Monthly Archives: July 2012

Keiser Report: Virtual Virtual Economy (E321)

Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

Full Spectrum Dominance

Video interview

William Engdahl on his book Full Spectrum Dominance:

Posted July 08, 2009

See also: Dick Cheney’s Song of America: The Plan is for the United States to rule the world. The overt theme is unilateralism, but it is ultimately a story of domination. It calls for the United States to maintain its overwhelming military superiority and prevent new rivals from rising up to challenge it on the world stage. It calls for dominion over friends and enemies alike. It says not that the United States must be more powerful, or most powerful, but that it must be absolutely powerful.

Mike Maloney tells Ben Bernanke to “Quit and Close the Federal Reserve!”

Iran Diplomacy Runs into Sanctions-Happy U.S. Congress

By Jasmin Ramsey
WASHINGTON, Jul 30 2012 (IPS) – Congress’s rush to pass new sanctions against Iran ahead of the August recess comes amidst an intensified drive to pin the Iranian government to deadly acts of international terrorism and amplified moves by U.S. politicians to demonstrate their support for Mideast ally Israel ahead of the November presidential election.
The push to implement more punitive measures against an increasingly demonised Iran could undermine efforts to resolve the longstanding impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme peacefully.
Jamal Abdi, policy director for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), told IPS that even the mere “threat” of the new sanctions, which will be a combination of two bills passed in December and May by the House of Representatives and the Senate that target Iran’s energy sector and its ability to conduct financial transactions electronically, “have had a negative effect on the Iran nuclear talks and limited the president’s ability to use sanctions as a tool for leverage”.
“When this bill passes, it will further aggravate the chain of escalation between Iran and the U.S., and if it includes ‘economic warfare’ measures on top of those already in place, the Iranians will be inclined to respond with equal escalation,” he said.
A Jul. 25 hearing on Iran’s alleged support for international terrorism saw testimony from expert witnesses recommending that U.S. policy should be focused on gathering international support for holding Iran responsible and weakening its influence in the region.
According to the written testimony of Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP or the Washington Institute), “…Iran cannot win a conventional war against the West, but it can exact a high price through asymmetric warfare.”
“Exposing Iran’s involvement in international terrorism is now more important than ever, both to deny the group its coveted ‘reasonable deniability’ and to build an international consensus for action against Iran’s support for terrorism,” he wrote.
Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign policy programming at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), wrote in her testimony that “the fall of the house of Assad would be devastating to Iran. So we clearly have an interest in Syria’s future.”
Pletka also claimed that U.S. policy is geared towards “tolerance for Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism” and during her oral statements asked why U.S. officials had not publicly declared that Iran was responsible for a bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists. To date, no evidence has been presented to support that allegation.
Amidst ongoing efforts to tie Iran to international terrorism, the U.S.-led sanctions regime charges ahead. But while the full traditional legislative process has now been bypassed so the pending Iran sanctions can be passed before Friday, the details of the bill in question have been waiting to be finalised for more than half a year.
Republican-spearheaded efforts to include harsher measures have clashed with Democrat-led moves to pass the bill as is, resulting in gridlock until a compromise is reached.
According to a NIAC press document, one such provision, the “Kirk Amendment”, would result in “unintended consequences” that would harm ordinary Iranians such as prohibiting Iranian-American citizens from sending money to family members in Iran and stopping pharmaceutical companies from selling medicines to Iranian hospitals “regardless of whether the Treasury Department granted them a license to do so”.
M. J. Rosenberg, a veteran Israel analyst who worked for years at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), told IPS that Congress is rushing to pass the sanctions because they “promised AIPAC that they would and want to deliver before the election season goes into full swing in September”.
“Sanctions bills seem to originate from Congress, but they actually originate from inside AIPAC,” he said.
Rosenberg, who has been consistently critical of AIPAC and other U.S. Israel lobby groups in his writings and commentary, also said that Iran is at the top of AIPAC’s agenda.
“Look at AIPAC’s conference in the spring. The Iran sanctions issue was AIPAC’s main issue. If you want to show your donors that you are 100 percent for the cause – the cause being first sanctions and then war with Iran – you have to cosponsor bills and get them passed,” he said.
On Jul. 27, President Barack Obama’s signing into law of the “United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012”, which gives Israel an additional 70 million dollars in military aid and expands military and civil cooperation, coincided with the presumptive Republican White House Nominee Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel for the foreign-policy focused portion of his campaign.
While in Jerusalem, Romney had a friendly meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and attended a fundraiser that reportedly resulted in more than one million dollars in donations from 45 Jewish donors.
According to the AP, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to spend 100 million dollars to defeat President Obama, was seated next Romney at the event and joined in a standing ovation when Romney declared Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital.
Ongoing efforts by the presidential contenders to demonstrate their support for Israel have been described by analysts as an effort to capture a traditionally Democrat-aligned “Jewish vote”.
On Jul. 27, Gallup issued new polling data showing that from Jun. 1-Jul. 26 Jewish registered voters still favoured Obama over Romney by 68 percent to 25 percent.
Earlier in the year, a survey of more than 1,000 self-identified Jews conducted between late February and early March by the Public Religion Research Institute (PPRI) showed that Jewish voters, who make up only about two percent of the national population but comprise more than that in several key “swing states”, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois, remain largely liberal and Democratic in their political orientation and that U.S. Jews are more concerned about issues such as social justice than foreign policy.
Asked what issue was most important to them in the upcoming election, 51 percent cited the economy and 15 percent the growing gap between rich and poor. Only two percent of respondents cited Iran.
The relative lesser importance accorded by respondents to both Israel and Iran is remarkable in light of strenuous efforts over most of the past year by all but one of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as Republican lawmakers in Congress, to drive a wedge between Obama and his Jewish supporters over precisely those two issues.
According to Rosenberg, campaigning to the Pro-Israel community is “not about the votes, it’s about money”.
“Adelson is big in the Romney camp and has lots of friends in the Israel community and is trying to pull them away from supporting Democrats by saying he will be tougher on Iran,” he said.
“It’s not about votes, it’s about getting these millionaires and billionaires into your corner,” said Rosenberg. “I would say that about politics in general. Ultimately money turns into votes. But really, when it comes to the pro-Israel community, it’s strictly about the money.”
*Jasmin Ramsey edits IPS News’s foreign policy blog,

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US Marine Corps Creates “Law Enforcement” Battalions

Whose laws? 

By Julie Watson 
The Associated Press

July 31, 2012 “AP” — CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The Marine Corps has created its first law enforcement battalions — a lean, specialized force of military police officers that it hopes can quickly deploy worldwide to help investigate crimes from terrorism to drug trafficking and train fledgling security forces in allied nations.

The Corps activated three such battalions last month. Each is made up of roughly 500 military police officers and dozens of dogs. The Marine Corps has had police battalions off and on since World War II, but they were primarily focused on providing security, such as accompanying fuel convoys or guarding generals on visits to dangerous areas, said Maj. Jan Durham, commander of the 1st Law Enforcement Battalion at Camp Pendleton.

The idea behind the law enforcement battalions is to consolidate the military police and capitalize on their investigative skills and police training, he said. The new additions come as every branch in the military is trying to show its flexibility and resourcefulness amid defense cuts.

Marines have been increasingly taking on the role of a street cop along with their combat duties over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have been in charge of training both countries’ security forces. Those skills now can be used as a permanent part of the Marine Corps, Durham said.

The wars have also taught troops the importance of learning how to gather intelligence, secure evidence and assist local authorities in building cases to take down criminal networks. Troops have gotten better at combing raid sites for clues to help them track insurgents.

They also have changed their approach, realizing that marching into towns to show force alienates communities. Instead, they are being taught to fan out with interpreters to strike up conversations with truck drivers, money exchangers, cellphone sellers and others. The rapport building can net valuable information that could even alert troops about potential attacks.

But no group of Marines is better at that kind of work than the Corps’ military police, who graduate from academies just like civilian cops, Durham said. He said the image of military police patrolling base to ticket Marines for speeding or drinking has limited their use in the Corps. He hopes the creation of the battalions will change that, although analysts say only the future will tell whether the move is more than just a rebranding of what already existed within the Corps.

The battalions will be capable of helping control civil disturbances, handling detainees, carrying out forensic work, and using biometrics to identify suspects. Durham said they could assist local authorities in allied countries in securing crime scenes and building cases so criminals end up behind bars and not back out on the streets because of mistakes.

“Over the past 11 years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, some lessons learned painfully, there has been a growing appreciation and a demand for, on the part of the war fighter, the unique skills and capabilities that MPs bring to the fight,” Durham said. “We do enforce traffic laws and we do write reports and tickets, and that’s good, but we do so much more than that.”

Durham said the Marine Corps plans to show off its new battalions in Miami later this month at a conference put on by the Southern Command and that is expected to be attended by government officials from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize.

Defense analyst Loren Thompson said the battalions make sense given the nature of today’s global threats, which include powerful drug cartels and other criminal gangs that often mix with religious and political extremists, who use the profits to buy their weaponry.

“This is a smart idea because the biggest single problem the Marines have in dealing with low-intensity types of threats is that they basically are trained to kill people,” he said. “It’s good for the Marines to have skills that allow them to contain threats without creating casualties.”

Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University, said Marines have already been doing this kind of work for years but now that it has been made more formal by the creation of the battalions, it could raise a host of questions, especially on the use of force. The law of war allows for fighters to use deadly force as a first resort, while police officers use it as a last resort.

If Marines are sent in to do law enforcement but are attacked, will they go back to being war fighters? And if so, what are the implications? Solis asked.

“Am I a Marine or a cop? Can I be both?” he said. “Cops apply human rights law and Marines apply the law of war. Now that it’s blended, it makes it tougher for the young men and women who have to make the decision as to when deadly force is not appropriate.”

Durham said military police understand that better than any Marine since they are trained in both.

“They are very comfortable with the escalation of force,” he said. “MPs get that. It’s fundamental to what we do.”

Copyright The Associated Press

George Galloway: In Syria al-Qaeda is working with the Americans

Is Israel Fixing the Intelligence to Justify an Attack on Iran?

By Ray McGovern 

July 31, 2012 “The Baltimore Sun” –Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s strong pro-Israel statements over the weekend, including his endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (a reversal of long-standing U.S. policy), increases the pressure on President Barack Obama to prove that he is an equally strong backer of Israel.

The key question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will interpret the presidential campaign rhetoric as an open invitation to provoke hostilities with Iran, in the expectation that President Obama will feel forced to jump in with both feet in support of our “ally” Israel. (Since there is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel, “ally” actually is a misnomer — at least in a juridical sense.)
As we saw 10 years ago with respect to Iraq, if one intends to whip up support for war, one needs to find a casus belli — however thin a pretext it might be. How about juxtaposing “weapons of mass destruction” with terrorism. That worked to prepare for war on Iraq, and similar rhetorical groundwork for an attack on Iran is now being laid in Israel.
Mr. Netanyahu broke all records for speed in blaming Iran and Hezbollah for the recent terrorist attack that killed five Israelis in Burgas, Bulgaria, and in vowing that “Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror.”
But what is the evidence on Iranian or Hezbollah involvement? Bulgarian officials keep saying they have no such evidence. More surprising still, government officials in Washington and elsewhere keep warning against jumping to conclusions.
So far the “evidence” against Iran consists primarily of trust-me assertions by Mr. Netanyahu. On Fox News Sunday on July 22, Mr. Netanyahu claimed Israel has “rock-solid evidence” tying Iran to the attack in Bulgaria. The same day onCBS’s Face the Nation, Mr. Netanyahu said, “We have unquestionable, fully substantiated intelligence that this [terrorist attack] was done by Hezbollah backed by Iran,” adding that Israel gives “specific details to … responsible governments and agencies.”
Did the Israelis somehow forget to give “specific details” to Bulgarian and U.S. officials?
At a joint news conference with White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan in Sofia early last week, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov admitted that he was aware of no information concerning the terrorist or those who dispatched him.
Mr. Brennan’s July 25 talks with top Israeli officials, it appears, were similarly unproductive. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on July 26: “A week after the Burgas attacks, Israeli, Bulgarian, and U.S. [officials] still have no leads regarding the identity of the suicide bomber.”
These events took place against an historical backdrop pregnant with relevance. July 23 was the 10th anniversary of a meeting at 10 Downing Street, at which the head British intelligence casually revealed the fraudulent origins of the coming attack on Iraq.
The official minutes of that meeting were leaked to London’s Sunday Times, which ran them on its front page May 1, 2005. No one has disputed their authenticity.
This is how the minutes record the core of the briefing by Sir Richard Dearlove, the British intelligence chief, who had just conferred with his U.S. counterpart, George Tenet, at CIA headquarters on July 20, 2002, on what was in store for Iraq:
“… Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. …”
The “fixing” of intelligence is bad enough. But note Mr. Dearlove’s explanation that war with Iraq was to be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” Translation: We will claim Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and that he might well give them to terrorists — unless he is stopped forthwith.
Mr. Netanyahu is now taking the same line on Iran. On Face the Nation on July 22, he pointedly asked:
“Just imagine what the consequences would be if these people [terrorists] and this regime [Iran] got a hold of nuclear weapons. … [We need to] make sure that the world’s most dangerous regime doesn’t get the world’s most dangerous weapons.”
Never mind the elusive evidence on the perpetrators of the attack in Bulgaria. Never mind that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta posed the direct question to himself on Face the Nation on January 8 and then answered it: “Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” Never mind that 10 days later Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack said essentially the same thing during an interview on Israeli Army Radio.
The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the presidential election in November is increasing. Beware of “fixed” intelligence.
© 2012 Baltimore Sun

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Iran Warns Turkey Against Military Intervention in Syria:


July 31, 2012 “Al Arabiya” — Syrian ally Iran has warned their common neighbor Turkey that it will meet a harsh response should Ankara carry out any strikes inside Syrian territory, a pro-Damascus daily reported on Monday.

“Any attack on Syrian territory will meet with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defense agreement will be activated,” the Al-Watan newspaper said.

“Turkey has received very strong warnings in the past few hours and the following message — beware changing the rules of the game,” the paper added.

Iran is the closest regional ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but has also striven to keep good relations with Turkey even as the standoff over its controversial nuclear program has deepened with other NATO member states.

Tehran has enjoyed close ties with Damascus since 1980 when the Syrian government took its side in its devastating eight-year war with now executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad, and has signed a series of defence pacts, including in 2006 and 2008.

