blended.

 I have concluded – and this is impossible to prove definitively at this time because of the nature of such propagandistic techniques – that the use of all these words/numbers is part of a highly sophisticated linguistic mind-control campaign waged to create a narrative that has lodged in the minds of hundreds of millions of people and is very hard to dislodge.   It is why I don’t speak of “9/11” any more. I refer to those events as the attacks of September 11, 2001. But I am not sure how to undo the damage.

Lance deHaven-Smith puts it well in Conspiracy Theory in America.  “The rapidity with which the new language of the war on terror appeared and took hold; the synergy between terms and their mutual connections to WW II nomenclatures; and above all the connections between many terms and the emergency motif of “9/11” and “9-1-1” – any one of these factors alone, but certainly all of them together – raise the possibility that work on this linguistic construct began long before 9/11….It turns out that elite political crime, even treason, may actually be official policy.”

Needless to say, his use of the words “possibility” and “may” are in order when one sticks to strict empiricism.  However, when one reads his full text, it is apparent to me that he considers these “coincidences” part of a conspiracy.  I have also reached that conclusion.  As Thoreau put in his underappreciated humorous way, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

The evidence for linguistic mind control, while the subject of this essay, does not stand alone, of course.  It underpins the actual attacks of September 11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks that are linked.  The official explanations for these events by themselves do not stand up to elementary logic and are patently false, as proven by thousands of well-respected professional researchers  from all walks of life – i.e. engineers, pilots, architects, and scholars from many disciplines.  To paraphrase the prescient Vince Salandria, who said it long ago concerning the assassination of President Kennedy, the attacks of 2001 are “a false mystery concealing state crimes.”  If one objectively studies the 2001 attacks together with the language adopted to explain and preserve them in social memory, the “mystery” emerges from the realm of the unthinkable and becomes utterable. “There is no mystery.” How to communicate this when the corporate mainstream media serve the function of the government’s mockingbird (as in Operation Mockingbird) repeating and repeating the same narrative in the same language; that is the difficult task we are faced with.

Words have a power to enchant and mesmerize.  Linguistic mind-control, especially when linked to traumatic events such as the September 11th and anthrax attacks, can strike people dumb and blind.  It often makes some subjects “unthinkable” and “unspeakable” (to quote Jim Douglass quoting Thomas Merton in JFK and the Unspeakable: the unspeakable “is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said.”).

We need a new vocabulary to speak of these terrible things.

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Fifteen Years After 9/11, Never Ending War…

September 11th, 2016 by Alex Emmons

In the days  after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the war on terror is still in its opening act.

The drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan only revealed how little war has achieved and how much damage it has inflicted. In Afghanistan, the Taliban now holds more territory than it has at any point since 2001.  One poll from 2016 found that more than 90 percent of young people in Iraq now consider the United States an “enemy” of their country.

The Islamic State, which was largely created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, controls vast swaths of territory in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, and has demonstrated an emboldened capability to orchestrate attacks in Europe. In June, CIA Director John Brennan told Congress that “despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.”

Al Qaeda, the original enemy, today controls territory in Yemen and Somalia, but it is no longer considered a priority. In the span of one year, for example, the U.S.-backed war in Yemen quadrupled the size of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the terror group’s most dangerous offshoot. The CIA has continued to arm Syrian rebels, despite the fact that those weapons have found their way to a former al Qaeda affiliate. Retired General David Petraeus, formerly the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, actually suggested arming al Qaeda directly to help fight ISIS.

Despite the lack of progress, the last 15 years of war have come at a horrific cost.

The U.S. lost nearly 2,300 service members in Afghanistan, and nearly 4,500 in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands were forever damaged. Those figures do not include at least 6,900 U.S. contractors and at least 43,000 Afghan and Iraqi troops who lost their lives.

The death toll in the countries the U.S. attacked remains untallied, but conservative estimates range from the hundreds of thousands to well over a million. Add to that the hundreds of people tortured in U.S. custody, and thousands killed by U.S. drones in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

The financial cost of the War on Terror is incalculable. The Iraq and Afghan wars, including the medical costs for veterans, are estimated to end up costing the U.S. at least $4 trillion dollars. Intelligence budgets havedoubled, on top of more than $800 billion spent on “homeland security.”

