In a candid moment, the US Secretary of State reveals the secret of American foreign policy By Justin Raimondo April 23, 2014 “ICH” – “AW” - Oh, the burden of empire! It weighs so heavily on John Kerry’s shoulders: “Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, […]
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship April 22, 2014 “ICH” – ” The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.” Our now […]
Video - WeAreChange In this video Luke Rudkowski speaks with NSA Whistleblower Russ Tice. Is Barack Obama being blackmailed? WeAreChange learns that Barack Obama was targeted & heavily spied on before he even became a Senator. Russ Tice discusses the fact that journalists have been compromising whistleblowers. Russ Tice was once ridiculed and mocked for revealing NSA […]
By Peter Symonds 22 April 2014 Amid the on-going confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, President Barack Obama arrives in Japan tomorrow on the first leg of a tour of Asia that will also take in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama’s overriding aim is to signal his intention to press ahead with the “pivot […]
By Chris Floyd April 21, 2014 “ICH” - In any power structure, at any level, it’s not enough — it’s never enough — that you simply acquiesce to it, or grudgingly accept it, or silently go along with it, or even openly compromise with it. No, you must also sing its praises. It’s never sufficient just to […]
Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washington By Tom Engelhardt April 21, 2014 “ICH” – “TD” - How the mighty have fallen. Once known as “Obama’s favorite general,” James Cartwright will soon don a prison uniform and, thanks to a plea deal, spend 13 months behind bars. Involved in setting up […]
The case for Aggressive War against George W. Bush and his Administration. By Inder Comar On March 13, 2013, my client, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a class action lawsuit against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz in a federal court in […]
By Peter Koenig This is NYT’s headline of 20 April 2014: “In Cold War Echo, Obama Strategy Writes Off Putin” Followed by: “President Obama is focused on isolating Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions and effectively making it a pariah state. Even as the […]
Missile strikes in Yemen, weapons to Syria By Patrick Martin 21 April 2014 American drone missile attacks and air strikes killed more than three dozen people in southern Yemen over the weekend. The carnage coincided with press reports that the Obama administration is moving to ship advanced weapons to “rebel” groups fighting the Assad government […]
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Regular readers of my columns in Pravda.Ru over the past ten years have undoubtedly noticed two primary theses. The first thesis states that America’s judicial system is perhaps the most important branch of government in a “check-and-balance” system. Unlike the legislative and executive branches, which (at least theoretically) are beholden to the will of the voters, the […]
By Bill Moyers Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against. Posted April 19, 2014 The median pay for the top 100 highest-paid CEOs at America’s publicly traded companies was a handsome $13.9 million in 2013. That’s a 9 percent increase from the […]
By Ralph Nader April 18, 2014 “ICH” – Greater Boston and its citizens are the focus of media attention in recognition of the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that took three innocent lives and injured over 264 people, some of them severely. City leaders praised the heroism of the first responders and the […]
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.
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
World events permitting, I am going to take a few days off.
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:
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/
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
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?.
Is 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.
- William Blum, America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else, p.22-5
- Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
- Washington Post, March 31, 2014
- “NATO takes measures to reinforce collective defence, agrees on support for Ukraine”, NATO website, April 1, 2014
- Sandy Berger, White House press briefing, November 14, 1997, US Newswire transcript
- Associated Press, April 3 & 4, 2014
- Washington Post, April 4, 2014
- Associated Press, June 2, 2009
- 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.
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.
As Easter approaches, a time of respect for life, for eternal cycles which respect common human values, which place human life as the most precious common asset since the early days of humankind, I address this open letter to President Barack Obama, expressing the words and hopes of billions of people around the world.
Dear Mr. President,
Whether you or I like it or not, I have a voice, cemented in thousands of articles over the years printed in dozens of languages in media outlets in all the inhabited continents. This does not bestow upon me a position of arrogance, rather it demands the humility of responsibility and service as I dare to pen what I perceive as the feelings and thoughts in the hearts and minds of humankind across the globe.
Surrounded as you are by your aides and by the Apparatus which closes ranks around a Head of State, which as you have seen has rendered your claims for Change to a watered-down shrug-shoulder shadow of what you aimed for, or at least said you did, you perhaps have no idea of the way people around the world perceive your country.
Twenty-odd years ago, the United States of America could get away with insulting the precepts and values of the Founding Fathers, while it preached what it did not practise and fooled the gullible western world with buzz words and catch-phrases, carefully studied and sculpted by an obedient corporatist media.
Today, Washington’s trumpeting of terms such as Freedom and Democracy walks hand-in-hand with the torture chambers and concentration camps over-lorded by the United States of America, Washington’s foreign policy has been exposed as, at best, the cutting edge of the business interests of the corporate elitists representing the arms, drugs, energy and banking lobbies, which pull your strings in Washington and those of your poodle states in Europe.
I am not going to let this letter turn into a diatribe, trading insults, I am merely stating what I perceive to be the truth, as is my fundamental and inalienable right, and which neither you nor anyone else can, or will, take away from me. I respectfully ask you to stay with me until the end of this brief note.
As Easter approaches, it brings with it a time of hope for a new cycle of life which humankind, whatever its gender, sexuality, colour, race or creed, has celebrated since we collectively becamesapiens sapiens. You can tell your daughters that the eggs and rabbits they eat this Easter are the symbols of eternity (no beginning or end) and fertility, which were depicted at this time of year in pre-Christian times in Europe, in rock engravings of the Fertility Goddess, Eostre.
And if we take the word respect at face value, let us engage the approach that with respect comes the truth, not propaganda and hatred. As we speak here about chocolate bunnies, terrorist takfiri forces are running amok in swathes of Syria, slicing the breasts off women in the streets, raping girls, cutting the heads off men and boys, stealing, torturing, destroying churches and murdering police and soldiers. With between 60 and 79% of Syrians supporting or favouring President Assad over this demonic horde, you have said that Assad must go and you directly favour the opposition, and indirectly, the terrorists, who are part of it. And why? Is Syria on your borders? Which country were you elected President of? So what has it to do with you? While Russia tries to protect the citizens of Syria by supporting their legitimate Government and authorities, your side is intent on murdering policemen, fire servicemen and civilians, calling it Freedom and Democracy.
And now, Ukraine. You know very well what happened in Kiev in February. Western money, they say up to 5 billion USD, was used to finance the illegal Putsch which installed the current self-styled “Government” against every fibre of Ukrainian law, whereupon the first thing they did was to enact anti-Russian edicts, while some members of this Fascist Junta called for the death of Russians and Jews.
Let us imagine that several million US citizens lived in Mexico over the border and a Fascist Junta sized control, capturing and torturing Americans, murdering others, and calling for the death of Americans and Jews. Would you just turn away and do nothing? Probably, you would. That is exactly why when Vladimir Putin was staring you out in the last meeting you could not look him in the eyes, you looked down at the floor and tried to make small talk.
You know very well that Russia has never stated it was going to invade Eastern Ukraine and you know very well that Russian troop movements inside Russia are Russia’s business, and not yours. Mind your own business, while you maintain torture camps and thousands of armed personnel overseas, and what has Ukraine to do with you? Does it share a frontier with the USA? Or has the arms lobby told you to set up a NATO base there so that Ukraine can contribute 2% of its GDP, like the other NATO member states which last year spent some 1.2 trillion USD on NATO weaponry/administrative costs?
1.2 trillion USD in one year, four times more than it would take to eradicate endemic poverty, worldwide, forever. And your political epitaph is what, exactly? The one who supported terrorists and Fascists to spread the interests of the lobbies you are too damned weak to stand up against, thereby letting down every single woman and man who has supported you?
You also know very well that this Fascist Junta in Kiev being illegal, and the removal of the elected President being illegal, only a Government headed by President Viktor Yanukovich has any authority in Ukraine and in the absence of this, the authority in the Crimea was and is the Assembly, which had every right to organize a free and fair referendum on the status of the Crimea. 97 per cent of the voters wanted to return home to Russia. It is called Democracy, Mr. President, so what have you against that?
Finally, Mr. President, take a trip to the Donbas area of Ukraine, in fact walk around all over Eastern Ukraine, then come back here and tell me if Russia needs to send any agents into the area to fight for their rights over the Fascist Junta which seized power in Kiev. Of course it doesn’t, they are perfectly capable of standing up for themselves, as Ukrainian citizens, living in a Ukraine which respects their rights in a Federative State. That is all they ask for and Russia has never said or done anything to foment violence, instead Moscow has always called for a diplomatic solution whereas you, Mr. President, are the only one who has mentioned war, just as your country is the only one to have perpetrated an atomic terrorist attack on civilians. Twice. And after the Japanese Government had offered your country the same terms it accepted at the peace agreement, as you know, or should know.
See, the ones you support in the Ukraine are the ones calling for the death of these citizens, the ones Moscow supports are innocent civilians trying to protect themselves against death threats, trying to stave off a massacre, and simply calling on the Government to hear them and protect them.
Your Government wants them massacred by the Fascist Junta? Russia’s Government wants your Fascist Junta to guarantee their human rights. The bottom line is, after Iraq, after Abu Ghraib, after Guantanmo, after Libya, after Syria and the demonic hordes Washington supports, there is no high moral horse for you to ride into town on, Mr. President. You know it, we know it, so how about that C word, Change?
The Russian Federation has annexed nobody as you know, the Russian Federation poses a threat to no-one, as you know. So why do you repeat the lies every time you open your mouth? How about less propaganda, less rhetoric, less hype, less hysteria, less intrusion, less spreading hatred and more dialogue and more respect?
Now that you have sided openly with Fascists, now that you have sided openly with terrorists in several theatres of war, now that you have sided with or identified yourself with torturers, now that you stand side-by-side with your country’s torture and concentration camps, where citizens are detained for a decade without right to due legal process (and you call yourself a lawyer?), now that you side with those who call for, or are supported by those who call for, the death of Russians and Jews, I believe the ball is in your court, Mr. President.
You are less than two years away from saving something for your political epitaph. Do it. Not by lying, not by supporting the wrong side, but by using what remaining influence your country has (now that it has lost any respect it ever had), to walk in tandem with Humankind, not against us. Behind me, I hear the cheers of billions of world citizens, and so do you.
The US government has always been the first to call out other nations with poor track records on human rights abuses. Invariably they are the two nations viewed most threatening to America’s global hegemony and power – rivals Russia and China. Other loudly criticized countries are those less powerful Third World nations that most defy US dominance. Any nation on earth is at risk of America’s wrath that fights to protect its own self-interest over and above the American Empire’s in a noble effort to minimize economic exploitation in the plundering of precious natural resources and subjugating and locking its native population into permanent Third World serfdom. But any country going against the world’s most powerful nation is automatically deemed an enemy of the Empire and subject to such labels as axis-of-evil and a serious affront to human rights. No surprise that countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea are all targeted in the crosshairs of the next war or next regime change living under decades of heavy-handed economic sanctions designed to break the will of these independent smaller nations bold enough to resist US aggression, superpower control and full frontal dominance.
On the other hand, when a country’s government encourages and willingly allows a strong US presence with active duty military installations numbering over 1000 globally accompanied by an army of private contractors and transnational corporations, corrupt dictators with the worst human rights records in the entire world are merely given a free pass, immune from any US criticism. As long as you succumb and are minimally complicit in the raping and pillaging of your own nation and people by the global bully, be assured America will have your back and always turn a blind eye to your heinous crimes against humanity and human rights violations of the most vile kind – that is until the US ultimately uses you up and turns on you (like it predictably does with all its past tyrannical friends Mubareck, Hussein and Gaddafi just to name a few).
The ethics card is arbitrarily used only out of self-serving, psychopathic convenience. Like the psychopathic corporations that exploit people around the world into cheap labor bondage, likewise the psychopathic US government’s only interest (aside from its own) is the corporate interests it is most beholding to and sworn to protect. Instead of our government operating “of the people, by the people and for the people,” since 9/11 no longer sworn to uphold the Constitution, the US government is now sworn to operate in the sole interest “of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation” – since higher courts have given corporations all the rights that used to belong to the people. Lincoln must be turning over in his grave now to see what his United States have become.
Since 2008 evaluating countries annually throughout the world on various human rights violations, a UK company called Maplecroft has been assessing and ranking nations for the most serious human rights offenses. In that first year 20 nations were listed as “extreme” offenders. Freedom of speech, press, religion and movement along with freedom from death, torture and slavery are all considered basic human rights. Another important criteria used is employment and work conditions. A total of 31 indices of measurement were generated to produce 197 individual nations’ scores and rankings from low in human rights violations to medium, high and extreme.
In December the group released its 2014 findings announcing a 70% increase in nations falling into the extreme category of worst human rights offenders. That original list of 20 rose to an alarming 34 countries this year. According to Maplecroft, the ten worst offenders of human rights around the globe in descending order are Syria, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Yemen and Nigeria. Of all nations assessed, those measured with the most significant spikes this year in violating human rights are Syria, Egypt, Libya, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
The US falls into the medium range for human rights while only Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany are rated low on human rights abuse. Aside from the already specified ten worst offenders, other nations classified in the extreme category of abusers are Mexico and Columbia in the Western Hemisphere largely due to drug cartels, a number of small African nations along with global giants India, Russia and China. Maplecroft puts out its annual findings as valuable information as much for transnationals considering global expansion and investment as well as for public consumption. Prior to analyzing this particular data, it then seems worth exploring other findings and measures that may shed further light on this complex but important examination of current global trends in human rights.
Within the spectrum of nations systematically engaging in state sponsored executions of its own citizens, every year the US ranks within the top five nations in the world. Considering that many states have suspended their policy of executing death row prisoners due to DNA evidence proving that too many innocent people are convicted, it reflects an arrogant callousness to go on killing possibly innocent victims of a broken barbaric system of injustice. Yet the state of Texas continues to lead the way with 514 since 1976, nearly five times the number of the next state.
The top offender amongst national governments killing its own population by execution is China, although its secrecy in refusing to disclose numbers makes for a best guessed estimate of up to 5000 people a year. Amnesty International reports that China puts more people to death than the rest of the world combined. Other countries promoting capital punishment in recent years include the stalwart US ally Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and North Korea.
With more than 2.2 million Americans currently in prisons, the incarceration rate of the United States is the highest in the entire world at 743 out of every 100,000 people, comprising 25% of the world’s total inmate population and near four times the rate of the next nation. All other countries on earth imprison far less with the next highest nation’s rate at just over 200 out of 100,000 people.
As of late an extremely hot topic in the news is the international human rights offense of torture. Last week’s US Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings are accusing the CIA under the Bush-Cheney regime from 2002-2006 of regularly engaging in a litany of appalling, internationally banned torture techniques on thousands of “war on terror” detainees. Though the committee can declassify its own report, it is urging President Obama to declassify and release the findings to the public charging the CIA with gross deception in holding back both the frequency and severity of its torture practices in dozens perhaps hundreds of secret detainment centers throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe and of course Guantanamo.
Some of the Congressional report’s findings from its four year investigation were released to McClatchy, indicating that the CIA had previously lied to the committee in efforts to cover up its widespread use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that included waterboarding, electrode shock to genitals, ripping out of fingernails, hanging upside down for hours on end.
Predictably the CIA still insists that its methods never constituted torture nor were ever illegal. But the Senate findings refute the CIA’s claims, concluding that the CIA willfully evaded all oversight mechanisms operating without approval from either the Department of Justice or even its own CIA headquarters. The bottom line to all the torture and abuse inflicted on so many innocent victims throughout the world is that the US produced next to no useful information in its war on terror.
Back in 2004 when General David Petraeus was first sent to Iraq to train Iraqi security forces, he was directly involved in Iraqi death squad commando units marauding through city streets engaging in sectarian killings and operating hundreds of police commando centers for torture and death. The story broke in March last year when the Guardian and BBC Arabic released a documentary with both American officers and Iraqi generals and government officials interviewed linking and implicating Petraeus’ direct and active involvement.
The Pentagon assigned to Iraq an infamous veteran of the 1980’s dirty wars in El Salvador and the Iran-Contra fiasco, an American Army colonel named James Steele to help train, consult and coordinate systematic murder, detainment and torture of thousands of Iraqis, many innocent civilians, contributing to Iraq’s descent into full blown sectarian civil war.
Another Army officer, Colonel Coffman, who reported directly to Petraeus, worked in unison with Colonel Steele in setting up Iraqi death squad commando units. Torture has always been believed to be a useful military tactic in counterinsurgency warfare to learn critical information about the enemy. So it was simply business as usual to the one who literally wrote the book on US counterinsurgency (the COIN Manual). The fact that conducting such torture in murderous dirty wars constitutes serious Geneva and human rights violations made no difference to the general, the Pentagon that sent the dirty war expert to Iraq, or the Bush administration that endorsed the use of torture and Iraqi death squads.
A spokesman for the ex-CIA Director Petraeus last year responded to the charges stating that everything the general learned and knew was passed onto to his chain of command in Washington as well as to top Iraqi leadership, thereby deploying the typical CYA strategy, when in doubt conveniently spread the blame onto others in order to make yourself look least bad. Clearly Bush, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld all knew international laws that expressly forbid torture were being regularly violated. But then as proven liars and war criminals many times over, what else can be expected?
In the face of this latest incriminating evidence from the Senate, even the CIA’s historic ally and protector the Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein believes the CIA has finally gone too far. Of course she only admitted this last month upon learning the CIA bugged her own committee. But up until that moment she had given the NSA and CIA carte blanche rights, endorsing all the invasive unconstitutional surveillance that for years has been systematically tracking all Americans. And only when she too felt violated herself did she begin to criticize the CIA at all.
Clearly these latest revelations show that the CIA systematically disregarded all protocol as well as international and Geneva convention rules prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment of detainees. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2005 Iraq was just one tip of the iceberg, illustrating high profile example of US human rights abuses that have long been embedded as standard US foreign policy throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
But since those in the CIA, Pentagon and Washington all lie for a living every single day, the American public is not so naïve as to actually believe that the brutally illegal US torture practices ended in 2006. After all, a recent poll found that Americans believe that 75% of US politicians are corrupted by campaign donations and lobbyists. And with his track record, there is little reason to think anything has changed under Obama who from the get-go campaigned on the false promise to close down Guantanamo prison. But of course it is still operating today and in all likelihood so are all those secret hidden unlawful US torture chambers around the world. Torture is as serious a human rights violation as any, and in this regard, undoubtedly the United States is guilty amongst the world’s worst offenders.
In 2012 the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the most censored nations in suppressing and imprisoning journalists to include many of the same top offenders in human rights already identified in other studies earlier. They are North Korea, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar.
But the Obama administration is gravely undermining freedom of press here in America as well. Last year by aggressively harassing and threatening formal arrest of a number of AP reporters, confiscating computers and phone records, placing even mainstream journalists under high surveillance, Obama sent a clear message to independent journalists that printing the truth that might incriminate the US government will be met with severe negative consequences. Obama also failed to deliver on his campaign promise for transparency that he was elected on. His policy of secrecy and intimidation toward those responsible for accurate news coverage is only surpassed by his policy of violating whistleblowers’ rights, harassing, demonizing and charging them with violating the espionage act more than all other previous administrations combined.
In summary of the above findings, since the US has chiefly been responsible for escalating the civil war in Syria by financing and arming America’s supposed enemy al Qaeda to overthrow Syrian leader Assad, is also responsible for the 2011 regime changes in both Libya and Egypt leaving those two nations in chaotic shambles, and already spent well over 4 trillion dollars draining the US economy while laying waste to both Afghanistan and Iraq in decade long wars, leaving the nations in far worse shape than prior to US invasion and occupation, a solid case can be made that the United States is also a major human rights offender.
Additionally, with frequent drone strikes killing innocent civilians in our supposed ally Pakistan along with Somalia and Yemen (latest Yemen estimate 300-430 deaths), America bears much of the blame for the majority of these most notorious human rights offenders. It should be noted that many of these nations have maintained poor track records long before any major US intervention. But with all the human tragedy that such an aggressive US foreign policy has caused in the majority of these worst human rights offenders, US culpability has made life far worse for citizens living in most top 10 human rights violating nations.
After all, in Iraq alone the US has killed a million and a half of its citizens. With the sectarian civil war in Iraq that the US created still raging, at least 4000 more deaths each year continue nonstop to this day, destroying property into the billions, surging rates of cancer and birth defects that have left still floundering economies led by corrupt weak puppet governments. The sheer and utter destruction the US has brought to so many of the globe’s most notorious human rights offenders, with no sign of improvement, merely adds another dark blemish to the already overwhelming evidence that America has miserably failed every nation where it intervenes. But despite inflicting so much pain and devastation on so many nations’ populations around the world, regularly violating their sovereign rights, the February coup in Ukraine the latest example, while breaking every international law, Geneva Convention and UN Charter rule, an overwhelming case can be mounted against the United States as the planet’s worst human rights violator of them all.
That is why when Obama accuses Russia and China of unjustified unilateral military aggression, defying and violating all international laws, disregarding other nations’ sovereignties, and maintaining horrendous human rights records, the entire world laughs at America’s blatant hypocrisy and double standard. Since the US has enjoyed it sole global superpower status for near a quarter century now, it has relentlessly taken advantage of less powerful nations citing US exceptionalism as its inflated sense of entitlement and self-justification. The US as the world’s bully can commit transgression after transgression anywhere on earth whenever it wants with complete impunity and unaccountability because its Empire dominance and strength permit getting away with it.
A quick final review places America near the top in killing and at the top in locking up its own citizens, especially if they are darker-skinned. It also ranks number one in the world in killing foreigners as well as ranks very high torturing those same foreigners especially if they happen to be darker-skinned non-Christians. Based on recent global events, the US has threatened and bullied the rest of the world into submission for so long now that the tables may finally be turning. It appears that the geopolitical chessboard might have America the big loser when the petrodollar no longer rules. Russian President Putin is currently seeking to set the precedent to trade in rubles. As America’s chief creditor, China along with Russia are leading the revolt to overthrow the US dollar as the standard international currency. Europe usually gives into US demands but needs Russia’s natural gas piped in more than it does America’s war with Russia. Obama’s latest war drumming rhetoric and negative sanctions simply may not stick. The US government’s long history of violating others’ human rights justified by its own inflated sense of entitlement and exceptionalism appears to be rapidly catching up, and soon American citizens may be joining the rest of the world paying a very heavy price for the sins of its leaders.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/.
After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.
Video By Stefan Molyneux
Stop believing these people – Everything coming out of your television set is Bull*hit.
” The US income tax is almost entirely used to pay the interest on the national debt.”
Warning - Adult Language
Posted April 15, 2014
9/11 Truther Mike Ruppert Kills Himself
By Travis Gettys
April 15, 2014 “Raw Story” - Mike Ruppert shot and killed himself Sunday night after recording his Lifeboat Hour radio show.
His death was announced Monday night in a Facebook post by the blogger and author Carolyn Baker, who assured her followers that Ruppert’s death was “not a ‘fake’ suicide.”
“It was very well planned by Mike, who gave us few clues but elaborate instructions for how to proceed without him,” said Baker, who was a guest on the final program and will host Ruppert’s upcoming radio show in memoriam.
The 63-year-old Ruppert had previously worked as a Los Angeles police officer, and he gained notoriety in 1995 for an encounter with then-CIA Director John Deutch during a town hall meeting.
Ruppert, a former narcotics officer, told Deutch he’d seen evidence of CIA complicity in drug dealing.
He published and edited the website From The Wilderness, where he claimed the CIA and U.S. government were involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist plots.
Ruppert also covered civil liberty issues, government corruption, economics, and international politics on the site, which he discontinued in 2006.
He published the 2004 book “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil,” which speculated that then-Vice President Dick Cheney had conspired with other government officials and Wall Street financiers in the 9/11 attacks.
Ruppert also appeared in several documentary films, including “The 911 Report You Never Saw” and “Peak Oil,” and was the subject of another, “Collapse.”
His critics say Ruppert used dubious or partial sources to back his claims.
“Conspiracy theories may seem more nuisance than problem,” wrote columnist David Corn about Ruppert’s work in 2002. “But they do compete with reality for attention. There is plenty to be outraged over without becoming obsessed with X Files-like nonsense.”
9/11 and the Cheney Conspiracy with Michael Ruppert
Michael Ruppert pulls out the big guns when discussing 9/11, the Bush administration, and why Dick Cheney was such an important (and nefarious) figure.
By John Chuckman
April 15, 2014 “ICH” - The darkness to which I refer is something largely unanticipated in political studies and even in science fiction, a field which definitely enters this discussion, as readers will see. There have been many examples of national tyrannies and even stories of global autocracies, but the Hitler-Stalin-Mussolini type of tyranny is an antiquated model for advanced states despite its applying still to many third-world places. A unique set of circumstances now works towards a dystopian future in advanced states with no need for jackboots or brutal faces on posters.
Ironically, one of the key forces which brought Europe and North America over a few centuries to the kind of liberal democracies we know today is capable of delivering a new and unprecedented form of tyranny. That force is the body of interests of a nation’s middle class – the group of capable, ambitious, and rising people who were called a few centuries back by Europe’s landed old aristocracy “the new men.”
By “middle class,” I certainly do not mean what the average American Congressman encourages, in boiler-plate speeches, the average American to believe: that every family with steady work is middle class, all other classes having been eliminated from the American political lexicon. No, I mean the people of significant means – and, although not wealthy, of considerable talent and education – who hold as a group an important set of interests in society through their holdings and valued services. It was the gradual growth of this class of people over centuries of economic growth in Western societies that eventually made the position of monarchs and later aristocracies untenable: the middle class’s interests could no longer be represented by the old orders while their importance to burgeoning economies had become indispensable. They provided the indispensable force for what we now think of as democracy in their countless demands that their interests be represented.