But Ankara has been a leading champion of the more than 16-month uprising against the Assad regime and has given refuge to large numbers of army defectors, who have formed the kernel of a rebel army, as well as tens of thousands of civilian refugees.

Al-Watan cited an “Arab diplomat” as accusing Turkey of seeking to use its fears about the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which already enjoys rear-bases in the far north of Iraq, as a pretext to intervene in Syria.

“Ankara is preparing an agreement with Washington to intervene militarily in the Syrian (crisis), using the Kurdish card as an excuse,” the paper said.

“Turkey has agreed with the United States on a military intervention limited to the north of Syria, specifically the northern province of Aleppo, to pave the way for the creation of a safe haven guarded by the armed gangs.”

Turkish newspapers have reported that some Kurdish-majority regions of northern Syria have been flying the flag of Syria’s PKK ally, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in what they have said is a deal with the Assad family’s government, which was a longtime backer of the Kurdish rebel group’s insurgency in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that it is a “given” that Turkish troops would pursue fleeing PKK militants inside Syria, warning that Ankara would not hesitate to strike “terrorists.”

Turkey has sent a convoy of tanks, ground-to-air missile batteries and other weapons to the border with Syria to further bolster its forces, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.

Turkey has repeatedly carried out air and ground operations against suspected PKK rear-bases in northern Iraq. Iran has also done so against suspected hideouts in the same area of PKK ally the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).

See also – Turkey Strengthens Forces on Syrian Border: The Turkish military sent troops, armored personnel carriers and missile batteries to the Syrian border on Monday, shoring up defenses against a country that has plunged into turmoil with some serious potential repercussions for Turkey.

Al-Qaida Turns Tide for Rebels in Battle for Eastern Syria

In his latest exclusive dispatch from Deir el-Zour province, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad meets fighters who have left the Free Syrian Army for the discipline and ideology of global jihad
By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Deir el-Zour
July 31, 2012 “The Guardian” — As they stood outside the commandeered government building in the town of Mohassen, it was hard to distinguish Abu Khuder’s men from any other brigade in the Syrian civil war, in their combat fatigues, T-shirts and beards.
But these were not average members of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Khuder and his men fight for al-Qaida. They call themselves the ghuraba’a, or “strangers”, after a famous jihadi poem celebrating Osama bin Laden’s time with his followers in the Afghan mountains, and they are one of a number of jihadi organisations establishing a foothold in the east of the country now that the conflict in Syria has stretched well into its second bloody year.
They try to hide their presence. “Some people are worried about carrying the [black] flags,” said Abu Khuder. “They fear America will come and fight us. So we fight in secret. Why give Bashar and the west a pretext?” But their existence is common knowledge in Mohassen. Even passers-by joke with the men about car bombs and IEDs.
According to Abu Khuder, his men are working closely with the military council that commands the Free Syrian Army brigades in the region. “We meet almost every day,” he said. “We have clear instructions from our [al-Qaida] leadership that if the FSA need our help we should give it. We help them with IEDs and car bombs. Our main talent is in the bombing operations.” Abu Khuder’s men had a lot of experience in bomb-making from Iraq and elsewhere, he added.
Abu Khuder spoke later at length. He reclined on a pile of cushions in a house in Mohassen, resting his left arm which had been hit by a sniper’s bullet and was wrapped in plaster and bandages. Four teenage boys kneeled in a tight crescent in front of him, craning their necks and listening with awe. Other villagers in the room looked uneasy.
Abu Khuder had been an officer in a mechanised Syrian border force called the Camel Corps when he took up arms against the regime. He fought the security forces with a pistol and a light hunting rifle, gaining a reputation as one of the bravest and most ruthless men in Deir el-Zour province and helped to form one of the first FSA battalions.
He soon became disillusioned with what he saw as the rebel army’s disorganisation and inability to strike at the regime, however. He illustrated this by describing an attempt to attack the government garrison in Mohassen. Fortified in a former textile factory behind concrete walls, sand bags, machine-gun turrets and armoured vehicles, the garrison was immune to the rebels’ puny attempt at assault.
“When we attacked the base with the FSA we tried everything and failed,” said Abu Khuder. “Even with around 200 men attacking from multiple fronts they couldn’t injure a single government soldier and instead wasted 1.5m Syrian pounds [£14,500] on firing ammunition at the walls.”
Then a group of devout and disciplined Islamist fighters in the nearby village offered to help. They summoned an expert from Damascus and after two days of work handed Abu Khuder their token of friendship: a truck rigged with two tonnes of explosives.
Two men drove the truck close to the gate of the base and detonated it remotely. The explosion was so large, Abu Khuder said, that windows and metal shutters were blown hundreds of metres, trees were ripped up by their roots and a huge crater was left in the middle of the road.
The next day the army left and the town of Mohassen was free.
“The car bomb cost us 100,000 Syrian pounds and fewer than 10 people were involved [in the operation],” he said. “Within two days of the bomb expert arriving we had it ready. We didn’t waste a single bullet.
“Al-Qaida has experience in these military activities and it knows how to deal with it.”
After the bombing, Abu Khuder split with the FSA and pledged allegiance to al-Qaida’s organisation in Syria, the Jabhat al Nusra or Solidarity Front. He let his beard grow and adopted the religious rhetoric of a jihadi, becoming a commander of one their battalions.
“The Free Syrian Army has no rules and no military or religious order. Everything happens chaotically,” he said. “Al-Qaida has a law that no one, not even the emir, can break.
“The FSA lacks the ability to plan and lacks military experience. That is what [al-Qaida] can bring. They have an organisation that all countries have acknowledged.
“In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience,” he told the gathered people. “Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan. Yemenis are the best in their religion and discipline and the Iraqis are the worst in everything – even in religion.”
At this, one man in the room – an activist in his mid-30s who did not want to be named – said: “So what are you trying to do, Abu Khuder? Are you going to start cutting off hands and make us like Saudi? Is this why we are fighting a revolution?”
“[Al-Qaida’s] goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state,” he replied. “Those who fear the organisation fear the implementation of Allah’s jurisdiction. If you don’t commit sins there is nothing to fear.”
Religious rhetoric
Religious and sectarian rhetoric has taken a leading role in the Syrian revolution from the early days. This is partly because of the need for outside funding and weapons, which are coming through well-established Muslim networks, and partly because religion provides a useful rallying cry for fighters, with promises of martyrdom and redemption.
Almost every rebel brigade has adopted a Sunni religious name with rhetoric exalting jihad and martyrdom, even when the brigades are run by secular commanders and manned by fighters who barely pray.
“Religion is a major rallying force in this revolution – look at Ara’our [a rabid sectarian preacher], he is hysterical and we don’t like him but he offers unquestionable support to the fighters and they need it,” the activist said later.
Another FSA commander in Deir el-Zour city explained the role of religion in the uprising: “Religion is the best way to impose discipline. Even if the fighter is not religious he can’t disobey a religious order in battle.”
Al-Qaida has existed in this parched region of eastern Syria, where the desert and the tribes straddle the border with Iraq, for almost a decade.
During the years of American occupation of Iraq, Deir el-Zour became the gateway through which thousands of foreign jihadis flooded to fight the holy war. Many senior insurgents took refuge from American and Iraqi government raids in the villages and deserts of Deir el-Zour.
Osama, a young jihadi from Abu Khuder’s unit with a kind smile, was 17 in 2003 when the Americans invaded Iraq, he said. He ran away from home and joined the thousands of other Syrians who crossed the porous border and went to fight. Like most of those volunteers, at first he was inspired by a mixture of nationalistic and tribal allegiances, but later religion became his sole motivation.
After returning to Syria he drifted closer to the jihadi ideology. It was dangerous then, and some of his friends were imprisoned by the regime, which for years played a double game, allowing jihadis to filter across the borders to fight the Americans while at the same time keeping them tightly under control at home.
In the first months of the Syrian uprising, he joined the protesters in the street, and when some of his relatives were killed he defected and joined the Free Syrian Army.
“I decided to join the others,” he said. “But then I became very disappointed with the FSA. When they fought they were great, but then most of the time they sat in their rooms doing nothing but smoke and gossip and chat on Skype.”
Fed up with his commanders’ bickering and fighting over money, he turned to another fighting group based in the village of Shahail, 50 miles west of Mohassen, which has become the de facto capital of al-Qaida in Deir el-Zour. More than 20 of its young men were killed in Iraq. In Shahail the al-Qaida fighters drive around in white SUVs with al-Qaida flags fluttering.
The group there was led by a pious man. He knew a couple of them from his time in Iraq. One day, the group’s leader – a Saudi who covered his hair with a red scarf and carried a small Kalashnikov, in the style of Bin Laden – visited Mohassen. He gave a long sermon during the funeral of a local commander, telling the audience how jihad was the only way to lead a revolution against the infidel regime of Bashar al-Assad, and how they, the Syrians, were not only victims of the regime but also of the hypocrisy of the west, which refused to help them.
“They were committed,” said Osama. “They obeyed their leader and never argued. In the FSA, if you have 10 people they usually split and form three groups.” The jihadis, by contrast, used their time “in useful things, even the chores are divided equally”.
Osama joined the group. “He [the Saudi] is a very good man, he spends his days teaching us. You ask him anything and he will answer you with verses from the Qur’an, you want to read the Qur’an you can read. You want to study bomb-making he will teach you.”
In the pre-revolutionary days when the regime was strong it would take a year to recruit someone to the secret cause of jihad. “Now, thanks to God, we are working in the open and many people are joining in,” said Osama.
In Shahail we interviewed Saleem Abu Yassir, a village elder and the commander of the local FSA brigade. He sat in a room filled with tribal fighters and machine-guns. The relationship with al-Qaida had been very difficult, he said, with the jihadis being secretive and despising the FSA and even calling them infidel secularists. But now they had opened up, co-operating with other rebel groups.
“Are they good fighters?” he threw the question rhetorically into the room. “Yes, they are, but they have a problem with executions. They capture a soldier and they put a pistol to his head and shoot him. We have religious courts and we have to try people before executing them. This abundance of killing is what we fear. We fear they are trying to bring us back to the days of Iraq and we have seen what that achieved.”
Osama had told me that his group was very cautious about not repeating the Iraq experience – “they admit they made a lot of mistakes in Iraq and they are keen to avoid it”, he said – but others, including a young doctor working for the revolution, were not convinced. The opposition needed to admit Al-Qaida were among them, and be on their guard.
“Who kidnapped the foreign engineers who worked in the nearby oilfield?” he asked. “They have better financing than the FSA and we have to admit they are here.
“They are stealing the revolution from us and they are working for the day that comes after.”

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Syrian Struggles: Life on edge amid security nightmare

Flipping The Script: The Western Media’s Syria Propaganda Is Falling Apart

What is written in the press is lies. What is hidden in plain view is the truth.

By Saman Mohammadi

July 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” —  Do you remember this guy, Jason Russell? He was the frontman for the short-lived and over-hyped “Kony 2012” propaganda campaign that exploited young people’s emotions to popularize a U.S. military invasion of Uganda. After his lies were exposed on the Internet he had a shocking meltdown in public. He ran around naked near traffic lights, smashed his fists on the pavement, and screamed bizarrely. The heavy spirit of Madness conquered his weak will.

The day before his freakish breakdown Russell was idolized in the mainstream press as a saint on a mission to save the children of Africa. His war propaganda documentary about the deceased CIA contractor Joseph Kony became hugely popular on Facebook and other social media outlets. But as soon as his mask came down and his craziness was captured by cameras, the media vultures forgot about his crusade and quickly moved on to the next hot story.

The new story that captured the corrupt Western media’s attention was Syria. The conflict was heating up, and the “international community” was being pressed to take action against the country. “Assad is killing his own people,” they said, without offering any evidence. “This is the next domino to fall in the Arab Spring, the rebels must be supported and Assad has to step down,” so went the propaganda. And yadda yadda. The media’s insane lies were repeated for months. Major media channels were engaged in non-stop propaganda warfare to destroy the independent Syrian state and reduce Syrians to slavery.

But then something remarkable and unexpected happened. Some Western journalists began telling the truth about the origins of the conflict, the true motives behind the West’s anti-Syria propaganda, and the nature of the unpopular Syrian opposition.

The spell was broken.

In June, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that the infamous Houla massacre was committed not by Assad’s forces, as it was claimed by the Western media at first, but by the NATO-backed terrorist opposition.

The official narrative about the Syrian conflict fell apart at that point. The moral case for overthrowing Assad was lost because it was based on total lies. The naked aggression by NATO’s barbaric pawns against Syrian civilians was clear to see for anyone who was paying attention.

II. The Global Alternative Media Rises: End of Mainstream Propaganda

The establishment media no longer has a monopoly on reality. Official lies are challenged, buried truths are dug up, and objective reality is preserved. The magician’s tricks have been revealed by spoilers in the crowd. The global alternative media is rising and it is an engine of peace, liberation, understanding, and sanity.

Even mainstream media figures are forced to admit that they have been lying to the world about nearly everything and that their warmongering views are not mainstream. They are losing their control over the minds of the masses, and like Russell of the Kony 2012 stunt, they are also losing control of their own minds.

In fact, establishment journalists have already gone crazy and lost their grip on reality. Their world is falling down around them and their temporary power is disappearing by the day. Truth is too strong a force. The establishment media is going against the gravity of reality and it is losing the battle.

But not everybody in the Western media has lost their heads and hearts. There are still some respectable and honourable journalists around who place the facts of history above the lies of governments. The writer “b” of MoA writes:

“There seems to be slight turn in the western media coverage of Syria. Here in Germany the press has now more reports showing the “rebels” as what they really are: traveling jihadists and foreign paid rabble. Commentators on the news websites are now mostly highly critical about the usual propaganda pieces and the German government policy of supporting the SNC. There also seems to be a slight shift in international media.”

Whereas in the recent past the Western establishment media was all-powerful and its official narratives were unquestioningly accepted by the general public, today its legitimacy is rapidly collapsing and it is failing to make people believe in government lies.

Young consumers of news are looking to the rising global independent media to get the facts about critical issues and conflicts. In the process, their worldview is changing and their government-made beliefs are dying.

The truth about Syria, like the truth about 9/11, can be suppressed for the time being but it cannot be erased from the record of history.