Billions of dollars have been wasted on fruitless projects – like a failed plan to install radiation detectors at airports, which cost the government $230 million. The Department of Homeland Security wasted $1.1 billion on a “virtual fence” of sensors along the Mexican border before scrapping the program. The examples go on and on. The CIA paid one contractor $20 million to build a program that could discover encoded terrorist messages in Al Jazeera news broadcasts. Just last year, the Pentagon spent $43 millionon one gas station in Afghanistan. Two contract psychologists were paid$80 million for designing the CIA’s torture program.

After 15 years, the only winners in the War on Terror have been the contractors.

At home, the War on Terror has become a Constitutional nightmare. The U.S. has adopted a practice of indefinitely detaining terror suspects. Police departments across the country secretly import military grade spy equipment. Courts have ruled that families cannot sue to get their children off government kill lists. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. has become the largest surveillance state in history.

In the 2016 presidential campaigns, torture has become one party’s applause line, in no small part due to President Obama’s failure to prosecute the architects of the Bush-era torture program.

Bombing multiple countries in the Middle East has become business as usual, and often goes unreported. On August 1, for example, the day the Obama administration announced a new bombing campaign against ISIS in Libya, American journalists were far more occupied with post-convention election polls than they were with the new war.

All of this foreshadows a war that could stretch 10, 20, or 50 more years. As the U.S. shifts its strategy towards bombing and away from ground troops, media engagement with the wars diminishes, and it is all too easy to forget about our permanent state of war. But the victims of U.S. violence are unlikely to forget, creating a potentially endless supply of new enemies.

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Shadow Banking verses Global Hunger

September 11th, 2016 by Graham Vanbergen

Banking Verses Humanity – FactVILE

Fact: Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.

VILE – Seven years after the global financial collapse, regulators and investors are still working through an epic pile of lawsuits and other civil actions against Banks, for a long list of wrongdoing where fines so far totals over $200billion – and that is just in the US. Those fines would have kept global poverty at bay for the same seven years.

UNICEF: More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.

UNICEF: 70 per cent of 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to just 6 causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.

Iconic picture of the vulture and the little girl by Kevin carter who committed suicide 2 months after taking this picture

Iconic picture of the vulture and the little girl by Kevin carter who committed suicide 2 months after taking this picture

Fact: One billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due directly to poverty, the vast majority are preventable.

VILE – The largest U.S. banks were penalized for their role in inflating a mortgage bubble that helped cause the ‘global’ financial crisis. They have been fined over $110 billion for the one crime of mortgage fraud.

Not a cent of that money has gone to helping those countries that desperately require financial assistance as a result of non-payment of promised aid due to the financial crisis itself. One third of those fines would stop the mortality rate in it’s tracks.

UN: 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

UN: 85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Fact: More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean drinking water. Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene alone kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day. In total, the UN estimates that 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of water-related diseases.

VILE – Despite grand statements from world leaders, the debt crisis is far from over. Creditors have still not delivered on the promises they made nine years ago to cancel unpayable poor country debts. As a result, many countries still have to spend more on debt repayments than on meeting the basic needs of their people. The total sum required to pay it all off – about 10% of the money illegally stashed in off-shore tax havens.

BGraham Vanbergen – I don’t apologise for trying to explain in some depth what the banking industry is capable of and the damage this one industry can inflict on the entire world. On this occasion we’ll look at shadow banking and make some comparisons.

Shadow banking is a system that refers to the financial intermediaries involved in facilitating the creation of credit across the global financial system but whose members are not subject to regulatory oversight. The shadow banking system also refers to unregulated activities by regulated institutions. Not all shadow-banking is criminal but a substantial part of it is.

Prof. Thomas Rixen, who has written a lot about tax ‘competition’ (aka tax wars) in the past, has a new article looking at dynamics in the area of financial regulation. Entitled Why reregulation after the crisis is feeble: Shadow banking, offshore financial centers, and jurisdictional competition, it points out that the shadow banking sector, many of whose players were implicated in the global financial crisis that erupted almost a decade ago, is heavily entwined with offshore financial centres (OFCs).  Typically, this involved banks sponsoring off-balance sheet vehicles, located in places like Cayman or Luxembourg: these supposedly took risk off the banks’ books, but then returned to haunt the banks when they blew up, causing widespread economic disaster. Rixen:

Most shadow bank entities are incorporated offshore and enjoy the tax and regulatory privileges offered by these places. It was, therefore, warranted to target OFCs after the crisis – one of the most immediate and publicly discussed policy reactions of the G20. However, the regulatory response toward OFCs and shadow banking falls short.