But there is evidence, in America especially, that something altogether new is emerging in human affairs. The real middle class, at least a critical mass of it, has been folded into the interest of the modern elites, the relatively small number of people who own a great portion of all wealth just as they did in the 17th century, wealth today being generated by great global enterprises rather than the ownership of vast national estates. Great enterprises cannot be operated without much of the cream of the middle class: they serve in computer technology, finance, engineering, skilled management, the military officer class, and in intelligence. Their futures, interests, and prejudices have become locked-in with the interests of America’s corporate-military-intelligence establishment. They are indispensable to the establishment’s success, and they are accordingly rewarded in ways which bind their interests – health care, pension-type benefits, privileges, working conditions, opportunities for promotion, etc.
This marriage of interests between elites and the talented middle class effectively removes many of the best educated and most skilled people from being political opponents or becoming critics of the establishments for which they work. At the same time, America’s middle class in general – its small store owners, small factory owners, modest bankers, and even many professionals – has been under attack from economic competition in a globalized world for many years and has little to look forward to but more of the same. America’s legendary working class “middle class” – that brief postwar miracle of auto and steel workers and others who through unionized, unskilled labor earned long vacations, handsome pensions, home ownership, cars, and even small boats – has been battered beyond recognition, every year for decades seeing its real income fall and long-term having absolutely no prospects.
Despite the rise of a society much steeped in the illusions of advertising and marketing, most Americans likely still assume in their day-to-day affairs that their neighbors and business contacts do pretty much what they say they are doing, that while there may be an exaggeration or white lie here or there, most matters proceed according to understanding, laws, and ordinary civility. By and large for the present, they are still pretty much justified in their assumptions.
But when it comes to the level of the national government, and especially in matters of international affairs, these ordinary truths simply cease to hold, almost as though you had moved from the visible, work-a-day world to the quantum strangeness of the subatomic. Likely, it has always been the case to some degree, but the evidence mounts that we have entered a startling new reality, one which shares almost nothing with traditional civil society. America’s national government has become inured to lying and cheating the people whom it ostensibly serves, lying as consistently and thoroughly as would be the case with an occupying foreign power trying to keep a captive population pacified. Americans were lied to about Vietnam, lied to about Cambodia, lied to about the Gulf War, lied to about the invasion of Afghanistan, lied to about the invasion of Iraq, and lied to about a host of policies and interventions.
But we have reached a new level in these matters, a level where the extent of the misrepresentation almost severs the social contract between those governed and their government. America’s neo-con faction has had its agenda adopted over the last few decades, that of freely and happily using America’s great military and economic power to crush those abroad who disagree with America’s arbitrary pronouncements, creating a long crusade intended to re-order the affairs of others with no apologies to them and no honest explanation to America’s own people who pay the taxes and provide the lives of soldiers. While the neo-cons are a passing phenomenon, much as the Middle-eastern garrison state with which they are ferociously associated, the values and lessons they have successfully imparted will remain part of America’s ruling consciousness, serving yet other interests. A tool once successfully used is rarely abandoned.
Not only is there a quantitative difference now, there is a new qualitative difference. After the holocaust of Vietnam (3 million dead Vietnamese justify the term), the United States military realized that it could no longer depend upon citizen-soldiers in its colonial wars. It also realized that that it could no longer tolerate even a moderately free press nosing around its battlegrounds, thus was born the idea of an imbedded press in a professional army. Of course, in the intervening years, America’s press itself changed, becoming an intensely concentrated corporate industry whose editorial policies are invariably in lock-step over colonial wars and interventions and coups, almost as though it were an unofficial department of government. In addition, this corporatized press has abandoned traditional responsibilities of explaining even modestly world affairs, reportage resources having been slashed by merged corporate interests as well as by new economic pressures on advertising revenue, the result of changing technologies.
There is only one lens in America’s mainline journalistic kit, and that is one that filters everything through corporate American views, an automatic and invariable bias found in every image taken or written outside America’s borders. Now, some will say in response that a few newspapers like The New York Times or The Washington Post are exceptions here, but they couldn’t be more wrong. When a journalistic institution gains a reputation for thoroughness and detail in some of its operations, it becomes all the more able to powerfully leverage its reputation in matters which concern the establishment. If you examine the record of these newspapers for some decades, you will find absolutely without exception, their close support for every dirty war and intervention, as you will find their close support for the brutal, criminal behaviors of favored American satrapies like Israel. In a number of cases, CIA plants have worked directly for these papers as disinformation pipelines, but in all cases, reportage and editorial reflect nothing beyond what the publicity offices of the Pentagon and CIA would write themselves. It actually is a sign of how distorted American perceptions are that these papers are in any way regarded as independent, disinterested, or demonstrating consistent journalistic integrity.
The American political system at the national level makes these practices practicable. No one is genuinely responsible for anything in an open and direct fashion, secrecy is as much the norm in America as it is in any authoritarian government you care to mention, and money is the only governing principle in American politics. Openness or transparency simply does not exist, as one might expect it would, transparency being one of the hallmarks of responsible and democratic government. Without transparency, there can be no accounting for anything, and it is the sine qua non of democracy that politicians and officials be genuinely accountable to the electorate. Lastly, the things which tend to remain secret from the people today are far more likely to be pervasive, world-changing developments, far more so than in the past given powerful emerging technologies and the great concentration of power in American society. They are, in short, the very things citizens of a democracy should know about but don’t.
It has long been the case that dishonesty and secrecy have marked America’s foreign policy, as it invariably does with great imperial powers. After all, when Theodore Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, and others decided in private to arrange a nasty little war with the declining Spanish Empire, one to become known as the Spanish-American War, they were hardly being honest with Americans. “Remember the Maine” was a cheap, dishonest slogan while America’s brutal behavior in Cuba and the Philippines (the first place waterboarding is known to have been used by Americans) were raw truths. So it has been time after time, so that the national government has learned that dishonesty and secrecy are successful and virtually never questioned.
During the long Cold War, America’s government became inured to these practices with its dozens of interventions and coups and long wars of terror like that waged against Cuba from Florida and New Orleans, a terror operation whose extent made bin Laden’s later mountain training place resemble a boy scout camp. Now, at least two new developments have now influenced these practices, with a third just beginning to make itself felt. One, America, under the influence of the insider group called neo-cons, has pretty much given up pretence in its aggressive foreign policies: it has come to believe that it is able and entitled to arrange the world according to its arbitrary desires. Two, under the pretext of a war on terror, the United States government has transferred the hubris and arrogance of its foreign affairs into domestic government, no one having voted for a Stasi-like secret surveillance state, one moreover where even local authorities are endowed with armored cars, drones, and abusive powers. Three, technology is genuinely revolutionizing the nature of war, putting immense new power into the hands of elites – power which, unlike the hydrogen bomb, can actually be used readily – and nowhere is this occurring at a more rapid pace than in the United States.
The approaching reality is America’s being able to kill, highly accurately, on a large scale without using thermo-nuclear weapons and almost without using armies. With no need to recruit and support vast armies of soldiers, no need for mess halls and sanitation, no need for px’s and pensions, costs can be slashed, and there is even less need to explain what you are doing or to account for your decisions, and secrecy is promoted even more perfectly.
Today, we see the American government sending killer drones to multiple parts of the world, having already killed several thousand innocent people, with absolutely no accounting of victims or purpose, beyond flannel-mouthed stuff about getting bad guys. But even more dramatic killing machines requiring no soldiers are well along in development. A robot soldier, something resembling Dr. Who’s dreaded delaks with machine guns, already exists, with various advanced models under development equipped with every form of artificial recognition and various means of killing. Eventually, such robots will be delivered to places America wishes to secure, unfortunately without any care for the mistakes and horrors they may inflict on civilians, but America’s establishment does not care about that now as people from Fallujah or Hanoi could readily testify. A hypersonic robot plane or missile, able one day to deliver conventional explosives with precision to almost any spot on earth within an hour or two of launch is well along. Intelligent torpedoes and underwater drones are also well along. Robot tanks and ships are being developed. America’s mysterious space-plane vehicle, resembling a scale-model space shuttle, just having been tested with 500 days in orbit without any crew, has many potential uses for killing and control from space, including the launch of missiles from a position above any target, putting the reach of a fleet of them within minutes of any target on earth, a kind of early prototype Death Star if you will. We also have the advent of extremely powerful new lasers and electric rail-guns, both of which can be completely computerized in their operation. Advances in software, especially in areas like facial and voice-recognition, will enable completely automated targeting of victims almost at the press of a button.
One day, victims may well include troublesome Americans, not just unwanted foreigners. After all, the components for slipping into such a practice are virtually in place, and we know there are no qualms on the part of many of the people leading America today. In a secrecy state, people disappearing would rarely be noticed and never explained. The NSA’s unblinking surveillance on all American citizens would provide targeting information on demand.
We are not quite there yet, but in the close future, less than twenty years, the United States will operate under a military system not unlike the automated, radar-operated machine-gun towers Israel uses to pen in the people of Gaza, only it will do so on a planetary scale. Such immense power in the hands of a relatively few people anywhere and always would be a threat, but in the hands of America’s corporate-military-intelligence elites, people who already are not held accountable for what they do and feel virtually no need to explain, it is a looming threat to the peace, decency, and political integrity of the entire world.
I have no idea how the relentless march towards this brave new world can be stopped. Indeed, I am almost sure that it cannot. Americans in general no longer have anything which could be termed control over the acts of their government, and their role in elections is nothing more than a formal choice between two establishment-loyal candidates heading two parties that differ on virtually no vital matter. George Bush’s time in office proved something profound generally not recognized in the press: America does not now need a president beyond the Constitutional formalities of signing documents and making speeches. Bush was an utterly incompetent fool, but America’s national government never skipped a beat during his eight years, never skipped a beat, that is, in matters important to the establishment, which of course excludes matters like a disaster in New Orleans, concern for the welfare of the American people having long ago faded away as one for the national government.
After all, when you have lied to and manipulated a people for a very long time, how can a growing contempt for them be avoided? It cannot, in much the way a heartless conman fools an old widow into giving up her life savings. Besides, the more government focuses on the kind of matters America’s government focuses on, running for office and government service almost certainly increasingly attracts and rewards narcissists and sociopaths and repels those with broader public interests. The lack of concern and empathy becomes a self-regulated mechanism.
Barack Obama’s tenure has only demonstrated the point made by George Bush further. He has signed off on many new ways of killing people, many secret and disturbing policies, continued to wage Bush’s pointless wars, supported anti-democratic forces taking power in a number of place, including importantly Ukraine and Egypt, reinforced anti-democratic forces in many places like Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and not lifted a finger over Israel’s decades-long suppression of democracy and fundamental rights for millions. Obama’s only claim even to helping his own people is a pathetic, costly, unworkable health-care program in which the establishment has absolutely no interest.
The argument that there is an underlying concern for humanity and for rights in the American government couldn’t be more wrong, even though those are themes in the blubbering speeches of a George Bush, a Barrack Obama, a Hillary Clinton, or a John Kerry. America’s deeds abroad are without exception now to control, whether through wars and coups and assassinations or through the cajoling and threats that go on behind the scenes at every single vote by any international body, such as the United Nations.
I do not believe the citizens of the United States any longer possess the capacity to avoid these dark prospects. They are being swept along by forces they mostly do not understand, and most are unwilling to give up on the comfortable almost-religious myths of enforceable Constitutional rights and a benevolent national government. The world’s hope of avoiding global tyranny now lies in the rapid advance of nations such as China, Russia, India, and Brazil to counterbalance America. Europe, an obvious possible candidate to oppose America’s more dangerous and obtuse efforts, appears in recent decades to have fallen completely under America’s direction in so many areas where it once showed independence, an increasing number having been bribed or seduced or threatened to join NATO and unwilling to use the limited international agencies we have, such as the United Nations, to oppose America’s disturbing tendencies.
John Chuckman is a former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company, and was a resister during the Vietnam war. He lives in Canada. http://chuckmanotherchoiceofwords.blogspot.com
The CIA director was sent to Kiev to launch a military suppression of the Russian separatists in the eastern and southern portions of Ukraine, former Russian territories for the most part that were foolishly attached to the Ukraine in the early years of Soviet rule.
Washington’s plan to grab Ukraine overlooked that the Russian and Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine were not likely to go along with their insertion into the EU and NATO while submitting to the persecution of Russian speaking peoples. Washington has lost Crimea, from which Washington intended to eject Russia from its Black Sea naval base. Instead of admitting that its plan for grabbing Ukraine has gone amiss, Washington is unable to admit a mistake and, therefore, is pushing the crisis to more dangerous levels.
If Ukraine dissolves into secession with the former Russian territories reverting to Russia, Washington will be embarrassed that the result of its coup in Kiev was to restore the Russian provinces of Ukraine to Russia. To avoid this embarrassment, Washington is pushing the crisis toward war.
The CIA director instructed Washington’s hand-picked stooge government in Kiev to apply to the United Nations for help in repelling “terrorists” who with alleged Russian help are allegedly attacking Ukraine. In Washington’s vocabulary, self-determination is a sign of Russian interference. As the UN is essentially a Washington-financed organization, Washington will get what it wants.
The Russian government has already made it completely clear some weeks ago that the use of violence against protesters in eastern and southern Ukraine would compel the Russian government to send in the Russian army to protect Russians, just as Russia had to do in South Ossetia when Washington instructed its Georgian puppet ruler to attack Russian peacekeeping troops and Russian residents of South Ossetia.
Washington knows that the Russian government cannot stand aside while one of Washington’s puppet states attacks Russians. Yet, Washington is pushing the crisis to war.
The danger for Russia is that the Russian government will rely on diplomacy, international organizations, international cooperation, and on the common sense and self-interest of German politicians and politicians in other of Washington’s European puppet states.
For Russia this could be a fatal mistake. There is no good will in Washington, only mendacity. Russian delay provides Washington with time to build up forces on Russia’s borders and in the Black Sea and to demonize Russia with propaganda and whip up the US population into a war frenzy. The latter is already occurring.
Kerry has made it clear to Lavrov that Washington is not listening to Russia. As Washington pays well, Washington’s European puppets are also not listening to Russia. Money is more important to European politicians than humanity’s survival.
In my opinion, Washington does not want the Ukraine matters settled in a diplomatic and reasonable way. It might be the case that Russia’s best move is immediately to occupy the Russian territories of Ukraine and re-absorb the territories into Russia from whence they came. This should be done before the US and its NATO puppets are prepared for war. It is more difficult for Washington to start a war when the objects of the war have already been lost. Russia will be demonized with endless propaganda from Washington whether or not Russia re-absorbs its traditional territories. If Russia allows these territories to be suppressed by Washington, the prestige and authority of the Russian government will collapse. Perhaps that is what Washington is counting on.
If Putin’s government stands aside while Russian Ukraine is suppressed, Putin’s prestige will plummet, and Washington will finish off the Russian government by putting into action its many hundreds of Washington-financed NGOs that the Russian government has so foolishly tolerated. Russia is riven with Washington’s Fifth columns.
In my opinion, the Russian and Chinese governments have made serious strategic mistakes by remaining within the US dollar-based international payments system. The BRICS and any others with a brain should instantly desert the dollar system, which is a mechanism for US imperialism. The countries of the BRICS should immediately create their own separate payments system and their own exclusive communications/Internet system.
Russia and China have stupidly made these strategic mistakes, because reeling from communist failures and oppressions, they naively assumed that Washington was pure, that Washington was committed to its propagandistic self-description as the upholder of law, justice, mercy,and human rights.
In fact, Washington, the “exceptional, indispensable country,” is committed to its hegemony over the world. Russia, China, and Iran are in the way of Washington’s hegemony and are targeted for attack.
The attack on Russia is mounting.
By Eric Zuesse
April 14, 2014 “ICH” – “CD” - A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journalPerspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, 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.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
By Paul Craig Roberts
April 14, 2014 “ICH” - How does Washington get away with the claim that the country it rules is a democracy and has freedom? This absurd claim ranks as one of the most unsubstantiated claims in history.
There is no democracy whatsoever. Voting is a mask for rule by a few powerful interest groups. In two 21st century rulings (Citizens United and McCutcheon), the US Supreme Court has ruled that the purchase of the US government by private interest groups is merely the exercise of free speech. These rulings allow powerful corporate and financial interests to use their money-power to elect a government that serves their interests at the expense of the general welfare.
The control private interests exercise over the government is so complete that private interests have immunity to prosecution for crimes. At his retirement party on March 27, Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor James Kidney stated that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail” were blocked by superiors who “were focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service.” The SEC’s top brass, Kidney said, did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.” In his report on Kidney’s retirement speech, Eric Zuesse points out that the Obama regime released false statistics in order to claim prosecutions that did not take place in order to convince a gullible public that Wall Street crooks were being punished.http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/
Democracy and freedom require an independent and aggressive media, an independent and aggressive judiciary, and an independent and aggressive Congress. The United States has none of the above.
The US media consistently lies for the government. Reuters continues to report, falsely, that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. The Washington Post ran an obviously false story planted on the paper by the Obama regime that the massive protests in former Russian territories of Ukraine are “rent-a-mobs” instigated by the Russian government.
Not even Washington’s stooges in Kiev believe that. Officials of the Washington-imposed government in Kiev acknowledged the need for some autonomy for the Russian-speaking regions and for a law permitting referendums, but this realistic response to widespread concerns among Ukrainians has apparently been squelched by Washington and its presstitute media. US Secretary of State John Kerry continues to turn a deaf ear to the Russian Foreign Minister and continues to demand that “Russia must remove its people from the South-East.”
What is happening is very dangerous. Washington misjudged its ability to grab the Ukraine. Opposition to the US grab is almost total in the Russian-speaking areas.
Local police and security forces have gone over to the protesters. The corrupt Obama regime and the presstitute media lie through their teeth that the protests are insincere and mere orchestrations by “Putin who wants to restore the Soviet empire.” The Russian government keeps trying to end the conflict and unrest that Washington’s reckless coup in Kiev has caused short of having to reabsorb the former Russian territories as it was forced to do in Crimea. But Washington continues ignoring the Russian government and blaming the unrest on Russia’s not Washington’s, interference.http://rt.com/news/lavrov-kerry-ukraine-talks-200/ See also:http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38196.htm
The Russian government knows that Washington does not believe what Washington is saying and that Washington is systematically provoking a continuation and worsening of the problem. The Russian government wonders what agenda Washington is pursuing. Is Washington in its arrogant stupidity and superpower hubris unable to acknowledge that its takeover of the Ukraine has come amiss and to back off? Does Washington not realize that the Russian government is no more able to accept the application of violence against Russian populations in Ukraine than it could accept violence against Russians in South Ossetia? If Washington doesn’t come to its senses, the Russian government will have to send in troops as it had to do in Georgia. http://rt.com/news/ukraine-russia-operation-criminal-288/
As this is clear even to a fool, is it Washington’s goal to start a war? Is that why Washington is massing NATO forces on Russia’s borders and sending missile ships into the Black Sea? Washington is putting the entire world at risk. If Russia concludes that Washington intends to drive the Ukraine crisis to war rather than to resolve the crisis, will Russia sit and wait, or will Russia strike first?
One would think that the Chancellor of Germany, the British Prime Minister, and the President of France would see the danger in the situation. Perhaps they do. However, there is a large difference between the aid that Russia gives countries and the aid given by Washington. Russia provides financial support to governments; Washington gives bagfuls of money to individuals in the government with the knowledge that individuals are more likely to act in their own interest than in the interest of their country. Therefore, European politicians are silent as Washington pushes a crisis toward war. If we don’t get to war, the only reason will be that Putin comes up with a solution that Washington cannot refuse, as Putin did in Syria and Iran.
It is a paradox that Putin is portrayed as the heavy while Washington pretends to be the champion of “freedom and democracy.” In the 21st century Washington has established as its hallmarks every manifestation of tyranny: illegal and unconstitutional execution of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional indefinite detention of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional torture, illegal and unconstitutional rendition, illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, and illegal and unconstitutional wars. The executive branch has established that it is unaccountable to law or to the Constitution. An unaccountable government is a tyranny.
Tired of being spied upon and lied to, the Senate Intelligence Committee has produced a thorough investigation of the CIA’s torture programs. The investigation took four years to complete. The Committee found, unequivocally, that the CIA lied about the extent of the torture and kidnappings, that detainees did not undergo some mild form of “enhanced interrogation” but were subjected to brutal and inhumane torture, that the CIA, contrary to its claims, did not get even one piece of useful information from its grave crimes against humanity. The American presstitutes assisted the CIA in inaccurately portraying the effectiveness and mildness of the CIA’s Gestapo practices. During the entirety of the investigation, the CIA illegally spied on the Senate staff conducting the investigation.
Is the public ever to see this report beyond the parts that have been leaked? Not if the CIA and Obama can prevent it. President “change” Obama has decided that it is up to the CIA to decide how much of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation will be made public. In other words, unless someone leaks the entire report, the American public will never know. Yet, “we have freedom and democracy.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee itself has the power to vole to declassify the entire report and to release it. The committee should do so immediately before the members of the committee are browbeat, threatened, and propagandized into believing that they are endangering “national security” and providing those mistreated with grounds for a lawsuit.
The US government is the most corrupt government on earth. There is no independent judiciary or media, and Congress has acquiesced to executive branch encroachments on its powers. Consider the judiciary. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights represented the father of the American citizen, who Obama said would be murdered by the US government on suspicion that he was associated with terrorism. When Ratner asked the federal courts to block an illegal and unconstitutional execution of an American citizen without due process, the federal judge who heard the case ruled that the father of a son about to be murdered did not have standing to bring a case in behalf of his son.
After several lives were snuffed out by President “I’m good at killing people” Obama, Ratner represented relatives of Obama’s murdered victims in a damage suit. Under US law it was clear as day that damages were due. But the federal judge ruled that “the government must be trusted.”http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38202.htm
Whether or not anyone has standing is entirely up to the government. The IRS takes a completely different position on the matter. Children have standing to have their tax refunds confiscated by the IRS if the IRS thinks the IRS may have overpaid the parents’ Social Security benefits.http://www.cnbc.com/id/101576080
So in “freedom and democracy” Amerika, children are responsible if the IRS “thinks”–no proof required–that it wrote parents too large of a Social Security check, but a father has no legal standing to bring a lawsuit to prevent the US government from the extra-legal murder of his son.
Thanks to the Republican Federalist Society and to the Republican judges the Federalist Society has managed to have appointed to the federal bench, the federal judiciary functions as a protector of executive branch tyranny. Whatever the executive branch asserts and does is permissible, especially if the executive branch invokes “national security.”
In America today, the executive branch claims that “national security” is impaired unless the executive branch can operate illegally and unconstitutionally and unless citizens are willing to give up every constitutional right in order to be made safe in a total police state that spies on and documents every aspect of their lives.
Even the Government Accountability Office has been neutered. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office told the TSA to eliminate its behavior screening program as it is a waste of money and does not work. So what did the TSA do. Why, of course, it expanded the useless intrusion into the privacy of travelers.
This is Amerika today. Yet Washington prances around chanting “freedom and democracy” even as it displaces the greatest tyrannies in human history with its own.
Only gullible Americans expect leaders and elites or voting to do anything about the institutionalization of tyranny. Elites are only interested in money. As long as the system produces more income and wealth for elites, elites don’t give a hoot about tyranny or what happens to the rest of us.
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/
The following translation and notes were made by Sabina C. Becker.
Raúl Capote is a Cuban. But not just any Cuban. In his youth, he was caught up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They offered him an infinite amount of money to conspire in Cuba. But then something unexpected for the US happened. Capote, in reality, was working for Cuban national security. From then on, he served as a double agent. Learn his story, by way of an exclusive interview with the Chávez Vive magazine, which he gave in Havana:
Q. What was the process by which you were caught up?
It started with a process of many years, several years of preparation and capture. I was leader of a Cuban student movement which, at that time, gave rise to an organization, the Saiz Brothers Cultural Association, a group of young creators, painters, writers, artists. I worked in a city in southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos, which had characteristics of great interest to the enemy, because it was a city in which an important industrial pole was being built at the time. They were building an electrical centre, the only one in Cuba, and there were a lot of young people working on it. For that reason, it was also a city that had a lot of young engineers graduated in the Soviet Union. We’re talking of the last years of the 1980s, when there was that process called Perestroika. And many Cuban engineers, who arrived in Cuba at that time, graduated from there, were considered people who had arrived with that idea of Perestroika. For that reason, it was an interesting territory, where there were a lot of young people. And the fact that I was a youth leader of a cultural organization, which dealt with an important sector of the engineers who were interested in the arts, became of interest to the North Americans, and they began to frequent the meetings we attended. They never identified themselves as enemies, or as officials of the CIA.
Q. Were there many of them, or just always the same person?
Several. They never presented themselves as officials of the CIA, nor as people who had come to cause trouble, or anything.
Q. And who do you suppose they were?
They presented themselves as people coming to help us and our project, and who had the ability to finance it. That they had the chance to make it a reality. The proposal, as such, sounded interesting because, okay, a project in the literary world requires that you know a publisher, that you have editorial relations. It’s a very complex market. And they came in the name of publishers. What happened is that, during the process of contact with us, what they really wanted became quite evident. Because once they had made the contact, once they had begun frequenting our meetings, once they began to promise financing, then came the conditions for being financed.