Tony Cartalucci says that Western propaganda against Syria has gotten too out of control and as a result it is falling to pieces. The tangled lies are being exposed before their usefulness can be exploited. Here is an excerpt from Cartalucci’s article, “US Treasury: Al Qaeda Runs Syrian “Rebellion”:

“Now, it appears that the West’s Arab “foreign legion,” Al Qaeda, is about to suffer an unprecedented defeat – not at the hands of Western anti-terrorism forces, but at the hands of Syrian troops in the city of Aleppo. In a desperate effort to prevent this, the West is employing a series of desperate strategies ranging from portrayingthe trapped foreign-fighters committing atrocities inside Aleppo as “pending a certain massacre,” to using the very presence of these foreign-fighters as evidence “Al Qaeada” is operating in Syria and must be “stopped” by Western intervention.

It is essential to understand that, as empires have always done, the monolithic corporate-financier interests of the West seek regional hegemony as a step toward global domination, and will say and do anything in order to achieve it. As resistance increases, the West’s lies become more difficult to sell, the consistency of their propaganda overtly crumbling. The West, in nearly a single breath, has now claimed FSA fighters are both “Al Qaeda” that need to be eliminated, while also impeding a “massacre” by Syrian forces if something isn’t done to save them.

When US President Obama referred to the “depths of depravity” regarding Syrian security operations in Aleppo, he and his script writers do so with the belief that Americans, and the world, are ignorant and disinterested in the truth, and will gladly allow Western foreign policy to once again prey on their emotions and good intentions to sell yet another destructive, self-serving military intervention.”

It is strange to hear that Washington is at war with Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and, at the same time, it is an ally of Al-Qaeda in Syria. Only one of these two things can be true. Washington is either at war with Al-Qaeda or it is not.

Washington’s sense of logic is funny and twisted, but it is not unique. That’s the way of the world. Throughout history, empires first conquer the truth, reality, and human consciousness, and then move their way to resource-rich lands.

The power of an empire is dependent on the cult beliefs and cult personalities that are created to justify its brutal rule at home and abroad.

It is a sign of hope for the world and for the collective life of mankind when the sovereignty of truth overcomes an empire of death, in whatever age in human history.

Saman Mohammadi – Email:  –

Police: armed and dangerous?

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Mike Maloney tells Ben Bernanke to "Quit and Close the Federal Reserve!"

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Sweden rejects offer to meet Assange, whistleblower still in sanctuary

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Syrian Struggles: Life on edge amid security nightmare

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Keiser Report: Virtual Virtual Economy (E321)

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US wants world police after blowing millions on MidEast ‘occupation’

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George Galloway: In Syria al-Qaeda is working with the Americans

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What a Single Payer Health Insurance Plan Looks Like

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How the Economy Works: the Necessity of Crime

By Prof. John Kozy

Global Research, July 30, 2012

“Money makes the world go around
A mark, a yen, a buck, or pound
Is all that makes the world go around.”—song from Cabaret

The economy is merely a sum of money, not practices that sustain the oikos, and the money that makes up the sum is equally valued whether it results from virtuous or vicious, good or bad, constructive or destructive, humane or inhumane, legal or illegal, beneficent or malevolent practices. Whether people benefit or are injured is never an economic concern. People, like everything else that is not monetary, are irrelevant.

Once upon a time, as all good morality legends begin, mankind lived in a natural habitat. People toiled, but none worked at anything like what is today called a job. They hunted, fished, trapped and gathered berries, fruits and edible roots. Later people learned to cultivate land and domesticate and herd animals. Yields were shared with all members of their clans—the young and the aged, the able and the disabled, the well and the ill. From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs was common practice, not an ideological precept. And the human race flourished. Villages around cultivated plots grew into towns and towns into cities. But somewhere in the progression, something went horribly wrong. People stopped sharing! People with a this began to trade with others for a that, and what is now known as commerce began.

Trouble is, having been removed from a natural habitat to an unnatural, artificial one, everyone didn’t have a this to trade for a that. The haves became distinguished from the have-nots. What were the have-nots to do? Well, they could beg or sell themselves or revert to being what they would have been in their natural habitat—hunters and gatherers! But now the prey were the haves and their property became gatherable. So what were the haves to do?

They could have gone back to sharing, but they didn’t! Instead, they developed ways of guarding what they had. They assigned some to enact rules and others to enforce them. Some people got jobs, rulegivers and guards. Whenever a rulebreaker was caught, s/he had to be tried. More jobs were created—lawyer and judge. When convicted, the rulebreaker had to be punished, and prisons came into being with their wardens and guards. When prisoners were released, they had to be monitored so now probation officers were needed. All of this costs the haves a lot. Wouldn’t sharing have been cheaper?

Perhaps, but people couldn’t revert to that now. For all of these guard-workers, as they are now often called in the literature, constitute an economic activity in itself. To go back to sharing would turn them all into have-nots. But these are now important and powerful people. Judges, lawyers, legislators! Have-nots? Heavens no! Although loath to think of themselves in this way, these people are nothing but ballyhooed security guards. Compared to fish, they are the aquarium’s bottom feeders. What would they be without crime?

The commercial enterprise of guard-working is like every other commercial enterprise. To profit, it must grow; but to grow, crime must increase. Without increasing crime, guard-working atrophies. What came into being in order to control crime now requires it. Crime has become a necessary part of the economy. It can’t be eliminated; it can’t even be reduced without affecting the economy adversely. Economists love it. So do lawyers, legislators, and judges. But they won’t admit it! The commercial activity of guarding the haves and their property has to be fed.

Oh, poppycock some reader will say. Perhaps, but lets abandon the once upon a time and return to now is the time.

Why are some members of Congress intent not only on reducing the social safety net but eliminating it? Because keeping the backs of have-nots to the wall increases their likelihood of becoming criminals to be fed to the guard-workers? And why are these same members of Congress unwilling to curtail the activities of the military-industrial complex? Well, AK-47s come from there and they are productivity enhancing technologies. They make guard-workers and criminals more efficient. And economists? Well, consider how domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy, is measured.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the market value of all goods and services bought in a given period. In short, it measures how much money is spent. When more money is spent GDP goes up, when less is spent, GDP goes down. When GDP goes up, the economy is said to be growing, when GDP goes down, the economy is said to be shrinking. This implies, of course, that “the economy” is nothing but a number.

Well, what’s wrong with that? Here’s what:

Say an arsonist sets a huge building on fire and the fire causes so much damage that the building can’t be repaired. The owner hires a vendor to tear it down and remove the refuse. The cost of doing that is domestic product. In a sense, destroying something makes it into a product. Joseph Alois Schumpeter, the Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger of economics, called it “creative destruction”—stuff is destroyed to create domestic product. In reality, crime creates a huge amount of domestic product. The cost of the weapons and tools used by criminals is domestic product. If caught, the cost of an accused’s trial is domestic product. If convicted, so is the cost of her/his incarceration.

But it’s even worse. The murder of a person creates domestic product. A century or so ago, especially in America’s Midwest, when a person died his family found a pleasant spot behind the homestead and dug a grave. Today that can’t be done; today death is a moneymaker. First the services of an undertaker is required, next a coffin must be purchased, then a cemetery plot and flowers for the viewing are acquired. A person’s death makes domestic product grow and grow. The economy gets better and better. Absurd!, you say. Yes, it is, but that’s exactly how the economy works.

So think about it. When a group of Saudi’s brought down the World Trade Center, they created domestic product, a lot of it. Most Americans consider these people as terrorists, but from an economic perspective, they are job creating entrepreneurs. Count all the people employed in cleaning up the site and rebuilding the buildings. It’s a fulfillment of Schumpeter’s dream, but he should have called it “destructive creation.”

If you want to know why Americans can’t have gun control, think Schumpeter’s dream. So-called legitimate businesses make money from death in America. Killing in America is an economically creative activity. It takes human beings and turns them into domestic products. GDP grows with every crime. Without crime, GDP would plummet.

So what is the moral of this legend? How about, “If you want to make the economy better, go out and kill a lot of people.” It won’t do much for the country or its people, but GDP will explode and economists will salivate over how good the economy’s fundamentals are.

Can you imagine anything more absurd? No matter, because that’s how the economy really works. It has no relationship to people and their welfare. Money made by a destructive activity is just as good as money made from a creative one. Money made by stealing is just as good as money made honestly (as every banker knows). Laundered money is just as good as clean money. Money made by killing (here or abroad) is just as good as money made by giving birth. That’s how the economy works. Neither people nor the quality of anything matters; only the money made does, and the political chorus chants,

Money, money, money, money.
Money, money, money, money,

all this in a nation comprised of people, eighty percent of whom claim to be followers of a deity who proclaims that the love of money is the root of all evil, and not a single cleric complains.

That, dear reader, is how America works. The economy is merely a sum of money, not practices that sustain the oikos, and the money that makes up the sum is equally valued whether it results from virtuous or vicious, good or bad, constructive or destructive, humane or inhumane, legal or illegal, beneficent or malevolent practices. All of that lucre is filthy. Whether people benefit or are injured is never an economic concern. People, like everything else that is not monetary, are irrelevant which makes this economy totally immoral. This message from a prominent financial advisor proves it:

“As investors, we absolutely must not let our political beliefs, the news media, or anything else stand in the way of our quest to grow our hard-earned money into lasting wealth.”

 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 on and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

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This Is the Obama-Aurora Billboard Everyone’s Talking About

This billboard got a lot of media attention this weekend for its meme-style juxtaposition of President Obama and Aurora-shooter James Holmes. Styled like something you’d see on Reddit, the billboard features side-by-side pictures of the two men with the words “kills 12 in movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out” over Holmes’ picture, and “kills thousands with his foreign policy, wins nobel peace prize” over Obama’s picture. Maurice Clements is the guy in charge the billboard. He’s part of a group who honor the memory of Libertarian Ralph Smeed. He says the group is angry over Obama not bringing the troops home. “We’re all outraged over that killing in Aurora, Colo., but we’re not outraged over the boys killed in Afghanistan,” Clements said. Locals think the billboard is “pathetic,” and “abhorrant.”

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MSM: Courtroom Transparency

Another $200 million for the Pentagon up in smoke?

South West England hospitals seek to slash wages

By Ajanta Silva

31 July 2012

Nineteen National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in South West England, covering 60,000 hospital workers, have formed a Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium (PTC).

The South West pay cartel’s objectives are to reduce wages and introduce a performance-based pay system, increase working hours, reduce unsocial-hours payments, remove sickness absence enhancements and cut down annual leave. The cartel threatens that any staff resisting the plans will risk their existing contracts being terminated.

These attacks are a test-case for the 1.5 million NHS workers across the country.

The leaked Project Initiation Document (PID) of the consortium reveals the cold-blooded preparations of the highly paid NHS chief executives against their employees.

Among the key objectives of the consortium is to reduce the pay bill of the South West region NHS trusts by nearly 10 percent. It argues, “Economic challenges require health providers to continue to reduce costs over the next three to four years and probably beyond… the scale of change required is unlikely to be met (and will not be sustainable) without reducing the pay bill.”

The cartel is aiming to reduce wages and conditions ahead of further privatisation of NHS hospitals. Officials claim the failure to slash wages and conditions at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, the first to be privatised, has contributed to its current financial problems. The PID states that it wants to “create terms and conditions that are focussed on improving engagement of staff and aligning to create a fit for purpose, flexible workforce able to respond to any qualified provider.” For “qualified provider,” read any private company that is looking to make profits from patient care.

To achieve these outcomes, the PID stresses, “Unless ‘voluntary’ agreement could be secured via either collective bargaining or majority acceptance following direct appeal to staff, it is likely that Trusts would be obliged to dismiss and re-engage staff to secure such changes.”

The PTC intends to implement these changes in the South West NHS trusts by April next year and then extend them to Mental Health/Community and Social Enterprise Trusts across the region. Trust managements have already started to intimidate and suppress workers who oppose this bloodbath, with some banning any discussion of the proposals in staff meetings. Unions have been told not to display information on notice boards and workers who have spontaneously started circulating petitions were forced to stop.

These attacks are a direct outcome of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government’s Health and Social Care Bill and ongoing health cuts to the tune of £20 billion pounds—almost a fifth of the NHS’s entire annual £108 billion budget.

Currently, full-time NHS workers are on a 37.5 hour week and have seven weeks of annual leave a year. They receive enhanced pay when they work unsocial hours, weekend and nights, which most are obliged to do. They receive an incremental progression each year until they get to the top of the pay band and until recently received a pay rise every year linked to inflation.

With the complicity of the unions, the government imposed a two-year pay freeze in its 2010 budget. Since then, inflation of 3-5 percent a year has forced many NHS workers into financial hardship. On top of this, workers are forced to pay much more into the pension scheme at the same time as the retirement age has been increased, child tax credits have been reduced and child care fees increased. The government’s meagre £250 a year increase for workers earning less than £21,000 a year is a farce.

Significant numbers of workers have been forced to work extra hours in the Staff Resource Pool (known as the “bank”) or with employment agencies in a desperate attempt to compensate for plummeting living standards.

The same “efficiency savings” have severely affected patient care. The government has already reduced staff numbers through natural wastage [attrition] and the non-filling of vacancies and has earmarked more than 60,000 posts to be axed throughout the country. This has resulted in staff shortages and non-availability of specialist and experienced workers on weekends, public holidays, nights and other unsocial hours.

The PTC insists that “further more radical changes to the pay and conditions of the workforce” are needed.

The South West NHS chief executive group, which initiated the cartel, believes that the existing “Agenda for Change” agreement is a barrier to implementing radical changes to pay, terms and conditions. The Agenda for Change was agreed between unions, the previous Labour government and NHS employers in December 2004. With promises of extra cash and under the guise of a “devolved health service, offering wider choice and greater diversity”, it was a vital component of Labour’s plans for a “new national architecture” that involved the dismantling of the NHS and turning the provision of health care over to private corporations.

The unions sold the Agenda for Change to NHS workers, claiming that the radical reorganisation of NHS staff’s job descriptions and work patterns would protect wages and conditions. However, at the core of the Agenda for Change were provisions for the end of national pay scales and an increased dependency on discretionary pay based on productivity gains. The actions now being taken by the PTC are a predictable outcome of the agreements made earlier.

Trade unions function as collaborators in implementing these drastic measures. Unison and Unite played the crucial role in selling out the struggle of 4,000 Southampton City Council workers last year against the council’s policy of firing and rehiring at lower wages. All the NHS trade unions have agreed to the government’s increase in the retirement age and attack on pensions.