He then examines why. The core point he makes, perhaps, is that while the world has engaged seriously (if imperfectly) with tax haven issues such as financial secrecy, it has hardly even slapped the wrists of the tax havens, corporations or wealthy individuals for their role in these activities. He puts it bluntly:

I submit that the regulatory reaction largely serves a symbolic purpose to acquiesce popular sentiments without having actual effect.

Tax Justice Network writes – Politicians can be seen to “do something” about the banking industry by cracking down on secrecy for instance, but this obscures large and powerful malign forces, which they have written extensively about.

The key reasons for this failure to act seriously, Rixen argues, are firstly ‘jurisdictional competition’ – a fear of putting into place serious safeguards for fear that the often abusive activity will flee to more friendly climes – and secondly, what we call ‘state capture’ – where financial interests effectively control the policy-making apparatus, particularly in small jurisdictions. And of course a key component of that capture is this ‘jurisdictional competition’ – the ‘don’t regulate us too much or we’ll flee to Geneva or Singapore’ cry that we hear all the time, in country after country.

“While the existence of such competition is, of course, well known to international political economists working on financial markets, it has not been discussed as the main factor in the literature on regulatory reform after the crisis.”

This is big stuff, of course. As Rixen puts it:

“The Financial Stability Board (FSB 2012a, pp. 8–9) estimated the shadow banking sector at around $67 trillion at the end of 2011, which is about 25 percent of the global financial system.”

As an aside, he adds: “While there is no generally accepted definition of an OFC, the term refers to states or dependent territories which intentionally create regulations and tax rules for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain. Regulation and taxation are designed to circumvent the legislation of other jurisdictions.”

Share of shadow banking assets - charts by FSB

Share of shadow banking assets – charts by FSB

However, the FSB’s 2015 (p2+) report clearly states that “Based on assets of OFIs (offshore financial institutions) alone, which have been the main focus of last year’s report, (i.e. excluding pension funds and insurance companies), non-bank financial intermediation of the 20 jurisdictions and the euro area rose $1.6 trillion to $80 trillion in 2014.”

It doesn’t get any better when in the same report it says that the “OFI assets in the 20 jurisdictions and the euro area reached 128% of GDP in 2014, up 6 percentage points from 2013 and 15 percentage points from 2011. It is nearing the perilous high-point of 130% prior to the financial crisis.

The report concludes on the global banking system by determining that assets in the 26 jurisdictions remained roughly at $135 trillion. The US and UK have 40% and 11% respectively.

Amazingly, by comparison to this highly complex paper produced each year by Britain’s Financial Stability Board, painfully and graphically laid out with pie-charts and tables, that there is no conclusive research by any organisation in the world what global hunger actually stands at. Although a few make claims through various forms of research, there is no authoritative paper on the actual number that everyone agrees on.

One claim that PolitiFact had a go at was that the Iraq war cost around $2trillion and that the cost of solving the global hunger crisis for around one billion people would be $30billion annually. The article was more about disputing the fact that global hunger could be eradicated with $30billion a year than realising the incredible resources available should the latter be used for human assistance and not carpet bombing the innocent or simply neglecting them.

In the meantime, It is not unreasonable to conclude from recent evidence that tax havens are shielding as much as $32 trillion illegally stashed away from tax authorities, now simply a technical device of diverting wealth, that is suffocating and starving entire populations across the world.

Taxing the shadow banking industry 0.5% (called the Robin Hood Tax) and tax havens by say 10% (lets call it ‘tax due’) which represents less than half what would be due in many countries if it was correctly paid, would produce well over $1 trillion. By any stretch of the imagination, half that that would solve global hunger, poverty and the refugee crisis instantly, irrespective of the minutia.

In the UK alone, the Robin Hood Tax is estimated to be able to pay for 10,000 full-time permanent teachers. You can now start to imagine what a global tax could do. And as America and the EU make up well over half of global GDP and the Bank of England can specify exactly which country is doing what and where from a financial perspective – then taxing them should be no problem – given political will of course. But then, that’s the problem – political will.