Q. What conditions did they demand?
They told us: We have the ability to put the markets at your disposal, to put you on the markets of books or sculpture or movies or whatever, but we need the truth, because what we’re selling in the market, is the image of Cuba. The image of Cuba has to be a realistic one, of difficulties, of what’s going on in the country. They wanted to smear the reality of Cuba. What they were asking is that you criticize the revolution, based on anti-Cuba propaganda lines, which they provided.
Q. How big was these people’s budget?
They came with an infinite amount of money, because the source of the money, obviously, we found out over time from whence it came. For example, there was USAID, which was the big provider, the overall contractor of this budget, which channeled the money via NGOs, many of them invented just for Cuba. They were NGOs that didn’t exist, created solely for this type of job in Cuba, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. They weren’t working on small budgets. To give you an example, at one time, they offered me ten thousand dollars, just to include elements of anti-Cuba propaganda, in the novel I was writing.
Q. What year are we talking about?
Q. How many people could have been contacted by these people, or captured?
In reality, their success didn’t last long, because in Cuba there was a culture of total confrontation with this type of thing, and the people knew very well that there was something behind that story of them wanting to “help” us. It was nothing new in the history of the land, and for that reason, it was very hard for them to get to where we were. In a determined moment, around 1992, we held a meeting, all the members of the organization, and we decided to expel them. They weren’t allowed to attend any more of our meetings. Those people, who were already coming in with concrete proposals, and also preconditioned economic aid they were giving us. What happened is that at the moment we did that, and rejected them, we expelled them from the association headquarters, then they started to particularize. They began to visit with me, in particular, and other comrades as well, young people. With some they succeeded, or should I say, they succeeded in getting some of them out of the country as well.
Q. What kind of profile were they looking for, more or less, if any kind of profile could be specified?
They wanted, above all at that time, to present Cuba as a land in chaos. That socialism in Cuba had not managed to satisfy the needs of the population, and that Cuba was a country that socialism had landed in absolute poverty, and which, as a model, no one liked. That was the key to what they were pursuing, above all, at that time.
Q. How long were you an agent of the CIA?
We were in this initial story until 1994. Because in 1994, I went to Havana, I came back to the capital and here, in the capital, I began to work for the Union of Cultural Workers, a union which represented the cultural workers of the capital, and I became more interesting yet to them, because I went on to direct — from being a leader of a youth organization with 4,000 members, to directing a union with 40,000 members, just in the city of Havana. And then, it gets much more interesting. Contacts followed. In that period there appeared a woman professor from a new university who came with the mission of kick-starting the production of my literary work, to become my representative, to organize events.
Q. Can you give her name?
No, because they used pseudonyms. They never used real names. And that type of work, promoting me as a writer, was what they were very interested in, because they wanted to convert me into a personality in that world. Promoting me now, and compromising me with them in an indirect manner. And then, in 2004, there arrived in Havana a person well known in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling. Kelly came to Havana to work as Chief of the Office of Press and Culture. They set up a meeting. they arranged a cocktail party, and at that party I met with 12 North American functionaries, North Americans and Europeans. They weren’t only North Americans. All of them people with experience, some also inside the Soviet Union, others who had participated in training and preparation of the people in Yugoslavia, in the Color Revolutions, and they were very interested in meeting me. Kelly became very close to me. She began to prepare me. She began to instruct me. I began to receive, from her, a very solid training: The creation of alternative groups, independent groups, the organization and training of youth leaders, who did not participate in the works of our cultural institutions. And that was in 2004-5. Kelly practically vanished from the scene in 2005-6. And when I started to work, she put me in direct contact with officials of the CIA. Supposedly, I was already committed to them, I was ready for the next mission, and they put me in touch with Renee Greenwald, an official of the CIA, who worked with me directly, and with a man named Mark Waterhein, who was, at the time, the head of Project Cuba, of the Pan-American Foundation for Development.
This man, Mark, as well as directing Project Cuba, had a direct link to Cuba, in terms of financing the anti-revolutionary project, as well as being involved in working against Venezuela. That is, he was a man who, along with much of his team of functionaries of that famous project, also worked against Venezuela at that time. They were closely connected. At times it took a lot of work to tell who was working with Cuba, and who was not, because many times they interlocked. For example, there were Venezuelans who came to work with me, who worked in Washington, who were subordinates of the Pan-American Foundation and the CIA, and they came to Cuba to train me as well, and to bring provisions. From there arose the idea of creating a foundation, a project called Genesis.
Genesis is maybe the template, as an idea, of many of the things going on in the world today, because Genesis is a project aimed at the university youth of Cuba. They were doing something similar in Venezuela. Why? The idea was to convert universities — which have always been revolutionary, which have produced revolutionaries, out of those from which many of the revolutionaries of both countries came — and convert them into factories for reactionaries. So, how do you do that? By making leaders. What have they begun to do in Venezuela? They sent students to Yugoslavia, financed by the International Republican Institute (IRI), which was financed by USAID and by the Albert Einstein Institute, and sent them, in groups of ten, with their professors.
Q. Do you have the names of the Venezuelans?
No, we’re talking of hundreds being sent. I spoke with the professor, and watched one group and followed the other. Because they were working long-term. The same plan was also in place against Cuba. Genesis promoted, with in the university, a plan of training scholarships for Cuban student leaders and professors. The plan was very similar. Also, in 2003, they prepared here, in Havana, a course in the US Interests Section, which was called “Deposing a leader, deposing a dictator”, which was based on the experience of OTPOR in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. And that was the idea, inside the Cuban university, to work long-term, because these projects always take a long time in order to reap a result. For that reason, they also started early in Venezuela. I believe as well — I don’t have proof, but I believe that in Venezuela it began before the Chávez government, because the plan of converting Latin American universities, which were always sources of revolutionary processes, into reactionary universities, is older than the Venezuelan [Bolivarian] process, to reverse the situation and create a new right-wing.
Q. Did the CIA only work in Caracas?
No, throughout Venezuela. Right now, Genesis has a scholarship plan to create leaders in Cuba. They provide scholarships to students to big North American universities, to train them as leaders, with all expenses paid. They pay their costs, they provide complete scholarships. We’re talking 2004-5 here. It was very obvious. Then, those leaders return to university at some time. They’re students. They go to end their careers. Those leaders, when they end their student careers, go on to various jobs, different possibilities, as engineers, as degree-holders in different sectors of Cuban society, but there are others who go on constantly preparing leaders within the university. One of the most important missions of the university leaders was to occupy the leadership of the principal youth organizations of the university. In the case of Cuba, we’re talking about the Union of Communist Youth, and the University Student Federation. That is, it was not to create parallel groups at that time, but to become the leaders of the organizations already existing in Cuba. Also, to form a group of leaders in the strategies of the “soft” coup. That is, training people for the opportune moment to start the famous “color revolutions” or “non-violent wars”, which, as you well know, have nothing to do with non-violence.
Q. What were they looking for in a professor, in order to capture them?
Professors are very easy. Identify university professors discontented with the institution, frustrated people, because they considered that the institution did not guarantee them anything, or didn’t recognize their merits. If they were older, even better. They didn’t specify. Look for older persons, so you can pick them. If you send a scholarship plan, or you send it and, first crack, they receive an invitation to participate in a great international congress of a certain science, they will be eternally grateful to you, because you were the one who discovered their talent, which has never been recognized by the university. Then that man you sent to study abroad, if you’re from his university, and participating in a big event, and publish his works, and constructing him a curriculum. When that person returns to Cuba, he goes back with a tremendous curriculum, because he has participated in a scientific event of the first order, has passed courses from big universities, and his curriculum reaches to the roof, then the influence he could have in the university will be greater, because he could be recognized as a leading figure in his specialty, even though in practice the man could be an ignoramus.
Q. And how effective were these types of captures, that type of missions they came to accomplish here?
In the case of Cuba, they didn’t have much of a result. First, because there was a most important reason, because I was the one directing the project, and I, in reality, was not an agent of the CIA, I was an agent of Cuban security, and so, the whole project passed through my hands, and they thought I was the one who would execute it. And the plan always passed through the work I was able to do, and what we did was slow it down as much as possible, knowing right away what was being planned. But just think, the goal of their plan, they were calculating for the moment in which the historic figures of the Revolution would disappear. They were figuring on a five- or ten-year term, in which Fidel would disappear from the political scene, and Raúl, and the historic leaders of the land. That was the moment they were waiting for, and when that happened, I was to leave university, with all the support of the international press and that of the NGOs, USAID, and all the people working around the CIA’s money, and that there would arise an organization which would present itself before the light of the public, as an alternative to what the Revolution was doing. That is what was to have happened with the Genesis Foundation for Freedom.
Q. What is that Foundation?
The Genesis Foundation for Freedom was to have a discourse, apparently revolutionary, but the idea was to confuse the people. The idea is that they would say they were revolutionaries, that what they wanted was to make changes in the government, but, when it comes to practice, when you get to the essence of the project, when you ask yourself “What is the project?” the discourse was, and the project was, exactly the same as those of the traditional right-wing. Because the changes they promoted, were the same that the right-wing, for a long time, has been promoting in the country. In practice, they almost had their big opportunity, according to their criteria, in 2006, when the news came out on TV that Fidel, for health reasons, was stepping down from his governmental responsibilities, and they have always said that the Cuban Revolution would die when Fidel died. Because the Revolution was Fidel, and on the day Fidel was no longer there, either by dying or leaving government, the next day the Revolution would fall. And they calculated that there would be internal confrontations, that there would be discontent with this or that. Calculations that I don’t know where they got them from, but they believed it. And in that moment, they believed that the time had come to act.
Q. We’re talking about 2006. What was the plan?
They called me automatically. We met, the CIA station chief and I, here in Havana. Diplomatic functionaries also showed up, and one of them said to me, we’re going to organize a provocation. We’re going to organize a popular uprising in a central neighborhood in Havana. There will be a person going there to rise up for democracy, and we’re going to execute a group of provocations, in different locations, in such a way that Cuban security forces will be forced to act against these people, and later we’ll start a big press campaign and start explaining how all of this will function. The interesting part of that, what really caught my attention, was this: How was it possible that a functionary of the US Interests Section could have the power to call upon the principal media, and that those people would obey with such servility? It was really attention-getting. The idea was — and I even told them this — what you’re telling me is just crazy. This man you mentioned to me, called Alci Ferrer — the guy they picked, a young agent, a doctor — they picked him to be the ringleader of the uprising. I told them, that guy won’t budge anyone. No one is going to rise up in the centre of Havana. The date they picked was none other than Fidel’s birthday, and they told me that day! And I said, Look, buddy, if that man, on that day, decides to go make proclamations, or to start some kind of uprising in the middle of Havana, the people are going to respond harshly. It’s even possible that they might kill him. Why, how could you put him in a humble working-class neighborhood to start those things, the locals…And he told me, flat out, the best thing that could happen for us is if they kill that man, it would be perfect, and they explained to me what would happen. All he had to do was provoke. They would go into the street, and there would be a clash there. If that happened, the press would do the rest, and they told me, we’re going to start a huge media campaign to demonstrate that there is chaos in Cuba, that Cuba is ungovernable; that in Cuba, Raúl is unable to hold the reins of government; that the civilian population is being killed; that students are being repressed in the street, and the people in the street, that the police are committing crimes. What a resemblance to Venezuela! It’s not a coincidence. It’s like that.
Q. So, what was supposed to happen in those circumstances?
Once all the opinion matrices were created, and all the media matrices had constructed that image, the whole world was supposed to have the image of Cuba as a great disaster, and that they’re killing the people, that they are killing them all. Then, my organization was to complete the final task.
Q. What was the final task?
Well, to gather the international press, in my capacity as a university professor, and as a writer, and as a leader of that organization, that I go out publicly to ask the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba, to guarantee the lives of the civilians and to bring peace and tranquility to the Cuban people. To speak to the country in the name of the Cuban people. Just imagine that!
That plan fell apart on them. It gave them no result, but as you could see, later, the way the war in Libya went, and the way it was set up. More than 80% of the information we saw, was fabricated. They’re doing the same in Syria, and they’ve done the same in Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to converse with a lot of Ukrainians, since they were in the bases. People in favor of uniting with Europe. I tried to talk with them these days. Trying to find out, what are those processes like? And they were surprised at the images which were transmitted around the world. What happened in Miami, and they themselves said so, but we’ve been protesting there, but those things that appear on TV, that was a group, or rather, there were sectors, there were places where there were right-wing groups, of the very far right, where there were incidents of that type, and where they burned things, but the greater part of the demonstrations didn’t have those characteristics. Or that this is, once more, the repetition of the scheme, using all the communication media.
Q. The relationship between the CIA and the embassies, in the respective lands, are they direct, then?
Yes, completely direct. In every embassy in Latin America, all the US embassies have CIA officials, working within them, using the façade of diplomatic functionaries.
Q. From what you know, is there a greater CIA presence in the region?
Well, at a certain moment, Ecuador was a major power in that, it had a strong concentration of them, and of course, Venezuela, because in 2012, when I attended the Book Fair in Caracas, all those people who had worked with me against Cuba, all the CIA officials, including Kelly Keiderling, were in Caracas at that time. And I was on a TV show, on VTV, where we talked about this subject, being very careful, because we were talking about two countries who have relations. That’s not the case with Cuba, or rather, Cuba has no relations with the United States. That’s a declared enemy. But we were talking about functionaries who had diplomatic relations, and it was very awkward to do it, without having concrete proofs you could present. However, the interview happened, and the denunciation was made of what was going on. Kelly Keiderling is an expert in this type of war. I have not the slightest doubt. When one follows the itinerary she has, in the countries where she’s been, and when I was in that type of conflict.
She has toured a series of countries in the world where very similar situations have occurred, like what she tried to do in Venezuela. And when you analyze Venezuela, and what has happened nowadays and the way in which she has acted, I think that in Venezuela, the characteristic that has been that they are tremendously aggressive in the manipulation of the information. Tremendously aggressive. To the point where you say it’s a blunder, because there are images which are so obviously not from Venezuela. I saw a very famous one, in which a soldier appears with a journalist, with a camera.They are Koreans. It’s an image from Korea. They’re Asian. They don’t look like Venezuelans at all. Also, the uniforms they wear. They’ve been very aggressive with that image which has projected what’s going on in Venezuela to the world. The greater part of the world’s people, this image is the one they’re seeing, of what they’re trying to say.
Q. They control the media. Do you know any case of any journalist which has been, as you have seen, known or unknown, which you have seen in the process of training?
Q. CNN, for example?
No, there was a guy who had a lot of ties to me at the time here, who served as a link for meeting an official from the CIA., Antony Golden, of Reuters. But, all right, he was an element independent of Reuters. CNN has always been very closely linked to all these things. CNN, from its first moments of operation, above all this latest step, and above all, CNN en Español, has been an indispensable tool for these people, but the problem is that you have to understand one thing: to understand what’s going on, and to be able to mount a campaign, you have to understand that nowadays, there is no TV station that acts on its own. There are the conglomerates, and the communications conglomerates — who directs them? Because, for example, Time Warner and AOL, and all those big communications companies — cable TV, movie TV, TV in general — who is the boss, in the end? Here it’s Westinghouse, there it’s General Electric. The same who build warplanes, the same US arms industry, the same people who are the owners of TV networks, movie studios, publications, book publishers. So, the same guys who produce warplanes, the cookie you’ll eat at night, that presents an artist to you, are the same who rule the newspapers of the entire world. Who do these people answer to?
Q. When you see what’s happening in Venezuela, and you compare it with what you did here [in Cuba], what conclusion can you draw?
It’s a new strategy, which they’ve been developing based on the experience they’ve had all over the world, but I see, I’m convinced, that they’ve only gotten results when people in those places don’t support the revolution. They managed it with Milosevic, because Milosevic was a Yugoslavian leader whose image had fallen far, thanks to things that happened in Yugoslavia. The same happened in Ukraine, because Yanukovych was a man with very little popular support, and it has given results in other places where the governments had little support from the people. Wherever they have a legitimate government, a solid government, and people disposed to defend the revolution, the plan has failed on them.
Q. And what phase do they enter when the plan fails?
They’re going to keep on doing it, they’ll go on perfecting it. We are the enemy. That is, Venezuela, Cuba, everything going on in Latin America as an alternative. We are the dissidents of the world. We live in a world dominated by capitalism. Where that new capitalist way of being dominates, so that now one can’t even call it imperialist, it’s something new, something that goes way beyond what students of Marxism wrote in history years ago. It’s something new, novel. It’s a power, practically global, of the big transnationals, of those megalopolies they’ve created. Therefore, we are the enemy. We are presenting an alternative project. The solution that the world proposes to us, is not that. We know how to do it, and Cuba, Venezuela, the ALBA countries, have demonstrated that it can be done, that one or two days more are nothing. The Cuban revolution has been in existence for 55 years, and with political will, it has achieved things that the US government, with all the money in the world, has been unable to do. So that’s a bad example.
And I’ve told my students: Can you imagine that the Indignants in Spain, the thousands and millions of workers out of work in Spain, that the Greeks, that all those people in all the world, know what we’re doing? Can you imagine that these people get to know who Chávez is? Or who Fidel is? Or of the things we’re doing here? Or the things we’re doing with so few resources, only the will to make revolution and share the wealth? What will happen to capitalism? How much longer will capitalism last, which has to spend billions of dollars, every day, to build its image and fool the people? What would happen if the people knew who we really are? What is the Cuban Revolution, really, and what is the Venezuelan Revolution? Because, if you talked to a Spaniard and asked him about Chávez, and he gives you a terrible opinion of Chávez, because it’s what they’ve constructed in his mind/ And you meet an unemployed person who tells you that Chávez is a bad guy, because the media have convinced him of that, but if these people knew how things really were! So they can’t allow that such formidable enemies as ourselves should be there, at the door.
Q. From the viewpoint of the national sovereignty of our people, how can we stop the CIA? We’ve already talked about the consciousness of the people, which is fundamental in these types of actions, but, in the concrete, how does one foresee the CIA’s work? What can be done? What recommendations do you have?
I think of a thing that Chávez said, and that Fidel has always said, that is the key to defeating the empire, and that is unity. It’s not a slogan, it’s a reality. It’s the only way you have of defeating a project like that. A project that comes from the Special Services and from capitalism. One can only do it with the unity of the people.
Q. Are we talking about the civilian-military?
Yes, unity in all senses. Unity based in diversity, in the peoples, but unity as a nation, unity as a project. Wherever the people are divided, there is another reality.
Q. Where do they have to concentrate? In what area must they concentrate forces to defend us from this type of actions, this type of attacks?
The army to defeat that is the people. I believe that the Cuban experience has taught that very well. There are experiences in the world which mark you very clearly. What has happened in the world, when the people have not been protagonists in defence of the Revolution? And when the people have been protagonists, what happened? And there’s the case of Cuba. We have managed to defeat the CIA and the empire millions of times, because the people have been the protagonist.
Q. Does the CIA use the databases of the social networks, and that sort of thing, to define their plans?
They’re the masters. They’re the masters of that. Fine, there are the denunciations of Snowden and all that has come out of Wikileaks, and all those things that are no secret to anyone, because we suspected, but it’s been demonstrated. It’s been demonstrated that the servers, the Internet, are theirs. All the servers in the world, in the end, die in the North Americans’ servers. They are the mother of the Internet, and all the networks and services are controlled by them. They have access to all the information. And they don’t hesitate to record it. Facebook is an extraordinary database. People put everything on Facebook. Who are your friends? What are their tastes, what movies have they seen? What do they consume? And it’s a source of firsthand information.
Q. Have you been in contact with Kelly Keiderling, after what happened in Venezuela?
No, I haven’t had contact with her. I don’t know what was her final destination, after what happened (she was expelled from Venezuela for meeting with and financing terrorists).
Q. With the experience she has, how far was she able to penetrate into Venezuela, and Venezuelan universities?
I am certain that she got quite far. She’s a very intelligent agent, very well prepared, very capable, and very convinced of what she’s doing. Kelly is a person convinced of the job she is doing. She is convinced of the justness, from her point of view, of what she is doing. Because she is an unconditional representative of capitalism. Because she comes from capitalism’s elite. She is organic of the actions she is doing. There is no contradiction of any kind. And, based on the experience of her work, of her capability, I am sure that she managed to get very far, and gave continuity to a job which is not just for now, it’s a job she will go on doing for a long time, to reverse the process in Venezuelan universities. What’s going on is that up to whatever point they can reach, in the long term, that is what will show the Bolivarian process, in the measure of which the people are aware of what could happen. If that fascist right wing becomes uncontrollable, it could get into power again.
Q. What kind of person who has contacts, who could reach the people, such as by being an activist in a movement, could be captured by the CIA?
They will find them, they will try to do it. If it’s a young person and a leader, they will try to capture them for their interests. We have to train our leaders. We can’t leave that to spontaneity, we can’t leave that to the enemy. So, if we leave them to the enemy, those are spaces which the enemy will occupy. Any alternative project that we leave unattended, any alternative project that we don’t realize the necessity of getting close to, that is a project that the enemy will try, by all means, to take advantage of. Using the enormous amount of money they have for that, which has no limits, in terms of resources to be used, because they are playing with the future and, above all, the young are the key.
The good thing is that the young are the present of Latin America. The Latin American revolution which is there, which is everywhere, is of the young. If not, fine, it will never have results, and if you manage to make young people think differently, if you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It’s that simple.
Original interview in Spanish here.
By Eric Margolis
April 13, 2014 “ICH” - A century ago, crowds in Paris were cheering, “on to Berlin!” Crowds in Berlin cried, “on to Paris.” World War I, the supreme example of nationalist/militaristic stupidity, was about to begin.
One hundred years later we hear cries across America to “get tough” with Moscow over fragmenting Ukraine. A dozen US F-16 fighters are being sent to the Baltic, a squadron of F-15’s to Poland, and a US warship to the Black Sea. In short, just enough to spark a war but certainly not enough to win one.
No one seems to have remembered – except Vlad Putin, of course – that the roughly 50,000 US troops and officials now based in Afghanistan are in large part at the mercy of Russia which controls their major supply and exit routes.
As the Ukraine crisis continues to build, it’s absolutely horrifying to recall that most of the American politicians and general public now lustily shouting “on to…where was it again?….oh yes….Kharkov” had no idea where Ukraine is, never mind Kharkov or Luhansk.
Ignorance is a primary fuel of nationalism and aggression. Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel, as Dr . Johnson observed, and the first platform of fools.
Three professors from Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard University just did a poll that found only 16% of Americans queried could find Ukraine on the world map. Actually, that’s better than I expected, given American’s notorious geographical illiteracy. Seeing Ukraine’s map on TV every night no doubt helped.
Worryingly, but hardly surprisingly, the poll also found that the further a poll respondent thought Ukraine was from its real location, the more likely he was to support US military intervention in Ukraine. Few Americans could find Iraq (Eye-raq to most), Afghanistan, or Iran (Eye-ran) on the map.
“Let’s get those dirty Commies,” goes the latest wave of war fever to sweep the US, “if we can only find them!” Some respondents put Ukraine in Australia, or South America.
Interestingly, the poll found that the group least able to locate Ukraine was +65 year olds – core Republican voters.
Why are Americans to poor in geography? I was in the last class at Georgetown University Foreign Service School to be taught world geography. Though essential for understanding international affairs and history, geography has vanished from America’s educational curriculum as an antique irrelevance. So, too often, has history. Even many well-off, educated Americans are deeply deficient in these subjects.
An influential Republican friend and former presidential advisor told me, “we’ve got to stop Putin from taking over Crimea!”
“Before you go to war,” I advised, “ask your big-time Republican supporters to name the top four cities in Crimea.”
Of course. War fever feeds on ignorance. If mobs in Paris had known in August, 1914, that they would die on the mud of Flanders few would have been so eager for war. All sides in World War One mistakenly believed in a short, sweet military victory. The great French voice against the folly of war, Jean Juares, was assassinated by nationalists.
“The proportion of collage grads who could correctly identify Ukraine (20%) is only slightly higher than the proportion of Americans who told Pew (the respected polling outfit) that President Obama was Muslim in August, 2010,” found the Ivy League professors.
About the same percentage of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive, or that an Islamic Caliphate will shortly rule America. Ever since the Bush administration, stupidity and ignorance have become fashionable.
Leading US newspapers – “The Wall Street Journal” and “New York Times” – have been beating the war drums. The most-watched TV network, Fox, is a mouthpiece for the War Party. Millions of Americans and Canadians of Ukrainian background are naturally deeply concerned by events there. Israel is now involved in Ukraine.
Too few voice urge calm and restraint. President Putin is being demonized into America’s leading hate figure. Few in the media dare say that Putin is reacting in Russia’s interests to NATO’s foolish push right up to his borders.
Republicans are blasting President Barak Obama for being a cowardly wimp. I like cowardly and wimpy when it comes to nuclear weapons. Thank goodness Sen. John McCain is not president or we might well already be in World War III.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. http://ericmargolis.com
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014
US Defence Secretary Hagel’s Provocative Tour of Asia
Amid sharpening tensions and a US-led military build-up in Europe over the Ukraine crisis, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a menacing warning to China this week that, like Russia, it could face diplomatic isolation and threats of war if it did not bow to the demands of Washington and its allies in Asia.
