Monthly Archives: March 2013

World Must Unite Against US-Saudi-Israeli Proxy War in Syria

US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have conspired to destroy Syria by way of arming sectarian extremists since 2007.

The West now admits it, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have provided thousands of tons of weapons to militants in Syria – while also conceding that Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra is the best armed, most well equipped militant front in the conflict.

US, Saudi, Israeli-backed terrorists are now committing a myriad of horrific atrocities against all of Syria’s population, including Sunni Muslims – meaning neither “democracy” nor even “sectarianism” drives the conflict, but rather the destruction of Syria in its entirety.

US State Department acknowledges Syria faces threat from Al Qaeda, demands blockade of arms/aid from reaching government to fight terrorists the US State Department admits are present in every major Syrian city.

By Tony Cartalucci

March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Land Destroyer” — Since 2007, the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have been documented as conspiring to overthrow the Syrian government by way of sectarian extremists, including groups “sympathetic to Al Qaeda,” and in particular, the militant, sectarian Muslim Brotherhood. While the West has attempted to portray the full-scale conflict beginning in Syria in 2011 as first, a “pro-democracy uprising,” to now a “sectarian conflict,” recent atrocities carried out by US-Saudi-Israeli proxies have shifted the assault to include Sunni Muslims unable or unwilling to participate in the destruction of the Syrian state.

Such attacks included a mortar bombardment of Damascus University, killing 15 and injuring dozens more, as well as the brutal slaying of two prominent Sunni Muslim clerics – the latest of which was beheaded, his body paraded through the streets of Aleppo, and his head hung from the mosque he preached in. While the West attempts to mitigate these events by labeling the victims as “pro-government,” the reality is that the forces fighting inside Syria are funded, armed, directed, and politically supported from abroad – and therefore do not represent any of the Syrian people’s interests, including those Syrians who do not support the government.

It is abundantly clear that the West’s goal is neither to institute “democracy,” nor even take sides in a “sectarian conflict,” but rather carry out the complete and permanent destruction of Syria as a nation-state, sparing no one, not even Sunnis.

Such a proxy war exists contra to any conceivable interpretation of “international law.” The world is left with a moral imperative to not only denounce this insidious conflict brought upon the Syrian people, compounded and perpetuated entirely by external interests, but demands that concrete action is taken to ensure that this act of aggression is brought to an end.

The US, UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have admitted to colluding together, flooding Syria with thousands of tons of weapons via Jordan to Syria’s south, and NATO-member Turkey to Syria’s north. And in an otherwise inexplicable conundrum, while the likes of US Secretary of State John Kerry insist this torrent of weapons is being directed to “moderates,” neither the US nor its allies are able to explain why Al Qaeda terror front Jabhat al-Nusra has emerged as the most heavily armed, best equipped militant organization in the conflict.

AP reported specifically in their article, “Officials: Arms shipments rise to Syrian rebels,” that:

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on the sidelines of a Syrian opposition meeting in Italy last month that the weapons are ending up in the hands of secular groups. “I will tell you this: There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is in fact getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that,” he said, without elaborating.

But even AP admits that:

Syrian opposition activists estimate there are 15-20 different brigades fighting in and around Damascus now, each with up to 150 fighters. Many of them have Islamic tendencies and bear black-and-white Islamic flags or al-Qaeda-style flags on their Facebook pages. There is also a presence of Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the strongest Islamic terrorist groups fighting alongside the rebels.

The US State Department’s own statement regarding the designation of al-Nusra as a listed Al Qaeda terror organization states:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr.

According to the US State Department, al-Nusra is carrying out hundreds of attacks with a wide array of weaponry, across the entire nation of Syria, indicating a massive front and implying an equally massive network of logistical support, including foreign sponsorship. What’s more, is that the US State Department acknowledges al-Nusra’s presence even in cities close to Syria’s borders where the CIA is admittedly overseeing the distribution of weapons and cash. The New York Times, in their June 2012 article, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” reported that:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

And in New York Times’ more recent March 2013 article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” it is admitted that weapons are being funneled into Syria across both its borders with Turkey and Jordan:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

 The article would also state:

Although rebel commanders and the data indicate that Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been shipping military materials via Turkey to the opposition since early and late 2012, respectively, a major hurdle was removed late last fall after the Turkish government agreed to allow the pace of air shipments to accelerate, officials said.

Simultaneously, arms and equipment were being purchased by Saudi Arabia in Croatia and flown to Jordan on Jordanian cargo planes for rebels working in southern Syria and for retransfer to Turkey for rebels groups operating from there, several officials said.

The US State Department acknowledges that the well armed, prominent terror front al-Nusra is operating in the very areas the CIA is feeding weapons and cash into.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters” and also happen to be areas the US CIA is admittedly distributing weapons and other aid in.


Such a reality directly contradicts the US State Department’s official position, and no explanation is given as to how “moderates” can be provided with such extensive support, and still be eclipsed militarily and logistically by terror-front al-Nusra. That is, unless of course, the US, British, Saudi, and Qatari weapons aren’t simply just handing the weapons directly to terrorists, precisely as planned as early as 2007.

The Destruction of Syria Began in 2007, Not 2011

While the West has attempted to reclaim Syria as part of its sphere of influence for decades, concrete plans for the latest proxy war were laid at least as early as 2007. It was admitted in 2007 that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel conspired together to fund, arm, and direct sectarian extremists including militants “sympathetic” to Al Qaeda, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, against the governments of Iran and Syria. In Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” the conspiracy was described as follows:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Hersh also cited US, Saudi, and Lebanese officials who indicated that, “in the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction,” and that, “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The report would also state:

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

Mention of the Muslim Brotherhood already receiving aid even in 2007 was also made:

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a branch of a radical Sunni movement founded in Egypt in 1928, engaged in more than a decade of violent opposition to the regime of Hafez Assad, Bashir’s father. In 1982, the Brotherhood took control of the city of Hama; Assad bombarded the city for a week, killing between six thousand and twenty thousand people. Membership in the Brotherhood is punishable by death in Syria. The Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy of the U.S. and of Israel. Nevertheless, Jumblatt said, “We told Cheney that the basic link between Iran and Lebanon is Syria—and to weaken Iran you need to open the door to effective Syrian opposition.”

There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

The Wall Street Journal in 2007 would also implicate the Muslim Brotherhood and more specifically, the so-called “National Salvation Front,” in its article, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers.”

It is clear that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel planned to use sectarian extremists against the nation of Syria starting at least as early as 2007, and it is clear that now these sectarian extremists are carrying out the destruction of Syria with a massive torrent of weapons and cash provided by the US and its regional allies, just as was described by Hersh’s report.

A Moral Imperative to Save Syria

Syria is under attack by an insidious, premeditated foreign assault, intentionally using terrorist proxies in direct and complete violation of any conceivable interpretation of both national and international law. The world has a moral imperative to support the Syrian people and their government as they fight this assault – both politically and logistically. While US Secretary John Kerry is unable to account for how his nation’s support for moderates has left Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra front the premier militant faction in Syria, he has demanded that Iraq help stem the flow of alleged aid Iran is providing the Syrian government as it fights these terrorists.

Does US Secretary of State John Kerry deny that Syria is fighting a significant (and continuously growing) Al Qaeda presence within their borders, which according to the US State Department’s own statement, is operating in every major city in the country? What conceivable explanation or excuse could be made to justify the blockading of aid sent to Syria to fight Al Qaeda terrorists? In fact, why isn’t the US aiding the Syrian government itself in its fight against Al Qaeda – a terrorist organization the US has used as an excuse to wage unending global war since 2001 when Al Qaeda allegedly killed some 3,000 American civilians?

Does Secretary Kerry believe that further arming “moderates” is a legitimate strategy to counter Al Qaeda’s growing presence in Syria when these “moderates” openly defend Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra? The US’ own hand-picked “Syrian opposition leader,”  Mouaz al Khatib, demanded the US reconsider its designation of al Nusra as a terrorist organization. Retuers reported in their article, “Syrian opposition urges U.S. review of al-Nusra blacklisting,” that:

The leader of Syria’s opposition coalition urged the United States on Wednesday to review its decision to designate the militant Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group, saying religion was a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels.

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed,” Mouaz Alkhatib told a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Morocco, where Western and Arab states granted full recognition to the coalition seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The US is directly responsible for the emergence and perpetuation of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Syria. The statements of Secretary John Kerry are made merely to maintain an increasingly tenuous “plausible deniability.” The precedent being set by the US and its allies is one of using full-scale proxy invasions, that if successful in Syria, will be directed into Iran, up through the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, and even onto China’s doorstep via extremists the West is cultivating amongst the Uighurs. It is also clear that the West is directly responsible for the extremists within their own borders, and that these extremists are being used as a political tool against the people of the West, just as they are being used as a mercenary force abroad.

A united front between nations against this wanton state sponsorship of terrorism is needed – with nations pledging political and logistical support to the Syrian people to defeat this open conspiracy. Individually, we can identify, boycott, and permanently replacethe corporate-financier interests who conceived of and are driving this agenda. Failure to stop such wide scale criminality against the Syrian people now, will only invite greater criminality against us all in the near future.

This article was originally published at LandDestroyer

Apartheid Israel’s Palestinian Genocide

By Dr Gideon Polya 
March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Coinciding with the formerly pagan celebration of New Life, at Easter time the Christian world pauses to consider the Passion of Christ and the story of His crucifixion and resurrection. Mainstream media will cover this major annual religious event but will largely ignore a crucial message of the Passion story – our critical obligation to bear witness and speak out against evil. I endlessly repeat a key message for the people of the endlessly war-making but internally peaceful and democratic nations of US Alliance: “Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity”. 12 million people have died from violence or war-imposed deprivation since 1990 in the Zionist-backed US War on Muslims but the Western mainstream media and most of the citizenry of the West look the other way from the suffering of Palestinians, of Muslims and indeed of all Third Worlders under US hegemony. 
For the humanity-ignoring citizens of the US Alliance countries, the most personally poignant part of the Passion should be how Peter denied Christ thrice at the time of his arrest by the soldiers of the chief priests. The key passages from Chapter 26 of the Gospel according to St Matthew (King James Version) are as follows:
“30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
31. Then saith Jesus unto them, All thee shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
32. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee .
33. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, I will never be offended.
34. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise said all the disciples.
36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane , and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
47, And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the temple.
48. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsovever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him, fast.
49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail master; and kissed him.
50. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
69. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.
70. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
71. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
72. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
73. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.
74. The began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man . And immediately the cock crew.
75. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, before the cock crew, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly.”
The betrayal of that wonderful Palestinian humanitarian Jesus by fellow Palestinian Peter and his subsequent Crucifixion by Jewish fanatics is mirrored today in the betrayal of humanity by the overwhelming majority of Western citizens, and is well illustrated by overwhelming denial by Australian public figures of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide by Apartheid Israel . The Crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans at the behest of Jewish fanatics is today mirrored by the Palestinian Genocide (2 million Palestinian killed by violence or violently-imposed deprivation since 1936), the wider, Zionist-backed US War on Muslims (12 million Muslims killed by violence or violently-imposed deprivation since 1990), the global avoidable mortality holocaust (1,300 million people dying from deprivation since 1950 under Zionist-beholden US hegemony), and the worsening Climate Genocide that is set to kill 10,000 million people this century due to unaddressed, man-made climate change (with the climate criminal US Alliance, including Apartheid Israel and Australia, being a major contributor) (see “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”:; “Climate Genocide”: ; and see “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, now available for free perusal on the web: ). 
In 1880 there were about 500,000 Indigenous Palestinians in Palestine and about 25,000 Jews of whom about half were immigrants. The British seized Palestine in WW1 and after betraying Arab people via the perfidious 1916 Anglo-French Sykes –Picot Agreement (to divide up the Arab world between France and Britain), betrayed the Palestinian People by offering Palestine to the Zionists as a Homeland for Jews (via the 1917 Balfour Declaration, this actually being part of a scheme to get traitorous Russian Zionists to keep Russia in the war). Australian soldiers of the Anzac Mounted Division, commanded by Jewish Zionist General John Monash in WW1, commenced the Palestinian Genocide in 1918 with the Surafend Massacre in which they massacred the inhabitants of the Arab village of Surafend in southern Palestine . The British betrayed the terms of the Balfour Declaration (that had demanded no detriment to Indigenous Palestinians or to Jews) by supporting mass immigration of Jewish Zionists into Palestine, this leading to the Arab uprising in 1936 that was suppressed by British and Zionist forces. The British further betrayed Palestinians by agreeing in 1944 to partition Palestine between the Jews (now 1/3 of the population) and the Indigenous Palestinians. The British Government betrayed both the British and Palestinians by supporting the Zionists, despite the racist Zionist terrorists collaborating with the Nazis and killing British soldiers before, during and after WW2.
The UN betrayed humanity by agreeing to this Partition and the race-based colonizer State of Israel which then proceeded to expel 0.8 million Palestinian and seize 78% of Palestine. In 1967 a now nuclear-armed Apartheid Israel attacked all its neighbours, seizing the Sinai Peninsular , all of Palestine , and a slab of Syria . In 1974 the Israelis withdrew from the Sinai but in 1982 occupied much of Lebanon , permitting the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut . In 2000 Apartheid Israel withdrew from nearly all of Lebanon but in 2006 reinvaded and destroyed most of the infrastructure of Lebanon . Apartheid Israel has now ethically cleansed 90% of Palestine and the Golan Heights, still violently rules the Palestinian Occupied Territories and continues to bomb and terrorize other countries of the region.
Numerous anti-racist Jewish and non-Jewish writers and scholars refer to the ongoing Palestinian Genocide (see “Palestinian Genocide”: , “Boycott Apartheid Israel”: and “The Plight of the Palestinians”: ), noting that Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention states: that “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. The Palestinian Genocide has involved the following horrendous abuses: 2 million Palestinians violently killed (0.1 million) or killed by violently-imposed deprivation (1.9 million) since 1936; 7 million refugees; of 12 million Palestinians, 6 million are forbidden to even step foot in their own country, over 4 million are held hostage with zero human rights under Israeli guns in the Gaza Concentration Camp (1.6 million) or in ever-dwindling West Bank Bantustans, (2.5 million), and 1.6 million live as Third Class citizens as Israeli Palestinians under Nazi-style Apartheid Israeli race laws; and 90% of Palestine has now been ethnically cleansed of Indigenous inhabitants.
The extraordinary genocide ignoring, holocaust ignoring , genocide denial and holocaust denial by Westerners, including Australians, in relation to democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel is even more extraordinary because the Western countries are ostensible democracies with one-man-one-vote. Whatever the economic and social policies of Western people and politicians, their fundamental core value should be acceptance of democracy. However this fundamental proposition is rejected in practice by Mainstream Westerners through their slavish support for democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel . Thus of 12 million Palestinians, 6 million are forbidden to even step foot in Palestine and only about 13% can vote (when adults) for the government ruling all of Palestine , albeit as Third Class citizens under race-based, Nazi-style, Apartheid Israeli race-laws.
In June 2010 Australia’s most popular PM, Labor PM Kevin Rudd, was deposed in a US-approved, foreign mining company-backed and pro-Zionist-led Coup that installed the now current PM, the staunchly pro-war, pro-Zionist, pro-US and pro-mining Labor figure Julia Gillard (see (see Gideon Polya, “Pro-Zionist-led Coup ousts Australian PM Rudd”, MWC News, 29 June 2010: and “US- , Zionist- And Corporate-Perverted Australian Labor Vilifies And Rejects Australia-First Ex-PM Kevin Rudd “, Countercurrents, 28 February 2012: ; Antony Loewenstein, “Does the Zionist Lobby have blood on its hands in Australia?”, 2 July 2010: .and “Departing ALP member tells of deep Zionist influence in party”, 10 August 2010: ). 
In February 2012 Gillard called for a vote on her leadership, defeated Rudd 71 votes to 31, and culled some pro-Rudd people, including Rudd himself, from her Ministry. In March 2013 Gillard called for a ballot on the leadership, but this time she was the only candidate. Gillard took the opportunity to cleanse her Ministry of nearly all pro-Rudd people, including some of the most senior Labor politicians. Her new 42-member Ministry (including people from Ministers to Parliamentary Secretaries) has had to scrape the barrel for talent and has been referred to as “the L-plate Ministry” (learner drivers in Australia have L plates) and as “pygmies replacing giants”. A subsequent poll showed Labor’s primary electoral support had slumped to about 30% as compared to nearly 50% for the Liberal Party-National Party Coalition led by Opposition leader Tony Abbott. The Australian Labor Party has gutted itself, and is finished electorally, with the conservative Coalition facing the prospect of a landslide victory in September 2013.
However missing from public analysis of the Labor debacle is the horrible reality that the militant pro-Zionist faction has now taken over Federal Labor. Of the 42 Labor Ministers, 42 have all been endorsed by leading pro-Zionists; 41 have through public statements and voting record, actively or passively exhibited support for Apartheid Israel e.g. through through failure to insist on Palestinian rights, and opposition to the UN Palestinian statehood proposal or to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against grossly human rights-abusing Apartheid Israel; 20 have been on Zionist-sponsored or other visit to nuclear terrorist, genocidally racist, racist Zionist-run, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel; 14 have made speeches at Zionist functions; and 6 have intimate links to Zionists or leading pro-Zionists or corporate links with Apartheid Israel.
Notable exceptions to this catalogue of pro-Zionist infamy in the March 2013 Gillard Labor Ministry are Kelvin Thomson (representing Wills, Victoria , the only member of the House of Representatives to have asked in Parliament about how many people we had killed in Iraq.) and Melissa Parke (representing Fremantle, Western Australia) who was a signatory to a petition by eminent Australians demanding Palestinian human rights ( Petition for Palestinian statehood: ) that stated in part: “ 130 member states of the United Nations have so far committed to recognise a Palestinian state. If Australia ‘s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution is genuine and meaningful we should join them.” The list of signatories includes 2 Federal Greens MPs, and 5 Federal Labor MPs but zero people from the staunchly pro-Zionist Federal Coalition:
Reverend James Barr , President Australia Palestine Advocacy Network Inc 
Senator Bob Brown , Leader of the Australian Greens 
Ross Burns , Australian Ambassador to Israel (2001-2003) 
Senator Doug Cameron, Labor senator for New South Wales 
Archbishop Francis Carroll , Emeritus Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn 
Ken Chan , Former Australian diplomat and Administrator of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands 
The Hon John Dowd AO QC , Former Attorney-General of New South Wales 
Elizabeth Evatt AO 
Laurie Ferguson MP , Labor Federal Member for Werriwa 
Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH , Former Prime Minister 
Bruce Haigh , Political commentator and retired diplomat 
Jill Hall, MP, Labor Federal Member for Shortland 
Rev Gregor Henderson, Immediate Past President, Uniting Church in Australia , Member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches 
Janet Holmes à Court AC, prominent business woman 
Hon Dr Barry Jones AO, leading Labor intellectual 
Professor John Langmore, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne 
Scott Ludlam, Greens Senator for Western Australia 
Robert Newton , Vice President Australia Palestine Advocacy Network Inc, Australian Ambassador to Egypt (2002-2005) 
Melissa Parke , MP, Labpor Federal Member for Fremantle 
Peter Rodgers , Australian Ambassador to Israel (1994-97) and author 
Professor Amin Saikal 
Associate Professor Peter Slezak , University of NSW and Independent Australian Jewish Voices 
Maria Vamvakinou , MP, Labor Federal Member for Calwell.
These Australians must be praised for standing up publicly for decency and not betraying the human rights of the Palestinians. Other eminent anti-racist Australians and indeed numerous other anti-racists around the world have stood up and opposed the horrendous human rights abuses of Apartheid Israel (see “Jews Against Racist Zionism” and “Non-Jews Against Racist Zionism”: ), in stark contrast to the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist-dominated conservative Liberal-National Party Coalition (the Libs) and Labor (the Labs, and hence the term Lib-Labs or Liberal-Laborals for the Coalition and Labor) – as British 18th century Parliamentarian Edmund Burke stated “Evil happens when good men do nothing”.
What can decent people do? Decent people must not betray goodness or support evils such as racism, genocide and war. Zionism is genocidal racism in theory and in horrible practice . Racist Zionists and their supporters (whether from conviction, cowardice or ignorance) should be sidelined from public life as were those supporting Apartheid Israel-backed Apartheid South Africa. Indeed Jewish hero in the fight against Nazi-style Apartheid in South Africa, MP and Government Minister Ronnie Kasrils, has declared that Israeli Apartheid is worse than South African Apartheid (Ronnie Kasrils, “Israel 2007: worse than Apartheid”, Mail & Guardian On-line, 21 May 2007: ).
Genocidal Israeli Apartheid is intolerable to decent people. Throughout the world, racist Zionists and their supporters must be sidelined from public l ife as have been like racists such as Nazis, neo-Nazis, Apartheiders and KKK. In Australia the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has shifted to the Right under PM Julia Gillard and has become an Alternative Liberal Government., Another Liberal Party, the Apartheid Labor Party, the Apartheid Israel-supporting Labor Party, the American Lackey Party and an Anti-democracy Labor Party. In this shift it is similar to formerly Centre-Left parties around the world that, subjected to Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist perversion and subversion, have now lurched to the Right (e.g. the war criminal British Labour Party). Decent, anti-racist, pro-democracy Australians who totally reject Apartheid will vote 1 Green and put Labor last until it has reverted to decent values, has begged for forgiveness and, like Peter, “wept bitterly”.
Dr Gideon Polya was born in Melbourne, but moved to Tasmania as a young boy. His primary education was at Friends School and Lenah Valley state school in Hobart. At University, Gideon obtained a BSc (Hon) from the University of Tasmania, majoring in Zoology and Chemistry, with first class honors in Chemistry. Gideon’s PhD is in Biochemistry from Flinders University in Adelaide.
Since finishing his PhD, Gideon has worked in the following places: – Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA – Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra – School of Biochemistry, La Trobe University where he is Reader in Biochemistry.
He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: ) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: ).

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Prosecutable US Crimes Against Humanity In Korea

By Jay Janson

March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – While staring at the New York Times front page photo of the bat-winged nuclear-capable B-2 Stealth Bombers up in the blue sky on their first non-stop long-range mission from the US on their way to a practice sortie to end in a mock bombing drop of inert munitions on a range off South Korea’s coast, I ponder.

The thought that ‘enough is enough’ will apparently never arise in the mind-set of those commanding the first planet-encompassing space-age military, blown up now to an uncontrollable magnitude and fueled by an uninterrupted flow of trillions of dollars by ledger line pre-occupied elite of the speculative investment banking community; a community possibly still being led by multi-war promoting confidants of ninety-eight year old David Rockefeller.1

Former president of Korea, Lee Myung-bak dutifully bought loads of new US weapons of mass destruction. Does he ever remember watching his two tiny siblings begin to slowly die before his eyes during a US bombing raid on his family’s farm? As the nuclear capable black bat wings make their run over her beloved Korea, does the new President, Park Geun-hye, keep in mind her father’s point blank assassination by the head of the, allegedly American overseen, Korean CIA?

Following is a short history of homicidal crimes against humanity bitterly suffered in the Land of the Morning Calm from savage attack, conquest, and manipulation by the most recent of the many mindlessly brutal white colonial empires to one degree or another descendent from the barbaric Goths and savage raid-or-trade Vikings.

1871, June 10 — Adm. Rodgers, commanding five warships and a landing party of over 1,230 men armed with Remington carbines and Springfield muskets attack Choji Fortress of Kanghwa-do, and proceed to occupy the whole island (116.8 sq mi), killing 350 Korean defenders of the island while losing only three of their own, withdrawing to China when the Korean army sends in reinforcement armed with modern weapons. This war known in Korea as Sinmi-yangyo and as the 1871 US Korea Campaign in America.2

1905 — US President Theodore Roosevelt cuts all relations with Koreans, turns the American legation in Seoul over to the Japanese military, deletes the word “Korea” from the State Department’s Record of Foreign Relations and places it under the heading of “Japan,” approving of what will be a brutal, too often murderous, forty year occupation, during much of which, Koreans are forbidden even to speak their language; an unconstitutional act of the US president, said to have been in exchange for acceptance of the continuing US occupation of the Philippines by Japan, recognized as a half-brother empire of the European colonial powers.3

1918 — President Woodrow Wilson officially recognizes Korea as territory of the Japanese Empire, refuses to receive delegations from Korea and Vietnam demanding restoration of sovereignty, delegations mistakenly hopeful for Wilson having proclaimed before both houses of Congress, as an addendum to his ‘Fourteen Points“ of a day earlier, “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action…. that peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game, even the great game, now forever discredited, of the balance of power; but that all well-defined national aspirations shall be accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded them;” a promise become known in the third world as an infamous, cruel and preposterous lie (the Japanese occupiers were deadly in punishing all those involved in the country-wide March 1st Korean Independence Movement).

1945, September 8 — US State Department officials, arrive in Korea with the US Army, disband the government of the Korean People’s Republic created September 6, in Seoul, by delegates from local peoples’ offices from all provinces throughout the peninsula formed when Japan announced intention to surrender (August 10), proceed without any Korean authorization whatsoever, to immediately cut Korea into two parts to be occupied by US and Soviet troops and establishing a military government, flying in from Washington DC (in General MacArthur’s private plane), Singman Rhee, to head it; eventually installing him as president of a separate South Korea Government that will include collaborators, and will outlaw all strikes, declare the KPR and all its activities illegal and begin a deadly terror of persecution of members of the disallowed Korean Peoples Republic, communists, socialists, unionists and anyone against the the partition and demanding an independent Korea.4

1946-1949 — The US in effect declares war on the popular movement of Korea south of the 38th Parallel and sets in motion a repressive campaign dismantling the Peoples’ Committees and their supporters throughout the south, becoming massively homicidal as Rhee’s special forces and secret police take the lives of some 200,000 men, women and children as documented recently by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the National Assembly of the Republic of (South) Korea; on the Island of Cheju alone, within a year, as many as 60,000 of its 300,000 residents are murdered, while another 40,000 fled by sea to nearby Japan some two years before the Koreans from the north invade the South. [Wikipedia]

1950, June 28 — The US attacks by, air, sea and land, aiming at the southward invading army of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North), which nevertheless unifies the peninsula in five short weeks (except for the US defended port city of Pusan); with little resistance from South Korea’s ROK military as most of its soldiers either defect or go home; over the next three years US will commit dozens of high death toll documented atrocities (some recently apologized for) as American planes level to the ground almost every city and town of any appreciable size in the entire peninsula, north and south, in the end threatening to drop the atomic bomb, and be charged with germ warfare by some not easily dismissed sources.

1953-2013 — The US using its control over international financial institutions and its power over the financial policies of most of the nations on Earth, keeps in place economy crippling sanctions and trade blockades (only loosening them slightly from time to time in attempts to halt the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea production of nuclear weapons as it faces a US, constantly condemning it in intense belligerency, massively armed with ever new nuclear weapons. (US sanctions obviously violate Principle VI c. Crimes Against Humanity: “inhuman acts done against any civilian population.”)