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Allowed rare access to the Saudi military’s targeting cells, IRIN Middle East editor Annie Slemrod is presented with an anodyne operation that couldn’t be further from the horror on the ground in Yemen.

“Our position is extremely strong,” said Lieutenant General Fayyad al-Ruwaili. “We are hitting military targets on [the enemy’s] side, their facilities, their lines of communication…. At the end of the day, they will be the losers.”

The certainty with which the deputy chief of staff of Saudi Arabia’s armed forces outlined his country’s position seemed off-key, especially given the storm brewing around the kingdom’s 17-month intervention in Yemen.

Granted rare access inside the Saudi defence ministry to specialist cells where targeting decisions are taken, IRIN found a jarring disconnect between the cool calculations of the generals in Riyadh and the deaths of innocent civilians, women, and children on the ground.

Throughout IRIN’s guided tour, Saudi military officials insisted they are scrupulous in their targeting, abide by the rules of war, and are constantly honing what they do to avoid civilian casualties.

Al-Ruwaili said UN numbers on civilian deaths were not to be trusted.

“We are not saying that there have been [no civilian casualties]. Any military operation in a situation working against a guerrilla [force] would have some collateral damage or effect.” But the casualties are minimal, al-Ruwaili said.

We choose our targets very carefully. We scrutinise the target list… and we have a no target list – it is thousands – and we do avoid all these targets.

A general in fatigues

Lieutenant General Fayyad al-Ruwaili in Riyadh

Much of this decision-making happens inside an operations room that has a plaque, in English and Arabic, that reads “Joint Targeting Cell”. Despite its name, the choices about what to target don’t appear to be made here, only what not to hit.

There are topographic maps on one wall and more uniformed men in front of computers. A map of Yemen is projected on one side of a large screen. Coloured icons mark schools, hospitals, and known UN and NGO locations. Zooming into Sana’a, some labels were visible: a hospital, a Red Crescent location, and a college. The coordinates of these locations are shared by the groups themselves.

IRIN was shown a document from OCHA, the UN’s emergency aid coordination body. It listed the precise details of a planned aid convoy: driving times, exact coordinates, and photographs of vehicles.

A soldier explained how it works. If a static target is within 500 metres of a “no strike” location or a populated area, warplanes either won’t hit it or they’ll choose a less powerful weapon. This “targeting” cell was said to be in 24-hour coordination with pilots doing the actual bombing.

Lieutenant Colonel Turki al-Maliki of the air force rushed over from his offices next door to answer further questions about the difficult reality of asymmetric warfare. He joked that he is “the most hated guy in the air force” because he is the man who has to call off certain strikes.

Al-Maliki said Saudi Arabia is doing its best to limit civilian damage and constantly “improving the process”. “Does [our] collateral damage methodology ensure the safe execution [of warfare] for civilian people? It does,” he said, assuredly.


And when they do err, the Saudis said, they take full responsibility.

“We are humans and we do make mistakes,” said al-Ruwaili. In these cases “we have an independent investigation team that [does] the whole thing, and if we make a mistake we… acknowledge it.”

This process is done by what’s called the Joint Incident Assessment Team. In early August, the JIAT, a group of appointed experts from the Gulf region, released a summary of eight investigations into claims of attacks that violated international law.

In one case – July 2015 airstrikes on residential compounds connected to a power plant that Human Rights Watchsaid killed at least 65 civilians including 10 children – the team concluded that faulty intelligence had led to the hit, and promised to pay compensation to victims’ families.

In another case – a hit on an MSF hospital in Saada – the investigation found that Houthi rebel forces had been using the building (MSF denies this) but said the military should have notified the medical charity before the strike.

In the rest of the cases, including a marketplace bombing where Human Rights Watch and the UN reported between 97 and 107 civilian deaths and the JIAT found none – the investigations left the coalition in the clear. Al-Ruwaili said the JIAT is now looking at seven further cases.

But internal investigation isn’t good enough, according to Human Rights Watch and other critics, who argue that the Saudis should release details about panel members and full reports on each incident. The UN has also called for independent investigations.

Al-Ruwaili insisted there was no such need.