Hagel explicitly compared Russia’s annexation of Crimea to China’s territorial disputes with its neighbours in the South and East China seas. “You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or in large nations in Europe,” he said.
The hypocrisy of Hagel’s remarks is staggering. The Obama administration is directly responsible for fuelling both the crisis in Ukraine and the rising tensions in Asia. The US engineered the fascist-led coup in Kiev on February 22 that pushed Russia to annex Crimea in order to protect its Black Sea fleet. Likewise, the US has, over the past three years, backed Japan and the Philippines in taking a far more aggressive stance in their territorial disputes with China, as a means of isolating Beijing.
Nominally, Washington claims to be neutral in the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Yet, standing alongside the Japanese defence minister on April 6, Hagel harangued China for attempting to “redefine boundaries” and “violate territorial integrity” by force.
Hagel’s provocative remarks in Tokyo led to a sharp verbal exchange with Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing at a joint press conference on Wednesday. Hagel made clear that the US would back up its threats with military force. He reaffirmed the longstanding US alliances with Japan and the Philippines, then added, wagging his finger, that the US was “fully committed to those treaty obligations”—that is, to go to war against China should fighting break out between it and Washington’s allies.
Hagel bluntly accused China of inflaming tensions last November by declaring an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. While acknowledging Beijing’s right to an ADIZ, he warned that the lack of consultation could lead to “tensions, misunderstandings … and eventually get to dangerous conflict.” In fact, it was the Pentagon that threatened to set off a powder keg in the East China Sea by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the zone unannounced.
Hagel’s trip has been an emphatic declaration by the Obama administration that there will be no backing away from the “pivot to Asia” against China, even as the US intensifies its confrontation with Russia in Europe. Obama’s “pivot” is an aggressive diplomatic, economic and military strategy aimed at undermining Chinese influence throughout the region and encircling the country militarily.
Washington’s anti-Chinese “pivot” is closely linked to the escalating US confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. The Obama administration is proceeding with US imperialism’s long-held ambition to dominate the vast Eurasian landmass—stretching from China through to Eastern Europe—which, in turn, is central to its strategy for global hegemony.
The capitalist regimes in Beijing and Moscow are obstacles that the US is no longer prepared to tolerate. Amid a deepening economic crisis of global capitalism, the US and its allies are engaged in a reckless drive to subordinate China and Russia, along with their markets and resources, to their direct exploitation. The whipping up of reactionary ethnic and linguistic divisions in Ukraine is a warning that the same methods will be used to fragment Russia and China and transform them into semi-colonies.
Since the beginning of the year, the US and its allies have been stoking up regional tensions to intensify the pressure on China. In February, Philippine President Benigno Aquino gave an inflammatory interview to the New York Times in which he compared China to Nazi Germany and its claims in the South China Sea to Hitler’s 1938 annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.
The Philippine government, with Washington’s tacit backing, is currently mounting a case against China at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. President Obama is due to arrive in Manila later this month and is expected to sign a military basing agreement that will place US forces directly adjacent to the South China Sea.
Over the past two months, the US and South Korea have proceeded with their huge annual military exercises, involving 12,700 US troops and 200,000 South Korean military personnel, despite objections from China’s ally, North Korea. The war games included the largest ever amphibious landing exercises, involving 9,500 US military personnel and 3,000 South Korean Marines, backed by 20 warships and 60 military aircraft.
Just as it is encouraging German rearmament in Europe, the US is pressing for the remilitarisation of Japan. Washington has given its full support to the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as it increased military spending, moved to end constitutional restrictions on the armed forces, established a National Security Council, and shifted Japan’s strategic orientation to “island defence”—that is, against China.
The US “pivot to Asia” has already transformed the Indo-Pacific into a dangerous cauldron of geo-political rivalries. By comparing the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas to the confrontation with Russia over Crimea, Hagel is underscoring Washington’s determination to pursue its ambition for hegemony in Asia, even at the risk of triggering an all-out war with China.
Workers throughout Asia and the world face great dangers. The only means for halting the slide towards a global conflagration is a unified movement of the working class in China, Japan, the United States and internationally to put an end to capitalism and its outmoded nation state system, which is the root cause of war. The crisis-ridden profit system must be replaced by a planned socialist economy and the restructuring of society to meet the pressing needs of humanity, not the profit requirements the ultra-wealthy few.
Yesterday afternoon the Federal Aviation Administration designated the airspace above Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada a “no-fly zone” with altitude restrictions that effectively ban news helicopters.
The “temporary flight restrictions,” revealed by a contributor to the Free Republic, bans all air traffic under an altitude of 3,000 feet in the vicinity of the ranch except for aircraft operating under the direction of the Bureau of Land Management.
The restrictions in full:
FDC 4/1687 ZLA NV..AIRSPACE MESQUITE, NV..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS WITHIN AREA DEFINED AS 3NM RADIUS OF 364624N/1141113W (MMM71 RADIAL AT 4.3NM) SFC-3000FT AGL LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. ONLY RELIEF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS UNDER DIRECTION OF BLM ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE AIRSPACE. BLM TELEPHONE 702-335-3191 IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITY. LOS ANGELES /ZLA/ ARTCC TELEPHONE 661-265-8205 IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY. 1404112140-1405111434
A map of the no-fly zone is available here.
Undoubtedly these flight restrictions are in response to the intense media presence now surrounding Bundy Ranch.
“Keeps the media choppers away so the BLM can do what it wants,” a contributor named SkyDancer pointed out on the Free Republic.
It’s quite obvious that this is the case considering that news helicopters routinely fly at an altitude under 3,000 feet in order to capture the best footage.
Recently, cowboys who are supportive of Cliven Bundy have been successful at rounding up Bundy’s cattle before the BLM could impound them, so it certainly appears that the agency is using the flight restrictions as a cover to target these cowboys without any fear of potential brutality being leaked to the media.
BLM agents have already assaulted several protestors, including a pregnant woman and a cancer victim, which was fortunately caught on tape.
The feds are attempting to regain control of the narrative surrounding the standoff, especially since it is now known that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is behind the land grab for thefuture development of solar farms with Chinese energy companies.
It is also concerning that by interpreting the no-fly zone to the letter, the BLM could even delay medical helicopters from flying into the area to evacuate individuals who are severely injured.
Although air ambulances are typically exempt from temporary flight restrictions, pilots are still supposed to gain clearance before taking off, which in the past has kept medical pilots grounded until permission was granted.
This scenario is especially frightening considering Clark Co. Commissioner Tom Collins’ recent statement that those traveling to Bunkerville to support Bundy in his standoff against the feds “better have funeral plans.”
“Them son of a bitches will fire the next shot heard round the world and we, will fire the rest” Fellow rancher speaks in support of Cliven Bundy
Posted April 12, 2014
By Ali Watkins, Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Washington Bureau
April 12, 2014 “ICH” – “McClatchy” - WASHINGTON — A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report (pdf) calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.
The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods. The CIA has said that about 30 detainees underwent the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
The CIA’s claim “is BS,” said a former U.S. official familiar with evidence underpinning the report, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still classified. “They are trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case.”
The findings are among the report’s 20 main conclusions. Taken together, they paint a picture of an intelligence agency that seemed intent on evading or misleading nearly all of its oversight mechanisms throughout the program, which was launched under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ran until 2006.
Some of the report’s other conclusions, which were obtained by McClatchy, include:
_ The CIA used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters.
_ The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program.
_ The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
_ The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own Inspector General’s Office.
The 6,300-page report is the culmination of a four-year, $40 million investigation into the detention and interrogation program by the Democrat-led committee. A final draft was approved in December 2012, but it has undergone revisions. The panel voted 11-3 on April 3 to send the report’s 480-page executive summary, the findings and conclusions to the executive branch for declassification prior to public release.
Asked to comment on the findings, CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said: “Given the report remains classified, we are unable to comment. As we have stated previously, the CIA, in consultation with other agencies, will carry out an expeditious classification review of those portions of the final SSCI report submitted to the executive branch for review.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein also declined to comment except to say: “If someone distributed any part of this classified report, they broke the law and should be prosecuted.”
The investigation determined that the program produced very little intelligence of value and that the CIA misled the Bush White House, the Congress and the public about the effectiveness of the interrogation techniques, committee members have said.
The techniques included waterboarding, which produces a sensation of drowning, stress positions, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days at a time, confinement in a cramped box, slaps and slamming detainees into walls. The CIA held detainees in secret “black site” prisons overseas and abducted others who it turned over to foreign governments for interrogation.
The CIA, which contends that it gained intelligence from the program that helped identify al Qaida terrorists and averted plots against the United States, agreed with some of the report’s findings but disputed other conclusions in an official response sent to the committee in June 2013.
The report has been embroiled in a public furor since Feinstein, D-Calif., took to the Senate floor last month to accuse the CIA of possibly violating the law and the Constitution by monitoring computers used by her staff to assemble the report, and by removing and blocking access to documents.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, launched a criminal investigation at the CIA’s request into the alleged unauthorized removal of classified documents by Democratic committee staffers from the top-secret facility where they were required to review more than 6 million pages of operational emails and other documents related to the interrogation program.
Some current and former U.S. officials and military commanders, numerous experts and foreign governments have condemned the harsh interrogation methods as violations of international and U.S. laws against torture, a charge denied by the CIA and the Bush administration.
They’ve based their defense on a series of top-secret legal opinions issued by the Justice Department beginning in August 2002. At that time, the agency sought advice on whether using the harsh techniques on Zayn al Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a close aide to Osama bin Laden who went by the nom de guerre Abu Zubaydah, would violate U.S. law against torture.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel found that the methods wouldn’t breach the law because those applying them didn’t have the specific intent of inflicting severe pain or suffering.
The Senate report, however, concluded that the Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA, which prevented a proper evaluation of the program’s legality.
“The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” the report found.
Several human rights experts said the conclusion called into question the program’s legal foundations.
“If the CIA fundamentally misrepresented what it was doing and that was what led (Justice Department) lawyers to conclude that the conduct was legal, then the legal conclusions themselves were inaccurate,” said Andrea Prasow, senior national security counsel for Human Rights Watch. “The lawyers making those assessments were relying on the facts that were laid before them.”
“This just reinforces the view that everyone who has said the torture program was legal has been selling a bill of goods and it’s time to revisit the entire conventional wisdom being pushed by those who support enhanced interrogation that this program was safe, humane and lawful,” said Raha Wala, a lawyer with Human Rights First’s Law and Public Safety Program.
Among other findings, the report said that CIA personnel used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or their headquarters.
The conclusion that the CIA provided inaccurate information to the Justice Department reflects the findings of a top-secret investigation of the program by the CIA Inspector General’s Office that was triggered by allegations of abuse.
The CIA inspector general’s May 7, 2004, report, which was declassified, found that in waterboarding Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, deemed the chief architect of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA went beyond the parameters it outlined to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which wrote the legal opinions.
Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, while Mohammad underwent the procedure 183 times.
Those cases clashed with the CIA’s assertion _ outlined in the now-declassified top-secret August 2002 Office of Legal Counsel opinion _ that repetition of the methods “will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.”
The Office of Legal Counsel opinion stated that its finding that the harsh interrogation techniques didn’t constitute torture was based on facts provided by the CIA, and that “if these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.”
The CIA inspector general’s report found that the “continued applicability of the DOJ opinion” was in question because the CIA told the Justice Department that it would use waterboarding in the same way that it was used in training U.S. military personnel to evade capture and resist the enemy. In fact, the inspector general’s report continued, the CIA used waterboarding in a “manner different” from U.S. military training.
The CIA also failed to keep track of the number of individuals it captured under the program, the Senate report concluded. Moreover, it said, the agency held people who didn’t meet the legal standard for detention. The report puts that number at 26, McClatchy has learned.
“The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention,” it found. “The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.”
“The CIA’s records were hazy, inconsistent and at times inaccurate,” said the former U.S. official.
Copyrighted McClatchy Washington Bureau
Poor To Pay For War
By David Lawder
April 11, 2014 “ICH” – “Reuters” – - U.S. House Republicans narrowly passed a new balanced budget plan from Representative Paul Ryan on Thursday in a vote that will help shape the debate ahead of November’s congressional elections.
The plan authored by Ryan, the influential House Budget Committee chairman, would eliminate deficits within 10 years, due largely to deep cuts to social safety net programs, grants for college students, and research and infrastructure spending. It also seeks to boost defense spending over the next decade without any increase in tax revenues.
The plan, which is not expected to be considered by the Democratic-controlled Senate, passed on a party-line vote of 219 to 205, with 193 Democrats and 12 Republicans voting against it.
The budget will serve largely as a campaign manifesto, highlighting Republicans’ determination to shrink the federal debt, while opening the party up to attacks from Democrats over its proposed cuts.
By Ajamu Baraka
April 11, 2014 “ICH” - I have always found discussions on democracy in the U.S. curious and at times hilarious. While I have always been impressed by the skillful way elites construct a narrative of democratic values and practice in a country that is, in reality, the antithesis of a democracy, the fervor with which that fairytale is embraced, even by intellectuals, has always been a source of curiosity for me. But at other moments, like the one we are in now, I can’t help but find some of the arguments used to support the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent McCutcheon decision—and even some of the comments lamenting how the decision will destroy democracy in the U.S.—somewhat funny.
Of course, these are deadly serious times and the McCutcheon decision, which makes it easier for the corporate and financial elite to buy elections and candidates, is a serious ruling that conveys a devastatingly simple message: that the furtherance of the neoliberal project and the maintenance of the U.S. Empire require the evisceration of democracy.
That message has always been clear to those of us on the margins who have never had the luxury of embracing illusion as a way of life. For us, democracy in the U.S. has always been a “zombie democracy”—a rotten facsimile that looked a little like democracy, sounded like democracy and even had some democratic forms, but was never the real thing, never really alive.
The possibility of democracy was aborted by Thomas Jefferson and the white, male, property-owning, settler “revolutionaries” who declared their independence in 1776. It was aborted by the first American coup in Philadelphia in 1787, when men of property ignored the mandate from their state legislatures to strengthen the Articles of Confederation and instead met in secret to produce a document that would solidify their power. The resulting Constitution consolidated a white, male, property-owning republic that reduced black people to 3/5th of a person, marked the indigenous for genocide and did not mention democracy anywhere in its text.
It was the people’s struggle over time that injected what little life there is in the walking corpse that is democracy in America.
Democratic reforms, limited as they have been, have nevertheless represented high marks in the people’s demands for democratic rights and dignity. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that during the current phase of right-wing reaction; liberal capitulation; leftist opportunism, confusion and demobilization; and the hegemony of an NGO culture of de-politicized issue fragmentation, that a political culture has been created that has given a reactionary clique on the Supreme Court the confidence to brazenly demonstrate its class bias with the series of decisions we have seen it make over the last few years.
The Citizens United case, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act last year, the rash of state-level laws passed to suppress democratic participation, felony disenfranchisement, and now the McCutcheon ruling—they all signal that the democratic zombie apocalypse is upon us now. And we all know from popular culture what you do when you encounter the walking dead. So let’s put this zombie out of its misery.
Ajamu Baraka is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. http://www.ajamubaraka.com
Michael Ratner: There have been no criminal prosecutions for illegal actions committed by the U.S. in the name of national security since 9/11
Posted April 11, 2014
By Bill Moyers
You’ve heard about the wave of recent protests calling on fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King to raise wages for their employees, who are forced to live on next to nothing. But did you know that many workers in sit-down restaurants may be faring even worse?
That’s because back in 1991, the National Restaurant Association passed around enough campaign contributions to persuade Congress to set the federal minimum wage for waiters, busboys and bartenders at only $2.13 an hour. And it has never gone up.
They claim that tips are additional income that make up the difference. But tips are random and often meager. So much so that restaurant workers are twice as likely as other Americans to be on public assistance.
This week, Bill speaks with Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, about the group’s fight for better wages and working conditions for America’s 10 million restaurant workers.
BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company: all work and no pay– food workers fight for a living wage.
SARU JAYARAMAN: How is it that a major industry has basically convinced America, convinced Congress, that they practically shouldn’t have to pay their workers at all? It’s purely money and power. And their control over our legislators.
ANNOUNCER: Funding is provided by:
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And by our sole corporate sponsor, Mutual of America, designing customized individual and group retirement products. That’s why we’re your retirement company.
BILL MOYERS: Welcome. If you wonder why so many Americans doing essential but menial work at low wages never seem to get a break, here’s an answer for you. That’s how it’s intended to be. Not by nature, or the market, or from any lack of character or will on the part of workers. No, the fact is: our system is organized against them. The very thing workers most want and need – a fair wage – is the very thing the controlling interests don’t want them to have. And by controlling interests, I mean the owners of capital, who were emboldened even further this week by the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon decision giving monied interests more opportunity to rig the political system against everyday Americans.
Case in point: you’ve heard about the wave of protests against fast food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s where employees are forced to live on next to nothing.
Workers in regular, sit-down restaurants are also penalized. Because in the 1990’s, the National Restaurant Association – often known as “the other NRA” – passed around enough campaign contributions to shall we say persuade Congress to set the federal minimum wage for waiters, busboys, and bartenders at only $2.13 an hour. $2.13 an hour. The NRA claims that tips are additional income that make up the difference. But tips are random and often meager, and restaurant workers struggling to earn a living are twice as likely to be on public assistance.
In other words, the people who run the system expect taxpayers to subsidize profits with welfare for their poorly-paid employees.
Which could explain why this man is smiling. He’s getting rich re-enforcing the system’s grip, making sure those working people don’t get a break. Rick Berman’s his name. Officially, he’s a lawyer and lobbyist with his own public relations company, but his real job is as a professional bully who makes a ton of money beating up on vulnerable people. How bad is he? Well, a few years ago, Morley Safer described Berman, his special line of work, and the enemies he has made in a “60 Minutes” profile entitled, “Dr. Evil.”
MORLEY SAFER in 60 Minutes: It’s difficult to find someone who provokes as much venom as Rick Berman.
DR. MICHAEL JACOBSON in 60 Minutes: He’s a one-man goon squad for any company that’s willing to hire him.
MORLEY SAFER in 60 Minutes: Dr. Michael Jacobson heads the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a healthy food advocacy group.
DR. MICHAEL JACOBSON in 60 Minutes: Berman is against every single measure, no matter how sensible. He’d have no restrictions on tobacco advertising, junk foods galore in schools, no minimum wage. He wants to leave corporate America unfettered of any regulations that protect the public’s health.
BILL MOYERS: This master of smoke and mirrors figured out some years ago that to do the dirty work of corporate America you need to create front groups with high-falutin’ names like Center for Consumer Freedom and the Employment Policies Institute. These sham outfits, funded by deep pockets, provide cover for industries and trade groups that want to bust organized labor and kill off health and safety regulations that protect workers and consumers. And because of our tax laws, written by the owners of capital and their rented legislators, Rick Berman gets to hide where the cash for that black magic is coming from.
Over the years, however, some of his clients have been outed. Sources say they have included Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, Monsanto, the Marriott Corporation and Tyson Foods, as well as restaurants willing to fork over a pile to a hit man like Berman while paying their employees as little as possible.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Because restaurant workers, they serve us, and they should be able to put food on their own tables.
BILL MOYERS: Saru Jayaraman is one of Rick Berman’s primary targets. She’s co-founder and co-director of ROC-United.
BILL MOYERS: That’s the Restaurant Opportunities Centers, whose 13,000 members across the country are fighting for better wages and working conditions. Because they’ve been making headway, they’ve got powerful enemies. Berman and his clients have gone nuclear, running full page attack ads against raising the minimum wage, funding academic studies built on faulty premises, and creating a website called ROCExposed.com that constantly vilifies the workers’ cause.
Saru Jayarman is with me now. She’s also director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of this book, “Behind the Kitchen Door.” Welcome.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
BILL MOYERS: Have you been surprised by the intensity of the attacks upon your workers?
SARU JAYARAMAN: You know, the truth is that Richard Berman’s been following us around for the last decade, trying to shut us down on behalf of the National Restaurant Association. What has happened over the last year is that they’ve definitely heated up the pressure, trying to kill our message, whatever way they can. And his operation, his M.O., is to do it by killing the messenger rather than the message, because the truth is, it’s very hard to argue with a message of “nobody should be earning $2.13 an hour.” That’s as fundamental as it is.
BILL MOYERS: But he has personalized it, as you say, against you, attacking your credibility and your motives. Why are you doing this? I mean, when you graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and Yale Law School, you could’ve had your choice of positions in lead institutions. Why did you commit to this work?
SARU JAYARAMAN: My parents are immigrants. They definitely struggled in this country. And I’ve seen too many families of my friends and neighbors struggle. And I just knew that I couldn’t live in a world where millions of people are hungry and don’t feel like they get respect on the job for jobs that are hard, that really, you know, require professional skills, like the restaurant industry.
BILL MOYERS: Well, your opponents have been taking out ads, as you know, in “Fox News,” full-page ads in “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal.” Is their campaign blunting your message?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Not at all. The harder they try to call us names, the more I think it’s realized that we’re saying something that’s getting on their nerves, something that they don’t want to be heard. And that something is that they as an industry have gotten away now for decades saying that they shouldn’t have to pay their own workers’ wages. In fact, we, the customer, should pay their workers’ wages for them. Because when you’ve lobbied for a wage as low as $2.13 an hour, these workers actually aren’t receiving wages at all.
And they’re living completely off their tips. Which means literally, we as customers are paying their wages, not the employer. And the Restaurant Association ultimately does not want people to know that they’ve gotten away with this immense boondoggle.
BILL MOYERS: Do they have a point when they say that an increase in the minimum wage will mean a cut in service and higher costs?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Well, these are their two primary arguments: one, that it will kill jobs, two, that it will make the cost of food go up. So on that first one, killing jobs. There are actually seven states in the United States that have the same wage for tipped and non-tipped workers. They range from somewhere around $8.00 and $9.50 an hour. You can go to California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Minnesota. All seven states have faster industry growth rates than the restaurant industry nationally. And in fact, we recently did a regression, looked at the states with the higher minimum wages for tipped workers, we found that they have higher sales per capita in the restaurant industry.
So we would argue that evidence shows that you could actually do better as an industry, faster industry growth, more jobs, if you treat your workers better. On that second argument that the cost of food will go up. We used USDA methodology. And we applied the current bill that’s moving through Congress to every worker along the food chain, from farm workers, to meat and poultry processing workers, to restaurant workers. And we assume that every employer along the food chain would pass on 100 percent of the cost of the wage increase to their purchaser. The title of the report is “A Dime a Day,” because it would cost the average American household at most $0.10 more for all food bought outside the home. That’s groceries and restaurants alike. So we’re talking pennies more on your hamburger when you eat out, for 30 million workers to come out of poverty.
BILL MOYERS: But what do you say to the small-business owner, who says “Gee I run a very small place, we– our waiters depend upon the tips at the counter. We just can’t afford it. We’d go out of business if you require us to raise their wages.”
SARU JAYARAMAN: I would say a couple of things. First of all, you as a small business, you are actually being cheated by these very large corporations that are running the show, setting the standards, raking in millions of profits and screwing you by getting away with very– you know– very, very large, high-volume business and setting standards that require you to have to pay for very high rates of turnover. Our industry has the highest rates of employee turnover of any industry in the United States. I would say– I can point you to plenty of small businesses around the country that actually pay their workers a livable wage and have managed to cut their turnover in half, in some cases, completely out, because they treat their workers well.
I would also say that nobody’s expecting you to change your wages overnight. We’re talking about policies that would phase in a minimum wage increase. A minimum wage increase for both your servers and the back of the house. But the last and most important thing I would say is this: no customer in America believes when they leave a tip that they are leaving a wage for a worker. Nobody believes that they’re paying a wage. People think they’re paying a tip on top of a wage. We don’t think about this in any other context except restaurants. We believe somehow that because they’re getting tips, they shouldn’t get a wage. It’s not true in any other context. And that is because of the power of this industry.
BILL MOYERS: Knowing that I was going to talk to you, I did ask a few friends and neighbors in New York City. I said, “Do you assume when you leave that tip that the workers are going to get it?” And they said, “Why yes, we do.”
SARU JAYARAMAN: Most people do. Most people believe that when they leave a tip, it goes entirely to that worker that they’re tipping. There are so many things that happen. First of all, that worker has to share the tip with probably 20 or 30 other people in the restaurant. Often management illegally takes a portion of the tips.
BILL MOYERS: Illegally?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Illegally. The tips are meant to make up the difference between that lower minimum wage of $2.13 and the overall minimum wage of $7.25. But the U.S. Department of Labor reports an 80 percent violation rate with regard to employers actually making sure that tips make up that difference. And what results? Seventy percent of tipped workers in America are women.
And they work at the IHOP and the Applebee’s and the Olive Garden. Their median wage, including tips, is under $9 an hour. They suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, and they use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce. So we’re talking about poverty-wage workers, including their tips.
BILL MOYERS: To a great extent, this is a woman’s issue, isn’t it?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Oh, absolutely. Millions of women, most women in America start their work life as a young woman in high school or college or graduate school working in restaurants. Many go on to something else, millions stay in this industry. But whether they stay or they go on, because these women are forced to live off their tips because their wages are so low, they go to taxes, and they’re not getting their income from their employer, but rather from the consumer. They’re forced to put up with whatever the customer might do to them, however they may touch them or treat them or talk to them.