1945-2013 — The US Government, under control of its speculative investment banking elite, uses the gigantic world-wide reach of its likewise controlled US media cartel to manufacture an upside-down reality regarding US business and government intentions in Korea (and elsewhere), by blocking, slanting, omission, disinformation, misinformation and a virulent demonization of a nation once bombed flat, twice over, by US war planes; a six-decade propaganda campaign surely prosecutable as a media crime against peace under Principle VI c. of the universally signed on to Nuremberg Principles in the UN Charter.5

2010 May — An example of ‘sentence 8’ is the Russian Navy derided, and Chinese government ignored story of a old North Korean torpedo having cut in half a modern South Korean warship in an area where days before, US-ROK live fire exercise war games were menacingly taking place off the coast of North Korea; detailed investigation by Japanese found that a US minesweeper, known to have left the day before, might have been practicing with the newest US spider mine weapon, entirely capable, as most modern mines are indeed capable of, blowing a small warship into two pieces; though a discredited and fabulous US accusation, this media doctored widely broadcasted UN backed accusation has however, become accepted as fact by most of the entire Western media audience and will continue on into the future as the truth until the day it can no longer be of interest).6

2013 March — A second example of US media crimes against peace, is the present startling situation, as offered in US TV and print media, namely, that of the somewhat tiny nation, North Korea (size of US State of Pennsylvania), threatening the greatest military power the world has ever seen, possessing tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, with a nuclear attack, not for the sake of the bravely warning of its defense and retaliation power to ward of a feared attack from US planes and ships which periodically fire heavy weapons of mass destruction within earshot of its capital Pyongyang as part of frequent military exercises off its coast; the whole world is constantly ‘informed’ of what a madcap menace its leader is, by a Pentagon fed US media, which at the same time is justifying US bombings, invasions, occupations of some three dozen other small nations.

Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh, and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, “killed by the Americans” they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at:


1. Demonic David Rockefeller Fiends Dulles Kissinger Brzezinski – Investor Wars Korea thru Syria. History of David Rockefeller led global arrangements of financial-political control thru public information management culminating in “The International Community’ (formerly, “The Free World’, earlier The Colonial Powers), arraying covert agencies and military of US-NATO-UN, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, in war on Syria and Iran. China and Russia’s pathetic resistance after having acquiesced to the destruction of Libya.

2. During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the name the “Hermit Kingdom”, primarily for protection against Western imperialism before it was forced to open trade beginning an era leading into Japanese colonial rule. A Brief History of the US-Korea Relations Prior to 1945, Korea Web Weekly

3. Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy, New York Times, James Bradley, 12/5/2009. See also the
Taft-Katsura Agreement.

4. . The Unknown Truth About Korea: U.S. Sanctioned Death Squads and War Crimes, 1945-1953, S Brian Willson.

5. Manufacturing Consent, Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky.
Obama Calls on U.N. to Punish North Korea Over Rocket, but WHO PUNISHES THE U.S.? Commercial media feeding frenzy on the space missile launch by North Korea at the same time whipping up fear of Iran. Obama has harsh words for North Korea, as earlier for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela and Iran, which received a kind invite to talk mixed in with such severe public criticism as to make the invitation unacceptable. So far, Obama, both as president and as commander-in-chief belies change to serious diplomacy.

6. N. Korean Torpedo Accusation Fizzles: Strong Probability of US Mine Strike Investigated
The self-righteous scowling countenance of Mrs. Clinton reminded us of a serious Colin Powell pointing to photos of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction trucks, of Adelai Stevenson’s photo evidence that planes that bombed Cuba were not U.S. planes, of Robert McNamara on the Gulf of Tonkin attack on innocent U.S. warships, of the John Foster Dulles proving that communists, not capitalists, were out to conquer the world.
See also Kim Petersen, “Independent Media as Mouthpiece for Centers of Power,” Dissident Voice, 28 May 2010.
NY Times, AP Consistently Leaving Out Debunking Info on “N. Korean Torpedo’ Claim.

U.S., U.K. Chiefs To Hold Historic Strategy Meeting

Dividing Up The Pie


March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Defense News” – WASHINGTON — In what is believed to be the first time since the 1940s, the entire British defense staff will be here March 25 to discuss long-range strategy and the impact of budget cuts with their U.S. counterparts, according to U.S. and British sources.

The meeting is reminiscent of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, when British and American military leaders joined forces during World War II. Both nations are undergoing significant budgetary reductions and will continue to rely on each other in future years for support. Understanding what capabilities will survive and won’t is essential to long-term strategic planning.

“The relationship military to military is very strong. We have common interest in how we meet the financial constraints placed on both nations, but also on issues like how we manage the drawdown in Afghanistan and also how we reconfigure post Afghanistan,” said Sir Gerald Howarth, a member of parliament and the ex-defense minister responsible for international security affairs from 2010 to 2012.

“We have a huge amount of strategic issues to discuss where we have a very large level of common interest,” he said.

A Defence Ministry spokesman characterized the meeting as private and declined further comment.

In the U.S., spokesmen for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to questions.

U.S. and British military leaders regularly discuss ongoing issues. What’s different about this series of meetings is they will focus not on immediate budget, program or operational issues, but the strategic future of the Anglo-American alliance, including deepening cooperation.

In addition to the U.S. Joint Chiefs, British attendees are expected to include Gen. Sir David Richards, chief of the Defence Staff; Gen. Sir Nicholas Houghton, vice chief of the Defence Staff, who will take over as chief when Richards retires later this year; Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, chief of the Air Staff; Adm. Sir George Zambellas, incoming Navy first sea lord; Gen. Sir Peter Wall, chief of the General Staff; and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, commander of Joint Forces Command, sources said.

The U.S. and U.K. regularly share the most sensitive military intelligence, technology and equipment, including submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles. Britain over the past decade in particular has shaped its capabilities to dovetail with U.S. forces.

The British are the leading developmental partner on the U.S.-led F-35 fighter program with Lockheed Martin and have in their inventory Boeing C-17 transports, Chinook and Apache helicopters and Lockheed C-130 cargo aircraft. In addition, the Royal Air Force is buying highly sensitive RC-135 Rivet Joint intelligence planes produced by L-3 Communications in the U.S., making London the only international customer for that program.

The meeting comes as the Pentagon faces $500 billion in spending cuts over the coming decade, which will force senior leaders to make difficult choices. The British delegation arrives with particular experience in that area, having faced even deeper budget cuts — in percentage terms — over the past several years, forcing major reforms to force structure, organization and acquisition programs in that time.

“Getting value for money and efficiency is something we have focused a considerable amount of attention on, and we can offer them advice in that area,” Howarth said.

Still, the British budget is a fraction of that of the U.S. In fact, at $62.7 billion in 2011, the British budget is not much larger than the size of the annual cuts faced by the Americans. Under mandatory cuts for the remainder of 2013, the Pentagon is reducing its budget by $46 billion.

Yet the U.S. military could learn a thing or two from its British counterparts when it comes to consolidation, especially within the headquarters staff ranks, said Barry Pavel, the director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council here.

“I think [the U.S.] can learn a lot,” Pavel said. “There’s a lot of inefficiencies in our headquarters. They’ve taken jointness … to new levels that we haven’t yet done.”

But the British, having cut so deeply, are also in need. They are “going to have to leverage the U.S. to a greater degree, or try to,” Pavel said.

To get leaner and reduce overhead in recent years, the British military consolidated its war colleges into a single school and created an operational command center outside of London to oversee operations, according to retired British Army Brig. Gen. Ben Barry, now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in London.

The U.S. Defense Department is already preparing for force structure reductions in the coming years and is re-evaluating its military strategy to determine how further budget cuts would affect its plans.

U.S. and British forces routinely train together and have fought side-by-side over the past decade in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, British Lt. Gen. Nick Carter serves as the deputy commander to U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of NATO forces.

“On the day-to-day business of military cooperation, the relationship between the U.S. [NATO] commander and the British second in command is another good example of working in partnership,” Howarth said.

The two militaries regularly participate in personnel exchanges.

Andrew Chuter in London contributed to this report.

© 2013, Gannett Government Media Corporation

Financial Wars: Attack is the Best Form of Defense

By Alexander GOROKHOV 
March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“STF” – The history of financial wars is in no way shorter than the history of conventional wars. However, although many have understood the power of money to subordinate nations, using it as a full-fledged alternative to the use of ordinary weapons began just a century ago. American bankers played a decisive role in the process, initially subordinating themselves to the USA through the creation of the Federal Reserve System (FRS), and then encroaching upon the rest of the world by succeeding in getting approval of the Bretton-Woods Agreements on the dollar as a means of settling international payments. An equally important outcome of these agreements was the creation of the International Monetary Fund, controlled by the FRS. 
As with conventional wars, the aim of financial wars is either the subordination of the state as a whole, or the establishment of partial control over it. The only difference is that with financial wars, physical control over territories is far from obligatory, although in terms of degrees of disruptiveness, financial wars are no less formidable than conventional ones. 
As with the major battles of conventional wars, the most spectacular and decisive events of financial wars are crises. The most significant crisis of the 20th century, the Great Depression, allowed all the banks’ gold in the United States to be concentrated in the Federal Reserve and FRS member banks to establish control over the lion’s share of American industry. The financial crisis established in Great Britain in 1992 by currency speculator George Soros, who was closely connected to bankers from the FRS, not only enabled him to earn 1 billion dollars in a single day, but also caused the devaluation of a dozen European currencies, as well as delay the introduction of a single European currency for six years. Most importantly, however, was that it significantly increased America’s influence on the European economy through Americans buying up drastically cheaper shares in European businesses.
Soros was also one of the initiators of the 1995 crisis in Mexico which shelved plans for the construction of an intero-ceanic canal that would have rivaled the Panama Canal controlled by the Americans. In the same year, Soros dealt a blow to Japan, as the rapid growth of the country’s currency was threatening to transform it into a global financial centre, a rentier state whose yen-denominated loans were ensuring an explosive increase in the economy of Southeast Asia as a whole. Immediately afterwards, with the support of FRS member banks, Soros brought down the financial systems of Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong – all the “Asian Tigers” were firmly shown their place in the cage, having been forced to tie their economies to the US dollar. Taking advantage of a fall in shares of these countries’ electronic companies and the resulting fall in the Dow Jones Index, American high-tech corporations – IBM, Intel, Motorola, Compaq, Dell and Hewlett Packard – bought up a considerable amount of these shares, as well as their own shares that had been “dumped” by third party investors.
Mention of George Soros stirs up more than just his role in organizing the crises. Even with several billion dollars available, he would not be able to organize crises without enormous preparatory work. Part of this involves shaping the opinions of those involved in the financial market regarding the inevitability of a particular crisis emerging. After which, even a relatively small amount (to the tune of several billion dollars) is enough to spark off panic in the financial market, which would then devalue the currency and shares of a country’s key enterprises, if not the whole region.
By keeping a close eye on statements made by Soros, publications produced by media companies he controls and the actions of other companies financed by his Foundation, it is not difficult to see who the next victim of these financial wars is going to be – Europe. Since 2012, the threat of the disintegration of the eurozone has increased. In the country most affected by the financial crisis, Greece, they have been talking about rejecting the single European currency, which would undoubtedly lead to a serious weakening of the euro. 
As well as the psychological excitation – spreading the idea that the collapse of the European currency is inevitable – there is other preparatory work to be carried out. Other the last few months, the US has been using its best endeavors to create a Free Trade Zone with the European Union with a view to finally removing the remaining barriers to the penetration of American capital into Europe and, after engineering the collapse of the euro, to buy up Europe’s tastiest morsels using vastly inflated dollars under the pretext of saving the EU’s economy… Or crush any attempts made by the EU to carry out reindustrialization and increase its global influence. 
One could argue that the USA simply does not have the money for such a large-scale operation. In point of fact, it is true that the government does not have enough. The Federal Reserve System does, however, shown by the scandal that recently broke out in the States regarding the FRS providing secret loans to “loyal” banks totaling almost three trillion dollars. The banks that were lent the money used it to buy up shares in promising businesses throughout the world from private banks not part of the FRS and in a difficult financial position as a result of the 2008 crisis. The money obtained from the sale of shares went back to the buyer as debt repayments and back to the FRS. As a result, such huge loans did not cause hyperinflation for one simple reason: the money did not end up in the real economy. Nevertheless, “electronic zeros” taken from a “bottomless pocket” materialised as real authority over actual large-scale businesses.
On the financial battlefield, which the world turned into long ago, there is a rigid division between those who create financial capital and those who import and earn this capital. So, for example, the price of Russian money, which is orders of magnitude higher than the cost of the dollar, the euro and other currencies purchased to guarantee the stability of the ruble. And the build-up of Russian currency reserves only promotes multiple profit increases for the issuers of these currencies. Roughly speaking, the issue of rubles for one billion dollars ensures the emission of not one billion US dollars, but ten billion. The issue of roubles for two billion would guarantee the emission of 20 billion by the Federal Reserve System.
There is one way out of this situation: to turn into the country that is creating, rather than earning, the money. In other words, Russia would guarantee the stability of the ruble using its own resources, the level of its industrial and financial development, rather than its reserves of foreign currency.
How does one get away from supporting one’s own money using foreign currency?
The history of money backed by nothing except public consent on its circulation extends back over the last 200 years. From 1837-1866, there were nearly 8,000 different types of “private money” being circulated in the US, issued by a variety of companies, banks and even private individuals. Some of these even became fairly widespread until they were officially prohibited. At the height of the crisis at the end of the 1920s-beginning of the 1930s, a municipality issued its own money which was only circulated within the Austrian town of Wörgl. Surprisingly, circulation of the “Wörgl Shilling” led to a rapid growth in the town’s economy, which had a population of 3,000 inhabitants. 
A similar thing happened in the American town of Ithaca. The town’s local currency, the “Ithaca Hours”, is still in operation today, promoting internal trade. The same is happening in the English city of Bristol: the “Bristol Pound” is not only found in paper form, but is also available to use electronically. During the hardest times at the beginning of the 1990s, many Russian businesses had their own “currencies” enabling workers who were not receiving their wages in rubles to survive thanks to goods being sold to them in exchange for this surrogate money. There are also many “electronic currencies” serving as a means of payment for a variety of products and services on the Internet, for the most part by public consent.
Nevertheless, all issuers of this “unreal” money have been watched closely and the volume of emissions preventing their devaluation and ensuring a special rate of exchange for “regular” money is being monitored. However, in the first place they are intended to have an extremely limited range of use and, in the second, they are completely unsuitable for trade with the outside world, since for those kinds of transactions, neither an honest word from the finance minister nor his seal are sufficient.
Some Arab countries have found their own path which is based on a hard peg to gold and silver and are gradually introducing the “gold dinar”, a currency whose value strictly corresponds to reserves of gold deposits, for payments among themselves. However, the gold dinar is still an arbitrary way of clearing payments, replacing national currencies only when compensating the balance of payments. National currencies are still in circulation within the countries taking part in this project, many of which are tightly tied to the dollar. And for the additional issuance of gold dinar, they must purchase dollars for oil in order to exchange this money for precious metal. Which is to say that they are still earning money, rather than creating it.
As a measure capable of protecting a number of developing countries’ national currencies from the influence of the dollar and the euro, some experts are suggesting that a BRICS Bank, a BRICS Stabilization Fund and a BRICS Reserve Currency be created based on the currency basket of these countries. There is only one thing this suggestion does not take into account: that all these currencies are backed by reserves of money and securities denominated in major reserve currencies. It is “inferior” and “earned” money, in other words, rather than money that has been created. Massive speculative interventions by those in charge of “bottomless pockets”, meanwhile, could easily bring down any of these monetary systems with the exception, perhaps, of China, whose issuers of reserve currencies are insistently demanding the liberalization of the Yuan. Why this is happening is clear if you understand the nature of created and earned money. And although the leadership of the People’s Republic of China has still not made any concessions to this pressure, Beijing recently announced plans to relax state control over the national currency.
So it seems that there is a way out of this vicious circle and, what is more, it is relatively simple – if the means to back a new currency for payments between BRICST (why not invite Turkey to join the club?) is not foreign money and securities denominated in this money, but the natural resources, industrial potential and reserves of precious metals present in the member countries of this union.
The first step, in any event, would be for member countries to set up a mutual recognition agreement on the use of a provisional industrial-resource equivalent (PIRE) issued by the project’s General Bank. As security for the PIRE, each of the member countries would place mortgage deeds in the General Bank for carefully valued industrial facilities in their own countries; proven reserves of mineral resources; part of their gold reserves; land, forest and water resources; municipal facilities etc. Since the volumes and objects of the mortgage could easily change with the replacement of mortgage deeds either to decrease a country’s share or increase it, member countries would have the opportunity to vary not only the exchange ratio of local currencies to the PIRE, but also the volume of emissions as and when needed. An emission centre represented by a General Bank would be a “bottomless pocket” of created (rather than earned) money, backed one hundred percent, unlike the dollar and the euro, by the most valuable resources that exist today. It would also be backed by industrial potential.
The power of the economies of the BRICS(T) countries and the volume of their natural resources would theoretically allow PIRE to turn into an extremely attractive unit of international payments in a relatively short time, and the project’s member countries to change from countries earning money to countries creating money and receiving the maximum profit from emissions.
© Strategic Culture Foundation

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Obama’s New SEC ‘Sheriff.’ No Conflict of Interest When it Comes to Shielding Wall Street’s Pin Striped Mafia

By Tom Burghardt
March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – One indelible sign of state capture by pirate corporations and the financial jackals holding sway on Wall Street and the City of London is the ease with which former “regulators” slip into plum positions with the firms whom they supposedly “regulated” as “public servants.”
While the drone kill-crazy Obama regime has done yeoman’s work cementing in place extra-constitutional policies first enacted by the Bush gang–only to exceed Bushist depredations by a whole order of magnitude–kool-aid sipping “progressives” and troglodytic “conservatives” have given the president a free pass when it comes to policing the financial criminals who blew up the world economy.
But when it comes to US spy agencies probing and sweeping upyour financial information, well, the sky’s the limit!
As Reuters reported last week, the administration “is drawing up plans” to give securocrats “full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document.”
That Treasury plan would give secret state apparatchiks, including those ensconced at CIA, NSA and the Pentagon free reign to rummage through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) massive database of “suspicious activity reports” routinely filed by “banks, securities dealers, casinos and money and wire transfer agencies.” The FBI and DHS already have full access to that database under the Orwellian USA Patriot Act.
Under the proposal, FinCen data will be linked “with a computer network used by US defense and law enforcement agencies to share classified information called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System,” according to Reuters.
And since requirements for filing SARs are “so strict,” banks often “over-report,” this “raises the possibility that the financial details of ordinary citizens could wind up in the hands of spy agencies,” where it will live in perpetuity, “criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial,” as Cryptohippie famously warned.
Got that? While Wall Street drug banks are handled with care because of the “collateral consequences” that might result from a criminal referral for laundering billions of narco-dollars, the average citizen’s financial data will be fair game.
Which brings us back to Obama’s anemic regulatory regime and the “sheriffs” eager to do the bankster’s bidding.
Wall Street’s Choice
As one of the filthiest dens of corruption in Washington, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in a league of its own.
In late January, when the president announced he was nominating former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), The New York Times, as they are wont to do, proclaimed that the “White House delivered a strong message to Wall Street.”
A rather ironic assertion considering the tens of millions of dollars “earned” defending Wall Street criminals by Debevoise & Plimpton partner Mary Jo and her millionaire lawyer husband John, a partner at the white shoe corporate litigation shop Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as Above the Law disclosed.
Keep in mind that White will soon lead an agency that for years covered-up financial crimes by routinely shredding tens of thousands of case files on everything from insider trading, securities fraud, market manipulation and the Madoff and Stanford Ponzi schemes, as a 2011 Rolling Stone investigation disclosed.
As I reported nearly three years ago during my investigation into now-convicted fraudster Allen Stanford’s ties to the CIA over his role in laundering oceans of cash for the Agency’s narcotrafficking assets, the SEC’s Fort Worth office “stood down” multiple probes “at the request of another federal agency,” which regional head of enforcement Stephen J. Korotash “declined to name.”
Indeed, a 2010 report by the SEC’s Office of the Inspector General found that another “former head of Enforcement in Fort Worth,” Spencer C. Barasch, “played a significant role in multiple decisions over the years to quash investigations of Stanford,” and sought to represent the dodgy banker “on three separate occasions after he left the Commission, and in fact represented Stanford briefly in 2006 before he was informed by the SEC Ethics Office that it was improper to do so.”
Barasch eventually paid a $50,000 fine for ethics violations and “moved on.”
Despite the SEC’s documented history of sleaze and lax enforcement of rules that would earn the average citizen a one-way ticket to the slammer, on March 19 the Senate Banking Committee approved White’s nomination by a vote of 21-1; the lone dissenter was Sherrod Brown (D-OH). A vote by the full Senate could come as early as next week and she is expected to be confirmed easily.
As a former US Attorney for the Southern District in New York (1993-2002), White has been described by corporate media as a “tough as nails” prosecutor for her role in bringing down Mafia wise guy John Gotti and for running to ground criminal mastermind Ramzi Yousef, the architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. (For a gripping account of how the FBI and US prosecutor’s officebotched that investigation and “foamed the runway” for the mass murder of 3,000 people on 9/11, readers should train their sights on Peter Lance’s exposé, 1000 Years for Revenge).
White’s record when it came to holding financial criminals to account however, was even more dubious; in fact, for more than a decade she’s defended them.
Times’ stenographers dialed back their glowing encomiums for the Obama nominee, writing that “translating that message into action will not be easy, given the complexities of the market and Wall Street’s aggressive nature.”
As reliable hands on the financial beat, Dealbook reporters routinely trumpet everything from the Justice Department’s sweetheart dealwith drug money laundering and terrorist coddling banking giant HSBC to kissing Jamie Dimon’s hem over billions of JPMorgan Chase losses last year in what were euphemistically described as a “bad bet on derivatives.”
In the January puff-piece, reporters Ben Protess and Benjamin Weiser outdid themselves, claiming that with the White nomination “the president showed a renewed resolve to hold Wall Street accountable for wrongdoing.”
However, a less than laudatory piece published by Bloomberg News took those fatuous claims to task. Financial columnist Jonathan Weil observed that while “The Securities and Exchange Commission couldn’t get Ken Lewis on any securities-law violations after he helped drive Bank of America Corp. into the ground as its chief executive officer,” the agency “is poised to get his attorney as its new chairman–and Morgan Stanley’s, too.”
But hey, it’s not like the SEC is chock-a-block with conflicts of interest, right? Well, if a bracing read is what the doctor ordered, then turn your attention to a damning study released last month by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). Entitled, Dangerous Liaisons: Revolving Door at SEC Creates Risk of Regulatory Capture, author Michael Smallberg takes us on a 60-page tour of insider dealing and corruption that would make a Roman emperor blush.
According to Smallberg: “Between 2001 and 2010, more than 400 SEC alumni filed nearly 2,000 disclosure statements saying they planned to represent employers or clients before the agency. These alumni have represented companies during SEC investigations, lobbied the agency on proposed regulations, obtained waivers to soften the blow of enforcement actions, and helped clients win exemptions from federal law. On the other side of the revolving door, when industry veterans join the SEC, they may be in a position to oversee their former employers or clients, or may be forced to recuse themselves from working on crucial agency issues.”
Talk about an agency blind in both eyes by design!
A Counsel with ‘Juice’
One of the more egregious cases which came to light was SEC’s handling of a 2005 insider trading case involving former agency enforcement head, Linda Thomsen, White and her client, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack.
Before her tenure as the agency’s chief enforcement officer, Thomsen was in private practice at the powerhouse New York law firm, Davis, Polk & Wardell. During the capitalist financial meltdown, the company represented upstanding corporate citizens such as AIG, Freddie Mack, Lehman Brothers and drug-tainted Citigroup. Bulking up a stable of attorneys well-versed in regulatory matters, the firm has hired other former SEC officials, including Commissioner Annette Nazareth and Linda Thomsen.
Before sailing off to greener shores at Davis, Polk, Nazareth’s claim to fame was standing up a voluntary “supervisory regime” for the largest “investment bank holding companies” who “policed” themselves by cratering the economy and costing taxpayers trillions in bailouts.
That program, the Consolidated Supervised Entity was scrapped in 2008. Why? According to a press release by then SEC head Christopher Cox (no slouch himself when it came to defending his corporatist masters): “The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work. When Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, it created a significant regulatory gap by failing to give to the SEC or any agency the authority to regulate large investment bank holding companies, like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns.” (emphasis added)
A “gap” large enough to fly a fleet 747s through and still have enough wiggle room to launch a dozen Saturn 5s into deep space!
And that insider trading case?
According to Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone investigation, in September 2004 SEC investigator Gary Aguirre was tasked to look into an insider trading complaint against “a hedge-fund megastar named Art Samberg. One day, with no advance research or discussion, Samberg had suddenly started buying up huge quantities of shares in a firm called Heller Financial.”
Samberg was the founder of the multibillion dollar hedge fund, Pequot Capital Management, a firm which invested in a multitude of private and public equities and what are known as “distressed securities.” These are investment instruments held by firms or government entities (paging Fannie Mae!) that are either in default, under bankruptcy protection or will soon be heading south. The most common securities of this type are bonds and bank debt (think residential mortgage backed securities and other toxic assets). Since the financial crisis, a booming market in distressed securities have earned savvy hedge fund mangers billions in fees as they seek influence with regulators over how that debt is restructured.
And since “influence” in Washington and the “juice” that comes with it on Wall Street is the name of the game, well, you get the picture.
“‘It was as if Art Samberg woke up one morning and a voice from the heavens told him to start buying Heller,’ Aguirre recalls. ‘And he wasn’t just buying shares–there were some days when he was trying to buy three times as many shares as were being traded that day.’ A few weeks later, Heller was bought by General Electric–and Samberg pocketed $18 million.”
“After some digging,” Taibbi wrote, “Aguirre found himself focusing on one suspect as the likely source who had tipped Samberg off: John Mack, a close friend of Samberg’s who had just stepped down as president of Morgan Stanley.”
According to Taibbi, “Mack flew to Switzerland to interview for a top job at Credit Suisse First Boston. Among the investment bank’s clients, as it happened, was a firm called Heller Financial. We don’t know for sure what Mack learned on his Swiss trip; years later, Mack would claim that he had thrown away his notes about the meetings.”
Rather conveniently, one might say.
In any event after returning from his Swiss Alps sojourn, in a classic case of “you scratch my back” Samberg cut his buddy Mack into a deal with a tech firm called Lucent, “a favor that netted him [Mack] more than $10 million.” Shortly thereafter, “Samberg began buying-up every Heller share in sight, right before it was snapped up by GE.”
An insider trading case worthy of further scrutiny, right? But when Aguirre told his boss [Robert Hanson] that he intended to interview Mack and the other principals, “things started getting weird.” Taibbi noted that Aguirre’s boss told the investigator that Mack “had powerful political connections.”
Indeed he did. Like other Wall Street banksters, Mack had been a fundraising “Ranger” for the 2004 George W. Bush campaign, and when it became clear that a new product line needed to be rolled out, Mack crossed party lines and backed Hillary Clinton’s ill-starred 2008 bid for the Oval Office.
How’s that for clubby “bipartisanship”!
A 2007 report (large PDF file) published by the Senate Finance Committee titled The Firing of an SEC Attorney and the Investigation of Pequot Management, disclosed that “at least three experienced SEC officials believed in the summer of 2005 that questioning John Mack was an appropriate next step in the Pequot Investigation.”
Indeed, Senate investigators revealed that “the most significant aspect” of Mack’s 2006 SEC testimony (after the statute of limitations for prosecution had expired) “is his acknowledgement that he went to Switzerland to discuss becoming CSFB’s CEO from July 26-28, 2001.”
“In view of the fact that Mack also spoke with Samberg immediately upon his return to the United States on July 29, 2001,” Senate staff disclosed, “the trading day before Samberg began heavily betting on Heller Financial stock, and on the same night Mack was permitted into a lucrative deal, there was more than a sufficient basis to justify taking Mack’s testimony in the summer of 2005.”
After first being given the go-ahead to interview Mack, “Aguirre’s direct line of supervisors” including Hanson, Mark Kreitman and Paul Berger, got cold feet. Unfortunately for Aguirre, this came after he had briefed attorneys at Mary Jo White’s old stomping ground and “criminal authorities in the Southern District opened their own investigations” into dubious deals between Samberg and Mack.
At that point, Senate investigators averred, “his supervisors’ attitudes shifted dramatically,” that is, “when officials from Morgan Stanley began contacting the SEC to learn about the potential impact of the investigation on its prospective CEO, John Mack.” Only then did Hanson warn Aguirre that “it would be difficult to subpoena John Mack because of his ‘powerful political connections’.”
Aguirre told Senate investigators that “in a face-to-face meeting” with his boss, “Hanson said it would be very difficult to get permission to question Mack because of Mack’s ‘powerful political connections’.”
Hanson however, denied everything and said during his Senate testimony “That doesn’t sound like something I would say.”
“As a general matter,” Hanson testified, “I try to alert folk above me about significant developments in investigations that may trigger calls and the like so that they are not caught flat footed. I also think that Paul [Berger] and Linda [Thomsen] would want to know if and when we are planning to take Mack’s testimony so that they can anticipate the response, which may include press calls that will likely follow. Mack’s counsel will have ‘juice’ as I described last night–meaning that they will reach out to Paul and Linda (and possibly others).”
And who was Mack’s “juiced” attorney? Why none other than Mary Jo White!
Unbeknownst to Aguirre, his supervisors were trading emails about his imminent firing from the agency. “With no knowledge of those emails,” Senate investigators disclosed that Aguirre wrote Hanson again stating, that “before and after the Mack decision, you have told [me] several times that the problem in taking Mack’s exam is his political clout, e.g., all the people that Mary Jo White can contact with a phone call.”
At the same time that Aguirre was seeking to subpoena Mack’s testimony, Morgan Stanley’s board hired Debevoise & Plimpton to vet their soon-to-be reinstalled CEO. “Only two days after being retained,” the Senate reported, “White did what the SEC did not do until more than a year later. She questioned John Mack: ‘The other thing that I did for the board to gather what information I could on that time frame was to interview John Mack himself,'” White told investigators.
But she did more than that, demonstrating she indeed had plenty of “juice.”
“That evening,” the Senate disclosed, “White sent Thomsen an e-mail message marked ‘URGENT’ and asked that Thomsen return the call ‘this evening.’ Aguirre complained that the next day White delivered the e-mails that he had subpoenaed from Morgan Stanley directly to Linda Thomsen.”
“On June 27,” Aguirre testified, “I learned that Mack-Samberg emails, which I had subpoenaed from Morgan Stanley, had been delivered directly to the Director of Enforcement, Linda Thomsen. Neither I nor other staff had heard of this happening before. Indeed, the subpoena explicitly stated that the documents were to be delivered to me.”
Evidence reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee “suggests that the reluctance to question Mack represents a much more subtle and pervasive problem than an individual partisan political favor. SEC officials were overly deferential to Mack–not because of his politics–but because he was an ‘industry captain’ who could hire influential counsel to represent him.”
“In a shocking move that was later singled out by Senate investigators,” Taibbi wrote, “the director actually appeared to reassure White, dismissing the case against Mack as ‘smoke’ rather than ‘fire’.”
“Aguirre didn’t stand a chance,” Taibbi noted. “A month after he complained to his supervisors that he was being blocked from interviewing Mack, he was summarily fired, without notice. The case against Mack was immediately dropped: all depositions canceled, no further subpoenas issued. ‘It all happened so fast, I needed a seat belt,’ recalls Aguirre, who had just received a stellar performance review from his bosses. The SEC eventually paid Aguirre a settlement of $755,000 for wrongful dismissal.”
It gets better.
In a subsequent piece, Taibbi followed-up and discovered “not only did the SEC ultimately delay the interview of Mack until after the statute of limitations had expired, and not only did the agency demand an investigation into possible alternative sources for Samberg’s tip (what Aguirre jokes was like ‘O.J.’s search for the real killers’), but the SEC official who had quashed the Mack investigation, Paul Berger, took a lucrative job working for Morgan Stanley’s law firm, Debevoise and Plimpton, just nine months after Aguirre was fired.”
As it turned out, at the exact moment that Aguirre’s investigation was being sabotaged, Senate investigators “uncovered an email to Berger from another SEC official, Lawrence West, who was also interviewing with Debevoise and Plimpton at the time.”
“The e-mail was dated September 8, 2005 and addressed to Paul Berger with the subject line, ‘Debevoise.’ The body of the message read, ‘Mary Jo [White] just called. I mentioned your interest’.”
Taibbi observed: “So Berger was passing notes in class to Mary Jo White about wanting to work for Morgan Stanley’s law firm while he was in the middle of quashing an investigation into a major insider trading case involving the CEO of the bank. After the case dies, Berger later gets the multimillion-dollar posting and the circle is closed.”
In later testimony to the Inspector General into Debevoise & Plimpton’s eventual hiring of Berger by a firm that boasts on their web sitethat she leads a “team” which “includes eleven former Assistant US Attorneys,” White’s comments on whether Berger was considered too “aggressive” in prosecuting Wall Street criminals is all-too-revealing.
“You always have a spectrum on the aggressiveness scale for government types and was this an issue that was beyond real commitment to the job and the mission and bringing cases,” White affirmed, “which is a positive thing in the government, to a point. Or was it a broader issue that could leave resentment in the business community or in the legal community that would hamper his ability to function well in the private sector?”
“It’s certainly strange that White has to qualify the idea that bringing cases is a positive thing in a government official–that bringing cases is a ‘positive thing . . . to a point’,” Taibbi noted. “Can anyone imagine the future head of the DEA saying something like, ‘For a prosecutor, bringing drug cases is a positive, to a point’?”
And what about Linda Thomsen? In 2008, the SEC’s inspector general, H. David Kotz, urged disciplinary action against her over her role in Aguirre’s squashed investigation of Samberg and Mack. While Samberg was eventually forced out of business, barred from working as an investment adviser and paid a $28 million fine for his shenanigans, Thomsen landed on her feet.
After refusing to answer relevant questions in 2009 before the House Committee on Financial Services probe into the SEC’s failure to investigate the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, due to a “collective desire to preserve the integrity of the investigative and prosecution processes” mind you, Thomsen resigned and rejoined Davis, Polk and Wardell.
Later that year, Kotz released a report to Congress of the IG’s investigation into a “Senior Officer” who provided “inside information” to a “former official.” As it turns out that “Senior Officer” was Linda Thomsen and that “official” was her former boss Stephen Cutler who had jumped ship and joined JPMorgan Chase.
According to The New York Times, “Kotz said his office has concluded its well-publicized investigation into whether the SEC’s enforcement director, Linda Chatman Thomsen, inappropriately provided inside information to her former boss, Stephen Cutler, now the general counsel of JPMorgan Chase, amid the bank’s negotiations to buy Bear Stearns in March 2008.”
“The inquiry,” the Times reported, “which began in response to an anonymous tip, confirmed that Mr. Cutler sought assurances from Ms. Thomsen before the takeover that JPMorgan would not be sued for prior actions by Bear Stearns.”
And who was representing JPMorgan Chase in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse? If you guessed Mary Jo White, you’d be right again.
Less than three years later, during Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearings, White told the panel that “the American people will be my client, and I will work as zealously as possible on behalf of them.”
But when questioned by Sherrod Brown (D-OH) whether or not White agreed with US Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement which affirmed that “federal prosecutors are instructed . . . to look at . . . collateral consequences” should a financial institution or its officers be criminally charged, White agreed.
In a follow-up question, Brown wondered whether there is “a two-tiered system where we exempt the biggest banks because they have the most employees and shareholders who could be affected by criminal prosecution?”
White’s answer pretty much sums up everything that’s bent about Washington’s culture of impunity when it comes to the Wall Street crimes: “It’s a factor that prosecutors are directed to consider.”
“I do think the deferred prosecution instrument,” White asserted, “has been used a great deal on a number of companies, [and] was designed to be tough in terms of monetary sanctions, monitors–everything but the charge itself that might cause what the prosecutor might consider to be negative and undesirable collateral consequences to the public interest.”
But what about harsher sanctions such as stripped assets, handcuffs and a jail cell for drug money laundering and securities scamming banksters, punishments that might actually deter corporate crime?
Tom Burghardt : A researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