The PID reveals further evidence of the treachery of the unions, which have indicated their willingness to take part in further discussions on cutting down sickness absence enhancements, removing the requirement to offer enhanced payments for unsocial hours, and cutting down yearly incremental progression.

The unions have kept workers in the dark on the PTC proposals for months. Now that workers are starting to take matters into their own hands, the unions have started fruitless petition campaigns pleading with individual trust managements to withdraw from the Pay Cartel and preventing any broader mobilisation of NHS workers.

Time and again the unions have demonstrated that they are not capable of defending even the existing social position of the working class, let alone improving them. NHS workers must form action committees to unify all staff regardless of what they do, with patients and the wider population, with the aim of preventing the dismantling of the NHS and bringing down the government that is behind these plans.

Massive police deployment against Anaheim, California protests

By our reporters 
31 July 2012
Police snipers on a rooftop
Police in Anaheim, California deployed huge numbers of officers in military fashion over the weekend, in response to several hundred protesters demonstrating against a recent police killing. Nine people were arrested.
The protest Sunday was part of ongoing demonstrations against the killing of Manuel Diaz, a 25-year-old unarmed man who was shot and killed by Anaheim police over a week ago. The shooting of Diaz was followed by the use of rubber bullets and tear gas against peaceful demonstrators.
A day after Diaz’s death, police shot and killed Joel Acevedo, a 21-year-old youth. On Friday, police were involved in another shooting, this time non-fatal, that involved a suspected burglary.
On Sunday, the police response included horse-mounted officers clad in riot gear, paramilitary troopers stationed atop the police department and other buildings, and truckloads of troops dressed in Army fatigues lining the perimeter of the demonstration. When demonstrators took to an impromptu march toward Disneyland, hundreds of security forces were deployed to head it off.
After the demonstration was declared to be an “unlawful assembly,” protesters were asked to disperse. Riot police with zip ties and an empty police bus awaited any demonstrators who refused to follow these orders.
Last Tuesday, at a City Hall meeting, hundreds of demonstrators were attacked by police who fired rubber bullets at the crowd and arrested 24 protestors, including four juveniles.
The recent shootings have exposed the real state of relations in Southern California. In the shadow of Disneyland, masses of people have to contend with an increasingly dire economic situation and a repressive police force.
Sunday’s demonstration and other protests have been supported by organizations seeking to promote identity politics in response to the shooting, insisting that the fundamental issue is race, not social inequality. Among these groups is BAMN (By Any Means Necessary). In the leaflets they distributed they demanded an end to the “new Jim Crow” and the establishment of a “new mass, integrated, independent, youth-led Civil Rights movement.”
Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party distributed copies of a recent statement from presidential candidate Jerry White, “Police violence in Anaheim: The class issues.” The WSWS spoke to some of the protesters, as well as Anaheim resident.
Nicole, a student living in Orange County, said, “I’m here today to support the protesters. My cousin was actually a friend of one of the two guys who was murdered. I also want to sympathize with others who have been murdered by police. We’re all scared, because we know this can happen to any of us.”
Jerry works odd jobs in the Buena Park area of Orange County. “I myself am a victim of police brutality and have lived in Northern Orange County my whole life,” he said. “I’m here to make people aware of what’s really going on around here in terms of police brutality.
“What’s happening in Anaheim isn’t limited to Anaheim. Just a little while ago, you had the attack on Kelly Thomas nearby in Fullerton, and now their have been six killings in Anaheim this year alone.
“I consider many of the police department members here like a gang. There is no code, no oversight. They just commit crimes indiscriminately. The idea that this is all part of a crackdown on gangs is ridiculous. The police are the gangs.”
Freddy is a long time Orange County resident working in the area. He spoke against the perspective being advanced by the protest organizers saying, “I’m here to support the protests. The thing is though that this doesn’t have anything to do with race. We need to recognize that, because the problem of police killing is only getting worse, and if we say that this is only a matter of race then we’re not really understanding the problem.
“This is happening to white kids, black kids, brown kids. It’s happening all across the board. Look at Kelly Thomas,” who was white.
“There is essentially a culture within the police department which allows these things to go unpunished. At worst, a police officer who kills an innocent kid can be demoted to desk duty.”
Freddy added, “As far as the idea that this represents a crackdown against gangs. I’m not in favor of gangs. However, do you mean to tell me that because someone’s part of a gang, they deserve to be shot in the back and murdered? Or that because someone runs from the cops, they deserve whatever they get? I would think the given what the police have done, the only logical course of action would actually be to run from the cops.”
While waiting for local transit, high school student Eduardo Sanchez viewed the gathering crowd on Sunday. He commented on the relationship between the domestic state killings and the wars and drone bombings committed overseas, stating that “it’s practically the same thing.”
Mark, another citizen of Anaheim, voiced his support for the protest and sought to place the incident that ignited this spark in their historical context. “They are a part of the times. There is a marriage between Disneyland and the city of Anaheim. It’s no question that the police are enforcing the will of the city, which is the will of this corporate power. This all comes from an obsession with security though. While there are no jobs and wages are low, dealing with pockets of crime in a lethal manner is deemed ‘cost efficient.’”
Jackie, a student of University of California, San Diego, grew up in Anaheim. “When you see this happening in other countries, it doesn’t affect you as much. But when it happens to someone in your own neighborhood, where your parents grew up, it becomes so real.”
Julio and Megan
Jackie sought to tie the murders to an inherent racism existing within the system. SEP supporters responded by arguing that the fundamental issue involved was class, not race. Julio, who was sitting with Jackie, also noted the murder of the white homeless man Thomas and stated that police brutality cut across racial dimensions. He also noted the futility of “putting people of color into positions of power. It’s a dead-end.”
Megan, who was sitting with Jackie and Julio, said, “Anaheim is a microcosm of what’s going on around the world.” In tying the question of increased repression with the enforced destitution spearheaded by the banks and carried through by the government, Megan remarked, “My dad says it best: the banks are the American gangsters.”

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Germany participates in war preparations against Syria

By Christoph Dreier 
31 July 2012
Behind the scenes, the German government has long been active in the civil war in Syria and in preparations for military intervention.
Berlin is an important hub for the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian National Council (SNC), who discreetly work there on plans to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The 70 states comprising the “Friends of the Syrian People” group, who have supported the armed uprising against Assad, maintain a secretariat in Berlin and met there last month.
So far, many of these activities have taken place in secret. Outwardly Berlin poses as a mediator, seeking to win Russia and China to support a Syria resolution in the UN Security Council. That orientation appears to be over, however.
Early last week, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told theSüddeutsche Zeitung a “turning point” had been reached in Syrian policy. Berlin is no longer seeking to approach the matter with the backing of the UN Security Council, but to go it alone with the “Friends of Syria”—even against the wishes of Russia and China.
A foreign ministry paper produced for Berlin’s European partners says that the Assad regime will no longer be able to regain full control of Syria. Because the Western powers cannot intervene with the blessing of the Security Council due to the rejection of military intervention by Russia and China, other arrangements must be found for reconstruction after the end of the regime, the paper states.
This is a thinly veiled call for military intervention by a “coalition of the willing”.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Bundeswehr (German armed forces) has played a key role in the Syrian “rebels’” arms supplies. Many of these weapons were transported by sea to the Lebanese port of Tripoli, and from there over the border to Syria.
The German navy has been stationed in this region since 2006, as part of the UNIFIL mission and is officially tasked with halting weapons smuggling. Not a single delivery to the “rebels” has been held up. On 28 June, the Bundestag (federal parliament) extended the mandate of Germany’s mission, citing the situation in Syria.
Moreover, Berlin pushed strongly for the EU to adopt and regularly intensify sanctions against Syria. In Syria, the embargo has led to a catastrophic social situation. Inflation in May was 33 percent, and the ban on oil imports to the EU alone cut revenues by $3 billion. Some 65 percent of small industrial companies have had to close as a result.
Since the end of May, Germany has been part of the “Friends of the Syrian People” group comprising countries that support the FSA and work for the overthrow of Assad.
The group’s coordinating office, which maintains contact with the Syrian rebels, is based in Berlin and led by the former head of the Afghan offices of the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Gunnar Wälzholz. It is financed with €600,000 from the foreign ministry.
In cooperation with the SNC, the group is supposed to organise the reconstruction of Syria after Assad’s fall. This means the privatization of state enterprises and the development of a free-market economy.
As the weekly Die Zeit reported, since January this year the foreign ministry has also maintained a secret project called “Day After”, organised by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (Foundation for Science and Politics, SWP) in cooperation with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Berlin-Wilmersdorf.
Up to 50 representatives of the Syrian opposition have been flown in to work with the two institutions on plans for the post-Assad era. Among them are ex-generals and representatives of the Free Syrian Army, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and secular nationalists.
The SWP was established in 1962 and receives approximately ten million euros in federal funds annually. As the largest facility of its kind in Europe, it advises the federal government on foreign and security policy issues. With “Day After”, it has become a key foreign policy player in relation to Syria.
According to SWP head Volker Perthes, it has had the chance to “create a discourse community, unobserved and without pressure”. In August, a document will be submitted outlining the “necessary” reforms of Syria’s constitution, army, security agencies and economy.
For months, the SWP has published analyses calling for Western military intervention in Syria and demanding German participation. In an article dated 3 June, “Day After” chief Muriel Asseburgs wrote that the time for compromises in Syria was over.
“The violence in Syria will not be stopped by negotiations, but only by the victory or the exhaustion of one side,” she wrote, summing up the new position of the federal government.
In May, the foundation’s research group leader for security policy, Markus Kaim, published a text declaring a NATO operation against Syria to be probable, and drawing up five scenarios for a military strike. His first proposal, to arm and train the rebels, as well as sabotaging the Assad regime, has already been put into action.
A purely symbolic participation by Germany in a military intervention would not be enough, according to Kaim. The German role in the euro crisis has “again raised” the question of “German willingness to lead, and its capabilities in Europe, but also further afield”, he writes. “To decide now to condemn the actions of the Assad government against the opposition but ultimately to accept them would discredit German foreign policy.”
Berlin’s support for the armed Syrian opposition and its preparations for a post-Assad period show that this view has gained the upper hand in government. Germany is prepared to impose its economic and strategic interests in Syria by force of arms.
This marks a significant turning point in Germany’s Middle East policy. Since the end of World War II, West Germany established strong economic ties not only to Israel and the other US-dominated states but also to all countries in the region. In 2009, the Middle East was the second-largest importer of German goods outside the EU after the United States.
These interests have increasingly been thwarted by the United States’ efforts to militarily dominate the region with interventions and wars. Berlin opposed the Iraq war and the bombing of Libya. German firms still refuse to abide by the embargo against Iran, supported by Berlin, because their Iranian contracts are too lucrative.
This position has reached its limits, however, because Berlin is not in a position to confront the United States militarily. A key experience in this regard was Libya.
Last year, when France, the US and Britain conducted the war against Libyan Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi to force regime change, Germany and the so-called BRIC states abstained in the UN Security Council and refused to participate militarily. Besides Berlin’s own economic interests in Libya, the government had thereby also in mind Germany’s economic and strategic cooperation with Russia and China.
While German industry had lucrative business ties with Gaddafi, after the victory of the rebels and the installation of a puppet regime, German interests in Libyan were seriously harmed. In 2011 German exports to Libya fell by 67 percent and German imports from Libya by 36 percent, compared to the previous year.
From the perspective of German imperialism, this scenario cannnot be repeated. Germany is therefore is participating intensively in preparations for war. In Syria too, Germany has strategic economic interests. In 2009, Germany was Syria’s largest customer in the oil sector, and Syria is Germany’s eighth-largest oil supplier.
With an eye to China and Russia—two key German export markets and sources of raw materials—Germany kept its efforts to support the Syrian opposition partially secret, and officially declared it would only accept military intervention under a UN mandate.
The secrecy has yet another reason: the deep-rooted opposition to war by the German population. According to a recent survey, only 12 percent of Germans would support military intervention in Syria; while 13 percent support military and financial support for the opposition. The vast majority of the population rejects both scenarios.
To implement its aggressive foreign policy, German imperialism must fight on two fronts: against Syria and against the German working class.

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Ex-TARP overseer denounces US government cover-up of Wall Street crimes