And as a result, we have the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States. Seven percent of American women work in restaurants. But 37 percent of all sexual harassment claims to the E.E.O.C. come from the restaurant industry. So we are exposing young women to the world of work in this industry in which they can rely completely for their income off tips, in which they can be touched and treated any which way. It’s a demeaning situation to be in when you earn $2.13 an hour as a woman and you are completely reliant off customers’ largess, off the mercy of the clientele for your income, 100 percent. You’re living off tips.
BILL MOYERS: I said in the introduction that this is essential work, and it is. It’s not going to be outsourced to China–
SARU JAYARAMAN: That’s right.
BILL MOYERS: –or to Mexico or to India. Right?
SARU JAYARAMAN: That’s right. These are jobs that are growing. These are the jobs that are available now. These are the jobs that people being laid off from any other sector or anybody entering the workforce, a young person, an immigrant, people coming out of prison, these are the jobs that are available. They could be great jobs, they should be, these are professions. Many of the people we’re talking about want to be treated as professionals, want to move up, want to learn, want to move up in the industry to livable-wage jobs. And these are mostly adults. Many with college educations.
BILL MOYERS: So how are you recommending we change it? I hear that you’re adopting a new strategy.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Absolutely. We need to eliminate the system of a lower wage for tipped workers all together. So there is a bill moving through Congress that would raise the overall minimum wage to $10.10 and get tipped workers to 70 percent of that, or $7. That’s a good start, because it allows these workers some base wage, $7—
BILL MOYERS: Is it sufficient?
SARU JAYARAMAN: It’s not sufficient. $7, as we all know, is a poverty wage. And as long as the tipped worker’s wage is $7, that’s the true minimum wage in our country. So if there’s an effort or a concern to raise the wage above $7, we’ve got to get tipped workers there too. So there is momentum now in states across the country. Ballot measures, and legislation, to actually get all workers to the same base wage.
BILL MOYERS: You have two ballot initiatives going, one in the District of Columbia and–
SARU JAYARAMAN: And one in Michigan.
BILL MOYERS: And what are they about?
SARU JAYARAMAN: So in Michigan, we’re demanding that the wage go up to at least $10.10 and that the wage for tipped workers also be $10.10. And the language we’re using is that no employer should be able to pay less than the minimum wage.
BILL MOYERS: Even the diner?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Even the diner. Because the toy store next door, or the retail shop next door, they also have to pay $10.10. There’s no reason that the diners shouldn’t. In Washington D.C., we’re saying $12.50 for everybody, tipped, and non-tipped.
There’s legislation moving in Florida and Pennsylvania also to eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers. So the nation is moving towards eliminating the lower wage for tipped workers. Not eliminating tips. And I want to be clear about that.
BILL MOYERS: What is a fair wage in this field?
SARU JAYARAMAN: I strongly believe that you would need $18 to $25 an hour to survive in the United States, in a city like New York or almost anywhere in this country to pay for childcare, to pay for transportation, but at the very least, to have a stable-base wage that you can count on, that doesn’t fluctuate the way tips do, that doesn’t go up and down. I mean, your rent doesn’t go up and down, your bills don’t go up and down, your childcare expenses don’t go up and down. But for these workers, their income fluctuates from hour to hour, week to week, month to month.
So whether they’re working as a diner server or as a fine-dining server– you know, there are certainly ways to move up and certainly you can get a better income in a fine-dining restaurant where you can make a livable wage. They’re few and far between. For all of these workers, what they really need is a stable base wage that they can count on.
BILL MOYERS: What happens if we don’t raise the minimum wage for these workers?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Their lives are going to be unending poverty, unstable family incomes, constant reliance on public assistance. Our lives as customers– what does it mean for us as customers? It means being served by workers who are too poor or often too sick to take care of themselves and thus take care of us well. It means exposing ourselves to health risks. Because when you live off of tips and you don’t have paid sick days, as most of these workers do not, if your income comes from tips, you’re going to go to work to get those tips regardless of what condition they’re in, right? You’re going to go to work with H1N1– swine flu.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah.
SARU JAYARAMAN: You’re going to go to work– we had a member in Florida testify that she worked with typhoid fever for three weeks. There’s a company, I’m sure you’ve heard of, called Darden, which is the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, they own Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Capital Grille Steakhouse. In 2011, they announced the partnership with Michelle Obama saying that they were going to provide healthy food for kids at the Olive Garden. Well, at that same moment, a server was forced to work with hepatitis A in Fayetteville, North Carolina Olive Garden. And with a wage as low as $2.13 an hour, she had to go to work to get those tips.
Well, 3,000 people were exposed to hepatitis A as a result of that incident, had to get tested by the local county health department, filed a consumer class action against the restaurant, and won. So we ask, how healthy can your food really be for your kids at the Olive Garden if they’re going to be exposed to hepatitis A?
BILL MOYERS: Do these tipped workers get benefits as a matter of practice?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Ninety percent of restaurant workers in America do not have access to healthcare or paid sick days. Which means, according to our research, two-thirds of restaurant workers report cooking, preparing, and serving our food when they’re sick. The Center for Disease Control has said that 50 to 80 percent of all norovirus outbreaks in the United States can be traced back to sick restaurant workers.
BILL MOYERS: So what hope is there for these people–
SARU JAYARAMAN: Oh.
BILL MOYERS: –who have– nott any money to contribute to political campaigns?
SARU JAYARAMAN: There’s so much hope, Bill, there’s so much hope. So I want to give you one example. A couple of years ago, this happened in Washington D.C. The people fought for a local paid-sick-days ordinance. Meaning that every worker in the District of Columbia would be guaranteed that if they were sick, they could take a day off. Now, the Restaurant Association has been fighting this. In fact, they’ve introduced legislation, together with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, declaring that citizens in those states should not have the right to pass paid sick days ordinances, even if they vote for them. So they tried this. But in the District of Columbia, we did pass a local paid sick days ordinance.
At the last minute, behind-closed-door deal, they said, “Tipped workers should be left out.” Restaurant workers got together with allies, consumers, said, “Enough is enough.” We fought and we won. We overcame the power of the National Restaurant Association. We got paid sick days for tipped workers in the District of Columbia.
BILL MOYERS: What have you learned about how our system works?
SARU JAYARAMAN: I’ve learned again and again and again that definitely there are moneyed forces that have controlled our system. But also that there’s nothing that the people cannot achieve once they expose those forces and once they resist. That we can actually overcome even the most hardened, moneyed lobbyists in Washington D.C. or in states around the country. Because ultimately, if we are a true democracy, we cannot cede, we cannot cede our democratic powers to those people. We cannot throw up our hands and say, “Well, money controls Washington, money controls politics, I’m going to sit back.” We cannot cede that because then there’s no point in living in a democracy, truly. We–
BILL MOYERS: Is there a point to living in a democracy?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Absolutely, absolutely. We still have some power to say, “We will not put up with this.” We still have some power to say, “This is outrageous. It is outrageous that working people should have to put up with this kind of misery. It is outrageous that working people should have to pay each other’s wages rather than these multi-million-dollar restaurant chains paying their own workers’ wages.”
BILL MOYERS: So there is a moral imperative?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Absolutely, yes. Think about it this way. This is the only industry on Earth, really in any nation on Earth, that has gotten away with saying, “We practically shouldn’t pay our workers at all. Customers should pay our workers’ wages. We shouldn’t have to pay our workers’ wages.” In any other context, what is it called when an employer practically doesn’t pay their workers, full-time workers? It’s called slavery.
And so how is it that a major industry has basically convinced America, convinced Congress, that they practically shouldn’t have to pay their workers at all? It’s purely money and power. And their control over our legislators. So obviously, Congress hasn’t been listening to the populace, Republican or Democratic alike. And that’s what we need to regain control over.
BILL MOYERS: How can my viewers find out more about what you’re doing and your organization?
SARU JAYARAMAN: They should go to LivingOffTips.com, where we have all kinds of information. And especially, we would encourage people in the state of Michigan and Washington D.C., Florida, and Pennsylvania, get involved. Help support these ballot initiatives and this legislation. In other states, let’s move it there too. Let’s move this everywhere.
BILL MOYERS: And I want to invite my viewers to write us at BillMoyers.com and tell us their experiences as waiters and waitresses. Saru, thank you very much.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Thank you.
BILL MOYERS: Fortunately for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster.
And so are we, because the fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder. Here in New York State, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties killed a commission investigating political corruption. They also killed a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections. And they did so while handing wealthy individuals in wealthy communities– those are the biggest contributors to elections– some very big tax breaks.
And in Washington, as you’ve heard by now, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court five, the pro-corporate bloc, struck down limits on how much money can be given to candidates, parties and political action committees. One prominent right-winger says the justices merely “reinstated the First Amendment for all Americans.” Sure. By doubling down on their earlier ruling in the infamous Citizens United case equating money with speech, the justices have actually decreed that you’re entitled to all the free speech you can buy. You’ll be on equal footing with the Koch brothers if you have their money.
The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, more cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure, but they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court just laid that myth to rest, and the new Gilded Age roars in triumph. But we, the people, shouldn’t cower or give in to despair. Those restaurant workers— they’re not quitting. And they’ve summoned a spirit from deep within our past, when those early insurgents stood against imperial authority, convinced that when injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.
At our website, BillMoyers.com, we’ll show you some ways you can get involved. And there’s more about the fight for a living wage. That’s all at BillMoyers.com. I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.
© 2014 Public Affairs Television, Inc. All rights reserved
The conventional wisdom is that democracy is the best form of government. As the imperialist demagogue Winston Churchill, put it, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.” But such conventional wisdom comes by default. No one has ever offered any evidence in support of it. In fact, no one even knows what such evidence could be. No established criteria exist for the comparative adjectives worst, worse, bad, good, better, and best when they are applied to governments.
Furthermore, that democracy is the best form of government has not always even been the conventional wisdom. Plato, who founded his Academy in Athens around 400 BCE, where democracy is said to have originated, writes, “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy.” And at least some of those who wrote the American Constitution in the 1700s were well aware of democracy’s pitfalls and that no democracy had endured for any length of time. John Adams writes, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” Despite their knowledge, the Constitution’s writers persisted, believing that they could build a nation that avoided the faults that had destroyed earlier democracies. But they were wrong!
In fact, no genuine democracy has ever existed. The citizens of no nation have ever governed themselves. Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, and for the people” is pure bombast. What has passed for democracy has always been some form of representational oligarchy. But no one can represent two different ideologies at once. Even the word ‘democracy’ has never been adequately defined. If you read the Wikipedia article, you will find numerous different forms of government described, all of which are named democracies but differentiated by a qualifying word. There is representative democracy, constitutional democracy, people’s democracy, etc. As George Orwell says, “It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.” Talk about an unqualified democracy is nonsense.
Democracy’s weaknesses are well known. Electorates are poorly educated and inadequately informed. Politicians are corrupt. People are diverse; diversity leads to factions; factions are combative; the combativeness requires a resolution; oppression resolves it. As Mahatma Gandhi understood, “The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires a change of heart.” As present day India demonstrates, changes in heart seem to be impossible to achieve.
Between the two world wars, two Italians, Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, claimed that democracy was an illusion that served only to mask oligarchic rule. They claimed that oligarchy is the result of apathy and disagreements among common people as opposed to the drive, initiative, and unity of those who really control society. Pareto’s and Mosca’s error is that they defined the oligarchy as ‘elite,’ and instead of empirically discovering what characteristics these people share, ideal characteristics are attributed to them. Such thinkers seem always to believe that those they believe rule are a select group with a certain ancestry, higher intellect, and wealth whereas if the characters of those in the ruling class were identified empirically, it would have been discovered that they are in reality egomaniacal, shallow, greedy, unimaginative, uncaring, and grossly immoral. Such people never perform good deeds. They are not the best and the brightest, but the worst and the dullest. Original ideas are not a product of their status quo attitudes. See my piece, “The Psychopathic Criminal Enterprise Called America.” Pareto and Mosca are right, however, in attributing superior organizational skills to the ruling class, skills which are especially useful in gaining political power.
But even the oligarchic democracies described in the Wikipedia article once gave a better appearance of rule “by the people” than they do now. Elections were held, ballots were counted, and the winners took office. Well-organized minorities are now unwilling to accept elected governments. The results of elections are merely rejected by the losers. I have written about it in a previous piece: “Demented Democracy.”
When this tendency began is uncertain, but it was certainly given a boost when the United States and its Western allies rejected the results of the election held in Palestine on January 25, 2006. The election was encouraged by the United States and its allies. They admitted that it was not fraudulent. Yet they rejected the result when Hamas rather than Fatah prevailed. The rejection exposed the West’s claim that it promotes and protects democratic movements as a lie. The West was only interested in the outcome. When the result was not what it favored or expected, that the result was determined democratically was irrelevant. If the great defender of democracy could turn its back on a valid democratic election, so could anyone else. Now the rejection of election results is a common practice. Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine are well known examples.
In the countries where this is happening, those who lose elections are easily provoked into public demonstrations in attempts to foster regime change. Sometimes they succeeds; sometimes they don’t! But they always cause conflict. And even if regime changes occur, the regimes that come into power are not always the ones sought by the demonstrators. Just look at what happened in Egypt.
Egyptians began demonstrating in Tahrir Square and elsewhere on January 25, 2011, demanding that President Mubarak be removed from office. The demonstrations brought about the government’s fall. Mubarak was imprisoned. Elections were held, a Constitution was written by the winning followers of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Morsi prevailed. But the unwillingness of many urban Egyptians as well as many of the Mubarak government’s elite to accept the results of the election brought the anti-democratic, repressive military back in full force, likely destroying the prospect of democracy in Egypt for some time. President Morsi and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were rounded up and arrested. Egypt’s Monopoly gameboard has a square on it that says, “Win an election. Go straight to jail.” Not only was the revolution undone, tyranny follows. The consequence of this tendency of peoples to reject the outcomes of elections is bizarre. This attempt to bring about better government produces government which is worse! Of course, similar events can occur in Ukraine and elsewhere.
You see, a fundamental function of government everywhere is conflict resolution. But the oligarchic democracies the world has become accustomed to, those governments comprised of factions, cannot resolve conflicts. When an election is a contest between people representing contrary factions, unless one faction prevails in all contests, conflict in government is inevitable. The elections exacerbate the conflicts. Fundamental factional views cannot be compromised. Even when possible, compromises between those who want to do something and those who want to do nothing always result in ineffective policies which the factions can then use against one another. “Inadequate spending” becomes “wasteful spending,” for instance. Thanks to institutions like the Kochacola Court, these fundamental conflicts persist decade after decade. When Lincoln emancipated the slaves, he merely transformed the concept of slavery into the concept of racism. The people who were once enslaved were evermore to be considered as second class human beings. Separation of the parties or the oppression of one of them becomes the only solution to such fundamental conflicts. Government allowed people to oppress the blacks Lincoln freed to create a semblance of unity. Egypt’s military rulers are oppressing the Muslim Brotherhood for the same purpose. When governments can’t resolve conflicts, the conflicts are hidden by oppression.
The practices that nation’s use to stir the witches’ cauldron to bring about regime change are childish tit for tat games. Anything one government can do, another can do too. The practices do nothing more that generate conflict. When the tit for tat becomes the rat a tat tat of machine guns, we will all pay the price in pounds of flesh and gallons of blood. And absolutely nothing will ever be better for it. Generating conflict is dumb! Those who start wars often lose them.
The advocates of democracy who believe they can make things better by rejecting the results of elections make even our oligarchic democracies dumber than they already are. They are then undone by the emergence of tyranny. The well known history of democracy, which our ruling oligarchies have ignored, then repeats itself. Time marches on a treadmill.
Thanks to the proliferation of communications devices, disillusion with political leaders is spreading. In the United States, the approval ratings of government are dismal. There is a general dissatisfaction with the ruling class across much of Europe. The so-called “Spring” exhibits the disillusion in the Arab world. Disillusion is growing in India, Japan, and Turkey. Never has the world seen such disillusionment. No institutions have emerged to dissipate it. The ruling class is under fire almost everywhere; yet it is completely effete. The danger is that it will everywhere revert to tyrannical policies as it has throughout history. If the “change of heart” that Gandhi mentions was ever needed, it is needed now.
John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found onhttp://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.
By Jacob G. Hornberger
April 10, 2014 “ICH” – “fff” – - Given that most Americans living today were born and raised under a massive military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, a large number of Americans very likely believe that the United States has always had this type of government.
Not so, as Michael Swanson shows in a new book, The War State. Swanson points out that America’s warfare state didn’t come into existence until more than 150 years after the country’s inception. More important, he shows how the warfare state has not only altered our constitutional order in fundamental ways but also how it continues to pose a grave threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.
Swanson begins by reminding people of the warning issued by Dwight Eisenhower in his Farewell Address in 1960. Eisenhower, a retired general who had served as the Allied commander in World War II, warned Americans of the dangers of the new massive “military-industrial complex” that had come to characterize American life:
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry…. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
Emphasizing an important part of Eisenhower’s speech, Swanson writes,
A key component of his speech is the word “new.” Today we don’t even think about the fact that the United States has the most powerful military in the world, with bases spread across the planet and a large portion of its federal budget devoted to military spending…. [Huge] military spending for the United States has always been a fact of life since the day you were born. That’s why most don’t even give it a second thought.
But this was not the case for President Eisenhower and the people of his generation. Before World War II, the United States never had a permanent arms industry…. [After] major wars, the country always demobilized its forces. That is, until World War II.
Swanson goes on to point out how different life was for pre–World War II Americans. Between World War I and World War II, fewer than 2.5 percent of Americans paid income taxes. In 1939, 93 percent of working Americans were paying no income taxes at all.
Given the enormous demand for weaponry, World War II gave rise to a large corporate establishment that was oriented toward the production of military armaments. The end of the war would ordinarily have spelled doom for those businesses, whose revenue and profits were dependent on massive military spending.
This time around, however, things changed. Simultaneously with the end of the war, the United States acquired a new enemy and a new “war,” which not only saved the enormous defense establishment but also ultimately made it one of the principal and permanent components of the American economy.
The new enemy
That new enemy, of course, was the Soviet Union, which ironically had been America’s partner and ally (and Nazi Germany’s enemy) during World War II. The new “war” became known as the Cold War.
What had the Soviet Union done to become this new enemy of the United States?
First, it had continued to occupy and install puppet regimes in the eastern European countries it had invaded on its way to Nazi Germany. Second, it was a communist country, and communism was becoming attractive to people all over the world, igniting deep fears within U.S. officials that the United States might ultimately become communist too.
Thus, U.S. officials maintained that it was necessary for the United States to embark in a totally different direction from the one that had customarily been followed after previous wars. To save America from communism, it would be necessary to convert the United States into a warfare state — also commonly known as a national-security state, or a garrison state — one whose government included a massive permanent military and intelligence establishment, ironically much like that of the totalitarian regimes.
Given the mindset of conformity and deference to authority that characterized the American people in the 1940s and 1950s, hardly anyone challenged the necessity for the new direction or pointed out how such a military-intelligence apparatus would fundamentally alter the lives and fortunes of the American people. Among the few who did was Sen. Robert Taft, who was, as Swanson points out in chapter four, one of the subjects of John Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage.
It wasn’t long, however, before U.S. officials expanded the Cold War to much more than a U.S-Soviet confrontation. The U.S. government’s quest soon became to ensure freedom from communism all across the globe.
The first pronouncement of this expanded mission became known as the Truman Doctrine, after the president who issued it in a 1947 speech. Harry Truman announced that it would be the policy of the United States to “support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”
More noteworthy, however, was Truman’s issuance of one of the most significant documents in U.S. history, one that was classified at the time as top-secret and that didn’t come to light until 30 years later. That document was NSC-68, which argued, falsely, that the Soviet Union was spending so much on defense that it would soon be able to attack and conquer Europe and the United States. NSC-68 helped launch the United States into a perpetual upward spiral of military spending and an ever-growing military establishment.
Meanwhile, another critical element of the warfare state, the CIA, was engaged in actions that were alien to the American way of life. Although the CIA was originally intended to be only an intelligence-gathering agency, someone had slipped the following language into the National Security Act of 1947, which brought the CIA into existence: “to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.”
The CIA would use that phrase to justify its ever-growing array of dark-side activities, including drug experimentation on unsuspecting people, coups, assassinations, bribery, murder, torture, invasions, regime-change operations, support of dictatorships, and similar practices.
The work of the CIA
Among the CIA’s first activities was the ousting of Iran’s prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and the ushering in of 26 years of dictatorial rule under the shah, or monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. To his credit, Truman had rejected the plan, in large part because it was nothing more than a way to help England get back its oil interests, which Mossadegh had nationalized. But once Eisenhower came to power, the CIA rebilled the plan as one to protect Iran and the West from the threat of communism. On that basis, Eisenhower authorized the plan. While the operation succeeded in replacing Mossadegh with the shah, it also led to the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the anti-Americanism that came with it.
One year later, in 1954, the CIA engineered the ouster of Guatemala’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, and his replacement by a succession of brutal military dictators. The justification was, once again, the threat of communism. But we shouldn’t fail to note that many U.S. officials, including CIA Director Allen Dulles, had significant connections to the United Fruit Company, a major portion of whose massive land holdings in Guatemala had been nationalized by Arbenz. In an ominous new direction for America, the CIA also delivered to its newly installed military dictatorship a secret list of people who should be assassinated after the coup.
Swanson points out the stunning op-ed that Truman published in the Washington Post 30 days after John Kennedy was assassinated, in which he indicated that the CIA had grown into a nefarious force that far exceeded its original intelligence-gathering purpose.
Kennedy, of course, had his own searing experience with the CIA. Soon after he took office, the CIA presented him with its plan for U.S.-supported Cuban exiles to invade Cuba, assuring the new president that the invasion would be successful without formal U.S. intervention. It was a lie. Believing that Kennedy would be compelled, once the operation was under way, to send in U.S. air support to save the invading forces, the CIA went ahead with the operation. Kennedy refused to provide the air support, and the operation was a disaster.
One of Swanson’s fascinating observations is that the Bay of Pigs plan did not originate with either Eisenhower or Kennedy, neither of whom would have ever conceived or proposed it. It instead originated within the CIA itself.
The following year, 1962, brought the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which the Joint Chiefs of Staff advised Kennedy to immediately bomb, invade, and occupy Cuba. Kennedy rejected their advice, and it’s a good thing he did because it would almost certainly have led to an all-out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was another searing experience for Kennedy. Having lost trust in the military and the CIA, he engaged in top-secret personal negotiations with Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union to end the Cold War, which obviously would have had major ramifications for America’s warfare state. The new direction in which Kennedy was trying to move America before his death was best demonstrated in his famous “peace speech” at American University in June 1963, in which he challenged the entire purpose of America’s warfare state:
What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana forced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women — not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
Getting the origin right
One of the greatest things about Swanson’s book is that it is oriented toward the educated layman. That is, it is not an academic tome but is instead an easily readable history of the origins of America’s warfare state. I was able to get through it in three evenings. I find it interesting that such a fine book was self-published (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform), something that many authors seem to be doing increasingly. According to the biographical sketch at the end of the book, Swanson lives in Virginia and received a master’s degree in history from the University of Virginia. He dropped out of UVA’s Ph.D. program to enter the business world and ran a hedge fund from 2003 to 2006. He now runs the website wallstreetwindow.com.
The Cold War, which was the original justification for this revolutionary change in America’s governmental system, ended 25 years ago, yet Americans are still saddled with the warfare state. But to get the solution right, it is necessary to understand the origins of the problem.
As Swanson concludes,
Things are much darker at the moment. The world we live in today began after World War II with the creation of a permanent military-industrial complex and the transformation of the United States into a war state by the end of the 1950s. It changed the nation’s relationship with the rest of the world and the American people’s relationship with their own government. It helped to create a new power elite tied to a permanent government bureaucracy that made the real decisions of importance for the American people and fed them fear propaganda to get them to accept their decisions without question…. Even though the permanent government bureaucracy inside the executive branch of the federal government has become more and more powerful, the United States of America still has a constitutional form of government and will continue to have one as long as the people stay active. The people must be armed with the knowledge to make wise decisions. They must know their history to understand the origins of
our present predicament. We must all do our part.
This is one of the best books I have ever read on the origins and consequences of America’s fateful turn toward a warfare state. It’s essential reading for everyone interested in moving our nation into a peaceful, prosperous, harmonious, and free direction.
This article was originally published in the December 2013 edition of Future of Freedom.
Join me as I wreck my last artifact of support for the war criminal-in-chief!!
Posted April 10, 2014
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War and the Demise of the US Dollar? Is the US or the World Coming to an End? It will be One or the Other
Two pressures are building on the US dollar. One pressure comes from the Federal Reserve’s declining ability to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies shrivel and market knowledge of the Fed’s illegal price rigging spreads. The evidence of massive amounts of naked shorts being dumped into the paper gold futures market at times of day when trading is thin is unequivocal. It has become obvious that the price of gold is being rigged in the futures market in order to protect the dollar’s value from QE.
The other pressure arises from the Obama regime’s foolish threats of sanctions on Russia. Other countries are no longer willing to tolerate Washington’s abuse of the world dollar standard. Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system to inflict damage on the economies of countries that resist Washington’s political hegemony.
Russia and China have had enough. As I have reported and as Peter Koenig reports Russia and China are disconnecting their international trade from the dollar. Henceforth, Russia will conduct its trade, including the sale of oil and natural gas to Europe, in rubles and in the currencies of its BRICS partners.