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Regime Change Begins at Home

By Stephen Lendman

March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Charles Derber’s book by that title says it’s the only way to free America from corporate rule. It transformed America from “we the people” to what CEOs say goes.

It put monied interests in charge. Presidents, legislators, and high level bureaucrats serve them. Whatever they want they get. Institutionalized injustice follows. It’s longstanding. Vital change more than ever is needed.

America had previous corporate regimes. None match today’s extremism. Bold, creative strategies are needed to change things. Commitment creates possibilities. Nothing worth struggling for is easy. Failure to try assures disaster.

America’s on a fast track to full-blown tyranny. It’s a hair’s breath away. Preventing it is top priority. It begins with knowledge. It involves knowing what’s at stake.

Money power runs America. Fundamental freedoms are on the chopping block for elimination. Preventing it takes commitment.

Challenging authority is essential. Social movements are pivotal forces. They work. Abolitionists, labor movements, and civil rights activists proved it.

Collective activism has power. What better time to use it than now. America’s waging political, social, financial, and hot wars. It’s doing it globally. It’s happening at home and abroad. Constitutional protections are disappearing. America’s social contract is being destroyed.

Militarization, permanent wars, and unchallenged global dominance reflect policy. So does police state harshness. Dissent is endangered. Privilege is entrenched. Fundamental freedoms are eroding. Beneficial social change isn’t tolerated.

Electoral politics doesn’t work. Duopoly power runs America. Republicans and Democrats reflect two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates them. Throwing out bums assures new ones. It happens every time.

Names and faces change. Policies remain unchanged. They’re longstanding. They’re cruel, malicious and unjust. Washington is too pernicious, corrupt and dysfunctional to fix.

Vital change is needed. Revolution is the only solution. Authority must be challenged disruptively. Doing so requires mobilizing it. Egalitarian reform is essential. Grass roots activism is key. Popular struggles depend on it.

Ordinary people have enormous power. Key is using it. It takes more than marches, rallies, slogans or violence. It takes sustained commitment, withdrawing cooperation, breaking entrenched rules, challenging reprisals, and staying the course.

Change occurs bottom up. It never comes top down. Dark forces relinquish nothing willingly. Concessions come when forced. Struggling for rights achieves them. There’s no other way.

Powerful interests run today’s America. They take full advantage. Absolute power corrupts them absolutely. They’re free to steal, plunder, exploit, accumulate wealth, and dominate. They do it at our expense.

Inequality is unprecedented. America the beautiful never existed and doesn’t now. Calling it a land of opportunity defies reality. Democratic freedoms are incompatible with predatory capitalism. Everyone’s on their own sink or swim.

Privileged few alone benefit. Others are used and abused. Adam Smith said nominal democracy should be “instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor.” It’s more than ever true today.

Corporatism is empowered. It rules the world. Military might supports it. Fundamental rights don’t matter. The world’s richest most developed country spurns them. It thumbs its nose at what matters most.

Growing poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and human misery follow. Plutocratic sharks don’t care. Bottom line priorities alone matter. Money is used to make more of it. Enough is never enough.

Human needs and welfare are sacrificed. Exploitation is institutionalized. American style democracy assures it. Michael Parenti calls it democracy for the few. It’s the best money can buy.

America’s wealthy class dominates. Ordinary people have no say. What democratic mandate directed government to transfer wealth to the privileged few? Why are ordinary people left out?

Why do corporate giants get huge handouts? Why are they licensed to steal? Why are wars fought to enrich them? Why are democratic freedoms compromised to serve them?

Achieving equitable change isn’t rocket science. Putting money power in public hands is a good way to start.

So is prioritizing justice, fairness, full employment, a minimum living wage, universal healthcare, free education to the highest levels, other vital social services, peace, and government by and for everyone equitably.

America’s current system failed. When disrobed and exposed to the light of day, America’s rulers have feet of clay. Their time has past. Social restructuring for everyone is needed. Mobilizing effectively can get it.

Regime change begins at home. A fundamental makeover is key. It requires ripping up political Washington from the roots and starting over. Nothing less assures change.

Democracy’s not a divine right. Getting and preserving it demands commitment. Out with the old. In with the new.

Hardship propels people to collective action. Mobilized disruptive power drives them. What better idea to build on. What better time than now.

A Final Comment

Charles Derber’s teaching and books focus on corporate power, capitalist injustice, globalization, American militarism, its quest for dominance, as well as peace and global justice movements seeking change.

The Independent Publishers of America chose his 2005 book “Hidden Power: What You Need to Know to Save Our Democracy” as one of three most important at the time.

He discusses how US regimes gain, hold and lose power. Current ones include corrupt politicians, Wall Street, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites.

Derber calls America’s government the “corporate regime.” He does so for good reason. Big business runs things. Money power is at the top of the pecking order.

Giant banks and financial institutions are more powerful than standing armies. They undermine freedom and social justice. They turn democracies into tyrannies. They wage wars for profit. They menace humanity in the process.

Clinton institutionalized “democratic integration into the corporate regime,” said Derber. He embraced traditional Republican objectives.

He prioritized “globalization and free trade, zero deficits, small government, the end of welfare, and American Empire and continued militarization after the end of the Cold War.”

“Despite the challenge from grassroots and progressive Democrats, these are still core aims of the Democratic Party today.”

It’s more fascist than democratic, in fact. It’s getting progressively worse. It’s anti-labor, pro-business, and pro-war. It mocks democratic government.

Influential insiders corrupted earlier principles. They “created a movement within the party. They severed Democrats from their New Deal past.”

“New Democrats” replaced old ones. Big money supports them. Party principles were redefined. Neoliberal harshness replaced New Deal liberalism.

Corporatism more than ever was embraced. What CEOs want they get. The worst of all possible worlds followed.

Gerber expresses hope. Corporate regimes eventually implode, he says. Usually it happens in a few decades. They do so by overreaching. They’re fundamentally anti-democratic, exploitive and repressive.

What can’t do on forever won’t. Corporate power isn’t omnipotent. For sure it’s not when committed people demand change. They get fed up and revolt. They do it one way or another.

Today’s corporate regime followed the Gilded Age (1865 – 1901), the Progressive era (1901 – 1921), the roaring twenties (1921 – 1933), and New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society (1933 – mid/late 1970s).

When earlier corporate regimes collapsed, things improved. If history repeats, better times are possible but not sure. Derber expects either a more egalitarian society or deeper US-style fascism.

It’ll be wrapped in an American flag. It already is. It’s embedded in police state laws, scoundrel media managed news, academia, and hardline political opportunism. Stopping it is top priority before it’s too late to matter.

Americans “have the ability to (do so) if they understand the change and how to respond,” says Derber. They have more power than they realize.

Key is using it responsibly. It’s high time people understood and acted accordingly. Ugliness won’t end on its own. It needs committed shoving.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.” . Visit his blog site at . Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio

The Message Sent by America’s Invisible Victims

As two more Afghan children are liberated (from their lives) by NATO this weekend, a new film examines the effects of endless US aggression
By Glenn Greenwald 
March 31, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Guardian” – Yesterday I had the privilege to watch Dirty Wars, an upcoming filmdirected by Richard Rowley that chronicles the investigations of journalist Jeremy Scahill into America’s global covert war under President Obama and specifically his ever-growing kill lists. I will write comprehensively about this film closer to the date when it andthe book by the same name will be released. For now, it will suffice to say that the film is one of the most important I’ve seen in years: gripping and emotionally affecting in the extreme, with remarkable, news-breaking revelations even for those of us who have intensely followed these issues. The film won awards at Sundance and rave reviews in unlikely places such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. But for now, I want to focus on just one small aspect of what makes the film so crucial.
The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark.
It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence. As Ashleigh Banfield put it her 2003 speech denouncing US media coverage of the Iraq war just months before she was demoted and then fired by MSNBC: US media reports systematically exclude both the perspectives of “the other side” and the victims of American violence. Media outlets in predominantly Muslim countries certainly report on their plight, but US media outlets simply do not, which is one major reason for the disparity in worldviews between the two populations. They know what the US does in their part of the world, but Americans are kept deliberately ignorant of it.
What makes Dirty Wars so important is that it viscerally conveys the effects of US militarism on these invisible victims: by letting them speak for themselves. Scahill and his crew travel to the places most US journalists are unwilling or unable to go: to remote and dangerous provinces in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, all to give voice to the victims of US aggression. We hear from the Afghans whose family members (including two pregnant women) were slaughtered by US Special Forces in 2010 in the Paktia Province, despite being part of the Afghan Police, only for NATO to outright lie and claim the women were already dead from “honor killings” by the time they arrived (lies uncritically repeated, of course, by leading US media outlets).
Scahill interviews the still-traumatized survivors of the US cruise missile and cluster bomb attack in Southern Yemen that killed 35 women and children just weeks after Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. We see the widespread anger in Yemen over the fact that the Yemeni journalist who first exposed US responsibility for that attack, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, was not only arrested by the US puppet regime but, as Scahill first reported, has been kept imprisoned to this very day at the direct insistence of President Obama. We hear from the grandfather of 16-year-old American teenager Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (he is also the father of US cleric Anwar al-Awlaki) – both before and after a CIA drone killed his son and then (two weeks later) his teenaged grandson who everyone acknowledges had nothing to do with terrorism. We hear boastful tales of summary executions from US-funded-and-directed Somali warlords.
There is an unmistakable and singular message sent by these disparate groups and events. It’s one particularly worth thinking about with news reports this morning that two more Afghan children have been killed by a NATO air attack.
The message is that the US is viewed as the greatest threat and that it is US aggression and violence far more than any other cause that motivates support for al-Qaida and anti-American sentiment. The son of the slain Afghan police commander (who is the husband of one of the killed pregnant woman and brother of the other) says that villagers refer to US Special Forces as the “American Taliban” and that he refrained from putting on a suicide belt and attacking US soldiers with it only because of the pleas of his grieving siblings. An influential Southern Yemeni cleric explains that he never heard of al-Qaida sympathizers in his country until that 2009 cruise missile attack and subsequent drone killings, including the one that ended the life of Abdulrahman (a claim supported by all sorts of data). The brutal Somali warlord explains that the Americans are the “masters of war” who taught him everything he knows and who fuel ongoing conflict. Anwar Awlaki’s transformation from moderate and peace-preaching American cleric to angry critic of the US is shown to have begun with the US attack on Iraq and then rapidly intensifying with Obama’s drone attacks and kill lists. Meanwhile, US military officials and officers interviewed by Scahill exhibit a sociopathic indifference to their victims, while Awlaki’s increasingly angry sermons in defense of jihad are juxtaposed with the very similar-sounding justifications of endless war from Obama.
The evidence has long been compelling that the primary fuel of what the US calls terrorism are the very policies of aggression justified in the name of stopping terrorism. The vast bulk of those who have been caught in recent years attempting attacks on the US haveemphatically cited US militarism and drone killings in their part of the world as their motive. Evidence is overwhelming that what has radicalized huge numbers of previously peaceful and moderate Muslims is growing rage at seeing a continuous stream of innocent victims, including children, at the hands of the seemingly endless US commitment to violence.
The only way this clear truth is concealed is by preventing Americans from knowing about, let alone hearing from, the victims of US aggression. That concealment is what caused huge numbers of Americans to wander around in a daze after 9/11 innocently and bewilderingly wondering “why do they hate us”? – despite decades of continuous US interference, aggression, and violence-enabling in that part of the world. And it’s this concealment of these victims that causes Americans now to react to endless stories of the killing of innocent Muslims with the excuse that “we have to do something about the Terrorists” or “it’s better than a ground invasion” – without realizing that they’re affirming what Chris Hayes aptly describes as a false choice, and worse, without realizing that the very policies they’re cheering are not stopping the Terrorists at all but doing the opposite: helping the existing Terrorists and creating new ones.
To be fair, it’s not difficult to induce a population to avert its eyes from the victims of the violence they support: we all like to believe that we’re Good and peaceful people, and we particularly like to believe this about the leaders we elect, cheer and admire. Moreover, what the Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole recently described as “the empathy gap” – the failure to imagine how others will react to situations that would cause us (and have caused us) to be driven by rage and violence – means that the US government need not work all that hard to silence its victims: there is a pervasive desire to keep them out of sight.
Nonetheless, if Americans are going to support or even tolerate endless militarism, as they have been doing, then they should at least have to be confronted with their victims – if not on moral grounds then on pragmatic ones, to understand the effects of these policies. Based on the out-of-sight-out-of-mind reality, the US government and media have been incredibly successful in rendering those victims silent and invisible. Dirty Wars is a truly crucial tonic to that propaganda. At the very least, nobody who sees it and hears from the victims of US aggression will ever again wonder why there are so many people in the world who believe in the justifiability or even necessity of violence against the US.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of How Would a Patriot Act? (May 2006), a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power; A
Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy; and With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies

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What Religious Leaders Want to Tell Obama on Easter


How can we hold our heads high when remote-controlled, killer aircraft are raining death and destruction on populations half a world away?

Posted March 31, 2013

Residents face bitter winter in New Zealand’s quake-hit city

By John Braddock 

30 March 2013

Residents of the New Zealand city of Christchurch, devastated by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed 185 people in February 2011, are facing a bitter winter. While the National Party government, city council and business investors concentrate on rebuilding the central business district, thousands of people, particularly those in working class suburbs, are into their third year of unresolved social stress and personal dislocation.

According to a report in theDominion Post on March 25, health and social agencies are bracing themselves for the effects of influenza, cold weather and “shameful” living conditions. Christchurch winters can be harsh, with frosts, low temperatures and occasional snow.

The city’s health agencies are reported to be ringing “alarm bells.” The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is moving to insulate the city’s coldest and dampest homes. The Red Cross is planning to distribute winter warmer packs to those in need and send volunteers door-knocking in the worst-affected suburbs.

CDHB member Andrew Dickerson said he was concerned about the “growing sense of despair” in some areas. Damaged, damp and overcrowded homes meant communicable diseases like influenza, whooping cough and measles could flourish this winter, putting increased strain on a health system already under pressure. “The conditions some people are now living in I never expected to see in New Zealand,” he said.

Another CDHB member, Anna Crighton, warned that there was “every indication this winter will be worse than the last”, with many people now at “breaking point.” Medical officer Dr Ramon Pink said housing, employment and rental availability were “big issues” even before the usual winter illnesses and extreme weather conditions are added.

The Press reported on March 20 that a health “time bomb” was ready to erupt, due to liquefied silt still festering beneath houses. Silt littered with fungi is piled up against the floorboards of some houses, causing them to rot. In other houses it has crept into the walls, causing mould to grow. Some 65 percent of Central New Brighton families live in unrepaired homes, with some still having to pay to have raw sewage drained from their property. Among parents of children at the Central New Brighton school, 23 percent lost jobs because of the quakes.

According to a TV One report on January 29, “horror stories” of families living in garages and tents continue to surface. Some families remained stranded in sheds or overcrowded friends’ and relatives’ houses.

The plight of one family was detailed on the Fairfax ‘Stuff’ website on March 25. Jean Nel, 47, lives in a Woolston home with her two eldest sons and one of their partners, who has an 11-month-old baby suffering from a lung condition. Nel’s youngest son, Reenen de Bruin, 17, and his girlfriend Sydney live in the garage. The house lost both of its chimneys in the quake, there is an exposed manhole in one bedroom and, with no insulation, the heat pump barely warms the living room, leaving it “as cold as a fridge.” The only heat source is a fan heater, resulting in a $400 power bill last month. The baby, Miniah, who was born with a hole in her diaphragm, has already been hospitalised twice in six months.

Demand on social services continues to increase: people who have never needed help before are queuing up at food banks. City Missioner Michael Gorman said the unprecedented demand on the mission’s alcohol and drug services, foodbank and night shelters “has not eased at all.”

High rents show no sign of abating. According to recent official figures, rents rose between 7 and 21 percent in Christchurch last year, depending on suburb.

Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi believes this year is “shaping up to be the worst,” adding: “When winter strikes this year, we predict it’s going to be very difficult for a large number of people.” Some tenants were renting cramped, damp three-bedroom homes for more than $500 a week. “The behaviour of some landlords is totally unacceptable. They are renting homes for an arm and a leg, knowing there will be a queue of people lining up to view the place,” Gatonyi commented.

Home owners face their own raft of problems. Many are bogged down in endless disputes with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and insurance companies, which are doing everything they can to minimise their financial obligations to clients with damaged or unliveable houses.

Earlier this month, Matt and Valerie O’Loughlin, a couple from the red-zoned (i.e. designated uninhabitable) suburb of Dallington, sued insurance company Tower, fighting for the full replacement cost of their home, rather than just the repair costs. The couple sought up to $700,000 for the replacement of their home, and also claimed $50,000 general damages. Tower had offered to pay for repair work totalling $337,000, which the O’Loughlin’s lawyer Grant Shand said was half of what is required. He said they were covered under a natural disaster clause in their policy, which entitled them to the replacement of a “fully functional house” in the “same condition and extent as when new.”

It was not tenable for the house to be repaired in a red zone, where there were no other houses being repaired, Shand said. An inability to ensure continuing insurance cover on the repaired house and a lack of services in the area such as running water would mean it was not fully-functional. Valerie O’Loughlin said: “It wasn’t really our choice to go to court, but we couldn’t get Tower to move. We just want a fair price for our home. We don’t want to pay for repair costs because we didn’t take out a repair policy.”

The case is not atypical. This week, EQC was responsible for the accidental emailing of a spreadsheet containing details of 83,000 quake claimants. The document covered every claim up to $100,000 in value, including EQC’s original estimate of the cost of repairing damage and the bids received from contractors. Claiming “commercial sensitivity,” EQC has for two years withheld the information from claimants, who have been demanding it in order to make decisions about their lives.

With the support of opposition Labour Party and the Greens, the government has used the disaster as a pretext for cuts to essential services—both nationally and in Christchurch. Last month, the government defied protests and confirmed the closure or merger of 19 schools, while the city’s poor areas have been earmarked for the introduction of publicly funded but private “Charter Schools.” The ruling National Party has tried to pressure the city council to privatise assets, and rates are being raised to force residents pay their “share” of rebuild costs. Labour, the Greens and the unions have all accepted the inevitability of cuts to basic services, demanding only their right to be involved in “consultation.”