31 July 2012
In interviews prompted by the publication of his new book (Bailout) on the $700 billion US bank bailout scheme—the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—the former special inspector general for the program, Neil Barofsky, has denounced bank regulators and top officials in the Bush and Obama administrations for covering up Wall Street criminality both before and after the financial crash of September 2008.
In an interview last Thursday with the Daily Ticker blog, Barofsky accused Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner of facilitating the banks’ manipulation of Libor, the global benchmark interest rate, when he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2007-2008, prior to his joining the Obama administration. Recently published documents show that as early as 2007, Geithner knew that London-based Barclays Bank was submitting false information to the Libor board to conceal its financial weakness.
Geithner merely wrote to the Bank of England suggesting certain changes in the Libor rate-setting mechanism, but made no public statement and failed to notify regulators at the US Justice Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, even though major US banks were alleged to be involved in the rate-rigging fraud.
In his interview, Barofsky rejected Geithner’s claims to have acted appropriately. Calling the Libor scandal a “global conspiracy to fix one of the most important interest rates in the world,” the former TARP inspector general said, “[Geithner] heard this information and looked the other way. Geithner and other regulators should be held accountable, they should be fired across the board. If they knew about an ongoing fraud, and they didn’t do anything about it, they don’t deserve to have their jobs. I hope to see people in handcuffs.”
In the same interview and others given over the past week, Barofsky has spoken in scathing terms of the domination of Washington by Wall Street and the subservience of both major parties to the financial elite. “It was shocking,” he told the Daily Ticker, “how much control the big banks had over their own bailout and how they often would dictate terms of some of the TARP programs and the overwhelming deference shown by Treasury officials to the banks. I saw no differences in these core issues between the Bush and Obama administrations.”
In an interview with CBS News’ Charlie Rose on July 23, Barofsky referred to key elements of his account of TARP, including the lack of any restrictions on the banks’ use of bailout funds and the fact that they were not even required to tell the government what they were doing with the taxpayer money that had been handed to them.
“When I got to Washington,” he said, “I saw that it had been hijacked by a small group of very powerful Wall Street banks… It’s not Democratic, it’s not Republican, it’s across political barriers… [Geithner] oversaw a policy that saw our largest banks, the too-big-to-fail institutions, get bigger than ever and more powerful, more politically connected.”
In his book, Barofsky derides the cynicism of the claims made when President Bush, candidate Obama and congressional leaders of both parties were seeking to ram through the TARP law over massive popular opposition that the bailout would benefit Main Street as well as Wall Street. He notes, for instance, that the government’s mortgage modification program—billed as a means to help millions of homeowners—has disbursed only $3 billion out of the $50 billion set aside for it.
Barofsky, who served as the Treasury Department’s special inspector general for TARP until his resignation last February, is well placed to document the collusion of the government with the banks. He issued numerous reports while in his TARP post exposing the lack of any real government oversight over the taxpayer money funneled to the banks, as well as decisions ensuring that Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs recouped tens of billions of dollars in potential losses at the public’s expense.
Deprived of any enforcement powers under the TARP law drafted by Wall Street lawyers and ratified by Congress, Barofsky was simply ignored by Geithner and the Obama administration and his reports were largely buried by the media.
Barofsky’s book has received a similar response from the media, as did reports issued last year by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations documenting in detail fraudulent and illegal activities by the banks in the lead-up to the financial crash of 2008.
Four years after the crisis precipitated by the banks, not a single top banker has been prosecuted, let alone convicted. Meanwhile, the same bankers, and the government officials who shielded them and ensured that they grew even richer, are demanding that American workers accept the “new normal” of wages at $13 or less, along with the destruction of pensions, health care and working conditions.
For all of his exposures, Barofsky, a Democrat, fails to draw the requisite conclusions, suggesting that popular rage can “sow the seeds for the types of reform that will one day break our system free from the corrupting grasp of the megabucks.”
The criminality of the financial system and the complicity of all of the official institutions are not, however, mere aberrations or blemishes on an otherwise healthy system. They are expressions of the putrefaction and failure of the capitalist system itself. Its mortal crisis is reflected above all in the ever-greater scale of social inequality.
There is no way to break the power of the financial oligarchy outside of a mass working class movement armed with a socialist program, including the seizure of the ill-gotten wealth of the financial mafia and the nationalization of the banks and major corporations under the democratic control of the working population.
Andre Damon and Barry Grey
The authors also recommend:
[17 July 2012]
[16 July 2012]
[6 July 2012]

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US Defense Secretary Panetta threatens Syria, Iran in Middle East tour

By Alex Lantier

31 July 2012

Beginning his week-long Middle East tour in Tunis yesterday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for regime change in Syria and threatened Iran with sanctions and war.

Panetta will visit the Tunisian Islamist regime of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali of the Ennadha Party, as well as Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Mursi and Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the US-backed Egyptian military junta. Panetta will then continue on to visit Israel and King Abdullah in Jordan.

Panetta’s trip aims to deepen the US military’s ties to the Islamist regimes that have come to power after the mass working class uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, while pursuing Washington’s deepening military intervention throughout the region.

In Tunis, the Tunisian capital, Panetta discussed closer collaboration between US and Tunisian counter-terrorism officials in tracking Al Qaeda-linked forces in Mali. Allied to Tuareg forces that fled from Libya to neighboring Mali after NATO overthrew Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi last year, these groups now control much of northern Mali, which rebelled against the central government in Bamako.

Panetta threatened Iran, repeating the Obama administration’s usual threat that “all options,” including war, are “on the table.”

Over the weekend, US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon also reportedly briefed Israeli officials on US contingency plans for raids on Iranian nuclear facilities and war with Iran, if Tehran does not give up its nuclear program.

Panetta also suggested, however, that current international sanctions might force Iran to negotiate a deal acceptable to Washington. US and European Union (EU) sanctions have cut Iranian oil exports by an estimated 40 percent. The Iranian currency has lost roughly half its value against the dollar, impoverishing Iranian workers by sharply pushing up prices of imported goods, including food.

Panetta explained, “These sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy of Iran. And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to negotiate, and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution.”

Stepping back from his assessment earlier this year that Israel was “likely” to attack in the spring of 2012, he said Israel had “not made any decisions on Iran.”

Panetta also threatened a key Iranian ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime now faces a US-backed Sunni insurgency that has dragged Syria into civil war.

As Panetta spoke in Tunis, fighting flared in the key city of Aleppo in northern Syria, where army units attacked anti-Assad militias that had seized several key areas and set up check points. Army units assaulted the Salah al-Din and Sakhur neighborhoods. “Rebel” forces reportedly also seized a check point in Anadan, which would give them control of a direct route from Aleppo to the border with Turkey, which supports and arms anti-Assad forces.

Red Cross/Red Crescent officials claimed that 200,000 people have fled fighting in Aleppo.

Calling for international efforts to “bring Assad down,” Panetta said: “If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people in Aleppo, I think it will ultimately be a nail in Assad’s own coffin. What Assad has been doing to his own people and what he continues to do to his own people makes clear that his regime is coming to an end. It’s lost all legitimacy. It’s no longer a question of whether he’s coming to an end, it’s when.”

Panetta’s reference to Assad’s “coffin,” coming from a government that oversaw the overthrow and eventual killing of Gaddafi last year, was certainly intended as a quite deliberate threat of assassination.

At the same time, Washington—which has until now maintained the fiction that it is not arming the rebels, by claiming that weapons are being provided by US allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar—took a step closer to openly arming them Sunday. Reuters reported that the White House has drawn up a confidential presidential directive, or “finding,” authorizing greater covert assistance to the Syrian “rebels.”

The French government also reportedly plans to request a meeting of the UN Security Council this week to discuss Syria and “exert pressure” on the Assad regime.

Panetta’s trip reflects the Pentagon’s reorganization of its Middle East operations to defend US imperialist interests in the Middle East. It is seeking to deepen its ties to right-wing Islamist parties that came to power after last year’s mass working class uprisings overthrew US-backed secular dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. At the same time, it is forcibly intervening to topple any regime, like Syria or Iran, that stands in the way of US regional interests.

The arguments of Panetta—that the US is fighting Al Qaeda, or seeking to prevent Assad from killing “his own people”—are cynical and false. In fact, as part of its collaboration with Sunni Islamist regimes like the Saudi and Qatari monarchies, it is relying to a large extent on Al Qaeda forces to mobilize foreign Islamist fighters to infiltrate Syria and attack the Syrian army.

In the Wall Street Journal, former US Special Operations Command advisor Seth Jones wrote: “Al Qaeda in Syria (often operating as the ‘Al Nusra Front for the People of the Levant’) is using traffickers—some ideologically aligned, some motivated by money—to secure routes through Turkey and Iraq for foreign fighters, most of whom are from the Middle East and North Africa. A growing number of donors from the Persian Gulf and Levant appear to be sending financial support, according to US Treasury Department officials.”

Jones added that Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq were providing “rifles, light machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades” as well as expertise on bomb-making to US-backed forces in Syria.

The US operation to overthrow the Assad regime is destabilizing the entire region. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main Turkish-based anti-Assad force, told the Guardian that there were at least four units not affiliated to them operating inside Syria, including a Libyan guerrilla brigade. They added that the total number of independent foreign units in Syria operating against Assad was “likely far higher.”

Turkish officials are concerned that Kurdish separatist militias may seize portions of Syria and use them as a base to infiltrate neighboring Kurdish-majority areas in Turkey. Yesterday the New York Times cited Turkish officials who said they would “not hesitate to strike in Syria,” if Kurdish groups attacked Turkey from inside Syria.

Turkey has sent troops, armored personnel carriers, and missile batteries to reinforce its positions along its border with Syria.

Jordanian officials reportedly are also considering deploying Special Forces units from Jordan into Syria, ostensibly to seize its chemical and biological weapons stocks.

Extradition Gives America Jurisdiction Over The Globe

By Wendy McElroy

July 30, 2012 “fff” —  Since June 19, WikiLeaks whistle-blower Julian Assange has eluded the British authorities by secreting himself within the diplomatically shielded Ecuadorian embassy in London. On June 14, Assange’s final appeal against his extradition to Sweden was rejected by the British courts, and he was ordered to surrender himself to the police on June 29. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa may well grant Assange’s request for permanent political asylum. Correa is a vociferous critic of American interventionism within Latin America.

Given that the embassy is Ecuadorian, the nation is England, and the charges are Swedish, why does America inevitably enter any discussion of Assange? In a word, “extradition.”

The hunt for Assange

Various authorities have pursued Assange around the world for years now, even though there were no criminal convictions or charges against him. (An arrest in absentia has been lodged by Sweden subsequent to his refusal to be extradited.)

The clear reason for this hunt was and is Assange’s pivotal role in WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of diplomatic documents that profoundly embarrassed the American government (among others) by spotlighting corruption and duplicity. American politicians and military officials were especially outraged by the April 2010 release of the video “<a “=” target=” new”=”” href=””>Collateral Murder.” The video shows a 2007 American attack in which Iraqi civilians were killed, including two Reuters journalists.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian (May 4, 2010) commented,

Reuters demanded an investigation in the summer of 2007, and asked for copies of the video the choppers took. The government refused. But after three years, a copy of the video has finally been released — through WikiLeaks. The chilling footage shows the helicopters firing on seemingly unsuspecting Iraqi civilians — and includes the helicopter crew’s comments, which are even more chilling.

It’s as if the gunners were playing a video game, as if they didn’t consider the people on the ground to be living human beings. “Oh, look at those dead bastards,” one crewman says. At another point, the gunners — who aren’t allowed to fire at unarmed targets — practically beg a wounded man to pick up a weapon so they can finish him off. And when the man gets into a van that arrives to help him, they ask for permission to open fire: “Come on, let us shoot!”

Of course, Assange’s Swedish extradition order was not officially connected to WikiLeaks; it was allegedly based on a need to question him on unrelated accusations of rape. The extraordinary measures employed, however, belie the idea that the prosecutor is merely conducting a preliminary investigation on whether a sex case is prosecutable.

According to written testimony by former Stockholm chief district prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem, the handling of the Assange investigation by authorities has violated Swedish law and procedures in several ways. For example, Alhem declared the “confirmation of the identity of a suspect to the media” to be “completely against proper procedure and in violation of the Swedish law and rules regarding preliminary investigations,” which require confidentiality.

Alhem continued, “In my opinion, a reasonable and professional prosecutor would have sought to interview Mr. Assange in London” in order to determine if a prosecutable case existed. In response to the prosecutor’s claim that Swedish law required questioning on Swedish soil, Alhem stated, “there is … nothing in Swedish law that I know of to prevent a prosecutor” from seeking assistance from the authorities of another nation to interview a suspect on foreign soil.

He concluded, “a prosecutor should not seek to arrest and extradite Mr. Assange simply for the purposes of questioning as long as other means have not been tried.” Indeed, the British authorities have demonstrated their willingness to cooperate by placing Assange under house arrest in 2010.

Making sense of why such dramatic steps were taken to obtain Assange’s person leads back to familiar words — “America” and “extradition.” Once he is on Swedish soil, Assange could be imprisoned immediately while legal matters are conducted in the background without media attention. The highest legal priority is likely to be extradition to the United States, where such powerful political figures as Diane Feinstein, Democrat and chair of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, have been trying for years to find grounds to prosecute Assange for treason under the Espionage Act.

Prosecuting Assange is legally problematic. Treason — the crime of betraying your own nation — is defined by the United States Code, Title 18, Part I, which declares that the crime applies to “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies.” But Assange is Australian and so owes no allegiance to the United States.

Nonetheless, according to confidential emails posted at WikiLeaks’ site The Global Intelligence Files, the U.S. government has had a secret indictment against Assange for more than 12 months that could be produced in a flash should Assange arrive on Swedish soil.

Fred Burton, Stratfor’s Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security, is a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State’s (DoS) counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

In early 2011, Burton revealed in internal Stratfor correspondence that a secret Grand Jury had already issued a sealed indictment for Assange: “Not for Pub — We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.” According to Burton: “Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He’ll be eating cat food forever.” A few weeks earlier, following Julian Assange’s release from a London jail, where he had been remanded as a result of a Swedish prosecutor’s arrest warrant, Fred Burton told SkyNews: “extradition [to the US is] more and more likely.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents WikiLeaks and Assange, has condemned the sealed indictment. CCR claims the indictment underscores “the very thing WikiLeaks has been fighting against: abuses the government commits in an environment of secrecy and expansive, reflexive calls for ‘national security.’”

Why Sweden and not the UK?

If the United States has an indictment that could be activated at any time, why wait for extradition to Sweden? After all, the U.K. is a staunch ally of America and therefore likely to comply with extradition. There are several reasons for the United States to prefer a Swedish extradition.

First, the Swedish claims have been “in play” since before the sealed indictment. FOX News reports a comment by John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to the U.S. State Department.

If the Justice Department were actually to issue charges against Mr. Assange while he was still in Britain there could be potentially a decision for the U.K. government whether to extradite him to Sweden or to the United States, and that could get to be a complicated clash between the two different requests which would put the U.K. government in a difficult position.

Second, as the Justice for Assange website states, “The UK’s judicial review process, while far from perfect, has a number of practical review mechanisms. The nearest equivalent case, of Gary McKinnon – a UK citizen who has been charged for hacking US military systems – has been opposed in the courts for 8 years.” Both sides acknowledge that McKinnon was seeking information to feed his passion for UFOs; nevertheless he faces up to six decades imprisonment on American soil.

Third, a handful of cases similar to McKinnon’s are causing a backlash in British public opinion. When the U.S. recently won the “right” to extradite a 23-year-old student for running a UK-based website that linked to external pages with copyrighted material, it raised a furious debate on whether the extradition treaty was fair.

Fourth, the British media, public opinion, and court system are more favorable to Assange than their Swedish counterparts are. A strategic extradition would be considerably more difficult in the United Kingdom.

A flip of the coin on Assange’s future

It all hinges on whether Ecuador will grant asylum to Assange. Although he has been in its embassy for over a month, Ecuador may well delay making a decision. As long as Ecuador is deliberating, it faces few international consequences, and Assange remains safe.

If I had to wager, I would bet on Ecuador granting asylum. It is not merely that President Correa roundly dislikes the United States. Nor that Assange has a strong case for being politically persecuted. As José Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas Watch division of Human Rights Watch, commented,

I think this is ironic that you have a journalist, or an activist, seeking political asylum from a government that has — after Cuba — the poorest record of free speech in the region, and the practice of persecuting local journalists when the government is upset by their opinions or their research.

