Government = Protection Racket for the 1 Percent

“Was He Blackmailed?” NSA Targeted Barack Obama Before He Became A Senator

Amateur Hour in Ukraine

A Key Test for International Law

We Cannot Still Ignore The Perils Of Intervention

Australian government plans sweeping privatisation of higher education

Hoodwinked by the Strangelove effect

The New York Times finds Russian spies in eastern Ukraine

Obama’s tour to reinforce “pivot to Asia”

Medvedev: Russia was kept in a hallway for 17 years, but today, we show our teeth

Why Everything You Think You Know about Jesus is Wrong

By Reza Aslan and Abby Martin

Abby Martin interviews Reza Aslan, historian and author of the best-selling book ‘Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth’, discussing how he arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was a revolutionary political leader rather than the peaceful prophet characterized by mainstream culture.

Posted April 21, 2014

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38293.htm

Supper Time: Singing the Praises of Power

The Rhetoric of Violence

Too Big to Jail?

“Crimes Against Peace”: Historic Class Action Law Suit Against George W. Bush

US-NATO Build-up to Cold War 2.0

Harper on Russia: America’s Useful Idiot?

Ukraine and the Grand Chessboard

World Bank Whistleblower Reveals How The Global Elite Rules The World

The Dow Jones Index is the Greatest of All Ponzi Schemes

UK poor hit by double tax whammy

US steps up Mideast military interventions

Judge Rosemary Colleyer: Sociopath and murderer

Privatization of Water as an Owned Commodity Rather Than a Universal Human Right

Ukraine: Russia 3 NATO 0

What the 1% Don’t Want You to Know 

Antisemitic Flyer ‘by Donetsk People’s Republic’ in Ukraine a Hoax

Capitalism Is The Crisis 

War Creates Massive Debt and Makes the Banks Rich

Australian government scraps refugees’ rights to legal aid

US prepares to send troops to Poland

Ukraine: Poland trained putchists two months in advance

Boston and Baghdad

Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors

Putin Stands Out as a Real World Leader

On Nazis, Jews & Ukraine ‘de-escalation’

The Contradictions of the American Electorate

Why Do Most US Voters Prefer Politicians Who Disagree with Their Values and Policies?

By Eric Zuess

April 18, 2014 “ICH” – “CP” -  Pollingreport.com has the results of hundreds of recent polls on just about every political subject imaginable; and the results on the vast majority of the polling questions produce liberal responses.

For example, when the Pew Research Center polled during Feb. 12-26 on the question “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not?” 54% said “Yes,” and only 42% said “No.”

When Quinnipiac University polled during March 26-31 on “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling their job?” 18% said “Approve,” but when that same poll asked “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress are handling their job?” 30% said “Approve.”

When Bloomberg polled on March 7-10 on ”In thinking about the gap between the rich and everyone else, do you think it would be better for the government to implement policies designed to shrink that gap, or better for the government to stand aside and let the market operate freely even if the gap gets wider?” a bare plurality of 45% chose “Government implement policies,” while a bare minority of 43% chose “Let market operate freely.”

When that same poll asked, “please tell me if you favor or oppose the idea” of ”Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next three years,” 69% chose “Favor,” and only 28% chose “Oppose.” When that same poll asked about, ”Extending unemployment benefits beyond the current term,” 52% chose “Favor,” and 45% “Oppose.”

When the CNN poll asked on January 31-Feb. 2, ”Do you think the policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats, or George W. Bush and the Republicans, are more responsible for the country’s current economic problems?” 34% blamed “Obama, Democrats, while 44% blamed “Bush, Republicans.”

When that same poll asked, “Do you think abortion should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?” only 20% chose the Republican position, “Aways illegal.” 51% chose the Democratic position, “Sometimes legal. And 27% chose the position “Always legal,” which would go beyond both the Supreme Court’s Roe-Wade decision and the Democratic Party’s position.

When the Gallup poll on March 7-10 asked ”Do you think the U.S. government is doing too much, too little, or about the right amount in terms of protecting the environment?” 47% said “Too little” (the Democratic position) and only 16% said “Too much” (the Republican position: “Drill, baby drill!”).

When the CBS/NYT poll on Feb. 19-23 asked, ”In general, do you think laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?” 54% said “More strict (the Democratic position), and only 9% said “Less strict” (the Republican position).

However, on a few issues, Americans choose the conservative position:

For example, when the Quinnipiac poll on 28-31 July 2013 asked ”Some states have a law that says a person is legally entitled to fight back with deadly force if they feel threatened, even if they could retreat instead. Do you support or oppose this law for your state?” 53% chose the Republican position, “Support,” and only 40% chose the Democratic position, “Oppose.”

On the vast majority of polled questions, Americans show that they favor the liberal or Democratic position, and oppose the conservative or Republican position.

If the public were rational, Democrats would overwhelmingly control the U.S. Government. Even on polled support or self-identification by voters regarding the two Parties, Democrats have always had a lead, usually a substantial lead. On 8 January 2014, Gallup bannered “Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents: Republican identification lowest in at least 25 years,” and reported that, “Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.”

However, Republicans win most “elections”; and most predictions for this November are for Republicans to win control in the Senate and expand their control in the House. Why is this?

On January 10th, Gallup bannered, “Liberal Self-Identification Edges Up to New High in 2013,” and reported that 38% of Americans self-identified as “Conservative,” and only 23% self-identified as “Liberal.” 43% of Democrats said they were “Liberal,” but 70% of Republican self-identified as “Conservative.” Ever since Ronald Reagan, conservative self-identification is much stronger.

For decades, most voters self-describe as “Conservative” and yet most voters also self-describe as “Democrat,” though those two identities oppose each other, and though Americans are actually overwhelmingly liberal on the issues.

So, perhaps one explanation for Republicans winning most political contests is that most Americans are voting their ideological self-identity instead of their Party self-identity and their actual policy-positions and policy-values — which are liberal. If that’s so, then one might say that the conservative mystique ever since the time of Ronald Reagan overwhelms voters’ Party affiliation and policy-positions and thus determines their actual voting, more than anything rational actually does.

Perhaps part of this conundrum is also a result of Americans being heavily inundated with conservative propaganda from the aristocracy, who are overwhelmingly conservative.

For example, a study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, ruled by an aristocracy, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:

“Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”

Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.

What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.

And that’s why most Americans are actually liberals who call themselves conservatives and who vote for conservative politicians that favor policies and values those voters actually oppose.

Are most voters mental zombies who are actually manipulated by oligarchs? That seems to describe today’s American “democracy.”

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

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38269.htm

The US Has Become a Police State

By Kourosh Ziabari

April 18, 2014 “ICH” – “GR” - In the far past, I used to look skeptically at those who believed and maintained that the United States is moving in the direction of becoming a rogue, police state. After all, nearly every single American media outlet propagates this belief that the United States is a “beacon of freedom”, and many people around the globe tend to accept it. Moreover, every year, thousands of people from different parts of the world immigrate to the States in search of a better and more prosperous life, having believed in the hidden power of this beacon of freedom in revolutionizing their lives. But now, I’ve come to the understanding that this is not the whole story, and even those who wishfully move to America to realize their dreams, find after a while that their hopes were in vain.

It may be the case that the United States is a plural society, where people from different races, languages, nationalities and religions live and have learned to get along with each other. It’s also true that the American citizens enjoy a relative level of economic welfare provided to them by the government. But does this mean that social freedoms, civil liberties and human rights are protected and enshrined by the U.S. government equally for all the citizens living in the States, regardless of their faith, color, religion and nationality? The answer is a big NO.

It’s been a long time, at least since the deadly 9/11 attacks, that the U.S. government has embarked on a mission of militarizing the American society and suppressing the voices that challenge its hegemony and the military-industrial complex that pushes the White House to more and more wars and conflicts in different parts of the world. The U.S. government, either deliberately, or under the pressure of the multinational corporations and the interest lobbies, has stridden on a path that propels it to warmongering, bullying and law-breaking. The decisions made by the U.S. government in the years following the 9/11 attacks bespeak of a growing restriction of the social freedoms and unwarrantable violation of the essential human rights of the American people and other nationals living in the United States.

The persecution of Muslims under the pretext that they were the Muslims who attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11, and that they pose a serious threat to the U.S. national security is one of several instances showing that the United States is no longer a liberal and normal society which treats its citizens on equal footing and honorably. The American Muslims, which comprise a 3-million-strong community in the United States, have occasionally reported that they were subject to different types of harassment, unlawful searches and seizures, extrajudicial detention, espionage plots and entrapments.

 Khalifah al-Akili, a 34-year-old American Muslims from the Pittsburg area recounted in March 2012 the story of his being unintentionally involved in an entrapment case schemed by the FBI counterterrorism executives who wanted to lay the groundwork for arresting him, which they finally did. He was approached by a seemingly fellow Muslims while saying prayers in the district mosque. The so-called Muslim fellow called Shareef had offered to undertake the expenses for al-Akili to open a restaurant in a nearby district, and in return, he should have bought a rifle. Al-Akili refused to buy the gun, which he had considered a wrongdoing. Then Shareef tried several times to arrange a meeting between Al-Akili and someone introduced as Mohammed. Again he refused; but as soon as he obtained a phone number for Mohammed, he searched it on the web, and to his utmost surprise, found out that the number belonged to someone called Shahed Hussain, an undercover FBI operative. He called Hussain and asked him whether he worked with the FBI. Hussain hung up on him, and then disappeared from the district a few days later, leaving the home he owned there vacant.

An important report by the Mother Jones magazine and the Investigative Reporting Program in 2011 examined the prosecution of more than 500 defendants in terrorism-related cases in the United States. The report showed that “nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants,” motivated by money or “the need to work off criminal or immigration violations.” Moreover, “sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur — an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.” So, according to the report, “With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.”

Hence, it can be inferred that making efforts to portray Muslims as criminals or embroiling them in terrorist activities with the aim of demonizing and criminalizing them is a routine modus operandi of the U.S. government and military, intelligence apparatus. But this is not the entire story. The detention of Muslim citizens on baseless charges and without due judicial course, the destruction of mosques and preventing Muslim women from wearing headscarves are other examples of how the U.S. police state is treating the Muslims in a discriminatory manner. Many civil rights organizations in the United States have warned in the recent months against the intensification of furtive intelligence operations against the Muslims and espionage plots in the mosques and Muslim communities.

Muslims in the United States complain that they are not free to practice their religious rituals in public. They are repeatedly scorned and insulted and like the African-Americans who bear the brunt of being demoralized and derogated upon by the whites, the Muslims have become accustomed to being offended and called terrorists in the public sphere.