This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value.
As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.
All evidence points to US economic failure in 2014, and that is the conclusion of John Williams’ April 9 report.
This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU. Washington’s reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground. Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government. Crimea quickly departed Ukraine and rejoined Russia. Other former Russian territories in Ukraine might soon follow.
Protesters in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkov are demanding their own referendums. Protesters have declared the Donetsk People’s Republic and Kharkov People’s Republic. Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has threatened to put the protests down with violence.http://rt.com/news/eastern-ukraine-violence-threats-405/
Washington claims that the protests are organized by Russia, but no one believes Washington, not even its Ukrainian stooges.
Russian news reports have identified US mercenaries among the Kiev force that has been sent to put down the separatists in eastern Ukraine. A member of the right-wing, neo-Nazi Fatherland Party in the Kiev parliament has called for shooting the protesters dead.
Violence against the protesters is likely to bring in the Russian Army and result in the return to Russia of its former territories in Eastern Ukraine that were attached to Ukraine by the Soviet Communist Party.
With Washington out on a limb issuing threats hand over fist, Washington is pushing Europe into two highly undesirable confrontations. Europeans do not want a war with Russia over Washington’s coup in Kiev, and Europeans understand that any real sanctions on Russia, if observed, would do far more damage to Europeans. Within the EU, growing economic inequality among the countries, high unemployment, and stringent economic austerity imposed on poorer members have produced enormous strains. Europeans are in no mood to bear the brunt of a Washington-orchestrated conflict with Russia. While Washington presents Europe with war and sacrifice, Russia and China offer trade and friendship. Washington will do its best to keep European politicians bought-and-paid-for and in line with Washington’s policies, but the downside for Europe of going along with Washington is now much larger.
Across many fronts, Washington is emerging in the world’s eye as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and totally corrupt. A Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney used the occasion of his retirement to reveal that higher ups had squelched his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail,”because his SEC bosses were not focused on justice but “on getting high-paying jobs after their government service” by protecting the banks from prosecution for their illegal actions. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/
The US Agency for International Development has been caught trying to use social media to overthrow the government of Cuba. http://rt.com/news/cuba-usaid-senate-zunzuneo-241/
This audacious recklessness comes on top of Washington’s overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the NSA spying scandal, Seymour Hersh’s investigative report that the Sarin gas attack in Syria was a false flag event arranged by NATO member Turkey in order to justify a US military attack on Syria, Washington’s forcing down Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane to be searched, Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the misuse of the Libyan no-fly resolution for military attack, and on and on. Essentially, Washington has so badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the judgment and integrity of the US government that the world has lost its belief in US leadership. Washington is reduced to threats and bribes and increasingly presents as a bully.
The self-inflicted hammer blows to Washington’s credibility have taken a toll. The most serious blow of all is the dawning realization everywhere that Washington’s crackpot conspiracy theory of 9/11 is false. Large numbers of independent experts as well as more than one hundred first responders have contradicted every aspect of Washington’s absurd conspiracy theory. No aware person believes that a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes, operating without help from any intelligence agency, outwitted the entire National Security State, not only all 16 US intelligence agencies but also all intelligence agencies of NATO and Israel as well.
Nothing worked on 9/11. Airport security failed four times in one hour, more failures in one hour than have occurred during the other 116,232 hours of the 21st century combined. For the first time in history the US Air Force could not get interceptor fighters off the ground and into the sky. For the first time in history Air Traffic Control lost airliners for up to one hour and did not report it. For the first time in history low temperature, short-lived, fires on a few floors caused massive steel structures to weaken and collapse. For the first time in history 3 skyscrapers fell at essentially free fall acceleration without the benefit of controlled demolition removing resistance from below.
Two-thirds of Americans fell for this crackpot story. The left-wing fell for it, because they saw the story as the oppressed striking back at America’s evil empire. The right-wing fell for the story, because they saw it as the demonized Muslims striking out at American goodness. President George W. Bush expressed the right-wing view very well: “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.”
But no one else believed it, least of all the Italians. Italians had been informed some years previously about government false flag events when their President revealed the truth about secret Operation Gladio. Operation Gladio was an operation run by the CIA and Italian intelligence during the second half of the 20th century to set off bombs that would kill European women and children in order to blame communists and, thereby, erode support for European communist parties.
Italians were among the first to make video presentations challenging Washington’s crackpot story of 9/11. The ultimate of this challenge is the 1 hour and 45 minute film, “Zero.”
You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU961SGps8g&feature=youtu.be
Zero was produced as a film investigating 9/ll by the Italian company Telemaco. Many prominent people appear in the film along with independent experts. Together, they disprove every assertion made by the US government regarding its explanation of 9/11.
The film was shown to the European parliament.
It is impossible for anyone who watches this film to believe one word of the official explanation of 9/11.
The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and
Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.
China and Russia protested but accepted Libya’s destruction even though it was to their own detriment. But Iran became a red line. Washington was blocked, so Washington
decided to cause major problems for Russia in Ukraine in order to distract Russia fromWashington’s agenda elsewhere.
China has been uncertain about the trade-offs between its trade surpluses with the US and Washington’s growing encirclement of China with naval and air bases. China has come to the conclusion that China and Russia have the same enemy–Washington.
One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.
10 April 2014
Amid the escalating conflict over the seizure of local government buildings by pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, US officials and the American media are hypocritically denouncing Russia for allegedly inciting the actions. These charges, presented as facts but without any substantiation, are part of an intensification of the imperialist offensive in Eastern Europe, the aim of which is to isolate, humiliate and ultimately dismember Russia. The logic of this reckless and aggressive policy, spearheaded by Washington, is war between the West and Russia, a nuclear power.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov threatened yesterday to crush the protests in 48 hours, prompting the Russian Foreign Ministry to warn of “civil war” in Ukraine.
Washington responded by pushing for a crackdown and dismissing the protests as a Russian conspiracy to seize Ukraine. In an editorial yesterday calling for economic sanctions against Russia, the Washington Postdenounced the protesters as “rent-a-mobs.” The Post advised Washington and the European Union to “counter the Russian strategy in the short term by fully backing the Ukrainian government in taking the necessary measures to restore order.”
The day before, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the protests in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declaring: “Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary.”
What hypocrisy! As Kerry well knows, he is accusing Russia of doing precisely what Washington and its European allies did by backing the February putsch in Kiev: destabilizing and then toppling the elected, pro-Russian regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. One of the main US arguments for toppling Yanukovych was that he cracked down on the opposition—exactly what Washington is now pressing its right-wing puppet regime to do.
The US “rent-a-mobs” were bought-and-paid-for “democracy” activists and fascist thugs from the Right Sector and the Svoboda party, whose anti-Semitic and xenophobic politics were condemned in a vote of the EU parliament in December 2012. US State Department official Victoria Nuland boasted that since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Washington had spent $5 billion to build up such opposition groups in Ukraine.
Kerry and the unofficial state propaganda organs of the US media make no attempt to square their pose of righteous defenders of Ukrainian sovereignty and legality with the well-documented actions of the US government in subverting Ukrainian sovereignty to illegally install a client regime allied to fascist forces. Contemptuous of public sentiment, which is opposed to a war over Ukraine, they feel no need to convince, but instead seek to intimidate, bully, numb and confuse.
The record includes visits by top US politicians and State Department officials, including Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, to Kiev’s Independence Square in the run-up to the coup to show support for the ultra-right paramilitaries who manned the barricades there. It includes official meetings between European, American and NATO officials and leaders of the anti-Russian opposition at the height of the destabilization campaign against Yanukovych. And it includes the infamous leaked telephone call in which Nuland and the US ambassador discussed who they wanted to head the puppet government that would supplant Yanukovych, agreeing on Arseniy Yatsenyuk (”Yats”), the current prime minister.
Having spent so much money on a putsch, Washington is very angry that it is not being accepted. The regions of eastern Ukrainian with close linguistic and industrial ties to Russia, which were Yanukovych’s power base, were deeply repelled by the new Kiev regime and its pledge to eliminate the status of Russian as an official language and impose austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These grievances provided the fuel for pro-Russian protests by thousands of people in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, as the few US media reports filed from the region admitted.
“Unlike the pro-Europe protest movement in Kiev, the stirrings in Donetsk have so far attracted little support from the middle class, and seem dominated by pensioners nostalgic for the Soviet Union and angry, often drunk, young men… Any crackdown that results in serious bloodshed would probably widen the appeal of the protesters in a mostly Russian-speaking region that has little liking for leaders in Kiev,” New York Times journalists wrote from Donetsk.
In the Ukraine crisis, it is Washington and its EU allies that are the aggressors. By threatening economic sanctions against Russia and an internal crackdown that could escalate into a bloody ethnic war against Russians inside Ukraine, drawing in Russia itself, they are signaling that they will stop at nothing, even the risk of global war, to assert their economic and geostrategic interests in the region.
Acknowledging this fact does not signify giving any political support to the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin or the perspective of ethnic partition of Ukraine. The Putin regime rests on the same type of gangster oligarchy that emerged in Ukraine from the theft of state property during the dissolution of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism.
Hostile to the working class, it has no basis for appealing to the only force, deeply opposed to war, that can stop the imperialist powers’ escalation in Ukraine: the working class of the former USSR, Europe and the United States.
Its moves to defend its interests in Ukraine against Western provocations, inciting Russian nationalism and raising the price it demands for Russian natural gas, will only further impoverish the working class in Ukraine and divide it along ethnic lines.
The American ruling class is able to count on a corrupt and docile media to disseminate its lies and promote is criminal foreign policy. Even as the major media black out Seymour Hersh’s latest revelations showing that US-NATO allegations of Syrian chemical weapons attacks were fabrications, they trumpet lurid claims that satellite images show 40,000 Russian troops massing on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
These allegations against Russia have no evidentiary basis. The Kremlin has denied them, and NATO refuses to release even the commercial satellite photos it claims to have. CNN reporter Phil Black, who traveled along the Russian-Ukrainian border, filed a video reporting that his team “can’t find any sign of the Russian army.”
The American people are fully entitled to conclude that reports of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine—like the pretexts used to package all the other unpopular wars US imperialism has launched over the last decade—are a pack of lies.
The endless stream of lies and provocations are not a sign of political strength, but of the profound crisis of imperialism. To the extent that workers in the United States and Europe see what is taking place, they are deeply hostile. This opposition must be mobilized and given a conscious expression in the form of an international movement of the working class against imperialism, its political representatives, and the capitalist system as a whole.
The notion one has these days is that whenever you turn on a TV set, it no longer raises the eyebrows to see dozens of students running screaming out of a building where some psychopathic lunatic has gone on a rampage. In the USA of course, where else? And let us try to answer this question, taking a look at the bigger issue.
Wednesday April 10, 2014. Franklin Regional High School, Murrysville, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America. 21 students and a security guard injured by a 16-year-old boy using a knife. Some victims were just 14 years old. So here we go again, this time with a weapon known as M (Melee, knives, swords and the like) as compared with F (Firearm) or E (Explosives).
For Franklin, read Columbine, read Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, read Blacksburg, Virginia. Columbine, made infamous by Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine, where on April 20 1999, an eighteen-year-old and a seventeen-year-old student perpetrated a planned attack on schoolmates murdering 13 and injuring 21, using firearms and explosives before committing suicide.
Newtown, Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary School where on December 14 2012, Adam Lanza, 20 years of age, murdered 27 primary school children and injured a further 2, before committing suicide.
Blacksburg, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where on April 16, 2007, the 23-year-old Seung-hui Cho murdered 32 students and injured 17, with firearms, before committing suicide. USA, USA, USA.
But just a moment… Baku, Azerbaijan State Oil Academy, where Farda Gadirov, 28 years of age, murdered 12 students and injured 13 with firearms before committing suicide on April 30, 2009. Haven’t heard of that one? Then how about Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, 23 years old, who murdered 12 and injured a further 12 elementary school students aged between 12 and 14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the Escola Municipal Tasso da Silveira, using firearms, before committing suicide on April 7, 2011?
And what about these other school massacres since the turn of the century?
In the top fifteen, in terms of victims, we also have, in 2002, the Erfurt massacre in Germany, where on April 26, 19-year-old Robert Steinhäuser killed 16 people with a firearm (13 faculty members, 2 students and a guard) at the Gutenberg-Gymnasium School and injured one other person, before committing suicide.
Also in Germany, in 2009, on March 11, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer murdered 15 students and injured 9 others with firearms before committing suicide at the Winnenden and Wendlingen Scondary School in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Then there is, on May 8, 2006, the Shiguan Kindergarten attack, perpetrated by 18-year-old Bai Ningyang, murdering 12 children and injuring 5, dousing them in gasoline and setting fire to them, before escaping. He was caught the next day and later executed.
Also in China, there was a series of attacks against schoolchildren from 2010 to 2011 (Zheng Misheng, 41, stabbed 8 children to death on March 23, 2010 in an elementary school in Nanping, Fujian. He was executed; in April, Chen Kangbing, 33, injured 16 students and a teacher in Hongfu Primary School. He was sentenced to death; in the same month, Xu Yuyuan, 47, stabbed 28 pupils and 2 teachers at Zhongxin Kindergarten and in Weifang, Shandong, Wanglai attacked primary school children with a hammer, before setting fire to himself, also in April). Further attacks took place in the PR China in May and August 2010, two more in 2011 and another in 2012.
And finally, in the top-15 since 2000, is the case of the Kauhajoki School shooting at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, Finland, when a 22-year-old hospital management student murdered 10 people with a firearm and committed suicide.
There were many other incidents involving multiple victims also between 2000 and 2014, and many more before the year 2000, some of them in the USA but others elsewhere. True, the worst school massacre of all time took place in the USA in Bath Township, Michigan, in 1927, when Andrew Kehoe murdered 44 people, including 38 children, using explosives, before committing suicide but…
If there is a common denominator, it is not the United States of America. Reading through these hand-picked cases, and many others, what we can find is that in all cases, we have males, and in many of these mental illness or else a feeling of anger, frustration, rejection by the Institution attacked and a desire to heighten the manifestation through an act which will garner the maximum attention, before they commit suicide. Throw into that equation easy access to firearms, and we have a greater effect but not the cause.
The other common denominator is the families of the victims, who, whoever they are, whatever colour their skin, whatever their race or creed or nationality or socio-economic status, will grieve, will be marked for life, and who will cry. And their tears will taste of salt.
Or Focus On Over-Blown Dangers and Ignore The Thing Most Likely To Actually Get Us?
Well-known physicist Michio Kaku and other members of the American Physical Society asked Congress to appropriate $100 million to harden the country’s electrical grid against solar flares. As shown below, such an event is actually the most likely Armageddon-type event faced by humanity.
Not only could such a flare bring on hundreds of Fukushima-type accidents, but it could well cause food riots globally.
Kaku explains that relief came in for people hit by disasters like Katrina or Sandy from the “outside”. But a large solar flare could knock out a lot of the power nationwide. So – as people’s food spoils due to lack of refrigeration – emergency workers from other areas would be too preoccupied with their own local crisis to help. There would, in short, be no “cavalry” to the rescue in much of the country.
In fact, NASA scientists are predicting that a solar storm will knock out most of the electrical power grid in many countries worldwide, perhaps for months. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.
News Corp Australia noted in February:
A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences warned that a massive geomagnetic assault on satellites and interconnected power grids could result in a blackout from which the nation may need four to 10 years to recover.
In May 2012, a US Geological Survey report estimated a 6 percent chance of another Carrington event [referring to the solar flare of 1859 which was so strong that telegraph lines, towers and stations caught on fire at a number of locations around the world, and sparks showered from telegraph machines] occurring in the next decade.
But we do not know whether or not the Carrington event was as bad as sunstorms get.
[University of Kansas physicist Adrian ] Melott proposed that material from a solar megaflare 10 times the strength of the Carrington kind bombarded this planet around the year 775.
This is not just a theoretical fear: the Earth has narrowly missed being crisped by a large solar flareseveral times in the last couple of years. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported last month:
Earth barely missed the “perfect solar storm” that could have smashed into our magnetic field and wreaked havoc with our satellite systems, electronics and power systems, potentially causing trillions of dollars in damage, according to data from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft.
If the solar onslaught had occurred just nine days earlier, it would have rivaled the 1859 Carrington event …
“Observations of such a solar superstorm during a very weak solar cycle indicate that extreme events are not as infrequent as we imagine,” the authors wrote.
Meteorologist Jeff Masters notes:
We have the very real possibility that a geomagnetic storms of an intensity that has happened before–and will happen again–could knock out the power to tens of millions of Americans for multiple years. The electrical grids in Europe and northern Asia have similar vulnerabilities, so a huge, years-long global emergency affecting hundreds of millions of people and costing many trillions of dollars might result from a repeat of the 1859 or 1921 geomagnetic storms.
Masters points out that the U.S. electrical grid is extremely vulnerable:
Figure 2. Computer model study showing electrical systems that might be affected by a geomagnetic storm equivalent to the May 14-15, 1921 event. The regions outlined by the heavy black lines are susceptible to system collapse lasting months or years. A population in excess of 130 million might be affected, at a cost of $1-2 trillion in the first year after the event. The network of thin black lines shows the location of the nearly 80,000 miles long-distance heavy-hauling 345kV, 500kV and 765kV transmission lines in the U.S.–the main arteries of the U.S. electrical grid. The circles indicate magnitudes of geomagnetically-induced current (GIC) flow at each transformer in the network, and the color of the circle indicates the polarity of the current. Image credit: John Kappenman, Metatech Corp., The Future: Solutions or Vulnerabilities?, presentation to the space weather workshop, May 23, 2008.
What would happen to nuclear power plants world wide if their power – and most of the surrounding modern infrastructure – is knocked out? Nuclear power companies are notoriously cheap in trying to cut costs. If they are failing to harden their electrical components to protect against the predicted solar storm, they are asking for trouble … perhaps on a scale that dwarfs Fukushima. Because while Fukushima is the first nuclear accident to involve multiple reactors within the same complex, a large solar storm could cause accidents at multiple complexes in numerous countries.
Most current reactors are of a similarly outdated design as the Fukushima reactors, where the cooling systems require electricity to operate, and huge amounts of spent radioactive fuel are housed on-site, requiring continuous cooling to prevent radioactive release. (Designs which would automatically shut down – and cool down – in the event of an accident are ignored for political reasons.)
If the nuclear power companies and governments continue to cut costs and take large gambles, the next nucear accident could make Fukushima look tame.
A large solar storm which knocks out electrical grids over wide portions of the planet will happen at some point in the future. Don’t pretend it is unforeseeable. The nuclear power industry is on notice that it must spend the relatively small amounts of money necessary to prevent a widespread meltdown from the loss of power due to a solar storm.
G2 Bulletin reports:
As scientists warn of an impending solar storm … that could collapse the national power grid, thrusting millions into darkness instantly, a debate has flared up between utilities and the federal government on the severity of such an event.
NASA and the National Academy of Sciences previously confirmed to G2Bulletin that an electromagnetic pulse event from an intense solar storm could occur any time …
They say it could have the effect of frying electronics and knocking out transformers in the national electric grid system.
Already, there are separate published reports of massive solar storms of plasma – some as large as the Earth itself – flaring off of the sun’s surface and shooting out into space, with some recently having come close enough to Earth to affect worldwide communications and alter the flights of commercial aircraft near the North Pole.
But in February, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which represents the power industry, issued a stunning report asserting that a worst-case geomagnetic “super storm” like the 1859 Carrington Event likely wouldn’t damage most power grid transformers. Instead, it would cause voltage instability and possibly result in blackouts lasting only a few hours or days, but not months and years.
NERC’s assertion, however, is at serious variance with the 2008 congressional EMP Commission, the 2008 National Academy of Sciences report; a 2010 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report; the 2012 report by the Defense Committee of the British Parliament, and others.
Even the British scientists who contributed to the parliament report came to their own independent assessment that a great geomagnetic storm would cause widespread damage to power grid transformers and result in a protracted blackout lasting months, or even years, with catastrophic consequences for society.
[The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or "FERC"], which regulates interstate electricity and other energy sales but has no authority now over local utilities to harden their grid sites, says that as many as 130 million Americans could have problems for years.
U.S. transformers on the average are more than 30 years old and are susceptible to internal heating, according to FERC experts.
There is ample evidence in the possession of the FERC revealing the damage to transformers from previous geomagnetic storms. For example, there was serious transformer damage to the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey in the aftermath of the same geomagnetic storm that caused the March 1989 Hydro-Quebec blackout.
Making Ourselves More Vulnerable to Terrorism
In addition, we’ve spent tens of trillions on the “war on terror”, but have failed to take steps to protect against the largest terrorist threat of all: an attack on the power supplies to nuclear power plants. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which took out the power supply to a nuclear power plant would cause a Fukushima-style meltdown, and spent fuel pools are extremely vulnerable to terrorism.
Indeed, failing to harden our electrical grid invites a terrorist EMP attack because it is such an obvious vulnerability … its like waiving a red flag in front of a bull.
Unless we harden our electrical system to withstand electrical pulses, an EMP remains an attractive method for bad guys to bring the U.S. to its knees.
Bottom line: Failing to harden our grid invites catastrophe from solar flares and terrorists. It makes us doubly vulnerable.
There’s An Easy Fix … Are We Smart Enough to Take It?
Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the economic crisis and the Gulf oil spill all happened for the same reason: big companies cutting every corner in the book – and hiding the existence of huge risks – in order to make a little money.
There are relatively easy fixes to the threat from solar flares.
The head of the leading consulting firm on the effect of electromagnetic disruptions on our power grid – which was commissioned to study the issue by the U.S. federal government – stated that it would be relatively inexpensive to reduce the vulnerability of our power grid:
What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground connections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.
We think it’s do-able for $40,000 or less per resistor. That’s less than what you pay for insurance for a transformer.
If you’re talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We’re talking about $150 million or so. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things.
Mechanical engineer Matthew Stein notes (footnotes omitted):
There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more being planned or under construction…. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet’s ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more! How likely is it that our world might experience an event that could ultimately cause hundreds of reactors to fail and melt down at approximately the same time? I venture to say that, unless we take significant protective measures, this apocalyptic scenario is not only possible, but probable.
In the past 152 years, Earth has been struck by roughly 100 solar storms, causing significant geomagnetic disturbances (GMD), two of which were powerful enough to rank as “extreme GMDs.” If an extreme GMD of such magnitude were to occur today, in all likelihood, it would initiate a chain of events leading to catastrophic failures at the vast majority of our world’s nuclear reactors, similar to but over 100 times worse than, the disasters at both Chernobyl and Fukushima.
The good news is that relatively affordable equipment and processes could be installed to protect critical components in the electric power grid and its nuclear reactors, thereby averting this “end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” scenario. The bad news is that even though panels of scientists and engineers have studied the problem, and the bipartisan Congressional electromagnetic pulse (EMP) commission has presented a list of specific recommendations to Congress, our leaders have yet to approve and implement any significant preventative measures.
Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods.
If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.
To do nothing is to behave like ostriches with our heads in the sand, blindly believing that “everything will be okay” as our world drifts towards the next natural, inevitable super solar storm and resultant extreme GMD. Such a storm would end the industrialized world as we know it, creating almost incalculable suffering, death and environmental destruction on a scale not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
The federal government recently sponsored a detailed scientific study to better understand how much critical components of our national electrical power grid might be affected by either a naturally occurring GMD or a man-made EMP. Under the auspices of the EMP Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and reviewed in depth by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Academy of Sciences, Metatech Corporation undertook extensive modeling and analysis of the potential effects of extreme geomagnetic storms on the US electrical power grid. Based upon a storm as intense as the 1921 storm, Metatech estimated that within the United States, induced voltage and current spikes, combined with harmonic anomalies, would severely damage or destroy over 350 EHV power transformers critical to the functioning of the US grid and possibly impact well over 2000 EHV transformers worldwide.
EHV transformers are made to order and custom-designed for each installation, each weighing as much as 300 tons and costing well over $1 million. Given that there is currently a three-year waiting list for a single EHV transformer (due to recent demand from China and India, lead times grew from one to three years), and that the total global manufacturing capacity is roughly 100 EHV transformers per year when the world’s manufacturing centers are functioning properly, you can begin to grasp the implications of widespread transformer losses.
The loss of thousands of EHV transformers worldwide would cause a catastrophic grid collapse across much of the industrialized world. It will take years, at best, for the industrialized world to put itself back together after such an event, especially considering the fact that most of the manufacturing centers that make this equipment will also be grappling with widespread grid failure.
In the event of an extreme GMD-induced long-term grid collapse covering much of the globe, if just half of the world’s spent fuel ponds were to boil off their water and become radioactive, zirconium-fed infernos, the ensuing contamination could far exceed the cumulative effect of 400 Chernobyls.
The Congressionally mandated EMP Commission has studied the threat of both EMP [i.e. an electromagnetic pulse set of by terrorists or adversaries in war] and extreme GMD events and made recommendations to the US Congress to implement protective devices and procedures to ensure the survival of the grid and other critical infrastructures in either event. John Kappenman, author of the Metatech study, estimates that it would cost about $1 billion to build special protective devices into the US grid to protect its EHV transformers from EMP or extreme GMD damage and to build stores of critical replacement parts should some of these items be damaged or destroyed. Kappenman estimates that it would cost significantly less than $1 billion to store at least a year’s worth of diesel fuel for backup generators at each US nuclear facility and to store sets of critical spare parts, such as backup generators, inside EMP-hardened steel containers to be available for quick change-out in the event that any of these items were damaged by an EMP or GMD.