It would be a PR coup for Ecuador to become the protector of free speech against a censorious United States. It would also raise Ecuador’s status in Latin America. Assange’s persecution is unpopular in the region. In 2010, then president Lula da Silva of Brazil referred to Assange’s arrest as “an attack on freedom of expression.”

If asylum is denied, then Assange’s path will almost inevitably lead to the United States. He may or may not be tried for treason or for the theft of government documents. He could simply receive the same treatment as Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the leaked documents about which the U.S. government is so incensed.

Manning has been imprisoned for two years without trial, almost one year of which was passed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day; he was left in the cell and awoken every five minutes in an attempt to make him implicate Assange. In March 2012, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture formally called Manning’s treatment cruel, inhuman, degrading, and a violation of his human rights. Assange could simply be kept for years in solitary confinement without trial.

In a statement delivered on July 2 outside the Ecuadorian embassy, Susan Benn of the Julian Assange Defense Fund noted the determination of the U.S. government to prosecute Assange. She stated,

the FBI file about the investigation has now reached 42,135 pages. The US department of justice admitted yesterday that its investigation into WikiLeaks proceeds. It is only a matter of time before US authorities begin extradition proceedings against Julian and other leading members of WikiLeaks on various charges including conspiracy to commit espionage.

Meanwhile, Assange is gearing up for a fight. Agence France-Press (July 18) reported, “WikiLeaks said Wednesday that it had found a way to get around the banking blockade that has dramatically cut its donations over the last 18 months.” The blockade against WikiLeaks had been led by “US financial giants VISA and MasterCard.” Now WikiLeaks intends to use “a French affiliate of Visa” that “VISA and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off.” WikiLeaks claims that the blockade reduced their donations by over 90 percent.

Of the blockade and those who capitulate to it, Assange declared, “Let them demonstrate to the world once again their corrupt pandering to Washington. We’re waiting. Our lawyers are waiting.”

With money in his pocket, Assange may be able to perform the legally miraculous act of beating the U.S. government.

Wendy McElroy is the author of The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival (Prometheus Books, 1998). She actively manages two websites: and For additional articles on current events by Ms. McElroy, please visit the Commentary section of our website. Send her email.

Olympics: China’s success and sour grapes


 Would it be acceptable to label as a serial paedophile the “Olympic coach” who insinuated that China’s star swimmer Ye Shiwen, 16 uses performance drugs to achieve her fantastic times? Without a shred of evidence, no it would not. Then let us call this “coach” a foul-mouthed, rude, pig-headed bigot and congratulate the Chinese team.

The disgusting remarks by the “US Olympic coach” (where else?) that Ye’s performance was “suspicious and disturbing” were backed up by lackey boys in the western media with obedient lapdog behaviour, asking how Ye Shiwen had such an unbelievable last 50 metres of the 400 metres Women’s Swimming medley. The disparaging remark, backed up by a question. No affirmations, true, but the poison has already laced the drink and the honour of the Chinese Olympic team and Ye Shiwen herself have been placed in question. By pig-headed guttersnipes.

The sheer pig-headed ignorance of those who gather like school playground bullies, envious of the success of a new kid on the block, reflects the racist arrogance a few decades back when a black person seen driving a nice car was labelled a drugs dealer. For a start, when you make disparaging insinuations like that, you have to back them up with evidence and the Chinese Olympic Team has very strict rules on doping, like any other. Or else STFU!

Secondly, all medals winners at Olympic events are automatically tested for doping. Suppose the answer for Ye’s success was hard work, individual talent and dedication to her country and her sport? And what is wrong with the USA and UK today, as they go gallivanting around the globe supporting terrorist groups, training terrorists at home and sending them into countries like Libya and Syria, supporting proscribed groups on their own lists of terrorist organizations?

Where is the decency, where are the morals, where is the moral higher ground? Where is the graciousness, where is the sportsmanship, where are the congratulations, where is that handshake? Remember the Soviet Union’s Lyudmila Tourishcheva when she walked round the podium to shake the hand of the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci after the Women’s Gymnastics finals in the 1976 Olympic Games? What a difference!

And now we are speaking about sportsmanship and the Olympic Games, as these countries like to speak so much about togetherness and welcoming the members of the international community to practise sport bathed by the Olympic Spirit, then let us hold them to account to practise what they preach.

No more false flag events to spark colour revolutions in sovereign states, no more demonising governments overseas, no more interference in the internal affairs of countries by sponsoring terrorist groups. If the Olympic spirit is worth the paper it is written on, then let us extend this spirit to our international relations after the Games and let each Olympic event honour the commitment to these ideals every four years as our boys and girls come together in friendship to play. Commitment not only on the playing fields, but in out everyday lives.

Why do I feel that these words are welcomed by so many in the international community, yet with a hypocritical scowl by Washington and her poodles? Why is it that some people sit so righteously in church praying the Our Father, preaching forgiveness and brotherly relations and the second they get outside in the street, kick the nearest beggar in the groin?

MSM: Courtroom Transparency

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Another $200 million for the Pentagon up in smoke?

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Horror Hospital: The Most Shocking Photos And Testimony From The Dawood Military Hospital Scandal

Horror Hospital: The Most Shocking Photos And Testimony From The Dawood Military Hospital Scandal

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The Perversion of Scholarship

By Chris Hedges

July 30, 2012 “Truthdig” — Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.
There is probably no more inhospitable place to be an intellectual, or a person of color or a member of the LGBT community, than on the campuses of the Big Ten Conference colleges, although the poison of this bizarre American obsession has infected innumerable schools. These environments are distinctly corporate. To get ahead one must get along. The student is implicitly told his or her self-worth and fulfillment are found in crowds, in mass emotions, rather than individual transcendence. Those who do not pay deference to the celebration of force, wealth and power become freaks. It is a war on knowledge in the name of knowledge.
“Knowledge,” as C. Wright Mills wrote in “The Power Elite,” “is no longer widely felt as an ideal; it is seen as an instrument. In a society of power and wealth, knowledge is valued as an instrument of power and wealth, and also, of course, as an ornament in conversation.”
There are few university presidents or faculty members willing to fight back. Most presidents are overcompensated fundraisers licking the boots of every millionaire who arrives on campus. They are like court eunuchs. They cater to the demands of the hedge fund managers and financial speculators on their trustee boards, half of whom should be in jail, and most of whom revel in this collective self-worship. And they do not cross the football coach, who not only earns more than they do but has much more power on the campus.
One of the last great university presidents was James O. Freedman of Dartmouth. His integrity and courage were matched by his deep and abiding love of learning. He arrived in Hanover, N.H., determined to do battle with Dartmouth’s entrenched culture of elitism, white male entitlement, fraternities and football. He did not have an easy tenure. The Dartmouth Review published a cover article that depicted Freedman, who was Jewish, as Hitler and wrote that he was orchestrating the “final solution” to traditional conservatism at Dartmouth.
Freedman had told the college in his inaugural address:
We must strengthen our attraction for those singular students whose greatest pleasures may come not from the camaraderie of classmates but from the lonely acts of writing poetry or mastering the cello or solving mathematical riddles or translating Catullus. We must make Dartmouth a hospitable environment for students who march “to a different drummer”—for those creative loners and daring dreamers whose commitment to the intellectual and artistic life is so compelling that they appreciate, as Prospero reminded Shakespeare’s audiences, that for certain persons a library is “dukedom large enough.”
But Freedman’s imprint, once he departed, faded. Fraternity and football culture reasserted itself at Dartmouth. A former Dartmouth fraternity member, Andrew Lohse, who is profiled in an April article in Rolling Stone, was ostracized not only by the students but the university administration for his public exposure of hazing and abuse. 
“I was a member of a fraternity that asked pledges, in order to become a brother, to: swim in a kiddie pool of vomit, urine, fecal matter, semen and rotten food products; eat omelets made of vomit; chug cups of vinegar, which in one case caused a pledge to vomit blood; drink beer poured down fellow pledges’ ass cracks … among other abuses,” he wrote in the magazine. He accused Dartmouth’s 17 fraternities, 11 sororities and three coed houses, to which roughly half of the student body belongs, of perpetuating a culture of “pervasive hazing, substance abuse and sexual assault,” as well as an “intoxicating nihilism” that dominates campus social life. “One of the things I’ve learned at Dartmouth—one thing that sets a psychological precedent for many Dartmouth men—is that good people can do awful things to one another for absolutely no reason,” he said. “Fraternity life is at the core of the college’s human and cultural dysfunctions.”
Harassment and physical violence by athletic teams and Greek organizations on American campuses is real. They use these threats to keep critics cowed and their entitlement secure. Any attack mounted against football programs or Greek organizations becomes an attack against the group identity that gives followers their sense of prestige and empowerment. And all those who question or criticize these organizations are treated as the enemy. When the Rev. William Sloan Coffinled the fight to shut down fraternities at Williams College, someone fired a shot through the window of his house. Vicky Triponey, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, became a nonperson when she attempted to discipline half a dozen football players who had been involved in a brawl in which several students were injured and one was beaten unconscious. Football coach Joe Paterno acidly referred to her in a radio interview as “that lady in Old Main” (the central administration building) who couldn’t possibly know how to handle students because “she didn’t have kids.” The coach angrily told Triponey that his players would not cooperate with any investigation because they would not “rat” on each other. Penn State President Graham Spanier asked her pointedly if she really embraced “the Penn State way.” Triponey received threatening phone calls. She was denounced on student message boards. Her house was vandalized. A “for sale” sign was put up in her front yard. She was no longer invited to university events, fellow faculty and administrative staff avoided her, and people turned their backs on her in the supermarket. Spanier successfully pressured her to resign in 2007. Her husband found work at the University of South Carolina’s medical school in Charleston, and the couple moved.
Hazing, comradeship and complicity in sexual abuse, including rape, make up the glue that holds campus sports teams and fraternity houses together. The National Study of Student Hazing reports that 73 percent of U.S. fraternities and sororities haze. Since 1970, at least one student has died each year from hazing. Eighty-two percent of these deaths have resulted from alcohol poisoning. Hazing weeds out those with enough self-esteem and independence to stand up to the hierarchy. It ensures conformity and obedience. These groups are, in essence, self-selected. Those who have the fortitude and courage to oppose their own public humiliation and the public humiliation perpetuated with each new cycle of recruits or pledges leave. Those who remain conform. Athletic recruiting parties, like fraternity parties, at schools across the country are plagued by gang rapes and sexual assaults. And these crimes, known by all in the fraternity or on the team, are met, in locker rooms and Greek houses, with the culture of silence, mocking the stated missions of schools they a.
Bernard Lefkowitz captured the sickness of this culture in his book “Our Guys.” Lefkowitz wrote about a group of high school athletes in Glen Ridge, N.J., who in 1989 lured a 17-year-old developmentally disabled girl to a basement. The boys sexually abused her with a broomstick and a baseball bat. And when the assault became public, the town rallied, as at Penn State, not around the victim, but “our guys.” Athletic prowess was, as we saw at Penn State, glorified above human decency, compassion, respect and the law. But this is true at most schools. As long as athletes perform they are untouchable.
The root of the problem is the culture of big-time athletics and Greek life. And it will not be addressed through NCAA sanctions or the removal of Joe Paterno’s statue at Penn State. It will end only when fraternities, sororities and football—along with other professional sports programs masquerading as college athletics—are banished from colleges and universities. These athletes, in the end, also are used. They are unpaid performers, brought to the campus solely for their athletic prowess, who make millions for their schools and their coaches. If you have a son or daughter—especially a daughter—who wants to get an education, look for a school that has banished these organizations.
The corporate world sees football players, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters as prime recruits. They have been conditioned to join the team, to surrender moral autonomy, to accept and carry out acts of personal humiliation, to treat with contempt those who oppose them or who are different, to define their life by an infantile narcissism centered on greed and self-promotion and to remain silent about crimes they witness or take part in. It is the very ethic of corporations.
The ruling elite sees in Greek organizations and football programs the training ground for the amoral class of speculators, bankers and corporatists who pillage the country. Henry “Hank” Paulson, who as secretary of the treasury orchestrated a government payout of more than $12.9 billion to save AIG and Goldman Sachs (where he had been the chairman and chief executive officer), was a member of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon and an offensive lineman at Dartmouth. The billionaire hedge fund manager Stephen Mandel, who chairs Dartmouth’s board of trustees, was, as Rolling Stone points out, in Psi Upsilon. Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, was a Phi Delt at Dartmouth, as were other trustees including Morgan Stanley senior adviser R. Bradford Evans, billionaire oilman Trevor Rees-Jones and venture capitalist William W. Helman IV. And that is just Dartmouth.
Hazing is also integral to the military, where suicide—including the recent suicide of a Chinese-American soldier, Pvt. Danny Chen, in Afghanistan—is often the result. It is almost impossible to escape your tormentors in the military. Suicide becomes for many the only exit. Chen, who was the sole Asian-American in his unit, endured sandbags being tied to his arms by fellow soldiers. Rocks and water bottles were thrown at him. He was forced to speak Chinese instead of English. And he was taunted with the slurs “gook,” “slant,” “chink” and “egg roll.” Eight soldiers are being court-martialed in his death. A huge percentage of the suicides in the military happen because of hazing. Most of these cases are never investigated. The bodies are just shipped home.
Corporate culture, which now dominates higher education, shares the predatory culture of the military. These cultures are about subsuming the self into the herd. They are about the acquiring of technical, vocational skills to serve the system. And with the increasing budget cuts, and more craven obsequiousness to corporate donors, it will only get worse. These forces of conformity are hostile to the humanities that teach students to question assumptions and structures, that prod them to seek a life of meaning and an ethical code that challenges the blind, utilitarian obedience to power and profit that corporations and the military instill. We will, I fear, continue to turn out the intellectually stunted and maimed, those who know school football records but no philosophy, drama, art, music, theology, literature or history. The goal of an education is not, in the end, to tell students what to think but to teach them how to think.
College and university administrators defund libraries, close foreign language and classics departments and invest staggering sums in gargantuan sports arenas and athletic programs. And the only time the student body protests or riots is when, as at Penn State, something unpleasant happens to the beloved football coach. Pity the student who goes there to learn. The faculty and administration will not help them; they are complicit or intimidated.
William Carlos Williams, author of the poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” knew there was more to life than careers, personal empowerment, the quest for prestige, the roar of the crowd and networking. But many find this out too late. And those attending schools like Penn State will probably never find out at all. Williams wrote:
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
© 2012

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Why do Mormons Love Israel?