On September 9, 2011, the prominent Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy wrote an article in The Guardian and explained her plight as a Muslim living in the post-9/11 America. She said that after getting divorced from her American husband following the 9/11 attacks, she remained in the States and started a battle to defend her religion against those who intended to portray it a wicked and dangerous faith: “Ironically, he [her husband] now lives in Asia and I’ve stayed in the U.S. I stayed to fight. To say that’s not my Islam. To yell Muslims weren’t invented on 9/11. Those planes crashing again and again into the towers were the first introduction to Islam and Muslims for too many Americans but we – American Muslims – are sick and tired of explaining. None of those men was an American Muslim and we’re done explaining and apologizing. Enough.”

In her article, she narrates the “challenge” of being a Muslim in the post-9/11 America. She writes that President George Bush did everything he could to punish the Muslims for the crime they had not committed: “military trials for civilians, secret prisons, the detention of hundreds of Muslim men without charge, the torture and harsh interrogation of detainees and the invasions of two Muslim-majority countries.

“And the latest stain on the US civil liberties record: an Associated Press expose in August on ways the CIA and the NYPD are combining forces to spy on Muslims in New York City. The thought that someone could be following me to my favorite book shops or night clubs is as pathetic and sinister as when the Mubarak regime tapped my phone and had me followed when I lived in Egypt,” she added.

But as it can be easily guessed, they’re not only the Muslims who fall prey to the bigotry and prejudice of the U.S. police state. The U.S. government has taken a hard line on all of its citizens, not simply the Muslims or the non-American immigrants. In this light, the whistleblowers who remove the lid from the atrocities and crimes of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus have come under the onslaught of the U.S. government, and aside from people such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning whose stories have made the headlines, there are audacious freedom fighters like John Kiriakou, who have not only been illegally arrested and sentenced to long terms in prison, but were and are being unlawfully tortured and finding their dignity and esteem being trampled underfoot.

 One of these whistleblowers is John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst and case officer and senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who revealed that the United States government has authorized the use of brutal torture methods in the prisons for getting confession from the culprits. In a 2007 interview with the ABC News, John said that CIA was torturing prisoners and that this torture was official US government policy. Kiriakou was the first U.S. official who admitted that the Central Intelligence Agency has used the torturing method of waterboarding against the suspects kept at Guantanamo bay detention facility and other underground prisons maintained by the United States. On January 25, 2013, Kiriakou was sentenced to 30 months in prison, and his term began on February 28. There are conflicting reports that John Kiriakou, himself a former CIA employee, was tortured while being kept in jail.

In recent years, a growing number of authors, intellectuals, activists and even politicians in the United States who are concerned about the future of their country have been constantly warning that the United States is becoming a police state, and that the prospects of democracy and freedom in this country seems alarming and indeterminate.

John W. Whitehead, the President of The Rutherford Institute has extensively researched on and documented the evidence and cases which substantiate the idea that the United States is no longer a democratic and free society, but a rogue state. He has even written a book exclusively on this topic, entitled “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.”

“With each tragic shooting that is shrugged off or covered up, each piece of legislation passed that criminalizes otherwise legal activities, every surveillance drone that takes to the skies, every phone call, email or text that is spied on, and every transaction that is monitored, the government’s stranglehold over our lives grows stronger,” writes Whitehead in an article for The Blaze magazine published on November 5, 2013.

He narrates the heartrending story of the 13-year-old Andy Lopez, a Santa Rosa teen who was shot dead by two sheriffs as they suspected him to be carrying an illegal assault weapon directed at them, while what was in his hands was a toy BB gun he had just shopped.

Whitehead says that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, every year around 400 to 500 innocent civilians are killed by the U.S. police in such foolish confrontations. He also notes that the U.S. government has allocated unnecessarily excessive budgets to the local police departments in the different states and equipped them with advanced military warfare and even unmanned drones. He notes that the military budget of the United States exceeds that of the next 10 countries combined, and this is what singles out the United States as a country that has an unusual voraciousness for warmongering and militarism.

 Militarism, expansionism and tyranny have become the hallmarks of the American civilization, and this is really sorrowful for a country whose leaders call a beacon of freedom. If we rely on Hollywood, Fox News and CNN to tell us what the United States is and what it is not, we will unquestionably come to believe that it’s the most flawless, progressive, advancing and democratic empire of the world in which injustice and inequality are totally irrelevant. But let’s open our eyes to find out what’s really happening behind the scenes and what the mainstream, corporate media don’t tell us about the emerging police state.

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent. He has interviewed more than 250 prominent world leaders, politicians, diplomats, academicians, public intellectuals, scientists, Nobel Prize laureates, authors, journalists and activists. His writings regularly appear on Tehran Times.

Copyright © Kourosh Ziabari, Global Research, 2014

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38274.htm

Washington’s Corruption and Mendacity Is What Makes America “Exceptional”

Global Research, April 18, 2014

paulcrobertsWorld events permitting, I am going to take a few days off.

Many of you write to me asking for financial advice or for explanations of the pros and cons of different investments. I don’t give financial advice and cannot answer such a large number of individual inquiries.  However, I can call to your attention two books that provide different views from those available in the financial media. The Aftershock Investor by David Wiedemer, Robert A. Wiedemer, and Cindy S. Spitzer (John Wiley & Sons, 2014) explains the vulnerabilities of each kind of investment. The Money Bubble by James Turk and John Rubino (DollarCollapse Press, 2013) explains the possible consequences of the current economic policies. Both books are directed at a general audience and are readable.
As I have reported on several occasions, the US government pays foreign rulers to do Washington’s bidding. There is no such thing as an independent government in the UK, Europe or Japan. On top of all the other evidence, it has now come to light that the US Agency for International Development has a large slush fund “where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38253.htm
If you have four hours, watch President Putin’s amazing open press conference with the Russia people and then try to imagine an American or European leader capable of such a feat.http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38254.htm  The Russians have a real leader. We have two-bit punks.
The Los Angeles Times has acquired its own Judith Miller. His name is Sergei L. Loiko.  An incompetent Obama regime has botched its takeover of Ukraine with its Kiev coup. The White House Fool is embarrassed that so many Ukrainians prefer to be part of Russia than part of Washington’s stooge “freedom and democracy” government in Kiev.  The prostitute American and European media have thrown the propaganda into overdrive, demonizing Russia and President Putin, in order to cover up Washington’s blunder.
The latest deception cooked up by Washington or by the anti-semitic neo-nazi Right Sector in western Ukraine consists of leaflets falsely issued under the name of one of the leaders of Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine. The leaflet calls for Jews to sign a registration and list their property.  However, no such registration office exists. Washington’s ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt who assisted Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in orchestrating the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government and installing Washington’s stooges, declared the leaflets to be “the real deal.”  But the Jewish community is suspicious and has issued a statement that the leaflet “smells like a provocation.” Jewish residents of the Russian territories that Soviet leaders added to the Ukraine Soviet Republic say that anti-semitism has not been a feature of their lives in the Russian speaking areas. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/17/jews-ordered-to-register-in-east-ukraine/7816951/   See also:
Washington and the prostitute media are purveyors of misinformation. Remember, Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to America. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that Syria’s President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Washington and its media prostitutes told you that “we are not spying on you.” Remember, the New York Times sat on the first leak from a top NSA official that Americans were being illegally spied upon for one year until George W. Bush was safely reelected.  
A government that relies on propaganda cannot be believed about anything. Americans misinformed by a prostitute media are in no position to protect the US Constitution and their liberty. Misinformed, they become tyranny’s allies and their own worst enemy.  

Australia: Industry watchdog seizes construction workers’ property

By Terry Cook

18 April 2014

In an unprecedented move, Australia’s Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) agency late last month instructed bailiffs to seize the property, including cars and homes, of 33 building workers in Western Australia over their failure to pay industrial fines totalling $196,000.

The amount is part of a larger fine, totalling more than $1 million, imposed on 117 building workers last September by the Federal Court, after it declared “illegal” an eight-day strike in October 2008 (see: “Construction workers hit with large fines for striking”).

The workers were employed by contractor CBI Constructions at Woodside Petroleum’s liquefied natural gas expansion project on the Burrup Peninsula in northwestern Australia. They struck after CBI Constructions refused to abide by an enterprise work agreement entitling them to a redundancy payout at the end of one stage of the project, and reemployment at the beginning of a new separate stage.

The legal action was initiated by the Australia Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), a coercive industrial watchdog established by the Coalition government of John Howard. The ABCC was retained by the incoming Labor government in 2007 and then replaced in March 2012 with the FWBC, which has similar powers to prosecute and harass construction workers.

Announcing last year’s penalties, the Federal Court ordered that $680,125 be paid within 60 days, with the remaining $387,875 suspended but liable for immediate payment if workers breached any industrial law within three years. The fines are among the largest ever imposed on individual workers in Australia.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the two unions covering the CBI Constructions workers, have fallen into line with the court, leaving workers no option but to hand over a total of $488,000 so far, and opening the way for the FWBC to begin seizing property.

FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss, a recent federal Coalition government appointee, said last month that bailiffs had already started confiscating workers’ property to pay the outstanding fines and collection costs, in some cases over $10,000 per worker. Where the FWBC was unable to “identify” property, he said, the workers would be compelled to attend Federal Court hearings in May and undergo a “means and examination” investigation.

“This is a warning to all workers that if they breach workplace laws, the FWBC will not hesitate to enforce penalties imposed by the courts,” Hadgkiss declared. This made clear that the decision was aimed at stopping workers from taking any action to defend jobs and conditions, now under increasing attack.

The Fair Work laws, introduced by the previous Labor government, ban all industrial action, including partial stoppages, go-slows, overtime bans and work to rules, outside of brief “protected” periods during bargaining for new enterprise agreements.

The unions’ consistent response to the original fines and now the confiscation of CBI workers’ property has been to demonstrate their unwavering support for the employers and the draconian Fair Work laws.

Far from challenging the court’s right to penalise workers for striking, an AMWU spokesman declared only that “the fines were out of proportion to the action.” CFMEU Western Australian state secretary Mick Buchan told ABC radio that the FWBC was “acting with malice” but added that the union was attempting to work out payment plans with the court.

Significantly, while the individual CBI workers were hit with massive fines, the Federal Court decided to dismiss charges brought by the ABCC against the AMWU, CFMEU and their officials.

The Abbott government plans to reintroduce the ABCC and establish an even more draconian industrial relations regime across the board. In February, the government announced a royal commission into alleged union corruption, targeting the construction industry in particular.