For the cost of a single B-2 bomber or a tiny fraction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout, we could invest in preventative measures to avert what might well become the end of life as we know it. There is no way to protect against all possible effects from an extreme GMD or an EMP attack, but we could implement measures to protect against the worst effects. Since 2008,Congress has narrowly failed to pass legislation that would implement at least some of the EMP Commission’s recommendations.
Citizens can do their part to push for legislation to move toward this goal and work inside our homes and communities to develop local resilience and self reliance, so that in the event of a long-term grid-down scenario, we might make the most of a bad situation. The same tools that are espoused by the Transition movement for developing local self-reliance and resilience to help cope with the twin effects of climate change and peak oil could also serve communities well in the event of an EMP attack or extreme GMD. If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur.
Will we insist that these inexpensive fixes to our electrical grid be made? Or will we focus on over-blown dangers … and ignore the thing most likely to actually get us?
By Prof. John McMurtry
“It is easy. All you have to do is tell the people they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” -Hermann Goering
April 09, 2014 “ICH” – “GR” - - Original published May 2003 - Genocide used to be a crime without a name. Although the most heinous of all crimes, the concept was not introduced into international language until after World War 2. Until then, military invasion and destruction of other peoples and cultures masqueraded under such slogans as progress and spreading civilisation.
I was shocked many years ago when I heard Noam Chomsky say that genocide was America’s defining political tradition. Then I realised that the United States (like Canada to a much lesser extent) was based on destroying the lives and cultures of the 25 million or so first peoples who had lived in America for millennia. In the case of the U.S., the story continued with the forcible seizure of Texas in 1845 from Mexican farmers and indigenous peoples, and Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, California and other state territories shortly afterward in 1849. U.S. troops under the slave-owning General Zachary Taylor unilaterally invaded its southern neighbour under the false pretext of avenging American blood, and General Taylor soon vaulted into the White House as a presidential war hero. Even though a young Congressman, Abraham Lincoln, exposed the pretext, and connected it to a Anglo-British business strategy to impose free trade on the regions by financing the prior president, James Polk, into the White House as General Taylor’s commander.
In 1898, once again under the false pretext of self-defence (when the U.S.S. Maine sank from an internal explosion), the Philippines, Guam, Cuba in part, and Puerto Rico were seized from their peoples by another unilaterally provoked war. This war of aggression and occupation, like so many U.S. interventions since, was preceded by a media campaign of whipping up public hysteria and war fever. Media baron Randolf Hearst made the famous remark, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war,” not unlike the U.S. cable and network media daily drum-beat in recent months for war on Iraq. War is a major violence entertainment, and in close partnership with the Pentagon it can go on for months to divert the masses.
The tradition of misleading the American people by false pretexts for aggressive wars is an old one in U.S. history, but since the fascist interregnum war criminal invasions of other countries have not been accepted by public opinion. The U.S. under the control of the corporate war party now seeks to reverse this trend. By dint of the permitted 9-11 plane attacks on the World Trade Centre, an open presidential blank-cheque has been granted by Congress for attacking third-world countries so as to occupy their countries and control their resources. The now known blueprint of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others written in September of 2001 as the Project for the New American Century is clear on the plan to shape the international security order in line with American principles and interests. Armed domination of the Gulf region transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Oil looms large in this plan to rule the world for American interests. According to a report sponsored by oil corporations from the Washington Centre for Strategic and International Studies, oil is no longer a commodity to be bought and sold within the confines of the traditional supply and demand balances, but a determinant of national security and international power.
The U.S. state military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in under two years are expressions of this new supra-market policy. Before we pass over the pattern of facts at work as merely realpolitik, we should note that this armed-state project resembles fascism: not only in war criminal attacks on other countries in violation of international law, but in repudiating market relations to seize others valuable goods by armed force.
As demagogic glorification of genocidal invasion once again escapes naming by a flood of falsehoods and projections onto the latest U.S. Enemy, we need to remind ourselves of facts that no mass medium once discussed [the period] from October of 2002 to March of 2003. As we lay bare the ruling deceptions here, we should keep in mind the unifying principle which is not seen. U.S. state justifications always project onto the designated Enemy what the U.S. security state is doing itself. If it loudly condemns another weaker states weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, violation of international laws, or attempts to impose its will on the world by terror, then we can deduce that this is exactly what the U.S. is planning more of, but is diverting attention from by accusing others. Test this underlying principle with every international accusation the U.S. makes next, and you will find that it is invariable confirmed.
The tactic works wonderfully with a lapdog press and political class who are excited into a kind of collective delirium by choral denunciations of the foreign demon who is the designated Enemy of the Day. (I will explain why in my analysis ahead of the ruling group-mind.) So exactly does the U.S. security state project its own violent policies onto others that one can tell what vicious policy it is about to escalate next by by the intensity with which the Other is accused of the crime. This is how we can best understand the endless accusation of the Soviet Union of a plot to rule the worldbefore 1991, and how we can best make sense of the official U.S. fixation on global terrorism today. Both predications disclose the inner logic of the U.S. war states own pattern of behaviour. I sometimes wonder whether this is a deliberate strategic tactic of diversion, or a structure of paranoid delusion built into the mind-set of U.S. culture.
Let us in this light examine the principal claims and concealments of the Bush Jr. administration in its pursuit of Iraq:
The Bush administration has tirelessly claimed to be upholding international law in its pressuring of the Security Council into action regarding Iraq’s violation of U.N. resolutions and international law. In fact, since its entry into office the Bush Jr. administration has sabotaged laws, covenants and monitoring protocols to protect individuals and peoples against nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, landmines, small arms, international ballistic missiles, torture, racism, discrimination against women, arbitrary seizure and imprisonment, mistreatment of prisoners, crimes against humanity and war crimes, military weather distortions, biodiversity loss, and international climate destabilisation. Its latest overriding of international law and due process has been the forcible usurpation of the Security Council inspections of Iraq. No rogue state in modern history has remotely matched this continuous and systematic violation of international law and procedures to implement international law.
The Bush administration’s preparation and threat of military invasion against a country thousands of miles from its borders is unequivocally a war crime under international law, including Principles 1, 2 and 6(a)1of the Nuremberg Charter and Article 54 of the Geneva Convention. The fact that this war crime of preparing for and planning an invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led armed forces whatever the UN decides has never been openly discussed promoted the very aggression which the U.N. is constituted to prevent.
It is not as if there were any doubt about the Bush administration’s clear intention to put itself above the law as it incessantly accused Iraq of doing so. It declared from the beginning that it would go it alone with whoever was willing, and yet not a word of this declared threat to international peace and security issued from any U.N. ambassador, including Canadas Bill Graham, that this was a lawless intention and plan.
The effect on Iraqi citizens of the long-planned U.S. war of aggression against Iraq is said to be their liberation. The targeted victims since the first war on Iraq have, however, been most of all infants and children. The Bush administration’s planned Operation Shock and Awe is a self-imagery of Godlike power which is more blind in hubris than in 1991 when the U.S. military assault caused mass infectious disease, child dysentery and birth mutilation by deliberate bombing of civilian electricity sources, sewage and water treatment facilities and by the deployment of nuclear waste in shells and weapons. Over 500,000 children in Iraq have already died as a consequence of the last war according to UNICEF-a figure predicted in 1991 by the New England Journal of Medicine, and substantiated in 1999 by the leading British medical research, Lancet.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction about which the Bush regime has most pervasively trumpeted its concern were sold to Saddam at great profit by the U.S., Britain and other Security Council members. This is why Bush officials took the original Iraq report to the U.N. from the Council chair (then the military client state, Colombia), and deleted all the pages documenting these military sales before distributing the text to non-permanent members. Secretary Rumsfeld, meanwhile, has refused to work with the relevant Senate committees to expose and ensure against continued military sales to Iraq or its middlemen by U.S. armament manufacturers.
U.S. demands for Iraq’s compliance with U.N. resolutions are not and have not been its true concern since far more U.N. resolutions over far more years have been ignored by the U.S. military partner, Israel. Thus continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israeli administrations are still perpetrated with impunity in the illegally occupied territories of Palestine-for example, by land and property seizures and continuous enlargement of the illegal occupation, collective punishments of the population, increasing assassinations, and destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes. Twelve to eighteen UN resolutions prior to the inspections were said to have been violated by Iraq during its years of living with militarily enforced destruction of its society. Israel before, and since, has violated 64 UN resolutions with impunity. No double standard of international law has been so long-term, blatant and systematic, except by the U.S. itself.
The regime change all along demanded by the Bush administration cannot benefit the Iraqi people as promised because the projected U.S. military occupation has not been about getting rid of Saddam (who the U.S. armed and supported into power), but has ever more directly been the forced takeover of Iraq’s publicly owned and controlled oil reserves. These reserves since the 1950′s have (despite Saddams U.S.-supported coup detat) financed the most advanced social infrastructure in the Arab world, free education, and universal health care. During the demonization of Iraq over the last 6 months, its public oil revenues have enabled a government program of guaranteed food for all citizens by a publicly run distribution system which the U.N. World Food Program described as the most efficient in the world. With oil as with all else, the greatest enemy to this empire is the civil commons of publicly owned resources which obstructs corporate market control. That the Iraqi government has, moreover, put a run on the U.S. dollar by converting its oil revenues into Euros instead of dollars is another unspeakable fact which is blocked out of all corporate media reports.
Watching the War Crime Unfold
The ultimate target of the U.S. war party has long been the greatest and most accessible high-quality oil reserves on the planet. The Bush oil party has long coveted it, and U.S. military invasion has been the favoured blitzkrieg method for getting it over years of planning – with no response by the Security Council. But world public opinion has not covered its eyes like governments and the corporate media. Turkey’s people were 96% against invasion of Iraq as its government considered large bribes, and Spain’s people were over 90% opposed as its Falangist prime minister joined Tony the War Poodle in barking for the invasion. Over 30 million citizens from across the world demonstrated against a U.S.-led invasion in one weekend, an historically unprecedented event.
The U.S. president’s response to all this has been revealing. He has told the world throughout that the U.N. itself is on trial, with him as God’s judge. The Security Council has been told for months that it either agrees to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, or it is irrelevant. If it fails, the Bush administration will take the law into its own hands and invade distant and weak Iraq as America’s sovereign right. Try to remember when you heard this kind of demagoguery and defiance of international law before.
The difference has been most clearly in the use of the U.N. Pervasive aerial and ground inspections of Iraq’s territory, soften-up bombings of defences in the North and South, and successful commands to destroy short-range missiles which together had largely stripped Iraqs meagre defences by mid-March. During this process, U.S. and allied demands merely escalated from immediate abolition of weapons of mass destruction to-without any media noticing-demands for total disarmament. Best to have a helpless victim. Has history ever witnessed such a corruptly one-sided scheme to destroy and loot a defenceless country?
The Ruling Group-Mind
As I watched the Security Council Meeting on March 19 after military inspections of Iraq were forcibly terminated by the Bush Jr. administration’s decision to take the law into its own hands, I was struck by the intimidation of the Council members. They were in thrall to a ceremony of avoidance. The hard fact that the U.S. administration had just stopped the U.N.’s due process by its decision for lawless armed attack of Iraq was blocked out of view as if it had not been decided. That this massive armed military invasion was a grave violation of international law, the supreme international crime under the Nuremberg Charter, was never mentioned. The ritual of sacrifice prevailed instead as if in collective submission to the implacable ordinance of Fate.
Formal pieties and aversion of the facts ruled. The Secretary-General was congratulated for removing the inspection teams on the instruction of the U.S. adminstration so that they would not be harmed by its illegal invasion. The inspectors were again and again praised for inspecting Iraq’s military possessions before the full-scale illegal invasion forcibly prevented the completion of their work. Much angst was displayed for the humanitarian catastrophe about to unfold, with none mentioning that the lawless usurpation of U.N. process by the blitkrieg invasion of a suffering poor country would cause the mass terror. The long genocide was diplomatically sanitised by abstractions. In the case of the U.S., Britain and Spain, Saddam Hussein was held solely responsible.
Repeated ritual mantras of concern for international peace and security, alleged Iraq government violations not substantiated by the inspectors, official regrets, collective self- blaming, and much talk of rebuilding the society about to be destroyed were limned in a sleepwalk of official euphemisms. The theme that bound them all was the silence on the U.S. planned war-criminal attack in violation of the will and the legal process of the U.N. Security Council itself. Kofi Annan almost spoke out when he advised that a belligerent country is responsible under law for the costs of occupation. But the U.N. and Canada were soon ready to pay for picking up the pieces of another mass destruction of a poor society by U.S.-led forces.
I remembered all the history and accounts I had read of the Third Reich and the cowardice of official appeasement that enabled every step. The appeasement now was on the level of the mind itself. No-one dared to say what was happening. Threats and bribes by the U.S. had for months saturated the proceedings of the Council’s judgement, but there were to their great credit few takers of the blood money. The Security Council had repudiated the U.S.-led war by an overwhelming rejection of any motion for it. For the U.S. now to still lead an invasion was self-evidently against the Security Council’s will and decision, and thus wholly illegal. Yet there was a strange refusal to name the crime, the supreme international crime of a war of aggression against another state. One listened in vain for one explicit reference to the violation of the U.N. Charter, of the Nuremberg Charter, of international criminal law, of the Secretary-General’s own previous statement that a U.S. attack without Security Council support would be illegal, and of the usurpation of the will and process of the U.N. Security Council itself.
On the contrary, Iraq was being held accountable to obey the Council’s every demand to strip its meagre defences as huge U.S. and British armed forces formed on its borders. Ever louder U.S. threats of armed invasion outside the law and against Security Council vote was left to proceed as if it was a natural event. Everywhere in the media, the inevitable war was bowed before as an ordinance of destiny. It was only now a question of viewers watching U.S. forces destroy a society at will and with impunity, an ideal mass market site for the entertainment of lawless power. No-one thought to notice from within the Security Council Chamber and official global culture that every step of the mass terror against an essentially defenceless people was planned, chosen and executed in defiance of all international law by a sitting member state.
The monstrous construction had no author. Responsibility fell only on the victim. The U.S. became another onlooker at the inevitable war. Once it invaded, it became magnanimous in assigning the costs to others to pay for its mass destruction. It was now ready to co-operate with its international partners in the rebuilding of the country that it destroyed. No-one inside official society outside thought to hold the U.S. accountable for what it did. There is “no alternative” took another meaning. Now the no-alternative world the U.S. rules means criminal war invasion as an act of God.
The New Fundamentalism: America is God
As you observe the criminal war invasion of Iraq, the round-the-clock commentary and pictures, and the aftermath, watch for a silent general fact. There will no end of detailed discussion of the military operations of attack and occupation of a country rendered defenceless by Security Council demands, with much admiration and vicarious self- congratulation at the new weapons and strategic moves of the American Superpower. There will be no end of experts and commentators communicating adoringly to audiences about the high-tech assault instruments which are being tested on a third-world people to see how they work. Its a little like a high-school science experiment, advised the Pentagon Joint Chief of Staff to the militarily embedded CNN medium of public news.
The fact at the centre of the whole conflict and long in dispute will, however, soon be put down the memory hole with no one noticing. No one in the media or government will point out that the biological and chemical weapons that Iraq was declared to be hiding are not used, and did not in fact exist. No one will think to notice that this, the main justification of the war, the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam, was from start to finish a vast and criminal big lie. No one will wonder at their own cowardly complicity in the long train of destructive deceit and war crime even as the invading armies sweep across the country and the 3000 sorties of bombs fall with no hint of a chemical or biological weapon or nuclear device. Least of all will servelings of the ruling group-mind connect back to the Third Reich’s prototype of aggressive war. It is the Formula. Blame terrorists as the cause of the country’s police state measures. Accuse every country attacked of being an imminent threat to it to justify the invasion. Denounce all resistance as unpatriotic. Attack and occupy the weak country with total weaponry. The formula repeats as long as it is not called out.
The group-mind cannot compute what does not fit its fixed presuppositions. So predictable outcomes follow as if prescribed by the laws of nature. The inevitable war occurs like el Nino. Only the terrible infliction of damages are thought worth perceiving or talking about. The moral debate is silenced, left to the world’s peoples in the streets where only passing painted signs can speak. The co-ordinates of international law and the rogue war party in control of the White House are blocked of every discussion as if they did not exist. There will, in particular, be no discussion of this administration’s illegal presidency, its ever more ruinous failure to govern effectively at any level of the U.S. economy, the environmental meltdown which it leads, or the unprecedentedly pervasive corruption of its lead corporate gang-from all of which the latest orchestrated war is the ongoing system of violent diversion. The distraction and attack rhythm of one war after another will, if it is not seen through, continue to succeed with the Formula until the world is subjugated across its civilisations. As long as the self-evident can be denied, there is nothing to stop it. Discharges of condemnation of Saddam Hussein can occupy the mind instead, until the next Enemy is wheeled into the war theatre to extend the U.S. war states rule.
In Canada, the CBC and its retinue of U.S. explainers and apologists will report the world to us so we cannot see the meaning of what is happening. The local academy will occasionally provide the choral affirmation on cue. Thus Janice Stein of the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre will reassure us on CBC News coverage on March 20, the day that the U.S. crime against peace began, that We are targeting Iraq’s leadership and not its civilians. All are one in Americas view of the world as itself. What cannot be discussed is the U.S. war crime itself, even to deny it. It is unspeakable – so long as the ruling group-mind remains the invisible prison of our collective life.
The moral syntax of the American group-mind is the inner logic of the problem. In this era, the group-mind is American. All its principles are presupposed as the way that God is presupposed by the religious fundamentalist – an all-powerful, all-knowing and jealous ruler of the world, which none may doubt without social opprobrium and attack. U.S. witch-hunts of those who oppose the religion of America is the creed’s fanatical mode. But the creed is not confined to expression within America’s church of self-adoration. It is on a crusade across the world’s continents, with ruinous destabilization or armed attack of those who do not submit to its will for freedom.
The God of America is primitive. It worships itself. But there are a set of silently regulating principles at work through all the phenomena of its rule which together constitute the ruling group-mind which has imprisoned global culture within its premises since 9-11 .
Presupposition 1 of this ruling group-mind is that the U.S. national security state is America.
This assertion is never directly stated because that would reveal the absurdity of the equation. But the assumption nevertheless underlies every statement that has proceeded from U.S. government offices since 9-11. This preconscious equation explains, for example, why even the U.S. government’s official opposition, the Democratic Party, has abdicated from political responsibility in its fear of appearing to oppose unjustified wars against essentially defenceless third-world societies in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are incarcerated within the ruling structure of mind, more paralysed than 1930 Germans in their dread of being named as unpatriotic. This is a fear that can only be explained by the equation of the state military command and its apparatus with America. Beneath the surface phenomena of party politics rules the instituted group-mind in terms of which perception itself is constructed.
Thus the equation of America to its armed state apparatus is never publicly challenged in the official culture of the West because the equation is assumed a priori across the official leaderships of American allies. No-one who houses the false equation can tell them apart. They cannot see the demonstrable falsehoods of the war state, the overthrow of the Republic’s democratic traditions, and least of all the safety of millions of innocent civilians in other countries: because they assume America and its national security apparatus are one and the same. Since they love America, and America is it, they cannot distinguish their beloved country from the criminal gang institutions of the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the CIA. As these rogue secret societies rule across the world by the force of armed terror, mass disinformation, secret narco-links and political bribery and coercion at every level, lovers of America are obliged to defend this criminal global domination as America. This absurd equation obliges them to be, in short, blind dupes. It then further misleads them into supposing that anyone who opposes a gangster state rule of the world is anti-American. One absurdity builds onto another. The disorder ends as a paranoid mass cult characterised as patriotism, just as in the 1930′s with the worlds most powerful industrial state. It is in this false equation at the baseline of the group-mind that we find the kernel of the worlds problem – America’s self- definition as absolutist armed force unbound by fact or international law.
Presupposition 2 is that America is the ultimate source and moving line of the world’s freedom and goodness, God’s material embodiment on earth.
This assumption too is presupposed as true by definition, the prime article of faith of a fanatic religion. Full-spectrum dominance and pre-emptive attack of threats before they appear are not merely clinically paranoid delusions of power and persecution. They follow from the underlying and increasingly absolute assumption that America is God, the source of all Freedom and Goodness on the planet. The expressions of this deranged presupposition are evident in every speech of the former alcohol and cocaine addict occupying the White House, and there is no evident opposition from the parishioners of U.S. official culture.
Any indirect questioning or challenge of this first moral premise of the group-mind is attacked as a betrayal of the country and what it holds dear. American freedom comes to mean, then, only what establishes and maximizes the absolute right of the U.S. to command the world – specifically, to command as inevitable that all societies adopt an American-style market, American values and culture, and American military dominance in all areas of the globe as its vital interests. How do we test the rule of this fanatic basis of thought? It is expressed in Bush Doctrine policy documents throughout. But we can more easily discover its ruling principle at work by asking whether there is any limit placed anywhere on what the U.S. and vassal corporate states have the right to demand of other peoples and societies – including unconditional support of full-scale war against destitute societies over ten thousand miles from American borders.
Anything may go in the way of attack-dog journalism, but one hint of question of this ruling assumption that America is the moving line of the world’s freedom is heresy. The assumption is thus internalised prior to censorship. Self-censorship is this regime’s centre of gravity, and holds the group-mind in its prison. Those who oppose it hate freedom. Loyalty to this ultimate premise of social and political thought is what regulates the mind at a preconscious level prior to statement. It is the identity structure of the mob-mind across the world.
Principle 3 follows as a logical consequent from Principle 2. America is always and necessarily right in all conflicts with other nations or peoples or social forces.
This is not a truth which facts can disprove, because it is true by definition in the ruling group-mind. Disproving facts are irrelevant or of no consequence, even if by some chance they make it through the gates of the corporate media. This third regulating assumption explains why even the hardest facts soon disappear from sight if they throw doubt on America’s infallible moral superiority in cases of international conflict – for example the conviction of the U.S. by the International Court for its war criminal actions against Nicaragua, along with the $13.2 billion damages which were never paid.
Beneath the selection and exclusion of facts and perspectives which regulate editorial offices and policies, this third principle of the ruling group-mind too regulates perception and conversation beneath direct control. Before an exposing word is spoken, it is ruled out from within. It is an intersubjective operation, like the thought-field of playing a game. Any fact or argument which calls into question America’s moral superiority to any adversary is known to be hostile to freedom and the good in advance of consideration.
Principles 4 and 5 follow suit as ultimate moral imperatives for all Americans and their allies.
Any people or nation or social force which does not side with or opposes the U.S. government is evil (Principle 4), and so must, as an Enemy of world freedom and justice, be attacked by all means available-including pre-emptive armed force before the Enemy presents a threat (Principle 5).
Principles 4 and 5 have sharpened into patriotic absolutes with the Bush Jr. regime. Not even fabricated evidence – like the Gulf of Tonkin attack off Vietnam or the electricity cut-off of infant incubators in Iraq in 1991 – are thought any longer essential necessary to justify a military attack on another people’s territory and society. As George Bush Jr. said to a West Point audience this year: “If we wait for threats to materialise, we will have waited too long.” There is, therefore, no need for the threat to be real. Threats only need to be declared. That is is why the attack on Iraq by U.S. and British armed forces did not require anyone else to confirm that there was, in fact, a threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction being used by terrorists against America. The evil is known, as with witchcraft, by the accusation itself. Once accused, the Enemy becomes such by definition – because materialisation by fact is too late. Those who question the designation side with the Enemy. You are with us, or for the terrorists. Bush’s rage against French opposition to the war of aggression against Iraq thus follows necessarily. The logic of the ruling group- mind prescribes reality prior to its construction.
A self-evident baseline of entitlement is thus instituted for the rest of the world which is not spoken. America can go to war against accused enemies as it chooses on the basis of the self-propelling operations of its ruling group-mind alone. All one has to do is trigger the known stimuli which activate its value-set and its attendant emotions of rage. Since 9- 11, majority opinion support for Americas New War in any form follows from this lockstep of the group-mind. It is predictable so long as it remains unexposed to view.
Copyright © Prof. John McMurtry, Science for Peace and Global Research, 2014
By Joachim Hagopian
April 09, 2014 “ICH” – “GR” – - You are sleeping in the middle of the night. The next thing you know you are suddenly jarred awake with the loud thud of your front door crashing down from a battering ram. What seems about a dozen or more armed men in full armor suits looking just like soldiers in an Afghanistan raid, all carrying assault weapons are invading your home.
Just roused from a deep sleep, this surrealistic drama unfolding before your sleep-filled, blurry eyes feels like a bad dream, an unreal nightmare that with the blink of your eye should send you back to unconsciousness for refuge. But these nameless, faceless armed invaders rushing through your home with weapons drawn barking out orders are very real. You are neither entering the Twilight Zone nor waking up from a bad dream, you are actually experiencing an all too real home invasion police assault.
If you instinctively, reflexively wish to protect your family, attempting to defend yourself and your loved ones by grabbing your nearest weapon in self-defense, these militarized police state henchmen will kill you in an instant right on the spot no questions asked. You are merely guilty of being an American trying to exercise your Second Amendment right to protect yourself in your own home. But since you have already been deemed an enemy by the state acting as your judge, jury and executioner, you do not have a chance. Within a flash you are suddenly laying dead in your own pool of blood with bullets that have just pierced your chest and brain. You have become another fallen statistic, another tragic fatality in what used to be fondly, nostalgically referred to as the land of the free, now turned land of the enslaved, dead and murdered. You have just become another brutalized now lifeless victim in the war against American civil liberties and freedoms, that since 9/11 have been insidiously stolen from US citizens by a tyrannical government turned militarized police state.