Quebec’s Option Nationale: An aspiring party of big business

By Richard Dufour 
30 March 2013
At its first full convention, held earlier this month, Option Nationale—a new party formed by a split-off from the big business Parti Québécois—reached out to what it called “right-wing” Quebec sovereignists and paraded its support for capitalism and indifference to poverty.
The Option Nationale (ON) convention also opened the door to a possible merger with the PQ, which, since returning to power last September, has imposed steep cuts in social spending, including punitive cuts to social assistance benefits, and offered its support for the French imperialist intervention in Mali.
Québec Solidaire (QS), an ostensibly “left” party promoted by the Pabloites, has repeatedly described Option Nationale as a “natural ally.” It forged a limited “non-aggression pact” with it in last September’s provincial election and recently voted to work for an ON-QS merger.
But the ON convention spurned the QS’s overtures and publicly eschewed identification with the “left,” declaring that its aim is to build a party in which “right-wing” sovereiginists will be fully at home.
This was hardly surprising. ON is the political vehicle of Michel Aussant, a former investment banker and ex-PQ legislator, and it is being mentored by Jacques Parizeau, the scion of one of Quebec’s wealthiest families and a former PQ Premier of Quebec.
Aussant set the tone for the convention, declaring that “capitalism, when contained by a proper legal and regulatory framework, is the best system.”
The convention re-elected him as party leader by acclamation and voted to grant him an annual salary of $86,000. To the few delegates who urged debate on the size of the leader’s salary, Aussant replied, “For the hours I put into this party this is not far from the minimum wage.”
Aussant’s flippant dismissal of the plight of the working poor was in keeping with the convention’s rejection of a proposal to make the fight against poverty a party priority.
The convention promoted Option Nationale as Quebec’s only truly sovereignist party. The PQ, it asserted, is preoccupied with gaining provincial office and QS too focused on promoting its “social project” and to the determinant of uniting all sovereignist forces.
For decades and through a series of parties—including the PQ and its chief provincial rival, the Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ)—the Quebec bourgeoisie has pressed for greater powers for the Quebec state, so as to strengthen its hand against its big business rivals and its domination and political control over the working class.
The PQ has held two sovereignty referendums, but has always left open the door to a possible new bargain, including a continued economic union, with the rest of Canada. Since its narrow loss in the 1995 referendum, the PQ has repeatedly been torn by factional warfare. Many of the party’s petty bourgeois cadre have complained that the leadership is soft-peddling independence and demanded the PQ introduce further chauvinist measures to promote French as Quebec’s sole official and “public language” and ensure that immigrants and religious minorities adhere to “Quebec values.”
For decades the unions have worked to harness the working class to the PQ, promoting it and the Quebec indépendantiste movement as “progressive,” while systematically isolating the struggles of Quebec workers from their class brothers and sisters in the rest of Canada and around the world.
But long historical experience—notably of PQ governments imposing sweeping austerity measures and using savage anti-strike laws—has demonstrated that the PQ is no less an implacable defender of big business and enemy of the working class than the Liberals and enormously undercuts the PQ’s electoral support among working people.
Option Nationale was formed in response to the crisis that wracked the PQ following the May 2011federal election. In that election, its sister party, the Bloc Québécois, was almost wiped off the political map as Quebecers turned en masse to the social-democratic NDP, a party hitherto little-known in Quebec, so as to demonstrate their opposition to the traditional political establishment, federalist and sovereignist alike.
With the PQ hit by a raft of defections, Aussant set up the ON with the aim of salvaging the Quebec bourgeoisie’s sovereigntist option, if not the PQ itself.
Aussant told this month’s convention that he is confident that one day “people will say that a sovereignist vote is a vote for Option Nationale.” At the same time, he left the door open to his followers eventually integrating into the PQ ranks, declaring, “If a party is as resolutely sovereignist as Option Nationale we will collaborate, or even merge with that party so as to advance the cause.” In subsequent discussion with reporters, he suggested that his and ON’s return to the PQ are unlikely under its current leader, Premier Pauline Marois, thereby underlining that were the PQ to choose a new leader committed to more aggressively promoting Quebec independence a merger might well result.
The guest of honor at the ON convention was none other than the 82 year-old Jacques Parizeau. The long time idol of the PQ’s “hardline” faction, Parizeau was a leading cabinet minster in the PQ government of the early 1980s that imposed sweeping concessions on public sector workers by government decree and threatened to fire teachers en masse. As PQ Premier from September 1994 to January 1996, Parizeau pushed through hospital closures and other austerity measures, initiating the PQ’s campaign for a “zero deficit” that under his successor, Lucien Bouchard, became the mechanism for imposing the greatest social spending cuts in Quebec history.
In a warmly-applauded speech, Parizeau reaffirmed his loyalty to the PQ, a party to which he said he is “attached with every fiber of my body,” while criticizing its lukewarm promotion of Quebec sovereignty. He welcomed Option Nationale’s emergence as “leaven in the dough.”
In a significant passage, the former PQ premier elaborated on this theme. “If your enthusiasm gradually spreads throughout the sovereignty circles,” said Parizeau, “then an agreement between all sovereignists becomes possible.”
Parizeau is a highly conscious representative of the Quebec ruling class, fighting determinedly to reverse the decline in support for the PQ and its proposal for a capitalist République du Québec. As such, he welcomes the efforts made in this direction by Option Nationale. But he fears that this is not enough, coming from a party that openly displays its admiration for capitalism and its indifference to pressing social problems such as poverty and low wages.
In the run-up to the 1995 sovereignty referendum Parizeau forged a PQ-led “rainbow coalition” in favor of sovereignty that included the right wing populist ADQ (predecessor of the current CAQ), the Quebec unions, and the pseudo-left. Parizeau is seeking a means to create a similar broad coalition, in particular one that includes the unions and the middle class forces that are in and around Québec Solidaire. Parizeau sees Option Nationale as a bridge to draw these layers more closely into the PQ’s orbit.
Québec Solidaire’s courtship of such an openly right wing party as Option Nationale attests to its own character as an aspiring bourgeois party, whose aim is to pressure and manoeuvre with the traditional parties of big business. Indeed, by proclaiming its readiness to ally and merge with ON, QS seeks to send a message to the PQ that it is open to co-operation with it as well. Indeed, the QS leadership meeting last December that voted to pursue a merger with ON also voted to consider a “tactical”, i.e. electoral, alliance with the PQ at the QS congress to be held in early May.

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Detroit’s emergency manager keeps mayor, city council on payroll

By Bryan Dyne and Shannon Jones 
30 March 2013
As his first official act, Detroit’s emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr has restored the pay of the mayor and city council. This pay was eliminated under the new emergency manager law, Public Act 436, which went into effect Thursday. Only Orr had the power to restore their salaries.
Orr issued a statement explaining his action. “Detroiters need their elected representatives on the job and working collaboratively toward the solutions that will solve our immediate financial crisis and position the city to grow and thrive.” He continued, “I wanted the first order issued to reaffirm how important the mayor and city council members are to Detroit’s turnaround.”
Mayor Bing makes around $145,000. The council president makes $77,000, and the council members make just over $73,000.
The response of the council members can be summed up in a statement by Council President Charles Pugh when he said, “Our position all along was that restoring democracy was in everyone’s best interest.”
Whose best interests? What Pugh calls “restoring democracy” is merely the restoration of his own paycheck. He is not interested at all in fighting against a virtual dictator undemocratically imposed over the city of Detroit.
The other members of city council fell in line. Councilman Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said, “It’s consistent with the approach [Orr] wants to take on how he moves forward with the mayor and council.”
Councilwoman Brenda Jones remarked that she felt that the vote of the populace had been ignored, but then followed up by saying, “He indicated that he wants to work with the council, the mayor and the citizens. He gave a commitment that he will continue to communicate.”
The commitment Orr gave is in fact only to ensure the comfort level the political officials who have overseen Detroit, whose only real opposition to Orr was that they wanted to enact the massive cuts being demanded by Detroit’s creditors themselves, rather than have someone else reap the benefits of doing so. (See, “The Detroit City Council begs Snyder, “We can do this without an emergency manager”)
Now that the city council is getting paid, it is quite content to end its agitation against the EFM. They have also dropped any accusations that “white” Lansing is imposing its racist agenda on “black” Detroit.
Warren Truck workers
The WSWS interviewed a Chrysler Warren Truck worker with 16 years about the emergency manager.
“They have been trying to privatize the water department and think this is a way for them to get it. That’s their biggest thing. They want to get hold of that water supply. With Orr, that is a way for them to worm in and get it. They are probably going to do it, whether we like it or not.
“As far as what is going on in Detroit, the street where I live used to be beautiful. Now, they cut all the trees down for one thing. All the houses are boarded up on the block next to me now. There is one house left. The others are boarded up.
“You have the mayor on one side and the city council on the other, going against each other. They are not down in the city. They need to go down in the city. Everything downtown is pretty much beautiful. But you go into the neighborhoods … they need to start in the back and come towards the city. They need to help the neighborhoods. It is horrible.
“As far as Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, while they are there it creates a presence, they are still causing attention, that’s a good thing.”
The SEP explained that the role of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton was to divert the anger of working people over the attacks being carried out on their jobs and living conditions into the dead end of racial politics. The fundamental issue the SEP insisted, was class, not race. As for Bing and the City Council, their disputes were largely tactical, over the most effective way of carrying out the cuts.
“It is survival of the fittest,” said the Chrysler worker. “That is what it sounds like to me. That’s what is going on at Chrysler. The 3-2-120 crap,” he said, referring to the new 10-hour, four day work schedule recently imposed with the support of the United Auto Workers. “If you are poor you are out. If you have got the money, you can stay. That’s what it looks like all over now. Certainly in Detroit it is going to be rich and poor. That is all there will be, until we stand up. Nobody is going to do that for us.”

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US deployment of stealth bombers escalates military standoff in Korea

By Alex Lantier 

30 March 2013

On Thursday, US officials announced that B-2 stealth bombers had flown from Whiteman Air Force Base in the United States to South Korea. They dropped dummy bombs on a bombing range on the island of Jik Do.

The B-2 flight was a threat to the North Korean regime in Pyongyang that Washington can launch nuclear strikes on its territory at any time. A small, poor state dependent on China for critical food and fuel supplies, it is massively outclassed militarily by the United States and its allies in the region, South Korea and Japan.

The American command in South Korea issued a statement declaring that the exercise showed the United States’ ability to “conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will” and “provide extended deterrence to our allies in the Asia-Pacific region.” As was widely reported, the B-2 warplanes can carry nuclear missiles.

The action came only 10 days after the US announced that it had sent nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to participate in US-South Korean military exercises. While describing the mission as “routine,” Pentagon spokesman George Little made clear that its purpose was to highlight nuclear as well as conventional weapons: “The mission highlights the extended deterrence and conventional capabilities of the B-52 Stratofortress.”

Amid a continuing international standoff over its nuclear program, the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang has cut off military hotlines connecting it to South Korea and made inflammatory threats, including of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the US.

Military experts have dismissed these threats as empty, however, as Pyongyang’s missiles do not have the range to reach the US or Hawaii. James Hardy of Jane’s Defense Weekly said, “North Korea does not have the capability to carry out this latest threat to attack US bases in Hawaii, the US mainland, or Guam using long-range missiles.”

These events underscore the incendiary character of the “pivot to Asia” announced by the Obama administration last year, aiming to assemble a US-led alliance to isolate China and preserve US military pre-eminence in East Asia.

Over the last year, the US stoked a confrontation between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. It also announced that it would build a ballistic missile shield in Asia, aimed mainly at China, but presented as a measure against North Korea. It has held repeated military and naval exercises with South Korea, as well as with Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea. The aggressive pursuit of US interests has brought the Korean peninsula to the brink of war.

At a press conference yesterday discussing the B-2 exercises, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “I don’t think we’re doing anything extraordinary or provocative, or out of the orbit of what nations do to protect their own interests.”

The Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said, “The reaction to the B-2 that we are most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might provoke in North Korea, but rather among our Japanese and [South] Korean allies. Those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict.”

Dempsey added that he saw no abnormal threat from North Korea. Its military deployments are not out of the ordinary, he explained: “We haven’t seen anything that would cause us to believe they are movements other than consistent with historic patterns and training exercises.”

Dempsey’s comments highlight the fraudulent character of Washington’s campaign against North Korea. It is not based so much on any threat from North Korea, as on tightening the alliance between the US, Japan, and South Korea directed against China.

The issue of North Korea is particularly valuable for Washington, in that it allows the United States to constantly pressure the Chinese regime to cut off its support for Pyongyang and conform more broadly to the needs of US foreign policy.

According to diplomatic materials published by WikiLeaks in 2010, sections of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) consider North Korea to be a “spoiled child” and believe Korea should be re-unified under South Korean control. Such a course of action would also have significant support in Pyongyang. The North Korean regime has called for an official peace treaty with Seoul and the reunification of Korea. It hopes to develop as an exporting power like China, based on the super-exploitation of North Korean workers producing directly for world markets.

Beijing has not ultimately chosen to cut off Pyongyang, however, and China remains the most powerful obstacle to the global operations of US imperialism. Beijing has vetoed UN resolutions presented by the United States and its European allies to justify military intervention against Syria, and it continues to trade with Iran—another key Middle Eastern country targeted for regime change by Washington.

These developments are currently pressing China into a closer alliance with Russia, which also sees US Middle East policy as a threat to its interests. (See, “Chinese president’s “historic visit” to Russia”)

China is also the United States’ largest creditor, holding approximately $2 trillions of US debt. It has the potential to do significant damage to the world financial system, in the event of a serious conflict with Washington.

It is such interests, and not any supposed threat posed from Pyongyang, that are driving Washington to escalate its nuclear threats against North Korea.

To the extent that there is concern in Washington over the military risks posed by the Korean peninsula itself, these risks arise more from the instability and aggressiveness of its own allies.

Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye both head right-wing, nationalistic governments. The export industries of both countries are being undermined by the global economic crisis, and the ruling classes are preparing deep attacks on the working class. Park, the daughter of former military dictator Park Chung-hee, has quickly collapsed in the polls. (See also: “Former dictator’s daughter takes over South Korean presidency”)

There is the risk that Seoul might seek for its own purposes to escalate a confrontation that began with a provocation from Pyongyang, which the latter has often carried out after the inauguration of new South Korean presidents.

One intelligence official told the Christian Science Monitor: “You may see some shelling of South Korean islands that are very close to the North Korean coast. They’ve done that in the past, they killed four people the last time they did this.”

On their face, the comments of Hagel and Dempsey also suggest that Washington wants to use the crisis with North Korea to prove to Seoul and Tokyo that they can still rely on American nuclear guarantees. In South Korea, in particular, sections of the press and of Park’s own Saenuri party have begun calling for Seoul to develop its own nuclear weapon.

Washington opposes this, from the standpoint that it could cause wider proliferation of nuclear weapons and lessen South Korean and Japanese dependency on the United States.

Obama, Republicans plot sweeping attack on Medicare

By Fred Mazelis 
30 March 2013
Behind closed doors, the White House and congressional Republicans are discussing a deal that would impose devastating cuts on the Medicare system and threaten tens of millions of working people.
The New York Times in a front-page article Friday reported on secret meetings between President Barack Obama and House and Senate Republicans. The president has assured the Republicans that he will deliver Democratic votes for historic attacks on Medicare as part of a “balanced” package, meaning one that includes the fig leaf of token tax increases on the wealthy.
The plan that is being discussed would restructure Medicare Parts A and B, covering hospital care and doctor visits respectively, in such a way as to impose major increases in deductible payments on millions of beneficiaries. A combined deductible of the kind being proposed would greatly increase costs for the approximately 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who use doctor and outpatient services, but not hospital care, in any given year.
Retirees and others covered by Medicare who are not sick enough to require surgery or hospitalization, but need to see their doctors on a regular basis, would face steep increases in out-of-pocket costs. These would be on top of their monthly premium, which is now $100. With Medicare now enrolling some 50 million Americans, about 40 million people would be hit by the proposed increase in deductibles.
An attack along these lines was proposed some 25 years ago, in the last year of the Reagan Administration. Congressional Democrats then opposed it, but are now spearheading the offensive against Medicare. In an attempt to dampen popular outrage in advance of the 2016 elections, the White House is proposing that any changes would apply only to those eligible for Medicare after 2016.
The bipartisan proposals now taking shape are also aimed at other elements of Medicare and will have dire consequences. Obama is proposing a 15 percent surcharge on Medigap plans. These plans, now purchased at significant cost by many retirees in order to provide protection from ever-rising health care costs, would now become even more expensive.
In its report, the Times writes that one of the major goals of the restructuring of Medicare Parts A and B is “to discourage people from seeking unneeded treatments.” This is very much in line with the campaign, in which the liberal editorialists of the Times have played a leading role, to deny many tests and treatments to the working class majority of the population. The wealthy, of course, would be able to obtain the care they chose.
The attacks on Medicare are being hammered out behind the backs of the American people, highlighting their antidemocratic character. The news report makes reference to meetings that have never before been publicly reported. The idea of public hearings or local meetings at which those who will bear the brunt of these cuts can be heard is not even considered.
The Times report makes clear the fraud behind the frequent claims of political gridlock and partisan warfare in Washington that allegedly paralyzes the federal government. Despite their tactical differences and vitriolic political campaigns, Democrats and Republicans are united in a conspiracy against the working class.
They have been discussing plans to attack Medicare and other social programs for years. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor discussed the restructuring of Medicare Parts A and B as long ago as 2011, when he participated in a panel on fiscal issues headed by Vice President Joseph Biden.
It is within this context that the House budget plan introduced by Wisconsin Republican and 2012 Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan must be understood. Ryan’s proposals, which include vouchers that would essentially do away with Medicare, are being used to give Obama and the Democrats political cover. As part of the political fraud typical of the two-party system, the Democrats pose as opponents of Medicare privatization while pushing for increased costs and reduced benefits for recipients and turning the program into a shadow of what it was in the past.
The role of the Democrats in this conspiracy was spelled out by Virginia Senator Mark Warner. Warner, the Times explains, “has long led a bipartisan group of senators seeking a fiscal deal.” The Virginia Democrat called for an end to “stale arguments” that he compared to “World War I trench warfare.” He welcomed the views of those Republicans who said, as he put it, “Well, we don’t really like what Ryan has done—premium support—but we want systemic reform.”
In other words, the choice is between alternate ways of gutting bedrock social programs and making the working class pay for the crisis of the capitalist system. The Republicans propose the most extreme attacks and the Democrats come forward to defend something quite similar that previously would have been considered politically impossible.
The Medicare cuts being discussed will have a major impact on the lives of millions of working people and retirees. Medicare already has serious limitations, including its partial privatization in recent decades through Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap and the prescription drug plan enacted under the George W. Bush administration. All of these counter-reforms have enriched the private insurance industry and pharmaceutical giants at the expense of the working class.
Nevertheless, Medicare has constituted a lifeline for many millions of working people since it was enacted, extending the length and quality of life. It was one of the very last social reforms that American capitalism was able to provide, and then only in response to great social struggles. Today, however, as part of the global crisis that has worsened in the years since the financial collapse of 2008, these reforms are on the chopping block in the US and worldwide. They can be defended and extended only in the struggle for the socialist reorganization of society on the basis of human needs and not profit.

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The two sides of the US economic “recovery”

30 March 2013
News this past week focused attention on two economic indices in the US: record numbers of people on food stamps and a new high for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index. Their juxtaposition speaks to the reality of the economic “recovery,” whose most basic feature is a widening of the social divide in America.
An article in the Wall Street Journalon Wednesday, which reported that food stamp usage in the US has increased by 70 percent since 2008, received scant attention. But the figures it presented are shocking. A record 47.8 million people were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as of December 2012.
The biggest driver of the explosive increase in SNAP is poverty. Almost 50 million Americans were living in poverty in 2011, according the US Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which factors in expenses for food, clothing, shelter, utilities, health care and other essentials.
In 2010, about 87 percent of food stamp recipients were at or below the poverty line, which is set at the ridiculously low level of about $25,000 for a family of three. Only 3.5 percent of recipients had household incomes over 130 percent of the poverty line. Half of current SNAP recipients are children, and half of these children—some 10 million—live in extreme poverty, meaning family income is less than half the official poverty level.
One in six Americans receives food stamps. Last year’s average monthly benefit was a paltry $133 per person.
For families struggling to put food on the table—even with the aid of SNAP benefits—the much vaunted economic recovery has nothing to do with their reality. The past five years have seen not only a huge increase in the SNAP rolls, but also a dramatic increase in the ranks of the working poor. Three out of four households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one person who is working.
On the other side of the class divide, stock market analysts and the media celebrated the continuing surge in share prices. The S&P 500—the stock market index of 500 large US companies—capped a four-year rally Thursday, recouping all of its losses from the 2008 global financial crisis.
The S&P 500, which rose to 1,569.19, has rocketed 10 percent in the first three months of the year, becoming the last major US market gauge to hit a new high. The Dow Jones Industrial average has already eclipsed its previous high from late 2007. The Los Angeles Times commented on the S&P breakthrough: “The milestone underscored investors’ enthusiasm over the increasingly buoyant economy.”
The vast majority of Americans are not the beneficiaries of this “buoyant economy.” Rather, growing numbers of people have been thrown deeper into poverty and social distress. Long-term unemployment has become entrenched. Working families are saddled with growing debt and struggle to pay for housing and other basic necessities, let alone put aside anything for retirement.
The increasing chasm between ordinary Americans and the elite that is celebrating stock market records is not the outcome merely of impersonal economic processes. The growth of social inequality since the 2008 financial crash is the product of definite policies pursued first under Bush and then under the Obama administration. The political establishment has pursued a bipartisan policy of class warfare against the working class while bailing out Wall Street and assisting its continued plundering of social resources.
The US Federal Reserve is pumping $85 billion a month in virtually free money into the financial system, fueling the stock market boom. This is more money in a month than the $76.6 billion the federal government spent all of last year to provide SNAP benefits to 47.8 million impoverished Americans.
Despite the explosive growth of the food stamp rolls and the obvious need for more funding for SNAP, even the minimal expansion of the program under the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill is set to expire on October 31, cutting food stamp benefits by about $8 per month per recipient.
The repeated refrain from Washington is that there is “no money” for schools, housing, health care and other vital social needs. Big business politicians—fixated on reducing budgets and pursuing new wars—are calling for even more austerity. Earlier this week, President Obama signed a bill making permanent this fiscal year’s $85 billion in sequester cuts, which will slash billions of dollars from programs benefiting the poor.
The budget proposals of the Democrats and Republicans call for deep cuts to social programs. Both parties are eyeing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that were won through mass social struggles of the working class—for not only sweeping funding cuts, but ultimately for destruction through privatization and other means.
Having precipitated the financial crash through a combination of speculation and fraud, the financial oligarchy is now demanding that its losses be repaid many times over through the impoverishment of the broad mass of working people.
The working class requires a program and perspective to confront this social counterrevolution. The capitalist system must be overthrown and replaced with socialism. The wealth of the financial aristocracy must be expropriated and utilized to address the pressing social needs of the population: decent-paying jobs, education, housing, health care, pensions. The corporations and banks must be nationalized and placed under the democratic control of the working class.
The implementation of this program depends upon the building of a new leadership to arm the coming mass struggles of the working class with a socialist program and strategy for workers’ power. The Socialist Equality Party fights for this revolutionary perspective.
Kate Randall

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DPRK Servicepersons on Highest Alert

By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — All services and arms units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), including the strategic rocket units, have been placed on the highest alert to cope with new war moves of the U.S. imperialists.
In this regard, Kim Myong Sik, a KPA officer, told KCNA:
“The plan of the firepower strike, finally examined and ratified by respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un, reflects his fixed decision to put an end to the long-standing showdown with the U.S.
It will be a great mistake for the U.S. to think that the DPRK’s operational area is limited to territorial waters around the Korean Peninsula.
Our warships will play a significant role in destroying the U.S. military bases in south Korea, Japan and the Pacific as well as the U.S. mainland.”
Yang Hyok Gi, a KPA officer, said:
“When visiting our unit some days ago, Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un said our unit should take the lead in a great war for national reunification.
Once an order is given, my unit will blow up all targets at a strike. If a war breaks out, I will carry more nukes instead of auxiliary parachute to assault the headquarters of the enemy.”
DPRK People Confident of Victory in Faceoff with U.S.
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — It was reported through media Friday that Marshal Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), convened an urgent operation meeting on the KPA Strategic Rocket Forces’ performance of duty for firepower strike and finally examined and ratified a plan for the firepower strike.
Upon hearing the news, servicepersons and civilians of the DPRK have became more convinced of victory in the ongoing showdown with the U.S. imperialists.
Kye Sang Chol, a KPA officer, told KCNA:
“It is the first time the U.S. let B-2A fly over south Korea as part of war exercises against the DPRK. This fully revealed its scheme to launch a nuclear war against the DPRK at any cost.
Servicepersons of my unit will reduce to ashes not only the U.S. mainland but its military bases on Hawaii, Guam and other regions, under the plan for firepower strike finally examined and ratified by the respected Supreme Commander.”
Kim Thae Ho, a work-team head of the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, said:
“I heard the news through radio in the morning.
Since Marshal Kim Jong Un stands in the van of the showdown with the U.S., the DPRK people are not afraid of any powerful strike means of the enemy.
We workers, too, have been on combat readiness, waiting for an order of action.”
Ji Sol Gyong, a student at Pyongyang University of Mechanical Engineering, said:
“Respected Marshal Kim Jong Un at the operation meeting underscored the need to put a definite end to the times when the U.S. could threaten and blackmail the DPRK with nukes.
Now is the time to react to the U.S moves with nukes.
All of my classmates have volunteered to join the army. We promised each other to meet again as heroes after performing feats in the all-out action against the U.S.”
Kim Jong Un Convenes Operation Meeting, Finally Examines and Ratifies Plan for Firepower Strike
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — The moves of the U.S. imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach upon its supreme interests have entered a grave phase.
Not content with letting B-52 make sorties over south Korea in succession despite the repeated warnings, they made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other strategic strike means fly from Whiteman air force base in Missouri State, the U.S. over south Korea on March 28 for the first time in history to commit such dangerous provocation as openly staging a drill for striking ground targets of the DPRK.
This fully proves that the brigandish ambition of the U.S. imperialists for aggression to stand in confrontation with the DPRK has reached an extreme phase defying the meaningful warning made by its revolutionary armed forces in the March 26 statement of the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army.
In view of the prevailing grim situation, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Marshal Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, convened an urgent operation meeting on the KPA Strategic Rocket Force’s performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command at 00:30 Friday.
Present there were Hyon Yong Chol, chief of the KPA General Staff, Ri Yong Gil, director of the Operation Bureau, Kim Yong Chol, director of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, and Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Rocket Force.
At the meeting he first received a report from General Kim Yong Chol, who is also vice chief of the General Staff of the KPA, on the information about the nature of action of the nuclear strike means of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces.
After receiving a report from Lieut. General Kim Rak Gyom on the technical conditions of the strategic strike means of the KPA, he made an important decision.
He said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.
If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, the KPA should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea, he said. He examined and finally ratified the plan of the Strategic Rocket Force for firepower strike.
The U.S. imperialists let B-2A make sorties over south Korea in succession, indicating once again that their hostile acts against the DPRK have entered a reckless phase, going beyond the phase of threat and blackmail, he said.
B-2A’s flight to the sky above south Korea is not a simple demonstration of forces in reaction to the tough stand of the DPRK but an ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula, he noted, underlining the need to put a definite end to the times when they could threaten and blackmail the DPRK with nukes.
He declared the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK would react to the U.S. nuclear blackmail with a merciless nuclear attack, and war of aggression with an all-out war of justice.
He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea.
He said the enemies are bringing dark clouds of a nuclear war testing the DPRK’s self-restraint, adding the DPRK can no longer tolerate this. He ordered the KPA to blow up and reduce everything to ashes at a single strike, if an order is issued.
He said the heroic service personnel of the KPA and all other people, their hearts burning with irrepressible resentment at the reckless war provocation moves of the U.S. imperialists, are now waiting for a final order of the WPK Central Committee, hardening their will to turn out in a do-or-die battle with the enemies.
The KPA will never remain a passive onlooker to the U.S. imperialists’ frantic moves for aggression but do its best to defend the destiny of the country and nation, he said.
It is the truth confirmed by history that no force on earth can hold in check the people all out for the just cause, he noted, stressing if an undesired war breaks out on this land again due to the consequences of the unpardonable action of the U.S. imperialists, it will bring them a shameful ruin and the Korean nation will greet the bright day of national reunification.
The important decision made by him under the grave situation where the Korean Peninsula has been pushed to the brink of a nuclear war by the U.S. imperialists will mark a turning point in putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new phase of history.
Nuclear War to Be Conducted on Korean Peninsula
By Korea News Service – March 29. 2013 Juch 102
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Pyongyang, March 29 (KCNA) — A nuclear war has turned out to be an established one on the Korean Peninsula.
Despite the repeated warnings of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the United States, for the first time, made B-2A fly from Whiteman air force base in Missouri State over south Korea on March 28 to launch an exercise of striking ground targets aimed at the DPRK.
Earlier, a formation of U.S. B-52 based in Anderson air-force base on Guam flew to the sky above south Korea and staged nuclear war exercises striking simulated in-depth targets of the DPRK.
Meanwhile, the U.S. deputy secretary of Defense flew to south Korea to finally examine the preparations for a nuclear war against the DPRK and openly said that the U.S. military attaches top priority to the second Korean war, giving green light to a nuclear war.
Accordingly, the commander of the U.S. forces in south Korea and the south Korean military chief drafted a “plan to jointly cope with local provocation”. The main point of it is to start a total nuclear war involving the U.S. forces in the U.S. mainland and the Pacific region after the south Korean forces touch off a conflict.
The south Korean warmongers, elated with the backing of the U.S. master, are threatening punishment to “provocation” of the DPRK and even seeking to mount precision missile strikes on the statues of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, symbol of the DPRK’s dignity.
The U.S. even let the conservative media of south Korea reveal the process of the 2010 operation against Osama bin Laden. It openly said the operational plan of “south Korea-U.S. combined forces” includes targeting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK with the use of lethal striking means and methods of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces and the south Korean puppet army.
All the developments clearly show that the U.S. and south Korean aggression moves to conquer the DPRK, the strategic vantage, are leading to an outbreak of a nuclear war.
Under the present situation reminiscent of the eve of the Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953), the army and the people of the DPRK have turned out for a sacred war of justice for defending the nation’s destiny.
Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Marshal Kim Jong Un at 00:30 Friday finally examined and ratified the plan for firepower strike of the KPA strategic rocket forces so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland and its military bases in Hawaii, Guam and south Korea.
All weapons of the KPA have already aimed at the bases while the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and the Young Red Guards are on standby for action.
It is the steadfast will of the DPRK to react to the U.S. nuclear blackmail with merciless nuclear attacks, and war of aggression with a total war of justice.