The team is headed by a retired two-star air force general “who is not working for the government anymore,” he said. “He is independent.”

Back on the ground

On the same day that IRIN visited the war’s Riyadh headquarters, ushered in out of the desert heat after a few questions and phone calls by a military policeman in a red beret, the UN upped its estimate of the death toll in Yemen to 10,000. For months, official numbers had lingered around 6,000. Given the scale of fighting, this had begun to beggar belief.

Up until June of this year, Yemeni civilians accounted for 82 percent of the deaths and injuries from Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, according to Action on Armed Violence, a group that monitors weapons violence worldwide and investigates the arms trade.

This mounting civilian toll means that the trade, when it comes to who is dealing with Saudi Arabia, is increasingly under the microscope.

It’s not just the airstrikes that cause suffering. The war has driven Yemen from what was already a humanitarian crisis before the war to what is now more like a full-blown catastrophe. More than half of its 26 million people are considered food insecure, 2.8 million (more than 10 percent of all Yemenis) have been displaced from their homes, and the vital healthcare sector is almost non-existent.

The aftermath of a bombing by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

The aftermath of a coalition bombing in the early months of the war

Watchdog groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of killing civilians and targeting civilian infrastructure. An early August report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed hits on weddings, homes, markets, and civilian infrastructure. It also listed abuses by the Houthis and other parties to the conflict, which is no longer a fight between just two sides.

Put simply, Yemen has become harder to ignore.

There was particular indignation recently when the UN, under the threat of Saudi Arabia pulling its funding from vital humanitarian programmes, suspended the coalition from a list of violators of children’s rights.

A fraying alliance

Behind the sun-bleached high walls of the Ministry of Defence in Riyadh, where the General Staff Command is running the air campaign in Yemen, all appeared calm, on message, and, according to the officials, was running like clockwork.

But events on the ground told a very different story. Houthi shelling had just killed a three-year-old boy in the Saudi border city of Najran; there was “carnage” in the southern Yemeni city of Aden thanks to a suicide bombing claimed by so-called Islamic State; and the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières had just announced it was pulling out of the north of Yemen after another of its facilities was hit.

Al-Ruwaili, previously chief of the Royal Saudi Air Force, was conspicuously unruffled. Bespectacled, with a closely shorn beard, and accompanied by several uniformed colleagues, he spelt out the status of his kingdom’s first-ever major foreign war in matter-of-fact terms.

Despite the growing criticism of UK arms sales (which had not quite risen to its current furore), he expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia’s allies remained on side. “We appreciate the support and help of the international community, and top of the list are our friends the Americans and the Brits.

They understand the reasons behind the operation… they appreciate the situation [and what] we are doing.

At the war’s outset, this certainly appeared the case.

Backed by a 10-state coalition, including all the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia unleashed its first airstrikes on Yemen in late March 2015 after the internationally recognised president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, had been placed under house arrest by Houthi rebels in the capital Sana’a (he eventually fled and found refuge in Saudi Arabia).

When Saudi Arabia and its allies said they were intervening at the request of the “legitimate government of Yemen”, a term they still use, the United States and Britain, and most of the international community (save Iran), expressed support. The Sunni kingdom also portrays the Shia Houthis as a dangerous Iranian proxy and a threat to their shared border – al-Ruwaili mentioned the threat of “another Hezbollah”.

On the first day of airstrikes, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council said the action was “to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and protect Yemen’s legitimate government”. The United States promised to provide logistical and intelligence support to the operations. Britain followed suit. The French offered their assistance too.

Although there’s been no change of policy from Washington or London, domestic pressure has been building steadily on both administrations and there are signs that political and military alliances are beginning to fray as the civilian toll mounts.

The propaganda war

But while unease with the war is palpable in foreign capitals, it was nowhere to be seen at Saudi HQ, where the line was strictly that this war is for, not against, the Yemeni people.

Pointing to the three or four million Yemenis who live in Saudi Arabia and send home remittances, al-Ruwaili said: “We are there to help the Yemeni people.”

I think the majority of the Yemeni people look at our operation as one that is designed to help them, to stabilise Yemen, to have a prosperous Yemen that is ruled by the Yemenis – ruled by somebody they choose.