The commission has far-reaching terms of reference and investigative powers that allow it to pry into the affairs of unions, other organisations and individuals on the flimsiest basis, such as “credible allegations” of “causing a detriment” to someone.

The unions fully endorsed Labor’s Fair Work laws under which the attacks on the CBI workers were carried out and have worked to impose every direction issued by the industrial tribunal, forcing workers to call off strike action and accept outcomes dictated by the employers.

The unions’ only concern is that they maintain their privileged position as industrial policemen and labour brokers in the new industrial relations regime being established by the Abbott government.

There is no line the unions will not cross. The Australian Financial Reviewreported earlier this month that the CFMEU has presented a draft enterprise work agreement (EBA) to construction employers in Western Australia proposing to cut an estimated 20 percent from labour costs. This includes cuts to wages, redundancy payouts, a union training levy and income protection contributions. The current agreement expires this year.

CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan declared that “structural adjustment” was necessary because of the contraction of major construction work. “We have to see some change,” he said.

The CFMEU’s proposal not only establishes a benchmark across the construction industry but is a green light for deeper cuts to wages across the country. While welcoming the proposal, Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Deidre Willmott called on the CFMEU to “reduce wages further to make sure that their members remain competitive within the market.”

At the same time that the FWBC announced that it was confiscating CBI Constructions workers’ property the Victorian Supreme Court fined the Victorian branch of the CFMEU $1.25 million over strike action at Grocon construction sites in Melbourne during 2012. The CFMEU will no doubt pay these fines and, like their counterparts in the car and manufacturing industries, continue doing whatever they can to meet employers’ demands.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/18/cfme-a18.html

Despite Geneva talks on Ukraine, Washington escalates standoff with Russia

By Alex Lantier

18 April 2014

Though Moscow distanced itself from protests in eastern Ukraine at talks in Geneva, US and European officials signaled yesterday that they would continue to ratchet up tensions with Russia amid continuing moves by the regime in Kiev to mobilize its armed forces against pro-Russian protesters.

The joint communiqué issued in Geneva by the United States, the European Union (EU), Ukraine and Russia called for an end to protests and building occupations in eastern Ukraine. Buildings currently occupied by protesters were to be returned to the control of the US puppet regime in Kiev installed by a fascist-led putsch in February.

The statement declared: “All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation, or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism, and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism. All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares, and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.”

The communiqué called for international monitors to oversee “de-escalation measures” and pledged to grant amnesty to protesters for non-capital crimes.

Despite Moscow’s decision to sign a document calling for an end to the pro-Russian protests, Western officials indicated they would maintain and intensify economic and military pressure on Moscow. At a press conference shortly after the Geneva talks ended, US President Barack Obama said the United States and its European allies would continue to prepare new economic sanctions against Russia.

He had discussed sanctions in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before giving the press conference. The two leaders agreed to enact further sanctions if Russia did not de-escalate the situation “in short order,” according to a White House statement.

“My hope is we do actually see follow-through over the next several days, but I don’t think, given past performance, that we can count on that, and we have to be prepared to potentially respond to what continue to be efforts of interference by the Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine,” Obama declared.

He repeated unsubstantiated US charges that the Kremlin has massed thousands of troops along the border with eastern Ukraine, accusing Russia of sowing “disruption and chaos.”

Obama’s denunciations of Russia for “interfering” in Ukraine continue the brazen lies and distortions that have characterized the statements of US and European officials, amplified by the media, since the onset of the crisis in Ukraine. Anyone who has been following the events knows that it is Washington, Berlin and the European Union that provoked the crisis by orchestrating the overthrow of the elected, pro-Russian government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych—interfering in the affairs of Ukraine by carrying out a putsch and utilizing fascist parties and militia as their shock troops.

As the Geneva talks were ongoing, the Obama administration provocatively declared that it would step up aid to the armed forces of the Kiev regime, in line with a continuing NATO escalation in Eastern Europe announced the day before by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the increased aid after talks with his Polish counterpart, Tomasz Siemoniak, on boosting the NATO military presence throughout Eastern Europe. He said Washington would ship medical supplies, power generators, helmets and other equipment to the Ukrainian army.

Washington’s military support for Kiev is part of a continuing build-up across the region, aimed at encircling Russia. Hagel announced a new “air defense cooperative” between the United States, Poland, Romania and the Baltic states. It will see stepped-up deployments of US warplanes and missiles to Eastern Europe and of US warships to the Baltic and eastern Mediterranean Seas.

The Kiev regime also implemented a ban on travel by Russian males aged 16 to 60 into Ukraine. The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service told the Russian news service RIA-Novosti, “These temporary measures apply, primarily, to healthy males who could somehow influence the situation in eastern Ukraine.”

The Russian airline Aeroflot, which received early notification of the policy, warned: “Ukrainian females aged 20-35 years who are registered as residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol will be allowed to enter Ukraine only after special verification.”

Yesterday’s events undermine US and European claims that the Ukrainian crisis is due to an offensive by the Kremlin to conquer Ukraine by orchestrating protests in eastern Ukraine. In fact, the Kremlin is pulling back from the protests despite continuing threats and provocations from the West, even as the anti-Kiev protesters in eastern Ukraine succeed in blunting the first wave of military units sent from Kiev to attack them.

Eastern Ukrainian civilians have blocked armed convoys sent from Kiev, and pro-Russian activists have commandeered several Ukrainian armored vehicles whose drivers refused orders to attack civilians. The wider popular opposition to the Western-backed regime in Kiev and the refusal of soldiers to fire on Ukrainian civilians in recent days is acknowledged even in Western media.

“Ukrainian troops found themselves operating in often-hostile territory, while militants proclaiming loyalty to Russia were welcomed by cheering residents as defenders,” the W all Street Journal wrote on Thursday. “The Ukrainian army also appeared in bad shape. Some of the soldiers blocked by civilians were reservists with rusty vehicles, who eagerly accepted the food and water offered to them.”

The Kiev regime has pledged to try soldiers who refused to fire on the population for “cowardice.”

More broadly, these events expose the lies and hypocrisy underlying the entire Western intervention in Ukraine. The unelected regime in Kiev that emerged from pro-EU protests and the February 22 fascist-led putsch is not a new dawn for democracy, but an authoritarian regime trying to mount a bloody crackdown on widespread popular opposition. It is not the victim of Russian aggression, but the tool of an aggressive policy by the Western imperialist powers aimed at encircling and weakening Russia.

Despite the outcome of the Geneva talks and the initial failure of the Kiev regime to drown the protests in blood, the situation in eastern Ukraine is still teetering on the verge of a civil war that threatens to escalate into a conflagration drawing in Kiev, Moscow, and the NATO powers.

Deadly fighting broke out in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday after an attack on a Ukrainian army base by a group of some 300 fighters. Three of the assailants were killed, thirteen wounded, and 63 captured, but some of the Ukrainian soldiers also surrendered.

“The 25thAirborne Brigade, whose soldiers showed cowardice and laid down weapons, will be disbanded,” interim Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov said. “Guilty soldiers will stand before the court.”

Armed protesters are still in control of the city of Slavyansk, which forces loyal to the Kiev regime attacked earlier this week. Pro-Russian protesters continue to control state buildings in ten major cities in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the extremely tense situation, responding to a question in a prime-time interview on Russian television yesterday.

“The people in the eastern regions have started arming themselves,” Putin said. “And instead of realizing that something isn’t right in the Ukrainian state and moving toward a dialog, [the Kiev government] began threatening more force and even moved in tanks and planes against the peaceful population. This is yet another very serious crime of Ukraine’s current rulers.”

Noting that the Russian parliament had given him authorization to send troops into eastern Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians from attack, Putin added: “I really hope I won’t be forced to use that right.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/18/ukra-a18.html

Hiding the US-NATO military overkill

Hiding the US-NATO military overkill. 52624.jpeg

As with politics and social reality and actually just about everything else perception – about America´s military spending, capabilities and relative strength – is often more important than knowing the underlying facts involved. 

Americans are routinely conditioned by the lobbyists of the military-industrial complex, mass media and the hawks in congress, to believe that our defense expenditures are barely adequate to keep up with the rest of the world; we seldom if ever sit down and examine the facts in a stone-cold, sober fashion for ourselves.

(It is in that context that the NY Times felt it could get away with such an obvious slap in the face to the easily obtained truth.)

The facts are indeed sobering: America has spent about 40% of the total, annual global expenditures on defense, by all countries, for the past decade. In fact, in 2012, the US spent about $600 billion on its military according to the OMB- could that be why we are $17 trillion in debt?

Now, how does that compare to the defense expenditures of Russia and China? The shocking truth is that those two alleged threats to US security (hegemony?) only spent about $200 billion, China a little more than half of it, or one-third of what America did. 

Moreover the Pentagon had more in its budget than the next ten nations combined!

That means that either Eisenhower was absolutely right, and we have failed to heed his warning, or we are for our Superpower status and what it costs. In reality, most Americans probably just assimilate the propaganda dispensed by the mainstream media (as the Times editors we aware), then stay indifferent to the Big Picture in Rome, and change the channels…

Those realities aside, beyond the simple annual defense budgets, there are the matters of capabilities and readiness. Here too, the uninformed are in for some shocks. If you are thinking that Russia and China pose a real military threat, especially if they joined forces, consider the following facts.

The U.S. has ten modern, sophisticated aircraft carriers; Russia and China combined have two. China´s sole carrier is actually a retrofitted older, Russian model; they will not roll out their own until 2017. By then the Pentagon will have another brand new one and a second state-of-the-art model just about finished. 

(Beyond the ten full-scale carries the Navy has an additional 10 mini-carriers, assault ships that carry attack helicopters- to zero for the other teams.)

Aircraft carrier superiority (air force, naval as well) would be especially crucial in any war between the U.S., Russia and China. The reason for that is due to the isolation of the US geographically. No military expert foresees a land-based war since the US could not put boots on the ground, either in Russia or China, and win a land-based war.

Obviously, the reverse is also true for Russia and China. They would find it impossible to mobilize any kind of ground offensive against America on its home turf. The carrier advantage gives the US a huge edge since bombing sorties could be launched 24/7, against either country from the Atlantic or the Pacific, by the 6th or 7th fleets, which would be escorted by destroyers and other vessels. 

Add to that edge, another which is the vast number of overseas bases that the Pentagon maintains. Some of those bases sit very close to Russia in Bulgaria, Kosovo, & Germany for example; others close to China in Japan and South Korea for example.  With its vast number of military bases positioned around the globe and its superior aircraft carrier fleet, the US would have a heavy, strategic advantage. 