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North Korea Plan to Attack US Mainland Revealed in Photographs

Psychological Warfare?

North Korea has revealed its plans to strike targets in Hawaii and the continental United States in photos taken in Kim Jong-un’s military command centre.

By Julian Ryall, Tokyo

March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House –The Telegraph”  – The photos appeared in the state-run Rodong newspaper and were apparently taken at an “emergency meeting” early on Friday morning. They show Kim signing the order for North Korea’s strategic rocket forces to be on standby to fire at US targets, the paper said, with large-scale maps and diagrams in the background.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered strategic rocket forces to be on standby to strike US and South Korean targets at any time (EPA)

The images show a chart marked “US mainland strike plan” and missile trajectories that the NK News web site estimates terminate in Hawaii, Washington DC, Los Angeles and what they claim is Austin, Texas.

The text on the map, which shows the west coast of North America, says “Plan to hit the U.S. mainland”


The meeting of Pyongyang’s senior military leaders was called after two US B2 bombers, flying out of bases in Missouri, carried out simulated bombing raids on North Korean targets on an island off the coast of South Korea.

“He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets, ordering them to be on standby to fire so that they may strike any time the US mainland, its military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea,” the state-run KCNA news agency reported.

A U.S. airforce B-2 Spirit stealth bomber flies over Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea

It added that the B2 test flights demonstrated Washington’s “hostile intent” and said the “reckless” act had gone “beyond the phase of threat and blackmail.”

The North’s military was placed on its highest alert level earlier this week and a hotline link with the South Korean military was severed.

North Korea has also cut the mobile Internet link for foreign visitors, only weeks after the 3G service was introduced.

Despite the increasingly belligerent rhetoric and new images emerging from the North Korean regime, analysts believe its missiles are not capable of striking targets as far away as the US mainland and are not, as yet, capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

The images of Kim surrounded by his officers and diagrams of targets in the US are designed for a domestic consumption and to demonstrate the young leader’s mastery of military affairs, experts believe.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

North Korea Reportedly Entering ‘State Of War’ Against South Korea


March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing HouseHuffington Post” – SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned Seoul on Saturday that the Korean Peninsula had entered “a state of war” and threatened to shut down a border factory complex that’s the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North’s continued threats toward Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

North Korea’s threats are seen as efforts to provoke the new government in Seoul, led by President Park Geun-hye, to change its policies toward Pyongyang, and to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get it more aid. North Korea’s moves are also seen as ways to build domestic unity as young leader Kim Jong Un strengthens his military credentials.

On Thursday, U.S. military officials revealed that two B-2 stealth bombers dropped dummy munitions on an uninhabited South Korean island as part of annual defense drills that Pyongyang sees as rehearsals for invasion. Hours later, Kim ordered his generals to put rockets on standby and threatened to strike American targets if provoked.

North Korea said in a statement Saturday that it would deal with South Korea according to “wartime regulations” and would retaliate against any provocations by the United States and South Korea without notice.

“Now that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have entered into an actual military action, the inter-Korean relations have naturally entered the state of war,” said the statement, which was carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, referring to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Provocations “will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war,” the statement said.

Hours after the statement, Pyongyang threatened to shut down the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, expressing anger over media reports suggesting the complex remained open because it was a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

“If the puppet group seeks to tarnish the image of the DPRK even a bit, while speaking of the zone whose operation has been barely maintained, we will shut down the zone without mercy,” an identified spokesman for the North’s office controlling Kaesong said in comments carried by KCNA.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry responded by calling the North Korean threat “unhelpful” to the countries’ already frayed relations and vowed to ensure the safety of hundreds of South Korean managers who cross the border to their jobs in Kaesong. It did not elaborate.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the country’s military remains mindful of the possibility that increasing North Korean drills near the border could lead to an actual provocation.

“The series of North Korean threats – announcing all-out war, scrapping the cease-fire agreement and the non-aggression agreement between the South and the North, cutting the military hotline, entering into combat posture No. 1 and entering a `state of war’ – are unacceptable and harm the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula,” Kim said.

“We are maintaining full military readiness in order to protect our people’s lives and security,” he told reporters Saturday.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. Naval skirmishes in the disputed waters off the Korean coast have led to bloody battles several times over the years.

But on the streets of Seoul on Saturday, South Koreans said they were not worried about an attack from North Korea.

“From other countries’ point of view, it may seem like an extremely urgent situation,” said Kang Tae-hwan, a private tutor. “But South Koreans don’t seem to be that nervous because we’ve heard these threats from the North before.”

The Kaesong industrial park, which is run with North Korean labor and South Korean know-how, has been operating normally, despite Pyongyang shutting down a communications channel typically used to coordinate travel by South Korean workers to and from the park just across the border in North Korea. The rivals are now coordinating the travel indirectly, through an office at Kaesong that has outside lines to South Korea.

North Korea has previously made such threats about Kaesong without acting on them, and recent weeks have seen a torrent of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang. North Korea is angry about the South Korea-U.S. military drills and new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear test last month.

Dozens of South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong. Using North Korea’s cheap, efficient labor, the Kaesong complex produced $470 million worth of goods last year.

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Who’s “Provocative Action”?

By Moon Of Alabama

March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Moon Of Alabama” – – Hagel says U.S. has to take North Korean threats seriously

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that North Korea’s provocative actions and belligerent tone had “ratcheted up the danger” on the Korean peninsula, …

March 28 2013 – US sends nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to SKorea

The U.S military says two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers have completed a training mission in South Korea …

The U.S. says the B-2 stealth bombers flew from a U.S. air base and dropped munitions on a South Korean island range before returning home.

March 26 2013 – U.S. Army learns hard lessons in N. Korea-like war game

The Unified Quest war game conducted this year by Army planners posited the collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society and inconveniently lost control over its nukes as it fell. Army leaders stayed mum about the model for the game, but all indications — and maps seen during the game at the Army War College — point to North Korea.

March 20 2013 – U.S. flies B-52s over South Korea

The U.S. Air Force is breaking out some of its heaviest hardware to send a message to North Korea.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that B-52 bombers are making flights over South Korea as part of military exercises this month.

March 19 2013 – S. Korea, U.S. carry out naval drills with nuclear attack submarine

South Korean and U.S. forces have been carrying out naval drills in seas around the peninsula with a nuclear attack submarine as part of their annual exercise, military sources said Wednesday, in a show of power against North Korea’s threat of nuclear attack.

The two-month field training, called Foal Eagle, has been in full swing to test the combat readiness of the allies, amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula in light of a torrent of bellicose rhetoric by North Korea. It kicked off on March 1 and runs through April 30.

March 17 2013 – Troops remember sacrifices of Cheonan sailors

Halfway through the around-the-clock Key Resolve drills Friday, 8th U.S. Army Commander Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson remained full of energy as he underscored that the allied forces were ready to cope with North Korean threats.

Despite their hectic schedule, the troops gathered early in the day to pay respects to the 46 deceased crewmembers of South Korean corvette Cheonan, which was sunk by North Korea’s torpedo attack on March 26, 2010.

March 12 2013 – First day of SK-US military exercises passes without provocation

Around 10,000 ROK troops and 3,000 US soldiers, including 2,500 reinforcements from US Pacific command in Hawaii, are taking part in the military exercise, which will continue through Mar. 21. Another 10,000 US soldiers will be deployed by the end of this month for the Foal Eagle exercises. Also flown in to participate in the exercises were B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters, which boast the world’s highest levels of performance. These two kinds of aircraft can maneuver throughout Korean airspace without landing. In addition, the 9750t Aegis destroyers USS Lassen and USS Fitzgerald arrived in South Korea.

March 8 2013 – Air Assault Course increase 2ID capabilities

For the first time in 15 years, 2nd Infantry Division and Eighth U.S. Army soldiers tackled the rigorous Air Assault Course at Camp Hovey, South Korea.

The course, held Feb. 25 to March 3, 2013, at Camp Hovey, began with 312 soldiers ready to compete for the course’s 250 slots. The course qualifies soldiers to conduct air assault and helicopter sling-load operations and proper rappelling and fast-rope techniques.

March 8 2013 – “Frozen Chosen” Marines

Marines from I Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, slog through wind and snow during a joint training exercise with Japanese troops at the Hokkaido-Dai Maneuver Area in northern Japan last week.

The Hokkaido training area is located across the Sea of Japan from the Korean Peninsula, where Marines fought an epic winter battle at the Chosin Reservoir in opening year of the Korean War.

March 6 2013 – S. Korea says it will strike against North’s top leadership if provoked

[T]he rhetoric sets up an especially tense period on the Korean Peninsula, with the U.S. and South Korean militaries planning joint training drills that the North considers a “dangerous nuclear war” maneuver, and with the U.N. Security Council deliberating new sanctions to limit Pyongyang’s weapons program.

War Scare in Korea – A Manufactured Crisis

By Eric Margolis
March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The United States and the two feuding Koreas could blunder into a real war unless both Pyongyang and Washington cease provoking one another.
Last week, two nuclear-capable US B-2 stealth bombers flew non-stop from America to South Korea, and then home. These ‘invisible’ aircraft can carry the GBU-43/B MOAB 13,600kg bomb that is said to be able to blast through 70 meters of reinforced concrete, putting North Korea’s underground nuclear facilities and its leadership’s command bunkers under dire threat.
Earlier this month, US B-52’s heavy bombers staged mock attack runs over South Korea – within minutes flying time of the North – rekindling memories of the massive US carpet bombing raids that devastated North Korea during the 1950’s Korean War. US-South Korean-Australian war games in March were designed to train for war with the North. The US media ignored these provocative exercises, but, as usual, North Korea went ballistic, foolishly threatening to attack the US with long-ranged missiles it does not yet possess. 
We have grown jaded over the years by North Korea’s threats and chest-beating. But its recent successful nuclear test and work on a long-ranged missile have begun to add muscle to Pyongyang’s threats. No sooner was the new young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in power than the US, South Korea and Japan began testing him.
More important, the US-South Korea defense treaty calls on Washington to militarily intervene if war erupts between North and South Korea. Given present tensions, a border fight on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), commando raids by North Korea’s 110,000-man special forces, air or naval clashes could quickly lead to full war.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to flatten parts of South Korea’s capitol, Seoul, using 11,000 heavy guns and rocket batteries hidden in caves along the DMZ. North Korean commandos and missile batteries are tasked with attacking all US airbases and command headquarters in South Korea. The 28,500 US troops based in South Korea will also be a primary target. 
North Korea’s medium ranged missiles are aimed at US bases on mainland Japan, Okinawa and Guam. North Korea’s tough 1.1-million man army is poised to attack south. Massive US airpower would eventually blunt such an advance, but that would mean moving US warplanes from the Gulf and Afghanistan. The US Air Force’s stocks of bombs and missiles are perilously low and its equipment showing heavy wear and tear.
The US has become accustomed to waging war against small nations whose ‘threat’ has been wildly overblown: Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Libya. The last real war fought by the US, against Vietnam, was an epic defeat for American arms. North Korea is not an Iraq or Libya.
North Korea’s air force and navy would be quickly destroyed by US and South Korean air power within days of war. But taking on North Korea’s hard as nails army will be a serious challenge if it fights on the defensive. Pentagon studies show that invading North Korea could cost the US up to 250,000 casualties. So the US would be clearly tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons. But North Korea vows to nuke Japan if the US goes nuclear. And there is the threat of Chinese intervention.
The US would be wise to back off from this confrontation and lower tensions with North Korea. America’s empty Treasury can’t afford yet another war, having already blown $2 trillion on the lost wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. America’s armed forces, bogged down in the Mideast and Afghanistan, are in no shape to fight a real war in Korea. Just moving heavy armor and guns there would take months. 
Now might be a good time for Washington to ease rather than keep tightening sanctions on North Korea. Pyongyang’s real objectives are to gain a non-aggression treaty with the US and direct, normal relations. Washington won’t hear of this, though it deals with other repellant regimes. American neocons are determined to overthrow North Korea’s regime, fearing it will send advanced arms to Israel’s Mideast foes.
Military forces on the Korean Peninsula are on hair-trigger alert. Flying B-2’s near the North is almost daring it to attack. Diplomats, not air force generals, should be running this largely manufactured crisis. 
Copyright © 2013 Eric Margolis

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Syrian Conflict: The Price of Defying the West

Haaretz piece reveals Syrian conflict is direct punitive result of Assad defying West, obstructing US-Israeli attack on Iran.

By Tony Cartalucci
March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House –LD” –  Haaretz has recently published an exceptionally revealing article, confirming that the Brooking Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report – a plan for the undermining and destruction of Iran – had indeed been set in motion, and that the current Syrian conflict is a direct result of Syria and Iran defying the West and disrupting what was to be a coup de grâce delivered to Tehran.

The article is titled, “Assad’s Israeli friend,” appears at first to be a ham-handed attempt to portray Syrian President Bashar Al Assad as somehow allied with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Instead, it actually reveals that Israel had attempted to execute verbatim, the strategies prescribed in the Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, where Israel was to lure Syria away from Iran ahead of a US-Israeli strike and subsequent war with Tehran.

Syria obviously did not fall into the trap, and as a result, has been plunged into a destructive, spiteful war of proxy aggression by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies.

The Haaretz piece states specifically: 

In moving closer to Assad, Netanyahu had a number of motives. First, he wanted to put some space between Syria and Iran, in the hope that Damascus would stand aside in the event of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz and Fordow.

Second, Israel’s loss of its alliances with Turkey and later with Egypt, compounded by apprehension about a deteriorating security situation in the south, pushed Jerusalem into buying quiet on its northern borders.

The third motive was to weaken Hezbollah, while the fourth was to address concerns that the Syrian rebels were in fact Al-Qaida operatives and that the fall of Assad’s regime would turn Syria into a hostile Islamic state.

Of course, while Haaretz admits that the so-called “Syrian rebels” are in fact vicious Al Qaeda terrorists with no intention of instituting anything resembling “freedom” or “democracy” in Syria, contrary to the West’s own long-peddled narrative, Israel is in fact one of three primary co-conspirators in raising the terrorist army in the first place.

In Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article,  “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” Israel was implicated directly in an insidious conspiracy to funnel aid and arms to sectarian extremists in a bid to topple Iran and its regional allies: 

In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran. 

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations. Syria is a major conduit of arms to Hezbollah. The Saudi government is also at odds with the Syrians over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, in Beirut in 2005, for which it believes the Assad government was responsible. Hariri, a billionaire Sunni, was closely associated with the Saudi regime and with Prince Bandar. (A U.N. inquiry strongly suggested that the Syrians were involved, but offered no direct evidence; there are plans for another investigation, by an international tribunal.)

The Israeli belief that pressuring Syria would make it more “conciliatory and open to negotiations,” as well as the “motivations” cited by the recent Haaretz piece, are torn straight from Brooking Institution’s 2009 “Which Path to Persia?” report. The report stated specifically: 
“…the Israelis may want to hold off [on striking Iran] until they have a peace deal with Syria in hand (assuming that Jerusalem believes that one is within reach), which would help them mitigate blowback from Hizballah and potentially Hamas. Consequently, they might want Washington to push hard in mediating between Jerusalem and Damascus.” -page 109 (.pdf)
Clearly Syria refused the disingenuous “peace deal” with Israel, unlike its regional neighbors Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar who are now all working in lock step with US-Israeli interests. While these neighbors were spared the sedition and carnage visited upon other Arab nations during the US State Department orchestrated “Arab Spring,” Syria has been hit hardest and longest. The resilience of Syria may have delayed or even shelved Western designs aimed at reasserting hegemony across the Middle East, including delaying indefinitely war with Iran.

Israel’s disingenuous attempts to reproach Syria are only one of several prescribed strategies Brookings called for in their 2009 report that have already come to pass. Another was Brookings’ suggestion to deslist and arm the bizarre terrorist cult, Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK). MEK had been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department for decades, yet it was still heavily armed, funded, and its operatives even trained on US soil – this despite the group being listed for kidnapping and slaughtering US officers and civilian contractors.

In 2012, the US State Department would finally officially delist MEK, and announce that they would begin funding and arming them in earnest against Iran. The LA Times would report in their September 2012 article, “U.S. to remove Iranian group Mujahedin Khalq from terrorist list,” that:
The small but influential Iranian exile group Mujahedin Khalq will be removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, a U.S. official said Friday, following a high-priced lobbying campaign claiming the controversial group had renounced violence.

The New Yorker and the Uk’s Daily Mail would each in turn report that MEK was being armed, trained, and directed by the West in terrorist activities against Iran, including the assassination of Iranian scientists.


Image: MEK is just one of many terrorist organizations, that despite being listed by the US State Department as such, still receives weapons, training, cash, and political support from the US government. This is a pattern seen repeated in Libya and most recently in Syria – each case spun and excused with a myriad of lies wrapped in false, constantly shifting narratives.  



The US’ delisting and arming of MEK proves that the West possesses the political duplicity to hypocritically arm their own “declared” enemies. This double game of condemning terrorist organizations while simultaneously arming and directing them against the West’s enemies goes far in explaining how thousands of tons of weapons NATO and its regional allies have sent to so-called “moderates” in Syria have ended up almost exclusively in the hands of Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al-Nusra , which has emerged as the most heavily armed, well funded, most organized militant front in the conflict. 
The Brookings report is not just a piece of paper – it is a documented conspiracy, executed in plain sight by corporate-financier intereststhat have transcended at least two US presidencies in their latest campaign against Iran, Syria, and the wider Middle East. Haaretz may hope that people quickly read the article and conclude that Israel is somehow backing the Syrian state, never realizing what is being reported is instead a disingenuous “peace deal” meant to lure in, then fatally betray Syria just as was done to Libya. 
Haaretz also hope readers do not realize the obvious – that Syria refused these insidious advances by the West which lead chronologically to the 2011 “uprising,” that Haaretz itself now admits is the work of terrorists, not “freedom fighters,” and that the New Yorker in 2007 revealed as being engineered by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel itself.
It is clear that Syria is being punished, divided, and destroyed for obstructing Western designs against Iran.  It is also clear that those forces fighting inside Syria against the Syrian people and their government, are aiding and abetting foreign aggression and what is essentially an attempt by Western interests to recolonize the Arab World. As mortars fired by NATO’s proxy forces, aimed at Damascus University, claim another 10-15 innocent lives, the public must be aware of the premeditated, punitive nature of the unhinged atrocities now being committed by these “rebels.”
This article was originally published at LandDestroyer

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The Arab League’s Historic Mistake

By Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Pravda” – So, the Arab League openly takes a page out of NATO’s book and proposes to break international law by taking sides in an internal conflict in a sovereign state, Syria. The Arab League leaders probably do not notice it in their haste to lick the boots of the western masters who have always kicked their people, but we do.

The Arab League is supposed to protect the interests of the Arab people, and how telling that it has turned against Syria, one of its founding member states in 1945. Starting out as an organization which desired to “draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries” the Arab League today is NATO’s Gulf Cooperation Council.

Therefore it comes as no surprise whatsoever that in its 24th Summit, in Doha, Qatar, the hotbed of cooperation with the USA and its NATO poodle states, the Arab League agreed that its members have the right to furnish all means, including military means, to the Syrian armed groups, according to their individual will. This includes the terrorist organizations carrying out armed insurrection against the legitimate government forces of a sovereign state. Illegal? Totally.

But then again, where was Qatar and its Arab league friends when the USA and its NATO poodles were slaughtering Libyan children, strafing the Gaddafi grandchildren because they were considered as legitimate war targets? Where was the Arab League when the west, its bedpals, was strafing the Libyan electricity and water supply to “break the backs” of the population, to leave mothers without milk for their babies?

Where was the Arab League when NATO was destroying Iraqi infrastructures with military hardware? Where was the Arab League when the USA was torturing illegally held citizens in concentration camps in Iraq and elsewhere, torturing them, murdering them, setting dogs on them, forcing Moslems to eat pork, sodomizing them, urinating in their food and getting American females to humiliate Moslem males?

Perhaps the leaders of the Arab League would like to undergo the same treatment? Or perhaps some of the leaders of the Arab league would like their travel details plastered across the internet, together with what they get up to when they are in places such as Casablanca?

Maybe then they will understand, when their people rise up against them, the flames fanned and fuelled by their western masters who ride them like donkeys, that they should have stood together and should have upheld international law, instead of allowing themselves to do the work of the USA and its poodle states like cowards.

But then again, they could always act like Bahrain and carry out the most horrendous acts of human rights abuses against protesters while their western masters stand back and turn the other cheek. After all, the Arab League is what, if not a tool to implement the policies of the historic enemies of the Arab people?

Al-Qathafi was right. But then again he was the only Man among them, he and Al-Assad.

Congress Is Making It Easier To Go To War with Iran

By Rebecca Griffin and Kelly Campbell

March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Orgon Live” – Last week marked one decade since the invasion of Iraq, a time for sober reflection. Do we understand the folly of wars of choice, or could we make the same mistake? A bill moving in the Senate that makes war with Iran more likely reveals that Congress may not have learned the lessons of Iraq.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who voted against war in Iraq, has joined 76 senators in co-sponsoring a bill that would put the Senate on record urging military, diplomatic and economic support if Israel were to decide to attack Iran. (As of this writing, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., has not co-sponsored the bill.) This bill is the most egregious in a string of congressional actions that could form the building blocks for a war that could make Iraq look like a walk in the park.

History teaches us that the run-up to war is often not one dramatic event, but a slow burn that suddenly turns into a blazing fire. History is now repeating itself on Capitol Hill.

Congress has already quietly lowered the threshold for war with Iran. Last year, the House and Senate voted to move the red line for military action to Iran’s achieving an ill-defined nuclear capability as opposed to the administration’s stated line of an actual weapon. That bill did not define “nuclear capability,” vague terminology that could apply to any number of countries with nuclear energy programs.

The bill before the Senate this year endorses a potential future military attack, an unusual step for Congress. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a lead sponsor of the bill with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., made chilling comments about the legislation to Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post: On his Iran resolutions, Graham favors a step-by-step approach. You have to build a case, he explained: First, you rule out containment, then pledge support to Israel, and if that doesn’t work, tell President Obama: Mr. President, here’s authorization.

Some supporters argue that the nonbinding nature of the language should assuage any concern. Would their outlook be so sanguine if the government of Iran pledged support for an attack on the United States? A statement from the Senate has power, and senators know it.

Congress’ escalating steps create a troubling pattern. Military leaders have been clear that an attack on Iran would be a disaster. Escalating confrontation is the likely result, along with a compelling motivation for the Iranian regime to develop a nuclear weapon — a decision U.S. intelligence argues Iran has yet to make.

Facing this reality, we doubt the Obama administration wants war with Iran. But we fear that Congress’ ramping up of pressure and undermining diplomacy will box out other options.

The United States and its partners are making tentative progress in negotiations with Iran, but continued progress requires at least a modicum of trust, which is hard to come by given the long history of tensions. A pledge of support for military action on Iran by Congress blows that trust-building out of the water.

The Iranian people and their government often question the intentions of the United States, and their skepticism feels justified when our government speaks with two voices. Congress should abandon the misguided notion of serving as the administration’s bad cop.

What will these 77 senators think when they look back at this bill in 10 years? The best-case scenario will be a pointless exercise in chest-beating that did little to resolve tensions with Iran. The worst-case scenario is a step that laid the groundwork for another disastrous war. Congress, including Sens. Merkley and Wyden, needs to put the brakes on this counterproductive legislation.

Rebecca Griffin is political director of Peace Action West. She traveled to Iran in May 2009 with a people-to-people diplomacy delegation. Kelly Campbell is executive director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Will Congress Act to Stop US Support for Honduras’ Death Squad Regime?