People of the Book


July 30, 2012  — “FP” —  TEL AVIV – Mitt Romney dropped by the Western Wall on Sunday, July 29, but one nearby landmark was conspicuously left off his Israel itinerary: the Jerusalem Center of Brigham Young University (BYU) — or as locals call it with typical directness, “Mormon University.”

The presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee, in his campaign and throughout his political career, has sought to downplay the significance of his Mormon faith. But though his religion could be a liability for many U.S. evangelicals and other devout Christians (just half of Americans believe Mormons are Christian), it may yet prove a blessing in winning over another high-value constituency: Among all American faith groups, Mormons receive the highest favorability rating from Jews.

“Mormons consider themselves to be latter-day Israelites and inheritors of the promises made to Abraham, so they have a natural affinity for Jews,” says Mark Paredes, a Mormon from Michigan who writes the blog Jews and Mormons for theJewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.

“Because they’re a small community of outsiders, they’ve generally allied themselves with Jews,” adds Jonny Daniels, a Jerusalem-based Republican strategist well-connected in Mormon circles through his friendship with Glenn Beck. “They can relate to us in a way other Christians can’t.”

To outsiders, the Book of Mormon can seem a radically revisionist text that has the Garden of Eden situated in Missouri and Jesus bringing the Gospel to Native Americans after his resurrection. But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS for short) portrays itself as a “restorationist” creed which, through the agency of Joseph Smith, returns Christianity to its authentic roots, unsullied by Greek philosophy and other profane accretions.

Many of those roots are unambiguously Jewish, even if most Jews don’t know it. The Book of Mormon depicts Native Americans as Hebrews exiled from the Land of Israel around 600 B.C., and Mormons self-identify as descendants of the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. The LDS church has its own version of the Aaronic priesthood (the cohanim who once performed rites in the Jewish Temple), and the iconic Salt Lake Temple houses an inner sanctuary into which only a high priest may enter — a direct analog to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.

An LDS holy text called the Word of Wisdom includes dietary restrictions — tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine are verboten — that Mormons view as comparable to the rules for kosher food. On the Mormon Sabbath, believers (or as they’re often known, the House of Israel) are encouraged to spend time in study and avoid exchanging money. Mormons even refer to nonmembers as gentiles — Utah only got its first “gentile” governor in 1917: Simon Bamberger, a Jew.

The Book of Mormon even has Jesus presciently condemning anti-Semitism and “replacement theology” — the Christian doctrine that the divine covenant with the Jews was superseded when they rejected him as Messiah. “Yea, and ye need not any longer hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews, nor any of the remnant of the house of Israel,” the Nazarene tellsthe Indian-Israelites of America, “[F]or behold, the Lord remembereth his covenant unto them, and he will do unto them according to that which he hath sworn.”

“There are no people in the world who understand the Jews like the Mormons,” Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, once told future LDS President Ezra Taft Benson. “We need to know more about the Jews, and the Jews ought to know more about the Mormons,” Benson replied.

Mormon leaders espoused Zionist sympathies decades before the Jewish national movement was born. In 1841, Joseph Smith sent his “personal apostle” Orson Hyde to Jerusalem, where on the Mount of Olives he beseeched God to “restore the kingdom unto Israel — raise up Jerusalem as its capital, and continue her people a distinct nation and government.” Today, Jerusalem’s very own Orson Hyde Park sits on the spot of that prophecy, just a few steps from BYU’s Jerusalem Center.

Yet Mormon-Jewish relations have at times been uneasy. In the 1980s, as BYU laid the groundwork for its Jerusalem campus, ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel held a 7,000-strong pray-in at the Western Wall, warning of the “spiritual holocaust” that would result from LDS proselytizing. (The Utah-based university is owned and operated by the LDS church, which expects male members to spend two years in missionary work.)

Ultimately a deal was struck between church and state — Mormon and Jewish, respectively — barring students from proselytizing in Israel, a stricture that exists in certain Muslim countries and was once in place in the Soviet Union. The campus opened in 1987, admitting some 170 BYU students for semester-long instruction in the Old and New testaments, Arab and Islamic civilizations, and the region’s history and languages (students can choose Hebrew or Arabic).

The ban on proselytizing has been scrupulously upheld, but the BYU campus’s very location is itself sensitive. Perched on Mount Scopus (an enclave in East Jerusalem controlled by Israel before it unified the city in the 1967 Six-Day War), itoverlooks the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock.

“We’re situated on Jerusalem’s seam-line, and politically we’re also neutral,” says the center’s executive director, Eran Hayet, who is Israeli (and Jewish). “We teach our students to be listeners — that you don’t have to be anti-Palestinian to be pro-Israeli, and vice versa.”

The proselytizing question largely settled, LDS-Jewish relations suffered further strain in 1995 when Jewish groupsdiscovered Mormons had posthumously converted at least 380,000 Holocaust survivors in what the LDS church calls “vicarious baptism.” The ensuing outrage led the church to ban the baptism of deceased Jews outright, but in several cases since, enterprising Mormons have taken it upon themselves to perform the rite.

“The church is very clear: Members are not allowed to engage in baptism of the dead for Jews, except for those who might be direct ancestors in their own line,” says James Kearl, the Utah-based assistant to the university president for the Jerusalem Center. “Nevertheless, there may have been two or three flare-ups over this by people who, frankly, were behaving mischievously.”

This February, an ex-LDS whistle-blower revealed that a church in the Dominican Republic had baptized Anne Frank and that a congregation in Idaho had done the same for Daniel Pearl, the Jewish American reporter kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002. That same month, after learning he had been preapproved for baptism, the author and Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel pleaded with Romney to knock his own church into order.

And still the bond continues. Many Mormon leaders “are so pro-Jewish that it’s almost awkward,” wrote Stephen Richer, a Jewish pollster from Utah, in a recent op-ed for Salt Lake City’s leading daily. Utah’s Republican senator, Orrin Hatch,wears a mezuzah around his neck and once told the New York Times he often feels “sorry” he wasn’t born a Jew. “Mormons believe the Jewish people are the chosen people, just like the Old Testament says,” he said. “Anything I can do for the Jewish people, I will do.”

Romney’s supportive rhetoric on Israel — so unfaltering it could have been scripted by the Republican Jewish Coalition — suggest the candidate may be cut from the same white cloth.

At a presidential debate in January, he blamed the failure of Middle East peace talks squarely on the Palestinians: “The Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution. It’s the Palestinians who don’t want a two-state solution. They want to eliminate the state of Israel.”

In Israel on Sunday, Romney delivered the same unflagging message of support. He pointedly referred to Jerusalem as the country’s capital, an implicit swipe at Barack Obama’s administration, which drew the ire of conservative commentators when in a routine news release in March it listed Jerusalem and Israel as separate places. Asked to clarify, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to name Jerusalem — or any other city — as the country’s capital.”Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue” between Israel and the Palestinians, she said. “It’s got to be resolved through negotiations.”

But Romney wasn’t inclined to allow even a ray of daylight between the two nations. “The story of how America … rose up to become the dear friend of the people of Israel is among the finest and most hopeful in our nation’s history,” Romneysaid against the backdrop of Mount Zion and the Old City walls. “Israel’s achievements are a wonder of the modern world … [and] America’s support of Israel should make every American proud.”

At a fundraiser on Monday, Romney hinted that Israel’s economic success may be a reflection of divine favor. “[As] I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” he said, citing Israelis’ innovation, a Jewish tradition of succeeding despite persecution, and the “hand of providence.”

Palestinians were unimpressed. “What is this man doing here?” said veteran negotiator Saeb Erekat. “Yesterday, he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than Palestinian culture. Isn’t this racism?” Even some Israeli commentators felt the speech disingenuous, a gesture more at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than at Israelis themselves.

Paredes, the Mormon blogger, attributes the LDS-Jewish alliance to a history of shared suffering: “[T]he nearly 14 million members of our church, which has been the most persecuted major religion in American history … do have special feelings for the 13 million members of the most persecuted religion in world history.”

Daniels, the Republican strategist, is skeptical, however. “They’ve had a tough time; they’ve had their massacres. But in terms of persecution, you can’t really beat us. There’s little comparison between what we’ve been through in 2,000 years and what they’ve been through in 200,” he says.

“What we’ve experienced as a people is unmatched, nor would we wish it upon anyone.” “There is no existential threat against Utah,” he says. “As persecuted and troubled as they think they are, it ain’t that bad.”

Conservatives Call for Obama to Intervene in Syria

By Josh Rogin
July 30, 2012 “FP“– Fifty-six leading conservative foreign-policy experts wrote an open letter Friday to U.S. President Barack Obama calling on him to directly aid the Syrian opposition and protect the lives of Syrian civilians.
“For eleven months now, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of their government as they seek to topple the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. As the recent events in the city of Homs-in which hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a matter of days-have shown, Assad will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power,” wrote the experts.
“Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East.”
The letter was organized jointly by the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, both conservative policy organizations in Washington, D.C. Signees included Max Boot, Paul Bremer, Elizabeth Cheney,Eric Edelman, Jamie Fly, John Hannah, William Inboden, William Kristol, Michael Ledeen, Clifford May, Robert McFarlane, Martin Peretz, Danielle Pletka, John Podhoretz, Stephen Rademaker, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Dan Senor, James Woolsey, Dov Zakheim, and Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the Syrian National Council.
The letter calls on Obama to immediately establish safe zones within Syrian territory, establish contacts with and provide assistance to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), give communications and logistical assistance to the Syrian opposition, and enact further sanctions on the Syrian regime and its leaders.
The letter comes one day before the first “Friends of Syria” contact-group meeting in Tunisia and on the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in Washington.
On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the government sponsored violence in Syria, but the letter argues that multilateral efforts to protect civilians in Syria have thus far failed.
“The Syrian people are asking for international assistance,” it reads. “It is apparent that American leadership is required to ensure the quickest end to the Assad regime’s brutal reign, and to clearly show the Syrian people that, as you said on February 4, 2012, the people of the free world stand with them as they seek to realize their aspirations.”
Read the full letter
February 17, 2012 
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C.
Dear Mr. President:
For eleven months now, the Syrian people have been dying on a daily basis at the hands of their government as they seek to topple the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. As the recent events in the city of Homs-in which hundreds of Syrians have been killed in a matter of days-have shown, Assad will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power.
Given the United Nations Security Council’s recent failure to act, we believe that the United States cannot continue to defer its strategic and moral responsibilities in Syria to regional actors such as the Arab League, or to wait for consent from the Assad regime’s protectors, Russia and China. We therefore urge you to take immediate steps to decisively halt the Assad regime’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, and to hasten the emergence of a post-Assad government in Syria.
Syria’s future is not purely a humanitarian concern. The Assad regime poses a grave threat to national security interests of the United States. The Syrian government, which has been on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list since 1979, maintains a strategic partnership with the terror-sponsoring government of Iran, as well as with Hamas and Hezbollah. For years, it facilitated the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq who killed American troops. For years, it secretly pursued a nuclear program with North Korea’s assistance. And for decades, it has closely cooperated with Iran and other agents of violence and instability to menace America’s allies and partners throughout the Middle East.
Equally troubling, foreign powers have already directly intervened in Syria-in support of the Assad regime. Russia is providing arms and supplies to the Syrian government. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah are reportedly operating in Syria, and assisting Syrian military forces and pro-regime militias in efforts to crush the Syrian opposition. In turn, the lack of resolve and action by the responsible members of the international community is only further emboldening the Assad regime.
Given these facts, we urge you to take the following immediate actions to hasten an end to the Assad regime and the humanitarian catastrophe that it is inflicting on the Syrian people:
Immediately establish safe zones within Syrian territory, as well as no-go zones for the Assad regime’s military and security forces, around Homs, Idlib, and other threatened areas, in order to protect Syrian civilians. To the extent possible, the United States should work with like-minded countries like Turkey and members of the Arab League in these efforts.
Establish contacts with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and, in conjunction with allies in the Middle East and Europe, provide a full range of direct assistance, including self-defense aid to the FSA.\
Improve U.S. coordination with political opposition groups and provide them with secure communications technologies and other assistance that will help to improve their ability to prepare for a post-Assad Syria.
Work with Congress to impose crippling U.S. and multilateral sanctions on the Syrian government, especially on Syria’s energy, banking, and shipping sectors.
Unless the United States takes the lead and acts, either individually or in concert with like-minded nations, thousands of additional Syrian civilians will likely die, and the emerging civil war in Syria will likely ignite wider instability in the Middle East. Given American interests in the Middle East, as well as the implications for those seeking freedom in other repressive societies, it is imperative that the United States and its allies not remove any option from consideration, including military intervention.
The Syrian people are asking for international assistance. It is apparent that American leadership is required to ensure the quickest end to the Assad regime’s brutal reign, and to clearly show the Syrian people that, as you said on February 4, 2012, the people of the free world stand with them as they seek to realize their aspirations.
Khairi Abaza
Ammar Abdulhamid
Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Tony Badran
Paul Berman
Max Boot
Ellen Bork
L. Paul Bremer
Matthew R. J. Brodsky
Elizabeth Cheney
Seth Cropsey
Toby Dershowitz
James Denton
Mark Dubowitz
Nicholas Eberstadt
Eric S. Edelman
Jamie M. Fly
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Abe Greenwald
John P. Hannah
William Inboden
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson
Ash Jain
Kenneth Jensen
Sirwan Kajjo
Lawrence F. Kaplan
Irina Krasovskaya
William Kristol
Michael Ledeen
Tod Lindberg
Herbert I. London
Clifford D. May
Ann Marlowe
Robert C. McFarlane
Joshua Muravchik
Martin Peretz
Danielle Pletka
John Podhoretz
Stephen Rademaker
Karl Rove
Jonathan Schanzer
Randy Scheunemann
Gary J. Schmitt
Daniel S. Senor
Lee Smith
Henry D. Sokolski
Daniel Twining
Peter Wehner
Kenneth R. Weinstein
Leon Wieseltier
R. James Woolsey
Khawla Yusuf
Dov S. Zakheim
Robert Zarate
Radwan Ziadeh
See also – In Syria, U.S. should arm rebels, shape future political agenda, says Wolfowitz: Wolfowitz, who was one of the chief architects of the Iraq invasion and post-war planning as Deputy Secretary of Defense under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, for one, there would be no American ground troops necessary in Syria.