Neither Russia nor China has any similar bases that would give them fairly close access to the United States for their military ops. Next, we seldom consider the NATO military assets as part of our arsenal but in fact – in time of war – they are. The Pentagon maintains numerous bases in the UK and other nations in Western Europe. 

Great Britain is the 6th strongest nation in the world militarily and it´s aircraft carrier fleet equals Russia´s. The UK poses a considerable military force on its own. But when combined with the US the joint force would be overwhelming, to say the least. Adding the combined military assets of the NATO nations and it becomes crystal clear that they equal= overkill. 

As of this writing, in fact, NATO is sending various military assets toward the Ukraine. In the Times article quoted above, Helene Cooper and Steven Erlanger noted that the United States “has drastically cut back its European forces from a decade ago¨ they were suggesting that that let the scales tip in Russia´s favor. 

What they failed to mention, in the article, was that Russia´s forces had essentially evaporated. So, the US decreased its presence for obvious reasons. The next point to consider is the fact that the combined NATO military forces alone, without the US, are larger than Russia´s military.  

Western Europeans whining about the Russian threat are still living in the Cold War. Either that or they are neo-fascists who want a war with Russia. 

However, the once formidable Warsaw Pact, the Russian-(USSR) led alliance that was arrayed against NATO troops along the East-West German border does not exist today. In fact its former allied nations-East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland-have been absorbed into the West, ironically even into NATO. 

How could two seasoned journalists and the Times editor fail to note these obvious facts? 

But as mentioned above, the US media is often simply the PR arm of the government and/or military-industrial complex. It is no secret that NATO has expanded to 28 nations many of which were formerly in the Soviet Union.

As the situation grows more tense and conflicted in the Ukraine – prompting western journalists to quickly recycle the Cold War – we should not forget the US just fought two wars. How can anyone seriously claim that the Pentagon is either underfunded or unready?

In terms of aerial-based weapons America has a total of 13,169. Russia has about 3,880 and China, 1,900. Add NATO air force assets and the advantage goes up to at least 6 to 1 in a US-NATO vs. Russia-China war. Now we have to turn to Asia where we find the US-Asian strategic alliances with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Phillipines. 

Here we find that South Korea has the 9th and Japan the 10th largest military capabilities in the world. The situation is analogous to that in Western Europe regarding the NATO alliance versus Russia. The US military machine is vastly superior to China´s. There is almost no real comparison that does not end up looking like we are comparing apples to oranges. 

To illustrate this point, in 2012, Center for Strategic and International Studies experts, Anthony Cordesman and Nicholas Yarosh, compared the data on Chinese and Taiwanese military strength. They found that China’s relative naval strength was growing. But Taiwan had actually improved the balance of air power in its favor between 2005 and 2012. 

That does not bode well for China since it came when the economic growth rate was high, and there was a greater availability of new resources to spend on its military. But Taiwan exceeded them in terms of air force build-up.

In fact, though military-industrial lobbyists will deny it, Taiwan, So Korea and Japan, even without the US, present a formidable military force to China. Their combined air force would far exceed China´s, as would their naval strength. The usual counter-argument is that China has a huge population advantage.

That would make a difference if China backed North Korea against South Korea. Only in that instance would they be able to get their troops into the enemy nation. However, that scenario does not hold up even in Japan or Taiwan, let alone the United States. China simply does not have the air or naval power to pull off the logistics, and protect their soldiers, during a massive troop movement.

Now, thus far the largest defense budget China has mustered has been $143 billion to the Pentagon´s $711 billion. No comparison there. Russia´s current defense budget is about $95 billion. No comparison there. China has about 100 sophisticated, new 99 model tanks, to the US Army´s 8,700 M1 Abrams completely battle tested tanks, which are so effective that not one has been taken out by enemy fire.

When did Russia or China last fight a full-scale war? 

This gives another huge advantage to the US, which has engaged in every type of ground warfare, and some aerial combat, in the last 20 years. From mountains to jungles, and from desert to urban environs, America has some of the most experienced warriors in the world. 

The global military picture is completely asymmetrical and out of balance. America, and its allies, in addition to the foregoing basically own all the satellites that guide GPS systems. They have all the advanced stealth technology. Then there are those merciless, soulless drones to consider. The list goes on…  

To start getting nervous – which is what you are supposed to do – when defense budget cuts are in the headlines is an obsolete reaction. America, NATO and the ASIAN alliance completely dominate the world militarily in terms of spending, capabilities and technologies. The irony is that everybody in the world knows it…but Americans.
 
Will Hart

http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/18-04-2014/127401-usa_nato-0/

Privatization Is A Ramp For Corruption and Insouciance Is a Ramp for War

The New York Times has acquired a new Judith Miller

By Paul Craig Roberts

April 17, 2014 “ICH” - Libertarian ideology favors privatization. However, in practice privatization is usually very different in result than libertarian ideology postulates. Almost always, privatization becomes a way for well-connected private interests to loot both the public purse and the general welfare.

Most privatizations, such as those that have occurred in France and UK during the neoliberal era, and in Greece today and Ukraine tomorrow, are lootings of public assets by politically-connected private interests.

Another form of privatization is to turn traditional government functions, such as prison operation and many supply functions of the armed services, such as feeding the troops, over to private companies at a large increase in cost to the public. Essentially, the libertarian ideology is used to provide lucrative public contracts to a few favored persons who then reward the politicians. This is called “free enterprise.”

The privatization of prisons in the US is an example of the extraordinary cost and injustice of privatization. Privatization of prisons requires ever higher rates of incarceration in order to build profitability. The US, supposedly “a land of liberty” has by far the highest incarceration rates of all countries. The “free” US has not only the highest percentage of its population in prison but also the highest absolute number. “Authoritarian” China with four times the US population has fewer citizens in prison.

This article shows how well prison privatization works for well-connected private interests:http://www.globalresearch.ca/privatization-of-the-us-prison-system/5377824

It also shows the extraordinary shame, corruption, and discredit that prison privatization has brought to the US.

A few years ago I wrote about the conviction of two judges who were paid by privatized juvenile detention facilities to sentence kids to their facilities.

As Alain of Lille and later Karl Marx said, “Money is all.” In America money is all that is
important to the political system and to the bulk of the population. Essentially, America has no other values.

Another great libertarian fantasy is Wall Street. In the libertarian mythology Wall Street is the mother of entrepreneurs and of the start-up companies that blossom into industrial, manufacturing, and commercial giants. In actual fact, Wall Street is the mother of enormous corruption. As Nomi Prins shows in All The President’s Bankers, it has always been the case.

Recently, there has been a spate of Wall Street whistleblowers. Many are reported by Pam Martens on her site, Wall Street On Parade, http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/04/insiders-tell-all-both-the-stock-market-and-the-sec-are-rigged/

Unlike libertarian ideologues, Prins and Martens are former Wall Street insiders and know what they are talking about.

All US financial markets are rigged for the benefit of a few. We have had the exposure of high frequency trading front-running buy and sell orders. We have had the exposure of the big banks rigging the LIBOR interest rate and the London gold price fix. We have had the exposure of the Federal Reserve rigging via its dependent bullion banks the price of gold in the futures market. We have had the exposure in Congressional hearings of the rigging of metal and commodity prices. The dollar’s exchange value is rigged. And so forth. Yet no heads have rolled. Recently a SEC prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, retired. Upon his retirement, he proclaimed that his cases against the criminal big banks have been suppressed by SEC higher ups who have their eyes fixed on big jobs with the banks they are protecting while in government service.

So there you have it. The United States government is so overwhelmingly corrupt that even the financial regulatory agencies have been corrupted by the money of the private capitalists they are supposed to regulate.

America the corrupted. That is what we have become.

Not even Vladimir Putin understands how totally corrupt and insensitive to humanity Washington is.

Putin’s response to the Ukraine crisis created by Washington’s coup in Kiev is to rely on
“Russia’s Western partners,” the UN, the Obama regime, John Kerry, etc., to work out a reasonable solution to the crisis.

Putin’s hope for a diplomatic solution is unrealistic. The NATO governments are bought-and-paid-for by Washington. For example, Germany is not a country. Germany is a mere piece of Washington’s empire. The German government will do as Washington says.The German government represents Washington’s agenda. The European governments to whom Putin is speaking are not listening.

Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative who as Deputy Secretary of Defense presided over the orchestration of the false evidence used by the Bush regime to launch Washington’s wars in the Middle East, declared the minimization of Russian power as the “first objective” of US foreign and military policy:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

What Wolfowitz means by “hostile power” is any power independent of Washington’s hegemony.

Washington overthrew the elected Ukraine government in order to orchestrate a crisis that would distract Russia from Washington’s adventures in Syria and Iran and in order to demonize Russia as an invader rebuilding an empire that is a danger to Europe. Washington will use this demonization in order to break-up growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe. The purpose of sanctions is not to punish Russia, but to break up economic relationships.

Washington’s strategy is audacious and brings risk of war. If the West had an independent media, Washington’s plan would fail. But instead of a media, the West has a Ministry of Propaganda. The New York Times has even found a replacement for Judith Miller. As you might have forgot or never known, Judith Miller was the New York Times reporter who filled the Times with Bush regime neoconservative lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Instead of examining and exposing the Bush regime’s false claims, the New York Times bolstered the regime’s case for war by using the newspaper’s credibility to advance the neoconservative war agenda.

The new Judith Miller is David M. Herszenhorn, with accomplices Andrew Roth, Noah Sneider, and Andrew Higgins. Herszenhorn dismisses the totality of Russian media accounts of events in Ukraine as “an extraordinary propaganda campaign” designed to hide the fact from the Russian population that the entire Ukraine crisis is the fault of the Russian government: “And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.”http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/world/europe/russia-is-quick-to-bend-truth-about-ukraine.html?ref=davidmherszenhorn&_r=0

I have never read a more blatant piece of propaganda than Herszenhorn’s. He bases his report on two “authorities,” Lilia Shevtsova of the American-funded Carnegie Moscow Center, and Mark Galeotti, a NYU professor.