In Honduras, Reagan-era atrocities are back as the Obama administration funds a state implicated in murdering opponents
By Mark Weisbrot 
March 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The Guardian” – The video (warning: contains graphic images of lethal violence), caught randomly on a warehouse security camera, is chilling.
Five young men walk down a quiet street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A big black SUV pulls up, followed by a second vehicle. Two masked men with bullet-proof vests jump out of the lead car, with AK-47s raised. The two youths closest to the vehicles see that they have no chance of running, so they freeze and put their hands in the air. The other three break into a sprint, with bullets chasing after them from the assassins’ guns. Miraculously, they escape, with one injured – but the two who surrendered are forced to lie face down on the ground. The two students, who were brothers 18- and 20-years-old, are murdered with a burst of bullets, in full view of the camera. Less than 40 seconds after their arrival, the assassins are driving away, never to be found.
The high level of professional training and modus operandi of the assassins have led many observers to conclude that this was a government operation. The video was posted by the newspaper El Heraldo last month; the murder took place in November of last year. There have been no arrests.
Now, the Obama administration is coming under fire for its role in arming and funding murderous Honduran police, in violation of US law. Under the Leahy Law, named after Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the US government is not allowed to fund foreign military units who have commit gross human rights violations with impunity. The director general of Honduras’ national police force, Juan Carlos Bonilla, has been investigated in connection with death squad killings; and members of the US Congress have been complaining about it since Bonilla was appointed last May. Thanks to some excellent investigative reporting by the Associated Press in the last couple of weeks – showing that all police units are, in fact, under Bonilla’s command – it has become clear that the US is illegally funding the Honduran police.
So, now we’ll see if “rule of law” or “separation of powers” means very much in a country that likes to lecture “less developed” nations about these principles.
Why would the Obama administration so stubbornly support a death squad government in Honduras, going so far as to deceive and defy Congress? To answer that, we have to look at how the current government of Honduras came to power, and how violent repression of any opposition plays a big role in keeping it there.
The government of Honduran President Pepe Lobo was “elected” after a military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Mel Zelaya in June of 2009. Zelaya later told the press that Washington was involved in the coup; this is very believable, given the circumstantial evidence. But what we know for sure is that the Obama administration was heavily involved in helping the new regime survive and legitimize itself. Washington supported Lobo’s election in 2009, against the opposition of almost the entire hemisphere. The Organization of American States and the European Union refused to send observers to an election that most of the world viewed as obviously illegitimate.
The coup unleashed a wave of violence against political dissent that continues to this day. Even Honduras’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission – established by the coup government itself – found that it had “undertaken political persecution … and that it was responsible for a number of killings committed by state agents and those acting at their behest, in addition to the widespread and violent repression of rights to speech, assembly, association.”
This was noted by the Center for Constitutional Rights, in New York, and the International Federation for Human Rights, in Paris, in a report (pdf) submitted to the International Criminal Court. The CCR/FIDH report also identifies “over 100 killings, most of which are selective, or targeted killings, occurring even after two truth commissions concluded their investigations”. Their report goes through October 2012:
“The killings are one horrific manifestation of the broader attack which is also characterized by death threats against activists, lawyers, journalists, trade unionists, and campesinos, as well as attempted killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions. The True Commission [the second, independent Truth Commission] described the regime’s “attack” as one of using terror as a means of social control.”
Which brings us the elections scheduled for later this year. Once again, a social-democratic party is in the race, including people who courageously defended democracy against 2009’s military coup. Its presidential candidate is Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of the president whom Washington worked so hard to get rid of. This party is among the victims of the government’s political repression: in November, LIBRE mayoral candidate Edgardo Adalid Motiño was gunned down after attending a rally for Xiomara Zelaya.
So there you have it. A death squad government may not be the Obama administration’s first choice, but it prefers it to a leftist government that Hondurans might elect if they were to have a free election. The current government belongs to Washington, just like the US military base that the Pentagon would like to keep in Honduras indefinitely.
If all that sounds disgusting, and reminiscent of President Reagan’s death squad governments in Central America, it’s because it is both. The question right now, as in the 1980s, is what will members of Congress in Washington do about it?
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, DC. He is also co-writer of Oliver Stone’s documentary South of the Border.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited

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Get serious about closing Guantanamo

By Thomas Wilner
March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Washington Post” – A hunger strike is spreading at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp. The main reason, as the military has acknowledged, is the growing sense of frustration and despair among the detainees. As Gen. John Kelly, the head of U.S. Southern Command, explained to the House Armed Services Committee last week, detainees “had great optimism that Guantanamo would be closed. They were devastated . . . when the president backed off. . . . He said nothing about it in his inauguration speech. . . . He said nothing about it in his State of the Union speech. . . . He’s not restaffing the office that . . . looks at closing the facility.”
The hunger strike is the Guantanamo detainees’ cry for attention. Why should Americans care? After all, haven’t members of Congress told the public that the detainees are terrorists who would kill us in our sleep if they got the chance? That is the reason lawmakers have given for enacting legislation that has made it virtually impossible to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, to the United States or anywhere else. The American people have been led to believe that the detainees are all too dangerous to release or transfer, and that we must keep them at Guantanamo to protect our security.
That line may play well politically, but it is simply not true, and it is costing us dearly.
One hundred and sixty-six men are still held at Guantanamo. Fewer than 20 are “high-value detainees,” men who were transferred to Guantanamo from other locations several years ago and are scheduled to stand trial for war crimes. The others were, at most, low-level functionaries or people swept up and sold for bounties in the confusing initial stages of the fog of war in Afghanistan. Many simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, more than half of them — 86 — were cleared for release more than three years ago by a special presidential task force composed of top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials. Some were cleared even before that, during the Bush administration. Because of congressional restrictions, however, they remain locked up. And unlike prisoners in the United States, these men are held virtually incommunicado, with no opportunity to see their families. Those not initially cleared were promised review hearings almost four years ago, but not one has occurred. They are understandably frustrated.
Even beyond the terrible injustice to them, the United States is paying a very high price for all this. Guantanamo is our nation’s most expensive prison, with an annual operating budget of almost $177 million, more than a million dollars per year for each detainee, and almost $90 million a year just for the 86 prisoners who were cleared for release three-plus years ago. The nearly $300 million spent jailing the latter group the past three years and the annual cost of keeping Guantanamo open amount to a lot of money that could be used to save jobs and services being cut as a result of the so-called sequester. And the costs of keeping Guantanamo open probably will increase. The military has said its Cuban base is in dire need of upgrades and has requested nearly $200 million for capital improvements to keep Guantanamo functioning as a prison. Where is the congressional concern with those costs?
But the cost to our nation is more than economic. Many who have been charged with protecting our national security, including former defense secretary Robert Gates, former national security adviser Dennis Blair, former CIA director David Petraeus and former secretary of state Colin Powell, have pointed out that Guantanamo actually hurts U.S. security. As Sen. John McCain emphasized during his bid for the White House, when he “strongly” favored closing Guantanamo, the prison is a negative symbol that serves as an important recruiting tool for terrorists. President Obama himself has said that Guantanamo has probably “created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.”
There is also no question,” Obama said in a May 2009 speech, that Guantanamo has undermined “America’s strongest currency in the world” — our “moral authority.”
It is time to get serious about closing Guantanamo. The president should appoint someone in the White House responsible for coordinating efforts to close this prison, and that person should work closely with the congressional leadership of both parties to get the job done. Pandering to fear for political expediency should no longer be tolerated. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, our government’s policies must be based not “on fears and follies” but on “reason.”
Thomas Wilner was counsel of record to Guantanamo detainees in Rasul v. Bush and Boumediene v. Bush, the two Supreme Court cases that established detainees’ right to habeas corpus.
1996-2013 The Washington Post
Guantanamo Prisoner on Hunger Strike Seeks Relief in Court from ‘Reversion to Harsh Conditions’:” A Yemeni prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay prison, who has been participating in a hunger strike which has been ongoing for weeks, has requested “emergency humanitarian relief” from a federal district court he says he and other prisoners are being denied access to potable water

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The House I Live In

Video Documentary By Eugene Jarecki

In the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and destroyed impoverished communities at home and abroad. Yet drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong, and what can be done?

Comprehensive in scope, heart wrenching in its humanity, and brilliant in its thesis, Jarecki’s new film grabs viewers and shakes them to their core. The House I Live In is not only the definitive film on the failure of America’s drug war, but it is also a masterpiece filled with hope and the potential to effect change.

Posted March 29, 2013

The Dilemma of Electoral Politics

By William E. Connolly

March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  The dangers posed by climate change and potential shifts in the ocean conveyor system; the extensive suffering generated by the heightening of economic inequality; the need to restructure the state supported infrastructure of consumption so that all residents can participate in the housing, travel, health care, retirement and educational institutions it makes available; the need to support the pluralization of gender practices, religious membership, and ethnic identifications; the desperate needs of our cities and the ugly politics of apartheid designed to isolate them—these interlocking issues constitute commanding problems of our time. The fact is, however, that they are not addressed within the established terms of the electoral system.  Does that mean that we should withdraw from electoral politics? Or wait for a revolution that eschews “reformist” politics until capitalism is liquidated, as some critics of the Occupy movement have asserted? I know too many people suffering in the working class to sanction either response. I read about too many others under duress as well.

There is, nonetheless, a dilemma of electoral politics confronting the Left: 1) It is tempting to forgo electoral politics because it is so dysfunctional. But to do so cedes even more power both to independent corporate action and to the radical right within the state. The right loves to make electoral politics dysfunctional so that people lose confidence in it and transfer confidence to the private sector. (2) Nonetheless, the logic of the media-electoral-corporate system does spawn a restrictive grid of power and electoral intelligibility that makes it difficult to think, experiment, and organize outside its parameters. Think of how corporations and financial institutions initiate actions in the private sector and then use intensive lobbying to veto efforts to reverse those initiatives in Congress or the courts, just as financial elites invented derivatives and then lobbied intensively to stop their regulation; think of how media talking heads concentrate on candidates rather than fundamental issues; recall the central role of scandal in the media and electoral politics; consider the decisive electoral position of inattentive “undecided voters”; note how states under Republican rule work relentlessly to reduce the minority and poor vote; recall those billionaire super pacs; and so on. The electoral grid cannot be ignored or ceded to the right, but it also sucks experimental pursuits and bold ventures out of politics. Can we renegotiate the dilemma of electoral politics? That is the problematic within which I am working. I do not have a perfect response to it. Perfect answers are suspect.

Perhaps it is wise to forge multimodal strategies that start outside the electoral grid and then return to it as one venue among others. Strategic role experimentations at multiple sites joined to the activation of new social movements provide possibilities. Indeed, these two modes are related. Consider merely a few examples of role experimentation tied to climate change and consumption available to many people in the shrinking middle class. We may support the farm-to-table movement in the restaurants we visit; we may participate in the slow food movement; we may frequent stores that offer food based on sustainable processes; we may buy hybrid cars, or, if feasible, join an urban zip-car collective, explaining to friends, family, and neighbors the effects such choices could have on late modern ecology if a majority of the populace did so; we may press our workplace to install solar panels and consider them ourselves if we can afford to do so; we may use writing and media skills to write graffiti, or produce provocative artistic installations, or write for a blog; we may shift a large portion of our retirement accounts into investments that support sustainable energy, withdrawing from aggressive investments that presuppose unsustainable growth or threaten economic collapse; we may bring new issues and visitors to our churches, temples, or mosques to support rethinking interdenominational issues and the contemporary fragility of things; we may found, join, or frequent repair clubs, at which volunteers collect and repair old appliances, furniture, and bikes to cut back on urban waste, to make them available to low income people and to increase the longevity of the items; we may probe and publicize the multimodal tactics by which twenty-four-hour news stations work on the visceral register of viewers, as we explain on blogs how to counter those techniques; we may travel to places where unconscious American assumptions about world entitlement are challenged on a regular basis; we may augment the pattern of films and artistic exhibits we visit to stretch our habitual powers of perception and to challenge some affect-imbued prejudgments embedded in them. A series of intercalated role experiments, often pursued by clusters of participants together.

But don’t such activities merely make the participants “feel better”?  Well, many who pursue such experiments do feel good about them, particularly those who accept a tragic image of possibility in which there is no inevitability that either large scale politics, God, or nature will come to our rescue. Also, could such role experiments ever make a sufficient difference on their own? No. These, however, may be the wrong questions to pose. What such experiments can do as they expand is to crack the ice in and around us. First, we may now find ourselves a bit less implicated in the practices and policies that are sources of the problems. Second, the shaky perceptions, feelings, and beliefs that authorized them may thus now become more entrenched as we act upon them. Third, we now find ourselves in more favorable positions to forge connections with larger constituencies pursuing similar experiments. Fourth, we may thus become more inspired to seed and join macropolitical movements that speak to these issues. Fifth, as we now participate in protests, slowdowns, work “according to rule” and more confrontational meetings with corporate managers, church leaders, union officials, university officers, and neighborhood leaders, we may become even more alert to the creeds, institutional pressures and options that propel these constituencies too. They, too, are both enmeshed in a web of roles and more than mere role bearers. Many will maintain an intransigence of viewpoint and insistence of interpretation that we may now be in a better position to counter by words and deeds with those outside or at the edge of the intransigent community.

One advantage of forging links between role experimentations and social movements is that both speak to a time in which the drive to significant change must be pursued by a large, pluralist assemblage rather than by any single class or other core constituency. Such an assemblage must today be primed and loaded by several constituencies in diverse ways at numerous sites. 

It is necessary here to condense linkages that may unfold. But perhaps movement back and forth between role experiments, social movements, occasional shifts in the priorities of some strategic institutions, and a discernible shift in the contours of electoral politics will promote the emergence of a new, more activist pluralist assemblage. Now, say, a new, surprising event occurs. Some such event or crisis is surely bound to erupt: an urban uprising, a destructive storm, a wild executive overreach, a wide spread interruption in electrical service, a bank melt down, a crisis in oil supply, etc. Perhaps the conjunction of this new event with the preparatory actions that preceded it will prime a large constellation to resist the protofascist responses the intransigent Right will pursue at that very moment.  Perhaps the event will now become an occasion to mobilize large scale, intensive support for progressive change on some of the fronts noted at the start of this piece. It is important to remember that the advent of a crisis does not alone determine the response to it. So waiting for the next one to occur is not enough. The Great Depression was followed by the intensification of fascist movements in several countries. Those with strong labor movements and progressive elected leaders proved best at resisting them. The most recent economic melt-down was met in many places by the self-defeating response of austerity, and worse. That is why the quality and depth of the political ethos preceding such events is important.

The use of the “perhaps” in the above formulations suggests that there are no guarantees at any of these junctures. Uncertainties abound. These points, however, also apply to any radical perspective that counsels waiting for the revolution, as it surrounds its critiques of militant reform with an aura of certainty. Today the need is to curtail the aura of certainty of all perspectives on the Left. The examples posed here, of course, are focused on primarily one constituency. But others could be invoked. The larger idea is to draw energy from multiple sources and constituencies.  The formula is to move back and forth between the proliferation of role experiments, forging social movements on several fronts, helping to shift the constituency weight of the heavy electoral machinery now in place, and participating in cross-country citizen movements that put pressure on states, corporations, churches, universities and unions from inside and outside simultaneously. Indeed, perhaps the severity of the issues facing us means that we should prepare for the day when we are strong enough in several countries to launch a cross-country general strike.   

The proliferating approach adopted here, again, is replete with uncertain connections. That’s politics. The point is to resist falling into the familiar game of optimism vs. pessimism and to minimize that tempting blame-game within the Left, folding more attraction and inspiration into our activities. The point is to appraise the severity of the needs of the day and to attract people to join in different ways and degrees a multifaceted movement to respond to them. 

William E. Connolly is a political theorist known for his work on democracy and pluralism. He is the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor ofPolitical Science at Johns Hopkins University. His 1974 work The Terms of Political Discourse won the 1999 Benjamin Lippincott Award.  Connolly’s forthcoming book is entitled The Fragility of Things: self-organizing processes, neoliberal fantasies, democratic activism.

Record Number of Americans Using Food Stamps

US food stamp use swells to a record 47.8 million
By Kate Randall 
March 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“WSWS” – A record number of Americans are using food stamps, known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite official proclamations that the recession has ended and an economic recovery is underway, families are turning to SNAP benefits in record numbers. The working poor comprise a growing number of food stamp recipients, and about half of those receiving benefits are children.
Enrollment in the food stamp program has increased by 70 percent since 2008, to a record 47.8 million people as of December 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The biggest factor driving the increase is the stagnating job market and a rising poverty rate. This means that a staggering 15 percent of the US population receives food stamp benefits, nearly double the rate of 1975.
In 2008, at the onset of the recession, 28.2 million people were enrolled in SNAP. While the official jobless rate, which peaked at 10 percent in 2009, had dipped slightly to 7.7 percent as of February this year, the SNAP program has continued to grow. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that food stamp usage will drop only marginally, to 43.3 million people, by 2017. Even this estimate is predicated on the unemployment rate dropping to 5.6 percent over the next four years.
The number of people using food stamps roughly corresponds to the number of Americans living in poverty, which rose to just below 50 million people in 2011. Utilizing the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), which factors in expenses for food, clothing, shelter, health care and other essentials, the US Census Bureau estimates that nearly one in six people in the US is living in poverty.
The average monthly benefit per person receiving SNAP benefits was only $133 last year. In order to qualify, a household’s income cannot be more than 130 percent of the poverty level, which is about $25,000 for a family of three, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Enrollees receive benefits on a debit card, which can to be used to purchase cereal, meats, fruits, vegetables, bread, milk and other staples. When food is running low, recipients often seek out 24-hour grocery stores, waiting for 12 a.m. for their monthly benefits to kick in.
The fact that 15 percent of the population must rely on SNAP benefits has received little attention in the media or from politicians of either big business party. Earlier this week, President Obama signed a bill making permanent $85 billion in sequester cuts, which will slash billions of dollars from programs benefiting the poor, including Head Start, special education, housing and many other programs.
While SNAP technically evaded the sequester ax, other nutrition programs are facing deep cuts. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, could be forced to cut almost 600,000 mothers, infants and children from its rolls. About half of all infants born in the US qualify for WIC benefits, and mothers use them to purchase food, formula and other vital necessities, as well as to access nutrition education and other services.
Due to the sequester cuts, about 4 million fewer meals will be delivered through Meals on Wheels programs, which provide daily meals to homebound seniors. For many recipients, it is not only their only hot meal of the day, but their sole connection to others in the community.
Millions of the long-term jobless—who have been forced to turn to food stamps—will also see an 11 percent cut to their extended unemployment benefits. The sequester cuts—which will constitute the baseline of future allocations of federal spending—come as the need for social programs benefiting working families is increasing at a rapid pace due to falling wages, unemployment and growing poverty.
The US government spent a record $74.6 billion on SNAP benefits last year, more than double the $30.4 billion spent on the program in 2007. Rules adopted under the Clinton administration allowed some leeway for states in allowing residents to qualify for benefits.
In 2001-2002, six states eased the income and asset requirements for SNAP benefits, making it somewhat easier for people to qualify if they had a low-wage job, or some savings. By 2009, in response to the recession, 17 states and US territories eased their eligibility requirements. Today, three out of four households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one person who is working.
The Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill expanded the SNAP program, raising the level of benefits recipients can receive, and allowing people to keep their benefits longer. This expansion is set to expire on October 31, and there are no moves afoot to extend it. The CBPP estimates that food stamp benefits will decrease by $8 per month per person with this expiration.
As of November 1, SNAP benefits will be returned to the level of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, the lowest of four nutrition estimates calculated by the US Department of Agriculture. The four plans—Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate Cost, and Liberal—vary widely in cost. In February 2013, a family of four with two children on the “Thrifty” plan was expected to budget $636 a month for food at home, while the same family on the “Liberal” plan would spent $1,257—almost double the amount.
As with all aspects of social life in America, there is one standard for the working class and another for the wealthy. In this case the divide is between those who struggle to provide adequate nutrition for their families under conditions of rising costs for housing, utilities and other necessities, and the tiny elite who think nothing of splurging on a restaurant meal with a tab far in excess of the “Liberal” monthly budget for a family of four.
Almost half the children presently receiving SNAP benefits—some 10 million—already live in extreme poverty, which means household income is less than half the official poverty level, already set an unrealistically low level. Another 9 million receiving food stamps are elderly or have a serious disability. The cuts in SNAP benefits will quite literally take food off the table for millions of American families at a time of deepening poverty and burgeoning social inequality.
Copyright © 1998-2013 World Socialist Web Site

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An American Recovery Police Restrain Hundreds of People As Food Trashed

When the bank foreclosed on the Laney Supermarket grocery store, managers were left with thousands of pounds of food and nowhere to put it. So, they moved non-perishable items to the parking lot for those who might need it. As news of the give-away spread throughout the neighborhood, a crowd numbering in the hundreds quickly swooped in.

But the goods never made it into the hands of people who desperately needed, as local police barricaded the stockpile of food. They called in a disposal company and tossed every bit of it into the trash, angering many of those who had hoped they could take some of the food home.

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Crises of Capitalism


David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?

This RSA Animate was taken from a lecture given as part of the RSA’s free public lecture programme. The RSA is a 258 year-old charity devoted to driving social progress and spreading world-changing ideas. For more information, visit

Canada’s Conservatives slash social spending, promise further tax cuts for the rich

By Keith Jones 
29 March 2013
Canada’s Conservative government has tabled another austerity budget—a budget that in the name of eliminating the annual deficit intensifies big business’s drive to make working people pay for the capitalist crisis .
The budget extends and expands the program of spending cuts the Conservatives launched in 2010. According to the government, these cuts will reduce government spending by almost C$9.1 billion in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and by close to C$58 billion over the next five years.
Federal discretionary spending in the coming year will be C$4 billion less than in the fiscal year ending March 31, a cut of 5 percent, and effectively flat-lined in the following four years. In nominal dollars—that is before accounting for inflation—Ottawa’s discretionary spending in 2017-2018 will by almost C$2.5 billion less than in 2012-2013.
At C$252.9 billion, total federal program spending will increase by just 0.75 percent in the coming year. Due to inflation and population growth, this constitutes a substantial cut in real per capita spending.
Thousands of federal workers have already lost their jobs as the government slashes environmental oversight, meat inspection, help in accessing government programs, Parks Canada, and numerous other services. As of the middle of last month, 19,800 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, or more than 10 percent of the total membership of the principal union representing federal government workers, had received notices from management that their jobs could be terminated.
In presenting the budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty trumpeted the reactionary fiscal framework that has been created by the corporate, capital gains, and personal income tax cuts implemented by Liberal and Conservative federal governments alike since the turn of the century. “The federal tax burden,” declared Flaherty, “is now the lowest it has been in 50 years.” The lion’s share of the tax savings, as the growth in real incomes, has been pocketed by the richest 10 percent and especially the top 1 percent.
Although government revenues have fallen significantly short of projections due to anemic economic growth during the past year, Flaherty reasserted the government’s intention to balance the budget by the 2015-2016 fiscal year and do so without raising taxes.
So severe has been the fall-off in projected revenues, Flaherty suggested last fall that the Conservatives might push back their deficit-elimination target by a year. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper quickly intervened, declaring that his government would not waver from its commitment to balance the budget prior to the next election in May 2015. The Conservatives have repeatedly declared that no sooner is the budget balanced than they will introduce a raft of tax-cutting measures. The aim of these tax cuts will be to transfer an even larger share of the national wealth to the most privileged sections of society and to deprive the federal state of the revenues needed to sustain existing programs, so as to provide the pretext for further budget cuts.
While slashing public services and preparing a new round of tax cuts, the government is pressing forward with a massive military procurement program, including the purchase of new fighter aircraft and battleships. These procurements are viewed by the government and the Canadian elite as a whole as critical to maintaining their ability to deploy the Canadian Armed Forces in U.S.-led imperialist wars, as in Afghanistan and Libya, and advancing thereby their predatory economic and geo-political interests. The Conservatives also intend to use the procurements to boost Canada’s armaments industry, which they hope to develop into one of the country’s major exporters.
Sections of the corporate media have dismissed last week’s budget as a “stand-pat” or even “do-nothing” budget. To be sure, the 2013 budget does not contain sweeping changes akin to those introduced in last year’s, the Conservatives’ first full budget since they secured a parliamentary majority. The 2012 budget raised the retirement age; reduced unemployment eligibility and benefits and introduced new measures to compel the jobless to accept low-wage work; enshrined a health care funding formula that will see the federal government’s contribution to Medicare fall sharply over the next decade; and gutted environmental regulations and the regulatory review process for resource extraction and pipeline projects.
Nevertheless, last week’s budget is chock-full of right-wing measures. Moreover, it need be noted the government continues to use duplicitous and fundamentally undemocratic means to push through its spending cuts and sweeping changes in government policy. Last year’s two omnibus budget bills contained many measures, such as the changes to environmental oversight, that were only briefly and vaguely mentioned in the budget and that had little to do with the financial and economic matters that have traditionally been the purview of budget bills. The opposition parties, the outgoing parliamentary budget officer, and the unions representing federal workers have repeatedly protested over the government’s refusal to provide parliament with detailed information about where spending has been cut and what jobs and services have been eliminated.
Last week’s budget was entirely in keeping with this practice. The government has hidden its spending cuts, although their scale is suggested by its pledge to “introduce legislation as needed to consolidate operations and eliminate redundant organizations.”
Regressive measures announced in the 2013-2014 budget include:
* A C$1 billion cut in the money Ottawa will provide municipalities in the coming fiscal year for infrastructure projects. The Conservative are touting their budget’s announcement of a 10-year, C$50 billion-plus federal infrastructure program, but this is largely smoke and mirrors, based on the repackaging of existing funding and postdated promises of new money. In the coming year, infrastructure spending is being slashed, and most of the promised spending will only take place in 2020 or after—and this at a time when numerous studies have documented the need for massive investment in water and sewage systems, bridges, roads, public transit and other basic infrastructure.
* A new drive to promote PPPs (public-private partnerships) under which private corporations are able to lock in government-guaranteed profits, while shouldering little if any risk. The government has extended a dedicated fund for PPP infrastructure projects and, even more significantly, imposed a new obligation to give priority to using the PPP model in all infrastructure projects over C$100 million that are partially financed by its Building Canada Fund.
* A workfare program for aboriginal young people. The government is establishing a so-called First Nations Job Fund to finance job training on reservations. But only band councils that force all young people receiving social assistance to participate in government-supervised job training will be eligible to draw from the fund.
The budget provides no additional funding for education for native youth living on reservations, although the funding that Ottawa provides for reservation schools is far less per capita than what the provincial governments provide their elementary and secondary schools. (Under Canada’s constitution, education is a provincial responsibility, with the exception of the education of on-reserve native youth, for which Ottawa is responsible.)
* A sweeping attack on federal workers’ benefits and pensions. The budget announces that the government will “propose changes” to federal employees’ “compensation and pensioner benefits” and “disability and sick leave.” From a government that has repeatedly complained that it is “unfair” that federal workers—after years of concessions contracts in industry—have “richer entitlements” than their counterparts in the private sector, these are code words for sweeping rollbacks, including increasing workers’ pension contributions and replacing defined pension benefits with a defined contribution scheme in which workers bear much if not all of the risk.
The attack on federal workers’ benefits is aimed not just at cutting government spending at workers’ expense; it is meant to bolster the drive of big business to gut what remains of the benefits workers won through the establishment of the industrial unions in the 1930s and 1940s and the convulsive strike struggles of the 1960s and 1970s.
In a pre-budget statement, Public Service Alliance of Canada national president John Gordon vowed to resist the government’s attack, saying the union won’t “trade,” “swap,” “sell,” or “give away” public sector workers sick leave benefits.
The reality is that the unions, public and private, have systematically suppressed the class struggle over the past three decades and accepted massive contract concessions. Moreover, the government has repeatedly demonstrated that it is ready to run roughshod over collective bargaining rights, so as to break strikes and assist employers, including Air Canada, Canada Posts and CP Rail, impose concessions, including cuts to pensions. And in every case, the unions have meekly submitted.
* The tying of Canada’s foreign development aid even more completely to the Canadian elite’s profit drive and geo-political ambitions.
The 45 year-old Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and its almost C$4 billion budget are to absorbed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The CIDA was always an arm of Canada’s imperialist foreign policy and its aid tied to purchases of Canadian products. But in recent years the Conservatives have tied the CIDA’s operations even more tightly with big business, coordinating its aid with Canadian mining companies’ investments in Africa and Latin America, and stipulating that part of the CIDA’s core mission is to work with governments to “build free markets”—i.e., push for privatization and the removal of all barriers to Canadian investment.
* Tariff increases that will raise the prices working people have to pay for electronics, clothes and numerous other products. The budget raises tariffs on goods from 72 countries—including India, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand—by eliminating their entitlement to the 3 percent lower tariff Canada accords exports from “developing countries.”
The Globe and Mail, the traditional voice of Canada’s financial elite, hailed the Conservative budget. In an editorial titled “Stephen Harper in full flight,” it lavished praise on the government for “challenging the old ways of thinking and doing things” and “without an infusion of money.” The neoconservativeNational Post said the budget should have gone further in slashing public services: “All we can say to our fellow deficit hawks is that it could be worse—and has been before.”
The opposition parties issued ritualistic condemnations of the budget. They noted for example that while the Conservatives claimed to be focused on providing young people with the skills they need to find work, the budget provided only tiny increases in funding for job training and did nothing to help students deal with rising university and college tuition fees.
The political sparring is a fraud aimed at containing the mounting popular anger. The entire political elite is united in insisting that working people bear the burden of the greatest crisis of world capitalism since the Great Depression.
The trade union-supported NDP is propping up a Liberal government in Ontario that has cut billions from social spending and imposed by legislative fiat contracts on more than 100,000 teachers that slash their real wages and sick-leave benefits. In a trip to Washington and New York earlier this month, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair reassured U.S. business and political leaders that the Canada’s social democrats are anxious to work with them, are as committed as the Conservatives to balancing the budget by 2015, and will not raise personal income taxes should they form the next government (see “Head of Canada’s NDP auditions before US elite“).
Quebec’s Parti Quebecois (PQ) government has imposed its own program of steep social spending cuts, delivering an emergency austerity budget last November that was warmly praised by big business. Having been able, thanks to the assistance of the unions and Quebec Solidaire, to politically suppress last year’s militant student strike, the PQ announced last month that university tuition fees will henceforth increase annually.
To oppose the big business offensive on jobs, wages, and public services, workers must break free of the political and organizational stranglehold of the pro-capitalist unions and NDP and combine militant industrial action, including strikes and plant occupations, with the development of an independent political movement of the working class aimed at bringing to power workers’ governments. Then economic life could be radically reorganized to make social needs, not the profits of a tiny elite, its animating principle.