But while some Yemenis may be on side with the Saudi action, others clearly need a little persuading.

To that end, IRIN was shown leaflets in the operations room. The officials explained that they are dropped to bring locals onside, as are fliers warning civilians to stay away from specific military targets.

A Saudi leaflet portrays former President Ali Abdullah Saleh “looting” Yemen

The propaganda or PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) material IRIN was shown is in simple to understand comic-strip form. In one two-panel strip, the first box shows a grinning man, traditional Yemeni dagger in his belt. In the background is a smiling girl with a backpack and another equally jubilant boy with a balloon.

The text reads: “Before the Houthi militias’ coup.”

In the second frame, the same man has stubble and a grim, toothy expression. His clothes are ragged, the dagger is gone, and the buildings that the children strode in front of are in flames.

“After the Houthi militias’ coup,” it says.

Examples of fliers the Saudi coalition drops in Yemen

It’s not a particularly subtle message. It isn’t intended to be.

In the “Joint Targeting Cell” one of the leaflets was particularly striking. From the bottom of the page, an arm clad in the red, black, and white of the Yemeni flag reached upwards. And from the top came a forearm in Saudi Arabian green. The two hands were clasped together.

This symbol represents how Saudi Arabia wants operation Decisive Storm in Yemen to be perceived. But it feels very far away from the reality of war on the streets of Sanaa, Taiz, and Aden.

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The most controversial nuclear bomb ever planned for the U.S. arsenal – some say the most dangerous, too – has received the go-ahead from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

The agency announced on Aug. 1 that the B61-12 – the nation’s first guided, or “smart” nuclear bomb – had completed a four-year development and testing phase and is now in production engineering, the final phase before full-scale production slated for 2020.

This announcement comes in the face of repeated warnings from civilian experts and some former high-ranking military officers that the bomb, which will be carried by fighter jets, could tempt use during a conflict because of its precision. The bomb pairs high accuracy with explosive force that can be regulated.

President Barack Obama has consistently pledged to reduce nuclear weapons and forgo weapons with new military capabilities. Yet the B61-12 program has thrived on the political and economic clout of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp., as documented in an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting last year.

The B61-12 – at $11 billion for about 400 bombs the most expensive U.S. nuclear bomb ever – illustrates the extraordinary power of the atomic wing of what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex,” which has now rebranded itself the “nuclear enterprise.” The bomb lies at the heart of an ongoing modernization of America’s nuclear arms, projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Virtually everyone agrees that as long as nuclear weapons exist, some modernization of U.S. forces is needed to deter other countries from escalating to nuclear weapons during a conflict. But critics challenge the extravagance and scope of current modernization plans.

In late July, 10 senators wrote Obama a letter urging that he use his remaining months in office to “restrain U.S. nuclear weapons spending and reduce the risk of nuclear war” by, among other things, “scaling back excessive nuclear modernization plans.” They specifically urged the president to cancel a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile, for which the Air Force is now soliciting proposals from defense contractors.

While some new weapons programs are farther down the road, the B61-12 bomb is particularly imminent and worrisome given recent events such as the attempted coup in Turkey. That’s because this guided nuclear bomb is likely to replace 180 older B61 bombs stockpiled in five European countries, including Turkey, which has an estimated 50 B61s stored at its Incirlik air base. The potential vulnerability of the site has raised questions about U.S. policy regarding storing nuclear weapons abroad.

But more questions focus on the increased accuracy of the B61-12. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 will be a guided nuclear bomb. Its new Boeing Co. tail kit assembly enables the bomb to hit targets precisely. Using dial-a-yield technology, the bomb’s explosive force can be adjusted before flight from an estimated high equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT to a low of 300 tons. The bomb can be carried on stealth fighter jets.

“If the Russians put out a guided nuclear bomb on a stealthy fighter that could sneak through air defenses, would that add to the perception here that they were lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons? Absolutely,” Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said in the earlier Reveal coverage.

And Gen. James Cartwright, the retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, told PBS NewsHour last November that the new capabilities of the B61-12 could tempt its use.

If I can drive down the yield, drive down, therefore, the likelihood of fallout, etc., does that make it more usable in the eyes of some – some president or national security decision-making process? And the answer is, it likely could be more usable.

Len Ackland can be reached at [email protected].

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