According to Herszenhorn, the widespread protests in eastern Ukraine are entirely the fault of the protesters who are putting on a show for propaganda purposes. The protests are not a response to words and deeds of the Washington-installed stooge government in Kiev. Herszenhorn dismisses reports of extreme nationalist neo-nazi Russophobia as “sinister claims” and regards the Washington-imposed unelected government in Kiev as legal. However, Herszenhorn regards governments formed as a result of referendums to be illegal unless approved by Washington.
If you place your faith in Herszenhorn, you will dismiss all reports such as those below as lies and propaganda:

http://rt.com/news/eu-no-russian-interference-ukraine-844/

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/15/poland-nato-must-ignore-russia-send-ground-troops/print/

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/15/eastern-offensive-ukraine-pounds-kramatorsk-killing-four/print/

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/15/white-house-endorses-ukraine-crackdown-on-protesters/

http://rt.com/news/ukrainian-tanks-kramatorsk-civilians-840/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/natos-pet-nazis-savage-ukrainian-presidential-candidate/5377948

http://rt.com/news/ukraine-troops-withdraw-slavyansk-940/

The Western World is the World of the Matrix protected by the Ministry of Propaganda. Western populations are removed from reality. They live in a world of propaganda and disinformation. The actual situation is far worse than the “Big Brother” reality described by George Orwell in his book, 1984.

The ideology known as neoconservatism, which has controlled US governments since Clinton’s second term, has the world set on a path to war and destruction. Instead of raising questions about this path, the Western media hurries the world down the path. Read what medical doctors report will be the result of the neoconservative Obama regime’s belief that nuclear war can be won:http://original.antiwar.com/lawrence-wittner/2014/04/14/your-doctors-are-worried/

The Chinese government has called for “de-americanizing the world.” The Russian legislature understands that being part of the dollar payments system is a Russian subsidy to American Imperialism. The Russian legislator, Mikhail Degtyaryov told Izvestia that “The dollar is evil. It is a dirty green paper stained with blood of hundreds of thousands of civilian citizens of Japan, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Korea and Vietnam.” http://rt.com/politics/russian-dollar-abandon-parliament-085/

However, Russian industry spokesmen, possibly on Washington’s payroll but likely just people without a clue, said that Russia was bound by contracts to the dollar system and that perhaps in 10 or 15 years Russia could take a more intelligent approach. That is assuming that Russia would still be capable of acting in its own interests after suffering 10 or 15 years more of US financial imperialism.

Every country that wishes to have an independent existence without living under Washington’s thumb should immediately depart the dollar payment system, which is a form of US control over other countries. That is the only purpose that the dollar system serves.

Many countries are afflicted by economists trained in the US in the neoliberal tradition.
Their US education is a form of brainwashing that ensures that their advice renders
their governments impotent against Washington’s imperialism.

Despite the obvious threats that Washington poses, many do not recognize the threats because of Washington’s pose as “the greatest democracy.” However, scholars looking for this democracy cannot find it in the US. The evidence is that the US is an oligarchy, not a democracy.http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-is-not-a-democracy-it-is-an-oligarchy/5377765

An oligarchy is a country that is run for private interests. These private interests–Wall Street, the military/security complex, oil and natural gas, and agribusiness–seek domination, a goal well served by the neoconservative ideology of US hegemony.

The American Oligarchs win even when they lose. Finally, Washington’s notorious torture prison, Abu Ghraib, has been closed.  But not by Washington. The Iraqi city fell last week to “defeated” al-Qaeda.  Remember, we won the war in Iraq.  $3 trillion wasted, but that’s not the way the military/security complex sees it.  The war was a great victory for profits. http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/15/after-al-qaeda-expansion-iraqs-infamous-abu-ghraib-finally-closes/  

How much longer will dumbshit americans fall for the flag-waving deception?
The Republicans used the wars in order to create huge budget deficits and national debt that are now being used to dismantle the social safety net, including Social Security and Medicare. There’s talk of privatizing Social Security and Medicare. More profits for Oligarchs in the offering. The gullibility of the American population is really without compare.

The gullibility of the American public will doom the world to extinction.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38257.htm

Up Close, Personal, and Bloody  How America’s Wars Came Home With the Troops 

By Ann Jones

After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded.  When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet.  This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.”  He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition.  Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger.  Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.

The media coverage that followed Lopez’s rampage was, of course, 24/7 and there was much discussion of PTSD, the all-purpose (if little understood) label now used to explain just about anything unpleasant that happens to or is caused by current or former military men and women. Amid the barrage of coverage, however, something was missing: evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the “homeland” as the troops return.  In that context, Lopez’s killings, while on a scale not often matched, are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland, to bases and backyards nationwide.  It’s a story with a body count that should not be ignored.

War Comes Home

During the last 12 years, many veterans who had grown “worse” while at war could be found on and around bases here at home, waiting to be deployed again, and sometimes doing serious damage to themselves and others.  The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has campaigned for years for a soldier’s “right to heal” between deployments.  Next month it will release its own report on a common practice at Fort Hood of sending damaged and heavily medicated soldiers back to combat zones against both doctors’ orders and official base regulations. Such soldiers can’t be expected to survive in great shape.

Immediately after the Lopez rampage, President Obama spoke of those soldiers who have served multiple tours in the wars and “need to feel safe” on their home base. But what the president called“that sense of safety… broken once again” at Fort Hood has, in fact, already been shattered again and again on bases and in towns across post-9/11 America — ever since misused, misled, and mistreated soldiers began bringing war home with them.

Since 2002, soldiers and veterans have been committing murder individually and in groups, killing wives, girlfriends, children, fellow soldiers, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, and — inappalling numbers – themselves. Most of these killings haven’t been on a mass scale, but they add up, even if no one is doing the math.  To date, they have never been fully counted.

The first veterans of the war in Afghanistan returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002.  In quick succession, four of them murdered their wives, after which three of the killers took their own lives. When a New York Times reporter asked a Special Forces officer to comment on these events, he replied: “S.F.’s don’t like to talk about emotional stuff.  We are Type A people who just blow things like that off, like yesterday’s news.”

Indeed, much of the media and much of the country has done just that.  While individual murders committed by “our nation’s heroes” on the “home front” have been reported by media close to the scene, most such killings never make the national news, and many become invisible even locally when reported only as routine murders with no mention of the apparently insignificant fact that the killer was a veteran.  Only when these crimes cluster around a military base do diligent local reporters seem to put the pieces of the bigger picture together.

By 2005, Fort Bragg had already counted its tenth such “domestic violence” fatality, while on the West coast, the Seattle Weekly had tallied the death toll among active-duty troops and veterans in western Washington state at seven homicides and three suicides.  “Five wives, a girlfriend, and one child were slain; four other children lost one or both parents to death or imprisonment. Three servicemen committed suicide — two of them after killing their wife or girlfriend.  Four soldiers were sent to prison.  One awaited trial.”

In January 2008, the New York Times tried for the first time to tally a nationwide count of such crimes.  It found “121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.” It listed headlines drawn from smaller local newspapers:  Lakewood, Washington, “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife”; Pierre, South Dakota, “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress”; Colorado Springs, Colorado, “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”

The Times found that about a third of the murder victims were wives, girlfriends, children, or other relatives of the killer, but significantly, a quarter of the victims were fellow soldiers.  The rest were acquaintances or strangers.  At that time, three quarters of the homicidal soldiers were still in the military.  The number of killings then represented a nearly 90% increase in homicides committed by active duty personnel and veterans in the six years since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  Yet after tracing this “cross-country trail of death and heartbreak,” the Times noted that its research had probably uncovered only “the minimum number of such cases.”  One month later, it found “more than 150 cases of fatal domestic violence or [fatal] child abuse in the United States involving service members and new veterans.”

More cases were already on the way. After the Fourth Brigade Combat team of Fort Carson, Colorado, returned from Iraq later in 2008, nine of its members were charged with homicide, while “charges of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault” at the base rose sharply. Three of the murder victims were wives or girlfriends; four were fellow soldiers (all men); and two were strangers, chosen at random.

Back at Fort Bragg and the nearby Marine base at Camp Lejeune, military men murdered four military women in a nine-month span between December 2007 and September 2008.  By that time, retired Army Colonel Ann Wright had identified at least 15 highly suspicious deaths of women soldiers in the war zones that had been officially termed “non-combat related” or “suicide.” Sheraised a question that has never been answered: “Is there an Army cover-up of rape and murder of women soldiers?”  The murders that took place near (but not on) Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, all investigated and prosecuted by civilian authorities, raised another question: Were some soldiers bringing home not only the generic violence of war, but also specific crimes they had rehearsed abroad?

Stuck in Combat Mode

While this sort of post-combat-zone combat at home has rarely made it into the national news, the killings haven’t stopped.  They have, in fact, continued, month by month, year after year, generally reported only by local media.  Many of the murders suggest that the killers still felt as if they were on some kind of private mission in “enemy territory,” and that they themselves were men who had, in distant combat zones, gotten the hang of killing — and the habit. For example, Benjamin Colton Barnes, a 24-year-old Army veteran, went to a party in Seattle in 2012 and got into a gunfight that left four people wounded.  He then fled to Mount Rainier National Park where he shot and killed a park ranger (the mother of two small children) and fired on others before escaping into snow-covered mountains where he drowned in a stream.

Barnes, an Iraq veteran, had reportedly experienced a rough transition to stateside life, having been discharged from the Army in 2009 for misconduct after being arrested for drunk driving and carrying a weapon. (He also threatened his wife with a knife.) He was one of more than 20,000 troubled Army and Marine veterans the military discarded between 2008 and 2012 with “other-than-honorable” discharges and no benefits, health care, or help.

Faced with the expensive prospect of providing long-term care for these most fragile of veterans, the military chose instead to dump them.  Barnes was booted out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, which by 2010 had surpassed Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, and Fort Carson in violence and suicide to become the military’s “most troubled” home base.

Some homicidal soldiers work together, perhaps recreating at home that famous fraternal feeling of the military “band of brothers.” In 2012, in Laredo, Texas, federal agents posing as leaders of a Mexican drug cartel arrested Lieutenant Kevin Corley and Sergeant Samuel Walker — both from Fort Carson’s notorious Fourth Brigade Combat team — and two other soldiers in their private hit squad who had offered their services to kill members of rival cartels. “Wet work,” soldiers call it, and they’re trained to do it so well that real Mexican drug cartels have indeed been hiring ambitious vets from Fort Bliss, Texas, and probably other bases in the borderlands, to take out selected Mexican and American targets at $5,000 a pop.

Such soldiers seem never to get out of combat mode.  Boston psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, well known for his work with troubled veterans of the Vietnam War, points out that the skills drilled into the combat soldier — cunning, deceit, strength, quickness, stealth, a repertoire of killing techniques, and the suppression of compassion and guilt — equip him perfectly for a life of crime. “I’ll put it as bluntly as I can,” Shay writes in Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, “Combat service per se smooths the way into criminal careers afterward in civilian life.”  During the last decade, when the Pentagon relaxed standards to fill the ranks, some enterprising members of at least 53 different American gangs jumpstarted their criminal careers by enlisting, training, and serving in war zones to perfect their specialized skill sets.