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Teachers union seeks to channel opposition behind Democratic Party

Protest against school closures in Chicago
By Jeff Lusanne and Shane Feratu 
29 March 2013
The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) organized a late-afternoon protest Wednesday against the city of Chicago’s plans to close 61 public schools.
A few thousand parents, teachers and community members participated in the march, only a partial expression of the mass sentiment against the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s assault on public education. Over the past several months, thousands of parents and teachers have attended public hearings organized by the Chicago Public Schools to let off steam.
The aim of the CTU in calling the march was to channel opposition behind the Democratic Party political establishment in the city. The demonstration was far smaller than the mass protests during the time of the teachers strike in September, reflecting a widespread disillusionment of teachers with the CTU.
The school closure plan—one of the largest in US history—is the direct outcome of the betrayal of the teachers strike. The CTU shut down the strike as quickly as possible, pushing through a contract that accepted all of Emanuel’s demands and paved the way for the school shut downs.
Part of the march in downtown Chicago against school closings
Before marching, the CTU organized a rally addressed by Democratic Party politicians, including Jesse Jackson, along with CTU President Karen Lewis. Jackson, always present when the Democratic Party and unions are seeking to smother public opposition, offered up his usual pablum of empty chants. (A video of the remarks by Lewis, Jackson and other can be found here .)
At the rally, Lewis sought to present the attack on public education in racial, rather than class, terms, noting that the schools affected primarily African American students. “Let’s not pretend that when you close schools on the South and West sides, the children affected aren’t black,” she said. “Let’s not pretend that’s not racist.”
She failed to mention, however, that these neighborhoods are also the poorest in Chicago. The focus on race is aimed at dividing the working class, while also solidifying the CTU’s relationship with local Democratic Party officials. The Democratic Party and the Obama administration, which is leading a nationwide attack on public education, went unmentioned by Lewis.
The march in downtown Chicago against school closings
Supporters of the Socialist Equality Party distributed a statement, “ No to all school closures! Unite the working class to defend public education! ,” which calls for the formation of independent committees to mobilize the working class against school closures, in opposition to the Democratic Party and the trade unions.
The WSWS spoke to many of those attending.
Expressing the sentiments of many Chicagoans, Kiarra, a mother of three and a sociology student told the World Socialist Web Site, “I think these closings are a question of class and inequality. We have stratification. We have overcrowding in public schools. We have too much testing. Testing does not determine abilities of students. And if there is no money for public schools like they’re saying, then why is there so much money for charter schools? They’re closing schools where children have special needs.
“These are working class issues and we’re going to fight for our children’s education. We need real social change today.”
Lee, a parent, said, “Things have got to change. It’s not just about fighting to keep your school open. We have to fight for all our schools. We have got to stop this as a whole, as working people, and not just as individuals. We just can’t go on like this. When Wall Street needs money, they give it to them. But they don’t have money for us?”
In commentary to the press, Lewis has made clear that the CTU is not opposed to school closings, but merely wants to ensure that the union is part of the process. (See, “ CTU president denies opposing school closures ”)
Since taking office, the Obama administration has carried out a nationwide assault on public education, pushing school closures and “turnarounds,” merit pay, and charter schools. The national teachers unions have expressed their support for these measures.
The main concern of the CTU is to maintain its dues income. CTU’s sister union, the Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS), recently reached an agreement with UNO, the largest charter school company in Chicago, to collect dues from underpaid charter school teachers.
In part of its effort to prevent any discussion of the political issues in the fight to defend public education, the CTU focused its action in the demonstration on an act of “civil disobedience,” in which 131 marchers were arrested for blocking traffic. Among these was CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, a member of the International Socialist Organiaztion.

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Australian High Court approves “criminal organisation” laws

By Mike Head 

29 March 2013

Under conditions of deepening political instability at both federal and state levels, and growing popular hostility toward all the traditional ruling parties, the Australian High Court has cleared the way for legislation that potentially could be used to outlaw a wide range of organisations, including political parties regarded as a threat to the political establishment.

For the first time, Australia’s supreme court has upheld far-reaching state “criminal association” laws. Far from being confined to “bikie gangs,” as the mass media and governments claim, these provisions create a framework for the unprecedented use of secret evidence and undisclosed hearings to illegalise organisations.

Significantly, the beleaguered federal Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard intervened in the case, as did nearly all the state governments, to support the Queensland Criminal Organisation Act of 2009, which had been introduced by the former Queensland Labor government of Premier Anna Bligh.

Earlier this month, as part of her campaign for the scheduled September 14 election, Gillard called on the state and territory governments to refer constitutional powers to Canberra to declare groups “criminal associations.” She did so in a conscious effort to divert mounting discontent over the destruction of working class jobs and conditions behind a “law and order” scare campaign, while further boosting and centralising the powers of the police and state apparatus.

Dating back to 2001, and increasingly over the past five years, state Labor governments have made repeated attempts to enact such draconian laws, only to have them struck down by the High Court on a series of constitutional technicalities. Now the court has declared unanimously, by 7 to 0, that the Queensland legislation was perfectly valid under the Australian constitution, and could be applied, in the first instance, to the Finks Motorcycle Club.

The court ruled that an organisation can be outlawed on the basis of secret “criminal intelligence” that is tabled in a “special closed hearing,” of which the group is not given notice, let alone allowed to attend. Under the legislation, when a court then conducts a hearing to decide on an organisation’s illegality, the group and its lawyers are excluded from any part of the hearing where the “criminal intelligence” is to be considered.

These are police-state measures. The use of secret evidence and closed hearings deprives accused groups of any right to know, query or test the allegations against them. It thus allows for unchecked victimisation and persecution.

This legislation applies to any organisation that represents “an unacceptable risk to the safety, welfare or order of the community.” This definition is broad enough to cover political opposition that threatens the present capitalist social order. To be banned, the organisation must exist for the purpose of engaging in, or “conspiring” to engage in “serious criminal activity.” But such activity is also defined to include political offences such as sedition and riot.

That outlaw status can be imposed, not on what its members have actually done, or even are suspected of having done, but on police and courtpredictions that some members—not even all—may plan criminal activity in the future. This allows targeted groups to be criminalised for what some of their members might do, or think of doing, or for what carefully planted police or intelligence infiltrators might say they intend to do.

Once again, as has happened on many fronts, the legislation extends similar authoritarian powers first imposed under the cover of the fraudulent “war on terrorism” after 2001. In the name of cracking down on “gangs,” crucial legal and democratic principles—such as the right to a public trial, procedural fairness and freedom of speech and association—have been abrogated.

Under the Queensland provisions, police informants also remain anonymous, and police affidavits can be accepted as good evidence, as can hearsay evidence—third party accounts of what someone else was reported to have said or done. Reminiscent of the old Star Chamber of the British monarchy, all proceedings under the legislation, even subsequent appeals, are closed to the public and the media. Transcripts can be obtained only with the permission of the police commissioner.

If an organisation is outlawed, its members can be stripped of essential legal and democratic rights, and their livelihoods. They can be placed under indefinite “control orders” banning them from associating with any other member or person, or possessing specified things, or being in certain places, or undertaking stated employment. “Associating” includes communicating in any way, personally or electronically. Members include “prospective members” and anyone who “identifies as belonging” to the group. Non-members can also be barred from “associating” with members.

“Public safety orders” can be issued, barring anyone from a specified building, location or event, even if the likely purpose of the person’s presence would be “advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action.” This proviso has nothing to do with “bikie gangs.” It is a clear attack on civil and political rights, notably to demonstrate or organise working class resistance.

Breaches of those orders can result in prison terms of up to five years. Trying to recruit someone to an outlawed group can also mean five years’ jail.

The language and logic of the High Court judgments indicated a willingness to accept a wider assault on core legal and democratic rights. Chief Justice Robert French, for example, admitted that the secretive procedures laid down by the legislation “undoubtedly represent incursions upon the open court principle and procedural fairness.” But he said these “fundamental common law rights” were not “rigid” and could be overridden by “public interest” considerations. These interests, he said, included protection of “sensitive information” and the identities of “vulnerable witnesses.” The notoriously vague and highly political notion of “public interest” could be used to justify trampling over principles that have been regarded as “fundamental” for hundreds of years.

The only concern of the judges was whether the legislation affected the independence and integrity of the courts, by requiring them to implement such “novel” procedures. Unlike the US constitution, or even the European Convention on Human Rights, the Australian constitution contains no bill of rights. Instead, its “separation of powers” doctrine simply prevents governments from undermining the supposed sanctity and credibility of the courts.

In previous cases, involving similar laws in New South Wales and South Australia, the High Court had objected to clauses that made it mandatory for courts to issue banning orders. As the World Socialist Web Site previously warned, these decisions presented no real barrier to the rolling out of anti-organisation laws across Australia.

In this case, the judges ruled that the Queensland law satisfied the constitution because it retained the “decisional independence” of the courts. This ruling underscores the complicity of the courts in the destruction of basic rights. It built on two earlier High Court decisions. In 2007, in the “terrorist” case of Thomas v Mowbray, the judges said a control order could be imposed without any finding of criminal guilt. In another case in 2009, the court allowed secret “criminal intelligence” to be used in civil proceedings.

Both the Gillard government and the conservative Queensland government enthusiastically welcomed the High Court decision, claiming it gave the go-ahead for “tough” measures against “bikie gangs.” In reality, basic democratic rights are being ripped up, with bipartisan support in the political establishment, aided by the media and the courts. The powers of the state are being strengthened in preparation for the eruption of major social and political struggles.

The author also recommends:

Australia: Labor governments vow to retain “bikie laws” despite High Court ruling
[5 January 2011]

Agreement reached between Turkish government and Kurdish nationalist PKK

By Justus Leicht 

29 March 2013

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed Kurdish nationalist leader, called for a ceasefire on March 21, the traditional Kurdish Newroz festival. Ocalan, who heads the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), called on his supporters to withdraw their armed forces inside the borders of Turkey and to silence their weapons. The governments of Turkey and the US welcomed the call, as did the European Union.

The circumstances and background of Ocalan’s declaration were unusual. It was read out by leading members of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The BDP, which is close to the PKK, has several MPs in the Turkish parliament; many of the mayors in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey are from the BDP.

The declaration was preceded by months of negotiations between the Turkish secret service and Ocalan, who since 1999 has been serving a life sentence in solitary confinement on the prison island of Imrali.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters followed the words of the PKK leader. Many marched with banners, chanting slogans and carrying pictures of Ocalan to make clear their support for him and the PKK. Until last year, such demonstrations had been disbanded using brutal force by the Turkish police. This time, they were reported in a broadcast by Turkish state television.

In his letter, Ocalan wrote pathetically that a new era of democratic rights, freedom and equality was now dawning. The armed struggle was at an end.

He appealed openly to right-wing Turkish nationalism and the Islamic religion: “Dear people of Turkey, the Turkish people living in the Turkey of ancient Anatolia should know that almost a thousand years of [the Kurds] living together with the Turks under the flag of Islam are based on the law of brotherhood and solidarity.

“Turks and Kurds fell together at Çanakkale, they conducted the war of liberation together, in 1920 they opened the parliament together.

“The fact of our shared history suggests that we [should] build our common future together. The founding spirit of the National Assembly of Turkey also illuminates the new era that begins today.”

It is true that in the Ottoman Empire, Turkish and Kurdish peasants and other nationalities suffered under feudal exploitation and oppression. The “banner of Islam”, or more precisely pan-Islamism, was unfurled by the Ottoman Sultanate in its death throes as it was gripped by nationalist and democratic aspirations and social unrest. The victims were particularly the Christian Armenians, who fell victim to numerous pogroms.

In the 20th century, the Turkish nationalists, who were well aware of the social and national disunity in the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, used Sunni Islam not just against separatist tendencies but also against the growing influence of socialist ideas.

In 1920, Turkish officers fraternised with Kurdish dignitaries “under the banner of Islam”; the same year, the entire leadership of the young Turkish Communist Party was murdered. Neither the representatives of the Turkish nor of the Kurdish elite wanted or want unity from below, that is, the unity of the oppressed workers and poor peasants under the banner of socialism.

Representatives and supporters of the moderate Islamist, right-wing AKP [Justice and Development Party] government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were appreciative of Ocalan’s words.

Citing Selahattin Demirtaş, chair of the BDP, who had visited Öcalan in prison, the online edition of the newspaper Zaman, which is close to the AKP government, commented, “Ocalan constantly refers to the Ottoman heritage during the early formative years of the republic, to the commonwealth of Ottoman cultures”. In response to a question regarding what this heritage is, Demirtaş explains, “You know, under the Ottoman Empire different nations, people with different religions were able to live in the same country.”

It is not surprising that Ocalan made special reference to religion in his statement: “The truths in the message of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are alive today with new glad tidings. People try to regain what was lost”. Every right-wing conservative, whether of Christian or Islamic persuasion, can easily sign up to that.

For a movement such as the PKK, which has long claimed to be socialist, albeit falsely, such pandering to right-wing politics and ideology is revealing.

The Turkish government welcomed Ocalan’s call. Although Prime Minister Erdogan was critical that there had been “no Turkish flag” to see at the rallies; nevertheless, Ocalan’s declaration was a “positive development”, he said. If it were put into practice, the atmosphere in Turkey and the entire region would change.

Erdogan’s top adviser Yalcin Akdogan was quoted by Hurriyet Daily Newswith the enthusiastic words, “First of all, there is the message that the era of armed struggle has come to an end and the struggle must continue through democratic means. I find this very important. Secondly, never before had such emphasis on unity and fraternity been made. [The PKK] disliked emphasis on a common history, a common civilization and a common religion. Ocalan has changed the paradigm today and broken with the rhetoric.”

Almost simultaneously with Erdogan’s statement, a spokeswoman for the US State Department welcomed Ocalan’s declaration, which was not only supported by the BDP, but also explicitly by the PKK leadership in Kandil in northern Iraq.

It is not the first time that the PKK has ingratiated itself with the Turkish establishment. What is new is that Turkey now recognizes this and is negotiating directly or indirectly with the Kurdish nationalists.

This is for two reasons.

First, the Erdogan government is looking for new props to attack the working class in Turkey. It is said that Erdogan wants to introduce a presidential system in Turkey as part of a new constitution, and wants to become president himself. The BDP could help him, if the AKP in return makes concessions to the Kurds.

A presidential system would strengthen the state vis-à-vis parliament and lend it more authoritarian traits. This is particularly important given Erdogan has largely neutralised the Turkish army as an independent power factor and brought it to heel. Erdogan does not hesitate to impose his neo-liberal policies with authoritarian means. He will be able to count on the BDP and its “left” appendages.

Secondly, the situation is worsening in Turkey’s neighbourhood. For some time, the Turkish government has been playing the role of US guard dog in relation to Syria. No other government is publicly so aggressive in arguing for “regime change” in Syria as is Erdogan’s. The Syrian “rebels” operate from Turkish territory, and have a central base of operations in Syria’s neighbour, Turkey.

While direct military aggression against Syria is fast approaching and is being prepared systematically, the Syrian Kurds pose a serious problem from Ankara’s point of view. The “rebels”, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda-affiliated forces, have little influence in the Syrian Kurdish areas. The strongest force there is the PYD [Democratic Union Party], which is allied with the PKK and has long been supported by the Syrian regime.

Ocalan’s flowery phrases must be understood in this context, when he calls on the Turkish and Kurdish people “to throw off the yoke of tyranny” under the flag of Islam. Turks and Kurds, as “the two basic strategic powers of the Middle East”, are called upon to “build a democratic modernity.”

“The Middle East and Central Asia are in search of a contemporary modern and democratic concept that corresponds to their own history”, proclaimed Ocalan. It was “inevitable that Anatolia and Mesopotamia, the local culture and time, will be a pioneer in its construction again. It is as if we are experiencing an updated, more complicated and intense version of the Liberation War, which developed in recent history under the National Pact [1920] under the leadership of the Turks and Kurds.”

Put less pompously, this means that Turkey should be the ruling power in the Middle East, and the PKK is ready to support this as its mercenary.

New law granting Detroit emergency manager sweeping authority goes into effect

By Jerry White 
29 March 2013
Detroit’s newly appointed emergency manager has been granted unprecedented powers under the terms of an anti-democratic law in Michigan that went into effect Thursday.
Public Act (PA) 436, which was pushed through by the Republican-controlled state legislature after voters defeated a similar measure in November, gives emergency managers in six Michigan cities and three school districts authority to slash budgets, reopen labor agreements, impose unilateral concessions and shut down or privatize city departments and services.
The measure is aimed at establishing what amounts to a financial dictator in Detroit, with the aim of using the city as a test case for imposing deeply unpopular measures in line with what is occurring in Cyprus, Greece and other European countries.
The entire political establishment, Democrat and Republican, is engaged in a conspiracy toward workers in the city.
Governor Rick Snyder, a multi-millionaire former venture capitalist and Republican, and Democratic Treasury Secretary Andy Dillon have turned over control of Detroit to a Washington, DC bankruptcy attorney whose former law firm represents the same Wall Street investment houses that control Detroit’s municipal bonds and other debt.
Kevyn Orr, a lifelong Democrat, is a former law partner of Cleveland-based Jones Day, which has represented Citigroup, UBS AG, JPMorgan Chase and other banks that hold much of the city’s $8.6 billion in long-term bond debt. His appointment immediately led to an upgrade in Detroit’s credit rating from negative to stable, as investors anticipated he would oversee their repayment by intensifying the attack on the working class.
Detroit’s Democratic mayor, David Bing, hired Orr’s former law firm as a “restructuring” consultant earlier this month before his appointment as emergency manager. Bing later claimed that this was “completely independent” of the governor’s decision to select Orr. While Orr resigned from the law firm, under the new law he will be responsible for hiring the firm he has worked at for years.
A lot of money stands to be made on the further ruination of Detroit. TheMetro Times noted that among Jones Day’s former clients is the Bank of America. “According to Irvin Corley Jr., who heads the Detroit City Council’s Fiscal Analysis Division, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch is one of the counterparties in a complex credit swap deal that includes a stipulation where the city would be forced to pay lenders a $400 million lump-sum payment in the event certain ‘termination events’ occur. One of those triggers is the appointment of an emergency manager.”
Last November, Michigan voters overturned Public Act 4 by a margin of 52 to 48 percent. The act gave emergency financial managers financial and day-to-day control of cities and school districts deemed financially troubled.
In response, the Republican state attorney authorized the reinstatement of PA 72, a law passed in 1990 that allowed for the appointment of emergency financial managers, who had less sweeping powers than those allotted to emergency managers. The automatic reversion to the earlier law was done on dubious if not illegal grounds.
Republican legislators then drafted a new bill, PA 436, differing from the act that was overturned only on minor points. The act gives elected officials the “choice” of one of four options to slash services and jobs if the state determined a financial emergency exists. These are: signing a consent agreement, allowing the takeover by an emergency manager, going through a mediation process or declaring bankruptcy.
Exploiting the fact that the law did not take effect until March 28, Snyder and Dillon declared Detroit to being in a state of financial emergency and appointed Orr last week, thereby circumventing the requirement that cities have the opportunity to choose their poison. In other words, the timing of the appointment allowed the state to insist on an emergency manager, while this manager would, within days, assume the full powers provided by PA 436.
Even so, the state has little to worry about in relation to the corrupt layer of political hucksters that have run Detroit for decades. They simply want to ensure their own position in the lucrative process of selling off public assets and channeling city resources into the hands of the banks and private firms.
In one of his first moves, Orr decided to retain the pay and benefits for Bing and the city council, even though he has power to halt salaries. This was aimed at assuring the agreement of the local Democratic Party establishment.
As part of their maneuvers, a lawsuit was filed against Snyder and Dillon Wednesday challenging the legality of the new law. The plaintiffs include representatives of the city’s major unions, officials from the Detroit school board, along with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
The lawsuit has been driven by political considerations. The trade union bureaucracy, for example, boasts of its willingness to impose deep concession on city workers but complains that the emergency manager has allowed city officials to cut the union out of the process.
Moreover, the lawsuit conceals the class interests behind the blatantly anti-democratic measures, arguing instead that it is essentially an issue of racial discrimination. This argument expresses the interests of the black Democratic political establishment in Detroit, which in the name of “self-rule” has argued that it is quite capable of imposing massive budget cuts on the city’s workers—both black and white—without any outside help.
The struggle to defend the interests of the working class and oppose these measures will not be resolved in the courts or by aligning with any of the contending factions of the capitalist state, but only through the independent political mobilization of the working class against both big business parties, which function, as the situation in Detroit demonstrates, as nothing but the repressive front men for the banks.

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US food stamp use swells to a record 47.8 million

By Kate Randall 
29 March 2013
A record number of Americans are using food stamps, known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Despite official proclamations that the recession has ended and an economic recovery is underway, families are turning to SNAP benefits in record numbers. The working poor comprise a growing number of food stamp recipients, and about half of those receiving benefits are children.
Enrollment in the food stamp program has increased by 70 percent since 2008, to a record 47.8 million people as of December 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The biggest factor driving the increase is the stagnating job market and a rising poverty rate. This means that a staggering 15 percent of the US population receives food stamp benefits, nearly double the rate of 1975.
In 2008, at the onset of the recession, 28.2 million people were enrolled in SNAP. While the official jobless rate, which peaked at 10 percent in 2009, had dipped slightly to 7.7 percent as of February this year, the SNAP program has continued to grow. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that food stamp usage will drop only marginally, to 43.3 million people, by 2017. Even this estimate is predicated on the unemployment rate dropping to 5.6 percent over the next four years.
The number of people using food stamps roughly corresponds to the number of Americans living in poverty, which rose to just below 50 million people in 2011. Utilizing the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), which factors in expenses for food, clothing, shelter, health care and other essentials, the US Census Bureau estimates that nearly one in six people in the US is living in poverty.
The average monthly benefit per person receiving SNAP benefits was only $133 last year. In order to qualify, a household’s income cannot be more than 130 percent of the poverty level, which is about $25,000 for a family of three, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Enrollees receive benefits on a debit card, which can to be used to purchase cereal, meats, fruits, vegetables, bread, milk and other staples. When food is running low, recipients often seek out 24-hour grocery stores, waiting for 12 a.m. for their monthly benefits to kick in.
The fact that 15 percent of the population must rely on SNAP benefits has received little attention in the media or from politicians of either big business party. Earlier this week, President Obama signed a bill making permanent $85 billion in sequester cuts, which will slash billions of dollars from programs benefiting the poor, including Head Start, special education, housing and many other programs.
While SNAP technically evaded the sequester ax, other nutrition programs are facing deep cuts. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC, could be forced to cut almost 600,000 mothers, infants and children from its rolls. About half of all infants born in the US qualify for WIC benefits, and mothers use them to purchase food, formula and other vital necessities, as well as to access nutrition education and other services.
Due to the sequester cuts, about 4 million fewer meals will be delivered through Meals on Wheels programs, which provide daily meals to homebound seniors. For many recipients, it is not only their only hot meal of the day, but their sole connection to others in the community.
Millions of the long-term jobless—who have been forced to turn to food stamps—will also see an 11 percent cut to their extended unemployment benefits. The sequester cuts—which will constitute the baseline of future allocations of federal spending—come as the need for social programs benefiting working families is increasing at a rapid pace due to falling wages, unemployment and growing poverty.
The US government spent a record $74.6 billion on SNAP benefits last year, more than double the $30.4 billion spent on the program in 2007. Rules adopted under the Clinton administration allowed some leeway for states in allowing residents to qualify for benefits.
In 2001-2002, six states eased the income and asset requirements for SNAP benefits, making it somewhat easier for people to qualify if they had a low-wage job, or some savings. By 2009, in response to the recession, 17 states and US territories eased their eligibility requirements. Today, three out of four households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one person who is working.
The Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus bill expanded the SNAP program, raising the level of benefits recipients can receive, and allowing people to keep their benefits longer. This expansion is set to expire on October 31, and there are no moves afoot to extend it. The CBPP estimates that food stamp benefits will decrease by $8 per month per person with this expiration.
As of November 1, SNAP benefits will be returned to the level of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, the lowest of four nutrition estimates calculated by the US Department of Agriculture. The four plans—Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate Cost, and Liberal—vary widely in cost. In February 2013, a family of four with two children on the “Thrifty” plan was expected to budget $636 a month for food at home, while the same family on the “Liberal” plan would spent $1,257—almost double the amount.
As with all aspects of social life in America, there is one standard for the working class and another for the wealthy. In this case the divide is between those who struggle to provide adequate nutrition for their families under conditions of rising costs for housing, utilities and other necessities, and the tiny elite who think nothing of splurging on a restaurant meal with a tab far in excess of the “Liberal” monthly budget for a family of four.
Almost half the children presently receiving SNAP benefits—some 10 million—already live in extreme poverty, which means household income is less than half the official poverty level, already set an unrealistically low level. Another 9 million receiving food stamps are elderly or have a serious disability. The cuts in SNAP benefits will quite literally take food off the table for millions of American families at a time of deepening poverty and burgeoning social inequality.

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The European Union’s looting of Cyprus

29 March 2013

The bailout imposed on Cyprus by the European Union (EU) is a politically criminal act of financial looting, aimed at destroying the country’s banks and reducing the working class to penury.

In the name of avoiding state bankruptcy, the small Mediterranean island of some one million people is being subjected to the type of shock-therapy already inflicted on Greece.

The terms of the €10 billion loan dictated by the EU, European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund include winding up Laiki bank—Cyprus’ second-largest bank—and transferring its debts to the ECB to the Bank of Cyprus, which also faces major restructuring. An additional €5.8 billion is to be raised by imposing severe penalties, of 40 percent and more, on bondholders and those with bank deposits over €100,000.

Emergency capital controls are in place, including a ban on overseas transfers, a €300 limit on cash withdrawals, and a bar on anyone leaving the country with more than €1,000 in banknotes. The British security firm G4S is on guard at the island’s banks to “ensure calm” after they finally reopened yesterday after 12 days.

The measures are in line with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s insistence that Cyprus must recognise “its current business model is dead.” With the country’s financial sector eight times the size of its GDP, this means economic collapse.