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We Are Facing Global War

Says Syria FM in Iran; opposition says transitional govt soon

By The Daily Star

July 30, 2012 “Daily Star” —  Syria’s foreign minister met with his Iranian counterpart yesterday, with both sides decrying what they call an international plot against the Syrian regime.

“I can tell you that we are facing a global war against Syria, and as a proud Syrian I can tell you that it is a great honour to be part of a great country that is facing a ferocious attack by certain countries,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told reporters in Tehran.

He also described a “media campaign” by the United States and others about chemical weapons in Syria.

Moallem also delivered ominous words about the battle for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city that has seen more than a week of clashes between regime and rebel fighters.

“Since last week, (opposition fighters) planned for whatever they called the ‘great Damascus battle,’ but they have failed after one week. That’s why they moved to Aleppo, and I can assure you that they will fail,” he said.

“Syria is now stronger and will move ahead in facing the aggression against our nation,” Moallem said.

The Iranian foreign minister showed his support for the Syrian regime, saying Israel is behind “is a conspiracy against Syria.”

“It is completely ridiculous and delusive to believe that there is a possibility of creating a vacuum in the leadership in Syria,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

“We call upon the people of the region to be fully aware and not to move in the wrong direction because there will be severe consequences that will go beyond the borders of the region to the outside world,” Salehi warned.

Meanwhile, the head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main umbrella group for opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said yesterday that talks would be held within weeks to form a transitional government that would in time replace Assad’s ministerial team.

Abdelbasset Sida, president of the SNC, said such a government would run the country between Assad’s ousting and democratic elections. Most of its members would be drawn from the opposition, but some members of the current Assad government might also be included, he added.

“This government should come about before the fall (of Assad) so that it presents itself as an alternative for the next stage,” Sida told Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia television in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

“The committees that we have set up have their own schedules. Obviously, the matter should be concluded within weeks.”

“There are some elements in the current regime who are not bloodstained, who were not part of major corruption cases. We will discuss (including them) with other parties, but there should be a national consensus to accept them.”

However, criticism about the SNC’s legitimacy may complicate its efforts to form a transitional government. It has sometimes struggled to overcome internal divisions and critics have accused the Istanbul-based organisation of being out of touch, overly influenced by Turkey, and not fully representative of the opposition.

Horror Hospital: The Most Shocking Photos And Testimony From The Dawood Military Hospital Scandal

Horror Hospital: The Most Shocking Photos And Testimony From The Dawood Military Hospital Scandal.


The politics of Olympic Games


The politics of Olympic Games. 47650.jpeg
The Olympic Games have long become a political event. The games in London are no exception. Nor were the Olympics in Beijing poisoned by the aggression of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili against South Ossetia. Wars, sports boycotts, hostage-taking … A remedy from the politicization of sport has not yet been found.
Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been fighting for maximum equality between men and women. Because of gender inequality the right to participate in the Olympics has been nearly lost by two wealthy Arab countries – Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The countries have very strict rules of Islam, and there have never been women on their teams. Now women will be competing as well, of course, wearing the hijab. As it turns out, bans can be a bit relaxed for the sake of the Olympics.
For the first time in 40 years the national Great Britain football team is expected at the Olympics. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate teams, and because of that the Great Britain Olympic team has virtually ceased to exist. For the sake of a home tournament it was decided to revive it, but the preliminary application was submitted only by the players from England and Wales. Scotland and Ulster refused to share their football independence.
The first ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BC. Initially they had a political meaning. It was assumed that for the time of competition that lasted two weeks the war was to stop throughout the ancient Greece. When in the late 19th century Baron Pierre de Coubertin decided to revive the Games, he declared: “O sport, you are peace!.” Unfortunately, politicians do not always want to hear it.
If in ancient Greece the war would stop during the Olympics, in the twentieth century it was not the case. 1916 Games in Berlin, 1940 in Tokyo and Helsinki, and 1944 in London were disrupted because of world wars. These were the only cancelled games in the history of the sporting event. Yet, politics still grossly and shamelessly intervened in the course of the Games.
An example of the politicization of sport for a long time was considered to be the games in 1936 in Berlin. 
Adolf Hitler wanted to turn them into a triumph of the Aryan race. However, the competition in 100m and 200m races was won by a black American Jesse Owens. It is said that the Fuehrer was furious. Legend has it that Hitler did not come out openly to congratulate the winner. But this is only a legend. In fact, there is no protocol that obligated him to do so. 
Why did the Soviet Union team not participate in the Olympics until 1952, although the pre-World War II team of the Russian Empire was involved in the Games? It happened because it existed in a hostile environment, and everyone else tried to isolate it. This was the case with the sporting events. Only in 1952 in Helsinki “Olympic blockade” was finally canceled.
In 1956 the Olympics were held in Melbourne. Australia heard the echo of the events in Hungary, when Soviet troops crushed the anti-Communist uprising of the Magyars. The Soviet and Hungarian water polo players met in the finals, but the match was more of a massacre. The opponents were fighting, kicking, openly insulted the Soviet players for political reasons. As a result, the Magyars won, and decided not to return to their homeland.
In 1964, due to the apartheid regime, the team of South Africa was not allowed in the Games for 28 years. Four years later, GDR team appeared at the main sports festival for the first time. Prior to that, East Germany was not allowed to compete separately, and for three consecutive Olympic Games it competed as part of the combined German team dominated by athletes from Germany. The reason was political: West Germany and other Western countries either did not recognize the GDR or only partially recognized it.
The 1972 Olympics in Munich were marked by the biggest tragedy in the modern Olympic history. Members of the Palestinian group “Black September” took hostage athletes and coaches from Israel. As a result of the unsuccessful attack, 11 hostages and one policeman were killed. The Games were suspended for one day, and the delegation of the Soviet Union ignored the minute of silence. Moscow decided that since Israel was a hostile state it could be ignored.
Delegations from over 20 African countries did not come to the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. They did not like the fact that shortly before the Games, the team of South Africa disallowed from the Olympics because of apartheid policies, competed in the international rugby tournament. Although rugby is not part of the Olympic sports, all attempts to persuade the Africans have failed.
The most infamous case of political interference in sport at the Olympics took place in 1980 and 1984. Due to the introduction of Soviet troops in Afghanistan the delegations of dozens of countries, including USA, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Turkey, Argentina, did not show up in Moscow. The socialist countries headed by the Soviet Union responded in four years by boycotting the Games in Los Angeles. However, Romania and Yugoslavia still appeared in the U.S.
Another long-awaited event happened at the Olympics in Los Angeles – the Olympic debut of China’s national team. Earlier Beijing refused to participate in the Games on the grounds that the Olympics allowed the representatives of Taiwan. For a long time, Chine was represented solely by the Taiwanese. Finally, the IOC decided to allow both China and Taiwan in the Games. So far, “two Chinas” compete as different teams.
The 1988 Olympics were held in Seoul. The authorities of the DPRK insisted that the Games should be accepted not only in Korea but also in the North. However, Pyongyang was not given any competition, and ultimately the followers of the Juche idea ignored the Games. They were followed by representatives of several other socialist countries (e.g., Cuba). But the Soviet Union and the Delegation of the European socialist countries have arrived in South Korea.
In 1992 the Games were held against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. As a result, the CIS team arrived in Barcelona, composed of representatives of 12 countries. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have been admitted as a separate country. Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro were under the pressure of the international sanctions and not allowed into Spain. Slovenia and Croatia have brought their delegations. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia did not show up in Barcelona since they did not have time to form their Olympic Committees.
Politics returned to the Olympics in 2008. Many people were unhappy with the fact that it was held in Beijing. The Chinese were accused of human rights violations, and during the Olympic torch relay in Tibet the independence supporters staged their political act. The opening of the Games was not attended by some of the leaders of Western countries.
Unfortunately, in the early days of that Olympics, sport was not the main concern for Russia and Georgia. For the first time in history a country leader (Mikhail Saakashvili) timed the beginning of the war to the opening of the Games. Some of the Georgian athletes were engulfed with “Patriotic frenzy” and wanted to withdraw from the competition, go home and pick up machine guns. They did not have time to do this as the war was quickly over.
The U.S. made a statement as well. At the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Stars and Stripes were carried by a native of Southern Sudan Lopez Bomong. This way the Americans expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that Northern China collaborated with Sudan, declared a rogue state by the West. At the closing ceremony the American flag was in the hands of a native of Georgia, Lorig Khatun. This way Washington backed Georgia after the war in South Ossetia.
It is not surprising that these political reminders emerged before the Olympics in London. Apparently, for a long time the politics will affect the important sporting event. A remedy for de-politicization of the Olympic Games has not yet been found. There is no evidence that it is being sought.
Pavel Chernyshev

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US and Russia: From containment to coercion


US and Russia: From containment to coercion. 47651.jpeg

How would you feel if an amateur shooter moves in next to you? Most likely, you will be somewhat distressed. How can Russia feel about the deployment of the U.S. military base on the territory of its nearest neighbor, Poland? Probably the same way. This is not surprising as each country thinks about safety of its citizens.

The Air Force of the United States will soon place a group of 10-20 soldiers in Poland. This is done through the deployment of a missile defense system in Europe. The soldiers will be deployed on a permanent basis. As Tomas Semonyak, the defense minister of Poland, reported after a visit to Washington, the first batch of the American soldiers can come to Poland in October and November. “I hope that this small step will be important politically,” said the Minister.

The elements of the European missile defense are to be deployed in Poland in 2018. European missile defense is one of the main stumbling blocks in the relations between Russia and the United States. Russia has repeatedly called the planned deployment of a missile defense system a dangerous activity that contradicts the friendly relations between the two countries. Russia and NATO at the Lisbon summit in 2010 agreed to cooperate on this project, but the U.S. did not provide any legal assurances that this system is not aimed against Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

The first stage provides for deployment of missile defense components in Turkey, in particular, sea-based systems Aegis, and a radar station detect AN/TPY-2. The second phase should be completed by 2015, and the third – by 2018. The second phase involves deployment of powerful land-and sea-based missiles SM-3, and the third – the newest interceptor missiles SM-3. The fourth phase should be completed in 2020, deploying modified SM-3 missiles and missile defense groups and bringing the capacity to up to 40 ships and hundreds of missiles.

The third and fourth phases cause great concern for Russia. In response, Russia intends to take several measures of the diplomatic and military-technical nature. In its relations with the US and prioritizing the issues of the national defense Moscow will take into account the fact of landing of the United States aviation units on the territory of Poland, said the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Lukashevich. He also said that Russia “has demanded additional information from its American counterparts to understand the exact situation.

As Lukashevich said, Russia looks at the significant in the military terms enhancement through the prism of the obligations under the act on relations between NATO and Russia of 1997 concerning the refusal of deployment of additional combat forces on a permanent basis.” “We hope that the United States will exercise restraint in the territories of NATO,” said Lukashevich.

What is the US seeking? The answer is obvious – total control. The massive military build-up will allow Washington in the near future to move to the doctrine of “containment of Russia”, then the doctrine of “coercion.” Its essence is simple – based on its military power to force Russia and several other states that do not fit into the American politics to obey the rules of the States. The purpose of the United States is to prevent the resurgence of Russia, which could, according to the American leadership, prevent the country’s plans for world domination.

The US stepped up criticism of foreign and domestic policy of the Russian leadership. Russia is accused of backsliding on democracy, human rights abuses, Russia’s interference in the freedom of speech, using energy blackmail, corruption at all levels, carrying out imperial policy in relation to the post-Soviet states, etc.

The White House is considering the formation of the CIS regional security systems in order to control the extraction of hydrocarbons, prevention of the emergence of regional security systems, and training of contingents of the armed forces of CIS countries to conduct joint operations in conflict zones. Through the active participation in the formation of different security systems, in particular, missile defense, the U.S. plans to achieve economic, political and military dominance.

The well-known expert in Russian-American relations, David Holloway, a professor at Stanford University, believes that to achieve results in the direction of mutual cooperation in missile defense, some key issues have to be solved, such as:

– The issue of a common future. Collaboration requires a shared vision of the future developed in detail, but this can only happen with mutual trust.

– The issue of mutual trust, which includes determining its level necessary for such cooperation.

– Search for a compromise. Cooperation will be useful and achievable if compromises are agreed upon. The compromise will require both parties to retreat from their positions at least partially.

– The issue of equality – a key factor in the negotiations. The need to find a compromise in terms of construction and configuration of the European missile defense that may affect the security of Russia.

However, it seems that both sides, speaking in public in favor of cooperation, in fact are either hard of hearing, or do not want to hear each other. Perhaps, it has to do with crudity and superficial nature of the proposals. The Russian government has stated many times to their partners that their proposals should be subject to a dialogue and discussion, rather than unconditional acceptance of the demands. But the dialogue has not yet been successful.

We cannot but agree with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who expressed the need for the joint work of technical experts. This will help clarify a number of very important technical issues that impede the achievement of military and political agreements. During the presidential campaign that takes place in the U.S., it is hard to believe in any progress in the negotiations. The more so that the Republican conservatives have made defense nearly the main point of ensuring the military security of the country, flatly denying the possibility of cooperation with Russia. But no matter who becomes U.S. president, the issue of missile defense will still have to be solved.

Hopefully, common sense will prevail and the parties concerned will return to the negotiation table. Active involvement of expert and scientific community in the process will contribute to progress. In the event that the agreement is reached, Russia has something to offer to its Western partners. Let me disagree with the statements of some experts that Russia is not able to contribute to missile defense. Russia has good potential for monitoring of missile threats, early warning and interception of missiles. This potential, subject to its modernization and harmonization of control, seems less costly and more mutually beneficial. Finding the way out of the impasse with missile defense offers advantages not only in scientific and technological, military and political terms but also economically, which is important in the context of the global financial crisis.

There are proponents of more radical measures. Military Captain Vladislav Shurygin is convinced that the next move of the Americans would require a harsh response. The main asset of Russia in a dialogue with the U.S. on missile defense can only be a successful program of building new missile systems. Russia must now produce as many missiles as possible, Shurygin believes. This would cause the U.S. to reflect on whether the deployment of missile defense is an option. There are many opinions, but one thing is clear – Russia must take more drastic steps, otherwise one day it will be surrounded by foreign military bases.

Sergei Vasilenkov

Chossudovsky: US and NATO to Blame for Syria Violence

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