Some veterans have gone on to become domestic terrorists, like Desert Storm veteran Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma federal building in 1995, or mass murderers likeWade Michael Page, the Army veteran and uber-racist who killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012. Page had first been introduced to the ideology of white supremacy at age 20, three years after he joined the Army, when he fell in with a neo-Nazi hate group at Fort Bragg.  That was in 1995, the year three paratroopers from Fort Bragg murdered two black local residents, a man and a woman, to earn their neo-Nazi spider-web tattoos.

An unknown number of such killers just walk away, like Army Private (and former West Point cadet) Isaac Aguigui, who was finally convicted last month in a Georgia criminal court of murdering his pregnant wife, Sergeant Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, an Army linguist, three years ago. Although Deirdre Aguigui’s handcuffed body had revealed multiple blows and signs of struggle, the military medical examiner failed to “detect an anatomic cause of death” — a failure convenient for both the Army, which didn’t have to investigate further, and Isaac Aguigui, who collected a half-million dollars in military death benefits and life insurance to finance a war of his own.

In 2012, Georgia authorities charged Aguigui and three combat veterans from Fort Stewart with the execution-style murders of former Private Michael Roark, 19, and his girlfriend Tiffany York, 17.  The trial in a civilian criminal court revealed that Aguigui (who was never deployed) had assembled his own private militia of troubled combat vets called FEAR (Forever Enduring, Always Ready), and was plotting to take over Fort Stewart by seizing the munitions control point.  Among his other plans for his force were killing unnamed officials with car bombs, blowing up a fountain in Savannah, poisoning the apple crop in Aguigui’s home state of Washington, and joining other unspecified private militia groups around the country in a plot to assassinate President Obama and take control of the United States government.  Last year, the Georgia court convicted Aguigui in the case of the FEAR executions and sentenced him to life.  Only then did a civilian medical examiner determine that he had first murdered his wife.

The Rule of Law

The routine drills of basic training and the catastrophic events of war damage many soldiers in ways that appear darkly ironic when they return home to traumatize or kill their partners, their children, their fellow soldiers, or random strangers in a town or on a base.  But again to get the stories we must rely upon scrupulous local journalists. The Austin American-Statesman, for example, reportsthat, since 2003, in the area around Fort Hood in central Texas, nearly 10% of those involved in shooting incidents with the police were military veterans or active-duty service members. In four separate confrontations since last December, the police shot and killed two recently returned veterans and wounded a third, while one police officer was killed.  A fourth veteran survived a shootout unscathed.

Such tragic encounters prompted state and city officials in Texas to develop a special Veterans Tactical Response Program to train police in handling troubled military types.  Some of the standard techniques Texas police use to intimidate and overcome suspects — shouting, throwing “flashbangs” (grenades), or even firing warning shots — backfire when the suspect is a veteran in crisis, armed, and highly trained in reflexive fire.  The average civilian lawman is no match for an angry combat grunt from, as the president put it at Fort Hood, “the greatest Army that the world has ever known.”  On the other hand, a brain-injured vet who needs time to respond to orders or reply to questions may get manhandled, flattened, tasered, bludgeoned, or worse by overly aggressive police officers before he has time to say a word.

Here’s another ironic twist. For the past decade, military recruiters have made a big selling point of the “veterans preference” policy in the hiring practices of civilian police departments.  The prospect of a lifetime career in law enforcement after a single tour of military duty tempts many wavering teenagers to sign on the line. But the vets who are finally discharged from service and don the uniform of a civilian police department are no longer the boys who went away.

In Texas today, 37% of the police in Austin, the state capitol, are ex-military, and in smaller cities and towns in the vicinity of Fort Hood, that figure rises above the 50% mark.  Everybody knows that veterans need jobs, and in theory they might be very good at handling troubled soldiers in crisis, but they come to the job already trained for and very good at war.  When they meet the next Ivan Lopez, they make a potentially combustible combo.

Most of America’s military men and women don’t want to be “stigmatized” by association with the violent soldiers mentioned here.  Neither do the ex-military personnel who now, as members of civilian police forces, do periodic battle with violent vets in Texas and across the country.  The newWashington Post-Kaiser survey reveals that most veterans are proud of their military service, if not altogether happy with their homecoming.  Almost half of them think that American civilians, like the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t genuinely “respect” them, and more than half feel disconnected from American life.  They believe they have better moral and ethical values than their fellow citizens, a virtue trumpeted by the Pentagon and presidents alike.  Sixty percent say they are more patriotic than civilians. Seventy percent say that civilians fail absolutely to understand them.  And almost 90% of veterans say that in a heartbeat they would re-up to fight again.

Americans on the “home front” were never mobilized by their leaders and they have generally not come to grips with the wars fought in their name. Here, however, is another irony: neither, it turns out, have most of America’s military men and women. Like their civilian counterparts, many of whom are all too ready to deploy those soldiers again to intervene in countries they can’t even find on a map, a significant number of veterans evidently have yet to unpack and examine the wars they brought home in their baggage — and in too many grim cases, they, their loved ones, their fellow soldiers, and sometimes random strangers are paying the price.

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Kabul in Winter, among other books, and most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story, a Dispatch Books project (Haymarket, 2013).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars — The Untold Story.

Copyright 2014 Ann Jones

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38261.htm

Syria Conflict: A Shift For Fading Insurgency  Foreign Backers Look to Reverse Months of Military Defeats

The removal of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief may signal an effort to reorganise the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad

By Patrick Cockburn

April 17, 2014 “ICH” – “The Independent” - The removal of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the architect of Riyadh’s efforts to overthrow the Syrian government over the last three years, shows frustration within Saudi Arabia – one of the biggest backers of the rebels – at the failure of his policies.

The royal decree announcing the removal of Prince Bandar, for 22 years the highly influential Saudi ambassador in Washington, said that he had stepped down at his own request and was being replaced in the job he has held since 2012 by his deputy General Youssef  al-Idrissi as “head of general intelligence.”

Western experts on Saudi Arabia had variously reported that Prince Bandar is genuinely ill or has been discredited by the failure of Syrian rebels to make headway against President Bashar al-Assad. What is clear is that his policy of funding and supplying the rebels fighting against Assad has failed to have a meaningful impact.

The uncertainty about developments in Riyadh shows that few outsiders know what is happening in the upper ranks of the Saudi royal family as it prepares the ground for a smooth succession to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz who is believed to be aged about 90.

While Syria remains at the top of Saudi Arabia’s list of priorities, there have been many distractions over the past year that may have detracted from the effort in Syria. It has been feeling under threat from turmoil across the region since the Arab uprisings of 2011. It faces hostile governments in Syria, Iran and Iraq with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently blaming Saudi Arabia and Qatar for funding making terror attacks in his country.

It is unpopular in Yemen which has long resented its northern neighbour, which has been deporting tens of thousands of Yemeni workers from the Kingdom. It is also at loggerheads with Qatar, from which it has withdrawn its ambassador, and it is critical of Oman’s friendly relationship with Iran.

The Saudi government has been clamping down on all signs of domestic dissent, and in February made it a serious offence – to be punished with sentences of three to 20 years – for Saudis to go to fight abroad as jihadists. Some 2,500 Saudi jihadists are estimated to be in Syria, some in leadership roles in groups like the al-Qa’i da-affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

The government is targeting almost all types of political activity by the Muslim Brotherhood which it has declared a terrorist organisation, as well as by Shia activists, liberal reformers and civil rights advocates, in what one activist was quoted as saying was an “undeclared state of emergency”. New decrees define terrorist crimes  as any act that “disturbs public order, shakes the security of society, or subjects its national unity to danger, or obstructs the primary system of rule or harms the reputation of the state”.

Perhaps the most important foundation for the support of Syria’s rebels and preserving the status quo in Saudi Arabia is its close alliance with the US. This has come under strain because of the refusal of the US to launch a military assault to overthrow President Assad last August when he is alleged to have used chemical weapons against his own people in Damascus.

Prince Bandar was particularly vocal in criticising the US administration while the US Secretary of State John Kerry privately expressed anger at Prince Bandar’s support for al-Qa’ida-type groups in Syria.

A two hour meeting between President Obama and King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia on 28 March, the first since 2009, did not warm up relations between the two countries. The Americans and Saudis speak of increasing aid to Syrian rebel groups hostile both to President Assad and to al-Qa’ida, but these movements, in so far as they exist, are very weak.

The US refuses to supply Manpad shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles on the grounds that they might fall into the hands of jihadist fighters.

Some American-made anti-tank missiles have been seen in the hands of rebels in northern and southern Syria in recent days, going by on-line videos. It is unclear if these BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rockets shown in the videos were supplied directly by the US or via a US ally such as Saudi Arabia.

A Syrian rebel activist in south-east Turkey, who identified himself as Samer Muhammad, told Reuters news agency that a small moderate rebel group called Harakat Hazm received 10  anti-tank missiles from the US earlier this month near Aleppo and  Idlib, two cities torn by heavy fighting near the northern border with  Turkey. He said that Harakat Hazm had launched five of those rockets to destroy four tanks and win a battle in the Idlib suburbs of Babulin and Salheiya, and this was the first time American arms had figured in fighting in Syria.

The resignation of Prince Bandar together with the arrival of US-made weapons in Syria for the first time may signal an effort by rebel backers to reorganise the opposition. But it will take more than a few anti-tank rockets – or even anti-craft missiles – to give the divided factions of the opposition superiority in the battle for Syria.

Syrian government forces have recently been wiping out the last rebel strongholds along the border with Lebanon while the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to fight an intra-rebel civil war with other factions.

As if to reinforce that point, it was reported today that Syrian army troops entered rebel-held neighbourhoods of the central city of Homs after laying siege to the districts for nearly two years. Government troops entered areas of the Old City in Homs that had been under rebel control throughout the siege.

“They have entered into one area, Wadi al-Sayeh, which lies between Juret al-Shiyah and the Old City,” said Abu Bilal, an activist trapped inside the blockade, who spoke to AFP news agency.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38263.htm

Putin’s Annual Q&A Session 2014

FULL VIDEO

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual “direct line” call-in live televised broadcast, April 17.

Dialogue only way to restore order in Ukraine. The crisis should be resolved within the Ukrainian state and by the Ukrainian government, not by Russia and the US – Putin

It’s hard to negotiate with European leaders who choose to whisper even at home amid fears of the US spying on them – Putin

In line with the traditions established by the previous programs, the head of state will answer questions from Russian citizens concerning issues of the country’s social, political and socioeconomic life, as well as the international situation.