This is not mitigated one iota by the fact that the Cypriot government was forced to retreat on its plan to impose a 6.7 percent levy on bank deposits below €100,000. Those supposedly saved in this instance are to be bled dry by other means.

Unemployment stands at 15 percent due to the EU austerity measures implemented by the previous Communist Party-led government, which—even before the current crisis—had led to the opening of charitable food banks in Paphos, Limassol and Nicosia.

This will worsen dramatically. As the Wall Street Journal noted with satisfaction, “Nicosia will now face the usual conditions of a euro-zone rescue: labor-market reforms, fiscal discipline, privatizations, pension and health-care reform.”

Unlike EU bailouts for Greece, Ireland, Spain and others, however, where the pretence was maintained that austerity and wage cuts would revive the economy, the press openly admits that the EU’s medicine in Cyprus will kill the patient.

The loan is tied in with mass job losses and wages cuts, the gutting of health, education and social provision, the privatisation of major utilities, and the handing over of the island’s natural and energy resources to the global energy giants.

GDP is forecast to fall by 25 percent in the next two to three years, and unemployment to double. With the entire euro zone sinking into a recession that will be exacerbated by the measures in Cyprus, the result will be social and economic devastation.

The Financial Times blamed the Cypriot population, writing, “… the choice to hitch the economy to offshore banking was made with the complicity of leaders and the acquiescence of a population content to live beyond its means.”

As if workers in Cyprus were consulted over whether the island should become a banking centre!

In fact, the financial oligarchy works everywhere with impunity, dictating government policy in its interests. Everywhere the result is parasitism and rampant corruption, as epitomised in recent scandals over the rigging of the Libor-rate, the laundering of drug money by the HSBC bank and others, and widespread fraud by JPMorgan Chase, to name but a few. In not one instance has anyone been held to account for this criminality.

Workers must reject cynical propaganda emanating from Berlin, Paris, London and Brussels that the Cypriot “bail-in,” supposedly targeted at Russian oligarchs and tax-avoiders, changes this state of affairs, or even represents a form of wealth expropriation.

The EU, led by Germany and with US support, have seized on the crisis in Cyprus to destroy a weaker competitor and consolidate their control of global financial markets. European and American banks stand to gain from Russian oligarchs and tax-avoiders who transferred their money out of Cyprus in the weeks before the bailout crisis hit.

Only a revolutionary struggle of the international working class—fighting to subordinate the resources of Cyprus, Europe, and the world economy to democratic control by the working population—can expropriate the financial aristocracy. Measures by major EU powers to grab money previously held in Cypriot banks amount to no more than thinly disguised theft in the interests of the most powerful sections of finance capital.

As Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung acknowledged bluntly, “The euro zone has long since stopped being a brotherhood for increasing prosperity and mutual stability. It has transformed itself into a school of gladiators in which everyone fights for his own advantage and his survival.”

The savage offensive underway across Europe cannot be defeated on a national basis. Like its counter-parts in Greece, Italy and elsewhere, the Cypriot bourgeoisie has played a thoroughly reactionary role throughout. Its alternative to the troika’s plans was to raid pension funds and small depositors so as to protect the super-rich and preserve the island’s tax haven status.

These events graphically underscore the absolute impossibility under capitalism of a democratic, humane and progressive solution to the economic crisis gripping the globe.

The necessary principled opposition to the measures imposed on Cyprus must be based on the interests of the working class, and not those of any of the competing cliques of imperialist bandits. Just as the bourgeoisie has international forms of organisation to impose its class interests, so the working class must develop its own.

This means the fight for the United Socialist States of Europe. Only a unified revolutionary offensive of the working class across the continent, and the genuine expropriation of the entire bourgeoisie, can prevent the destruction of the European economy.

Julie Hyland

Officials: Arms Shipments Rise to Syrian Rebels

By Dale Gavlak And Jamal Halaby
March 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“AP” – (AMMAN) — Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the U.S. in preparation for a push on the capital of Damascus, officials and Western military experts said Wednesday.
A carefully prepared covert operation is arming rebels, involving Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, with the United States and other Western governments consulting, and all parties hold veto power over where the shipments are directed, according to a senior Arab official whose government is participating. His account was corroborated by a diplomat and two military experts.
The Arab official said the number of arms airlifts has doubled in the past four weeks. He did not provide exact figures on the flights or the size of the cargo. Jordan opened up as a new route for the weapons late last year, amid U.S. worries that arms from Turkey were going to Islamic militants, all four told The Associated Press in separate interviews. Jordan denies helping funnel weapons to the rebels.
The two military experts, who closely follow the traffic, said the weapons include more powerful, Croatian-made anti-tank guns and rockets than the rebels have had before.
The Arab official said there was a “master plan” for the rebels to seize Damascus. He and the diplomat spoke to the AP on condition that their identities and their nationalities not be disclosed because the operation was covert.
“The idea is that the rebels now have the necessary means to advance from different fronts — north from Turkey and south from Jordan — to close in on Damascus to unseat Assad,” the Arab official said. He declined to provide details, but said the plan is being prepared in stages and will take “days or weeks” for results.
Rebels have captured suburbs around Damascus but have been largely unable to break into the heavily guarded capital. Instead, they have hit central neighborhoods of the city with increasingly heavy mortar volleys from their positions to the northeast and south.
But rebels in the south are fighting to secure supply lines from the border with Jordan to the capital, and the new influx of weapons from Jordan has fueled the drive, a rebel commander in a southwestern suburb of the capital said. The consensus among the multiple rebel groups was that Damascus is the next objective, he added.
“There is an attempt to secure towns and villages along the international line linking Amman and Damascus. Significant progress is being made. The new weapons come in that context,” said the commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of Syrian government reprisal. He said his own fighters on the capital’s outskirts had not received any arms from the influx but that he had heard about the new weapons from comrades in the south.
Syria’s rebels, who are divided into numerous independent brigades, have long complained that the international community is not providing them with the weaponry needed to oust Assad, drawing out a civil war that in the past two years has killed more than 70,000 people and displaced 3.5 million Syrians, nearly a third of them fleeing into neighboring countries.
But the United States in particular has been wary of arming the rebellion, fearing weapons will go to Islamic extremists who have taken a prominent role in the uprising. Washington says it is only providing non-lethal aid to the rebels. The U.S. involvement in the arms channels opened up by its regional allies is aimed at ensuring the weapons are not going to militants.
The Arab official, the diplomat and the military experts said the material was destined for “secular” fighters not necessarily linked to the Free Syrian Army, the nominal umbrella group for the rebels. Jordan and other Arabs have been critical of the FSA, which they accuse of having failed as an effective or credible force because its elements lack the fighting skills and military prowess.
The four described a system in which Saudi Arabia and Qatar provide the funding for the weapons, while Jordan and Turkey provide the land channels for the shipments to reach the rebels, while all coordinate with the U.S. and other Western governments on the shipments’ destinations. All must agree for a shipment to go through. The Arab official said some of the arms are being purchased from Croatia, or from U.S. drawdowns in unspecified European countries. He said other sources were black market arms dealers across Europe and the Mideast.
Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh Maayatah insisted the kingdom was not helping funnel weapons. “Jordan is neither assisting the Assad regime, nor its opponents,” he told the AP. Instead, he argued, Jordan wants a “quick political solution” to the Syrian crisis.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry would not confirm weapons transfer through Turkey, saying, “We have no official information to confirm such reports or claims.”
Initially, Turkey was the main route for arms smuggled to the rebels when the flow began in early 2012, but Washington was unhappy that some weapons ended up in the hands of militants, the four said in separate interviews with the AP.
Subsequently, Jordan became an additional route, with the first airlift landing there Dec. 13, they said. Jordan insisted that its role remain clandestine so that it would not be at risk of reprisal by Assad’s forces or rockets, they said. Jordan borders Syria to the south, and its frontier is within a two-hour drive of Damascus.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on the sidelines of a Syrian opposition meeting in Italy last month that the weapons are ending up in the hands of secular groups. “I will tell you this: There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is in fact getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that,” he said, without elaborating.
Wrapping up a summit in Qatar on Tuesday, Arab states underlined their right to arm the Syrian rebels, noting the growing frustration with Assad’s regime and with what is believed to be a supply of weapons flowing to his regime from his main ally, Iran. Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are headed by Sunni Muslim governments seeking the fall of Assad’s regime, which is dominated by Syria’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Arab powers in particular are hoping Assad’s departure would break the influence in the region of predominantly Shiite Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
In an interview with the AP last week, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Assad’s days were numbered, but warned of the risk that Syria might use chemical weapons against its neighbors, including Jordan. Traditionally, Damascus has been suspicious of its smaller southern neighbor, whom it accuses of being a U.S. puppet and a spy for Israel since the 1994 Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty. Despite the tensions, their common border has remained relatively quiet and open.
The opening of the weapons pipeline through Jordan “provides a fresh approach” to Syrian rebels, said Shashank Joshi, a military expert who has been monitoring the arms flow for two years for Britain’s Royal United Services Institute think tank.
“This way opens a new front in southern Syria. It breaks free from connections with Saudi and Lebanese middlemen (in Turkey), while ensuring the weapons get to those rebels with secular, or nationalist ties, rather than the jihadists,” he said.
Sweden-based arms trafficking expert Hugh Griffiths, who has been monitoring the arms flow and collecting independent data, said some 3,500 tons of military equipment have been shipped to the rebels since the traffic began in early 2012. He said there were at least 160 airlifts of weapons deliveries from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and later Jordan, with the most recent being a shipment of unspecified material from Qatar to Turkey on Sunday.
“Nothing compares in terms of the intensity of these flights over months-long periods at a time,” said Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Two prominent independent researchers monitoring weapons traffic — Eliot Higgins in Britain and Nic Jenzen-Jones in Australia — said Croatian arms began appearing only recently in Syria. They include M60 recoilless guns, M79 Osa rocket launchers, and RBG-6 grenade launchers, which all are powerful anti-tank weapons.
Griffiths said the Croatian arms are a “major game changer.” He said they are “portable, but pack a much bigger explosive punch.”
The question will be whether the arms influx will tip the balance if rebels do launch an offensive for Damascus — and whether the attempt to boost more moderate rebels over Islamists will be effective.
Syrian opposition activists estimate there are 15-20 different brigades fighting in and around Damascus now, each with up to 150 fighters. Many of them have Islamic tendencies and bear black-and-white Islamic flags or al-Qaida-style flags on their Facebook pages. There is also a presence of Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the strongest Islamic militant groups fighting alongside the rebels. In the Damascus area, the al-Nusra fighters are active mostly in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, but the presence is not as strong as it is in the north and east.
Capt. Islam Alloush, a spokesman for Liwaa al-Islam, a prominent rebel brigade with an Islamist ideology that is operating outside Damascus, denied any arms were being smuggled into southern Syria. “If there are any weapons being brought in, it would be from the north,” he said.
Still, he said rebels were gearing up for the battle for Damascus. “We have been preparing for it for a long time. We have our own strategy,” he said. “God willing, the battle for Damascus will begin soon.”

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Evidence Shows Syrian Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

By Raven Clabough

March 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“The New American ” – Reports of a chemical weapon attack in Syria’s Aleppo Province last week provoked leaders and politicians, particularly in the West, to advocate more fiercely for the overthrow of the Assad regime, despite the vague details surrounding the attack. Current data seem to suggest, however, that it was not government forces behind the attack, but rebel forces. reports:

The attack, intelligence sources appear to agree, was launched by rebel fighters and not government forces. Since the victims were overwhelmingly the Syrian military, this was not a huge shock, but is important to reiterate.

Likewise, the Assad forces called upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the attack.

Evidence also indicates that the attack involved lachrymatory agents, not nerve agents, and that the deaths were caused by suffocating on chlorine-based gas injected into the warhead. The significance of this information, as noted by is that “it is not the sort of weapon Syria has in its arsenal, rather it is a lower-tech solution.”

The Telegraph reports that a “trusted and hitherto reliable source who does not wish to be identified” states that the military believes the “locally-manufactured rocket” contained a form of chlorine, which is available as a swimming pool cleaner, dissolved in saline solution. The warhead was fired at a military checkpoint near the entrance of the town of Khan al-Assai, which has been in government control since mid-March. Khan al-Assai, however is an area where much fighting has occurred and certain areas in the region frequently witness changes of control. According to the source, rebel Sunni groups with al-Qaeda sympathies have been attacking the town.

Because the weapon is believed to have contained chlorine, it is not considered a “chemical weapon” based on terms defined by international treaties.

The Telegraph’s trusted source also asserts that the military believes the rocket to have been fired from somewhere near Al-Bab, a district near Aleppo controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda.“Just to the east of Aleppo, there is a rather nondescript factory whose purpose is to produce chlorine,” the source said.

Another source, a medic at the local civilian hospital, reportedly witnessed Syrian soldiers helping those who were wounded and dealing with the fatalities at the scene.

Still, regardless of evidence to the contrary, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers is pointing to the incident as a reason to invade Syria.

“I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed,” Rogers told CBS on Sunday. “There is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of this conflict.”

And President Obama expressed skepticism last week at the notion that it was in fact the rebels who launched the attack.

“I am deeply skeptical of any claim that, in fact, it was the opposition that used chemical weapons,” he said. “Everybody who knows the facts of the chemical weapon stockpiles inside Syria as well as the Syrian government’s capabilities I think would question these claims.”

The President also took the opportunity to state that such a move by Assad would be a “game changer.”

Just how these leaders will respond to increasing indications that the attack was in fact launched by the rebels remains to be seen. RTopines, “Although Washington has worked with regional allies to prepare in the event that the Assad regime resorts to the use of chemical weapons, it doesn’t seem it has any contingency plan in the event that the militant opposition, which it is so determined to support, gets its hands on these very real weapons of mass destruction.”

This is not the first time that the rebel forces have committed heinous acts in their war on the Assad regime.

Last October, the rebel forces were responsible for four suicide bombings in Aleppo that killed approximately 40 civilians and wounded many more. The Daily Mail explained that the square targeted by the suicide bombings was in a government-controlled district in western Aleppo. According to the Mail, “Rebels have resorted to bomb attacks in areas still controlled by President Assad.”

Jebhat al-Nusra, a group linked to al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the bombings.

Additionally, the rebels were also responsible for the massacre of over 90 people in Houla last year. Immediately following that event, the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany blamed Assad for the killings and expelled Syria’s ambassadors from their countries in protest. Later reports, however, pointed to evidence that the massacre was in fact carried out by anti-Assad rebel forces.

How Obama Chose War Over Peace in Syria

By Shamus Cooke 
March 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – With Syria on the brink of national genocide, outside nations have only two options: help reverse the catastrophe or plunge this torn nation deeper into the abyss. Countries can either work towards a peaceful political solution or they can continue to pour money, guns, and fighters into the country to ensure a steady gushing into the bloodbath. 
President Obama will have no talk of peace. He has chosen war since the very start and he’s sticking to it. A recent New York Times article revealed that President Obama has been lying through his teeth about the level of U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict since the beginning. 
The President recently said that the U.S. government continues to give only “non-lethal” military aid to the rebels, but The New York Times revealed that the CIA has been actively funneling and distributing massive shipments of weapons to the rebels over the borders of Jordan and Turkey. 
This “arms pipeline” of illegal gun trafficking has been overseen by the U.S. government since January 2012. It has literally been the lifeblood of the Syrian “rebels,” and thus the cause of the immense bloodshed in Syria. 
The New York Times reports:
“The C.I.A. role in facilitating the [weapons] shipments… gave the United States a degree of influence over the process [of weapon distribution]…American officials have confirmed that senior White House officials were regularly briefed on the [weapons] shipments.” 
The article also explains that a “conservative estimate” of the weapons shipment to date is “3,500 tons.” 
So while Obama has repeatedly lied about “non-lethal” military aid, he has been personally involved in overseeing a multi-country flood of weapons into Syria, many of which are given to terrorist organizations. The only effective fighting force for the Syrian rebels has been the terrorist grouping the Al Nusra Front, and now we know exactly where they got their guns. 
If not for this U.S.-sponsored flood of guns, the Syrian rebels — many of them from Saudi Arabia and other countries — would have been militarily defeated long ago. Tens of thousands of lives would thus have been spared and a million refugees could have remained in their homes in Syria. The large scale ethnic-religious cleansing initiated by the rebels would have been preventable. 
But Obama is so intent on war that he will not even discuss peace with the Syrian government. He has repeatedly stated that there are “preconditions” for peace negotiations, the most important one being the downfall of the Syrian government, i.e., regime change. If a toppling of a nation’s government is Obama’s precondition for peace, then Obama is by definition choosing war.
Never mind that Syria is a sovereign nation that should not have to worry about a foreign country making demands as to who is in power. Obama doesn’t seem to think this relevant. In fact, his administration has been very busy determining who the “legitimate” government of Syria is, by hand picking the “National Coalition of Syrian Revolution,” the prime minister of which is a U.S. citizen. 
One of the preconditions for being on Obama’s National Coalition of Syrian Revolution is that there be no peace negotiations with the Syrian government. Of course most Syrians want to immediately end the conflict in Syria, since it threatens an Iraq-like destruction of the country.
The most popular leader of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution, Moaz al-Khatib, recently quit in protest because he was prohibited from pursuing peace negotiations by the U.S.-appointed opposition Prime Minister, Ghassan Hitto, a U.S. citizen who had lived in the U.S. for the previous 30 years. 
The Guardian reports: 
“Immediately after his nomination as interim [Prime Minister], Ghassan Hitto [U.S. citizen], had distanced himself from Al-Khatib’s willingness to negotiate with elements of the Assad regime in a bid to bring an end to the civil war.
By appointing Hitto as the leader of the opposition, Obama has splintered the already-splintered opposition while making “no peace negotiations” the official policy of the U.S.-backed opposition, the so-called “legitimate” government of Syria. 
Obama also recently pressured the Arab League — composed of regimes loyal to the United States — to install as a member the hand-picked National Coalition of Syrian Revolution as the official government of Syria. The appointment didn’t give as much credibility to the opposition as much as it degraded the Arab League’s legitimacy. 
The rebel’s seat in the Arab league implies, again, that the U.S. and its allies are fully intent on “regime change,” no matter how many people die, no matter the existing political alternatives. They will not reverse course. 
The Russian government called the Arab League membership decision “… an open encouragement of the [rebel] forces which, unfortunately, continue to bet on a military solution in Syria, not looking at multiplying day by day the pain and suffering of the Syrians…. Moscow is convinced that only a political settlement and not encouraging destructive military scenarios, can stop the bloodshed and bring peace and security to all Syrians in their country.” 
Obama has rejected both Russian and Syrian calls for peace negotiations in recent months, as he has greatly increased the frequency of the weapons trafficking plan. Reuters reports on the Obama Administration’s reaction to peace proposals from Russia and Syria: 
“…[Syria’s Foreign Minister’s] offer of [peace] talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize support for the Syrian rebels].”
Obama rejects peace because he cannot dictate its outcomes. When it comes to war the more powerful party decides what the peace looks like, and Obama’s rebels are — after two years — still in a poor position to bargain a favorable peace to the United States, no matter how many tons of guns the U.S. has dumped into Syria. This is because the Syrian government still enjoys a large social base of support, something you’ll seldom read about in the U.S. media. 
Another sign of war lust from the Obama administration came after the Syrian government accused the rebels of a chemical weapons attack. The U.S. government initially dismissed the accusation, until the rebels later accused the Syrian government of the attack. 
But even Syria’s rebels have admitted that the chemical weapons attack took place in a government controlled territory, and that 16 Syrian government solders died in the attack along with 10 civilians plus a hundred more injured. But the rebels make the absurd claim that the government accidentally bombed themselves with the chemical weapons. 
No matter who is responsible, the Obama administration plans to hold the Syrian Government responsible for crossing the “red line” of a chemical weapons attack (Obama’s version of Bush’s infamous “weapons of mass destruction”). The red line refers to a direct military invasion, versus the prolonged blood-letting that has been U.S. policy so far. 
Obama’s envoy for the United Nations, Susan Rice, issued a statement about the chemical weapons attack that, according to The New York Times, “… repeated previous American warnings that there would be “consequences” if the Assad government used or failed to secure chemical weapons.” 
So, if the Syrian rebels get hold of chemical weapons and use them on the Syrian government — as seems to be the case — the Syrian government should be held responsible, according to the Obama Administration, “for not securing chemical weapons.” 
There is zero room for truth with logic like this. But the perverse logic serves to protect Obama’s prized rebels, who’ve committed a slew of atrocities against the Syrian population, and who gain key political and media protection from the U.S.
Ultimately, the entire Syrian war was born amid the big lie that the battle began — and continues — as a popular armed struggle. But the real revolutionaries in Syria like the National Coordination Committee, have long ago declared that they want a peaceful end to this conflict. 
Obama’s Bush-like determination to overthrow the Syrian government has led him down the same path as his predecessor, though Obama is fighting a “smarter” war, i.e., he’s employing more deceptive means to achieve the same ends, at the exact same cost of incredible human suffering. 
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action ( He can be reached at

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Obama Beats Bibi on TKO

By Philip Giraldi

March 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Antiwar ” –  As a long time commentator on American policy in the Middle East, I have been following with interest the discussion on the recent visit by Barack Obama to Israel, Jordan, and the state-or-non-state of Palestine. Most have observed that the Obama efforts amounted to little more than words completely bereft of possible action, with most of the stroking being done to placate the Israelis. That would certainly seem to be accurate, but I think there was more to the visit than meets the eye, exemplified by Obama’s holding a lengthy private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after which Netanyahu apologized to Turkey for the 2010 killing in international waters of nine Turks on board the Turkish flagged ship Mavi Marmara, which was attacked while taking humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel also agreed to pay reparations for the deaths. The step backward by Netanyahu came after repeated assertions by the Netanyahu government over the past three years that Israel had done nothing wrong and would never apologize. Netanyahu’s former Moldovan bouncer Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman immediately denounced the apology as a “serious mistake…that hurts the motivation of IDF soldiers.” Obama’s insistence that the Israelis make nice with Turkey was possibly based on a White House assessment that Turkey is an actual ally and critical to American regional interests while Israel is not, though it was likely expressed more diplomatically than that.

To be sure, Obama’s assertion that Israel is America’s “eternal ally” and “greatest friend” makes one cringe, but it appears to be part of what is required to keep Israel’s friends off one’s back, politically speaking. Some have pointed out that like the Holy Roman Empire which was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, an eternal alliance with a country with which there is no actual alliance is more than a bit oxymoronic. Nor has there ever been any alliance that can be construed as eternal, as eternity is a divine attribute and alliances are usually based on temporarily coincident national interests, none of which are evident in the U.S.-Israel relationship. But perhaps Bibi, with his direct pipeline to the Almighty, knows something that the rest of us have not yet become aware of.

The frequently false perception among people like myself who oppose U.S. policies is that somehow the president should be able to “do something” to make things better. That may be true in some instances but in the case of Israel, the president is very much backed into a corner on his options by an all-pervasive Israel Lobby supported by a subservient congress and media. Note for example the letterdrafted by AIPAC and sent by Senator Ben Cardin to the White House on the eve of the Obama departure for Israel, signed by seventy-seven Senators, including Rand Paul from whom we had hoped for something better. The letter hits all the usual hot buttons about Israel’s “right to defend itself” and promises more U.S. taxpayer support for the Iron Dome defense system before warning “Palestinian efforts to bypass direct negotiations with Israel by taking unilateral steps for international recognition are, in our view, unacceptable. When you meet with Palestinian leaders, you should make clear that the pathway for peace is through unconditional direct negotiations between both the Israelis and Palestinians and that the United States vigorously opposes any Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations.” As usual, it’s those pesky Ay-rabs.

Okay, so Obama did everything but French kiss Bibi, which he may have done in private, but he acknowledged the alleged Iranian nuclear threat without at the same time accepting Netanyahu’s definition of what constituted a red line, revealing yet again his reluctance to get involved in a new war in Asia. He also did some other things that must have riled his hosts and that no other American president of recent vintage has dared to do. He humanized Palestinians when addressing an audience of young Israelis, describing how two young Arab girls reminded him of his own daughters, and saying “But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes- look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day. It is not just when settler violence against Palestinians goes unpunished. It is not right to prevent Palestinians from farming their lands; to restrict a student’s ability to move around the West Bank; or to displace Palestinian families from their home. Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

In his first speech in Jerusalem Obama called on the Israeli people to force their government to make peace. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted from the Jerusalem International Convention Centre that the “Head of the settler’s council is sitting behind me at Obama’s speech and looks as if his head is going to explode.” Jeffrey’s odd syntax aside and parse it any way you want, Obama was telling the Israelis some unpleasant truths, that the recent policies of Israel’s right wing governments will lead nowhere. He also told the Israelis, that in spite of the often expressed reservations about the Palestinian leadership, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a reliable negotiating partner who should be respected (which may or may not be true). The Israelis, perpetually paranoid about their security blanket that we Americans refer to as the United States Defense and Treasury Departments, have paid attention to those messages even as they watch the formation of the most extreme right wing government in their history. Obama’s comments join with those of the many thoughtful Israelis who, though currently in a minority in the Knesset, have long been arguing for a peaceful settlement with their neighbors.

Obama made one glaring error in fact during his speeches to the Israelis, claiming that the Arabs had refused to make peace with Israel. In fact, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah sought a complete agreement with Israel as early as 1987 and a comprehensive Arab proposed peace plan has been on the table since 2002 only to be ignored. Obama’s speech to Abbas was lackluster but it did several times refer to the Palestinian State, a curious phrase as he and the Israelis have been working hard to discourage the emergence of such an entity. He was also hammered in some circles because he told Abbas to forget about the settlements and begin negotiating. Painful to hear, but as Netanyahu will continue to build settlements anyway it might be better to have some talking going on at the same time, even if it is a given that Israel will not discuss anything in good faith. So Obama avoided raising the issue of Israeli settlements at all, which we all know are the central issue blocking any peace agreement. But there is nothing that Obama can do to stop the nearly continuous expansion as Netanyahu cannot form a government without the support of the extremist wing nuts called settlers, just as he does not care to permit any kind of Palestinian state larger than a postage stamp.

Obama did speak out strongly on the settlement issue in Cairo in 2009 and again in 2011, after which he was beaten down by Netanyahu and a U.S. Congress that popped up twenty-nine times as they listened in awe to the Israeli leader’s cogent explanations of why all Arabs are scumbags and Iranians, even if they are not Arabs, should be bombed. So the president can’t do anything to stop Israeli policies that he knows are self-destructive and serve no conceivable American interest.

The Obama State Department has also consistently denounced the news of each expanded settlement as “unhelpful.” Put some teeth into it? Exactly how can he do that as any cuts to the $3 billion plus that Washington gives to Tel Aviv every year would result in a congressional revolt and a storm of negative media coverage. The last president who tried to withhold money from Israel was George H. W. Bush and he paid the price when the media discovered there was something wrong with the economy (even though there wasn’t). And if Obama were to try to fiddle Israel’s annual tribute congress would likely move the appropriation over the Defense Department budget to make it untouchable, which it has already threatened to do.

So I have to give the win to Obama on a TKO even though I wish he had not made the trip at all and would have preferred that he tell Bibi to take a hike shortly after stepping off of Air Force One. He told the Israelis some unpleasant truths about themselves and their neighbors which they certainly don’t hear from their own rulers and have never encountered from a sitting U.S. president; he appealed directly to the Israeli public and encouraged them to force their leaders to make peace, a direct slap at Netanyahu; he got Netanyahu to fold on the issue of Turkey; he avoided falling into the trap of an Israeli definition of a tripwire for war with Iran; and he might have even provided a tiny opening for some actual negotiation between the two parties. Was it all just hot air or will anything come of it? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

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