This very scary scenario might well be coming to a neighborhood near you, perhaps yours is next. Our homes are no longer safe, not so much from criminal thugs committing home invasion robberies but our local SWAT team police departments, big brother gone bad. While violent crime has actually gone down in this country, once again while we weren’t looking, paying enough attention or were asleep, our communities have become unsafe – not from the street criminals but from the very criminals we entrusted as our police forces that our taxes pay to protect us.
Before concluding this nightmare could never happen to you in your neighborhood or town, consider that it is currently happening in towns and cities across America as you read these very words. This horrific scenario is tragically occurring with increasing frequency with more and more regular, law biding citizens who have committed no crime, are clearly not enemy combatants or sympathizers or affiliated in any way with terrorist groups, but are simply decent, hardworking Americans who love their country just like you and me. And if it is happening to others so similar to you and me, next time it could just as easily be happening to you or me. The fact is none of us are safe from our out of control government that since 9/11 has betrayed and turned on all of us citizens with a vengeance. It appears that human history is doomed to repeat itself. Instead of living in the democracy we naively grew up in, today we find ourselves living in conditions not unlike prewar Nazi Germany, or even closer, the Orwellian nightmare that has unfortunately become present day, any place America. The old oligarch strategy of divide and conquer has Americans suspiciously turning on each other rather than recognizing the real culprits who have turned on us.
To bring it closer to home with a face, a name and a real live person who is now dead at the hands of such a militarized police assault, the case of 80-year old retired engineer Eugene Mallory is presented. Apparently the elderly man never even got out of bed before six bullets entered and riddled his body fired from an angle above him, substantiating his physical location of still laying in bed. For self-defense purposes undoubtedly fearing intruders had entered his home, the octogenarian had a weapon though he never even fired off a single round.
The Los Angeles County Sheriffs SWAT team member carrying a submachine gun who apparently killed the old man laying in bed initially claimed that he had ordered Mr. Mallory to drop his gun before shooting him. But from a taped recording of the incident last summer, the officer actually fired off six rounds killing his victim before saying “drop the gun.” The SWAT team was looking for a methamphetamine lab and instead had nothing to show for itself except one innocent dead old man and a small quantity of medically prescribed marijuana belonging to the victim’s grandson. The grieving family is presently pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were originally formed in urban areas across America back in the 1970’s as first emergency responders to violent civil unrest, hostage, mass shootings or extremely dangerous situations. According to Eastern Kentucky University School of Justice Professor Peter Kraska, SWAT team deployments have proliferated and been used at an exponential rate from just 3,000 in the early 1980’s to 50,000 a year now. The current problem is that because those high profile events when SWAT assistance is really needed are so rare in occurrence, deployment of SWAT teams have become standard operating procedure in routine drug busts, high crime neighborhoods and any situation deemed dangerous, which might apply to nearly any and all incoming emergency 911 calls.
In both Baltimore and Dallas they have been misused to break up poker games. In New Haven, Connecticut a SWAT team was sent into a bar suspected of serving underage drinkers. In Orlando, Florida they were used to search barbershops looking for guns and drugs but instead arrested 34 barbers operating without a license. The case list of misuse and abuse goes on and on throughout this country and growing everyday because SWAT teams are currently used as the prescribed protocol for countless unnecessary minor situations. But in an effort to minimize risk to police, paramilitary operations are being grossly overused in America and many Americans are needlessly and tragically dying from these routine militarized assaults on our private residences throughout the nation. The exact same tactics deployed by US Special Operations military forces in over 134 countries around the globe have come home to roost here in police state America.
Or take the case that has gotten global attention this last month having gone viral of the mentally ill camper minding his own business in the hills outside Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 16th. A camera was mounted on one of the SWAT team member’s helmets that captured the entire two hour standoff between the 38-year old homeless man James Boyd and the armed assault team. The police noticed James holding a pocket knife that obviously posed no threat to the armed killers. The more than half dozen storm troopers posing as the Albuquerque police force dressed in full combat gear with police dogs in tow opened fire instantly killing the man in cold blood. The video shows the officers shooting the mentally ill man in the back many times all because the confused, frightened man failed to lay down as ordered.
This horror caught on video for the world to see became the rallying flag for throngs of outraged demonstrators converging onto the streets of Albuquerque in recent weeks to loudly protest the grotesque injustice of the city police force that already had a notorious reputation for its “shoot first, ask questions” later policy. Then to add insult to injury, another man who was unarmed was shot dead a few days later. Subsequently such high profile cases have now drawn attention from both the FBI and the State Department, each launching its own separate investigation of the incidents and the lethal force continually deployed in 25 killings in as many months by the Albuquerque Police Department. An estimated 75% of the 37 individuals shot by the Albuquerque police since 2010 have been mentally ill. Another exacerbating factor to enflaming protestors to even more outrage was the newly appointed city police chief’s premature calling of his police force conduct in the homeless man’s shooting within proper police protocol.
To further add to this growing menace sweeping our communities is the petty competitive drive to keep up with other neighboring police forces in small cities and towns across this land. The bigger is better syndrome has hit police chiefs across the country. And to keep up with the Joneses, leftover military equipment and weapons from multiple warfronts are being given away by the US military to every city and town police force that requests them at bargain basement prices. Thus, military tanks, helicopters, Armored Personnel Carrier vehicles (APCs) , Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) are exchanging hands, most or all of which are not needed, much less properly used and maintained at costs most cities cannot even afford, yet they are falling into the wrong hands of both small and large cities all over this country at an unprecedented, never before seen rate with no oversight or accountability.
In the nine years from 2002 to 2011 the Department of Homeland Security issued grants to state and local police amounting to $35 billion, all of course under the guise of “the war on terror.” This gave police department plenty of bucks to buy the military weapons of mass destruction to be used on its own citizens. Another easy revenue for raising police money comes from selling off assets seized in the other disastrous war on drugs. So as the more than half of all US citizens’ tax dollars go for making Empire wars around the world (in the form of over half the annual defense budget), lots more go toward militarizing police departments making war on its own citizens.
The Pentagon, the US government and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have collectively made a calculated decision to militarize as many police forces in the US as possible. Police force tactics attacking peaceful protestors has become another disturbing criminal trend in this police state. When the Occupy Wall Street movement several years ago swept across the nation highlighting the growing disparity of inequality between the 1% superrich and the 99% of the rest of us, a nationalized mobilization of militarized police forces began bashing heads using tear gas (ruled a violation of international law) on its own population in places like Oakland. Police brutality was rampantly observed throughout the country in a centralized and concentrated wave of aggression orchestrated by the federal government as a crackdown on political activism. And unfortunately it was effective in crushing the Occupy movement.
The same human rights violations were observed at the 2008 Democratic party convention in Denver and the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. This increasing show of militarized force over time is but a statement of what becomes of those brave enough to assert their First Amendment rights in this so called democratic nation of ours.
It is not any stretch of imagination to speculate how police state tactics might be utilized in the near future in America. Under a false flag pretense or an economic collapse, or any natural disaster that presents a convenient excuse to declare martial law, it would in turn mobilize a massive campaign by both military and police forces to quell civil disobedience and unrest, or round up dissidents on growing NSA-government watch lists into waiting FEMA camps to finally fill all those countless refurbished empty prisons.
The two cases of gross injustice presented in this article happened to involve two Caucasian Americans, one a mentally ill homeless man and the other an elderly family man. Suffice it to say that cops are far more trigger happy killing younger men of color than whites in this nation where nearly half the prison population is black and over one fifth Hispanic. Police state tactics in the ghettos, barrios and inner cities of this country have long been a living, everyday nightmare and reality. It is a sad commentary that only after defenseless whites are brutally murdered that the public indignantly takes such fervent notice calling for radical change to police state USA.
As much as any single case, last month’s incident caught on tape in New Mexico illustrates what has gone so horribly wrong in America’s militarized security state where its citizens desperately need protection from their so called protectors. It has brought much needed public debate and awareness as well as issued a demand for justice and fundamental change in the way law enforcement operates. The people in Albuquerque have become social and political activists committed to working tirelessly for a national call to stop the needless tragic violence and an end to the militarization of America’s police forces and their police state warfare used on its own citizenry.
Moreover, they are acting as catalysts signaling to other communities, cities and towns across America to follow suit in solidarity. We citizens in our own communities need to mount our own pressing, long overdue campaign to reassess police forces across North America and the globe to facilitate necessary changes that will bring about different, more just and humane methods of police interfacing with the mentally ill, the homeless and all people everywhere. New standard policies of engagement with the public promoting safety for both the police and the citizens they serve, urgently need to be implemented that will restore our precious civil liberties and constitutional rights that bring justice for us all.
Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and eventually became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century.
Copyright © Joachim Hagopian, Global Research, 2014
By Philip Guelpa
9 April 2014
United Parcel Service fired another 16 delivery truck drivers last week for engaging in a 90-minute strike at its Maspeth facility, in the New York City borough of Queens, to protest the dismissal of a fellow employee. On March 31, UPS, one of the largest and most profitable delivery services in the world, announced it would fire 250 workers for the alleged “illegal work stoppage” on February 26.
The conflict began with the February 14 firing of Jairo Reyes, an employee with 24 years experience, following a dispute over work schedules. There are reports Reyes was targeted for being a “union activist.” He was dismissed summarily, without a hearing, in violation of the “innocent until proven guilty” clause in the contract.
In response, delivery truck drivers at the facility staged the protest strike on February 26. The company retaliated by firing all 250 workers. At least 35 have since been dismissed, while the remainder of workers were told they would lose their jobs once replacements were trained.
UPS cited a no-strike clause in its contract with the Teamsters union to justify the mass firings. In fact, the contract states strike action may be undertaken if the company violates the contract.
Statements from workers indicate that the walkout was the culmination of intense speedup and harassment by the company, which repeatedly uses alleged, minor infractions of work rules to intimidate them. UPS is notorious for super exploitation of its workforce. It was one of the first US companies—more than three decades ago—to begin the large-scale use of part-time workers with substandard wages and benefits and few if any rights.
Workers angrily denounced these conditions in discussions with a WSWS reporting team, which visited the Maspeth facility. John stopped briefly on his way to his part-time job, sorting and loading UPS trailer trucks. “I start around 4 p.m. and work as long as they need me,” he said, “There is no overtime pay. I am lucky to get 40 hours. It depends on the workload.”
He described the strike and its aftermath. “It was only the drivers who walked out. A lot of them did not think he [Reyes] should be fired. One guy went around talking a lot and then they walked. Two hundred and fifty fired! Insane! I didn’t think they would go through with it. These were lots of good people with families to feed. Everybody is talking about it and wondering who is next.”
A building maintenance worker belonging to the International Association of Machinists asked to remain anonymous when he spoke to the WSWS, fearing for his job. “No name. It is like a dictatorship in there. There are security cameras all over. A guard will come outside here to see what you want.” Soon afterwards, in fact, a security guard did appear.
“I worked here more than 25 years. Drivers get harassed more than maintenance. There is a GPS in the electronic board you sign when you receive a package. They watch where they are, how long at each place.
“It was unfair about the driver that got fired. That started the protest. Another guy had been fired after he was injured while working, hit by a car. He became unconscious. When he returned to work he could not deliver the same number of packages per hour as before. Some drivers spoke at the rally in the parking lot about the conditions for the drivers. Then they went back in after 90 minutes.
“It was quiet for a couple of days. Then they were told they would all be fired after they trained their replacements. On Friday, they told 40 to 50 guys to turn in their uniforms. They were fired then.”
In response to the workers’ spontaneous action in defense of Reyes, Teamsters Local 804 immediately sought to suppress the walkout. A video of the action shows a union bureaucrat relaying an order from the Local 804 president, Tim Sylvester, to go back to work while the union negotiates with the company. It is clear from the video that the workers are reluctant to comply, well aware that the bogus “grievance” procedure would neither protect their jobs nor their rights.
UPS would never have attempted such a provocation if it had not been assured that the Teamsters would do nothing. For decades, the union has sanctioned the exploitation of part-timers and other workers. Former International president (and former Local 804 president) Ron Carey sold out the 1997 strike before being forced to resign for a kickback scheme orchestrated between the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party.
Last year, the Teamsters signed a new contract that imposed higher out-of-pocket health care expenses on current and retired workers, raised wages well below the rate of inflation and gave a green light to the company to use GPS technology to discipline and fire drivers.
Opposed to any struggle that would undermine its relations with the company, Local 804, which represents 6,000 New York area UPS workers, issued a toothless statement, saying, “UPS’s actions this week were a heartless attack on drivers and their families.” The union launched a petition drive and appealed to Democratic Party politicians to revoke the city’s contract with UPS, reportedly worth $43 million, in order to pressure the company to rehire the workers. In an utterly cynical response, UPS threatened that if the city terminated the contract and the company lost business it would lay off more workers, “potentially impacting the livelihoods of the many local UPS employees that did not join in the illegal work stoppage.”
The city’s “Public Advocate,” Letitia James, issued an equally worthless statement that the company “receives millions of dollars every year in reduced fine and fees for parking tickets” from the city, presumably aimed at pressuring UPS. “They should not treat workers in this manner,” she said.
These are empty words. The UPS workers would do well to remember the treatment the city meted out to school bus workers whose month-long strikeearly last year was abruptly ended and sold out by the Amalgamated Transit Union. The ATU shut down the walkout based on a statement by the candidates running for the Democratic mayoral nomination, including de Blasio, promising to “revisit” former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s termination of the Employment Protection Policy” (EPP), which had for decades protected the bus workers’ wages, benefits and seniority regardless of which private company won contracts from the city.
More than three months into the de Blasio administration, aside from a city council committee hearing that yielded no specific results, and a vague, non-committal statement from the mayor, there has been no action to reverse the attack on the school bus workers. Thousands have lost their jobs, and thousands more have suffered severe reductions in pay and benefits. Meanwhile, the union, the ATU, has abandoned its members.
The outrageous victimization of the UPS drivers can and must be fought. The possibility for such a fight is expressed in the 100,000 signatures obtained within two weeks on a petition against the firings.
To transform this from potential into active support, however, UPS workers must take the struggle into their own hands by organizing rank-and-file committees, independent of the Teamsters and other unions, to appeal—not to big business politicians with worthless promises—but to the working class of the city. Hundreds of thousands of teachers, transit workers and other municipal workers are working without contracts and have suffered a devastating decline in living standards, while the stock market and bonuses to Wall Street executives have reached record levels. Rank-and-file workers must call for joint mass demonstrations and strike action to demand the rehiring of all the victimized workers and the full restitution of lost wages and benefits.
All of those—including pseudo-left organizations like Labor Notes and the International Socialist Organization—who claim that the Democratic Party can be pressured to defend workers are lying. Mayor de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Obama, no less than the Republicans, are tools of the corporate and financial elite. That is why the fight to mobilize the industrial strength of the working class to demand the rehiring of the UPS workers must be combined with the fight to build a mass political movement of the working class—in opposition to both big business parties—to end the economic and political dictatorship of the rich. Giant monopolies like UPS must be put under the democratic control of working people as part of a socialist transformation of society.
To take up this fight, we urge UPS workers and all those who oppose these victimizations to contact the Socialist Equality Party.
9 April 2014
Last month, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico shot and killed James Boyd, a homeless man camping in the foothills outside the city. A video of the incident, which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, has sparked a public outcry throughout the city and nationwide. Since 2010, there have been 23 lethal police shootings in Albuquerque alone.
The video shows police, in military battle dress and helmets wielding scoped assault rifles, confronting a lone homeless man. The officers throw a flash grenade at Boyd, sic an attack dog on him, and then fire up to eight lethal rounds into his back before shooting his motionless body with beanbag rounds and siccing the dog on him once again.
The release of the video sparked protests by hundreds of people in the city, which were dispersed with tear gas by riot police. Only days later, Albuquerque police killed another man, 30-year-old Alfred Lionel Redwine, outside an apartment complex. A witness told the Los Angeles Times that Redwine had “his arms down, with his palms out, when officers shot him.”
The Albuquerque shootings are only the latest in a series of nationwide police killings this year.
· The day after Redwine was killed, police officers in Spokane, Washington shot and killed 30-year-old Steven C. Cordery as he was walking out of his house in compliance with their orders.
· On January 14th, police shot Manuel Orosco Longoria in the back while he had his hands in the air after a traffic stop south of Phoenix, Arizona, killing him. There have been nearly a dozen police shootings in the metropolitan Phoenix area in the past three months alone.
· On February 14th, police beat 44-year-old Luis Rodriguez to death after being called in response to a fight between his wife and daughter.
In each of these incidents, the officers responsible received nothing more than disciplinary slaps on the wrist in the form of temporary suspension with pay. Local media uncritically reported the justifications for the police murders, and the national media largely turned a blind eye.
The almost routine violence, often murderous, unleashed by police departments across the US has deep objective roots in American society. It reflects a society in which class tensions are stretched to the breaking point and the ruling class maintains, through its state apparatus, a regime of oppression over the working class.
Hardly a week goes by without a video emerging of another wanton killing by police somewhere in the country. The so-called “justice” system in America is notorious for its brutal treatment of workers and youth who get caught up in its web.
Despite having only five percent of the world’s population, the United States holds one quarter of the world’s prison inmates. Some 2.2 million Americans are in prison, and 4.8 million are on probation or parole. The US is one of a handful of developed countries that carries out the barbaric practice of capital punishment.
Capitalist rule in America has always been carried out by violent means, but the presence of police, armed guards and the military in daily life has grown rapidly in the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008. Its growth has paralleled a further increase in already staggering levels of social inequality.
The ruling class has responded to the global economic breakdown by launching a ferocious assault on all that remains of the past social gains of the working class, together with a plundering of society’s resources and transfer of wealth to the financial-corporate elite without historical precedent.
The wealth of US billionaires has more than doubled since 2009, while the income of a typical household has plunged by more than $5,000.
The ruling class has nothing to offer a population that faces permanent economic insecurity, declining living standards and growing poverty, hunger and homelessness. It lives in mortal fear of the emergence of mass social opposition to its economic and political system.
Its response—in the US and internationally—is to attack democratic rights, throw off the restrictions on its actions bound up with constitutional and democratic processes, and prepare to meet social opposition by means of mass repression and dictatorship.
The “counterinsurgency” methods of mass violence employed in America’s dirty neocolonial wars abroad—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—are being adapted for use at home.
Police departments across the country are being militarized. Some 500 armored fighting vehicles that have been decommissioned from combat duty in the Middle East have been transferred to American police departments. The vehicles, which can mount .50 caliber machine guns and automatic grenade launchers, are being recommissioned for use by urban SWAT teams.
April 15 marks the one-year anniversary of the imposition of de facto martial law in Boston in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. In the aftermath of the attack, residents were told to “shelter in place” while squads of police in body armor bearing assault rifles conducted warrantless house-to-house searches, and machine gun-mounted armored vehicles occupied the streets while police helicopters circled overhead.
This was a dry run for dictatorship in the United States. It was carried out with near universal support from the political establishment and the media.
The social and political buffers that in the past mitigated the conflict of opposed classes are disintegrating under the pressures of economic crisis and social polarization. The class war has to this point been one-sided. The American working class has not yet responded in a mass way. But that will come, sooner than many think.
The critical question is the preparation now of the new, revolutionary leadership needed to impart to the struggles of the working class a conscious, socialist program and perspective. The building of this leadership is the only means of defending the social and democratic rights of working people and stopping the drive of the ruling class toward dictatorship.
Andre Damon and Barry Grey
US threatens to “re-examine force posture” over Ukraine
The United States secretary of state, John Kerry, yesterday accused Russia of being behind separatist protests in east Ukraine and said Moscow must “publicly disavow the activities of separatists, saboteurs and provocateurs” if it is not to “incur further costs.”
Testifying before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said, “Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilise a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary.”
The aim, he said, was to create a pretext for further Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory.
If Kerry’s hypocritical diatribe was not in furtherance of such a dangerous objective, it would be laughable—given that Ukraine is now led by a regime installed by Washington at the admitted cost of at least US$5 billion. But Kerry is seeking to create a pretext for US aggression against Russia.
Kerry has phoned Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to moot talks involving senior representatives from Russia, the US, Ukraine and the European Union (EU) supposedly aimed at defusing tensions. But in reality, Washington is continuing its military moves both in and around Ukraine.
Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that the stay of the destroyer USS Truxtun in the Black Sea is being extended, and it will be joined by another ship in a week’s time.
“While we do not seek military confrontation with Russia,” he said the “unlawful” takeover of Crimea last month and continued “military threats” against Ukraine and other neighbouring states may cause the US “to reexamine its force posture in Europe,” the Washington Post reported.
Yesterday, Moscow accused the United States of supplying mercenaries to suppress by force the protesters demanding a referendum on becoming part of Russia in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk.
A statement by the Russian foreign ministry said that Ukraine intended to suppress the unrest with “tightened internal forces and National Guard units with participation of fighters from the illegal armed group Right Sector”, in cooperation with “150 American experts from the private military organisation ‘Greystone’” disguised as regular soldiers.
“We call for an immediate end to any military preparations, which threaten to trigger civil war,” the statement declared.
On Monday, Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksander Turchynov, and Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk both also accused Russia of staging the protests as a precursor to an armed seizure of Ukrainian territory. Turchynov blamed “separatist groups coordinated by Russian special services” for actions he said proved that “enemies of Ukraine are trying to play out the Crimean scenario,” while Yatsenyuk said that Russia was trying to split Ukraine and turn part of it into “a territory of slavery under a Russian dictatorship.”
NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking from Paris, warned Russia that if it were to “intervene further in Ukraine it would be a historic mistake”.
The pro-Western regime in Ukraine has mounted a brutal response to the pro-Russian protests. Described as an “anti-terrorist” operation, police arrested 70 demonstrators in Kharkiv on Tuesday, who had seized the regional state administration building. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, “An anti-terrorist operation has been launched. The city centre is blocked along with metro stations. Do not worry. Once we finish, we will open them again.”
The interior ministry said that those detained faced charges of “illegal activity related to separatism, the organisation of mass disorder, damage to human health” and breaking other laws. Turchynov threatened that those who seized the buildings—precisely the tactic employed by the “protesters” in Kiev in the coup that brought the current regime to power—would be treated as “terrorists and criminals” and prosecuted with the full force of the law.
The previous evening, police used fire hoses, stun grenades and tear gas to push protesters back from the building, who responded by throwing Molotov cocktails which set the first floor of the building alight.
Victoria Siumar, Ukraine’s deputy national security chief, said earlier Monday that special forces had retaken control of the SBU state security services building in Donetsk. Those arrested in the clampdown had been taken to police detention centres in the cities of Poltava and Zaporijya and face charges relating to separatism, violence and taking part in mass protests, she said.
Donetsk is the hometown of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by the US-backed coup in February. The protesters who occupied Donetsk’s regional government building called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11—a demand also raised in Luhansk.
Talks were reported between the Donetsk protesters and local oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, who controls nearly half of Ukraine’s steel, mining and thermoelectricity assets. He too threatened protesters with a clampdown, but called for devolution to grant more powers to regions of Ukraine.
The government has said that “radicals” were keeping 60 people hostage inside the security service branch headquarters in Luhansk.
Meanwhile in parliament, the governing parties were passing legislation that will criminalise anyone supporting separation from Ukraine. Legislation outlawing groups and individuals who call for separatism was passed by 230 votes in the 450-member body. All members of the Communist Party, which was a backer of Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, abstained from voting.
In the run-up to the vote, Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, said that Ukraine was now facing a “real war” as a result of the events in Kharkiv and Donetsk.
Communist Party (CP) leader Petro Symonenko was physically attacked by members of the far-right Svoboda when he spoke in response to Klitschko. Referring to the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, he suggested that it was the nationalists who had set a precedent for seizing buildings during their protest against Yanukovych. “You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view,” he said.
Proving his point, two deputies from Svoboda grabbed hold of him and tried to drag him from the rostrum. Fighting then broke out between CP parliamentarians and those from several other parties.
Yesterday, Lavrov said, “We are ready to consider a multilateral format, in which the Europeans, the US, Russia and the Ukrainian sides would be represented.” But he added that a draft of the new Ukrainian constitution needed to be presented before the meeting allowing for representation of Ukraine’s regions. He told reporters, “I do not think that the oligarchs who have been named governors of the regions will sufficiently represent the south and east of Ukraine.”
Writing in the Guardian Monday, Lavrov urged dialogue over Ukraine and denounced the US and the EU for rejecting cooperation in favour of confrontation. Russia had “supported Kiev’s wish for urgent consultations between Ukraine, Russia and the EU to discuss harmonising the integration process,” he stated, but this had been rejected due to “the unproductive and dangerous line the EU and US have been taking for a long time.”
He added that “massive support was provided to political movements promoting Western influence” so that “power in Kiev was seized…with the direct participation of ministers and other officials from the US and EU countries.”
Lavrov insisted that Russia is in favour of “a system of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic area,” but Western states have instead “carried out successive waves of NATO enlargement, moved the alliance’s military infrastructure eastward and begun to implement antimissile defence plans.”