April 17, 2014

Putin: Russia may invade Ukraine to protect locals: Putin said. “I remind you that the Federation Council of Russia [the upper house of Parliament] empowered the president to use the armed forces in Ukraine.” Putin added that he hoped he would not have to resort to that.

Putin admits Russian troops were in Crimea before vote: Putin was asked in regard to Crimea: “Who were those men in green uniforms?” They were Russian troops, he answered, deployed to make sure residents of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula were safe from assault by the government in Kiev

Putin: ‘Nonsense – no Russian troops, special services in east Ukraine’: “This is nonsense, there are no Russian troops in the east of Ukraine,” Vladimir Putin said at an annual Q&A session, adding that the Kiev government should talk to the local residents to tackle

Video: Snowden Challenges Putin on Mass Surveillance on Call-In Show: Putin said Russia regulates communications as part of criminal investigations, but “on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38254.htm

Who Rules America Today?

By G. William Domhoff

 “The Triumph of the Corporate Rich,” reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years.

The owners and managers of large income-producing properties; i.e., the owners of corporations, banks, other financial institutions, and agri-businesses. But they have plenty of help from the managers and experts they hire. You can read the essential details of the argument on this site, or read the new seventh edition of Who Rules America?.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38260.htm

 

Barack Obama Indoctrinating a New Generation: Lies and Omissions on American Foreign Policy

Global Research, April 17, 2014
Anti-Empire Report 7 April 2014

Obama-Belgium-NATO_Horo1-e1395893271615-400x225Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

– “In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:

… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation. [emphasis added]

On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that nature.

But the propaganda version is already set in marble.

– “And Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized, not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

None of that even came close to happening in Kosovo either. The story is false. The referendum the president speaks of never happened. Did the mainstream media pick up on this or on the previous example? If any reader comes across such I’d appreciate being informed.

Crimea, by the way, did have a referendum. A real one.

– “Workers and engineers gave life to the Marshall Plan … As the Iron Curtain fell here in Europe, the iron fist of apartheid was unclenched, and Nelson Mandela emerged upright, proud, from prison to lead a multiracial democracy. Latin American nations rejected dictatorship and built new democracies … “

The president might have mentioned that the main beneficiary of the Marshall Plan was US corporations  , that the United States played an indispensable role in Mandela being caught and imprisoned, and that virtually all the Latin American dictatorships owed their very existence to Washington. Instead, the European youth were fed the same party line that their parents were fed, as were all Americans.

– “Yes, we believe in democracy – with elections that are free and fair.”

In this talk, the main purpose of which was to lambaste the Russians for their actions concerning Ukraine, there was no mention that the government overthrown in that country with the clear support of the United States had been democratically elected.

– “Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. … But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.”

The US did not get UN Security Council approval for its invasion, the only approval that could legitimize the action. It occupied Iraq from one end of the country to the other for 8 years, forcing the government to privatize the oil industry and accept multinational – largely U.S.-based, oil companies’ – ownership. This endeavor was less than successful because of the violence unleashed by the invasion. The US military finally was forced to leave because the Iraqi government refused to give immunity to American soldiers for their many crimes.

Here is a brief summary of what Barack Obama is attempting to present as America’s moral superiority to the Russians:

The modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state … the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly … the people of that unhappy land lost everything – their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives … More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile … The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium … the most awful birth defects … unexploded cluster bombs lying in wait for children to pick them up … a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris … through a country that may never be put back together again. … “It is a common refrain among war-weary Iraqis that things were better before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003,” reported the Washington Post. (May 5, 2007)

How can all these mistakes, such arrogance, hypocrisy and absurdity find their way into a single international speech by the president of the United States? Is the White House budget not sufficient to hire a decent fact checker? Someone with an intellect and a social conscience? Or does the desire to score propaganda points trump everything else? Is this another symptom of the Banana-Republicization of America?

Long live the Cold War

In 1933 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Union after some 15 years of severed relations following the Bolshevik Revolution. On a day in December of that year, a train was passing through Poland carrying the first American diplomats dispatched to Moscow. Amongst their number was a 29 year-old Foreign Service Officer, later to become famous as a diplomat and scholar, George Kennan. Though he was already deemed a government expert on Russia, the train provided Kennan’s first actual exposure to the Soviet Union. As he listened to his group’s escort, Russian Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village the train was passing close by, and his dreams of becoming a librarian, the Princeton-educated Kennan was astonished: “We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves, that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

One would think that the absence in Russia of communism, of socialism, of the basic threat or challenge to the capitalist system, would be sufficient to write finis to the 70-year Cold War mentality. But the United States is virtually as hostile to 21st-century Russia as it was to 20th-century Soviet Union, surrounding Moscow with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members. Why should that be? Ideology is no longer a factor. But power remains one, specifically America’s perpetual lust for world hegemony. Russia is the only nation that (a) is a military powerhouse, and (b) doesn’t believe that the United States has a god-given-American-exceptionalism right to rule the world, and says so. By these criteria, China might qualify as a poor second. But there are no others.

Washington pretends that it doesn’t understand why Moscow should be upset by Western military encroachment, but it has no such problem when roles are reversed. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that Russian troops poised near eastern Ukraine are “creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine” and raising questions about Russia’s next moves and its commitment to diplomacy.

NATO – ever in need of finding a raison d’être – has now issued a declaration of [cold] war, which reads in part:

“NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday [April 1, 2014] reaffirmed their commitment to enhance the Alliance’s collective defence, agreed to further support Ukraine and to suspend NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia. ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and our people. And make no mistake, this is what we will do,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. … Ministers directed Allied military authorities to develop additional measures to strengthen collective defence and deterrence against any threat of aggression against the Alliance, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. ‘We will make sure we have updated military plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments,’ he said. NATO has already reinforced its presence on the eastern border of the Alliance, including surveillance patrols over Poland and Romania and increased numbers of fighter aircraft allocated to the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States. … NATO Foreign Ministers also agreed to suspend all of NATO’s practical cooperation with Russia.”

Does anyone recall what NATO said in 2003 when the United States bombed and invaded Iraq with “shock and awe”, compared to the Russians now not firing a single known shot at anyone? And neither Russia nor Ukraine is even a member of NATO. Does NATO have a word to say about the right-wing coup in Ukraine, openly supported by the United States, overthrowing the elected government? Did the hypocrisy get any worse during the Cold War? Imagine that NATO had not been created in 1949. Imagine that it has never existed. What reason could one give today for its creation? Other than to provide a multi-national cover for Washington’s interventions.

One of the main differences between now and the Cold War period is that Americans at home are (not yet) persecuted or prosecuted for supporting Russia or things Russian.

But don’t worry, folks, there won’t be a big US-Russian war. For the same reason there wasn’t one during the Cold War. The United States doesn’t pick on any country which can defend itself.

Cuba … Again … Still … Forever

Is there actually a limit? Will the United States ever stop trying to overthrow the Cuban government? Entire books have been written documenting the unrelenting ways Washington has tried to get rid of tiny Cuba’s horrid socialism – from military invasion to repeated assassination attempts to an embargo that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor called “the most pervasive sanctions ever imposed on a nation in the history of mankind”.  But nothing has ever come even close to succeeding. The horrid socialism keeps on inspiring people all over the world. It’s the darnedest thing. Can providing people free or remarkably affordable health care, education, housing, food and culture be all that important?

And now it’s “Cuban Twitter” – an elaborately complex system set up by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to disguise its American origins and financing, aiming to bring about a “Cuban Spring” uprising. USAID sought to first “build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then the plan was to push them toward dissent”, hoping the messaging network “would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize ‘smart mobs’ – mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice – that might trigger political demonstrations or ‘renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society’.”  It’s too bad it’s now been exposed, because we all know how wonderful the Egyptian, Syrian, Libyan, and other “Arab Springs” have turned out.

Here’s USAID speaking after their scheme was revealed on April 3: “Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that.”  We are thus asked to believe that normally the poor downtrodden Cubans have no good or safe way to communicate with each other. Is the US National Security Agency working for the Cuban government now?

The Associated Press, which broke the story, asks us further to believe that the “truth” about most things important in the world is being kept from the Cuban people by the Castro regime, and that the “Cuban Twitter” would have opened people’s eyes. But what information might a Cuban citizen discover online that the government would not want him to know about? I can’t imagine. Cubans are in constant touch with relatives in the US, by mail and in person. They get US television programs from Miami and other southern cities; both CNN and Telesur (Venezuela, covering Latin America) are seen regularly on Cuban television”; international conferences on all manner of political, economic and social issues are held regularly in Cuba. I’ve spoken at more than one myself. What – it must be asked – does USAID, as well as the American media, think are the great dark secrets being kept from the Cuban people by the nasty commie government?

Those who push this line sometimes point to the serious difficulty of using the Internet in Cuba. The problem is that it’s extremely slow, making certain desired usages often impractical. From an American friend living in Havana: “It’s not a question of getting or not getting internet. I get internet here. The problem is downloading something or connecting to a link takes too long on the very slow connection that exists here, so usually I/we get ‘timed out’.” But the USAID’s “Cuban Twitter”, after all, could not have functioned at all without the Internet.

Places like universities, upscale hotels, and Internet cafés get better connections, at least some of the time; however, it’s rather expensive to use at the hotels and cafés.

In any event, this isn’t a government plot to hide dangerous information. It’s a matter of technical availability and prohibitive cost, both things at least partly in the hands of the United States and American corporations. Microsoft, for example, at one point, if not at present, barred Cuba from using its Messenger instant messaging service.

Cuba and Venezuela have jointly built a fiber optic underwater cable connection that they hope will make them less reliant on the gringos; the outcome of this has not yet been reported in much detail.

The grandly named Agency for International Development does not have an honorable history; this can perhaps be captured by a couple of examples: In 1981, the agency’s director, John Gilligan, stated: “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”

On June 21, 2012, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) issued a resolution calling for the immediate expulsion of USAID from their nine member countries, “due to the fact that we consider their presence and actions to constitute an interference which threatens the sovereignty and stability of our nations.”

USAID, the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy (and the latter’s subsidiaries), together or singly, continue to be present at regime changes, or attempts at same, favorable to Washington, from “color revolutions” to “spring” uprisings, producing a large measure of chaos and suffering for our tired old world.

Notes

  1. William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
  2. Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
  3. Washington Post, March 31, 2014
  4. NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
  5. Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
  6. Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
  7. Washington Post, April 4, 2014
  8. Associated Press, June 2, 2009
  9. George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/barack-obama-indoctrinating-a-new-generation-lies-and-omissions-on-american-foreign-policy/5378220

Australian, New Zealand citizens killed by US drone strike in Yemen

By Tom Peters

17 April 2014

The Australian reported yesterday that five people, including Australian citizen Christopher Harvard and dual Australian-New Zealand citizen Muslim bin John, were the victims of an extra-judicial killing by a US Predator drone in Yemen on November 19 last year. This is the first reported instance of Australians and New Zealanders being murdered by a drone.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 504 people have been killed since 2002 by American drone strikes in Yemen. This includes at least three US citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. The Obama administration has greatly expanded the “targeted killing” program and asserted the right to kill anyone, in any part of the world, including US citizens.

Following yesterday’s revelations, Washington’s close allies in Canberra and Wellington both indicated their full support for the assassination of their own citizens. This sets a dangerous new precedent in the assault on democratic rights by Australian and New Zealand governments, both outside and within their own countries.

The Australian ’s report stated that the primary targets were three “militants,” including Abu Habib, allegedly a leading figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and former associate of Osama bin Laden.

A “senior counter-terrorism source” told the paper that US authorities notified Australian officials after the drone strike, saying the Australian and NZ citizens were “collateral damage.” The same source described the men as “foot soldiers” for AQAP and said there was “a suggestion they were involved in kidnapping Westerners for ransom.” No evidence has been produced to substantiate these claims.

Harvard’s stepfather Neil Dowrick told the paper that his son went to Yemen in 2011 “to teach English.” The family was only informed of his assassination in December. His grandmother, Jeanette Harvard, said she had “heard three different stories” from government agencies about how her grandson was killed. She said the government told the family they would have to pay $40,000 to repatriate her grandson’s remains.

A spokesperson for Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the paper that she was “briefed on the situation last year” but so far no government minister has commented in public. The opposition Labor and Green parties—which fully support the Obama administration’s imperialist wars—have remained silent.

Bishop’s Department of Foreign Affairs today defended the drone strike. A spokesperson told Fairfax Media that being an Australian citizen was “not a protection” for people “engaging in potentially criminal activity overseas.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key described the assassination as “legitimate … given that three of the people killed were well known al-Qaeda operatives.” In other words, both governments accept and are complicit in Washington’s lawless operations—killing anyone it likes, without any semblance of due legal process, on mere suspicion of criminality.

In a chilling editorial today, the Australian fully endorsed the drone strike program, brushing aside the deaths of bin John and Harvard as “regrettable.” It admitted that “many” of the 3,300 people killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen were “non-combatant civilians” but justified the murders on the basis that they prevented “the terrorists from committing even more atrocities.”

The Australian and New Zealand governments have not explained why the drone strike was kept secret from the public until now. Both claim that they had no prior knowledge of, or involvement in the strike, but this is highly unlikely. Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies were undoubtedly informed, if not directly involved.

Last July, Fairfax Media revealed that Washington was “critically dependent” on the joint US-Australian spy base Pine Gap to pinpoint targets for drone assassinations in the Middle East. According to the reports, based on leaked information, there were “personnel sitting in airconditioned offices in central Australia directly linked, on a minute-by-minute basis, to US and allied military operations in Afghanistan and, indeed, anywhere else across the eastern hemisphere.”

Key yesterday told the media he was aware of bin John’s presence in Yemen last year and had personally signed a warrant for NZ’s spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), to monitor him. Key claimed—without providing any evidence—that bin John had attended “some sort of terrorist training camp.”

The revelation that the GCSB was monitoring bin John before he was killed raises the question of whether they provided intelligence to their US counterparts, thus making the Key government an accomplice in the murder of its own citizen. Australia and New Zealand are part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, which includes the US, Britain and Canada.

Until last August it was illegal for the GCSB to spy on NZ citizens and residents, but the law was changed—in the face of overwhelming public opposition—after a government-ordered review found that the agency had illegally spied on more than 85 people. The government can now lawfully spy on anyone it likes. It is not clear whether bin John was monitored before or after the law change.

Key used the revelations of the drone assassination to justify broadening the intelligence agency’s powers, telling reporters that it “shows … the things that I have been saying for quite some time—that we need our intelligence agencies to track our people, that there are New Zealanders who go and put themselves in harm’s way—have all been proven to be correct.”

New Zealand Green Party co-leader Russel Norman criticised Key for “saying it’s OK for foreign governments to execute New Zealanders offshore if they have beliefs about those New Zealand citizens holding views the US government doesn’t like.” This is completely hypocritical. The Greens supported the last Labour government that sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan in wars in which drones—along with the full range of assault helicopters and warplanes—were routinely used to kill anti-occupation insurgents and civilians and terrorise the population.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/17/dron-a17.html

Obama, NATO escalate anti-Russian campaign over Ukraine

By Patrick Martin

17 April 2014

In separate statements in the US and Europe, President Obama and NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen ratcheted up the threats by US and European imperialism against Russia. Their statements came on the eve of four-party talks set for Thursday in Geneva, with the US, the European Union and their Ukrainian puppet regime facing off against Moscow.

Obama gave an interview to Major Garrett of CBS News, who asked a series of provocative questions suggesting that the White House should step up its campaign of economic warfare against Russia. Before the interview, the White House announced that a new round of economic sanctions had been “prepared” for use against Russia if there was no progress in resolving the crisis in Ukraine.

Obama told CBS that it was “absolutely clear” that Russia had violated Ukrainian sovereignty in annexing Crimea and that it was continuing to do so by supporting “non-state militias” in southern and eastern Ukraine, where there is overwhelming popular hostility to the US-backed right-wing regime in Kiev.

Offering no proof for his accusations against Russia, Obama declared: “What I’ve said consistently is that each time Russia takes these kinds of steps, that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going to be consequences, and what you have already seen is the Russian economy weaker, capital fleeing out of Russia.”

In language that suggested possible US support for future Ukrainian membership in NATO—a radical break from previous policy—Obama said, “We don’t need a war. What we do need is a recognition that countries like Ukraine can have relationships with a whole range of their neighbors and it is not up to anybody whether it is Russia or anybody else to make decisions for them.”

This declaration is remarkable for its hypocrisy, since US government officials have been “making decisions” for Ukraine, including who should head its government. Tapes of phone conversations between the US ambassador and State Department official Victoria Nuland indicated that they had already selected the man who is now Ukrainian prime minister—Arseniy Yatseniuk, or “Yats”, as they familiarly termed him—during the US-backed protests that installed the current regime in Kiev.

More ominously, CIA Director John Brennan visited Kiev secretly last week for discussions on how to deal with the popular movement in eastern Ukraine. Coming out of those sessions, both interim president Oleksandr Turchynov and prime minister Yatseniuk denounced the anti-Kiev activists in the east as “terrorists” and ordered in the armed forces, commanded by a general who threatened the “destruction” of the opposition.

Given that Brennan heads the world’s largest organization dedicated to assassination and provocation, and previously worked at the Obama White House directing drone missile attacks on people identified as “terrorists”, his discussions in Kiev were undoubtedly focused on demonizing the political opposition to Kiev as criminals, and engineering a bloody outcome to the crisis.

The threat of military escalation came after a NATO meeting Wednesday in Brussels. NATO Secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the US-dominated military alliance would increase air patrols over the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia—all former Soviet republics that border on Russia. This would represent an escalation of previous actions, which included dispatching warplanes to Poland and the Baltic states, and deploying AWACS surveillance aircraft in Poland and Romania.

“You will see deployments at sea, in the air, on land to take place immediately—that means within days,” Rasmussen said. “We will have more planes in the air, more ships in the water, and more readiness on the land. More will follow, if needed, in the weeks and months to come.”

These deployments will include NATO warships off the coast of the Baltic states and in the eastern Mediterranean.

All indications are that the Geneva talks are not intended to resolve the crisis, but rather will be the occasion for further provocations against Russia. The acting foreign minister for the right-wing Ukrainian regime, Andriy Deshchytsia, said he would demand Russia return Crimea to Ukraine and rescind the decision of the Russian parliament authorizing Russian troops to deploy to Ukraine if President Vladimir Putin deemed it necessary to protect the Russian population in that country.

Claims by US, NATO and Ukrainian officials of “Russian involvement” in Ukraine are both completely hypocritical—given the record of US-EU subversion in Kiev—and deeply cynical. With the assistance of the compliant media in both the US and Europe, the imperialist powers are manufacturing a red herring to divert attention from their own operations and maneuvers.

Russia and Ukraine are deeply intertwined by common history, culture, economic ties and geography. In eastern Ukraine, particularly, where the majority of the population speaks Russian as its native tongue, and intermarriages are commonplace, to speak of ethnically distinct populations is absurd.

It is hardly surprising that the seizure of power by ultra-right Ukrainian nationalists, spearheaded by open fascists, anti-Russian chauvinists and anti-Semites, whose first significant policy decision was to prohibit official use of the Russian language, should provoke popular opposition, especially in the Russian-speaking east and south.

As for the claims that this popular opposition is “instigated” or “fomented” by Russia, the Putin regime, based on billionaire oligarchs, is hostile to any genuine popular movement in eastern Ukraine, a stronghold of the industrial working class, which might spill across the border and intensify the class struggle within Russia itself. If the Russian armed forces were eventually to intervene in eastern Ukraine, it would be to suppress such a popular movement before it could get out of control.

The imperialist powers and their stooges in Kiev regard the population of eastern Ukraine with undisguised loathing. It is worth recalling again the statement by interim president Turchynov on his website Tuesday, in which he admitted, “Apart from Russian Special Forces and terrorists, there’s hundreds of thousands of innocent Ukrainian people deceived by Russian propaganda.”

The military actions ordered by Kiev pose the danger of a full-scale bloodbath to crush broad sections of the eastern Ukrainian population who distrust and oppose the Kiev regime. Casualties have already been reported earlier this week in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk. On Wednesday, press reports indicated that Ukrainian soldiers opened fire on protesters in Mariupol, a city of 600,000 on the Sea of Azov, killing one person and wounding 12 more.

There were reports of Ukrainian troops balking at instructions to fire, and even fraternizing with the local population.

Such defections will only intensify the effort to mobilize ultra-right and neo-Nazi elements against the working class.

The head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the anti-Semitic Svoboda party, sent out a message on Twitter saying that veterans of the coup in Kiev, many of whom were members of right-wing nationalist groups, being mobilized to join the fight. “Reserve unit of National Guard formed from #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning,” he wrote.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/17/ukr1-a17.html

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